Legacy Lessons: Top 6 Decks, Top 6 Recommendations

by Philipp Schönegger on 24 June 2015, Wednesday

Legacy 
Philipp Schönegger

 Introduction

 

Hello and welcome to my first article that I’m writing for MTG Mint Card!

 

First and foremost, let me introduce myself quickly, for those of you who don’t know me. I’m Philipp Schönegger, a Legacy enthusiast from Austria. I’ve made Top 8 at both Legacy Grand Prix last year, those being Paris and New Jersey. Sadly though I only made 4th place on both of them, denying me of the title I was craving for.

 

I’ve been mostly focusing on Miracles, which was the deck that I made Top 64, Top 8 and Top 8 with at my last three Legacy Grand Prix. I’m also responsible for the construction of the so called 4-Ponder-Miracles which is arguably the best deck in Legacy.

 

But enough of introductions, let’s get it going, shall we?

 

 

Grand Prix Lille's Next Week!

 

Grand Prix Lille is approaching very quickly, so it does seem like a perfect opportunity to offer those who aren’t really involved in the format a quick overview while also providing a decent strategic edge to those are well versed in the ways of Legacy.

 

 

Furthermore I’ll try to keep it as short as possible which should enable me to tackle a format as massive as Legacy while still offering enough information for readers with different kinds of experience.

 

This huge article will consist of three main sections:


1) Let us first talk about the event itself first and touch on the state of the metagame.

 

2) I will also be including a detailed Primer on the six most successful decks in the format

 

3) Also, I will touch on which six decks I recommend for Grand Prix Lille.

 

 

 

Expectations For The Legacy Grand Prix

 

Legacy has been a format where it’s been said that you can play literally anything and still do well with it. While this isn’t true if your goal is reaching the Top 8 or winning the whole tournament, it still holds true if you’re going into a tournament wielding the pet deck you’ve been tuning since years.

 

But let’s assume we’d all want to win the Grand Prix, what does the field look like?

 

Well, it’s a Legacy Grand Prix.

 

#1: There will be a lot of Tier 1 Decks.

 

They’ll be widely played by the good and by the not so good players.

 

By the good because they want to win and have the skill and experience to do so and by the less experienced ones because they want their deck to help them float to the top, which doesn’t work with most tier decks as it’s incredibly difficult to pilot them somewhat reasonably.

 

The deck alone will not win you a Grand Prix. It also has to correlate with your skill. There’s no way you cannot think about the tier decks when preparing for your tournament. Closing your eyes and hoping that your opponents will not start with Sensei's Divining Top, Delver of Secrets or cast Show and Tell is delusional.

 

#2: There will be some Tier 2 Decks or Rogue Decks.

 

There will be people with High Tide, Aluren or NicFit. People will play what they like, even though it’s objectively a clearly inferior deck to most widely played decks. Keeping it in mind that you’ll eventually, especially, but not exclusively, play against so called rogue strategies is important.

 

High Tide Aluren Veteran Explorer

 

I mean, back at Grand Prix Ghent I faced Cephalid Breakfast, another example for the wonderful names that this format has! If your deck is solely geared towards a couple of decks you might run the risk of getting knocked out by decks you didn’t expect.

 

Cephalid Illusionist

 

But the top tables will be well defined, though they’ll not only consistent of the 6 decks that I’ll talk about in detail later. You will most likely not be able to find Pox, Solidarity or Enchantress but there will be decks that aren’t at the apex of the format.

 

Pox Reset Argothian Enchantress

 

A prime example is Canadian Threshold, which isn’t the best deck right now but as Legacy is rather expensive and people get easily emotionally drawn towards a deck, which makes change hard, as human beings just do not like change. That’s why you can never ignore Canadian Threshold, Jund or Stoneblade as part of a preparation. They’ll not be there in masses, but they will be there, and you might very well face them.

 

#3: Blue will be all around!

 

Pyroblast Red Elemental Blast

 

The metagame will also be predominantly blue, making maindecked Pyroblasts / Red Elemental Blasts a valid choice for many decks throughout the spectrum.

 

Not ever deck can do so, but those who can afford are certainly well advised to do just that as it doesn’t just hit one of the Ponders, but this card is crucial in stopping cards that some decks are built around like Show and Tell, Delver of Secrets or, to some extent, Counterbalance or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Having access to fight Dig Through Time at a very cheap cost is also crucial as this card will be abused by several different decks from across the spectrum.

 

Force of Will Show and Tell Jace, the Mind Sculptor

 

 

#4: Some decks will try to punish and oppress the Blue decks.

