This past Saturday, I had a rare occasion to play Legacy, the finest format in Magic, at one of our local card shops. This was pretty exciting for me, since I only rarely get to play Legacy, and I love old classic cards. This will be a brief report on how the games went.
This would be my second Legacy tourney running a very unique deck, the mono-brown all-artifact deck called Metalworker MUD. Last month, I piloted the deck to a finals appearance, smashing people with huge robots and the phenomenal power of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (which I’d been so impressed with, I immediately nicknamed it “the best card in Legacy). How would I fare this month, as I once again run the mono-artifact menace?
It’s time for some awesome old cards as we play the format of rich men and kings!
As a long-time Magic player and collector, Legacy is easily my favorite format; I love seeing the old cards hit play, and watching them interact with new cards is always lots of fun. This is a format filled with all-stars: awesome cards like Chains of Mephistopheles, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Glistener Elf, Tendrils of Agony, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, and the polarizing True-Name Nemesis all see play in this format, and they’re all wildly fun to play and challenging to play against.
Legacy as a format has been greatly shaken up in recent years. Going back as far as Zendikar, we have the enemy fetch lands (ie. Arid Mesa and co.), which helped make our manabases that much better; we also saw the printing of the mighty Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic, two cards that define the format to this day. Scars block gave us Batterskull, an important card that cemented Stoneforge Mystic as the two-drop of choice, and has been very relevant to the format ever since. Innistrad block gave us Liliana of the Veil, the second-best planeswalker of all time, Delver of Secrets, a broken one-drop, and the U/W Miracle mainstay Terminus, a one-mana Wrath. It was Return to Ravnica block, however, that shook things up in Legacy the most with Deathrite Shaman and Abrupt Decay, two amazingly powerful cards that redefined the Legacy format, and continue to do so today. The Commander 2013 EDH precons were notable for printing True-Name Nemesis, a very polarizing card in the MTG community, and one that was highly dominant when it debuted. And finally, Khans of Tarkir gave us two broken delve cards in Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time; Cruise proved to be so dominant that it has since been banned, and Dig Through Time likely will be given enough time.
With all these new printings, Legacy has been constantly invigorated in recent years, and has evolved wildly each year. Legacy is a great big melting pot of decks, where you can play whatever you want with varying degrees of success, which is a lot of fun and the major reason I love it so much.
In my area, I’m usually known for playing one of two decks in Legacy. ANT, or Ad Nauseam Tendrils, is a deadly combo deck and one of my normal decks of choice. With many blue cantrips like Brainstorm and Ponder to find your combo pieces, and discard spells to force your combo through countermagic, the deck is quite strong and can win through most opposition. To me, playing ANT is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together, and there’s just something immensely satisfying about casting ten cards and killing people with Tendrils of Agony.
My other normal go-to deck of choice is RUG Delver, an aggro-control deck that just wants to put a fast clock on the board (a creature like Delver of Secrets or Nimble Mongoose) and then disrupt whatever the opponent is doing with counterspells and Wastelands long enough to ride that creature to victory. RUG Delver has excellent combo matchups (lots of counterspells coupled with maindeck Stifles make sure of that), and the combination of quick dudes backed up by counters gives it a good match against the control deck of the format, U/W Miracles.
However, just as I did in the last tournament, I decided to go into battle with the giant robots of MUD.
As I said the last time, this deck is certainly wildly different than what I’d normally run!
MUD is a Legacy deck that utilizes tremendous mana acceleration (through the “Sol-lands” Ancient Tomb/City of Traitors, the Locus duo of Cloudpost/Glimmerpost, and mana rocks), artifacts that lock your opponent out of the game (Trinisphere, Chalice of the Void), and gigantic artifact monsters that just outclass your opponent’s creatures to win games. The strength of the archetype lies in its ability to have explosive opening turns to establish a board position in which your opponent cannot recover, or simply overwhelm them with huge robots.
Notably, Chalice of the Void is a key part of the deck’s success. An early Chalice on one locks out opposing Brainstorms, Swords to Plowshares and such, and can serve as a huge roadblock to most decks in the Legacy format. (My RUG Delver deck has a very, very hard time beating Chalice on one, for example.)
