Legacy News: Madness & Standstill
- Rodrigo Martin
Legacy is an ancient and vast format. Nonetheless fresh strategies emerge or evolve from previous iterations. Modern Horizons 2 in particular has revitalized brewing prospects. Landstill is back, in a whole new way, and Madness is enjoying a second life too. Want to know more? Just keep reading!
It is time for our monthly dose of Legacy content! Whether you are back to tabletop Magic or play online tournaments from home, Legacy remains a vibrant format that recently has embraced a ton of Modern Horizons 2 additions, and here at Cardmarket we love to keep you up to date about recent lists that are performing well.
When MH2 first landed in June, I wrote about Izzet Delver dominating the format thanks to new cards like Dragon's Rage Channeler and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer. Today I want to focus on two very different strategies that may not be quite as popular but every bit as competitive. There's a new Jeskai build making waves at the moment and also a red-based discard shell that is pure madness. Let's break them down.
Some Cards Never Get Old
What's this deck about? The first thing I noticed when I saw it was a mixture of old Legacy staples combined with a bunch of Modern Horizons 2 powerhouses. That's fine, but the deck is indeed something more than that.
|Jeskai Standstill by ScavengingBooze, 2nd at Legacy Challenge #12321637|
Starting with the creature suite, only seven of them seem to be a bit threat light, but this is not an aggressive deck. Rather, it aims to establish a board presence and leverage that into different lines of attack. Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is ideal for the job, snowballing into card advantage if it successfully hits opponents' spells as well as into extra mana. Meanwhile, Murktide Regent is a fast evasive clock that ends the game in a couple of swings. Last but not least, there's a singleton copy of True-Name Nemesis, an antique, formerly format-defining card that lost a ton of presence in recent years. But right now, this well protected Merfolk is well positioned since there are thousands of spot removal spells flying around that all cannot hit it.
Moving on to the spell suite, there's a lot of the usual but also some unusual. Three copies of Stifle mess with our opponents' plans in a variety of way, the list of possibilities endless. Aside from the regular use of countering fetch land activations, it can nowadays counter Urza's Saga's third chapter, Stoneforge Mystic's tutor trigger, or Thassa's Oracle ability against Doomsday to name a few. Overall, Stifle is a great card in the current metagame, even more when people forget to play around it.
While this could be a straight blue-red build, adding white gives us the best and cheapest removal in the format. Swords to Plowshares deals with either small or big creatures. Prismatic Ending is ideal to exile early creatures like Monkey, Delvers, or Channelers but also problematic threats later in the game like Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath or Teferi, Time Raveler, thanks to having three colors to pay for the converge cost.
Looking at the odd side of the deck, let's address the elephant in the room. Why is Standstill here? After all, the card hasn't seen major play in ages. Well, in case you missed it, there's a new kid on the block called Urza's Saga and the two get along pretty well: Deploying Standstill plus Saga on turn two reminds me of the old times when Mishra's Factory was a viable competitive option. However, this time around you get two Construct tokens in the process and a free artifact into play. Any player on the other side of the table will have to answer that, therefore cracking Standstill. Moreover, you can play Ragavan on turn one, protect it and play the blue enchantment on turn two, putting your opponent in a very awkward spot, in which they will end up casting a spell, giving you a free Ancestral Recall in the process.
The mana base and the artifact section are both linked. A total of six fetch lands, six blue dual lands, plus a single basic Island fix the color requirements. The rest are utility lands, starting with the customary singleton Karakas—an extra white source that can save our Ragavans from opposing removal, while also bouncing common annoying legendary creatures like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Next, Wasteland is mandatory in these kinds of midrange shells, especially when combined with Stifle, in order to wreck the fragile mana bases common to Legacy. Nowadays there are also opposing Urza's Sagas to worry about.
Speaking of the devil, we need to play our own Sagas on turn two onward to get full value from them. There's not much to tutor for the third chapter, since this is not an artifact strategy. Rather, the deck has only three targets: Pithing Needle against planeswalkers or annoying permanents like Sneak Attack; then Soul-Guide Lantern is our main-deck graveyard hate, here to deal with Uro, Life from the Loam, or Reanimator; and finally the most appealing one, Retrofitter Foundry. This artifact is getting a lot of attention lately. While writing this article, I checked its price and, oh boy, it's huge, almost €30 apiece! All because of Urza's Saga. Every possible deck that packs the land now has the Foundry as a nice value tool that not only generates an army of Thopters that can later turn into 4/4s, it also pumps the Constructs created with the Saga.
