Eight Decks You Should Play In Legacy But Won’t

Before you read this, keep in mind that all lists below, bar one, should be tested reasonably well before use. At the very least, sideboards and exact lists could use tuning, and at worst, the deck is unforgiving and decision-dense.

Most of these lists are also not mine. Credit is given where credit is due.

The Deck:

This is my current tested list I would advise people to play. The deck is 73/75 what I played in Columbus, and I wouldn't change the main deck or the first five sideboard cards at all. The general plan is to Duress their hate, cantrip into a perfect hand, then just Ritual a bunch into a tutor for a bomb and Tendrils them. A more detailed breakdown can be found in the primer here.

Why You Won't Play It:

You don't own Grim Tutor, you keep losing to Force of Will, and what if they board a hate card or play CounterTop?

Why You Should Play It:

This is the most powerful deck in the format. You get to play four Black Lotus, and the only drawback is that you need to play four Demonic Tutor. Even against your worst matchup, Counterbalance, you have hands that they can't realistically beat because they die before they can play spells.

The hate is also not enough. Decks like Zoo have to board more than eight specific hate cards to make the matchup reasonable. Thoughtseize alone answers almost every hate card if cast on turn one, and beyond that, you get to play Duress and Chain of Vapor, which unlike most answers to answers is extremely live when they don't draw their hate.

Why You Shouldn't Play It:

First, the deck is very unforgiving. It takes a lot of practice to be able to win, especially against decks like Landstill. I started watching Jason Ford play a match when he was up a game, and over the time I watched, he punted game two, game three, and finally the rest of the event by drawing. Every turn, you have a huge number of lines between cantrips, Duresses, and tutors, even without considering their Daze or Spell Pierce. The easiest part of the deck is counting for the known kills, and that is often where people make the most mistakes. If you plan on playing this deck, practice.

Second, Counterbalance is a real issue, especially the four-color build. You are realistically fine against the U/W lists unless they board Leyline of Sanctity and also decent against Bant creature-heavy builds. Both of those tend to just have Force of Will as a counter, easing the load on your Duress and making it easier to combo before they do. But once they gain access to Spell Snare and Counterspell, it gets real rough trying to force through a combo.

The Deck:

Let's get the obvious self-promotion/obsession out of the way. Cantrip and Intuition into being able to cast a Show and Tell or Sneak Attack, then put a giant monster into play. If they try to do something, play a Force of Will or Daze it.

Why You Won't Play It:

First of all, who actually owns four Sneak Attack? Second, this is just a giant little-kid deck. Show and Tell is a gimmick win condition that is easy to beat with things like Humility and Oblivion Ring. You also have all of these blanks to draw when you instead want cards you can actually play.

Why You Should Play It:

This deck is fast and consistent. Beating a 15/15 or 10/10 is not a joke, especially with Force of Will backup. Intuition is the best tutor in the format that doesn't require you to play Lion's Eye Diamond. On top of that, you have the heavy cantrip engine to ensure you don't flood on monsters. The deck is also resilient to hate. You only play one spell to combo, and it is an awkward number for Counterbalance. The stray answers like Karakas don't actually work against Sneak Attack. Realistically, the best way decks have to interact with you is to just play Duress and Force of Will and disrupt you the fair way.

This deck is also just easy mode. There are no really complex decisions beyond understanding what Brainstorm does. You play a spell, make a giant monster, and they die. I guess you can forget to attack. That's all I've got. If you are just going to copy/paste a 75 from this article for your next tournament, this is the one that has not only been refined but also requires minimal knowledge beyond basic Brainstorm and anti-Wasteland skills.

Why You Shouldn't Play It:

The margins this deck has against all of the random decks aren't as good as Storm. You can legitimately lose games to very aggressive draws when yours isn't very fast or if Fish draws a bunch of interaction and a good clock. But if you aren't a Storm master, I see no excuse to not pick up this 75.

The Deck:

Bin a fattie, reanimate it. If they try to do something, play Force of Will or Daze it. Sound familiar?

Why You Won't Play It:

Post-Mystical, the deck had a real issue lining up its reanimation spells and targets without always having Entomb. Who wants to Reanimate facing down a grip of burn, Exhume back the 'Goyf they Forced to stop the opponent's clock, or have to get back a Sphinx of the Steel Wind facing down a grip of Rituals?

