Metagame Movements in Legacy – March/April 2023

Metagame Movements

in Legacy

– Hone your craft!

After the banning of Expressive Iteration and White Plume Adventurer in early March, the Legacy metagame has been in a state of flux. Early on the natural reaction was for people to try and build the next-best versions of the two top dogs, that were hit with the banhammer. We are only a few weeks in, so changes can and will change, but for the time being it looks like Wizards hit not only EI and WPA on the head but also the nail.
The metagame now seems extremely open with no clear best deck, but instead with a plethora of good options available. Anything from Reanimator to classic 4 colour or Jeskai control, Lands, 8 Cast, Cloudpost, Breakfast, Painter to Doomsday is viable. New decks also emerge around the card Staff of the Storyteller, which may or may not be a one-hit-wonder.

Is control good?

Now that Control enemy number 1, Mono-white Initiative, is gone and UR Delver has lost EI, then one would think that it was time to shine for Uro 4C Control. There is however the challenge that because the field is wide open, it’s not easy building a control deck. Having the right answers means knowing which questions the metagame will be asking. If you can predict the metagame somewhat, then the control decks should be strong. But if you have to battle everything from Reanimator and Sneak and Show to Lands, GW Depths, Goblins and Enchantress at the same time, then Control is less appealing.

Which decks are winning?

In the paper realm, Niklas Holtmann took down a 42-person ELM qualifier hosted by 341 Trading in Austria. Holtmann came equipped with a Yorion Control deck featuring 4 Uro, 4 Minsc and many other goodies. The deck was built with 4 Dress Down giving it a strong position against anything creature-based and giving him the option of going the somewhat aggressive route of turn two EOT Dress Down into turn 3 Uro without its triggers. Simply jamming Minsc and Boo is also a straightforward  way of winning games. Here is the event coverage. The rest of the top 8 was a mix of creature-based decks in the form of Painter, Breakfast, Ninjas and Aluren topped off with Reanimator and another control deck. If the unpredictable state of post-ban Legacy can be reduced to a lot of creature-centric decks, then Holtmann might be onto something by going Dress Down Control…

That being said, it sounds like a metagame ripe for the taking if you can muster up a Lands deck and build it to address the proper challenges, such as the fast potential for combo wins out of Painter and Breakfast.

The dark fate of Delver

It’s a hard knock life being a Delver pilot these days. There are some wins out there, most notably online at the Showcase Challenge on the 19th of March, where MTGO user JacobisBoss won the event with UR splashing two Tropical Islands for 3 Tarmogoyf. In the aftermath of that event, a couple of Showcase Last Chance Qualifiers were taken down by Delver decks, but beyond these blips on the radar, it doesn’t seem like the previous best deck is doing too well overall.

It used to be rare to see a top 8 without Delver, but that is quite normal these days. Let’s look at a top 8 from Milan, Italy for instance, where 48 players duked it out (glorious Italy). The Top 8 had Maverick, Doomsday, Grixis Control, Sneak and Show, 8 Cast, Boros Initiative, Red Painter and Red Prison. You don’t get it much more versatile than that. Naya Maverick took it down and when you take a look at the list, there is quite the spice. A couple of Mawlocs, Archon of Emerias and three Initiative creatures show us that this is undoubtedly 2023 Maverick and not a nostalgic throwback. It ports some of the elements of the Initiative deck and combines them with the Green Sun Zenith package, which is always strong in an open field, where targets like Outland Liberator and Endurance can do a lot of work in tough matchups. Minsc and Boo are of course hiding in the sideboard.

Honing your craft in an open field

Legacy in 2023 is in a peculiar state, where you have a lot of relevant printings, some of which are slow to hit Magic Online. This kind of offsets the effect that the Internet had on the diffusion of knowledge in Magic in general. This effect is one of streamlining, where the best version of the best decks are quickly found, and then the effect of netdecking further accentuates this streamlining. This is somewhat offset by the fact that metagames in paper and online are not the same, and by the fact that the recent ban shook everything up. For you as a deck builder or deck expert, this opens the door to innovation. The Hive Mind doesn’t work fast enough at the moment to solve Legacy if indeed it can be solved currently (I think it’s too deep and balanced for that), and there are plenty of cards, strategies and angles of attack that are underexplored. If you just want a good list to play, you can always go with one of the proven archetypes, but if you want to brew, it’s your time to shine although success might be hard to find.

Best of luck in your upcoming tournaments

With love from the ELM crew,

Tue Bo-Chassé

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