Leovold, Emissary of Trest

I remember like it was yesterday how I felt Legacy was great when I played my trusty four-color Leovold deck powered by Deathrite ShamanDeathrite Shaman and every matchup felt favored. I had long and intense matches against the mirror and Grixis Delver. And every week I tried to squeeze just a few more percentage points out of those matchups because the metagame was so predictable. I focused so much on this aspect and the matches themselves which I enjoyed so much that I totally forgot all the great cards that Deathrite ShamanDeathrite Shaman made unplayable. Looking back I feel very bad about this. However, cooler minds would prevail and Wizards made a great decision to ban Deathrite ShamanDeathrite Shaman. Fast forward to the end of 2018, we now have the following extremely healthy metagame. I’m here today to give some tips on how to maximize the value of your 15 sideboard slots in a world of many playable decks by sorting them in categories and finding great crossover use. Also I apologize in advance if your favorite deck is not in this list. If you want to include a write up on your favorite Legacy deck, I would be happy to read about it!

Sideboard against Control

Sideboard Counterspell by Zack Stella

Counterspell by Zack Stella

Miracles, Grixis Control and Stoneblade

Kolaghan’s Command

These decks have a few things in common that you can exploit when building a sideboard. They win very slowly and play a lot of non-creature spells. Creature removal is bad to mediocre against them and they handle enchantments and planeswalkers rather badly. If you want to hedge your bets with relevant cards against other pillars of the format, your sideboard should contain FlusterstormFlusterstorm, Spell PierceSpell Pierce, ThoughtseizeThoughtseize and PyroblastPyroblast. On the other hand permanents like ChokeChoke, BitterblossomBitterblossom and Gideon, Ally of ZendikarGideon, Ally of Zendikar are more likely to win you the game on their own against Control.

Sideboard against Spell Combo

Sideboard Preordain by Svetlin Velinov

Preordain by Svetlin Velinov

Show and Tell and Storm

Dark Ritual
Sneak Attack

The versions of Show and TellShow and Tell and Storm can vary a lot, but I think the relevant sideboard cards are roughly the same against all versions. Sure, Ethersworn CanonistEthersworn Canonist is good against OmniscienceOmniscience versions while Pithing NeedlePithing Needle can name Sneak AttackSneak Attack, but I’ve grouped them together for simplicity. These spell combo decks are both resiliant and explosive. This means you need to make a choice whether you want big haymakers or small adjustments that push the odds a bit in your favor. I like the cheap disruption spells from the Control side against both these combo decks. Surgical ExtractionSurgical Extraction is also great against Storm when combined with a fast clock, especially in conjunction with cheap discard spells. It makes their Ad NauseamAd Nauseam bad and forces them to be a Past in FlamesPast in Flames deck. If you really want to beat Storm, the permanent-based hatecards like Sphere effects and Pyrostatic PillarPyrostatic Pillar will be the most impactful. Both decks will struggle if you gun at them from two angles because they need to find specific answers and their combo to win the game. This could be counterspells and discard or counterspells and permanent hate. As an aside, in blue decks I like to have two answers for Empty the WarrensEmpty the Warrens. Whether that’s Toxic DelugeToxic Deluge, Rough // TumbleRough // Tumble or whatever sweeper your deck runs.

Sideboard against Graveyard Combo

Sideboard Cabal Therapy by Raymond Swanland

Cabal Therapy by Raymond Swanland

Reanimator and Dredge


Simply put, Reanimator and Dredge are two powerful Magic decks that will beat you if you only rely on discards spells and counterspells. You need hateful sideboard cards like Leyline of the VoidLeyline of the Void, Nihil SpellbombNihil Spellbomb or Surgical ExtractionSurgical Extraction to even compete with these decks, so that’s step one. Step two is to make sure you can upgrade other cards after game one. You will almost certainly have some stinkers in there. Thankfully, a lot of the above cheap disruption spells will improve your matchup against Reanimator and Dredge, and even PyroblastPyroblast is playable against Dredge to stop Careful StudyCareful Study and BreakthroughBreakthrough.

Sideboard against Lands Combo

Sideboard Life from the Loam by Sung Choi

Life from the Loam by Sung Choi

Lands, Turbo Depths and 4-Color Loam

Dark Depths
Thespian’s Stage

4-Color Loam is different from the others because the Marit Lage plan is not their primary path to victory. That deck is hard to play against because they play like a normal Midrange deck, but they have Chalice of the VoidChalice of the Void on one. And maybe a 20/20 indestructible legendary flyer when you thought you stabilized against their Dark ConfidantDark Confidants and Knight of the ReliquaryKnight of the Reliquary. What these decks have in common is that Blood MoonBlood Moon can leave them in the dust if you time it right. In the last six months or so, I really loved to have two copies of BitterblossomBitterblossom in my Grixis Control sideboard. Not only to have a great army-in-a-can against other Control decks, but also to have free blockers for the Marit Lage token that can otherwise be so difficult to deal with without white removal. Some decks have KarakasKarakas, others have Vapor SnagVapor Snag or Ensnaring BridgeEnsnaring Bridge.

Sideboard against Chalice Decks

Sideboard Chalice of the Void by Mark Zug

Chalice of the Void by Mark Zug

Mono Red Prison, Eldrazi and 4-Color Loam

Chalice of the Void
Blood Moon
Ancient Tomb

Since these are all Chalice decks, you need some number of artifact removal unless your deck functions perfectly without access to converted mana cost 1 spells. Flexible artifact removal spells are AbradeAbrade, Kolaghan’s CommandKolaghan’s Command or Abrupt DecayAbrupt Decay. The first two of these decks often invest more ressources than just tapping lands and playing their threats. Examples are an exiled Simian Spirit GuideSimian Spirit Guide, life paid with Ancient TombAncient Tomb or the sacrifice of a City of TraitorsCity of Traitors, so punishing them further with WastelandWasteland or a fast clock is likely a winning strategy. Keep in mind that the Mono Red deck plays both Goblin RabblemasterGoblin Rabblemaster and Legion WarbossLegion Warboss, so removal spells like Lightning BoltLightning Bolt that you can cast under a Blood MoonBlood Moon are fine against them. Aside from Blood MoonBlood Moon, Back to BasicsBack to Basics will do the trick against Eldrazi and Loam.

Sideboard against Creature Decks

Sideboard Delver of Secrets by Nils Hamm

Delver of Secrets by Nils Hamm

Grixis Delver, Death and Taxes and Elves

Delver of Secrets
Mother of Runes
Glimpse of Nature

Against these creature heavy decks, removal spells is where you wanna be. Thanks to the composition of Legacy, you can’t afford to play a ton of these in your sideboard, but even a few sweepers will go a long way. Force of WillForce of Will is often a liability against Delver and Mono White, but it’s fine against Elves because of Glimpse of NatureGlimpse of Nature and Natural OrderNatural Order. I like ThoughtseizeThoughtseize in small numbers against the latter two and artifact removal in large numbers against Mono White. Your ability to play against WastelandWasteland will determine a lot of the results against Delver and D&T. This could be either searching up basics, keeping uncracked fetches at the ready or fetching up duals to be able to cast your spells and try to fade WastelandWasteland. Sideboard cards are no good when you can’t cast them!

Thank you so much for reading and please add whatever I missed (plenty, I’m sure!) in the comments!


This article was written by Andreas Petersen in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com

Andreas Petersen

Andreas Petersen

Andreas is probably better known as "ecobaronen" on MTGO. After 2nd place of Team Trios #GPMadrid playing Modern he's heading to his second Pro Tour in Minneapolis this year. Andreas has an opinion about every constructed format except Standard.