In the last four months, I've gotten into MTGO (as many people know). A big part of this was to help prepare for large events, one thing I found others doing was making spreadsheets to help them gather information. I decided to do the same, using the data I collected, it helped me make decisions based on hard numbers and facts about the deck. Below you will find two links: The first is a download link if you would like to use the spreadsheet yourself and the other is to my live document through google sheets.
I've shared these in the storm groups and received a lot of questions on what things are, I think everything is pretty self-explanatory as long as you look at the acronyms and then look at the data fields on the stats tab and then compare to the appropriate column. For example: Under the Raw Data tab there's a column called "DV" and I also have a tab called "Deck Versions". Same could be said for "CT" and "Combo Turn" under the Stats tab. You're welcome to contact me with questions after you've attempted to figure things out yourself and I'll do my best to answer any that come my way!
Using the spreadsheet as a tool and going through multiple deck versions, I believe I had a pretty solid list heading into Grand Prix: Las Vegas!
Sensei's Divining Top Era TES
- 4 Burning Wish
- 4 Infernal Tutor
- 4 Brainstorm
- 4 Ponder
- 4 Gitaxian Probe
- 3 Cabal Therapy
- 3 Duress
- 1 Empty the Warrens
- 1 Ad Nauseam
Grand Prix: Lav Vegas Decklist
- 4 Burning Wish
- 4 Infernal Tutor
- 4 Brainstorm
- 4 Ponder
- 4 Gitaxian Probe
- 3 Cabal Therapy
- 3 Duress
- 1 Empty the Warrens
- 1 Ad Nauseam
I think you should start out by reading this (If you haven't ready). This is a private article that is now public, that I released shortly after the announcement of the Sensei's Divining Top banning. While the deck list is outdated, there's a lot of valuable information in there.
When comparing the two deck lists above and looking at the main deck, you'll notice the only difference is the mana base. In the the article discussing the post-banning deck list, you'll see that I have the Island in the sideboard. I found in my play testing that the Island was performing well-enough for me to want it in the main deck, this caused some issues. I bounced back and fourth between fourteen and thirteen lands, I ultimately decided that thirteen lands with two basic lands was providing the best results. That said, it took some finessing to make it work.
In order to support the basic Island, Badlands is heavily recommended as the two lands combined produce all three of your colors. To find room for these two lands, I had to shave the second copy of Underground Sea. While I immediately thought this was wrong when testing, with a basic Swamp and Island, the reliance on Underground Sea isn't needed as much. I've been happy with the mana base so far.
Moving onto the sideboard, as discussed in the previous article, the need for green just isn't there anymore. With Counterbalance leaving the format, Abrupt Decay isn't needed as everything else can be handled with a generic catch-all like Echoing Truth. Where this tends to be a little tricky is against the new Miracles decks – not because of Counterbalance, but because of Ethersworn Canonist out of the sideboard. All the Miracles opponent has to do is protect their creature and then you're locked out of the game (very similar to Counterbalance). This has caused me to look at Rending Volley, while people dismiss this card very quickly, I've found it to be pretty good.
Rending Volley while being effective versus Counterspells, is also cheap enough and versatile enough to be sided in against Death & Taxes as an answer to Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. I've even sided it in a few times against BUG Leovold decks as an answer to Leovold, Emissary of Trest post-Ad Nauseam so that you have the option of killing them with Tendrils of Agony instead of being forced to use Empty the Warrens. I suppose you could Tendrils of Agony them, but the risk of Flusterstorm or Mind Break Trap being drawn isn't very appealing to me.
Defense Grid has been relatively good for me, it's fantastic against the slower blue control decks in the format and decent against Delver of Secrets decks that aren't heavy on discard. A pseudo colorless replacement for Xantid Swarm that makes games very awkward for the opponent. If the opponent has enough mana to interact with a single spell, you can generally power through it, but even if you can't - it creates situations where your opponents aren't casting spells on their turn to hold open mana which is good for you.
You can find my thoughts on Telemin Performance in the link above.
