PV’s Playhouse – GP Madrid Report, Part 1 *25th*


Hello everyone!

When I booked my trip to the GPs, I had to choose between spending the time between tournaments in San Diego or in Madrid. It is generally tough for me to decide, because the US is cheaper and everything is easier in there, but other places are generally more interesting, since I already know the US a lot. This time, though, the fact that no one was going to Madrid early, and the fact that my other choice was in Spain, which is a place I am not particularly fond of, made the decision pretty easy. When Martin mentioned he and his friends were going to stay in San Diego until Thursday, I was set.

On Monday, I moved in with the Czech guys. They decided to go to Mexico on the first day, which meant I spent my afternoon in the shopping mall, because, well, I don’t have a visa for Mexico, and Brazil is in the select list (very select) of countries that need visas to go there. Apparently I did miss a lot, too, because one of the guys nearly got arrested for drinking in public – they put handcuffs on him and all that.

After that we drove to Hollywood, where my presence was allowed, and we got to see some parts of it that I hadn’t during the Pro Tour. I got to take a picture with Pee Wee’s star (though I have no idea if this is the Pee Wee from my column name, but there can’t really be a lot of Pee Wees can there?), and we participated a Hooter’s Quiz, in which we found out we are decent in geography and history but kind of fail when it comes to basketball players and who is marrying who in the movies scene.

After that, I finally began my journey to Madrid, and I have to say that everything in it was miserable, starting with the airplanes. First of all, it took me a really long time – I did San Diego-LA, LA-Miami, Miami-London, London-Madrid. Second, I was pretty sick during those – most of my time was spent drifting between sleeping and awake, in that febrile state where your dreams mix with reality and you have no clue about what is going on. My misery did not end when I landed, though, because I had to go through the end boss of the terrible airports, Barajas. It actually fights with London Heathrow for the worst airport I’ve ever been to, except Heathrow has some redeeming qualities, such as the absurdly awesome British Airways lounge, and, well, Barajas is just a bunch of stairs and walkways and people who do not know how to organize checked luggage, since mine was sent to a different terminal. Overall, everything was just really slow and inefficient.

After that I took a shuttle to our hotel, where I met Sam Black – our other roommate, Gaudenis, was only going to arrive on Saturday morning. I went to the shower, and as soon as I touched it, it went on a frenzy like those firemen hoses, wetting the entire bathroom in a matter of seconds, including the ceiling and the remaining towels. Awkward.

We left to the event, and Sam decided we should walk the first day, to see if walking was viable for the other days – it was “only two metro stops away” anyway. 50 minutes and three backtracks later, because we kept going in the other direction or running into dead ends, we arrived at the very crowded GP site. There we met Luis and Tim, and talked a bit about the decks. Some days before, at the PT, I had some pretentions of brewing something, mainly with Iona and Survival, but quickly became apparent that I wouldn’t have time to figure anything out – with two GPs and a PT in four different formats, you pretty much have to neglect one format, and that format was Legacy for me (and I believe everyone else), so I was probably going to play some sort of Counterbalance Top deck. Sam was set on playing 43 Lands, Luis was deciding between Enchantress and Counterbalance and Tim was, well, doing coverage. We went to eat and then back to our hotel, and I played a couple games with Enchantress to see if I liked it – I didn’t, even if I was beating Lands – and I decided to just play Counterbalance, like every time.

I have written about this already, but my process for choosing a Legacy deck includes a very big, and in my opinion effective, filter – either I am killing them on turn two, or I am stopping them from killing me on turn two, which basically means I have Force of Will in my deck. I pretty much refuse to be a victim of the people who choose to play those Ad Nauseam and Charbelcher decks – I want control over my games. At some point during the tournament, I was watching a feature match in which one player went land, Ponder. The other went land, Wild Nacatl. And then he died. How can I be the person playing Wild Nacatl in a format where you die turn two, if not one? Those people deserve to be killed on turn two every game!

Of the combo decks of today, it seems there are two options – Reanimator and Ad Nauseam. I’d never played a single game with Reanimator, and it seemed somewhat vulnerable, and my experience with Ad Nauseam hasn’t been very good – before GP Chicago I played three games, and when I died to Ad Nauseam on 19 life I knew it was not the deck for me. That left Blue.

Blue means pretty much two decks – Merfolk and Counterbalance variants. I have a hard time believing Merfolk is good in any format, and though it is better in Legacy than anywhere else, I still don’t really think it is very good – it beats the combo decks, but it doesn’t seem that good against anything else – just like I am not a fan of being killed on turn two by Ad Nauseam, I am not a fan of being killed turn two by Grim Lavamancer. That left Counterbalance.

You see, this train of thought is why I have a love-hate relationship with Legacy. Everyone says Legacy is a very open format and there are many viable decks, but I do not really consider many of those decks viable – I will likely never touch 43 Land in my life, for example, and there is no amount of talking that will convince me to do it – so it is a “viable” deck in the same way that Mono-Blue Allies is a viable deck in type two – sure, the cards are there, but it doesn’t actually beat anything. The fact that sometimes some people beat some decks with them doesn’t mean they should. I think the big problem is that some of the cards are so powerful that they render everything else unplayable – so though you have access to 10000 cards, you can only realistically play 50-100. It is pretty much the opposite of a format like Block Constructed, where you have 500 cards but the same 50-100 playables, because the context is much less powerful and lets you play less powerful cards and get away with it, and that is the main reason I like Block (obviously Alara block is excluded).

