A Gateway to Legacy
Legacy has always been a format that many people say they would love to play, but then quickly add, “but I could never afford to,” and then never bother. However, there are many strong Legacy decks that can be built for a very reasonable budget and, in some cases, can cost about the same as a Standard deck. Hopefully I can help shed some light on these decks.
Elves by John Grudzina (SCG Legacy Open Top 16)
The Elves deck in this format plays very much as a combo deck, rather than the aggressive versions people are used to in other formats. It combines Nettle Sentinel and Heritage Druid to create a lot of mana and refills its hand by using cards such as Glimpse of Nature and Regal Force. The eventual goal is to land a Craterhoof Behemoth with a large number of creatures in play and then outright kill the opponent in one swing.
Coming in at about $1,300, this is one of the more expensive options; however, certain edits can be made for those just starting off. For example, you could cut the black splash. While this will reduce the power of the deck, it does make it $300-$400 cheaper. Deathrite Shaman can be changed to two more Priest of Titania, an Elvish Archdruid and perhaps an old favorite of the Elf decks, one Mirror Entity. While this would require a splash of white, you would need only one Savannah to make the splash work. Once the splash is cut, the main “money card” in this deck is Gaea’s Cradle at about $80-$90 on average. That said, once you have your Cradles the rest of the deck is not nearly as costly.
This deck is a solid choice because of how quickly and consistently it is able to combo on turn two or three. It is also a very fun deck to combo with and, hey, who doesn’t enjoy a 40/40 Craterhoof Behemoth hitting the board and making your other elves huge? Normally, just your opponent.
Goblins by Cedric Phillips
Next up is Goblins. The Goblins deck works very much as you would expect: it plays a large amount of goblins and kills the opponent with a couple of powerful attacks. Goblin Lackey is one of the stronger cards in the deck, as you get to put a goblin from your hand into play for free when it hits the opponent. Don’t be surprised if he dies however; he is the largest lightning rod for removal I’ve ever seen. Beyond that, Goblin Ringleader and Goblin Matron are great for finding the correct creatures to kill an opponent.
Costing about $1,000, this deck is still very powerful, as well as being a relatively cheap option. The main reason for this deck’s price is the presence of Wasteland and a lot of Onslaught fetchlands. For someone looking to save a couple of dollars on the fetchlands, you could substitute some of them for their cheaper Zendikar counterparts. For instance, you would like to keep Bloodstained Mire for fixing, but Arid Mesa functions similarly to Wooded Foothills as another land that fetches Mountains. Another option is to try running the deck as mono-red. Though you would be losing some fairly good sideboard cards, you could save a lot on your land base since you wouldn’t need Badlands. You could also try Krenko, Mob Boss, who has been in some mono-red Goblins lists already and seems quite strong.
The Goblin deck is one that is best placed in a meta full of “fair” decks, as sometimes it has trouble racing the many combo decks. Though it still has the ability to take home a tournament, you have to pick your spots.
Merfolk by Scott Muir (SCG Legacy Open Top 16)
This next deck was my personal choice for entering Legacy–Merfolk. I have played this deck for about 10 months now and am a big fan of it. The idea is to use your countermagic to disrupt anything your opponent tries to do, while at the same time amassing an army of menfolk, including multiple creatures like Lord of Atlantis that give a buff to all other menfolk. Taking advantage of Islandwalk is another bonus, since blue is a very common color in Legacy.
Starting around $800, this deck has proven its power time and time again. In fact, it top 16s open events fairly often. Most of the cost in this deck comes from Force of Will, Wasteland and Mutavault. The main reason I chose Merfolk, personally, is that it allowed me to buy Force of Wills, an eternal staple which seems to have nowhere to go but up in value and carries over into many future Legacy decks I may want to make. It is also a great deck for learning the format, since it does have a lot of solid numbers behind it. The counters help against many combo decks and of course your creatures having Islandwalk is relevant more often than not.
One key thing that you can do to reduce cost is cut Force of Will altogether. Although I don’t advise this, as it makes your combo match-up a good bit weaker, it can in fact still win. Against decks like RUG Delver, you really don’t need Force of Will. You only need Islandwalking creatures, which there is no shortage of.
