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Insider: Legacy After the Ban – Looking at the Post-Dig Metagame

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Welcome back, readers!

This week's article is about my favorite format, Legacy. The banning of Dig Through Time on September 28th didn't come as much of a surprise to those who had seen how dramatically it was warping Legacy. Perhaps the more surprising announcement was the unbanning of Black Vise.


Since the banlist changes we've had a few big tournaments to look at results. Let's break down the metagame shifts and see what cards are poised to gain or lose value.

Indianapolis 5K Premier IQ (October 3)

  1. Shardless BUG
  2. Sneak and Show
  3. Eureka-Tell
  4. Grixis Delver
  5. Lands
  6. Goblins
  7. Goblins
  8. RUG Delver

Atlanta 5K Premier IQ (October 11)

  1. Storm
  2. Shardless BUG
  3. Esper Deathblade
  4. Miracles
  5. Infect
  6. Storm
  7. Elves
  8. Infect

Banning Effects

Losers

The first thing you'll notice is that Omni-Tell decks were nowhere to be found, which is also the case if you look at the Top 16 of either event.

The pre-ban Omni-Tell decks relied heavily on Dig Through Time, both to find combo pieces to cheat in Omniscience and wincons afterwards. The consistency offered by Dig had allowed these decks to cut Dream Halls as a secondary combo piece and rely solely on Show and Tell. Against any deck planning to stop this with counterspells, they ran Boseiju, Who Shelters All.



With the archetype dying off and Boseiju at an all-time high, now is the time to move any copies. You can still buylist them for around $12, which is close to TCG Low.

Omnscience itself has also taken a bit of a hit, though you can still buylist copies of this card for almost $18.


Lastly we have Cunning Wish, which is sitting around $19 (TCG Mid). The top buylist on this one dropped from around $13.5 to $11 after the announcement, but has held steady since then.

Cunning Wish has been found before in High Tide decks, so it's not entirely driven by Omni-Tell. Thanks to the price of Candelabra of Tawnos though, High Tide decks are usually not a large percentage of the metagame.

Winners

The biggest likely winner will be Sneak Attack, as the Omni-Tell players revert back to the other successful Show and Tell deck. It actually hasn't moved since the announcement, which may be because players who recently picked up Omni-Tell are hesitant to shell out for the bigger investment required to play the deck, Volcanic Island.


The printing of Containment Priest was a big reason for the initial move away from Sneak and Show, so if that continues to find a home in sideboards it will keep the deck in check. That being said, should Sneak and Show start placing highly in large tournaments, we may see quite a jump on Sneak Attack (which isn't a bad card for EDH either).



The other big winners from this banning appear to be creature-based decks, with two Goblins decks and an Elf deck reappearing after a long hiatus. These are some of the few decks with true card advantage (as opposed to card filtering from Brainstorm/Ponder/Top) and they are best when combo decks are kept in check by aggro-control decks.

The loss of Dig Through Time hit Miracles as well, which preyed on the tribal decks thanks to Terminus. There might have been a reduction in Miracles builds this past few weekends, as control players adapt their decks to a new metagame without their best source of card advantage.


We also see a resurgence in Storm decks, which were faster than Omni-Tell but much worse at fighting through countermagic. With a decline in Omni-Tell and the rise of tribal decks, Storm is ready to come back and come back hard.

The deck has a real drawback in its difficulty level. But it's incredibly powerful, resilient to most forms of hate, and can win incredibly fast (sometimes on turn one).


We saw two Infect decks make the Top 8 this past weekend. While I don't think it was kept in check by Omni-Tell, Infect lost nothing while its competitors lost a key card. It's also the type of deck that can blow out unprepared opponents, so it can appear intermittently as the metagame forgets about it.

Lastly, you'll notice that Shardless BUG is starting to put up good results again. This deck has access to actual card advantage in cascade, powerful planeswalkers and Hymn to Tourach. It seems like a reasonable choice for control players looking for a substitute for the defunct Dig Through Time engine.

Unbanning Effects


The format finally got Black Vise back, which did little to nothing relevant from a play perspective. It did jump from $0.5 to around $4 per copy though, so I can pull them out of my spec box and revel in my 750% gains (assuming I can unload them fast enough).

I do feel like Black Vise may have an application in sideboards to fight against Miracles decks. They have a difficult time getting rid of it (many only have Council's Judgment as a solution), and the effect is incredibly powerful for one mana.

The problem is that Legacy decks are just too efficient for this card. In a format dominated by one-drops and a premier counterspell that requires card disadvantage, hand sizes are often below four. Many Legacy aficionados have advocated for Black Vise's unbanning before, precisely for this reason. Its power level in modern Magic simply doesn't line up with the collective memory of its past dominance.

It's interesting to see how WoTC continues to accompany bannings with an unban, usually of a card the community has advocated for. There are other cards on the banlist that don't really measure up in power level, and WoTC could easily release them at some point in the future.

Even if they don't prove useful in the competitive metagame, hype alone from an unbanning can generate solid revenues.

The two cards I'm currently watching are Earthcraft and Mind Twist. I feel neither of these would break Legacy (although it's possible Elves with Earthcraft is a bit much). In the event of an unbanning, they'll spike in price and I'll advocate unloading them to the brewers who want to see what they can do.

4 thoughts on “Insider: Legacy After the Ban – Looking at the Post-Dig Metagame

  1. Great article, David.

    “It’s interesting to see how WoTC continues to accompany bannings with an unban, usually of a card the community has advocated for. There are other cards on the banlist that don’t really measure up in power level, and WoTC could easily release them at some point in the future.”

    I suspect they are keeping some cards on the Banned List in order to make future “prisoners exchange” anouncements : if they need to ban a card (either a new printing like Treasure Cruise and Dig, or an older one), they can at the same time remove one card from the Banned List which makes better PR than a ban on its own.

    1. That very well may be….that way when they have to ban something they can keep the card pool at total net 0 (i.e. -1 + 1=0), it also allows them to “potentially” shake up the environment every once in awhile w/o having to print something ridiculous.

  2. “The loss of Dig Through Time hit Miracles as well, which preyed on the tribal decks thanks to Terminus.”

    The only tribal deck that Miracles has a positive matchup against is Elves. Goblins, Merfolk, and (if you want to go this deep) Silvers are all bad matchups for Miracles.

    I’m not exactly sure why Gobins did especially well, but Elves benefits more from less Grixis Delver and Omni.

    1. I gotta disagree on the statement that Goblins, Merfolk, and Slivers were bad matchups for Miracles…I played (and to some extent still play) Miracles for 2 years and Goblins was one of my favorite matchups…sure ringleader gave them actual card advantage, but 1 mana wrath’s are hard to beat for any creature based deck, let alone instant speed ones. Merfolk was a bit tougher, but again, thanks to their low mana curve, you just terminus away the first wave and counter/top lock them (unless they have cavern out). It also helps that I ran Moat in my board during Goblins/Merfolk’s resurgence.

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