"The world changed. I can feel it in the water, I can feel it in the land, I can feel it in the air.”
This phrase from the works of J.R. R. Tolkien fits like a glove for the post-Lord of the Rings Legacy. For those who thought that the new set wasn't going to affect the format because it was not a Modern Horizons 3, had to change their minds, since many cards have appeared on the game tables and at least one major turnaround has already occurred, allied to the March bans (Expressive Iteration and White Plume Adventurer): UR Delver is no longer the most popular deck! Which isn't saying much, as a significant portion of its player base migrated first to the Temur version and, with the entry of Orcish Bowmasters, recently to the Grixis version. But just having variety in the archetype is already great news.
Another card that has impacted the format is The One Ring, which, in addition to boosting the Paradox Engine deck I mentioned in the past article, has appeared in several decks like Bant Control or 4Color Control (also running Delighted Halfling to protect not only the Ring, but its various Planeswalkers), Red and Initiative Stompy, Black Void, 12-Post, Painter, and even Dark Depths.
Besides these, Boromir, Warden of the Tower, Forth Eorlingas!, Samwise the Stouthearted, Call of the Ring, Sauron's Ransom, Flame of Anor, Stern Scolding, Display of Power, Cast into the Fire and Palantir of Orthanc, all of which have made their way onto lists these past few weeks.
As I already pointed out in the last analysis, before the release of The Brothers' War, this is a subjective matter, but always guided by information from the most famous MTG metagame websites, in addition to Cards Realm's extensive database, because as I say: baseless guesses are just guesses.
So let's see which are the main decks in Legacy of the Rings:
The rise to the top of the Reanimator is not due to any Lord of the Rings cards, but rather to the arrival of Atraxa, Grand Unifier in Phyrexia: All Will Be One, which usurped Griselbrand's top target for Reanimate.
Since its arrival, the deck has gained a new lease of life and rise in presence in the format, and with the splitting of Delver' lists into different factions, Graveyard Diggers are the most popular archetype in Legacy right now.
After the banning of Expressive Iteration, so far, there has been no consensus among the player base on how best to replace it: Reckless Impulse, Chart a Course, Preordain, burn or Mishra's Bauble - all of these can be found in Delver lists.
This lack of unity on which list is more refined has affected the performance of the deck and the arrival of the Orcs caused a stampede of players for the Grixis version, which was only not greater due to a difficulty in obtaining not only the newly arrived Archers but also from Underground Sea by some interested in changing archetypes.
UB Death's Shadow
Perhaps the biggest rise in status since the last review, Death's Shadow was once seen as just one of the more budget-friendly decks in the format, as it could run with little or no Underground Sea.
Now, with the addition of Orcs, the deck gains a new angle of attack that puts a lot of pressure on other blue decks. A recent innovation in some lists is the presence of Troll of Khazad-dûm as an easy target to Reanimate, an effective way to cheat a large threat early and adjust your life total for future Death's Shadows in case the Troll is not enough to carry the game. Sauron's Ransom has also come up with a way to recharge the gas.
The new star of the format, the trend is that the Grixis version becomes the main carrier of the Delver banner, a post that has already been held by several versions of the deck (Sultai with Deathrite Shaman, Jeskai with Stoneforge Mystic, Temur with Tarmogoyf), but which has long been in the hands of the Izzet version.
As with the list above, Orcs do a lot of damage against many decks in the format, and access to the third color is both a blessing and a curse - very efficient tools like Thoughtseize and Plague Engineer arrive, as well as new toys like Sauron's Ransom or Call of the Ring, but on the other hand, the deck is even more exposed to attacks on its mana base, like Blood Moon and Wasteland . It has everything to go even higher in the format.
Another very solid strategy, but except for occasional tests with The One Ring and Orcish Bowmasters, has not incorporated new cards. The deck manages to abuse Urza’s Saga like few others, and Kappa Cannoneer can easily win the game on its own.
But there's an issue looming on the horizon for the archetype that doesn't concern it directly, but does affect it: the growth in the presence of the Paradox Engine combo deck has spurred the inclusion of more artifact hate in sideboards. Among the answers, a special mention should be made of Null Rod, which is a real bomb that catches 8-Cast in the crossfire.
With the demise of the White Plume Adventurer, many decreed the end of the reign of Undercity in Legacy. What a mistake!
Powered by 3 archetypes – Mono White, Gruul and, most recently, Boros, dungeon crawlers are still alive and well in format. The Take the Initiative ability that was designed for Commander tables has proven to be very strong, especially when protected by Cavern of Souls.
The arrival of another Commander card, Forth Eorlingas! threw the spotlight on the RW version and the decks have held up well.
In a format still dominated by blue mana, having access in the main deck to Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast is excellent! A deck that protects itself well, has multiple attack angles and a combo with plenty of redundant pieces and multiple ways to find them.
Painter has gained a lot of space in the Meta and is probably the best purely combo deck in the format - unlike Reanimator or Sneak n' Show which still rely on attack phases to finish the game, Grindstone resolves the game at once.
UWx Control – Jeskai, Bant and Azorius
The format's Control decks have suffered a lot during the reign of Initiative lists and are looking to fill some of the vacuum in the format by reducing their presence. Still, there is difficulty in configuring these decks to handle a format as diverse as the current Legacy is.