Mono Red Burn by Jacob Dobbs (SCG Legacy Open Top 16)
Next up is the good, old-fashioned Mono-Red Burn deck. This deck is famous for just using a large number of efficient direct-damage spells to kill their opponent very, very quickly. The trick though is to know when to use burn on opposing creatures and when to ignore the board and aim the burn spells at the opponent’s life. This takes a little while to learn, but once you know that well enough, the rest is straightforward. Another card to note is Sulfuric Vortex, which deals consistent damage while also preventing your opponent from gaining life, very relevant when playing a deck such as this.
With a price tag of around $600, this is the cheapest deck we’ve looked at thus far. It is one of those decks that has a crazy potential to kill the opponent in a “fair” way by turn three or four and is very reasonably priced. In fact, if you wished to shave a few more dollars off of this deck, you may not even need to play all 12 fetchlands. You could run as few as six, and the deck would still be very consistent. In fact, some decks prefer to run no fetch lands and play Vexing Devil over Grim Lavamancer.
Red Burn decks will always be around and are always a great way to start into a format. They are fast and consistent and, for the most part, don’t care which deck they’re facing. The plan is the same, maybe with a little more disruption for some decks after sideboard. I also have this particular deck on Magic Online and can say first-hand how powerful it is.
Dredge by Eric Copenhaver (SCG Legacy Open Top 8)
While it may not be the best deck to try when you first begin Legacy, if you are on a budget and want to put together fun combos, Dredge is a great option. This deck uses the Dredge mechanic, which allows you to put cards from the top of your deck into your graveyard whenever you would draw a card, filling your graveyard quickly. This goes alongside cards like Ichorid and Narcomoeba, which enter play in different ways when placed into the graveyard, and Bridge from Below, which makes a zombie army whenever non-token creatures you control die. Eventually you should be able to overwhelm your opponent with Zombie tokens and win the game.
Priced around $600, this deck is very affordable and powerful, with countless top-eight performances at SCG Legacy Opens. Because it relies on the graveyard, Dredge can be disrupted by cards like Deathrite Shaman, Rest in Peace and Scavenging Ooze; however, it is able to fight through that hate. This deck takes a good bit of practice to master but once you know what you’re doing with it, you can take it into an event and clean it up.
The main reason this deck has any bit of a price tag is because it contains four Lion’s Eye Diamonds (LEDs), which cost $70-$80 each. However, these are good to have since they also move into many other combo decks in the format, should you decide to pursue one later on. At the same time, the LEDs are not needed for Dredge to win. They simply help make the deck more consistent by letting you flashback Faithless Looting more easily.
Belcher by Tyler King (SCG Legacy Open Top 16
Finally, speaking of combo decks in Legacy that don’t cost a fortune, Belcher is a common choice for introducing players to combo. Belcher uses a lot of ritual effects such as Rite of Flame, Pyretic Ritual, and Desperate Ritual to create a lot of mana and eventually win the game one of two ways. The first is to play and activate Goblin Charbelcher, which deals damage equal to the number of cards revealed from your library until a land is seen; the other is to cast Empty the Warrens with a large storm count for a horde of goblin tokens.
The idea is to use Land Grant to fetch the lone Taiga out of the deck, so you will reveal your deck with Charbelcher and kill your opponent. If Taiga is still in the deck, hitting it will double the damage and, more often than not, still deal enough damage to win. Having only the one land also means that much of your mana comes from spells (all except for the abilities from Elvish and Simian Spirit Guides). This makes it easy to build a large storm count, and thus make extra copies of Empty the Warrens.
In games two and three, you try to do the same thing. The idea with the Atog-themed sideboard is that the deck’s speed is already the best anti-hate, so boarding into any answers only slows you down. That said, cards like Xantid Swarm and Pyroblast can be played to help force through the combo.
At about $450, the Belcher deck has a very consistent combo on turn one or two. The main reason for the price of this deck is, once again, the presence of LED, as well as the single copy of Taiga. However, this deck has been able to make top eight before without them. The LED is mainly to help activate the Charbelcher once it’s been cast.
If you choose to play this deck, however, be careful when you try to combo. One Force of Will could be all it takes to stop your combo dead in its tracks. Make sure to use cards like Gitaxian Probe to be sure the way is clear before making your move. Like everything, though, Force of Will is a card you can play around. If you convince your opponent it’s the Goblin Charbelcher that you want to win with, you can lure them into waiting on it, then drop a large Empty the Warrens to win the game, since all copies have to be targeted individually.
Well, I hope this has given many people a deeper look into Legacy as a format and also how it doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars in order to play, and to win. I hope to do more articles about topics such as this in the future.