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Priemer’s Primers: The Battle for Legacy

Written by Tyler Priemer on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Legacy

Priemer’s Primers: The Battle for Legacy

Tyler Priemer

Tyler has been playing TCGs for nearly 20 years. A long brewer with a knack for Legacy, there's nothing he loves more than making crazy decks a reality

Battle for Zendikar brought about two of the most important changes to Legacy we’ve seen in quite some time. The first is that they banned Dig Through Time, which dramatically altered the way OmniTell and Miracles performed, and the second was the enforcement of the Vancouver mulligan rule, which gives players the chance to scry 1 after mulliganing their hand. While the cards from Battle for Zendikar had an astounding zero appearances in the top 8 of SCG Indy over the weekend, these two new developments warped the format in such way that most people would never have expected.

Let’s take a look at the top 8 Legacy decks from the weekend: Shardless BUG, Sneak & Show, EurekaTell, Grixis Delver, Lands, Goblins, Goblins, and RUG Delver. Note the lack of Miracles and the minimal showing from OmniTell, when only two SCGIQs prior there were six Dig Through Time decks including three Miracles and an OmniTell. The loss of Dig Through Time has cut into the overwhelming card advantage Blue has received over the past year, which has opened the format up just enough to let some of Legacy’s former powerhouses back into the spotlight. Dig Through Time gave OmniTell, Miracles, and even Grixis Pyromancer so much consistency that it made archetypes like Sneak & Show and Shardless BUG almost obsolete.

As well, the Vancouver mulligan rule brought about an increase in the number of combo decks being played. One of the caveats of playing combo in Legacy is that you have this explosive power at the expense of mulligans dramatically hurting your chances of winning in the early turns. With the new mulligan rule, combo decks like Storm can keep a hand that almost gets there and can manipulate their first draw without having to spend one of their precious cantrips. This also gave way to a slight uptick in Delver decks, since a Delver deck on the play can ship a mediocre hand and check to see if the top card is an instant or sorcery, giving a slight power boost where there would normally be a negative.

So let’s take a look at two of the more surprising shifts in the meta at SCG Indy: Goblins and EurekaTell/Sneak & Show. Goblins has had a difficult time in Legacy over the past year. Its core, incremental advantage-centred gameplan doesn’t particularly stack up well against the raw card advantage of decks like OmniTell and Miracles, and Dig Through Time was one of the biggest nails in the coffin. However, with Dig gone and a steady shift over to more fair decks like Delver and Shardless BUG, Goblins saw tremendous success over the weekend. However, the two decks in the top 8 are dramatically different. The 6th place deck followed the classic Goblin Lackey-Goblin Matron-Goblin Ringleader engine, whereas the 7th place list opted for Goblin Stompy, a prison deck centred around Moggcatcher to tutor out its Goblins after locking down the board with Chalice of the Void, Blood Moon, and Trinisphere.

GOBLIN STOMPY

4 Goblin Matron
2 Goblin Rabblemaster
1 Goblin Settler
1 Magus of the Moon
4 Moggcatcher
1 Murderous Redcap
3 Siege-Gang Commander
4 Simian Spirit Guide
1 Tuktuk Scrapper
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
2 Krenko, Mob Boss
1 Chandra, Pyromaster
3 Chalice of the Void
3 Chrome Mox
4 Blood Moon
3 Trinisphere
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
9 Mountain
4 Ancient Tomb
4 City of Traitors
4 Sandstone Needle

Of the two, I find that in this new era without Dig Through Time, the Goblin Stompy deck is far better suited to combating the majority of the decks in the top 8. Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere are classic lockdown pieces against combo decks like Sneak & Show and Storm since they can counter and delay their ability to cantrip and set up their hand. As well, with five Blood Moon effects, the deck can seriously punish greedy manabases like Shardless BUG and RUG Delver.

