Why create Pre-WAR Legacy?

Magic: the Gathering has undertaken a sharp change in direction since early 2019. These include changes to the game rules themselves (mulligan rules), emphasizing online play over paper play, reduction of event coverage, and a reduction in Legacy support. Most importantly, Wizards has changed their design philosophy to be more permissive of extremely overpowering cards, particularly low-cost permanents that invalidate entire strategies and effectively end the game. The result for Legacy has been a rate of upheaval reminiscent more of Standard than what had for years been the game’s most balanced yet stable format, and a shift from play defined by developing incremental advantage towards resolving singly-powerful permanents.

Many players long for better times, where the classic cards of yore were good enough to be played. This has resulted in the creation of many “closed” formats, shielded from the capriciousness of current set design: Old School, Pre-Modern, and recently Pre-Innistrad Legacy. This is the latest such format. If Pre-Innistrad Legacy is the format’s Golden Age, Pre-War of the Spark Legacy is the format’s Silver Age: incredibly powerful, with 25 years worth of cards, dozens of competitive deck choices, and a metagame that was able to evolve and check itself better than any other format.

This is an effort to reclaim the fun and glory of those times. This format is not likely to be sanctioned or supported by any official WOTC product to come. This will be a format of our love and passion for a better time, and hopefully one that will endure whatever fate befalls the rest of our once-beloved game.

Why use the Pre-WAR card pool and the current rules?

An unsanctioned format can only work if there is broad agreement on constraints, and every change risks fracturing the player-base. Changes to the actual game rules (and not just the banned list) also have the potential to break the ability to use virtual clients like Magic The Gathering Online to play, and also make it more difficult for new players to join the format.

For these reasons, the Pre-WAR card pool and current rules set is used. This is despite the fact that some pre-WAR cards might be too good, some post-WAR cards might have been a positive influence, and some post-WAR rules changes might have worsened the game.

While we can reconsider at a later date, it’s important to have a good, practical starting point.

When will you consider making changes?

When we have enough data on events run with the current Pre-WAR Legacy rules, we will consider making changes. We do not anticipate this will occur before 2020 Q4.

Can I suggest changes?

Absolutely. Feel free to make suggestions in the various communities. We welcome all input. That said, please understand that any ideas will have to meet a high bar to be considered.

Would you consider expanding the card pool?

Yes, but not just yet.

There are challenges associated with opening up the format. Any change risks dividing the community. Such an expansion would necessitate the development of a new banned list, and likely iterations on that list with each new set. Each one of those changes risks further fracture.

That said, potential players have expressed concerns relating to the format stagnating. Though this has not yet been an issue for similar formats like Pre-ISD Legacy, it is something we are aware of. There is also a strong desire to play with many newer cards which are not format-warping.

There are ideas for a Pre-WAR-Plus Legacy format, which would expand the card pool and use an expanded ban-list to preserve the play experience of Pre-WAR Legacy. Such a format would exist as a parallel trajectory managed by the same team. The launch of this format will depend on several factors, and should not be expected before 2020 Q4.