This Week in Legacy — A Pirate's Life for Me

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Howdy folks! Joe here with another dose of weekly Legacy content! This week we're going to be discussing the finer details of the hubbub behind Popeye Stompy—a dream-deck-turned-hoax—and what we can learn from this situation.

Popeye Stompy

In the event that you've been living under a rock as of late, the Magic and Legacy community has been embroiled in discussion over news about a deck that was supposedly so good, that it would break the Legacy metagame in half.

I'm talking, of course, about Popeye Stompy. Supposedly making the rounds on Magic Online, where its pilots were infamously 4–0'ing leagues and then dropping the final round so their lists wouldn't be published, the deck was hyped up by the likes of Bob Huang and Julian Knab via Twitter that it was the most broken thing they'd ever played.

Of course, rumor and speculation ran amok and people latched onto the idea that the deck was a Pirate tribal deck that abused the card Siren's Ruse with the pirates from Mercadian Masques (Rishadan Brigand, Rishadan Footpad, etc.) and included the old standbys of Chalice of the Void and Ancient Tomb. People even mentioned seeing Saprazzan Skerry online.

 

Furthermore, Reddit became enthralled with the idea of the deck's mere possibility of existence, with well-known content developer Saffron Olive of MTGGoldfish getting involved through an infamous bounty for the list, offering a signed Blood Moon as a reward for anyone who could capture the pirates with a Surgical Extraction. Speculators scrambled for the hot tech of the deck, driving the prices of cards like Rishadan Brigand and Rishadan Footpad up by buying out pieces of the supposed list without ever seeing any piece of an actual list.

The community rallied around the idea, even making attempts to reverse engineer a list based on pure hearsay. This, of course, brought up many discussions over the concepts of "deck rights" and testing in private versus testing in public, and many got combative over trying to reverse engineer something that the creators of the deck had clearly worked so hard on.

And then the shoe dropped. We found out that the entire thing was nothing but an elaborate hoax, a joke perpetuated by a select few that, disillusioned by the current state of the Deathrite Shaman–filled Legacy meta, decided to have a little fun and hope for the best. In the end, people on both sides of the equation chimed in, many finding the brief respite and challenge of trying to figure out such a deck to be all in good fun, while many others voiced criticism of Huang and crew for using their Pro status to attempt to deceive the community.

So What Have We Learned?

Despite the joke and how funny I personally found it to be, there are plenty of things that we can learn from this entire thing. Many strong, solid discussions were brought to light during all of this, and they're worth sharing.

#1 — Deck Rights and Testing in Private versus in Public

One of the first things to arise out of the Popeye Stompy hoax was the concept of "deck rights" and the expectations of testing a new list in private versus in public. There were many people who considered the bounty being offered by Saffron Olive to be in poor taste, and that the attempts to reverse engineer the list was disrespectful to the creators of the original list.

However, Huang himself addresses this slightly in his article by noting that he agreed mainly with most critics of this, that when you are testing a decklist in a public arena such as Magic Online, all concept of "deck rights" and privacy to your decklist are gone, especially if you manage to 5–0 a competitive league and your list gets published. By testing with MTGO your testing is always going to be noticed, and people will pick up on your list.

The moral of this story is to always test in private if you are actually trying to test something that you believe will attack the metagame sideways. The downside of this of course is that you will not get the wide amount of testing that MTGO provides.

#2 — Taking Pro Players at Face Value

The biggest lesson to be learned is that we, as players and as capable individuals, should not be taking everything that Pro Players say at face value and accept their words as the be-all and end-all. While these people are certainly among the best Magic players in the world and their words carry some weight, it's important to be critical and do your best to form your own opinion. Whether this is with some careful analysis or through playtesting, there are ways to approach what Pros say about certain strategies and decks without blindly accepting that they're right. After all we're all human, and everyone (even Pros) make mistakes or miss something.

It's important to utilize your own research skills and critical thinking. In the end, this makes us all better players and better people.

#3 — Legacy is Starving for Innovation

This entire hoax proved one important thing for me: Legacy as a whole is starving for something new and different. Just the sheer possibility of a new deck that could be as thrilling as Pirates being playable in the format has shown that people want to innovate and brew and play different things, but that the Legacy meta itself has begun to grow rather stale.

Many point to the fact that Deathrite Shaman is so ubiquitous in the format. Many point to cards like True-Name Nemesis as being a major problem. Regardless, Legacy is getting very few cards now that actually have an impact on the format, many of which just end up slotting into existing archetypes rather than creating something new.

Popeye Stompy showed that people are willing to put attention and effort into brewing and working out the deck, meaning that it actually did something positive. Furthermore, people are still working on the possibility of making this deck actually work, so while Bob Huang and company meant this as a joke, they actually ended up giving the community the nudge to hivemind a brand new deck.

#4 — Speculation Hurts

As the hype started building, so did the speculation on the pieces involved—cards like Rishadan Brigand were spiking to $20 and being bought out like crazy. While I think the reveal that this was a hoax will never shut down this kind of activity, it still is a rather strange blow to the speculator cabals that buying out spec cards without actually ever seeing a real list or knowing more than the community did that the deck wasn't even real.

I'm not overly upset about this. Speculation, as far as I'm concerned, is a rough and awful reality we live in with the game. Perhaps this won't stop the rampant speculation, but it definitely might make some of them think twice on a "too good to be true" spec.

At the end of the day a joke is a joke, but Popeye Stompy breathed a little life into a community, giving us some laughs but also some really thought provoking discussion.

Wrapping Up

That's all we have for this week folks! We're just a few weeks away from U.S. Eternal Weekend Legacy/Vintage Champs! For those of you who want to follow along with me during Legacy Champs, I'll likely be live-tweeting my results at http://www.twitter.com/volrathxp.

Until next time!

Joseph Dyer is an avid Legacy enthusiast. He's admin of the /r/NicFitMTG subreddit, as well as a regular participant on the Source and MTGLegacy subreddits. His knowledge of the Legacy format is deeply rooted in constant analysis, playtesting, and lots of discussion of the format. Joseph's primary accomplishments include a 10–5 finish at GP Columbus 2016 with Rhino Fit, and a 32nd place finish at a SCG Columbus Legacy Classic with Sneak Fit. 

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