So why did this style of deck fall out of favor to begin with? Well, with Dig Through Time, you have a major piece of card advantage that can get around both Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere, and given OmniTell’s mono-Blue manabase, the Blood Moon effects are powerless for the most part. It’s worth noting that Trinisphere sounds like a solid card against Dig on paper, but the fact of the matter is that since Delve is a cost reduction ability rather than an alternate casting cost, Trinisphere will see it as an eight mana spell regardless of how much was actually spent to cast it. However, with OmniTell and Miracles on the decline and tri-color decks on the rise, decks like Goblins are able to gradually out-card advantage their fairer counterparts and lock them out of the game.

EUREKATELL

4 Eureka
4 Show and Tell
3 Griselbrand
2 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
4 Omniscience
2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
4 Brainstorm
4 Ponder
4 Preordain
4 Lotus Petal
4 Force of Will
2 Daze
2 Island
2 Ancient Tomb
1 City of Traitors
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Tropical Island
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Boseiju, Who Shelters All

While OmniTell was dealt a huge blow in consistency with Dig Through Time’s banning, the archetype is by no means dead. Some former OmniTell players have opted to jump ship over to Sneak & Show, but others look for alternative means of getting their Omniscience into play. With this mentality, EurekaTell was born. Eureka is effectively Show and Tells 5-8, while also allowing you to drop multiple threats into play should you have them in-hand. There’s no guesswork over whether your Griselbrand or Emrakul would be better at the moment like with Sneak & Show. You can just play both! As well, unlike Show and Tell, Eureka can put any permanent into play. This includes planeswalkers, which is why there are two copies of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon in the maindeck. Ugin is one of those cards in Legacy where if it resolves, it’s game over. Because Eureka makes each player put permanents into play one at a time, you have the ability to trick the opponent into dumping all the permanents in their hand on to the table, then drop Ugin last, and once Eureka’s effect finishes resolving you can wipe away all of the opponent’s threats with minus ability of the Planeswalker.

So how does EurekaTell stack up to the old OmniTell deck? EurekaTell has a distinct advantage over OmniTell in that it doesn’t go all-in on Show and Tell. By having alternate means of getting Omniscience in play, traditional means of combating OmniTell, such as Meddling Mage naming Show and Tell, Ashen Rider, and even Pyroblast lose a bit of their effectiveness. This gives the deck a lot more play against fairer decks that would otherwise be able to blank Show and Tell. The addition of Griselbrand and Ugin give the deck a lot more reach, and a means of recovering against aggressive decks, which OmniTell did not have. If you were able to put pressure on OmniTell while disrupting it, you could stop OmniTell outright. With EurekaTell, sticking something like Griselbrand on your second turn puts a damper on the majority of aggressive strategies.

On the other hand, OmniTell has the ability to run a Cunning Wish package in the sideboard, giving it far more flexibility than EurekaTell. The ability to search out a variety of answers to whatever deck you’re facing gave OmniTell a very powerful game 1, since you were essentially able to play pre-boarded. As well, because OmniTell was able to kill the opponent in one big combo turn it allowed fewer opportunities to be interacted with, which can be integral in more disruptive matchups like Death & Taxes. However, with Dig Through Time gone, the capacity to consistently find the cards you need once you’ve landed an Omniscience has gone down, rendering the deck far less reliable than it once was. Overall, between the two decks, I feel as if EurekaTell is better suited to handle a Dig-less Legacy due to its flexibility through disruption and its ability to recover against aggressive decks.

Dig Through Time’s banning has shaken up Legacy in a lot of refreshing and interesting ways. We’ve reverted back to the power level pre-Khans of Tarkir now that Dig Through Time has bitten the dust, and while many OmniTell and Miracles players have abandoned their archetypes, several have opted to adapt and innovate such as the EurekaTell deck. Several archetypes have come out of hiding now that Dig Through Time no longer gives these decks their oppressive card advantage, and I for one am excited to see just how Legacy shapes up with this boogeyman out of the format.

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