People have been trying to make an artifact-based strategy work in Legacy since the format began, as a tribute to Vintage’s Mishra’s Workshop decks. In 2009, the DCI finally decided to allow one of MUD’s key acceleration component into the Legacy format: Metalworker, which had previously been banned. This was then followed by Grim Monolith, giving the deck a strong base of mana to work with. Also at the same time, with the release of Worldwake, Lodestone Golem was introduced to the format, giving the deck a lockpiece that can actually attack. The final piece of the puzzle was added in Scars of Mirrodin block with the printing of Kuldotha Forgemaster, giving the deck a strong creature that doubled as a way to Tinker for strong artifacts. This gave the deck a toolbox of options to Tutor for, and made the deck much stronger.
Most recently, this deck picked up Fate Reforged’s banner card, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, which is a huge addition (and one reason I wanted to play the deck). Though not an artifact, Ugin gives the deck a massive amount of power in one card, since he is either a reusable Ghostfire, a reuseable board wipe (that doesn’t hit any of the deck’s own cards), and his ultimate is ridiculous. Ugin is a very strong way to finish off a game, and a great way to use the deck’s massive amounts of mana.
Though as powerful as the strategy sounds, like everything else in life, it always comes with a cost (to keep it balanced); you have to have the right pieces in hand to pull off its powerful openings, hence making the deck highly inconsistent at times. Unlike the blue decks of Legacy, we don’t have Brainstorm and Ponder to make the deck more consistent; it’s at the mercy of its draws at all times.
Going into this tournament, just like last time, I knew that I wanted to have a deck that was a strong option against the various U/W Miracles decks that were everywhere. Legacy tournaments around here have always had big showings by the strong control deck, and so I wanted to play something that could outmuscle them. With the 12-Post engine (Cloudpost, Glimmerpost, Vesuva), I knew that I could easily out-mana them; their main roadblock card, Counterbalance, was also terrible against me, since I have so many six-, seven- and eight-drops for them to try to stop. Cavern of Souls would be a huge headache for them to play around as well, since it forces my creatures through their countermagic (and most Miracles players don’t have Wasteland, meaning I wouldn’t have to worry about it being destroyed). Lastly, if I could stick a Chalice of the Void on one counter early, it would stop their best card: Sensei’s Divining Top.
I liked my U/W Miracles matchup when playing MUD, and so this was the deck I went with.
The only major change to the deck this time around was the removal of the fourth Trinisphere, for Conspiracy mythic Coercive Portal. I had a hunch this time that our meta would be not as saturated with combo decks as usual, so I was quite fine with moving the fourth Trinisphere to the sideboard.
Coercive Portal was a card that I’d come across when looking for an artifact card-drawer for the maindeck. In our meta, there are always a lot of people that play discard-based decks (things like Jund, or Pox), and so I wanted to have an artifact that I could Tutor for that would draw me extra cards turn after turn (and I wanted something that cost less than six-drop Staff of Nin, which remained in the sideboard). That I could use it as a board wipe if I needed to, that just made it that much better.
4 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Platinum Angel
1 Staff of Nin
3 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Trading Post
1 Witchbane Orb
2 Ratchet Bomb
I changed things up greatly this time around for my sideboard. I’d lost, badly, to Mono-Red Burn in the last tournament I’d played, so I wanted to add some cards to the sideboard to shore up that matchup.
The fourth Trinisphere was moved from the maindeck to the sideboard to make room for Coercive Portal, while I had also cut the trio of Dismembers and 2 Ensnaring Bridges I’d run the last time for Ratchet Bomb (great multipurpose removal), Witchbane Orb (protection from discard spells like Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach, while also giving me protection from targeted burn spells), Trading Post (a great, multipurpose artifact that just so happens to also be lifegain, which is excellent against Burn).
This sideboard served me well over the course of the day, and really, the only card I missed having access to was Crucible of Worlds, which would have been excellent against all the Wastelands I ran into.
So, how did I do? Well, here’s a quick recap of the tourney!
17 people showed up to do battle, meaning that we had five rounds, cutting to top 8. This time, we had all these different archetypes in one room:
2 Death and Taxes
Food Chain combo
3 Metalworker decks (one was red-based, for Goblin Welder)
Grixis control with Young Pyromancer
Fourteen different archetypes among seventeen players. If there’s one thing you can always say about Legacy, it’s that the format is always diverse and interesting!
