Therefore, with so many metagame shifts over the past year due to bannings and new cards being released, I thought it would be a good time to take stock of the current Legacy metagame and write about what I believe are the top ten decks in the format at the moment!
While Legacy has traditionally been regarded as the format where you can “play anything”, especially if your deck contains Brainstorm and Force of Will, over the past few years with the release of the Modern Horizons sets and generally more powerful, proactive spells being printed, the Legacy metagame is now fairly defined.
The good decks are significantly better than the bad decks, and I think there is only a selection of decks that could make the Top 8 of a big event, and only a handful that would be a suitable choice if you’re looking to maximize your chances of winning. It somewhat saddens me that gone are the days where you would see a Goblin Lackey on the top tables or someone trying to make Stax work, but unfortunately even Legacy cannot escape the wrath of FIRE design.
Top 10: Elves
Elves has been a role player in Legacy for as long as I can remember, and it continues to be one of the better decks in the format. Over the past few years, the deck has gained multiple solid cards in the form of
Allosaurus Shepherd, Grist, the Hunger Tide and Boseiju, Who Endures.
However, many of the other decks have also picked up more powerful removal spells, and Elves’ popularity will always be limited due to how difficult the deck is to play and the inaccessibility of Gaea’s Cradle in paper.
Prior to Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer being banned, I would have ranked Elves higher. However, Elves’ matchup against Blue-Red Delver did get worse with the ban as Elves was one of the few decks where Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer was inferior to Delver of Secrets in the matchup. Blue-Red Delver isn’t a bad matchup per se, but it has definitely gotten worse now that Delver’s creatures all have flying, and Murktide Regent in particular is an issue due to how quickly it can close out a game.
The increased popularity of Day’s Undoing has also been problematic for the deck, as Elves cannot reliably stop the combo, and Hullbreacher/Narset, Parter of Veils are great at stopping Glimpse of Nature and the Elvish Visionary plus Wirewood Symbiote card-draw engine.
Top 9: Reanimator
The Reanimator shell has remained unchanged for years, but the deck has also had two nice additions from Modern Horizons 2 in the form of Archon of Cruelty and Grief. The former has been a big inclusion for the deck, as you now have a great reanimation target that cannot be dealt with by Karakas, and it is good against creature decks like Blue-Red Delver and Death and Taxes, unlike the previously played Chancellor of the Annex.
Grief has also been solid as a fifth and sixth copy of Unmask, much in the same way blue decks now play two copies of Force of Negation, though I do think it is worse than Thoughtseize and Unmask due to not being able to target yourself.
The list above is from Kanister, who had a solid string of results with the deck a few weeks back. I’ve always found Chancellor of the Annex to be underwhelming, so I’m on board with playing zero copies of them in the maindeck, but I also like playing the full playset in the sideboard, so you can straight swap it for Archon of Cruelty against combo decks.
The full playset of Serenity is great for dealing with problematic cards like Chalice of the Void and Leyline of the Void, as well as being incredible against 8-Cast.
If I was to play the deck, though, I would probably look to add two copies of Silence into the sideboard – they are an excellent way to fight both countermagic and instant-speed graveyard-hate like Surgical Extraction and Endurance.
Top 8: Doomsday
Doomsday continues to be the best spell-based combo deck in the format, and still basically beats everything but Blue-Red Delver. The deck having so much disruption, being able to win on turn one and mostly being a one-card combo means that it can beat most decks by being faster or able to grind through multiple disruption spells.
However, it still does struggle against Blue-Red Delver as the deck has both a clock and disruption, and Doomsday usually cannot deal with that combination.
For a period of time, Tempo Doomsday was played for a bit, but it has mostly fallen out of favour and the stock version seems to be the preferred variant again.
While Doomsday isn’t particularly popular both online and in paper, those who play the deck are often masters of the archetype who know how to play the deck inside and out, so be careful when playing against them!