The love part comes from the fact that, like it or not, Legacy has been the format in which I have had the most success in competitive magic (well, other than Ravnica Team Block) – I’ve played 5 big Legacy tournaments, and my records were Top 24, Top 48 (both around 1K people events), 4-1 and 3-0-1 (at worlds) and 25th in this one. In those 5 tournaments, in a 3 year spam, all my decks had 4 Force of Will, 4 Brainstorm and a number of Dazes. So much for “diversity of choices”

So, I still needed a version. Luis said he thought Natural Orders were good, so I decided to base mine on Sperling’s PT San Diego side event list (though Luis ended up playing Enchantress). This is what I played:

I generally am not a fan of card-by-card explanations, since they always end up like “4 Thoughtseize: Discard important cards, a must have” “4 Wild Nacatl: 3/3 for 1, must have” but I will try to give an explanation about most of the cards for this one, since there is actually a reason why I play some cards instead of others:

4 Sensei’s Divining Top: PLAY FOUR OF THIS CARD. Seriously. I never expected to have to argue that, but the guy who Top 8ed ran three, so some people will invariably think “well he Top 8ed a 2 thousand person tournament with that, he must be doing something right” – whatever he is doing right, it is not playing 3 Tops. Top is the card that makes this deck, and you always want it in your opening hand. Multiples can always be shuffled away, and sometimes you even welcome them when you want to counter a lot of 1s in the match. MUST HAVE!

3 Daze: I am a fan of Daze as a card, but generally in more proactive decks such as Merfolk and combo. In this deck, its value is highly dependent on whether you are on the play or on the draw, and it is hard to use defensively when they are not trying to kill you in the first two turns – it is much better at countering Ad Nauseams than Wild Nacatls. The saving grace, and what makes me run 3, is Noble Hierarch – if you open with Tropical/Hierarch, then you can usually Daze anything with no problem. I was happy with it most my matches, but I would not add a fourth, and if I cut the Noble Hierarchs, I’d seriously consider lowering their number, up to 0.

4 Noble Hierarch, 3 Natural Order, 1 Progenitus, 1 Dryad Arbor: This is a package, and it is hard to justify any of those cards without most of the others. The reason I played those was because I wanted something to just win with, and it performed well at that – I definitely won games with Natural Order that I highly doubt I’d have won with any other card. It is a lot of slots though, and they might be better used elsewhere – I’ll go more in depth on this next week. I was in doubt about Dryad Arbor, but Luis insisted I ran them, and they ended up being pretty good. I remember asking about Hierarch in SD and Josh saying they were the card you want on turn one every game, and overall I was pretty happy with them, as they make a lot of your cards better, such as Daze, War Monk, and obviously Natural Order.

1 Wall of Roots: At Worlds I played Wall of Blossoms because I needed a 2-drop, and I was happy with it. Wall of Roots performs almost the same function, but it is much better than Wall of Blossoms in this deck because it accelerates Natural Order (and also sacrifices for it).

1 Trygon Predator: We had one slot which we were thinking of making into a Knight of the Reliquary, but in the end Trygon got the nod because it essentially gives you a lot of outs for Moat, since you can Natural Order for it – without him, the deck is just cold to Moat game 1. He also removes for FOW, which Knight doesn’t.

1 Engineered Explosives: honestly, I am not sure why I ran one of this card. I mean, I understand why I ran it – it is good against Zoo and Merfolk, which are two not-awesome matches, and it has applications against opposing Counterbalances, Empty the Warrens, etc – it’s just a decent card overall – but I don’t understand why I ran one specifically. I guess there just wasn’t more room? Anyway, the list started with 1, and then the number never really changed. The good thing about this deck is that you can justify having 1 or 2 of a card pretty easily, since you see so many cards with Brainstorms, Tops and Fetches.

The sideboard:

1 Enlightened Tutor: This came from the fact that I wanted 4 slots against Dredge, and I wanted to diversify them. Tutor is never really a bad card, since it can grab EE, Top, Counterbalance or any hate card, and by adding one you can play things such as one Canonist and have access to two of them, and two is a lot in this deck.

1 Ethersworn Canonist: Since there is a Tutor, it is just the best card to have as a one-of against storm decks. It is especially effective against Ad Nauseam, because it also attacks them in the meantime, and life total is a precious resource for them. It also does that without leaving you vulnerable – sometimes you just can’t tap out for Rhox War Monk because then they will kill you, but Canonist lets you apply pressure while making sure you don’t die when you play your threat.

1 Tormod’s, Relic, Wheel: Dredge and Reanimator hate, though Relic is good against some Threshold builds. I’d play one Wheel with Tutor, since it’s the card to lock up the game, but if Reanimator becomes more common, then Tormod’s is probably better than the second Relic, since Relic is sometimes too slow against them.

2 Sower of Temptation: Sower is just a good card in general, and it’s good against pretty much anything without Red that has creatures, but it wasn’t exceedingly exciting for me during the tournament.

2 Krosan Grip: Grip is just the best Disenchant there is; Originally I had 3, but removed one when I added the Trygon to the main.

1 Threads of Disloyalty: Threads is not an awesome card because the decks you want it against will have a lot of removal for it post board, but I had two slots against Zoo, and by adding a Threads I could board in both the Threads and the Tutor, filling all the blanks.

