Insider Information – Grand Prix: Boston, and Land in Legacy

Make plans to join us at SCG 5K Dallas!
Thursday, August 6th – At Grand Prix: Boston, Cedric had a fantastic and terrible time. While his M10 Sealed pool was as useless as an inflatable dartboard, he managed to kick ass and take names in a Legacy side event. He shares the highs and lows of his weekend today.

Bzt. Bzt. Bzt. Bzt.

Wonderful. Have to get up and keep moving. This is miserable.

8am. I hadn’t been up that early in a very long time. I spent most of the previous night moving my stuff from my old apartment into my new apartment. Thankfully, my new apartment is just next door, but it is quite the annoyance having to move everything out of my old apartment, clean it, and then organize everything in the new apartment. In addition to that, I needed to do laundry and pack for Grand Prix: Boston. It was going to be a pretty rough six hours.

2pm rolls around, and Nick Becvar is here to pick me up to head to the airport. I didn’t get everything done, but my room was set up and I had clean clothes to wear. Good enough, I suppose.

Grand Prix: Boston was a trip taken with no planning beforehand. I had no desire to play M10 Sealed. None. I really didn’t even want to go to the event. That is how little I wanted to play a base set Grand Prix. So I decided not to practice any before the event. M10 packs were expensive, and core set cards are pretty easy to evaluate, so I decided not to waste the time.

For the record, my inexperience in the format did not hurt me in the tournament at all. My pool was so bad, I could have been the lead designer of M10 and it wouldn’t have mattered.

Don’t believe me? This is the deck I was rocking for the day:

1 Bog Wraith
1 Bogardan Hellkite
1 Canyon Minotaur
1 Diabolic Tutor
1 Doom Blade
1 Dragon Whelp
2 Dread Warlock
1 Drudge Skeletons
1 Gravedigger
1 Kindled Fury
1 Lava Axe
1 Lightning Elemental
1 Nightmare
2 Prodigal Pyromancer
1 Seismic Strike
1 Sign in Blood
2 Vampire Aristocrat
1 Warpath Ghoul
2 Zombie Goliath

8 Mountain
8 Swamp
1 Dragonskull Summit

Relevant sideboard cards:
1 Kindled Fury
1 Kelinore Bat
1 Manabarbs
1 Lava Axe

Now, I will be the first to admit, Kelinore Bat should have been in my maindeck. That was an oversight on my part, and there was no excuse for it. I was so caught up on the fact that my deck was terrible and that I would have to steal games via Dread Warlock that I felt Lava Axe would help me win games I had no business winning. Well, I never cast Lava Axe the whole tournament, and Kelinore Bat did win me a few games, so shame on me.

That being said, look at that deck. That deck is atrocious! When I play in a sealed deck tournament, I am not one of those greedy players praying to open bombs. All I ask for is a playable deck. If I happen to open bombs, they are just an added bonus. All I ever ask for is a deck with a few removal spells and some ways to win. I feel that if my deck is contains those two things, I can rely on my skill to get me the rest of the way.

But this deck…

Just wow…

My whining is off the charts. Let me explain:

For starters, Bogardan Hellkite isn’t even that good a card. Yeah, it is sweet if you cast it, but guess how many times I did that…


If Bogardan Hellkite is in your opening hand, it is a mulligan. If you draw it in the midgame, it is probably a blank draw step because you need something else to survive in the midgame. The only time you ever want to actually draw Bogardan Hellkite is in the late game. You also need to remember that seven mana is so much more than eight mana. I would consistently die with seven mana in play (or earlier because my deck was an abomination!).

Next up, Prodigal Pyromancer is not as good as advertised. It is unbeatable in combination with another one, but we already knew that two pingers is insane. On its own, it is a pretty mediocre card. I kept hearing about how awesome the card was, and how people were splashing for it, and I just did not understand. Every time I drew it over the weekend, I sighed and cast it, as it could not kill anything on the board, nor could it block anything efficiently.

