Welcome readers, to a new Legacy! Wizards of the Coast announced the banning of two cards from the Legacy format earlier this month: [[Expressive Iteration]] and [[White Plume Adventurer]]. The rationale for these changes was to take the two dominant decks of Legacy and move them more into step with the remaining meta. UR Delver and Initiative Stompy need no introduction if you have played the format in the past several months. They have been ubiquitous in any large event — clearly in the top finishes or more subtly by forcing players to respect their power as they register other decks. Much in the same way Wizards of the Coast nerfed Temur Energy and Ramunap Red in Standard at the same time, this banning will take the best deck and its direct successor down a peg (or two) to allow a larger number of strategies the opportunity to succeed. This opens up the Legacy metagame significantly, as decks that were previously stifled by the raw efficiency of UR Delver and Initiative Stompy can now be allowed to flourish again.
Alex McKinley wrote preliminary thoughts on the shape they thought Legacy would take shortly after the ban announcement. Within the article were lists of winners and losers that were indirectly affected by the changes. Let’s dive a little deeper into those thoughts here:
- Lands-based strategies like Naya Depths and Lands have improved standings now that Initiative Stompy is less prevalent, as these grindy decks struggled with the Initiative mechanic as well as strong removal options like [[Solitude]].
- Another swath of decks that will seek to take advantage of this shift are the Legacy Control decks. [[Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath]] was laughable in the face of [[White Plume Adventurer]] no matter how good a UR Delver matchup the deck could claim. Likewise, [[Standstill]] and [[Predict]] have been withering under the shadow being cast by [[Expressive Iteration]] and its card advantage dominance. Will UW or Jeskai Control be coming back with a top-of-the-library-matters sub-theme? Is Sharkstill a viable strategy again? Time will only tell as the new meta adjusts.
- Initiative Stompy was quickly regarded as a better deck and strategy than the classic Death & Taxes. Now, however, there is an opportunity for Death & Taxes to take advantage of this new meta. Traditionally good against Control decks that are expected to make a resurgence, [[Yorion, Sky Nomad]] adds a lot of grind potential now that the format is less demanding of early turns.
- Losers of this announcement (outside of those directly impacted by the ban of course) include decks that predominantly saw their success through targeting the top meta. Decks like Painter and Cephalid Breakfast were both disruptive combo decks that saw success skyrocket in recent months. As their preferred metagame shrinks, players will need to determine what changes are required of their strategy to stay successful.
Following any Legacy ban announcement, the metagame becomes more open. Players flock to events and leagues to try out technology either passed over or buried long ago. A new card just now being allowed to truly shine is [[Mercurial Spelldancer]]. It may have serious chops regarding card advantage if UR Delver can adjust to playing it. Another card that UR Delver pilots can’t help but play is [[Stifle]]. The so-called “glory days” of the card’s viability have long since passed, but the feelings of a successful mana-denial plan being realized are apparently too good to pass up. Just like the rise and fall of Mariah Carrey’s yearly popularity in December, [[Stifle]] will wax and wane just as quickly. Until then, watch out for your fetch lands and Storm triggers.
Among the decks that have adjusted to a more open metagame, The EPIC Storm has made changes that reflect expectations in the decks likely to be faced. With fewer [[Archon of Emeria]] running around, the [[Slaughter Pact]] in our sideboard was not looking as effective against a meta where we expected more Death & Taxes than Initiative Stompy. To that end, we have brought back [[Massacre]] as a sideboard [[Burning Wish]] target for those matchups. It has also been useful in removing [[Collector Ouphe]] from pesky 4C Control decks! Having access to this kind of tool was not helpful when the threats being faced had at least three toughness ([[White Plume Adventurer]], [[Archon of Emeria]], and [[Seasoned Dungeoneer]]). Now that the expected frequency of those cards has lessened, more broadly useful cards can be used.
