The Fun Police

This week I’ve chosen to play a Legacy League with one of my favorite decks besides Storm which is Death and Taxes. This deck originated as mono-white creature deck that will often play the control role with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Rishadan Port and the likes but with the ability to switch on the beats too utilizing Stoneforge Mystic. Through the years several splashes have been attempted.


Black for Discard, Dark Confidant and Tidehollow Sculler; green for Gaddock Teeg, Qasali Pridemage and Scavenging Ooze; even blue for Meddling Mage, Vendilion Clique and the likes.

But the most persistent splash has been red with Magus of the Moon plus effective sideboard options which has proven to have legs to stand on. However, the mono-white version still seems like the most popular over all and it’s the one I have the most experience with so that is what I decided to play.

Death and Taxes by Martin Nielsen

Creatures (31)
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Serra Avenger
Recruiter of the Guard
Flickerwisp
Mirran Crusader
Sanctum Prelate
Mother of Runes
Ethersworn Canonist
Spirit of the Labyrinth
Stoneforge Mystic
Phyrexian Revoker
Swords to Plowshares

Spells (7)
Batterskull
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa’s Jitte
Aether Vial
Lands (22)
Wasteland
Rishadan Port
Cavern of Souls
Horizon Canopy
Karakas
Plains

Sideboard (15)
Path to Exile
Sunlance
Containment Priest
Disenchant
Ethersworn Canonist
Holy Light
Council’s Judgment
Sanctum Prelate
Mindbreak Trap
Faerie Macabre
Grafdigger’s Cage
Rest in Peace

This deck relies upon Legacy being Legacy which is to say it relies on your opponent playing decks that try and maximize efficiency by playing a bunch of 1CMC spells and not very many lands. Thalia is a great foil to 1CMC spells effectively doubling their casting cost. Ponder is a lot less impressive at 1U. The deck also utilizes Aether Vial to tremendous effect.

An Aether Vial on 3 suddenly turns Flickerwisp from a rather arduous 3 mana 3/1 into an instant speed uncounterable Swiss army knife saving your permanents from removal, revoming lands from your opponent for their entire turn and resetting your own Batterskull but to name a few.

This deck wants to play against other “fair” decks with blue. It has ways to beat other decks too, but this is where it shines the most in my opinion. Where it can struggle is against the ultra fast combo decks of the format. The faster they are, the worse it normally is for D&T. Among the tier one decks Elves seems to be just about the worst matchup for D&T. This is not because Elves is super fast combo.

It is fast, for sure, but not compared to stuff like Goblin Charbelcher, Tin Fins or even Storm. The real problem lies in the fact that Thalia, Guardian of Thraben – normally your go-to creature against all combo – is practically useless here since the vast majority of their deck are creatures. Combine that with the fact that they can produce enormous amounts of mana through Gaea’s Cradle and Heritage Druid and you’ve got a recipe for a very difficult game 1.

How Hard? Pretty Hard!

This deck is NOT easy to play. I noticed, last year, when Recruiter of the Guard and Sanctum Prelate had just been printed that there was a lot of talk about how the deck had gotten a huge boost and how it was now well positioned in the format. A lot of people picked up the deck. Not that many did well with it. Eventually its popularity waned and after Miracles was banned out of the format a lot of people were saying that D&T was no longer that great a choice. Not long after it won GP Las Vegas.

Now all of this is somewhat anecdotal but I believe this deck rewards dedication more than the average Legacy deck. Bear with me:

When you pick up something like Storm – which a lot of people have a preconceived notion about as being “really hard to be good with” – then there is a learning curve. The first few months you will get egg on your face a few times.

Sit and count for a minute while looking at your hand, then your graveyard, then your hand. Then going for it only to realize, halfway through your Past in Flames, that you shouldn’t have flashbacked Gitaxian Probe before Infernal Tutor as it drew you a land that you can’t cast and now you’re no longer hellbent… Oops!

But after a few months those types of situations will mostly be a thing of the past and you will start to get a lot of stuff ingrained on your spine like muscle memory. You will start to have lines of play memorized so you don’t have to spend 1 minute to work out the deterministic kill in front of your eyes but rather just 5-10 seconds. Play the deck some more and you will become more and more comfortable playing around different types of hate. At this point in your career as a Storm pilot let’s say you have maximized the deck to around 80%.

From here, the last 20 % will come only with years of playing. But even if you don’t have that in your locker, you are now a firm pilot being able to perform well with the deck.

It is my contention that, if repeating the same effort with Death and Taxes, you will be more likely to hit around 50% maximization. I don’t personally feel like I’ve ever moved much beyond that. Because that would like take a few years of really dedicating myself to the deck to get near something like 70-80% let alone full potential.

Look, this isn’t rocket science. But when the same very few people continue to do well with the deck then I don’t think it’s to do with them being savants or members of Mensa. I mean they might well be, but I think the deck will reward most people if they only dedicate themselves as much as these archetype experts. The only problem is, it will take longer to reach the summit with this deck than with many other decks in Legacy.

That is my contention, like I said, but you don’t have to agree with it. If you do or if you don’t I would love to chat about it so feel free to leave a comment below.

If you like these videos be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel.

Hidden Gems in Modern

Today I want to talk about some cards that see too little play in my opinion. Sometimes people are very rigid in their deckbuilding and are too afraid to innovate. Or maybe they need to see a certain card make four or five top 8’s before they try it out them selves. Tons of things factor in when it comes to deckbuilding, and Magic players are usually on the safe side of things. So losen up the tight belt, ride along and live a little – at least with me in this article!

