The Legacy Deck Doctor is In with Lawrence Harmon

With the ban of Arcum’s Astrolabe, Oko, Thief of Crowns and Dreadhorde Arcanist, we have somewhat of a new Legacy to explore. It’s common that bans in this format tend to give people a few weeks of breathing space to try out some interesting ideas or play their pet decks before the best Delver and blue control shells are discovered and the format begins to converge into blue soup.

For example, at the time of the Sensei’s Divining Top ban the best two decks were Miracles and Grixis Delver with Deathrite Shaman. When DRS was banned, the best decks were obviously Grixis Delver but in addition to that, Topless Miracles, Grixis Control and Czech Pile (Four Color Control) were in a constant state of rotating dominance. Continuing this trend, when Wrenn and Six was banned, the best decks to play were once again Delver and Four Color Control. When Astrolabe and company were banned… well, you get the point.

I swear the call isn’t coming from inside the house.

But I digress. I thought it would be fun do do a “Deck Doctor” article and have people send in whatever shells they’re working on and I’d offer some suggestion.  So lets dive in shall we?

Header - The Control


Marcus Ewaldh‘s Miracles



Legacy Miracles by Marcus Ewaldh


Marcus was looking for general feedback.


This list has the early velocity and late-game power of Miracles but lacks the general elements that the deck would use to get through the midgame. I like the idea of Mishra’s Bauble enabling Terminus but I want something else to do before Jace, the Mind Sculptor takes over the game. I think it makes sense to cut the two Preordains as well as the Entreat the Angels and play Monastery Mentor in the main deck. Archmage’s Charm seems interesting, but it’s probably better off as something else.

Sideboard-wise, the above changes give you a bit more room to play around. I’d try to get a few more tools for combo matchups in there. I’m also inclined to think that Back to Basics is going to be better than From the Ashes in most scenarios. I expect the format to go through a period of people trying out Uro-plus-Life from the Loam shells and From the Ashes could be a potential liability there. Outside of that, I’d consider an additional copy of Relic of Progenitus. With the format this fresh, you’re going to deal with a number of Tarmogoyf, Nimble Mongoose and other graveyard-dependent threats. 

You can also consider going the route of being a more dedicated Mentor shells similar to Callum Smith’s list, which Rich Cali did a Deck Guide on.


I really like the idea of having Bauble as a way to trigger Mentor on turn three and the immediate trigger gives more credence to a more proactive playstyle of jamming your namesake card with Force of Will protection. I still like Mystic Sanctuary in that sort of shell because buying back Forces can ensure your threats dominate the game. 


Dylan Hovey‘s RUG Soup



Legacy RUG Soup by Dylan Hovey


Dylan asked that the following questions: 

I wanted to try Uro Soup and Red Elemental Blast so I just made this. I haven’t tried it.

Is this mana base close? 

Do I have enough stack interaction? 

How does red compare to black/white?

Should this deck play Tarmogoyf? Is the beater/block role good enough?

What matchups would this deck do well/struggle against?


This list is really cool. It’s not shocking to see the 60-card variants of Stryfo Pile skewing towards being a RUG deck to facilitate Uro and a more stable mana base. I mostly like your main deck, but I think there’s a few tweaks that can be made.


Dack FaydenPunishing FireTarmogoyf


The Dack Fayden and Punishing Fire engine is so powerful that you want to assemble it a bit more reliably. Cutting an Uro for Dack seems acceptable in this case.

Lightning Bolt and Punishing Fire cover a lot of the same space and I think you can cut down a Bolt or two to fit other elements such as Spell Pierce or Spell Snare in your deck. You might need to main-deck Dismember or Brazen Borrower in order to answer opposing Goyfs or delve threats.

Goyf’s function in RUG shells has had the common through line of as functioning as a pseudo-wall against opposing large creatures that can close out the game when ready. I suspect that it’ll be common that you’ll use Punishing Fire large threats and then block with Goyf as a makeshift Doom Blade.

With that said, I think it’s acceptable to cut a copy to make some space. If you’re curious about some historic applications of this design there’s the RUG midrange shell that Reid Duke has been known to play from time to time. Additionally, Ben Lundquist and LSV have been known to dabble in similar shells that also utilize Vedalken Shackles to answer large threats.