Why Meltdown? It's a question I hear a lot because of the newly printed By Force. It's pretty simple, of the artifact hate pieces being played main deck – Chalice of the Void is the most popular. I want the answer that is going to be the most effective versus the highest played card, it also deals with multiples for less mana than By Force. While Meltdown costs an additional mana against a Sphere of Resistance effect, those are rarely played in the main deck and post-board you have things like Echoing Truth for that. People tend to mention that By Forces deals with Phyrexian Revoker or Ethersworn Canonist for less mana; in these situations, I would just select Grapeshot or Massacre instead. Ideally we would be able to support Pulverize, but without a third Mountain, it's not a reasonable choice.
Why the shift away from three copies of Empty the Warrens in the sideboard? Well, it's sort of a one-trick pony. Once my opponents became aware of the plan and then acted accordingly, I found that Duress was being countered in order to protect cards like Flusterstorm or Stifle. My opponents were keeping cards like Engineered Explosives or Toxic Deluge more often on their Ponders because they knew tokens would be coming. As a known element, this plan can be easy to defeat, which doesn't make it very effective. If there was enough room for both Defense Grid and multiple Empty the Warrens, I think that might be interesting as Defense Grid can protect Empty the Warrens from the aforementioned cards.
Trip to Las Vegas & The Events
The trip to Las Vegas was miserable, it's about the only way I can put it. I received notice our flight was moved up 30 minutes a few hours before it was supposed to take off, I leave work and get to the airport at 4:30pm, make my way through customs and arrive at the terminal around 4:45-5:00pm for our 5:30pm flight. The plane didn't leave Syracuse until after 1:30am. It has been delayed due to a small storm in Chicago (our layover city), what didn't make any sense was that other airlines only had delays of one to two hours while ours was over seven hours.
After speaking to several representatives in Syracuse and missing our connecting flight, we get our tickets the first flight out of Chicago for 7:30am to land in Las Vegas at 9:40am. While this worked for me (since I had two byes), it didn't work for my travel companion as he had only one. The representative tells us to call United corporate and if that doesn't work, to talk to someone in Chicago about switching airlines since American had a flight getting in to Las Vegas an hour earlier.
We arrive in Chicago at 2:45am and talk to a few people who are unwilling to help us, they tell us they would normally book us a hotel, but because our flight is so early it wouldn't be worth it. We're directed to the United Lounge where there are cots to sleep on.
Fun Fact: In this lounge at 4am there's someone with a horn that kicks everyone out as the gates are open and we're forced to move once again.
We spend the next few hours at our gate in the freezing terminal that was O'hare airport.
We eventually arrive in to Las Vegas after the event starts, run through the airport, and get to the convention center in time for my friend to just make the beginning of round two.
Grand Prix: Las Vegas - Legacy was 2645 people! A great turnout in my opinion.
Grand Prix: Las Vegas Legacy Main Event
Round Three - Steve Sherwin with Eldrazi
I win the first die roll of the event and then start with Scalding Tarn. My opponent plays Eye of Ugin into a pair of Eldrazi Mimic. Not exactly the matchup I wanted round one, but I can make fourteen Goblins on my turn. I draw Ad Nauseam for turn. Dark Ritual, Chrome Mox, Lion's Eye Diamond and Ad Nauseam.
Steve starts the second game of the event with Ancient Tomb, Endless One and Chalice of the Void for zero. I play a first turn Duress: Reality Smasher, Phyrexian Metamorph, City of Traitors and another Endless One. Steve attacks and plays a second Endless One. I cast Brainstorm, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Chrome Mox (countered), Chrome Mox (countered) and Empty the Warrens. I cross my fingers and hope that he doesn't draw a land for Reality Smasher, but he draws Cavern of Souls and names Shapeshifter before attacking with his 5/5 and 4/4. I chump block the 4/4 with a Goblin. I draw and decide to attack for nine leaving two back because it didn't change my clock and the combat math for living says I need to if he swings out. Steve goes to four life, plays Phyrexian Metamorph (copying Reality Smasher) and attacks with everything. I block the two Endless Ones and go to two life.
