Failed To Catch Them All: A Legacy Tournament Report *2nd*

Dan Musser made 2nd at the Legacy Open in Charlotte with a Zoo deck. He promises you an entertaining report with plenty of detail and sideboarding advice.

Hello, and welcome to my report on the StarCityGames.com Invitational!

It was sometime during August when you and I had last spoken. I was fresh off a 2nd place finish with Zoo against Gerry Thompson in the Pittsburgh Legacy Open and delivered to you a 7000-ish word tournament report on the weekend (which can be read here). Although we haven’t spoken since, I would like to begin by catching you up on the various events I have attended and accomplishments I have earned in the meantime. Ready?

I played in the $75k Invitational in Chicago, IL and went 2-3 before dropping.

I played in two GPs, Pittsburgh and San Diego, and failed to day 2 either.

I played at the SCG Open Series in Indianapolis and didn’t top 8 either day.

I played in six PTQs for PT Dark Ascension in Honolulu in 2012 and didn’t top 8 any of them.

Finally I played in the SCG Invitational in Charlotte, NC and didn’t make day 2.

This all leads us to the event that is going to take up the bulk of our time together… I played in the Legacy Open in Charlotte this past weekend and made the finals, failing to catch my final Pokémon, Tony Chu.

If the fright of all this mediocrity hasn’t shooed you away from this article quite yet, you are in for quite a treat. I promise small amounts of hilarity mixed with actual fact and hopefully some modicum of insight into my ability to sling magical spells. First however, I would like to begin with what the consequences of my apparent mediocrity, described above, has gained me.

As of the writing of these words, my current standing in the world of Planeswalker Points is 98th. On the list that excludes Worlds, I am ranked 59th with 2069 PWP. Since the season concludes in less than two weeks, and I will be playing FNM and going to a PTQ this weekend, I see no reason for me to be anything except invited to PT Dark Ascension in Honolulu during February in 2012.

I have mixed feelings towards this ‘accomplishment.’ On one hand, I am extremely happy and grateful for the opportunity to play on the Pro Tour again. After my abysmal 4-4 in Paris at the beginning of the year, I have wanted another shot at the highest level of competitive play. On the other hand, I am not quite sure I have done what should be required of me in order to be able be on the Tour. I am not going to argue myself out of an invite or anything, but being able to get to the Tour without a single PTQ top 8 or GP day 2 seems a little loose to me.

Well, enough of my ‘unfortunate’ predicament regarding Planeswalker Points. It’s time we have a chat about my weekend at the StarCityGames.com Invitational weekend in Charlotte, NC.

I traveled to the great state of North Carolina from my hometown of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio with four other magical friends: Max Jacob, Chris Kronenberger, Nicholas Montaquila, and Harry Corvase. I was qualified from being level 3 in the SCG Player’s Club. Max was qualified from Top 8ing a Legacy Open in Indianapolis this year. Chris was qualified from being level 4 in the SCG Player’s Club. Nick was qualified from being level 2 from last year, and he hadn’t used his invitation yet. Finally, Harry was qualified from being level 2 from points this year. We all headed out Friday morning around 10 am and made the eight-hour trek to Charlotte, NC.

Most of us were settled on what decks we were playing for the weekend. I was on Zoo for Legacy (obv.), and for Standard I was set on battling with a list very similar to what Iyanaga won Worlds with. The Standard deck choice was mostly decided because I hadn’t tested much Standard in the past few months since the current qualifying season has been limited. The only innovation I made to the Standard list was adding some Tumble Magnets to the maindeck and board because the expected metagame was said to be mostly aggro and ramp decks. Tumble Magnet was actually fantastic for me, tapping down Stormblood Berserkers and saving my Titans from various Traitorous Bloods.

For reference, here is the list I used in the Legacy portion of the Invitational. It also happens to be the exact same list as what I used for the Legacy Open on Sunday.

The Invitational itself was fairly uneventful for me, but here are the highlights!

