A friend of mine offered to borrow me a deck if I wanted to try out Legacy, so I did. Went pretty well. 3-1. Better than I’ve done in Standard recently (although that’s in part because I’ve been mostly just using decks I haven’t thought of as good enough previously, but decided I wanted to try out anyway before the rotation).
Saying this was my first experience with Legacy might not be quite true. I’m fairly certain I’ve played Type 1.5 back in the day in mid 90’s, but obviously, the format has changed a lot since then. Also, I have watched some coverage of Legacy events, mostly from Star City Games, so I was aware of the more common interactions in the format. Also, the owner of the deck gave me a primer the previous night, where I also got to play several games against a skilled opponent (whom I also played in the tournament).
For those not familiar with the format, its one of the so called “eternal” formats, which means that basically the whole history of Magic is at your disposal… with a pretty extensive banned list. The difference to Vintage is that Vintage also has a restricted list (cards you can use only one of in your deck). With 13979 (with Khans) cards available, you’ll find quite a few powerful cards, as well as powerful interactions.
On the other hand, the number of cards actually used in the format is not that high. There are certain cards that were simply mistakes back in the day, and now they have become integral part of the format. Cards such as Force of Will and Daze rule the format, as well as cheap creatures, such as Wild Mongoose, Delver of Secrets and Deathrite Shaman, all of which are one-drops.
The huge card selection comes into play with all sorts of combo-decks, but I didn’t really see any of yesterday, except for one deck which used Phyrexian Dreadnought and Stifle to counter the ETB trigger, as well as the sort of combo of Standstill and Mishra’s Factory. I’m guessing the lack of combo is based on the small size of the local metagame. Most combodecks work because your opponents aren’t ready for them (usually in the sideboard), so you can’t really play combo with the same people over and over again, making all sorts of control decks better.
Since historically blue has been the strongest color, all the decks I played against were playing it in varying degrees. I, however, was playing Maverick with a twist I won’t publish here. Maverick is a GW deck, which is listed as a Tier 1 archetype in Salvation’s Wiki’s Legacy page, but for some reason Salvation doesn’t have a page on it. There are some primers on their forums, but they seem to be out of date. In preparation, I also watched this video. Its a pretty interesting match, where the Maverick player pulls off pretty miraculous wins.
Although all creatures in the deck are quite powerful, the creature the deck has been built around is Knight of the Reliquary, which can grow into a huge threat. Mother of Runes (or mum, or mutsi in Finnish) is used to protect the Knight, but this core is not needed to win games. I won plenty without it.
I don’t know about other decks, but this deck seemed to have a lot of play in it. There were always multiple lines of play, and its hard to know which is the strongest. I don’t think you need to find the strongest, however, its quite enough that you find one that’s strong enough. Often you are working in the dark, because you never know when your opponent will be able to counter your spells. You have to contemplate which spells you are willing to give up and which ones you want to protect. Even then, your opponent might be keeping a Force of Will in hand for just some specific card.
All in all a very different experience from Standard, but it does have similarities to EDH or Commander. Not because of the huge card selection, but because it has a similar mental toll, when you need to be thinking about quite a few different things at all times. In EDH its because there are more players, in Legacy its because there’s just so many things that can happen. In the long run, I expect EDH will be as complex, but Legacy will be simpler, because you’ll learn all the important interactions over time, and you’ll just have enough shortcuts to address enough of them, whereas EDH will always have several players you have to keep in mind.