I had just checked how long it would take me to get to Acton, MA from Syracuse, NY. In the northeast there's really only two seasons – winter & construction. Due to all of the roadwork being done, it was being estimated at a little over six hours. Thankfully Jerry convinced me to get over it and take the drive anyway, after leaving work Friday afternoon the roads weren't as bad as I expected. It turns out that in Massachusetts that construction is only done on weekdays? I could be wrong, don't fact-check this.
Unfortunately, on the way there I suffered through some car issues (transmission temperature warning light). On the side of the road, I considered calling Jerry and telling him I wasn't going to make it. Instead, I slowly drove to the nearest rest-stop to figure things out and as I pulled into the parking space the light on the dashboard went out. Even with the set-back, I made it to Boston in 5.5 hours in just enough time to eat a beautifully made burrito before I went to bed.
Meanwhile, Wilson Hunter and Jerry were putting out fires the night before the event. The two of them put a lot of effort into making sure everything ran smoothly (I'm sure Pat did too, I just didn't get to witness it).
In the morning, Wilson, Jerry, and I were the first ones in the building and it would only make sense if we were the last ones out!
The EPIC Storm (v4.2)
The EPIC Storm (v4.5)
Leaving A Legacy 5K with The EPIC Storm (v4.5)
Round One - Keith Crupi with Tin Fins
I win the die roll and keep an opening hand of: Gitaxian Probe, Duress, Polluted Delta, Bloostained Mire, Infernal Tutor, Dark Ritual, and Lotus Petal. My opponent mulligans and puts the card on the bottom for his scry. I quickly pay two life to look at their hand: Entomb, Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Gitaxian Probe, Shallow Grave, and Griselbrand. "Great, Tin Fins..." I remember thinking sarcastically, as it's traditionally a very bad match-up. I then draw Brainstorm. Fortunately, our opponent's hand isn't the greatest. I followed up Gitaxian Probe with Duress off of Underground Sea, discarding the Gitaxian Probe – Which was a tough choice. I was also seriously considering Entomb as two lands off the top of the deck kill me.
I pass and Keith draws, plays Swamp and then ships the turn back to me. I draw a third land for turn and cast Brainstorm, which draws: Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, and Polluted Delta. I put back two lands and then cast Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Infernal Tutor, and then Ad Nauseam.
I mulligan and my opponent has a pretty cool start! Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, Entomb, Shallow Grave (Reanimating Magus of the Mind), and then activates it. Which revealed a lot more mana and another Shallow Grave. I had seen enough. #clearlyshouldvemulledtosurgical
I keep an opening hand of: Gitaxian Probe, Duress, Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Infernal Tutor, Polluted Delta, and another Polluted Delta. I start off with Gitaxian Probe again: Dark Ritual, Entomb, Past in Flames, Thoughtseize, Lotus Petal, Polluted Delta, and Verdant Catacombs. I draw another land off of the Gitaxian Probe, search up Underground Sea, and cast Duress (discarding Entomb). The logic is that their hand doesn't really do anything without it, and in order to cast it again (using Past in Flames), Keith has to burn a lot of his resources. Keith takes his turn, searches up his own Underground Sea and then casts Thoughtseize taking Infernal Tutor. I draw Chrome Mox for turn, and then cast Brainstorm... into three lands. I put two back, lay a Bloodstained Mire, and pass.
Keith draws, lays a land, and then casts Collective Brutality (discarding the Past in Flames to escalate). I respond by searching up Volcanic Island and cast Brainstorm into: Duress, Surgical Extraction, and Ad Nauseam. I put Ad Nauseam on the top, then Surgical Extraction on top of it. Collective Brutality takes it's only legal target (Duress). I draw the Surgical Extraction, play a land and pass. Keith draws and casts Gitaxian Probe. Damn. He goes in the tank, then casts Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Mastermind's Acquisition, and then Silent Gravestone. This leaves Keith with one unknown card in hand. I draw Ad Nauseam, play Chrome Mox (Imprint: Surgical Extraction), and then cast Ad Nauseam.
