This weekend, I plan on playing two GPTs for Las Vegas. Each of these GPTs are going to be in the Legacy format, so in the interest of succeeding, I planned on taking along the most powerful deck I’d ever played in a sanctioned tournament, Predict Miracles.

‘Long live the King’

Spells (28)
Brainstorm
Ponder
Predict
Counterspell
Force of Will
Council’s Judgment
Entreat the Angels
Swords to Plowshares
Terminus

Artifacts (5)
Sensei’s Divining Top
Engineered Explosives

Enchantments (3)
Counterbalance

Planeswalkers (2)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Creatures (2)
Snapcaster Mage
Lands (20)
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Arid Mesa
Tundra
Volcanic Island
Island
Plains

Sideboard (15)
Containment Priest
Engineered Explosives
Flusterstorm
Mountain
Pyroblast
Red Elemental Blast
Snapcaster Mage
Surgical Extraction
From the Ashes
Wear // Tear

I’m sure as everyone knows by now, this deck will not be legal for play this weekend. On Monday, April 24th, Sensei’s Divining Top was banned in Legacy. I was not entirely surprised, the deck was extremely powerful and when playing it I felt as if there were close to no truly poor matchups, at least not commonly played ones.

Top leaving us left me with a bit of a conundrum – what should I play this weekend?

Luckily, I own a fair few Magic cards at this point and am not in the camp of people who cannot build another deck in time for their next tournament. My heart goes out to those lost souls, doomed to spin their tops in EDH forever (or learn to love Stoneforge Mystic again).

We’ll come to Stoneforge Mystic later though, first I want to briefly run over what I expect to play against this weekend in the wake of Miracles being banned.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if Miracles dies, on level one the decks it preyed on will see an uptick, and the decks it lost to will see a downturn. There will be some amount of shaking out the format will need to do at that point, to decide what can best handle the new metagame.

So on a very basic level, I am expecting to see more Elves, Storm and Delver at the top tables. I would expect Sneak and Show and Eldrazi to fall off a little, as these were decks that Miracles had a tougher time against. I would also expect the majority of players to not adjust their lists too much, or play anything radically different to what they have played recently due to the inertia inherent in such an expensive format.

In choosing a deck to play, my first thoughts are that I want to continue playing a blue deck, in order to have access to the ever powerful Brainstorm. Whilst I respect the power of decks like Elves and Lands, especially in a Terminus free environment in the case of the former, card availability, deck familiarity and the manipulation cantrips offer pushed me away from these strategies.

What does blue have to offer in Legacy? As it turns out, there are a bunch of options for blue in Legacy (who knew?). Tempo, Control and Midrange. (I don’t have the cards nor the experience to be comfortable playing ANT, which I think is the defacto best combo deck in the format – if not the best deck overall).

Tempo

The first fair Brainstorm deck I expect to see lots of in the coming weeks is Grixis Delver. (Here’s a list I 5-0d with earlier this week.)

FGC - Grixis Delver

Creatures (14)
Delver of Secrets
Deathrite Shaman
Young Pyromancer
True-Name Nemesis
Gurmag Angler

Spells (28)
Brainstorm
Ponder
Gitaxian Probe
Lightning Bolt
Forked Bolt
Daze
Force of Will
Cabal Therapy
Spell Pierce
Lands (18)
Polluted Delta
Flooded Strand
Volcanic Island
Underground Sea
Tropical Island
Wasteland

Sideboard (15)
Flusterstorm
Cabal Therapy
Pyroblast
Ancient Grudge
Surgical Extraction
Grafdigger’s Cage
Sudden Demise
Forked Bolt
Sulfuric Vortex

This is the most efficient pile of spells available in the format for those looking to play fair and cast Brainstorm. You get to play with both Gitaxian Probe and Deathrite Shaman, which are often pointed towards when potential bannings are discussed, so they must be good right? The Miracles matchup was never good for Delver, but with that out of the way, there is no need to play narrow cards like Winter Orb – or even devote slots to Abrupt Decay. An aggressive strategy, strong against combo and with game against everything in the field is a very attractive option. The primary weaknesses of this deck lie in the Lands strategy, and in Death and Taxes, with the latter deck being highly popular in the UK metagame.

Midrange

Leovold, Emissary of Trest. What a card. Disruption and card advantage all stapled onto a cheap threat, which also pitches to Force of Will – what more could you ask!? As it stands, I think this card is the main reason to want to play BUG colours in the format going forward. Past Leo, there doesn’t seem to be a strong reason to stick to the BUG colours (we all know Deathrite Shaman isn’t strictly a BG card at all). Midrange decks have always been required to play Abrupt Decay to get out of the dreaded Counter Top lock, but as this is no longer a threat, Abrupt Decay’s stock goes down considerably. BUG midrange decks have also been traditionally weak to Elves, and whilst Fatal Push goes some way to aid that matchup, it’s far from positive.

So, all the more reason to move away from a primarily BUG coloured deck. Here’s what I’d play if I wanted to grind, Dark Bant.

