Initial Technology – Building Your Legacy (Online)


Normally, being at a Grand Prix would delay my article, but not this time! Luckily, I have plenty of time, due to my quick exit from competition. I played almost the exact list of Elves Matt Nass used to win GP Oakland, and it didn’t serve me very well. Elves turned out to be a pretty bad choice, and both Matt and I dropped at 3-3, after facing a plethora of Chalices and Ethersworn Canonists. I guess it wasn’t as under the radar as I though, although the more likely culprit is Hypergenesis, as both those cards are probably intended to beat Cascade decks, and their utility against Elves is just a bonus. In any case, here I am, writing away while the rest of my room sleeps in preparation for Day 2.

I have chronicled some of my forays into Legacy recently, and now I suspect I will be playing a lot more of it. With the release of Urza’s Saga, Legacy became a supported format on Magic Online, which reduces most of the barriers that would normally keep me from battling Legacy on a consistent basis. Due to my affinity for off-beat draft formats, I have managed to collect almost all the dual lands I need from doing Master’s Edition II and III draft queus.

*Aside on ME3 Draft*

I still like this format, and it won’t be around for very much longer, so I recommend trying it out if you haven’t. I really only draft two decks, and both are quite good. The first I already wrote about here. It basically is U/X control, usually B or R, although sometimes W makes an appearance. It revolves around Brilliant Plan and expensive Legends, and is about what you would expect for the format. The pick orders I wrote about in that article hold up pretty well, and you basically just want to take a bunch of Plans, removal, and finishers. The second deck is pretty sick, and definitely off the beaten path. I feel like I have mentioned it before, but in any case I will rehash:

Step 1: Take Jungle Lions, Scryb Sprites, and Fire Sprites, in that order.

Step 2: Take Red or Black removal spells (Chain Lightning, Immolation, Ghostly Visit). The removal is important, but you want to stick to as close to Mono-Green as possible.

Step 3: Fill out the deck with pump spells and more expensive creatures (Giant Growth, Bloodlust, Desperate Charge).

It may seem silly, but Scryb and Fire Sprites are actually just unblockable, since nothing else has flying except Fire Drake, and Jungle Lions often does 6-8 damage before they even play a guy. I almost never lose when I draft this deck, although having 7+ one-drops is crucial, and a good number of burn spells really takes it over the edge (counting the pump spells as burn of course). The inherent slowness of the format makes this deck awesome, and the unblockable 1/1 Sprites really do always manage to get there. A point or two of Sprite damage a turn does the last 10 damage faster than it would seem. This deck actually crushes most iterations of the U/x control deck I like, so I tend to draft it pretty often. If someone else is cutting the 1-drops, you end up in a pretty miserable spot, so beware.

That is all you need to know to draft ME3, so go crack some duals!

*End Aside*

The price on cardboard Legacy staples has skyrocketed in the last few months, and I would expect the same to hold (somewhat) true on MTGO. While I am not really the person to ask about what cards to invest in, it seems impossible that the hard-to-find Legacy cards won’t go up, especially since Tempest draft queus are no longer available (boo!) and Master’s Edition 3 will soon be out of print. Legacy is the most popular live format behind Standard, and it stands to reason that the same popularity will bolster its presence on Magic Online. As I have said before, it is a great format, and now that it is available online, it is much more accessible to many people who previously would have been unable to play it.

There are a few differences between paper Legacy and online Legacy. It reminds me of when there was “online Extended” and “real Extended” a few years back; the missing sets online changed the format immensely, and it wasn’t until Tempest through Masques got rotated out of Extended that the two formats synced up. Online and paper Legacy aren’t nearly as disparate as the Extended formats where, but there are still a few missing pieces. Urza’s Legacy, Urza’s Destiny, and the entirety of Masques Block aren’t online, and neither are all the cards from Portal: Three Kingdoms and various other Portal sets (although the Master’s Edition sets reprinted almost all the relevant Portal cards).

The only really relevant card in Masques is Rishadan Port; without Port, 43lands.dec cannot exist, at least not in anything resembling its current paper incarnation. Likewise, there isn’t much in Legacy or Destiny that is really necessary. I suppose that without Mother of Runes, UW Tempo or whatever isn’t a deck, but I didn’t really think it was a real deck to begin with. Enchantress loses Replenish, but that is far from a killing blow, and again, not the deck you really want to be playing (a lesson I wish learned before GP Madrid).

A perusal of the successful decks in the first batch of Daily Events shows a good mix of competitive decks; Goblins, Bant-Natural Order-Counterbalance, Zoo, Dredge, some Enchantress, and the deck I want to mention today, Reanimator.


After battling against it with Counterbalance, I was impressed with how fast and disruptive Reanimator can be. Even when I had multiple counters, they were often able to successfully reanimate some monster, although that was far from a guaranteed win. If I was able to set up Counterbalance and Top, they had a tough time doing anything, but between Daze, Force of Will, and Thoughtseize, that combo was often too slow to stop their first reanimation spell.

