The healthiest constructed format in Magic
Hello everybody and welcome to the very first article from my hand here at Snapcardster.com. My name is Andreas, and I am a 29-year old MTG junkie residing in Copenhagen, Denmark. In the future I will be posting weekly content about everything from Pauper to Vintage, tournament results from Grand Prix or Magic Online tournaments, my own preparation for upcoming events, metagame analysis, player interviews and much, much more. If you want me to address a subject, don’t hesitate to write me a message on Facebook. Don’t be shy now!
Since I know many of you love Legacy, I thought a great place to kick things off would be talking about this weekend’s Legacy Challenge. For those who don’t know, “Challenges” are weekly tournaments on Magic Online with 7-8 rounds and top 8 with great prize payout. Why I like these tournaments in particular is the fact that they attract a lot of pros and/or format specialists, and the competition is therefor always top notch.
Legacy Challenge June 4, 2017
Read more at magic.wizards.com
2 Death and Taxes
1 Four Color Control
1 Blue/Black Shadow
1 Esper Deathblade
1 Blue/Red Delver
1 Grixis Delver
As you can see, the event was won by a spicy version of Death and Taxes in the hands of “Scabs” – the online handle of Thomas Enevoldsen – the Godfather of the deck. He and his partner in crime, gold pro Michael Bonde, put the deck on the map back in 2013 where they finished 1st and 3rd respectively at Grand Prix Strasbourg. More on that deck and Thomas’ success with it towards the end of the article.
Death and Taxes by Thomas 'Scabs' Enevoldsen (1st Place) Legacy Challenge #10664481 on 06/04/2017
2 Containment Priest
2 Eldrazi Displacer
4 Mother of Runes
1 Palace Jailer
2 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Stoneforge Mystic
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
2 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
1 Vryn Wingmare
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Aether Vial
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
3 Ancient Tomb
1 Eiganjo Castle
3 Rishadan Port
1 Palace Jailer
4 Chalice of the Void
2 Council’s Judgment
2 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Pithing Needle
1 Relic of Progenitus
2 Rest in Peace
I want to talk a brief moment about the banning of Sensei’s Divining Top. Just have a look at that top 8 and let it sink in. There is no way that this much diversity would’ve found its way into the top 8 of a Legacy tournament just a few months ago. If this trend continues, I think it’s safe to say that Wizards made a brilliant move by banning the Top.
Ironically, if you take a look further down the list from the eight best decks, Miracles has found a way back to being relevant thanks to a forgotten card, Portent. Portent is no Sensei’s Divining Top, but it lets you set up Terminus and Entreat the Angels to some extent. With the engine of Snapcaster + Predict for card advantage and Jace, the Mind Sculptor in a bigger roll than before, Miracles 2.0 is happening. It will be very interesting to see if the deck can actually compete over time, or it’s just the stubborn Miracles players who refuse to take no for an answer right now and will eventually quit.
Looking further down the list of the top 32 finishers, we see a buffet of unique strategies that makes my mouth water. With the bully of the format gone, people can once again play their pet deck and not be hopelessly unfavored going into an event.
Without bad-talking Standard too much, I think it’s safe to say that formats with few viable decks are very rarely popular while formats with many viable options are popular. I was actually scared that removing Counterbalance from the format would result in a degenerate combo bonanza without an effective way to keep the turn 1-2 decks in check.
I would lie awake at night and have bad dreams about Charbelcher vs. Storm and Oops! All Spells vs. Reanimator matchups in a world where turn 2 Thalia was way too slow. Never did being wrong feel so good, as I clearly underestimated the Legacy players. I hope you forgive me!
Besides from a healthy looking metagame, there’s even more to be excited about for Legacy fans if you like innovation. A blue/black Death Shadow-based tempo deck with a light splash of green made it all the way to the finals in this week’s Challenge. As a man who has played a ton of Modern, I’ve definitely played with and against my share of Death’s Shadows, but the card had yet to make an impact in Legacy. Mostly due to being awkward against opposing Swords to Plowshares and weak to a resolved Counterbalance – Death Shadow being a one-drop you can’t expect to sneak under a Counterbalance like other one-drops – people never really trusted this undercosted beater with a spot in the starting 60 lineup in Legacy, but maybe that has changed now. With Miracles no longer occupying 15-20% of the metagame, and Delver players leaning towards non-white color combinations, I see potential for the Shadow moving forward.
