Legacy is my favorite format by far. The old dual lands and plenty of room to innovate are both things I’m very fond of. Sadly, there aren’t enough big Legacy tournaments, but I’m always eyeing side event schedules. Boston contained two such tournaments, on Friday and Sunday, and Steve Sadin (my touring buddy at the moment) and I decided that we would play in them if possible.
Steve really liked my deck from the Boston 5K, as he finished 5-1-1 in the swiss, but that was only good enough for tenth place. I had a worse experience, going 1-2, losing twice to Counterbalance mirrors. We hung out in Rhode Island for the week leading up to Boston, and decided that we would do some Legacy testing, as I didn’t really want to play the same deck, but we never got around to it.
I really wanted to try Yan Lampron’s UW planeswalker deck, as Elspeth and Jace are insane in the mirrors, and Ancestral Visions seemed awesome. Sadin said I was insane, as that deck didn’t have Counterbalance, but he had an inflated view of how good the card/deck was because of his previous good finish.
Dredge was another deck I was considering. I’m a pretty big fan of the deck overall, and feel like it’s one of those decks that gets a bad rap for being “mindless.” Some of the games are mindless, but it’s one of the most complicated decks to play in terms of mulligans and sideboarding.
People like PV don’t like Dredge because they feel like it’s a helpless combo deck, where if your opponent really wants to beat you, they can. At that point, it’s basically just about pairings, right? Wrong, both because of what you can sideboard, but also because Dredge isn’t quite that helpless.
Say you dredge a Stinkweed Imp and hit a Therapy, Ichorid, and Bridge from Below, among other things. It’s like you just drew three spells, none of which cost any mana to use. The only downside is that you use your graveyard.
Anyway, I was more or less stuck playing the same list, which was a problem for a few reasons. First of all, Counterbalance was insane at Grand Prix Chicago, but after that, everyone realized that Counterbalance was the card/deck to beat and prepared for it. Nearly every deck is about as Counterbalance-proof as they could be, with a range of casting costs in their threats and several Krosan Grips or Pithing Needles sideboard.
Second, with that preparation comes an understanding of all the various tricks a Counterbalance player can pull off. Inexperienced Counterbalance players would often lack patience and throw away their soft lock by casting a card drawing spell or cracking a fetchland for a land they thought they needed. They would also be more willing to put Top on top to counter a random, nearly irrelevant one drop, only to get blown out by a different casting cost.
That’s not the case anymore. One example to support this theory happened in the first Legacy event against my round three opponent. My opponent had Counterbalance, Top, and Phyrexian Dreadnaught in play, and I cast a Brainstorm, hoping that either he would tap Top to draw a card, at which point I would attempt to Swords his guy, or if he lets it resolve, draw a Krosan Grip.
He made the correct play, figuring that I was probably using the Brainstorm as bait, and let it resolve. I didn’t draw the Grip, and that was game.
Just a few months ago, I imagine that most players would be thinking, “Counter your spell for free? Sign me up!”
So anyway, there Steve and I were, basically without a deck we thought was “good,” but we ran the same deck, with only a few changes.
From the previous list, we added some Deeds to get an edge in the mirror, cutting a Spell Snare and a Trinket Mage. Both of those cards are alright, but not great, although playing one of each is kind of weird, drawing one is usually fine, and sometimes you just don’t want to draw multiples.
The Exile into Darkness slot was replaced with a Worm Harvest. Worms give you inevitability in the control matchups, and any Intuition package is likely game over. Sometimes just relying on Goyf isn’t a good plan, especially against something like the aforementioned planeswalker deck. Worm Harvest can also play the role that Exile did, in that you can just blank all of their Goyfs with it.
The amount of Kird Apes and Nimble Mongeese seemed to have died down after GP Chicago, so I decided to cut a Factory and add another Tropical to support Deed and Worm Harvest. Dust Bowl is better than Wasteland in this type of deck, at least as a one of. Having to dredge and cast Loam every turn to maintain a Wasteland lock can often hurt you, either because you have to dredge away a Counterbalance lock or because they can just counter your Loam.
The tournament was 70 some players, seven rounds with a cut to top eight, and the main prize being the full set of Collector’s Editor for first.
