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By Rob Appleyard

2 September 2006



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The Decks and Metagame of Legacy
By Rob Appleyard aka Nazdakka

2 September 2006


Today, I'm going to give a not-so-quick run down of the Legacy metagame
and what kinds of possibilities exist in the Legacy cardpool. I'll get
to the decks in a second, but first I'm going to talk about what the
general themes of the decks.

The Legacy metagame is currently all about creatures. The lynchpin of
the format is Goblin aggro - it's like an elephant in the room which
everyone must have a plan against or face losing to a horde of little
red men. The Goblin deck warps the rest of the metagame around it -
every other straight aggro strategy has been eliminated because they
are just less good than Goblins - who wants to play Jackal Pup or
Sarcomancy which just attack for 2, when you can play Goblin Lackey and
put Siege-Gang Commander into play on turn 2?

This does not, however, mean that creatures are rare in Legacy. On the
contrary, creatures are everywhere, but the Goblin threat means that
they tend to be utility-oriented rather than plain attackers. Take the
most popular Survival of the Fittest variant, RGSA (Red-Green Survival
Advantage). This deck is like a Fires deck with Survival of the Fittest
nailed in as a card advantage engine. It drops creatures which are
bigger than the 1/1 goblins and so win in combat, while using the
Survivals as a toolbox and constant source of card advantage, so the
monsters never stop coming.

Another option from the two above (play small, broken, creatures, play
lots of larger creatures) is to be able to kill lots and lots of
creatures. The champion of this idea is 'Rifter', another refugee from
Onslaught Block constructed. The idea for this deck type is to retain
control of the board with Wrath of God, Lightning Rift and Akroma's
Vengeance and stop the other guy's creatures from accomplishing
anything. Eventually Humility (I can hear the judges screaming from
here) comes down and seals the deal.

Finally, you can simply not play the creature game and instead work on
getting that dirty combo feeling. The three best-known combo decks in
Legacy are Ill Gotten Gains combo (aka IGGy Pop, after the band and key
card), Reset High Tide (aka Solidarity, after the Urza's Destiny
common), and Gamekeeper-Salvagers (aka Golden Grahams, after the
breakfast cereal). These decks mostly avoid playing the creature game
and concentrate on winning first. All three are pretty unique, so I'll
cover them later.

Decklist time.

Straight aggro

Jon Sonne
1st Place: GP: Philadelphia (Nov 13, 2005)

4 Goblin Lackey
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Matron
4 Goblin Warchief
4 Gempalm Incinerator
4 Goblin Ringleader
3 Siege-Gang Commander
1 Goblin Sharpshooter
1 Goblin Tinkerer
1 Skirk Prospector

4 Aether Vial

6 Mountain
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Wasteland
4 Rishadan Port

4 Pyrokinesis
4 Pithing Needle
1 Siege-Gang Commander
2 Patron of the Akki
1 Goblin Tinkerer
3 Price of Progress

The idea: Lots and lots of powerful little men, complete with Tutors
(Goblin Matron) a Fact or Fiction which beats for 2 (Goblin Ringleader)
and ridiculous attackers (Goblin Piledriver). This deck is very
powerful, has strong mana disruption, and is capable of doing truly
outrageous things if either Goblin Lackey or Aether Vial hit the table
on turn 1. Two splashes are widely recognised as being strong - white
for Swords to Plowshares, Armageddon and SB Disenchant, and Green for
Skarrg (the Gruul uncommon land), Tin-Street Hooligan and Naturalize.
The Rishaden Ports can also be replaced with Goblin Burrows, which
significantly improves the Threshold matchup.

Strengths: Incredible offensive, lots of synergy, strong card advantage
engines to avoid running out of steam.

Weaknesses: Dedicated hosers exist against the deck, like Engineered
Plague, Tivadar's Crusade. The actual creatures have a fairly low
toughness, and so Pyroclasm is a strong countermeasure. Goblins in
Legacy is a little like Affinity was in Mirrodin Block - almost every
deck is ready to face you and has a coherent plan on how to win, and so
you'll be facing hate off the board all day.

