Legacy After The Bans

Javier Dominguez



Last week we received the official announcement of the following bans in Legacy:


This time they didn’t decide which two of the two most played and most powerful decks would take a hit; they went for both. Once again, Wizards of the Coast went with the philosophy of banning cards enough to make a deck weaker but not enough so the deck is completely unplayable.

Both cards were certainly critical in their respective decks and influenced how they would play the games, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Delver or initiative decks are completely unplayable from a competitive point of view.

However, that leaves us without a clear best deck going forward, and that is very interesting in terms of deck building!

Where to Go Now?

First of all, most of the other Legacy decks remained untouched. It’s not like Doomsday lost any card, so I would not expect the tier 2/tier 3 decks to change much. Decks like Reanimator or 8-Cast will be a relevant part of the metagame. However, which decks will remain at the top is unclear yet.

Luckily for us, we had a Showcase Challenge just after the bans to see a little bit where the format might be heading to.

And the winner was…

TarmogoyfDelver of Secrets

Temur Delver like its 2013!!

The following decklist won the tournament:


This deck looks like the ones we had many years ago! It does have a different selection of threats but the overall core is the same, and because 《Expressive Iteration》 is gone now the deck doesn’t have any kind of direct card advantage effect.

The card advantage will come from being more efficient and having less lands, which historically was the way that Delver had to get ahead on spell quantity. This is still a Delver deck with a low land count and therefore given the same amount of cards, it will likely have more spells than most opponents.

However, particularly once we 《Force of Will》 exiling a blue card from our hand, we will often have problems playing grindy games with Delver going forward.

It’s hard to tell where will the Delver decks go, but there are many options.

This decklist Top4’ed the showcase as well and it is probably where I would look at next if I had a Legacy Event. 《Sylvan Library》 and potentially 《Life from the Loam》 are decent ways to get cardboard advantage that are worth a splash.

They also don’t necessarily fight for a spot with 《Tarmogoyf》, as a split is likely better across the matchups. Whether 《Sylvan Library》 is good enough to be a maindeck card is not clear yet, but it will still be impressive against both control and combo decks.


We also had an Initiative deck in the top 4 of the Showcase Challenge:

Initiative decks are still very alive and they will likely be a relevant player going forward.

Seasoned DungeoneerRavenloft AdventurerCaves of Chaos AdventurerUndermountain Adventurer

All of these four cards saw relevant play in the tournament and I think they will see the play, even if in different decks.

White Red and Green can easily pair with each other, but 《Ravenloft Adventurer》 has a lot of potential in these Mono Black decks we have been seeing lurking around Tier 3. It was an OK deck that was able to get Top 8s here and there and now they got a card that plays very well with 《Dark Ritual》.

Take this list for, example:

We can see a Mono Black Initiative deck that is already very well equipped to face the graveyard combo strategies. These Mono Black decks have been traditionally quite weak at playing fair grindy games, but I think we might be now in a situation where that’s not necessarily true anymore.

Other Decks

As we said above, most of the other decks were simpy unaffected by the bans, with the exception being 4 color control with 《Expressive Iteration》. However, I don’t think that necessarily means control is dead as 《Expressive Iteration》 wasn’t as good there as it was in Delver, and in the Control vs. Delver matchup, the card being banned favors control heavily.

I think Cephalid Breakfast is currently the strongest combo deck in the format. Also a part of me still think it’s unreal that my pet deck became so popular after that many years. Here’s a guide that is still useful!

The issue with Cephalid and Reanimator – which is in my opinion very close in power level – is that both are graveyard decks and therefore share weaknesses such as the maindeck 《Leyline of the Void》 from the black deck.

That leaves Doomsday in a decent position going forward. If you were deciding between picking up the deck or not, I would go for it.


The Doomsday version that Top 8’ed the Showcase Challenge is one of these “Tempo Doomsday” that have been around for months.

DoomsdayBaleful Strix

Tempo Doomsday is pretty well positioned now, and the reason is that without 《Expressive Iteration》, we can grind a game against Delver relatively often, which makes the fair plan way more relevant.


Last but not least I want to talk a little bit about the artifact decks, with 8-Cast being the bigger archetype among those.

8-Cast didn’t put any competitor on the Top 8 but had a healthy amount of 3 players on the top 16 and I think it’s going to be one of the strongest decks going forward.

Not only it 8-Cast have a very proactive plan with 《Force of Will》 but the banning also helped them in a few different ways.

Chalice of the VoidThoughtcastThought Monitor

First, less Initiative decks mean the metagame is less prepared against 《Chalice of the Void》, which makes 8-Cast’s Chalices better. Second, similarly to Doomsday, now it is easier to grind against Delver decks. Before, 《Thoughtcast》 would be relatively outclassed by 《Expressive Iteration》, but now that the Delver deck is unable to grind that way forces them to be always on the tempo plan.

Surely, being the aggressor was always their best plan against artifact decks anyway, but making the deck have a weaker grinding plan impacts this matchup. One final factor the bans brought that 8-Cast cares about is 《Mystic Sanctuary》.

Mystic Sanctuary

《Mystic Sanctuary》, which used to be a staple in Delver because of how strong it was to recycle 《Expressive Iteration》, is now relegated again to be played only in Control Decks.


This matters because of 《Meltdown》. Pre-bans, one Delver player finding a 《Meltdown》 not only meant our board would be gone once but twice. Strong hands can beat one sweeper, but beating two is a whole different story. That means 《Meltdown》, while still being a great sideboard card against 8-Cast is not as scary as it was pre-bans and that will make the matchup against Delver better.


That’s it for today!

I think that whenever a ban like this happens, there is a lot of space to brew new decks and find new configurations of existing archetypes that were not good before. Isn’t that exciting? I love it!

Thanks for reading!

Javier Dominguez (Twitter / Twitch)

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Javier Dominguez He is the representative player of Spain. Grand Prix Top 8 is six times, including won the Grand Prix Paris 2014 and Grand Prix Rotterdam 2016 winning victories. At the Pro Tour level, he has brilliant achievement such as winning the 9th place in Pro Tour Battle of Zendikar and Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, and finally top8 in Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan. Read more articles by Javier Dominguez

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