2-0 | 3-0
Round Four - Fredrik Holm with UR Delver
Fredrik wins the roll and begins with Volcanic Island into Monastery Swiftspear. Over the course of this game, I cast at least four cantrips, but can't seem to find anything that actually generates mana and die on turn four with Fredrik's hand being disrupted by discard spells.
On the third turn, I cast Dark Ritual with a untapped Volcanic Island and Lotus Petal open. It resolves. I play Cabal Therapy (naming: Force of Will), one goes to the graveyard leaving a Daze, Ponder and more creatures. Rite of Flame, Lion's Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, Empty the Warrens and flashback Cabal Therapy on Ponder. My Goblins are staring down an unflipped Delver of Secrets and a Monastery Swiftspear. Over the next few turns, the Goblin horde deals enough damage for a third game.
Fredrik mulligans and for the first time doesn't start off with any spells on the first turn. I play a Scalding Tarn and search up my Island and cast Ponder. Which is promptly hit by Daze. Still nothing from Fredrik. I search up the basic Swamp, lay down a Lotus Petal and cast Defense Grid. Fredrik fetches again and plays a Stormchaser Mage. I draw, cast Ponder, Brainstorm, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, Infernal Tutor, Burning Wish and Tendrils of Agony.
4-1 | 4-0
Round Five - Chris Larsson with Dragon Stompy
Chris wins the die roll and starts the match with a first turn Blood Moon. My first turn is a little better. Land, Chrome Mox (Imprint: Cabal Therapy), Infernal Tutor (Revealing: Rite of Flame), Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame and Empty the Warrens. Chris plays a second land and passes. I draw and snap off the last card in my hand, Duress. Hit Fiery Confluence and then attack. Chris draws and picks them up.
Chris's turns go as follows: Turn 1 Chalice of the Void, turn 2 Trinisphere, turn 3 Sin Prodder. On my turn 3, I Burning Wish for Meltdown. Turn four, I have to play Lotus Petal for a fourth mana. Turn 5, Meltdown for three. Play the land I just drew and cast Duress. Chris has two Trinisphere still in hand. Pick them up.
Chris has a pre-game effect of Leyline of the Void, which I'm fine with. He took a long time to decide if he was going to keep his hand. I fire off one of my two copies of Gitaxian Probe. Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors, Simian Spirit Guide, Mountain, Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon. I play a Polluted Delta and pass. When Chris plays Magus of the Moon, I search up the basic Swamp. On the following turn, I Gitaxian Probe and draw Lion's Eye Diamond. Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Chrome Mox, Chrome Mox, Lion's Eye Diamond, Burning Wish and Empty the Warrens. Chris dies shortly after.
6-2 | 5-0
Round Six - Matthew Dilks with Grixis Delver
My notes aren't great on this round and I don't remember it that well. My apologies.
Matt Mulligans and starts off with a Delver of Secrets. I spend most of the game sculpting up to a big turn. I used a Duress two turns before my combo turn on turn five, wrote down Matt's hand of Surgical Extraction, Daze, Brainstorm and Ponder. Making Matt discard Force of Will. On my combo turn, I cast Dark Ritual, Cabal Therapy, Matt responds with Surgical Extraction on Lotus Petal. I think to myself, "The only way I lose this game is if he has Force of Will or Flusterstorm" so I name one of them. Instead of looking at my paper and remembering the Brainstorm. His hand hasn't changed much. Lion's Eye Diamond, Lion's Eye Diamond, Chrome Mox, Infernal Tutor?
Matt casts Brainstorm. Then extends his hand.
