MagicFest Atlanta is this weekend, providing players with a rare opportunity to play Legacy at the highest level. It's going to be an especially exciting event to play and watch, its results scrutinized by players around the world, because the format has changed considerably since the previous Legacy MagicFest in Niagra Falls in April. That time period was the calm before the storm, before the rapid succession of War of the Spark, Modern Horizons and Core Set 2020 each added multiple powerhouses to the card pool and reshaped the metagame—and the London mulligan changed the very rules of the game.
The #1 new factor in Legacy is Wrenn and Six, where the presence of Wasteland makes it a legitimate win condition against many decks and more than an annoyance for others. It's ideal for providing a stream of fetchlands to combine with Ponder and Brainstorm, making it something of a card-selection engine that ensures you're always drawing action. These same spells also ensure its potent ultimate can eventually be converted to a win, though Lightning Bolt does the job too. This ultimate makes Wrenn and Six a true threat and finisher, so it's not something that can simply be ignored and written off as just a stream of lands. Its function as a repeatable removal spell is also potent in a format where small, cheap creatures are the norm, which leaves some decks very vulnerable to its 1 damage effect.
Efficiency is the name of the game in Legacy, and at just two mana for so many strong abilities Wrenn and Six is one of the most efficient cards ever, often drawing comparisons to Deathrite Shaman in its ability to fuel mana while offering unparalleled utility. It's no surprise that many of the very best decks in Legacy right now are the decks effectively utilizing Wrenn and Six.
The most popular Wrenn and Six deck in Legacy is Temur Delver.
This deck uses Wrenn and Six to the fullest, offering a Wasteland lock and plenty of fetchlands to combine with its blue card draw spells. The removal engine is nice for supporting Lightning Bolt, while its ultimate adds yet another threat to a deck that uses the most efficient Legacy has to offer, Delver of Secrets and Tarmogoyf. The deck is otherwise a straightforward and classic Delver-style deck, just tuned for the realities of the new metagame.
A key piece of technology here is Crop Rotation in the sideboard, which opens up a world of possibilities. It forms a package with Karakas, which is ideal for hosing Marit Lage against Dark Depths decks and decks that cheat Griselbrand into play, and some players use Bojuka Bog as a graveyard hoser.
Another Wrenn and Six deck is Four-Color Control, which even more importantly has gained Arcum's Astrolabe to fix its greedy manabase and protect it in a format filled with Wasteland.
Four-Color Control decks have long been among the best in Legacy, but their mana has always been a weak point that left the deck open to attack from Wasteland and hosers like Back to Basics. These decks were at their zenith before the banning of Deathrite Shaman, and they've received its replacement not in Wrenn and Six but in Arcum's Astrolabe. The mana-fixer gives the ability to fetch for basic lands while still having access to all their colors of mana. It all comes in an efficient package that draws a card and isn't really vulnerable to removal, making it in many ways actually superior to Deathrite Shaman. Add Wrenn and Six for further help with the mana along with everyone else it does, and you have a very strong foundation to build on with some of the best cards in the format.
One great new support card is Plague Engineer, which this deck proves is more than just a sideboard hoser but a true maindeck staple. Its fills much of the same role as Toxic Deluge, dealing with many of the same problem cards like True-Name Nemesis and Monastery Mentor, all while blocking and trading with Tarmogoyf.
The deck that truly makes the most of Wrenn and Six is Four-Color Loam, which has been quietly becoming one of the very best decks in the field.
Wrenn and Six is a monumental addition to the deck because it replaces Life from the Loam, offering the same ability to reuse lands (since one a turn is all a deck without Exploration needs anyway) but with the many advantages of its ability to deal damage and its ultimate. It's great alongside the deck's other planeswalker Liliana of the Veil, not only for fueling the +1 discard ability, but for picking off X/1 creatures and clearing the way for the -2 effect.
The deck also uses Mox Diamond to ramp into Wrenn and Six, getting it going as early as turn one and then immediately recouping the land. The ability to get ahead with Mox Diamond means it's a devastating Wasteland deck, with many wins coming from quick lockouts. The addition of Blast Zone to the format gives the deck another tool, and another way to lock out opponents with its stream of removal. The deck can dig for any of these utility lands with Knight of the Reliquary, which also serves as the deck's primary threat, and even by itself can lock opponents for a few turns with a stream of Wasteland.
The deck also uses Chalice of the Void, leading to plenty of lockouts on its own. Punishing Fire adds yet another way to lock down opponents, crushing small creatures and planeswalkers with its stream of damage. The deck hits from almost every angle, and will be able to find at least one to rely on against any given opponent.
Another major new factor in Legacy is Force of Negation, which immediately became a staple of a format defined by Force of Will. It's a bit more narrow, though three mana is easier to cast from hand, but none of that is really important. What matters is now blue decks can play both, and that does some very interesting things to the math behind opening hands. With four Force of Will in a deck, or four of any card, you have approximately 40% chance of seeing it in any given 7-card opening hand. That's why decks like One-Land Goblin Charbelcher combo can exist, or why decks like Storm or Reanimator will often go for the win turn one without any sort of discard, because the odds are the opponent just doesn't have a Force of Will, assuming they aren't mulliganing looking for it. When you bump that number of Force of Will to six, like in deck with two Force of Negation, that number goes up to 54%, meaning it's more likely than not to have a Force of Will effect.