Forth Eorlingas! has been appearing in the Jeskai versions both as a strong finisher and as a way to generate a steady stream of cards through the Monarch.
It's a deck that has been quite hyped for a few months now, but what many players have realized when adopting it is that it's a very complex list and that demands a lot of training to learn to navigate, especially in games where the sideboard hates are present. Still, it's one of the most efficient and resilient combos in the format.
After losing the title of top Stompy deck to the pre-ban White Initiative, Prison has regained some of its majesty. There is a huge list of archetypes that simply fold to cards like Blood Moon or Trinisphere.
Unfortunately, the tide also brought Sneak n' Show, this deck's greatest fear in life, back to the meta. There are players testing the Ring as an alternative to winning the resource battle in attrition games.
Death and Taxes
Another old acquaintance of the format that saw its kingdom crumble before the dungeons of Undercity, but the point is that even weakened, in general, the Initiative deck tends to be more efficient than Mother of Runes and friends. The archetype has seen better days. There are experiments splashing Black for, guess what, Orcish Bowmasters!
Sneak n’ Show
An old friend who was on the low end of Pyroblast days on the main deck, Sneak has returned with a vengeance to the Legacy meta, in part because of the presence of Atraxa, Grand Unifier (known among SnS friends as a Griselbrand which pitches to Force of Will), in part due to a friendlier format than a few months ago – less Delver, more Red Prison.
4 Color Control
If the Bant or Jeskai-only lists have already had difficulty reaching consensus on deck construction, the 4-color lists are even more spread out. Green Sun’s Zenith, Ice-Fang Coatl, Natural Order, Staff of the Storyteller… you can find everything in the archetype, which is a big mess at the moment.
Of more common, beyond the basic core of Brainstorm, Ponder, Force of Will, Force of Negation,Swords to Plowshares, Prismatic Ending, Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, Terminus, Teferi, Time Raveler, Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes and Life from the Loam, some cards of Lord of the Rings has appeared in lists: Delighted Halfling is quite common, many lists are running Forth Eorlingas! as a tool for attrition games and The One Ring has been seen more frequently.
The timeless lands deck will always be loaded due to its positive track record against Delver, and will always suffer at the hands of combo strategies that ignore its game plan.
Still carrying the title of the most complex deck in the format, Doomsday does not look kindly on the growth of Grixis Delver: Delver was already a complicated opponent, imagine one with access to discards and Orcish Bowmasters?
If life is not easy for the format's pure controls, it is even more tense for the hybrid lists. At this time, Stoneforge Mystic has found a more promising path in Cephalid Breakfast or in Death and Taxes.
Marit Lage has been awakening more frequently recently, but still has to navigate a universe of Wasteland, Solitude, Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon. Despite a division between the lists, overall the Naya version has been preferred by players.
When Expressive Iteration was banned, quite a few players turned to nostalgia and dusted off their Tarmogoyf as a new-old alternative to build the deck. But the momentum has already been curbed, and the deck is falling out of space in the Metagame. Apparently, a 1/1 Orc is better than the previously omnipotent 2 mana Lhurgoyf.
This was a deck that previously could claim to have positive results against UR Delver. The tone is no longer the same when the opponent now uses a recursive source of damage to kill your little green men. Yes, it's Orcs I'm talking about - this card is a huge problem for this archetype, although some lists with Fiend Artisan and scrapping the whole Glimpse of Nature engine have appeared more frequently.
Here we enter a realm of some decks that are in this tier just because they just appeared, but the tendency is to conquer their place and become more prevalent. Black Void (or Black Helm) is one of those. The pieces seem to finally fall into place, and the deck is a natural predator for those who abuse graveyard interactions. It's on the rise.
Paradox Ring Combo
And what about this one? Of all the new decks in the format, this one is the scariest. While absurdly vulnerable to Null Rod, this deck uses The One Ring better than any other in Legacy, is super redundant in its pieces, and has multiple paths to victory.
It is the one with the most upward trajectory and the one that will require the Meta to adapt to it the most. If the player base can't find a sweet spot to contain it, it's the strategy I see with the most potential to cause some banning in the future. I still don't think that's the case and I think the sideboards will adapt to it, but the risk is right there.
At first, it seemed like it was just another Modern deck trying to find space in the format, but then it proved to be able to compete with the others and carve out its space. With access to 8 Spirit Guides, the Rhinos are easy to cast on the first or second turn.
When a non-Legacy player thinks of a combo deck in our format, this is almost always what they think of. There is an imaginary where Legacy would be a festival of Ad Nauseam back and forth. The truth is that while still viable, its big moment in the spotlight is long gone.
The fairest deck in a very unfair format.
It could be to Legacy what Tron is to Modern. But in Legacy there is Wasteland.
There were 25 decks discussed here, about 80% of the format from what I found on the various sites that guided this article. Legacy is in a good moment right now, with many viable archetypes and (yet) no out-of-control abusive combos.
While Orcish Bowmasters was the main card to impact the meta, Lord of the Rings has shaken things up with many cards tweaking established decks and a lot still being tested and refined.
I hope you liked this article, and until next time!