8-3 | 6-0
Round Seven - Andy Boswell with Sneak & Show
Andy wins the die roll and plays Ancient Tomb, Lotus Petal and passes. I cast Duress: Daze, Sneak Attack, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Griselbrand and Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn. I discard Sneak Attack. Andy does nothing on his turn. I cast Ponder and Brainstorm (stacking a Cabal Therapy two down). Dark Ritual, Cabal Therapy (Jace, the Mind Sculptor - his only blue card for a possible blue card), Rite of Flame, Lotus Petal, Lion's Eye Diamond and Empty the Warrens. Flashback Cabal Therapy (Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn - this way the Griselbrand doesn't get shuffled in too.), then cast Ponder off of the Lotus Petal, breaking Lion's Eye Diamond, see there's also an Infernal Tutor on top. Draw Cabal Therapy and cast it (Griselbrand and the Ponder Andy drew for turn). I attack on my following turn and cast Infernal Tutor for another Cabal Therapy but can't cast it. Attack and cast Cabal Therapy (Show and Tell), Andy reveals two Griselbrand, I discard them.
Andy immediately puts a Leyline of Sanctity into play. I start with a Volcanic Island into Ponder. Andy casts a Show and Tell (Ancient Tomb and Lotus Petal) putting Sneak Attack into play. Andy draws, plays a Volcanic Island and passes. I draw and cast Burning Wish, get Empty the Warrens and pass. Andy draws and passes. I cast Empty the Warrens for four storm, leaving a pair of Lion's Eye Diamond on the battlefield. Andy uses a Force of Will removing Show and Tell. Andy draws and activates Sneak Attack, Griselbrand, draw 14 and put in Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn.
9-5 | 6-1
Round Eight - Anand Khare with Dragon Stompy
I recognize Anand from traveling around to Grand Prix in the north east, he tends to play midrange decks in Standard. Which is why his deck choice shocked me a bit.
I know that he's a solid player and that this is going to be a tough round.
Anand wins the die roll and starts with a Ancient Tomb, Simian Spirit Guide and Blood Moon. My next two Turns are Scalding Tarn, Volcanic Island and Lotus Petal. Trying to represent as Sneak and Show. On the end of Anand's third turn, after he casts Simian Spirit Guide, I cast Dark Ritual into Ad Nauseam.
I draw roughly 25 cards off of it. I cast a bunch of Dark Rituals trying to build up Storm, Infernal Tutor (Revealing: Lion's Eye Diamond), play four copies of Lion's Eye Diamond and Brainstorm. I draw two lands and another Lotus Petal. At this point, Anand calls a judge. He states that I never presented or shuffled my deck after the Infernal Tutor. I certainly did shuffle, but he did not cut or shuffle as he thought I was just going through the motions. I told the judge that I didn't even need the Brainstorm and explained how I could've killed him without the three cards drawn or even the two I put back. I explain the line in which I win, the judge looks at Anand and he picks up his cards.
I apologize as I might've been moving quickly, but I did shuffle and he acknowledged my Brainstorm resolving. I don't think he was malicious, but it seemed like a weird judge call to me.
Anand starts the second game with a Chalice of the Void for one. My hand is a bunch of Lotus Petals and Chrome Mox, Infernal Tutor, Burning Wish and Gitaxian Probe. I draw, play a land and pass. Anand doesn't do anything on his turn. I don't draw a second land, play Chrome Mox (Imprint: Gitaxian Probe) and cast Burning Wish for Empty the Warrens. Anand draws and casts a Simian Spirit Guide.
Infernal Tutor (revealing: Lotus Petal), Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal and Empty the Warrens. Anand plays his fourth land and says, "I'm likely dead." I told him that I knew that he still had outs. I attack him down to five life and he peals Fiery Confluence off the top of his library. What's funny to me is that I drew Echoing Truth the last turn, if he targets Chrome Mox, I can make his spell fizzle.
Anand is a good player, he acknowledged that line and dealt me four damage instead.
I spend the next five turns drawing for the turn and passing, while being hit by a Simian Spirit Guide. Nothing else happens at all. I eventually draw Burning Wish, Echoing Truth on Chalice of the Void. Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, Burning Wish and Tendrils of Agony.
11-5 | 7-1
Round Nine - Pat Vincent with Dredge
Pat mulligans to five and starts the match off with Gemstone Mine, Lion's Eye Diamond and Careful Study. By the end of his turn, I don't have much of a hand left and concede.
