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How to get in to Legacy

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Legacy

Legacy is an amazing format. Odds are if you’re reading this you’re either a legacy player or looking to become one. If you fall into the first category, congratulations! You’re already familiar with legacy. Hopefully you will still get something out of this article. At the very least I’ll be back next week. Hit me up in the comment section and tell me if you want to read about any particular subject. If you’re interested in getting into the format but struggling to figure out the best way however, this article is all about you!

First let’s take a look at what you need to play legacy. First and foremost you need two things (aside from time and somewhere to play); access to a legacy deck and the skill to pilot it. You also need someone to play with, but I feel the subject of building a legacy community and making it inclusive is a different one, deserving of its own article – one that I’ll save for another day. In the meantime I’ll be happy to answer all your questions on the matter. You know where to find me.

How do I get access to a legacy deck?

If you happen to have a bunch of extra money (like, a lot of it) lying around, or a friend willing to lend you whatever cards you need, this shouldn’t be much of an issue. For the purpose of this article I’m going to assume you don’t have that and focus on finding cheaper ways to buy into the format. A lot of this also comes down to who you are as a player. Obviously if you already know what deck or strategy you want to be rocking different restrictions are going to apply. Following are some of our options.

“The turn one storm-based combo deck”

This category refers to the rogue combo decks without Lion’s Eye Diamond, strategies similar to Goblin Charbelcher decks. Above I have showcased a version of Cheerios. I have been pretty happy about this list in goldfishing, although Mox Opal makes it more expensive than other variants. One of the most appealing things about this type of combo deck is that the Tropical Islands could easily be replaced by a few copies of Breeding Pool, and you’d almost never know the difference. Here’s a brief explanation of what this deck does.

You resolve a Glimpse of Nature. Then you start casting “Cheerios” (creatures with mana cost 0) to draw through your deck. If you can resolve a second Glimpse of Nature you will start drawing more cards with every Cheerio. Otherwise you can use Retract to bounce all your artifacts, and play your Cheerios all over again, snowballing until you can draw all your deck and Brain Freeze your opponent. If you enjoy this type of strategy, go for it! Personally I’ve found them to be quite repetitive and would rather play something more interactive in the long run.

It is often said that playing dredge is different from playing magic, and this deck certainly plays very differently from most decks. Wait a second, how does it play exactly?

With Manaless Ichorid you always want to be on the draw. During the cleanup step you will discard a dredger (or a Phantasmagorian). Each of your draw steps will then fill your graveyard with Narcomoebas and Ichorids, and you have your free draw spells to speed up the process. Cabal Therapy can be cast for free from the graveyard to trigger Bridge from Below, and Dread Return can reanimate a Balustrade Spy to mill your whole deck. Then you may use a second copy to put a Flayer of the Hatebound into play, and finish by reanimating a very large Golgari Grave-Troll and dealing lethal to your opponent. I like this deck because you can easily build upon it until you have regular LED-Dredge, which has less of an all-in feel to it, and is in my opinion much more skill intensive than it is often given credit for.

Burn is perhaps the most common way to get into legacy, and there’s a good reason for that. Burn is actually a very powerful deck, and certainly one of the scarier ones to play against. The sheer power of the deck is often enough to produce a positive win rate. Burn is very much a real deck in legacy. I especially like Burn as an option because once you start acquiring more cards you can “upgrade” it to U/R Delver, and from there on you can easily move into UWR Delver, Grixis Delver or Canadian Threshold, giving you a lot more versatility in your options.

Whereas the other decks I have listed are more fringe decks that happen to be relatively cheap, this list is a real deck that doesn’t play Wasteland due to budget reasons. I’ve been playing Goblins for a very long time, and it suits my playstyle perfectly. It is full of intricate lines and can play many different roles well. This is the “Winstigator” version of Goblins, meaning it plays Warren Instigator + Chrome Mox as Goblin Lackey 5-8, and it is more aggressive than the classic build. While I am a big fan of the classic builds I realize a Winstigator build may be more budget friendly, as the classic lists often want to splash a color, play Rishadan Port, or both. Make no mistake, this deck is better with four copies of Wasteland, but it’s still playable without it. You can always play deck with only Mountains and then start trading for Wastelands as time goes on. If you’re looking for an interactive and skill intensive budget option, Goblins is a great choice!

Similar to the Goblins deck this is a budget version of a real deck. Elves is a very strong deck in the format. This list isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s pretty cheap by legacy standards. The main exclusion here is Gaea’s Cradle. Gaea’s Cradle is extremely powerful. Sadly for us it’s also priced as such. I chose to present a list with Deathrite Shaman as that is more consistent with the stock Elves list. If you want a cheaper alternative, playing all Forests and Llanowar Elves are an option. Natural Order also costs a fair amount, so you could shave a copy for that reason and still be fine. The point is that all those cards make Elves a lot better, but if you want to get into legacy without having to invest too much money right away, a budget option may be what suits your needs. If you go with a budget friendly version and then build upon it, before you know it you’ll realize you have a complete legacy deck of your own.

How do I become skilled with my legacy deck?


This subject deserves a book rather than a paragraph or even an article. A lot of great players have already shared their advice on the best ways to get better at magic. There are articles on how to play with particular cards (Brainstorm and Cabal Therapy come to mind). There are articles on how to playtest more effectively or how to approach sideboarding. I won’t talk about any of those things today however. What you need to do to become skilled with your legacy deck really comes down to two things; learn your deck and become familiar with the format. If you follow coverage you should have a decent idea of which decks are more common and the strategies they employ. When it comes to learning your deck I know that the Vial Goblins primer over at the source was an invaluable resource to me. Having someone go into detail about their card choices, how they approach a certain matchup or an especially intricate line of play can really expand one’s understanding of an archetype. At the same time, putting your own thoughts on paper can make you more aware of how and why you make different decisions. My advice is this; use whatever resources you have and play as much as possible. When I got into legacy I devoured every article I could find on the format. I watched legacy coverage almost every week. After every match I’d examine my play and often discuss it with my opponents. It wasn’t even a conscious effort on my part. I loved the format, I loved my deck and I loved this game. I wanted to learn all I can about them. I still do. If you’re passionate about learning the ins and outs of your deck the knowledge and experience you need should come naturally along the way. Use your resources and play as much as possible. The growth you’ll experience as a player will be tremendously rewarding.

I’m Sandro Rajalin, Goblins player and magic writer. You can connect with me on Twitter and Facebook, or email me at RajalinSandroMTG @gmail.com

Until next time,

Sandro Rajalin

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