Now you’ve decided Legacy is the most fun you can have with your clothes on, but a little part of you is nervous.
‘Legacy is too expensive!‘ you cry.
‘It’s all just turn one kills!‘ a friend explains.
‘I’ll never get on the Pro Tour playing legacy!‘
‘None of my friends play!‘
Fear not, in the rest of this article we will look at the common complaints about Legacy and tackle them, and explain how to actually get the cards and decks you want, nay, need.
Firstly cost. It is true that Legacy is expensive. The cost of a tier one blue deck can run into the thousands of pounds. The high value to finished and optimised decks is the major stumbling block for many potential Legacy players. How do I afford such a deck outright, and how does one justify having so much invested in just one deck?
Legacy is rarely a format that you can buy into in one go, and unless you are very well off you should try to lose that mindset entirely when approaching it. There are different ways of tackling the high initial investment to play Legacy but the most important thing to bear in mind is to treat it as a long term project. Have patience. Have goals; be it saving for a Dual Land, or always keeping in mind when trading that you a working towards a certain card. Once you know that it will take some time to build your deck you need to decide on your plan. You can choose one of Legacy’s cheapest decks, Burn for example. Or decide to build around a core of cards that go in different decks; Sol Lands, Lion’s Eye Diamonds, Vials and Caverns, Force of Will and cantrips etc. You can even convert your Modern deck to Legacy; Infect, Affinity, Eldrazi, Jund and Twin have all put up results in the past. Keep in mind that the staples in your first deck can often be used in a different deck entirely and this ease of transition may be a factor in your initial choice. You should prioritise getting the cards that are role-players across multiple decks if you can. As we touched on in Part One your proposed deck is very unlikely to get banned or suddenly be unplayable in the meta, so it is entirely feasible to slowly buy/trade into the parts you need over a period of months, even years. Buying the parts you can afford now and borrowing or substituting for the others is perfectly viable.
Although it has a high barrier to entry Legacy is actually a very affordable format in which to maintain a competitive deck. The meta does not change quickly, and new cards that impact it are printed infrequently, so keeping your list up to date is relatively cheap. If you had decided to buy a deck when Delver was printed on 30th September 2011 and that deck was Canadian Threshold, soon to be RUG Delver, your deck would have look something like this
Matteo Blasi, 6th, Orvino Six, 1/10/11 (390 players)
|Main||4 Lightning Bolt|
|4 Delver of Secrets||4 Stifle|
|4 Tarmogoyf||2 Flooded Strand|
|4 Daze||4 Volcanic Island|
|4 Force of Will||4 Wooded Foothills|
|3 Spell Snare||Side|
|4 Ponder||2 Pyroblast|
|4 Tropical Island||3 Spell Pierce|
|4 Wasteland||2 Surgical Extraction|
|2 Fire/Ice.,||2 Krosan Grip|
|3 Nimble Mongoose||1 Red Elemental Blast|
|4 Brainstorm||3 Submerge|
|2 Dismember||2 Mind Harness|
This deck is about 4 cards different from what you would run today. An extreme example maybe, but most decks in Legacy are an updating of an older archetype that comes to the fore because of a change in the meta or a new printing.
Mental Mistep (Banned) – Batterskull – Dismember – Elesh Norn – Scavenging Ooze – Delver of Secrets – Liliana of the Veil – Snapcaster Mage – Graffdiggers Cage – Lingering Souls – Thalia – Cavern of Souls – Entreat the Angels – Terminus – Griselbrand – Omniscience – Baleful Strix – Shardless Agent – Deathrite Shaman – Abrupt Decay – Enter the Infinite – Thespian’s Stage – True-Name Nemesis – Eidelon of the Great Revel – Young Pyromancer – Monastery Swiftspear – Toxic Deluge – Containment Priest – Treasure Cruise (Banned) – Dig Through Time (Banned) – Vryn Wingmare
Above is a list of cards first printed in the last five years that are Legacy playable. While not comprehensive, this list gives you an idea of the new cards you would have had to try and get a playset of to maintain your Legacy decks over the last five years. Some of these you would have needed just to play in Standard with the rest typically appearing in supplemental products printed in high volumes. There are only three cards from the list above with very high prices, Lilliana of the Veil, Snapcaster Mage and Cavern of Souls. The surge in their cost has been due to Modern play and this means they are likely to be reprinted in the next Modern Masters.