The rest of the cards above are self explanatory. There is nothing exciting up there. My deck was a bunch of marginal cards in a format where marginal cards simply will not cut it. The fact that I was playing for Day 2 in a feature match still surprises me as I write this article.

I actually just had no fun playing the whole time I was in the Grand Prix, and I can safely say I have never had that feeling. That is how bad a format I feel M10 Sealed is.

And, if I have to hear one more person say “Cast Overrun,” I think I am going to jump off a bridge. I swear I heard that said at least 200 times this weekend.

I suppose I will end my M10 whining here.

As for my tournament, I only had two byes. I lost rounds 3 and 4 fairly quickly. Round 3, I sided out my Red cards and sided in some Green cards (Giant Spider, Deadly Recluse, Howl of the Night Pack, two Craw Wurms, and some other trash) against a very fast GW deck because my Prodigal Pyromancers did not kill anything against his deck, and I would be long gone by the time Bogardan Hellkite would get online. I ended up losing to Guardian Seraph and a Whispersilk Cloak.

Round 4, Nightmare plus Whispersilk Cloak and Overrun demolished me.

At this point, I pretty much had given up on the tournament. My deck was unreal bad, I wasn’t having any fun, and I wanted to play some Catch Phrase. I wasn’t going to drop because the stars could align, I still need two pro points to lock up level 4, and I could run off five in a row, but I sure as hell wasn’t expecting it to happen.

Rounds 5, 6, 7, and 8 are all a total blur. I know I won each of them, but I have no idea how. My opponents got mana screwed, mana flooded, or made mistakes (I block his flyer with Nightmare and then he Fireballed my Nightmare. He had eight mana at the time.)

My last match was a feature match that went uncovered, and thank god it did. My opponent played pretty poorly because he was mega nervous, but it was irrelevant. Game 1, I got Fireballed out after he didn’t activate his Blinding Mage on turns 3 through 8 to make a close game an unwinnable one for me. Game 2, my opponent put an Armored Ascension on a Veteran Swordsmith, and it dealt me the full twenty.

But enough about this stupid Grand Prix. Let’s talk about the real tournament!

The. Legacy. Side. Event.

Legacy is my favorite format in Magic. It is a very diverse format, with a ton of decks and a lot of decision to be made. I used to a play a ton of Legacy a few years ago and have a track record I am very proud of. My most recent Legacy events were a dual land challenge at Worlds that I won with a Bgw midrange deck, and Grand Prix: Chicago in which I lost playing for Day 2.

At this Legacy tournament, I finally got to play a deck I’ve always wanted to play but always decided against it:

For those of you unfamiliar with Legacy, the name of this deck is 43 land. It has, as you can see, very few spells and a ton of lands that do more than just tap for mana. It also contains one of my favorite cards in Magic history: Life from the Loam.

The goal of the deck is to find a Life from the Loam and put as many lands into play as possible with Exploration and/or Manabond. Most of the lands do something extra and solve some of the problems you may have.

This has been one of my favorite decks of all time, because it does everything with its lands. There is no other deck out there like this one.

A brief tournament report:

Round 1 versus Zoo

Game 1, I kept a seven land no spell hand and the game went on for a very long time. I never drew a Gamble or Life from the Loam and eventually lost to some burn spells.

Game 2 and 3 were pretty uneventful, as I had Life from the Loam and got to do my thing.


Round 2 versus Landstill

Landstill is an amazing matchup for 43 Land. Their counterspells are fairly useless, as everything relevant you do is with land, and they can only counter Life from the Loam so many times before it finally resolves. Game 1, I search for a Taiga via Wooded Foothills and Gamble for Life from the Loam. My opponent plays a Wasteland on my Taiga and I am never able to resolve a Life from the Loam as my Green source comes too late.

Game 2 and 3, my deck does exactly what it was designed to do against Blue decks. Wasteland and Rishadan Port mess with his manabase too much, and I get Life from the Loam with Manabond online. He is unable to get anything going either game, and concedes fairly quickly.


Round 3 versus White Stax

I was a little scared of this matchup. If White Stax is on the play, it is pretty difficult for me to win since they can accelerate out a Chalice of the Void or Trinisphere before I can get my game going. I felt like whoever was on the play was the favorite here.

