Card: Reanimate | Artist: Johann Bodin

MTG Legacy Update – January 2024

MTG Legacy Update – January 2024

A look back and a look ahead

Welcome to the new year! I am your BTB Legacy nerd, Curtis Ailes, and I will be doing my best to sweep up the last half of 2023, dither a bit about the current meta, and look ahead to what is in store for 2024. It has been a little bit since we have been able to provide a Legacy update here at BTB, and we appreciate your patience while we regroup here in the new year!

2023: A Year of Change and Stabilization

The Legacy format was in a very volatile place entering 2023. Izzet Delver was the king of the hill, followed closely by White Initiative, both contributing to a toxic play environment and sapping the diversity of the format. Consequently, many people were left griping about the play patterns and general enjoyment of the game.

Thankfully, Wizards of the Coast came to the rescue, nerfing a card for each deck, resulting in a much more palatable play experience. With the exception of the unbanning of Mind’s Desire and a minor blip in strategies involving said card, the rest of the year passed with no change to the banned list.

Many new sets were published, however, with a glut of great cards hitting the format! I have waxed at length about how great Lord of the Rings was for the format, but there were plenty of other great pieces added as well. Atraxa, Grand Unifier, Questing Druid, and Up the Beanstalk were all cards that greatly shook up existing decks and provided new angles of game-play.

Upcoming Paper Legacy MTG Tournaments

There was a grand return to big paper tournaments in 2023. The usual suspects like SCG made their rounds, but it was nice to see Laughing Dragon, a store headquartered in Issaquah, WA, make waves with their series of events dubbed, MXP. With events in Portland, Tacoma, Oakland, and Anaheim, their series of events contributed to an ushering-in of renewed interest in tabletop Magic.

Additionally, Eternal Weekend events in Prague, Pittsburgh, and Aichi provided great venues for folks to come out and sling cardboard. The number of gamers supporting paper eternal events is amazing given the still elevated cost of cards in Legacy. As if to drive this point home, nearly 1000 people registered for the Legacy main event in Pittsburgh, which is a great indicator of the format’s health!

Looking ahead to 2024, there is a slew of bigger vents poised to continue this run of tabletop Legacy. The following is a list of what I could find online and by query of Reddit, and is by no means exhaustive!

Paper vs. Online Legacy Discourse

Legacy, Vintage, and Pauper have the distinction of operating in an environment where the MTGO meta differs slightly from the paper meta. Because of the proliferation of sets that have been released which are eternal legal, these formats get a lot of new cards. Universes Beyond products, un-sets, etc, are starting to percolate into the meta.

In some cases, most notably Warhammer 40k, some cards have not made it onto MTGO. Whether it be contractual issues or Daybreak Games just not getting around to programming cards, some differences exist between the metas.

While people have been talking about this for a while, the issue became a front-burner issue for players of Legacy when a 4-color brew won EW Pittsburgh with Triumph of Saint Catherine as a cornerstone of the deck’s strategy.

I don’t know how much longer Wizards can hold back the desires of players to access the 40K cards in the online environment, but hopefully, this issue can be resolved sometime in 2024.

Current Legacy Meta Discussion

So where is the meta right now? A look at the online environment back to November shows that players continue to put their faith in Delver-based decks. Just looking at the data from MTGO Top 8 Legacy Challenges, it’s clear that Izzet Delver is still a top dog in Legacy despite last year’s ban and the introduction of Orcish Bowmasters to punish blue draw spells like Brainstorm and Ponder.

Reanimator-based decks are also highly represented with traditional Reanimator strategies mingling with Rescaminator archetypes.

Up the Beanstalk, while banned in Modern, continues to make an impact in Legacy with a large number of decks thumbing through their libraries, slinging Leyline Binding and Solitude along the way.

One other strategy that seems to be growing as of late, though, is Goblins. This deck has received some powerful tools in the past few months to bolster its ability to land explosive draws. Cards like Muxus, Goblin Grandee, Name-Sticker Goblin, and Broadside Bombardiers have combined to give Goblins a powerful and multi-angle plan of attack. If you aren’t attacking the land base and early drops that power this deck out, you will find yourself in the L column.

Cards Making Waves in the Format

In addition to the new threats that Goblins has received, many other cards continue to make an impact in the format, which must be accounted for.

Reanimate is at the core of (of course) Reanimator, but also Rescaminator and Death’s Shadow brews. Being able to power out an Atraxa, or double-Grief your opponent early are the popular angles of attack. Reanimate can also unexpectedly shift the tide in Shadow strategies.

Questing Druid is another card that has found a home in Legacy. Since the ban of Expressive Iteration, Delver players have been looking for tools to return the archetype to its former glory. Fortunately, the archetype isn’t nearly as dominating as it was, but Questing Druid provides a good 1-2 card draw engine, and a threat package that, left unchecked, gets out of hand quite quickly.

Orcish Bowmasters also continues to be a staple in both Delver and Reanimator strategies, essentially holding old archetypes like 8-Cast at bay.

Speaking of 8-Cast, the archetype has shifted a bit since Bowmasters hit the scene. When drawing cards became a risk, the 8-Cast discord went to work on trying to figure out what has been one of the best “budget” Legacy archetypes. Players like ItsSwiftyTime have been putting in the work to keep the deck relevant. As a result, the rest of the 8-Cast crowd have adopted a couple of new threats to keep this deck relevant by swapping Thought Monitor and Sai, Master Thopterist for Patchwork Automaton, and Clown Car. The deck has essentially been renamed Patchwork Stompy instead of 8-Cast and managed to secure at least one Challenge win recently.

While Clown Car is not available in MTGO, it is making an impact in the paper environment and like some of the other non-MTGO cards I mentioned above, should have quite an impact if / when they ever get added to MTGO.

2023 wrapped up with a lot of things to be excited about in the format. This provides a great springboard into 2024 with the hope for continued growth in the format! That is all we have time for this week. Thanks for reading!

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