Generally you can take comfort from the price stability of the Legacy cardpool. Expensive staples you have just bought or traded hard for are unlikely to suddenly tank in price, with reprints generally halting the upwards trend, for a while, of sought-after cards. Like all Magic cards that see play outside of Standard the price of Legacy cards has steadily increased over the years with some predictable spikes here and there, and the odd buyout of a reserved list card you were never going to play anyway. Sudden crashes in the Magic market are usually caused by bannings, with spikes generally due to Modern speculation around the Pro Tour. WOTC have so far taken quite a hands off approach to Legacy so crashes in card price have not happened. The clamour for Griselband/Show and Tell to be banned in 2012/13 was stoically ignored, as was that for True-Name Nemesis in Autumn 2013. Cards banned in recent years have all been new printings quickly shown up as mistakes. Mental Misstep, Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time are the only bans of the last five years. These cards were all Standard legal at the time and had a warping effect on the Legacy meta, leading to an inevitable ban. In the event this kind of mistake happens again, it is logical to assume that WOTC will adopt the same approach, and I expect WOTC to continue to ban new printings that break old cards rather than the old card themselves.
So while the cost of starting in Legacy can be high, depending on which deck choice you make, the cost of maintaining a competitive deck is low.
Turn one decks do exist in Legacy but it is a misconception to say the format is all about them. I’ve already covered many interesting plays in Part One and from those examples you will get a far better idea of what a game is likely to entail. The Turn One decks that do exist (Belcher, Oops All Spells and Tinfins) are trying to shorten the game so much that you have no chance to interact. The issues with this plan are twofold. Force of Will is the first problem. It is a free counter that people can play even if they lose the die roll and haven’t had a turn yet, or it allows them develop their board and have FOW as backup. Blue decks are usually 60% + of the meta and every blue deck will have FOW. (And these decks have about 40% chance of having FOW and a blue card to discard in their opening 7)
The second problem is an inherent weakness in the way these decks are built. They need a critical mass of spells to win so every mulligan drastically decreases the chances of winning. Also, if anything goes wrong on the critical turn, be it a hard counter, taxing counter or the wrong sequence of draws, so many resources have been spent that usually the turn one/glass cannon deck can’t get back into the game. These issues might be surmountable for one or two matches but over a 15 round tournament they will result in losses you can’t use play skill to mitigate. If further proof was needed, glass canon decks are a very very rare sight in the Top 8’s of tournaments.
PRO TOUR/COMP EVENTS
That friend is right. Legacy won’t qualify you for the Pro Tour. And if that is your only reason for playing Magic then I can’t help you, other than to wish you well and hope that all the time spent on your dream is worthwhile. However Magic is not just about the Pro Tour. For most of us it is a hobby with a highly competitive side, and if you want to compete at the top of Legacy there are plenty of great competitive events to play throughout the UK and Europe, not just that paltry one Legacy GP a year. Julian Knab, a celebrated German Legacy player and streamer, has covered this years big Legacy events HERE. We are spoilt compared to the US, having three Legacy tournament series. There are also large one off events such as Prague Eternal, Ovino, Turin and Nebraskas War. The standard of these events will be very high and the prizes for winning great. Three big Legacy events have so far been organised for this year in the UK. BOM London has been announced but we are still waiting for the date. Axion are running another big event on April 23rd with an incredible first prize of a Judge foil Mana Drain. And Alex Gershaw organises a series of regular events under the banner of Northern League.
Legacy not being a Pro Tour format does also have advantages. It means that price spikes happen less as the meta is not easily defined by a Pro Tour every year – something Modern players will quickly relate to… It also means that decks have a longer playable life, as people have to work for themselves on what deck they prefer rather than defaulting to Team CFB’s choice. As the Pro Tour is primarily a marketing tool for WOTC and there is pressure on them to keep the format fresh when a PT is upcoming, bannings are used to push new cards and change the meta. No Legacy PT means fewer bannings which is only a good thing for a format.
If none of your friends play Legacy then get new friends.
Of course, I’m joking…
There are plenty of hubs of Legacy players around the country. They may not be at your local game store but there will be one in your larger area. We are usually very friendly and welcoming to new players and obviously overly enthusiastic about the Legacy format. My advice would be to join either the Northern Legacy Players or Southern Legacy Players UK groups on Facebook and ask about events in your respective area. People are usually happy to lend cards and there is often a spare deck or one can be organised in advance for someone new and interested in the format. A word of caution though, you may not want to netdeck and then ask to borrow Miracles or Storm. Such a complex deck will be hard to play without awareness of the meta and can be quite disheartening. Because of the highly complex nature of most Tier One decks you will find you lose often to your own misplays, inability to play at a fair pace or lack of format knowledge. I would suggest playing something with a more linear plan thereby allowing you to learn what each opponent’s intentions are. There is no shame in playing Burn or Eldrazi, which are also amongst the most accessible decks in the format. Playing a deck that relies on intimate knowledge of your opponent’s list will obviously be hard as you don’t yet have that knowledge. There is also a much larger range of decks to explore than the current top tier and it would be terrible to miss out!
I hope that you have found these two articles helpful and you’re now excited about playing Legacy. If you are an older player returning to Magic or someone making the change from Standard or Modern to Legacy then I look forward to meeting you at one of the big tournaments this year!