Leaving A Legacy: Show & Tell At #GPDC

In this Leaving A Legacy, Jared Boettcher tells you about the Show and Tell deck that he played to the finals of Grand Prix Washington DC last weekend.

Lots of preparation went into this tournament because it was more than just another tournament for me. This whole season has been a huge rollercoaster of success and fighting for me, ranging from three Limited PTQ Top 8s to proving that I can Top 8 a SCG Tour® nament more than just once to having to appeal a suspension that was thankfully granted to me. I knew that my breakout was soon and that I had to keep pushing myself to make sure that it happened. But enough about me. I’m not the focus of the article; the deck I piloted that helped me finally achieve all that I’ve dreamed of as a player and how I came to play it is.

My first approach to trying to figure out this Legacy Grand Prix was trying to come up with the perfect True-Name Nemesis deck. My friend Jeremy Tibbetts and I tried so hard to warp Reid Duke Bant deck into a monster with the new menacing Merfolk. After a couple days of testing and changing the list multiple times trying to stretch it and suck all the potential out of it, we both agreed that it wasn’t the best choice for the weekend. We were apparently wrong that it wasn’t powerful enough because Sam Black piloted a variant of it to the Top 4.

With Bant crossed off our list and Jeremy and I running in circles, I turned to my friend Bryan Gottlieb. He’s my Magic guru and a big chunk of my inspiration to keep pushing since he beat me in the finals of a PTQ this season to get himself back on the Pro Tour. I started our conversation by asking if True-Name Nemesis had a home in Merfolk, to which he replied that Merfolk is god awful and was not the deck to play this weekend. He also refused to budge on True-Name Nemesis being a relevant card, so we argued for quite a while until I finally decided to get off it. He kept telling me he was certain that he wanted to be on U/W/R Miracles and that was going to be the best-positioned deck of the weekend. He also said that Sneak and Show and Dredge were the two most powerful decks going into the weekend.

I was in a haze trying to figure out this format—dreaming of different decks, testing different decks, and even trying to brew my own. None of them seemed to make me happy, whether it was the results or the playstyle each deck offered. Time to find a deck was running out, and soon I would have to give my local game store, Flipside Gaming, a list of what Legacy deck I wanted to borrow. Finally, after browsing decks online, I came across a U/W Miracles deck utilizing Thassa, God of the Seas and the Rest in Peace / Helm of Obedience shell. I was positive I wanted to play this deck this weekend—until all of a sudden old advice from Bryan Gottlieb started resonating in my head:

"I always try to play the most powerful thing in the format."

Those words are what made me change to Sneak and Show not even five days before the Grand Prix. The reason those words led me to Sneak and Show is because of the card Show and Tell. It is the last major mana "cheat" not banned in Legacy, and it allows you to put gigantic almost-unanswerable creatures into play to end the game faster than your opponent would like.

I submitted the list I wanted to Flipside Gaming, and just when I thought I would be able to be relieved of worry about the weekend, I found out that Dan Jordan asked for a similar list and they could only produce one copy. Determined to play the deck, I started texting friends to scrounge together a complete 75. It almost seemed hopeless, but I threw one more Hail Mary and asked my friend Jo Dan if he by some random chance had the capability of lending me the deck and would be willing to. Pass complete! He was a lifesaver, and because of him I was able to pilot the deck to second place in GP DC.

The list I ended up playing is the following:

Most lists were running Daze instead of Intuition, which is to help ensure your plan of putting in an unanswerable creature into play and ending the game in the following turns. The problem I found with Daze is that it slows down your game plan and can make for a really awkward draw in the mid or late game. I came across Intuition after watching Thomas Enevoldsen play against a Sneak and Show player in the European Grand Prix and manage a magnificent feat: surviving an Emrakul attack not once but twice. I’m personally curious if Enevoldsen ever has nightmares of spaghetti monsters from this experience.

The Sneak and Show player ended up losing after not being able to find a second monster to finish off the resilient Enevoldsen but had used Intuition to dig up the second one in the first place. Since I was basically playing a combo deck, which has many faults of being inconsistent, I decided that I would use Intuition to make sure that I could keep a consistency and find whatever I needed whenever assuming I had three copies of the same card in my deck. I would like to throw an apology out to William Jensen, as we talked briefly during the Top 8 and I was way too arrogant on the subject of Daze versus Intuition. I had too many emotions running through me since I just made Top 8 of my first Grand Prix and had finally qualified for the Pro Tour (I’d like to sit down and talk about the deck and your insight on it sometime if you’d like).

