“Pure” control decks have seriously fallen out of favor in Legacy over the past few years. With cards like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath able to generate an incredible amount of value and act as a one-card engine, not only can “pure” control strategies lack the ability to keep up with it, but it has frequently been better for control decks to adapt Uro. However, recently Magic Online player ziggy_stardust won a Legacy Challenge with a Jeskai Day’s Undoing Control deck that called back to more the more old school approach to control. This has resonated with the community and as a result of both the desire to play a more traditional control deck and the inherent power of the deck, it has become quite popular over the past week.
I think this deck has a lot going for it in Legacy at the moment, and I wanted to cover it today because one, it’s awesome and two, it’s attacking the metagame at the right angle.
Legacy Jeskai Day's Undoing Control by ziggy_stardust
This deck is as close to a “draw-go” style of control deck that Legacy can get. The primary plan is first and foremost to survive. This is accomplished with the best white removal and blue counter magic in the format. Once stable on board, Hullbreacher and Narset, Parter of Veils can act as faux-lock pieces and hinder their ability to draw extra cards. After this is established, Day’s Undoing acts as a way to re-fuel your hand while denying them any extra cards. This strategy is complemented by the power of Teferi, Time Raveler, which both helps stabilize the board, slow down opponents and then help you push through your Day’s Undoing.
This is one of the best cards this archetype could ask for. Teferi is an extremely annoying cards for opponents to play against. It helps keep all sorts of permanents in check while simultaneously shutting down their ability to interact with you on the stack. This deck is particularly effective at taking advantage of Teferi since it pairs perfectly with Day’s Undoing (doing it on their draw step to end their turn, negating their ability to use the cards). This is arguably the best shell for Teferi in Legacy right now and considering how potent this card is, that’s a worthwhile place to be.
These cards are generally very strong in Legacy, since cards like Brainstorm are ubiquitous. Narset is generally better for this style of deck, since it both denies them the ability to cantrip while digging towards necessary answers. Hullbreacher is much more tricky for opponents to play around though, and in many ways is the more powerful effect. It gives you the option to surprise opponents who can’t/don’t play around it and the Treasures you generate can help you develop ahead of schedule. Both of these cards are effective with Day’s Undoing, but Hullbreacher gives the deck a combo feel, allowing you to generate a ton of mana and easily end the game from there. While you wouldn’t run so many copies of this effect without Day’s Undoing, they do have a lot of utility in Legacy and there aren’t too many matchups where neither of them have function.
In many ways, this is the “combo” element of the deck. Pairing this card with either of the aforementioned cards that deny your opponents the ability to draw cards will end the game most of the time. As previously mentioned, it still has some function with Teferi, as casting it on their turn on their draw step can often be enough of a swing to place the advantage on your side. This card does have a significant fail state though, as drawing it without any of the engine cards can be pretty bad. Of course, you can still cast it to refill your hand but without Narset/Hullbreacher, this can be a risky gambit. Despite this, giving an otherwise traditional control deck a combo finish is a powerful thing in Legacy and I’m not surprised to see this engine having success in Legacy right now.
I say this a lot with staples of days past in Legacy, but Snapcaster Mage has really fallen out of favor. The primary reason for this is that cards like Uro have become the card advantage engines of choice, which works against Snapcaster for a multitude of reasons. However, Snapcaster is still one of the best creatures in the format and I think some amount of this deck’s success can be attributed to running more Snapcasters. It’s an excellent card in the format right now, rebuying key removal spells and pressuring cards like Court of Cunning. I could actually see running an extra copy of the card in the deck, as this deck has a ton of cheap spells to rebuy with it.
Another card that isn’t that popular at the moment, Shark Typhoon does a decent amount of work in Legacy. An uncounterable way to trade with Ragavan or buy a turn against Murktide Regent can be a significant swing in Legacy right now. The biggest problem with Typhoon is that it’s clunky, so it can be costly to commit the mana to it. This deck really wants to play at instant speed as much as it can though, and having more things to do with your mana will make it really hard for opponents to know what to play around. As the game goes on, a decent-sized Shark can act as a meaningful win condition too, so there are a lot of benefits to playing a pair of Typhoons here.
There are a lot of creatures in the format that Dress Down is excellent against, not to mention how effective it is against Urza’s Saga tokens. Having a single copy will be a challenge for opponents to play against and like Shark Typhoon, having more plays at instant speed go a long way.