(Twitter: @faultedform | Discord: faultedform#2211
Faulted Form is an MTGO Legacy league grinder with a fondness for aggressive strategies. They consider themselves a deck specialist focusing on Golgari Turbo Depths and Oops! All Spells, having achieved four Legacy Challenge top 8 finishes (two with each deck.) They have put a lot of work into fine tuning the current Oops! All Spells deck list as well as creating an extensive guide on how to use Memory’s Journey in the deck. Faulted Form can be found grinding leagues on MTGO or moderating the Oops! All Spells discord channel and discussing strategy.
the epic Storm
- 4 [[Brainstorm]]
- 4 [[Mishra’s Bauble]]
- 4 [[Wishclaw Talisman]]
- 4 [[Burning Wish]]
- 3 [[Galvanic Relay]]
- 1 [[Ad Nauseam]]
- 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
- 2 [[Orim’s Chant]]
- 2 [[Silence]]
- 4 [[Rite of Flame]]
- 4 [[Dark Ritual]]
- 4 [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]
- 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
- 4 [[Mox Opal]]
- 3 [[Chrome Mox]]
- 4 [[Bloodstained Mire]]
- 2 [[Scalding Tarn]]
- 1 [[Marsh Flats]]
- 1 [[Underground Sea]]
- 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
- 1 [[Bayou]]
- 1 [[Scrubland]]
- 1 [[Plateau]]
- 4 [[Prismatic Ending]]
- 3 [[Thoughtseize]]
- 1 [[Galvanic Relay]]
- 1 [[Empty the Warrens]]
- 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
- 1 [[Massacre]]
- 1 [[Aeve, Progenitor Ooze]]
- 1 [[Pulverize]]
- 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
- 1 [[Peer into the Abyss]]
SITUATION No. 1 — Doomsday
As far as strategies that get better post-banning are concerned, [[Doomsday]] was one of the most widely discussed among them. Notorious for being favored against a wide field while struggling against UR Delver, the influx of Initiative Stompy seemed to have curbed the growth of one of the most powerful combo decks in Legacy. Now that both of these decks are seeing a nerf, will [[Doomsday]] see a resurgence amongst [[Dark Ritual]] lovers? One thing to note is that at the highest levels, pilots of the deck are suggesting that [[Doomsday]] will get worse overall. Max Carini (a previous guest of this article series) thinks that their matchup was already favored against UR Delver and Initiative Stompy and the more open metagame that we expect will bring those win rates down. The metagame is still in its infancy and those small shifts will have to be seen over several weeks of testing.
[[Doomsday]] continues to be a threatening strategy in Legacy, regardless of the metagame it faces. [[Thassa’s Oracle]] allows for significant power to be held within a five-card library. [[Force of Will]], [[Daze]], [[Force of Negation]], [[Grief]], and even [[Subtlety]] were seen as zero-mana interaction prior to the B&R announcement; not to mention [[Thoughtseize]] and [[Duress]]. Cheap and effective interaction has always been a hallmark of [[Doomsday]] and will remain so. Because of this, The EPIC Storm struggles in the matchup. Our Storm strategy loses effectiveness against decks that present both [[Force of Will]] and a quick clock. Thankfully, changes to The EPIC Storm have made those weaknesses less problematic. With the [[Orim’s Chant]]/[[Silence]] inclusion, we have dual-mode protection AND interaction cards in our main deck. Allowing interaction post-[[Doomsday]] has enabled The EPIC Storm to function competitively in places previously unavailable. Sideboarding [[Thoughtseize]] can also proactively disrupt them. Perhaps the matchup is still unfavored, but the needle has shifted closer to the midline than before.
-3 [[Galvanic Relay]]; +3 [[Thoughtseize]]
As our first puzzle this month, we are looking at a resolved [[Doomsday]] and a handful (hand full) of choices! This is game one of the match, so our sideboard discard spells were of no help. Quite a lot has already happened. Let’s take a look at the sequence of events thus far:
- Our opponent was on the play and spent their first turn using [[Duress]] to discard a copy of [[Wishclaw Talisman]]
- [[Doomsday]] resolved on our opponent’s second turn after we used a land and [[Mishra’s Bauble]] to scry (Five cards in library)
- Our opponent tapped their [[Underground Sea]] for and sacrificed the land to cycle [[Edge of Autumn]]
- During one of their fetches, we cast [[Silence]] to stop their ability to combo that turn. They subsequently passed back to us. (Two cards in library)
We know that within their hand or library is another [[Force of Will]], but it is unlikely to be in hand as our opponent would have interacted with the [[Silence]], right? The contents of our opponent’s remaining cards should be simple to ascertain (simple, not easy) from the pile of exiled cards we see on the left of the screenshot. From there, we can potentially plan around interaction. Our draw for the turn, the [[Ad Nauseam]], was very nice. Is it really what we want to do? Can you find a sneakier way to win? Is sneaky worth it?
