Breaking into Legacy – Top 8 on a Budget?

Welcome to another week of Breaking into Legacy! Grand Prix: Indianapolis just wrapped up, with Tom Martel taking home the trophy with his Esperblade brew. Interestingly enough, a “Budget Bant” list Day 2’d the Grand Prix. While the decklist has not been revealed, the fact that Wizards felt it warranted its own archetype certainly implies a serious deviation from traditional Bant lists…

The past couple weeks of Legacy have been interesting, to say the least. UR Delver finally won a StarCityGames Open after a brief disappearance. Welder MUD managed to take a trophy after a year after Kuldotha Forgemaster reinvigorated the archetype with a  Top 8 at an SCG Open. This week, we’ll be covering a few decks from the recent Top 8 lists, but designed a little cheaper. They still pack a wallop though, so don’t count these budget lists out. Check ‘em out below.

UR Delver

Creatures (11)
Delver of Secrets
Goblin Guide
Grim Lavamancer

Spells (30)
Chain Lightning
Flame Rift
Lava Spike
Lightning Bolt
Price of Progress
Rift Bolt

Lands (19)
Arid Mesa
Scalding Tarn
Shivan Reef
Volcanic Island

Avg. Price of as of 3/11/02: $397.95

For all intents and purposes, UR Delver is in fact a burn deck. However, by adding blue, you add a lot more versatility. For example, you can add countermagic to stop those hate cards. While we don’t think diluting the maindeck with Counterspells is correct (since you want to kill them as fast as possible and topdecking countermagic is just plain bad), adding cards like Spell Pierce, Echoing Truth, etc in the sideboard to fight the hate is a pretty good idea.

How the Deck Works

It’s a pretty straightforward deck. Delver of Secrets is an incredible clock, and with 30 instants and sorceries, he should have no trouble flipping – Brainstorm and Ponder just make it so much easier to do so! After Delver of Secrets, the deck is filled with the traditional burn spells to supplement our favorite insect. Fireblast is conspicuously absent, but without the sufficient number of dual lands, Fireblast is simply not effective enough.

Adding/Removing Money

First of all, let’s talk about how to make the deck a little bit easier on the wallet. Yes, it is a little on the expensive side when talking about “budget,” but again, compared to other decks in the format, $400 is still pretty cheap. Fetchlands are a pretty essential part of the deck, since it synergizes so well with Delver of Secrets, Brainstorm, Ponder, and Grim Lavamancer, but if you were to cut those for blue and red producing land, that is certainly possible – but you’d probably have to remove the Brainstorms since Brainstorm is really only good with fetchlands. Steam Vents does a pretty good impression of Volcanic Island, especially since you’ll be killing them so fast that the 2 life usually isn’t relevant.

Apart from the manabase, the deck is pretty solid as-is. You’ll need around 8-10 fetchlands to maximize Brainstorms, Delvers, and Grim Lavamancers, and 4 Volcanic Island would make it just so much more consistent. If you have Force of Will, you could always add it, but personally we like the all-in burn plan much more.


Creatures (4)
Argothian Enchantress

Spells (36)
Elephant Grass
Enchantress’s Presence
Ghostly Prison
Lotus Petal
Mirri’s Guile
Oblivion Ring
Runed Halo
Sigil of the Empty Throne
Solitary Confinement
Sterling Grove
Utopia Sprawl
Wild Growth
Words of War

Lands (20)
11 Forest
Horizon Canopy
Serra’s Sanctum
Stomping Ground

Avg. Price on as of 3/12/12: $235.16

Enchantress is a deck that is seeing a little bit of top finishes recently after a long string of duds. Apart from Moat, the deck is relatively cheap. If your metagame is full of random aggro decks, Enchantress is a deck that just completely beats up on them, with cards like Elephant Grass crushing any black decks and taxing other decks, and Solitary Confinement completely locking them out. Enchantress is an interesting deck, since it can play all three pillars of Magic, depending on what you want to do. While at heart it is a control deck, it can adapt the combo route by playing a ton of enchantments and locking out your opponent and the game in one turn, or become aggressive if you draw your Words of War or Sigil of the Empty Throne early.

How the Deck Works

Enchantress is a highly synergistic deck that abuses the Enchantress effects (Argothian Enchantress and Enchantress’ Presence) with, well, enchantments. The best one out of the bunch is Solitary Confinement, as it is a lock against basically every deck. However, due to the upkeep cost, you want to only play it once you get an Enchantress effect—preferably two or more effects—out.  The rest of the deck is basically filled with Solitary Confinement imitators like Elephant Grass, Runed Halo, and Oblivion Ring. The win conditions are Sigil of the Empty Throne and Words of War, which explains the lone Stomping Ground in the decklist. Replenish helps you recover destroyed or pitched (from the Confinement) enchantments. Sterling Grove is an amazing Enlightened Tutor that also protects your Solitary Confinement. When you get two Sterling Grove out, your opponent will have a hard time winning, short of a Back to Nature (but who plays that anyway?).