Being able to reliably stop broken starts changes the game, and that's the idea behind decks like the new Jeskai Mentor, which over the past couple of weeks has emerged as a top contender. It put its creator Zach "A22en" Allen into the Top 8 of the MTGO Legacy Format Playoffs followed by a Top 8 at the SCG Open last weekend, with two more copies in the Top 16.
With six free forms of countermagic, Monastery Mentor is elevated to the next level as a threat. It's better protected from removal, but the real advantage is that the deck can spend a turn to cast Monastery Mentor, then use free countermagic to stop whatever the opponent does on their turn. Untapping with Monastery Mentor generally leads to creating a stream of tokens from which the opponent can't recover. As additional threats, and to help fuel the free countermagic with card advantage, the deck uses planeswalkers. War of the Spark's Narset, Parter of Veils and Teferi, Time Raveler join Jace, the Mind Sculptor to give the deck an impressive assortment. The passive abilities on these new planeswalkers are each potent hosers, and each acts as a way to lock out the opponent as a sort of alternative to the Counterbalance of Miracles decks.
One of the biggest draws to white decks in Legacy is Swords to Plowshares, which is particularly strong in this metagame where Delver decks play Tarmogoyf and Marit Lage is on the rise. This deck goes farther by splashing Magmatic Sinkhole, which is becoming a staple of the format. It fills the critical role of a removal spell for planeswalkers—more important now than ever with Wrenn and Six a staple of the format and a must-kill threat. With the ability to be flashed back and delved by Snapcaster Mage, it really has been very impressive in testing and feels like a real upgrade for the strategy that is otherwise weak to resolved planeswalkers.
To help support the red splash the deck uses Arcum's Astrolabe, which also helps the deck play red cards out of the sideboard. Arcum's Astrolabe isn't a necessity here like the Four-Color deck, but the fixing is still strong in a deck with double-white and double-blue spells. It also helps the deck get more mileage from Teferi, Time Raveler as a permanent to bounce for value, which can also be done to Snapcaster Mage. Prismatic Vista further helps fix the mana, providing more access to basics and even allowing for a basic Mountain. With just two dual lands, the deck supports Back to Basics to hose a wide range of opponents.
Everything comes together into a beautiful deck that has performed great for me in testing. It feels something like the intersection of Stoneblade and Miracles. It has more controlling elements and grinding potential than Stoneblade, without the need for equipment and the same vulnerability to artifact and creature removal. It's also faster and leaner than Miracles, without the clunkiness of Terminus and Counterbalance. Both of those strategies are still somewhere in the metagame, but this deck feels like the future of Tundra in Legacy.
Core Set 2020 made a major addition to Legacy with Elvish Reclaimer, and has brought the Dark Depths / Thespian's Stage combo to the next level. It's spawned multiple variations of decks based around it, and they've risen to the absolute top tier of the metagame. They've been a major force online and at SCG events, but their biggest showing was at last weekend's Legacy Main event at Eternal Weekend Asia, where the classic "Slow Depths" version took the top 3 spots of the 665 player event.
It's a straightforward deck designed wholly around assembling and protecting the Dark Depths combo. It has existed in the metagame for years, but Elvish Reclaimer is a big addition, capable of finding both halves of the combo by itself.
It doesn't have quite the results to back it up, but an intriguing new approach to Dark Depths is to play white, which offers Knight of the Reliquary and Giver of Runes as a way to protect Marit Lage instead of discard.
White also opens up Flagstones of Trokair and its fantastic synergy when being sacrificed by Elvish Reclaimer. Tomik, Distinguished Advokist is another nice addition that helps protect Dark Depths from Wasteland.
Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis proved to be too strong for Modern and earned itself a ban, and that leaves Legacy as its new stomping grounds. One successful home is in a version of Dark Depths that uses it as an alternative path to victory.
Hogaak does good work in the deck as a secondary plan that avoids things like Wasteland, but it's not doing any particularly broken things in the deck. Another archetype designed to truly break Hogaak in Legacy had a big weekend with Top 8 finishes at both the SCG Open and the Eternal Weekend Asia event.
This deck represents the Modern Bridgevine deck being ported to Legacy, where it threatens to do essentially the same things it did in Modern. It does gain one significant upgrade in Cabal Therapy, which combines with its free creatures to rip apart opposing hands and buy time. The deck should be excellent at grinding and fighting against decks like Delver, but it will be vulnerable to combo decks like Storm that can just go over the top of it.
Another application of Hogaak is in classic Dredge, which won the MTGO Legacy Challenge last weekend.
Sometimes it doesn't take new cards for a deck's fortunes to change, just better conditions. Take for example Merfolk, which of all decks came out on top and won the Legacy PTQ on MTGO last weekend.
Merfolk and their islandwalking ability tend to be strong in blue-heavy metagames filled with decks like Delver, so now is a great time to revisit the tribe.
Adam Yurchick is a competitive Magic player and writer. He writes about Modern and Eternal formats and keeps a weather eye on shifts in the metagame.