Legacy – why you should start playing with the old cards

April 30, 2014

I am not an expert at tapping dual lands, but I do love the format anyway. You need a lot of time to follow all the articles and recent winning decks to be prepared for the format and often you cannot find any good players to play with. The good news is that you can now play Legacy on Magic Online, because many very expensive cards of the format are in Vintage Masters, making them available online for the first time! If you haven’t started picking up dual lands and Force of Will and similar cards you should do so now. It is a very safe prediction that those cards will not become cheaper anytime soon.
The main reason for most of the players to stay away from Legacy in paper Magic is the amount of money they have to spend to build a deck and also the lack of competitive tournaments here in Central Europe. There is only one Grand Prix per year in the United States and one in Europe. But there are other big tournaments like the Bazaar of Moxen and other Opens. Also, at every GP there is a Legacy Tournament you can train your skills at and win some impressive prizes, if you’re not playing day 2 of the GP. From the competitive point of view I can see that there is not much time to prepare for those events, on top of all those GPs, PTs and PTQs in Modern, Standard and Limited, as it is kind of hard to play your best Magic in such a deep format with so many cards available, while also succeeding in “regular” tournament magic. I am a competitive player and I love the other formats as well, but the best thing about legacy is the huge card pool and the fact that you can play with all those great cards from many years ago and even newer strategies are possible. There are always a few cards out of every new set that are playable in Legacy. Good examples would be Deathrite Shaman, Emrakul the Aeons Torn and yes I have to mention Ghost Quarter here.

I am going to write a few articles about my process to get better in Legacy and where I am at the moment. I want to try out a lot of decks on Magic Online and improve my knowledge of the format, because I missed day 2 two times with a 6-3 record in the last 2 Legacy Grand Prix. I am always striving to improve myself at every aspect of the game.

When you start playing legacy you should avoid cards like Thoughtseize in your deck, because when you cast it you will face a full hand of awesome cards and you can pick only one. You have to know all the decks very well to make the right choice there. A good starting point is a deck with a solid strategy. Burn is maybe the number one choice if you don’t want to have many choices during a game. Most of the time the only thing you have to do is count to twenty. Well, it is not always that easy, but you get my point. What you have to do is to learn your deck, learn to know what other decks can do and how they interact with each other. That is a lot of work to do, but I can promise it is also a lot of fun.

I just mentioned Ghost Quarter in the section about new(ish) cards which might surprise some readers. Ghost Quarter is not an obvious legacy card as Wasteland is just a better version of the card. Many decks are using Wasteland to destroy the opponent’s mana base and get ahead on tempo. But what if we are not just using a limited amount of land destruction like the 4 Wastelands most other Legacy players are packing? Using the land destruction strategy is not that complicated. Most of the time your opponent can only play one land per turn – therefore, we have to keep up with destroying one land per turn. There are some exceptions like Exploration out of the Lands or Enchantress deck and some decks play Chrome Mox, Mox Diamond or Lotus Petal. And some decks like Dredge, Storm and Belcher actually don’t need (many) lands. But there is still room to play a deck with a land destruction strategy.

Land destruction decks are as old as magic is. Maybe some of you remember the Ponza decks with Stone Rain and Pillage from the past. A few years ago Wizards started to only print 4 Mana Land Destruction spells, because people actually want to cast their spells. Being screwed on mana always feels bad. Let’s look at some decks, that did that anyway

CHRIS BENAFEL US Nationals 2000

  • 4 Avalanche Riders
  • 3 Masticore
  • 3 Cave In
  • 3 Earthquake
  • 3 Fire Diamond
  • 3 Hammer of Bogardan
  • 4 Pillage
  • 4 Seal of Fire
  • 2 Shock
  • 4 Stone Rain
  • 2 Tectonic Break
  • 4 Rishadan Port
  • 3 Dust Bowl
  • 4 Ghitu Encampment
  • 14 Mountain
  • 4 Boil
  • 4 Cursed Totem
  • 1 Earthquake
  • 2 Tectonic Break
  • 4 Thran Foundry
  • Pillage
  • Stone Rain
  • Avalanche Rider
  • Tectonic Break
  • Rishadan Port
  • Dust Bowl
  • Creatures
  • Phyrexian Revoker
  • 2
  • Aven Mindcensor
  • Leonin Arbiter
  • Mother of Runes
  • 2
  • Stoneforge Mystic
  • Spirit of the Labyrinth
  • 2
  • Mangara of Corondor
  • Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

This is my version of Death & Taxes I played a few months ago at the BoM 9 Legacy Main Event. I made Top 8 with 8 wins and 2 intentional draws __ but then lost in the quarter finals to Elves because he killed me on Turn 3 in two out of three games. I had a lot of fun in the tournament and if there were a legacy tournament tomorrow I would bring this exact list to the table.

The strategy of playing with 8 Wastelands worked out, and even Mangara of Corondor and Karakas worked pretty well together. Leonin Arbiter killed so many fetchlands with Aether Vial in play.

They key to victory with the land destruction version is to keep your opponent away from mana sources and get ahead on board with some creatures.

Let’s have a look at a few very good decks in Legacy and you will see how vulnerable they are against Ghost Quarter, Leonin Arbiter and Aven Mindcensor.

In the last 3 Opens in Somerset, Worcester and Cincinnati we had 17 different decks in the top 8.

Patriot 0 Basic Lands
Burn 12 Mountains
Shardless BUG 0 Basic Lands
Pox 2 Swamp 1 Forest
Belcher 0 Basic Lands
Berserk Stompy 1 Forest
Deathblade 0 Basic Lands
UWR Delver 0 Basic Lands
12 Post 2 Island 1 Forest
RW Painter 4 Mountain 4 Plains
UG Infect 1 Forest
Merfolk 12 Island
Death & Taxes 11Plains
RUG Delver 0 Basic Lands
Reanimator 2 Island 2 Swamp
Elves 3 Forest
Sneak and Show 3 Island 1 Mountain

There are not many Basic Lands in those decks, so Ghost Quarter is a good card. Burn shouldn’t be in your favor game 1 and game 2 and 3 is all about turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic into Batterskull. Never played against Merfolk, but that might be a tough one, too.

What I want tell you this time is that you should know if it is possible that your opponent runs Basic Lands, and if he does, how many. You should know if your Ghost Quarter is already a Wasteland or if you need a Leonin Arbiter or Aven Mindcensor to make it one. Legacy Decks are similar but not every player runs the exact 75 that won the last big tournament.

1st Place Open Cincinnati – Per Nystrom

Per Nystrom played Death & Taxes at the Open and won the whole tournament. While this is a very different deck from mine, I also like his version a lot. I am not able to run 4 Stoneforge Mystic main deck because I need room for 4 Leonin Arbiter and they do not work very well together. I also run three more lands, because I don’t want to use Wasteland, Ghost Quarter and Rishadan Port as mana sources.

In my next article I am going to write about how I play every matchup and which cards I bring in out of my sideboard. Maybe i am also able to record a video, but I need to get familiar with the new client first. I like the Death & Taxes Land Destruction deck in the current version, but i might change some cards or I might go back to the original Death & Taxes version my fellow teammate Michael Bonde played a lot and Per Nystrom won the Open with.

The legacy format is a huge journey for me, between all those other formats on the GP and PT circuit. I would love it if you join me on this trip and I am grateful for every comment.

Until next time



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