Breaking into Legacy – Victory for Budget at SCG: Richmond

So, what about that SCG: Richmond? According to Drew Levin (since we are too lazy to check the facts ourselves), the SCG: Richmond Legacy Open was the first Legacy Open in SCG history to not feature Brainstorm and Force of Will in the final match. Not only is this huge for Legacy (since Brainstorm decks are historically dominant), but this is also huge for budget players. According to TCGPlayer, the total price of the two decks barely breaks the $500 mark. And that’s for two decks!

With Burn taking back-to-back SCG Opens, budget players everywhere are taking notice: you can win in Legacy on a budget! However, it may not last long. Unfortunately, burn’s weakness will surely be taking place in the coming weeks – a prepared sideboard. For so long, Burn has been hampered by the presence of Counterbalance. With Counterbalance out of the metagame—for now—burn is suddenly a decent choice. It packs so much redundancy that traditional counterspells cannot stop. Control decks had to find a source of card advantage in order to fight burn, and Counterbalance provided that card advantage.

As evidenced by Jesse Hatfield’s sideboard and the “Shot in the Dark” control deck pioneered by David Gearhart, Counterbalance is back. Alongside Counterbalance, expect to see traditional burn hate such as Warmth, Circle of Protection: Red, and Leyline of Sanctity pop up. So what’s a budget player to do? Easy—don’t play burn. With Affinity doing well in SCG: Richmond, burn may not be the only viable option for players on a tight budget.


Creatures (23)
Etched Champion
Master of Etherium
Signal Pest
Vault Skirge

Spells (21)
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
Cranial Plating
Mox Opal
Springleaf Drum

Lands (16)
Ancient Tomb
Darksteel Citadel
Seat of the Synod
Vault of Whispers

Avg Price on as of 2/8/2012: $223.62

Do you remember when Tezzeret was $30 a pop? Luckily he’s fallen down to the $10-13 range, which makes Affinity all that more affordable.  Perhaps ironically, the keyword Affinity is nowhere to be seen on this list save for Thoughtcast, but the name and strategy remains intact. Play out your entire hand on turn 1, and see if your opponent can stop you.

Ancient Tomb is a relatively new addition to the deck. Since the deck runs very little Affinity cards, having as many artifacts on the field isn’t as important as turning metalcraft on for Mox Opal and Etched Champion. Three artifacts is easy to hit though. This looser requirement allows you to be more explosive—turn 2 Tezzerets or turn 1 Etched Champions are more common with Ancient Tomb.

Beyond Affinity

As with most budget decks, these cards aren’t used much elsewhere. Tezzeret is appearing alongside Jace, but other than that, Affinity is essentially stand alone.


Creatures (37)
Liliana of the Veil
Cursed Scroll
Dark Ritual
Diabolic Edict
Ensnaring Bridge
Go for the Throat
Hymn to Tourach
Innocent Blood

Lands (23)
Mishra’s Factory
12 Swamp
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Avg Price on as of 2/8/2012: $420.61

Pox is the mono black control deck of the format. Lock down your opponent with Smallpox, discard, and removal. The symmetry with Smallpox sucks, but you can take advantage of it by preparing yourself ahead of time. Eventually you’ll land a Liliana and start grinding out your opponent. Ensnaring Bridge does an amazing job of protecting Liliana. Cursed Scroll and Mishra’s Factory beats provide your win condition.

There are many directions to take Pox. Some seek to break the symmetrical effects of Liliana and Smallpox by running creatures like Nether Spirit or Bloodghast. Another way as well is running Crucible of Worlds. Find out what works for you. Other cards to consider with Pox are the Rack, Sinkhole, Bitterblossom (combine with Contamination for a lock on non-black decks), and if you can splash a color, Life from the Loam.

Admittedly, the list above isn’t the most budget friendly. Wastelands unfortunately are pretty necessary as they serve as a way to deal with man lands, which otherwise could cause problems. However, if you want to cheapen the deck, the deck could run 3 Lilianas instead and skimp on the Urborgs. The Urborgs are pretty important though since much of your deck revolves around multiple black mana.

Beyond Pox

If you can manage to get the Wastelands, then other black tempo decks may be in the horizon. Decks like Eva Green use the same tools, like Wasteland, Dark Ritual, and Hymn to Tourach, but seek to kill with creatures like Tarmogoyf and Tombstalker instead of grinding out a long game. If that’s your cup of tea, it’s certainly worth looking at.

NO Elves

Creatures (35)
Llanowar Elves
Fyndhorn Elves
Quirion Ranger
Priest of Titania
Elvish Archdruid
Elvish Champion
Imperious Perfect
Sylvan Messenger
Ezuri, Renegade Leader

Spells (8)
Green Sun’s Zenith
Natural Order

Lands (17)
Dryad Arbor
16 Forest

Avg Price on as of 2/8/2012: $264.04

Contrary to the deck name, this deck actually runs Elves. The NO in NO Elves stands for Natural Order. The strategy for this deck is simply: play out your Elves while using Sylvan Messenger to fill your hand back up. If that fails, hit the emergency reset button in Natural Order. Progenitus steals games it has no right stealing. Of course, if you have Natural Order in your opening hand, feel free to Natural Order at the earliest opportunity – everyone loves a turn 3 Progenitus, except for your opponent.

Perhaps a surprise to some, this deck does not share many cards with Elves Combo. Still, this may serve as a budget option to Elves Combo. In fact, the deck is still buildable without Natural Order, though it gets much weaker to some strategies as it lacks an outright “I Win” button. We personally like Genesis Wave (as a 2-of) if we can’t use Natural Order. In addition to being a bajillion times cheaper than Natural Order, Genesis Wave gets nasty with Quirion Ranger and Priest of Titania shenanigans, and hearing your opponent sadly say “Ok” to a twenty-sum Genesis Wave is amazing. In fact, cutting Natural Orders from the deck for budgetary reasons can cut the cost of the deck by half.

Beyond NO Elves

Natural Order and Green Sun’s Zenith are the main cards you get out of NO Elves. Natural Order seems limited play in Maverick sideboards and, alongside UW Stoneblade, dominated Legacy during the Mental Misstep era.  Green Sun’s Zenith has proven to be a staple in Maverick and other green-based strategies, so don’t go without it.

Tezzeret, Liliana, and Nissa walk into a bar…

That’s all for this week. You know the drill for next week. More decks, more explanations. If you have any comments, concerns, or questions, feel free to express them below.

Jason and Jeff