HullbreacherCourt of Cunning


Additionally, Hullbreacher is interesting, especially in its synergy with Dack but you might have to cut them or move them to the sideboard for other options. Outside of the potential additions of Dismember and Borrower to the main, you might want to consider main-decking Pyroblast to assist in answering opposing Uros. There might be a world where you cut Goyf for Growth Spiral and try to get far enough ahead of your opponent mana-wise that you’ll be able to Punishing Fire down the occasional large creature.

Other than that, the only other card I can think of that stands out as potentially being powerful in this deck is Court of Cunning. With Uro, Loam and Punishing Fire, the self mill option could prove to be a nice additional engine for the deck. You also might want to consider Lonely Sandbar if that hadn’t already come to mind. With Loam, I think your mana is acceptable, but if you chose to cut the card, I think you need to add another land in it’s place, which should probably be a Grove of the Burnwillows.

Sideboard-wise, the deck is okay. I already touched on integrating more removal in the main. Outside of that, I’d play at least one answer for Rest in Peace and Leyline of the Void, whether that be Wilt or Return to Nature, that’s up to you. I’d also try to fit a couple copies of Engineered Explosives in the 75.


Young PyromancerThing in the Ice


Something else to consider is having a sideboard pivot option for the matchups where you expect a glut of graveyard hate. Young Pyromancer interests me a good bit for that role. It can apply fairly fast pressure in conjunction with Punishing Fire. Additionally, the card can do a decent Moat impersonation.

Thing in the Ice also can double as a sweeper, which is somewhat appealing as well. Outside of that, I’m concerned with that you won’t be that good against combo shells, so I’d add a few disruptive elements for that subset of the format. Also, Carpet of Flowers seems like something that most green decks should play a copy or two of in their 75, and I’d likely jam one in the main.


Satyr WayfinderYorion, Sky Nomad


In the midst of writing this article, I found myself wondering if it was possible to build a shell that uses Satyr Wayfinder as a way to fuel Uro and Mystic Sanctuary. While trying to figure out what this shell would look like, Marcus Luong made a throwaway joke that it seems the new move is to just jam Yorion, Sky Nomad into blue shells to do extra shenanigans. Which… is actually the answer here.

The added space would afford you room for a bevy of tools. Wayfinder synergizes with the Loam and Punishing Fire side of your deck while also being a reasonable flicker target for Yorion. There’s also some consideration for Abundant Growth as well, but having to prioritize fetching a Forest or a dual land in order to enable Growth could cause some issues regarding Island count.

If you really want to go deep on the graveyard shenanigans, you can play Memories Journey as a way to get Hullbreachers or Goyfs back into your deck. Also, the card is randomly main deck hate for Uro or reanimator. I wish the shuffle clause on Gaea’s Blessing was optional because otherwise the you could do some looping shenanigans with Mystic Sanctuary. Infinite deck? Infinite deck! Which might not mean much but let my memes be your dreams.

One thing that I find interesting about specifically this more graveyard-centric angle is that you can potentially utilize Day’s Undoing or Echo of Eons to make your Hullbreachers just a but more important. The play pattern of milling a wheel effect and potentially Sanctuary, then having the ability to Loam back Sanctuary and subsequently your wheel effect is appealing to me. You could also maybe get into some loop shenanigans if you want to utilize Elvish Reclaimer or Crop Rotation as a way to sacrifice utility lands. 

For a quick sketch of a list, I’m going to reference one of Stryfo’s old lists to shortcut a bit. It looks like he’s playing 29 lands and 51 spells. From the base Dylan provided, you can add seven lands and then you have 13 slots to jam in any Reclaimers or other shenanigans. Also, with 29 lands, you might want to try adding another copy of Loam and maybe two copies of Mox Diamond to accelerate your curve. 

Callum Smith‘s Landstill



Legacy Landstill by Callum Smith


Callum wanted general feedback


There’s something heartwarming about this deck being potentially good in 2021. I like this list for the most part and any changes I can think of are mostly just cosmetic, given that Callum and I bounced some ideas around previously on this 75.