Why You Should Play It:

This deck is probably secretly a contender for the best deck in the format, but no one has the right list. All of the issues of drawing the right spells and targets are things that can be balanced with testing. This list seems like a huge step in the right direction, but there is still work to do. Whoever comes up with the right list first gets to demolish the event they play it at. You are as fast as Storm and more resilient to Counterbalance and Duress.

Why You Shouldn't Play It:

If your list is not great, you will lose based on the deck's inherent variance. And by that, I mean you need something that is almost perfect. On top of that, you have issues with splash hate like Warren Wierding, Karakas, and Extirpate. Again, similar to Sneak and Tell, Storm just has better margins in the good matchups, but if you want to put time into breaking a deck that isn't Storm, this is where it’s at.

The Deck:

Dredge is Dredge—there's not much else to say. You aren't even doing anything close to playing real Magic. Alex's articles on this list are excellent on describing how it works pre- and post-board.

Why You Won't Play It:

It's Dredge. They play Leyline of the Void, you die. They play Tormod's Crypt, you die. Even game one, they Force your discard outlet, Wasteland you, you die.

Why You Should Play It:

First off, that stuff above is all nonsense. The deck can legitimately play conservatively enough to beat one-shot graveyard sweeps and can board to beat Leylines. The rest of the hate isn't really good enough to beat a full graveyard.

But what about game one? They can still Force-Waste you out or set up a guy with Bolt up to stop the Zombie horde.

Except when you draw first. I have yet to test this idea out, so it might be off the deep end, but I'm almost certain that Dredge wants to be on the draw in the current metagame. You get a free uncounterable discard outlet to start every game. Against the decks you want to race rather than just get a discard in, like Goblins, you are still fast enough it doesn't matter, and suddenly a hand of Grave-Troll, land, Breakthrough, and blanks is keepable where before it was unplayable.

Seriously, draw first for once in your life.

Why You Shouldn't Play This Deck:

This deck is very technically demanding and different from every other deck in Magic. There are so many small mistakes you can easily make. Not things like “Oh, I made the wrong decision and therefore lost,” but just stupid “Oops, I missed a trigger” things because there are so many individual items to follow when your deck is in your graveyard. Beyond that, if you overboard or underboard—or even board the wrong three cards for game two—you just lose.

It's also possible the hate is too much. You don't always have the answer to it, and there isn't a good digging mechanism, making it very possible to just get mised out. It's frustrating, but there's a lot you can do to maximize the odds in your favor.

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The Deck:

You are at the core a Glimpse combo deck with some Plan B in case they counter Glimpse of Nature. I'm not sure which is better, but your options are Intuition plus Vengevine or Wirewood Hivemaster and the ability to Chord of Calling out Mirror Entity at instant speed and just activate it for lethal. If you are interested in the mechanics of the combo, look back at post-Berlin articles on the deck. The Mirror Entity infinite combo is a bit difficult to see and describe, but it involves making Wirewood Symbiote an Elf to bounce it. The easiest set up is Heritage Druid, Nettle Sentinel, Mirror Entity, and Wirewood Symbiote, but more convoluted setups exist that kill without one of the Heritage-Nettle pieces available. Just be aware that going “infinite” under Glimpse draws you a card each time.

Why You Won't Play It:

It's a mono-Green combo deck with no disruption and weaknesses to sweepers.

Why You Should Play It:

It's still an insane combo deck. If you draw a Glimpse by turn three, you can usually kill them on the spot.

You also are in the unique position of being a combo deck with a backup plan. None of the other decks in the format really have that (cheating an Emrakul in with a different spell doesn't count). You would be surprised how easily people die to random 1/1 and 2/2 beats. You also have a customizable tool box to combat most threats or to just up your beat-down clock.

One last marginal consideration is that the deck is fairly low-budget (at least the G/W build). Gaea's Cradle, while good, isn’t essential, and you could even play Temple Garden over Savannah without a major issue.

Why You Shouldn't Play It:

It's a mono-Green combo deck with no disruption and weaknesses to sweepers.

Seriously, you won't be able to beat faster combo decks, as you can't interact, and the savage hate cards against you are cards people have against fair decks. Admittedly, a single sweeper is probably something you can beat, but don't expect the free roll win like other combo decks have.

