Miracles is dead. Your Mirri’s Guile, Scroll Rack, or Sylvan Library isn’t going to fix that. Accept it, and start preparing for the future. That future is very exciting, but somewhat uncertain. This article is a little more stream of consciousness than my normal writing, as I don’t necessarily have all the correct answers this time around, and I’m changing my mind on ideas daily. The way I approach these changes and the way others do may vary wildly as well. There are a few fundamental truths that I think are logical conclusions from the ban:
1. Elves gets way better now that Terminus is gone.
It is likely one of the best decks, but not the best deck. It doesn’t interact well with other combo in game 1, so that will likely keep it from having the title of top dog.
2. Lands gets a bit better with Miracles out of the way.
Lands players weren’t thrilled to play against Miracles. It wasn’t unwinnable, but the normal disruption Lands offered didn’t quite line up well against Miracles; Miracles was also more than happy to play the long game.
3. Deathrite Shaman is the best creature in the format.
Truth be told, I expected a card from Miracles and Deathrite to go with this banning. The one mana “planeswalker” is a must-play card if you are in the colors, and I expect it will now reach Brainstorm levels of play. We’ve already seen many decks splashing just for the activated abilities of this critter, which is telling. Just imagine how much better this card is going to feel when it doesn’t incidentally get swept off the field with a Terminus.
I don’t particularly think any of these points are up for debate, and most of the people writing about the changes tend to agree with me. Those are the simple, level zero thoughts though. What changes because of these things? Where do the Miracles pilots turn? Does Top being gone have other ramifications? What decks or creatures are well-poised to strike now that Terminus isn’t going to be a tournament staple? In no particular order, these are my thoughts:
4. Fast combo likely sees a small resurgence as the Miracles players (all playing counterspells) find new decks (not all of which will contain counterspells).
5. Blood Moon decks become better as Miracles (a basic-heavy deck) leaves the format. The exception here is Painter, which is really going to miss Top.
6. Stoneblade decks make at least some degree of resurgence, as Miracles largely invalidated it.
7. Delver decks see a slight uptick in popularity due to ample early interaction.
8. Cards like True-Name Nemesis or Nimble Mongoose (and to a lesser extent, Leovold) are well-positioned with Terminus gone. Some amount of Toxic Deluge or other sweepers appears to deal with them.
9. The amount of Swords to Plowshares in the format drops a bit. Threats/decks that were soft to it are worth another look.
The Miracles players need to go somewhere. Some portion of them will shift over to other control decks, but others will jump to entirely different types of decks. In the initial period of instability, being on a linear combo deck seems great. Kill your opponent while their dead cards and poor deckbuilding choices cause them to stumble. The control decks of the format are going to have issues in the first couple of weeks. The whole idea behind an effective control deck is that you know what your opponents are most likely to be playing, and you come prepared with cards to invalidate their decisions. When you don’t know what to prepare for, it’s really hard to optimize your deck.
10. Sideboards of the format shift dramatically.
This is, in my opinion, the most important implication of the bannings, and it’s not something that is immediately obvious. We’ve had Miracles around for so long, that maybe you haven’t realized how warped your deck has become to fight it. D&T, for example, has historically had cards like Sword of War and Peace and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to fight against it. Those cards are considerably worse, and maybe unplayable at the moment. Many decks played cards like Winter Orb, Krosan Grip, or Abrupt Decay to fight against Miracles. The need to have anti-Miracles cards is gone, so that means that most Legacy decks will have room for other hate. For many decks, 3-5 cards in the sideboard might be changing. That is huge by Legacy standards.
Decks that previously couldn’t afford a certain type of hate due to the omnipresence of Miracles now have newfound freedom. That may result in more specific hate than what we’ve seen from Legacy in the past few years. I would expect more specialized hate like Engineered Plague, Surgical Extraction, Leyline of the Void, Warmth, and Dread of Night to start appearing. Obviously, what sort of specialized hate will appear depends on how the metagame shifts, but I think this is going to be a very real occurrence moving forward.
