Don't let the exclamation point fool you, I'm not feelin' the magic right now and you're about to get hit by my snark cannon, both barrels.
"But Jason," I hear you ask, "what kind of cannon has multiple barrels? That's a pretty terrible metaphor you've constructed."
I'm here to tell you I don't need your sassafras because what I want to talk about today is upsetting to me and I am not going to brook a bunch of jibber jabber from the peanut gallery, you dig?
I'm here to talk to you about a time I changed my mind.
And I Don't Like Changing My Mind
A popular retail website (I won't say who) announced recently that they are making changes to the Sunday schedule of their popular "Star City Games Open Series." Again, I won't say who it was, but the Star City Games Open Series will no longer be running Legacy on Sunday as a rule, but rather introducing rotating events such as Modern, Two-Headed Giant and everyone packing their stuff up and leaving because the trades suck on Sunday and everyone has to work tomorrow.
When the announcement was first made regarding these changes, I laughed at all the panic sellers. "I'll be happy to buy your Legacy stuff," I said, putting my hands on my hips and laughing until my entire body shook, like a cartoon lumberjack. "Hahahahaha" was also a direct quote, although you won't see that in writing anywhere else. I probably just said it as I was typing the other thing. While I still don't think we should panic-sell our Legacy cards, I don't have as much confidence in the health of Legacy as a format. There are several factors and indicators. Look, it's all a bit technical.
Ok, so saying "It's all a bit technical" only works if you're a lazy screenwriter. If you're writing an actual article, you have to explain. Fine, I'll explain.
Sigmund wrote a good article about card stagnation over on the premium side. Go read it because I'm going to spoil something from his article. I'll wait. Seriously, if you think I'm going to just move on without checking to see if you actually read it and you can just read ahead you have another thing coming. Great, you read the whole thing. What did you think? Specifically about what he said about Force of Will. What's so significant about that card?
I think there is one card that is an amazing dipstick for checking the health of Legacy as a format. Where else does Force of Will get played besides Legacy and Vintage? The card advantage is a bit punishing for EDH, it's not legal anywhere else, and it's got way too many lines of text for casual players. Wasteland is good in EDH, [card Dark Confidant]Bob[/card] and [card Tarmogoyf]Goyf[/card] are marquis cards in Modern (OK, fine, you got me; I don't know what "marquis" means), and there is an angry kami accidentally summoned by practitioners of Shinto out of Osaka, Japan that tracks down and devours copies of Umezawa's Jitte. However, what happens to Force of Will usually indicates what's happening to Legacy because it's a popular card there, the decks that want it run 3+ copies and it's not great anywhere else.
Well, Force of Will is not doing great. The price is coming down, slowly. Remember how I said buylists indicate the degree of confidence in a card? Well, FoW currently buylists for $40 on a lot of sites, including one site, I won't say who, that runs a tournament series called the "Star City Games Open". They are also known colloquially as "The only people running Legacy tournaments with more than twenty attendees." If they are only paying $40 on a card they used to charge $100 for, they just don't care that much about picking them up. Why? Because they aren't selling as well as they used to. Nearly everyone who wants to play Legacy has their four copies and Legacy is not attracting new players.
Now I don't blame Legacy for Sundays at SCG Opens sucking. I blame Sunday sucking and everyone wanting to go home for that. I think once other formats are run in that spot and they're similarly under-attended that will become clear. I say "similarly" because other formats don't have the "I don't have the damn cards" problem Legacy has. Attendance will be up over Legacy but won't come close to Saturday attendance. However, that will be enough to drive a stake in Legacy's heart unless Wizards does something to support it, which they've demonstrated they're not inclined to. With WoTC loading all of their eggs into a basket labeled "Modern," I think it's a good time to get out of Force of Will.
Dual lands will be both playable and collectible forever. EDH and cube players desire duals. Wasteland is in the same boat. A lot of other Legacy staples are Modern-legal, and the ones that aren't are usually solid in EDH. A shift away from Legacy hurts cards like Mother of Runes, Nimble Mongoose and such, but no more so than a shift in the metagame would have. So the good news is you really don't have to do anything different in my opinion. Most Legacy stuff has enough redundancy with other formats and enough collectibility that you're not likely to eat a fat one if Legacy drops off entirely. Also, there are things you can do.
A lot of us don't think the people with no money should do our speaking for us. If the people who do have money don't want to get into Legacy, fine, let them spend $800 every three months and talk about how they're glad they never spent $1000 one time on Legacy cards that have doubled in price in the last five years.
But let's not let WoTC's apathy and SCG's miscalculation take down the best format. People will drive to play Legacy, especially if they don't want to play Modern or there is nothing going on close that day. Not everyone wants to fly nine hours for a GP. A lot of people would rather drive two hours to play Saturday Legacy at an LGS.
See if your LGS will sponsor a Legacy event with a good prize pool. If you do a decent job advertising, people will come from farther away than you would have expected. The format only dies if we let it. Too hard to get into? Fine, throw a 10/10/10 event; $10 entry, 10 free proxies, 10 cents per proxy after the initial ten. Help newer players build budget decks like RDW or Poison, or even help them port their Modern deck. Legacy will always be a better format than Modern, it just needs a helping hand.
Or just do nothing and bitch about it. It makes no difference to me, I'm keeping my copies of Force of Will until they pry them from my cold, dead hands.