Enlightened TutorMoatStony SilencePorphyry Nodes


With Hall of Heliod’s Generosity, the value of your one of enchantments increases a bit. It may be worth playing a copy or two of Enlightened Tutor to find silver bullets. I think this deck wants more than one sweeper effect and, with the inevitable increase in Uro being played, I love the idea of a main deck Moat. Porphyry Nodes also stands out as a potential haymaker of a card and, in conjunction with Hall, it seems like it could create some miserable play patterns for your opponent. Also, I just realized that you can Enlightened Tutor for Shark Typhoon, then play Standstill, thus ensuring that you have a threat on the next turn cycle.

Sideboard-wise, I mostly like this, but if you go with a tutor package I’d add at least one copy of Stony Silence. I think I like that you aren’t leaning in on Wasteland for this deck at the moment but a Crucible of Worlds package could be something to look into down the line.

Another thing that interest me is delving into the three-color variants of this archetype. Noah Walker wrote a wonderful piece last year explaining the in’s and outs of UWR Landstill so I’ll let you dive into that as opposed to retreading traveled ground.



What really interests me is my old co-host Steven Hendrickson’s idea for an Esper Landstill list he mentioned toying around with.


Legacy Esper Landstill by Steven Hendrickson

In his testing, he found the play pattern of Thoughtseize into Standstill to be pretty powerful. But the card that stood out the most to me was Kaya, Orzhov Usurper. The card has a surprising amount of functionality in Legacy. It’s a main deck answer for Chalice of the Void, Aether Vial, Carpet of Flowers and Delver of Secrets. It’s uptick ability helps combat Uro and Loam shells and it does work against Snapcaster shells as well. The fact that the card has a wide array of utility while also being able to provide “pressure” in the looming threat of it’s ult is remarkable. Also, the card gains life, which helps offset your Thoughtseize, Toxic Deluge and any potential aggression. This deck could potentially utilize a sideboard Stoneforge Mystic package so that’s something to keep in mind. 


Header - The Combo


FinalNub‘s Neoform Combo



Legacy Neoform by FinalNub


With regards to this list, Jonathan stated “I’m mainly wondering if I can salvage the Delver matchup. I know some combo decks have played Carpet of Flowers to fight blue/Delver but I’m not sure if this deck is set up to take advantage of it.”


Carpet of Flowers


With this few lands, I assume you often get eaten alive by Wasteland and Daze. Carpet seems like a fine hedge card as it not only invalidates soft counter magic but it also makes casting Veil of Summer on your combo turn more reliable. I like it to help offset your low land count. I imagine you can cut the sideboard island and maybe one other card to squeeze some copies in. 

I wish this deck could facilitate Dazes of it’s own but that wouldn’t be implementable unless you want to push your critical turn back, which seems counterproductive given that you’re a Belcher derivative and the sole reason to play a deck in this vein is to have your opponent dead by turn three or so. If Carpet doesn’t test well enough, then look into playing more copies of Pact of Negation. You may want to consider some sort of transformational sideboard plan but this shell might be bound by too many deckbuilding constraints. However, with access to Veils, four Shepherd and three Xantid Swarm, I find myself worried that if you aren’t able to beat Delver with some regularity then it might be better to explore other shells.



Header - The Delver


Rodney Bedel‘s Grixis Delver



Legacy Grixis Delver by Rodney Bedell


Rob Wilson‘s Grixis Delver



Legacy Grixis Delver by Rob Wilson


These Grixis Delver lists are similar enough that I can address everyone’s questions simultaneously.


  1. Is five (one-mana) removal spells too few? Which is best: Dismember vs Chain Lightning vs Forked Bolt vs Bloodchief’s Thirst vs Fatal Push?


Five one-mana removal spells is fine. As to what you run in the last slot, I’d honestly just test a bunch of stuff. What exactly you run is going to be really contingent on how the rest of your deck list looks. If you want to be more aggressively-slanted then you’ll probably want a Forked Bolt in that slot. If you’re worried about opposing Goyfs and the like, then I’d play Fatal Push and if you’re worried about Gurmag Angler or Hooting Mandrills, then you’ll want Dismember.

