Legacy Primer

By: Daniel D’Amato

Legacy is one of the most exciting formats that Magic has to offer. There are numerous, diverse decks ranging from combo, midrange, prison, and control all represented by the entire color spectrum of Magic. Like every other format in Magic though, there are the multiple top decks in the format that help define what Legacy is all about. The top decks of the format are all different in their own ways, especially with how they put away a game. My goal is to dive into what I consider the best decks in the format and provide understanding of how they win and how to combat them.

Miracles

19 LANDS
Arid Mesa
Flooded Strand
Island
Plains
Tundra
Volcanic Island
4 CREATURES
Monastery Mentor
Snapcaster Mage
33 INSTANTS and SORC.
Accumulated Knowledge
Brainstorm
Council’s Judgment
Counterspell
Flusterstorm
Force of Will
Ponder
Portent
Predict
Preordain
Swords to Plowshares
Terminus
4 OTHER SPELLS
Back to Basics
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
SIDEBOARD
Celestial Purge
Council’s Judgment
Counterbalance
Engineered Explosives
Flusterstorm
Pyroblast
Snapcaster Mage
Surgical Extraction
Volcanic Island

Miracles got its name from the Avacyn Restored mechanic “Miracle” that allowed you to play a card for an alternate casting cost if it was the first card drawn during that turn. Since Terminus’ printing, Miracles has been a strong Legacy contender, but how does it win? This deck utilizes the best cantrips and counter magic in the format to deal with its opponents’ strategy and then aims to win either through Snapcaster Mage or Monastery Mentor. Using card advantage like Accumulated Knowledge and Brainstorm, it’s able to find what it needs to win while being able to cast Terminus for its alternate casting cost on the opponents turn. This version also runs Back to Basics to tax opponents with greedy mana bases which is typically your Delver and Lands variants.

So, what are its strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: This deck is very solid against creature-based strategies and combo decks. With the access to essentially an instant speed board clear along with numerous forms of free and regular counter magic, this deck can persevere through those matches with ease by gaining card advantage and putting the game away either through creature combat, or a Jace, the Mind Sculptor lock.

Weaknesses: This deck can have a tough time against the taxing variants of Legacy like D&T and Maverick. Anything that strains the mana base of Miracles or makes their spells cost more is typically a rough situation for them. Gaddock Teeg stops a lot of the deck and requires an immediate answer.

Turbo Depths

29 LANDS
Bayou
Bojuka Bog
Dark Depths
Forest
Ghost Quarter
Maze of Ith
Misty Rainforest
Sejiri Steppe
Swamp
Thespian’s Stage
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Verdant Catacombs
Wasteland
Wooded Foothills
11 CREATURES
Dark Confidant
Sylvan Safekeeper
Vampire Hexmage
15 INSTANTS and SORC.
Abrupt Decay
Crop Rotation
Inquisition of Kozilek
Sylvan Scrying
Thoughtseize
5 OTHER SPELLS
Mox Diamond
Sylvan Library
SIDEBOARD
Dread of Night
Dryad Arbor
Duress
Gaddock Teeg
Green Sun’s Zenith
Karakas
Liliana, the Last Hope
Pithing Needle
Surgical Extraction
Tireless Tracker

Turbo Depths is a land-based combo deck that utilizes Vampire Hexmage and Dark Depths along with support from Thespian’s Stage to create a Marit Lage as quick and efficiently as possible. Since this combo involves mostly lands, it can be rather difficult to interact with due to most removal referring to nonland permanents. Marit Lage also happens to be a 20/20 flying indestructible Avatar so unless you have a form to exile or bounce it, its also a rather tough beat. This combo is assembled either through Vampire Hexmage removing all the ice counters from Dark Depths per its ability or Thespian’s Stage making a copy of Dark Depths, except it won’t have counters and will create Marit Lage. But how well does this deck fare?

Strengths: This deck is very good against creature-based strategies and other forms of combo. Its game one is also decent vs control decks since they tend not to have too many mainboard cards that answer Marit Lage, or enough ways to interact. This deck can typically win in the first three turns making it a resilient contender in the format.

Weaknesses: Like any combo deck, the hands are very dependent on the required pieces to win. Accordingly, this deck typically can’t mulligan efficiently since it lacks cards like Brainstorm to fix awkward draws. This deck can also be run over by Wasteland and other land destruction that can stop the combo from happening.

Grixis Delver

19 LANDS
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island
Wasteland
13 CREATURES
Delver of Secrets
Gurmag Angler
True-Name Nemesis
Young Pyromancer
28 INSTANTS and SORC.
Brainstorm
Daze
Force of Will
Forked Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Ponder
Preordain
Spell Pierce
Thoughtseize
SIDEBOARD
Abrade
Diabolic Edict
Flusterstorm
Grafdigger’s Cage
Grim Lavamancer
Izzet Staticaster
Liliana, the Last Hope
Null Rod
Pithing Needle
Pyroblast
Surgical Extraction

Grixis Delver is one of the best aggro/midrange decks the format has to offer. It plays the best cantrips, countermagic, and some of the best creatures in the format. This deck utilizes Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer to provide a quick clock while being able to protect the strategy with free spells like Force of Will and Daze. It’s also able to clear the path for combat damage using Lightning Bolt and Thoughtseize to ensure damage will be pushed through. True-Name Nemesis along with Gurmag Angler can close out games very quickly while the deck protects them.