Pat shuffles down to five cards again, I open with a Duress taking his Lion's Eye Diamond as his only discard outlet. Over the next few turns, I cast two more discard spells while setting up my win. On turn four, I use Burning Wish for Dark Petition and cast Ad Nauseam.
I mulligan and scry to the bottom. Pat starts off with Cephalid Coliseum, Lion's Eye Diamond and Careful Study, but misses on his second Dredge giving me some hope that I can win. I cast Ponder but stack Burning Wish and Gitaxian Probe in the wrong order. I then play Lotus Petal and Lion's Eye Diamond. When a pair of Ichorids come back during the upkeep, I realize my mistake with Ponder. I take a hit down to thirteen life, Pat then casts Cabal Therapy from his graveyard naming Burning Wish. My hand is: Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Echoing Truth and a land or two. Pat thinks about it and then uses his other Cabal Therapy on Echoing Truth as he now has six Zombie tokens from Bridge from Below.
I draw and cast Gitaxian Probe, use Polluted Delta (10 life) and cast Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, Burning Wish, Dark Petition into Ad Nauseam. I don't have the exact order written down, but I could've stopped at six life from Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Burning Wish and Lion's Eye Diamond being in the top seven cards of my library mixed with some lands.
13-6 | 8-1
Round Ten - Joby Parrish with RB Reanimator
I win the die roll and mulligan into a not so great hand. Joby stops me before I can play a land, then reveals Chancellor of the Annex. Fantastic. I play basic Island and Gitaxian Probe (2 life and the tax) I see he has a turn 1 Chancellor of the Annex hand with Unmask. He draws and casts Unmask, I concede.
At this point, we're randomly selected for a deck check. Ten minutes later, we're good to go.
I have a turn one Ad Nauseam hand if it weren't for another Chancellor of the Annex. Swamp, Lotus Petal (paying the cost), Lion's Eye Diamond and Duress: Chancellor of the Annex, Reanimate, Entomb, Animate Dead, Badlands, Lotus Petal and Swamp. I opt to discard Entomb. Joby draws, plays Badlands and passes.
I won't lie, I kept a not great hand: Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Polluted Delta, Chrome Mox and Underground Sea. Joby starts off with a Thoughtseize discarding a Brainstorm and passes. I draw Burning Wish for turn, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal and use it to cast Brainstorm. Infernal Tutor, Island and Cabal Therapy. I put back the Island and Underground Sea. Use Polluted Delta and search up Underground Sea to cast Cabal Therapy on Reanimate. My name was wrong and on Joby's turn Griselbrand hits play, drawing fourteen cards and bringing Sire of Insanity with him.
My opponent says, "move to clean-up?" I can't believe what I'm hearing and look at Joe Losset at the table next to me. He discards down to seven and then says, "Discard" in a non-questioning tone. I stare at him for a moment (30-45 seconds) to see if he's trying to use his Sire of Insanity trigger, to which, he is the active player and doesn't discard his hand. I slowly move my hand towards my deck to draw a card and he says that I need to discard my hand.
I call a judge.
I explain to the floor judge the situation, to which he agrees to everything. The floor judge tells me to discard my hand and I immediately appeal to the head judge. In my opinion, there's a few things wrong with this: the first being that Joby moved to cleanup, then discarded down to seven (Sire of Insanity triggers in the end step before this) and that he didn't discard first to his own Sire of Insanity.
As the head judge starts asking questions, Joby's answers changed and now he said, "end step" and not cleanup. He also says he discarded his entire hand, which wasn't true at all. He told the floor judge that he discarded his hand in increments, which is why it appeared he has discarded down to seven, then told the head judge he discarded it all at once. He was inconsistent.
The twenty minute ruling eventually goes in my favor. If my draw step is a free spell, something that generates mana or a cantrip, I stand a chance of winning the game with Grapeshot in my sideboard. But I need one more storm to deal four damage.
I draw Scalding Tarn.
