One week ago Wizards of the Coast announced the banning of Sensei’s Divining Top in Legacy. For years Top has been integral to the best deck in Legacy—Miracles. Now, all of a sudden Miracles has ceased to exist. Its time in the format has passed, at least for the time being. I expect this to cause the biggest paradigm shift the Legacy metagame has seen in a very long time.

I don’t want to focus too much on whether the decision to ban Top was correct or not, because I don’t believe that to be a productive use of my time—at least not for what I’m trying to accomplish. But I do want to touch on a few reasons this announcement came as a very big surprise to me. People calling for a nerf on Miracles is nothing new. It’s been going on for quite a while. There is nothing that has happened recently that stands out as a particular reason to do anything about it now, that wasn’t also the case before. If anything, Miracles seemed to have receded slightly with the rise of Leovold decks.

Goodbye Top

While I personally always liked playing both with and against Miracles, I can understand that not everyone feels the same way. I also understand that I am biased to some degree in that I mainly play Goblins, which happens to have a phenomenal matchup against Miracles. And winning is fun. Still, whether or not you think a nerf was in order for Miracles I have trouble understanding the chosen method. Banning either Terminus or Counterbalance likely would have had a significant impact on the quality of the deck, while still keeping the deck viable and avoiding the splash damage against other decks that comes with the banning of Sensei’s Divining Top. And if Miracles was still thought to be too good after banning either of those cards, you could simply ban something else the next time around. Anyway, I’m more interested in how we proceed from here.

The banning of Miracles is going to heavily shake up the Legacy metagame. While I think it’s difficult to predict the results of a change of this magnitude, there are a few things we can note right away. The first thing to look for is which decks were previously pushed out of the metagame by Miracles, and which decks existed primarily due to their ability to prey on it. Those decks in particular are going to be the ones most affected by this change. Then we want to look at things from a broader perspective. Look for cards that saw play because of their effectiveness against Miracles. A big reason that many people favored decks with Abrupt Decay was its ability to deal with Counterbalance. Abrupt Decay is still a good card, and will likely still see a lot of play alongside Deathrite Shaman (which happens to be one of the best cards in the format). But it is no longer an absolute necessity.

Two of the best decks against Miracles were Goblins and Twelve Post, and neither occupied a significant portion of the metagame. I don’t think changes to the position of these two decks are going to affect the metagame at large in any meaningful way. Decks that were weak to Miracles on the other hand will likely increase in popularity following this change. Elves has been struggling to fight Miracles for a long time, having to bend over backwards in order to stand a chance. Some decks that have largely disappeared might also return to the format now that Miracles is gone. Both Maverick and Stoneblade could potentially be viable again, although it remains to be seen how those decks fare against all the new additions Legacy has seen since they left the format.

Combo decks that were in part kept in check by the presence of Miracles and the Counterbalance plus Sensei’s Divining Top lock will likely get a significant boost in the short term, until people figure out how to beat them and adapt. With fewer Force of Will around, now is a very good time to be a combo player. Not only because one of the primary Force of Will decks of the format has disappeared, but also because Miracles was one of the few fair decks that counterspells was actively good against. My guess is that in the short term, decks that are both powerful and proactive are going to see the most success.

A quick look at the 5-0 decks on Magic Online just after the banning took effect seems to confirm this thesis, as 12 out of 23 decks were fast combo decks, April 25-27. (Source:;;

That’s more than fifty percent combo, not counting Elves, which had three players put up a 5-0 record within this relatively short timespan. Additionally we see five Delver decks; three Grixis versions and two of the BUG variety. One common denominator amongst these decks is that all of them are playing more Elves hate than we’re used to seeing. There seems to be plenty of Forked Bolt, Golgari Charm and Electrickery flying around. If this trend continues—and I believe it will—other creature decks like Goblins and Death & Taxes are going to take a hit due to the splash damage from these cards.

I decided to play Belcher in our weekly local Legacy tournament, taking my own advice and playing a combo deck. I believe almost any reasonably consistent, fast deck to be a solid choice at the moment. Should you decide to go into battle with a fair deck in the near future I highly advise you to have it be something that can beat fast combo.

Any deck that can get Blood Moon on the table quickly enough could be very well positioned, be it Mono Red Sneak Attack or Dragon Stompy. If you can stick a Chalice of the Void or moon effect on turn one you should be very far ahead in many matchups, including Elves, Storm, BGx, and BUG Delver.

