Strictly Eternal 101 – Musings of Legacy Rambler
Howdy folks! My name’s Joe, and you might recognize me from such classic hits as Popeye Stompy Hits the Town and Just What the F*** is Nic Fit Anyways?
I’m a bit of a rambler when it comes to both Legacy and Vintage, much to the chagrin of all who will listen. Both formats resonate with what I truly love about Magic: skill and proper deck-building are more important than matchup lottery, and where anything (and I mean truly anything) can happen.
And so here we are, rambling about these formats to anyone who will listen.
Ramble Mode, Activated
A format that pretty much everyone and their brother is continually griping about at the moment. The topic of said gripes? A little old 1-mana elf dork named Deathrite Shaman.
There are plenty of folks out there who are heavily advocating for a ban on what is generally considered to be the best creature in all of Legacy. At a stunning 34% dominance of decks in the format, it seems Deathrite Shaman is everywhere. However, this dominance is primarily exacerbated by the Magic Online metagame, where Turbo Xerox style decks like Grixis Delver and Czech Pile are not only cheaper to build, but also quicker to get good with and grind leagues with.
I myself can see the case for banning the little Elf that could. His banning in Modern was largely due to the fact that he is simply the best card you could ever want to see at any stage of the game. Whether you have it in your early hand to ramp, or if you have it mid-to-late game to drain your opponent, or even to give you a boost if you need it. The card simply does everything. In Legacy moreso than Modern it also has the additional aspect of pushing decks that play all the best cards in every color simply because they can. Decks like Czech Pile aren’t even punished by the existence of Wasteland, one of the format’s defining limiters, because with Deathrite all things are possible.
With that being said, do I think that such a ban will come quickly? No, I don’t. It took Wizards several years (and maybe a sign at their headquarters) to do something about Miracles being the most dominant deck in the format. Even so I’m still not super convinced that Sensei’s Divining Top was the correct card to ban. Especially given the advent of Legacy being a part of the 25th Anniversary Pro Tour this coming year, I don’t see Wizards making any significant changes to the format with a ban. Which means we’re kind of stuck with the little guy for a while longer. Is this okay? Sure. I don’t think anyone wants to see Legacy go the way of Modern when it comes to bannings. At the same time, if there is a legitimate issue, I would prefer that it get solved appropriately.
The counter-point, however, is that despite how dominant Deathrite feels to the format, decks like Czech Pile actually aren’t any good in a larger, more open and competitive metagame. In fact, if you look at the larger events towards the end of the year, with SCG DC and US Eternal Weekend primarily, Czech Pile never actually converted well beyond a few placings here or there. Even then those were in the hands of more experienced and seasoned players. The deck is incredibly difficult to pilot, and that is a large part of why it doesn’t convert well to the higher tables at a large event.
So what does that really mean for Legacy as a whole? Are we healthy, or are we unhealthy? Overall, I think the state of the metagame is relatively healthy. There is a wide variety of different top decks, and even with the ubiquity of Deathrite among some of them, the decks all present different game plans. Even decks like Eldrazi Stompy have started to creep back out of the woodwork. They had been poorly positioned against Miracles once the deck had adopted Monastery Mentor. Don’t forget, Miracles itself is still an actual deck, just nowhere near the format-crushing sensation that it used to be (albeit new inclusions of Search for Azcanta pushing the deck’s power a little bit more since its resurgence).
This is all the time I have for my first article here. I’m planning on doing some more, mainly opinion pieces, with the occasional insane list that I find and like to share. Perhaps we’ll talk about how insane Spanish Inquisition is; perhaps we’ll discuss the finer details of how to Sinkhole your opponent into oblivion. Either way, I’m sure we’ll have a great time.
See you next time on Strictly Eternal 101: I Wrote This Because Deadpool Said So!
– Joseph Dyer
Joseph is an avid player of eternal Magic formats, including Vintage and Legacy. As a Nic Fit player who will tell anyone who will listen about his deck, Joe spends his time analyzing and playing on Magic Online and various online platforms, while prepping for competitive events. To follow more from Joe, check out his Twitter!