Legacy is a format made up of cards from every set of Magic. If you do a search on Wizards database tool Gatherer for non basic cards, you get 12754 results. That means when constructing a deck you can choose from over twelve thousand cards, provided they aren’t on the small ban list of 60 cards. It means that cards mix together that were printed 10 and 15 years apart from eachother. Some cards carry huge price tags with them and some cards are commons that redefine a decks entire strategy the moment they are printed. This is a format where a bargain rare can become a format staple over night during spoiler season for new sets.
My name is Kevin Grigsby, and in my mind Legacy is the greatest format that Magic: The Gathering has ever seen. When I first started playing Magic the cheat code “Power Overwhelming” was still a daily phrase thrown around in middle school conversations. [If any of you readers can guess what year, and what set I first opened a booster pack of (same year), I'll let you pick the topic of one of my future articles.] Now almost 15 years later I am still playing this game and loving it more than I ever have. My history with magic is much the same as everyone, I first played casually with a group of friends until one by one we began increasing the power level of our circle. Eventually this led to local tournaments, and less of my friends continuing to play. I stopped for awhile in High School and again at the beginning College but something about the cardboard and the images on them has always brought me back to the game. For the past 5 years my focus has been on the Legacy scene. I have not participated in any high level Legacy tournament events partially because Starcity Games hardly ever comes near where I live, Central Texas. But in my home town there is a weekly Thursday night Legacy Tournament consisting of anywhere from 15 to 60 players that I am lucky enough to be able to participate in. In this first article I really want to do a few things, introduce you to myself (check!), and also talk about some rumors regarding the format.
Rumor 1. ) The cost to enter this format is going to lead to the format one day dying.
This rumor is probably the most controversial of all the rumors I am going to talk about today and that is because of something called the Reserved List. I’m not here to talk about if this list is good or bad but in order to understand the costs of cards its something you have to accept as currently being in place. Take a look at the two dual lands above. The first, Plateau (Revised Edition) can be found for 42$ NM on tcgplayer. The second, Underground Sea (Revised Edition) can be found for 126$ NM on tcgplayer. Wow, that means Underground Sea is exactly three times more expensive than Plateau at the moment. Stay with me I have a point! When people talk about Legacy they like to compare it to Vintage another eternal format that has an even higher cost of entry than Legacy. The Reserved List means that the supply for cards in these formats is static. The claim is that eventually the price to play Legacy will be so high, just like Vintage, that people will stop playing all together. There are a few reasons this wont happen:
- The print run of of the cards used in Vintage (Mox and other Power Nine) is significantly less when compared to the print run of the dual lands used in Legacy. (Supply)
- The reason the cost of entry for Legacy is higher than it was two years ago is because Legacy has a MUCH higher player base than it did two years ago. (Demand)
Looking back at the two dual lands from earlier is a great example of this principle. Currently, a lot of players are using Underground Sea and it’s price is high to reflect the demand. On the otherhand, Plateau is hardly seeing any constructed play and its price is lower. Two cards which both have the same supply behind them and two different prices. If a deck that uses Plateau ever starts to dominate the Legacy scene the demand for it will increase and the demand for Underground Sea might fall. If players stopped playing Legacy in favor of another format (Modern for example) we would see an overstock of dual lands as the players traded them in for Modern staples. The price of the duals would come back down again. Whenever you hear this rumor remember that Starcity Games hosts a Legacy Open almost every weekend in a different state where close to 300 people sometimes show up. That is a lot of players and a sign the format is very healthy. The reason vintage has such a high price is because the cards are so rare from low supply that most cards are taken up by collectors and there are hardly enough cards to support players getting together for tournaments.
Rumor 2.) The format is full of nothing but degenerate combo decks and decks that kill you turn two.
Combo is a thing in Legacy but not in the power that people claim it to be. These rumors come from times when a new combo is discovered that can consistently kill you turn one. Wizards has been very good in recent years about shutting these decks down and making them less consistent. In Legacy, control decks keep the combo decks in check with cards like Force of Will. Decks that don’t want to play Blue just for Force of Will use cards like Mindbreak Trap as sideboard tech. Its always funny when a Storm player spends five minutes comboing off and then you flash a Mindbreak Trap in your mono Red deck just as the storm trigger resolves. Decks that are running white(/green)can use a card like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, or Gaddock Teeg to stop combo decks.
Other decks that carry this idea of turn one kills on are Dredge and Show and Tell. These decks don’t attack your life total with spells like Storm decks and instead focus on getting a lethal creature(s) out as quickly as possible. These decks are able to be adapted too and matches with them can go quite long as players struggle to out maneuver each other for board position. Wizards historically prints hate cards for these types of decks in each new set.
Rumor 3.) Every deck that is good costs a couple grand!
If you are a player who only wants to play with a deck that he sees win a Top 8 at an event with hundreds of players then yeah you will be spending a few grand usually to build a deck. But, within the last five months plenty of decks costing under 500$ have won big events. Which decks win can have a lot to do with skill, how many people are playing a variation of that deck, and flat out luck. If you are a player who is just wanting to be able to competitively get started in Legacy then I have to recommend you think about picking up a deck like Burn (Can be built for 100-200$ depending on the list you want). If you have a little higher budget you can build a deck like Death and Taxes or Dredge. Both of these decks fall into what I call “standard range” meaning they can be built for the same price as a top tier standard deck. These decks win more often than you would think and can be a great way to observe and learn by playing. Another recommendation I have is that if you have a store that lets you play for store credit get started playing in tournaments and see if you can’t start saving up enough to eventually buy staples for decks you want to put together. Sometimes Legacy decks are quite cheap except for a few cards in them. (Merfolk for example) You can build a decent Merfolk deck without Force of Will and then piece by piece pick up the rest. The best part about Legacy is once you have the cards they are good forever! No rush to aquire things like in Standard, you have as much time as you need to build a deck and because of the huge cardpool you can usually find substitutes for what you are missing.
If you have any rumors that you have heard about Legacy that you would love to discuss leave a comment below! In future weeks I’ll be doing all sorts of things from Metagame Assessments, Deck Techs, Budget Building, Live Streaming, and Match Ups between any decks you guys would like to see! Be sure to stop by next week and see what else Legacy has to offer!
And here is the deck I will be playing tomorrow night at my Local Legacy Tournament:
Next weekend I’ll give you all a rundown of this deck, go over sideboarding, and give a tournament report of tomorrow.
See you next week and may your card draws be ever in your favor!