Metagame Movements in Legacy – May 2023

Metagame Movements

in Legacy – Reanimator’s time to shine?!

We are in a time of great diversity in the metagame with a somewhat surprising most played deck according to MtgGoldfish: Reanimator. This deck has almost 10 % percent of the metagame, but is this also reflected in the paper metagame or is it mostly an online thing? Let’s take a look at some of the European paper events that have qualified for the 2023 ELM this spring and get closer to an answer to that question.


Arnaud Jochum took down the FACT/MTGones 104-person event in Lyon in the beginning of May with 4 color Control. The top 8 had a total of 4 Control decks alongside 4 different Ancient Tomb/big mana decks. That is a pretty interesting spread of decks and Reanimator or other Dark Ritual decks nowhere to be found.


On the first day of April, Bazaar of Boxes held a 80-person event where Maarten van Tol took it down with Mono-red Painter. The rest of the top 8 featured a range of decks from Infect to Doomsday, Lands, Initiative, more Painter and even Creative Technique! A sole Control deck held the fair blue banner high.


In Odense, the hometown of Hans Christian Andersen, where there usually isn’t a big Legacy community, an ELM qualifier was held to great success in late April. Former ELM participant, Daniel Peretz traveled there and won the event with his trusty Lands deck. The top 8 was once again diverse with the spread only really missing Control to have all archetypes somewhat on the map.


On the same weekend, at the end of April, 22 players convened in Graz, Austria to find an ELM participant. One of the format’s many outlier archetypes, Food Chain Goblins, took home the trophy in the hands of Daniel Donko. The top 8 featured several instances of Painter, which feels like a recurring theme in these paper tournaments, and a gentle mix of both Delver, Control and DnT to round it out.

So while these results are of course anecdotal to a certain extent, they do tell a story or two:

The joy of playing long games

There are some dedicated Reanimator players in paper, and that is without a doubt a great thing, because it adds a certain spice to the metagame, but there are not a lot. Like a number of other fast combo decks, Reanimator is less popular in paper than in online play because it is not a “players deck”. With that I mean that you have less minutes of play, when you play Reanimator. For a lot of people, that is an upside online, but a downside in paper, where the plan for most people is not to railbird the other matches all day, because your match took 5 minutes, shuffling excluded. 

At the same time, Painter is arguably stronger in paper, because Chaos Defiler is not yet available online, and is on the contrary quite the “players deck”. Sure it can win fast, but it usually does so more slowly and through meticulous and patient play. And the real plan A is to grind advantages throughout the game and put your opponent between a rock and a hard place, a bit like Death and Taxes (DnT), actually.

Figuring out the paper metagame

If you disregard Reanimator somewhat in paper, then you get the impression of a metagame, where there are a lot of Ancient Tomb decks, where Delver is weaker than ever, and where a good build of Control seems well positioned. This also means that linear decks, that aren’t too afraid of Chalice and the like, can really shine. A good example of this is Cloudpost, which is well positioned against Control, and prefers to not face Delver all day.

My personal take

The deck I have sleeved up currently I took to a top 4 in a recent Challenge on Magic Online and I call it Delver Control (Bant). I think a lot of people scratch their heads, when they look at this mashup of Control and Tempo but I find that it works for me and even makes sense. Instead of looking at deck building from a Solitaire standpoint, I approached this with the wish of being able to produce certain game states in different match ups, and being resilient against Chalice of the Void and the many other unknowns of the current metagame. The result is midrangey, so this is neither the best Delver deck nor the best Control deck. What it can do still is to present a turn 1 threat against unfair strategies and back it up with Daze and Spell Pierce, and present white removal and Uro in the many board state dominated match ups such as Painter, Delver and 8 Cast. Tarmogoyf is still a big beater, by the way. This is by no means a deck building revolution, but simply my way of approaching the current metagame.

4 Seasons June and many more ELM Qualifiers coming up!

Post-ban Legacy is heating up and finding its own complicated identity for you and me to ponder, consider and brainstorm about. Next up is the big legacy tournament at 4 Seasons in Bologna, Italy, which will gather Legacy loving gamers from across the continent. This also serves as an ELM Qualifier and arguably the most prestigious one at that. Which decks or specific players do you think are poised to take it down and how are you tweaking your deck if you are going?

Best of luck in your upcoming tournaments

With love from the ELM crew,

Tue Bo-Chassé

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