I went 3-1 in the Legacy portion, losing my only match to Chris Andersen playing Combo Elves. We made it to game 3 in which Chris made the following series of plays: turn 1 Forest, Green Sun’s Zenith for Dryad Arbor. My only removal spells were Grim Lavamancer and Path to Exile, neither of which really dealt with the issue at hand, so I played the Lavamancer. On turn 2 Chris laid Bayou and cast Buried Alive tossing three Vengevines in his graveyard. I dropped a Kird Ape and passed the turn. It was turn 3 when Chris led with Glimpse of Nature followed by two one-drops, triggered three Vengevines into play, played Gaea’s Cradle, tapped for six, cast the fourth Vengevine and two more Elves… On the following turn Chris played a Mirror Entity and proceeded to swing for over 9000. Fun times… I did manage to beat Burn, Hive Mind, and Maverick though.

On the other side of the Invitational, my Standard portion was slightly depressing, ending in a record of 2-2. The best part was when I had the good fortune of being paired against one of the coolest human beings on earth, Steve Sadin. I knew who he was before we sat down and was not really sure what to expect. For those who do not have the pleasure of knowing this man, Steve is the Content Manager for StarCityGames.com and writes for Wizards of the Coast’s website. Having never met him, one could think that he could easily have a chip on his shoulder or be excessively arrogant, right?

The exact opposite happened. Steve was probably the nicest Magic personality I have met in my travels thus far. With me being basically a “nobody,” Steve had no obligation to talk to me or act interested in basically anything I had to say. But from all my interactions with him, he seemed genuinely happy to just be playing Magic and talking with me about anything. He was interested in what I did for a living and how I qualified for the Invitational. Although Steve ended up beating me in game 3 with Mono Red, it was actually a really close game. He a ripped Mountain, which allowed him to exactsies me with Volt Charge, Volt Charge, Gut Shot, Gut Shot.

Even though Steve knocked me out of contention for day 2, I still felt lucky to have met him. After all, if he hadn’t eliminated me from the Invitational, how would I have been able to place 2nd in the Legacy Open? Steve had also played Zoo in the Legacy portion of the Invitational, and he was cool enough to let me see his list after our game (even though I did not end up using it).

So with a bittersweet end to my Invitational, I went to check on my friends and see who was still in it to win it. Of all the people in our car ride, only Nick and I were left out of day 2. Harry and Max posted 6-2 finishes, and Chris snuck in at 5-3. We decided to go back to the hotel and test for day two of the Invitational and get a bit of Legacy bashing in.

Here is where you would generally expect a paragraph or two of a sweet place to go eat food or how we played the credit card game and someone had to pay >$400 for everyone’s dinner. None of that actually happened; we just got some Wendy’s and went back to the hotel… sorry.

Day two of the Invitational began on Sunday, and about 20 minutes later, the Legacy Open began as well. I walked over to my table and sat down to face my round 1 opponent. Imagine my surprise when I sat down next to my buddy Chris… who was in the Invitational… but he was next to me in the Legacy Open?! As it turns out, Chris lost his first round on day 2 in lightning quick fashion and decided the probability of getting top 4 in the Legacy Open was greater than getting top 32 in the Invitational. I can’t say that I agreed with his decision, but he made it anyway, and I had some faces to burn… onto the tournament!

Round 1 – Joshua Cho, U/R Delver

After Andrew Shrout won the StarCityGames.com St. Louis Legacy Open with his U/R Delver deck, it was pretty obvious that it was going to be one of the bigger decks this weekend. Fortunately, the U/R Delver deck has a pretty wretched time trying to beat Zoo! Delver of Secrets dies to every single one of my burn spells plus Grim Lavamancer. His Lavamancers can’t really kill any of my creatures. Snapcaster Mage can re-buy some burn spells, but he can’t effectively fight with any of my creatures.