2 Spell Pierce: Originally I thought Spell Pierce wasn’t very good, but then the more I thought about it the better it seemed against the combos and in the mirror, since countering something like turn one Top and turn two Counterbalance is huge, but playing Daze this early usually sets you back too much.

2 Engineered Explosives: For dudes!

1 Tsabo’s Web: Finding this card was pretty funny, because everyone I asked said “I didn’t even know a card with this name existed”, and in the end I just bought it for two Euros. It is there mainly as a card against Lands, because you can Tutor for it, but it is also excellent against Merfolk, and sometimes you just board it in to draw a card if you have slots to do so. I played against Land 0 times, but played 3 times against Merfolk and it was great in there, or would be if I had drawn it – I would happily play more if I needed something specifically for this match.

So, this is the deck. I understand it doesn’t look very powerful, but it has a lot of strengths. First of all, it doesn’t just lose to anything – there isn’t really anything that they are playing that you can’t beat. Second, you see so many cards! That not only lets you run 1 and 2-ofs without much trouble but it also makes it so that it looks like you run more of every card. For example, there are only 4 Goyfs in there, but most of the time you will play a lot more Goyfs than your opponent, you might as well be running six. There are only four Swords, but you have the ability to kill far more creatures than a normal deck with four removal spells. And then there is Counterbalance, which is just an all star, nullifying most of what they do so that all the other 36 cards in your deck only have to deal with 5 or so in theirs, as well as just being the bane of combo decks.

Onto the tournament

The tournament was scheduled to start pretty early – after all, there were a lot of people and it was supposed to end pretty late already. I am not sure, though, why it still surprises me that there are ridiculously big delays. In this tournament, they had the excuse “we had way too many people, we weren’t expecting this, which is kind of pathetic. Everyone knew this GP was going to be huge – even I knew, how can people who do the logistics of the Grand Prix not know? Didn’t they look at the previous GPs in this region? Didn’t they look at the previous Legacy GPs? The organizers had every reason to believe that this was going to be big, it is just ridiculous to claim that it caught them off guard (sure, it might have caught them off guard by 100 or 200 people, but not being prepared for a big GP was just absurd). In the end, it was like 4 PM when we started playing. The reason it makes me angry beyond belief is not that I had to wait two hours, but the fact that the tournament ended at midnight, and Day Two started at 8 – give the time to go back to your hotel (and there was no site hotel, we had to take the metro and walk), to eat (because there is no time for eating), to go sleep, to shower, eat, go back to the event next day, you are looking at a 5 hours sleep max, which is again just absurd – you simply cannot expect people to play one of the most complicated games on earth with 5 hours sleep max! It kind of defeats the whole purpose of it, and makes it more of an endurance test. Of course not all of the delay is their fault, but why not start registration earlier on Saturday? That would have gone a long way towards mitigating the 2 hours initial delay.

I have a very good memory for games, but it has been a month, so I might not remember all the details or the order of the rounds, I apologize for that. I still remember most important things, though!

Round 4: Ad Nauseam

This is a pretty good matchup for me, and my opponent wasn’t exactly the luckiest person in the world. He mulliganed to five game one, and I soon assembled the Counterbalance Top combination that he could not beat.

+1 Tutor
+1 Canonist
+2 Spell Pierce
+1 Threads of Disloyalty
-3 Natural Order
-1 Progenitus
-1 Wall of Roots

Ever since I boarded out Swords and my opponent played Dark Confidant against me at Worlds, I’ve learned my lesson. Now I not only keep the Swords in but I also board in Threads, which is an answer that can be Tutored for and removed for FOW if needed be. Explosives is also kept because who knows what they might have – I know Robert was boarding in Empty the Warrens, for example. In the end, even if they don’t have those cards, it’s very rare that drawing too many of those will make you lose – when you lose, it is not because you have useless cards in your hand, but because you don’t have the key cards, and you are not boarding out any key cards for Swords, so it wouldn’t really matter what those cards would be.

Game two was another nice game, as he Duressed me but couldn’t take my opening hand Canonist. I soon found another Top, and that found a Counterbalance. At the end of my turn, my opponent played Brainstorm, and I responded by flipping Top. He says “response” and sacrifices a fetch. At this point I know he cannot do anything, because I have Canonist, but eh, might as well let him try and show me what he is planning to do. Sure enough, he plays Mystical Tutor, and I just point at the Canonist. He draws, passes, and I draw my Top again. On my upkeep, he plays the Tutor, which I Force of Will, so that he doesn’t get Wipe Away. Then I play the Top I drew, and he triumphantly points at my Canonist like I did with him. I give him a stare and he pauses for a while and goes “oh, nevermind”. The game ends and I still have all these permanents in play and two more Counters in hand.



Round 5: Gaudenis with Merfolk

I was not very pleased with those pairings, because Gaudenis is good and I was told Merfolk was a pretty bad matchup, though I hadn’t played it a single time. This was a feature match, covered here:

I boarded:

-4 Force of Will
-1 Natural Order (I didn’t really know if this was good or not; it seemed decent, but three seemed too many, since he has Dazes, Catchers, Forces and am already boarding in two Sowers.)
+2 EE
+1 Tsabo’s Web
+2 Sowers

Force of Will comes out because you don’t really need it against anything they have – their cards are generally not worth it to 2×1 yourself for, and they have Cursecatchers, Dazes and their own Forces – it’s just terrible to Force something and get it Dazed, for example.