Adding/Removing Money

If you’re extremely budget tight, the Argothian Enchantresses could leave for Verduran Enchantress, but the extra mana and the lack of shroud are severely limiting on how powerful Enchantress can be. You could also do without the Stomping Ground. With no fetchlands, it can be tough to draw into the Stomping Ground, and Utopia Sprawl or the lone Lotus Petal can be used to produce the red for Words of War.

If you want to add money, apart from the manabase and Moat, Enchantress really needs nothing else. The manabase could have a couple of fetchlands, 2 Savannah, and a Taiga. The Lotus Petal could become a Chrome Mox, but essentially, you just need a mana boost since Enchantress is generally a slow deck.


Creatures (12)
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
Putrid Imp
Angel of Despair
Sphinx of the Steel Wind
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Spells (32)
Dark Ritual
Gitaxian Probe
Cabal Therapy
Lotus Petal
Animate Dead

Lands (16)
16 Swamp

Avg. Price on as of 3/12/12: $284.49

Bought four of the Graveborn Premium Deck? This decklist is for you! If you have four Graveborn decks, here is what is missing from the above list:

Creatures (7)
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
Angel of Despair
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Spells (12)
Dark Ritual
Gitaxian Probe
Lotus Petal

However, the great thing about Reanimator is that it is very customizable. You need about 8 targets, so filling it with whatever fatties you want is up to you. Jin-Gitaxias has been proven to be the real deal though, so if you can, get as many of him.

How the Deck Works

Reanimator is a pretty straightforward deck. Put hard-to-cast guys into your graveyard and reanimate them for massive damage (perhaps to yourself if you use Reanimate). While the non-budget lists have blue for Careful Study and protection such as Force of Will, the monoblack version gains a very explosive tool: Dark Ritual. Dark Ritual allows you to power out turn 1 creatures. For example, Dark  Ritual -> Entomb -> Reanimate/Exhume/Animate Dead is a classic turn 1 play. If you have a creature in hand, Dark Ritual -> Putrid Imp/Cabal Therapy targeting yourself -> Reanimate/Exhume/Animate Dead is pretty decent as well.

The reanimate targets vary depending on the pilot, but generally, you want creatures that can answer almost any type of deck. Here is a small list of creatures that can be seen in Reanimator.

  • Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur: The default target versus unknown decks
  • Sphinx of the Steel Wind: The answer to Zoo and other red/green based aggro decks
  • Elesh Norn: Oobliterates tribal decks like Goblins, Elves, and Merfolk while still being decent versus Maverick.
  • Angel of Despair or Terastadon: Answers problematic permanents.
  • Blazing Archon: Another answer to tribal decks that also answers Show and Tell.
  • Iona, Shield of Emeria: The old default target before Jin-Gitaxias was printed. She stops combo decks cold.
  • Inkwell Leviathan: Obviously great versus blue decks, but also decent versus decks like Maverick that have a million ways to get rid of your guys (Swords to Plowshares, Maze of Ith, etc).

Unfortunately, Reanimator is a deck that can get much worse after sideboarding, because most opponents pack graveyard hate. Pithing Needles can protect your graveyard. Most graveyard hate cards are activated abilities. Also, since most non-budget lists run Show and Tell as an alternate way to get these guys into play, consider Quicksilver Amulet as a budget option, which is powered out fast with Lotus Petal and Dark Ritual.

Adding/Removing Money

Entombs are the most expensive part of this deck. A slower but similar card is the classic Buried Alive. You lose much of the explosiveness of Turn 1 Entomb, Turn 2 Reanimate, but it can still get there.

Some of the Reanimator targets can be pretty expensive too. If you’re looking for giant creatures that can still pack a punch on a budget, look no further:

  • Pathrazer of Ulamog
  • It That Betrays
  • Stormtide Leviathan
  • Reya Dawnbringer
  • Simic Sky Swallower
  • Empyrial Archangel
  • Bogardan Hellkite

Of course, once you have the money, adding blue is the natural option. In fact, if you have enough blue lands such as Darkslick Shores, you could simply splash for Ponder and Careful Study. The additional cantrips are great in sculpting hands. Another option is adding red for Faithless Looting. The red splash can also give you goodies like Pyroblast in the sideboard.

Wizards of Every Color

Enchantress, UR Delver, and Reanimator have all had pretty good finishes lately. If you’re looking for a deck to pick up in Legacy, definitely consider one of these decks. Anyway, that’s it for next week, see you next time!

Jason and Jeff