Looking at my life pad from round 1, it is quite difficult to tell exactly what happened; it may have involved him getting wrecked with Umezawa’s Jitte in game two though. Basically take all of what was just said in the previous paragraph and apply it… and that is what happened, promise. Josh agreed that the matchup was terrible and was just hoping to dodge Zoo all day.

1-0 (2-0 in games)

Round 2 — Andrew Shrout, U/R Delver

When I saw that my round 2 opponent was Andrew Shrout, I was literally jumping for joy on the inside. Not that I really was excited to have to face a named opponent in round 2, but I knew that it was highly likely that he was running U/R Delver back from St. Louis. I congratulated Andrew on his win in St. Louis, and we got down to business after I won the die roll and chose to play first.

Game 1: I took a mulligan to five and led with fetch, Taiga, Wild Nacatl. Andrew led with a Goblin Guide, which is generally awesome for me. Next I had a Grim Lavamancer, and even though I began with a mulligan to five, his Goblin Guide and the fact that his cards were so bad against me quickly gave me the advantage. He was able to handle my Lavamancer and Wild Nacatl and added a Delver of Secrets to the board. I answered back with Tarmogoyf and began winning the race, finally casting Path to Exile to get his Delver out of the way and swing for lethal.

Sideboard – In 3 Red Elemental Blast, 1 Umezawa’s Jitte; Out 4 Goblin Guide

Game 2: I was on the draw for game 2, and neither of us had to mulligan. Andrew decided to begin by burning me early with a Chain Lightning, and I began with the classic Taiga into Wild Nacatl. Andrew burned away my Nacatl, and then I landed a Grim Lavamancer. Since Lavamancer would basically eat every creature in his deck, Andrew decided to use what must have been his final burn spell to get rid of it. Unfortunately for him, that final burn spell was Fireblast, which caused Andrew to sacrifice two Mountains. However, Andrew could finally start playing creatures again and used his final Mountain (Volcanic Island) to cast his own Lavamancer. This was actually a really good series of plays; as it turned out Andrew was setting up to get big with Price of Progress and another Fireblast later in the game. It wasn’t meant to be for him, as I rid his board of the Lavamancer using Lightning Helix, also netting three life! For the rest of the game I floated around 20 life, and Andrew could never really get me low enough to burn me out.

2-0 (4-0 in games)

Round 3 — Brandon Drury, U/W Stoneforge

I don’t really think I have a positive matchup playing against most Stoneforge decks. The most annoying part is not that they get to play a 4/4 vigilant lifelinker as early as turn 3. It is that they normally get to board in about 3-4 more removal spells, and with Snapcaster Mage they have approximately twelve one-drop instant speed removal spells. This gives them plenty of time to get that Batterskull into play even if I am able to burn out their Mystic. The plan is usually to bait out Spell Snares with Tarmogoyfs and find a good time to resolve Sylvan Library so you can get enough card advantage to beat their onslaught of removal. Another plan is to get them to about 12 life really quickly and then use Lavamancer and burn spells to finish them off while they hold a million Swords, Snapcasters, and Paths. Creatures end up being really difficult to win with in the sideboarded games. That said, I guess I did fine until I got to the finals… case number one…

Game 1: I won the die roll and cautiously chose to play first. I had no idea what Brandon was playing, and I had to mulligan a no lander. After keeping my six, I led with Taiga, Kird Ape. Brandon sent my monkey on a trip to the farm with Swords to Plowshares. I had another Ape, and Brandon used his turn to conjure up a Batterskull with his Stoneforge Mystic. I used Lightning Helix to take down his Mystic, hopefully stranding the Batterskull in his hand for a while. Brandon was able to deal with my second Ape as well, using Snapcaster Mage on his Swords. Luckily for me, while Brandon was able to deal with my creatures, he was unable to find a fifth land to summon his Batterskull. I took advantage of this by clearing the way of his Snapcaster Mage with another Lightning Helix and then started whittling away at his life total a Loam Lion and Grim Lavamancer. Eventually he had to fetch to 6 life to get his fifth land and play Batterskull, but I was ready with two burn spells to finish him off!

