Feature Article – Making Top 8 at the SCG Los Angeles Legacy Open

Read Open Series Tournament Reports at StarCityGames.com!
Friday, January 8th – I activate the Charbelcher. It’s game 3 in the Top 8 on Sunday, January 3rd, 2010. I am playing against Jeff Lin. He has brought his hand down to five cards looking for a Force of Will to stop the combo from going off on the first turn. I am still able to play my cards, and watch as my Goblin Charbelcher hits the table on the first turn…

I activate the Charbelcher. It’s game 3 in the Top 8 on Sunday, January 3rd, 2010. I am playing against Jeff Lin. He has brought his hand down to five cards looking for a Force of Will to stop the combo from going off on the first turn. Jeff chose to keep his five-card hand, but I am still able to play my cards and watch as my Goblin Charbelcher hits the table on the first turn. The judges who are watching lean in a little. The gentleman from StarCityGames.com, writing about our match, stops to watch. My friends from the sidelines hold their breath. I reach for the first card….


It is a rather normal day in early November. I am wandering around an overpriced catholic thrift store looking for sporting equipment when I get a call from a good friend of mine.
“You’ve heard about the Legacy tournament in January, right?”
“Yeah, but I have nothing to play. Plus I don’t know the field at all. I think I am just going to pass on this one.” I respond.
“Don’t be so quick to say no. I just read about how Cedric Phillips played this deck called Goblin Charbelcher.” He persists.
“Okay, what does it do?”
“It wins on turn 1.”

Flash-forward. . .

Legacy Tournament, January 3rd, 2010, Round 1:

I sit down at the first round, haggard by my dismal finish the day before. Going 1-3-1 before dropping out and playing in a casual draft. My opponent sits down across from me. His friend had gotten the bye and was an eager spectator. I win the dice roll and choose to play. I look at my hand and I am instantly astonished. I have the ability to make 14 goblins on turn 1. I keep it cool and play it slow. When the Empty the Warrens resolves, I am now looking down at a Goblin token with a couple of dice that add up to 14. I pass the turn to my opponent. I peels the top card of his deck and exclaims “Evil top deck!” Oh no. He throws down a Swamp, followed by two Mox Diamonds, followed by a Maelstrom Pulse to banish my Goblins away, and any chance I had of winning this game is gone. The second game is pretty uneventful. I board in Duress and a couple of Ingot Chewers and make 10 Goblins on turn 1. This time there is no Maelstrom Pulse and I finish him by turn 3. In game 3 my opponent plays his land and passes to me. I am able to combo out with the Goblin Charbelcher… one minor problem… The Charbelcher fell into a Mindbreak Trap and I was never able to recover.


I am starting to feel like this is Saturday all over again.

Legacy Tournament, Round 2:

I find my seat and a table somewhere around the 70’s. I am not happy about this, seeing as how there are about 140 people in this tournament… I am just about at the bottom rung of the ladder. My opponent sits down across from me. He is wearing a jersey, and sports slicked-back pink hair. We chat a little about where we are from, and finally get under way. The best part about this match is when my opponent lays out his hand on the table, he first places two cards in front of him, followed by using the next five cards to create a semi-circle underneath the first two. He looks up at me and grins, “Always happy to be playing Magic,” and there sitting before him was a happy face, made from his starting hand. I knew this would be a good round.

I lose the dice roll but proceed to make around 12 Goblins. He couldn’t get the ball rolling fast enough against me, and lost around turn 3. From the first couple of cards he played on his turn, it looked like he was playing aggro loam. The next game we do a little sideboarding, then begin. I saw him throw down a Mox Diamond, along with a land, and he placed a Chalice of the Void on the table. At this point I look at my hand and see a 2 Lotus Petal, A Lion’s Eye Diamond, a Simian Spirit Guide, Chrome Mox, Land Grant and a Goblin Charbelcher. A made hand… unless he plays the Chalice set at zero. He thinks it over a minute and sets it to one. YES! I am able to play the Lotus Petals, play the Chrome Mox and imprint the Simian Spirit Guide, and use the Land Grant to grab a Bayou so my Charblecher will hit the Taiga, and I am able to push through more damage. I crack the Lion’s Eye Diamond to activate the Belcher and flip over about 8 cards before hitting the Taiga. Finishing him off will have to wait. On my opponent’s turn he plays a Wasteland and blows up my Bayou. A good play, seeing as how I would have to draw a big mana source to activate the Belcher. He passes to me, thinks for about a millisecond, and uses one of my favorite profanities. I ask what is wrong. He tilts his head back and says to the ceiling “I’ll tell you when the match is finished.” I peel the top card of my deck, and it is the card of my dreams: I play another Lion’s Eye Diamond, and activate the Belcher for close to 70 damage.

