Recently, an article on MTG Goldfish has been making the rounds proposing that Legacy should ban all cards that are on the Reserved List. The concept, which I find misguided, seems ludicrous to me.  I understand that the author of the article really would like to revitalize Legacy, a format that has been receiving waning support in recent years, but I feel like all he is proposing is neutering Legacy past the point of recognition.  

I’m going to assume anyone reading this has at least glanced over the MTG Goldfish article (linked above), but if you didn’t the author feels the way to get support back for Legacy is by banning any card that is on the Reserved List so the barrier for entry is lower. Below are the three problems that the author proposed:

The Problems

  1. Wizards doesn’t profit from Legacy, so they have little reason to support the format. Our solution needs to make Legacy profitable for Wizards.
  2. Because Wizards isn’t supporting the format, tournament organizers have little motivation to continue their support. If we motivate Wizards to support Legacy, tournament organizers (TOs) will, by association, be motivated to support the format as well.
  3. The barrier of entry to enter the format is too high for many players. Since the Reserved List prevents the reprinting of cards, Wizards‘ hands are tied in fixing the matter. In Modern, if Tarmogoyf gets too expensive, Wizards will reprint the card. Not only do reprints help players (by decreasing the price), but it helps Wizards (by selling sealed product).

I don’t agree with his assessment at all and I’m going to start by responding to each of his three problems individually.

“Problem” One

I’m not an expert on how Wizards makes their money and I’m not going to dive into that because I don’t need to.  I genuinely don’t see how Wizards is going to make money off what I’m going to call ‘Neutered Legacy.’  Cards like Force of Will, Stifle, Sensei’s Diving Top, Deathrite Shaman, Stoneforge Mystic, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor are very unlikely to ever see a reprint and are also major Legacy staples that are not on the Reserved List. People are going to keep playing these cards, they are going to stay expensive, and it isn’t going to affect Wizards. They have had ample opportunity to print these along with many other staple Legacy cards in a ‘Legacy Masters’ set but they have chosen not to do so. Arguing that this will help Wizards make a profit doesn’t resonate with me.

“Problem” Two

This is part of the ‘Legacy is dying’ cry that seems to come once a year.  Legacy isn’t dying. Yes, west-coast support from SCG isn’t as strong and it isn’t being streamed anymore but that doesn’t mean the end of Legacy.  Last year everyone said the same thing and then we went on to have one of the biggest Grand Prix ever in New Jersey.  There are still three Legacy GPs for 2016 and Eternal Weekend seems to get bigger every year.  Support might not be as strong at the ultra-competitive level but it’s not gone and Legacy isn’t dead.  

“Problem” Three

Yes Legacy is super expensive and that’s really rough, but reprinting cards hasn’t exactly always shown to fix the problem.  The author specifically mentions Tarmogoyf which really isn’t a great argument for reprints since the price of Tarmogoyf has gone up in price following each of its reprints.

The existence of the Reserved List shows that Wizards does care about the secondary market, at least a little bit. If Wizards is willing to let the Reserved List be banned then they might as well be willing to reprint cards on the list because it would have an extremely similar effect. If anything Tarmogoyf has shown that it might even be beneficial to the collectors if they were to reprint Legacy cards in a ‘Legacy Masters’ set or elsewhere.  

Why this “Solution” isn’t a Solution

The MTG Goldfish article describes how only 33 cards would be banned, but the author claims they aren’t the best cards so the format wouldn’t be dramatically affected. I don’t agree with this assessment at all.  Losing some of these cards means losing major archetypes and would mean dramatically changing the Legacy meta to the point where it would no longer be recognizable.  I’m going to address only a few of the cards that the author specifically addressed since I don’t think I need to address them all to make my point.  

The Dual Lands

The author claims the loss of the original dual lands would actually be ‘one of the least impactful changes to the format since all decks would be affected equally.’  This is just blatantly not true. Not all decks rely on dual lands equally and some don’t run them at all! Decks like Death and Taxes and Burn don’t run any dual lands while others like Storm or Lands would really struggle without them. This doesn’t take into account how running Ravnica shock lands would affect the meta since taking three life every time you need an untapped land really makes an impact. The author doesn’t even discuss how banning the dual lands would cause a huge spike in the price of shock lands.  This surprises me since the barrier to entry seems very important to them and this change would affect both Modern and Legacy.

Lion’s Eye Diamond

I’m going to take the most space to talk about Legacy without LED since Storm is a pretty powerful Legacy deck that makes up its fair share of the meta.  Between the removal of Dual Lands and the removal of Lion’s Eye Diamond from the format, Storm would effectively no longer be a deck.  The author argues that the deck has always managed to survive in Modern in spite of bans but Modern doesn’t have to deal with the strong counterspells and control decks that are available in Legacy, decks that would most likely thrive with these bannings.  People might be starting at lower life totals, but Storm would be starting at a lower life total as well, making it even weaker to quick aggro decks.  

Storm makes up 7% of the format so the idea that you can drastically change the deck without drastically changing the format seems wrong to me.  The author goes on to say that losing LED would hurt Dredge but ‘I think most of us would agree Legacy would survive just fine without the premier graveyard deck in the format.’  I don’t believe many Legacy players would agree with that sentiment. Whether they like Dredge or not it is still a real deck and I don’t see the point of just writing it off.  


City of Traitors, Grim Monolith, Metalworker, and Gaea’s Cradle

I find it interesting that the author was more worried about how City of Traitors being banned would be hurting “cool fringe strategies like Tezzerator, Painter’s Stone, Stax and Stompy” but wasn’t worried about losing MUD as an archetype since it’s a deck that makes up 2-3% of the format. Most likely MUD would just straight up not be a deck anymore and Sneak and Show would be heavily affected as well.  He claims he was informed that Elves would be fine without Gaea’s Cradle and while I believe the deck could still function I do think the deck would suffer greatly.  This means the two most popular combo decks would be greatly weakened, a move that would lead to an extremely unbalanced meta.

Overall with just these five cards alone, ignoring dual lands for now, we’ve neutered four decks that together make up 19% of the format. Adding in the changes that banning the Dual Lands would bring to the format, it’s hard to imagine how different the meta would be.  

The author proposed this as a way to help players but I feel like he can’t see the forest through the trees. He wants Wizards to support the format but the changes he suggested would ruin the format for a majority of players and send it into chaos.  What decks are good in Legacy would dramatically evolve, very quickly, and cards that are already fairly expensive in Modern would be pulled into Legacy and the price for them would surely spike. This would negate the whole point of banning the Reserved List. There are problems with Legacy but I don’t think that this is how you fix them. Personally, I’m glad this idea is so impractical because I have a lot of love for Legacy and would hate to see it ruined like this.  

Kate hails from Worcester MA and also does a bit of Card Altering. Check her Stuff out on Facebook! She mainly plays legacy and modern though will occasionally find herself playing EDH. She has recently succumbed to MTGO.

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