Angel Stompy
5th Place: SCG Duel for Duals II (Feb 02, 2006) (slightly modified)

4 Mother Of Runes
3 Savannah Lions
4 Silver Knight
4 Soltari Priest
4 Exalted Angel
2 Isamaru, Hound Of Konda

3 Umezawa's Jitte
2 Sword Of Fire And Ice
2 Mask Of Memory

4 Swords To Plowshares
3 Tithe
3 Parallax Wave
2 Seal Of Cleansing

13 Plains
4 Ancient Tomb
3 Chrome Mox

4 Armageddon
4 Pithing Needle
4 Rule Of Law
2 Seal Of Cleansing
1 Parallax Wave

The idea: It's an anti-beatdown beatdown deck. Umezawa's Jitte is as
stupid in Legacy as it is elsewhere, and your creatures are generally
excellent in combat. Turn 1 morph, turn 2 flip Exalted Angel is a
strong play too, so they say.
Strengths: You have all the pieces you need to beat creature decks.
Your creatures are pretty large, you have lots of good utility, and you
have Parallax Wave as a general bomb.
Weaknesses: You're a one-trick pony. You can stomp all over little
creatures, but against combo or board control you're dead in the water
until you board in the 'geddons.



4c Threshold
by Helmut Summersberger, 1st place: Grand Prix: Lille

4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
4 Tropical Island
3 Volcanic Island
3 Tundra

4 Nimble Mongoose
4 Werebear
4 Meddling Mage

4 Serum Visions
4 Brainstorm
4 Mental Note
4 Force of Will
4 Daze
3 Counterspell
2 Pithing Needle
3 Lighting Bolt
2 Fire / Ice

4 Chill
3 Wasteland
3 Tormod's Crypt
2 Divert
2 Red Elemental Blast
1 Naturalize

UGR Threshold
GP Barcelona Legacy Side Event - First Place
2 Island
4 Volcanic Island
4 Tropical Island
4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta

2 Fledgling Dragon
4 Nimble Mongoose
4 Werebear

4 Force of Will
1 Disrupting Shoal
4 Brainstorm
3 Counterspell
4 Serum Visions
4 Mental Note
3 Daze
4 Fire/Ice
2 Pyroclasm
3 Predict

4 Pithing Needle
1 Pyroclasm
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 Blue Elemental Blast
1 Teferi's Response
4 Vinelasher Kudzu

U/G/W Threshold
by Dan Spero aka Bardo (Deck inventor and moderator at The Mana Drain)

4 Serum Vision
4 Mental Note
4 Brainstorm

4 Force of Will
4 Daze
2 Counterspell

4 Swords to Plowshares
2 Pithing Needle
1 Engineered Explosives

4 Nimble Mongoose
4 Werebear
4 Meddling Mage
1 Mystic Enforcer

4 Flooded Strand
2 Polluted Delta
2 Windswept Heath
3 Tropical Island
3 Tundra
2 Island
1 Forest
1 Plains

sb 4 Hydroblast
sb 3 Armageddon
sb 2 Tivadar's Crusade
sb 2 Worship
sb 2 Naturalize
sb 1 Mystic Enforcer
sb 1 Engineered Explosive

The idea: In whatever form you build it, 'Thresh' is an aggro-control
deck which uses counterspells and undercosted removal to back up its 1
mana 3/3s and 2 mana 4/4s. The White splash is stronger against control
and combo decks, while the Red splash is better against Goblins and
random bad decks.
Strengths: This is one of the best decks in Legacy - it's quite
forgiving, but has lots of decisions to reward a good player, and has
no really awful matchups. Nimble Mongoose is a real monster - it can
ignore any targeted removal and win in combat against any of Goblins'
creatures. Add to that a surprisingly fast clock, excellent card
selection and 12 good counterspells and you get a really strong deck.
Weaknesses: Lots of nonbasics and only 18 lands means that the manabase
is a good target, especially with nonbasic hate (Back to Basics!).
Propaganda-type effects are also problematic. Graveyard hate is
annoying but not terminal.

B/W Confidant (Deadguy Ale)
2nd Place: GP: Philadelphia (Nov 13, 2005) by Chris Pikula

4 Dark Confidant
4 Hypnotic Specter
3 Nantuko Shade

2 Gerrard's Verdict
4 Duress
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Vindicate
4 Sinkhole
4 Dark Ritual
2 Engineered Plague
2 Cursed Scroll

