Jim Baxter is a guest writer on theepicstorm.com
The Epic Storm was a favorite of mine back in the days of City of Brass, Gemstone Mine, and Silence. I wasn’t terribly good, but I had a blast doing unfair things. At one point I dismantled it because I didn’t regularly play Legacy, and when I did, people wanted to play fair and interactive Magic. (How boring.)
I grew up playing in Syracuse with Bryant, and as such I felt I had an affinity for TES. For the longest time, I didn’t even know that storm was called anything else. Bryant just had such confidence in the deck that it’s always felt like a strong choice to play in Legacy.
Clearly, it is.
Warning: I didn’t know that I would possibly be doing a tournament report until way later into the tournament, by which point a lot of the details in my previous matches had become hazy. I’ll do my best.
Bryant has already posted an article about it, so go read that if you want to see why he chose what. The Meltdown was thrown in as my last sideboard card because I didn’t have a Chain of Vapor handy, and neither did either of the vendors.
Getting There & Playing
Oddly enough, I didn’t even know I was going to Eternal Extravaganza 7 until the Monday before the event. I asked around my shop to see who was going. Mike Haugh was staying in New Jersey on an unrelated matter, and planned to drive there the morning of. Jimmy Kirsch and Sean Grifffith were taking the train up from Baltimore and getting a ride back with Mike after the event. They offered their last spot in the car, and we were set.
I went online, quietly balked at the $100 entry fee and $50 train ticket, and got a good night’s sleep before the tournament. (Just kidding, I went out at 1am to save my drunken roommate from getting himself fired at a work function.)
The train ride there was uneventful, and we took a Lyft (with soothing jazz music) to the venue. Since we showed up early, the doors to the event weren’t open yet, so we grabbed breakfast.
The bar downstairs was a breakfast nook in the morning, with at least one hilariously incompetent employee. Sean, being vegan, ordered a coffee made with soymilk. She prepared it with fat free milk. He asked if it was soy, and she said yes. He called her on it. Instead of apologizing, she said “We got almond milk?”
After exchanging fourteen American dollars for two microwavable breakfast sandwiches and a bottle of water, we head upstairs to the event for the player meeting. The cap of 256 players was not met, but I think there was around 200 players for the premier Legacy event. We turn in our decklists and begin.
Eternal Extravaganza 7 Legacy Premier Event
Round One - Kory Ponting with Grixis Delver
Kory and I sort of recognize each other from other east coast events, and formally introduce ourselves. Kory was a pleasant, efficient, and accurate player. I was happy to look up later in the tournament and see him at table 3.
I drop Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseam. I was so proud of myself for going off with disruption on turn one for the first round. Naturally, this is the literal worst Ad Nauseam I’ve ever seen. I drop from 19 life to 1, dig through probably 20 cards, and only hit four mana producers (Chrome Mox, Chrome Mox, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame). With only four mana available, I couldn't muster up a kill. I had to Burning Wish for Grapeshot to not die to Deathrite Shaman when he untaps. This brings him down to 10 life. Kory untaps and Ponders to find more permission, and wins with his second Deathrite Shaman a turn later.
Sideboarding: - 1 Infernal Tutor, -2 Ponder, +2 Empty the Warrens, +1 Tendrils of Agony
Our turn ones are uneventful, and I draw a Brainstorm on turn two which I hold for his end step. On his turn, he casts Cabal Therapy, and I try to Brainstorm in response. He Pyroblasts my spell, and names Burning Wish. He hits one in the dark, and then Surgical Extractions them all away in my draw step. I pass, and he plays Delver of Secrets, Deathrite Shaman, and Wastelands my Volcanic Island. I’m left with just a Bloodstained Mire in play. I draw my second Brainstorm, slide it between my pair of Rite of Flames, and pass the turn. Kory, the evil genius that he is, eats the Scalding Tarn in my graveyard, and sacrifices his Deathrite Shaman to flashback Cabal Therapy. I fetch so that I can try hide my business spells with Brainstorm in response, but he responds to my fetch ability with his second (of two) Surgical Extractions, ripping the Brainstorm out of my graveyard and hand, and giving him perfect information to nail both of my Rite of Flames with the Cabal Therapy that finally resolves. I am quickly dispatched by a Delver of Secrets.
0-2 | 0-1
At this point, the tournament feels like every other large tournament I’ve ever scrubbed out of. I think to myself, “X-3 can still win credit. If I lose the next three rounds, I will just drop and play the Legacy side event.” I meander off to touch base with the rest of my crew.
Round Two - Kris with ANT
I have a nuts opener with protection backup. I start with Dark Ritual into Duress, and he says “I hope you’re ready for some fun interactive Magic, because I think this is the mirror.” He flashes me a bunch of beautiful Foil Japanese cards, and I rip away his Brainstorm. I pause just long enough to think “If this is the mirror, just call me Kiki-Jiki.” and bin both of his Dark Rituals with a followup Cabal Therapy. I then dump the rest of my hand, make a bunch of goblins, and he packs it in.
