So a change of plans today. Firstly I'd like to congratulate the following for qualifying for this Octobers Invitational last weekend;
They join the 17 others already qualified. There will be more qualifiers between now and October but more on those after Gatecrash comes out. Today the block is brought to you by one of those already qualified, the master of Legacy Owen Debenham. Here is Owen's take on what to expect if you want to win the SCG Legacy Invitational this Sunday.
If you're going to the Star City Games Legacy Invitational Qualifier on the 13th then you'll need a Legacy deck. When you're making a deck you need to figure out what you want your deck to beat, because as much as you want to beat everything, in a format as wide as Legacy you won't be able to. Once you've worked out what you need to beat you have to find out how to do it. I'm going to look at some of the more common effects in Legacy and how best to combat them.
Here is a list of the cards you are going to have to take into consideration if you want to win and not just hand over your hard earned money to Meta Games for no apparent reason other than them getting richer.
Things to beat:
Deathrite Shaman/Rest in Peace
Swords/Abrupt Decay/Liliana/Innocent Blood/Karakas
Engineered Plague/Perish/Dread of Night
Tendrils/Show and Tell/Glimpse of Nature
Aether Vial/Cavern/Abrupt Decay
Legacy players are often greedy with how many lands they play. Other players take advantage of this by playing cards like Wasteland, Rishadan Port and Stifle. Not being able to play your spells is one of the least fun ways to lose so you should probably try to avoid it There are two important things to remember when building your deck to beat these effects; one is not to play too many expensive spells - often the same decks will be playing Daze/Spell Pierce to abuse the fact that they constrain you on mana. The other is to just play more lands. Often people will play a few basics and think they've solved the problem, but the best response to people disrupting your mana is to simply play more sources.
Legacy players love playing cards that let them tear your hand apart. Turn 1 Thoughtseize, turn 2 Hymn to Tourach is a common play. Generally the way to beat discard is to either just draw more cards; them one-for-oneing you over and over is much less impressive when you've had a Dark Confidant or a Sylvan Library in play the whole time. It's also important that if your deck relies on a few important cards, like most combo decks, that you play as many ways as possible of finding additional copies after one has been discarded. You'll usually see combo decks running the full 4 Brainstorm, 4 Ponder, 4 Preordain for exactly this purpose. Another thing worth noting is that Stoneforge Mystic is particularly vulnerable to discard the turn after you cast it - if you're planning on playing Stoneblade it might be worth running a second Batterskull as back up.
Graveyard hate has always been present in Legacy - no one wants to lose to Dredge after all - but Return to Ravnica contained Deathrite Shaman, now one of the most common maindeck cards. Whilst Deathrite Shaman isn't going to remove your entire graveyard it can make it difficult to resolve your reanimation spell, and it will mean that when you draw a Knight of the Reliquary later in the game it won't automatically be a 10/10 any more. Another card in Return to Ravnica is Rest in Peace. This card doesn't see much main deck play but is a common sideboard card in white decks, and when resolved completely shuts off any graveyard based interaction. With Leyline of the Void, Relic of Progenitus, Grafdigger's Cage and Tormod's Crypt all being played it's rare to find any deck without some amount of graveyard hate in the 75, yet with Deathrite Shaman being so popular the full graveyard 'sweepers' have somewhat fallen out of favour.
Removal is played in every format; if people are playing men other people will be wanting to kill them but in Legacy you have access to the best removal ever printed. Abrupt Decay is probably the most common piece of spot removal at the moment, but Swords to Plowshares, Liliana and Karakas can also deal with some of the harder to kill creatures. If you play Standard you'll know about how powerful a miracled Terminus can be but in Legacy that card works entirely differently. The decks playing Terminus in Legacy are also playing Sensei's Divining Top and Brainstorm, allowing them to miracle Terminus pretty much at will. If you're playing creatures you need to be prepared to rebuild after they all die at instant speed for a single white mana. Depending on the kind of creatures you're playing you might see Engineered Plague, Perish or Dread of Night out of sideboards.
Simian Spirit Guide, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Goblin Charbelcher, Lion's Eye Diamond, kill you. There are a lot of decks trying to do unfair things in legacy, sometimes as early as turn one. You could be facing Show and Tell for Griselbrand or Emrakul, Ad Nauseum into rituals and Tendrils of Agony, Glimpse of Nature followed by absurd numbers of Elves amongst other things. There are too many combo decks to have specific hate for all of them but there are cards which are good against a lot of them. Many combo decks rely on resolving a single key spell which makes cheap counterspells like Spell Pierce good. They'll often have their own counterspells, or discard to take yours, so it can be better to be proactive with discard or 'hate bears' like Thalia, Gaddock Teeg or Ethersworn Canonist. Almost all combo decks will have ways of recovering from your hate so it's important that either you're able to completely lock them out with something like Counterbalance or Trinisphere, or you close the game out in a reasonable amount of time.
If you have the cards or can borrow them you should really consider going to Doncaster this Sunday to play Legacy. It's easily the most diverse and interesting format with far too many powerful interactions for me to talk about here. No other format will have people going into the tournament aiming to win one turn one with others planning on winning on turn twenty (if their opponents don't concede from boredom before then).
Thanks Owen that was, as expected a great insight into the meta of Legacy. I will be back on Monday with a lot of information about changes in FNM Relax following the release of Gatecrash. Until then play a lot of cards and good luck to all those going to Doncaster this weekend I hope it is worth the £30 for you.