This Week in Legacy — GP Seattle

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Howdy folks! This is Joe here again, and we're back with a hot and fresh dose of Legacy content!

This week we're going to talk about Grand Prix Seattle!

Let's get right into the thick of it, shall we?

Grand Prix Seattle

Two grueling days of fast and furious Legacy, GP Seattle showed us not only a great variety of powerful decks on camera but also showed us that the sheer possibility of Deathrite Shaman's homogenization of the format very well could lead to a ban at some point. Of the 11 undefeated decks at the end of Day 1, eight were decks that played each four copies of the card between five Grixis Delver decks and three Czech Pile (4C Control). That's a whopping thirty-two copies of Deathrite amongst just the top tables. What does this mean for the format?

I think at some point, it means that Deathrite Shaman does finally eat the bullet and get banned. As big of a fan of Legacy as I am, even I am beginning to see what the one-mana Planeswalker is doing to the format I love. Its very existence has warped the format around it, and that's something I feel is never good. We'll see what happens, but I think there is a fair possibility we could see Wizards act on it sooner than later. However, Wizards did take three years to ban Sensei's Divining Top, so who knows what will happen!

At the end of the event, it was everyone's favorite [[Insectile Aberration]] piloted by hometown hero Daniel Duterte who took down the event!

Let's take a look at the Top 16 Metagame, shall we?

 

There's a lot of different stuff in the Top 16, with major appearances again by Czech Pile and Grixis Delver, solid appearances by Miracles and Lands, and some spice like Tin Fins and Turbo Depths rounding it out.

However, I'm a big fan of showcasing players I know from an Internet Acquaintance standpoint, and this list is no exception. She's one of the admins of the MTGLegacy Discord Server: Miranda Keith on Maverick in 8th place!

Maverick — Miranda Keith | 8th Place GP Seattle


Creatures (26)
4 Deathrite Shaman
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Gaddock Teeg
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Mother of Runes
1 Noble Hierarch
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Ramunap Excavator
1 Scryb Ranger
2 Stoneforge Mystic
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Tireless Tracker

Instants/Sorceries (8)
4 Green Sun's Zenith
4 Swords to Plowshares

Artifacts/Enchantments (3)
1 Sylvan Library
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Umezawa's Jitte

Lands (23)
2 Bayou
1 Forest
1 Gaea's Cradle
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Karakas
1 Marsh Flats
1 Maze of Ith
1 Plains
2 Savannah
1 Scrubland
1 Verdant Catacombs
4 Wasteland
4 Windswept Heath
2 Wooded Foothills

Sideboard (15)
2 Abrupt Decay
2 Choke
2 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Sigarda, Host of Herons
2 Surgical Extraction
3 Thoughtseize
2 Zealous Persecution

This list is pretty awesome, and I'm excited to see Maverick take it all the way to the Top 8. I reached out to Miranda for an interview to which she agreed, so let's check out how it went!

First off, introduce yourself to the class!

My name is Miranda Keith. I'm a 21-year-old girl originally from Calgary, AB and currently living in Seattle. I pretty much only play Legacy, and I pretty much only play decks with stupid White creatures.

What made you decide on Maverick for this event?

I wasn't going to register a deck without Thalia and D&T honestly doesn't feel great right now. I've been playing Maverick on-and-off for a while, and I really like it specifically in the kind of metagame I was expecting at this tournament. In particular, I really like the deck against Lands, and I think it's even-to-favorable against Grixis Delver. The deck's also just a huge amount of fun to play, which is an important consideration when you're planning on playing potentially 15 rounds of something.

Are there any cards that overperformed for you this weekend? Any that underperformed?

Ramunap Excavator has been consistently absurd since I started playing it. Ramunap + Wasteland is obviously incredible against most decks, but Ramunap + Horizon Canopy is incredible in grindy games and I've even had games where I just kept replaying Dryad Arbor from my bin to hold off a Gurmag Angler. Maze of Ith and Gaea's Cradle were both last-minute additions to the deck (taking the place of Thespian's Stage and Dark Depths) and they both did an incredible amount of work as well.

Sigarda underperformed and I didn't bring her in a single time. This is partly just because I didn't run into any match-ups I'd actually want her in, but I also think she's not at her best in the traditional Junk builds of the deck because she's kind of awkward against Baleful Strix. I'd been playing her prior to this event in Punishing Maverick, and she's a lot better there because that deck doesn't really care about Baleful Strix much to begin with. I also didn't bring in Gideon a single time, though this is again because of the fact that I managed to completely dodge Czech Pile and Miracles.

Also, as always, Scryb Ranger wins the award for being the card that my opponents will most frequently read game one, let resolve, and then immediately Force of Will games two and three.

There is definitely a solid variety of Maverick lists, from ones that play Leovold to ones that play Punishing Fire. What made you settle on a predominantly Green/White list (with the obvious Black nature that is DRS)?

