It is a bright and sunny day for the Legacy meta game… oh wait. No, it isn’t! This is Groundhog Day and Legacy looks like it did yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. Each day has looked like the one that came before for almost a year. UR Delver has the power and consistency to do battle against all challengers. While the meta underneath this S-Tier monster does shift and change as new tech comes into the light, the pressure of the best deck still looms over everyone. Hopefully, with either new printings or changes to the Banned & Restricted list, Legacy can stop looking like a Standard format and more like the format with the widest archetype mix available to Constructed players.
There are many decks to choose from when you play Legacy. Only a handful of them are actually competitively viable. The choices made in deck selection are either play UR Delver or come with a serious plan to beat UR Delver. Pet decks are perfectly acceptable to build and enjoy, but if your desire is to win a large event like the recent MTGO Showcase Challenge, deck selection plays a key part in setting yourself up for success. Decks that try to make the boogieman sweat include Lands, Naya Depths, various Control piles (Jeskai, Grixis, Four-Color), Death & Taxes, Moon Stompy, and Elves. These decks rely on accessing a weak spot in UR Delver’s plan. Lands and Naya Depths tend to be able to ignore counter magic. Control decks seek to create card-advantageous exchanges over a long period of time. Elves can create incredible board states while ignoring counter magic as well. Each plan is a balancing act of planning for the best deck while not sacrificing too much game against the other decks of the format.
As we have opted to not play UR Delver here, we also need to have significant reasons backing our choice. Either our UR Delver matchup needs to be good, or we need to prey upon the decks that are hoping to beat up the best deck. Luckily for The EPIC Storm, we can plan to do both! Like many writers for this website have said before, The EPIC Storm v12.9 is tailor made to beat up on Blue decks in general, and specifically UR Delver. [[Galvanic Relay]] is a source of significant card advantage that we are uniquely situated to exploit. Paired with the best stack interaction/protection in the format ([[Veil of Summer]]), we can plan to grind Blue decks into the dirt. For all of the other decks that sit below UR Delver, many of them are not Blue decks. Focusing instead to play against fair decks, many of these strategies plan to have a poor Combo matchup. Lands, Elves, and Depths decks all have tools to beat The EPIC Storm, but not enough to make it a favorable pairing for them. The best thing these decks have against us is typically [[Collector Ouphe]]. Certainly a card that has the power to shut down a game all on its own, but our opponents need to survive long enough to deploy one and then dodge copies of [[Abrupt Decay]] and [[Chain of Vapor]] we bring in to counteract their plans. Moon Stompy and Death & Taxes are decks that see play at higher numbers too. These decks can be difficult for Storm to beat. [[Deafening Silence]] and [[Trinisphere]] put the brakes on our plans and they are backed up with fast clocks. Hopefully, being able to answer the first hate piece followed by a quick combo will be all you need for a win.
My name is Drake Sasser. I am tournament grinder, commentator, podcaster, and member of Playing With Power.
Right off the bat, we are introduced to one of the best meta choices that have been made to fight the UR Delver menace recently. Mono-R Stompy is an explosive, Prison-style deck that seeks to lock opponents under [[Chalice of the Void]], [[Blood Moon]], and [[Trinisphere]] while clocking their opponents with effects like [[Goblin Rabblemaster]]. There have been many iterations of this deck over the years, typically along an axis of having greater or fewer numbers of prison elements. [[Ensnaring Bridge]] was once a mainstay in the deck. Hiding behind its protection while slowly ticking up [[Chandra, Torch of Defiance]] was a sure way to victory. With the advent of [[Prismatic Ending]] being in main decks and [[Meltdown]] in the sideboard of several archetypes, this plan has seen less success. More aggressive builds have emerged to counteract this trend. This aggression seems to be the default setting for Mono-R Stompy decks at the moment, but all flavors of the deck exist out there. Never underestimate a Prison player’s ability to bring the spice.
As it pertains to The EPIC Storm, Prison decks have always been difficult. Packing main-deck copies of cards like [[Trinisphere]] and [[Chalice of the Void]] that can turn off our entire deck, we have to find a specific window in which to go off. That window usually follows the adage of “the earlier the better”. Sometimes an opponent will keep a starting hand and our disruption lines up perfectly. Other times we just need to goldfish a quick kill on the play. Whatever the position is, quick evaluations of when actions need to be taken or delayed is key.
