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Izzet Delver ISN’T #1 Any More? Legacy MTG Power Rankings

I went pretty deep for the Legacy Power Rankings this month. I looked at over 40 competitive events that took place in November, December and January and generated a list of the top 15 decks you should prepare to face in your next Legacy event.

And it’s not just the process that makes this installment special; the results are equally exciting! Izzet Delver has been the #1 deck for each and every Legacy Power Rankings since the release of Modern Horizons 2 18 months ago. But finally, a new deck has broken onto the scene that can challenge it. Find out what takes the #1 slot this month!

Here are the resources I use to inform all Power Rankings, leaning more heavily on what applies best to the given format:

  • Magic Online results. This includes Preliminaries, Weekend Challenges, Super Qualifiers and MOCS Events.
  • MTGMelee results. I typically look at all of the events with at least twenty players.
  • Large tabletop events. When applicable.
  • Untapped.gg stats. These show win rates of various archetypes on the Magic Arena ladder.
  • Previous rankings. Just because a deck didn’t make a Top 8 over the weekend, doesn’t mean it’s suddenly a bad deck.
  • Public opinion. I discuss things with my teammates, and take a look at what’s getting a lot of attention on Twitch, Twitter, YouTube, podcasts and written content.
  • My own instincts and experiences.

 

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15. Oops All Spells

Oops All Spells might just be the fastest deck in Legacy. The goal is to mulligan until you have enough mana to deploy Balustrade Spy or Undercity Informer on the first turn of the game. You target yourself and, because the deck features no lands, you dump your entire library into your graveyard. From there, winning the game is trivial as the combination of Narcomeba and Bridge from Below can first tear apart the opponent’s hand with Cabal Therapy, and then Dread Return Thassa’s Oracle. 

14. Sneak and Show

Sneak and Show is a classic combo deck which I’ve always greatly respected. It gets to play all of the best permission and card selection of blue on the way to setting up a straightforward combo that only requires a single spell to resolve. Once Griselbrand hits the battlefield, a win is certain to follow. 

13. Cephalid Breakfast

Cephalid Breakfast is an ancient archetype that’s been revived in recent years. The goal is to play Cephalid Illusionist and target it an unbounded number of times with either Shuko or Nomads en-Kor. That dumps your library into your graveyard, and we already know from having covered Oops All Spells how easy it is to win from there. 

Cephalid Breakfast is slower than Oops All Spells, but can play a very real midrange game while it looks for opportunities to combo off. 

12. Temur Delver

Temur Delver is an alternative take on the more straightforward U/R Delver shell. Adding green offers potent options like Tarmogoyf, Nimble Mongoose and Sylvan Library, which are all remarkably strong in a world where Pyroblast and Hydroblast are among the most common answer cards. 

11. 8-Cast & Riddlesmith

8-Cast and Riddlesmith are both blue decks which use tons of artifact mana to explode out and create powerful turns. While Riddlesmith is more of a combo deck, 8-Cast looks to overpower the opponent with card drawing and massive constructs from Urza’s Saga. 

These decks are particularly appealing because they get to load up on Force of Will, Force of Negation and Chalice of the Void. This means having some of the most explosive early turns possible in Legacy, while preventing the opponent from doing the same. 

10. Doomsday

Doomsday represents a one-card combo that can be executed very quickly. A Dark Ritual and a Doomsday can set a five-card library involving Ideas Unbound, some mana sources and other cantrips and Thassa’s Oracle to win the game. 

Doomsday peaked around September or October of 2022, with the most experienced pilots putting up extremely impressive results. Since then, the metagame has shifted in an unfavorable way, as Doomsday doesn’t love facing the disruptive white decks you’ll see higher in the Rankings. Still, this is a scary deck, and is probably the best choice for spell-based combo right now. 

9. Izzet Counterbalance

Blue-Red is the best color combination in Legacy right now, and it’s hard to go too wrong with any reasonable combination of cards within it. Compared to Delver, U/R Counterbalance goes a little bigger, typically not including the full four Delver of Secrets, Dazes and Wastelands in favor of powerful two-mana plays like Ledger Shredder and Counterbalance. 

8. Boros Initiative

The initiative mechanic has completely turned Legacy on its head. When you take the initiative, you venture into an exciting Dungeon called The Undercity, and progress through it at the rate of at least one room per turn cycle. This mechanic was designed for slower, multiplayer games. In Legacy, where it’s remarkably easy to take the initiative on turn one on the play, things get quickly out of hand.

All initiative decks will feature explosive mana bases with White-Plume Adventurer. The W/R version compliments with Caves of Chaos Adventurer. 

Note that both U/R Counterbalance and W/R Initiative have similar decks which appear even higher in the rankings. 