Sideboard – In 3 Red Elemental Blast, 3 Ancient Grudge, 1 Sylvan Library, 1 Umezawa’s Jitte; Out 4 Kird Ape, 4 Path to Exile

Game 2: Neither of us had to mulligan for the second game. Brandon led with an uncracked fetchland on turn 1, and I began with fetch, Taiga, Wild Nacatl. Obviously, Brandon used the end of my turn to Swords to Plowshares my cat. Brandon used his second turn to Stoneforge Mystic up a Batterskull. On my next turn I was able to Chain Lightning his Mystic and drop a Loam Lion. I proceeded to take Brandon from 19 to 9 with the Loam Lion, at which point Brandon attempted to land his Batterskull after finally getting his fifth land. I didn’t quite have an answer for the Batterskull, but I did have Lightning Helix and two Lightning Bolts. I used his end step to resolve the Lightning Helix, then drew Ancient Grudge, but decided to get greedy and just attempted to kill him while he was tapped out. Both Bolts resolved, and Brandon died! 

3-0 (6-0 in games)

Round 4 — Chris Mahaffey, U/W Stoneforge/Standstill

I went into round 4 pretty happy I was able to take down U/W. Aside from most combo decks, I generally want to avoid U/W if possible. Too bad for me I was facing down another U/W deck for this round.

Game 1: I lost the die roll, and Chris began with an uncracked fetch. I began, as always with fetch, Taiga, Wild Nacatl. Chris used my end step to crack his fetchland and retrieve a Tundra, which sent my kitty into exile with Swords to Plowshares. Chris then used his second turn to drop the most obvious thing a U/W deck can do on turn two…

He played Mishra’s Factory and cast Standstill!!! I was definitely not expecting that, and he was now in perfect position to sit behind his Standstill and start smashing me with his Factory. On my turn two, I had the option to wait for a good time to crack his Standstill or just bite the bullet and get it over with. Usually, every turn you give the U/W Standstill deck to draw an extra card is just one step closer you are to losing. There was absolutely no way he was going to crack his own Standstill when my board was empty. He had four cards in the grip, and I just decided that I needed to get rid of the Standstill before he could get any more. I cast Goblin Guide, waited for him to draw up to seven, and when he let it resolve, I cast Grim Lavamancer and swung in with the Guide, which revealed Batterskull!

Chris took his turn, played a land, and shipped back to me. I decided to swing into his board with the Goblin Guide knowing that his Mishra’s Factory was open. Goblin Guide gave him a Karakas, and Chris activated his Factory. I paused before blocking, but figured I was OK with a trade if that’s what he wanted to do. Instead, Chris blocked with his Factory, and before damage he chose to use the Factory to pump itself. I responded by using my Grim Lavamancer to take out the Factory before the pump resolved.

This seemed amazing for me, and I just imagined that it must have been a play Chris had missed; putting Chris back a land gave me more time to get him low before Batterskull could come down. I added a Tarmogoyf (4/5 due to enchantment, creature, instant, land) to my board and gave him back the turn. On his next turn, Chris played his Karakas and had to discard a Spell Pierce. I got in with the Goblin Guide and Goyf, revealing Tundra, and sent the turn back to Chris who was now at 10 life. Chris played Jace, the Mind Sculptor and bounced my Goyf. I used his end step to Lavamancer him to 8 and finished him off on my turn with Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, and another Lavamancer activation!

 Sideboard – In 3 Red Elemental Blast, 3 Ancient Grudge, 1 Sylvan Library, 1 Umezawa’s Jitte, 2 Price of Progress; Out 4 Kird Ape, 4 Path to Exile, 2 Chain Lightning (since he was running more non-basics to make Standstill better, I figured Price might be good)

Game 2: Neither of us had to mulligan, and Chris began with a Tundra. My first turn was spent in shocking fashion with Taiga and Wild Nacatl. On his second turn, Chris played another land and shipped me the turn. During my upkeep, Chris decided to send my Nacatl on Path to Exile. This was actually really amazing for me since the only land in my opener was that single Taiga! I casually got a basic Plains out of my deck and drew for my turn. Failing to find my actual second land drop, I just played another Wild Nacatl and passed the turn back as if nothing was amiss. Chris played a Mishra’s Factory and said go.

