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Legacy is one of my favorite formats, with Commander being the other. One of my local game stores has decided to try to revive our local Legacy scene, which mostly died when Starcity Games stopped having Legacy Opens every Sunday. The store allowed any number of proxies/playtest cards, and was supposed to be free to play with no prize.
I spent most of the week leading up brewing a new Yorian Bant Blade deck to test out. Unfortunately, a few of the players really wanted prize support and pushed for a $5 entry fee with store credit prize support. I felt that a completely untested deck was not where I wanted to be, so I swapped to good ol' Sneak and Show.
Here's what I played:
Sneak and Show
While the final outcome was nowhere near where I wanted to be, I always try to look for positives and I was able to find some financial opportunities during my matches.
Sneak and Show Micro-Primer
They key cards in this deck are Sneak Attack and Show and Tell, which are used to cheat out either Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. The rest of the deck is cantrips and counterspells.
I have cheesed Win-a-Boxes with it, and I know how to pilot it well enough. I should also mention that I haven't played Legacy since before the pandemic, so I am still a little rusty, and the sideboard was not tuned to the current metagame. I did swap out some Blood Moons and an Echoing Truth for Brotherhood's End as a card to beat Elves and Initiative decks, but more on that later.
Round 1: 12 Post (0-1)
Matchup Breakdown: This is a really difficult matchup for Sneak and Show, as 12 Post is one of the only other decks in the format to include creatures on par with our own threats.This typically means that we can't just cast Show and Tell and win the game; we have to either hope they go empty handed or dig for Sneak Attack to win with haste.
Game 1: The first round did not begin well. I ended up mulling to four, as my first three hands all had no lands in them. I finally kept a hand with no blue lands: Ponder, Lotus Petal, Ancient Tomb, and Griselbrand. Not surprisingly, I got nowhere, and my opponent won handily.
Game 2: I resolved a Show and Tell and put in Omniscience, while my opponent put in Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Luckily for me, I also had an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and by casting it with Omniscience I got the extra turn trigger. I annihilated him and we went to game 3.
Even though I won this round, I was really missing those Blood Moons I had replaced with Brotherhood's End.
Game 3: My opponent wisely cast Crop Rotation into Karakas while I was tapped out, which kept me from Show and Telling my Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. I dug for either a Sneak Attack or Omniscience, but he used Cavern of Souls to get a Primeval Titan into play which got him up to Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger mana. The Eldrazi the neutered my manabase and ended the game.
Financial takeaways: Elvish Reclaimer was an all-star in my opponent's deck. It allowed him to tutor up Karakas as well as get his mana engine going by converting lands into Cloudposts. We also find Elvish Reclaimer in Modern Primeval Titan-based decks, where it serves as the format's only Crop Rotation effect.
While this card is already far above its all-time low, it's still under $8 and even sees play in Commander. The more lands Wizards prints with powerful abilities, the better this card gets. I would look to pick these up before they rise above $10.
Round 2: 4C Control (0-2)
Matchup Breakdown: Our game plan against control is to jam a Show and Tell or Sneak Attack[card] and back it up with counter magic. We typically have to go either really fast with one counter backup or sculpt a hand and eventually aim to win a counter war. Control typically lacks answers to a fielded [card]Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, making it our key threat here.
Game 1: My opponent seemed to be a knowledgeable pilot. That being said, knowledge doesn't beat a turn 3 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn with Force of Will backup.
Game 2: I knew my opponent would likely side in a ton of counter magic, and I had very little to bring in for this matchup as I continued to pine for my Blood Moons. I let him resolve a Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes in order to hold up my own counter magic for Show and Tell next turn, but he managed to have both Pyroblast and Force of Will to stop me.
Game 3: In this repeat of game 2, we both spent our early turns cantripping to sculpt our hands. I again let his Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes resolve, as I had both Force of Will and Spell Pierce to force through my Show and Tell. Unfortunately, he had 3 Force of Wills, a blue card, and a Pyroblast. So after the stack cleared, we were both empty handed, and Minsc took over the game.
Financial takeaways: Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes proved to be a house in both our games, as well as a few I watched my opponent play against other people. It is one of the cards that runs away with the game very quickly. I have also been watching a lot of BoschAndRolls Legacy streams, and his 4C Control decks always seem to win when this spell resolves. Unfortunately, this card is not Modern-legal, meaning little extra demand from other formats, however, Legacy is a format that often drives foil prices, and the foil copies of this card are only 30% more than regular versions, which seems very underpriced. Should Legacy demand ever pickup, I could easily see foils jumping dramatically.
