The Legacy landscape has been in constant flux since the banning of Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe. The same holds true for the Legacy Grand Prix at MagicFest Niagara Falls this weekend. Swords to Plowshares decks full of basic lands have continued their rise to the top of the metagame, preying on the likes of Moon Stompy, Dark Depths, and Delver of Secrets strategies.

Here are some cards that I feel are poorly positioned for this weekend and I think are best left at home.

Arclight Phoenix isn’t on this list so much for being poorly positioned as it is for not being up to snuff for the Legacy format, at least not yet. All the Arclight lists I’ve seen have suffered from two problems. Either they commit to Buried Alive to enable multiple phoenixes early without a robust backup plan, which makes them too easy to disrupt; or they slow down too much to play through common hate like Surgical Extraction.

These Arclight decks are pretty close to being contenders in the format, but should be left on the shelf unless you’ve cracked the code and found that missing spell or the proper backup plan.

Back to Basics was pivotal in the Azorius deck’s ascension to tier one, but now that they are on top of the metagame the format has started to shift and adapt. This means more basic lands and Back to Basics isn’t the game-ending threat it used to be.

Many of the decks currently at the top of the Legacy food chain are packing multiple basic lands. Of the sixteen Legacy decks in the Top 8 of the last two SCG Opens, fourteen had at least two basic lands. The other two decks only played one basic but were both playing four Mox Diamonds as well. With the top of the format shaping up this way, Back to Basics seems more like a misuse of sideboard space than the game winning prison piece it has been in the past.

Baleful Strix has been a Legacy staple ever since its printing way back in 2012. That being said, the format isn’t playing games in ways that are conducive to everyone’s favorite mechanical owl of death. The best threats in the format right now are Marit Lage and True-Name Nemesis, each either ignoring the deathtouch of the strix or evading the body all together.

Strix is even outclassed in the card-advantage-based matchups these days by Snapcaster Mage, Stoneforge Mystic, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Palace Jailer, Bitterblossom, Young Pyromancer, and many more. All of those cards generate a higher quality or quantity of card advantage. Some even do both! Baleful Strix’s time as a format all star certainly isn’t over, but I think this bird should be riding the bench this weekend.

I’m sure that I’ll catch some heat for this one from the loyal fans of Death’s Shadow, but this weekend isn’t the time to be playing it. Shadow decks struggle against the best decks in the field and are limited in their sideboard options due to the construction of their manabase. This leads to not gaining enough ground after sideboarding.

Examples include having to rely on Diabolic Edict against Golgari Depths even though the deck has stocked up on creatures to insulate themselves from these effects; or shadow decks boarding in Bitterblossom or Liliana, the Last Hope to try to combat Swords to Plowshares decks while walking into their Celestial Purges. Shadow as an archetype hasn’t been able to adapt well enough to the format changing around it, and as such isn’t a great choice for this weekend.

I know that earlier this week I gave you an article discussing Azorius Delver and included the list I would play this weekend in Niagara Falls, but I’ve decided that I would actually leave my Delver of Secrets at home and play this deck list from the mind of our 2018 North American Vintage Champion, Brian Coval.

Azorius Stoneblade

Creatures (11)
Snapcaster Mage
Stoneforge Mystic
True-Name Nemesis
Palace Jailer

Spells (28)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Umezawa’s Jitte
Force of Will
Swords to Plowshares
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare
Council’s Judment
Lands (21)
Flooded Strand
Arid Mesa
Scalding Tarn
Polluted Delta
Misty Rainforest

Sideboard (15)
Surgical Extraction
Engineered Explosives
Celestial Purge
Supreme Verdict
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Vendilion Clique
Containment Priest
Sword of Fire and Ice

It pains me greatly to cut my beloved Delver of Secrets. But I am in love with this 75 that Brian has been working on, and it’s what I would play this weekend. Cutting delver allows for the inclusion of the second Jace, the third Snapcaster Mage, and two Vendilion Clique, which bolsters the fair matchups greatly and keeps us in the running versus slow combo.

If you have any questions about my change of heart on delver in the deck or feel free to @ me or DM me on Twitter @HarlanFirer! If you would like to know more about Azorius Stoneblade you can also reach out to Brian himself on Twitter, and he also has a few recorded leagues with the deck over on his YouTube.

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