Chasing Victory – Legacy: Is That Even a Real Deck?


13:52 slearch ok
13:52 slearch playing against mbc this round
13:52 slearch is that even a real deck
13:52 proleps I think that is the subtitle to Legacy
13:52 proleps Legacy: Is that even a real deck

All jokes aside, Legacy coming to Magic Online is the best thing to happen in quite some time. Well, for me anyway. Legacy is a man’s format, where you get to play real cards like Force of Will, Survival of the Fittest, and Lion’s Eye Diamond. Most importantly, the decisions you make actually have a huge impact on the game! I know that’s a weird concept, but it’s actually true.


So where to start? The Counterbalance craze has subsided somewhat. Nearly every deck out there has adapted to beat it, and honestly, it wasn’t that hard. If your deck is casting four drops or packing Krosan Grips, Counterbalance probably sucks against you. While it was previously their focus, now they are the ones that need to adapt, and shift their strategy a bit.

I could always fall back on Counterbalance, as I’ve brewed a fair amount with the archetype, but after learning some important lessons last Extended season, I was ready to get aggressive. Not aggressive like Wild Nacatl aggressive (as I got that out of my system), but I mean aggressive like Marit Lage aggressive. In these wide open formats, it’s often better to just force your opponent to react to you rather than trying to control everything they do.

There are just too many vectors of attack out there. You have to fight Wild Nacatl, Reanimate/Dread Return, Counterbalance, and Ad Nauseam. That’s an extremely difficult thing to do, especially in a format where Counterspell isn’t even close to good enough.

Still, the format is still fairly wide open and the MODO metagame was almost certainly going to be unpredictable. Counterbalance is one of my favorite archetypes of all time, and I wanted to play with it a little bit, whether it was viable or not. Who knows, maybe everyone had left their Krosan Grips at home.

I started with AJ Sacher’s list that he used to t8 the 5k in Orlando.

I made a slight change from AJ’s list, which was the third Thopter Foundry instead of the second Sword of the Meek. It doesn’t really matter what combo piece you draw as you probably have to tutor for the second piece, and having the blue card to pitch for Force of Will is nice. Sometimes you can do some neat tricks like activating Top and sacrificing it to Foundry to get a token and not put the Top back in your deck, therefore being able to see a card further with other Tops.

The maindeck was pretty nice, although there wasn’t a tutorable bullet for combo besides Counterbalance. An Ethersworn Canonist or Runed Halo should almost certainly be maindeck. I also wouldn’t have minded adding an extra land, perhaps a Mishra’s Factory.

I really like the manabase, especially the two basic Plains. The Goyf package in the sideboard with a lone Tropical Island was a bit risky. Against creature decks, you typically have to fetch out basics to avoid getting Wastelanded, and once they destroy your one Trop, your future Goyfs are mostly useless (barring any Crucible of Worlds shenanigans, although I tend to board out Crucible vs. faster decks).

Path to Exile was also underwhelming. Merfolk doesn’t really beat you with their creatures. You tend to lose to a combination of Aether Vial with Wastelands or counterspells. Sure, the creatures kill you eventually, but when you’re not interacting in combat, it doesn’t really matter how crappy the dudes are that are killing you.

I wanted a way to kill Vial, and having a sweeper would be nice as well. Ancient Grudge and Firespout were the best answers and gave me a ton of game in the Goblin matchup as well.

Red (basically over green) was a big improvement, and I felt miles ahead of Merfolk if I could just cast my spells. The problem of course, was Wasteland. That problem was soon remedied by changing the fetches around and playing a basic Mountain.

This is the latest list:

The maindeck is largely the same, but I changed the sideboard to account for the problems I was facing on Magic Online. Zoo decks were occasionally blowing me out with Krosan Grip and Qasali Pridemage. Moat itself wasn’t even close to a lock on its own. With Humility, it gets a little easier for you, but one Grip later and you could be dead.

Moat vs. Humility is a reasonable debate already, and having both is kind of nice sometimes, since having to tutor for them sucks whereas naturally drawing it is usually awesome.