Overall, the match was much easier than I anticipated – I never really thought I’d lose at any point in any game, though that might have been because he didn’t have a turn one Vial. Also worth noting is that I knew he had Submerges and a small assortment of control magics, so I delayed playing my Goyf until I could handle it or had no choice – I would generally try to deal with his threats in other ways, because if I just went for Goyf and he Submerged it I would take some damage that I didn’t want to. Tsabo’s Web was great in there, being an un-answerable way to deal with two of his Vaults. I’d also like to note that, in game one, I played Swords on his guy, and he searched his library for an Island and put it into play *cough* cheats *cough*.



Round 6: Sven, Zoo with Wasteland

My opening hand had Top, Natural Order and Force of Will, and when he started with a Kird Ape I just Forced it, because I felt like my game plan was just to survive until I cast Natural Order. That was probably a mistake, because if he goes Goyf next turn then the Force is going to effectively deal me as much damage as the Ape (+2/+2), but at that point I just didn’t want to take damage. I drew a Wall of Roots, which was great, but he Wastelanded one of my lands, which delayed my plan. In the end, I managed to get a Progenitus, but he was at 21 because of Helix. I attacked once, but then his Knight of the Reliquary became too big and I couldn’t kill him without dying, so I had my Progenitus play defense. When his Knight of the Reliquary was 9/9 I topped into Swords, which was great because it was the last possible turn – if it ever got to 10/10, then that would put him back at 21. As it was, I put him on 20 and attacked him to 10, ready to win next turn if he didn’t draw a Swords or a Helix, which he didn’t.

+1 Threads
+2 EE
+1 Tutor
-2 Force of Will
-1 Counterbalance
-1 Trygon Predator

I took out two Forces only because of Knights and maybe Elspeth.

I don’t really remember game two, except that it was close and I lost.

Game three started pretty well – I had Hierarch into Monk, and he couldn’t kill it. I Threaded his Nacatl and he Griped it, and then I tutored for Top. I topped into three blanks, and on his turn he drew a Swords (or I think he drew it) and killed my Monk, which was pretty annoying since I know most people play Path, and if he was one of those people then I would have gotten a free shuffle and a look at three new cards, and though I obviously cannot know if I would have won the game or not my chances would have been much higher – I didn’t really need to top into many things in there to win the game, since I had a pretty big advantage at that point, having gotten two Exalted War Monk attacks in.

As it was, I had to content myself with attacking for two with Hierarch as he kept playing creatures. One of them was Gaddock, so I had to Swords him before playing Explosives for two to kill his two Qasalis. In the end he was left with Nacatl and Lavamancer, and those were enough to kill me.



Round 6: UB Reanimator

My opponent this round was shuffling my deck and dropped a card on the table, face up. I called a judge and he gave him a warning. Now that didn’t seem very fair, especially in a format such as Legacy where knowing to mulligan or not to Force of Will or whether your opponent has Force of Will in his deck or not changes the entire match. Besides, I had the impression they had upgraded that ruling, so I called the head judge and argued that I thought he was getting too much an advantage and that a warning was a price I’d gladly pay to look at my opponent’s deck once a tournament. He asked me if I thought it had been on purpose, I said I didn’t, but I also don’t think the person should be benefited by a mistake they made, and that seemed to be the case. In the end, the judge upheld the ruling, saying it was no different than scouting, and that I probably knew what most of my opponents were playing anyway, because I was wearing a Channelfireball shirt. That left me kind of puzzled, as I always supposed those things were not taken into consideration, but I was not about to argue with the judge about it – to be honest, I do think Game Loss is too harsh for this, as I know it was just an accident, but I also think a Warning is not enough, and there is nothing in between, so you have to move it to one side or the other, then I guess it only makes sense to move it to the side of the person who committed the infraction.

Regardless, I think that left my opponent completely tilted. I have a good hand against his deck (except that I, unlike him, did not know that when I kept), with Force of Will and all, and he simply plays Careful Study and draws three cards. I ask him “wait, how many did you draw?”, and he just scooped his cards and said “sorry, you win”.

Now I could have called the judge again, but I supposed the end result would be the same, and I really thought he was just super nervous, and not trying to cheat me, so I just didn’t.

I sided:

-1 Engineered Explosives
-1 Trygon Predator
-1 Wall of Roots
-3 Natural Order
-1 Progenitus
-1 Rhox War Monk
+1 Tutor
+1 Crypt
+1 Relic
+1 Wheel
+2 Spell Pierce
+2 Sower

I had no clue what to take out, so I decided it was better to just take out the entire Progenitus package instead of taking out random one-ofs.

Game two he started with Fetch, Thoughtseize, Fetch, Entomb Inkwell Leviathan and Reanimated it, and then I just played Tarmogoyf and things became kind of awkward, because he couldn’t kill me before I killed him with Goyf. He attacked me down to nine, and was at three himself, which was enough to be killed by one attack, and then the two monsters just stared at each other. Now at this point he is a very big dog, because I have Top out and it is much easier for me to resolve another Goyf (or Sower) than for him to go through all the trouble of Reanimating something again. At some point, at the end of my turn, he plays Entomb. He pauses for a second and then says “wait” in response, play Mystical Tutor“. I pause for a while, to see if I understand the implications of what just happened, and in the end just let it resolve though I have a Force of Will. He says “Entomb resolves?” and I tell him that no, Mystical resolves first. He goes “oh” and then argues about how stupid he is with his friends that were nearby (in Spanish). Then he shuffles his deck for Exhume, shows me, and puts it back and starts shuffling for Entomb, which gets Iona but shuffles his Exhume away.

