Unlocked: Speculating on the Legacy Bans

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The banning of Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe in Legacy is the biggest change to the format since the banning of Sensei's Divining Top. By nerfing the top decks in the metagame, Grixis Delver and Four-Color Leovold, which together made up nearly a quarter of the field, there is now a ton of room for other decks to rise. Decks that were formerly tier-two or below have the opportunity to become top decks, and that has massive implications for the market, which will see increased demand for cards that were previously stagnant.

There is endless conjecture to be read online about where Legacy is headed, and plenty of opinions on what benefits and loses from the changes, but I think a more clear picture of its impact can be seen by looking at the market directly, specifically the one for Magic Online cards, which move much more quickly than paper cards.

Major price increases for a swath of MTGO Legacy cards show significant bets have been made. If these online increases are an indication of the realities of the near future, then they should predict some future demand increases for the paper versions of these cards and some potential for profit if we buy in now. More importantly, they can be used to extrapolate bigger trends and reveal opportunities in other cards, like accompanying cards in their archetypes, or even hosers against them. Online movements are often due to peculiarities in its market regarding the supply of specific online cards, so don't expect online spikes to carry over perfectly to paper, but rather as indications of wider trends.

Deathrite Shaman getting the axe destroys Grixis Delver as we know it, but a Delver of Secrets deck of some sort is going to fill in its place in the metagame. The best candidate for this is likely to be Temur Delver, which didn’t play Deathrite Shaman and only loses Gitaxian Probe. It’s one of Legacy’s old staple archetypes and one much beloved, which has played into the hype of the bans and influenced the prices of its staples.

Stifle has seen big gains online since the news broke, quintupling in price, making it the biggest percentage gaining card. Regardless of how good it ultimately ends up being, Temur Delver is going to see a lot of play, so this demand is real and will definitely carry over to paper cards.

The demand for Temur Delver cards has also spilled over to its sideboard, and has made Submerge one of the biggest gainers online, more than quadrupling in price since Monday.

Another big winner online since the announcement has been Recruiter of the Guard, which points to the Death and Taxes archetype being a big winner from the bannings. Deathrite Shaman was a big problem for the mana-denial deck, and its banning also destroys Four-Color Leovold and its Kolaghan's Commands.

Another staple of the archetype is Sanctum Prelate, which will be especially important with the likely rise in Storm and Miracles decks.

I see all of the Death and Taxes staples growing, especially because since the reprinting of Rishadan Port, it has become Legacy’s most budget-friendly competitive deck and could incentivize new players to enter the format.

In the past day, Predict has gained 40 percent online, which along with Back to Basics gaining 20 percent in the past week points to increased demand for White-Blue Miracles cards. The deck has quietly been one of the best deck in the metagame, but has been much less popular than the Deathrite Shaman-wielding Four-Color Leovold control deck.

Four-Color players will need to find a new deck, and I expect many of them will gravitate to the best existing control deck: White-Blue. I imagine that it will draw the attention of plenty of pros, so it will be popular at the Pro Tour, and over time will prove itself to be one of if not the best decks in the metagame. I’m confident in its staples, including one of its key sideboard cards, Containment Priest.

Containment Priest will be more important now than ever as a sideboard card for a wide variety of decks, like Death and Taxes, against the surge of Reanimator decks sure to enter the metagame in the absence of the graveyard-hosing Deathrite Shaman, and against the rise in Sneak and Show decks with Delver’s decline.

The biggest graveyard-enabling gainer so far has been Entomb, which points to new Reanimator players. Reanimator is incredibly strong and very friendly to new Legacy players, so I expect it to be big at the Pro Tour and at future events.

Going from a metagame where a huge portion of the field had a maindeck graveyard hoser to one without Deathrite Shaman presents an enormous opportunity to graveyard decks like Dredge, which will be incredibly hard for most decks to beat without sideboard hosers. A curious consequence of this has been the price increase of Scourge of Nel Toth, which I admit hasn’t been on my radar, but might be quite powerful in a Legacy Dredge deck.

Another type of graveyard deck, one we haven’t seen at all since the arrival of Deathrite Shaman, are more midrange style decks with Carrion Feeder and value creatures like Bloodghast and Gravecrawler. Goblin Bombardment was a key tool for this deck, which explains why it tripled in price online over the past week, so keep the deck on your radar.

Losing Deathrite Shaman means green decks will have to look elsewhere for acceleration, and one such option is Veteran Explorer, which has been a staple of a Legacy deck for a while, and as a deck that doesn’t use Deathrite Shaman, remains intact after the banning and looks better than ever. The most popular version of the deck uses Academy Rector, so I’d also look at that as a potential spec target as well.

Deathrite Shaman was not just a graveyard hoser, but a burn hoser as a source of lifegain players had in the maindeck. Its banning is actually a tremendous benefit to Burn, which was actually a legitimate strategy before the card was reprinted, and now has a chance to return. Flame Rift has more than doubled in price online since the news, so I expect the Burn deck will be popular.

What are you looking at in the wake of the Legacy bannings? Sound off below.

One thought on “Unlocked: Speculating on the Legacy Bans

  1. Although I think these cards are good targets, do note that one person (me) can be the reason that some of these cards spiked. Bought every scourge/bombardment/stifle and submerge that was available for their current price when the bannings dropped. Stifle and submerge have some real demand obviously, but the others are risky and uncertain.

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