It is a sad time indeed for us Legacy Miracle diehards. Last Monday, on April 24, WoTC announced that they were banning Sensei's Divining Top in Legacy, thus effectively killing the Miracles deck. Their arguments are 1) that it proved to be too dominant a deck for too long; and 2) that Top caused a lot of slower games and thus made tournament rounds go to time.
We will discuss both those points and, more importantly, the financial impact caused by the death of arguably the best deck in the format. WoTC hasn't killed a top deck in Legacy since they banned Survival of the Fittest way back in 2010.
So let's unpack their reasoning:
1) It was too dominant for too long. Personally, I find this argument pretty weak. The deck has evolved and shifted due to metagame changes, and while it has always been good it isn't winning every event. (In fact, looking over the last six SCG Legacy events, it only won once.)
Legacy as a format rewards players for knowing the ins and outs of their decks, so decks that have existed for a long time are likely to have very skilled pilots. It isn't surprising to see the deck perform well consistently (after all, part of the beauty of it was that you could tweak it for respective metagames). Miracles also had some pretty bad matchups—12-Post comes to mind, but there are a lot of others too.
2) Top slowed down games and tended to drag out rounds. This argument is actually fair. I've been playing Miracles for over three years now and I definitely had a lot of long rounds (and plenty of draws), despite knowing my deck very well. It is the nature of control decks to play longer games. We will likely see a lot fewer rounds go to time now, which is a clear plus.
The most obvious financial implication is that cards whose demand came heavily from the Miracles archetype will drop.
But what goes up? This is where any potential money will be made. The easiest thing to look at are Miracles' best matchups:
- Heavy creature-based decks (Elves/Maverick)
- Death and Taxes
- Reanimator (with the reduction in white and Rest in Peace)
- Lands (again due to the reduction in white and Rest in Peace)
- High Tide (the Counterbalance lock easily shut this deck down)
Each of these archetypes has been kept down due to Miracles' dominance. We'll look at each in turn to see how it appears positioned in the new environment, and which cards are the best targets for speculation.
This is actually one of the cheaper Legacy options, with the most expensive card being Gaea's Cradle. Currently we have Cradles sitting in the $200 range (having skyrocketed nearly 25% since Shadows over Innistrad), which makes it less appealing. However, it's a perennial powerhouse in both Legacy and Commander and on the Reserved List. I've always found Cradle to be one of the most requested and easily moved of the high-dollar Reserved List cards (even more so than dual lands).
That being said, the only deck in Legacy that does play it is Elves, and while the little green men are thrilled to see Terminus and Counterbalance gone, they tend to have limited interaction and are weak to fast combo decks like storm. I wouldn't be surprised to see an uptick in Elves, but rather than Cradle, my focus would be on Glimpse of Nature.
Glimpse, a four-of in the deck, currently sits at under $20. It has maintained that price despite being banned in Modern and seeing marginal Commander play (meaning all the demand comes from casual and Legacy players). It's also from Champions of Kamigawa and hasn't been reprinted.
Poor Maverick was my first Legacy deck, which sadly fell by the wayside once Sneak and Show became popular (and then Miracles came out). Now Maverick has Containment Priest as an option to help against Sneak and Show, and Sanctum Prelate to help shore up the non-interactive matchups, so it might actually see a resurgence.
The key, though, is that both of those are white creatures which means you can't Green Sun's Zenith for them. Luckily, you can Collected Company for them, along with pretty much every other creature in the deck—so don't be surprised to see CoCo Maverick in the near future.
Newer versions have adopted the Dark Depths/Thespian's Stage combo as a way to help close out games faster, and with Dark Depths's recent printing in From the Vault: Lore, its price is far lower than it has been in a long time.
The removal of the Counter/Top lock from Legacy means that a deck like Storm that is heavily based around casting a lot of one-drop spells just got a whole lot better. That being said, the deck consists of a lot of cheap commons, so the options to target are a lot fewer than you'd think.
Your best target here is probably Infernal Tutor. It is sitting at a near all-time high of around $18, but it's a four-of staple in the archetype, and one of the few rares besides fetchlands to be run in so many copies.
Death and Taxes
This deck has remained competitive despite the fact that it's a creature-based deck in a format dominated by one-mana wraths. The reason is because it plays much closer to Goblins than a traditional aggro deck, using Rishadan Port and Wasteland to keep the opponent's mana in check while beating face. The benefit of D&T was that it had Thalia as another taxing effect that also happened to be an efficient beater.
The biggest challenge of this deck was that it didn't have any good ways to gain card advantage, outside of Stoneforge Mystic, which happens to be my pick. SFM provides tutoring, mana cheating, and card advantage. It also happens to be a four-of in both this deck and Stoneblade variants (which will also be on the uptick thanks to sharing most of their manabase with Miracles).
We've already seen a resurgence in this archetype with the shift to the black-red version, which provides good ways to cheat fatties into play without relying on the graveyard (a necessity when Miracles ran Rest in Peace in the board). We will likely see a shift back to the blue-black version because it's a bit faster and more consistent (thanks to the cantrips).
Regardless, in either version you need the black. And thanks to Eternal Masters, Entomb is at an all-time low. As a four-of in the deck and a card with high past prices, it is my pick for best spec target for this deck.
This matchup was a lot easier with the old Rest in Peace/Energy Field versions of Miracles (from oh-so long ago), because Lands as a deck utilizes its graveyard quite a bit. That being said, the deck is extremely slow and had to rely on recursion of Wasteland or a quick Dark Depths/Thespian's Stage to win. Miracles played tons of basic lands to get around Wasteland, and has both Swords to Plowshares and Terminus to answer Marit Lage.
If Lands becomes more popular, my spec choice mirrors that of Maverick in Dark Depths.
Looking over results, it appears that there are two versions of High Tide: those with Candlesticks and those without. Unfortunately, my pick for spec target usually only finds a home in the non-Candlestick version. But given the cost of Candelabra of Tawnos, players who want to try this deck out will likely try the version without them first.
Of the cards in this deck, my pick is Meditate, a Tempest (and Reserved List) rare that also sees occasional play in combo-centric Commander decks.
While I'm not happy with WoTC's decision to obliterate my deck of choice for the past three-plus years, I do enjoy brewing so now I may get a chance to try some new ideas out in Legacy. I also expect we'll see a significant number of price jumps for cards that have been kept in check thanks to Miracles' dominant run the past few years.
We will also likely see some movement on Stoneblade cards simply because it's now likely the closest thing we have to a control deck in Legacy. Former Miracles players will need to shift over to something like that (and again, it shares a manabase with Miracles so at least they don't have to go out and buy a whole bunch of dual lands).