By then, I’ve already used a fetch and am already at eight. I keep topping into blanks, and then I decide to attack him with Hierarch and Swords it, so I can go to 9 and use another Fetch to shuffle again. I attack with my 1/2 and he goes into the tank for a couple minutes. Now I am not sure what he was thinking about, as I am relatively sure there is nothing that would be able to kill his 7/11 Shroud guy that would not just kill him if he took and that is remotely playable (that excludes Gaze of the Gorgon), but in the end just blocks, and I kill my guy and shuffle again. On his turn, he draws and then instantly looks at his graveyard, and then mine, so I know he drew Reanimate – when you have those cards in your deck, you really have to keep track of both graveyards, so you don’t give it away as easy as that.

I draw another Hierarch, and then finally another Goyf. I play that and he Forces it. I don’t have 8 mana, so I can’t hardcast my Force, but I can go to 7 to play it pitching a Daze, and then attack with my Hierarch again and Swords it again, going to 8. He cannot do anything to stop my Goyfs and just dies.



I am going to leave you here for today – next week I’ll talk about the remaining 10 (!) rounds and what I would change on the list. I’d normally split this on day one and day two, but I spent a lot of time talking about the list and the trip, ranting about the delay and explaining why I am ending this now and not in round 10, and since next part is “just business” they will end up being the same size anyway (or so I imagine).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this, and see you next week!


47 thoughts on “PV’s Playhouse – GP Madrid Report, Part 1 *25th*”

  1. > At the end of my turn, … and I responded by flipping Top. … He draws, passes, and I draw my Top again. On my upkeep, he plays the Tutor, which I Force of Will

    I assume actually the Mystical Tutor was played on PV’s draw step instead of upkeep step?

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  3. If you were David Ochoa, you would have REALLY wanted to play it out, but called the judge and gotten him DQd instead, as a sign of how much you REALLY wanted to play it out.

    Anyway, congrats on a good finish at a 2,000 person GP. That’s impressive any way you slice it.

  4. Wow PV, no wonder you complained about the cutting into your sleep thing, You looked just about half dead in that video.

  5. @Jim Varney: very entertaining comment indeed!

    Nice article, I would probably have called the judge for drawing extra cards, though.

  6. nice report.
    i personally do have problems with those shenanigans like wanting to get your opponent a Game Loss for accidantly flipping a card of yours. i mean you say you really believe he didnt do it intentionally, right? and you were not satisfied with him getting a Warning, which means you want him to get an even bigger penalty, which would be a GL?
    well, at least it seemed like you set him on tilt and he got his GL anyway.
    leaves me back with a bitter taste, but i guess thats just kind of the “cutthroat ability” you need as a pro.

  7. “…then I guess it only makes sense to move it to the side of the person who committed the infraction.” ¿Do you think is more sense to move it to the side to the person who is trying to force an unfair match advantage? Plauses for the judge, you were wrong, Paulo.

  8. While pushing for a game loss looks a little unfair when the guy is nervous and manages to throw the game anyway, looking from Paulo’s perspective at the begining of the match, the guy could’ve been a very good player and thus gained quite an advantage from revealing a card which a warning is not a particularly harsh punishment for.

  9. Come on, guys : What Paulo said was that the information the other people got could be really relevant. Let’s say his opponent open a hand which is risky, let’s say, he know that he will win if his opponent doesn’t have a counter turn 1, but lose if he does. Knowing wether his opponent have force or not is helping him alot. Now, the guy who did a mistake was paulo’s opponent. Result : the guy take a warning, which paulo doens’t care about, and he got to see paulo’s deck, which is extremely relevant. Bilan : paulo’s opponent got an advantage because of his mistake. Yeah, GL is harsch, but i can totally understand that this decision got paulo upset.

  10. Very entertaining report.

    Normally i’am not interested in talking about the trip, but this time it was very entertaining , at first how and why you chooe this deck and and the part about Mexico and visa for it and the story about the hnadcuffs sounds interesting….

    Also i like the tournament report, i’am not a very good player, so it was very helpful to read how you played the matches and how you used your SB.
    @4Tops : I never understood why people play less than 4 tops in this deck, i allways wanted to play 4 !

    I’am looking forward for part II.

  11. I think PV hit the nail on the head with “A warning it too little and a game loss is too much” for the flipping a card over while shuffling.

    Maybe they should start adding ‘forced mulligans’ as an inbetween penalty (you flip a card face up during shuffling, ur mulliganing to 6 that game then) or maybe have the tournament staff provide u your opps decklist if he flipped over a card etc.

    Fair is fair.


    At tournaments, I completely turn my head while shuffling my opps deck. I may have accidentally flipped a card while shuffling, but I have never, EVER seen it b/c i’m looking away (i.e. I shuffle them on my left side, while my head is completely turned to the right).

    My advice to future PV opponents: Follow suit.

  12. César

    Next time please keep your views about countries etc to yourself.

    Also, I think your attitude in Round 6 is unsportsmanlike.

  13. Either: 1) Have players be able to view their opponents decklists prior to the match, 2) force the player to not be able to mulligan that game, 3) let the player whose card was flipped view a random card from their opponents deck.

  14. @Someguy

    Yeah thats good advice. Pile shuffling too is a good practice, and as others have said gives you a chance to count their deck.