Can be played in: Blue/White Control, Blue Moon, Ad Nauseam

I played Standard back when Force Spike was legal and enjoy the threat of Daze in Legacy. Do you play your best threat every turn to optimize your potential or do you respect the Force Spike effect? A lot of interesting gameplay comes up with a card like this in the format.

It’s a normal strategy to sideboard out Daze on the draw in Legacy, but the opponent will always have to respect it to some degree. In Legacy you can pitch Daze to Force of Will or Brainstorm it back with a fetchland, while the Force Spike sometimes didn’t have a use besides being cast in early 2000’s Standard.

The point I’m getting at is that Censor has cycling for the cheap cost of one blue mana, so if you can’t counter your opponents threat on curve, you can easily cash it in for another card. Countering opposing turn two plays on the play and turn 3 plays on the draw is likely the most frequent use of Censor. Liliana of the Veil, Thought-Knot Seer and Karn Liberated come to mind, but even something like four-mana planeswalkers, Primeval Titan and Gifts Ungiven are realistic targets. And if they have mana to spare, just draw your card and move on.

It would likely replace Mana Leak – a card that is useful to cast in more scenarios, but also lose value in long games or against weary opponents. In Ad Nauseam Censor will act as a cantrip that maybe 20% of the time is able to counter something from the opponent. Liliana of the Veil and Thought-Knot Seer are your best targets, but Collected Company and Chord of Calling are pretty nice to prevent from happening in that matchup. It also gives you the ability to beat Abrupt Decay with your Laboratory Maniac kill, as you can cycle in response.

Can be played in: Bant Eldrazi, Eldrazi Tron, Blue Tron

The die roll is really important in Modern and Magic in general, and a bunch of games will be determined by it throughout any given tournament. Did I get to suspend my Ancestral Vision before my opponent snatched it with an Inquisition of Kozilek?

Did I get to play my Anger of the Gods before my opponent untapped with Steel Overseer?

Did I play first and won the TitanShift mirror because I was one turn faster? I’m sure you get the picture. With Gemstone Caverns in your deck (you should play 1-2 copies if you play it), you’re basically trying to flip the script whenever you’re on the draw. With you drawing an extra card for the turn opposed to your opponent who actually won the die roll, you have more resources to work with and the exile clause is less damaging. From here you can go turn one Chalice of the Void, turn two Thought-Knot Seer if you have an Eldrazi Temple or hold up Remand turn before depending on which of the decks you’re playing.

The reason why I only included decks with a lot of colorless cards in them is that the flipside of Gemstone Caverns is if you actually win the dieroll (or draw into it on a later turn), then the land must be acceptable to draw. I’m always excited when I win the die roll vs. these decks, but if they all of a sudden have a Gemstone Caverns, I’m back to being nervous again.

Can be played in: Blue/White Control

This card has definitely seen the most play out of the three, but I feel it should be seeing way more play right now. The double white cost limits it to only a few decks with Blue/White Control being the only true tier 1 deck, so I’ll focus on that today. In a deck also playing Cryptic Command, it’s very important that your manabase can support both double white and triple blue.

The easy fix is Mystic Gate which lets you filter both ways. Mystic Gate is not very good with a lot of combined copies of Tectonic Edge and Ghost Quarter, however, so you shouldn’t play more than four colorless lands if you include two Mystic Gate. Now that we established the means to play Runed Halo, let’s dive into its utility in the format. I like Runed Halo out of the sideboard, but depending on your number of available slots between the main deck and sideboard, I could also see my self playing a copy or two in my starting 60.

It’s particularly good against decks with a low number of threats on the table like Death’s Shadow, Bogles and Eldrazi variants. Ironically, these are also the decks that have a difficult time getting rid of the enchantment. Eidolon of the Great Revel vs. Burn, Walking Ballista vs. Eldrazi Tron, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle vs. TitanShift and Conflagrate vs. Dredge are other strong cards to name.

Remember, the default mode on this card is naming a creature on your opponents side of the board, and not only do you shut down that creature, but you also shut down all future copies of that card that your opponent draws. Of course it will be lackluster vs. various Collected Company decks, Affinity and Control matchups, but its overall utility warrants at least a few sideboard slots in my book.

I actually like this topic a lot, so I would be interested in hearing your candidates for “hidden gems” in Modern! Let me know in the comments 🙂

It’s a miracle: Back-to-Back Victory

© 2017 photo credit: magiccardmarket.eu

Editorial Note: “It’s a miracle: Back-to-Back Victory” is a guest entry by Johannes Gutbrod. Read more about Johannes in “Meet the Pros: Johannes Gutbrod, Legacy”. Johannes Gutbrod is not affiliated with Snapcardster.com

After Show-and-Telling in Frankfurt I was testing a lot of different archetypes but mostly various miracle variants. In may I began testing an UWB MentorMiracles deck. It was the Ovino list from my good friend Claudio Bonanni, which I thought had more potential as he seemed to think himself.

After months of testing we both came to the conclusion that the red splash is superior to the black one at the moment. Blood Moon is a hell of a card and helps with the harder MU’s like Eldrazi, Czech Pile or Lands. Pyroclasm is great against Delver, Elves and Death and Taxes and Pyroblasts are still superior to Discard effects in the control mirror.

We figured if we could somehow fix the combo matchups (we upped the number of Ethersworn Canonist), the UWR-variant would be better in every regard.