At the end of the round my opponent shows me he could have used the Burning Wish in his hand, grabbed the Smash to Smithereens, and blown up the Charbelcher.

Them’s the breaks.


Legacy Tournament, Round 3:

After watching my friend Chris devour a fruit cup as a reward for winning the first two rounds, I was determined to reward myself in a similar way. I get my pairing and sit across from a player sporting a “champs” playmat with a top 8 pin on it. Your scare tactics cannot work on me! We shuffle up and roll. I win the roll and elect to go first. I look down at my hand and see a combo with Empty the Warrens to get off 12 Goblins. I play slow just in case. My opponent, the whole time, has a sickly expression on his face. I throw out my 12 friends and pass the turn. After a couple of turns where he threw out a few merfolk chump blockers, there really isn’t much he can do, and the goblins clean up. Although he did play it out, so I did get to see he was playing Blue. I make some additions and subtractions and start the next game. My opponent makes a Cursecatcher (a merfolk I saw last game), and begins the long grind. I am able to play around the Cursecatcher enough, along with a Stifle on my Charbelcher on the first turn, to keep me playing. He keeps beating face with merfolk while I look down at a board of 2 Chrome Moxen and a Charbelcher. I am now at 4 and need to topdeck something that can’t be countered by his Cursecatcher. Simian Spirit Guide finally shows up to the party, and he brought lots of drinks… along with a 40-damage Belch.

Fruit cup. You are mine.


Legacy Tournament, Round 4:

After a little wandering, trying to find my seat, I finally find myself sitting across from a very, VERY soft-spoken man. So soft-spoken, in fact, that I had to keep asking him to speak up when he passed the turn to me. Either way, we roll the dice to see who would start things off. He won the dice roll and elected to go first. (I, however, ask him a couple of times, just to make sure I heard him correctly.) He plays Flooded Strand and passes the turn to me. I look down at my hand, which is perfectly set for a first turn Belch. I play slow, making sure I don’t walk into a Force of Will or a Daze or something. I play out my combo without a hitch and finally, once I play the Belcher, my opponent plays Orim’s Chant. It’s in Japanese and I’m not all that sure on the text, so I call over a judge. Low and behold, the judge doesn’t know what the card does off the bat, but can read Japanese. I know, right?! I ask the judge what happens to the Belcher after he plays the Chant, and the judge says the Belcher resolves, but I cannot play any more spells. Fair enough. I crack the Lion’s Eye Diamond and Belch on him for enough to win.

The second game goes a lot like the first, except he plays a Silence instead of the Chant. Why he didn’t play these during the upkeep? The world may never know. Another fun point in this match: my opponent and I get a random deck check. I take this time to watch Brian Kibler play on my right. I tell the guys playing on the left (who were friends because there was a lot of joking) that I am going to do some epic scouting. I continue to tell them I am going to get inside Kibler’s mind and see how he plays, I am going to see what music he is listening to (his iPod was sitting right next to me), and “I am going to find out how to frost my hair perfectly, just like Kibler.” This finally gets a laugh out of Brian.


At this point I’m pretty happy with how I’ve done so far. Chris and I are getting a lot of time in between rounds, so we go watch football in the bar at the hotel. Our time is up, and we are through watching the Vikings stomp on the Giants.

Legacy Tournament, Round 5:

I find my opponent how is wearing a plaid fedora and looks to be pretty happy at this point. I ask him how he is doing, he says “not as good as my friend,” pointing to the top table. I ask what his friend is playing: “Dredge.” Interesting. Are you playing Dredge as well? We’ll find out. The first couple of turns play out like this:

Him: Win the dice roll, Swamp, Thoughtseize.
Me: Oh well, there goes the combo for a while.
Him/Me: Draw, go. Both trying to get components we need. He is always at 8 cards at the end of the turn so I am seeing more of his deck then he is seeing mine.
Me: I get the combo off first on turn 5… or somewhere around there. Belch for the win.

My opponent is a little flustered. We both board and we march on to game 2. This time, instead of Thoughtseize, he Unmasks me first turn. This time however, I have a Empty the Warrens and a Burning Wish. I am able to make a lot of Goblins on his next turn and he concedes. We talk for a little while after that and I ask him exactly how Dredge works. He speaks very quickly about how this card interacts with this, this comes back, this goes over here, and boom! You have a zillion of this, that and the other thing. I now know how Dredge works: you confuse your opponent into conceding. Got it.


