Legacy Starting Points

On July 2nd Wizards of the Coast posted their scheduled changes to Magic’s banned and restricted lists that you can find here. For those who have not seen the update is as follows:

Legacy:

Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe are banned

No changes in any other format.

Those who have followed my content in the past probably could have predicted my reaction to this news. If you want to see it for yourself again though, you can watch it on this twitch clip.

Moving past the excitement that this news brings — what does it actually mean for the format as a whole? We can’t know for sure just yet, but today I am going to go through what I think are likely some of the best starting points for the format moving forward.

In my opinion, the biggest winners in this banning are not just the dedicated graveyard decks, but also the incidental graveyard value cards. To be specific, I would expect all of these cards to see a bit more play moving forward:

Tarmogoyf
Nimble Mongoose
Knight of the Reliquary
Life from the Loam

While it is going to take a good deal of testing to find exactly what is going to be optimal in our brave new Legacy world, if I had to pick a deck now that I expected to come out somewhere near the top I think my first pick would be Temur Delver.

For those who are unfamiliar, Temur Delver was the top tempo deck in Legacy before Grixis Delver took over and still managed to put up a few results afterward. For instance here is a list from the Top 4 of a recent SCG Legacy Classic:


In addition to the variations that play Hooting Mandrills as an additional threat, there are also configurations that play Tarmogoyf:


I would be very surprised if this archetype did not quickly become the go to “tempo” deck in the format again. This deck functions by sticking an efficient threat and then protecting it with cheap / free counterspells while we quickly beat your opponent to death. When we play Delver of Secrets we want to use our counterspells to stop our opponent’s removal spells. When we play Nimble Mongoose we want to use our counterspells to stop our opponent’s potential blockers since Goose protects itself from removal.

Past Goyf and Mongoose, I am excited to play more copies of one of my favorite utility creatures in Legacy — Knight of the Reliquary. The “classic” Knight of the Reliquary in Legacy is Maverick, a base {G}{W} creature deck.

I would probably dive into Maverick with something close to this:


Even without Deathrite Shaman, I like a small Black splash for faster disruption against combo decks as well as Zealous Persecution for killing opposing copies of True-Name Nemesis. This archetype just plays good, honest Magic while having a land toolbox for Knight as well as a Green creature toolbox for Green Sun’s Zenith.

If you love Knight of the Reliquary, but Maverick is just a touch too fair for your tastes, another decent Legacy deck that also gets to lean into Life from the Loam is this Four Color Control deck:


This deck likes to lean into the power of Chalice of the Void to both punish both unfair decks and fair decks full of one mana spells.

If you are not looking to play fair, but instead want to try and take advantage of there being less graveyard hate around, I think {B}{R} Reanimator is likely the best tool for the job:


This deck is capable of blisteringly fast starts, even through cards like Force of Will. While Deathrite Shaman was not disruption for {B}{R}’s fastest starts, it did hamper our slightly slower draws — especially when paired with countermagic.

The last deck I wanted to touch on today is not a graveyard deck, but one I think that suffered a good bit from Deathrite Shaman existing — Legacy Burn. Prior to Deathrite’s existence, Burn was a deck that tried to prey on the fair decks. Such decks having a main deck way not only to empty their hand faster, but also incidentally gain life meant that Burn’s best matchup became not all that good while Deathrite was legal.


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