Legacy Metagame Update: February 2022

Michael Rapp Legacy

Last week, I covered the Modern decks to expect for any upcoming tournaments, which you can find here. Now, it’s time to check out what is going on in Legacy. Whether you’re playing a local event, a MTGO Challenge, or SCGCON Philadelphia (which is where I’ll be this weekend), it’s important to know what to expect in the metagame.

Legacy is a bit more up in the air than Modern at the moment given the recent Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer ban. But there are still a handful of decks that I believe are respectable choices for this weekend. Let’s get right to it!

Delver

First on our list is Delver – one of the classic Legacy archetypes, and perhaps the most accomplished in recent memory. Delver comes in many flavors, but right now, Izzet is the most common and the most successful. Delver decks operate with brutal efficiency; Delver of Secrets, Dragon’s Rage Channeler, and Murktide Regent crank up the pressure on the opponent in a hurry. Ponder, Brainstorm, and Expressive Iteration make sure you always find what you’re looking for. Force of Will and Daze let Delver commit to the board while still having countermagic available. Wasteland plays incredibly well with both cheap creatures and Daze to prevent opponents from getting their own game plans off the ground. 

Delver is fantastic against combo decks thanks to a combination of pressure and disruption. Delver tends to be less effective against more controlling decks and decks like Lands because those decks are better at generating card advantage. Daze and Force of Will both cost cards to generate tempo, and that cost is even more pronounced when your opponent is also generating cards.

Reanimator

Reanimator is another classic Legacy deck, and it’s as straightforward as they come: put a huge creature in the graveyard and reanimate it. Thanks to Dark Ritual and Lotus Petal, it’s fairly easy to get a Griselbrand into play on turn one. Unmask and Grief even allow Reanimator to play through Force of Will and Daze with ease. Game One is typically Reanimator’s game to win, as most decks are fighting on a different axis; outside of Swords to Plowshares, it’s hard for most decks to remove a 7/7. Unfortunately for Reanimator, the sideboard games can be tough, as opponents will likely have graveyard hate of some kind ready to go. Prismatic Ending and Serenity give Reanimator some solid counterplay to permanent-based hate. 

4c Control

Azorius Miracles is no longer the default control deck in Legacy. Branching out mostly for powerful green cards like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Endurance, and Sylvan Library, the splash is light, but powerful. Control decks with Uro as a primary win condition don’t have to devote slots to cards that only win the game, like Entreat the Angels. Uro seamlessly bridges the gap from the mid-game to the late-game and removes the risk of drawing cards that aren’t good early. 

In addition to the green splash, there is also a light red splash to support some key cards. Expressive Iteration is a multiformat all-star, and it’s so good that it warrants a splash in these Bant decks. Efficient card advantage is something that control decks love, and it doesn’t get better for two mana than Expressive Iteration. Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast are excellent right now due to the high numbers of Murktide Regent and Force of Will running around. Izzet Staticaster can handle small creature decks like Elves and Death and Taxes, which are traditionally tough match-ups for this style of deck. 

Doomsday

Doomsday has seen a lot of changes recently. The list above is the classic Doomsday combo deck, which goes all-in on winning with Doomsday and Thassa’s Oracle. However, some Doomsday players have been experimenting with tempo Doomsday. These lists contain a variety of threats, including Delver of Secrets, Dragon’s Rage Channeler, Baleful Strix, and Murktide Regent. The tempo builds have a much stronger plan B, without losing much from the actual Doomsday plan, with Personal Tutor being the biggest loss.

Elves

Powered by Gaea’s Cradle, Glimpse of Nature, and Natural Order, Elves are capable of putting a Craterhoof Behemoth in play well ahead of schedule. The banning of Ragavan makes Elves a little worse, because it’s one of the decks that genuinely had a good Ragavan match-up. That being said, Elves is still fast, and powerful. With good match-ups against Delver and other fair midrange decks, Elves pilots will find success if those decks are popular – and if combo is on the decline.

Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes is Legacy’s standard for fair creature decks. It’s never been flashy or exciting, but it’s tough to play against, and it’s consistent. That’s because decks with this many creatures naturally have a lower fail rate than decks with more moving pieces. An aggressive start backed up by Wasteland, Rishadan Port, and Thalia will create a nasty choke on the opponent’s mana. With so little mana to work with, it’s quite difficult to answer a constant stream of creatures, which are also protected by Mother of Runes! Meanwhile, Aether Vial lets Death and Taxes develop its board while spending mana on Rishadan Port, and otherwise will act as a powerful mana accelerator to really get creatures on to the board quickly. 

Death and Taxes traditionally has a good match-up against fair blue decks, such as Delver, but will struggle with decks that can easily go over the top of it, like Reanimator. 

Lands

Lands may look like a combo deck because of the Dark Depths + Thespian’s Stage interaction, but it also has some strong control elements. Looping Wasteland or Ghost Quarter with Life from the Loam or Crucible of Worlds will put many Legacy decks out of the game in the span of just a couple of turns. Punishing Fire, Maze of Ith, and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale give Lands an excellent match-up against creature decks. Urza’s Saga and Life from the Loam will go a long way toward winning games against any decks that can deal with Marit Lage. However, Lands is going to struggle against combo decks like Doomsday, as its disruptive elements mainly target creatures and mana. 

Depths

Selesnya (or, in this case, Naya) Depths is fairly similar to Lands in that they both use Dark Depths as a win condition. Depths trades in Exploration, Mox Diamond, and Life from the Loam in favor of midrange threats that can easily win the game when Dark Depths can’t get it done. Knight of the Reliquary and Elvish Reclaimer can help find your combo pieces, but they don’t always need to, as they’re standalone threats in and of themselves. Depths is going to have a worse match-up against the creature decks, but is slightly faster overall, which leads to a more favorable combo match-up. 

Bomberman

Bomberman is an incredibly fast combo deck centered around Lion’s Eye Diamond, Auriok Salvagers, and Walking Ballista. Even if the Bomberman player can’t find the combo, they can easily make enough mana to lock the opponent out with Karn, the Great Creator and Mycosynth Lattice. If that doesn’t work, Urza’s Saga and Urza, Lord High Artificer can make some huge Constructs that will threaten to take over the game. Chalice of the Void for X=1 on turn one will lock a lot of decks out of the game, giving Bomberman another strong angle of attack. Bomberman is strong against decks that can’t stop their mana generation, but is weak to specific cards like Null Rod and Meltdown

What I’m Playing

I’ll be playing Izzet Delver this weekend. My specific build is geared toward winning the mirror, with a main deck Pyroblast and Young Pyromancer. Most threats in the Delver mirror trade one-for-one with removal spells, which makes Young Pyromancer valuable, because it will often leave something behind. Plus, it also dodges the five-ish Pyroblast effects in the mirror. I’ve also added Grim Lavamancer and Izzet Staticaster to try and bolster my match-ups against Death and Taxes and Elves. Court of Cunning is a nod to beating the Four-Color Control decks and other decks that can’t easily take the Monarch. 


Much like Modern, Legacy is a wide format, and this list is just the tip of the iceberg. Plus, as Legacy adjusts after the banning of Ragavan, things will take a little while to settle in. These decks are the ones that I expect to see floating around the top tables in the mid-to-late rounds of a tournament, but you may see some variation in your tournament metagame. 

I, for one, can’t wait to play some paper Magic this weekend. If you’ll be in Philadelphia, make sure to stop by and say hello! As always, you can find me on Twitter at @RappaciousOne for questions and feedback.