TES > ANT.
He starts off with an Underground Sea and plays Gitaxian Probe. I lay my hand on the table so we both know what is revealed: Infernal Tutor, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Cabal Therapy, Polluted Delta, and Bloodstained Mire. He then plays a Lion’s Eye Diamond before I can Cabal Therapy it away. Smart, I think to myself, but telling.
I topdeck a second Cabal Therapy that he doesn’t know about, and play the one that was sitting face-up on my playmat. I remember the Lion’s Eye Diamond that he played, and realize that he played it so he could go off next turn. I name Infernal Tutor and Kris curses under his breath. He annoyedly drops his Infernal Tutor into the grave and spreads the rest of his hand for me to see: Cabal Ritual, Surgical Extraction, Surgical Extraction, and Polluted Delta. I pass the turn and silently hold my breath.
He draws an unknown card, plays his land, and passes back without a second thought.
I exhale relief on my main phase, and cast my hidden Cabal Therapy. He is incredulous, but he Surgical Extractions away my Bloodstained Mires and remaining Cabal Therapys in response, leaving me free to steal his Cabal Ritual. This leaves him with the one previously unknown card that turns out to be a Dark Ritual. I combo off next turn, and we sign our slip.
2-2 | 1-1
Round Two - Cosmo Kwok with Food Chain
I sit down across from Cosmo, and we play three of the most fun games of Legacy I think I’ve ever played in a tournament. This guy knows how to play well and still have a good time, not to mention he’s got the coolest name I’ve ever heard. +1, would play again.
He wins the die roll, but I play the first spell of the game, Duress. It’s met with a Force of Will, exiling Misthollow Griffin. Hm. I haven’t played this matchup before. I Gitaxian Probe next turn, revealing some creatures and lands, and go off unobstructed.
On the draw, I cast a turn one Gitaxian Probe. He has Force of Will, and I only have one Infernal Tutor, which he would clearly counter if I tried to go off. I eventually get grinded out by Deathrite Shamans while waiting for a way through his countermagic.
Cosmo seems a little too happy with his six, so I lead off with a Duress. Later, he tells me he felt like his hand was so good he didn’t even care about it. He should have. He shows me Force of Will, Flusterstorm, Toxic Deluge, Leovold, Emissary of Trest, and some lands. Damn, I think. Double counterspells and a boardwipe. This hand is perfect for this matchup. However, my hand is perfect for dealing with his hand. Duress peels the Force of Will from his hand. Next turn, a Cabal Therapy takes care of the Flusterstorm, and I combo off to the tune of 14 goblins. One is sacrificed to the almighty Cabal, to get rid of the Toxic Deluge.
Cosmo beat himself up a little bit about the choice not to Force of Will my Duress, but after we talked it out, the only cards that could have stopped me were Flusterstorm or Mind Break Trap. If I were Cosmo, I would be playing the former over the latter, so that’s what I would have named with my Cabal Therapy anyway, had he stopped my Duress. This seemed to put him at ease.
4-3 | 2-1
Round Four - Some Dude with BUG Delver
My notes and memory for this round are nonexistent. I remember the guy was playing very conservatively, and I just walked all over him. It felt like he might have been unsure about this matchup, however, he shared some poignant insight posthumously about the match that changed my mind about his play level. I wish I had written more down, but at this point I didn’t know I was going to be doing a tournament report.
His turn one Delver of Secrets never flips, and my goblins get there.
I tear his hand apart and Tendrils of Agony for 20. There’s not much to say, so we just sign the slip and go on our separate ways.
6-3 | 3-1
Just before round 5 began, I messaged Bryant to see how he was faring in the tournament. He told me that today wasn’t his day, and he was eager to start the journey back home because his car was acting up. I updated him with my record, and he told me to keep it up.
Round Five - Brian Marx with Kess Pile
Brian is the tournament coordinator for the local Legacy shop near my house: Titan Games and Hobbies. It was funny that we got paired against each other here, despite never playing against each other at home. He also wrote his own tournament report, if you’re interested.
Brian’s hand is all creature removal and draw spells. I combo off turn 2, and it’s off to game 2. As we shuffle up, Brian says “Ahhh, TES. The good version of Storm.”
He leads off with a Deathrite Shaman, but my Duress yoinks his Force of Will away before he has a chance to use it. Despite the Surgical Extraction in his hand, I make 16 goblins on turn two again, and his one-of Toxic Deluge is not on top of his deck.
