Welcome to part one of my three part instalment on the recent happenings in the Magic Eternal scene. I’ll be bringing you three articles across three days, covering the Eternal Masters release, the double GP weekend just gone, and the Magic: the Gathering Online (MTGO) Legacy Gauntlet.
I would like to preface this article by saying that I don’t play MTGO much – if at all. I hated the buggy, visually unappealing, sometimes unintuitive client, and I could generally get better fun for less money in less time by playing Hearthstone. I primarily joined because I was cashed up and wanted to draft in my underpants, but have since drafted standard sets a few times, as well as played a few cubes. I felt like I had got my US$10 worth from the account. Then Wizards opened the Legacy Gauntlet. Since then, I have opened Hearthstone once, forgotten how to aerial in Rocket League, and generally let every other game fall by the wayside. I have jammed round after round of legacy, only stopping to go about my daily life and travel into the city to play paper legacy. Heck, I’m currently writing while passing priority and waiting for rounds to end. I love it that much.
For $8 per three round queue, you can be assigned one of 13 random Legacy decks. These range from Storm, to Delver, to Death and Taxes, to Miracles. You do battle with an opponent’s similarly assigned random decks. If you’re good, you’re rewarded with 90 play points + 1 Qualifier Point for three wins, 60 play points for two wins, or 20 play points for one win. There is also an alternate entry price of 60 points. Simply put, if you win two matches, you get to queue again! This is some insane value. I pay more to play paper legacy, and have to win three rounds to earn my entry back.
While I have some experience in Legacy, I’m by no stretch a Rich Hagon or Reid Duke and still make (occasionally downright imbecilic) mistakes. My opponents so far have been of a relatively fair level of skill. It certainly helps that Wizards’ page on the Gauntlet gives the full decklist and a short blurb on how to play the deck correctly, even reminding unfamiliar players to hold Ctrl (hold priority) when casting Infernal Tutor in Storm. I don’t consider it ‘poor form’ for an established Legacy player to enter the queue. You’ll often be given a deck or a line, or a sideboard choice that will stump you, no matter your regular deck.
Very Important Stuff
The decks are, for the most part, fairly simplistic. Each are designed to showcase the playstyle and unique techniques, plays and engines of their respective archetypes. To that end, Wizards have opted to keep the ‘tech’ low level, relegating some cards which veterans would put in the main to the sideboard. Before round one begins, players are given the option to use their 75 cards to fine tune the mainboard and sideboard to their own tastes, which I think is a brilliant option to have. I have personally slipped a Red Elemental Blast into the main of Miracles every time I’ve played it, mostly because the cube is very blue dense.
With regards to the ‘meta’, as stated, the Gauntlet is very blue heavy. Nine of the thirteen decks run blue in some form, making Red Elemental Blast a must have a great deal of the time. Additionally, seven decks have combo win conditions, which can result in some unexpected blowouts but also give you a sense of accomplishment when correctly playing with or against these decks. Because there’s no choice in what deck you’re playing, you’ll just have to take the bad matchups with the good matchups.
Well this game just doubled in difficulty.
Of the decks available, I feel that Miracles is the strongest by far (and no surprise given its constructed meta percentage) as it has six counters main, plus Counterbalance. Ultimately it loses fairly easily to Death and Taxes and Eldrazi. One uses Aether Vial to dodge countermagic, and the other plays creatures at CMCs that Miracles is not designed for with Cavern of Souls (and ultimately is among the fastest beatdown decks in the format).
In my experience, Lands is the weakest deck in the Gauntlet. It runs no counter-magic, relies on Wasteland and Rishidan Port to deny combo decks (most of which can combo with one or two lands, and fetch basics when they see what you’re playing) and takes some time to assemble its own combo. The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale is a very weak card in this Gauntlet, hurting only Elves, Grixis Pyro, and Shardless BUG, and has earned a slot in my sideboards because of this. Similarly, Glacial Chasm is also relegated to the sideboard. Glacial Chasm is a great card against beatdown, but it requires the Lands player to have some presence along with a Manabond/Exploration plus Life from the Loam engine online, or it stagnates your board while they look for answers.
Wizards have definitely hit a winner with this event, and I’ll be sad to see it go on the 16th. If you can, get in for some games. It’s great for the experienced and the new alike.
Tune in tomorrow for my thoughts on Eternal Masters from a Legacy player’s perspective.