Round One: Alex Bertoncini, Ug Merfolk
Alex had top eighted the Boston 5K and won a different tournament about a week earlier, so I knew what he was playing. Despite claiming to know nothing about Legacy, and knowing nothing about what his opponents are doing, he seems to be doing quite well in the format.
He won the roll and started with Island, Mutavault and Standstill, while I had a Top, a Mishra’s Factory, and a Dust Bowl. Obviously he had to crack his own Standstill a few turns later, and when I resolved an Intuition, he saw the writing on the wall and packed em up.
I sided in the Plagues and Needles for the Snare, Trinket Mage, two Counterspell, one Counterbalance, and one Force of Will. While Force is generally good against his deck, as I need it to fight through his Forces on my key spells like Pernicious Deed, I want to keep all the non-blue cards, and then my blue card count for FOW is dangerously low.
I don’t remember much of game two except that I resolved a Shackles, only for him to Needle it and play out a Reejerey, Tarmogoyf, and Mutavault. Once I was able to Explode away the Needle, he conceded to my Shackles.
1-0, 2-0 in games
Round Two: UB Faeries
This matchup seemed incredibly difficult, as he had Spellstutter Sprite, Mistbind Clique, Vendilion Clique, Thoughtseize, Force of Will, Ancestral Visions, and I assume Bitterblossom, although thankfully I never saw those.
He crushed me game one. Ancestral Visions was the just the start, Vendilion put me on a clock, and he FOWed anything relevant that I tried to do.
Second game wasn’t looking much better. I mulliganed on the play, got Thoughtseized, and had a raw Counterbalance in play with a second in my hand with not much else. I sandbagged a Brainstorm until he went for Vendilion Clique, and managed to find the Deed to counter it.
After that, he didn’t have much else going on. Secluded Glen showed me a Spellstutter Sprite, so I played around that and the Cryptic Command that was pretty obvious he had, and eventually just sculpted a good enough hand that I could Intuition him out.
Third game was another drawn out affair, mostly because he couldn’t seem to find any early pressure. If he had played a Bitterblossom on turn two, I was pretty sure I was going to lose. Instead, much like game two, I just sculpted a good hand, resolved an Intuition, and Worm Harvested him out.
It was slightly more interesting than that, as the game went to turn four of extra turns, but I was in control almost the entire time, and an Engineered Plague killed most of his resistance.
2-0, 4-1 in games
Round three: UGR Dreadstill
First game was a very nice game of control on control, as neither of us could resolve a Counterbalance, but he was able to resolve Dreadnaught + Stifle. Thankfully, I won a counterwar over a Swords and Worm Harvest made short work of him. Engineered Explosives wasn’t nearly enough.
I brought in three Grips for the Trinket Mage, Shackles, and a Force of Will. Post-board, each deck has answers to the other persons threats, so it’s usually not a good idea to aggressively use FOW to resolve a threat, protect a threat, or stop theirs, as you have enough Grips, Deeds, Goyfs of your own, etc to deal with their stuff that doesn’t cost you two cards.
Game two was the game I talked about earlier, where he resolved Counterbalance, Top, and Dreadnaught, and didn’t bite when I baited him with a Brainstorm. Krosan Grip wasn’t in the top three cards, and that was game.
I don’t remember much from game three aside from me (probably) having Counterbalance and Top.
3-0, 6-2 in games
Round four: Naya Zoo
My opponent was a very nice French Canadian kid, who definitely knew how to game.
Our first game wasn’t very close. He had a Lavamancer and a Pridemage to start the beats, and I basically had nothing to stop him for the first few turns. Eventually I found a Deed, but his Price of Progress was more than enough to finish me.
In the second game I drew a Swords and used the singleton Plague I boarded it for exactly what I wanted it to do: kill his Lavamancers. I also managed to set up a Counterbalance lock. He waited a few turns, but eventually went for it with a series of Chain Lightning and Price of Progresses, but I had enough Spell Snares, Brainstorms, and Counterspells to stop him. After that, I reassembled the lock and he was out of gas.
I brought in a miser’s Duress for game three (and out the Plague), since I felt like between his Prices, Krosan Grips, and whatnot, that I would be fine with drawing one. In hindsight, it was a bad idea, as it was the only Black card in my deck, and I would rather fetch Islands than Underground Sea.