14-8 | 8-2
We're ten minutes over time and Kai Sawatari walks over as I'm picking up my belongings. He asks me if I have time to film his next episode for Tokyomtg, I tell him I need some time to collect my head and that they're likely going to pair the next round soon.
I didn't see Kai the remainder of the weekend. Sorry Kai! I did want to film it, it was just bad timing.
I knew my odds of winning that game and the match were low, but somehow I was a single draw step away and even after cutting a land back down to thirteen it hurt a bit. But that's Magic: the Gathering and we're on to the next one.
Round Eleven - David Mines with Eldrazi
I win the die roll and begin our match with Scalding Tarn and pass. My opponent plays an Eldrazi Temple into an Endless One. I draw a second copy of Rite of Flame for turn, Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, Infernal Tutor (Revealing: Rite of Flame), Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, Burning Wish for Past in Flames, and then replay everything into Burning Wish for Tendrils of Agony.
I mulligan and my new six is: Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Polluted Delta, Chrome Mox, Lion's Eye Diamond and Infernal Tutor. I scry a land to the bottom. David plays Eye of Ugin into a pair of Eldrazi Mimic and passes the turn. YES! No hate piece! I draw a second copy of Dark Ritual for turn, play all of my spells into Infernal Tutor and then cast Ad Nauseam. While generating storm, I saw David's hand and it contained a Chalice of the Void but no Ancient Tomb or City of Traitors.
16-8 | 9-2
Round Twelve - Ross Merriam with ANT
I win the die roll, while shuffling Ross reveals an Infernal Tutor, which let me know he wasn't on Elves or BUG Delver which were the other two decks I knew he could've been playing. I keep a hand that's capable of killing on the second turn through discard thanks to Brainstorm. I start the match off with a Polluted Delta and a Lion's Eye Diamond, with the remaining cards in my hand being: Infernal Tutor, Dark Ritual, Badlands, Brainstorm and Burning Wish. Ross draws, lays a basic Island and casts Brainstorm. After a moment, he puts two cards back on top and then casts Lion's Eye Diamond. I cast Brainstorm on his end-step into Gitaxian Probe, Rite of Flame and another land. I start my main phase with a Gitaxian Probe with revealed: Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Cabal Therapy, Infernal Tutor and a Ponder. I was very close to dying. I then cast my pair of "ritual effects" and Infernal Tutor, sacrificing Lion's Eye Diamond and then casting Ad Nauseam.
Ross mulligans and then keeps on top with his scry. Polluted Delta and pass. I figure he likely is holding open Brainstorm. My hand is: Badlands, Bloodstained Mire, Burning Wish, Infernal Tutor, Ad Nauseam, Rite of Flame and Lion'e Eye Diamond. I draw and it's another Lion's Eye Diamond! Badlands, Rite of Flame, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lion's Eye Diamond, Burning Wish and Telemin Performance! Ross quickly fetches and casts Flusterstorm... I wait four turns for him to kill me from there.
My opening hand was pretty strong with: Polluted Delta, Gitaxian Probe, Gitaxian Probe, Dark Ritual, Burning Wish, Lion's Eye Diamond and another Lion's Eye Diamond. I have a lot of live draws with this hand. I start with the first Gitaxian Probe and Ross reveals: Duress, Duress, Cabal Therapy, Past in Flames, Brainstorm, Polluted Delta and Underground Sea. I draw another land, I then immediately cast the second and draw another land. I cast the pair of artifacts and pass the turn. Ross lays Underground Sea and takes my Burning Wish with his Duress. I draw a Cabal Therapy for my turn and name Brainstorm, Ross's draw step was his own Lion's Eye Diamond. Ross draws and casts Brainstorm, Cabal Therapy (Dark Ritual) and then Lion's Eye Diamond. The game lasts for another four turns before Ross eventually finds an Infernal Tutor to kill me, in the mean time my draw steps were two more lands, Lotus Petal and Chrome Mox.
17-10 | 9-3
This was a tough loss. Not only because it knocked me out of top 8, but the way that it happened.