Of course, I won the die roll.

Game 1, I had Life from the Loam plus Exploration going with Rishadan Port holding off his lands. I made sure to keep myself Armageddon proof by holding lands in case he decided to pull the trigger.

Game 2, White Stax got Crucible of Worlds + Smokestack going. Trinisphere made sure I would never be able to cast Ancient Grudge, and we were off to game 3.

Game 3, my opponent mulliganed to five and was never in it. My draw was pretty awesome, and when he finally did cast Armageddon, I had six lands in my hand and a Gamble to go get Manabond.


Round 4 versus UG Lorescale Coatl

I hadn’t seen much of this deck, since I have stopped following Legacy recently. I knew that Lorescale Coatl was in Threshold decks, but not sure if it was its own deck like Quirion Dryad had its own home in the past.

Thankfully for me, I never really got to find out. Both games were very lopsided in my favour, as I played a turn 1 Exploration both games and went to work on his manabase. He was never able to counter my Life from the Loams profitably, and was out of both games rather quickly.


Round 5 versus Canadian Threshold

This round I was against Ben Wienburg. He was playing Canadian Threshold, which is simply a normal Threshold but splashing Red for Lightning Bolt and Fire/Ice. It has some Stifles thrown in there for good measure.

I felt this matchup was very favorable for me, as the burn spells are pretty poor against me and Ice is never going to stunt my growth. Sadly I lost to Ben 2-0.

Game 1, I probably made a mistake as I waited too long to throw a man land in front of his Tarmogoyf. I never drew a Maze of Ith or Wasteland that game, but I didn’t play correctly with the cards that I did draw. To Ben’s credit, he Stifled two Manabond activations and it really screwed up my game plan.

Game 2, I never found a Life from the Loam, Maze of Ith, Wasteland, or Gamble, and lost pretty quickly


Round 6 versus Merfolk

Game 1, my opponent led out with Island, Island, and was thinking a long time before passing the turn each time. This lead me to believe that he was playing Storm, which is a matchup I cannot possibly win. When he played a Mutavault on turn 3, I knew what was up and was immediately relieved. Merrow Reejerey came next, and so did my victory.

Merfolk is a very easy matchup for 43 land. They do not apply pressure quickly enough for me to be worried, and their counterspells are not too great against me. They have Wastelands that can be problematic, but when I am putting so many lands into play, it is fairly easy for me to ignore them. The one aspect of their deck that I worry about is Aether Vial in combination with Standstill.

Game 2, my opponent plays an Aether Vial on turns 1 and 2, and I blow them both up with Ancient Grudge. He was stuck on two lands for the entire game, while I was messing around with Life from the Loam. At the end of the game, I saw his hand of all three-drops including two Back to Basics, but I was playing around Back to Basics the whole game, and even had a Krosan Grip in the holster just in case.


Round 7 versus Two Land Belcher

ID into top 8


Round 8 versus Merfolk

This round I was against Alex Bertoncini. Alex has been doing well in Legacy recently with his build of Merfolk splashing Tarmogoyf. Unfortunately for him, Tropical Island makes my Wastelands even more potent against what is normally a mono-colored deck.

Game 1, Alex had two Aether Vials (one set at two and the other set at three) plus Standstill in play, but really didn’t have any action to go along with it. I had two Maze of Iths in play holding off his two attackers, and a Nantuko Monastery about to go online, when he broke his own Standstill with a Pithing Needle (naming Nantuko Monastery) and then playing another one.

I was okay sitting underneath the Standstill, as I have a good amount of draw steps in the situation ,and I can sit to build up one big turn with Life from the Loam. However, Merfolk can also get out of that situation with the help of a single Wake Thrasher or a timely Wasteland on one of my Maze of Iths. I decided it was finally time to pull the trigger.