The Crypts are for Reanimator, which I expect to get very popular, at least in real life. The deck is very expensive, but I feel like it’s the best deck in the format right now, hands down. Noetic Scales is also a cute thing to tutor up, but overall, it will probably just get Nature’s Claimed. Still, it’s better than tutoring up a Halo if you’re facing down a fattie since you’ll force them to find another way to put it back into play if they don’t have a Claim ready. You’re probably dead if they have Claim already.

If I were playing live, I would probably have more combo hate, but online there doesn’t seem to be much ANT running around. Again, Lion’s Eye Diamonds are expensive, but the cost to play any deck in this format is somewhat prohibitive. A couple Mindbreak Traps really help me feel secure about my chances vs. a random field, and I didn’t really want the slots against anything else.

Intuition is another one of my favorite cards and there’s a lot of cool things you can do with it right now. Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows, Life from the Loam/Wasteland, Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek, or even just completing your Top/Counterbalance lock are all dreams you can live with the help of Intuition.

Here is a list I played in a Daily Event:

My record was not stellar, but I did learn a lot of things about the deck and where I wanted to go in the future, which is about all you can ask out of a four round event.

I borrowed the Mox Diamond idea from Dan Skinner’s Oath deck from a while back. Note that while these are mana sources, you shouldn’t cut lands for them as you still need a land to use them. While with Chrome Mox, you can basically cut lands for them, or three lands for four Moxes as I usually do, the Diamonds need to take up a spell slot.

I wanted a way to cast Intuition and Counterbalance earlier, and Mox Diamond was perfect in that regard. There were too many off color cards and artifacts to really consider Chrome Mox, plus there was always Life from the Loam to make up for the card disadvantage.

Whereas Counterbalance was the soft lock, Forbid was typically the hard lock, especially in combination with Counterbalance. Once you cast Intuition, you’ll have plenty of discard fodder between Loam and Punishing Fires. I would have played a second in the sideboard, but was cutting it close and didn’t have time to hit up the bots.

The rest of the deck was pretty awesome and I had a lot of fun. Ensnaring Bridge and Karakas both gave Reanimator huge fits, especially in game one when they are low on answers.

The problems mainly had to do with the manabase. It was rock solid and the colors were never an issue, unless of course my opponent decided to activate Wasteland. Mox Diamonds helped, but I didn’t have enough lands to continually make land drops. If I ever resolved an Intuition (or drew the Loam), then Wasteland wasn’t an issue, but it’s difficult to resolve that card through Force of Will, Daze, and Wasteland.

If I had managed to stabilize my manabase, the Punishing Fires would typically take over against the aggressive Wasteland decks.

The only other thing that might look out of place is the sideboard Explorations, but in slower matchups like against other Loam decks or control mirrors, Exploration plus Loam lets you just run them over. Once you start playing two lands a turn and probably Wastelanding them once or twice a turn, it becomes very difficult to lose. Having a third (and therefore Intuitionalbe) would have been nice, but I didn’t want to cut anything.

All in all, playing Counterbalance was an extremely fun experience, but I will probably never do it again. As I said earlier, there’s way too much hate, and it’s very difficult to control every aspect of Legacy. If I ever get the chance to approach a wide open format, I’m going for the throat. No more of this pussyfooting around until I finally kill them on turn 30. How about we kill on turn two and go grab some lunch?

I recommend this:

Of the various ringers who have played this deck, the majority of them (Adam Yurchick, Dave Williams, LSV, Dan Skinner) have all gone 4-0, barely losing any games. This is THE deck you should be playing in Legacy at the moment (although if you’re planning on playing on Magic Online, don’t look too hard for the Reverent Silence, you probably won’t ever find any).

Oddly enough, it’s not the deck you necessarily have to tune yours to beat, since barely anyone is playing it at the moment. That could be due to the high cost of the deck, or maybe because no one gives it the respect it deserves. Maybe it’s because they overestimate they hate cards?

This list isn’t perfect, but I like where it is right now. The fatties could be a little different. There’s a WW deck with Karakas which should be a good matchup, but they have some annoying stuff. Even if you Iona white, they have Karakas. If you get some other fattie, they have Swords to Plowshares. If you get something like Inkwell Leviathan, they can race you with equipment or brick wall you with Sword of Fire and Ice. It seems like there should be a better fattie to target, but Malakir Bloodwitch is about the best thing I can come up with and that seems pretty bad.