Round Thirteen - Matt Hackbert with BUG Turbo Depths
I win the die roll but keep a hand that is more suited for a blue/control deck and get crushed by Matt's back to back early discard spells followed up by a turn 4 20/20.
I keep a hand of: Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor, Lion's Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, Rite of Flame and Gitaxian Probe. I had every intention of making Goblin tokens this game. Instead, my Gitaxian Probe drew Brainstorm. After contemplating for a moment, I decided I would cast the Brainstorm and risk the not drawing a land for a higher Goblin count. Lotus Petal, Swamp and Lion's Eye Diamond! I put back Rite of Flame and Burning Wish. Swamp, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lion's Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor, Burning Wish and Tendrils of Agony.
Matt starts the third game with an Inquisition of Kozilek, taking Infernal Tutor. But leaves me with: Gitaxian Probe, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Scalding Tarn and Ad Nauseam. In my draw step, a Surgical Extraction hits my Infernal Tutors, but I had drawn a Ponder. I immediately use my Gitaxian Probe: Mox Diamond, Dark Depths, Brainstorm and Crop Rotation. I search up Volcanic Island and cast Ponder leaving Dark Ritual on top of my Library and lay out my artifact mana. Matt draws a land and discards it to Mox Diamond, then casts a Brainstorm. He uses his Bayou to cast Crop Rotation for Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, plays his Dark Depths and casts Vampire Hexmage. I'm feeling good about this.
I draw Dark Ritual, use my Bloodstained Mire, cast the two "ritual effects" and cast Ad Nauseam, in response, I break the Lion's Eye Diamond for three blue mana (Lotus Petal still available). My first two flips are Burning Wish and Dark Ritual, well...damn. I end up flipping down to five life needing another initial mana source but haven't even revealed a cantrip effect. I flip again into Chrome Mox, which is enough to seal the deal.
19-11 | 10-3
Round Fourteen - Aaron Nguyen with Grixis Delver
I win the die roll and start the game with two fetch lands in a row, as does Aaron. On my third turn, I lay a Badlands and pass. Aaron uses Wasteland, confirming the idea that I had that he was on Grixis Delver. After he does this, he plays a Deathrite Shaman leaving only a single land open. I use Bloodstained Mire first, which was the target of Stifle. I then use Polluted Delta as it gets either basic and grab the basic Island. I had another land in hand still, which works well for this matchup. I play the fetchland and search up basic Swamp and cast Ponder into two more lands and a Burning Wish - it's looking good for us.
On my next turn, I activate another Bloodstained Mire that's hit by a second Stifle. Aaron was now down to four cards, I play a Lotus Petal and then Dark Ritual off of the Swamp. Aaron immediately casts Force of Will removing a second copy of Force of Will, which tells me the last two cards in his hand are either amazing or garbage. I'm gambling on the latter, I hadn't seen a Lightning Bolt or Daze and think it's those. Rite of Flame, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lion's Eye Diamond and then cast Burning Wish (I had planned on this being countered by Force of Will and now discard an Infernal Tutor to Lion's Eye Diamond) into Empty the Warrens.
Aaron plays a Gurmag Angler and passes. The race between a horde of Goblins and his two creatures favor me this time.
Aaron uses Stifle on my first land this game, my next two resolve and I have a pair of basic lands in play. I play a Lotus Petal and cast Defense Grid. Aaron sighs and then casts Force of Will removing a Stifle. On my next turn, I Ponder into the second and cast it! I have Ad Nauseam in hand and four mana in play, but could really benefit from a Dark Ritual or Rite of Flame. My life total is down to 14 life from a pair of Deathrite Shaman, I draw for turn and it's Dark Ritual! Unfortunately, it's a pretty bad Ad Nauseam and I'm forced to Grapeshot Aaron's team and dealing him six damage as well (leaving him with no hand). He draws and casts Brainstorm, then plays a Delver of Secrets which would kill me regardless if it flipped or not on my turn.
