The State of Legacy, Summer 2022


Let's take a look at the state of the Legacy format today, and let's take inventory. What are the decks to beat? What are the runner-ups? What are decks to watch out for? The times may have changed, and many details did too, but the format's pillars still hold strong and carry on.

The Revival of Paper Magic

It's been a while since we've been blessed with paper Magic results. Definitely worth mentioning are the 4 Seasons Spring tournament in Bologna last month with around 400 players and the recent Tier1Con Legacy in Sweden with just over 100 participants.

The resurgence of tabletop Magic means traveling, meeting friends in foreign countries, and playing in damp venues is possible once again. However, it holds greater importance to the Legacy metagame in particular. There's always been a difference between the online and the offline meta. Online people tend to play more combo decks in order to rush through leagues faster, while offline events draw players who have been playing their pet decks for over a decade and occasionally slice through an eight-rounder.

The Issue with Delver

insectile aberration

Legacy is still extremely diverse when it comes to combo or control decks. The only obvious issue is the lack of multiple Delver decks—a tradition discontinued so to speak. Most Delver decks of the past wanted to have blue and red as their core and then splash another color for either more disruptive elements, toolbox spells, or powerful finishers. But Murktide Regent and Expressive Iteration get the job done without detours to Tropical Island or Underground Sea.

The current variant ticks off all boxes of a tier one deck to beat: Its land base is highly reliable, only requiring two colors and incorporating an Island. It's proactive and can win fast uninterrupted. It's streamlined—meaning that it follows one strategy—but is still versatile enough to deal with most problems; just look at Meltdown as a tool against Eight Cast. It looks like Blue-Red "Delver"—note that many lists don't even include Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration anymore—is here to stay remaining unchallenged as the format's premier tempo deck.

The Runner-Ups

urza's saga teferi, time raveler

Luckily there are plenty of other decks to choose from. The aforementioned Eight Cast seems to occupy a decent spot in the meta. Once its engine starts running with Emry, Lurker of the Loch, Thought Monitor, and Thoughtcast it will flood the board with Construct tokens and attack with a gigantic Kappa Cannoneer. The key here is Urza's Saga, which literally works overtime to provide the deck with mana, creatures, and its toolbox.

The third deck worth mentioning are the variants of Jeskai Control. Pretty much a Modern deck in disguise, it sometimes runs a heavy suite of planeswalkers, goes for a faster approach with Monastery Mentor, or creates card advantage via Displacer Kitten. Running Expressive Iteration to fuel a full set of Force of Negation, the current version of Jeskai Control follows in the steps of great blue control decks of the past, such as long gone variants with Sensei's Divining Top and its successors with Predict.

The Many Other Options

Legacy is actually in a great state right now. In fact, it's been healthy for most of its history. People just tend to focus on the format's short transient periods when it lost its balance and one deck went berserk. Proponents of nonblue strategies can still choose between Elves, Dark Depths, Death and Taxes featuring Yorion, Sky Nomad, Dragon Stompy, Lands, and Black-Red Reanimator. And this is just a small selection of decks one can run into during a tournament these days.

thalia, guardian of thraben doomsday

One thing that these decks have to have in common is a good or at least winnable matchup against Blue-Red Delver. That seems to be the main requirement, other than being proactive because fighting Jeskai Control or Eight Cast during the late game is a desperate matter. On the combo side of things we still have two storm decks that can win events, like Bryant Cook did recently with his TES, plus Sneak and Show, which is heavily underplayed right now, Painter, and Doomsday, which might be the best choice right now. A deck that runs counterspells and has a combo kill has always been up there with the strongest contenders in any meta.

The Direction of Legacy

For quite some time now there has been a major trend in Legacy that splashed over from Modern. For a deck to prove itself it has to run cards with multiple applications. Ledger Shredder slowly pushes Delver of Secrets out of the format because it creates additional value when casting spells; though I am personally not convinced that the Bird will have the final word.

Decks justify playing Force of Negation because they can refill their hands quickly, run planeswalkers and eternalize Dragons. One either wins fast or has to have a superior strategy that controls the board. Just imagine how bad Tarmogoyf and Stifle would look in 2022. Meanwhile there are many other decks that wait for the next shakeup like Eldrazi or Loam, which used to be the two main Chalice of the Void decks.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, not of Cardmarket.


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MtgMagicMan(21.07.2022 07:38)

I could never play my rug delver without stifle and Tarmogoyf, although they were not very efficient
But that's what I like.
On the subject Delver agree, Murktide (Which also evades many removal of the format push-decay- ending) has removed identity to the various delver decks, not needing an additional splash to have the big creature (Tarmogoyf - gurmag- tombstolker etc).
The card advantage engine is exaggerated expressive iteration + mystic sanctuary has always been fuel to the deck to move forward in the game, a peculiarity that the old delver decks did not have.
I don't like to see UR tier 1. I hope there are some changes from wizards.
You did a nice analysis very well!

CabalTherapy(21.07.2022 23:18)

Thank you.

shaaa(18.07.2022 10:03)

For Tarmogoyf, I completely agree. It is no longer decisive in the format. I wonder if Stifle can't find an app right now though. This of course requires a deck geared towards this strategy. It's a question....

Noxea(18.07.2022 04:59)

The Doomsday list has a Typo. Its 4 Underground Sea instead of 1. :P

TobiHenke(18.07.2022 11:44)

Fixed now. Thanks!

Exksalted(16.07.2022 15:45)