Whither Control?

The biggest question going forward seems to be what control is going to look like with Miracles out of the picture. It’s always a bit tricky trying to build a control deck when you don’t know what to expect from the rest of the metagame. But if my predictions are somewhat accurate, I believe the following UWR Stoneblade list to be a good place to start.

Jeskai Stoneblade

Creatures (10)
Grim Lavamancer
Stoneforge Mystic
Snapcaster Mage
Vendilion Clique

Spells (28)
Council’s Judgment
Force of Will
Lightning Bolt
Swords to Plowshares
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Umezawa’s Jitte
Lands (22)
Volcanic Island
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Arid Mesa

Sideboard (15)
Grim Lavamancer
Izzet Staticaster
Forked Bolt
Surgical Extraction
Blood Moon
Meddling Mage
Containment Priest

I tuned this list to have favorable matchups against Delver, Elves, and Combo. It’s also quite resilient to Blood Moon, and has a decent number of ways to answer Chalice of the Void as long as you’re on the play. It’s probably a little weak to other control decks, but for now that’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make. You could easily replace Vendilion Clique with True-Name Nemesis if you expect a heavy presence of creature decks. The important thing is having a creature with evasion that can carry an Umezawa’s Jitte past a Wirewood Symbiote.

Rockey's Grixis Control

Creaters (9)
Gurmag Angler
Snapcaster Mage
Young Pyromancer

Spells (32)
Cabal Therapy
Forked Bolt
Gitaxian Probe
Force of Will
Fatal Push
Lightning Bolt
Kolaghan’s Command
Thought Scour
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Engineered Explosives
Lands (19)
Volcanic Island
Underground Sea
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn

Sideboard (15)
Cabal Therapy
Blood Moon
Invasive Surgery
Diabolic Edict
Izzet Staticaster
Surgical Extraction
Sudden Demise

This second list is from MTGO user Rockey, who put up a 5-0 finish with it shortly after the ban took place. Note the two copies of Izzet Staticaster in the sideboard, the two maindeck Forked Bolt and singleton Engineered Explosives, as well as the miser’s Sudden Demise in the board. It seems clear to me that this deck was built with Elves in mind. I also like the choice of Invasive Surgery over Flusterstorm in the sideboard, as it provides some insurance against both Glimpse of Nature and Natural Order. A very nice touch in my opinion.

Looking ahead

We only have a very small set of data to work with right now, and MTGO results aren’t everything. But they still tell us something. As of right now a few decks stand out above the rest, namely Storm, Elves, Sneak & Show, and Delver (either Grixis or BUG). All of these look like strong contenders for the title of ‘best deck in Legacy’, but I can’t help thinking about how ridiculously well positioned Chalice of the Void seems in this metagame. I would prefer a deck that also has Blood Moon, but any deck with Chalice and sol lands is probably a reasonable choice right now.

Or you could take a page out of Magic Online user MatsOle’s book and just play Four Color Loam. That way you still get to play Chalice, and you also gain access to Ethersworn Canonist in the sideboard—another two mana permanent that helps against both Elves and Storm. With an array of different removal spells at your disposal you have the tools to beat any creature deck, and your matchup against Delver is very good.

MatsOle's Four Color Loam

Creatures (11)
Dark Confidant
Knight of the Reliquary
Gaddock Teeg
Dryad Arbor
Scavenging Ooze

Spells (21)
Life from the Loam
Green Sun’s Zenith
Sylvan Library
Liliana of the Veil
Abrupt Decay
Punishing Fire
Chalice of the Void
Mox Diamond
Lands (26)
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Grove of the Burnwillows
Maze of Ith
Ghost Quarter
Tranquil Thicket
Cabal Pit
Barren Moor

Sideboard (15)
Leyline of the Void
Ethersworn Canonist
Golgari Charm
Swords to Plowshares
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Garruk Relentless
Ajani Vengeant
Toxic Deluge

This is the list he 5-0d with, and it looks like a good place to start if you’re looking to pick up the deck. It also looks like a blast to play, and should have game against anything the format throws at you.

Sandro is a Magic player from Stockholm, Sweden. He’s been playing Goblins in Legacy for years. Follow him on Twitter @SandroRajalin

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