7. Four-Color Uro

Four-color Uro is the most effective value deck in Legacy. It uses Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath to amass mana and card advantage. Along the way, it accesses the permission and card drawing of blue and the effective removal of white to control the game, plus rounds things out with the powerful Expressive Iteration and Pyroblast. It may or may not use Yorion, Sky Nomad as a companion.

This is the best shell to take advantage of Minsc & Boo, who have been doing great work in Legacy. The fact that they can dominate games while being invulnerable to Pyroblast is very important in this metagame. 

As the quintessential “good cards” deck, it’s hard to get a big edge against Four-Color Uro. It packs tons of value, answers to everything and every card it plays is highly efficient and effective. 

6. Reanimator

Graveyard decks like Dredge, Oops All Spells and especially Reanimator still hold strong, and deserve to be respected with a healthy amount of sideboard hate. Even though Reanimator doesn’t technically win on turn one, it can quickly and consistently put the game out of reach for the opponent with a fast Griselbrand or Archon of Cruelty. It’s also heavily disruptive with tons of discard to break up opposing combos, or to force through its own. I think you could make a good case for Reanimator being the best “game one” deck in the format. 

5. Naya Depths

Naya Depths is in a great position right now. This deck can play a more midrangey game with creatures and removal spells, while also using Elvish Reclaimer to set up the Dark Depths combo. Red compliments with Minsc & Boo and Pyroblast. 

There are a handful of other decks that overlap with the Naya Depths card pool and skill set. For one thing, combining Dark Depths with Thespian’s Stage is a big strategy in Legacy. It can come in the form of Classic Lands, W/G Depths, B/G Depths or even Mono-Black Depths. Alternatively, you can take the more fair approach to Knight of the Reliquary by playing Selesnya or Abzan Maverick. 

4. Painter & Red Prison

Red Prison is a mono-red deck which uses fast mana like Chrome Mox and Ancient Tomb to power out disruptive permanents like Blood Moon. It compliments with potent threats like Goblin Rabblemaster and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, which win games very quickly when they go unanswered, and has now even adopted multiformat all-star Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. 

Yet the Painter’s Servant-plus-Grindstone deck has been even more popular and successful lately. By making everything blue, Grindstone mills the opponent out in one activation, and Pyroblast can counter or kill anything. Perhaps the greatest appeal of the Painter deck is getting to maindeck over five Pyroblast effects to beat up on blue decks, while having Painter’s Servant to help them not be dead against the rest of the field. 

3. Elves

Elves is my personal favorite deck in Legacy, and I’m excited to say that it’s as strong as ever. It’s a consistent creature-based combo deck with tons of built-in card advantage and staying power. It tends to have an excellent matchup against slower decks and creature strategies, while struggling a little against faster combo decks like Storm, Reanimator, Doomsday, Oops All Spells and the turbo Marit Lage decks. 

The metagame has taken a favorable turn for Elves, as the initiative mechanic has made creature strategies more popular and spell-based combo less popular. 

2. Izzet Delver

For once, Izzet Delver isn’t the deck that everybody’s talking about. Still, this archetype is prevalent, puts up good finishes, and has few true weaknesses. The card quality and the well-roundedness of Delver really can’t be matched. 

The core is Delver of Secrets, Dragon’s Rage Channeler, Murktide Regent, Lightning Bolt, Daze, Force of Will, Wasteland and the best card selection in Legacy. In some games, it almost doesn’t matter what cards the opponent draws, since the Delver player will neutralize everything by countering it, killing it or making it uncastable while Wastelanding you into oblivion. 

I want to make the point that the top two decks are really in another ballpark from the rest of the Legacy field. In the 40+ events I looked at, they put up three or four times as many top finishes as even the other best decks on the Rankings. You can argue the positioning of #1 and #2, but I don’t think anybody’s reasonably denying that these are the decks to beat right now. 

1. Mono-White Initiative

Mono-White Initiative has been the story of Legacy for about three months now. Even if you think you understand this deck on paper, you’ll be more and more in awe of it the more you see it in action. The best draws play turn one White Plume Adventurer off of fast mana like Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors. It’s often uncounterable via Cavern of Souls. Once you’ve done that, you might never need to cast another spell to decisively win the game.

A lot of the other decks on this list survive on having a solid matchup against Initiative. That said, I don’t think there’s a single deck in Legacy that’s favored to beat a skilled Initiative player who wins the die roll. That’s a very scary thing!

As mentioned, Izzet Delver and Mono-White Initiative are at the top of the format, and seem very close in quality. Delver actually had a few more top finishes in the events I looked at, but I decided to give the nod to Initiative for a few reasons. (1) If I hadn’t divided Mono-White and W/R Initiative into distinct archetypes, then it would’ve been a very clear winner. (2) Initiative is on the upswing, and may’ve been poorly represented in the results from the first half of November. And (3) I suspect there’s some card availability and learning curve issues that prevent everybody from jumping on the Mono-White bandwagon right away. Either way, these are the two decks that you should really have a clear plan for going into your next Legacy event. 

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