Round 3: Manaless Dredge (1-2)
Matchup Breakdown: This matchup comes down to who can go off faster in game 1, and making sure you have your hate cards for games 2 and 3. The card that really speeds their deck up is Lion's Eye Diamond, a high priority to counter. The good news is we need no counter-their-counter plan.
Game 1: The gentlemen I am paired against is really nice and explains that this is his first ever in-paper tournament. I knew he was on Manaless Dredge when he was playtesting earlier. He won the die roll and elected to draw. My opening hand had a turn 1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Welcome to Legacy, bud!
Game 2: I have 2 Grafdigger's Cage in the sideboard, but my first two hands don't see any. I kept a slower hand that has cantrips and Griselbrand, thinking I can get there. He managed to go off on turn 3 before I had a chance to Sneak my Grislbrand into play.
Game 3: My opening hand included Grafdigger's Cage, a Griselbrand, some lands, and a few cantrips. He realized after I played Cage that it was the reason his sideboard had Force of Vigor. It took me awhile to find a payoff, but since his only way to win was to Creeping Chill me to death, I just made sure I never fell to 12 life. Eventually I found Sneak Attack, and Griselbrand and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn teamed up for a one-turn knockout.
Financial takeaways: Grafdigger's Cage has received 3 major printings and a Secret Lair run, so the price ceiling on this card is rather low. That being said, it doesn't have any true "equivalents" in any format.
It seems many decks have switched to using Soul-Guide Lantern as the de-facto artifact to hate on graveyards. Lantern does offer the ability to yoink one card from the graveyard and stick around to threaten opponent's yards again, but smart opponents can force one to pop it and then continue forward. Contrastingly, Grafdigger's Cage serves as a continual hoser that happens to also hit decks that try to cheat creatures out from the deck, such as Elves and Kiki-Chord.
Round: BR Reanimator (1-3)
Matchup Breakdown: Reanimator is similar to Manaless Dredge insofar as "whoever jams their fatty first wins," except unlike Dredge, Reanimator can aggressively attack our hand. That being said, the lack of blue means they can't sculpt hands without using negative card advantage spells like Faithless Looting.
If we can survive the initial onslaught, we have a better long game than they do. It is critical to note that Archon of Cruelty is brutal when they cheat it in off of our Show and Tell, so if we're going to Show and Tell, our best option is to cheat in Omniscience first and then cast the fatty after the Archon's triggers resolve.
Game 1: I kept a turn two Sneak Attack hand with no counter magic. It was no good against my opponent's Dark Ritual, Entomb for Griselbrand, Exhume.
Game 2: Another fast one, as turn two Omniscience into Emrakul, the Aeons Torn takes the game.
Game 3: I keep a hand with Spell Pierce and a turn three Sneak Attacked Griselbrand. He has a turn one Thoughtseize to get my Spell Pierce and a turn two Unmask to get my Sneak Attack, then proceeds to Exhume a Griselbrand off of a turn three Faithless Looting.
Financial takeaways: Even in this format that can play every creature in the game, Archon of Cruelty has become Legacy's #2 reanimation target, and Modern's #1. It provides value when it enters the battlefield and isn't a legend, which means multiples can be cheated in and it can even be cloned. While the price has already climbed into the $14 range, this is definitely a card that could be $30+ should any deck playing it in Modern become Tier 1. It is also likely to increase slowly over time as more players get ahold of their copies and it maintains tournament relevance.
I would have obviously loved to have done better than I did. I haven't played Legacy since before the pandemic, and was definitely a little rusty. I would love to blame my poor performance on bad luck, but I know I kept some "do nothing" hands hoping to win on my deck's power level alone.
I can also confidently admit that my fear of the Initiative decks was likely unnecessary, and the sideboard sacrifices I made ended up hurting me quite a bit. I made those changes spur of the moment, and didn't consider that Sneak and Show is such an unfair deck that my opponent having even 3 turns with Initiative means nothing when their board gets annihilated.
Sneak and Show's route to losing is not resolving the namesake cards. Therefore, my sideboard needs to be adjusted to focus on beating this issue, rather than on having answers to cards that aren't truly threats.
Moral of the story: especially if you're just getting back out into the tournament world, don't try to reinvent the wheel! Ease into things and tweak accordingly. Until next time...