I'd been on Punishing Maverick for a while before this event, and ended up switch off of it at sort of the last minute for a variety of reasons. The first was that the build I was on didn't actually play Deathrite Shaman, opting for a cleaner manabase with Birds of Paradisewhile I could technically play Deathrite in the Punishing build as people have in the past, in my experience that deck's mana is horrendous and not at all what I wanted to be doing against an expected field of Delver, D&T, and Lands. Playing a lot of Birds felt really bad when I drew multiples and no [[Punishing Fires]] and was just sitting there wishing my Birds were Deathrites. The Punishing Fire build also has more lopsided match-ups: While it's extremely good against Delver, D&T, and Czech Pile, it's much worse than the classic builds against random combo nonsense and Blood Moon. GP Metas are always pretty wide open, so I decided I'd rather have access to the Black sideboard cards.

Once we're settled on playing a Junk(x) build of the deck, the question still remains which one we actually choose. There have been popular lists recently that splashed Leovold off of a Tropical Islandeven versions that went deep and played multiple copies of Leovoldand there's also the 4C Punishing build with the abysmal manabase. As I mentioned above, I think the mana in the 4C Punishing Fire build is bad enough to render the deck borderline unplayable, so that was out. Splashing Leovold was still an interesting prospect, but ultimately while I think the card is very good against grindier decks, I don't like it a whole lot against Lands and Delver. Overall, my decision was made based on the expectation that I'd play against a whole lot of Wastelands and removal spells, so I wanted the cleanest and most resilient manabase I could build.

How necessary do you think Gaea's Cradle is to the deck?

Gaea's Cradle is very good, and having access to it definitely won me multiple games this tournament. That said, it's definitely possible to play builds without it, either by replacing it and something else with the Thespian's Stage + Dark Depths combo, or just by jamming some other utility land in there. A short list of cards I've played in that slot are Ghost Quarter, a second basic Forest, Mishra's Factory, Yavimaya Hollow, and Bojuka Bog. The big upsides to Gaea's Cradle specifically are that it's frequently insane when you draw it (while most other utility lands usually want to be left in your deck until you need them), that it's great specifically against Tabernacle, and that it's incredibly good in conjunction with Tireless Tracker (seriously, this deck frequently makes way more Clues than it can reasonably pay for).

Overall I'd say that Cradle is probably the best card for that slot in the current metagame, but that at some level it's still just a flex slot in one of the most flexible, toolbox-y decks in the format and can absolutely be replaced by something else. I'll put in another good word for Yavimaya Hollow, because that card is hilarious against Czech Pile.

Did you have any lines that came up during your games that don't normally come up in a typical game with the deck?

I didn't run into any super unusual lines, but I did get to do the classic "-1/-1 my Stoneforge Mystic, swing for zero, pump with Jitte" trick in order to kill someone under their own Ensnaring Bridge.

Do you have any cool stories from this weekend that you'd like to share?

I got to kill someone on my upkeep with a Deathrite Shaman activation in response to a lethal Shrieking Affliction trigger, which was pretty fun. I also had a Maze of Ith Fog an opposing Griselbrand six turns in a row and went on to win that game.

I think the best moment of the entire tournament was getting to Wasteland an Infect player's only land and then cast Zealous Persecution killing both his Hierarch and his Blighted Agent. Ending a game with your opponent on zero permanents is fun.

What is your take on the Deathrite Shaman situation in Legacy? Do you think the card needs to be banned?

I honestly don't know. I think the card is probably too good, especially given how it tends to push most of the decks that play it towards more midrange-y game plans, but I also think it's a genuinely fun card to play with. Ideally, I'd like to see them ban something that only hurts the Blue midrange nonsense without impacting all the non-Blue fair decks that rely on Deathrite. In particular, I think that the impact that True-Name Nemesis has on Legacy is almost exclusively negative; not only is it an obscenely powerful Blue midrange threat, but it's also a card for which the best maindeckable answer is just to counter it, which further solidifies Blue midrange being better than non-Blue midrange. In the past, non-Blue fair decks were pretty consistently able to just go over the top of Blue ones in the long game, and while that's still sort of true, TNN changes that equation a lot. It's a miserable card that only serves to make good decks better while making already weak decks worse, it turns interesting interactive fair mirrors into uninteractive races, and it's just generally not a card that I think is worth having in the format.

As for Deathrite Shaman specifically, I do expect that it will eventually be banned, and ultimately I'd be happy about that, partly because Czech Pile is pretty much my least favorite deck (dumb piles of good cards with nothing interesting about them are for Standard, dammit!). I wish the card were just a bit worse because it's a card I do actually like having in the format, I just don't think it's good to have it be absolutely everywhere, especially because of the issue I mentioned above where it tends to sort of homogenize a lot of the decks that play it by giving them access to the fixing they need to just play all the best cards regardless of color, while also giving them the mana acceleration they need to do things like consistently slam three drops on time in a Daze/Wasteland deck.

Overall, I would like to see the card banned eventually, but I'm not in any hurry to kick it out immediately. I expect that it will eventually eat it after the team Pro Tour, because I expect the pros to latch onto DRS decks as the best decks and for those to be unbelievably dominant at that event.