Round Two - Pat Hetu with Junk Midrange
I win the die roll. When we were shuffling, Pat revealed a lot of his deck. Because of this I kept a hand that was mostly mana and a Duress. In discard heavy match-ups with lots of disruption, you really want to get your mana into play and then play off the top of your deck. That's exactly what happened. I lead off with Bloodstained Mire, into Swamp, and Duress: Sylvan Library, Sylvan Library, Abrupt Decay, Vindicate, and Marsh Flats. I hold my Lion's Eye Diamond in hand with my Dark Rituals, over the next few turns, just play land until turn three where I draw a Ponder. Shuffle. Draw Infernal Tutor! Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor, and Ad Nauseam!
A game very similar to game one. Except this time I sit with a pair of basic lands and two Lion's Eye Diamond in play, as my hand is shredded by a pair of Hymn to Tourach. Both copies failing to discard the Badlands in my hand as my red source I've been holding because of Wasteland. Eventually, I draw Ponder and look at: Burning Wish, Lion's Eye Diamond, and Infernal Tutor. Keep! Dark Ritual, play Badlands, Burning Wish, Past in Flames, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Gitaxian Probe, Gitaxian Probe, Lion's Eye Diamond, Infernal Tutor, Burning Wish, and Tendrils of Agony.
Round Three - Adam Lipinski with Manaless Dredge
Adam wins the die roll and says, "I'll be on the draw."
I keep an opening hand of: Lion's Eye Diamond, Chrome Mox, Dark Ritual, Rite of Flame, Duress, Underground Sea, and Bloodstained Mire. Possibly a questionable keep, but I value discard highly in this match-up - the same could be said for Lion's Eye Diamond. Adam has a pre-game effect of Chancellor of the Annex. I allow my Chrome Mox to be countered by the Chancellor of the Annex trigger so that I am able to cast Duress on the first turn. Adam's hand consists of: Chancellor of the Annex, Balustrade Spy, Stinkweed Imp, Bridge from Below, Nether Shadow, and a pair of Gitaxian Probe. I discard a copy of Gitaxian Probe, I considered taking the Bridge from Below for the chance of a Cabal Therapy blowout but decided against it. The risk of putting Bridge from Below where he wants it, isn't desirable if I don't draw Cabal Therapy. But he could also just use one of the Gitaxian Probes and ruin this plan.
Adam draws and passes, I draw Empty the Warrens for turn. I decide that eight Goblins could possibly get there and it's better than waiting. I cast Empty the Warrens with the remaining spells in my hand. Adam draws and discards Stinkweed Imp. I untap, draw Dark Ritual, swing for eight. On Adam's turn he dredges, then uses Gitaxian Probe to dredge again. In his series of eleven cards there's enough resources for Adam to Dread Return Balustrade Spy into play and kill me.
I opt to be on the draw (you want to do this against Manaless Dredge). Adam once again reveals a Chancellor of the Annex, then passes the turn to me. I draw, play Volcanic Island, Chrome Mox, and this time I opt in to paying for the Chancellor trigger. I then imprint Infernal Tutor and cast Duress: Bridge from Below, Bridge from Below, Golgari Grave-Troll, Dread Return, Dread Return, Golgari Thug, and Chancellor of the Annex. I discard a copy of Dread Return. Over the next few turns I do what you're supposed to do in this match-up, which is Duress and Cabal Therapy them as a "Time Walk" effect. On turn four I resolve Ad Nauseam with a black mana floating, but I literally revealed all four copies of Infernal Tutor and two of the three copies Burning Wish. I realize I'm going to have to pass the turn, so I decide I'm going to use the Surgical Extractions I revealed. On the following turn I have a fairly easy Past in Flames kill.