Top 7: Red-Green Lands
Red-Green Lands has also been around Legacy for a long time – in fact, I used to own the deck back when The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale was still about 500 euros! However, like Elves and Reanimator, it has also picked up a few key cards over the past year – notably Endurance, Urza’s Saga and Boseiju, Who Endures.
Urza’s Saga has been a significant addition for the deck as it allows you to grind through and close out games without relying on the more fragile Dark Depths combo, and the interaction between Urza’s Saga and Thespian’s Stage is near-unbeatable for many control decks. Boseiju, Who Endures is also a nice addition as it is a tutourable and uncountertable way to deal with problematic cards like Blood Moon.
While I am not an expert with these types of decks, I think I prefer Green-White Depths as I like how it can attack from more angles and Punishing Fire is not nearly as powerful as it used to be.
However, the deck does have a favourable matchup against Blue-Red Delver and having access to Pyroblast-effects is great when Day’s Undoing is a substantial part of the metagame.
Top 6: 4c Control
One of my favourite decks in Legacy right now, this four-colour version has now firmly established itself as the best Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath deck in the format. The deck was originally designed by popular streamer and control master, AnziD, but since then Niv “trunks132” Shmuley has been crushing the MODO challenges every weekend with it. Previously, people were playing Bant, but then they realised that you ultimately need access to Pyroblast-effects in the sideboard due to control mirrors and dealing with Murktide Regent from Blue-Red Delver. At this point, I do not think you can play a control deck in Legacy without playing Pyroblast, especially with 8-Cast also being popular.
Not playing basic lands does make you somewhat vulnerable to Wasteland, but the truth is the deck has enough cheap removal spells to catch up from behind and with Timeless Dragon and Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, you can reliably make your land drops and quickly power through multiple Wastelands. It’s only largely a problem if they combine Wasteland with early aggression, and you lack a removal spell.
Blood Moon, however, is a real problem, and it’s no surprise that the deck has now added a copy of Boseiju, Who Endures.
Top 5: Green-White Depths
Green-White Depths seems to have come out of nowhere over the past few months to establish itself as one of the best decks. I do not know exactly where it came from, but it has firmly cemented itself and is basically the new Maverick deck of the format. It does warm my heart to see Knight of the Reliquary still being played in Legacy!
Green-White Depths has a reliably good matchup against Blue-Red Delver, though it can struggle against control decks, especially the Day’s Undoing variant. Many lists are now splashing red just for Pyroblast-effects in the sideboard as a way to address this issue.
What I really like about this deck, and why I prefer it to Red-Green Lands, is that it can attack from many different angles.
It can steal games with the Dark Depths combo in the way Red-Green Lands does, but it can also reliably battle through land destruction by just attacking with beefy creatures.
Having access to Swords to Plowshares also means you are less likely to lose to Blue-Red Delver when you have a clunky draw that needs more time, which is the most common way for these decks to lose in the matchup.
Top 4: Death and Taxes
Death and Taxes players seem to enjoy complaining about the lack of powerful white cards that WOTC supposedly print, but it looks to me like the archetype has continuously been getting good cards recently!
Yorion, Sky Nomad was a big addition to the deck as it fits the game plan perfectly, and the printing of cards like Urza’s Saga, Solitude and Skyclave Apparition provided the deck with enough density of good cards to go up to eighty.
Similar to Green-White Depths, Death and Taxes has a solid matchup against Blue-Red Delver, though I personally think it’s not as good as people make it out to be as this eighty-card variant can be clunky at times, and Delver pounces on clunky draws from any deck.
The big advantage to Death and Taxes though, and why I put it ahead of Green-White Depths, is that it has a favourable control matchup. The deck just has too many card advantage engines for control to keep up with, and the deck doesn’t have any issues handling an Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath with all the exile-effects and a full playset of Karakas.
I also really like the addition of Cathar Commando as a Recruiter of the Guard target – it may not look flashy, but it gives you an out to problematic cards like Null Rod, Torpor Orb and Shark Typhoon.