I drew and played a random fetchland, attacking with the Nacatl. Awkwardly, Chris activated his Factory and blocked. He went to pump before damage, and I had to unfortunately remind him that his Factory was summoning sick. He was pretty sad at his misplay but did his best to get back in a proper mindset and continue the game.

I added a Tarmogoyf to the board and passed the turn back. Chris played another Tundra and passed the turn. I attacked with my Nacatl and Goyf, the latter of which met another Path to Exile. I got another basic land and added a Loam Lion to create an army of Feline Fury. Chris played a Wasteland and then dropped a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Now at this point I had only really gotten in with the Wild Nacatl once, and with five damage sitting on the board, the best option Chris had was to Brainstorm, which is what he ended up doing. I ended up just attacking him right on down to ten with my kitties. He used his next turn to Brainstorm again and drop a Batterskull. Luckily he was tapped out, and I was able to use the fact that he had three non-basic lands in play and cast Price of Progress to take him down to four and then finish him off with two burn spells on my turn!

4-0 (8-0 in games)

Round 5 — Wilson Hunter, U/W Stoneforge

I was now sitting at 4-0 having not even lost a single game! I had just vanquished one of my most difficult match ups twice in a row. Granted I was getting pretty lucky in each of those games, but I was still playing fairly tight, and it felt gooooood. Well, my luck had to run out at some point right? I was sitting down to play against my third U/W opponent of the day. I had gotten lucky enough to beat the previous two; could that luck continue for another bad matchup?

Game 1: I lost the roll and ended up on the draw for game 1. Wilson played an Island, which I matched with my classic fetch, Taiga, Wild Nacatl play. Wilson played Tundra into Stoneforge Mystic fetching Batterskull. FINALLY A TURN 1 WHERE MY CREATURE LIVED!!!!! I used my second turn to drop a Goblin Guide and swing for five revealing a Sword of Body and Mind. Wilson shockingly declined his option to block and took all five damage. I used my second main phase to Chain Lightning his Mystic anyway, and he frowned. It turned out his frown was due to the lack of a third land, and he passed me back the turn. I swung for five again, giving him a land this time, and added a Tarmogoyf and Loam Lion to the board. He drew, looked at my ten damage in play, and scooped up his cards.

Sideboard – In 3 Red Elemental Blast, 3 Ancient Grudge, 1 Sylvan Library, 1 Umezawa’s Jitte; Out 4 Kird Ape, 4 Path to Exile

Game 2: Even though it didn’t work in game 1, Wilson decided it was still correct to play for game 2… weird. He even had to mulligan! I do not recall the exact events of this game, but it involved Wilson getting an early Batterskull online complete with a Sword of Feast and Famine kicker. Even though I got him down to eight at some point, he was able to get back up to 16 or so and basically crush me.

Game 3: I was on the play again for game 3, and for some reason the specifics of the rest of this match elude me, but I had an extremely dude-heavy hand. Even though he answered two of my creatures with Swords to Plowshares, I had plenty of creatures to still fight him down to four, at which point I burninated his face to death.

5-0 (10-1 in games)

Round 6 — Jonathon Suarez, Mono-Red Imperial Painter

Having beaten one of my worst matchups three times in a row now, my mental state was quite euphoric. I was pretty sure that there was nothing that could now be thrown at me that I couldn’t handle. Belcher? Bring it on! TEPS? I’d throw their storm count to the ground… But the match that was actually awaiting me for round 6 was one you would least expect, and that simple fact is one of the reasons Legacy is so awesome!