 

Despite the large blue percentage there will be enough decks that are non-blue which will try their hardest to punish everybody for playing the objectively best cards. Obviously there are also non-blue decks that do not prey on the blue but those aren’t really competitive as there just isn’t a good reason not to run it as long as you don’t have a good plan against it.

 

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

 

The two most prominent decks that do in fact prey on blue are Death and Taxes, which we’ll talk about more later, and MUD, the brown-colored artifact based deck that can be built towards both, the control and aggro spectrum. With access to Chalice of the Void and Trinisphere it’s perfectly well equipped to shut down those pesky Brainstorms.

 

Chalice of the Void Trinisphere

 

Concluding, the field will be diverse. You will not be able to just ignore a whole bunch of decks, especially in the first day, where you’ll have to slog through a lot of unexpected stuff. Tuning your deck for the very apex of the format will be something that will reward you in the later stages of the second day, but make sure to not prepare for this only.

 

15 rounds is a long time, and it’s Legacy after all!

 

 

The Top 6 Performing Decks

 

The foundation will be the metagame analysis from TC decks (tcdecks.net) which gives us all a good overview which decks are popular right now and worth talking about, in terms of preparation for the Grand Prix in Lille!

 

I’ll talk about the Top 6 performing decks, according to this very graph. You can click on it to view a bigger version!

 

 

 

 

Top Deck #1: Miracles

 

Let’s start with a deck that is very close to my heart as it’s accompanied me on many adventures throughout Europe and the United States, Miracles. Coincidentally though, it was and is one of the best decks ever since the mechanic entered the Legacy cardpool with Avacyn Restored.

 

The Miracles archetype is the premiere Control deck of Legacy with a Blue-White base and a mandatory, yet still somewhat small, Red-splash. The basic deck relies around the combination of Sensei's Divining Top with two different branches of the deck namely:

 

Terminus Entreat the Angels

 

a) The namesake Miracle spells being 4 Terminus and 2 Entreat the AngelsSensei's Divining Top enables you to not draw these spells when you don’t want them while also granting you the ability to cast them at a moment’s notice (read: instant speed) should you desire their effect by tapping your Top in your opponents turn, triggering the Miracle trigger.

 

Counterbalance Sensei's Divining Top

 

b) Counterbalance. While this card isn’t really intended to be a lock piece with Sensei’s Divining Top on the one hand, it’s an undeniably potent piece in suppressing most of Legacy’s decks in a meaningful way that doesn’t quite lock them out in the traditional sense but rather limits their possible velocity of play. It’s the only way to generate card advantage for Miracles and is essential in winning the long game.

 

Brainstorm Ponder

 

The deck plays Brainstorm and Ponder in addition to Sensei's Divining Top in order to enable it to function properly despite a large number of clunky spells like the before mentioned Miracle spells or Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Dig Through Time and sometimes, depending on the situation Counterspell and Council's Judgment.

 

The deck's primary gameplan revolves around getting to the late stages of the game with help of Force of Will and Counterbalance when it comes to unfair strategies and Terminus in conjunction with Swords to Plowshares and Snapcaster Mage when they’re trying to beat you down with creatures.

 

 

Swords to Plowshares Snapcaster Mage

 

Once arrived in the late game, Miracles can abuse engines like Sensei's Divining Top and Counterbalance to create card advantage or land game winning bombs like Jace, the Mind Sculptor or resolve a decently sized Entreat the Angels at the end of your opponents turn. The problem is getting to those stages, though.

 

So let’s take a look at a good list, shall we? I can’t really give you the list that I’ll be playing at the GP but what I can do is give you one of the testing lists that we had and were pretty good! It’s also the foundation of what I’ll wield at the Grand Prix itself.

 

 

So how does one beat Miracles? Well, that’s not all that easy, to be perfectly honest. There are a couple of general things that you can keep in mind when it comes to dealing with the blue-white-red colored menace.

 

1. Sensei's Divining Top is important. And it’s not.

 

What I mean by that is that it’s very important to shut off the artifact. It is, however, not as essential to the gameplan to warrant a Force of Will on the first turn.

 

Do yourself a favor and do not cast Force of Will on a Top that’s cast on the first turn as you probably won’t be able to deal with a follow up bomb like Counterbalance that might just shut your whole deck down.

 

If you can cast Spell Pierce, Daze or take it with Thoughtseize, then for god’s sake, go for it. On the postboard games you should focus on cards that are potent against Top like Pithing Needle and Null Rod.

 

Spell Pierce Null Rod

 

 

b) Pick the battles you can win.

 

Some decks are very good at resource denial, which means that they have access to Wasteland in conjunction to something else like Stifle, Rishadan Port or Life from the Loam.