The next card choice I’d like to talk about is Divert. I constantly found myself looking at Leyline of Sanctity, which Divert replaced, and wondering if that card really was the best for the slots dedicated to it. You want Leyline in matches that want to disrupt your overall goal, and their plan to do that is destroy your hand. Cards like Thoughtseize, Hymn to Tourach, Duress, and Cabal Therapy can potentially be a nightmare for this deck. I wanted a card that could answer these problems without having to rely on having it in your opening hand and never being able to cast it if you drew it later in the game.

This card fit all the needs I had, and I even discovered more uses for it throughout the tournament. Not only does it answer all those pesky black disruption spells, but it can also be used in a counter war between blue decks or be pitched to Force of Will later on when it can’t help stop something but that beautiful Force of Will can. This card is a pet card of mine, but it also overperformed on the weekend and didn’t let me down.

Sulfur Elemental was not as impressive as I predicted. I wanted it for Death and Taxes so that I could permanently kill Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Mother of Runes. The problem is that Sulfur Elemental is not good against other decks I want to bring Pyroclasm in against (U/W/R Delver, Elves, and Goblins).

Let’s fast forward to the Grand Prix now, shall we? I had three byes, which meant I had three hours to kill before I could start the long grind through the ranks. I spent this time testing among friends with decks I hadn’t tested much previously along with a couple familiar ones that my friends just wanted to test against Sneak and Show. While this was going on, I just kept laughing and joking with friends and mentally preparing myself for all the Magic that was going to test my limits.

When I saw who my round 4 opponent was, I was worried. Craig Wescoe is a great Magic player, but my fear of playing against pros disappeared after playing against Kibler on the first round of day 2 at Grand Prix Chicago. My primary concern was that Death and Taxes, an interactive mono-white strategy, is the kind of deck that Craig likes to play and has a great matchup against Sneak and Show.

Game 1 I was forced to mulligan to five, and I couldn’t pull together my combo in time before it was too late, with Karakas and Thalia causing a major delay.

+2 Blood Moon (to turn off Karakas), +2 Pyroclasm, +1 Sulfur Elemental

-3 Spell Pierce, -1 Misdirection, -1 Gitaxian Probe

Game 2 saw Wescoe get stuck on two lands and unable to progress his board further than a Mother of Runes, giving me enough time to set up my Sneak Attack and force the match to a final game.

Wescoe was on the play once again, and he wasted no time putting Mother of Runes and Thalia into play and controlling the game. He was one turn ahead of me the whole time, and I just couldn’t pull it together to start off the first match of Magic I was actually playing with a win.

Rounds 5 and 6 were both Delver decks, round 5 being U/R while round 6 was U/W/R. I beat them both in two games, and soon I was moving up through the ranks. My tournament was off to a better start.

Round 7 was against Belcher. My opponent won the die roll, started game 1 with a Gitaxian Probe, saw I had no way to stop what he was doing, and promptly put twelve Goblins into play with Empty the Warrens. My hand was only average, and I couldn’t race the two-turn clock.

+2 Swan Song, +1 Flusterstorm, +1 Pyroclasm

-3 Gitaxian Probe, -1 Misdirection

Game 2 wasn’t slow either, as my opponent was able to rush a Belcher into play because I had to Force of Will his Land Grant but couldn’t stop the remainder of his hand. Thankfully, he wasn’t able to come up with the mana in time to activate his win condition, and his ramp was met with a Swan Song, giving me just enough time so I could just as quickly set up a Sneak Attack and Intuition for Emrakul to end the game in the next couple turns.

Game 3 he mulliganed down to five cards and passed the turn after having no play. My first turn was a bit better, as I played Ancient Tomb, Lotus Petal, and Show and Tell putting Griselbrand into play. Not bad deck. Not bad.

After winning rounds 8 and 9, I ended Saturday at 8-1. This was the first time I’d ended day 1 of a Grand Prix with only one loss. I left the convention center to grab a quick bite to eat and then get some sleep. My main concern was getting enough sleep so I could focus on my play on Sunday. Even though I had a buffer of being able to lose a round, I still needed to win five of six rounds to make my dream a reality.

