I used to really like Legacy, but I’ve become rather ambivalent over the past year. When Vintage Masters launched, I gave playing Legacy on MTGO a try and quickly came to the realization that playing online just wasn’t as good as paper Legacy. A large part of the problem for me was the prevalence of Miracles online.
I’ve always hated playing against Miracles. There are interesting decisions in the matchup, but usually only for the first couple of turns, after which point you have probably already won or lost and then you have to wait an hour and a half to find out which is the case. I didn’t mind playing against it once or twice in a nine round tournament, but playing against it 2-3 times in a four round event is just miserable. This weekend Willy Edel tweeted this in response to the Grand Prix Lille coverage:
Once upon a time, Sensei’s Divining Top was banned in Extended. I was not a fan of that ban at the time, but I dug up the reasoning from that announcement and it seems to play with regard to Legacy.
Ultimately Top 8s throughout the season were littered with the one-cost artifact either in conjunction with Counterbalance to lock opponents out of games, Trinket Mage to be found reliably, or (and usually in addition to) Onslaught’s sac-lands to allow players to shuffle away cards they didn’t wish to draw while peeking at a fresh set of three cards. Such a pervasive performance during a single season created a different problem as well: it made tournaments take too much time.
The constant activating of Divining Top bogs games down, which ultimately leads to an increase in the number of matches that go to time and beyond, which in turn leads to tournaments running much longer than they have historically. Furthermore, the Top encourages players to maximize the number of shuffle effects they play in a deck and the constant shuffling, cutting, presenting to an opponent to repeat the process, and then continuation of a turn exacerbated the situation. In the past the DCI has banned such cards on those grounds alone (Shahrazad is a good example of this, with Land Tax and Thawing Glaciers also having been banned for similar reasons) but in conjunction with the Top’s popularity during the last Extended PTQ season, the decision was to ban the card from the format it was harming.
I’d miss Top a lot more than I’d miss Counterbalance, but either way you’d have a hard time convincing me that banning Top wouldn’t make Legacy more enjoyable to play and to watch. Of course, one should always tread lightly with a ban, and there are definitely Miracles fans that this would isolate. I personal believe that the benefits outweigh the harm.