Bloodchief’s Thirst is an interesting card. I’ve played Liliana’s Defeat in the past as it could address DRS, Liliana, the Last Hope and Gurmag Angler, and Thirst seems like it can serve a similar function. My concern is that because there aren’t many playable two-drop planeswalkers. this card is largely going to function as a sorcery speed Fatal Push a majority of the time. I’m not even really excited to kick this effect because, at that point, you’re trading down in mana against most relevant creatures and the majority of planeswalkers can be addressed via Borrower, Bolt or Red Elemental Blast. I think I’d avoid playing it for now but it’s an interesting tool to keep in mind. 


  1. How does Thoughtseize figure in to this sort of deck? I see lists with any number between zero to four, in the main and in sideboard, and none of it makes sense to me.


How many Thoughtseize or other disruptive elements you play are dependent on a few factors, such as color usage, ideal play patterns, color density and so on. In the Grixis Delver shell, once you add your four Force of Will and four Daze, you usually have roughly three to four slots left over. Usually, these slots go towards some mix of Thoughtseize, Spell Pierce, Force of Negation or Pyroblast. Each card has it’s pros and cons and the exact number you play is mostly a matter of testing.

Historically, I’ve played a two Thoughtseize/two Spell Pierce (or Force of Negation) split but those numbers are totally flexible. If you feel that you need to have a very proactive plan against the control decks, you might want four copies of Thoughtseize to ensure that you’re able to clear removal out of the way. If you want to be a bit more balanced to also address the combo decks, then add a few copies of Force of Negation. One thing to consider is that Thoughtseize is a card that’s more likely to convert but Force is a much better top-deck in most scenarios in the late-game. I hope that helps, this is one of the aspects of Delver construction that I just intuit which way to go so it’s hard for me to concretely explain all of the underlying mechanism at times. 


  1. What about Bedlam Reveler? I really like Gurmag Angler being one mana.


Bedlam Reveler


I agree with this assessment. I like leaning in on Reveler once the format starts to get saturated with control shells. You can probably justify playing a sideboard copy for the relevant matchups if you’re interesting in running the card.

As an aside, the Grixis Delver shell is awkwardly weak to Plague Engineer. Delver, Young Pyromancer and Dark Confidant are all Humans. Brazen Borrower and True-Name are both Rogues. In the coming weeks, I expect to see an uptick in the card so I think I’d run a copy of Liliana, the Last Hope in the sideboard. 


  1. The Mystic Sanctuary plan is cute, but I find I’ll never have room for Null Rod/Blazing Volley/extra removal/Engineered Explosives and sideboard construction has a lot of options.


Mystic SanctuaryPainful Truths


I agree that the Sanctuary and Painful Truths package is space consuming. You don’t have to run the full two Truths, one Sanctuary split, but I do think I’d run one of each. Honestly, Sanctuary itself is powerful enough to justify running alone.

In Rodney’s list, I find Drown in the Loch interesting, but I think I’d cut it to either move the second Force of Negation to the main while also cutting a copy of Grafdigger’s Cage, thus affording you two sideboard slots. With Gurmag being your only card that really cares about the graveyard, I think Relic might actually be better than cage.


  1. I love Stifle, but I’m probably not allowed to play it.




I actually really like Stifle right now for a few reasons. Post-Astrolabe I assume it’s going to take players a while to relearn how to construct mana bases, making Stifling fools while they’re stumbling around appealing. On top of that, the card is probably your best tool against Doomsday. Also, with the printing of Skyclave Apparition, you have more chances to convert the effect against Death and Taxes. 

If you’re really interested in exploring Stifle, then check out Wakarock’s Twitter. They’ve historically had some really well constructed lists and their exploration of Stifle Delver shells with Uro as another way to mitigate the drawbacks associated with playing Stifle. 


  1. Mana base construction? 


In a 19 land Delver shell, I generally opt to play four Wasteland, seven duals and then eight fetches. I’ve never really been that happy with basic Island in the main but it does have its occasional upsides. The general justification for the card is that it allows you to have more stable mana in Delver mirrors and against other Wasteland-heavy shells. But, I’ve found that in the Delver mirrors, Island is great from a mana quantity standpoint but fetching it often left me in positions where I was easily cut off of colors. At this point in the format, either option is fine. I do like the idea of Island a bit more to supply a stable foundation if Stifle shells end up gaining a reasonable amount of traction. 