 

Some decks on the other hand do only pack a playset of Wastelands and hope for the best. Trying to screw Miracles with a half-hearted package like this isn’t going to work well. Focus on the battles you want and need to win, not the ones that present themselves.

 

c) Create card advantage.

 

Miracles is very bad at dealing with card advantage as it’s fundamentally built around card quality. If you can resolve Ancestral Vision while still being in the game one way or the other is a good way to offset Miracles’ balance. Cards to consider here are Planeswalkers like Elspeth, Knight Errant, artifacts like Crucible of Worlds or enchantments like Sylvan Library.

 

Crucible of Worlds Sylvan Library

 

d) Know when to overextend and when to play it slow.

 

It’s not one or the other. It’s the ability to understand the gamestate and read the opponent. If your deck is very weak to Counterbalance and you have no means to deal with them then it’s better to play this second creature you’ve been holding for a while now before they lock you out, stripping you off your last possibilities to interact.

 

If you feel comfortable that your deck can keep up in the later stages in the game then focus on making Terminus as bad as possible by committing as little to the board as possible while still presenting a decent clock, which means at least 2 damage a turn, though a Deathrite Shaman isn’t really considered a decent clock when Miralces is still around 20 life at the time the Shaman enters the battlefield.

 

Decks to play against Miracles: Grixis Control or Shardless BUG

 

 

Top Deck #2: Omni-Tell

 

OmniTell is a mostly mono-Blue combo deck that revolves around the card Show and Tell to cheat some of the best cards in Magic’s history in play, namely Omniscience.

 

Show and Tell Omniscience

 

With this enchantment hitting play things turn ugly pretty quickly. Ideally it’d be followed by a Cunning Wish that’ll grab a Firemind's Foresight, which will get a 1cc cantrip, a cc2 spell of choice, mostly Impulse, and another Cunning Wish which will then go for Eladamri’s Call which will grab Emrakul and cast it for free. Some lists have additional routes to go via Release the Ants but hardcasting Emrakul via Omniscience is the basic idea.

 

Firemind's Foresight Cunning Wish

 

The underlying structure of the deck is an Island heavy manabase that only splashes a little bit in either Red or Black, with Red being the more popular and successful variant.

 

It plays more cantrips than most decks in Legacy or any other format: Most lists feature a playset of Brainstorm, Ponder, Preordain and Gitaxian Probe in conjunction with the master of cantrips, Dig Through Time.

 

Dig Through Time Gitaxian Probe

 

OmniTell isn’t the fastest Combo deck, and doesn’t even try very hard to be just that, seen at the exclusion of Lotus Petal.

 

Its strengths lies in its resilience to common forms of interaction as it doesn’t really enable the opponent to utilize Wasteland very well. It’s also pretty good at playing against Counterspells of all sort due to its ability to power out Dig Through Time incredibly fast, which is due to its high amount of cantrips and fetchlands.

 

Being slow in Legacy terms doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily slow. It just means that it’s just as fast as it has to be, in contrary to Storm Combo, which tries to go for it as soon as it can reliably do so. While the same holds true for OmniTell in some respect, it is way better suited to go for the long game than any other combo deck in recent Legacy history.

 

Boseiju, Who Shelters All

 

Some lists even play Boseiju, Who Shelters All which enables them to just drop their game winning Enchantment without having to worry about initial Counterspells. Having access to Cunning Wish grants the player piloting the deck additional possibilities in shaping the long game with appropriate answers for specific problems like Electrickery or Surgical Extraction.

 

Another important factor is that back in the day Omniscience based Show and Tell decks had to play a card that actually won them the game, mostly being Enter the Infinite. Nowadays they can just cantrip into Dig Through Time which will either find them the Cunning Wish or they need to find or more cantrips to find more cantrips to finally get ahold of the Wish, which will result in a win.

 

 

I’ll take the list of fellow MTG Mint Card member Shota Yasooka, who made Top 8 at GP Kyoto with it.

 

 

And how do you beat this deck?

 

As mentioned above, there’s no single way as none of the classic ways of “counter their Show and Tell” or “discard their key cards” really work anymore. So here are a couple of bullet points you have to consider when it comes to dealing with OmniTell.

 

1) Make sure to apply pressure.

 

While this might come naturally for some decks it isn’t for all of them, namely Miracles or other blue-white based Control decks. Stacking up stack interaction is a fine strategy, but it’s nonetheless doomed to fail as OmniTell has the ability to tap out each turn for as many cantrips as it wants while you sit at the edge of your seat, holding up mana turn after turn, wasting precious opportunities.

 

Then they’ll go for an Dig Through Time at the end of your turn and you are probably dead, regardless of the fact whether you countered the spell or not. That’s why you need some sort of pressure.

