Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s article. Last week I talked about the top decks in Legacy, and how to beat them. Today I’m going to continue where we left off and go over some of the other commonly played decks of the format. If you haven’t yet read part one, you can find it here. If you wanna learn more about Deathblade and its different variants, check out my article from two weeks ago.

Sneak and Show

Sneak and Show

Creatures (8)
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Spells (33)
Show and Tell
Sneak Attack
Lotus Petal
Force of Will
Spell Pierce
Lands (19)
Ancient Tomb
City of Traitors
Volcanic Island
Scalding Tarn
Polluted Delta
Misty Rainforest

Sideboard (15)
Through the Breach
Blood Moon
Engineered Explosives
Grim Lavamancer
Red Elemental Blast
Surgical Extraction
Vendilion Clique

Sneak and Show is a straightforward two card combo deck. Its goal is to use its namesake cards, Sneak Attack and Show and Tell, to put a big creature into play and kill the opponent. It utilizes lots of cheap library manipulation to help find all the combo pieces, fast mana in the form of Lotus Petal and sol lands to speed up the combo, and countermagic to protect itself from whatever disruption the opponent throws at them.

How to beat them

Sneak and Show does one very powerful thing and it does it with reasonable consistency. But because it needs both halves of the combo in order to function you can beat them if you manage to successfully disrupt the combo. This is easier said than done however, as they have a lot of redundancy. The list above for example plays eight permission spells, eight copies of either half of the combo, and a dozen cantrips to find them. Thus, if you plan on beating Sneak and Show by trading one for one with counter spells and hand disruption you’re going to need a lot of those.

A better strategy is to view your Thoughtseizes and Spell Pierces not as ways to stop them, but as a way for you to buy time. Sneak and Show is faster than almost all fair decks in Legacy and therefore difficult to race, but if you can stop their first attempt at the combo it will usually take some time before they’re able to go for it again, and if you can get them to zero life before that happens you win. It is very important that you put them on a clock if you want to beat them this way.

I like discard spells a little better against them, as you can go after the one half of the combo that they have the fewest of. So if they have two copies of Sneak Attack or Show and Tell but only one creature to put into play you can take their Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn away. This plan is a little less effective against Sneak Attack as they can play it to protect it from discard even if they don’t yet have a creature in hand.

Hate bears and other forms of permanent-based disruption can be very effective against Sneak and Show. Cards such as Pithing Needle and Spirit of the Labyrinth can lock them out of a large proportion of their deck. Karakas is also very good against them, and is only really weak to the combination of Sneak Attack and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.



Creatures (31)
Deathrite Shaman
Heritage Druid
Nettle Sentinel
Quirion Ranger
Elvish Visionary
Wirewood Symbiote
Birchlore Rangers
Reclamation Sage
Scavenging Ooze
Dryad Arbor
Craterhoof Behemoth

Spells (12)
Glimpse of Nature
Green Sun’s Zenith
Natural Order
Lands (18)
Cavern of Souls
Gaea’s Cradle
Verdant Catacombs
Misty Rainforest

Sideboard (15)
Cabal Therapy
Abrupt Decay
Surgical Extraction
Umezawa’s Jitte
Mindbreak Trap

Elves is half combo deck and half creature deck. Its two combo cards are Glimpse of Nature and Natural Order.

Glimpse of Nature is a very powerful card draw engine. With Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel on board, each elf you play actually nets you mana. This allows the Elves player to chain a bunch of elves together after Glimpse of Nature, either going off completely or at the very least drawing a lot of cards.

Natural Order is more straightforward. You search up a big, green creature that is most likely going to win you the game. The most common targets for it are Craterhoof Behemoth and Progenitus, but there’s also Regal Force, Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, and Elderscale Wurm to name a few other possibilities.

How to beat them

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Elves, it’s that it’s a very resilient deck. One Toxic Deluge isn’t going to be enough to beat them. Neither is one Chalice of the Void, one Grafdigger’s Cage, or one Force of Will etc.

If you want to beat Elves while playing a fair deck you’re going to need to be prepared to fight them on multiple axes. You need answers for their combo and and an answer for their board. You need cards to slow them down and cards to preferably some sort of lock. Both Glimpse of Nature and Natural Order can in part be dealt with by taking away their creatures. It’s difficult for them to go off via Glimpse of Nature without the mana from their creatures, and Natural Order requires a critical mass of creatures in order to be lethal as well.

For this reason, repeatable removal is very good against Elves. This includes cards like Goblin Sharpshooter and Umezawa’s Jitte. If you can get one of these active you’ll be very favored to win. If you’re playing with Jitte, be mindful of the fact that a single Wirewood Symbiote can often keep it in check. You want creatures with evasion to get around this.

Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes

Creatures (26)
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Mother of Runes
Stoneforge Mystic
Phyrexian Revoker
Serra Avenger
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Mirran Crusader

Spells (11)
Aether Vial
Swords to Plowshares
Umezawa’s Jitte
Sword of Fire and Ice
Lands (23)
10 Plains
Rishadan Port
Cavern of Souls

Sideboard (15)
Ethersworn Canonist
Faerie Macabre
Containment Priest
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Surgical Extraction
Blessed Alliance
Rest in Peace
Pithing Needle
Path to Exile

Death and Taxes is a white Aether Vial deck. It plays a bunch of disruptive creatures, the most iconic of which is Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. In combination with Wasteland and Rishadan Port, this puts a big strain on the opponent’s mana, often leaving them unable to cast many spells.

Mother of Runes protects their creatures from removal and can also make them virtually unblockable. Phyrexian Revoker stops anything from Deathrite Shaman to Jace, the Mind Sculptor to Lion’s Eye Diamond. Sanctum Prelate functions similarly to Chalice of the Void and can lock the opponent out from playing a lot of their spells.

While not all of their creatures disrupt the opponent this way (Serra Avenger for example), a lot of them do, and you’ll find that beating what to the untrained eye might look like just another white weenie deck is a lot more difficult when your deck can’t be expected to function properly.

How to beat them

It’s very important that you develop your mana so that you can cast your spells even through Wasteland and Rishadan Port. If you can afford to search for basics during the first few turns of the game I would strongly consider it. This way you can play your lands without fear of Wasteland, and so it will be easier to play your spells on curve. Going for basics does make it a little easier for them to Port you off of a color, but that usually isn’t an issue so early in the game.

Removal is good against them, but because they have so many creatures you’re going to have to spend it carefully. They have a lot of creatures, but only some of them are going to be very high impact, so focus on the creatures that matter. Try to play removal spells with different converted mana costs so that you’re not completely cold to Sanctum Prelate. For many fair decks, it’s crucial to have an answer for their equipment, so some number of copies of Ancient Grudge or Wear // Tear is recommended.

Death and Taxes is a very tricky deck to play both with and against, and a lot of the matchup is going to come down to how familiar you are with their tricks as well as your your proficiency at navigating around them. This is a matchup that you’re going to have to learn if you want to beat them. The longer the game goes the more likely it is that one player will make a mistake that will cost them the game, and it’s very easy to make mistakes against Death and Taxes.

BR Reanimator

Black Red Reanimator

Creatures (10)
Chancellor of the Annex
Tidespout Tyrant
Sire of Insanity
Iona, Shield of Emeria

Spells (37)
Dark Ritual
Faithless Looting
Animate Dead
Collective Brutality
Lotus Petal
Chrome Mox
Lands (13)
Bloodstained Mire
Marsh Flats

Sideboard (15)
Wear // Tear
Blood Moon
Faerie Macabre
Stronghold Gambit
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Keranos, God of Storms
Grave Titan

Black Red is the faster version of Reanimator. It eschews the cantrips of the Blue Black version, instead focusing entirely on speed. The combo itself couldn’t be more straightforward. Put a big, expensive creature into your graveyard, then reanimate it. The prefered way to get a creature into the graveyard is with Entomb, but they also have Faithless Looting and Collective Brutality, as well as the ability to target themselves with a discard spell or even utilize the natural discard during their cleanup step.

Two things separate BR Reanimator from other combo decks in Legacy: its speed and its reliance on the graveyard. Because it’s one of the fastest decks in the format and often wins as early turn one, a lot of slower combo hate is going to be less effective than normal. On the other hand, since they depend on the graveyard to function, cards such as Grafdigger’s Cage and Leyline of the Void can invalidate their entire strategy.

How to beat them

The easiest way to interact with them on turn one is to play a Force of Will deck. While they do have a lot of discard to deal with permission spells, your Dazes and Flusterstorms are still valuable, as they can go a long way towards slowing them down. Because they’re not playing Brainstorm or Ponder they have a lot less control over the top of their deck, and it will sometimes take a few turns before they can assemble the combo again if you stop them the first time. A Deathrite Shaman backed up by a piece of disruption is a good way to beat BR Reanimator.

If you’re not playing Force of Will, graveyard hate can also do the trick. It’s interesting to note that, while preferable, you do not always have to stop them from reanimating a creature. While a Griselbrand drawing fourteen cards will almost certainly spell game over for you, they do not always have the luxury to choose what creature is put into their graveyard. There are many cards that can deal with their threats even once they’re in play—Swords to Plowshares, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Baleful Strix, just to name a few.

Wrap up

Legacy is a big format with many different decks, but if you’ve read these articles you should be familiar with the more popular ones by now. I’m leaving for Vegas tomorrow and haven’t looked this much forward to an event in a long time. Now I just need to prepare a little bit more…

I’ll see you at the Grand Prix.

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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