In the last weeks we settled on a quite stock list, but were still differing in 4-6 cards in the 75. This is the 75 I registered for the Legacy Main Event:

Not Quite Miracles by Johannes Gutbrod

Creatures (7)
Snapcaster Mage
Monastery Mentor

Spells (33)
Brainstorm
Ponder
Portent
Counterspell
Flusterstorm
Daze
Force of Will
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Swords to Plowshares
Terminus
Engineered Explosives
Predict
Lands (20)
Tundra
Volcanic Island
Scalding Tarn
Flooded Strand
Arid Mesa
Island
Plains
Mountain

Sideboard (15)
Flusterstorm
Pyroblast
Blood Moon
Surgical Extraction
Ethersworn Canonist
Vendilion Clique
Pyroclasm
Wear // Tear
Relic of Progenitus

The Relic of Progenitus was a late addition as I wanted another card for Grixis/ Grixis Control and still have the same amount of graveyard-hate. We were 295 players, and here is the part you all came for:

Round 1: Deathblade 1:2
G1: My opponents overextends and Force of Wills two Terminus, of which I force back to resolve the second one. I try to fetch for a Dual to make him use his Wasteland and turn on my Daze for a potential True-Name Nemesis. He does so but finds another land with his last draw slams True-Name Nemesis and I don’t find an answer in four turns.
G2: Opponent keeps one land.
G3: Double Lingering Souls are quite good in this matchup…

Round 2: OmniSneak 2:1
G1: I’m still trying to figure out what my opponent is on until he plays a Boseiju, Who Shelters All turn three. I think I’m pretty much dead, as my hand is slow. Next turn I can resolve a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and manage to lock him out with Portent + Jace while countering all his cantrips aggressively.
G2: Got combo’d out.
G3: Ethersworn Canonist rides to a close victory.

Round 3: Grixis Control 2:1
G1: Hymn to Tourach and early beatz bring me into Lightning Bolt range, and when I finally stabilize it is too late.
G2/ G3: My superior control cards (Predict!) take those games.

Round 4: Czech Pile 2:0
G1: We play draw-go for a while until I find a window to resolve my Jace, the Mind Sculptor. He fights back quite well with several Snapcaster Mages and Kolaghan’s Command, but in the end Monastery Mentor joins the party and he gets monk’d out.
G2: Blood Moon is a fair magic card, no?! 😉

Round 5: SneakShow 2:0
G1/ G2: These games were similar to my first match against OmniSneak. In the first game Jace, the Mind Sculptor drew me a lot of cards as well.

Round 6: Elves 2:1
G1: Can’t find a Terminus in time before I get run over.
G2: Is a long fight, involving Pyroclasm, Nissa, Vital Force and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. The blue planeswalker helps me establishing control in the end.
G3: We go to time. My opponent kindly scoops, as a draw in this stage of the tournament is pretty bad for both of us. Thanks again!

Round 7: Lands 2:0
G1/ G2: I aggressively counter Gamble to prevent Life from the Loam-shenanigans and win with Jace, the Mind Sculptor. It helped that he didn’t find Punishing Fire in game one as well (I fatesealed him out in the end).

Round 8: Goblins 2:1
G1: My opponent is seemingly nervous and mulls a hand that’s good against miracles but bad against the rest of the format as he fortunately doesn’t know what I’m playing. He ends up going to 4 cards, though.
G2: Aether Vial on four and several Goblin Ringleaders find too much gas for me to handle.
G3: This one is really close, I can Force of Will a crucial Tarfire targeting my Mentor. Next turn I resolve Jace, the Mind Sculptor and keep my army back to defend him. He taps out for Goblin Ringleader and I have the window to prowess my army and slam Pyroclasm to extinguish his board and swing for the win.

Round 9: TurboDepths 2:0
The draw could leave me at a potential ninth place, so I decide to choose my fate myself and play it out.
G1: I play Monastery Mentor, Swords to Plowshare on Marit Lage and beat him slowly down while he bricks and gets Portented out of the game.
G2: Instead of cantripping I decide to leave my mana open, even if he just has a forest. He tries to play Crop Rotation, I have Flusterstorm and the game is basically over as he can’t cast any spells.

After the dust settles I’m 8:1, and second place in the final standings.

Quarters: Elves 2:1
G1: I fail to find cantrips and die with all the good stuff in hand.
G2/ G3: Mass removal, Jace, the Mind Sculptor and a hail-mary Terminus for his Progenitus.

Semis: UnexpectedMiracles 2:0 (these matches are covered on the MkM-site as well)
G1: My hand is very blueish, and I resolve Predicts and Snapcaster Mages while countering his.
G2: I manage to tap him out with an end-of-turn Vendilion Clique and mainphase Monastery Mentor, so that my hand with Daze + Ponder can go completely out of hand. Later I manage to fateseal a crucial Terminus to the bottom and make my way to the finals.

Finals: RUG Lands 2:1
G1: The game lasts for forty minutes and in the end I have just 8 cards left in my library. The game is basically Life from the Loam vs. Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Unfortunately after 14 hours of Legacy I miss a trigger of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, that might have enabled another sequence and could have won. Happens!
G2: Relic of Progenitus takes away a lot of goodies and Jace, the Mind Sculptor fateseals him out of the game.
G3: I can clear away his first turn Chalice of the Void on one with Engineered Explosives and play my hand with a lot of cantrips. I hold my Blood Moon for a long time until he finally taps under three mana. Then I cast the enchantment and he scoops them up. Props to his beautiful foiled out lands deck though.

Hope you enjoyed the read, see you all in Hamburg!

Johannes Gutbrod

Meet the Pros: Johannes Gutbrod, Legacy

© 2017 photo credit: magiccardmarket.eu

Editorial Note: Read more about Gutbrod’s performance at MKMSeries Prague – It’s a miracle: Back-to-Back Victory

Hello Johannes and congratulations for taking down the Legacy portion of the Magic Card Market Series this weekend! Thank you for stopping by today. Please give the readers a quick introduction of yourself as a Magic player.