Also, a few quick closing notes. Robert, I’m not opposed to the idea of main-decking Plague Engineer but I’m not sure that’s warranted at the moment. Also, Cling to Dust also seems like a really useful main deck option in this shell. Outside of being incidental graveyard hate, it helps to mitigate the mid to late-game situation of drawing Young Pyromancer and not having any gas in the tank. 


Rich Cali‘s Delver



Legacy Jeskai Delver by Rich Cali


Rich Wanted General Feedback 


UWR Delver is an interesting shell to tune because it can awkwardly end up in a game space where it’s “too big” of a Delver deck and “too small” to be a Stoneblade deck. I like where your main deck is for the most part but I think I like the following changes:

-1 Spell Pierce

-1 Stoneforge Mystic

-1 Ethereal Forager

-1 Sevinne’s Reclamation (move to sideboard)

-1 Tundra


+2 Young Pyromancer

+1 Grim Lavamancer

+1 Force of Negation (move from sideboard)

+1 Volcanic Island


With only two fetchables for Stoneforge Mystic in the 75, I think you’re allowed to shave a copy for other threats. Pyromancer alleviates pressure on your Plows by halting aggression, provides bodies for Umezawa’s Jitte and by its nature of being an “army in a can,” it forces your opponent to trade sweeper effects at a one-for-one rate. Grim Lavamancer functions as a pseudo second copy of Jitte since your deck doesn’t have many elements to assist against decks that are trying to go wide. Moving Force of Negation to the main is just a matter of conserving space. I think with the increased threat count in the main we can justify having Rec as a sideboard tool for the matchups where it’s relevant.

Sideboard-wise, I’d do something like this:


1 Grafdigger's Cage
2 Meddling Mage
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Flusterstorm
1 Court of Cunning
1 Sevinne's Reclamation
1 Engineered Explosives
2 Wear/Tear
3 Pyroblast


This shell might want a copy of Narset, Parter of Veils and/or a third copy of Meddling Mage. I’m leaning more towards Pikula on this one because while it’s not stellar, you can board them in against control shells if needed and it’s also fine against shells like Elves or Mono-Red Moon Stompy. 


The Artist Formally Known as Fishduggery’s Temur Delver



Legacy RUG Delver


Points they wanted to address:

Should there be a 19th land?

Are the numbers on Spell Pierce/Spell Snare/Stifle correct?

Is the sideboard overloaded for Chalice/am I okay cheating on grave hate?

Is Nimble Mongoose a card in 2021 or am I just a lucksack boomer?


I think this list is trying to be too technical and should just be more straightforward. I think I’d rather have Goyf over Mandrills and not playing True-Name seems like a spew in this shell. Plague Engineer isn’t really that good against you and otherwise it’s probably your best evasive threat. You might be able to make some room by shaving some number of Spell Pierce or Snare. However, you might want the fourth copy of Stifle.

I’m not the biggest fan of some of your sideboard choices. Loam seems not that great in the dark as it’s historically only really been a card to break the mirror. The Abrade seems extraneous in the face of having Ancient Grudge, Return to Nature and Null Rod. I think you need to fit at least one copy of Klothys, God of Destiny, Dismember and Brazen Borrower. You might need to cut the Submerge to facilitate the change. Also, you might be a bit too light on graveyard hate but that’ll become apparent as you test more. If you do opt for more graveyard hate, then I’d try Grafdigger’s Cage or Soul-Guide Lantern. But, if Uro shells start to overrun the format, then I’d play one Surgical and two Lantern or two Lantern and a Cage. I don’t think Mongoose RUG shells are good from a metagame perspective, but they’re good fun so yolo. 

With that said, if you’re in the mood to just troll people in Leagues with your pet cards, *looks at Nimble Mongoose* we both know what vibe you’re on. You might want to explore a list that utilizes Elvish Reclaimer over Nimble Mongoose, alongside a main deck Loam to hurt.


Header - The Random Cool Stuff


Marcus’s Sultai Loam



Legacy Sultai Loam by Marcus


Marcus wanted General Feedback


I like the idea of this deck but the construction seems a bit more rigid than it needs to be. I’m also not that huge on how weak you are to graveyard hate.