I considered some utility to Entomb for, like Deep Analysis, Ancient Grudge, and maybe even a little Roar of the Wurm action. In the end, I just stuck with the Coffin Purge for the mirror, although I’m not completely against running any of the other cards.

There’s a decent amount of hate out there. Almost everyone has Crypt or Relic, but Nature’s Claim is way more effective at stopping the hate than the hate is at stopping you, especially considering they might have to mulligan and keep an otherwise risky hand just because it has a hate card.

If you want to win, I would definitely recommend playing Reanimator. If you want to hate on the dudes who only play the cool deck, that’s fine too. It’s Legacy, you can play whatever you want and do reasonably well as long as you know your deck and your matchups. I highly recommend you get into Legacy as it’s the most fun you can have playing Magic, and MODO Legacy desperately needs more players to ensure its survival.

Hopefully I’ll see you in the queues!


40 thoughts on “Chasing Victory – Legacy: Is That Even a Real Deck?”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Chasing Victory - Legacy: Is That Even a Real Deck? | ChannelFireball.com -- Topsy.com

  2. I might be like way off but doesnt Empyrial Archangel beat WW? Also if you can counter a Path/Swords wouldnt Blazing Archon be really good too.

    Great Article! I got into Legacy on MTGO as soon as i wound out. It would be cool if legacy articles where a regular thing.

  3. I’ve been playing around a bit with Legacy online (pretty much exclusively with MBC at the moment becuase it’s the only thing I had in my collection straight up besides gobbos).

    It’s soooo much more fun than standard because of its diversity and better than extended because people (should) play it more consistently throughout the year.

    For the WW matchup maybe Thunder Dragon or Bogarden Hellkite. Even if they Swords you should have wrathed them and have the extra life to set up again.

  4. I love how GerryT doesn;t explain himself, he just tells you what he thinks with no justification.

  5. He did the exact same thing as me but yet you call me out? Interesting…

    I just figured that people might agree with our friend up there and wonder what my opinion was, so I obliged them.

    Seeing as how he didn’t say why he thought Dredge was better, I knew that nothing I said would sway his opinion. If someone else wants to get into a real discussion about it I’m game, but I’m not going to type up 500 words for no value.

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  7. Reanimator is like dredge that cares a little more about your opponents force of wills, but makes up for this by playing its own force of wills. its also a tleast a turn faster.

  8. @kyle.smith: If it hits on turn 2 or 3 on the play, pretty much. Otherwise, it’s pretty lackluster if the WW player has 8 power on the board…

  9. People Need to put Guilded Drake in reanimator!

    Exhume isn´t the best card in the mirror but if you Entomb it as a response to their Exhume it´s GG more often then not.

    Even if you can´t blow them out liek that every game it´s an awsome target for reanimate, especisally if you are behind and they have a fatty out since the lifeloss isn´t that big which ís a a very real problem with some of your other cards. Taking 9 damage when you are at 10 allready just to break even on a fatty is not exactly game winning.

  10. I am amused that Dredge and Reanimator are being compared. One is a cross-my-fingers-and-mulligan budget (for legacy) pile of jank, the other is a consistent, solid and (more) resilient deck. Dredge may win more game ones than Reanimator, but it often ends there. At least Reanimator can punish someone who keeps a bad hand with only hate, but Dredge often can’t come back from getting boned by a graveyard sweeper.

    GerryT: Why don’t you play Ravenous Trap instead of Purge? Flashback?

  11. Fin:
    Entomb can get any type of card not just creatures so in combination with flashback cards it´s basicly a Demonic tutor for B that is instant.
    Sure you only get one use out of them but Entomb + Flashback is the closest we got to Vampiric Tutor in Legacy.

  12. Good article Gerry, I want to play Legacy now. Just need to find out how expensive “expensive” is first.

  13. expensive is about 500-1200 bucks from scratch if you want a teir 1 deck, from zoo to fow based decks. i believe that reanimator for instance is about 1k rougly.
    80 bucks fow
    60 bucks underground sea
    35 bucks entomb
    and then fatties.
    however if you get your fow your set to play any blue deck under the sun.

