Reflections of 2018

Hey everyone! As the year comes to an end, I'd like to reflect on where this year has gone. It's been quite the year for Magic and Legacy. We've had the bannings of Gitaxian Probe and Deathrite Shaman that have changed the format and changed our decklist. Looking back at decklists from the beginning of the year, the differences are apparent. At that point, the deck was playing green in the sideboard in order to combat a resurgence of Miracles with Counterbalance. Despite Miracles being one of the most powerful decks in the format currently, the current iteration of the list has cut green entirely, for almost the opposite reasons it was added at the beginning of the year! (if you want to read more about why that is the case, Bryant has a great article here) Due to the bannings, Gitaxian Probe had to be removed, and as a consequence, Cabal Therapy followed suit, being replaced with Thoughtseize.

Deck Lists

In the sideboard, we see a multitude of changes, which reflect where the format has gone after the banning. The first, Xantid Swarm has been pseudo-replaced with Hope of Ghirapur. Xantid Swarm probably has the better effect of the two cards, but given that playing it makes the mana base much less consistent, Hope of Ghirapur has currently replaced it. Telemin Performance has been an effect that has been removed altogether. This is because of a decrease in decks such as Show & Tell and Lands. Even against Lands, the card lost all of its value post-board due to Tireless Tracker. The format adjusted in such a way that the card was no longer useful. The other interesting removal has been a second or third copy of Empty the Warrens. Delver decks have been disappearing from the format and there was not even a single copy of Delver of Secrets in the top 8 of the last couple big events. So what effects were added instead? Chalice of the Void is one of the biggest problems for the EPIC Storm and Pulverize is a great answer. The other free spell in the sideboard, Massacre was added to help combat Death & Taxes and Maverick decks, which saw an increase after the Pro Tour.

Legacy Media

One of the most exciting events of the year to watch was the Pro Tour 25th Anniversary. This is the first time the Legacy has been a Pro Tour format. Being able to watch the best in the world play my favorite format was a highlight of my Magic year. I think it's also an important showcasing of the format to help renew interest as well. Legacy and Magic are at their best when more people are playing. Looking at the most successful decks from the Pro Tour, Death & Taxes and the breakout Death's Shadow, it's clear that there are powerful strategies that don't require owning tons of dual lands!

Affording Legacy

One of the other big changes to Legacy over the past year has been some of the huge increases in reserved list staples. Looking at some of the cards in the deck, Lion's Eye Diamond and Underground Sea had some of the biggest price increases they've ever seen. Underground Sea started the year at about $450, according to MTGStocks.com. Its price has jumped by over $200 to $670, on average. Lion's Eye Diamond, the most pivotal card in the deck also rose in price. It started off the year at $140 and is currently sitting at about $210. All of these price increases have affected the rest of the format as well, making it harder to get into. I think that people calling Legacy a "Dead Format" is hyperbolic, but Legacy is starting to run into some of the same issues as Vintage because of deck costs.

Underground Sea
Infernal Tutor
Lions Eye Diamond

Luckily, in paper isn't the only way to play Magic! On Magic the Gathering Online (MTGO), the price of the EPIC Storm has dropped significantly. When I bought into Magic Online at the end of last year, I paid almost $400 for the deck. According to MTGGoldfish, the deck is only about $170! One of the cards that have helped with this price decrease has been Infernal Tutor. At the beginning of the year, it was about $20 and now it is only $1.50. Despite MTGO having some problems, it is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to play the EPIC Storm and Legacy!

My Magical Year

I think I've gotten better at this deck and at Magic this year. That's always the goal, but recently I've started playing more and being able to play around more cards. My favorite part of Magic is playing mind games with an opponent. Figuring out if I need to play around a Spell Pierce, a Flusterstorm or a Force of Will simply by reading my opponent's game actions is something I struggled with for a long time. Over the course of this year, I've gotten better at it, though I'm far from perfect!

One of the bigger changes to my relation to Magic this year has been starting to write for this website. At the end of last year, I sent Bryant a piece about playing a Taiga in the EPIC Storm. When I sent it, I hoped that he might read it. Instead, he let me publish my crazy ramblings on this website! Later this year, I got picked up to co-write the Infernal Tutoring series and do these types of one-off articles. For me, this meant a lot. I'm probably on the younger side for Legacy players (I remember a couple of events where I was actually the youngest person in the room by five years or so) and I grew up reading Magic content from all over the place. Becoming a writer for Magic has been an important experience for me and is my way to give back to the incredible Legacy community.

I believe that the community is one of the biggest reasons I stay involved in Magic overall. A friend was recently running a study about why people play Magic and Legacy and when he asked me why I picked Legacy as my format of choice, it took me a while to figure out that the people are why I keep playing this game. Why do you play Magic? How has your Magic year been? Let me know in the comments!


Alex McKinley

Alex McKinley is a computer scientist who loves mixing Magic and technology. Occasionally, when he goes outside, he spends his time winning Quidditch Championships and camping.