-1 [[Defense Grid]], -3 [[Veil of Summer]]; +2 [[Chain of Vapor]], +2 [[Abrupt Decay]]
The first situation is deep into an unfortunate [[Ad Nauseam]]. It is turn four, we have not played a land for turn, and Storm is three. While flippinng cards, we revealed an [[Echo of Eons]] and multiple cantrips. The rough part is that we do not yet have Metlcraft for our copies of [[Mox Opal]]. If we did, this would be a trivial task. But we just revealed a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]! At the very least, our back-up plan is to Flashback our [[Echo of Eons]]. But that leaves us at the whim of our fresh seven cards. Is there a more reasonable line to victory?
I haven’t done all the math (and never would), but given we are dead on board and our hand does virtually nothing with this many cards, I’m not optimistic about it doing more post-[[Echo of Eons]], so I am taking another one flip of [[Ad Nauseam]]. With both the [[Echo of Eons]] itself, [[Ad Nauseam]], and two copies of [[Burning Wish]] out of the deck, there are only nine or so hits that kill us, and I like those odds on 37 cards. Going to one life is fine as we can always do the [[Echo of Eons]] thing if we brick and live. The upside is so high on hitting a [[Chrome Mox]], [[Lotus Petal]], or another [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] of which there are ten so the back of the napkin favors flipping again to win on the spot.
We are so close to having an easy win! We just need any of the remaining zero-mana artifacts in the deck so that [[Mox Opal]] can turn on and we have an easy line to lethal. There are nine remaining hits in our deck (copies of [[Lotus Petal]], [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], and [[Chrome Mox]]), and nine cards that kill us outright (copies of [[Tendrils of Agony]], [[Wishclaw Talisman]], [[Burning Wish]], and [[Abrupt Decay]]). We can also flip any of our remaining one-drops once, but that shuts off the [[Bloodstained Mire]] as a land for the turn. While there is a formula that can determine this answer mathematically, I think there is a simpler answer here. If we play [[Bloodstained Mire]] and cast [[Ponder]], we can see four cards deeper into the deck. [[Ad Nauseam]] is likely going to show us fewer cards than that before killing us.
The plan is set. We can finish resolving [[Ad Nauseam]] and play the [[Bloodstained Mire]] as our land for turn. Cracking it to find the [[Volcanic Island]] allows us to cast the [[Ponder]] from hand. Four looks at a win. If we don’t find it, we are forced to Flashback [[Echo of Eons]] using the [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. If we do find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we can deploy our zero-mana artifacts with the copies of [[Mox Opal]] being tapped to cast [[Rite of Flame]] and [[Dark Ritual]]. [[Burning Wish]] can then go get our sideboard [[Tendrils of Agony]] for the win!
The real question here is is the top of your deck more likely to win the game than a fresh seven cards? We have three [[Chrome Mox]], three [[Lotus Petal]], and three copies of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] left in our deck as successful hits. This means we have a 24 percent chance of flipping something we want to see. We have nine hits that end the game on the spot, which means the odds are even. The biggest issue here is that revealing a spell with a mana value of one shuts off our land drop and we have lots of those. You get to look at up to four cards with [[Ponder]] for our nine game winning artifacts, let’s just do that.
If we choose to keep revealing cards here, the only thing we would be hoping for is zero-mana artifacts. Anything one mana is no good and anything more than that and we lose the game. This comes down to what is more likely, revealing exactly a zero mana artifact or winning off of seven new cards with [[Echo of Eons]] with a [[Mox Opal]] in play. My thought would be the [[Echo of Eons]] line, so I would play the [[Mox Opal]] and use [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] for [[Echo of Eons]].
With [[Ad Nauseam]] still on the stack, there are three options: flip and try to hit another artifact, stop here, fetch cast [[Dark Ritual]] and then [[Echo of Eons]], or cast [[Ponder]] and look for that artifact to try to win on the spot. There are nine zero-mana artifacts left in the deck. Flipping here does not make sense because if a one is flipped, it turns off the only initial source of mana that this hand has. The odds of [[Ponder]] finding an artifact are 69 percent, and it even has the back up plan of casting [[Echo of Eons]] with no mana floating. The math for [[Echo of Eons]] with three mana floating is a bit harder, but a rough estimate of finding a tutor or the [[Tendrils of Agony]] itself gives also 69 percent. While these two lines are crazy close, taking the [[Ponder]] line is likely better. There are some cases in the [[Echo of Eons]] math where a tutor does not win the game and the [[Ponder]] line also has the back up of casting [[Echo of Eons]] with no mana floating, besides an untapped [[Mox Opal]]. I am stopping the [[Ad Nauseam]] here and casting [[Ponder]] to find an artifact.