  14. Reanimater is just totally insane, I totally agree with you gerry. The deck is like a 1 card combo (with 8 copies) that just wrecks people because if they don’t have it, they can just daze and ts you hand into oblivion and exhume when they want to. Typical reanimator move – T1 play a sea, go. T2 daze ur spell and float to tutor. T2 study reanimate (sounds fun).

    Building reanimater however costs about 700 tickets between the 4 forces, 4 entomb (40 ea are you kidding!!!) SEAS (>40 eas).

    As for the “is this really a deck argument.” Im am playing goblins (is that really a deck? spoiler alert (not when ant and reanimator are in the same format) I just dont have a ton of tickets (but i still need wastes nice tempest uncommon thats 25). I have actually been winning a lot of games and if you get the dieroll the matcup becomes sooooooo much better as an unanswered lackey can get there. Also remember you can play stuff under the vial when iona is in play and goblins is so fast that it can race. The best answer is to matron out a weirding (oh but dont they have fow? yes sometimes you just gotta hope)

    The good news for legacy is that mabye 6 people play reanimator the bad news is that they are the 6 best players in the room.

  15. Gerry how have the sundering titan and terastodon performed for you? I have been using the leviathons for my real life deck, but in most match ups they seem to be my last choice to entomb or reanimate.

  16. Is Entomb really 40 each… I was going to buy some a few months ago for 8, but I decided not to. 🙁

  17. Dredge is no pile of jank. It’s a very skill intensive archetype that rewards a savvy player. Pilots that have played against hate over and over again know how to play around it.

  18. @ blundq:

    The longer you wait the more the prices will rise. I bought
    Underground Seas at 46 from a bot like 3 or 4 weeks ago and they are at almost 60 now. Don’t put it off for 3 months just to find out it’s over 100 tix a card.

  19. Dredge is no pile of jank. It's a very skill intensive archetype that rewards a savvy player. Pilots that have played against hate over and over again know how to play around it.

    this. and, people really underestimate it and don´t know how to use their hate properly.

  20. What about red Akroma vs. White. It’s at least a little bigger than bloodwitch, and having pro-blue could matter sometimes as well.

  21. Vampire Weak Knights

    Top 8’s in online legacy dailies show a nice mix of budget (goblins, dredge) and nonbudget decks (everything with FoW).

    I played goblins for a while but traded it for dredge just to try it out. Dredge is much harder to play but is a ton of fun so far. And hate can be played around.

  22. 1. spell pierce (for SnT) and faerie macabre/leylines/extirpates is the way to go if you want to beat renimator. The idea that reanimator is better against the hatecards than other GY dependent decks is mainly due to people not adjusting to play the correct GY hate spells. Everyone still plays the cards that are good against dredge when reanimator is a much bigger threat (at the moment).

    2. Playing entomb for something other than a creature is techy but it’s like playing lifegain in the burn mirror

    3. Inkwell belongs in the list! Should be the no1 entomb target against half of the decks in a normal legacy meta.

    4. terastodon seems horrible since if you destroy his lands he can just drop a land, plowshares you 9/9 and you lose. if you kill your own lands he can stabilize via removal/tarmos and you lose. Way too risky if you ask me although I’ve never seen him in action in this deck.

    Nice to see someone write about legacy on mtgo!

  23. Since AJ Sacher's deck runs out of cards quite quickly and it never has more than 2 cards in hand in the late game, isn’t Ensnaring Bridge worth trying? It can be recurred with Academy Ruins, it is cheap and easy to cast and is better against reanimator (Iona will just laugh at your Moat).

    Anyway, great article.

  24. Wizards should “print” enough of the legacy staples online so that they aren’t as (or more) expensive than their RL counterparts (see: Force of Will). If a legacy deck online cost roughly as much as a standard one (and I think that’s a fair price point), I’d play “real” legacy online in a heartbeat. As is, most tier 1 legacy decks are waaaay out of budget–only something like Elves! (my deck of choice, since I played it in the old classic, skullclamp and all), dredge, or maybe Goblins/MBA variants seem reasonably within reach as decent decks which aren’t an arm and a leg

  25. Gerry makes a Dan Skinner reference! It is pretty rare for someone’s own personal Jesus to bless them like that. Hope Ban is happy.