The Death Rattle of a Dying Format
Or maybe not. I would be happy to be proven wrong by a resurgence in Legacy, and there was a decent showing for it in Vegas this weekend.
The top finisher being a Rest in Helm deck (I'm going to work on that name, it does not sound good to me) makes me laugh and laugh. The two-card combo has always been solid and its eventual adoption made Helm of Obedience a real solid pickup, having a spread of a mere 33% and being a card not many people know has spiked to over $15 (maybe they do). Thanks, Jack Colwell.
So much Show and Tell! I had written this deck off a while back, but it's everywhere in this top sixteen. This seems like a fluke, but I don't know how many more of these events we'll see to bear that out.
It had seemed like Jund was on the cusp of being the next big thing, but I feel like a meta full of Sneak and Show decks is going to smash you before your Punishing Grove combo matters. I have real confidence in Punishing Jund and I have the tons of copies of Grove of the Burnwillows to prove it. In a meta with more control and more Delver, that deck is king. Sometimes the discard can still get to these decks, born out by Scott Paris' on-the-bubble finish that could have easily been top eight with better breakers. Thoughtseize, [card Hymn to Tourach]Hymn[/card] and [card Liliana of the Veil]Liliana[/card] are a nasty combination and if they can't Force the discard you'll get them quickly with a big Goyf. I don't like that I like a Jund deck, but it's the closest to Punishing Maverick we're likely to get so I'll go with the flow. Long live Punishing Grove!
The "Pet Deck of the Week" award goes to Jason Bulkowski and his top eight finish with Dredge. The maindeck Rest in Peaces in Colwell's list would likely have kept him from winning the whole thing, but top eight is no joke. Congrats!
Shallow Grave Reanimator nearly took it down, but they had the exceedingly bad luck of facing a deck with maindeck Rest in Peace in the finals. I like pitching [card Emrakul, the Aeons Torn]Emrakul[/card] and having seven ways to reanimate him with his trigger on the stack an awful lot, and while I am staying away from Curse of Shallow Graves as a financier, I wouldn't mind having a set as a player. It will settle back down to $5ish soon and I'll pick them up then. Really, I just want to play something with Disciple of Griselbrand ever since I had mine signed and altered by Russel Brand.
Legacy continues to be a great format that incorporates cards from every new set. I am going to find a way to play Legacy and I welcome you all to join me.
Oh, Yeah. Standard.
Fine, I'll write about Standard, too.
Five copies of UWR Flash in the top sixteen. This is the format people would rather play than Legacy. Honestly.
So UWR Flash won the event, piloted by Devyn March who beat Evan Boritas' Experiment Jund deck (We need to work on that name too) in the finals. Boros Reckoner appears to be here to stay as a lot of the top decks are all about doing silly junk with him. In this case, players set up an infinite lifegain combo by making Reckoner indestructible with Boros Charm and dealing himself his own damage on an infinite loop while he has lifelink. Gatecrash has been out for less than a month and Standard is already ruined.
A nice counter to these strategies is Abrupt Decay and/or Tragic Slip. I still think The Aristocrats has the goods to deal with these Reckoner decks, but something similar to Kibler's B/G Ooze deck could be a good choice as well. I like Predator Ooze and get shipped them in bulk all the time, which makes me laugh. Abrupt Decay, Tragic Slip, Mutilate and Supreme Verdict are all useful at removing the Reckoner, but are all pretty poor once the Boros Charm resolves (and it's not your turn in the case of half of those). Plain, old-fashioned Command of Unsummoning seems pretty clutch if you ask me, and I could see Auger Spree getting tried if the format stays as is. That said, I hardly play this game anymore and I will let them meta evolve as it always does: everyone deciding the only answer to UWR is to play it yourself and forcing WoTC to ban something.
Humaninator continues to do well, and so does Jund and R/G, although R/G isn't as ubiquitous as it once was. Only one Naya deck in the top sixteen is puzzling considering Naya won the last two SCG Opens, but I can imagine it has a tough time dealing with UWR Flash and the meta may have finally left Naya in the dust. With few tools to deal with the lucky charm action, the infinite life gives Flash inevitability.
The strangest development here, though, is that the top finisher didn't have Boros Charm anywhere in his 75. With no possibility of pulling off that stupid combo, and only one copy of Harvest Pyre, he won through beating faces and beating fair decks with a list loaded with card advantage. Augur of Bolas could be a decent pickup here if you can get them cheap as they'll trade out well as a playset. SCG has a tendency to understock uncommons people need, forcing players who want to audible into another deck to look for them in trade. How many traders bring along uncommons? Not many, but I do. Don't leave home without them.
Standard is still getting worked out, so I won't declare intense hatred of it yet, but the lack of different archetypes makes it seem stale and grindy compared to older formats. Modern is seeing a lot of innovation in the form of Amulet of Vigor decks that use bouncelands and Summer's Bloom to get a ton of easy mana. Amulet already got [card Cloudpost]posts[/card] banned in Modern. Is it time to take a look at the Amulet itself or is it more fun than broken? Only time will tell.
Support your local Legacy scene; create one if necessary. If WoTC won't support it and SCG won't support it, it's up to you to make sure it continues. Legacy is a great format with varied archetypes and no one deck that can dominate for long. Any deck can win and that makes it fun and dynamic, and if you can find creative ways to attract new players we can make Legacy more than just a bad Vintage.
But what do I know? I don't even play this game.