 

2) Make sure that the pressure does something more than just attack.

 

Delver of Secrets is a good card and can certainly put up a lot of pressure but it’s not the one that really threatens OmniTell as it’s clearly able to go off in a protected manner once Delver of Secrets threatens to be lethal.

 

The cards you are looking for are cards that prohibit the OmniTell player from doing one of their things, these cards are very often called hatebears. Good examples for them would be Meddling Mage, Ethersworn CanonistVendilion Clique or Tidehollow Sculler.

 

Ethersworn Canonist Meddling Mage

 

3) Have more than one angle of attack.

 

This point is closely associated with #2, but the main message is that you shouldn’t just try to overload one on specific type of disruption, be it Counterspells or discard. Diversifying your means of interaction will make it harder for your opponent to assemble a working game plan. This holds true for almost every combo deck in most formats, though.

 

Decks to play against OmniTell: Grixis Delver or Reanimator

 

 

Top Deck #3: Grixis

 

So what is Grixis? A lot of things, to be honest. It can be built in many different ways but based on recent results there’s been some kind of consensus that Delver is the best (read: most successful) way to build this deck. We shouldn’t forget that this deck could also be built as a Control deck, but that’s a topic for another article.

 

Grixis Delver is a Tempo deck. For those unfamiliar with the terminology of Tempo, let me give you a quick introduction to what it means. Maybe it’s even a good idea for a whole article. Tempo is a term mostly used in Eternal formats like Legacy and Vintage and describes a deck, mostly with 4 Delver of Secrets, that falls on the Aggro-Control spectrum.

 

Those decks try to apply pressure as soon as possible while featuring a number of cheap and situational pieces of disruption which are used to create a resource/mana advantage/discrepant which is what we call Tempo. Maybe more on that on another day.

 

Delver of Secrets Young Pyromancer

 

The deck is essentially a blue-black-red colored deck that utilizes Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer as their main threats while working towards Dig Through Time. Its disruption is mainly countermagic, though always accompanied by some number of ciscard between the maindeck and the sideboard, mostly Cabal Therapy due to its excellent interaction with Young Pyromancer, allowing you to flash it back for free.

 

Cabal Therapy

 

It’s outstandingly good at maintaining a good and proactive position as Young Pyromancer quickly gets out of hand but has serious trouble getting out of a bad situation due to very situational removal spells and creatures that are not very good at blocking. It’s a deck that is clearly tailored towards a specific metagame, and while it’s very good at doing what it’s supposed to, it might be missing means to interact with an unknown metagame, other than taking the lead.

 

Many lists also dip deeper into Green as this Grixis list does, making them four color. It’s certainly a valid move but it also reduces the consistency due to mana problems that will eventually arise. It’s a tradeoff between consistency and additional power, and I believe the best choice for any deck to be the most consistent one, not the most powerful one.

 

This list was also from Grand Prix Kyoto 2014, in the hands of Ysuke Morinaga.

 

 

So how do you beat Grixis Delver? Well, in theory it’s pretty easy: Kill every creature they play. This doesn’t quite work like that in reality, though as most of their creatures represent a threat on their own or have a certain type of resilience built into them, like Young Pyromancers ability to swarm or True-Name Nemesis’ protection from your opponent.

 

Following these steps are important trying to improve this match-up.

 

1) Have a constant source of battlefield suppression.

 

Having Swords to Plowshares is fine. But they’ll have another threat very soon, with the help of countless cantrips, some versions even play 4 additional Preordain, or Dig Through Time.

 

If you have an engine like Grove of the Burnwillows and Punishing Fire or Engineered Explosives and Academy Ruins, you should be fine.

 

Grove of the Burnwillows Punishing Fire

 

As their main route to victory is creatures only those combinations are pretty good. Other board suppression tools like Umezawa's Jitte are also a very good way to deal with their creatures.

 

Additionally, if you really hate Young Pyromancer and want to see the belief in human disappear in the Grixis players eyes, pack Circle of Flame to make sure they never dare touch you again! Additionally, they have a very hard time countering it too, as it’s cheap enough to slip by a Daze, and due to its color it’s also hard to Pyroblast.

 

2) Capitalize on their low mana curve.

 

Having so many cheaply costed spells is amazing. But it also opens you up to certain cards that punish these traits. Having access to Counterbalance or Chalice of the Void is important when combatting strategies like Grixis.

 

Chalice of the Void Trinisphere

 

For example, a MUD Stompy deck can take the initiative as soon as turn 1 and present game-ending lock pieces. If the Grixis player kept a hand without Force of Will or Daze on the play things will start to look pretty grim sooner than later.