4 Wasteland
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Tainted Field
4 Scrubland
10 Swamp

4 Withered Wretch
3 Pithing Needle
2 Swords to Plowshares
2 Engineered Plague
2 Phyrexian Negator
2 Darkblast

The idea: Old school! This is similar to the original Necrodecks, using
a broken card-draw engine to draw lots of nasty stuff like Sinkhole and
Hymn to Tourach to screw your opponent while beating down with 2/xs.
This deck uses some of the best disruption ever printed together with
strong card advantage creatures to knock the other guy down and keep
him there long enough for the critters to do their work. More modern
builds tend to look a little different to the one above, but I couldn't
find one - Withered Wretch is often maindecked in place of Engineered
Plague and Gerrard's Verdict. This deck is quite customisable - you can
add red for more removal, and/or remove white for more beatdown
Strengths: This deck has the ability to do some pretty sick things. A
lot of these cards are going to do bad things on turn 1 if aided by
Dark Ritual. This deck is strong against combo and control and can
pretty much handle Goblins, so long as you don't remove too much hate
from the MD.
Weaknesses: Other people's creatures and people killing your creatures.
If Survival of the Fittest resolves then it's an uphill struggle to
win. Control decks like Rifter which can kill the creatures are a
problem too. The deck only managed to beat Goblins by doing things like
maindecking Engineered Plague. A word of caution: If while tuning this
deck, you find yourself wanting to remove Duress for metagame reasons,
think about changing deck. If Duress is going to be a bad metagame
call, then so is this deck.

Midgame Control

Red/Green Survival Advantage (RGSA)
3rd Place: SCG Duel for Duals 1 (Sept 25, 2005

4 Birds Of Paradise
4 Fyndhorn Elves
4 Flametongue Kavu
4 Ravenous Baloth
4 Troll Ascetic
3 Eternal Witness
1 Kamahl, Fist Of Krosa
1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Anger
1 Genesis
1 Goblin Sharpshooter
1 Uktabi Orangutan
1 Viridian Zealot

4 Survival Of The Fittest
3 Sword Of Fire And Ice

4 Taiga
4 Wooded Foothills
12 Forest
2 Mountain

4 Chalice Of The Void
4 Pyroclasm
4 Naturalize
3 Price Of Progress

The Idea: Play big things. If they die, use Survival to find more big
things. If they do something nasty, use Survival to find an answer.
'Midgame' is the best classification for this deck because it's not
really an all-in aggro deck in the goblin mould, and it clearly can't
fall under the same classification as Threshold - the plans of the
decks are completely different.
Strengths: Boatloads of card advantage, excellent beaters, strong aggro
game even without Survival.
Weaknesses: It simply cannot beat combo maindeck and needs to SB lots
of stuff to make it look even passable. Dislikes graveyard hate.

W/R Rifter by Martin Johannes Brenner
5th Place: GP: Lille (Dec 18, 2005)

3 Eternal Dragon

3 Humility
3 Lightning Rift
2 Rune Of Protection: Red

4 Renewed Faith
4 Swords To Plowshares
3 Decree Of Justice
3 Pyroclasm
3 Slice And Dice
2 Akroma's Vengeance
2 Abeyance
2 Disenchant

9 Plains
7 Mountain
4 Forgotten Cave
4 Secluded Steppe
2 Plateau

3 Rule Of Law
2 Abeyance
2 Boil
2 Disenchant
2 Pulse Of The Fields
2 Red Elemental Blast
1 Pyroblast
1 Pyroclasm

The idea: Onslaught block called - they want their deck back. This is a
Legacy-ised version of the OnBC Astral Slide deck.
Strengths: Built to destroy creature-based decks.
Weaknesses: Confused by creatureless decks.

UW Landstill
Nicolas Francois, Top 8, Grand Prix Lille
4 Tundra
2 Plains
3 Island
4 Wasteland
4 Mishra's Factory
3 Volcanic Island
4 Flooded Strand

2 Exalted Angel
3 Nevinyrral's Disk
4 Standstill
4 Counterspell
4 Fire/Ice
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Force of Will
2 Fact or Fiction
4 Brainstorm
2 Moat
3 Decree of Justice
2 Pulse of the Fields
3 Chalice of the Void
3 Pithing Needle
3 Tormod's Crypt
4 Sphere of Law

The idea: *Yawn*. This is like every UW board control deck in history.
Counter stuff, kill stuff, draw more cards, win with hard-to-kill
creatures. The only interesting thing here is the synergy between
Standstill and the Factories.
Strengths: Consistent, really easy to play, pretty good at stomping bad
Weaknesses: Horribly underpowered, more vulnerable to combo than you
might think.

