Teambuilding and SCG Baltimore

The next big Legacy event on my schedule really isn’t a true Legacy event, as odd as that is to say. It’s the Team Constructed event SCG is hosting in Baltimore. This particular Team Constructed event is quite the doozie in that each player will be playing either Standard, Modern, or Legacy for their team. Today I’d like to go over some of my thoughts about the effect this event structure is going to have on deckbuilding and metagame choices for the weekend. More so than my usual content, what follows is opinion, though I do think these are all reasonable deductions.

Prediction 1: Teams will be built around Legacy players. The Legacy player will likely be the strongest player on the team.

I believe that the average “grinder” level player is going to be well-versed in Standard and Modern out of necessity. Given the changes to the SCG Tour (or whatever it calls itself on any given Thursday), that’s just the way things are. Standard and Modern Opens/Classics are the norm these days, with Legacy events becoming a bit of a treat sprinkled here and there. Due to the changes in prize support to the IQs, Standard and Modern IQs are also going to outnumber Legacy IQs by a pretty substantial margin. On the GP circuit as well, Legacy events are relatively limited. It’s not that people aren’t playing Legacy and promoting Legacy events, it’s that there are far fewer Legacy events than events of the other two formats. My point here is that the average grinder is going to have much more practice playing Standard and Modern than Legacy, and this has a pretty big impact on team building.

I think, relatively speaking, for most people, it will be easy to find a Standard and Modern player. Finding a Legacy player might be a bit trickier. This isn’t the sort of event where you hand your buddy a burn deck and wish them the best of luck; instead, this is an event where you *need* every player to pull their weight. Accordingly, I think the best teams for the event will be built around the Legacy players. I expect players who have their names attached to a Legacy deck to anchor many of these teams. Joe Losset on Miracles, Tom Ross on Infect, Daryl Ayers or David Long on Lands, Bryant Cook on TES…you get the idea. As a side effect of that, I do think that the strongest player on the team will likely be the Legacy player. Your Legacy player is likely either A) a specialist who has a disdain for other formats or B) a player who plays enough Magic and has been for playing long enough to be well-versed in Legacy as well as other formats. I’m giddy at the thought of the great matches I’m going to get to play this weekend.

Prediction 2: Legacy deck choices will be disproportionately skewed towards the top of the metagame, especially Miracles.

One of the cool things about your typical Legacy event is that if you own a deck, you can just come and play without many changes to your deck. This means that there are tons of random people showing up with decks that don’t even register on the metagame scale these days. Maverick, Enchantress, MUD, Nic Fit, Goblins…you’ll realistically run into deck like these from time to time. Yet this isn’t a typical Legacy event, now is it? Do you want a Merfolk player as your Legacy anchor? I doubt it. I’d find another Legacy player before I teamed with someone playing a deck that I actively perceived as bad. Accordingly, expect fewer “random” decks than you would on a normal weekend.

There are two not-so-closely-guarded secrets about Legacy deck choices. The first is that people play what they know. Don’t expect established players to suddenly switch decks for the weekend. Legacy, perhaps more so than any other format, rewards your knowledge of matchups and interactions. Having years of practice piloting a deck really pays off and rewards you with slight edges against your opponents that add up quickly. The second is that experienced Legacy players gravitate towards Miracles with a strange affinity. Miracles may not always be the best choice for any given weekend, but it is rarely a bad one. The deck has a great degree of consistency and flexibility, giving experienced players tons of opportunities to wiggle their way out of tough spots using their format experience. People often joke about the “sea of Miracles” at the top tables of events, but there is quite a bit of truth in that friendly comment.

Prediction 3: Legacy pilots who frequently switch decks will play a BUG deck.

There are plenty of Legacy players who own a substantial portion of the cards in the format and play a little bit of everything. These players often switch from one flavor of Delver to another, or play whatever blue deck they perceive to be the best for the weekend. Given all of the recent hype surrounding both Reid Duke’s deck from GP:Louisville and Fatal Push, I think many of these sorts of players will be messing around with BUG decks of various natures. BUG Delver had already been on the rise recently, and I expect Fatal Push will cause more players to revisit that archetype. Shardless BUG, though currently on a bit of a decline, is another one of those decks that is rarely a bad choice; its overall high card quality and resiliency steal plenty of games.

This means that we’ve got ~5 different BUG archetypes to consider for the weekend:

BUG Leovold
BUG Delver
Shardless BUG
Other, less aggressive BUG Fatal Push decks (e.g. Standstill, Snapcaster-based control, etc.)

If we lump all of these together, I’d expect that BUG decks will make up at least 10% of the expected field, with 15% or more not being outside the realm of possibility.

I’ll be teaming with two of my friends from Roanoke, Mike Kerby (Standard) and Harley Cox (Modern), for this event. Both formats have had relatively big shake ups recently, so we have quite a bit of work to do in testing those two formats in the next two weeks or so. I’m feeling pretty good about 74/75 of the cards in my Legacy deck, with Sword of Body and Mind being the loose slot. While it overperforms against BUG, it’s mediocre elsewhere. It’s likely that card gets the axe to bring Sword of Fire and Ice back to the main, but I want to get in more games before I abandon SoBaM too early. SoBaM is proving to be cripplingly good against the BUG decks, but very mediocre elsewhere. I have a couple of other interesting ideas I want to try out, but time will likely be the limiting factor on that front. In addition to prepping for this event, I need to play out the top 4 of a local Legacy league and get in my matches for a Vintage league. Turns out Thalias are good in that format too…

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Phil Gallagher

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