 

 

3) Take the initiative.

 

Grixis is a very frightening deck once ahead. If your deck enables you to get onto the board first you are in a very good position. Additionally, having Tarmogoyf is very important as they have hardly any means to deal with it, especially the Grixis Delver variants.

 

Big creatures, mostly green, are the ones you’re looking for here. Just make sure to also deploy them soon enough as one big blocker will not stop the onslaught of Young Pyromancer tokens once the Grixis train started rolling.

 

Decks to play against Grixis: Jund or Stoneblade

 

 

Top Deck #4: Team America

 

Team America is, historically, a BUG colored Tempo deck that relied on Hymn to Tourach and Sinkhole. With the advent of Delver of Secrets things were set to change.

 

It could never really catch up to the velocity that Canadian Threshold, a RUG colored Delver Tempo deck, was able to present. This was due to the BUG colors just being less suited for a Tempo gameplan.

 

Abrupt Decay

 

Yes, Abrupt Decay is uncounterable, but the difference between GB and R for Lightning Bolt is an unbelievably big one. And while Deathrite Shaman was a good addition for the card pool of G/B it wasn’t really en par with cards like Nimble Mongoose when it came to fulfilling the promise that Tempo decks tried to fulfill.

 

So what is Team America?

 

I’d say it’s a BUG colored Delver based midrange deck, as strange as it may sound, and I’d argue that Delver of Secrets is somewhat misplaced in a deck like this, as it’s clearly better in other decks and doesn’t really play to the strengths of this color.

 

But history has carried over and Team America is still a force to be reckoned with in both numbers and sheer quality of cards, combining the fast clock that Tarmogoyf and Delver of Secrets represent with a good quality of slow cards like Abrupt Decay and Liliana of the Veil has granted the deck with a position in the metagame of Legacy.

 

Liliana of the Veil

 

Its gameplan is clearly a little split, as mentioned above. On the one hand it tries to be the aggressor with Delver of Secrets but also retreats to slow and powerful cards, forcing it into the control side of things more often than it may want to. On the other hand though, this very feature enables the deck to function at multiple levels of a game and is a great tool for adaptation.

 

As an example I chose Stephen Mann's list that he used at SCG Colombus, as it demonstrates the inner conflicts of the deck while still highlighting the power that this deck packs.

 

 

And how do you beat a deck that presents a fast clock while still being able to play the long game with you reasonably well? The best ways to go about this is abusing the fact that nearly of their creatures are not very well protected or attack their mana.

 

1) Take advantage of the way their creature base is built.

 

Most of their creatures die to Swords to Plowshares. Combine that with Snapcaster Mage out of your UWx Miracles or Stoneblade and you have a very good way to suppress their creatures and forces them into the later stages of the game.

 

And while Team America is still able to play a very good late game it is most likely inferior to the deck packing Swords to Plowshares and Snapcaster Mage due to the fact that these lists are built. Their creatures are also very weak to Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

 

2) Target their lands.

 

Team America, like most Delver based strategies relies heavily on a Dual land heavy manabase which opens it up to a lot of land hate just like Blood Moon or a combination of Wasteland with either Rishadan Port or Stifle.

 

Wasteland Stifle

 

Most Delver decks have a very low curve, enabling it to sometimes slip through a somewhat established lock on their lands. Due to a higher curve and a more diversified mana costs things look different for Team America and making this deck way more susceptible to cards that target the manabase. Attacking it will most certainly make the Team America player stumble for several turns.

 

3) Go bigger.

 

Not every deck can do that but Team America has a hard time dealing with expensive planeswalkers just like Elspeth, Knight-Errant or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Having access to cards like them puts Team America in a bad spot as those cards overpower similar cards like Liliana of the Veil, featured in the BUG deck. But again, those cards aren’t playable by each and every deck, reinforcing the power of Team America.

 

Decks to play against Team America: Miracle Control or Death and Taxes

 

 

Top Deck #5: Stoneblade

 

This is one of the few decks in Legacy that clearly originated from Standard. It was the very well-known deck called Cawblade in Standard which even led to bannings, due to its performance. In Legacy, there’s no problem with a Control or Aggro-Control deck abusing Stoneforge Mystic with Batterskull and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. As a matter of fact, it’s been a mainstay in Legacy ever since these cards entered the legal cardpool.

 

Stoneforge Mystic Batterskull

 

The basic idea of Stoneblade is to use the UW base to ensure a certain degree of Control in the earlier stages of the game. Swords to Plowshares and Snapcaster Mage take care of creatures while Force of Will in conjunction with cards like Spell Pierce, Thoughtseize or Red Elemental Blast are on duty against the stack of Legacy.