It ended up being really good though, as I fetched a Sea on turn one and Duressed him after his turn one Kird Ape, seeing:
My hand contained the Balance/Top combo with an extra Counterbalance to spare, a Hydroblast, and lands, so I figured I would need to use the Blast on his Thoctar, and hopefully be able to Top into something to deal with the Ape. With Counterbalance, Price was probably a non issue. I even had a backup Balance in case he drew Pridemage or Grip.
Tarmogoyf was the best answer to his rampaging Ape, so taking Relic seemed like a fine idea.
Two peeled Krosan Grips later, I was topping into a bunch of lands, while the Ape dealt me about 12 damage, and POP did the last six.
Based on what I had, I would probably make the same play again, although that could certainly be wrong.
3-1, 7-4 in games
Round five: Goblins
I drew extremely well in game one, as eventually I found all four Goyfs and a couple Factories, but midgame he “peeled” a fifth land and played Kiki-Jiki. He copied his Ringleader and thankfully attacked with the original along with some Piledrivers. I had to sacrifice a lot of my board, but he was left with only a sole Kiki-Jiki.
He drew a Matron on the next turn which I couldn’t stop, and he fetched another Ringleader. The next turn, he attacked with his Ringleader, Matron, and another Piledriver, which decimated both of our boards. I had Goyf, Counterbalance, and Top to his Mirror Breaker, but an Intuition for Swords left him with just an Earwig Squad in hand.
I thought that I had stabilized at one and was trying to get damage in whenever I could, and had gotten him down to seven or so, but he drew a Siege-Gang and that was that.
I played a land and a Top, while he played a Lackey. I had Swords but couldn’t find a white source or a Hydroblast. When he showed me the Siege-Gang, I looked for a Plague, but didn’t find any of those either.
3-2, 7-6 in games
I didn’t stick around to see what happened, as I got some food with Sadin, Zvi, and the OMS brothers and went to bed. Sadin now agreed with what I had to say about Counterbalance being not as good as it used to be.
The GP started off well, as I received a card pool with Garruk Wildspeaker, Master of the Wild Hunt, Captain of the Watch, and Magebane Armor, but even those four insane rares weren’t enough to get me to day two.
Thankfully, that meant more Legacy! I brewed this up in the hotel room the night before:
Yeah, that’s right, three Force of Wills. I was siding some of them out in the majority of matches I played, and as I didn’t see a lot of combo in the room, I figured what the hell. I would have played the fourth in the sideboard, but figured Counterbalance was better against combo.
Because of all the aggro I was seeing, I added the third Factory, Moats, another Deed, and Wraths in the sideboard. Circle of Protection: Red seemed pretty awesome. It protects me from Price of Progress, and forces a deck like Goblins to overextend into your Wrath.
I kept the single Crypt for Loam decks or Dredge, even though there didn’t seem to be many of those.
The Sunday tournament was 88 players, with first place winning a foreign, black bordered Revised set.
My opponent started with Forest, Birds of Paradise, so I was obviously thinking some sort of Survival. His second turn Canonist had me thinking he was Welder/Survival, and sure enough, he was. He resolved both of his namesake cards and even had Wickerbough Elder for my Pernicious Deed. Moat halted his team and I sent his Welder farming, but I still needed to Top into an answer for his Survival.
Thankfully, I found one on the turn before he untapped with Welder and that was basically game, as Dust Bowl was cutting off his mana supply.
He started off slow in the second game, and things like Gaddock Teeg were only a minor annoyance. He started to chain some Thirst for Knowledges, but I had answers for anything relevant. I allowed him to Exhume a Sphinx of the Steel Wind and tried to Krosan Grip it, but I still had a Swords and a Wrath, so it’ not like it actually mattered.
1-0, 2-0 in games
Round Two: Two land Belcher
Game one he made eight Goblins turn two, and I didn’t have a Force or Deed.
On turn two, he showed me a hand of two Lion’s Eye Diamonds, Manamorphose, Rite of Flame, Tinder Wall, Spoils of the Vault, and Empty the Warrens to cast Land Grant. I considered what he could potentially do with that hand while I wrote it down, and Forced his Grant.