I keep a relatively solid hand that consists of: Swamp, Lotus Petal, Duress, Ponder, Gitaxian Probe, Dark Ritual, and Lion's Eye Diamond. I cast Gitaxian Probe and look at: Street Wraith, Faerie Macabre, Narcomoeba, Stinkweed Imp, Golgari Grave-Troll, Cabal Therapy, and Gitaxian Probe. "My hand doesn't align well against this" I thought as I drew Chrome Mox. I decide I'm going to burn the Lotus Petal in order to cast Ponder, I shuffle and draw a second copy of Chrome Mox. Play basic Swamp and cast Duress, discarding Gitaxian Probe. Pass. Adam draws and passes. I draw a second copy of Lion's Eye Diamond and pass. Adam draws and discards a Golgari Grave-Troll. I draw a Dark Ritual, at this point you have to start playing to not lose to opposing copes of Cabal Therapy. I cast both copies of Lion's Eye Diamond and then both of the Chrome Mox (Imprint: Both Dark Rituals). The game gpes on for five more turns where I draw four pieces of mana and a Surgical Extraction. The Surgical Extraction on his Bridge from Below bought me a lot of time, but ultimately I couldn't find any business spells.
Round Four - Rory Hanlon with Mono-R Sneak Attack
I win another die roll, I keep a somewhat questionable hand: Infernal Tutor, Burning Wish, Burning Wish, Chrome Mox, Bloodstained Mire, Polluted Delta, and Polluted Delta. Yikes! Rory sends his hand back and scries his card to the bottom. I start off the match with Polluted Delta and pass. Rory plays basic Mountain, Lotus Petal, exiles Simian Spirit Guide and casts Blood Moon. In response I search up basic Swamp. I draw a fourth land for turn and then cast Burning Wish for Pulverize. Rory draws, lays an Ancient Tomb then passes back. I draw Gitaxian Probe and fire it off: Sneak Attack, Sneak Attack, and Sneak Attack. Okay then! I draw a Brainstorm, then ship it back. Rory lays another land on his turn.
We both keep our seven card hands this time. Rory leads with Ancient Tomb, but passes without casting anything. I draw, search up basic Swamp, and cast Duress: Blood Moon, Trinisphere, Sneak Attack, Griselbrand, Worldspine Wurm, and a Mountain. I discard Trinisphere. Rory draws, plays Mountain, exiles Simian Spirit Guide, and then casts Sneak Attack. I draw and it's Chain of Vapor, I search up basic Island and then bounce his enchantment. I might be able to combo off on my turn if I draw something that's plus one mana, instead Rory draws a Trinisphere and casts it. I draw Ad Nauseam, which also would've allowed me to win! I lay a third land and pass. Rory casts Sneak Attack and then kills me on his next turn.
I think to myself, "If there's a time today to draw a turn one kill, it's here." I draw and it's: Underground Sea, Gitaxian Probe, Rite of Flame, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor, Lion's Eye Diamond, and a Brainstorm. Keep! I fire off the Gitaxian Probe to start, if I draw a Chrome Mox, Lotus Petal, Lion's Eye Diamond, or Dark Ritual I win on the spot with Ad Nauseam. If not, I can cast Empty the Warrens. I look at: Mountain, Mountain, Mountain, Chalice of the Void, Chalice of the Void, Simian Spirit Guide, and Through the Breach. I draw... AND IT'S DARK RITUAL! Ad Nauseam.
Round Five - Matt Fasman with Miracles
I had watched Matt's last round and knew the match-up going in, which was the first time on the day that I knew what I was up against going in.
Matt wins the die roll, then promptly shuffles down to five cards. I decide that I'm going to play around Back to Basics while grinding him out from this position. We each play cantrips on turn one, Matt plays another on his second turn but misses his land drop. On my second turn I cast Burning Wish, which is met with a Force of Will. Matt plays a Brainstorm and finds a Flooded Strand this time. On my turn I play another Burning Wish, this one resolves. Because I don't have the resources to win with Past in Flames, I get Empty the Warrens. Matt shuffles with Flooded Strand for a Tundra and then takes his turn. Draws and casts another Brainstorm.