 

It isn’t nearly as good at abusing its position in the lategame as Miracle is, which isn’t a bad thing, if this thought included in the deck construction process, which lead Stoneblade to play a certain number of creatures.

 

There’s always the playset of Stoneforge Mystics, which are then accompanied by Snapcaster MageVendilion Clique and True-Name Nemesis.

 

Vendilion Clique True-Name Nemesis

 

Additionally the deck can play creatures (or spells that act as creature) based on their splash color or deviating strategy. The most relevant are Deathrite Shaman, Monastery Mentor or Lingering Souls.

 

Monastery Mentor Lingering Souls

 

While the deck is based upon a UW core it offers ample opportunities to splash any color. The most prominent splash is red for the use of Red Elemental Blast, which is outstandingly well positioned right now due to the superiority of blue based decks on all ends of the spectrum.

 

Deathrite Shaman Thoughtseize

 

The most popular splash of the past was black which gave the deck access to Thoughtseize, Deathrite Shaman and Lingering Souls. This iteration was, depending on how deep the splash went, mostly called Deathblade and was way more on the Aggro-Control spectrum than it is now.

 

As a list for reference I chose to take Yukihiro Satake's list that he used to great success at Grand Prix Kyoto 2015:

 

 

And how do you beat Stoneblade?

 

There’s no real clear cut answer to it, but the general trend goes towards not playing Blue as Stoneblade has an even match-up against most commonly played decks. And by even I don’t mean more than 50% but rather slightly less to exactly 50%, otherwise it’d be dominating the format, which it isn’t, far from it, actually.

 

1) Have a plan that is just as big if not bigger than theirs.

 

This holds true for most (Pseudo) Control mirrors. If you have the option to go bigger than your opponent, then you’re in a good shape.

 

Cards that are good at overpowering your opponent are the Counterbalance – Sensei’s Divining Top lock, the Punishing Fire + Grove of the Burnwillows combo or simply Sylvan Library, which is very good against any Control deck featuring Swords to Plowshares.

 

2. Have a recurring engine.

 

Stoneblade is very good at trading 1 for 1 before eventually pulling ahead slightly with Stoneforge Mystic, Snapcaster Mage or Dig Through Time.

 

If you have access to a recurring engine you can circumvent this slow card advantage either by creating more card advantage or shutting down one angle of attack. Consider cards like Crucible of Worlds, Life from the Loam or Academy Ruins.

 

3. Attack their hand.

 

Stoneblade isn’t nearly as resilient to hand disruption as Miracles is, due to Sensei’s Divining Top. Thoughtseize is also very potent when it comes to dealing with Stoneforge Mystic as well as lowering their defenses for your big threat.

 

Having access to a good number of hand disruption will serve you well against most builds of Stoneblade.

 

Decks to play against Stoneblade: Lands or Jund

 

 

Top Deck #6: Death and Taxes

 

There is nothing certain in life but death and taxes.

 

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

 

The mono white Control deck named Death and Taxes has been a part of Legacy for a very long time now. Its core concept is one of a resource denial Control deck, though based on creatures, mostly. Wasteland, Rishadan Port and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben are the main cards that are here for one reason only.

 

Wasteland Rishadan Port

 

To make the opponent's life miserable.

 

But it doesn’t really end there as most, if not all creatures featured in the creature based control deck do something in addition to being a creature. Stoneforge Mystic gets equipment, Mother of Runes protects all the other creatures and Flickerwisp is used to do a number of annoying tricks, though mostly in conjunction the mana-cheating engine that is Aether Vial.

 

Mother of Runes Flickerwisp

 

On the surface this deck might appear to be Mono White Weenie at some points in a match, but it’s a Control deck by heart, but a one that happens to use creatures as their disruption and interaction, leading to quicker wins than one would imagine.

 

Some recent lists have decided to add red to their maindeck, allowing it to abuse Imperial Recruiter and Magus of the Moon but these lists have yet to succeed at a big tournament.

 

Magus of the Moon

 

The way Death and Taxes executes its gameplan is largely dependent on whether they get to start the game with Aether Vial or not. If this should be the case then this deck is easily capable of pressuring the opponents lands as soon as turn 2, all while Aether Vials ensures a constant flow of troublesome creatures.

 

Aether Vial (Æther Vial)

 

Should the Aether Vial be dealt with, however, things look different and Death and Taxes has to play a different, a fair one. One that Death and Taxes will have a hard time keeping up with Brainstorm and Ponder.

 

As a basic list I chose the list of a friend of mine, Marc König who won the SCG event in Richmond when we were playing in the United States.