  15. I can understand calling the judge there. In fact, I had a similar situation occur where I forgot to de-sb before the win-and-draw-in round, but fortunately remembered while shuffling. After I presented my deck, my ex-pro opponent called for a deck check, mentioning to his friends that he had the game win.

    It didn’t put me on tilt. Nor did it when he made several other irrelevant judge calls. In fact, that was probably my most satisfying match win ever, as I know a lot of people at their first PTQ would have just crumpled. Keep your cool. Remember that the judges are a part of the game. They’re there to help things go smoothly, not to DQ you any way they can.

  16. That judge sounded really unfair. like saying u probably know everyones deck cuz u have a channel fireball t. also i agree spain sucks.

  17. PV,

    You’re my favourite writer on all things MTG, but I think your view of the Legacy format is a bit too reductive for a few reasons.

    1) There are many ways to interact early on in the game that don’t include Force+blue card/Daze. Cards like thoughtseize, hymn to tourach, trinisphere, chalice of the void and blood moon- to name a few- all allow for very strong interaction in the first two turns (given the prescence of all the accelerants in the format). Even a deck like zoo has a fighting chance against ANT when on the play. If they don’t turn 2 (or turn 1!) you, it’s fairly easy to get them below a life total at which they can safely Ad Nauseum for the win. Zoo is by no means favoured, but having a weak, but not unwinnable, matchup against ANT isn’t such a huge deal in such a diverse format, which brings me to my next point:

    2) Legacy is incredibly diverse! I recently played in a tournament and, of the 9 rounds I played, I played against 8 different decks. In such a diverse format, it is acceptable to be a dog to a few very quick decks if you think that your deck is correct for the metagame. Obviously you know this already, but I think perhaps the experience you’ve had thus far has made the format appear somewhat more streamlined than it actually is given the tendency for pro players who haven’t prepared much to pick up decks and strategies with which they already have familiarity such as counterbalance/top.

    3) 43 Land is a very good deck and has game against pretty much everything if you have a good sideboard! The deck is always extremely underrepresented in the metagame due to card availability and obscurity, yet it consistently posts impressive results. I’d be willing to bet a not insignificant amount of money that it puts up the best performance per unit representation of all decks in the format. It really is incredibly powerful in a manner similar to but different from dredge.

    The foundation for your logic is reasonable, I think, but your conclusion is the opposite of the one I draw myself. My take on legacy is that I have no interest in playing a deck that loses to Force of Will (rather than not playing a deck that loses WITHOUT force of will), hence my utter disrespect for Belcher (which I’ve never lost to in a tournament).

    Your claims sound a bit like the sensational claims made by newcomers to vintage about broken plays running rampant, interaction being severely limited and games being over in the blink of an eye. I don’t mean to insinuate that you are ignorant by any means, but I do think you should explore the format a little further before making too many generalizations. Legacy has more “playables” in it than any other format in magic, including vintage, and it’s not even close.

  18. I got 2nd at a small legacy tournament in san rafael CA last year with a BG natural order deck… It wasn’t as good as just sticking to the blue guns in most games against aggro (Counterbalance really is a counter to the concept of balance against decks that are all 1cc and 2cc), but 4x cabal therapy is just that good in a deck that plans on saccing dudes all day.

    I have a weak spot for the 1UG signet eating manta, but without the option to I ran 1 progenitus and 1 woodfall primus as my order targets, with empyrial archangel and hellkite overlord in the sb. Naturally there were 4 tops in the deck.

    Woodfall Primus won about 5 games that progenitus or predator couldn’t have. It’s worth pointing out.

    Congrats on 25th in the F*** LARGEST constructed Tourney ever. That’s just one more testament to your prowess dude. And thanks for the article.

  19. ” I give him a stare and he pauses for a while and goes "oh"¦ nevermind".”

  20. Why don’t they just let you reshuffle after giving the dude a game warning? It seems like that would negate his potential advantage without require extra penalty escalation.

  21. The advantage isn’t about randomization, it’s about having free information. Knowing what type of deck your opponent is playing will affect mulligan decisions and early lines of play etc.

  22. “The advantage isn't about randomization, it's about having free information. Knowing what type of deck your opponent is playing will affect mulligan decisions and early lines of play etc.”

    While this statement makes the exchange in the article make more sense, it makes the idea that PV is upset make less sense. I’m sure at other points in the tournament he had to play against other people that new what deck he had, why would he be upset that this person would also know? This kind of gamesmanship is getting ridiculous and is bad for the game. Wizards should just require that deck lists be handed out and be done with the whole scouting problem. It works fine on MTGO (i.e. watching replays).

  23. I really don’t know how paulo can expect the judge to upgrade to a game loss, it was unintentional and the IPG clearly states the penalty is a warning. If it’s done repeatedly, then the penalties escalate. judges don’t just upgrade penalties all will nilly

  24. Handing out decklists does take away some fun of the game in knowing other people’s decks by knowing the format and especially the fun of tricky sideboarding. For example siding in dark confidant as ANT would be completely crap if you had to give a decklist before each matchup.

    Also going for the gameloss seems a bit silly for such a small mistake. It’s just a game afterall and the money in it is quite pathetic to say the least so the ‘pro’ attitude is no argument for acting too strict. The easiest solution here would just be to let PV see his opponent’s deck + a game warning imo, it evens the playing field and still penalizes the guy for it but not by too much.

