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MTG Legacy Meta-Game

Updated on March 26, 2011

Advantages of Playing Legacy

Legacy is an eternal format of Magic:The Gathering where nearly all cards in Magic's history are legal for play. Unlike standard, there is no rotation. Cards remain legal unless they are banned from the format.

Legacy is popular with players who want to play with the best cards ever printed, continue playing with their older cards, and find it too expensive to keep up with standard. In the short term Legacy may seem more expensive than Standard but your cards do not lose value to rotation and once you have the staples it actually becomes much cheaper to come up with.

The other main advantage of Legacy is that so many decks are actually viable. Standard may be considered healthy if there are five or six viable decks. Many times one or two decks dominate any standard format. In legacy, upwards of 40 decks may be viable choices to enter a tournament.

The Legacy Meta-Game

Legacy provides a wide variety of decks to play but before entering into Legacy you will still need to have a basic understanding of the meta-game to build a deck which can succeed in the format.

Being able to play so many cards naturally increases the power level, consistancy, and speed of the format. Decks tend have very consistent mana, card draw, efficent casting costs, and tend to do very powerful things. If your deck is easily disrupted, or cannot keep up with the power of these decks, you may want to reconsider your deck choice.

These decks that follow are the common decks you should plan to encounter when playing in the legacy meta-game. What decks are most common tend to shift as the meta -game shifts. What is prevelant today, becomes hated out in time. Other decks rise up only to be replaced again by the same decks they replaced.

With not only the best threwats, but the best answers printed, Legacy is a suprisingly healthy formats that is in constant flux. There is no way to pack hate for every deck you may see. You need to constantly adjust your deck and sideboard as the format swings from one direction to another.


Merfolk is a modern version of the classic fish archetype. It uses a high number of efficient lords and the best blue-cards in the format. It aggressively beats the opponent down and effectively utilizes it's mana to play the best blue cards in the format to control the board. It makes strong use of aether vial to keep the pressure on. Force-of-Will and Daze are it's main counterspells.

The main weaknesses of Merfolk are decks with a high amount of removal, especially weenie-targeting sweepers, and decks that play larger, more efficient creatures. It is important to find the balance between over-extending and keeping sufficient pressure on your opponent.


Zoo utilizes fetch and dual lands to play the most effective beaters in the formats. Cards like Tarmogoyf, Wild Nacatl, Steppe Lynx, and Knight of the Reliquary. The path is kept clear for the creatures to attack with burn spells, such as lightning bolt and chain lightning helix, which can later be used to finish the opponent off.

Zoo has very few tools to control what their opponents are doing. This makes it very vulnerable to combo decks and lock down decks.


Dredge abuses the graveyard and it's namesake mechanic. The Dredge keyword states "If you would draw a card, instead you may put exactly X cards from the top of your library into your graveyard. If you do, return this card from your graveyard to your hand. Otherwise, draw a card." After discarding creatures to the graveyard it attempts to return them to win the game.

Dredge is a combo deck that tries to play solitaire. The skilled player knows how to play through graveyard hate but the inexperienced player often crumbles to it.


Goblins are a blazingly fast aggro deck powered out by Aether Vial, Goblin Lackey, and Goblin Warchief.  While beating face it disrupts opponents mana bases with Wastland and Rishadan Port.

Goblins is a tempo deck that relies on getting off to a fast start. Proper mulliganing is required. If a deck is able to disrupt your fast start they will likely go on to win with more powerful spells. Decks that cannot defend themselves from your fast start are very vulnerable.


Anyone who played during Mirrodin block remembers how broken Affinty was. Scars of Mirrodin has only added more weapons to this deck. This deck relies on the synergy of artifact cards and the Affinty mechanic. It is somewhat a cross between an aggro deck and a combo deck.

The main weakness's of Affinity are combo and artifact hate. This deck has been largely absent at the top tables but is still relatively popular among more casual players.

Legacy Is About Adapting

These are just some of the decks that you will face. Every week the meta-game shifts and a player needs to learn to adapt. There is no way to prepare for everything, but being prepared for the most common decks is key. Don't play your pet deck if it can not beat the top decks. Careful study of your meta-game is the key to succeeding in Legacy.


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