 

 

 So how do you beat this potent pile of white creatures? Well, there are a couple of good ways, though it mostly includes getting unfair. Other than that it’s very hard to tackle this deck properly without playing very lopsided hate cards.

 

1. Kill them before they get a chance to breed.

 

Force of Will is played for a reason, and Death and Taxes doesn’t have access to it for obvious reasons. Playing a fast combo deck like Belcher, Oops All Spells, Elves or any variant of Storm will make you think your opponent is indeed just playing white creatures. Just try to not let them untap on their second turn!

 

2. Have a reliable source of removal.

 

You will have a hard time combatting this deck on the battlefield if your strategy isn’t backed up by removal spells. A lot of them at that, as Death and Taxes is very unlikely to run out of creatures, due to the decks nature. You can also make the conscious decision to prepare for Death and Taxes and include a Sulfur Elemental in your sideboard which will do a lot of work in this match-up.

 

Decks to play against Death and Taxes: Elves and UWR Stoneblade

 

 

 

General advice for Grand Prix Lille

 

But which deck should you now take to the Grand Prix? Well, I’ll give you a list of which decks I’d recommend for the GP itself.

 

Before doing that, I’d want to make sure that this isn’t a list that everybody should adapt. It’s based upon the consideration that you are as familiar with each of those decks. If you just have experience with one of those six, then you’re all set and got a very good deck for the upcoming Grand Prix.

 

Recommendation #1 – OmniTell

 

Show and Tell

 

The mono blue madness is probably the most resilient and powerful decks in the current metagame and it’s very hard to stop it. It’s very consistent when it comes to killing your opponent while providing the pilot with a multitude of decisions, making this deck more challenging to play than previous iterations of the Show and Tell archetype.

 

Dig Through Time gave this deck a tool that has propelled it towards the top of the metagame, a place where it should be staying for a while, if you ask me. It’s still a rather straightforward deck, despite the numerous choices you have to make. I’d play this deck if I was a player who isn’t really too much involved into Legacy, but is still confident in his/her playskill. You don’t need to know all the nuances that Legacy has to offer to pilot this deck well.

 

Recommendation #2 – Grixis

 

Delver of Secrets

 

Grixis may not be as well rounded as Miracles or OmniTell when it comes to dealing with the sheer breathtaking diversity that Legacy offers, which is still very important, as I pointed out at the beinning, but it has one trait that might come in handy.

 

It’s outstandingly well set up against the two most popular decks, being Miracles and OmniTell. It does have its flaws in respects to a wide open metagame but its ability to dominate a well-defined metagame makes it a very good choice for Lille.

 

If you can somehow dodge the decks that you couldn’t prepare for in the early rounds, then this deck is very good at being up the top decks. Recommended if you have any number of Byes to increase this very chance.

 

Recommendation #3 - Miracles

 

Terminus

 

Even though Miracles is on everybody’s radar right now, just look at the image shown at the beginning of the article, I’d still consider this deck a top choice for the tournament.

 

It doesn’t have the strongest proactive gameplan but its ability to deal with a large number of unexpected decks simply by having access to Terminus and Counterbalance is huge when playing in a tournament like this.

 

The insane card quality that Sensei’s Divining Top offers enables this deck to dig itself a way out of most situations. You can fine tune your deck as much as you want, you’ll still have to play against decks you didn’t expect, and I’d most definitely want to be playing Miracles when that happens.

 

All you need to be recommended Miracles by me is experience. And not just experience with Magic or Legacy, but with Miracles itself or you’ll just collect draw after draw which will knock you out either way. If you know what you’re doing, then pick this deck, if you don’t, please stay away from it.

 

Recommendation #4 - Death and Taxes

 

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

 

Death and Taxes doesn’t really dominate any match-up in the current metagame but also doesn’t really suffer from any shifts in the metagame or splash damage by hate, like it did in the Treasure Cruise era when there was a lot of hate for Young Pyromancer.

 

Its different angle of attack against OmniTell gives it a fair game there, as OmniTell rarely kills them as quick as it’d need to. It’s also putting up a good fight against Miracles and Grixis, putting it in a good position to chase the top metagame right now.

 

Its bad match-ups are present in any big tournament but shouldn’t be as widely played, and the red splash promises to shore some of this match-ups up. If the trend continues then I’d consider Death and Taxes a very good choice not only against the top decks but also against the lesser known ones, which is due to its very potent proactive gameplan.

 

Recommendation #5 - Lands

 

Life from the Loam

 

Lands has had a recent spike in popularity which enabled it to put up a decent number of success. It’s very good at presenting a 20/20 Marit Lage very soon while being perfectly fine attacking the opponents mana base while preparing the 20/20.