SITUATION No. 2 — UR Delver
Groundhog Day. You wake up and the board state looks like it has every day for the past season. This article’s introduction serves as a primer for UR Delver, but a few extra things can be said here about the matchup itself. Games against the tempo menace when playing The EPIC Storm look very different than they have in the past. We are no longer the deck that tries to makes 10-12 [[Goblin Token]]s on turn one and hope to sneak across the finish line. We can take a little more time and get our feet under us before trying to combo. Seemingly contrary to this plan, we board out a key engine piece that our deck is known for: [[Ad Nauseam]]. This is because of the absolute power [[Galvanic Relay]] has in the matchup.
With the full playset of “Red Necro” in our 75, we morph into a card advantage fiend that is uniquely poised to take advantage of the permanent mana sources our deck has to offer. No other deck (save potentially The EPIC Gamble) can utilize [[Galvanic Relay]] so well. UR Delver players have difficult decisions in how to approach our spells. Do you counter a [[Rite of Flame]]? Probably not, it just leaves the more useful [[Burning Wish]] in my hand to be used later. Because of this, Storm can increase for our three-mana card advantage engine. Outside of [[Flusterstorm]] – a decidedly narrow card in the world of [[Teferi, Time Raveler]] and [[Narset, Parter of Veils]] – it is not easy to stop [[Galvanic Relay]]. The best part is the snowball potential of revealing another copy of [[Galvanic Relay]] to the first. Against UR Delver, as well as most Blue control decks, repeated turns spent on [[Galvanic Relay]] can end with an overabundance of resources with which to win the game. At that point, winning is almost inconsequential.
Many words have been written about how UR Delver is the best deck. They are true. It is easy to think of one’s matchup against UR Delver as positive, only to be reminded of the Legacy pecking order. Games against UR Delver are not easy as The EPIC Storm. They take skill to navigate. Even with correct play, [[Murktide Regent]] and a grip full of interaction can be impossible to beat, so the best way forward is through. Practicing the matchup and getting to a point where we are familiar with our role is key. There’s no better way to do it than playing the games and running through scenarios.
[[Galvanic Relay]] is the name of the game here. It is our turn three, and we have ten total cards available to us. On our opponent’s board there are two copies of [[Dragon’s Rage Channeler]] and a [[Counterbalance]]. Of note, our opponent is Hellbent and they do not know the top card of their library. Can we afford to “get lucky” against the [[Counterbalance]] or is there a more robust way of playing this turn out?
What an unfortunate life total. We don’t get two turns by an exact kill, we only get one, so that turns off most “safe” [[Empty the Warrens]] lines here. If you lead on [[Veil of Summer]] and there is a one-mana spell on top, you are just as hosed as if you got any other spell countered. The most appealing thing to me is to fire off [[Abrupt Decay]] at the [[Counterbalance]], cast our [[Rite of Flame]] for , [[Rite of Flame]] for , then [[Mox Opal]] and [[Burning Wish]] for [[Galvanic Relay]] number two. That exiles six cards that our opponent gets a single draw step to try and beat, plus a [[Mox Opal]] already in play to pair with any other artifacts hit off the [[Galvanic Relay]]. This is not a guarantee, but it’s safe. If I was less confident in [[Galvanic Relay]] number two, I would get risky by trying to beat every other mana value on top BUT one by leading on [[Veil of Summer]] but I think the higher percentage play is casting the [[Abrupt Decay]] on [[Counterbalance]]. There is a host of things you can assemble off [[Galvanic Relay]] on the following turn.
The one question you need to ask yourself is: do you feel lucky?
We could do nothing and hope to have [[Counterbalance]] reveal inconsequential cards during our combo turn, but this would be at the risk of losing the entire game. There isn’t enough mana to [[Abrupt Decay]] the enchantment in addition to assembling a win this turn as we are slightly choked on colors due an inability to use our large amounts of red mana with the [[Abrupt Decay]]. [[Veil of Summer]] could protect us during this turn, but one is the most common mana value of UR Delver so the gamble is risky too. As the game stands, we could [[Empty the Warrens]] for 12 [[Goblin Token]]s but that doesn’t beat the opponent’s clock – two copies of [[Dragon’s Rage Channeler]]. I see two options available and I like the one with higher payout
[[Galvanic Relay]]: We can start this turn by casting our [[Abrupt Decay]] on the [[Counterbalance]]. Fetch a [[Badlands]] with the [[Polluted Delta]]. From there, both copies of [[Rite of Flame]] can be cast (Storm 3 | ). [[Mox Opal]] can be cast to increase Storm count, and hopefully we can turn Metalcraft on next turn. [[Burning Wish]] into our sideboard [[Galvanic Relay]] will get us six new cards to use next turn. It would have to be enough.
