Originally I was going to write an article about how the Legacy meta game might turn out in light of the recent banning of Top. However because everyone else has already discussed that to the point of redundancy, I’ve decided to write specifically about Miracles and what happens to the archetype moving forward… I personally feel that all is not lost, we can make a new control deck, and we can make it work! So without further ado lets get started.
While it is still entirely up in the air whether Top was the correct choice for banning, regardless of what people say it was the card that got hit and now we all have to deal with the repercussions. Legacy is a new frontier now, a change in the meta this large has not occurred in a long time and it will be a while before the format fully establishes itself once again. So what does this mean for control you might be asking? Well the truth is – it will be very difficult to make an optimal control deck in the format until we have a good understanding of where the meta is going. So for the next couple of weeks expect to probably be seeing a lot of variations in builds as the control players won’t be able to tailor their decks for specific expected metas. In essence the effect of a massively shifting meta will make control decks not viable for a small amount of time. HOWEVER I fully believe that the remnants of Miracles can definitely be salvaged, and a new (Not necessarily as powerful (but still good)) control deck can be created.
Firstly we must answer a few questions: What options do previous Miracles players have? Can the deck be Salvaged? Will Legacy ever have another control deck that is viable again?
To answer the first question: A decent amount actually. The majority of the expensive pieces of the deck were the mana base and what I would call “evergreen” cards (cards that can be played in a lot of strategies). These cards include Jace, The Mind Sculptor, Snapcaster Mage and Force of Will. Moving forward there are multiple places a previous Miracles player could go with their left over cards. To name a few examples they could: Make a new Counter Balance deck (More on that below), play Jeskai or BR Delver, or play a brand new control archetype (More on that below too). So while the king of Legacy has fallen, its remains are still quite readily playable once the meta establishes itself.
Before we get into the new stuff I want to cover the topic of salvaging Miracles and the Counter-Top strategy. It seems like a possibility to actually partially bring the strategy back to fruition, however I truly don’t believe it will be as powerful as it once was. There is no good replacement for Top (which was most likely WotC’s intention). However some options do exist so I’ll list them here:
Mirri’s Guile: Mirri’s Guile is a definitely a possible replacement for Top. But it suffers from the problem of only being activate-able once a turn, and not in response to what your opponent is doing. This alone makes the card very difficult to work with. Yes, in theory you could try to guess what your opponent is going to play, but the true power of Top and Balance came from the ability to respond to your opponent’s spells with the Balance trigger on the stack. Additionally being forced to play green (A very non-control oriented color) just does not seem incredibly optimal. It is possible however that Guile could be utilized to make a fringe Counter-Guile strategy.
Sylvan Library: This one is interesting, a lot of people have suggested it. But it suffers from the same problem as Guile, and honestly for strictly Counter Balance tech Guile is probably better. But the Library definitely does have a lot more usefulness in general – as it provides filtering, and card advantage.
Scroll Rack: Scroll Rack has the added bonus of not requiring a splash, AND most importantly it can be activated in response to an opponent. However its two mana casting cost, and limit to only one activation a turn really makes it less enticing. The ability to put any card from your hand on top of the library however is in theory better than Top, as in some cases you will have four or more different CMC spells to choose from. But again the limit of one activation a turn may just be too much for the deck to keep up.
Soothsaying: People have already begun testing with this card and some say it is not very good. However while it may not be as good as Top, I still think this card is definitely worth trying out. It does not suffer from the one activation a turn Scroll Rack and the other cards are limited to, and it is not in off colors. The only issue is that this card could potentially turn into a major mana sink. In some cases it would only be viable to use it twice in a turn and there wouldn’t even be any mana left over to cast other spells.
Another option with running Counter Balance is to not run a Top effect at all. The card itself is actually fairly good on its own, and running filtering such as Brainstorm and Ponder could be enough to at least get some value off of it.
Additionally some have discussed going back to Enlightened Tutor plus Counter Balance to play a toolbox of artifacts, put them on top of the library with Tutor to counter your opponents spells, and then be able to play said artifact the next turn. This idea could perhaps even be coupled with one of the cards mentioned above to make an entirely new breed of Counter Balance deck.
While the era of Counter-Top may be long over, it still definitely seems like Topless-Top might actually be a viable option in the coming future, at least turning into a fringe deck winning a tournament here and there if anything.
So what’s the new stuff?
Many people have begun exploring the option of completely dropping Counter Balance and finding a new variation of control. In fact some of the new decks very closely resemble Modern’s own version of Jeskai control. One of these decks have actually already put up a result on an MTGO Daily Legacy Tournament. While as of the writing of the article this was a one time thing, it definitely shows the strategy at least has some merit. Here is a general deck list that is based off of the winning deck from this new strategy:
Legacy UW Control
1 Palace Jailer
2 Vendilion Clique
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
3 Snapcaster Mage
1 Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
2 Cavern of Souls
3 Scalding Tarn
4 Flooded Strand
2 Containment Priest
2 Invasive Surgery
2 Back to Basics
1 Ceremonious Rejection
2 Rest in Peace
2 Pithing Needle
As you can see it is essentially a classic Magic control deck. Some counterspells here, some Snapcaster Mage’s there, and some planeswalker win conditions – all capped off with a toolbox of spells. This is very likely where control in Legacy will be going in the future. While the deck is definitely not as powerful as Miracles, it is very modular and adaptable to almost any meta. Once the rest of Legacy establishes itself again this new UWx control deck will most likely be the new control deck of the format.
Additionally some people have been experimenting with cards such as Restore Balance and the Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo. Which all are also viable options for a new control deck. However only time will tell which version ends up on top.
But what do you think? Will a new control deck find its place in the Legacy meta game? Feel free to leave any questions, comments, or concerns in the section below.
And as always, happy gaming!