Legacy Tournament, Round 6:

My opponent this round is a fun guy. He sits down across from me and looks me dead in the eye, and says “Are you playing Dredge? If you are playing Dredge, I’m gonna kick you in the balls.” I bluff a little and just shrug. This causes him to go into a full motion of eye rolling, looking up at the ceiling, and a quick exhalation of breath. I am pleased. My opponent wins the dice roll. I mulligan and keep a hand that can make lots of Goblins. He plays a Mountain and passes. Seeing a Mountain hit is like being handed a free pass with this deck. I don’t have to worry about Blue and with most Red decks, I get at least 4 turns to really set up a combo. I don’t need turn however and run him over with 12 Goblins. The next game is very similar to the first, except this time, when I make the Goblins, he looks through his tin and pulls out the Goblin tokens. He was playing Goblins and had ways to make tokens. Very fun match, very nice guy.


Legacy Tournament, Round 7:

This was my darkest round. I screwed up pretty bad, but so did my opponent. Now that you know what happened, let’s Tarantino it back to the beginning. My opponent sits down. He is dressed to the nines! He is in a suit and tie, and when I ask him why he is so dressed up, he responds “to look good for the Top 8 photos.” Nice.

My opponent wins the roll and plays first. He plays a land, a Mox Diamond and, after a lot of though, makes a Chalice of the Void, set to 1. He slides the Chalice off to the side and passes the turn. I look at the combo pieces in my hand, and I know I can Belch his this turn and get out a Bayou to do a little extra damage. I get the Bayou, play a Lotus Petal, play a Dark Ritual, crack the Petal for a Red, and play 2 Seething Songs and a Belcher. My opponent is cool with all of this, I make sure with each play he says “okay.” I flip 20 cards and ask if he wants me to keep going. He says no, pauses, then points out the Dark Ritual should be countered and I should put the cards back on top of my deck. I notice the error, but I call over a judge. After talking it over with the judge, he said the game state was irreversible and that we both get a warning and the game continues (there was more, but this report is already running long.) I stay cool after all this, but my opponent is clearly on tilt. He plays a Taurean Mauler in the second game, but never remembers to put counters on him. I, after a couple of turns, Belch for the win.

It was sad on both our parts, and I hate for games to end that way.


I find out that with a draw I can make it into the Top 8. I find my opponent, Sam Blau, and we both draw. I then go and talk with the guys at GGSLive, and then head downstairs and watch a bit of the Jets game and just try and stay cool. Down at the bar I got a tiny bottle of ketchup (which can be seen in my Top 8 profile, my own little trophy).

Legacy Tournament, Top 8:

After talking it out, we choose not to split prizes (Lou Christopher was the only one who didn’t want to, congrats on your win Lou). I sit with Jeff Lin. We talk while we are shuffling. I win the dice roll and go first. I play my cards very slowly because I know Jeff is playing Blue. I look at my hand, I have a Empty the Warrens in my hand and 4 Red mana floating. I know I can make more Goblins if I play the Seething Song in my hand, but I elect not to and play the Empty the Warrens making 10 Goblins. Jeff makes a face and plays Force of Will on the Empty. I guess he was counting on the Seething Song too. I get 8 Goblins in total, and it is just enough to run over his Mother of Ruins for game 1. In between games 1 and 2 Jeff said that I was playing Zoo, and it just must have been someone who looked like me. I tell him that I look a lot like Brad Pitt, and he was playing Zoo earlier. Game 2 starts, and it is pretty much a counter my Belcher and swing in and do enough damage before I can get back on my feet.

Game 3 begins, and we are back to where we started. I tell Jeff that I have been reading his face and I know when he has a Force of Will. “Oh yeah?” he says. “I didn’t know I was making different faces.” You are Jeff. You have a Force of Will face. Jeff draws his opening hand, and I say “That is not a Force of Will face.” He chooses to mulligan. He draws six. “That is not a Force of Will face,” I tell him again. He goes down to 5 cards. “That is the face.” he keeps the five, and I am on the play. I look at my hand and realize I can Belch first turn. I play slow, just in case he has a counter. Again and again he says okay. I finally play the Belcher, and I see that he has no counter. I activate the belcher. I flip the 1st card, then the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th… then comes the horror. The dreaded white border hits the table, dictating me to stop flipping. I went five cards into the deck, and hit a Taiga. If I had flipped ten, then a Taiga, then you would read more about how I did in the top 4. Instead, you will read how I packed up my cards because he stabilized. You will read about how I went home, and how I wrote this report.

I really hope you enjoyed this. I would like to thank Chris for playtesting with me, Aaron for letting us stay at his place, and Brian Kibler hair… you are the perfection I hope to achieve one day.