Dark Bant

Creatures (18)
Noble Hierarch
Deathrite Shaman
Stoneforge Mystic
True-Name Nemesis
Leovold, Emissary of Trest

Planeswalkers (2)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Artifacts (3)
Batterskull
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa’s Jitte

Spells (17)
Brainstorm
Force of Will
Daze
Abrupt Decay
Swords to Plowshares
Lands (20)
Polluted Delta
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Tropical Island
Tundra
Underground Sea
Scrubland
Wasteland

Sideboard (15)
Meddling Mage
Flusterstorm
Invasive Surgery
Surgical Extraction
Thoughtseize
Zealous Persecution
Vendilion Clique

Lists similar to this have been seeing success for a while now, most notably in the hands of our own Callum Brownson-Smith at the recent European Eternal Weekend! (Less notably in the hands of Tom Brown in the London Legacy Monthly). Now, you’d be right in calling me out on the fact that this deck does indeed have some BUG elements to it – there’s a singleton Abrupt Decay remaining in the main deck in respect of Chalice of the Void, and Leovold still sits proudly in the three drop slot. However, this deck has some advantages over traditional BUG lists.

Everyone knows that Stoneforge Mystic and True-Name Nemesis go together like Sensei’s Divining Top and Counterbalance, and suiting up the little fishy really helps this deck break through in the midrange mirrors and go over the top against aggro. White allows you to play four Swords to Plowshares and the potent sideboard card, Zealous Persecution, for the expected Elf menace on the horizon and opposing True-Names. Playing a mixture of discard, countermagic and permanent based hate off the board shores up the weak game one combo matchup.

In my mind, these factors give Dark Bant the edge over traditional builds, like Shardless BUG and Noble BUG.

Control

The elephant in the room. What happens to control?

There are plenty of people asking this question, and there are lots of answers flying around. Stoneblade, Landstill, Portent Miracles, Grixis Control and Czech Pile are the main contenders fighting for the crown of control king four days into the format. I still think there is a very high chance that control will continue to succeed in Legacy – Snapcaster Mage, Swords to Plowshares and Jace, the Mind Sculptor are amazing cards and it won’t take long to slot them in somewhere. (I’m hoping the drop in Abrupt Decay means that Thopter Foundry becomes Legacy playable again, though that might be a fool’s hope).

Personally, I’ve missed jamming blue controlling Stoneforge decks and am strongly considering something similar to the following:

Stoneblade

Spells (23)
Brainstorm
Ponder
Swords to Plowshares
Counterspell
Spell Snare
Force of Will
Supreme Verdict
Council’s Judgement

Planeswalkers (2)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Creatures (12)
Snapcaster Mage
Stoneforge Mystic
True-Name Nemesis
Vendilion Clique

Artifacts (3)
Engineered Explosives
Umezawa’s Jitte
Batterskull
Lands (20)
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Arid Mesa
Island
Plains
Tundra
Volcanic Island

Sideboard (15)
Flusterstorm
Pyroblast
Surgical Extraction
Disenchant
Blood Moon
Mountain
Sword of Fire and Ice
Meddling Mage
Ethersworn Canonist

This deck echoes loudly of the recent Miracles shells, heavy with cantrips, diverse answers and powerful sideboard cards. However, the difference here is that you must rely on your threat base to get you out of problematic situations. The deck has lost the efficiency of Terminus and Counterbalance to cripple Delver and Combo respectively, and must rely on equipment to beat the former, and sideboard hate to beat the latter.

I’ve always had a soft spot for these decks and to those who know me it is no surprise that this is where I turn when Miracles is gone, so let’s look at a more unconventional take on control.

UB Landstill

Spells (27)
Brainstorm
Counterspell
Fatal Push
Diabolic Edict
Toxic Deluge
Force of Will
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare
Stifle

Planeswalkers (1)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Enchantments (3)
Standstill

Creatures (5)
Snapcaster Mage
Vendilion Clique
Lands (24)
Creeping Tar Pit
Mishra’s Factory
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Island
Swamp
Underground Sea
Wasteland

Sideboard (15)
Damnation
Engineered Explosives
Engineered Plague
Flusterstorm
 Crucible of Worlds
Relic of Progenitus
Surgical Extraction
True-Name Nemesis

In recent times, I’ve seen several UBx Standstill lists online, largely due to the printing of Fatal Push opening new options up for control. Previously, I’d simply thought that this was a worse control deck than Miracles and ignored it, now however, this might have the strengths to make waves in the format. Efficient removal, disruption and a strong card advantage engine alongside the happiness found when you leave your opponent with zero permanents might push this deck over the edge.

Overall, I’m excited to try something new again, Miracles was so clearly the best deck that I felt I was doing myself a disservice playing anything else. It’s a brave new world out there.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my musings on what to do now Top is gone, thank you for reading.

Francis Cowper

FGC

Francis started playing Magic in 2012. His preferred format is Legacy, though with a little persuasion can be convinced to Cube. His most notable finish is 12th place at the 2016 European Eternal Weekend Legacy Championship.
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