This was a pretty good room to run MUD in, though there were a number of challenging matchups (especially the various combo matches in the room). Omni-Tell, the deck that had defeated me in the finals of the last Legacy event, was present, along with Burn, the only deck I’d dropped a match to in the Swiss rounds of the last event.
The biggest surprise to me, of course, was just how many people had jumped on the Metalworker bandwagon with me. Three people out of seventeen meant that one-fifth of the room was playing the same dangerous deck; this meant that if they did as well as I did, I could be in for some mirror matches (and to say that this was a mirror match that I’d never even thought about practising, well, that’s an understatement!) This also meant that anyone with artifact hate would have a major edge on the competition here.
It was time to do battle!
Round one: vs. Elves
Ironically, my first round begins much the same as my last Legacy tourney, as I run into the Elf tribal deck.
Elves is a strange deck in its own right. Part tribal aggro deck, part combo deck fuelled by Glimpse of Nature and Heritage Druid, part combo deck fuelled by Natural Order into giant monster, and all held together by the immense power of Gaea’s Cradle, Elves has at times been one of the decks in the format to beat.
Unfortunately for me, this Elf player was much better prepared than the one I’d faced the last time, as he had multiple copies of Reclamation Sage in his maindeck to blow up my stuff with, which he was able to draw very early in each game and lock me out with Wirewood Symbiote (who would bounce the Sage each turn, letting him blow up an artifact each turn). Both games were decided by Sage plus Symbiote, as he was easily able to control what I played long enough to swarm me.
Neither Chalice of the Void (to lock him out of casting costs of three, stopping Reclamation Sage) or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon ever showed up to help me out, even though I had plenty of chances to draw them, and so I was quickly swarmed by Elves backed up by the mighty Craterhoof Behemoth.
Losing your first match in a tourney is frustrating, and this one was no different. With only five rounds, one loss was basically all you had before you would be eliminated from top 8 contention. My back was against the wall here, so I had to win out.
Time to tighten up and smash everyone!
Round two: vs. Metalworker (with red)
This was what I was afraid of, running into the mirror match (and the one that was better prepared for the mirror, no less). He had all the same gigantic robots I did, but was backing them up with the power of Goblin Welder, a card that I knew would be hell to fight through. Welder could just wreak havoc on my board at any time, swapping good artifacts for worse ones, or letting him recur his dead artifacts; suffice to say that the pesky little 1/1 was a nightmare for me.
The other key thing in this match was that we both had the Cloudpost engine, so we’d have to be very careful with which lands we played (we wouldn’t want the other player to get too far ahead on mana, so if they had multiple Locus lands, playing one of our own could be a very bad thing).
In game one, I made sure that Welder wouldn’t be a factor early in the game by playing turn one Trinisphere. From here, I was able to resolve Coercive Portal on turn two (which he had to read); the raw card-drawing power let me dominate this game, as I outdrew him two to one, and I buried him with robotic fury.
For game two, I boarded out Sundering Titan, the Chalice of the Voids and Trinispheres. Unlike most matchups, the various lock pieces were not good in the mirror, and I wanted to make sure I had cards that did things instead. I boarded in Duplicant, the trio of Phyrexian Revokers, the Staff of Nin, two Ratchet Bombs, and Trading Post. The idea here was that every single card I boarded in (except Trading Post) would be able to kill or neutralize Goblin Welder, the card I most feared.
The Phyrexian Revokers quickly proved their worth, locking him out of using Kuldotha Forgemaster and Goblin Welder. We each started the game with multiple Cloudposts; I had two key Wastelands, to ensure that I was ahead on mana. From here, I found a Duplicant[mtg_card] to exile his [mtg_card]Wurmcoil Engine, followed quickly by a Steel Hellkite and my own Wurmcoil, and he was quickly pummelled to death.
Round three: vs. RUG Delver
As I’d mentioned above, I’ve played a lot of RUG Delver over the years, and I knew that I was in for a tough matchup. RUG Delver is an aggressive tempo deck, that looks to disrupt you with lots of counterspells, Stifles for your fetchlands, and direct damage, while killing you with cheap threats like Delver of Secrets. RUG Delver, with the right draw, is very hard to beat, and I know from playing this match on the RUG side that Tarmogoyf can kill me very, very quickly if played early. After sideboarding, most RUG players also have access to Ancient Grudge, giving them even more removal against me.