Here I decide it's highly too likely for him to have a Terminus, I don't want to Empty the Warrens without at least getting some Cabal Therapy value. Over the next few turns I play a cantrip, then Infernal Tutor to search for another Dark Ritual (another Infernal Tutor still in hand). After Matt has drawn through his Brainstorm I cast Empty the Warrens for 12, while still having an Infernal Tutor in my hand to go off on the next turn if need be. Matt draws plays a land and passes. I draw, it's Gitaxian Probe. Attack. Then cast Gitaxian Probe: Terminus, Terminus, Swords to Plowshares, Ponder, and Snapcaster Mage. I draw Dark Ritual.
Matt plays a Ponder, rearranges a few times and then keeps. I draw and it's a land. I play the land and decide that I want to combo off in my main phase, this way he either dies to Tendrils of Agony or the Goblin attack. He doesn't have the mana to stop both, unless the top of his deck is exactly Terminus plus Force of Will. I cast Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor, breaking my Lion's Eye Diamond.
This game was one of my favorites on the day.
I draw Surgical Extraction, if Matt doesn't have Force of Will or any other interaction, I can win with Ad Nauseam (Infernal Tutor in hand). If he does have Force of Will, I can cast Dark Ritual, then Lotus Petal, Lion's Eye Diamond, and a land for my turn into the natural Empty the Warrens. I cast Surgical Extraction on his Brainstorm. Matt reveals: Flusterstorm, Flooded Strand, Search For Azcanta, Monastery Mentor, Terminus, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Ugh, Flusterstorm. When looking through Matt's deck, he had at least three copies of Counterbalance and a few Ethersworn Canonist. I thought to myself, "I need to win quickly before he can find these and not go to a third game."
Matt plays Search For Azcanta on his next turn, along with Flooded Strand. I draw another land, I then Infernal Tutor for a second copy of Dark Ritual to help win through Flusterstorm. Matt draws and immediately puts the card to his hand, I wasn't sure if it was intentional or not with the Search For Azcanta and it left me suspicious. He plays a fourth land and then Monastery Mentor.
I draw and it's Duress! Perfect. I cast it and it's met with Force of Will removing Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Past in Flames? Flusterstorm. Lotus Petal, Lion's Eye Diamond, flashback Past in Flames.
Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor for Lion's Eye Diamond. Lion's Eye Diamond for RRR. I then Duress, the last card in his hand which is Terminus. Surgical Extraction on Terminus and then Empty the Warrens for 32!
Round Six - Blake Sayford with Grixis Delver
Blake wins the die roll and has a relatively aggressive draw with a few very fast Delver of Secrets. Then has disruption in the shape of Daze, Force of Will, and Wastelands. Luckily for the home-team, we have our basics in play. After a few copies of Duress, I clear the way and resolve Ad Nauseam. Blake has an unexpected Daze, which leaves me with zero mana floating, I've made a land drop, and am at thirteen life. #death
I feel like I got away with one this game. Blake mulligans and keeps a hand without pressure I find out from my start of Swamp into Duress: Pyroblast, Surgical Extraction, Ponder, Volcanic Island, Polluted Delta, and Brainstorm. Brainstorm down. Blake plays the Volcanic Island and casts a Ponder, then quickly shuffles. I draw, play a Polluted Delta, and cast the second Duress in my hand taking the new card which is Spell Pierce. I then search up the basic Island and cast my own Ponder, shuffle, draw. My hand is now Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Ad Nauseam, Brainstorm, and a Bloodstained Mire.
Blake draws, plays a land, then ships back to me. On my draw step, our opponent casts Surgical Extraction on my Ponders. The bad news is I drew an Empty the Warrens. I then play Rite of Flame, Lotus Petal, and Empty the Warrens. For the remainder of the game, Blake just doesn't do anything. A very poor draw from him.
Blake once again comes out of the gates with a pair of Delver of Secrets. Very similar to game one on both sides as I have a heavy discard hand, expect for that Blake kept a hand of creatures and Wastelands. With my basic lands in play, I felt protected, but the Ad Nauseam in my hand is looking grimmer by the second. I have two copies of Rite of Flame as a Lotus Petal. I take another hit from Blake and fall down to ten life. In order to win this round, I need to draw a black mana source that isn't a Chrome Mox.
