Alex Hamilton: Eulogy for a Friend

Alexander Hamilton   May 5, 2017   Comments Off on Alex Hamilton: Eulogy for a Friend

Hello my fellow wizards, and welcome to my very first article for Nerd Rage Gaming.

I was excited to write about Legacy and the deck that I love and have had a bit of success with, but then I received some very terrible news.

My dear friend had been suddenly taken from me, and the worst part is I did not even have a chance to say goodbye. So, this article will be in memory of my friend and ally Sensei’s Divining Top.

Allow me a moment to offer a eulogy for my departed friend:

Top was a very polarizing among those who had met it. As for me, I just knew Top as my old friend who gave me some sense of balance. Over the years I have known Top, it showed me many things that I thought could only be a miracle. I would even say that Top has sculpted my mind greatly, and shown me through many brainstorming sessions just how much someone can accomplish by force of will. I pondered which of the many close calls Top and I have had together that I should share with you today, but I decided that those were just for me to remember fondly. Now that we have reached the terminus of our dear friend’s life, I entreat you to not mourn Top. No words we could say would truly capture how much we miss our dear friend, even though it was an enemy to some. Many did portent the departure of Top, and no one was truly surprised by its demise considering the spinning lifestyle that Top led. So I would just like to say to my friend: It’s been a blast.

OK, that’s enough of the puns for today.

From keeping my ear to the ground I have heard two clear opinions on the banning of Top — and by proxy the crippling of Miracles. I will not directly address Wizards’ comments in the banned/restricted announcement, because it was very poorly written and argued, like many of these rationales.

The Argument For Banning Top

One of the non-arguments I have seen for banning Top is that it made rounds go longer, and that makes legacy tournaments less enjoyable. This is an interesting argument, but ultimately a non-starter. If it’s a concern, then why did they not ban every deck that is glacially slow?

One of the legitimate arguments I have heard is that Miracles has been the best Legacy deck for a long time. The reason it has been the best deck for so long is because better players tend to gravitate toward it, which brings into question whether “it’s the best deck” is a good enough reason to ban Top.

What the argument should have been against Miracles is that it pushes creature decks out of the format. To counter this, Legacy turned into a format of hyper-resilient creature decks with disruption and combo decks.

The Argument Against Banning Top

I wish I could have been in the meeting as they discussed the ban list. My argument against banning Top is that while Miracles was the best deck, it was not as oppressive as claimed. It did consistently put someone in the top 8 of major events, but you could say that of Delver decks as well. Does that say something about the deck or the pilot?

The barrier to banning something in Legacy really should be the cost of dismantling a pillar of the format that has existed for years.

The last deck that was really banned outright was Survival, and that deck was very resilient and oppressive. Banning cards such as Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise did not destroy decks, but just depowered them.

This is the same logic behind why Wizards did not ban Griselbrand when Sneak and Show rose to dominance. If you take out the demon the deck gets pushed to the fringes, so the Yawgmoth’s Bargain on a creature was allowed to stay.

Cui Bono? (Who Benefits?)

The big question in everyone’s mind right now is who gains the most from the demise of the deck that played instant speed sweepers. Here’s a list of the likely winners:

Elves

Obviously the creature deck is going to love that the instant speed wrath effects are gone.

Stoneblade

Miracles was doing many things this deck was doing, but did them much better. I, for one, will be excited to sleeve up my Stoneforge Mystics again.

Storm

Counterbalance is dead, long live the one-mana spells! The main reason Miracles was able to beat Storm was being able to float a Force of Will on top of the library to protect from discard. I suspect we will see Storm come back with a vengeance.

Belcher

It is likely we will see fewer Force of Will decks in the first few Legacy events, so this could be a great choice moving forward.

Delver/Wasteland Decks

Miracles preyed on them with a one-mana wrath and basic lands. It is very likely that we will see this come back because of its strong combo matchup and its ability to disrupt people while putting them under pressure.

True-Name Nemesis

See Elves.

Monastery Mentor

While this card did see a lot of play in Miracles, we will see this card rise to prominence now that we do not have the instant-speed wrath crashing the party. Patrick Chapin’s list from GP Seattle is probably a good starting point. Now that you don’t have to worry about creatures swept up on a whim, Mentor will see more play even if the ban crippled the deck it often calls home.

The Casualties

The other thing to think about is what decks/cards are hurt most by Miracles being powered down.

Eldrazi

This deck prayed on Miracles and did it well. It is possible it sticks around because the creatures are resilient and hit hard. Legacy players are very slow to change their decks, so I am sure you will still see these decks searching for the Miracles decks that they will never see again.

Chalice of the Void

We will see fewer one-mana spells, but this card will always be pretty good. It could actually end up going the opposite direction, because it is so good against storm and other combo decks.

Doomsday

Top was a key piece to its combo, and Doomsday will sadly be a victim of the ban.

Every other deck that relied on Top as its card selection

All those decks that tried to use Top to filter their draw will miss the loss of this fun little trinket. Because of this we will see an uptick in Brainstorm, Mirri’s Guile and Sylvan Library.

It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye

Why am I sad to see Top go?

A decent amount of my Legacy success has come from Tundra decks, and Miracles always felt right when I was piloting it. It always felt like you were in control of your own fate, and when you played well, it felt like you were unbeatable. It was always a deck that severely punished you for misplays, and it made me a better Magic player as a result. I also hope that this is not a trend that Wizards is going to follow with Legacy.

I will say that I am pleased that I will get to sleeve up my Stoneforges and Batterskulls for the next Legacy event I enter (Editor’s note: Such as, say, this one). Stoneblade, the deck many people know me for, was one of the decks that gained a lot from the departure of Miracles, and I will gladly brush the dust off of my Stoneblade cards, equip my creatures, and relive my Caw-blade days with much better cards.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope at least some part of this article has been helpful for you, and provided you with some insight into the greatest format in Magic.

See you next time, true believers!

Alexander Hamilton is a grinder from Chicago who is well-known for his love of Legacy. However, if there is a competitive event in any format in the Chicagoland area, expect him to be there playing Magic and making terrible puns, and not necessarily in that order.

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