Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Legacy Budget Discussion

My recent Building my Legacy articles have brought about several out of market questions, focused on why I would suddenly be building a Legacy deck, when I have not even made the jump to Extended. I sometimes forget that this blog isn't just read by local, and that some of you have no idea what is going on in the background. Today's article is an attempt to fill in some of that background. It is primarily a composite of several threads from the forums, regarding the emergence of Legacy in our local community. Most of this content is not my own, but is repeated here for educational purposes. Most of what has been ported over is from Jeff aka "Crispy" (fdiv_bug on SciFi) and Mike (darturus on SciFi).

Budget Discussions

For a long time, I thought I'd never get into Legacy - it's too expensive, there's too many older cards, it's a format full of turn-1 kills with no interaction between players, blah blah blah. But then I discovered I was confusing Legacy with Vintage - Legacy is a fairly balanced format, with a wide variety of decks with the potential to be top tier. Is it a more expensive format than Standard or even Extended? Sure, but you'll find that a lot of the cards you'll need for the deck of your choice have probably been printed in the last couple of years, or are relatively cheap. There's only a handful of really expensive powerhouses - and the wonderful thing about it is that they won't lose value. Reflecting Pools were insanely expensive when they were in Standard, but now they've dropped tremendously that they're gone. Original duals, Force of Wills, Tarmogoyf - they'll never lose value.

For the most part, the bulk of a Legacy deck is relatively inexpensive (on the order of $25-50, generally speaking, which isn't out of line with any format), with most decks having a handful of cards that cost $15-30 apiece. There are several budget decks -- a good place to start is with any non-blue mono-colored deck -- that can be had for far less. Mono-Red Burn, like this deck, generally only has four Chain Lightning ($10-13 each) and sometimes 3-4 Grim Lavamancer ($6 each) as its most costly cards, and can be an extremely competitive deck. By allowing proxies, we would let people get the cards for bulk of the deck and only have to proxy the rare or expensive pieces before deciding to get further into the format.

Mono-color decks are the cheapest with prices increasing based on how many colors the deck runs. This is almost entirely because of the original dual lands, which can range in price from $25-30 (Plateau, RW) all the way up to $70 (Underground Sea, UB) each. It used to be that the fetch lands would also bump a multi-color deck's price up, but with Zendikar fetches it's usually easier to deal with since you probably already have some and can use them in Standard as well.

Any deck that runs blue is going to cost more than one that doesn't, both from the more expensive blue-producing duals as well as Force of Will (~$25 each) being an auto-include for a deck that has enough other blue cards.

Tarmogoyfs (~$40 each) will also boost the price of a deck by quite a lot as any deck that can produce a single green mana will almost always run four.

If budget is a big concern, one of the best places to start can be mono-red. You can easily build a very affordable burn deck since the only money cards in it are four Chain Lightning which run $10-15 apiece (though you can save a little bit if you get Italian ones, but then you'd have to learn to speak Ital... oh. Right).

From there, you can move on to Goblins by getting four Wasteland ($12-15, and usable in so, so many decks), four Goblin Lackey ($10-15, or you can use Warren Instigator and be slightly slower out of the gate), and four Goblin Piledriver ($12-15). I've also seen some Goblins lists that would let you use your Chain Lightnings and Lightning Bolts, but those tend to be less aggressive and more controlling. Rishadan Port ($12-15) is seen pretty frequently, but there have been competitive lists that don't run it. Goblins is always one of the decks to beat, and routinely has top-8 finishes in even the largest Legacy events.

From Mono-Red Goblins, you can expand in to RW Goblins, by adding some Plateaus and Swords to Plowshares or Path to Exile, or BR Goblins, with Badlands and stuff from Lorwyn Block like Earwig Squad and Thoughtseize, or RG Goblins with Tarmogoyf.

There are other options then simply buying the Netdeck list.

There have been a lot of cards printed over the last 15 years. It's entirely possible that the effect you're looking for is available, with perhaps a timing restriction or a drawback or a slightly higher mana cost. A good example is Wasteland - you can't afford those right now, but what about Ghost Quarter? It's almost the same effect, and it's much more likely that you have them already or can pick them up for much cheaper than you'd find Wastelands. Is it as good as a Wasteland? No, but it can be used for a similar effect.

Ravnica Shocklands, these work almost the same as the original duals. Legacy is a very tempo-oriented format, however, and that 2 damage/ETB Tapped can really cost you in the long run. I don't recommend using them forever, but unless and until you can replace them with original duals of the same flavor they're better than most other options out there. And if you can't find ALL the dual lands you need, then at least you have some options - fetch an original dual when you need the mana right now, or fetch a Rav dual at the end of your opponent's turn.

For those of you who may not yet know, SciFi Genre in Durham, NC is hosting Casual Legacy on Wednesday nights, with unlimited proxies, no cover, and tuns of fun. They are also hosting a Sanctioned Legacy event most Sunday afternoons. Come on down and check it out. My hope is that Crispy, the leading contributor of this discussion, and one of the best Legacy minds in our region, will contribute occasionally here with on going Legacy efforts.

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