In game one, he is forced to counter my first-turn Chalice of the Void with Force of Will, which is very fortunate for him (almost all of the RUG deck costs one). He quickly Wastelands my first land, making me glad I’d kept a hand with four land in it. It takes him several turns of Brainstorming and Pondering to find a creature, which gives me more than enough time to force through a Wurmcoil Engine thanks to Cavern of Souls. The Wurm quickly puts this match out of reach.
With him on the play, I knew I’d have to play game three as tightly as possible, since he would be trying to kill me as quickly as possible. My opening hand is a sketchy one, as I have only Clouposts for mana; if he has any number of Wastelands, or a quick Delver of Secrets, I likely lose this game. Luckily for me, he’s kept a mostly-reactive hand with no creatures, and his early turns are spent trying to find one. My second turn Chalice of the Void is met by a Force of Will (countered for the third time in three games), and my Trinisphere is Spell Pierced. I try my hardest to make sure I leave mana open at all times to pay for Daze if he’s left them in.
Eventually, he finds a Delver of Secrets and a Tarmogoyf, and the race is on. My key draw at this point is Cavern of Souls, which lets me make my Wurms uncounterable; a pair of Wurmcoil Engines later, and this one is over.
He complimented me afterwards on just how well I’d played around Daze the entire match (turns out he hadn’t actually boarded them out in game three). Of course I played around it; I played RUG Delver for years, I know just how much of an offensive weapon Daze can be!
Round four: vs. Burn
Mono-red Burn is a deck that has existed, in some form or another, since basically the beginning of tournament Magic. Burn is an immensely fast deck, that just wants to beat you down with some tiny creatures, and finish you off with a flurry of burn spells, including all of the one-mana spells that deal 3 damage (Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Rift Bolt, etc), dangerous free spell Fireblast, and the nonbasic-hosing Price of Progress.
Like last time, my real fear in this match was Price of Progress, since my entire manabase was nonbasics; my hope was to land an early Chalice of the Void to stop some of his spells, and stall until Wurmcoil Engine could win the game with lifelink. Post-sideboard, the match would normally get even worse for me, since I was assuming he also had Smash to Smithereens to bring in… little did I know, however, that he wasn’t able to find Smashes before the tourney, and so he was lacking this crucial tool against me.
Game one, he wins the dice roll, which is highly awful for me. He has turn one and two Monastery Swiftspear, backed up by many burn spells of various casting costs. Though I lock him out of casting most spells with Chalice on one and two, Fireblast and the Swiftspears get the job done on me quickly.
In game two, I am on the play, something that is crucial in this match, and I quickly lock him out of casting things with a turn one Chalice of the Void on one. It turns out that his entire hand was full of one-drops, and so he is locked out long enough for me to summon Wurmcoil Engine, and that is that.
In game three, I keep a very risky six card hand, with multiple into-play tapped Locus lands. I do have Chalice of the Void and the Witchbane Orb that he hasn’t seen yet, however, making this a strong control hand. He begins the game with turn one Monastery Swiftspear, and the race is on. I land Chalice on one on my second turn, followed quickly by the Orb, and he unloads his burn at my face, putting me at a precarious life total.
With Orb in play, I am only somewhat safe; Price of Progress can still hit me, since it doesn’t target, and so two of those will make me quite dead. Luckily for me, my next two draws are big ones: Ratchet Bomb, to kill his one-drops, then Platinum Empyrion to stabilize my life total and ensure he can’t kill me, followed by Platinum Angel, giving me two very big safety nets. To kill me, he now needs to first kill them, which he was unable to do. Wurmcoil joins the party, and my robots cruise to victory. Whew!
My silver bullet cards did some good work in that match!
I felt very, very lucky to have escaped that round with a win. If he’d had Smash to Smithereens at any point in the two games he lost, I know that that match would have gone much differently and he would have won. Likewise, a second copy of Price of Progress in the third game also would have ended me quickly. Phew!
Round five: vs. BG Pox
At this point, we were both 3-1, and a lock for top 8 with a draw. Hence, we drew, wished each other luck in the top 8, and went for slices of pizza.
These were the top 8 decks:
Me with Metalworker MUD
Eight distinctly different decks, all with very powerful strategies and cards. The lone undefeated player was Dave with Imperial Painter, making a statement today with the powerful combo deck.