Game 1: By this point in the tournament, I knew basically what kind of decks I was playing against. I had seen Jon playing and knew he was on Imperial Painter. That being said, I took a double mulligan to a hand that I thought could compete with a fast Imperial Painter into Grindstone. There was a point in this game where Jonathan landed a Jaya Ballard, Task Mage; go ahead and look it up… Anyway I had the decision to use a removal spell on her or the Imperial Painter that was out naming blue. If I killed the Painter, then nothing would be blue, and all my spells could resolve, but as soon as he resolved another Painter, I would never ever be able to resolve another spell… Also Jaya could just nuke all of my non-Tarmogoyf creatures. In the end I decided that it was better to kill the Jaya and just hope he didn’t have the combo, since trying to stop the combo with Jaya out would be almost impossible. It turned out that next turn he was able to combo me out and take game 1 sitting at seven life 🙁

Sideboard – In 3 Ancient Grudge; Out 3 Loam Lion — This was likely wrong of me; I should have boarded in the Prices and Red Elemental Blasts

Game 2: I was on the play for game two, and we both kept our seven-card opener. I started off this game with the biggest misplay of my tournament. My opener was something along the lines of Arid Mesa, Forest, Kird Ape, Goblin Guide, Loam Lion, Path, Path. Not even really paying much attention, I cracked my Arid Mesa for a Plateau and played the Kird Ape. Jonathan used his turn 1 to play a Chrome Mox and City of Traitors followed by Blood Moon. I was immediately tilted from fetching that Plateau instead of a basic Plains. In my head, I thought that the Plateau would let me cast red and white spells, and without getting it, I would never be able to cast red spells. But I KNEW he had Blood Moon and that all but two lands in my entire deck would be producing red sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, I ended the game with two Paths, Loam Lion, and two Lightning Helix in my hand with zero cards in my library.

5-1 (10-3 in games)

Round 7 — Chris Miller, Bant Stoneforge

I recovered quickly from my recent loss and tried not to let it get to me. I had been running well all day long; I was bound to have a small hiccup. But I mentally chose to make sure it was exactly just that… a small hiccup. I would not let a few misplays derail all the success I had been having up to that point.

Game 1: I won the roll to play, and Chris had to mulligan once.

*Small aside: The nice thing about playing Zoo is that it really punishes those who make mistakes or stumble in the development of their early game plan. End small aside*

The only mistake Chris made was not mulliganing further. I had an average draw of turn 1 guy, turn 2 guy guy, turn 3 guy guy guy. Meanwhile, the only spell I saw Chris cast was two copies of Brainstorm, and he ended game 1 with a Karakas and an Island in play… We finished game 1 in about 90 seconds, and I just assumed I was playing against another copy of U/W Stoneforge, but I wasn’t too sure so I sided in the following cards…

Sideboard – In 3 Red Elemental Blast, 2 Ancient Grudge, 1 Umezawa’s Jitte; Out 4 Kird Ape, 2 Path to Exile

Game 2: We both kept our openers for the second game, and this time Chris led with fetchland into Tropical Island and Noble Hierarch! Mind blown… it was BANT! I was really glad that I didn’t sideboard like it was U/W; if I had then I would have no Path to Exiles for Knight of the Reliquary or Tarmogoyf! I burned his turn 1 mana guy, and he played a turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic fetching up a Sword of Feast and Famine. I had another burn spell ready for his Mystic and played a Loam Lion. On turn 3, Chris decided to cast a Knight of the Reliquary with one land in the graveyard. His Knight was only a 3/3, which is normally terrible to do against Zoo, but I had just blown two burn spells. Unfortunately, Chris had underestimated how good I was running that day, and I played Lightning Helix for immense value on his Knight, all the while adding another Loam Lion to my board. Chris was out of gas by this point and just played his Sword of Feast and Famine and passed the turn. Chris was dead shortly after to my onslaught of jungle animals.

6-1 (12-3 in games)

Since the tournament was nine rounds, I needed one more win and then would likely be able to draw in to the top 8.