Before we move to our next brew, let's take a quick look at the sideboard where we find additional artifact silver bullets: Grafdigger's Cage and Tormod's Crypt are key when facing graveyard decks. Aside from that, the sideboard assembles the usual Legacy suspects like Pyroblast/Red Elemental Blast combined with some white hosers. Finally, Wear // Tear provides a clean answer when facing other Saga decks.
All in all, I have found this Jeskai Standstill quite fun to play. It promotes skill intensive games, and what excites me the most, it feels like an old deck thanks to the enchantment from Odyssey but with tons of new cards.
Madness at Its Finest
Madness at its finest
Eye for eye is blindness
No matter what you do
It's going to happen to you
Looking for a title to this section, I stumbled upon a nice song called Madness at its Finest and thought that would be the perfect name for this deck. Call me a boomer, but I miss the good old days when someone brewed up a strategy and gave it a fancy name, like Cephalid Breakfast or The Rock, while nowadays, when diving into the internet for some lists, the names you find are UBRG or GRWU.
Anyway, this Madness deck, or let's say HollowVine, since it features both cards, finished in fifth place at a recent Legacy Challenge. I immeditely knew that this was a spicy one.
|Turbo HollowVine by B-baka, 5th at Legacy Challenge #12321637|
With this unusual shell we don't play regular Magic. Rather, the deck's goal is to discard almost everything to play the cards for their madness cost. Every card can be sorted into one of three sections: threats, discard outlets, or lands.
Starting with the eight Lizards, the old Basking Rootwalla and the new Blazing Rootwalla are our zero-mana madness threats. Discarding and casting them can help bring back Vengevine from the graveyard and/or reduces Hollow One's casting cost. Our third madness creature is Anje's Ravager, a bit more expensive, but when it attacks, it generates a draw-discard effect to keep the chain going. Next we have the creatures we actively want in our graveyard, which are the aforementioned Vengevine, two copies of Ox of Agonas to fuel up again in the late game, and a pair of Angers that allow us to attack with our little army as early as turn one.
We only have two creatures that we don't want to discard: Hollow One in particular creates a moment of tension whenever we cast Burning Inquiry, hoping to play it for free afterward. It's our biggest body alongside Vengevine, and it can also be cycled in desperate situations. Putrid Imp stands out as the only black card: a flying threat and repeatable discard outlet for the madness spells that grows bigger once we hit Threshold.
In the spell section, Once Upon a Time adds a free way to hit extra lands or the payoff creatures in the early game. In the one-mana slot we find two copies of Gamble, which normally searches for a Vengevine we don't mind discarding, but it can also look for Faithless Looting since it is our only flashback spell. Speaking of which, Looting plus Burning Inquiry are the discard effects the deck so desperatedly needs. Inquiry can be awkward sometimes but also messes with opponents' hands. Looting is the best discard effect because we can also cast it later in the game from the graveyard. This is especially important because sometimes we might discard our whole hand as early as turn one …
The only reason this list cannot be budget friendly is Lion's Eye Diamond's price, which is a necessary evil to play this deck, as the zero-mana artifact enables crazy turn one lines. Sometimes you play a draw effect and then proceed to discard your whole hand onto the battlefield. Note that you can use the Diamond's mana to pay for Anje's Ravager's madness cost. Activating it only works at sorcery speed, but it's still a mana ability—once activated, it resolves immediately ahead of any madness triggers without using the stack.
The sideboard features the new Bone Shards, a cheap discard outlet that deals with planeswalkers or creatures that stop our game plan such as Containment Priest or Ethersworn Canonist. Pithing Needle is our backup plan against Tormod's Crypt or Soul-Guide Lantern. Finally, Firestorm, an antique card from Weatherlight, works both as a mass discard outlet and mass removal for creatures, and sometimes deals relevant damage to the opponent too.
Regarding other versions, there is the possibility of adding more black for Kitchen Imp and one or two copies of Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis without entirely turning into a Hogaak deck. It's a shame this deck cannot see more play in paper for financial reasons, but I am happy "Madness As Its Finest" is putting up good results and thus making Legacy a wider, more diverse format.
Wrap Up. Keep the Fun Going
There's not much else to say than how much fun it is to see new strategies coming up and others going down in a format like Legacy. Not that long ago, people were clamoring for a ban of Daze. The greater the variety of decks showing up, the less pressing the need to take any action. I hope for no more changes this year so we can continue enjoying our favorite Eternal format in peace. Chances are looking great!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.