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The Weekly Grinder - Legacy Primer Part 1

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Sheldon is a competitive Magic: the Gathering player commonly referred to as a “grinder.”  He attends countless events and plays thousands of games to compete at the highest levels.
This is an insight into his journey of traveling the competitive scene.

Legacy Primer pt. 1

I certainly don’t consider myself a Legacy expert by any stretch, but I have played a fair amount, and have had a reasonable amount of success when I play. There is a Grand Prix coming up soon for this format that is very close to me, and I’ve had a lot of local friends asking for advice about the format. I had been gathering a bunch of little ideas to discuss with them, as it is no fun getting browned because you don’t know what to expect in the format. However, Legacy is a wide format, and does tend to favor the experienced, I figured I’d try to cover a few things, over a few articles, that will hopefully help newer players feel more comfortable.

I do want to make to be clear though, in this article, I will be stating things as I have found them, and that there are no universals. You will still end up with plenty of circumstances in Legacy, where you played perfect and still got crushed. However, it is important to realize when that wasn’t the case, and you could have played better/tighter and to learn from your mistakes, as knowing matchups in this format is just as important as knowing your own deck.

The Decks

Legacy is a large format. I know that statement may seem obvious, but it underlies a more important message. Sometimes you are going to play against something crazy and you don’t know what it does, or had no way of interacting, and get crushed. It is important, especially in this format to be able to pick yourself back up after these types of losses, and keep a level head despite how the matchup may feel during the games. At one event, I was playing a typical UR delver deck, and got paired against “Food Chain”. I’ve only seen the deck a couple times, never played against it, and certainly didn’t bring any sideboard cards for it. In game 1 I was extremely lucky to steal the game. Game 2, he went off with the plan of his deck, and I stood no chance, staring at a handful of cards as I died… Game 3, a lucky pithing needle on his deathrite(I know it is not particularly effective in this match, just had no other cards to bring in), and opponent missing lethal for a turn, and I managed to win this one. Would I expect to get those results ever again? Probably not, and I was fairly disheartened going into game 3, knowing it was more crucial what he drew than what I drew. Overall, the biggest points of advice I can give, is plan and learn the big decks in the format(we’ll go over these later), and don’t stress over the fringe decks.

The Meta

Legacy’s big decks are:

This is a relatively simplified list, and I’ve not bothered mentioning some variants, even though they can have an effect on how they play, but this is just to keep it simple. There is are things to notice when looking at these lists:

  1. The top decks haven’t changed much in years
  2. They span the archetypes: Control, Tempo, Aggro, Combo
  3. They almost all contain blue

I don’t think it is necessary to play blue to play Legacy, but many people don’t agree with that. It will be very very common in any given matchup you play, that their decklist will have Brainstorm and Force of Will. The takeaway from this info, is that you should not be playing a deck that has to resolve a spell, with no way to protect it to win, and that you probably shouldn’t play a deck that is especially to weak to effective sideboard cards.