Updated: Mar 1, 2019
Today, we hear from the community, and play at Josef's Kitchen Table.
Not only is the following list a legitimate Legacy deck, but it is a static 60 cards I would likely take to a table game with my friends. Especially if the mythical gauntlet were thrown down and someone wanted to tango. Our Kitchen Table article this week is crafted around a community submission from our friend, Josef. While Josef is likely playing this in sanctioned Legacy formats, I would be playing it at a friends house. Not that we don't like sanctioned Legacy tournaments, but rather, in the privacy our own home is generally when we play Legacy decks.
Here at LandSayGo our primary focus is Standard format Magic: The Gathering. DBoe dabbles in Commander, Matt plays a lot of Planechase (and I mean a lot). In the true spirit of the game I find myself committing to more table games than is probably healthy, and it's refreshing that other people are just as devoted to the older cards and power of the game.
Certainly not in all cases, but in most, we find that the best cards are those that have an immediate and powerful impact on our opponent. Legacy is mostly decks that are such a far cry from the methodical mid-range progressions of Standard, that as we discuss the cards represented here I want you keep in mind how critical it is to have a turn one, a turn two, and turn three play. We will be discussing real raw power here - the kind of deck that wins.
It takes your heart and grinds it into powdered stone - and no one minds. - Elspeth Huxley
Elspeth, Knight Errant is one of top 5 best Planeswalkers ever printed. A bold statement, and you may disagree, but any Planeswalker than can defend themselves by creating tokens, enhance damage, creates ridiculous emblems, and enters the battlefield with an equal amount of loyalty counters to casting cost is nothing short of outstanding. Elspeth in this deck is a win condition for our deck all by herself. The additional interactions provided by the cards we will discuss in the remainder of the article are meant to supplement keeping Elspeth alive, and ticking up her loyalty turn after turn. We are obviously chasing her emblem, especially in a format that has deep permanent interactions; leveraging her abusive token abilities is also fair.
"I come looking for demons and I find a plane full of angels. I hate angels." - Liliana Vess
Liliana of the Veil is the most expensive non-promotional, standard issue Planeswalker in Magic. She is as powerful as they come. Highly disruptive on the plus one loyalty ability by starving your opponent of resources. Her minus two loyalty ability is a "sacrifice trigger," and can therefor be used to control creatures by forcing an action by the owner. Liliana is our 3 drop play in optimal scenarios and we want to be using the minus two ability after she enters the battlefield. In rare circumstances we will get to use her ultimate ability and irreversibly cripple our opponent. Liliana, is more of a control asset to our deck than a win condition, but her abilities see to it in most cases, when unaddressed, that we are winning. Again, our additional resources protect her.
The smallest seed of regret can bloom into redemption.
Cards like Swords to Plowshares don't get printed in Magic any more, unless it's a reprint in a premium set. No new cards, with a distinct name, will be printed in future new expansions that can for one mana exile a creature permanently at instant speed. It's just too oppressive. It's too fast for Standard given emerging trends, but it's perfect for Legacy, and it's perfect for our Kitchen Table. Not many creatures can stand up to instant speed exiling.
In Legacy, a mainboard inclusion of Swords to Plowshares suggests we are trying to deal with Delver of Secrets or Griselbrand. During your Kitchen Table games, your opponent may be wondering why you consistently have all the answers for their Birds of Paradise. Dark Ritual and Juzam Djinn go together like peas and carrots. There is nothing quite like a turn two 5/5 flyer, is there? Here we are using Dark Ritual in most cases to turn one (that's right!) a Liliana of the Veil. On some wacky draws, we can turn one Swamp, Dark Ritual, Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek (to get the card we want), and then Hymn to Tourach. It's a hateful way to start the game - the kind of play that is perfectly acceptable in Legacy, and even more appropriate at the Kitchen Table when we trying to disenfranchise our friends. Great choices - great Magic cards.
In Legacy you have to be fast and nimble. It doesn't hurt to demoralize a friend at the Kitchen Table, but don't expect smiles of gratitude and a very long game. Even the best off-the-wall and unrestricted brews could fall short in the face of a deck like this. So, how do we set ourselves up for unparalleled success? We attack our opponents hand with a few spells which are considered the unconditional staples of discard and hand control in Magic: The Gathering. Thoughtseize is a Modern and Legacy Staple - when it was in Standard, it saw tremendous amounts of play. It is an outstanding turn one play and should used on turn one every time you have access to it in your opening hand.
Inquisition of Kozilek is perfect opening play as well, as we attempt to restrict our opponents opening turn, especially when we are on the play, and set the course for subsequent turns. The most important aspect of Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek is that we are getting information on turn one about what our opponent is playing, and what we are facing down. Hymn to Tourach is an older card than some of you reading this article. It is old school power. Discard two cards for two mana? At the kitchen table, in a mono-black deck, there is no reason not to run a full playset. Hopefully, your opponent isn't playing a Madness themed deck! Four copies of each of these three spells should be more than enough.
Wrecking Havoc - Lands, Permanents, and Creatures - Oh My!
Games with friends, on Magic Nights, at the lunch room table, poolside, or however you do it are generally multiplayer. A multiplayer game substantially reduces the effectiveness of our strategy with this list of 60 cards. We are wanting to play a one on one game, as clarified by our choice of heavy hand-control mechanics, and targeted removal. I'm not saying this deck wouldn't do well in a 3 or 4 person game, but it might be more of a challenge in defending ourselves from the onslaught once we are discovered as the threat we are. Attacking the hand is fine - but we really strap on our "butthead boots" and also come up with ancient ways of restricting our opponents access to mana. Sinkhole, first printed in alpha, is mono-black land destruction. I don't know if there is a more rage inducing mechanic in the game than land destruction, and I applaud its inclusion in this list, Josef. Very effective:
Now we get really nasty - now we get down and dirty. Four mainboard copies of Vindicate is just brutal. In context of the format a deck like this is played in, it's not really anything special or out of the ordinary, but at a table with your friends, they may think you have a secret vendetta you've been holding against them for the time they killed you with poison counters on turn three. Whatever the case may be, I want you to know that having sorcery speed permanent destruction is a great include here - remember lands are permanents too. Day of Judgement is a wrath, and decks like this, anchored off of Planeswalkers, need wraths. Although, I might recommend you entertain Kaya's Wrath in place of Day of Judgement, and maybe drop a copy for a Damnation for diversity in spell choices.
The Mana Base
Another common theme in Legacy decks is the inclusion of lands that destroy lands - if only Strip Mine were legal in four copies...I guess Wasteland will have to do. We include two copies of this card to supplement our early game necessity to restrict our opponent effectively. Legacy is a format that plays in the first three turns. Reducing the interactive opportunities in a game to a fraction of what other formats offer. It is quite possible in some Legacy match-ups that your opponent could beat you on turn one. When that is the case, it then becomes a requirement that we have board interactions that suppress that kind of speed and efficiency; there may be no better way to do that than to go after the source of the power - the mana base. Of course, free mana is a thing too.
Fetch Lands are a must here - we are thinning our deck, finding our lands, and getting shuffles. A good amount of basics, and a set of Scrublands helps us smooth out our curve. Having 10 basic lands is important. What if your opponent is playing Back to Basics?
Josef, thanks for your contribution to the Kitchen Table. I know you had submitted this list as a competitive Legacy deck, but I find that I am my most competitive when I am sitting down to square off against my friends (adversaries) in reputation challenges. A deck like this helps us keep the bragging rights.
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Until next time, play a Land, a Dark Ritual, and Liliana of the Veil, and Say Go!