For reference, here is a pretty optimal looking list that 4-0ed a recent DE:

I don’t foresee actually getting a reanimate off being the problem; under most circumstances, this deck gets a giant monster into play around turn three. You don’t always have the choice, if your outlet is Careful Study, but more often than not you will be Entombing. Ideally, you have a selection of boom-booms that beat all the major decks, or at least do so most of the time.

Here is the current selection:

Iona, Shield of Emeria

There is a reason Iona is the creature of choice in most Dredge decks in Extended, and Oath decks in Vintage; the vast majority of decks fold once a color is eliminated. Iona effectively has shroud against most decks, since it is rare to find removal in multiple colors, but she doesn’t just trump every deck. If they have too many guys out, she won’t get the job done, but in the early turns she hinders most every deck greatly. It is kind of awkward that against Counterbalance you usually have to name White to stop Swords, which lets them cast all their Blue and Green spells still, but Iona still cuts them off of their only removal, which gives any later monsters you summon psuedo-Shroud as well. Against combo, Iona is by far the best bet; name Black, even if Ad Nauseam has some bounce spells as outs.


Empyrial Archangel 

The Archangel’s biggest flaw is its slow kill time. It does have Shroud, and unlike Iona or Inkwell Leviathan, can ignore an opposing Tarmogoyf in a race, but if they land double Goyf they can just kill it by bashing. This is mainly against decks with removal that try and race you, and usually only when they have not very much power on the board. Once the board gets too cluttered, you have to give up on Shroud and enlist the services of the next monster on the list”¦


Sphinx of the Steel Wind 

Sphinx has protection from some removal, but most notably dies to Swords to Plowshares or Path to Exile. The upside is that Sphinx is impossible to race. Vigilance + Lifelink + First Strike is a pretty absurd combination, and I have yet to see a board that can realistically put up a race against it (well, Siege-Gang to sac whatever gets blocked does a pretty good job, but I haven’t actually seen that yet). Steel Wind is the most brutal target against aggro, as long as you reconcile yourself to the fact that sometimes he just goes farming.


Blazing Archon 

Small and lacking Shroud, Archon is for when you are terribly outmatched, and need to completely stop them. Necessary because some decks (*Dredge*) are almost just kold to it, Archon is not the most common target in the majority of matches.

The selection of spells in the deck doesn’t vary much, and I wouldn’t change the above configuration. The only additional target I would consider is Inkwell Leviathan. It primarily is for the Counterbalance matchup, since the Shroud plus unblockable plus seven power makes it an Iona that can’t be chumped by Trygon Predator or Vendilion Clique, which is definitely relevant.

Unmolested, the deck operates very efficiently, but every opponent will have some sort of hate. How to deal with hate is always tricky with combo, but this sideboard is why I really like this list:


The main angle that most opponents will take is to attack your graveyard. After all, it is called Reanimator! This sideboard offers two ways around that:

1) Killing all their Tormod’s Crypts and Relics with Nature’s Claim. This is valid, and even deals with Leyline of the Void. Nature’s Claim is very efficient, and answers the vast majority of cards people add against you (the most common being a couple Tormod’s Crypts).

2) Ignoring the graveyard and bringing an Iona to Show and Tell. Not only a fun school activity, Show and Tell neatly sidesteps almost every hate card and only requires you to have a boom-boom in hand (hence the third Iona in the sideboard).

This is where I am going to start my foray into Legacy, although it is going to be pretty awkward buying Sphinx of the Steel Wind. That card is inordinately expensive, and I hate forking over tickets for cards I consider “bad”. The combination of power and consistency in this deck is really too good to pass up, and even though Legacy is very diverse, playing a powerful combo deck is a very good way to attack the format. Like Paulo is fond of saying: If he doesn’t plan on winning turn two, he is going to play a deck that can stop his opponent from doing so. This deck does both, and that makes it very dangerous.

Legacy is in its infancy online, and if you take anything away from this article (besides the awesome tips for drafting Masters Edition, of course), I hope it is that now is the time to get into Legacy! If I stumble across anything particularly awesome, I will likely update everyone accordingly, and that starts with Reanimator. Now I need to get at least a little sleep before I try to win some matches this weekend, albeit in the Vintage side event.


30 thoughts on “Initial Technology – Building Your Legacy (Online)”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Initial Technology - Building Your Legacy (Online) | ChannelFireball.com -- Topsy.com

  2. Heh, back when MED3 PE sealeds were running, I top8’d and split the finals in the first one I did – I drafted A LOT of lions and sprites.
    When you play turn one lion, turn 2 fire sprite, turn3 ridin the dilu pony on the sprite you probably won.

    Another deck I enjoyed drafting – one I had even more success with – was black based bears. Just take each and every one of the black 2/x’s no-one wants and round the deck up with some actually good black cards, and perhaps blue tempo. Force Spike is a hard counter in that deck, and the blue excommunicate and boomerand both function as removals.