Combo and Combo-Control

Gabriel Nassif
12th place: GP: Lille (Dec 18, 2005)

4 Life from the Loam
4 Exploration
4 Brainstorm
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Force of Will
3 Counterspell
3 Solitary Confinement
3 Intuition
2 Forbid

2 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Graveshell Scarab

4 Tropical Island
3 Tundra
2 Savannah
1 Scrubland
4 Flooded Strand
2 Windswept Heath
3 Lonely Sandbar
2 Tranquil Thicket
1 Secluded Steppe
1 Cephalid Coliseum
3 Wasteland

4 Vinelasher Kudzu
3 Chalice of the Void
3 Meddling Mage
3 Massacre
2 Null Rod

The idea: Life from the Loam + cycling lands = lots of card-draw to
feed Confinement. If the other guy can't kill you, then you win.
eventually. There are many variations on the Loam/cycling engine in
Legacy - you can build the same loam/cycling/confinement engine into
the W/R rifter deck with little difficulty.
Strengths: Strong lockdown, protected by some counterspells.
Weaknesses: Takes years to actually win the game. This deck can
struggle to win ONE game within the time limit. This deck is just 'ok'
against creatures as opposed to 'great'. Also dislikes graveyard hate.

Mike Herbig
1st/2nd Place split, SCG Duals for Duals

Reset-Tide, aka Solidarity
4 Reset
4 High tide
4 Force of Will
4 Brainstorm
4 Impulse
4 Remand
3 Turnabout
3 Cunning Wish
2 Flash of Insight
2 Brain Freeze
4 Meditate
4 Opt
3 Polluted Delta
3 Flooded Strand
12 Island
1 Stroke of Genius
1 Turnabout
1 Chain of Vapor
1 Echoing Truth
4 Hydroblast
1 Brain Freeze
4 Disrupt
2 Twincast

The idea: This deck is a lot like High Tide decks of olde. Play Tide,
untap your lands repeatedly, draw cards, win. The one nuance here is
that the deck typically goes off on its opponent's turn, because its
best untapper, Reset, is only castable at that time. There is an
alternate version of this deck which runs at sorcery speed, called
'Spring Tide'. It uses Ideas Unbound and other powerful sorceries, and
tends to be faster but more disruptable than Reset-Tide.
Strengths: Powerful, hard to disrupt, instant speed kill.
Weaknesses: A bit slow. This deck will usually kill turn 4, and doesn't
do much before then. It also doesn't like having its lands blown up or
hand attacked, and so has real trouble with B/w Disruption. Also, Reset
is an obsucre Legends uncommon which suddenly came into demand, and is
currently selling for ~ 15 a pop.

Michael Bomholt - IGGy-Pop
2006 Legacy Championship Top 8
1 Tropical Island
2 Island
2 Swamp
4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
2 Underground Sea
1 Cabal Pit

4 Lotus Petal
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Dark Ritual
4 Lion's Eye Diamond
4 Ill-Gotten Gains
3 Tendrils of Agony
4 Leyline of the Void
1 Echoing Truth
4 Mystical Tutor
4 Brainstorm
4 Intuition
4 Infernal Tutor

4 Xantid Swarm
3 Massacre
3 In the Eye of Chaos
1 Echoing Truth
2 Chain of Vapor
2 Gaea's Blessing

The idea: Dirty combo deck! This is a Tendrils deck which uses
Ill-Gotten Gains to recur Dark Rituals and Intuitions, which build up
the spell count and mana it needs to cast a lethal Tendrils. Rav block
gave this deck a shot in the arm - both Infernal Tutor and Leyline of
the Void are great additions to the deck. The Leyline is particularly
nasty because in concert with Ill-Gotten Gains it completely nukes the
opponent's hand while getting back three cards from your own graveyard!
Strengths: It's a pretty fast (turn 3) combo deck, and Leyline of the
Void 'accidently' makes Threshold's creatures much worse. Unlike High
Tide, this deck leaves nothing to chance - in almost every case, you
can work out whether you can win or not from examination of the
position. It's not easy though, so be prepared to do some sums.
Weaknesses: A poor choice for the maths-impaired. Also, without
Leyline, this deck has quite a bit of trouble vs Force of Will using
its 'plan A', as the opponent can keep getting Force back with IGG. In
that situation, the best plan seems to be to slow play it and hope to
buy enough time ram through a lethal Tendrils.

19th Place: GP: Lille (Dec 18, 2005)

4 Wall of Blossoms
4 Raven Familiar
3 Cavern Harpy
3 Wall of Roots
2 Man-o-War
1 Spike Feeder
1 Eternal Witness

4 Aluren
3 Eladamri's Vineyard

4 Brainstorm
3 Force of Will
3 Cabal Therapy
2 Chain of Vapor
2 Intuition
1 Chord of Calling

4 Tropical Island
3 Bayou
1 Underground Sea
1 City of Traitors
3 Polluted Selta
3 Windswept Heath
4 Forest
1 Island

4 Blue Elemental Blast
3 Pernicious Deed
2 Hydroblast
2 Mystic Remora
1 Cabal Therapy
1 Force of Will
1 Wall of Roots
1 Intuition

The idea: Remember this deck from old extended? Same plan.
Strengths: Lots of Walls to hold off aggro, and once Aluren hits it
will almost never lose.
Weaknesses: Getting Aluren to hit.