Hello guys, thanks for having me 🙂
I’m a 25 year old student and Legacy enthusiast from Nürnberg (Germany). I only play this format, as I enjoy it the most. I organize Legacy tournaments, playtest a lot with friends and try to play all the big European tournaments.

I like to learn new interactions in this format and I’m a person who analyses his own gameplay and tries to find mistakes in there in order to get better and to develop my skill further.

I know you played a fair share of Miracles in the past, and at this event you brought a new version of the deck. Talk a little about the card choices. Monastery Mentor + Daze package opposed to going harder on the Snapcaster Mage + Predict engine with multiple copies of Unexpectedly Absent.

First of all this version can win games much faster than its controllish cousin. Monastery Mentor and Daze can swing games in two or three turns. But that’s rarely the case.

What I like about this version is that it can switch roles so effectively. Often it’s correct to keep a Daze, even when it seems counterintuitive to protect a crucial spell later on when your opponent will never expect it, or taps out. Daze is a safety net for many problematic cards in the format as well (Show and Tell, True-Name Nemesis, Planeswalkers…).

I’m curious about the strengths and weaknesses of the deck. Obviously the Miracles plan has become less consistent after Sensei’s Divining Top got banned, so the deck has lost some overall powerlevel. How does your version make up for that?

I don’t even think that the deck lost as much powerlevel as most people think. Counterbalance was weak in a lot of matchups and with more Predicts and Mentors previously harder matchups like Eldrazi got way better.

Moreover the bluecount is higher than before. And Portent, although being weaker than Sensei’s Divining Top, is another shuffle effect (important e.g. under Blood Moon) and enables locking out the opponent in topdeck mode.

But I think the deck got even harder to play than before… so to anyone picking this deck: You have to practice a lot and try to overthink your gameplay in order to become better!

I heard you lost round 1 of this tournament, but you still managed to come out on top. Take us through your mindset as the rounds went by and you kept racking up wins.

Honestly speaking, in the minutes after the loss I was quite tilted, as I expected much more from myself. So I went out to grasp some fresh air and tried to refocus, thinking that if I will lose no one would care but if I will make it to the top it would truly be a miracle.

I try to think of these situations as learning experiences not just regarding legacy but regarding life as a whole. As I was coming closer and closer to my goal I became more focused and concentrated, trying to block out my surroundings and just think about the next turn(s).

What is your opinion about the health of Legacy right now? On the surface it seems very balanced and like you can play a lot of different decks without being horribly behind like in the Top era.

I agree 100% with your statement. I’ve never thought that you could play that many different decks competitively without one dominating the others. I love to see new decks popping up, be it Marcus Ewaldhs Blue Moon deck, or Tomas Vlceks NicFit.

Legacy was announced as 1/3 of the formats for an upcoming Pro Tour next season. In my opinion, it’s a brilliant move by Wizards of the Coast to motivate Legacy specialists to try and qualify to try their skills versus the absolute elite. What’s your take on this in general and on a personal level?

In general I like the renowned interest in the best magic format. Many people will have a look into this format which they might have never tried before. This will help the community as more tournaments would get organized/ articles get written and so on.

For me personally it is a long wished but very high goal to play Legacy at the ProTour. Although qualifying seems to be really hard and I’m not looking forward to playing Standard to do so, haha. On the other hand I can’t wait to play at GP Birmingham!

Thanks a lot for your time. Hope to see you outplaying platinum pros on the biggest stage next year!

Spicing up BUG in Legacy

There was a time where I played Legacy every week and enjoyed it every time as if it was my first (or maybe last). Battling six rounds vs. an assorted bunch of old combinations of cards for the low price of spending one hour each way with public transportation and getting to bed way too late was a bargain I gladly accepted week after week. While times have certainly changed, I still enjoy firing up a Legacy Challenge on Magic Online or participating in Danish Legacy Masters. Today I want to share a sweet deck with you guys that I enjoy playing quite a bit.

NO BUG

A friend of mine posted a BUG Midrange deck in our forums which had Green Sun’s Zenith and a few bullets in it apart from the usual BUG stuff like Deathrite Shaman, Force of Will etc. The Green Sun’s Zeniths quickly made me remember the time where “NO RUG” was a deck in Legacy and google’d my way to Reid Duke’s decklist from 2013. Check out this deck tech he did with StarCityGames.

Long story short, I suggested that he added Natural Order + Progenitus to the deck and made a better version of “NO RUG” anno 2017. You maintain the high card quality of the Sultai shard while also adding a proactive “I-win-button” for the low, low price of 2GG and a green creature. It wasn’t long before I purchased the cards I was missing from the deck my self and got into some leagues with this sweet pile of cards. Let me walk you through some card choices that aren’t too self explanatory.

NO BUG by Andreas Petersen

Creatures (13)
Deathrite Shaman
Dryad Arbor
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
Progenitus
Scavenging Ooze
Tarmogoyf
Vendilion Clique

Spells (29)
Brainstorm
Daze
Fatal Push
Force of Will
Green Sun’s Zenith
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Natural Order
Ponder
Thoughtseize
Lands (18)
Forest
Island
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Tropical Island
Underground Sea
Verdant Catacombs

Sideboard (15)
Surgical Extraction
Duress
Flusterstorm
Engineered Plague
Marsh Casualties
Sylvan Library
Reclamation Sage
Ruric Thar, The Unbowed
Null Rod
Thoughtseize

Dryad Arbor: The first copy is mandatory, but the second copy is good when your first one gets killed and you want to search up another one with a Zenith X = 0 or fetch one on your opponents endstep. It can be a really bad draw sometimes, but I think the pros outweigh the cons easily.