  26. Nobody should complain about the availability of Legacy cards on Modo. They were there to be drafted..won etc and not enough people availled themselves of the opportunity (myself included). You can’t put that on Wizards.

    If you want to play it, pony up the cash for the staples now (it seems a pretty safe bet that you will do alright on em) or build a decent budget deck and try to profit enough to afford the other stuff.

    But here’s hoping I open 3x FoW when I draft through my last Me1’s when they run it next time.

  27. I know it doesn’t have Force of Will, but Belcher decks have been performing pretty well lately and I think they are a contender. Force of Will looks pretty silly against Empty the Warrens and Xantid Swarm should almost be maindecked if it could afford it.

    I suppose when comparing the two, they’re about as fast but Reanimator can reload much quicker and it has countermagic to defend itself. I think I talked myself into Reanimator while I was posting about Belcher.

  28. Wizards has been publishing legacy staples online. People don’t bother to open enough (for the demand that is being shown), but wizards can’t hold a gun to their heards and FORCE them to buy/open them.

  29. Worth noting that Reanimator (and pretty much all of the present tier 1 outside Countertop) has huge issues with fast Chalice-decks, so that may be a decent position to place yourself at right now, especially if you have a solid plan against swarm-type tribal aggro too. Just a thought.

  30. If I were making specific deck suggestions I would, but given I’m more than a bit biased there I’d rather stick to pointing out the awesome position the archetype strategically enjoys right now with the condensed manacurves all around the format (while Counterbalance and Chalice are similar on the outside, the speed of Chalice at 1 is so much higher than that of active Counterbalance that it really punishes decks with focus on 1-drops in a whole different way and as it’s not your entire gameplan and doesn’t require resource expediture after initially playing it, having it Gripped isn’t the end of the world), rather than advertise a specific strategy and have somebody point out just HOW biased I am.

  31. Jesus – made a quick price check on this list, and it amounts to more than 1300 tix if you build from scratch, and FoW are 600 alone!!

    It’s a pity, because I think FoW is a necessity if you want to do well in the format, and hence the reason I won’t be playing Legacy anytime soon.

  32. Hi:

    Using Mox Diamond could be sufficient to speed up control decks so that they are more competitive and have blowout potential rivaling that of reanimator. While it is hard to beat every strategy in such an open format, a turn 3 Jace the Mindsculptor against an empty board with Force of Will in the hand comes very close. The idea that I had for deploying Jace and Diamond in the same deck was a shell that is very similar to Jacob Van Lunen’s Faeries Deck from SCG Open Philly. The difference would be splashing white for Swords and Weathered Wayfarer and adding Wastelands, Karakas, and Mutavaults along with Mox Diamond (Perhaps Counter Top or Fathom Seer). I think that the UW tempo folks (Jeff Lin, Forbidian) were probably on to something with the Wayfarers and integrating Lunen’s and their deck could be good. Take this for whatever it is worth.


  33. Edit: Splash Black for 3-4 Extirpate in the SB. I feel like Extirpate is the card reanimator wants to see the very least (along with a turn zero Leyline of the Void, though Leyline probably consumes too many SB slots for the value it provides.) The only ways reanimator has to interact with Extirpate to my knowledge are Thoughtseize and Show and Tell. Mystical Tutoring for something is not an option, Extirpate hits the Mystical or something else after it resolves, forcing a shuffle.

  34. Saying Dredge is a jank means either you are totally ignorant of its power, OR you have only played Dredge pilots who are totally ignorant of its power. I’m not saying Dredge > Reanimator, but it’s no jank deck. Plus it is easier for Dredge to hate Reanimator post-board than it is for Reanimator to hate on Dredge.

    Incidently I defeat Reanimtor reasonably often online, using Chalice @ 1

    And for anyone thinking about it, be aware that the total number of Legacy decks that cost more to assemble online than in paper is precisely ZERO. While it is true that certain staples like FoW are more expensive online, the vast majority of Legacy’s staples are MUCH cheaper online (especially the dual lands which are about 2/5ths of the paper price) and thus the net result is cheaper decks online.

    Plus every card released is readily available.

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