    Pairing it with red was also good, bloodlust (? +4/-x card) was really good in it, and like you said fire drake is unblockable.

    And if you ever get to have ashes to ashes (i hope i remember the card names correct.. it’s been a while) in black based aggro in med3…

  3. Oh yeah, forgot to mention the whole point of the top-split story: I had connection troubles and submitted 80 cards md. Almost won a game with it in quarters..

  4. Cats out of the bag about r/g fliers, unfortunately the deck is pretty bad if even 1 other person tries to draft it. 🙁 Oh well, Long Live Turn 1 Scryb Sprites, Turn 2 Bloodlust swing for 5!

  5. first of all, thanks a ton for the article, however, there is one comment I can’t help but comment on:

    ” I suppose that without Mother of Runes, UW Tempo or whatever isn't a deck, but I didn't really think it was a real deck to begin with.”

    Could you explain your feelings on UW Tempo and why you think its “isn’t a deck”? Being U/W I figured it would be right up your alley; why the dislike?

    Also, could someone tell me where this “kold” thing came from?

  6. Pingback: MTGBattlefield

  7. lol, I haven’t played ME3 for a while but as I remember your “secret” strategy was the most common one there.

  8. The hardest part with getting into legacy online is the high costs of the essential cards. I am a new player to MTGO but not to magic as I have been playing for years. However, online force of will cost around 82 tickets, underground sea around 55 tickets, entomb 36 tickets, bayou 22 tickets.

    Those essential cards alone are a fortune to a newish online player.

    Any advice on how to break into legacy online if we are about 300 tickets short?

  9. JJC, although they’re not the best decks on the circuit, you can build a decent Mono Red or Affinity deck for around 50-60 tix.

  10. sneakattackkid

    goblins is doing well at the moment online and is hella cheap. How much of that is due to people who have a lot of the cards still learning the format remains to be seen. I know it took me a few days to learn Ad Nauseum, but now that I do the deck’s racking up wins left and right. Also as for the price of the cards they’ve all jumped about 30+% ion the last month, so a little foresight could have saved a lot.

  11. dredge is also pretty inexpensive, but then you have to take the time to learn how to play dredge correctly.

  12. I am a complete Legacy newbie, but with the closest GP to my town being legacy I want to build a deck. Would you say this list is pretty good in paper form, as well?

  13. Dredge is inexpensive if you’re willing to concede the LED version of it which is much higher due to LED being 55-60ish.

  14. Sorry to hear about the early exit at the GP. I’m sure playing vintage will make up for it…

    Why the pick of Reanimator over ANT? Saito seems pretty hooked on ANT. Also, what would happen if Entomb makes it back on the restricted/banned list?

  15. Thanks a lot for the advice LSV, I was actually looking into legacy cards for a month or 2 (I only recently started playing magic again about 3 months ago). Legacy is filled with all my favorite cards I used to play with. Seeing that nowhere in my area holds any kind of Legacy events I was thinking of trying out MTGO. It kills my soul to buy virtual cards for $50 a piece but now that Urza’s saga was released it seems like now would be the time to start if ever and with this article you made up my mind. Keep the articles coming, they’re always a good read.

  16. Master Edition, which they just stopped selling but if you look around in the trading classifieds you can still find bots with booster packs. They’re gonna get rid of the draft format soon too so you have to do it soon.

  17. Re-asking cause no one answered my question

    Why is this deck not playing Dark Ritual ? (Except the fact that it’s black and not going very well with FOW)

  18. This deck needs consistantcy more than a 1 in 30 god draw. it would be sweet but you can still lose by choosing the wrong target b/c you have no idea what they are playing.

  19. Thanks for the response. I guess it makes sense. Especially considering that target #1 is Iona and you kinda need to know what they play for it to be good

  20. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

  21. Legacy is almost as expensive online as it is in real life, and if it gets any kind of popularity it’s only going to get worse. Basically niche players like the Legends and Portal cards are less expensive, and everything else is about the same. For a Tier One Deck you are going to be spending $500+.

    Personally, I don’t think the format is going to be big online until they figure out a decent way to get some more of the MVW, Med1, and Med2 cards into the system.

  22. Any thoughts on Legacy Affinity…

    I’ve been bumping around the Tourney Practice room with it for a bit and have been pwn’n peeps with ol’fasioned Affinity with Disciples…

    Unlike alot of peeps I loved Mirrodin Block and Legacy lets you play the Ravager Deck in all it’s old and broken glory…I added in the Thopter Sword combo (2 of ea) + 2 MtM’s, just to try it out and wow how fast it kills is insane…

  23. I have been running the muller reanimator deck too where I live but made a few changes that I have been testing and seem to be leaning towards going forward. I still run 7 creatures but I replaced one leviathon with a sundering titan. That change I am sticking with for sure…then I pulled the echoing truth, dark ritual, and the 2 thoughtseizes. In their place I added in 4 ponders essentially just to help get the combo pieces that much quicker. I am still not sure if I will stick with that change but the sundering titan is staying for sure.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top