Pushing Legacy – By James Davey


I dropped out of Standard right around the time Theros rotated in.  I played a few FNMs with mono-black devotion, but quickly despaired at the state of Standard.  I wasn’t having fun anymore.  I was grinding through matches because that is what I had always done.

So I stopped, and I focused on Commander.  I love the Commander format.  It’s everything I loved about Magic when I first started playing – crazy plays and ridiculous board states.  Long games that build up to an explosive finish.  Commander is MY format – I will play 100 card decks until they stop printing cards.  At the shop, Commander night is Tuesday evening – the same night as a lot of people test Standard, but also the same night that a few people bring in Legacy decks.

I’ve always enjoyed watching Legacy.  When the odd tournament gets streamed from the mothership, I watch it closely.  Legacy is a bonkers format – high dollar amounts are attached to a lot of the staple cards, and boards get very weird.  You’re capable of truly epic plays in a Legacy game, and watching two guys fight over two or three land, but still manage a kill with amazing plays, is really, really fun.  Talking to one of the guys, I expressed my interest in the format a few weeks ago, and we discussed it a fair amount.  I looked over some primers, and read up on various deck archetypes, trying to find one that was both feasible for me, and the style of deck I would like to play.

When I was a kid, I played discard.  Mono-black, eating your hand away and punishing you for it.  That was my gameplan.  And it was a blast to play – I’ve beaten infinite-combo Metalworker decks with my discard build, off one Swamp.  The sad thing is, those decks were not Legacy legal – Necropotence and Mind Twist are big no-nos.  But then I stumbled on the Pox archetype.  

I fell in love, almost immediately, and started brewing.  This is the list I came up with:

Mono Black Pox

    4x Hymn to Tourach
    3x Innocent Blood
    4x Inquisition of Kozilek
    2x Raven’s Crime
    3x Sinkhole
    4x Smallpox
    4x Thoughtseize
    3x Bloodghast
    1x Nether Spirit
    2x Tombstalker
    4x Ghost Quarter
    4x Mishra’s Factory
    9x Swamp
    2x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    2x Wasteland
    3x Dark Ritual
    1x Extirpate
    1x Surgical Extraction
    1x The Rack
    1x Desolation
    2x Liliana of the Veil


    2x Drown in Sorrow
    3x Duress
    2x Nihil Spellbomb
    2x Pithing Needle
    2x Syphon Life
    2x The Rack
    2x Worm Harvest

I admit that this is a work in progress, and that the sideboard is awful.  Just awful.  But I have been playtesting this against other Legacy builds, and I’m having a blast.  The pool of competition is limited, in terms of decks, but not all of the Legacy players were there.  I managed two match wins out of six, which is not bad, considering I don’t know the ins and outs of every matchup.  My matchups were UR Delver (that won a Legacy SCG tournament recently, with a few Khans cards – I don’t have a list), Elves (which was brutal, and I lost 1-2 – Drown in Sorrow was an all-star here, though), and BUG Pox.  

Legacy is fun.  I had an absolute blast.  It’s everything I despise about Standard – highly competitive, fast-paced, expensive entry.  But it’s also ramped up so high that it’s fun again.  In one game, my opponent mulliganed to five cards, and I proceeded to open with Swamp > Dark Ritual > Liliana of the Veil, which was +1ed.  He scooped, before he even played his first turn.  Where else can that reliably happen?  

Dark RitualLiliana of the Veil

For a long time, I watched Legacy players, and was jealous.  I thought you needed to spend thousands of dollars on cards to even have a chance.  But my deck was built with cards I largely already had, and the ones I need to finish it – I’m running proxies for a few things – are not that expensive.  About $250.  And this deck is FUN.  It’s an absolute blast to play.  Hitting a Volcanic Island with a Wasteland is a moment that gives me tingles 🙂  Yes, there are some decks that run four Force of Will and twelve dual lands, driving the price through the roof.  But this is not that deck, and a lot of decks fall into the same category.  Pricey, but not oppressively so.  I’ve seen Standard decks with higher pricetags than the list I’m running in Legacy.  

I’m still tweaking this, of course, but I’m sticking with this deck, in this format.  The ability to do that is, I think, one of the biggest selling points of the format.  Yes, you can be required to spend a lot of money to get in, but once you do, you’re in.  Your deck doesn’t really change that much, year to year.  As new sets come out, you may find one or two pieces to slot in, to solve issues a little better than you can right now, but that’s not that big a deal.  You pick a deck, build it, and tune it over the years.  Rarely does something come along that renders a Legacy deck completely unviable in one shot.  It does happen, but far less often than Standard rotates.

Legacy is not as scary as a lot of people think.  It has a reputation for cutthroat plays and oppressive decks, but that’s not really the case, in my (admittedly limited) experience.  The power level is high, for sure, and you can run into stax decks that won’t let you do anything.  And sometimes a game is just no fun.  But that happens in any format.  In this one, the lows are lower, for sure, but the highs – watching your opponent fetchland his way down to 10 life, then dropping a Landfall trigger on the three Bloodghasts in your graveyard and swinging with them and Tombstalker for the win… it doesn’t really get any better than that.


I’m having fun with sixty cards again.  I’m enjoying the three game match setup, and sideboarding, and playing against highly tuned decks who are solely there to kill me as quickly as possible.  Which is something I haven’t had fun with in a long time.  If you’ve ever watched a Legacy match and thought you’d love to play with decks like that, if only you had the chance – you have the chance.  Do it.  Proxy the really pricey stuff until you can get copies, and go to town.  Build some ridiculous decks!  

Play Legacy.  It’s amazing.  And easier to break into than you probably think.  Most importantly, every Legacy player I’ve talked to has been genuinely nice, and welcoming.  They are excited to see people get into the format, as it’s kind of a quiet one. Having a new player brings new blood, and new playstyles, and new decks to play against.  I’ve been playing the format for a week and a half, and I’ve been offered a ride to a tournament in the next province at the end of the month, along with the loan of cards (expensive cards, I might add) that I might need to complete the deck.  People I don’t even really know that well.  Legacy may be my new favourite format.

Until next time! Thanks for reading!

This article has been submitted by James Davey

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