I Topped into basically nothing and passed the turn back. He drew a Lotus Petal, resolved it, did some calculations, then used it to Spoils for a Land Grant, played all of his spells and hoped to find a mana source with his Manamorphose, which he did, culminating in 20 goblins. Again, I didn’t have a Plague or Deed, so I was dead.
What he probably should have done was use the Petal to cast Tinder Wall, Rite of Flame, Manamorphose for RB, play both LEDs, cast Spoils, cracking the LEDs in response, and finding another Empty the Warrens. That would have guaranteed him a bunch of guys (assuming he didn’t die to Spoils of course), and wouldn’t rely on him hitting a mana source and basically being dead if he didn’t.
1-1, 2-2 in games
Round three: Canadian Threshold (UGR, aggressive with Bolts, Stifles, Wastelands)
This match was fairly easy as my opponent’s draws didn’t seem very good. I dealt with his threats game one while refilling with Ancestral and Jace, and eventually he conceded. Second game I stuck a Moat to stop his Mongoose, and Dust Bowled him whenever possible to keep him off of three lands, so he couldn’t use Grip to get out of the lock.
2-1, 4-2 in games
Round Four: UBW Ad Nauseam
He killed me game one with ease, as I didn’t put forth any effort to beat combo game one. I lost before seeing my third turn, after being Duressed twice. Serves me right for cutting all the combo hate.
Second game was much better for me, as I drew a sufficient amount of permission to stop him.
In the final game, he started with Dark Ritual, which I allowed, and then used that mana to play a Dark Confidant, which I also allowed. The sideboarded Bobs aren’t all that surprising anymore, and I had remembered to keep in my Swords. After that, he had some trouble finding lands, and my Dust Bowl further complicated things.
He was stuck on a single Island for a while, but had accumulated a nice collection of Lion’s Eye Diamonds. Using Ancestral and Jace, I was able to sculpt the perfect hand and eventually assemble Counterbalance and Top. On the turn before he was going to die, he went for it with a Duress and Orim’s Chant, but like my match against Naya Zoo, I had the perfect hand. I used my counters and Brainstorm plus Counterbalance to keep him under four mana, as the storm count was quite high.
He threw his last card, a Tendrils, on the table, and extended the hand.
I should note that I brought in Hydroblast this round, despite my opponent having no red cards in his deck. A blue card for Force of Will is just better than an Elspeth.
3-1, 6-3 in games
Round Five: 4c Landstill
I sat next to this guy the round earlier, so I knew what to expect, although I didn’t get to glance at his sideboard, which might be important considering his Cunning Wishes.
We played draw-go for a while game one, baited a counter with an Intuition, but then won a real battle over the second one. At that point, he was basically drawing dead, as I made sure to keep his black sources to the minimum for fear of Extirpate. Despite him using Explosives several times to keep my Worms under control, they just kept coming back.
My opponent kicked off game two with a Standstill, but once again, Standstill backfired for my opponent. I had a Top in play already, my second land drop was a Mishra’s Factory, and my fourth was a Dust Bowl. I Bowled away his Factory when he drew it, and kept swinging with my own, eventually bringing him down to seven.
I kept Topping into spells, and eventually broke his Standstill on his end of turn with a Brainstorm, as I wanted to start casting my Intuitions. His three cards would be useless if I resolved Intuition, plus he had to discard at his end of turn.
My Factory got Plowed, and he used almost his entire hand to stop my end of turn Intuition, but that just left the door open for my Elspeth to resolve. Again, he fought the good fight with some Explosives, but those only delay the inevitable. Elspeth went ultimate, and from that point, I didn’t have anything to fear.
4-1, 8-3 in games
Round six: Dredge
I didn’t know what my opponent was playing this round, and had to wait even longer to find out due to a deck check. When the judge came back, he pulled my opponent aside, but apparently it was for nothing.
My opponent won the die roll and played a first turn Putrid Imp. Uh oh
I had a Swords in my hand and a Force of Will, and decided to let it resolve. Hopefully, he only had one dredger and would miss on that one, and I could FOW his next discard outlet. If his other outlet was a Breakthrough or something, and I used FOW on his Imp, my Swords would be useless.