Top 3: 8-Cast
Up to now, all of the decks that have been listed are archetypes that have existed for many years, but it’s standing in the format has fluctuated based on the printing of new cards and the metagame at the time.
However, 8-Cast truly is a “new” deck, in the sense that the archetype did not exist until the recent printing of Modern Horizons 2, which brought with it Urza’s Saga and Thought Monitor.
Since then, the deck has become the most popular Ancient Tomb/Chalice of the Void deck of the format – establishing itself ahead of previously popular decks like Mono Red Stompy and Eldrazi Aggro.
Now from the most recent Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set, the deck has also gained Kappa Cannoneer, which has been a huge addition for the archetype. The deck can reliably cast it on turn two or three, and once resolved, it’s difficult for your opponent to deal with it due to its Ward 4 ability and the fact that it can close out the game in two or three attacks. The giant turtle also acts as a great hedge against Meltdown, which has been the bane of the deck for the past few months, as if you can get the creature into play before the red sorcery is cast, it’s often not enough for your opponent as they will just lose to the turtle.
The deck is already putting up great results online, having won a major MODO tournament in each of the past three weekends, and it’s also likely underplayed due to how expensive Kappa Cannoneer is online as it wasn’t printed in the normal set. It’s possible the deck should be in second place, but I decided to hold off as it hasn’t won a major tournament yet.
Top 2: Jeskai Control
When Oko, Thief of Crowns was printed in late 2019, Jeskai Control largely fell out of flavour as control decks preferred to be Bant-based to play the three-mana planeswalker, and then Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath once it was released.
However, since the printing of Prismatic Ending, Jeskai has come back and established itself as the more popular control variant, as the deck now has access to the two best removal spells in the format, Swords to Plowshares and Prismatic Ending, which means you have enough removal for creature decks and reliable ways to deal with problematic cards like Chalice of the Void and Aether Vial.
By being Jeskai, which is mainly Blue-White with a red splash, you also have a cleaner manabase and your three drops, like Narset, Parter of Veils and Teferi, Time Raveler, are better suited against combo decks and control mirrors.
The most popular build of Jeskai Control at the moment is the Day’s Undoing variant, which plays out a lot like the old Blue-Red Splinter Twin deck in Modern, where you can play a traditional control game plan, but also have a two card combo that can win games out of nowhere. This constant threat leads your opponent to have to respect it, which then lets you navigate your control game plan better as they have to hold back.
The list from above is what Hall of Famer and control master Guillaume Wafo-Tapa has been playing too much success online.
Compared to the more common lists, his version focuses less on the combo with just one copy of Day’s Undoing, but plays more of a control game with two Supreme Verdict and two Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Top 1: Blue-Red Delver
Ultimately, there was never a chance any other deck would be in first place, and Blue-Red Delver is still in fact the king of the format. Although Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer has been banned, the deck continues to put up the best results by a significant margin, and is arguably putting up better numbers now than it was prior to the banning of the one-drop monkey.
Blue-Red Delver was already one of the better decks after Oko, Thief of Crowns was banned, and since then the deck has gotten three premier cards in the form of Dragon’s Rage Channeler, Murktide Regent and Expressive Iteration. The two creatures are notable because the whole threat-base of Blue-Red Delver now have flying, which means decks that traditionally could stop them on the ground like Elves and Goblins now have a much tougher time against the deck.
The deck hasn’t really seen much innovation, as the “stock” list was quickly consolidated and nearly everyone plays the same 72 of 75 cards.
The notable change from prior Delver decks has been the addition of a 19th land, which is often a Mystic Sanctuary. Being able to return Expressive Iteration in the late game is powerful for grinding through decks like Jeskai Control and Death and Taxes.
I hope you enjoyed this article as I covered the state of the current Legacy metagame and broke down what I believe are the top ten decks in the format at the moment. While I do dislike that many of the decks are now built around key staples that have been printed in the past few years, I do think Legacy is mostly in a healthy place right now and the gameplay is still as enjoyable as ever!
Till next time!