Green fetches are prefered to Polluted Delta because they find Dryad Arbor. This will definitely not come up every game, but it can be relevant for this deck.

These two basic lands are included for a few reasons. It gives you the option to beat a Blood Moon. Forest + Deathrite Shaman can cast Natural Order, and Island helps you dig for these cards. They can also help vs. Wasteland + Life from the Loam and be the difference between life and death when facing Price of Progress.

We obviously want a lot of blue mana sources in our Daze, Vendilion Clique and cantrip heavy deck, but the nod towards Underground Sea is because of the double black mana card in our sideboard.

Free countermagic is great when you’re trying to resolve key four-mana spells. With different kinds of mana acceleration, you can often make good use of Daze even on the draw. As an added bonus, Daze helps maintain an acceptable blue count for Force of Will. Thoughtseize rounds out the disruption suite as the most flexible one available. Information about your opponent’s hand can be just as valuable as taking their best card, and Thoughtseize does that for one black mana and 2 life.

These powerful three-drops do a lot of nice things for the deck. Vendilion Clique can clear the way for Natural Order, get rid of Progenitus from your hand, disrupt combo decks and beat down in the air if the ground is stalled out. Leovold is a swiss army knife that is always good value when cast. Leaving dead cantrips in your opponents hand and forcing them to give you extra cards if they want to interact with your battlefield or hand is just filthy.

This little one card combo can win the game early and in brutal fashion. Giving your solid Midrange deck another path to victory is super powerful and should catch a few people off guard in any given tournament. Casting this on turn three with Force of Will backup is the best thing this deck can do. I don’t want to play the full playset because two of them can be very punishing to draw, and this deck is perfectly capable of winning without it.

Tarmogoyf is mostly a beatdown creature vs. combo and Grixis/Blue Red Delver with only Lighting Bolts as removal, while Scavenging Ooze can save the day vs. graveyard decks or do serious work in a Deathrite Shaman mirror match. Shutting down opposing Snapcaster Mages and disrupting Life from the Loam can also be useful.

Sideboard

 

My anti-combo package include a few counterspells, discard spells and a Natural Order target to swap with Progenitus vs. Storm. I wanted these slots to be relevant against as many combo and control decks as possible and really like this setup where they each shine in different matchups.


Sylvan Library is the absolute most impactful thing you can be doing on turn two versus the various control decks in the format, whether it’s Neo Miracles, Grixis Control or a pseudo BUG mirror. With the package of 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, 2 Leovold, Emmisary of Trest and 2 Sylvan Library, I feel comfortable against every controlling deck out there.


This card does a lot of things and has become a staple in many BUG sideboards. From combatting Aether Vial/equipment decks to shutting down all of Storm’s artifact accelerants, this card is really flexible and will be brought in in a lot of matchups. It also disrupts Grindstone, Goblin Charbelcher and the occational Affinity opponent.


BUG has already built-in graveyard hate in Deathrite Shaman, but the two copies of Surgical Extraction will come in handy vs. Reanimator strategies and combo decks where you will try and hit a key card with either a discard spell or countermagic. It can potentially buy you enough time vs. Dredge for Progenitus to finish the job.


Adding even more flexibility to your Green Sun’s Zenith can be very valuable in a big format like Legacy. I expect Blood Moon, Chalice of the Void and Umezawa’s Jitte to be the cards I target the most with Reclamation Sage‘s ability.

Dealing with various X/1’s has never been more important in Legacy, with the most popular ones being True-Name Nemesis, Elves, Young Pyromancer with tokens and various creatures out of Death and Taxes. I also sideboard in some number vs. Storm to deal with Empty the Warrens. Dread of Night is too narrow, and Golgari Charm kills my own Dryad Arbor and Vendilion Clique.

If you like the BUG colors like I do and want to add a little spice to it, I suggest you try out this deck at your next Legacy tournament.

What did You Bring to Class?

Today I will be playing a variation of the archetype in Legacy known as Show and Tell from the name sake card.

The premise is simple: resolve Show and Tell, each player gets to put a creature, land, enchantment or artifact from their hand into play. In your hand is either Griselbrand, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Omniscience. In your opponent’s hand, hopefully nothing more exciting than a Tarmogoyf or a Scalding Tarn.

As an auxiliary plan you can attempt to resolve the enchantment Sneak Attack which, when paired with either Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn will very often win the game.

In short, this is an “A + B” type combo deck (with the exception of Omniscience requiring a “C”). We are looking to pair up card A (Show and Tell or Sneak Attack) with card B (Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn).

The deck plays a lot of mana accelaration in the form of “Sol Lands” (lands that tap for two generic mana – named after Sol Ring), Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors as well as Lotus Petals.

The rest of the deck is cantrips and counterspells alongside some tutor like cards in Intuition and Cunning Wish.

OmniSneak by Martin Nielsen

 Creatures (6)
Griselbrand
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Spells (32)
Misdirection
Force of Will
Flusterstorm
Spell Pierce
Sneak Attack
Show and Tell
Omniscience
Cunning Wish
Brainstorm
Ponder
Preordain
Intuition
Impulse
Lands (22)
Ancient Tomb
City of Traitors
Island
Mountain
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Volcanic Island
Lotus Petal

Sideboard (15)
Flusterstorm
Intuition
Rushing River
Boseiju Who Shelters All
Firemind’s Foresight
Surgical Extraction
Through the Breach
Kozilek’s Return
Pyroclasm
Blood Moon
Sudden Shock
Pyroblast
Release the Ants

The reasons to play this version of the deck over the pure Sneak and Show version is to be more flexible through the card Cunning Wish as well as to have a much, much better matchup against what is arguably the Sneak and Show deck’s worst matchup from among the established decks in Legacy, Death and Taxes. The reason D&T is so strong vs the Sneak and Show deck is that it is basically playing a post-board game of magic from game one.