I grimace as a I draw and it's Lotus Petal. Step 1: Complete.
Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Rite of Flame, Rite of Flame, tap my Swamp, Ad Nauseam floating a red. Blake draw step was Daze! I pay using my basic Island. Unlike our first game, Ad Nauseam favored me and I'm able to stop at six life for a sure-fire victory.
Round Seven - Jonathon Morawski with Lands
I win another die roll and we both shuffle down to six. I keep a hand that consists of: Burning Wish, Lotus Petal, Brainstorm, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lion's Eye Diamond, and Polluted Delta. I scry a Dark Ritual to the top as this would allow me to be able to Dark Petition for Ad Nauseam on the following turn. Jonathon plays a Mox Diamond and a Wooded Foothills before passing back. The issue with the current situation is if he has a Crop Rotation, we're going to get blown out by Bojuka Bog. Which means we have to fetch away the Dark Ritual on top of the library, searching up basic Island. I draw and it's Bloodstained Mire. Play Bloodstained Mire and cast Brainstorm: Chrome Mox, Ponder, and Lotus Petal. I put back Lotus Petal and Chrome Mox.
On Jonathon's turn, he plays Exploration, and a few lands. I search up basic Swamp on his end step.
I draw a third land, cast Ponder, shuffle, draw a Lotus Petal. Play a Polluted Delta and pass. Jon draws, casts Gamble, discarding Maze of Ith and puts Dark Depths into play representing lethal (already had Thespian's Stage). The downside is we know he doesn't have Crop Rotation now.
Jon has a turn one Sphere of Resistance. I build up to a turn where I can Echoing Truth it away, but then I'm pigeonholed into making Goblin tokens. It turns out the only unknown card in his hand was Gamble (for The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale).
I have the same thought I did going into game three against Mono-Red Sneak Attack, "Need to open up a turn one..." I look at my seven Polluted Delta, Dark Ritual, Chrome Mox, Infernal Tutor, Ad Nauseam, Brainstorm, and Bloodstained Mire. So close! Can't send that back though. I search up basic Island and cast Brainstorm: Gitaxian Probe, Underground Sea, and... Lion's Eye Diamond! Put back a land and then Ad Nauseam on top. Chrome Mox (Imprint: Infernal Tutor), Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, Gitaxian Probe (hold Priority and sacrifice Lion's Eye Diamond for three black mana), and cast Ad Nauseam.
Before Round Seven
After Round Seven
Quarterfinals - Michael Rapp with Grixis Delver
Mike being the higher seed is on the play and starts with a Ponder, then shuffles. Unfortunately for Mike, my draw is above average. I lead off with my first Duress off of basic Swamp, he has: Delver of Secrets, Delver of Secrets, Wasteland, Wild Slash, Daze, and Brainstorm. I discard Brainstorm. Mike plays Wasteland and a Delver of Secrets. I play a Scalding Tarn and cast Duress, his new card is Young Pyromancer. I discard Daze. Search up basic Island and cast Brainstorm. Putting Ad Nauseam on top and then Ponder. On the following turn I play Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Lion's Eye Diamond, Ponder (hold Priority and sacrifice Lion's Eye Diamond for three black mana), and cast Ad Nauseam.
Semifinals - Drew Frayre with Merfolk
I am the higher seed, so I opt to be on the play and open with: Lotus Petal, Cabal Therapy, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseam, Bloodstained Mire, and Ponder. A turn one through a Force of Will, huh? I play Bloodstained Mire, search for a Swamp, and then cast Cabal Therapy on Force of Will (discarding one). Then resolve Ad Nauseam. It's a little awkward as I never revealed an initial mana source and am forced to pass the turn. On the following turn Drew concedes to my Past in Flames.