The synergy between Frantic Inventory and Loam is cool, but Growth Spiral plays into this deck’s game plan much better while maintaining your blue count and being less of a post-board liability. The card also can serve as a contextual Crop Rotation effect for added utility. However, I wonder if you’re supposed to have a few copies of the latter in your deck. It feels criminal to not be playing Brainstorm in this deck and I think you can shave some mix of Intuition, Loam and Uro to facilitate that.

I get that part of the appeal of four copies of Intuition is being able to tutor for some mix of Uro, Loam and some utility land, but I think the deck’s curve can be lowered a bit. This mana base is a doozy but I don’t think you’re really allowed to play only one Wasteland. I think you need to tweak what you’re going for and you might want to cut two Force of Negations and the Sylvan Libraries to get more utility lands in the deck.

Outside of the aforementioned Wastelands, and the mainstay Crop Rotation targets in Karakas, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Bojuka Bog and such, I think a copy of Ipnu Rivulet could prove useful. It can clear Brainstorms, fuel Uro, help trigger and clear Counterbalances and it can also potentially be a pinch hitter against Doomsday. Also, if there’s somehow room after those changes, you might want to consider two Fatal Push or Thought Scour

If you don’t want to go up in Wastelands, you might want to consider playing Assassin’s Trophy over Abrupt Decay so you aren’t completely cold to Dark Depths strategies. Sideboard-wise, I think you should jam a couple copies of Tireless Tracker as a sideboard juke against opponents with a high density of graveyard hate.


ThatHawkwardGuy’s Nic Fit



Legacy Nic Fit by ThatHawkwardGuy


Basically, the idea is to use Wilderness Reclamation to leverage Stasis to keep our opponents stuck while we get ahead.

Kind of. It isn’t super refined.


Points of concern: Sure. I mostly just had the idea that Stasis and Wilderness Reclamation could be a really interesting way to leverage a mana advantage over an opponent. My big struggle is how to use it to win. I had the Tar Pits as the main win condition but think it’s probably a little slow. Any other creatures will stay tapped because of Stasis. The Veteran Explorer/Cabal Therapy package seemed a good way to control the opponent and ramp into the four Mana to cast reclamation.


This deck is interesting on a conceptual level but it feels like you weren’t quite sure where to go after you got past your initial Stasis idea. The Stasis and Rec idea is interesting. It seemingly solves a common issue with Nic Fit shells in that they have an okay early game in Veteran Explorer but they often have a very disjoined midgame and an over-the-top late game. But, the BUG Nic Fit shells have the unique edge against their non-blue contemporaries by having access to counterspells, draw spells and other elements that allow the shell to function as a “really big” control deck. See Dave McDarby’s BUG Walkers shell from back in the day. If you’re interested in going that route, this is a fine baseline to operate from while updating the shell. 

However, let’s try to flesh out your idea a bit more. Cards like Leovold, Emissary of Trest and Shardless Agent feel symptomatic of not being sure what to play past your initial idea. Which, while these effects are “good cards” from an abstract perspective, they aren’t that contextually good in your shell, which is ultimately more important. From a philosophical standpoint, it might be better to approach building this deck similarly to the Modern Nexus shells.

Outside of Veteran Explorer and Cabal Therapy, I think you have access to other reasonably powerful synergies. Given that you’re a Cabal Therapy, Hymn to Tourach, cantrip shell, Sea Gate Stormcaller seems like an easy shoe-in for this deck. It’s fine as part of your early game plan while also servicing as a mid to late-game mana sink when relevant. I’d also add a few copies of Uro to the deck as an easy to lean in on a win condition. Doing so also bumps your creature count up to the point where you might be able to justify a copy or two of Village Rites, given it’s synergy with Explorer, Stormcaller and Uro.

From there you can implements a Green Sun’s Zenith package to have additional copies of Uro and Veteran Explorer as well as a utility suite. I think its likely that you’re going to have to cut the Stasis to make room for other elements. From there, I’d fill the deck out with a pretty straightforward removal suite of some mix of Decays and Trophies.

If you find that aggressive shells are a bit of a problem then you can lean in on a snow package. Ice-Fang Coatl as well as Dead of Winter are potentially potent options. Also, if you go that route, you might also want to consider Growth Spiral. If you opt to take Nexus of Fate, you’ll have to add countermagic of your own to combat Force of Negation. Veil of Summer might be a bit more tenable than Counterspell or Force effects. 



