Qualifying for the MOCS with Legacy Reanimator

Piotr Glogowski


The past weekend I won the Legacy Showcase Qualifier!

So this time I would like to explain about the Reanimator I used at that time.

The Qualifier System

First, let me explain in the simplest of terms what tournament I exactly played in – the Magic Online MOCS system can be pretty opaque if you aren’t paying close attention.


The first step is to earn Qualifier Points through playing Leagues or Preliminaries.

Image Copyright and More Details: Introducing the New Magic Online Premier Play Program

With said Qualifier Points, you can enter Showcase Challenges. They happen roughly every month in every format, and top 8ing such an event grants you the right to play in that format’s respective Showcase Qualifier.

The tournament I played was the Legacy Showcase Qualifier – the winner of which qualifies for the MOCS.

Image Copyright: MAGIC ESPORTS

The MOCS – Magic Online Championship Showcase – is a (roughly) quarterly end-goal tournament. Only 8 people get to qualify and fight for a prize pool of $70,000.

The system has a lot of steps, which means a lot of filtering. Showcase Qualifier and the MOCS are small field tournaments with very highly-invested and skilled players on average. I played in just a few Showcase Qualifiers so far, coming as close as losing the finals of the Vintage one a year ago.

The appetite was certainly there and I really wanted to qualify. Getting to even play in the Showcase Qualifier is already half the work, so I wanted to make it count.

The Format

Somewhat ironically, it all happened through Legacy, a format that – if you frequent my stream – you know I don’t have the fondest opinion on. While I frequently call it the worst format or blight, it’s obviously for a comedic effect and I think everyone can enjoy whatever they enjoy – there are some actual reasons as to why I’m not a huge fan of the format.

DazeForce of WillWasteland

《Daze》, 《Force of Will》, 《Wasteland》 are really powerful, free, generic interactions. 《Brainstorm》 and 《Ponder》 are insanely powerful cantrips. All of those cards are blue. Combo decks can combo off on turn one or two, which means that realistically, you should play blue or a combo deck if trying to win. Gameplay frequently consists of players fondling with their blue cantrips until eventually, they discard their hands to interact via 《Force of Will》.

Decks like Elves, Lands, or Death and Taxes are played, but my impression is that they exist in the 55% vs blue, 30% against combo space, which would make them unviable in a real competitive setting.

This is what I assume causes the “Delver Matchup Paradox”. If you ask around, you’ll find out that allegedly every other deck is favored against Delver, yet whenever win rate or tournament results show up, Delver is always at the top. I think it’s the aforementioned dynamic and the fact that Legacy is undoubtedly a pretty intricate format with a lot of obscure gameplay tricks to recognize, further allowing various archetype experts to punish Delver newcomers and solidify the belief that their matchup is great.

Is 《Force of Will》 and 《Daze》 the glue that protects Legacy from combo? Possibly, and I am not suggesting that I care or know enough to say if and what should be banned or not – I’m just saying that I’m a not a fan of the incentives in the format.

Krark-Clan IronworksHogaak, Arisen NecropolisInverter of Truth

Obviously, I’m the guy who loved KCI, enjoyed the hell out of Modern Hogaak, and mourned Pioneer Inverter, so take that with a grain of salt, but I generally enjoy formats where combo decks are the ones dictating the terms of engagement. Seeing as they all end up inevitably banned, I’m probably in the minority.


I didn’t have much experience in Legacy. I used to play some Lands and Red Prison decks in the past, but I haven’t played any matches with most decks in the format; if there’s one thing that Red Prison taught me, is to not take established decks for granted.

New cards release constantly and old beliefs aren’t necessarily often challenged, so if cards look weird or outdated in a decklist, you should probably pay attention to that and be willing to try new solutions. For example, 《Knight of the Reliquary》. How is that a card people play in this format still!? I get that the lands available are quite good, but for 3 mana!?

I top 8’d the Showcase Challenge with a build of Reanimator I copied from league 5-0’s, as I was entering without much hope of doing well.


