On Monday, March 5th, Wizards of the Coast finally posted a ban update for Legacy. [[Expressive Iteration]] and [[White Plume Adventurer]] were banned in an attempt to bring URx Delver and Initiative decks more in line with the format. These are good changes and will change the Legacy metagame and how The EPIC Storm prepares for tournaments.
Control — Control decks with [[Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath]] and [[Sylvan Library]] now have uncontested card advantage compared to the Delver decks. They actually get to pull ahead into the later stages of the game instead of playing a game that was closer to parity when UR delver could loop copies of [[Expressive Iteration]] with [[Mystic Sanctuary]]. There are two main cores for control decks. There is the UWx core that looks at cards like [[Triumph of St. Katherine]] and [[Terminus]]. This plays more like traditional Miracles and gets to take advantage of [[Mystic Sanctuary]] better than most decks. This core is unlikely to make a big impact on the metagame until later in the year when the Warhammer 40K cards come to Magic Online. The UGx core with [[Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath]] is likely to be well positioned. The life gain from [[Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath]] might be at one of the more effective points due to Delver decks getting lower to the ground. UGx Control having a good Delver match up puts it towards the top of decks that one would expect to see in the first few weeks.
Doomsday — [[Doomsday]] gets multiple boosts from this banning. Delver and Initiative were some of the harder matchups (especially for the average player). With those decks going down in meta share or just getting weaker, [[Doomsday]] should be positioned better. As a second order effect, a lot of players were playing [[Torpor Orb]] and many copies of [[Dress Down]]. These are likely to be cut making it easier to trigger [[Thassa’s Oracle]].
Moon Stompy and Death & Taxes — These decks become playable again. They often shared a player base with Initiative and players will likely move back to these decks once again. The power vacuum left by Initiative as the defacto best non blue deck leaves space for both of these decks to come back. There is not anything particularly different about these. The builds moving forward for these decks are going to be similar to where they were pre Initiative printings.
Lands & Depths — These decks are playable again! Initiative was a nightmare for them and pushed these completely out of the metagame. It remains to be seen if a pile of four mana Initiative creatures is good enough to make a deck, but if that is the case then it is less clear about the future of these decks.
UR Delver — Delver lost its card advantage engine and there is not a clear replacement. One direction that Delver can go is to focus more on [[Dragon’s Rage Channeler]] and [[Mishra’s Bauble]]. This pair shows its incredible strength in the Modern format and was already included in the Legacy core. Four copies of [[Mishra’s Bauble]] is the first place to start. This creates second order effects. Legacy players love [[Predict]] and having eight clean ways to check the top card without messing up cantrip sequencing is powerful. While not close to [[Expressive Iteration]], [[Predict]] is a possible source of card advantage if Delver still wants it. One of the problems with [[Predict]] is it is close to a dead draw without one of those enablers. Delver is not particularly interested in a two mana draw one. [[Mercurial Spelldancer]] is a card that some have experimented with, but that is a clear downgrade from the clean card advantage of [[Expressive Iteration]]. This may be the first time in a long time that Delver does not have a card advantage engine to scale into the late game. A lower to the ground Delver deck with more interaction is possible to exist. Some of those slots are going to be taken up by mana counterspells like [[Minor Misstep]] or [[Spell Pierce]]. [[Pyroblast]], at least in the main deck, might be on hold without enough targets int he metagame. Delver as a tempo-aggro deck is a perfectly fine deck for Legacy. It should still be tier one as [[Daze]] and [[Wasteland]] are enough to keep it there.
Initiative — This is the biggest loser of the ban. Four mana in a Stompy deck is so much more than three. That speed differential of a turn-two initiative creature instead of turn one might just be too slow for the format. Multicolor versions might crop up to have access to more initiative creatures, but those have extreme manabase issues due to all of the Sol lands and producing multiple color.
Cephalid Breakfast — Cephalid Breakfast felt like a reaction to the Delver and Initiative metagame. With both of those decks losing stock, pilots will likely move back to their preferred archetypes. [[Doomsday]] gaining percentage points as the best [[Thassa’s Oracle]] decks moves people off of.
The EPIC Storm
The bans are likely great for The EPIC Storm. Initiative and Cephalid Breakfast were both awful matchups. Those being less common in the format will help The EPIC Storm’s positioning. Delver was a good match up and likely gets better. Control decks will also see more play and the blue matchup is also positive.
This does not mean that The EPIC Storm will not change after the bans. [[Slaughter Pact]] was a tech card for Initiative and starting by cutting that in order to replace it with a [[Massacre]] makes sense. If Death & Taxes comes back, [[Massacre]] will be key there. One of the changes that the deck will not make immediately is going back to green. [[Abrupt Decay]] is the draw to green, and unless the control decks start packing lots of hate permanents, [[Prismatic Ending]] is the better card.
If you want to follow along the developments in the new metagame, checkout our Discord and Patreon The EPIC Storm team will answer all sorts of questions and share decklist updates as they are solidified. The Patreon also has a sideboard guide to make sure that you are prepared for the new metagame!