(Editor’s Note: Kate Donnelly is one of our new writers. She will be talking about Legacy. Kate hails from Worcester MA and also does a bit of Card Altering. Check her Stuff out on Facebook! This is her first article here at Hipsters of the Coast so please give her a warm welcome and remember to comment with your thoughts!)

It is almost impossible to play Legacy these days without seeing Miracles in the room. Miracles makes up 15% of the meta right now according to mtgTop8 and that is without a doubt making the format stale. It is at the point where you either play Miracles or you play to beat Miracles. The oppressive combination of Sensei’s Divining Top and [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] is limiting what decks can be in the room and is negatively impacting the format. There are several decks that auto loose to Miracles once the Counter/Top lock lands including once great decks such as Elves and U/R Delver. Even Ross Merriam, one of the best Elves players in the format, has abandoned the deck. These decks were once strong decks in the format that have fallen prey to the strength of the Counter/Top lock.

The Obvious Problem

One of the biggest problems with the Counter/Top combo is it makes Miracles an extremely slow deck. The deck itself does not run many win cons, depending on a one-of of [casthaven]Entreat the Angels[/casthaven] or ultimating Jace, the Mind-Sculptor to finish the game. So while the deck is extremely good at keeping you from winning the game, it is not very good at actually closing out the game. Miracles depends on [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] and a large amount of counterspells to draw out the match as long as possible. Between the Counter/Top lock that can be set up by turn two, and all the counter and removal the deck runs, games against Miracles can easily average around 30 minutes. This means your chances of going to time against Miracles is extremely high and no player should ever lose their chance of doing well because their opponent is playing a deck that inherently slow. That was considered reason enough to ban Eggs in Modern and 4 Horsemen in Legacy, and it should be a good enough reason to break up the Counter/Top combo.

Now the real question is, how do we address this?

Originally when I began thinking about this issue I believed the answer lay in banning Top. The Top activations are really what cause the game to be so slow, and Wizards said themselves when they banned Top in Modern that ‘the constant activating of Divining Top bogs games down.’ They acknowledged that it encourages players to maximizing shuffling effects as well which adds to the game length even more. However, Top is a crucial piece in many other decks in Legacy that do not bog down the format such as Painter, 12 Post, and [casthaven]High Tide[/casthaven]. These decks also show that decks can have Top without being a deck that often goes to time and has trouble closing out games (leaving you in the draw bracket). In addition there will always be numerous shuffling effects in Legacy whether Top is banned or not. Lastly, the only reason Top bogs the deck down so much is due to its need to constantly be activated for [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven].

The Actual Problem

So that leaves us with banning [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven]. There is a pretty good argument for banning [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven], it’s really the card that is the truly oppressive, it is a two-mana permanent that can easily counter a majority of spells that are cast in Legacy and it protects itself. Unfortunately there is not much effective (and practical) removal that can be run against [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven]. The only real guaranteed removal for [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] that is commonly run is [casthaven]Abrupt Decay[/casthaven], which being B/G can only be run in so many decks and is really only limited to a few decks. BUG Delver, Nic Fit and Shardless BUG are all great decks that run [casthaven]Abrupt Decay[/casthaven]. However these decks are very creature light and Miracles has additional answers in the form of [casthaven]Terminus[/casthaven], Venser and Council’s Judgement so the matchup is still in Miracles favor even without the [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven]. A well timed [casthaven]Terminus[/casthaven] can take out 2 or 3 of BUG Delvers 12 threats forcing it to start over. While Nic Fit can cast spells often too big for [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] to answer such as [casthaven]Thragtusk[/casthaven], Miracles can answer this with a [casthaven]Council’s Judgement[/casthaven]. So while these decks run answers for [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] they don’t always get there against Miracles. However, this shows that if you ban [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven], Miracles could still be a deck and it wouldn’t destroy the archetype.

Miracles has a lot of pieces to it, it has the Counter/Top lock, the Miracles cards, [casthaven]Snapcaster Mage[/casthaven] for card advantage, and Jace for closing out the game. Even if we remove one piece of this deck in the form of banning [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] I strongly believe it can still be a strong deck in the format. The deck still having access to Top to set up Miracles cards such as [casthaven]Entreat the Angels[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Terminus[/casthaven] give the deck answers, and [casthaven]Force of Will[/casthaven], [casthaven]Counterspell[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Spell Pierce[/casthaven] still let the deck slow down their opponent.

The Great Equalizer

Banning [casthaven]Counterbalance[/casthaven] would not affect any other deck in the format nor would it cause Miracles to be unplayable deck and I strongly believe banning it would give the format more diversity.

In conclusion, I really hope that Wizards puts some thought into bans for this season. Legacy is an amazing format and it is disappointing to see it become so stale.

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