[[Peer into the Abyss]]: A slightly riskier line gives us significantly better options to win the game right now. We can cast [[Veil of Summer]] to protect us from the [[Counterbalance]] through our combo turn. The risk is our opponent flipping one of their many one-mana cards. This is the risk we need to be willing to make to reach a winning line. If [[Veil of Summer]] resolves, we can deploy the copies of [[Rite of Flame]] just like before. Instead of only having red mana, we also have our [[Underground Sea]]. Use it and some of the floading mana to cast [[Wishclaw Talisman]] (Storm 4 | ). Tutor up a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and cast it. It now functions as a [[Black Lotus]] with [[Galvanic Relay]]. We can sacrifice the artifact for and cast [[Burning Wish]] (Storm 6 | ). Conveniently, the remaining mana is enough to cast [[Peer into the Abyss]] with floating. From there, we have a near-guaranteed win.
Sometimes we need to take calculated risk in order to set us up for the highest likelihood of success. Would a [[Galvanic Relay]] for six get us the win? Perhaps. But trying to get [[Veil of Summer]] to resolve has a significantly better chance of winning if it happens.
At first, I thought that it would be a no-brainer to begin by starting off by casting [[Abrupt Decay]], [[Rite of Flame]] for into [[Rite of Flame]] for , [[Mox Opal]], and then cast [[Burning Wish]] into [[Empty the Warrens]] for 12 [[Goblin Token]]s. The real issue here is that this line doesn’t race the two on-board copies of [[Dragon’s Rage Channeler]].
This means that we have three options, that said, I think they should all start on the same path: cast [[Mox Opal]] and seeing if our opponent is foolish enough to reveal their top card.
A similar line described as the one above, but instead of casting [[Empty the Warrens]] we play a [[Galvanic Relay]] for six fresh cards. The downside here is that we have no copies of [[Rite of Flame]] left in our deck and only 2 copies of [[Dark Ritual]]. It would be the top of their deck against our six fresh cards.
Play [[Veil of Summer]], assuming that it resolves you play the pair of [[Rite of Flame]] (), [[Wishclaw Talisman]], activate the [[Wishclaw Talisman]] for [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], [[Burning Wish]] into [[Peer into the Abyss]].
Play [[Veil of Summer]], assuming that it resolves, cast [[Brainstorm]], and hope for the goods.
It’s tough to say which line is better, but I’d probably take the [[Galvanic Relay]] line and not bank on the [[Veil of Summer]] to resolve.
I want the opponent to reveal off of [[Counterbalance]] on a card that I don’t care much about to then see how to play the rest of the turn. I would start off by playing the [[Mox Opal]]. If they chose to reveal a card I would then be able to navigate the rest of the turn around what they revealed. If they just revealed a zero and [[Mox Opal]] was countered I would then play [[Brainstorm]] to draw three cards and put back the two lands]]. That would probably give me enough resources to win the game with either [[Burning Wish]] or [[Wishclaw Talisman]]. If a one or two mana card was revealed, then I would [[Abrupt Decay]] the [[Counterbalance]] and go for a [[Burning Wish]] for [[Galvanic Relay]] to setup a win on the following turn.
Given that the opponent has no cards in hand, the [[Counterbalance]] is the only thing that matters. I would start by casting [[Mox Opal]] to see if the opponent will reveal to it. If they do not, I would cast [[Brainstorm]]. If there is a one on top, I want to be able to cast [[Burning Wish]] and hope to draw a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] next turn. The [[Brainstorm]] is also a card that they might flip on and gives more options. Starting on [[Veil of Summer]] gives similar results, but without the upside of casting the [[Brainstorm]]. [[Abrupt Decay]]ing the [[Counterbalance]] does not lead to more actions, as it leaves us with just four mana. [[Brainstorm]] into [[Burning Wish]] for another [[Galvanic Relay]] seems like the best option here.
SITUATION No. 3 — GB Depths
Strategies involving [[Dark Depths]] have been popular ever since the printing of the card in Coldsnap. Various builds have been used over the years, with the best performing versions currently being in Green and White – often with a Red splash for [[Pyroblast]] effects. The tried and true GB Depths will always be plugging along! Typically a more “turbo” build, the goal is to use [[Thespian Stage]] or [[Vampire Hexmage]] to remove the counters from [[Dark Depths]] and summon [[Marit Lage]] – the game-winning 20/20. This is backed up with an extensive discard suite in [[Thoughtseize]] and [[Duress]], protection in the form of [[Sejiri Steppe]] and [[Not of This World]], and redundancy with [[Crop Rotation]] or other tutor effects. [[Elvish Reclaimer]] has ushered in a minor renaissance for the deck, operating as both tutor and [[Delver of Secrets]]-like threat. Although GB Depths has not seen as much play since trophy leader Negator77 played and popularized Rainbow Depths (with rainbow lands to dodge [[Submerge]] and cast [[Stifle]]), the archetype still presents their opponents with a threatening clock and powerful disruption.