SITUATION No. 2 — Winonta Initiative Stompy
Wait a second, didn’t Initiative Stompy get hit with a ban? Even though that did happen, the deck is still marching onward without the early threat of [[White Plume Adventurer]]. These Initiative strategies are in a testing period right now. Several iterations are being worked on including Gruul, Boros, Naya, and even Bant variants. Phil Gallagher (ThrabenU) put up an excellent showing with a Boros deck that contained [[Winota, Joiner of Forces]]. Most commonly seen in the competitive EDH realm, she slots nicely into a deck that can quickly power large creatures out. Paired with something like [[Goblin Rabblemaster]], [[Winota, Joiner of Forces]] can reliably trigger; finding cards like [[Seasoned Dungeoneer]] and [[Caves of Chaos Adventurer]]. If this deck looks familiar, you would be correct! The cards being used are very similar to Moon Stompy. [[Chalice of the Void]] is a main element of disruption here. But unlike Moon Stompy, Winonta Initiative Stompy seeks to put faster clocks onto the board instead of more lock pieces (like [[Blood Moon]] or [[Trinisphere]]).
-3 [[Galvanic Relay]], -2 [[Orim’s Chant]], -2 [[Silence]]; +4 [[Prismatic Ending]], +3 [[Thoughtseize]]
Our opponent’s first turn in a post-board game two was quite aggressive. Deploying a four-drop Initiative creature as well as a [[Chalice of the Void]] with no Charge counters. Our moderately disruptive hand will need to also be explosive if we are to win this. Our options are limited for our first turn, but we have a few game plans that we can explore. Based on our opponent’s board and only one card in hand, can we reliably plan for that in the following turns?
SITUATION No. 3 — Gruul Initiative Stompy
Another Initiative deck? The brewers are out in force trying to explore every inch of ground for the next piece of technology that will break open the post-ban Initiative decks. This opponent has opted for a Gruul Stompy deck with maindeck [[Trinisphere]], [[Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes]], and a standard array of Initiative creatures starting with [[Caves of Chaos Adventurer]].
-3 [[Galvanic Relay]], -2 [[Orim’s Chant]], -2 [[Silence]]; +4 [[Prismatic Ending]], +3 [[Thoughtseize]]
Another turn-one decision awaits us with this scenario. Finding the line is not the puzzle here, but picking the RIGHT line will make all of the difference. Our hand is quite explosive — exactly what you would hope for against a permanent-based Prison deck. Getting under their disruption will allow us to avoid the likes of [[Trinisphere]] and [[Chalice of the Void]]. The one thing we are vulnerable to is [[Mindbreak Trap]]. Can we sequence our opening turn to play around this? What line should we take? Why?
Want to see your play?
We’re now allowing for fan-based submissions for “Infernal Tutoring!” In order to submit, scroll down to the footer to the contact form. Attach your screenshot, describe the situation in detail, and press submit!
Disclaimer: Regarding the details of the scenarios, we do not want what the outcome of the situation is. For example, if the question is, “Do I go for it here?” do not tell the team if your opponent had [[Force of Will]] or not. This information honestly doesn’t matter for our purposes and it doesn’t change the answer if it’s correct or not to cast the business spell. Thank you for your understanding.
- Use the subject line of “Infernal Tutoring”
- Write what list you are playing and if there’s anything special about your list compared to the current stock version. Scenarios that contain the current list are more likely to be selected.
- If possible, please resize your images to be no larger than 1400px wide and preferably under 125kb. This will make our job easier, if you’re unfamiliar how to do this that’s okay too. Still message us with your scenarios!