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5 Most Important Cards in Legacy (and 5 Right Around the Corner)

Discussing the cards making the biggest impact on Legacy in early 2023

The most important cards in MTG's Legacy format.
Card: Force of Will | Art: Donato Giancola

As we wrap up the first month of the new year, the Legacy format is in a strange place; there seems to be real movement afoot in the meta! While UR Murktide has been the dominant top-tier deck for quite a while, the new kid on the block, White Initiative, has shaken things up. How long will that be the case? The answer to that is anyone’s guess.

White Initiative has shot up the ranks quickly and according to MTGGoldfish meta rankings, seems to be going toe to toe with UR Delver in the sheer number of decks relying on the Initiative mechanic. While it looked dominant for a bit, the community has rallied in the past few weeks to find ways to beat it. Recent challenge results show that anything can win in this meta.

All these factors combined make for a good time to examine where the format stands and focus on the five most important cards in Legacy. I will start by reviewing five of the hottest cards in Legacy followed by five that are looking to make waves in the coming weeks.

Top 5 Legacy Cards Right Now

White Plume Adventurer

Coming to us thanks to the Baldur’s Gate expansion, this initially obscure Orc Cleric is primarily responsible for the emergence of the White Initiative deck archetype. With such a low mana value, this creature is castable on the first turn thanks to the combination of fast mana sol lands, Chrome Mox, and Lotus Petal.

Taking the initiative on the first turn results in being able to play an extra land. Following up with a second turn Chalice of the Void for X = 1 is usually enough to lock down an opponent long enough to put the game out of reach for most decks.

The Initiative mechanic was designed with multiplayer Magic in mind, and Wizards has already banned most of the cards associated with it in the Pauper format. It remains to be seen whether Wizards will let this mechanic thrive in Legacy alongside the various other broken cards and mechanics that live in the format.

Expressive Iteration

Ever been locked in a grinding battle against a UR Murktide mage only to lose the edge when they resolved an Expressive Iteration and were able to Lightning Bolt you? Yes, this is a familiar outcome when battling the UR mage and is one tool that gives the UR Murktide deck an edge in most matches.

Calls for banning “EI” have been loud for quite some time. It was thought by many that banning Ragavan in the format would keep UR Murktide in check, but that has not been the case. Cards like EI are primarily responsible for people's main-decking copies of Red Elemental Blast and Pyroblast and are one of the primary reasons people have been jockeying to have the card banned.

Lest it be a spell only for Murktide, Jeskai Control, and Sneak and Show both abuse this spell for the same reasons.

Whatever your feelings on this card are, it is truly among one of the most important cards in the format

Painter’s Servant

There is a certain feeling of dread when Painter’s Servant resolves and you do not have a way to deal with it. When paired with Grindstone, this combo ends the game quickly.

Painter’s Servant traffics in a couple of different shells, but the most prolific is the Mono-Red build that has been popularized by Callum Smith. When combined with several fast mana sources as well as a suite of removal and counterspells, this is a formidable deck that has put up impressive results in 2022.

Although not always at the top of the stack, Painter’s Servant has a legion of steadfast fans out there grinding with it every week. If you are not planning for this card at your next tournament, it will get the best of you.

Dark Depths

Dark Depths cannot claim allegiance to one specific deck. There are many brews out there running the Marit Lage-spawning-legendary-land from good old Golgari Depths, Rainbow Depths, Naya Depths, Gruul Lands with even mono-black making a splash in the meta this year.

There are a couple of ways to take advantage of Dark Depths The most popular is by using Thespian’s Stage to clone it and by the Legendary rule, creating a copy with no tokens, triggering Marit Lage.

The other, slightly less popular method is pairing it with Vampire Hexmage. Hexmage has the ability quickly remove the counters from Dark Depths, triggering Marit Lage.

Both are excellent methods with Thespian’s Stage being slightly easier to protect. Either way, the look on your opponent’s face is priceless when they are staring down a 20/20 flying and indestructible beast as early as the second turn!

Force of Will

I am old enough to remember when Force of Will (FoW) was released with Alliances and none of us thought that it was a good idea to pay life to counter a spell. My how far we have come since those days.

Force of Will has become the go-to counterspell in the Legacy format. Despite the bellyaching that comes with Daze and its early game utility, it’s difficult to argue against the usefulness of Force of Will.

Not just a tool for the tempo mages, FoW is used to protect many combo decks out there from Sneak and Show, to Reanimate to Doomsday, and many lesser-known decks in between.

Five Legacy Cards to Watch

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

Banned in Modern for good reason, this 6/6 Elder Giant packs a punch. Used as an early-game mana ramp, Uro turns into a formidable creature mid-game. With the ability to gain card advantage and boost life, Uro is a very attractive card in many shells.

5c Zenith is probably the most notable shell running Uro. With this deck’s ability to ramp mana sources quickly thanks to Green Sun’s Zenith, resolving Uro on the third or fourth turn will quickly require your opponent’s attention before the game quickly gets out of hand.

Green Sun’s Zenith

I mentioned GSZ already, and 5C Zenith isn’t the only deck taking advantage of the ability to go fetch a green creature when you need it. GSZ is the bedrock of various combo and mid-range decks such as Elves, Maverick, Naya Depths, and some fringe archetypes such as Mono-Green Cloudpost.

Noted for its frequency of fetching up mana dorks, the ability to nab a Dryad Arbor on the first turn is probably the most popular play for GSZ; as well as looking for a Birds of Paradise, which I would be remiss in pointing out for our website’s namesake.

Mox Diamond

Need mana in a hurry? The best non-A/B/U Mox is here to save the day. Netting one mana of any color, in combination with other fast mana, Mox Diamond enables several first-turn-busted plays.

Mox Diamond has not been printed that many times and as a result, it has become difficult to add these to your deck without a sizeable investment of grocery money.

According to TCGPlayer, a heavily played version can be had for the bargain price of $450. To say these are hot is an understatement. But they get the job done and truly separate top-tier decks from their lower-tier counterparts.

Ancient Tomb

I could have picked City of Traitors for this slot as both provide their controller with two colorless mana. The other half of a first-turn busted combo, Ancient Tomb or City of Traitors enables decks to jump out on the first turn and draw a line in the sand.

In combination with a first-turn Chalice of the Void, a deck designed with this in mind can truly put most Legacy decks a turn or two behind in trying to find a solution to getting rid of Chalice.

Ancient Tomb is also responsible for the emergence of the first-turn White Plume Adventurer.


The card behind the namesake deck, Doomsday has enjoyed success this past year in Legacy tournaments. Combined with Dark Ritual, a first-turn Doomsday has the potential to quickly short-cut an opponent’s game plan.

Thassa’s Oracle and Cavern of Souls are usually two of the five cards you are putting into your library, and unless the opponent has a plan to stop them, Doomsday has already won the game.

Doomsday on its own is an affordable card clocking in at around $5 on TCGPlayer. Building the deck around it can get pricey, especially when you are splashing blue to help with counter-magic.

Honorable Mentions

There are plenty of role-players in Legacy that fit into many decks but simply aren't at the power scale (or flash level) of the ten I listed above. Cards like Delver of Secrets, Brainstorm, Lightning Bolt, Swords to Plowshares, Wasteland, Lotus Petal, Daze, Chalice of the Void, Dual Lands (pick which ones you want...) all make huge impacts but are not of the level of contentious gameplay as those I wrote about above.

End Step

Will White Plume Adventurer or EI be placed in the penalty box in early 2023? It remains to be seen whether this is the shake-up that Legacy needs, or rather that players have been asking for.

As always, I guess it’s important to be careful what you wish for!

Thanks for reading!


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