As promised, we end today’s article with something related to Death and Taxes. I got a hold of Thomas Enevoldsen to ask him a few questions about the past, present and future of the deck.
Hello Thomas and thank you for taking part in this interview. Having a World Magic Cup champion stopping by in my first article isn’t too shabby! As we all know, in 2013 you lifted the trophy in Strasbourg. Fast forward to 2017, and to this day you still keep winning tournaments with white creatures.
Did you play the deck the whole time in between, or did you try out other Legacy decks?
“I’ve enjoyed playing this deck since I first tried it out back in 2012. It creates so many unique situations and it feels like each game adds a bit of knowledge and experience to the pilot. I always learn something from playing the deck, and it teaches you a lot about the format and the other decks in Legacy, since you always have to adapt to the matchup at hand. In this way, because you are so invested in reacting to your opponent’s game plan, each matchup contains all the details of their strategy (and decklist) as well, so in a way it feels like playing all the decks in the format (in a much cheaper way). Because of the constant evolvement of the format (and metagame), even you only change a couple of cards your own list, each tournament always offers new perspectives and new play experiences. So I have never felt like switching to something else.”
Please tell us something about your newest build. I see Ancient Tomb, Eldrazi Displacer, maindeck Containment Priest and 4 Chalice of the Void in the sideboard. Enlighten us a little about those seemingly odd choices in deckbuilding.
“The deck inherently lacks 2 key components which most legacy decks have. Card selection and (for lack of a better term) acceleration. Almost all decks in Legacy contain one or both of these components. Card selection is primarily the blue spells (Ponder, Preordain, Brainstorm and now Portent), but also tutors in general offer card selection. Acceleration is the ability to affect the board fast with powerful spells.Cheap spells in general do this, but also mana producers like Deathrite Shaman, Noble Hierarch, Eldrazi-lands help out here. Entire strategies are devoted to acceleration, for instance storm (accelerate out Past in Flames/Ad Nauseam), Show & Tell, Elves, Reanimator. These 2 components are key to succeeding in Legacy (otherwise you will have the right cards at the wrong time or simply not have time to play those cards).Death & Taxes does not really include any, even though it cheats on mana (Aether Vial), so what it does is try to limit the other side’s acceleration (and card selection) through cards like Thalia (1.0 and 2.0), Wasteland/Port, Spirit of the Labyrinth, Ethersworn Canonist etc. I felt like the time was right to try out my own acceleration, and thus was born the idea of Ancient Tomb. With that shift, I had to make changes to accommodate the added colorless mana production in a deck that traditionally was very many WW in its mana costs.
So the list tries to accomplish this by playing more single mana white cards and utilize the power of Ancient Tomb and includes the Displacer/Priest combo as a way to have more tricks against the midrange-y strategies with the occasional combo hate due to containments priest requirement to play (more or less) fair magic. Chalice of the Void is a way to affect the board on turn 1 against particularly Storm, Reanimator and Elves, decks which have always been difficult to deal with for the deck because of their “unfair” game plan.”
Aside from locking down the opposition with white creatures in Legacy, what are your goals within Magic?
“My goal is to re-qualify for the Pro Tour (and qualify for more Pro Tours), through whatever format will carry me there. After that my goal is top8 a pro tour, and then I am finally done.”
What’s your opinion about the decision to ban Sensei’s Divining Top in Legacy?
“I thought the Legacy format was interesting before the ban, and I think it is interesting after the ban, so I am indifferent to it. At first I was a bit bummed since I always enjoyed playing vs. Miracles with Death & Taxes, but a new version of the deck seems to have reappeared, so I am happy there is still a control deck out there.”
Rank the following constructed formats based on how much you enjoy them. Vintage, Legacy, Commander, Modern, Standard, Pauper.
“Legacy, Modern/standard and the rest combined, which I don’t really play (but they all seem fun).”
When is the next scheduled event for you outside of Denmark? What do you plan on playing and why?
“My next event is GP Vegas. I plan to play Death & Taxes because I enjoy it and I am very good at it. Please don’t tell anyone.”
That concludes my first chapter here at Snapcardster. Join me next week where I talk about Grand Prix Las Vegas, and we focus shifts to Modern.
Check what Thomas is up to via Twitter @therealenevolds