What’s the Best Deck in Legacy? Post-Ban Power Rankings

Expressive Iteration and White Plume Adventurer are now banned in Legacy! This means we’ve lost a key card in each of the top two decks. The foundations of the format are shaken, and we should expect some major changes. 

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 20 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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12. Arena Rector

I’m gonna level with you. Before researching for this month’s Legacy Power Rankings, I’d never seen the card Arena Rector before. I’ve since learned that it’s from the 2018 Battlebond set, and that it was recently added to Magic Online. 

There’s no doubt that this card packs a punch. With fast mana like Ancient Tomb, you can cast it ahead of schedule. With premium sacrifice outlets like Cabal Therapy, you can then convert it into any of the most powerful planeswalkers ever printed in MTG. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker come to mind. 

11. Show and Tell

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 which only requires a single spell to resolve. Once Griselbrand hits the battlefield, a win is certain to follow. Many Sneak and Show players are beginning to adopt Atraxa, Grand Unifier as an additional haymaker. 

As an alternative, some players choose to pivot away from Sneak Attack in favor of winning the game with Show and Tell into Omniscience. 

10. Elves

Elves is my personal favorite deck in Legacy. I’d been down on it prior to the bannings, but now I’m jazzed to take it for another spin. 

Elves is a fast and 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.

9. 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 know how easy it is to win from there. 

Cephalid Breakfast can also play a very real midrange game while it looks for opportunities to combo off. 

8. Lands

The Dark Depths plus Thespian’s Stage combo represents an entire category of decks. They can span virtually any color combination, and can be anywhere on the spectrum from full combo to grindy midrange. Naya Depths, Mono-Black Depths and G/B Turbo Depths are a few examples.

However, one of the biggest winners from the recent bannings was the “classic” Lands deck. Due to its lack of creatures, it struggled against the Initiative mechanic. However, with that significantly weakened, there’s room for Life from the Loam Lands decks to start locking people out and making life miserable for everyone once again!

7. Initiative (All Forms)

The initiative mechanic completely turned Legacy on its head, resulting in the banning of White Plume Adventurer. When you take the initiative, you venture into a 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. After the banning, you now have to spend four mana to take the initiative, which reduces the consistency with which it can be done on the first turn of the game. Frankly, though, it’s still a bargain at four mana. 

While it used to be all about Mono-White Initiative, this strategy has now diverged to span a wide range of color combinations. I’ve seen Mono-White, W/R and a particularly cool R/G version that uses both Elvish Spirit Guide and Simian Spirit Guide to power out Initiative creatures and Minsc and Boo. 

6. Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes is a disruptive and resilient white-based creature deck. It was crowded out of the format by White Initiative, which was simply a much more powerful way to use a similar shell of cards. However, there’s once again a real reason to break out the Mothers of Runes and Stoneforge Mystics, and a classic archetype of Legacy is succeeding once again. 

5. Uro Decks

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath represents a Legacy endgame all on its own. Uro was a big winner from the banning of Expressive Iteration, as it now stands alone as the cleanest and most effective way to generate card advantage. Uro decks use the namesake titan to amass mana and card advantage. Along the way, they access the permission and card drawing of blue, and the great removal of white, making it easy to control the game.

Four-Color Uro was previously the most popular and successful of them. 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. However, with Expressive Iteration gone, it’s a lot easier to justify plain old Bant. 

Alternatively, you can take the Green Sun’s Zenith approach, which usually involves a ton of utility creatures and a Yorion, Sky Nomad companion. In any shell, Uro gives you a good plan against Delver, and against anybody trying to play a fair game against you. 

4. Delver (All Forms)

My experience is that bannings in the Legacy format tend to take the form of “get rid of everything until Delver is the best deck.” This time, Izzet Delver simultaneously lost Expressive Iteration to keep things balanced. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next couple of months shake out with Delver on top of the format once again. The card quality and the well-roundedness of Delver really can’t be matched. Still, in this early stage, I’m capitalizing on an excuse to rank a few decks ahead of it. 

The core of Izzet Delver 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. 

Grixis Delver is an alternative take on the hugely popular Izzet Delver shell. The primary innovation is Snuff Out, which is great against everything from the Murktide Regents of the mirror match to Elves and Uros. You’ll sometimes – but not always – see Third Path Iconoclast in the Grixis Delver decks.

With Expressive Iteration out of the picture, players are free to branch out into non-red color combinations too. Sultai Delver is an old favorite. 

3. Painter

The Painter’s Servant plus Grindstone combo is more popular than ever. Mono-Red Painter remains a successful strategy. Additionally, Painter’s Servant is now showing up in an entirely new shell, which is blue rather than red. Key cards include Emry, Lurker of the Loch, Thought Monitor and Force of Will. You can play a normal, back and forth game until your Urza’s Saga is finally ready to deliver Grindstone, at which point you can combo off with permission backup. 

2. Reanimator

Reanimator, previously #3, was my highest-ranked deck which was not hit by the bannings. It still holds strong, and deserves 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 1” deck in the format. 

1. Red Prison

Red Prison had a bad matchup against initiative decks, and was therefore a massive winner from the bannings. This is now the de-facto Ancient Tomb deck in Legacy, with explosive first turns that can often lock opponents out of the game. Plus, since it’s a great home for Caves of Chaos Adventurer, Red Prison has also inherited the torch of the old initiative decks.

I expect the Power Rankings to be shaken up quite a bit in the coming weeks and months. For now, however, I see Red Prison as a big deck to beat, and a great option to pick up if you’re feeling lost after the bannings. 

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