Round 8 — Dave Thomas, U/B Dredge

This was another match I knew about before we sat down. Having sat at the top tables for a while, I knew that Dave was on Dredge. I was also paired up, with Dave at 6-0-1 from an intentional draw with Todd Anderson in a previous round.

Game 1: This was basically a non-game. Dave had to mulligan four times and kept a hand of two lands and an Ichorid. I just had a normal draw with some dudes and some burn, and I didn’t even have to really worry about any dredging.

Sideboard – In 3 Faerie Macabre, 2 Gaddock Teeg; Out 4 Tarmogoyf, 1 Sylvan Library

Game 2: I took a mulligan down to six and was on the draw for game 2. I kept a solid hand with no real dredge hate. Unfortunately, Dave’s first dredge was triple Bridge from Below, Narcomoeba, Ichorid, and something random. My only removal spell was Path to Exile and the Grim Lavamancer in my hand. I played the Grim Lavamancer and then made the second worst mistake of the entire day… I attacked with my first-turn Kird Ape into his Narcomoeba


I cannot give you a reason as to why I did this; we humans sometimes make really poor decisions. I could have probably recovered from his insane dredge; it was only going to be one turn until my Lavamancer was unsick and I could have it burn itself… BUT I GAVE HIM THREE FREE DUDES! Unfortunately his three dudes became six dudes when his Ichorid died. Next turn I removed his Bridges with my Lavamancer and landed a Gaddock Teeg. But he was up to six Zombies plus two Ichorids, and it was just too much pressure.

Game 3: Dave had to mulligan to five this game, and I was on the play and began with a Wild Nacatl but had no other creatures. You might be asking yourself why I would ever keep a hand with such little pressure. The answer to that question is double Faerie Macabre! My opener was something along the lines of Double Macabre, Wild Nacatl, Lightning Helix, and three land. I had to use one of my Macabre for his first-turn Putrid Imp, discarding Golgari Thug. I was able to find a bit more pressure to get Dave dead as fast as possible, but even if he had found more dredgers, my second Macabre would have given me a ton of time to kill him.

I felt quite bad for punting so hard in Game 2 but was fairly elated to be in a situation that allowed me to draw into the top 8!

7-1 (14-4 in games)

Round 9 — Todd Anderson, U/W Stoneforge

After round 8, the standings were posted, and I was in third or so. Todd and I drew to put Todd at 7-0-2 and me at 7-1-1. Todd was pretty excited to get me into the top 8, as Zoo was one of U/W’s best matchups!


In my history of Magic tournaments, I have only ever been on camera once. It was the last time I was in the top 8 of a Legacy Open in the finals against Gerry Thompson and can be found here if you are interested. Unfortunately that match was utterly terrible, and I was hoping for a much better showing this time if I was lucky enough to get a camera match.

Little did I know that ALL of my matches were going to be recorded for the world to see! I was under the camera for every single match, from the quarters to the semis to the finals!

Quarterfinals — Jonathon Suarez, Mono-Red Imperial Painter

REMATCH! Since you can find the videos for these games here, here, and here I will not go too far in depth.

Game 1: Jonathon could have beaten me had he killed any of my Grim Lavamancers at any point after killing my only white source. After he killed my Plains, the only way I could ever stop his combo was with Lightning Bolt or double Grim Lavamancer. If he killed either of my Grim Lavamancers, I would have had to react by trying to kill his Painter, and he could then react by activating Grindstone, and the only thing I could do to stop him was Lightning Bolt. At worst, he would get a Lightning Bolt out of my hand and a Grim Lavamancer off the board, and he would still be in a fine position.

Unfortunately for Jonathon, the turn he decided to block with his Painter and then activate Grindstone was the turn I actually drew my first Lightning Bolt and was able to basically steal game 1.

Sideboard – In 3 Ancient Grudge, 3 Red Elemental Blast, 2 Price of Progress; Out 4 Loam Lion, 2 Chain Lightning, 2 Tarmogoyf

Game 2: At some point during this excruciatingly long game I made two big mistakes.

