PROTRADER: Legacy Is Dead, Long Live Legacy

Eternal Weekend created a great deal of buzz throughout last weekend. And while most Twitch viewers were tuning into SCG’s Modern event, the Twitterverse was alight with Legacy tweets.

Coincidentally, my family was punctuating the end of a weeklong summer vacation with a seven-hour drive home. In the passenger’s seat, I was able to catch some of the coverage on Saturday. Believe it or not there were a couple of noteworthy tidbits worth some focus. This week I’ll highlight some important observations from the weekend. And while everyone is suddenly a Legacy fan all over again, I’ll reiterate some ideas and cautions with Legacy speculation

Legacy is Dead…Long Live Legacy

The first tweet that caught my eye was Dr. Jeebus’ sarcastic one, which highlighted the terrific turnout at the Legacy Championship:


Clearly Legacy offers an allure that is unmet by other formats. One Twitter member suggested that the shortage of major Legacy events, combined with Legacy players’ willingness to travel, will lead to larger Legacy events going forward. That really does make sense – there’s a pent-up demand for Legacy tournaments. So when a Legacy event does pop up, all those players with Legacy withdrawal are likely to attend if at all possible.

So with this data in hand, we need to rush out and speculate like mad on Legacy staples right? With so many cards on the Reserve List combined with the age of some of the format’s staples, there is an obvious chance to invest and reap dramatic rewards as Legacy continues to age? Right?

Not necessarily.

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15 thoughts on “PROTRADER: Legacy Is Dead, Long Live Legacy”

  1. With the upcoming barrage that is going to be the norm of the new rotation cycle in Standard combined with Wizards banhammer trigger finger in Modern, Legacy is rapidly becoming the only format that counts.

    It’s hard to look at lists like Modern Jund and ask yourself why someone wouldn’t just build a solid Legacy list instead? Jund lists regularly push over 1.5k. For 1.5k there are numerous Legacy decks that can be built which when piloted by a deft hand are lethal in the extreme.

    The resurgence of Loam. The arrival of Twin. 4c Delver dominance. Esper Deathblade making a return. Omnis everywhere. It’s simply put: The Hotness.

    Even most of the staples required to build are down from their previous highs. Duals? Down. Sol lands? Down. JTMS? Down. Wastelands? Bargain cheap.

    Other newerish builds like Young Grixis require 3x on the required duals and most of the deck requirements are beyond affordable. Cabal Therapy has been a $10 card….. FOREVER. You pay the Force of Will tax but as BB King famously sang for 60 years “I’m paying the cost to be the boss”.

    For the most part the core of any Blue Delver deck goes something like this (speaking to fence sitters)

    4x Delver of Secrets $2
    4x Brainstorm $4
    4x Ponder $4
    2x Spell Pierce $2
    2x Dig Through Time $10

    Splash Red

    4x Lightning Bolt $10

    That’s 20 cards, 33.3% of a functional deck and you’re into it for……

    $32. Thirty two bucks. A whopping 32 Georges. Just stop all the traffic with that kind of bankroll already.

    The remainder climbs and dips and in the end you may or may not have something that is flavor of the month top tier but in this format it doesn’t matter. Card synergy is too good between each other for it to ever be bad.

    Look at those Loam builds. Straight out of 2012.

    1. Tom,

      I’m with you that Legacy is a far more exciting format. And with Modern decks costing a ton already, why bother?

      Thing is, there’s no Legacy PTQ season. There’s no Legacy PT. It’s just not easy to get onto the Pro Tour if your specialty is Legacy. The format is amazing to play, but it may not be the Pro Tour grinder’s format of choice. Otherwise, I hear ya – metagame fluctuations = price volatility in Legacy. Kind of nice when prices are driven by actual demand for a change, right? 🙂

  2. People are willing to travel to legacy events because they have money. Yeah if I have a five or ten grand deck you bet I would travel to play in my one or two events a year. The format wont grow now or in the future unless they get rid of the ban list and print more cards. Should that happen that would be the sign to just jump ship altogether btw lol.

    1. Being card rich does not indicate being cash rich. Not everyone bought their duals etc at current prices – Volcs haven’t always been $300 cardboard rectangles. The notion that Legacy is dying is fallacious, I have seen a couple of players in my local community recently starting to buy into both the cheaper and more expensive ends of the format, and they love the change of pace it brings compared to other formats.