21-11 | 11-3
Round Fifteen - Eddie Caudill with RB Reanimator
I sat next to Eddie a few times through the event and immediately recognized him when he sat down, I'll say this, I wasn't exactly thrilled with this matchup for my final round.
Eddie wins the die roll and starts with the classic pre-game effect of Chancellor of the Annex. At the pace of a few blinks, Iona, Shield of Emeria was on the table and named red. This alerted me to the fact that Eddie knew the matchup and was knowledgable enough to name the proper color. I sat there for a few turns taking the hits in seven damage increments. Maybe giving him the idea that I had an out.
Being on the play and without a Chancellor trigger was exciting, I had a hand that could go, "Turn 1 Duress, turn 2 Ad Nauseam!" I start by casting Duress and revealing: Swamp, Faithless Looting, Dark Ritual, Entomb, Reanimate, Griselbrand and Stronghold Gambit.
I think for a moment on this one and decide that Reanimate is the best card to take. The hand Eddie kept was very resilient to discard, which made all of the options unappealing.
- Reanimate - This would leave the other 11 Reanimate spells in the deck as an out, as well as all copies of Lotus Petal & Chrome Mox for Stronghold Gambit.
- Entomb - This leaves Unmask, Collective Brutality, Thoughtseize, 3 Entomb, as well as all copies of Lotus Petal & Chrome Mox for Stronghold Gambit.
- Dark Ritual - Lotus Petal and Chrome Mox are the only outs. The downside is that a discard spell off the top is enough to disrupt me long enough to lose to Reanimate and Entomb.
- Faithless Looting & Stronghold Gambit - You're just dead to Dark Ritual, Entomb and Reanimate.
21-13 | 11-4
Totals & Stats from the Legacy Classic
- Games & Record: 21-13 | 11-4
- The Die Roll: 7-6
- Mulligans: 4
- Turn One Combos: 3
- Ad Nauseam Wins: 8
- Past in Flames Wins: 2
- Empty the Warrens Wins: 7
- Natural Tendrils of Agony Wins: 4
Closing & General Thoughts
For the most part, it was a decent trip. I really wish I would've had slightly better luck in the second day to finish with an X-2 record, I believe that the first RB Reanimator match could've been mine as well as the games against Ross in the storm mirror. I was hoping to dodge RB Reanimator in the second day again, but unfortunately hit it twice. This being said, 11-4 for 80th place is respectable – but not great.
Due to Wizard's poor prize payout, being in the top 3% of entrants into the event doesn't get you paid – which was a huge bummer. Grand Prix have continued to grow with Magic each year and they've failed to keep the compensation competitive, it's something that should be re-evaluated sooner rather than later.
Going back to the event, I had some pretty weird pairings. I faced four Chalice of the Void decks and no favored match-ups like Elves, Burn or Death & Taxes. I also never faced Miracles even though there was a lot of it around me both days of the event, which made the Rending Volleys look bad. Although, I think this was more of an anomaly than anything else.
I liked my deck list and would likely play it again, as I did in the Sunday side events.
Over the weekend, I ate some terrific food, ranging from: steaks at Carnevino, to tapas styled food at China Poblano & the burgers at Carsons Kitchen - it was all phenomenal. In the hours before my flight home, I managed to squeeze some gambling in with the remaining $40 cash I had left in my wallet. I sat down with the guys at a blackjack table and within an hour was up to $280 and about six rum & cokes! I slowly went down to $200 and decided to call it quits. After a break and wondering around the Caesar's Palace casino, we decided to hit the tables again. I lost everything in about ten minutes, fortunately, Royce Walter (the gentleman he is) bought me back in and thirty minutes later I had more than I did when I sat down!
Being slightly drunk when I sat down for the midnight flight back to Syracuse, I was relieved that I would be sleeping in my own bed soon - I missed it. It had been a long five days and I could really use the break.
Over the next few weeks I'm going to update parts of the website with new content based on the most recent list. Stay tuned!
WHOOOOOOOOPS! Almost forgot the best part! I managed to get these signed before the start of round 1!
Until next time, keep storming!