The new Legacy is still flexing its muscles while the players try to adapt. Fortunately, MTGO continues its trend of being ahead of the real life metagame by following the delve craze to its natural conclusion. In some cases, this means fitting three Pyroblast into the main deck of Miracles. In others, it requires cutting the chaff from the Delve decks in order to win the grindy mirrors.
Consider the following:
UWR Delve Control, by Svknoe
When the answers are this efficient, and the draw spells this powerful, people will realize that it doesn’t take much to kill someone. Games are decided by resolving the first draw spell, which leads to more resources and disruption and draw spells, snowballing the game.
As such, it makes sense to devote more slots to facilitating the draw engines and winning the inevitable counter war.
The result is this deck, which looks like it belongs in Vintage. In fact, if you cut the Counterspells for Mana Drains and added some power you’d have a viable Vintage deck, which is a pretty good place to be in Legacy.
The threat package is especially compact. Jace can fateseal out just about any deck in the format, though sometimes the first one gets answered and the second takes enough pressure that you’ll deck or go to time before winning. The pair of Stoneforge Mystics and the miser’s Batterskull shore up this weakness. Two is a great number of Stoneforge Mystics for a control deck. It’s enough for the Batterskull plan to be reliable, but you’re never going to draw a pile of Squires when creatures are bad.
In the grindier Wasteland matchups, it’s a good idea to hold Academy Ruins until when you want to activate it so that you can at least get some value. The difference between having one Batterskull or two can make or break certain matchups.
The sideboard Vendilion Cliques are perfect in a deck like this, not just as a threat (though that is relevant to increase density and against decks like Elves where Batterskull and Jace are lackluster), but also as a way of answering opposing Batterskulls or pulling apart a Show and Tell player’s hand.
As far as tweaks go, I’d cut the Crypt and a one-mana counter from the board for a couple more Grafdigger’s Cages, but that’s minor and I love the list. If I were playing in a Grand Prix tomorrow, this is the deck I’d play, and it isn’t particularly close.
Jund, by Xidda
Punishing Fire Jund has its perks in this metagame, most notably Nimble Mongoose is on the downturn. Also, it’s one of the few shells where Volcanic Fallout isn’t an embarrassing card, and post-board it should destroy the Delver decks.
That said, it has its questionable points too. For starters, people are experimenting with creative ways to maindeck Rest in Peace, and going all in on the Punishing Fire/Life from the Loam/Tarmogoyf plan has a higher chance than usual to get blown out.
Overall I like the list, and I could see it doing well at the Grand Prix, but I wouldn’t play it.
Cruise Rector, by Gotsjo
I love the idea of Treasure Cruise as a wish target, turning Burning Wish into a 3-mana draw three, but aside from my Loam Control list and a few Storm variants I haven’t seen the technology in action. That is, before this beautiful brew.
Burning Wish works overtime in this deck, and between Cabal Therapy for Rector, Time of Need for a fatty, or Show and Tell it should be able to combine with any naturally drawn combo piece to patch together some sort of victory.
I haven’t tested this deck, and while it looks good on paper I have no actual clue how competitive it is. Still, if at least one person plays the deck in New Jersey then it’ll all be worth it. I mean, look at this thing! Flashing back Therapy to tutor up an Omniscience is both sweet and broken.
Slivers, by BakedCake
If you were bringing Slivers to the Grand Prix, run this list. If you were bringing another deck, sell it and run this anyway.
There are a number of reasons this deck is superior to the one that top foured the recent Legacy Open, but the most obvious is that it actually runs enough Islands (12). The list from the Open only had 9 real blue sources, which isn’t enough to support Daze or Brainstorm despite playing both anyway.
The second reason this build is superior is that it doesn’t run Brainstorm, which is not an ideal card in tribal strategies.
When people aren’t familiar with tribal decks, but are familiar with Brainstorm, they balk at this because they remember casting Brainstorm in Storm or Delver or what-have-you and having it fix everything and just being the best card in Magic.
“Why haven’t people been playing Brainstorm in tribal decks,” they say. They might even throw some Brainstorms and a few fetches into Merfolk/Elves/Goblins, goldfish a few hands, and feel like a genius because they got to shuffle away a land and a Vial.
The problem with Brainstorm comes down to what it does versus what the deck is trying to accomplish.