 

It also has access to recurring sources of damage in Punishing Fire. And if you’ve read the sections above well you’ll recognize these phrasings. All these characteristics make the deck very well positioned now and a valid choice for the Grand Prix.

 

It’s very potent game plan helps it to maneuver through an unknown fields and its re-useable engines grind out the top decks, which aren’t really built to keep up with it. It’s not an easy deck to pick up, though. But I’d recommend it to anyone who likes to play a Combo deck that can switch its gears and become Control for a certain amount of turns.

 

As a list I’d recommend David Longs list that he made the Top8 of SCG Worchester with.

 

 

Recommendation #6 – Storm

 

Past in Flames

 

Storm hasn’t been a widely played deck in Legacy for quite some time now but this doesn’t make it a worse choice for those being able to pilot this deck through a sea of different problems and challenges.

 

Just being able to have the protected kill on the second turn will win you several games throughout the tournament. It is however not these games that will separate the good from the still learning storm players. It’s the hands that do nothing, the games where you are trapped and can’t find a way out.

 

Being able to copy with these situations is the skill set that you’ll need to succeed with Storm. I wouldn’t recommend this deck to anyone unfamiliar with the archetype but if you’re good at counting to 10 then Storm is certainly a very good choice for the Grand Prix in Lille.

 

As a starting point I’d suggest Kai Thieles list from GP Kyoto:

 

 

And that’s pretty much it. I can’t really recommend any other deck in the current metagame, despite Team America and Stoneblade’s good numbers. I just wouldn’t be able to sleep well, knowing that I told people to play a badly positioned deck for the Grand Prix.

 

What I Don't Recommend - Stoneblade

 

Stoneforge Mystic

 

Stoneblade is trying to be Control, while also applying pressure. This can work wonderfully.

 

But when it doesn’t, it’s a bad aggressive deck or an inferior Control deck, much of the same problem that Patriot had or has.

 

And if you want to be aggressive, there are other options as well. I just don’t need the Stoneforge Mystic approach working too well at the current metagame as this card just isn’t enough pressure to force OmniTell out of its comfort zone.

 

And the control elements are lacking in regards to the lack of Counterbalance and the card selection of Sensei’s Divining Top. The deck itself just has an identity crisis if played in the UWR colors, just as Patriot had.

 

People will still play Stoneblade variants. And they’ll still be somewhat successful due to the high number of people just doing what they used to be doing for years now. But this doesn’t make it a good deck. And it most certainly doesn’t make it a good deck for the Grand Prix.

 

What I Don't Recommend - Team America

 

Abrupt Decay

 

Team America on the other hand is different. But the problem is very closely related. As pointed out earlier, this deck tries to have a bit from both worlds as well. I just wouldn’t want to rely on this set of creatures when there was Miracles running around in big numbers.

 

Additionally, discard spells are generally very poorly positioned right now due to the existence of Dig Through Time. Back in the day they could’ve only drawn one card that you couldn’t discard. Now it’s just going to be two.

 

Lastly, I have a hard time understanding why one would play a Delver deck without Lightning Bolt. You can splash Red into Team America or Green into Grixis and end up with a powerful four-colored Delver deck that has the aggressive cards like Delver of Secrets and Lightning Bolt while still maintaining a certain number of late game power with Dig Through Time.

 

Any of the four color versions is superior to Team America at the moment, due to the reasons mentioned above and in the earlier sections. So, I can’t really advise you to play these two decks, despite their good numbers. If you have any questions about my reasoning here, make sure to let me know in the comments.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Last but not least, make sure to enjoy yourself! Don’t overthink it. I’ve given you a good amount of decks and reasonings for and against them. In the end it’s still up to you what you are going to play and why.

 

I just hope that I was able to give you a certain degree of insight of what I think of the format right now. Let me know which deck you’ll be wielding at the Grand Prix in the comments below, I’m curious!

 

I hope that you enjoyed my overview for Grand Prix Lille! I’m really looking forward to the GP itself and meeting many of you, as it’s been an absolute blast to meet some of you at Grand Prix New Jersey where I got to talk to many of you and sign Ponders as well as Sensei’s Divining Tops.

 

Just step by and say “Hi”!

 

Let me know what you thought of this article, make sure to comment and share if you enjoyed it and consider leaving a comment telling me what you’d like to read next. Maybe I’m able to integrate your wish in the near future.

 

The next article will be about GP Lille as well, though the tournament will be over at that point and we can tell stories and draw conclusions already. Best of luck for the tournament if you are competing at the Grand Prix!

 

I’ll see you on the battlefield.

 




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