Phyrexian Revoker and Karakas are mighty powerful answers to both Sneak Attack and an Omniscience-less Show and Tell. The primary reason why this version is better vs Death and Taxes is exactly because of the card Omniscience. They have a Karakas in play? You Show and Tell Omniscience into play and hard cast an Emrakul you can ignore the Karakas because of Emrakul’s time walk ability when cast.

Where storm feels more like performing surgery, playing with Show and Tell often feels like using a battering ram. It’s a blunt instrument that is incredibly powerful but perhaps a bit less sophisticated. You will have fine-to-great matchups against most non-blue fair decks like Jund, Eldrazi and the aforementioned Death and Taxes and be decently positioned versus slower blue decks like Stoneblade / True-Name Nemesis decks and the likes.

Storm is probably a slight favorite against you but it isn’t by much. The Delver decks is honestly what I feel I have the most problems against. I’ve found it preferable to board out the Omniscience/Cunning Wish package in favor of removal. Most Delver decks will fold to any of your creatures entering the battlefield either via Show and Tell or Sneak Attack and a lot of the time if you can remove their first threat they will take a long time to kill you during which you can setup to execute your combo.

So strap in and enjoy the ride. I find it to be a fun deck and one that can always spike a tournament.

 

If you like what you saw be sure to check out my youtube channel.

 

RE: Legacy at the ProTour

Wizards dropped the mother of all bombs on us Wednesday. I am super excited about this! If you haven’t already read the announcement, go do that right now!

Don’t worry I’ll wait right here…

You got it? There’s a lot to take in so if you need a breather, I don’t blame you.
A lot of changes and announcements, but I’ll go over the one I’m the most excited about: There will be a Team trios Constructed Pro Tour In Minneapolis the 3-5 of August 2018!

This is huge, for the first time in modern PT history players will tap duals and cast brainstorms at the games’ most prolific stage. To give you an idea about how excited I am about this: I am writing this piece on my phone during downtime at work. I want to get this excitement down on digital paper as fast as possible.

So how does this work?

At the actual PT players will form teams of 3 with one player playing matches of standard, one player playing matches of modern and one player playing matches of legacy. If a team wins the majority of matches in a round, they get the 3 points, like in team sealed.

That’s all very well, but if you’re anything like me you’re asking ”How do I qualify?”
Luckily Wizards has told us a bit about that:

”Be Part of a Top-Finishing Team in the Pro Tour Team Series after Pro Tour Dominaria”

Teams that place in the top 16 of the PT team series are invited to compete in this since it’s the last PT of the 2017-18 season. However if a player uses this invite they can only format trios within their PT team series team.

”Top 4 a Team Grand Prix from January 6 until May 27, 2018”

This one is pretty straight forward, but there is a bit of a nugget for us here. Wizards is upping the number of team GPs in this period. Including GPs in the Team Constructed format of the PT. I really look forward to this, I can’t wait to play legacy alongside some of my non-legacy friends!

At each of these team GPs there will be a team PTQ awarding the winning team an invite for the team PT, providing even more opportunities to Q with your friends.

”Finish in the Top 2 of a Regional Pro Tour Qualifier for Pro Tour 25th Anniversary”

These will be team events, but the article is a bit unclear as to which kind of team events. It mentions a special round of team events with a yet to be announced team format, and it mentions the ordinary round of RPTQs with team unified standard. Hopefully the special round will let us qualify without having to play standard.
But wait! Team RPTQs?! How do those work?
If a player is qualified for an RPTQ they can bring two eligible, but unqualified friends as part of their team. Eligible meaning not yet qualified for the PT in question.
Sadly during writing this article I did some research:

It looks like we won’t have many legacy avenues to this PT. Better hope you have some friends willing to carry you at the RPTQ.

”Pro Club Status, Top Pro Tour Dominaria Finishers, and Hall of Fame”

The good old grinder slots nothing out of the ordinary here.
In the end all qualified players can form trios as they want. (The exception being players who are only qualified via the team series)

So… how do I feel about all this?

What does this do for legacy?
I’m pretty excited about this, but I have some reservations.
First of all, not having some or all of the RPTQs being Team Constructed instead of team unified standard feels pretty horrible as a legacy player, same about not having any of the GP day 2 PTQs being Team Constructed is a horrendous decision. Let us play Team Constructed to qualify for this!

Secondly, I hope we won’t see any ”Pro Tour bans” like we did in modern when it was a PT format. Other than that I just want to thank and congratulate StarCityGames.com for bringing this format to the big stage and thanks Wizards for showing they haven’t completely forgotten about us legacy players. Besides the mistakes this is a huge opportunity to showcase legacy.

~ Thiesen <3

Reborn in Vegas!

I believe an introduction is in order first and foremost.

I’m Anders Thiesen, a Legacy enthusiast from Denmark. I’m 23 years old and I’ve top 8’d both European Legacy Championships, once to the quarters and this year all the way to the finals, where I lost to Thomas Mechin. I play almost exclusively legacy, and until some months ago exclusively Miracles. It was a busted deck, they banned the best card in the deck and it is still viable! I love legacy and I love competing …

So, as a complete fool I went to GP Vegas, just to play the Legacy GP!

