What Is Legacy? Magic: The Gathering’s Premier Eternal Format

Dive into one of Magic’s oldest formats.

For many Magic: The Gathering players, one of the most crucial aspects of the game is that their legal cards will always be playable in eternal formats. Legacy is the ultimate eternal format where every legal (not silver-bordered or acorn-stamped), printed card is available in the card pool, except for a handful of banned pieces of cardboard. From supplemental sets, Commander Precons, and Secret Lairs to every game piece that has ever made its way through Standard—every card can find a home in Legacy.

Legacy Rules and Legality

Ancestral Recall

Market Price: $2899.00

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Legacy follows the same rules as the vast majority of Magic formats as far as deckbuilding is concerned:

Deck Size: 60 Cards

Number of Players: 2


  • Decks may include up to four copies of any given card, except for basic lands
  • May include a 15-card sideboard for best-of-three play

In addition to these standardized rules, Legacy has a large number of banned cards that you have to keep in mind. The following is the current list of banned cards:

25 cards with the Card Type “Conspiracy.” Click here for the list. 9 cards that reference “playing for ante.” Click here for the list. Cards whose art, text, name, or combination thereof are racially or culturally offensive are banned in all formats. This list is a work in progress. Click here for the official list from Wizards of the Coast.

Beyond this list, your imagination is the only thing that limits your deck building in Legacy, making it one of the most exciting formats in the entire game. There is truly something exceptional about being able to play with the game’s entire card pool and without the singleton restriction of Commander. 

How Can I Play Legacy?

Expressive Iteration

Market Price: $2.58


Market Price: $21.33

When it comes to in-person play, Legacy is a somewhat challenging format to get into. You can play it casually whenever and wherever you like, restricted only to the size of your collection, but sanctioned or tournament play is increasingly rare. Some local game stores will occasionally run Legacy events, but the best cards in the format are exceptionally expensive in paper. This makes the barrier to entry something that often prevents stores from wanting to put time and resources into fostering a Legacy community.

However, hope is not lost if you want to get into the format. Magic: The Gathering Online, or Magic Online (MTGO), has a thriving Legacy community. It isn’t hard to get into some games of Legacy on MTGO, and the digital versions of many of Legacy’s most expensive staples are much more affordable for the online client. 

Play With Legacy Power

Mox Diamond

Market Price: $624.57

The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

Market Price: $2500.00

With the potentially expensive buy-in and the somewhat limited play opportunities, one then has to ask, “Why play Legacy?” Beyond having access to so much of Magic’s history, the real draw almost has to be one thing: raw power. Legacy is one of the only formats where you can play the most powerful cards in the game’s existence, including iconic cards like Force of Will and the original cycle of Dual Lands like Volcanic Island and Savannah. Being able to play with a full set of Magic’s oldest staples, like Brainstorms and Lightning Bolts, may be one of the single most satisfying experiences available in MTG.

A Focus On Legacy Meta Dynamics


Market Price: $2.36

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Market Price: $0.94

Another appealing aspect of Legacy has to be its enduring meta. The details of each archetype are deserving of their own pieces, but Legacy features a wide range of deck types and unique ways to play—which should come as no surprise given that the format can be played with so many cards. Cards like Preordain can figure out what to do in the future turns, hate cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben can tax opponents and force them to play “fair,” while powerhouse counterspells like Daze can stop the opposition in its tracks. The play and counterplay of aggro decks, combo decks, and control decks can easily be seen in the format, always keeping it exciting. 

Supporting a Legacy


Market Price: $0.36

Lotus Petal

Market Price: $25.15

I’ve implied or outright stated a couple of concerns with the Legacy format. The barrier to entry is noteworthy, especially for paper play, and this barrier has made the format unappealing for events and tournament play. I won’t sugarcoat things: Legacy is a format that is not currently supported at the highest level of play, and the Reserved List and the ever-expanding market combined make it that much harder to get into. That said, the format is still very fun to play, rewarding if you can find the community and generally a very safe investment. A competitive Legacy deck may cost a pretty penny, but once it’s put together it is likely to be playable for life (assuming the ban hammer stays far away from your chosen strategy). 

Beginning Your Legacy

Chain Lightning

Market Price: $3.33


Market Price: $2.66

Whether online or in paper, Legacy doesn’t necessarily require a full buy-in. Several budget decks can still compete, and while “budget” is still more pricey than many other formats, it’s still possible to play without completely emptying your wallet. For example, Mono-Red Aggro strategies, commonly called “burn” due to their reliance on damaging spells, can be built for comparative pennies in basically every format. While you should still strongly consider upgrading the deck at a later date, cards like Fireblast can still carry you surprisingly deep into the format.


Mono-Red Burn (Budget)

Market Price:$133.67

Maindeck·60 cards

Creature (12)

  • 4Eidolon of the Great Revel
  • 4Goblin Guide
  • 4Monastery Swiftspear

Sorcery (15)

  • 4Chain Lightning
  • 3Exquisite Firecraft
  • 4Lava Spike
  • 4Rift Bolt

Instant (12)

  • 4Fireblast
  • 4Lightning Bolt
  • 4Price of Progress

Enchantment (2)

  • 2Sulfuric Vortex

Land (19)

  • 19Mountain

Sideboard (15)

  • 3Pyroblast
  • 2Raze
  • 3Smash to Smithereens
  • 2Sulfuric Vortex
  • 3Tormod’s Crypt
  • 2Volcanic Fallout

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