The Deck:

Moving on from pure combo, this is a “fair” deck. Play some dudes, hit them a bit, burn them for the rest. Interaction not included. Also known as D.D. Dome, where the Ds also stand for “Dome.”

Why You Won't Play It:

Burn is known garbage, and every deck is adapting to Zoo with things like Perish. You don't even have a plan to a resolved Counterbalance like Goblins does.

Why You Should Play It:

The reason Burn sucks is that it is actually not running the three best burn spells of all time: Wild Nacatl, Steppe Lynx, and Goblin Guide. Each of these guys is an upgraded Rift Bolt that keeps going.

This is simply the best “fair” deck in the format, and it shreds all of the other ones. It is so good at what it does that it was going 40/60 against pre-banning W/G/B Survival without any real hate, otherwise known as the deck that crushed anything with a creature.

Fair decks even extends to Lands. Better have the full lock on turn four, as you won't have another one. On the draw? Guess it's turn three.

Also, nice standard Zoo answer of Perish against the deck with eight Green creatures, of which half will have already done the job before Perish hits.

Why You Shouldn't Play It:

Notice the fair qualifier? You probably won't beat a combo deck—ever. Maybe against the bad lists, you can race and randomly get them, and you have game against Dredge just by having a clock and the out natural to Zombies—Bolting your own guys—but this deck 1-9'ed a set against U/B Storm where it was on the play every game. It isn't even worth playing hate, as your boarding it in for racing cards just gives them more untap steps, and the real combo decks will use that time to solve the hate. I guess you can dedicate eleven slots to it, but it’s more reasonable to lock up all of your other matchups than turn an underrepresented 10% matchup to maybe a 40% one. If Belcher is a real problem, you can probably just Mindbreak Trap them, but again, any real combo deck is not happening.

You also are a dog in the mirror due to them being able to trade creatures up the curve into Knight of the Reliquary, forcing you to burn them out. It's not unwinnable; if they even take one Lynx hit or you get Lavamancer up, the rest of the damage is easy, but it's something to be aware of.

The Deck:

This is basically the Black Canadian Threshold. Instead of the aggression of Nimble Mongoose, Lightning Bolt, and Fire // Ice, you have stronger threats and answers in Ghastly Demise, Thoughtseize, and Dark Confidant.

Why You Won't Play It:

When was the last time someone who wasn't Ben Weinburg won anything with Tempo Thresh?

Why You Should Play It:

Turns out Thoughtseize is really good. And Dark Confidant. Who knew? Your cards are all very good without really needing any setup to get there. You end up upgrading from the Canadian Thresh late game of “Bolt you?” to legitimately just overpowering them with Jace and Bob.

You are also insane at interacting with decks that play off the stack rather than the board. Want to crush all the combo decks? Look no further.

Why You Shouldn't Play It:

Never beating a Wild Nacatl... ever. Same applies to Goblin Lackey. If this is a problem, go elsewhere.

The Deck:

Everyone knows what Fish does: generates enough Time Walk with Force of Will, Daze, and Wasteland that by the time your opponent can try to do anything, he or she is facing down a board of lethal lords. The double splash might be a bit greedy, but it allows access to the most crushing cards I could think of.

Why You Won't Play It:

It's Fish. When was the last time anyone other than Alex Bertoncini won anything with this deck? I mean, it's like you would have to cheat to win with it or something.

Why You Should Play It:

The deck is not the joke everyone thinks it is. Every single game, your opponent is under large amounts of pressure to play right to stick something that matters, and opponents constantly have to evaluate playing around Daze and Wasteland. If they slip up, they die. If they don't draw enough actual threats, they die. They don't draw enough land, they die. Sometimes you randomly rip the second Force, then they really die.

Why You Shouldn't Play It:

Blue tempo deck; can't beat a Cat to save its life. Same with mobs of Green midgets. You can't profitably Daze, Waste, or Standstill lock them, and your entire game plan falls apart. You can commit almost all of your sideboard to it, but you don't have card-filtering to find hate reliably.

Wrap-Up

There are plenty more promising shells in Legacy that have yet to be fully explored, and the format definitely rewards brewing. The key is being able to recognize inherent power and learn how to extract the good from what are usually terrible rough drafts.