Brainstorm is best when combined with shuffle effects or other filter cantrips like Preordain to act as pseudo-shuffles. This deck has 8 fetches, which is a bare minimum with no other filtering effects. The list that Top 4’d the Open had 5.
Brainstorm is best when it can be used at instant or sorcery speed, allowing a deck to cast it in response to a key spell or to use that mana for something else, like a Lightning Bolt. This deck wants to tap out for Slivers, and Brainstorm might as well be a sorcery. In the list from the Open, Preordain might actually be better (though it’s still bad).
Brainstorm is best in a deck with situational cards. In combo, Brainstorm takes hands that are too full of mana or gas and fixes it for the other. In Delver, it shuffles away the dead disruption and finds the relevant cards. Here, it might as well be another Sliver because that’s all you really want anyway.
To put it another way, there’s a big difference between a deck with a lot of working parts and a deck with a critical mass of redundant threats that wants to curve out as efficiently as possible.
Treasure Cruise is an interesting addition because it solves the problem of running out of gas against decks with piles of disruption/sweepers, and I’d consider a third in the sideboard.
Speaking of the sideboard, this seems like exactly the sort of deck that might want Containment Priest at first glance, but shutting off our own Aether Vials is a big deal. Grafdigger’s Cage is another fine way to stop Elves from Natural Ordering and Reanimator from Reanimating, and I’d certainly run more than one.
Seemingly Good Ideas that Are Worse than Playing a Delve Deck
As most of you know, my advice for just about anyone in the Cruise metagame is to suck it up and play the best deck, which is UR Delver. If you don’t want to do that, there are a slew of middling choices that have a decent Delver matchup like Storm, Nic Fit, Miracles, Elves, Blue Burn, or Cruise Esper. These are just a few examples, and Legacy is too large to list everything.
I have seen a couple of recurring overreactions to the Delver menace, starting with Chalice of the Void. While Chalice is strong in this metagame, decks that run it tend to have erratic draws that aren’t suited for the many rounds of a Grand Prix. I’m not saying it’s impossible to do well with a Chalice deck, especially when it’s well positioned, but I’d give myself better odds for Top 8’ing playing a cantrip deck just because they’re more consistent and give me more room to outplay my opponents.
Another common overreaction is Helm + Rest in Peace/Leyline of the Void. While the graveyard hate is cute against delve, the delve decks tend to avoid relying on the graveyard too heavily, and Treasure Cruise or Dig Through Time can always be pitched to Force of Will. The hate angle is a losing battle unless you expect the game to go long enough for the opponent to draw multiple Cruises, and even then you’re just as likely to draw multiple of your hate card.
Helm of Obedience is a neat way to convert the maindeck graveyard hate into a win condition, but it’s clunky. The combo is powerful enough for Legacy play, but only just so, and I don’t recommend it over other options.
Finally, some have been turning to Reanimator, Dredge, and Punishing Fire as ways to target Delver decks. What are you, nuts? People are looking for excuses to maindeck Rest in Peace, Leyline of the Void, and Relic of Progenitus. That said, the graveyard-based decks tend to have good matchups against the delve-type decks, and if you can make it to Day Two you should have an easier time of it.
In a format that rewards you for building your own Ancestral Recall, people who like drawing cards should have a natural edge. Strong players with experience casting actual Ancestral Recall, like Tom Martell or LSV, have an even better chance to do well than usual.
As I mentioned earlier, the real life meta tends to lag behind the MTGO one, and so even though some answers to Cruise Delver have been surfacing online I still expect the deck to dominate this tournament.
Since Grand Prix are so huge, and Legacy so diverse, I’d expect it to be about 20% of the Day One field, though that number should increase to 25-30% after the cut to Day Two. This means you should prepare for it as the deck to beat, and you might face it a good number of times to get to the Top 8. On the other hand, you shouldn’t overprepare because you might not face it at all.
After that, Elves and Miracles are always popular, and I expect them to be reasonable chunks of the field.
A hypothetical Top 8 might look like:
1 Graveyard-based combo deck
1 Helm of Obedience combo deck (To make me feel silly for telling people not to play it and also to randomly hose the graveyard guy in the quarters)
1 Regular combo deck
1 Deck ignoring the metagame entirely
4 Dedicated Treasure Cruise decks
Of course, trying to cold predict a Top 8 in a format as diverse as Legacy is a ridiculous endeavor, and I can’t wait to see how far off I was.
That’s all for this week.