Legacy on Mondays: How to Get Into Eternal, Part I

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Welcome Back!

Eternal formats are amazing. They have the largest card pool in the game, the play is fast and furious, and the sheer card power is much higher than that of all other formats. That being said, it can also be very daunting to get into playing Legacy because of the sheer price tag. Take a look at the winning deck from the SCG Premier IQ in Baltimore on January 3:

#1 Painter

Allow me to draw your attention to a couple of numbers. The first is the price of the deck from Cardhoarders on MTGO. At 447 Tickets, that is not too bad for a Legacy deck. But in paper, it is a whole ‘nother story. This deck costs a whopping $1765 at bare minimum, with a likely majority of cards in not-so-great condition. Both of these numbers are quite high, and it is highly unlikely that someone wanting to get into Legacy will have 1.7k to drop on Imperial Painter right at the start.

That is the point of this guide: I want to help aspiring Legacy players get into the format without killing their wallets, despite the exorbitant price of most competitive Legacy decks. Note that Vintage players are laughing at me non-stop while I drone about how much Legacy costs. I will focus primarily on paper Magic for price references, as MTGO prices are comparatively much less, but keep in mind that the methods outlined in these few articles apply to both.

So, let’s assume that you are a newbie with $400 and you are out to start your road to becoming a competitive Legacy player. Unfortunately, $400 will not get you a highly competitive deck straight away. Well, I think that Burn hovers around the $300-$350 mark, but let’s also assume that you are not going to play Burn. What do you do with your $400 if you cannot get a full deck? This is the answer:

Buy Staples.

Step One for you is simple. Do not attempt to build a full deck; you will fail on most accounts. Instead, I would recommend that you keep saving up money and continue playing your current format for a while. With your $300, you have a options:

1. Buy a playset of [c]Force of Will[/c].
2. Buy a playset of [c]Wasteland[/c].
3. Buy a playset of [c]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/c].

force of will

The first choice is rather obvious. [c]Force of Will[/c] is the Legacy staple card. Almost every Blue deck in the format runs Force. Even combo decks like Reanimator use a playset to protect the combo. If you are playing paper Magic, this is also a safe investment to make. The price on Force will NEVER go down, since it will likely not be reprinted in any future sets. (It is not on the Reserved list so it is a reprint is not impossible, however.) If you ever decide to move out of Legacy, your Forces will sell for at least the same price for which you bought them. Choose this option if you are fairly certain you want to play a Delver variant, Reanimator, Sneak and Show, Miracles, Other Blue Deck #3,084… Take your pick!

Picking up a set of [c]Wasteland[/c] is the second option you have. [c]Wasteland[/c] is similar to Force in that a large portion of decks play this card. Most combo decks do not, but some non-Blue decks like Death and Taxes do. If you think you will want to play some “fair” deck, [c]Wasteland[/c] is a safe bet to get as well. Plus, a playset usually does not cost a full $400, so you may also be able to squeeze a couple of fetchlands or a dual in there as well.

This third option will apply to many fewer people than the previous two. [c]Lion’s Eye Diamond[/c] is reserved, so is guaranteed to never be reprinted, and is a good investment only if your heart is set on playing very unfair Magic. I recommend that you buy LED as your first staple playset only if you want to play [c]Ad Nauseam[/c] Tendrils, Dredge (NOT manaless), or perhaps Belcher. If you do not want to play any of those decks, look away NOW. This card will not be a helpful, re-usable part of your collection. Same as with [c]Wasteland[/c], you can probably squeeze an extra card or two into your $400 with a playset of these. Just remember – this is only for combo junkies that KNOW that they want to play one of the aforementioned decks.


So, you have purchased your first staple card. You now own a card that can be used in all sorts of decks, and will enable you to play a wide variety of the format without having to spend a ton of money every time you want to build something new. Next week I will cover how to build decks and expand your eternal collection without dropping more money down the drain than you need to. A couple of closing words: I do NOT recommend buying dual lands at the start of your Legacy experience. Decks need tweaking and tuning to get land count right, and spending too much money on unnecessary lands can drain your resources. In case you want to expand a bit more past the standard Force/Waste suite, here are a few more common cards you may want to pick up:

  • [c]Tarmogoyf[/c]
  • [c]Stoneforge Mystic[/c]
  • [c]Rishadan Port[/c]
  • [c]Deathrite Shaman[/c]
  • [c]Daze[/c]
  • [c]Vendilion Clique[/c] (NEVER buy a playset of Cliques. No deck plays a full 4 V Clique.)
  • [c]Brainstorm[/c]
  • [c]Delver of Secrets[/c]
  • [c]Lightning Bolt[/c]
  • [c]Green Sun’s Zenith[/c]

Do your research and look for decks that you find appealing. Remember that your staples are good in multiple decks, and that your choices are not totally limited by owning only [c]Force of Will[/c] at the start. You will be glad to have purchased the good old free [c]Counterspell[/c] when things get competitive in your local or MTGO Legacy scene.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you next week!