    Also the planning seemed bad but claiming that magic is one of the most complicated games there is is ludicrous. The game is really easy to play and the most skilltaking knowledge of deck selecting/building can be easily copied. There are so much games more complicated then this…

  25. @ming: you’re right of course, my bad

    @Sven: haha, at least now people can see my game descriptions are accurate 😛 congrats on your top 8

    @Pommax and others: I don’t have any “cutthroat ability”. I merely felt that my opponent was getting an advantage and the penality he got did nothing to remove this advantage.

    Basically, when something wrong happens to the game, the main goal is not to punish the player who did that thing, but to make sure the game goes back to normal. My opponent looked at a card in my deck, which gives him an advantage – it is extremely foolish to think that it doesn’t. If it was later in the tournament, maybe I would have some reason to suspect he already knew what I was playing, but that didn’t seem to be the case.

    Now my opponent was issued a warning, which makes sure he does not do that again. The warning, though, does not change ANYTHING regarding our game – he STILL has an advantage over me. It is like I have been penalyzed with less chance to win the game, except I didn’t do anything. Now if there was a way to make my opponent forget the information, then that would be ideal, because no one is penalyzed more than is necessary, but that is impossible. If you give him a stronger penality (such as a game loss), then he wil be punished more than the mistake he caused – looking at a card is clearly not as good as a game win. So, there is no way to solve the situation without SOMEONE getting the worse end of it – something worse than they deserve (in his case, to forego all the information he obtained illegally; in my case, nothing). I am merely arguing that the person who should get the worse penality is HIM, and not ME, since he was the one who commited the infraction. As it was, I ended up with less chance of winning the game for something that I had nothing to do with, which doesn’t seem fair, and the fact that he gets warnings is completely irrelevant for that matter because I am still being handicapped in our game and he is still being benefited by a mistake he made!

    In any case, I was not “strongly fishing for a penality” as some of you have hinted at – I only called the judge because I really thought the penality had changed for that and the judge that ruled me was not aware of it. Once I called the HJ, explained my case and he ruled, I accepted it – I am not on a cruzade to DQ everyone who flips a card by accident or anything like that, nor was I terribly upset by the ruling – I even stated I think a GL is too harsh myself, but I do think a warning does not do justice to the opponent (and no, I don’t have a solution).The main reason I even mentioned that was the fact that the judge used “oh, well, you probably scout all the decks and already know what all your opponents are playing since you are wearing a Channelfireball shirt” as an argument, which was pretty odd.

    @jorje: of course, I understand that, even if the judge agreed with me, he would probably not just upgrade the penality right there. As I said, the only reason I called the judge on the first place was that I really thought the penality had changed and he should be getting a game loss according to the PG.

    @cesar: If I have to keep my views to myself, why am I even writing a report? I mean, I suppose if everyone wants me to just keep to magic content all the time I could do that, but I think adding my non-mtg impressions helps contextualizing everything that happens, and that is invariably going to include bad impressions, especially since I am a very picky person.

    @Gunit: I’m going to sleep now, but I will answer your points tomorrow, I promise x)

  26. @markwerf
    Yes I agree, playing lands and making dudes is pretty easy. If that’s all you do you probably aren’t winning very often. Magic at a high level is complicated. To an absurd degree. I imagine you have never won anything of note yourself.

  27. I actually think that what PV did was correct, and I’m a casual player at heart.

    To view people who do judgecalls as douchbags is bad for the game, and if it spread even further we will be back to the Wild West of the 90’s.

    It all comes down to this:

    You are in at a tournament, with the main goal to have a fun time with people who you don’t know. In order for this to happen some things need to be in order, and people need to follow the same moral code and the same rules.

    The only way for a group big as the GP: Madrid to follow the same moral and the same rules are by following the rules to the letter. Penalty guidelines, Oracle and rulebook are there to help us have a good time. If you feel that your unknown opponent does something that you belive is illegal, call a judge. If you feel the judge makes the wrong call, appeal. They are there to see to that we have a good time, and get the same chance as everybody else in the room.

    So good call PV, we need more of the judgecalling attitude in the community in order to make it an equal competition for everyone.

  28. PV,

    What you are saying about how this situation creates an unfair imbalance is true, under the current rules. There are any manner of ways that different rules, or different implementations of the rules, could lead to a more satisfactory way to fix the problem.

    It is continually confusing to me to see pro players say “I had no choice, my hand was forced” and then go on to say they are happy with the current rules structure.

    @Markwerf: I agree not knowing every card in every deck is part of the “fun” of the tournament structure, but is that “fun” worth it when there are so many rules and penalties required to back up that tournament structure? If deck lists were to be shared, it could just be the starting 60, and sideboards could remain private, which seems like a good compromise to me.

  29. Forget the ethics of the judge call or whatever, what I really want to know is: Did you ever get to announce Natural Order and pay for it with a fifth counter off of Wall of Roots (making it -4/0) and then sac the Wall of Roots? SO BUSTED.

  30. @Markwerf: Or you could make it even more interesting and make the “decklisting” part of your metagaming. For example, you could be required to give your opponent a list of 16 non-land cards that appear in your deck and sideboard (duplicates allowed, if you don’t have 16 non lands you can list lands to make up the diff.). That way they don’t get to know your whole deck, they don’t know what’s main or sideboard, and you can be intentionally crafty and misleading.

    Any of these solutions (and I’m sure there are dozens more) levels the playing field between scouting vs. not scouting while eliminating many problems related to shuffling “accidents”/cheating.