As it pertains to The EPIC Storm, GB Depths can sometimes be a difficult matchup. While our [[Veil of Summer]] lines up excellently against discard spells, their fast clock puts pressure on us to combo before they can assemble their win. Out of the sideboard, [[Force of Vigor]] can also disrupt some of our plans to deploy permanents like [[Wishclaw Talisman]] underneath potential copies of [[Thoughtseize]]. While we do have [[Chain of Vapor]] that comes in as simple removal for [[Marit Lage]], this is really a function of two ships passing in the night. While our ship is built for speed, GB Depths can match our speed while also presenting disruption. The matchup tends to be in their favor because of this.
It is not often that we come across [[Thoughtseize]] decks. When we do, the best feeling in the world is to top-deck the exact same card that was discarded the turn prior. We just drew a copy of [[Burning Wish]] and have a relatively unassuming board state from our opponent. [[Crop Rotation]] can certainly change that in an instant. For now, we just have to contend with an [[Elvish Reclaimer]] – a decidedly slower tutor. Of note, this is game one and we still have [[Galvanic Relay]] in our deck. Without the ability to win this turn, we could set up a [[Galvanic Relay]], plan for a [[Peer into the Abyss]], or do something else. What option would you choose to balance disruption avoidance and trying to combo before our opponent can get set up?
We aren’t dead next turn for sure, so we are in good shape on the following turn. Therefore, the scariest thing our opponent can have is a follow-up discard spell. This draws me towards [[Galvanic Relay]], but given that our opponent only has two cards and the [[Galvanic Relay]] would be for a very low number, I don’t think we need to get desperate. The way this game will play out is either they don’t have the discard spell, and a [[Peer into the Abyss]] should be an easy win on the next turn, or they DO have the discard spell and we have to either [[Echo of Eons]] or [[Galvanic Relay]] on the following turns with our opponent unable to actually set up a turn four kill. Because of this, I would rather overload on payoff and setup any land or other useable mana for [[Peer into the Abyss]] with the downside of using our other payoffs. If we draw a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]], I would be hard pressed to use it on the [[Echo of Eons]], but I would cast it either way.
Since we know our opponent has led with discard, there is less of a chance there is another in hand. Because of this, getting [[Peer into the Abyss]] is significantly more appealing here. With the inability to reveal more than three cards with [[Galvanic Relay]], the option here is pretty clear. We just need one extra mana to cast [[Peer into the Abyss]]. With a large amount of good draws, playing into their potential discard is the line.
I would just search up [[Peer into the Abyss]]. Casting [[Galvanic Relay]] here feels like a waste of resources.
I really don’t think there is any rush here. The opponent can’t win on their next turn and our hand is pretty good against discard spells as we have redundant pieces. I don’t think trading these copies of [[Dark Ritual]] for random cards off [[Galvanic Relay]] is that good here. I would just pass the turn and take another draw step. We get closer to [[Peer into the Abyss]] with more mana we draw. If the opponent discard the [[Burning Wish]], then we still have [[Galvanic Relay]] or drawing a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] to [[Echo of Eons]] with a lot of mana floating.
Casting [[Galvanic Relay]] is probably the worst option this turn. It only draws three cards and burns two copies of [[Dark Ritual]]. This is especially bad given that the choke point of this game seems to be mana. That leaves two options: cast [[Burning Wish]] for [[Peer into the Abyss]] or just play the land and pass. In order to cast [[Echo of Eons]], we need to draw a [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] or another blue source or black source. To cast [[Peer into the Abyss]], we can draw any mana. Getting [[Peer into the Abyss]] does incentivize the opponent to take a [[Dark Ritual]] with a discard spell, but I would just get [[Peer into the Abyss]] and pass here, making sure to fetch a [[Badlands]] so any blue source allows [[Echo of Eons]] to be cast.
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Jordan Karim is a biochemistry lab manager that enjoys solving questions about the microscopic as well as about Legacy combo turns. In his free time Jordan can be found playing Magic with friends, watching movies/TV, or searching for the next tasty new restaurant.
His favorite Magic card is Dark Ritual and his favorite deck is God-Pharaoh’s Gift from Hour of Devastation standard.
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