      Your point around format growth being limited by card availability is about the only point you make there that I can agree with, but the Reserved List isn’t going anywhere, so that solution is out. So while there isn’t much room for growth, I don’t think it’s accurate or fair to suggest that there is none.

      Not that it really matters, of course 🙂

      1. Certainly if you’re building a Legacy deck to play, then none of it matters as much. This article was mostly a word of caution to investors who may see last weekend’s hype as a catalyst for higher Legacy prices. I just believe there are better cards to invest in (and I shared some examples).

        Your point on being grandfathered into Legacy is very valid. When I initially got into Legacy, cards were much cheaper and I was able to assemble a number of decks. Then over a couple years, prices really exploded – this is what prompted me to explore selling out of Legacy. At the time I had a lot of money in Legacy cards, and I wanted to diversify into stocks for my son’s college account. Since I only played Legacy once or twice a year, I couldn’t justify sitting on all these cards, except for as investments.

        Now I keep just one Legacy deck to play with, not really as an investment. So I’m less concerned with price volatility of Legacy…but I still pay close attention to it regardless. 🙂

      2. I paid an average of €13 each for the last 8 to complete my playset of Duals back in the day (3 Seas, 3 Taigas and 2 Plateaus).

    2. Tim,

      It’s a Catch 22, for sure. Which is why I express caution when buying into Legacy. The format looks glamorous and exciting, but bottom line is player growth is choked due to cost of entry. Star City Games knows that, Wizards knows that. They have the most influence of all, so it doesn’t make me very bullish on the format.

      That being said, prices should drift up over time if the player base grows. But there are likely better places to make money.


  3. The reason we haven’t seen growth in those lands for over a year is because the prices over-inflated to unrealistic levels in the Spring 2014 spike. The stickiness of MtG prices meant that they didn’t fall back far enough to where market demand would have them pegged quickly enough. Only when that natural demand growth catches up with the price tag will there be upward pressure on these prices again. That time might be now or soonish though, that SCG stock will tell an approximation of that story.

    Wasteland has suffered though in a Delve world. RUG Delver in which it is a 4-of has lost some players first to UR then to Grixis and 4c which all play less copies of the card. It will be/is back but has been a lot less ubiquitous over the last 12 months.

    1. Great observations, Chaz. I agree with you on each of your points. Prices ran away on Wasteland too during a spike, and demand needs to catch up. We’re getting there, to your point though. SCG has had NM Seas and Volcs at $300 for quite some time now.

      Wasteland definitely fell out of favor, but I think it may make a come back….but I’m not about to speculate on them at $60 and hope they hit $80…I believe there are better opportunities out there.

  4. I think everyone here is missing that Wasteland is dangerously close to arbitrage territory.

    While Legacy isn’t the company “push” format that isn’t any concern to me. The secondary market picks it up where the primary leaves it. My local LGS runs a Legacy FNM biweekly and it brings in 20+ every time. We just finished Eternal Weekends and that is a prime example of the invisible hand at work.

    This format IS growing. Did anyone else not see Kyoto? That event didn’t exist 10 years ago.

    Posters like Tim obviously have never played in the format before. I can’t think of a Legacy deck that costs 5k (maybe if you pimp it with solid Beta duals). I have a foiled out MUD deck and it doesn’t cost 5k. Statements like that keep interested players out.

    Let’s examine some Legacy decks that DONT cost as much as some Modern decks.

    Dredge – Can get hated out easy…. if they brought/drew the hate. $600. LED is the only tougher find and they aren’t that tough.

    Merfolk – Solid in most match ups. Harbinger of Tides puts wind in its sails. Not great but never bad. $1,000 is for an outstanding version of this. Force of Will is literally the most expensive card in here. MP copies can be had around $80ea.

    Death and Taxes – Again solid. This has been my goto deck for almost 4 months. Karakas and Rishadan Port are the stickers here. Thankfully Italian Karakas runs you under $100 on eBay of all places and Ports are regular $70 pickups all day. The rest of this deck has been printed to death in modern, EDH products, or supplemental products like Conspiracy. You’re up the river for about $1,000 if you literally own none of the cards required to build it.

