Learning Legacy – By James Davey

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Continuing my forays into Legacy, I have to say that I still love this format.  I felt the need on Tuesday to pull away after a few hours, as a friend had arrived to play Commander and I was ignoring the big decks for the small.  I got a chance to play against some different decks this time around, as well, and some other players.

I am still in the learning phase, so the more matches I get, and the more diverse the decks and players I face, the better.  This week it was the guy who convinced me to play, running a more powerful and resilient black-centric build, focusing on killing me with a Marit Lage token.  Which happened.  A lot.  But still, it was the most fun you can have staring down a 20/20 indestructible creature – and I came damn close to pulling a win out of it.

Dark DepthsThespian Stage

I learned quite a bit about what poses a threat in Legacy, versus what poses a threat in Commander, or Standard, or even Modern – Life from the Loam is a beautiful card in any format, and something to watch out for, but in Legacy it is an absolute must-stop NOW card.  Lesson learned.  I also found out that while Ghost Quarter is a VERY poor imitation of Wasteland, it is still a damn fine option to get rid of a Maze of Ith or a Thespian’s Stage in a pinch – it can even smooth your own manabase if you really need it to, but that should be a last-ditch Hail Mary attempt at pulling a game out of the fire.  Sinkhole is also a little overrated – I was running four (my previous list posted here had three and a Desolation, as an experiment – it was a terrible decision, and the Desolation became Sinkhole again), but have since cut it to two, replacing them both with Ghost Quarter to get a similar effect while also bumping my land count.  Land destruction is all well and good, but I have better things to spend two black mana on, most turns.

The second match was against UWR Standstill – I had never heard of this card, for some reason.  This was a very threat-heavy deck, and my first encounter with Jace the Mind Sculptor outside of Caw-Blade in Standard.  Spoiler – he’s still amazing, and if he stabilizes on the board it’s game over.  When you find yourself not casting spells you really should be casting, just to be able to have a library after Jace’s ultimate, it’s time to scoop.  Much like the first match, I put up a fight, but was outclassed start to finish – these guys have been playing these decks for a while, and this format for a lot longer than I have.

Mishra’s Factory has long been one of my favourite cards, and it remains so now.  It may even have increased in value, in my mind.  I love attacking with a Worker, or being able to block with a land in a hurry.  I did not own any when I first built this deck, but I have a playset now, and will keep them forever – the land is just too useful to let go again.

Looking forward, this deck may get more expensive to finish.  I’m toying with the thought of splashing green for Abrupt Decay and Life from the Loam – both would be amazing for me.  But this means Bayou, which is a hefty investment, and fetchlands, which can be done for less money thanks to Khans, but still expensive.  I have the Loams, but not the Decays or Bayous, nor all the fetches I would like.  I could proxy these, of course, and will as a test, but the shop here in Charlottetown only allows sixteen proxies in Legacy.  I need to be cautious – I am at six right now, which gives me plenty of room, but if I start going down that road it will be forever getting the deck complete.  I am fine with proxies when absolutely necessary, but they are not a long-term option for me; I like to actually have the cards I’m playing.

Abrupt DecayBayou

The two matches I got in this week, along with a few stand-alone games, were fun.  Amazingly fun.  I was concentrating hard, and thinking about every land drop and every tap.  I was planning turns well ahead of time, and I found myself playing better – in Standard, I never really thought that much about it.  Perhaps that was why I was never very good at it, and also why I never really had that much fun with it.  The investment was too high for too short a time, so I never really put that much into it.  In Legacy, though, I am agonizing over a first turn Swamp versus a first turn Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth.  Both are the same thing on the first turn, but affect the play for the rest of the game in very different ways.  I find myself debating whether or not to cast Thoughtsieze before Hymn to Tourach, or the other way around – I’m doing math in my head, trying to figure the odds of catching the two cards in my opponent’s hand that I really don’t want to stay there.

In any other format, if you have the chance to Brainstorm, you do it every single time.  In Legacy, you don’t.  An ill-timed Brainstorm can cost you a game, and I like that.  I like that every single thing matters, and has an impact for the whole game.  It keeps your attention on what is happening, and it makes you a better player overall.  It shows you what really matters, and what forces you to really prioritize.  There are generally a lot of things going on at once, and not all of it is obvious or intuitive, but keeping track of threats usually sees you through.

And I find that’s really how I need to approach playing my deck – I need to see more match-ups, and base my plays on keeping my opponent from getting to their main threats.  If I know Tarmogoyf is the way my opponent usually kills people, I’m doing everything I can to keep you off green mana.  If Dark Depths is your win condition, then I’m Wasteland-ing it and Thespian’s Stage every chance I get.  Playing Elves?  I’m going to assume Craterhoof Behemoth is coming eventually, so I’m keeping you under that amount of mana at all costs while killing your Heritage Druids with extreme prejudice.  Delver?  Liliana’s forced sacrifice and Innocent Blood for days.  It’s a simplistic approach, I know, but it’s working for me right now.  I’m still learning the format, and right now this is what’s getting me through games.”

James Davey

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