8-3 | 4-1
At this point, I updated Bryant again. He, in turn, updated me that he had pooped in a random gas station bathroom on the way home. (I told you it was going in the report)
Round Six - Chris with Eldrazi
I roll boxcars and begin with a fetch. He responds with a Chalice of the Void on 1. I Brainstorm in response. He lands a Thought-Knot Seer, revealing my hand of Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, Burning Wish, Gitaxian Probe, Gitaxian Probe, and Empty the Warrens. He sighs and takes the Empty the Warrens. On my turn, I play both Gitaxian Probes into the Chalice of the Void just to up my storm count. Then I drop my Lion’s Eye Diamonds and Burning Wish for Dark Petition, to make 14 goblins. He plays a couple of Eldrazi Mimics, but I swing past them and we move to game two.
We both mulligan, and I happily keep my six. I do some quick math and realize I only need to draw a land or mana source, and I have turn one goblins. My scry leaves a Lotus Petal on top, and I cross my fingers that he doesn’t have Chalice of the Void. He mulligans down to five, and starts us off with an Ancient Tomb into Endless One. I draw the Lotus Petal and go Chrome Mox, imprinting Tendrils of Agony, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, Infernal Tutor, Empty the Warrens for 14 goblins. He signs the slip and storms off. Sorry, Chris! TES does that sometimes.
10-3 | 5-1
Bryant at this point told me he expected a tournament report. I balked, because I know how terrible my memory is, and spent the remaining time on the clock remembering everything I could. Luckily, I remembered Kory’s name, Cosmo’s, and Brian wrote his own report. I took much better notes from here on out.
Round Seven - Griffin with 4 Color Loam
This round begins with the head judge making my favorite joke of the day: “Welcome to Jeri Ryan, Round 7 of 9.”
He leads off with the first Scrubland I’d seen of the day, followed by the hundredth Deathrite Shaman. I craft my hand with a Ponder while he builds up his board. Dark Confidant shows up, and I Infernal Tutor for a second Lion’s Eye Diamond. He triumphantly plays Liliana of the Veil, and I have to go for it before the discard gets me. I Infernal Tutor again, revealing Lion’s Eye Diamond again. I play 3 Lion’s Eye Diamonds, and the two players to my left turn their heads in tandem to watch as I chain tutors together into a lethal Tendrils of Agony. He dhad use Deathrite Shaman for mana the turn before I went off, so he didn’t have the option to use the Punishing Fire in his hand to burn his own Dark Confidant and eat it to stay alive. Oh well!
He played Mox Diamond into Deathrite Shaman. Then he played Green Sun's Zenith for a Dryad Arbor, and dropped a heavy Chalice of the Void on 1. Knight of the Reliquary and a pair of Dark Confidants swiftly finish me off.
I keep a hand that could make 10 goblins on turn 1. Ponder, Chrome Mox, Bloodstained Mire, Lotus Petal, Polluted Delta, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish. I decide that since he played Chalice of the Void on 1 last game, he would probably do it again this game if he had it. I could go off turn 1, or set up with Ponder to go off next turn and make at least that many goblins. Ponder gives me garbage (why do we run that card again?), and I draw another fetch. He plays Mox Diamond, Wasteland, Chalice of the Void on 1. He passes the turn, looking especially pleased with himself. That is, until I dumped 10 goblins onto the field. As I started to go off, I saw him realize he had made a huge mistake, a la Job Bluth. He could have played a turn 1 Ethersworn Canonist followed by Chalice of the Void with on 0, but chose to play it on 1 instead. That was the match.
12-4 | 6-1
Round Eight - Scott Conway with Sneak and Show
I mulligan twice into a hand full of fast mana, lands, and a Ponder. I needed to find an Infernal Tutor or Burning Wish to go off. After seeing him drop some Islands and not cast anything, I also decided I needed to wait for hand disruption.
We both play draw-go for a while. He’s up to four lands, and neither of us are doing anything more interesting than Pondering. I draw into a Duress to clear the way, and his hand consists of Show and Tell, (which I take), Spell Pierce, Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn, and Sneak Attack. On his turn, Scott plays the remaining Sneak Attack. I draw a fetchland and instinctively play it. The instant I pass the turn, I immediately see my mistake. He sneaks in Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn and annihilates all of my lands, putting me to 5, but getting rid of his spaghetti monster. I draw Burning Wish and scowl. With the fast mana in my hand, if I had kept that land I instinctively played into his Annihilator 6, I could have gone off this turn. Instead, I have to hold my breath that he doesn’t draw another beefy creature. Lucky for me, he doesn’t. I draw a land, make enough goblins to be lethal next turn, and we shuffle up for game 2.