  31. @Josh G: that doesn’t solve the shuffling problem at all, since if they drop a card while shuffling and it’s not one of the 16 you gave them, they just got an advantage over you.

    PV’s whole point is that, yeah the current rule system isn’t adequate to deal with genuine mistakes that give unfair advantage but that it’s still important enough to deal with. Letting people walk away with a slap on the wrist for free information is fundamentally bad and destructive for magic as a whole, so i think it is totally necessary for rules calls to be upheld.

  32. @Mark: How bout scouting? U get unfair advantage on that too but by the fact that u cant really enforce anything to it really well u get out of it without even “slap” on the wrist.

    Yes rules system isn^t adequate to deal with genuine mistakes that gives sometimes “unfair” advantage. Tho in sametime it aint adequate to work with scouting and other ways of getting “unfair” advantage.
    In fact on mistakes u atlease get some penalty but by having scouting team with u its just a loophole way to do same thing and yeah its “legal” but not morally right anymore.

    Yes fliping is bad but if u do it u get warning -> and upgrades after doing it more times / sometimes even more at the start if clearly cheating. On same time u dont get anything by “scouting” and thats half of the key issue in here.. As u still get that warning for first even if the first “time” would be advantage but for later thing u dont get nothing usually.

  33. kgb is kind of on to what I’m saying here: Under the current rules, there is a legitimate (scouting) and an illegitimate (flipping) way to obtain the same information. That’s poor tournament design, and it should be changed. By changing the tourney structure, you wouldn’t need a rule to cover this behavior, because no advantage would have been gained or lost.

    Even if that changes some strategic elements of metagaming, it’s still better for the game as a whole because it promotes fair play and gentlemanly behavior.

  34. relentless beating

    If i knew my opponent was playing FoW, it would definitely effect how i played the match. The simplest solution to the problem you faced (opponent seeing one of your most powerful cards prior to playing) would be to allow both players to look at each others decks, putting things back to neutral.

  35. What if one player is playing a well-known deck, while the other is playing a rogue archetype?

    Letting both players look at each other’s decks would take away the element of surprise that the rogue deckbuilder may be counting on.

  36. @riki: I skimmed through the new PG, but I didn’t see any changes regarding this – did I miss it?

    I think all those “give your opponent lists” have approx 0 chance of working. I don’t know how to fix the “fairness” of it when they look at your card, but swapping lists or something simillar is certainly not a good way

    @Diego: no, we didn’t even call a judge, it didn’t change the game in any way and it was easily fixed

    @GUnit: The problem, though, is that you are basing what you say on the assumption that because a deck is played that means it is viable, but I don’t consider it so. I have played against plenty of decks in Legacy too, but there are only so many that I have actually lost matches to.

    The problem with a deck like Lands is that all it takes is a couple cards and then you are just dead. I was watching a sam black match, for example, and he had complete control of both games. However, his opponent made a decision before he left his house – he added one Mountain to his deck and two Price of Progress to his board. As a result, because he had those 3 cards in his 75, he simply won both games just like that – all that had to happen was that he drew price of progress! I just can’t see myself playing a deck like that.

    I will challenge your claim that it puts up the best performance, if only because I know there is no way you can prove it ^^

    I agree with you that I do not want to play a deck that loses to force of will, or a deck that kills itself like ad nauseam or belcher. But I also agree with myself that I don’t like to play a deck that loses to those decks – that means I pretty much HAVE to play force of will to be happy with my deck choice, which doesn’t make the format any diverse to me at least.

  37. I think that you are overreacting. It might have been advantageous if he had flipped a FoW, but what would have happened if he had flipped a plains or a forest? It would have been quite misleading and made him play incorrectly.

    Getting a warning should be enough had he done it on purpose since it can be both an advantage or the opposite and also prevents him from further intents of cheating.

    Finally, i respect his opinion on spain but don’t get the wrong impression. Spain is a great country you should all visit!!!

  38. I would think a one-for-one sort of situation would be fairest on the filpped card. They see a random card from your deck, you get to reveal a random card from theirs, everyone shuffles up and plays as normal.

  39. The fair thing to do would’ve been for your opponent to pull out one card in his deck at random, and show it to you.

  40. Yes, but what if I show him Ad Nauseam and he shows me Wasteland.. or even worse, he might show me a card that tricks me into thinking he is in a certain archetype… in both those scenarios, it is worth it for him to do that.

    Whatever the solution is, it has to make sure that there is no possibility of him being benefited by a mistake he made – he cannot flip a card from my deck and be glad that he did it

  41. Tho in same time u “who ever that may be” could already be glad by knowing opponents deck by “scouting”. So the solution whatever it may be should also take care of that too to get this “information” advantage to 0 for all players.

  42. How can you even compare flipping a random card to scouting? Especially in a 2,000+ man event. You can look over top tables and see what decks are being played, but are you going to put the face to every deck? You might get lucky, finish early and be able to peg a few players, but that’s not even close to the same thing as flipping over a card from the deck of the person you are currently playing. Also revealed decklists is just absurd. I think that a game loss is more than fair. You should know how to shuffle cards if you’re playing competitive magic. If the sleeves are chaff and shuffle poorly then you might have an argument, but I’m willing to bet that PV uses quality ones.

  43. Another great write-up! I was particularly amused by the showerhead incident. Regardless of what people say, I like the non magic-related anecdotes. Being from the U.S., I sometimes forget that not everyone’s aware of all the cultural things we take for granted (like Pee Wee’s star in Hollywood and whatnot).

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