He made a strange play by Unmasking me after his Imp resolved. I’m not sure why he wouldn’t Unmask me before playing his outlet, but either way, I had to Force it and protect my Swords. I fetched a Tundra, Plowed his guy, and watched as every turn, his single dredger hit another dredger, and eventually I died.
I brought in some Plagues, Wraths, the Crypt, and hoped. Out came the planeswalkers and Counterspells. Ancestral might seem pretty bad, but I was on the play and they have a lot of discard, so I wanted something to recover from that.
Game two, I suspended some Ancestrals and braced for the worst, but it never came. I had the singleton Crypt, but that quickly got Needled. Past that, my opponent was basically doing nothing. Engineered Plague was good enough to stop whatever marginal pressure he put on me.
Third game was a little more difficult. I Forced his LED and used Moat to stop his Thug and Ichorid. Engineered Plague shrunk all his flying Imps, and Intuition set up the Crypt lock. At that point, I needed to Dust Bowl all of his Coliseums, Deed away my Moat, and start making Worms. My plan came to fruition on turn four of extra turns.
In hindsight, I should have brought in the [card]Counterbalance[/card]s to stop his Chains, Grudges, and Needles. That would have allowed me to protect the few anti-Dredge permanents that I had.
5-1, 10-4 in games
Standings went up, and I was eighth, but the 4-1-1s all had about the same tie breakers as me. Mine would stay about the same with a draw, while theirs would go down with a win, so I decided to “risk” it and ID, even though it wasn’t really a risk at all.
Round seven: Intentionally draw with unknown opponent
5-1-1, 8th after the swiss
The top eight was full of star power, with Cedric Phillips (44 land), Tommy Kolowith (Dredge), Alex Bertoncini (Ug Merfolk), John Cuvelier (Belcher), Ben Weinberg (Canadian Threshold), a Goblin player, and the unknown person who I drew with.
Top eight: Ben Wienburg with Canadian Threshold
He won the die roll and played a Goose, while I suspended an Ancestral and commented that “The race was on.” Wienburg played a Goyf on turn two, but I was fine with that, as I had a Top to dig for answers. A Wasteland set me back, and another Goyf threatened to win the race.
I did some math, and figured out with the Deed and Force of Will in my hand, I would probably stabilize at three or so, so there was no need to waste the Force on his Goyf. I would be better off protecting my Deed.
Naturally, Wienburg had a Daze for my Deed and a Force for my Force, and killed me exactly, the turn before my Ancestral came off.
Second game looked much better, as I was on the play and had three Ancestrals in the first two turns. Ben played a Squire-Goyf, but Bolted me to level it up, and then attempted to Stifle my Ancestral, which I allowed. I was in no rush to get cards, and the Ancestral in my graveyard would mean that I take an extra damage for each turn that Goyf gets to attack.
When he went to Stifle the second Ancestral, I decided I wanted to fight over it with a Force of Will, but he Forced back. Thankfully, I had the third Ancestral, and filled up. I used a Counterspell on a Trygon Predator and then played Elspeth, which stared at his Goyf for a few turns. It was looking good for me until Ben used a combination of Lightning Bolt, attacking, and another Bolt to knock Elspeth down to zero.
That forced me to use my Wrath of God, leaving me with six lands, one of which was a fetchland, and a Brainstorm in my hand. I started Dust Bowling his lands, but Brainstorm yielded nothing but another Brainstorm and another fetchland. The second Brainstorm couldn’t find an answer to his fresh Trygon Predator, and suddenly I was on a three turn clock living off the top of my deck.
I managed to Bowl away all of his green sources, but couldn’t stop the Predator.
Cedric defeated Alex, Tommy beat the unknown deck, and Goblins somehow beat Belcher. Cedric beat Goblins in top four, while Wienburg beat Tommy, and they split the finals.
I won a box of M10, which I guess I needed for this upcoming GP, but obviously I was going for the gold. Luis played Ben Lundquist’s Ad Nauseam deck and went 0-2, which sucks because we chopped pre tournament, so I basically only won half a box.
I didn’t absolutely hate my deck, but I didn’t think it was great either. The Friday metagame was completely different from the Sunday one, so I probably made a mistake by trying to get too creative. Maybe before the next time I actually play Legacy, which will probably be Gen Con, I will be able to get some testing in beforehand.
Next week: Back to Standard!