The State of D&T
The good news is that we’re going to have a very diverse and exciting metagame for the next few weeks (or even months). The bad news is that traditional D&T is going to be very poorly positioned for a little while. It will still likely be a tier one deck, but we’re not going to have nice, positive matchups against the entire top of the metagame any more. We’re faced with problems on four primary fronts: Elves is going to be popular, fast combo will be popular, we can’t adjust our deck to beat a known metagame, and people will have more room in sideboards for hate for us. If my other predictions are right, we may start seeing more True-Name Nemesis wielding Umezawa’s Jitte, which is also problematic. The conclusion should be obvious by now:
Don’t play traditional D&T for the next few weeks
The key to that sentence is actually the word traditional. I actually think that D&T can be a great choice moving forward, but if there has ever been a time to try a splash or try something kooky, it’s right now. If I were going to an event this weekend, I’d try a red splash. Blood Moon is going to be good, so Magus of the Moon should do a suitable impression. I really like the idea of having some pingers like Cunning Sparkmage, Fireslinger, or Goblin Sharpshooter to mow down Elves and other small threats.
Red Splash Draft
Three Magus might be a touch ambitious, but I have a feeling that card will just be ending games all over the place. If I dropped Caverns from this list, I’d replace at a Cunning Sparkmage with a Goblin Sharpshooter. Sudden Demise is tempting, but I like my splash cards to be creatures so that Vial gives me a couple more ways to get them in play.
Alternative, I’ve thought that a black splash might be great as well:
Post 4/24/17 W/B D&T
Kambal, Consul of Allocation should be a great way to annoy various combo decks of the format, and Orzhov Pontiff seems like a major annoyance to both Elves and True-Name based decks. It’s tempting to run discard, but even if you dump the Caverns for more true black sources, you still only end up with a 50-something percent chance to have black mana in your opener. That’s a bit risky for a card you want to play on turn 1.
Of note, there are a couple of deckbuilding decisions going into both of these lists. SoWaP gets the axe. It’s my favorite card in D&T, but since I was playing it primarily for Miracles, it is probably not a good choice right now. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar either gets trimmed or cut completely for the same reason. Revoker is still a great card, but I think it’s likely fine to go down to two in order to diversify the hate a bit.
I’m not actually sure that Cavern of Souls is good anymore; trading creatures one for one with counterspells is fine, it was just the fear of getting locked out by a Counterbalance that pushed players to try two or three copies of the card. If I were to play mono-white, I’d try other lands in this slot for a little while. Horizon Canopy, Mishra’s Factory,
and Ghost Quarter all seem like reasonable inclusions. Cavern sort of functions as a dual land with upside in the splash builds, so it might still be fine there.
Many of the staple deckbuilding decisions of the past simply aren’t going to hold true moving forward. I’d even be willing to try D&T without Port at this point. I’d guess that over half of my Port activations were against Miracles. Denying mana to basic lands is amazing, but if the most prominent basic land deck leaves the format, and multi-color decks shine, trimming or cutting Port isn’t going to be the most blasphemous thing I’ve ever heard. Ghost Quarter would be the potential substitution. I think I’d lean towards keeping Port at the moment, as it’s going to be good against the various Blood Moon / Chalice of the Void decks looking to accelerate out stuff via Ancient Tomb, but I’m not above trying it out. The issue with Ghost Quarter is that it isn’t always consistently good like Port is; it has higher upside in many cases though, so that’s not to be ignored. Again, I don’t think cutting Port is a good idea, but it’s on my list of things to keep an eye on depending on where the metagame goes.
More than anything else, I suggest you think for yourself and do some research. There are so many people writing and speaking about Legacy right now. Joe Losset, Sean Brown, and Bob Huang all have thoughts that are 100% worth your time. There’s more discussion about Legacy on Reddit and The Source than I have seen in ages. The banning went into effect immediately on MTGO, so you can mine data off the 5-0 results in a couple of days for an early look at the metagame. I am very excited about the changes to Legacy. I love research and tinkering, and this is the perfect time for me to actually try out a bunch of the ideas I’ve had on the back burner for ages. I do have a request though: If you all could load up on copies of Perish, that would be great…