The top 8 matchups were set as such:
Reanimator vs. RUG Delver
UW Miracles vs. Jund
Lands vs. Imperial Painter
MUD vs. BG Pox
It was time to smash some more!
Top 8: vs. BG Pox
Pox is a mono-black discard deck, named for classic Ice Age card Pox, and is another classic deck archetype that has been around for a long time. Its plan is to rip its opponent’s hand apart with discard spells like Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach, and finish them off with Nether Spirit. One dangerous aspect of the deck is its land destruction elements; the deck runs Sinkhole, Smallpox, and Wasteland, making it hard for opponents to cast spells while the Pox player rips their hand to shreds.
This guy’s deck was a bit different than the normal Pox deck, as he was splashing green for Abrupt Decay, Pernicious Deed out of his sideboard (a nightmare card for me, since it could wipe the board clean of all my artifacts at once), and Life from the Loam (another awful card for me, if he drew it coupled with his Wastelands). This guy’s win condition was the two-card combo of Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage, which combine to put a 20/20 Marit Lage token into play. The green splash would give him quite the edge against me, as it gave him a lot of artifact removal that he wouldn’t have normally had access to.
Game one, I lock him out for the first few turns with a turn one Trinisphere, giving me time to play multiple Cloudposts that come into play tapped while he can only play lands. I put him even further off balance with two Lodestone Golems, followed by a massive Steel Hellkite, and the three creatures with five power kill him dead.
In game two, I resolved two very key artifacts very early on that locked him out of the early part of the game: a crucial turn-two Staff of Nin (giving me card drawing that he couldn’t easily get rid of), followed by a devastating Witchbane Orb, shutting off his targeted discard spells. The extra cards I drew off the Staff each turn were huge, and I was able to put him away easily after that with Wurmcoil Engine, and an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon that his deck actually just couldn’t kill. He’s able to wipe the rest of my board with Pernicious Deed, but Ugin lives, and eventually puts him away with Ghostfire turn after turn.
Top 4: vs. Imperial Painter
In this room, Imperial Painter was a wrecking ball, going undefeated in the Swiss rounds and Dave, its pilot, had managed to knock off Lands in the top 8 so far. His deck, Imperial Painter, is yet another strange one in Legacy: it’s a combo deck, built around the interaction between namesake card Painter’s Servant and Grindstone. The Painter makes everything blue, and Grindstone mills your opponent’s library away.
The deck is held together by Imperial Recruiter, an obscure and pricey P3K card that happens to both Tutor for Painter, and a toolbox of other creatures. Finally, the deck plays as many as eight Blood Moon effects (the original and Magus of the Moon), which are amazingly potent against the manabases of Legacy (and the cards I was most worried about going into this match, since my manabase is entirely nonbasic).
Game one is an odd fight. Dave leads off with Painter’s Servant on turn one, which forces me to lock him out of one-drops with a Chalice on one (stopping his Grindstones and Red Elemental Blasts). Dave then Blood Moons me on turn two, and begins trying to beat me down with the 1/3.
Sadly for him, his creatures don’t beat down that well, and so I’m able to start resolving some monsters just by playing my lands as Mountains. Multiple Lodestone Golems and a Wurmcoil later, and this game is over.
Game two is largely anticlimactic, however, as I land a turn two Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (turn one Ancient Tomb, Grim Monolith, Metalworker, and turn two show three artifacts with Metalworker to cast the mighty dragon planeswalker). I shoot down his turn two Painter’s Servant with Ugin, and I follow this up with multiple Wurmcoils. He is forced to have either another Painter + Red Elemental Blast on his turn (to destroy Ugin), or the entire combo on his turn (since Ugin would let me shoot down any Painters on my turn); he doesn’t have it, so this match is over.
Finals: vs. Reanimator
We decide to split the final prizes, and he ends up taking the win for pride.
For my troubles today, I now had finally built up enough store credit to pick up this beauty:
Finally, after many years of never picking it up, I’ve acquired my fourth Gaea’s Cradle (and it’s in very, very nice shape). This is big, as this was the last card I needed to be able to play Legacy Elves. An excellent prize, and a great end to this day!
Conclusion: So there you have it, that was a second tournament with MUD! I really like how the deck is positioned in the current Legacy metagame; it’s fast, powerful, and has a lot of staying power thanks to huge cards like Ugin and Wurmcoil. Thanks for reading!