During sideboarding, and a judge waits for us to set our decks down to tell us that we are being deck checked. In the wait, I learn that Scott is from Long Island, and hasn’t played Legacy in about 10 years. He says it’s easier to play Vintage on Long Island than Legacy. Our decks are returned to us, and the judge tells us we should shuffle a lot because our decks were sorted, but our sideboards were not changed. Scott checks anyway, and finds that two of the cards he sided in mysteriously made it into the sideboard again. He fixes the error, and we begin.
He starts with a Ponder, and I do the same exact thing. Next turn, he plays Ancient Tomb and passes. I fetch up another land and Duress him, revealing Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn, Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors, Griselbrand, Ancient Tomb, and Sneak Attack. I opt to take his Sneak Attack, since he has no other blue cards to pitch to Force of Will. I don’t have a Burning Wish or Infernal Tutor yet to go off, but I’m holding Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and Ponder. We take turns drawing and passing, and he eventually plays a Brainstorm. I draw Burning Wish for turn, and tank for a minute or two. I know he has in hand. Since he played Brainstorm, then he must have drawn at least one other blue card to remove to Force of Will, because he wouldn’t leave himself unprotected. I decide to try and bluff Empty the Warrens in hand, and go for it. I play Ponder, and he lets it go. I comment that I think my Ponders are cursed and shuffle away garbage. I draw and play Lotus Petal. I tap my remaining untapped land, and cast Rite of Flame, and he thinks for a second, and lets it go. I play my second Rite of Flame, with two mana floating. He tanks.
“How much mana will this Rite of Flame give you if it resolves?”
I tell him “Three red, if it resolves.”
He tanks again. While he’s thinking, I realize “Well, if he Force of Wills this, I’m toast.” Scott Spell Pierces it! In hindsight, he thought I had Empty the Warrens in hand, and making me pay the extra mana for Rite of Flame would leave me with RRR, making Empty the Warrens too far away to cast.
However, he didn’t anticipate me sandbagging my Lion’s Eye Diamond into Burning Wish, and he promptly dies to 16 Goblins. In hindsight, I could have waited for more protection, or a Gitaxian Probe, or even just an actual Empty the Warrens to ensure that I could go off, but he had everything he needed except a Sneak Attack or Show and Tell, and he had protection.
14-5 | 7-1
Round Nine - Eetai with RW Death and Taxes
People smarter than I figure out that it’s a clean cut to top 8 if we all intentionally draw. We do just that to lock in top 8.
14-5 | 7-1-1
Top 8 - Sean Griffith with Czech Pile
Sean and I took the train to Philly with our friend Jimmy. We all play locally in Baltimore at a little shop called Amazing Spiral Comics. Our buddy Mike was going to drive us all home. Sean and I had been high fiving each other all day, because he hadn’t lost a game until round 6, and then we had matching records the rest of the time. Naturally we are paired against each other in the quarterfinals. The judge and Sean both carefully explain to me not to agree to split prize money for anything outside of this match. Sean and I agree to split the prize money for this match.
Sean plays Ponder, I play Ponder. Sean guts me with Hymn to Tourach, and I slump in my chair. I try to play another Ponder on turn 3, and Sean has drawn his one-of, foil, seventh edition Counterspell. Oof. On his turn, he Snapcaster Mages the Hymn to Tourach again, and I’m uneventfully beaten down by Leovold, Emissary of Trest.
I start off crafting my hand with a Ponder, and he lands another turn 2 Hymn to Tourach. Next turn, I drop Chrome Mox imprinting Burning Wish, and cast Rite of Flame with the intent to Ad Nauseam. Sean thinks for a while on the Rite of Flame, and eventually casts Force of Will, thinking I was possibly holding Empty the Warrens. I let it get countered, trying to hold my joy. If I draw one more mana source (that isn’t Chrome Mox), I can hardcast Ad Nauseam. I topdeck a fetch, and proceed as planned. Sean, having had terrible luck in his MTGO testing the few weeks before, seems to be making up for lost luck. He had that one-of foil seventh edition Counterspell waiting for me again. I take a few turns off to rebuild my hand, as he builds his board. My draws are abysmal: Tendrils of Agony, Empty the Warrens, Infernal Tutor – at which I laugh – and finally a Brainstorm. I draw some gas that might let me combo off. I cast Gitaxian Probe to see if the coast is clear.
14-7 | 7-2-1
I’m out of contention, but I’ve earned cash prize. I watch Sean play his feature match against the burn deck piloted by Patrick Owens. Sean’s only loss during the tournament was to Patrick, and then Patrick again.
I was ecstatic to have Top 8’d my first larger tournament, which amped me up enough to drive us all home in Mike’s car.
I had a blast playing the deck. It felt like nobody was really ready for me to be so explosive. The full set of Empty the Warrens was amazing all day. I’m sure if this list becomes popular, it won’t stay that way and the meta will shift against us. We’ll just have to shift with it.
Until next time, may your Ponders be better than mine were.