Day 2 began, and I started off against a Jund deck. A turn 1 Emrakul ended the game before it even got started and got my Sunday off to a great start.

+2 Blood Moon, +2 Divert

-2 Gitaxian Probe, -1 Spell Pierce, -1 Force of Will

Game 2 saw my opponent pick apart my hand and disrupt me while advancing his board state. This is typically the way that things have to go for Jund to beat Sneak and Show, but fortunately I’d be on the play for game 3. The third game started fairly slow, as both of us weren’t doing very much. My opponent ended up resolving a Liliana of the Veil, which made putting a creature into play problematic. I decided to make the game into one about attrition that I couldn’t escape as time was called in the round. We each played out our extra turns, and after the dust settled, I was left standing at exactly one life.

I was thrilled that I didn’t lose the match, but just like that it dawned on me that the buffer I was so happy about having was already gone. I was going to need all the focus and determination and possibly a little luck to get through the day. Round after round that day I battled with an unbeatable duo: my head and my heart. I played the best Magic I’ve ever played in my career, and slowly but surely I started seeing my chances of getting to Top 8 come even closer.

The road to the Top 8 wasn’t easy, as I had to defeat Owen Turtenwald, who later defeated me in the finals, and Andrew Cuneo on Elves in the last round, which is not a good matchup for Sneak and Show. Thanks to friends getting me water and food during and in between rounds, I was able to reduce the amount of things on my mind so that I could keep my focus on winning the games needed to put me into Top 8. Sure enough, at the end of round 15, I found myself at a 13-1-1 record, which landed me in the second seed of Top 8.

I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe that I had finally achieved the dream that every grinder has: to get on the Pro Tour. During the period in between the remaining time in round 15 and the wait for Top 8, all I did was pace around the tournament site, letting all my friends know that I had made it into Top 8 and trying to collect all the emotions running through my body. I knew that even though I had such a breakout that I still had three more rounds of Magic to play to try to take a trophy home and put a perfect end to an already amazing weekend.

In the quarterfinals, my Esper Stoneblade opponent got a game loss for a deck registration error. Turn 2 of game 2 I ended the game by putting an Emrakul into play thanks to Show and Tell with Force of Will back up. He wasn’t even mad that he barely played Magic in the Top 8 because he had finally gotten on the Pro Tour just like me.

The semifinals against Dredge had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. My opponent mulliganed to two game 1, and I still knew that he could end me quickly depending on those two cards and how he drew. I put a Griselbrand into play on turn 2 thanks to Show and Tell, and he hadn’t drawn a way to kill me and knew he wouldn’t be able to fight through the life gain and card draw the Demon offered me.

+2 Grafdigger’s Cage, +2 Divert

-3 Gitaxian Probe, -1 Force of Will

This is where Divert comes in to amaze me more than I expected it ever would. Divert has the ability to change the target of Dread Return, which I didn’t even realize until that actual match. I wanted Divert for Cabal Therapy or other discard spells, but I now had a new plan for it and was hoping it would work. Game 2 I was able to set up a lethal board state by turn 4 yet again unless he could find a way to dredge through his deck and kill me as I was tapped down and out of cards in hand. Unfortunately, he did (!) and sent the match into a third and final game.

Game 3 I was on the play and led with a Ponder that set up everything I wanted and more. It revealed a Sneak Attack, a Grafdigger’s Cage, and an Ancient Tomb. Turn 1 was a draw and discard of Golgari Grave Troll from my opponent, which Grafdigger’s Cage really blew up. It was only a matter of time until Griselbrand and Emrakul showed up, and I was on my way to play against Owen Turtenwald yet again.

Owen, however, was far more determined than I was and was able to defeat me in a swift two games just like I did to him in the Swiss. My board plan for that match was +2 Blood Moon, +2 Pyroclasm, +1 Red Elemental Blast. -1 Force of Will, -2 Gitaxian Probe, -2 Spell Pierce. Looking back, that was completely wrong; I needed to add Swan Songs in as well to have more counters. I do want to say congrats to Owen one more time though and that I’m still looking forward to seeing him in Valencia!

Grand Prix Washington DC was a milestone for me, one that I would not have been able to accomplish without friends, focus, determination, and the unbelievably high power of Show and Tell. I’ve learned a lot about interactions with people, the game of Magic, and myself throughout my journey, and I’m only just opening a new chapter in my Magic career.

Valencia, I’m coming for you!