Your New Favorite Format – Part 1 by Ken Briscoe

This is not a request, nor is it negotiable

Despite my last (first) article laying out why Modern is awesome, I did mention that Legacy is actually my favorite format. Today I want to give you my first set of reasons why this is the case. I’ll also leave you with a decklist that may not be one of the premier decks in the format, but which isn’t uncompetitive, yet still fairly cheap and at least semi-competitive when compared to other decks.


Legacy is fun

How could this not be the first reason why Legacy is so good? Fun means different things to different people, but let me ask you a few questions. Almost no matter what type of player you are, at least one of these things should appeal to you, and they’re all common occurrences in Legacy.


-Have you ever paid one mana to put Griselbrand into play, paid seven life to draw seven cards, then paid one more mana to put Emrakul into play? Oh yeah, and attacking for 22! Oh yeah, on turn three!
-Have you ever locked your opponent out of the game by destroying most if not all of their lands while attacking for two – with Thalia, so when they do draw a land, they still can’t play their spells?
-Have you ever drawn your card for the turn and had to map out a series of rituals, cantrips, and tutors? Not to mention decide which of your win conditions is most likely to be successful. Do you need more cards at the expense of your life total (Ad Nauseam) or is your stocked graveyard enough to let you win (Past in Flames)?
-Have you ever locked down a game by activating Jace, the Mind Sculptor’s 0 ability over and over again, all the while ticking up Liliana of the Veil?
-Have you ever won the game without casting a single spell from your hand?


No matter what you find fun, there’s a competitive deck out there that will let you scratch that itch.


Legacy is popular

Let’s start at the local level. Did you know that Battleground’s Abington location runs weekly Legacy events on Thursday nights? Then on a national stage, the Open Series Legacy events have been averaging nearly 350 people since the beginning of the year which, historically, has had some of the highest turnouts for these events. One of the events even took place in a snowstorm that dropped a foot of snow on Indianapolis.


Not that it has any effect on the local scene, but Legacy may be even more popular in Europe. The Europeans tend to gravitate towards older formats, so it’s no surprise that Legacy is continuing that trend on the other side of the pond.


Beyond having multiple chances to play Legacy locally, if you’re willing to travel a couple hours in any direction, you could conceivably play a good sized event at least every weekend, sometimes doubling up on Saturday and Sunday. And even if you can’t make the trip, all SCG Opens are live streamed, as are some other occasional regional events. This offers you the ability to at least watch some sweet, sweet, Legacy Magic even if you can’t make it out to the event.


Legacy is expensive


angry mob fun run

Whoa! Put away the pitchforks! Let me explain. I know that even after I do, this might leave a sour taste in your mouth, but I do firmly believe that the (sometimes outrageous) cost of some Legacy staples can be a good thing.
The fact that some of these cards are on the Reserve List (meaning that Wizards of the Coast has promised to never reprint them, or any functionally identical card), or simply too powerful to reasonably be considered for a reprint means that supply will never go up. Assuming one of these staples doesn’t suddenly fall out of favor and become unplayable (which is unlikely, because we’re talking about cards ingrained in the format, not fringe cards), the card will maintain its value. Or at least a majority of it. So when I open my wallet to buy one of these cards, I know that it’s not going to be worthless tomorrow. This is the financial game we all play with Magic cards, but Legacy staples – specifically ones on the Reserve List, and more specifically lands on the Reserve List – are the safest bet in Magic, in my opinion.


And this isn’t just me blowing smoke. I’ve personally invested in Reserve List cards that I know I will rarely play. I’ve done it because I trust that WotC will keep their word and not reprint these cards, and that they will continue to make Magic great, thus keeping interest (and necessarily, demand) high. But I’ll let the #MTGFinance folks chime in on that.