The first was right after I used an Ancient Grudge to kill one of two Painter Servants on the board. Jonathon used his last card in hand, a Pyroblast, to counter it. Seeing that this was the last card in his hand, I slammed down my lethal Price of Progress. Jon calmly activated his Sensei’s Divining Top and exchanged it for another Pyroblast. What I should have done was play the Forest in my hand and flashbacked my Ancient Grudge on one of his Servants again. If he countered the first Grudge, he may have countered the second Grudge, and I could have used that window of time to resolve the Price.  

The second mistake was when I spent a Path to Exile to get rid of his last creature in play, a Simian Spirit Guide so that I could finally swing with my three Goblin Guides. I thought this was a good play because Jonathon finally passed the turn to me with two cards in his hand, and I would be able to attack under his Ensnaring Bridge. What I should have realized is that the only way he would ever pass the turn with multiple cards in hand was if they were instants. I mean, every time he drew a spell, even if it was useless, he had played it… The dude had three Blood Moons in play! Sure enough, as soon as I got into my attack step, he started Lightning Bolting things, and I was sitting there looking silly and down a valuable removal spell.

Game 3: In the final game I drew a good number of removal spells and Ancient Grudges. There was never a good time for Jonathon to get his combo off even though he had it in play at about three different times during the game. During the final turns I was trying to get Jonathon to use his Ancient Tomb so that my bolt plus Lavamancer was just lethal, but he didn’t bite. I drew a Path to Exile to remove is final blocker and was able to swing with Nacatl and Bolt him for the win.

Semifinals — Max Goldstein, Esper Faeries

You can watch this match here and here. There is little to be said that you can’t just watch. I took the match in three games despite the match being fairly terrible for me.

Game 1: Max had to mulligan to four cards and despite keeping a no lander, still almost beat me. While it seemed like I got lucky on the final turn to rip a burn spell, keep in mind that I had only used a single removal spell up to that point, and I run 16…

Game 2: I mistakenly kept in Path to Exiles this game and got overrun by a Bitterblossom. My plan was to hopefully just burn him out of the game, with the help of Bitterblossom damage. Unfortunately, the Faeries overwhelmed me, and he was able to use Spellstutter Sprite for infinite value.

Game 3: With no mulligans for game 3, I was able to run the entire game to get Max down to five before he could finally get a Batterskull in play when I had no cards in hand. I once again drew a burn spell to finish him off before he could batter his way back into the game.

Finals — Tony Chu, U/W Stoneforge

You can watch this match here and here. Only a few words about the match here…

Game 1: This was an attrition war with Tony drawing three Swords to Plowshares for my early aggression. Then he was able to draw a good amount of burn spells from me to murder his two Jace, the Mind Sculptors. He eventually landed both Batterskull and Sword of Feast and Famine, even though I was able to remove the creatures holding them from the board. Eventually his superior cards were able to take me down.

Game 2: I was able to keep Tony’s equipment off the board this game. It took Tony too long to get rid of creatures, and I was able to get him low enough to burn him out.

Game 3: Tony was able to Swords my first two creatures while he landed two Stoneforge Mystics for Batterskull and Umezawa’s Jitte. Even though I was then able to resolve a Sylvan Library, all I could ever find in the top three cards were a random creature and two lands. I even fetched and drew a couple extra cards and still couldn’t dig to an Ancient Grudge or some other action spell.

So that’s it! I was disappointed that I was unable to catch-them-all and that the most elusive of Pokémon, Tony Chu, was able walk away with my Trophy. But he definitely worked hard for it, and I am definitely happy for him.

I would run Zoo again at the next tournament I play in for sure. It is so good at punishing mistakes and stumbles and gives you an extraordinary advantage if your opponents are not playing perfectly. Going forward, I would add the fourth Ancient Grudge to the sideboard and possibly move the Jitte to the main. Other than that, I don’t think I would change much.

Thanks so much for reading! Please leave your comments and critiques in the section below!