On July 2nd, Wizards of the Coast announced the banning of Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe in Legacy. Deathrite Shaman in particular was one of the pillars of the format, and its departure is going to have a significant impact on the metagame. Since the announcement I’ve been preoccupied with trying to figure out how the metagame is going to evolve. While it’s difficult to predict exactly what is going to happen, I believe there is still plenty of room for analysis, provided that we ask the right questions.

The Biggest Losers

The top two decks in Legacy—Grixis Delver and Czech Pile (also known as Four Color Control) were both reliant on Deathrite Shaman, and Grixis Delver also lost Gitaxian Probe. I don’t think either of those decks will be able to exist in their current form.

The Winners

With Deathrite Shaman gone, mana denial is once again a viable strategy, making cards such as Wasteland, Stifle, and Rishadan Port much better positioned. I believe Death & Taxes in particular is going to benefit from this. It doesn’t hurt that there will likely be fewer Kolaghan’s Commands around either.

Additionally I suspect that we’ll see an increased presence of combo decks, as they were partially kept in check by the efficient machinery that was Grixis Delver. Grixis Delver had a fast clock and a lot of cheap interaction, making the matchup against combo decks quite favorable. I could see both Storm, UB Reanimator, and Show and Tell being good again, with Sneak and Show being the more common Show and Tell deck unless we see a lot of Death & Taxes, justifying a switch to Omnitell.

What happens to Delver?

Before the bannings, Grixis Delver was the consensus best deck in Legacy. Now that Deathrite Shaman is gone however, it’s unclear what the best Delver deck is going to be. Delver has been a dominant force in the format for a long time, and finding the best Delver strategy is likely going to be key to figuring out the format going forward.

Delver decks are tempo strategies, meaning that they use cards like Stifle, Daze, and Force of Will to gain a tempo advantage. In order for this to work however you need to have a threat in play that can attack every turn, so that you can properly take advantage of the tempo gain. In other words, in order to maximize the power level of cards like Daze, Delver decks need to put a creature into play early on, preferably on turn one. With Deathrite Shaman no longer an option, we need to look at other alternatives. The first ones that spring to mind are Nimble Mongoose and Monastery Swiftspear. Personally I think Nimble Mongoose is going to prove to be the better of the two, for a few reasons. For one, UR Prowess (the Delver deck that has historically played Monastery Swiftspear) is made weaker by the loss of Gitaxian Probe.

Secondly, without Deathrite Shaman around I suspect we are going to see a lot more two-color decks (as opposed to the three- and four-color ones we’ve become accustomed to), and thus a lot more basics. This weakens the power of Price of Progress, which in my opinion has been the biggest draw to playing burn strategies in Legacy. Third, as I mentioned earlier, going after your opponent’s mana is now a much stronger strategy again, making Canadian Threshold a.k.a the best Stifle deck in the format an appealing choice.

A couple of years ago—before Deathrite Shaman and before Miracles—the Legacy format had three dominant decks: Canadian Threshold (also known as RUG Delver), GW Maverick, and Stoneblade. It stands to reason that each of these decks have the potential to shine again now that the most influential printing since their success is gone, and I think all of them deserve a closer look. However, I suggest approaching them with a healthy amount of skepticism. It’s easy to get caught up in nostalgia over your old pet decks, but the fact that they were good six years ago does not mean that they will be good today. That said, they still very well might be. Just make sure to get some actual testing done so that you aren’t working with outdated data.

Canadian Threshold

I already mentioned that Canadian Threshold could be good again now that Deathrite Shaman is gone. Out of all the Delver decks it is the best at playing the tempo game and attacking the opponent’s mana. Its threats also get a lot better now that Deathrite Shaman is no longer around to keep your graveyard in check.


Having a mana-producing creature in play on turn one is a huge upside, and with Deathrite Shaman gone green once again has a monopoly on mana dorks. The deck has also gotten quite a few new tools since it last had its time in the spotlight. Recurring Wastelands with Ramunap Excavator might be a feasible plan now that Deathrite Shaman is gone, and Excavator also works excellently alongside Sylvan Safekeeper. Add Tireless Tracker to the mix, and Maverick has a really good chance of outgrinding most decks in the format.

Whether Maverick ends up among the decks to beat or not remains to be seen, but the fact stands that for the first time in a long time you have a good reason to play green.


Stoneblade was once the top control deck in the format, and with both Deathrite Shaman and Sensei’s Divining Top gone, perhaps it could be again. I think its threats in particular are better positioned now. Stoneforge Mystic gets better with fewer Kolaghan’s Commands around, and True-Name Nemesis benefits from the format slowing down. That being said, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about picking up Miracles again. Miracles was already a strong choice even after losing Sensei’s Divining Top, and it might just be the better of the Blue-White decks.

What happens to black decks now?

Black fair decks take a major hit from losing Deathrite Shaman. The format slowing down however makes hand disruption spells better, because discard generally fares worse when the opponent is able to empty their hand faster. So while I do believe that we are going to see a decline in black fair decks in the near future, I think it’s important to remember that the color still has a lot to offer. BGx decks have been succeeding in Modern despite the lack of Deathrite Shaman, and I would be surprised if Hymn to Tourach were to disappear entirely from the format. That said, I think it’s pretty obvious that Deathrite Shaman is what elevated these decks to tier one status. It’s probably going to be awhile before they rise to the top again.

To Summarize

Here is the quick hit version:

  • Death & Taxes gets a lot better again.
  • We’re going to see an increase in combo decks, especially during the first few weeks before people have adapted to the new metagame.
  • RUG Delver becomes the best Delver deck again.
  • White gets better again. Swords to Plowshares will be the most commonly played removal spell.

These are my predictions. But keep in mind that it’s incredibly difficult to accurately predict what is going to happen, so take them with a grain of salt. When choosing what to play, don’t overthink it, and focus on being proactive. As always, when it comes to Legacy, a lot of people are just going to play whatever they want.

I’m incredibly excited to see how the metagame develops, and stoked to be back into writing about Magic. Are you as excited as I am? Let me know your thoughts on the format going forward!

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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