With the Ragavan ban last week, this past weekend was the perfect time for some high-level Legacy and it certainly delivered. With two normal weekend Challenge events and a Showcase Challenge online, along with a couple of paper events, we really got a great picture of how the metagame is going to shape up. Today, I want to go over some of the broader takeaways from these events so we can have a better picture of what’s going on in the Legacy metagame. I’ll be highlighting some key deck lists from this past weekend, primarily taken from the Showcase Challenge, but the trends I’m covering could be seen in just about every event from this past weekend.
Legacy Delver by Nammersquats, Showcase Challenge - 2nd Place
This point should come as a surprise to no one. The deck put multiple players in every Top 8 from the weekend, all of which had some slight variations in how they were built. As I mentioned in my previous article, the deck still has many of the core tools that make the archetype successful and can be tuned to address any situation. Now that we have some initial metagame data, it’s going to be a bit easier to adjust the deck appropriately for the near future.
That being said, after a week of playing the deck it certainly feels fundamentally weaker. Ragavan enabled a lot of “free wins” that the deck doesn’t seem to have as often now. Despite putting three copies in the Top 8 (a number that doesn’t really bother me, since Delver has always been pretty consistently doing that), my early impression is that the ban was successful and opened up the metagame quite a bit.
Legacy Death and Taxes by Luinil, Showcase Challenge - 1st Place
There has been a not-so-quiet development over the past few months of Death and Taxes dominating the top tables in high-level Legacy events. There was some conversation surrounding whether the Ragavan ban would inadvertently hurt Death and Taxes since this archetype was particularly effective at mitigating the impact of Ragavan. Winning the first major event, and beating Delver in the finals no less, should quell those concerns, at least initially.
Death and Taxes has gained a ton of new tools over the past few months and really has the ability to grind against just about any deck. In addition, I don’t think most Legacy players are appropriately respecting the matchup when they build/choose their decks. The usual fare of “one to two sweepers and one to two mediocre artifact-hate spells” really won’t do enough against the archetype these days. I think it’s important to turn towards more potent hate cards, such as Torpor Orb, and even then, the deck can still just lock you out with Mother of Runes and Thalia. I think this archetype is at the top of the format at the moment and it’s becoming tempting even for me to pick it up.
Legacy Jeskai Control by Mahzinha_Linda, Showcase Challenge - 3rd Place
Legacy WURG Control by Ozymandias17, Showcase Challenge - 4th Place
This point may be a bit superfluous since it hasn’t changed much post-ban. However, I think it’s clear that control was one of the big gainers from the banning and throughout every event this past weekend, we saw a significant amount of control decks pop up. Cards like Prismatic Ending were huge gainers from the ban and the Hullbreacher/Day’s Undoing combo continues to have a serious impact on the format.
It’s very clear that the control archetype can be built to address any type of issue you might expect these days. Each event had its share of different builds of control that each utilized a different approach. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly which direction is the most effective at the moment, but I would personally hedge towards fewer colors and more basics at the moment. I think the four or five-color variants may be under pressure over the next few weeks as players adopt cards like Blood Moon to answer them.
Legacy Reanimator by Ark4n, Showcase Challenge - 8th Place
Reanimator has been one of the scariest decks in Legacy for a while now. Part of the reason for this is that it has clearly demonstrated that it can play through a fair amount of hate. Throughout these events, we saw the numbers of graveyard hate spells throttle up, with players packing up to four copies of Surgical Extraction. Despite this, Reanimator still put copies in the Top 8 of both Sunday events. This demonstrates that Reanimator has become a lot more resilient over the past few months and needs to be respected with some haymaker sideboard cards going forward (think: Leyline of the Void).
I think there’s a sub-point that comes along with this header:
Combo is Alive and Well
Legacy Doomsday by Enrichetta, Legacy Challenge - 1st Place
Somewhat ironically, the player that won this Challenge with Doomsday didn’t even know Ragavan was banned. I include this as a subheader because we didn’t really see that many combo decks throughout the weekend events. However, in my personal testing in Leagues, I have played against more combo decks in the past week than I have in the past month pre-ban. While Leagues don’t accurately reflect what is at the top of the metagame, they do provide a snapshot of what is popular and what people are looking to play.
Combo decks have clearly been reinvigorated with the ban. Part of this is that losing Ragavan means that Izzet decks cannot easily play through cards like Daze or Defense Grid with their Treasures anymore. In addition, combo players no longer need to use their cantrips to reduce the impact of a Ragavan hit (hitting Thoughtseize or a cantrip was a big deal). In addition, the uptick of control and Death and Taxes decks, which are generally built to prey on Delver decks, make for more situations for combo to thrive. Going forward, it is going to be more important to respect the different combo decks when choosing/building your decks.
I don’t have a great sense of what the community opinion on this format is right now, but from my vantage point, I’m really pleased. These events had fair amounts of diversity and it seems like there’s a lot of room for natural ebb and flow of archetypes and card choices going forward. Again, on a personal level, the Delver deck feels weaker than it was and many more of my games have been really close. At the very least, it is clear that the ban has inspired people to return to the format, which is great to see. I am maintaining my optimistic perspective and really do think Legacy is going to be very fun going forward.