I first played an Exploration that got countered via Force of Will. Then I tried for another Exploration. Same result. Now, I felt I was in the driver’s seat. Alex had two cards left, and I was fairly sure they were not Force of Will. I resolved a Manabond, cast a Life from the Loam to get some lands, and puked them all into play. At the end of my turn, Alex Vialed in a Tarmogoyf and attacked me for some damages. I went to block his Lord of Atlantis with a summoning sick Mishra’s Factory, but was met with a Vialed in Merrow Reejerey.

Now dead on board next turn, my Life from the Loam dredging was going to have to be pretty good. I had the option of activating Rishadan Port on my turn to tap him out of his land Blue source (he had a card in hand and I was playing around Spell Snare), but I decided that it would hinder what I was trying to accomplish – dredge and cast Life from the Loam as many times as possible in one turn.

Alex had four creatures in play (Merrow Reejerey, Tarmogoyf, Lord of Atlantis, and Cursecatcher) and a Mutavault ready to be fired up. I had a Maze of Ith and a Treetop Village ready to block, but I needed some help.

Long story short, I was able to dredge Life from the Loam four times with help of Tranquil Thicket and Riftstone Portal, found another Maze of Ith, two Mishra’s Factories, a Wasteland to deal with his Mutavault, and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale to tap him out for the turn and have him lose another creature. The turn went absolutely perfectly, and Alex conceded.

Game 2 was a much shorter affair as he mulliganed down to five and never had any action. I got going quickly, and Life from the Loam plus Manabond was too much to overcome.


Round 9 versus Goblins

The players ask if I am interested in a top 4 split, and I politely decline. Rent needed to be paid, and $200 was not going to cut it. Daddy needed the victory. Goblins is an insane matchup for me anyway!

Game 1, my opponent played a turn 1 Aether Vial off a Wasteland. When I Wasteland his tapped Wasteland and he doesn’t play a second land, I am feeling pretty good about myself. The game goes on much longer and I embarrass myself numerous times by not knowing exactly how Glacial Chasm works (not saccing a land when I put it into play… twice) but I was able to take down my mana-screwed opponent.

Game 2, I never drew a Life from the Loam or a Gamble and had to play Glacial Chasm and hope to draw into one. That never happened, and we were on to game three.

Game 3, I mulliganed down to six and my opponent mulliganed down to four. My hand had a Life from the Loam and I Wastelanded his first and only land. He conceded shortly after he saw that I wasn’t as dumb as I played game 1.


Round 10 versus Canadian Threshold

Time for revenge against Ben Wienburg! And by that I mean, we split the finals and both took home about $400 in product. I normally like to play the finals of any tournament I am in, but the gap in prize between first and second place was so much that I had to accept Ben’s split offer. Ben is a friend of mine anyway.

In the end, the tournament was a great success. My goal of the tournament was to have a ton of fun after a miserable Saturday playing in the Grand Prix, and that happened! I loved every second of playing Legacy, and I cannot wait to do it again.

The rest of the trip was spent eating at Vinny T’s (food was quite delicious), doing a few M10 team drafts with some old friends, and touring the Sam Adams brewery.

Though the Grand Prix did not exactly go as planned, I had a blast and am glad that I went. I cannot wait to sleeve up 43 Land at my next Legacy tournament. Screw M10 Limited!

Time for something I rarely do!

Zach Efland and Ben Stark for making Top 8.
Conrad Duckner for giving me and Becvar a place to stay. Total lifesaver!
Strikezone Games for helping me build 43.
Nick Becvar for buying my flight and taking me to and from the airport.
Junebug for being so cuuuuuuuuuuuuuute!
BDM for giving me the feature match the last round of day 1 as a joke.
Dunkin Donuts. I don’t have them where I go to school, and they put Krispy Kreme to shame

M10 Sealed. It was pretty miserable and not skilltesting.
Logan International Airport for being much too big.
The Dream Team (Tom Martell and Matt Sperling) for doing too well in the GP and not having enough time to play Catch Phrase.
My sealed pool. I’ve played a lot of Magic and I haven’t seen one that bad in a long time.

See everybody next week! Even the vegetarians!

Cedric Phillips

[email protected]