The usual suite, I have seen variants of this deck run additional cantrips like Preordain. I don’t think it’s unreasonable, but this deck already has a significant amount of card draw, so I don’t think you need to go that deep.
One of the major reasons to play white, this removal suite is the best in the format. There will be meta games where you want the fourth Prismatic Ending, but I can’t imagine trimming on Swords right now. This suite, in conjunction with Snapcaster Mage, is a significant reason to build your deck like this in this Legacy format. Creatures dominate the game right now, so being the best removal deck goes a long way.
Decks like this tend to lean towards the six Force effects. This deck has a ton of ways to tap out to pull ahead, so backing that up with a Force can be devastating. Flusterstorm is something I’ve started playing in Delver again, and I think it’s solid right now. There are a lot of decks that it’s just generally effective against and in this deck specifically, it will help resolve your combo more smoothly.
I’ve said enough about Karakas in Legacy right now. This card rules, and if you have white in your deck, you should play a copy.
The Mana Base
This is a super clean mana base. There’s some merit to just running the Mountain in the sideboard since it doesn’t do much for you in the main deck, but it’s not going to be too costly most of the time so it’s probably better to save the sideboard slot and accept that sometimes it will be punishing.
Some extra copies of powerful counter magic can really help shore up the combo matchups.
Blood Moon is a really effective sideboard card right now. Delver decks have shifted away from basics and a lot of control decks are shifting towards greedy mana bases. Back to Basics is the other option and there are reasons to play one of the other. I like that Blood Moon can’t be Pyroblasted, so that’s the direction I’d be looking to go personally.
Meltdown has really picked up a lot of value since Urza’s Saga got printed. If you’re playing red and can support it, I highly recommend at least a single copy. Null Rod doesn’t quite have the same effect against Saga, but it’s still one of the best sideboard cards out there against Lion’s Eye Diamond decks (as well as decks with Seat of the Synod).
These will always be the number one reason to play red in Legacy and they are even better now than ever before.
There are a ton of different wrath effects you can play, so it really depends on what you want to answer. Pyroclasm is worse against Delver than it used to be, but it’s really effective against Elves, which can be problematic for this deck at times. Cards like Engineered Explosives are another great option, but it is a bit at odds with the Null Rod in the board, so keep that in mind.
Reanimator is really powerful right now and Surgical Extraction is one of the better ways to keep them in check. Grafdigger’s Cage is a bit awkward with Snapcaster Mage around, but overall, it’s going to be more effective against the decks you bring it in than against yourself.
This is really here for Death and Taxes and Doomsday and it’s really effective in those contexts.
- With Teferi in play, you can respond to spells your opponent’s play with Day’s Undoing to end the turn, effectively countering the spell. This is likely worse than just doing it in your opponent’s upkeep or draw step, but may come up if you cantrip in response to a spell.
- You can use Teferi to bounce your Hullbreacher if you need to cast a card like Pyroclasm. This also can help rebuy your Snapcaster Mages for future spells.
- Force of Negation can function like a Force of Will to protect your Hullbreacher if you cast it on their turn.
Jeskai has a lot great cards in this matchup, so this is about as good of a spot as it can be. You have to make sure to use your removal judiciously, since they can make your spells really awkward. Post-board, Court of Cunning can be really game-ending, especially since it can be tough to stick a Narset/Hullbreacher, so make sure you’re mindful about that in the midgame.
Teferi is excellent here and having four of them will be a nightmare for them to play against. Uro can be really problematic, but Narset/Hullbreacher will go a long way towards keeping them in check. Overall, you want to be patient and find the spot to safely resolve one of your key pieces. This matchup will likely be a grind, so prepare for a longer game. Regarding Blood Moon, some Bant decks it’s great against, others it’s terrible against, so many sure you’re keeping track of their mana base throughout the first game.
Death and Taxes
While it’s nice to have a ton of removal spells, Death and Taxes is traditionally pretty effective at grinding down this style of deck. Having a combo finish with Day’s Undoing goes a long way in this matchup and since they usually play Yorion these days, you don’t have to play against cards like Rishadan Port as often. Try to work towards the combo if you can and make sure you keep the board as clear as you can.
Doomsday is generally more effective against this style of deck than it may seem on paper. However, having Narset/Hullbreacher is excellent here, as if you can survive the early turns, those cards will go a long way towards stopping them from easily comboing. It’s really important to back up your disruption with a proactive plan, so really try to set that up as quickly as you can.