An interesting side effect caused by the value of the cards: due to the fact that the cards can be pricey, players tend to take better care of their cards. In Legacy, you generally see more pile shuffling and “mash” shuffling than riffling. This doesn’t bend the cards. Most players have also taken to double-sleeving their decks for a little extra sturdiness in the sleeve as well as insurance against spillage of their Red Bull or Mountain Dew. This means that when I trade for your Karakas or Show and Tell, it’s probably in better condition than it would be if it was only worth $10. Because you know that if you take care of it, you can get a premium for it in trade.


Again, because it’s expensive, Legacy players who are financially invested tend to also be emotionally invested. For the most part, Legacy players just love the format, and that shows when playing a match. Ever go to a PTQ and play against that one guy who just can’t seem to ever find fun in the game? You know, the one who doesn’t say anything besides “No Blocks” or “Go” for the entire match and sarcastically says “Nice draw” on the turn you kill him? Just unfun all around. Well, those players exist in Legacy too, but there are far fewer of them. Legacy players care about the format, their cards, and their experience playing. Sure, we want to win, and that’s a primary motivation for entering any tournament. But it’s not all about that. It’s about the experience of playing with some of the most powerful cards, combos, and decks to have ever existed.


The opposite happened last weekend at the SGG Worcester Legacy Open. I played against a few players I’d never met or seen before, and one of them was the nicest, most easygoing, laid-back, let’s-have-fun type of player I’ve ever encountered. He told me he doesn’t play Standard because he doesn’t like the general attitude. Say what you will about competitive Magic players, but I find that the older the format, the more fun you will have on a personal basis with your opponents.


Wrapping Up and a Bonus Decklist

I’m not even sure I’m half-way done with what’s turning out to be a long list on why Legacy is so good, but I’ve been capped on the number of words, and I think I’m already beyond it. So, I’ll leave you with a decklist and then be on my way.


Here’s a semi-competitive decklist that you could use as a starting point for getting into Legacy without breaking the bank.
Note: I’m going to assume that you’re not starting from scratch and have either Modern cards (fetchlands, for example) or a collection that you can use to trade up for Legacy cards.


UG Infect
4 Blighted Agent

4 Glistener Elf

4 Noble Hierarch

2 Sylvan Library

1 Berserk

4 Brainstorm

3 Crop Rotation

4 Daze

4 Invigorate

4 Vines of Vastwood

4 Gitaxian Probe

2 Force of Will

2 Pendelhaven

4 Verdant Catacombs

4 Misty Rainforest

1 Blinkmoth Nexus

1 Forest

4 Inkmoth Nexus

4 Breeding Pool


Obviously there are sub-optimal numbers in this list, but as a budget-friendly(ish) starting point, it’s not bad when compared to other Legacy decks.


Were I starting here I would look to improve the deck in the following ways, in this order (so as to maximize the number of decks you can play in the meantime while you continue moving down the list).


-Four Tropical Islands
-Four Stifles. These may not belong in the deck, but they’re cheap and played in more than one Legacy deck. They’re also relatively cheap now with the reprinting in Conpiracy.
-Four Wasteland. This deck may not want four but maybe a couple. These three items on the list will get you closer to playing one of a few different Delver decks.
-Two Force of Will. This may be self-explanatory. Force of Will is the quintessential Legacy card.
-Berserk. You probably don’t want a full set, maybe just one or two more.


When that’s all said and done, even this deck is an investment, but if you buy cards one at a time over the course of, say, a year, you’re looking at something like $30 a week. To some of you, this may be doable, but to others it may not. But that’s OK! The deck above, as-is, is more than capable of winning a small local three- or four-round event. It may not take down a 10-round SCG Open, but it will be able to hold its own.


Next time, I’ll have another set of reasons why you should be playing Legacy. Alongside two cheaper, more competitive Legacy decklists!


Thanks for reading.




About the author

Ken Briscoe is a local competitor of the Abington store and lover of all things “Magic: The Gathering.” He began playing “Magic” during Revised, and quit for about 6 years. He then picked things right back up at Mirrodin block. For real work, Ken is an IT Consultant. He is also a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan. He attended Syracuse University and Bridgewater State. but not at the same time. His latest accomplishments include beating Paul Calder last week in fantasy baseball.


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