What is the best card in Magic, and why is it Thalia, Guardian of Thraben?

Well you see, it's actually Dark Ritual

Seriously though, Thalia's great. Great art and great lore attached to one of the best White cards ever printed. In many ways, I'd argue that Thalia is one of the most important cards printed in the last decade, even moreso than some of the clearly better Blue cards also released in that time frame, because she's the key piece that holds up an entire set of archetypes in every eternal format. Without Thalia, I don't think White would be seriously playable as anything other than a support color for Blue in Legacy, non-Blue non-Chalice decks would probably be unplayable, and the format as a whole would be a lot less interesting.

Fun fact, I almost ended up playing this entire tournament in a Thalia costume, but I, unfortunately, wasn't able to get it done in time due to having to actually do work and stuff. I fully intend to do that at my next GP, though.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, any final words?

I don't really have anything specific to say, except to say that I absolutely love this format and its players. The Magic community is pretty great, and Legacy players, in particular, tend to be just genuinely good people. As a trans woman, participating in gaming communities can be a pretty trying experience, but for the most part I've found the competitive Magic community and Legacy players specifically to be mature and respectful, which is something that means a whole lot to me. Legacy is an incredible format, Legacy players are awesome people, and I love you all.

Thanks again to Miranda for taking time to talk about your list and awesome finish! Congratulations again!

Another list that piqued my attention out of the Top 16 was Matt Nass' hot take on Tin Fins with a Living Wish package in addition to Depths/Stage!

For those that aren't aware of the deck (given it's naming structure), Tin Fins is an instant Reanimator-style deck that often plays cards like Shallow Grave with Entomb to dump a threat into the yard and immediately bring it back with haste (usually Griselbrand). Combined with Children of Korlis, the deck can power through its deck quickly and assemble a kill. The name hilariously enough comes from an episode of the Adult Swim series Sealab 2021 named "Tin Fins," which featured prominently a marketing campaign for a restaurant called "Grizzlebees," which is a common nickname for Griselbrand.

Tin Fins — Matt Nass | 12th Place GP Seattle


Creatures (7)
1 Children of Korlis
3 Griselbrand
3 Vampire Hexmage

Instants/Sorceries (26)
1 Cabal Therapy
4 Dark Ritual
4 Entomb
4 Exhume
3 Living Wish
4 Shallow Grave
3 Thoughtseize
1 Unburial Rites
2 Unmask

Artifacts (8)
4 Lion's Eye Diamond
4 Lotus Petal

Lands (19)
2 Bayou
1 Bloodstained Mire
3 Dark Depths
2 Marsh Flats
1 Polluted Delta
1 Scrubland
2 Swamp
3 Thespian's Stage
3 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Verdant Catacombs

Sideboard (15)
1 Children of Korlis
1 Dark Depths
1 Griselbrand
1 Karakas
1 Laboratory Maniac
1 Loyal Retainers
2 Pithing Needle
1 Reclamation Sage
3 Silent Gravestone
1 Sylvan Safekeeper
1 Thespian's Stage
1 Vampire Hexmage

What's great about this list is that it's such a powerful hybrid of Reanimator and Depths strategies, but the Living Wish board is what makes it so intriguing. Also showing up in this list? Newcomer to the format Silent Gravestone! This card is very interesting given that it's basically a Ground Seal for colorless and only costs one!

Another deck that caught my eye on coverage, and also caught the eye of Wizards was Chantelle Campbell on Soldier Stompy. Watching Chantelle's matches was some of the best Magic I've watched in some time. I found myself actively rooting for her because it was just so cool to see this deck on camera.

Soldier Stompy — Chantelle Campbell | GP Seattle

Creatures (29)
3 Aerial Responder
2 Captain of the Watch
2 Daru Warchief
4 Enlistment Officer
3 Palace Jailer
4 Preeminent Captain
3 Recruiter of the Guard
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Thalia, Heretic Cathar

Artifacts/Enchantments (12)
4 Chalice of the Void
4 Chrome Mox
4 Suppression Field

Lands (19)
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Cavern of Souls
1 City of Traitors
2 Karakas
8 Plains

Sideboard (15)
2 Armageddon
3 Cast Out
1 Containment Priest
1 Eidolon of Rhetoric
2 Holy Light
2 Rest in Peace
2 Selfless Squire
2 Sorcerous Spyglass

Armageddon?! Selfless Squire?! Aerial Responder?! This list is just chock-full of wonderful cards. As noted in the Day 2 Highlights, Chantelle had a game against Sneak/Show where she sacrificed all of her lands to an opponent's Annihilator 6 trigger (floating mana in response of course), and then flashed in Selfless Squire to prevent the damage and then kill her opponent on the crackback!

What a crazy fun thing that had to be to have done it. Well done on your run, Chantelle, and what a sweet sweet deck you've got there.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Until next time folks!

Joseph Dyer (@volrathxp) 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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