With GP Columbus and GP Prague in the books, we now have a decent idea of the Legacy metagame from the Top 32 of both events.
|Decks||Top 32||Top 16||Top 8||Total||%|
|Death & Taxes||1||1||1||3||4.7|
|Sneak and Show||1||1||2||3.1|
As you can see, and as you may remember from my article about Magic Online, Miracles is a force in Legacy—it dominates the format so much that 4 copies of it reached the Top 8 of GP Columbus.
Legacy is a format where basically every card is legal, so it’s painful to see so much disparity.
Miracles is so dominant that it forces the format to shape around it. You see a lot of clunky decks built just to beat Miracles (Cloudpost, Aggro Loam, weird prison decks) and you see some weird cards in the main deck just for beating the boogeyman (Winter Orb in RUG Delver)—all these things combined make for an unhealthy format.
At GP Prague, it was all about Shardless Sultai and Eldrazi—people brought those decks in order to beat Miracles. I kept seeing Miracles beat Shardless Sultai, however, and I went 2-1 against it. Lukas Blohon, who Top 8’d with Shardless, admitted that Miracles isn’t a great matchup. Eldrazi was probably the deck that performed the worst at the GP since it was the most popular deck on Day 2 but only put 3 copies into the Top 32 and none in the Top 16.
Another problem that Miracles raises is the fact that the Miracles player can just stall for 40 minutes, holding Entreat the Angels of top of his deck, eventually playing it to win the game and leaving just a few minutes after sideboarding to let you win the match 1-0. Matt Sperling covered the ethics of such a play—I say that if a deck is capable of such a thing, it shouldn’t be legal.
The time issue is also a problem. Miracles guides often say: “to play Miracles, you have to be well prepared. Otherwise, you’ll take a draw.” Expert players will play quickly, but what if my friend wants to play Miracles for a tournament for the first time? He basically can’t—not only because he can’t play as fast, but because he will cause problems for his opponent who might get an unwanted draw because my friend plays at a reasonable speed rather than the hyper-speed required to play this deck.
So what is there to do?
Banning Sensei’s Divining Top
Top is also the reason behind slow play—the majority of decisions when playing Miracles are always about how to stack the top 3 cards, and those decisions are repeated over and over again during the game. Other than in Miracles, Sensei’s Diving Top is played in some tier 2/3 decks such as Nic-Fit, but it can be replaced with Sylvan Library.
Counterbalance is what makes this deck great against combo decks. The fact that Miracles has Counterbalance + Top forces combo decks to play green to have access to Abrupt Decay in the sideboard, or Grixis players to go heavier on green to play Decay as well.
You either play Counterbalance or play Abrupt Decay. Is this healthy for a format? No! Banning Counterbalance will make Miracles much weaker to combo decks game 1. It would also lose the soft lock against Delver decks, which makes it impossible for them to resolve any spell. Counterbalance isn’t played in any other major archetype, so its banning wouldn’t hurt anything else.
On the other hand, it can be a brick in your hand if you don’t draw Brainstorm, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, or reach 6 mana. I don’t think Terminus is worth a ban—it’s safe to play around it and it’s fine having a situational 1-mana Wrath of God in the deck.
Many articles have been written on this subject—I’m going to add just a few words to it.
DON’T TOUCH BRAINSTORM!
Miracles keeps deckbuilders honest, and keeps random turn-1 combo decks from taking over.
Miracles isn’t the best way to fight ANT, Belcher, Reanimator, and Show and Tell. Delver decks are. Delver decks are hugely favored against combo since they have pressure and more counters, so if Miracles leaves the format, you’ll have another sheriff in town to keep combo decks in check.
With the departure of Miracles, the metagame will look like this:
This is the paradigm that Miracles upended, being favored against 2/3 of those and even against the third.
I know many of you don’t wont to say goodbye to this beloved deck, but Legacy is better off without it.