After some stupidity, I arrive in fabulous hot Las Vegas meeting up with my roommates Daniel Larsen, Daniel Lind and Hans Jacob “HJ_Kaiser” Goddik. There’s a week until the GP starts so our hotel room is quickly transformed into a testing central, we have two laptops, good wi-fi, several paper decks as well as a 24/7 hotel restaurant and a gas station that sells beverages and snacks just across the road.

Testing went great and it felt like we had a good mix of drinks by the pool, sightseeing and actual testing. Hans Jacob and I play the mtgo legacy challenge on Sunday to satisfactory but not impressive results, after a few more days of testing I settle on a list:

Not Quite Miracles by Anders Thiesen

Lands (20)
Island
Flooded Strand
Scalding Tarn
Tundra
Arid Mesa
Karakas
Plains

Creatures (3)
Snapcaster Mage

Spells (37)
Swords to Plowshares
Unexpectedly Absent
Force of Will
Counterspell
Predict
Brainstorm
Flusterstorm
Ponder
Portent
Terminus
Entreat the Angels
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Sideboard (15)
Vendilion Clique
Surgical Extraction
Flusterstorm
Leyline of Sanctity
Monastary Mentor

The reasons I like this list are many: The mana is sturdy against Wasteland (we can even afford a Karakas!) Absent is a deceptively powerful card and Entreat is still busted along with Terminus and Predict.

The main deck Flusterstorm has been pulling a lot of weight and I basically find myself wanting for more all the time! The sideboard is very clean, Mentor is great against decks, when they have cut their removal or where you need more of a clock and can tap 3 mana on your own turn.

Leyline of Sanctity is great against discard, basically working as a fair Counterbalance. Catching an unprepared storm opponent is gravy and having it in your opener versus burn is dessert, the rest of the slots should be self-explanatory.

Terminus. Still busted.

The key to the deck is realising how busted Terminus and Predict are and building a shell to sustain them.

I bring the list to some single-elimination trials to the following results: 0-1, 1-1, 0-1 and I very nearly go home with zero confidence when another dane who is crashing in our hotel room, Kjartan Uldahl, persuade me to join one last trial, which I 5-0 to get my 2 byes. Knowing I can play my deck and sleep in tomorrow I go back to my hotel room.

I show up for Round 3 with a full tank of confidence only to get paired versus the shittiest, most boring deck known to Magic Eldrazi Post. The sideboard mentor steals one game, but I can’t beat cheaty lands like Cloudpost and Eye of Ugin and I succumb to some Eldrazi Titan. *Yawn*

Yeah… That wasn’t how I planned it out, but a few delver opponents later I find myself at 4-1 and paired against a fellow dane playing Elves. Terminus manage to beat my own misplays and I advance to 5-1, where another elves opponent wait for me, he admitted to not having tested the match-up and he also succumb to the power of Terminus.

This selfie was 18-2 after 5 Rounds of play! (From left Hans Jacob, myself, Daniel Larsen, Daniel Lind, with the 2 Daniels being 5-0, that was unfortunately all the wins they would get in the GP)

At 6-1 I get paired versus 4c Loam. The secret to this match-up is you have to know that your opponent’s deck doesn’t do anything against you, they play some haymakers but all your answers match-up very well against them. If they don’t lead on turn 1 Mox Diamond you are very favored. This was also true here and I just used Jace to draw most of my library before winning in both games.

At 7-1 I get paired versus UW Stoneblade, it was very grindy and I misassigned my role at some point in game 1 leading me to lose a 25 minute game, then winning a 20 minute game, this plus sideboarding meant we had 2 minutes to shuffle up and play game 3 and we decide to not even try and I end day 1 at 7-1-1.

I meet up with Lawrence Harmon and Ethan Gaieski for dinner. They introduce me to Kevin “Daddy” Jones who is one of the most crazy human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of having dinner with, and I mean this in the best way possible. It was a great night and at 1 AM I’m Uber’ed back to my hotel. Seriously when you go to GPs make some friends, bonding over magic is great!

Being the the draw bracket, my day 2 is mostly Stoneblade and Miracles (I actually played the mirror 3 times on day 2!) but I win my first 3 rounds to find myself at 10-1-1 paired vs Sam Roukas of Eternal Extravaganza fame. Sam is very skilled and he ended my top 8 dreams. Fun fact: we both needed a bathroom break and we were deck checked leading to a 15 min time extension and we finished with ~10 min on the round clock, before several of the tables near us. Much to the relief of the judges.

Alright. No top 8, but I can still cash. I recognise my round 14 opponents name on the pairing sheet. Scott Lipp. “Isn’t he some kind of pro?”

So… a pro with a draw at a legacy GP, I’m thinking delver as that is the legacy deck that plays the most like “normal” magic. Never has I been so wrong..

Wow. Scott Lipp had managed to get a draw with GB Turbo depths, my game 1 hand was quickly Duress’d and Thoughtseized to bits and I didn’t cast a meaningful spell that game. Game 2 I keep 3 Swords to Plowshares, he duresses one before surgicalling them, I blind Predict in response in the hope of hitting a Flusterstorm so I can counter the surgical, I mill absent and draw a land. He puts the combo on the board before surgicalling my absents, and we shake hands. That was all my white reactive cards surgicalled, oh well… gg Scott… gg…

In Round 15 I’m paired versus Todd Stevens who had picked up Miracles the night before and I win 2 quick games to finish, 4-2 on my first GP day 2 and 11-3-1 total, good for a 67th place offering a grand total of 0 cash and my first 2 pro points. At least this event lit my competitive flame and I look forward to playing more high level magic with MKM Prague and GP Birmingham (modern) coming up.

I was initially disappointed in my performance as I felt I could have had a better record/result with tighter play and a bit of luck, but here a month after I’ve come to terms with my record and feel satisfied, but hungry for more. I wouldn’t change anything given the things we knew before the GP, but with the downfall of slow combo decks the 3 cliques might serve better as something else.