This was a much better game, Drew leads off with an AEther Vial and a Chalice of the Void on zero. Which is sort of an annoyance as I have two Lotus Petals in my opening hand. I draw, play a land and pass. Drew plays a second AEther Vial and a Mutavault before shipping the turn back to me. I play a second land and then cast Brainstorm, I have an opportunity here to put back the Lotus Petals but opt not to as I think they'll be more helpful than two more additional lands. I then search up basic Swamp and cast Duress. Drew activates his AEther Vial, puts in Cursecatcher and counters it with only one card in hand.
I untap and draw Echoing Truth! Right on time. I play a land and pass.
Finals - Rich Shay with Grixis Delver
As we sit down, the judge begins to talk about legal ways to prize split. I tell him I have no interest in splitting prizes, I haven't in over 10 years. Why start now?
Rich is the higher seed and on the play. He mulligans. He leads off with a Gitaxian Probe looking at my hand of: Dark Ritual, Ad Nauseam, Cabal Therapy, Chrome Mox, Infernal Tutor, Bloodstained Mire, and Polluted Delta. He then casts Ponder, keeps, and passes.
I draw, Gitaxian Probe and fire it off: Spell Pierce, Force of Will, Delver of Secrets, and Scalding Tarn. As I'm writing down his hand, I'm unsure if I can go off. It's then that I draw my card and it's Dark Ritual. #itsgotime
I keep a slower hand with an Empty the Warrens in it, Rich casts plenty of cantrips. On turn four when I go off, he interacts with some countermagic, but I eventually resolve an Empty the Warrens for 14 Goblins. He gains a confidence boost when he reveals his only Marsh Casualties to Delver of Secrets for his turn. What he doesn't realize is he can't use Marsh Casualties and Deathrite Shaman in the same turn. If I draw Dark Ritual or Lion's Eye Diamond for turn, I can Burning Wish, for Past in Flames and do it all again. Instead, I draw Ponder. Cast it... have to shuffle... Dark Ritual. I immediately start to count mana but end up being one mana short.
This wasn't really a great game. Rich kept a hand with no Force of Will and no blue sources, hoping to draw one for his turn. He might've over-valued his Surgical Extraction. Regardless, I make 14 Goblins on turn three and become the first Leaving A Legacy 5k Champion.
Totals & Stats
- Games & Record: 19-7 | 9-1
- The Die Roll: 4-3
- Mulligans: 4
- Turn One Combos: 2
- Ad Nauseam Wins: 11
- Past in Flames Wins: 4
- Empty the Warrens Wins: 1
- Natural Tendrils of Agony Wins: 4
Closing & General Thoughts
You could say I'm fairly happy with my decision to make the drive and then enduring car issues!
Wilson Hunter thinks it's ridiculous, but I'm on one of the biggest heaters of my life; I think the credit is due to my lucky hat! I've worn it the last five weekends and gotten amazing results, when I play in local events on weekdays without it, I scrub out. Anyone need anymore evidence?
To not so humbly brag, this is my last month and a half playing playing magic:
- Top 16 - Grand Prix: Toronto with Modern UR Storm
- 1st Place - Star City Games: Regionals 5k with Modern UR Storm
- 8th Place - RPTQ with Red Deck Wins
- 1st Place - Modern 2k with UR Storm
- 8th Place - Sunday Legacy Challenge with TES
- 1st Place - Leaving A Legacy 5k with TES
While I understand that it's not solely luck that's been carrying me for the last month or so, I have been playing well, and I've had some good variance on my side. You could see that in the matches against Mono-Red Sneak Attack or Lands in those game three or even game one against Merfolk. A combination of playing tightly and to your outs, paired with some positive breaks will carry you deep into events. Magic isn't a game all about skill and I'm hoping I can keep the heater running for a little while longer!
I would like to give props to Anthony LaVerde for also making top 8 with the same exact 75! It would be hard for me to complain about the deck list after such a good outing from the two of us.
Moving forward after the Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe banning will be interesting, I have a lot of thoughts on directions to go. There will be an article coming very soon. For those of you preparing for Grand Prix: Richmond at the end of August, I would start testing the new lists once they're released! In the mean time, I will be preparing for Star City Games: Worcester before I attend the Grand Prix.
Until next time, keep storming!