While Wizards of the Coast miffed up their execution of the Standard banlist last week, one thing they finally got right was shaking up Legacy a small bit by removing Sensei’s Divining Top from the format. While Legacy had always been fairly varied for a number of reasons, for some time Miracles had loomed over the format as the “best deck.” It leveraged the power of Divining Top + Counterbalance locks and controlled when Terminus came off the top of the deck. Past the power level increase that Top provided in this deck, it also created some terribly slow play environments. You could often walk around a large Legacy event when time was called and see Tops on one or both sides of the tables still playing.
Thankfully all of that is behind us now. Today I would like to take a bit to talk about a couple of the Legacy decks I have played to analyze how they should likely change as we move forward in a world of Legacy without Miracles and Sensei’s Divining Top.
There are two things we want to consider when thinking about updates we want to make to our decklists moving forward. The first is examining which cards we were playing previously specifically aimed at combatting the Miracles matchup. The second is that we want to put some thought into what we expect to fill the void that Miracles leaves behind.
While the first is fairly easy to do in most cases, the second requires a bit of guess work. I expect most of the players who played Miracles to move on to whatever the next best “fair” deck in the format is. This is likely some iteration of Shardless Sultai and Grixis Deathrite Shaman shell, but time and results from events will tell if this is really the case.
The Legacy deck I am most well known for recently is Mono Red Sneak Attack, or “Big Red.” Let’s start by taking a look at a recent decklist in the hands of Nathaniel Red that top 8’d the last Legacy Open before the Top banning:
Big Red by Nathaniel Red
The first thing we want to adjust in the main deck of Big Red in a post-Miracles world is the makeup of our creature package. Specifically these two cards were largely included as a means of grinding through Swords to Plowshares and Terminus:
In a world where Tarmogoyf is likely to be more present, Batterskull matches up poorly without some removal to pack it up. The Godo package has always been fairly bad against the faster combo decks as well because it does not kill the opponent especially quickly.
As we look at the sideboard there are also two cards that jump out at me as likely obsolete in a post-Miracles Legacy format:
Both of these acted as ways to board into more “must answer” cards against the answer-heavy Miracles matchup that was looking to drag the game out. Because the Big Red deck does not have traditional disruption like discard and counterspells, we look to fight through disruption by simply presenting more questions that need to be answered.
If we are expecting decks with non-white removal to fill some of the void left by Miracles, then Wurmcoil Engine’s stock likely goes up a good deal. Not only is Wurmcoil a threat that we can reasonably play out for six mana, but it also is fine to Sneak Attack into play because it leaves behind six points worth of power when it is sacrificed.
Unlike most decks in Legacy, Miracles always played a good deal of basic lands. This means while Blood Moon had a number of matches where it shined, there was always a fairly popular deck which it was less than stellar against. If Miracles does get replaced somewhat by Sultai decks then this gives more stock to playing copies of Magus of the Moon in the main deck.
Another card that is less useful in the absence of Monastery Mentor is Sulfur Elemental. While Sulfur Elemental still has some use against Death and Taxes, it misses killing important cards like Phyrexian Revoker and Containment Priest.
As far as sideboard updates go, I think we likely want to spend a few slots shoring up some of matchups against faster combo decks that might also try to make a resurgence in the absence of Counterbalance policing the format. One of the harder matchups for Big Red has always been Reanimator, so slotting in some cards to help there likely would not hurt.
With all of these things in mind I think my post-Miracles Big Red deck list would look something along the lines of:
Post-Miracles Big Red by Jeff Hoogland
The thing that has me the most excited for Miracles being removed from the format is taking a look at some of the older archetypes that it pushed out of the format. A deck that is near and dear to my heart is “Deadguy Ale,” a Black-White aggressive deck with disruptive elements that saw fringe play in Legacy prior to being run out by Terminus and Counterbalance locks. In 2012 I made the top 8 of a Legacy Open with the following deck list:
Deadguy Ale by Jeff Hoogland
We lean on the power of discard spells like Inquisition of Kozilek and Hymn to Tourach to interrupt our opponent’s game plan. We then use efficient threats like Dark Confidant, Stoneforge Mystic, and Lingering Souls to generate card advantage. We lean on the power of Chrome Mox to do these things ahead of schedule on occasion. Ever Hymn’d your opponent turn one on the play and taken their only lands away? It feels great!
While this deck existed in a world before Miracles, it definitely needs some updates to keep up with not only new Legacy decks that exist five years later, but also to incorporate new cards that fit into the archetype. Oh, and we cannot play Sensei’s Divining Top ourselves either, even if we aren’t playing Counterbalance.
Let’s take a look at what my first draft on an updated Deadguy Ale shell looks like:
Post-Miracles Deadguy Ale by Jeff Hoogland
Let’s start with some of the new cards we are playing:
Smuggler’s Copter comes with a strong heritage as cards that get banned in Standard generally are strong enough to make an impact in Legacy. Copter does a lot of things this deck is interested in doing. To start, it provides some much needed card selection in a deck without access to powerful blue cantrips. It lets us filter through extra lands, Chrome Moxen, and discard spells we find in the late game, while helping us hit land drops in the early game. Copter also synergizes with every part of Lingering Souls. Souls provides plenty of bodies to crew Copter and looting away a Lingering Souls still allows us to get some value from the card.
Fatal Push is not anything revolutionary in Legacy, but it is effectively Swords to Plowshares copies five and six. Gideon gives us a powerful tool for generating pressure against the more controlling decks in the format. Just be careful with activating his +1 ability when your opponent has access to Swords to Plowshares.
It is going to take awhile for Legacy as a whole to adjust to the absence of Miracles. Even though only one deck was effectively removed, that deck was so popular all the existing decks will likely need to adjust. I am looking forward to not only updating the existing decks that I have enjoyed playing, but also working on new takes on dated ideas like Deadguy Ale.
What are you working on in the post Miarcles Legacy landscape? Let me know in a comment below!
* One SCG Invitational Top 8
* Two SCG Invitational Top 16
* 14 SCG Open series Top 8s
* One GP top 16