Thanks for reading

<3 Thiesen

 

P.S: I’m on twitch. Follow me on Twitch to join me when I’m streaming 🙂

July 2017 Modern Data

Two premier events were played this past weekend on Magic Online, and today I will dissect the results for you guys. On Sunday, the top 250 digital magic players battled in the Magic Online Championship Series in eight rounds of Modern. Since you needed a record of 6-2 to quality for the playoff event, I have included all decks with that record or better. On Monday it was PTQ time with nine rounds of swiss before the top 8. I’ve chosen to include decks with a 7-2 or better record from this tournament even though not all of the players with two losses made ind into the top 8. I feel like I’ve talked about Death’s Shadow variants for a month in a row, so today I will focus on some of the other sweet archetypes in Modern. Here are the hard numbers in the two tournaments combined:

7 Grixis Death’s Shadow
7 Affinity
6 Titan Shift
3 Tron
3 Dredge
3 Storm
4 Other Death’s Shadow
2 Eldrazi Tron
2 G/W Humans
2 Lantern Control
2 Burn
2 U/W Control
1 Bant Eldrazi
1 Amulet Titan
1 KCI Combo
1 Counters Company
1 Faeries
1 Slivers
1 Bogles
1 B/W Midrange
1 B/G Midrange

Which archetypes underperformed?

Where were you last night?

BG/x Midrange decks were at an all time low this weekend. Only former player of the year, Jeremy Dezani, and loyal archetype afficionado slash streamer Jaberwocki decided to sleeve up the best planeswalker in Modern and convert that into a result. Whether this is a financial matter, has to do with the superiority of Death’s Shadow variants or something third, it’s a talk for another day.

Not quite good enough.

Control decks also disappointed me a lot. In a metagame defined by Death’s Shadow and Affinity, you’d think that Control could exist and succeed relatively easy. The problem for various Control decks is not beating 4-5 different decks; the problem is beating 15 different decks. Holding a Negate when you play vs. aggressive creatures or a Supreme Verdict vs. spell combo is a very difficult problem to solve without Brainstorm to filter dead draws in certain matchups, which every Legacy Control mage know all about. My article next week tries to solve the problem for Control decks in Modern, and no, it’s not Brainstorm.

Which archetypes over-performed?

The boys are back in town!

 

 

This weekend marked the official return for “oldschool” Tron, which has been on a long hiatus thanks to people playing Eldrazi Tron instead and overall bad positioning in the format. Two out of the three pilots made some adjustments to combat Death’s Shadow by adding either white or black to their deck to support Fatal Push or Path to Exile and Blessed Alliance. Having a cheap way of removing a Shadow while ramping to your 6+ mana cards seems like a great choice for the archetype moving forward. If this deck gets back to its old metagame share, I would expect Fulminator Mage to see more play in people’s sideboards and Ghost Quarter decks to pick up steam.


Go big or go home.
 

Titan Shift matches up terribly against Death’s Shadow and still had a very nice weekend. Why? Other than matching up poorly vs. Death’s Shadow, it’s also very bad against spell-based combo like Storm and Ad Nauseam. The good thing is that main deck Relic of Progenitus solves the Storm matchup and that Death’s Shadow has made Ad Nauseam almost extinct as this point. People realized that boardstate decks are good vs. Death’s Shadow, so Titan Shift is now left with positive matchups like Affinity, Eldrazi decks and Collected Company variants. It also dismantles most Midrange and Control decks quite handily, because you’re so threat dense, you don’t need to resolve a big spell and the natural Valakut triggers will grind down your opponent. I like Pia and Kiran Nalar in the four mana slot instead of Chandra. Three chump blockers is valuable in a lot of matchups, Shadow variants and Affinity in particular. The thopters even fly and can block a huge Etched Champion to buy you a vital turn.

Titan Shift players should be worried about the comeback of Tron. Last time the two decks were top decks at the same time, the opposition adapted by having access to 4 Fulminator Mage combined with Surgical Extraction in their sideboards. If Tron fails to keep the engine running, I like Titan Shift leading up to Grand Prix Birmingham next month.

To the bench you go!

https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/690492#online
https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/691338#online
 
MTGO user WilliamRegal took Burn to great finishes in both events as the lone wolf this weekend. Looking at his deck list, the first thing you see is that he cut the Eidolon of the Great Revel and chose to play black instead of green as his splash color. I suspect that he removed the Eidolon’s from the deck entirely because he didn’t want to sideboard them out vs. various creature decks all day, as they’re quite bad vs. Affinity, Humans and Eldrazi – especially on the draw. I’m quite surprised not to see them in his sideboard, since Storm is still a deck. I like how, after Affinity’s homecoming party at Las Vegas, he specifically prepared for Affinity by sideboarding Stony Silence, Wear // Tear and Smash to Smithereens. I highly doubt that he lost a match against the robots all weekend.

The black splash adds a few tools to the R/W core of burn. Bump in the Night is another Lava Spike that gets around Worship as a nice little bonus. With Fatal Push running rampant, it makes sense to only play the haste creatures and a few Lavamancers to try and strand removal spells in the opponent’s hand, even though creatures are your only repeated source of damage. Topdecking a burn spell is much better than topdecking a Wild Nacatl when you’re trying to finish off your opponent. Hidden gem Rain of Gore teams up with Skullcrack to try and combat pesky lifegain.

Even though I’m pretty excited for Modern moving forward, next week I have some suggestions on improving the format even more.

Editorial Note: What is your experience with modern? Let us know in the comments!