What’s the Best Deck in Legacy?

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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13. 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 Golgari Turbo Depths are a few examples.

However, one of the biggest winners from the banning of Expressive Iteration and White-Plume Adventurer 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!

12. Painter

The Painter’s Servant plus Grindstone combo is a popular one. Mono-Red Painter remains a successful strategy. It uses Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast to punish blue mages or, in tandem with Painter’s Servant naming “blue,” to protect its combo and deal with problems.

Additionally, Painter’s Servant is now showing up in a different 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.

11. Sneak and Show

Sneak and Show holds steady at #11. This 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 have adopted Atraxa, Grand Unifier as an additional haymaker.

10. Four-Color Uro

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 is 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.

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.

9. Temur Delver

Temur Delver takes the familiar shell of Izzet Delver, but taps into green for additional weapons. Even after all these years, Tarmogoyf is one of the best ways to get a ton of power and toughness for a small amount of mana. It’s a killer in the Delver mirror, as it can’t be answered by either Lightning Bolt or Pyroblast. I’m a lifelong fan of Sylvan Library, which can stand in for the lost Expressive Iteration as a card drawing and card filtering engine. Uro and Minsc & Boo aren’t universally played in Temur Delver, but are even more options for those who like to play a longer game.

8. Elves

Elves is my personal favorite deck in Legacy. I’d been down on it prior to the banning of Expressive Iteration and White-Plume Adventurer, but now I’m jazzed about it once again.

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. You won’t find a ton of those on the Rankings for this installment, which means that Elves is in a solid position.

7. 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.

6. Death’s Shadow

If you want to pilot an aggressive and disruptive creature deck, Delver of Secrets is one way you can do it, and Death’s Shadow is another. One of the greatest appeals of this deck right now is the card Reanimate, which you can use to quickly replay an evoked Grief or a cycled Street Wraith (remember that dropping your life total quickly is a good thing!). Reanimator can also steal creatures from opposing graveyards, which makes for some strange games and fun moments.

5. Izzet Delver

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, which is borne out by multiple Delver color combinations making the Rankings for this installment.

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.

4. Boros Initiative

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, the best version now is two-color Boros.

3. Jeskai Control

The term “Jeskai Control” casts a wide net, and is why the archetype earns such a high ranking, despite no particular version being dominant in the format. Typically these are U/W-based control decks that touch into red for better Prismatic Endings and Pyroblasts in the sideboard.

Within that shell, the sky’s the limit. You can play Stoneforge Mystic, planeswalkers, Staff of the Storyteller, Monastery Mentor or just about anything else you can think of to grind out advantages in the long game.

2. 8-Cast

8-Cast is a mono-blue artifact-based deck. The “8 casts” in this case refer to Thoughtcast and the similar Thought Monitor. These provide an influx of resources to fuel Force of Will, Force of Negation and offer plenty of velocity for Sai, Master Thopterist. This is also one of the best ways to use Chalice of the Void right now.

1. Reanimator

In the last three installments, Reanimator moved from #3 to #2, and now to #1. This makes sense, as it was my highest-ranked deck which was not hit by the bannings. Reanimator isn’t exactly dominant, as it can be hated out when players come well prepared. However, in my opinion, this is the one deck you should always expect to face when you sleeve up a Legacy deck. I try for six pieces of graveyard hate in most of my decks.

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 force through its own. I think you could make a good case for Reanimator being the best “Game 1” deck in the format.

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