    Burn – Burn is hard to play. It’s not that it isn’t any good. It is but unlike what most people think you actually have to be smart to play this correctly. Other than Elves I don’t know of a deck that’s as difficult to learn what and when to board. Regardless it’s also dirt cheap at a whopping $300. Beware Burn players. They’re trying to take an easy road into the meta and are foolish or they’re deceptively good.

    Elves – Speaking of Elves. 2x Cradle copies are becoming more and more common and from my view on the other side of the table it hasn’t slowed this turn 2 death machine down at all. Elves is probably the hardest deck to master. Notice I said master. Anyone can become proficient with it. The lines of play can be seen just by goldfishing it a dozen times. Interacting with it in competitive play is another story. I’ve seen bad elf players ( I own the deck and I’m bad with it) and I’ve seen outstanding elf players. Thus deck isn’t even green. Its a blue deck that made itself sick and turned green because it can be so self manipulative. $1,300 (running 4x Cradles) sets you into Elves and that’s more than it used to be thanks to Modern Elves becoming a thing.

    Mono B Omni – Ugh. It does what Omni does and it does it much cheaper. What’s expensive here? Force followed by Show and Tell? I can’t even quote a price for it. My friend plays it well enough to consistently beat my uber expensive foil MUD build. I’m going to guess $700 and that’s a very liberal figure.

    “The only reason for not doing the things you want is all the bullshit excuses you keep giving yourself. ”

    – Jordan Belforte

    1. Tom,

      While I agree with your data and suggestion that Legacy is not as expensive as many fear, I do have one counterpoint to your comment. Your experiences locally in Legacy is anecdotal…it may be the overarching trend, but it’s not what I’m observing locally. The other day I asked my LGS about Legacy and they told me Legacy never fires anymore…it was getting the same 8 people every week and finally those 8 just stopped going. I am envious of your Legacy crowd, because it USED to be much healthier near me.

      Otherwise, great comment and I appreciate all the data and insights!

      1. It’s up to local vendors to push this if they want it. It’s Field of Dreams logic. People already agreed that players are willing to make the drive to support the events. If the players want it and the shops are willing to support it it will happen.

  5. I should have added that Dredge is typically excellent in game 1 and you end up ruthlessly fighting it out in 2&3. Good Dredge players know their deck and they’re scary opponents. I’m personally grateful most of the competent players moved onto other decks. Dredge in the hands of someone who knows the likelihood of their draw/dredges based off their opening hand is probably a better magic player then you, me and most. You absolutley need your hate vs this deck and I’ve mulled to 2 to get it. Dredge is underplayed both as a deck and as a skill level.

  6. I feel like Modern is being very carefully and slowly guided by Wizards to become THE prime format- agreeing with the impact from standard rotation changes, but also, worried that Legacy and Vintage are going to be even further ignored…..

    Consider the khans fetch reprinting, and then (only after)….the zen “non reprinting”…..

    * Mothership prints zendikar: legacy gets “its other 5 fetches”
    * Khans reprint says “**** you legacy player, and dont worry collector/speculator, the two main formats will want them, and theyre new art. Youre welcome.”
    * Modern never needed 10 fetches, legacy did, and the opportunity for better delineation (and a feeling of hierarchy) has been lost. It COULD have been “Vintage- 10 fetch + Restricted Lands; Legacy 10 fetch & duals; Modern 5-fetch and shocks; Standard EAT YOUR SLOP!!!”

    It could have been….beautiful.

    But now, it feels like they are being slow to build modern as THE texas holdem wsop, and the rest as being for “crazy greybeards and investment firm holdings”.

    There is a union in the Venn Diagram, of “modern legacy” and if its a 3-4 turn game, and im all-in or aggro focussed, my shocks are fine anyway, if theres no proxies. Eventually, trading in from the stupid prices for modern and standard key cards is pretty easy. But i dump value elsewhere on the “real” pieces on preference to Duals of the Planesdorkers.

    Mainly from the emotional scars of selling them at 30 each, since both magical card games and those internets were obviously gimmicks and a real life needed to be gained.

    But i digress.

    The whole point is: Wizards beat TSR, and thank god they did, or we would all be talking about “Spellfire” right now.


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