Strengths: This deck is very strong against combo-based strategies and fair midrange decks. Having access to free countermagic along with premium removal helps this deck shine. The diverse sideboard of this deck also allows it to be prepared for any matchup while not having to take too much away from the desired game plan.

Weaknesses: This deck, while it does run Wasteland, is not very good against Lands or 4c Loam. This deck has a very difficult time dealing with cards like Tabernacle and opposing Wastelands due to the lack of basics in the deck. This deck can also have a tough time with D&T and Maverick due to the taxing features of those decks along with their lands like Rishadan Port and Wasteland. But if you think you are the best player in the room, this is the deck to play since even the worst matchups are very winnable.

Ad Nauseam Tendrils

15 LANDS
Bayou
Bloodstained Mire
Island
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Swamp
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island
37 INSTANTS and SORC.
Ad Nauseam
Brainstorm
Cabal Ritual
Dark Petition
Dark Ritual
Duress
Infernal Tutor
Past in Flames
Ponder
Preordain
Tendrils of Agony
Thoughtseize
8 OTHER SPELLS
Lion’s Eye Diamond
Lotus Petal
SIDEBOARD
Abrupt Decay
Chain of Vapor
Dread of Night
Echoing Truth
Empty the Warrens
Flusterstorm
Hurkyl’s Recall
Tendrils of Agony
Xantid Swarm

I’m biased and love this deck but will do my best to give an honest review for those interested in the format. Storm is a strong combo deck that utilizes the Storm ability from Tendrils of Agony to drain the opponent for 20, but how does it get there? This deck abuses cards like Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, and Lion’s Eye Diamond (LED) to generate a lot of mana to essentially cast spells for free. Since LED discards your hand upon activation, and Hellbent checks on resolution, Infernal Tutor functions essentially as Demonic Tutor for whatever card you’re missing for your combo.

Strengths: This deck is very strong against creature-based strategies and other combo strategies due to how fast it can kill, potentially as early as turn one. While most decks mulligan rough, this deck can be great on 5 cards since that’s technically all you need to win the game.

Weaknesses: This deck has numerous weaknesses, specifically any blue control-based strategy. This deck also gets hit by all the taxing decks which cause the spells to cost more. While this deck can have a very good game one, another downside of this deck is that the play or draw can matter significantly due to cards like Thalia, Gaddock Teeg, Rishadan Port, and Thoughtseize.

Grixis Control

21 LANDS
Badlands
Bloodstained Mire
Island
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Swamp
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island
9 CREATURES
Baleful Strix
Gurmag Angler
Snapcaster Mage
26 INSTANTS and SORC.
Brainstorm
Diabolic Edict
Fatal Push
Force of Will
Hymn to Tourach
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Ponder
Thoughtseize
4 OTHER SPELLS
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Liliana, the Last Hope
SIDEBOARD
Blood Moon
Dreadbore
Flusterstorm
Liliana, the Last Hope
Marsh Casualties
Pithing Needle
Pyroblast
Surgical Extraction
Toxic Deluge

Grixis Control, as opposed to Miracles, typically plays more creatures and aims to protect them and win the game. With cards like Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach, this deck aims to have its opponents’ hand empty and just beat them with value via Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Baleful Strix. This deck also utilizes Force of Will, as most blue decks do, to protect its creatures and planeswalkers and ideally ride them to victory. Hymn to Tourach allows for this deck to get extremely far ahead on card advantage as early as turn 2 and tax their opponents’ resources while also getting in for damage with Strix or Snapcaster. In my opinion, this is the best control deck in the format currently.

Strengths: What makes this deck great is that its game one is solid against most decks apart from Elves, the creature-based combo deck. With a variety of removal and interaction, this deck can hold its own against most of the field and is supported by a sideboard that makes the other two games significantly easier.

Weaknesses: Like Delver, this deck can also fold to land based strategies due to having spells taxed and being held off certain colors through Wasteland and Ghost Quarter. But even with those setbacks, this deck can rally through one creature or planeswalker.

Eldrazi Aggro

26 LANDS
Ancient Tomb
Cloudpost
Eldrazi Temple
Eye of Ugin
Glimmerpost
Karakas
Thespian’s Stage
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Vesuva
20 CREATURES
Endbringer
Matter Reshaper
Reality Smasher
Thought-Knot Seer
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Walking Ballista
2 INSTANTS and SORC.
All Is Dust
12 OTHER SPELLS
Chalice of the Void
Grim Monolith
Karn, Scion of Urza
Sorcerous Spyglass
SIDEBOARD
Basilisk Collar
Emrakul, the Promised End
Ensnaring Bridge
Leyline of the Void
Ratchet Bomb
Sorcerous Spyglass
Thorn of Amethyst

I’d like to introduce Zendikar the deck. This deck uses our colorless friends along with taxing artifacts like Chalice of the Void to put games away quickly. In this format, a Chalice on one can be back breaking to some strategies and this deck hopes to capitalize on that as often as possible. With the help of Ancient Tomb and Eldrazi Temple, this deck can play its two-drop slot on turn one and follow it up with one of the most powerful four drops ever printed, Thought-Knot Seer. This version has an alternate win condition in the form of Karn, Scion of Urza who can just make a bunch of 4/4 and 5/5 Constructs that help put the game away quickly.