7th Place: SCG Duel for Duals II (Feb 02, 2006)

4 Argothian Enchantress
1 Eternal Dragon

4 Enchantress's Presence
4 Solitary Confinement
4 Elephant Grass
4 Sterling Grove
4 Exploration
2 Sacred Mesa
2 Mirri's Guile
2 Seal Of Cleansing
2 Moat
1 Ghostly Prison
1 Holistic Wisdom
1 Karmic Justice
1 Sylvan Library
1 Words Of War

2 Serra's Sanctum
4 Windswept Heath
4 Savannah
1 Plateau
1 Taiga
7 Forest
3 Plains

3 Choke
2 City Of Solitude
2 Karmic Justice
2 Rule Of Law
1 Seal Of Cleansing
1 Sacred Ground
1 Aura Of Silence
1 Parallax Wave
1 Null Chamber
1 Humility

The idea: The Enchantresses draw cards when you play enchantments. Play
lots of enchantments to draw lots of cards and stop your opponent doing
anything. Then draw lots more cards and generate lots of mana. Then run
then over with Pegusi or zap them with Words of War.
Strengths: Powerful draw engine, Moat and Elephant Grass are great at
stopping creature decks.
Weaknesses: A bit slow, has to resolve Enchatresses and stop them
dying. Watching Akroma's Vengeance resolve against this deck is

Gamekeeper/Salvagers (Slightly modified from the coverage list)
Top 8, Grand Prix Lille, by Maximilian Bracht
(61 cards)
1 Plains
1 Bloodstained Mire
2 Forest
2 Snow-Covered Forest
2 Swamp
2 Snow-Covered Swamp
3 Windswept Heath
2 Flooded Strand
2 Polluted Delta
1 Scrubland
1 Bayou

2 Auriok Salvagers
3 Gamekeeper

4 Cabal Therapy
4 Tainted Pact
4 Lion's Eye Diamond
4 Chromatic Sphere
2 Chrome Mox
1 Pyrite Spellbomb
4 Living Wish
4 Innocent Blood
4 Dark Ritual
4 Duress
2 Night's Whisper

1 Kjeldoran Dead
1 Bone Shredder
1 Gamekeeper
1 Maga, Traitor to Mortals
1 Viridian Shaman
1 Auriok Salvagers
1 City of Brass
2 Darksteel Colossus
1 Elvish Piper
4 Tsunami
1 Viridian Zealot

The idea: Sacrifice a Gamekeeper to something (say, Cabal Therapy,
Innocent Blood, blocking), and turn over lots of cards. If you hit a
Gamekeeper, sacrifice that, (ideally to one of the Cabal Therapies that
you probably flipped), and keep going until you find Salvagers. You
should have flipped an LED by that point, and Salvager + LED = Infinite
mana. Use that in conjunction with Chromatic Sphere to find the Pyrite
Spellbomb, and deal infinite damage.
Strengths: Powerful combo - repeated Cabal Therapies destroy opponent's
hand and so any possible disruption. Gamekeeper can act like a Moat
even without a sac outlet.
Weaknesses: Can crap out if unlucky with Gamekeepers.

Other potential ideas in the cardpool:

- Counterbalace + Sensei's Divining Top is awesome. Add Future Sight
and a Brain Freeze kill and you've got a solid looking combo-control

- If you can weather the hate intended for Threshold, you can port
Ichorizzo from Extended and get a huge load of awesome stuff (eg. Ashen

- You can play a full-blown Vial Affinity deck, the only Affinity piece
that's banned is Skullclamp. You could even add Terrarion and Tangle

- Chains of Mephistopheles... will make Jen cry, so don't play it.

- The old Daru Spirtulalist infinite life deck can be ported wholesale
to Legacy, and it even gets a better manabase. What's really good is
gain infinite life is a good thing to do against almost every deck,
because almost every deck wins with noninfinite damage. In the old 1.x
format a lot of the decks could get around infinite life, making this
deck suck. You'll have to accept that you will never beat High Tide or
Gamekeeper though.

- Survival of the Fittest comes with so many options it's not even
funny. Goblin Welder + Sundering Titan anyone?

- Intuiton + Squee + Zombie Infestation? Just a thought.

- There are many more ideas out there, and a huge cardpool to exploit
them with. Have fun!

Hopefully that should have got some deckbuiling muscles going. See you

See you Sunday!

Rob Appleyard aka Nazdakka