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Test the Other Decks

After getting there, I decided to spend the week leading up to the Showcase Qualifier trying out all the various decks I could see myself landing on to give myself some baseline level of familiarity with the format. Not having much previous experience meant there was much to be gained from that.

UR Delver

Delver of SecretsRagavan, Nimble Pilferer

I tried out UR Delver (more accurately, UR Ragavan nowadays?) to middling results. While I questioned the “every deck has a good matchup against” meme earlier, I did find it tough to play through the piles built specifically to counter it. I was not up for the challenge of slogging through hate and squeezing out those tiny edges in tempo-sensitive games.

Uro Deck

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

Blue 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 Soup was more fitting my style. Unfortunately, you can build it in endless different ways, and striking a strong build seemed tough. Games also go horribly long, I’m not used to navigating the cantrips and estimating the likelihood of finding my answer cards with them, and I ended up either timing out or losing with a full grip way too often for my tastes. There was no way that was the optimal route to take for me.


Thespian's StageDark Depths

Lands is allegedly great against Delver too, but in practice, I found that I was very opening hand-reliant and hoping that my single spell will resolve with no counterplay from my side. A single 《Force of Will》 or 《Daze》 on my 《Exploration》 on turn one felt like the difference between winning and losing. That, and being virtually 0% against combo decks made me discard Lands as a realistic option early.



Doomsday felt very powerful, letting me play blue while having access to early kills. Creating 《Doomsday》 piles required a decent amount of thinking and familiarity, but I think I would not be discouraged by that had I liked the deck’s position. Unfortunately, my chat members claimed that Doomsday is poor against other 《Daze》 decks. If we subtract the “good Delver matchup” bias from that, that means it’s probably utterly unwinnable.

I gave a go to obviously lower-powered 《Chalice of the Void》 decks like Curses Prison and 8-Cast but struggled to see any real reason to play them.

I quite enjoyed qualifying with Reanimator, it seemed very proactive, overpowered against non-blue decks and competitive against blue, so I spent my remaining time and energy tuning and thinking about it.

The Deck Choice


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I registered this. Consistent, lots of redundancy, lots of interaction via numerous discard spells, can virtually win on turn one or two – what’s not to like?

Archon of Cruelty

The main purpose of this deck is to reanimate 《Griselbrand》 as soon as possible, but during the Showcase Challenge, I realized that the singleton 《Archon of Cruelty》 was a real problem-solver. 《Griselbrand》 alone is not enough reanimation targets and it doesn’t directly win every game. Stock lists utilize a variety of extra 《Entomb》 targets to solve specific problems.

KarakasMaze of IthMurktide RegentSwords to Plowshares

I haven’t encountered a situation in which reanimating an 《Archon of Cruelty》 or two wouldn’t solve the issue. 《Karakas》? Not legendary. 《Maze of Ith》? I’ll slowly win with triggers. 8/8 《Murktide Regent》 or 《Marit Lage Token》? Sacrifice them. 《Swords to Plowshares》? Sure, I’m up to two cards. Combo? Hard to win with no cards in hand.

《Griselbrand》 is still the primary target for most 《Entomb》, but 《Archon of Cruelty》 is more than capable of quickly ending the game by itself if uncontested. All of that on top of being a black card to pitch to 《Unmask》 – I quickly swapped to 4 《Archon of Cruelty》 and never looked back, cutting most of the wonky reanimation targets.

Chancellor of the Annex

《Chancellor of the Annex》 seemed to be a staple, but I didn’t like it much. It seemed to have a disappointingly low win rate when reanimated against fair decks and it isn’t a black card. I moved them to my sideboard as a tool against blazing fast combo decks like the mirror, Doomsday, or Oops, All Spells. 《Chancellor of the Annex》 seemed to be a holdover from when there weren’t better options.