Strengths: Chalice of the Void is an insane Magic card, especially on turn one for one while on the play. That play alone can allow this deck to run free but if that didn’t do the trick, the card advantage and sheer size of Thought-Knot Seer will help. This deck can be tough to combat as well since the most played answers to creatures are one mana. This sideboard is also equipped to handle any deck you throw at it without shutting down its gameplan.

Weaknesses: This deck can have a tough time against some combo strategies like Turbo Depths and the traditional version of Lands due to how quick both can make a Marit Lage. Other than that, unless the opponent has it all, one of these creatures will stick and that’s all it takes for this deck to steal games.

Death and Taxes

24 LANDS
Karakas
11 Plains
Rishadan Port
Snow-Covered Plains
Wasteland
25 CREATURES
Flickerwisp
Mirran Crusader
Mother of Runes
Palace Jailer
Phyrexian Revoker
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Spirit of the Labyrinth
Stoneforge Mystic
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Walking Ballista
4 INSTANTS and SORC.
Swords to Plowshares
7 OTHER SPELLS
Aether Vial
Batterskull
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa’s Jitte
SIDEBOARD
Containment Priest
Council’s Judgment
Disenchant
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Ethersworn Canonist
Faerie Macabre
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Isolate
Orim’s Chant
Path to Exile
Rest in Peace
Surgical Extraction
War Priest of Thune

Probably the fairest deck of the bunch is Death and Taxes. This deck aims to just play great creatures and win through combat. Cards that make the deck are Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Stoneforge Mystic and Recruiter of the Guard. Thalia can tax the opponent out of the game by making spells cost one more while Stoneforge Mystic can tutor up Umezawa’s Jitte to help push damage through. This deck also utilizes Rishadan Port to tap down opponents’ lands so that their turn is a wash or to keep them off mana of a certain color.

Strengths: This deck can be very strong against creature-based decks and some combo decks, especially while on the play. It generates value through Stoneforge Mystic and can shut down opponents’ strategies through Thalia or Phyrexian Revoker. The manabase is also solid because as mentioned earlier, Rishadan Port and Wasteland work well together while Karakas can keep some unfair strategies in check.

Weaknesses: This deck can be rough game one against some combo variants like Storm while on the draw or not having a taxing piece in the opening hand. This deck also has a tough time with Eldrazi due to the size of the creatures. Cards like Massacre and Dread of Night also exist in the format and can swing matchups wildly after sideboard.

4c Loam

26 LANDS
Badlands
Barren Moor
Bayou
Cabal Pit
Dryad Arbor
Forest
Ghost Quarter
Grove of the Burnwillows
Karakas
Maze of Ith
Savannah
Scrubland
Taiga
Tranquil Thicket
Verdant Catacombs
Wasteland
Windswept Heath
11 CREATURES
Dark Confidant
Gaddock Teeg
Knight of the Reliquary
Queen Marchesa
Scavenging Ooze
11 INSTANTS and SORC.
Abrupt Decay
Assassin’s Trophy
Green Sun’s Zenith
Life from the Loam
Punishing Fire
12 OTHER SPELLS
Chalice of the Void
Liliana of the Veil
Mox Diamond
Sylvan Library
SIDEBOARD
Ajani Vengeant
Containment Priest
Golgari Charm
Knight of Autumn
Leyline of the Void
Liliana, the Last Hope
Nissa, Vital Force
Swords to Plowshares
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

This deck is quite the pile and it has been seeing a lot of success. Here, we use cards like Chalice of the Void and Mox Diamond paired with creatures like Knight of the Reliquary to put games away quickly. Obviously, being four colors, it has a greedy manabase, but everything flows smoothly thanks to Life from the Loam and Knight of the Reliquary which allow you to filter lands and bring them back to your hand. Occasionally, you can also steal games through repeated use of Wasteland and Ghost Quarter to prevent your opponent from ever playing Magic.

Strengths: This deck is very strong against most combo strategies, while it can fumble on some game ones. This deck is very good against delver-based strategies and most control-based strategies due to being able to tax their opponents’ mana while providing a strong creature threat in Knight of the Reliquary. Liliana of the Veil is also a planeswalker that requires an answer immediately or it can run your opponents out of threats.

Weaknesses: This deck can have a tough time against Eldrazi type aggro decks as well as some versions of land-based combo. Some of the cards can be awkward at times as well so this deck requires numerous reps and understanding to be played efficiently.

I know that was a ton of information, but this format is seriously one of the most exciting formats Magic has. There are numerous other decks than the ones I just listed here, and they all have their own impact on the format and can provide a pleasurable play experience. I hope you enjoyed this primer and as always if there are any questions or if you want to jam games, reach out to me. Thanks for reading!

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