Three Decks for Beginners in Legacy

Getting into Legacy is quite difficult. The Reserved List made many keycards expensive and the deck variety is high. Here are three decks that are comparatively cheap and powerful to start Legacy.

Whenever I talk to other non-Legacy players, I get basically the two same arguments why they don't want to play Legacy.

First, the needed cards are way too expensive. If you compare the prices of Standard, Modern and Legacy decks, the numbers speak for themselves. If you take Cardmarket as source, you pay around 300,00 € for Sultai Midrange in Standard, 950,00 € - 1000,00 € for Grixis Death's Shadow in Modern, and 2000,00 € - 3000,00 € (depending on card condition) for Grixis Control in Legacy.

The second argument I get mostly is the difficulty in learning the format. The variety of existing decks is enormous. Tcdecks lists over 80 archetypes and due to the high costs of creating a Legacy card pool, the number of off-meta “pet decks” is unusually high compared to other formats. In addition to that, the format is so fast, that it's crucial to identify your opponents decks in the first three turns.

Three Decks for Beginners

Start Your Engines

For those of you who still want to get into Legacy, I've got three different decks in this article that are perfect to learn the format due to their simplicity, their proactive style, and their relatively low price.

All three of them are combo decks for three reasons:

Simplicity / Low Interaction

There are some advantages playing a deck that is easy to learn and easy to goldfish at home. The less you are focused on your own cards, the more you can focus on the deck your opponents play. Having few / no possibilities to disrupt your opponent might be a pain at some point, but overall it gives you more capacity to focus on your opponent's deck and learn how to it works.

Asking the Questions is Easier Than Answering Them

Having a proactive game plan with a combo deck reduces the required knowledge of the decks you face. In a control deck, you should know exactly how to deny your opponent's game plan. For this strategy, you need to know the goal of the deck, it's key cards, and possible answers. In a proactive combo deck, you only need to know the ways they can disrupt your win conditions. Therefore, as a combo player, you need to know a lot less about the format than with other decks.

Free Wins

I think everyone can remember the days they started playing Magic or entering a new format. Losing too many games can be frustrating and often takes away the fun and the enjoyment of discovering new ways to play Magic. That's why, in my opinion, having some free wins due to the proactive and fast way of combo decks might keep the frustration in check while you gather enough experience to try more difficult decks in the future.


Mono Red Burn by bozidar2121, MTGO Legacy Challenge, 28.01.2019

Burn, or Mono Red Aggro is one of the most iconic archetypes in Magic. There is always a red deck in Standard, Modern Burn is currently a tier one deck and in Legacy, Burn isn't quite a top tier deck, but always a threat.

Legacy Burn is the basically the same deck as Modern Burn but powered up by some spicy techs with Chain Lightning being one of the least impressive additions.

Mana bases in Legacy are often greedy. Many decks are three- or even four-color, resulting a low number of basic lands. Price of Progress is one of the best cards to punish this greediness. Fireblast and Sulfuric Vortex add extra reach which allows you to seal the deal.

Playing only one color limits your sideboard a lot, having only access to a small pool of options and interactions. Your weak matchups are other combo decks who are just a turn faster than you, like Storm, Sneak & Show, or Reanimator. Decks with a mana base full of nonbasic lands and creatures like Grixis Delver are your better matchups.

Price of Progress Chain Lightning Fireblast

Black-Red Reanimator

B / R Reanimator by Soren Dickmann, Nexus Games Legacy Open, 09.02.2019

B / R Reanimator is a little bit more expensive than Burn, but also is more explosive. Your game plan is simple: Putting a threat like Griselbrand or Tidespout with Entomb or Faithless Looting into your graveyard on turn one and putting that creature into play from your graveyard with Exhume, Reanimate or Animate Dead on turn two. Dark Ritual and Lotus Petal helps you to execute your plan a turn earlier and Thoughtseize, Unmask, and the first trigger of Chancellor of the Annex help you deny your opponents' answers.

This decks biggest flaw is how vulnerable it is to hate. Surgical Extraction, Karakas, and Grafdigger's Cage are the three most played cards against Reanimator. Regardless of the high number of hate cards, I strongly recommend this deck for beginners because the chances to win the first game of a match are very high and once your Griselbrand or Chancellor is on the battlefield, the possible outs for your opponent become very limited.

Chancellor of the Annex Griselbrand Reanimate

Sneak & Show

Sneak & Show by bigward28, MTGO Legacy Challenge, 28.01.2019

Sneak & Show is the most expensive and the most skillful of these three, but also the most consistent. Using Show and Tell or Sneak Attack to put a Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play is similar to B / R Reanimator, but 1-2 turns slower. The lack of speed is compensated by the consistency using Brainstorm and Ponder and by the resilience of having Force of Will and Spell Pierce to interact with your opponent.

I want to recommend this deck the most because in addition of learning the meta, you get first impressions of Brainstorm and Force of Will, two of the most played cards in Legacy. Having access to cantrips and counterspells in such a combo deck makes the deck easy to learn, but difficult to master.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn Show and Tell Sneak Attack


Legacy is my favorite format, but it took quite a long to really learn the huge variety of relevant decks. These decks give you the chance to experience with a relatively small investment (never be afraid to proxy either, most people won't mind). These decks will also give you a good chance at winning some games / matches at your first tournaments. If you want to play Legacy but aren't interested in combo decks, I recommend you take a look at the Stompy archetype, which is still a proactive strategy, but more aggro oriented.

If you have some questions about the decks, feel free to comment this article.

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


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RaphaelZ(24.05.2019 10:44)

For Reanimator, the sideboard seems pretty poor. As you mentioned, you want to play around hate cards, therefore 4 Wasteland for Karakas and 4 Null Rods for graveyard-hate-artifacts (Relic of Progenitus etc.) can help you out. For Gravediggers Cage (doesn't have to be activated) and Surgical Extraction a Chancellor in hand is mandatory ;)

Izan4gi(27.02.2019 16:44)

Given that the Burn deck only runs mountains, it can be even cheaper if one replaces those 4 Arid Mesa and Scalding tarn by, for example, Wooded Foothills and Bloodstained Mire.

Ceddo(19.02.2019 20:38)

Hi env03059,
Yes, playing Burn and B/R Reanimator on a high level require much practice and skill, but that rule applies for nearly every deck in Legacy.

My argumentation is, that Sneak Show has more interaction and more decisionmaking than the other two. With Reanimator and Burn you are dependend on your topdeck... You do not have so many decisions... With cantrips you have so many posibilities do make a bad decision.

Yes, playing around hate with Reanimator is tricky, indeed... But so is with Sneak Show.

env03059(19.02.2019 16:23)

I highly disagree that S&S is the most skillful of the three. One could argue that S&S is the most skillless deck in the entire legacy format (Eldrazi excepted). Searching with cantrips for a 1 card combo with FoW backup is so broken, everyone can play it. On the other hand, there is certainly more skill required to become a good Burn player (suck as recognizing what to burn and when to play your hand) and B/R Reanimator can have lines that are tricky to identify in the first place, especially if you play around hate.