Why We Love Legacy: Max Kahn on the Rules of Legacy

Max Kahn   September 8, 2017   Comments Off on Why We Love Legacy: Max Kahn on the Rules of Legacy

My article for this series is going to look a lot different than some of the other ones.

First, I’m not writing about a specific deck, since I’ll be covering some of the common rules scenarios and interactions in Legacy. And, I’m new to Legacy myself. I haven’t been shouting from the rooftops about my love of Legacy for years; I fell in love with the format only a few months ago.

My Legacy Origin Story

Obviously, the staff at Nerd Rage Gaming feels very strongly about supporting the Legacy format. It was included as one of the three formats for the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series from the beginning, and the Legacy events have always had great attendance and strong community support. I hadn’t judged any Legacy before the Series started, and my only familiarity with the format was through watching the occasional event on Twitch or watching Joe Lossett’s Miracle-Tek stream.

But then, I got a wake-up call. Enter Chains of Mephistopheles. Chains is one of the most unintuitive, strange, and confusing cards in Legacy, so obviously it comes up while judging my second Legacy event ever. If you haven’t read the now infamous “Chain of Nightmares” article, I promise* that it will be worth your time. That call taught me a lot of lessons, which I detail in the article, but I’ll try to rephrase here. Legacy isn’t about the weird rulings about any one card, but more about the interactions between cards**. When your judge call deals with four different cards — one of which you’ve never heard of, another one that is printed in a foreign language, and two others that have received semi-functional errata — that’s what makes Legacy hard.

*Depending on how you value your time. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably have time.

**Seriously, read the Chains of Mephistopheles article if you haven’t yet.

My first opportunity to play Legacy at Competitive REL was this summer at Grand Prix Las Vegas. A few weeks before the tournament, Noah Cohen had told me about a deck that he and Joe Lossett had been working on together for more than two years, and he gave me a preliminary deck list. It. Was. Sweet. The decklist that they settled on was a four-color Leovold list similar to Czech Pile, but it was playing copies of Unearth, which can return Leovold, True-Name Nemesis, Snapcaster Mage, and Deathrite Shaman to play, as well as the spicy sideboard tech Minister of Pain (which, after going to every vendor on Wednesday and coming up empty, Joe had to call local game stores in Las Vegas until he found the copies). After testing for part of the day Monday, and all of Tuesday and Wednesday, this was the list we settled on for the event.

4-color Unearth


Both Joe and Noah played to 8-1 finishes on Day 1 and Joe finished 11-4 for two pro points. While I had a ton of fun at the event, between some weird matchups and me just being a generally awful Magic player, I didn’t do as great as the two of them.

Regardless of my finish, this tournament (and the Legacy CTQ a few weeks later where I posted a 9th place finish with Mono-White Eldrazi) helped to establish my newfound passion for the Legacy format.

The Rules of Legacy

Now, let’s get into what you probably came here to read: the rules of Legacy. For obvious reasons, I won’t be covering Chains of Mephistopheles, but here are some tips and tricks to getting the most value out of two of the best cards in Legacy.

Leovold, Emissary of Trest: While new to the Legacy format, Leovold has already become a staple of BUG and 4-color midrange decks. Its two abilities are very potent, but are sure to cause some rules headaches.

  • The first ability, “Each opponent can’t draw more than one card each turn” is especially good against Brainstorm, since the player who cast it will have to put two cards from their hand back on the top of their library, regardless of how many cards they actually drew off the Brainstorm. It also turns Ponder into a very bad Index.
  • Leovold’s interaction with Dredge is also unique. Since the action of Dredging actually replaces a card draw, Leovold won’t shut down Dredge at all if the opponent hasn’t “actually” drawn a card for their turn yet, since the act of Dredging won’t count as a draw. However, once that player has drawn a card, it not only prevent future cards to be drawn this turn, but also prevents more Dredging for the rest of the turn.
  • Leovold’s second ability draws you a card whenever you or a permanent becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls. Being fatesealed or unsummoned by a Jace, the Mind Sculptor? Draw a card first. Opponent casting a Thoughtseize or a Cabal Therapy? Their decision just got a bit harder. Opponent wants to Bolt your Leovold so they can Brainstorm again? You’ll get another look for counter magic before the Elf bites the dust.
  • If a spell or ability an opponent controls would target multiple creatures you control, you’ll get to draw a card for each target.
  • Dueling Leovold’s work very interestingly, as the first ability of Player N’s Leovold will “turn off” the second ability on Player A’s Leovold after Player A’s draw step. Therefore, if playing in a Leovold mirror, you almost always want to attempt to destroy your opponent’s Leovold on or after their main phase, since they will have already drawn their card for turn.

True-Name Nemesis: Assuming you name your opponent with True-Name Nemesis … how are they able to kill it?

Yes: Wrath effects (Wrath of God/Terminus), -X/-X effects (Minister of Pain/Golgari Charm), Sacrifice effects (Diabolic Edict/Liliana of the Veil).

No: Targeted Removal (Abrupt Decay/Lightning Bolt), Blocking an opponent’s creature in combat (damage from that creature will be prevented).

You can’t “forget” to name a player with True-Name Nemesis. Once it’s realized that it’s been forgotten, call over a judge and they’ll have you name a player.

Quick Hits:

When casting a Cabal Therapy, the card isn’t named until resolution. They won’t know what you name until it’s already too late to counter it.

Chalice of the Void is a trigger; it doesn’t create a new rule. If your opponent controls a Chalice, it’s well within your right to cast a spell with the converted mana cost to make sure your opponent remembers their trigger.

You don’t choose the exiled permanent for Council’s Judgment until it resolves, similarly to Cabal Therapy.

Fatal Push can target any creature. It will check upon resolution to see if it will destroy the creature.

Lion’s Eye Diamond discards as part of the cost of activating the ability. You can’t cast anything from your hand using the mana from the LED, since it will already be discarded by then.

Wirewood Symbiote isn’t an Elf. As unintuitive as it may seem.

That seems about all I’ve got time (and words) for today, but I’m always willing to discuss more about Legacy if you’d like to know more. Feel free to reach out to me at max@nerdragegaming.com or on Twitter @MaxPlaysMTG. Until next time!

Max Kahn is the Event Manager for the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series and the Judge Manager for all Nerd Rage Gaming events. When he’s not answering your judge calls or working behind the scenes at your local event, he splits his time between Chicago, Seattle, and Twitter.