Also, before I wrap this up, I wanted to take a quick detour. In a previous article, I advocated for the banning of Uro under the following logic:

Legacy as a format is currently dealing with an issue of imbalance. As I mentioned before, control decks currently have too many angles to address. As a low opportunity cost game-ending threat, Uro has changed the dynamic of the fair mirrors. Historically, cards such as Jace, the Mind Sculptor, True-Name Nemesis and Batterskull were able to dominate games when left unchecked for an extended period of time. However, they could be answered cleanly by effects such as Pyroblast, sweeper effects and artifact removal respectively, meaning that their impact on the game wasn’t initially backbreaking.

Uro, however, stands head and shoulders above those cards due to its recurring nature. In order to answer it, you need both specific removal for it as well as some sort of graveyard hate, which control shells historically have not had. Now, control shells are forced to warp deck construction in such a way that they must devote more cards to beating the mirror.

Ultimately, this creates a dynamic where they are forced to play cards that don’t properly address the unfair matchups because the opportunity cost is too high to adequately address the rest of the format. I feel that if this power dynamic is addressed by banning Uro, the format will return to a point where singular answers are adequate and thus restoring the much-needed balance. Additionally, from a deck building standpoint I think there should be a real opportunity cost to incorporating a win condition into your deck, and unlike the other cards I mentioned, Uro doesn’t really have one outside of ‘play blue in Legacy,’ which isn’t a cost at all.”


Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath


I not only believe that this is still true, but I worry that the card is trending towards having the same amount of format saturation that Dreadhorde Arcanist did. Before the card’s ban, one of the issues that was cited by the community was that it was too easy of a tool to utilize in any shell that splashed red. With Uro, many people operated on the assumption that without Astrolabe, the card would be uncastable. That’s turning out to not be the case. As shown above, the effect still fits into multiple control and control adjacent strategies (Lands, etc). 

But what I ultimately find alarming is the cards current inclusion in combo shells. Jarvis Yu and Max Gilmore brought it to my attention that Uro is currently being played in combo shells such such as Omnishow and Doomsday because it’s essentially a free-to-play secondary option that doesn’t dilute your deck too much while also forcing your opponent to attack on an axis that’ll make them weak to your primary game plan. In another previously written article I noted:

“In recent months, we’ve seen an increase in shells such as Doomsday, Omnishow and BGx Depths, all of which operate in some way that allows them to punish decks that place too much emphasis on Force effects as their primary method of impedance.”

Doomsday utilizes counter magic, discard and Cavern of Souls as a way to ensure its combo happens. Omnishow has begun utilizing effects such as Veil of Summer and Teferi, Time Raveler. Depths utilizes a combo that can completely supersede the stack as a relevant point of interaction. The major losers in this dynamic are some of the Storm variants as well as Reanimator shells. While Doomsday, Omnishow and Depths are good at forcing their opponents into a position where only a singular axis of interaction is relevant, the issue that many Storm and Reanimator shells have is that there are often multiple axes of attack that are relevant.

So even if the pilot of these shells is able to invalidate Force effects, they’re still weak to graveyard hate and other forms of interaction. While all of these shells are able to counteract their requisite non-Force hate effects, it comes at a much higher cost for Storm and Reanimator. Storm variants require a critical mass of spells so each effect they need to play in order to answer the opponent’s board comes at a decent opportunity cost. Doomsday and similar decks have a lower opportunity cost when addressing hate due to the more narrow array of points of interaction.”

These shells were already extremely potent and my concern is that the format is going to devolve into Uro mirror shenanigans. Who knows – maybe the answer is that every deck that can afford it should main-deck Relic of Progenitus since it’s seemingly potent against a large swath of the format while not having that high of an opportunity cost.

White shells might want to look into capitalizing on the Rest in Peace and Helm of Obedience strategies. At the end of the day, I’m excited to see how things end up and I hope WotC is aggressive about dealing with any potential bad apples. Honestly, during it’s initial conception, this article wasn’t intended to delve into any sort of ban list talk, but as I was writing, the number of times I found myself coming to the conclusion was “play Uro,” I became concerned.

Any who, I hope y’all found some value in this article. Let me know if these ideas sparked any of your own!


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