Surgical ExtractionEndurance

Then I thought about the graveyard hate I’ll need to fight through. Graveyard hate permanents are actually pretty rare. All blue decks largely default to 《Surgical Extraction》, while all green decks play a lot of 《Endurance》 based on the belief that they are the greatest anti-Delver tool there is. It makes sense – both of those cards seem to have utility elsewhere, and Reanimator can get a 《Griselbrand》 out on turn one, so a 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 can be both discarded AND raced!


That means discard spells are the perfect approach, as they give you counterplay against both most played hate and countermagic at the same time. Stock lists play a surprisingly low amount of 《Thoughtseize》, but doubling as an enabler (《Thoughtseize》 self) and interaction I just wanted the full four and I have been very happy with them. If I were to make one change to the list, I’d even play a second 《Grief》 over the maindeck 《Chancellor of the Annex》.

《Unmask》 is preferred over 《Grief》 because 《Unmask》ing yourself seemed to come up more often than reanimating 《Grief》.

SerenityFaithless LootingPrismatic Ending

As far as sideboard went, I have been disappointed with 《Show and Tell》 as an anti-《Leyline of the Void》 technology and I went with the cheaper 《Serenity》. That let me exchange 《Careful Study》 for slightly better 《Faithless Looting》. I also haven’t seen many people use 《Prismatic Ending》, but it seemed excellent as a catch-all answer against permanent hate that can come in many forms. Other options, like 《Darkblast》, 《Reverent Silence》, or 《Shenanigans》 I just simply haven’t tried or thought about much.

The decklist I played in the Qualifier was actually slightly misregistered – I wanted to play one extra 《Prismatic Ending》 and 《Faerie Macabre》 over 《Massacre》 and 《Serra’s Emissary》. Only realized that when sideboarding during round one, but it wasn’t a big deal.

The Tournament

I streamed the tournament on Twitch, but as much as I usually hate doing that, I decided to go with a 10-minute delay this time. I wasn’t even worried about stream sniping much – I did that for myself. I’ve been noticing more and more that multitasking and dividing my attention between the game and the stream hurts my performance in a noticeable way – I tend to get distracted, play hastily, click on cards first, only to realize that I’ve made a horrible misplay a few seconds later. I consciously wanted to avoid those issues, as I cared about winning. Streaming with a delay is a poorer viewer experience, but this time I prioritized my chances.

Of course, now, knowing that I succeeded, some level of survivorship bias and rationalization kicks in, but I think I played well, drew well, and took my time to think about my plays. Thankfully, Reanimator is a very quick deck, so timing out was never something I needed to pay attention to either, which helped. In the eight matches I played, I faced seven blue decks and Elves, and not many permanent hate cards. Was the decklist well built and well positioned? It surely felt like that at times, but I can’t know for sure.

Javier Dominguez


Match after match, I got to the finals, where I faced off against Hareruya’s own Javier Dominguez! In a somewhat anti-climactic fashion, in the final game, I missed the crucial yet uncommon 《Wasteland》 my fetchland into 《Daze》 my reanimation spell line, and foolishly played into that… Only for Javier to seemingly miss that too and let me put an 《Archon of Cruelty》 into play. The correct play would have been to simply fetch a land first. I’m definitely taking those!

Finest Hour

Winning felt great. I came into the tournament wanting it, but not thinking that it was realistically achievable in a format I’m not used to. Getting to qualify for the MOCS and getting to compete in my favorite format that’s been long neglected by the remnants of Organized Play is something I definitely am looking forward to!

See you on Magic’s main Twitch channel on February 26 when I compete in Modern and Vintage Cube in the MOCS!

Piotr Glogowski (Twitter / Twitch / Youtube)

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Piotr Glogowski Before his first Pro Tour top 8, Piotr "kanister" Glogowski was already extremely famous as a streamer. He kicked off the 2017-2018 season with an impressive record at Pro Tour Ixalan (8th place), then reached the Finals with his great teammates at World Magic Cup 2017. His talent was flourished after all, and he finished that season as a Platinum Level Pro. Read more articles by Piotr Glogowski

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