Legacy’s Allure – Survival Madness at GenCon

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Monday, August 9th – This week, Doug reports on taking Legacy’s hottest new deck on a test-drive at GenCon. The deck uses Survival of the Fittest to power out free Vengevines on the back of Basking Rootwallas or sends flying Wild Mongrels over to smack around the opponent. Check out the changes he made to the GP: Columbus list and get a round-by-round report on how the event shook out for him. Get the inside scoop on the newest Legacy deck in this week’s Legacy’s Allure!

I knew I wanted to play in the Legacy Champs in GenCon. I got the fever again at GP: Columbus and the GenCon event is a smaller version of the Grand Prix — great prizes and a long event, but not two-days, never-see-friends, lost-weekend situation. On top of that, it was at GenCon! Despite living close to the event, I had never gone before.

I was in a bit of a situation regarding the tournament, though. I did not want to play Lands again and I did not have much time to pick another deck to play. I finally settled on Survival Madness with a few tweaks. I love Survival of the Fittest and Madness is an easy, elegant strategy to play. The deck has explosive power and countermagic, both being very good general strategies for Legacy right now. I ended up tweaking the deck a bit, to make this final creation:

I switched a few things up here. Aquamoeba was always disappointing for me, since it is no longer a functional 3/3. The Looter let me draw into a lot more cards, especially when I sideboarded and needed more answers. It also draws you into Force of Will, which is great. I ran Spell Pierces over Stifle because it is a great 1-drop that remains pretty strong through the whole game. Opposing Jaces cost 6 mana, it forces people to slow down or get caught if they cast multiple spells, and so on. The Stifles were always weird for me, because you’re not really trying to be a land destruction deck, you just want to disrupt. I also cut the Dazes because your curve starts at two and anything that makes you return lands is really painful. I learned this playing UG Madness in Legacy at its inception and having to suffer through Daze being weird and slowing me down more than the opponent. In their place, I put a singleton Counterspell (was mildly relevant) and a Waterfront Bouncer (which was insane!).

I must also tell you that I threw a lot of this together the night before, without a list in front of me. The Islands and Forests are in transposed quantities. You definitely want more Forests than Islands, since your deck depends on multiple green mana sources. I ran Crypts over Faerie Macabres because I simply couldn’t find them on the site (the dealer hall was not open at the time the event started). I ran a second Wonder because against aggro decks, your removal is actually Wonder. Your plan is to laugh at their Tarmogoyf as you fly over it. A second Wonder meant I could naturally draw one and even lose one to a Tormod’s Crypt and still be able to race. I ran Squee to have another outlet for Survival and discarding to Merfolk Looter. I envisioned scenarios whereby I would lose all of my Rootwallas and need to bring back Vengevines, and Squee is great for pulling out more Noble Hierarchs to go for the long game. I often tutored for Vengevines instead of Squee, and he has no place in the maindeck, but it was good to have on the sideboard.

Regarding sideboarding, the two most important considerations are whether you want to leave in all four Force of Wills and secondly, how you can maintain your blue card count. Three Spell Pierces go out against many aggro decks, for example, so you need to either cut down on your Forces or bring in blue cards. That is why Wonder was so nice — it maintains your count. I would sideboard out two Force of Will and three Spell Pierce against decks like Zoo, where you have nothing really worth countering on their side. The rest of the sideboard is Dredge hate, cards to help against aggro, and miscellaneous cleanup.

On to the matches!

Round 1: Greg with UWB Control

Greg hangs with the Cleveland Vintage crew and I’ve known him for a little while. He is a pleasant opponent at every turn, so I was happy to start my day across from him. In our first game, my Spell Pierces stopped a Vedalken Shackles that would have devastated me. I landed a Trygon Predator and four (!) Noble Hierarchs, which ended the game rather quickly.

Greg’s deck was three colors, but I only saw basic lands. He was running Wasteland-impervious control. That meant that my Wastelands would not have much punch, and since he was oriented to the long game, my Spell Pierces would not realistically hit. I brought in two Krosan Grips for the two Jittes and went on. Greg and I went to three games because I made a bad misplay in the second game. He played a Sower of Temptation to take my Vengevine with three mana up. I had two Force of Will and a Spell Pierce, so I pitched the Pierce and Forced the spell. He Counterspelled, dropping down to one mana. I had not seen Counterspell in his deck and I did not think my Pierce would work that late in the game. Had I played the Pierce, I would have stopped his Sower and killed him in the next turn. In the third game, I was able to make fast Vengevines and rip through him.

Round 2: Hypergenesis

My opponent started by telling me that his deck was bad. He led with a Gemstone Mine, so I thought “dredge.” He then played an Island, so I thought it might have been a 3-color Storm deck. I Wastelanded his Gemstone Mine, so he pitched an Elvish Spirit Guide, tapped the two lands and played Violent Outburst. He Cascaded into Hypergenesis, but I had a Spell Pierce. I played a Survival of the Fittest the next turn with Counterspell mana up. He played another land and passed the turn. Foolishly, I tapped one of my two Tropical Islands to use Survival, at which point he tried Cascading again. It resolved, and he put Inkwell Leviathan and two Terastodons into play. I played a Waterfront Bouncer through it and a Survival of the Fittest and Wild Mongrel, retaining a creature in hand. Curiously, he did not point either Terastodon at my Survivals. On my turn, I made two Vengevines and attacked into his side. He swung back with his monsters, bringing me to five life. On my turn, seeing he was at 18, I made four Vengevines and attacked with those and two Basking Rootwallas, a Wild Mongrel and the Waterfront Bouncer, for nineteen damage. Get there.

In the second game, he Cascaded into Hypergenesis and said “Hypergenesis resolve?” I said “yeah… NO.” He said it was too late and we had to go on. I had two Force of Wills with blue cards backing them. I lost. In retrospect, I should have called a judge; the REL we were at allows for a little room for backtracking. Nothing had changed in the gamestate, no cards had been placed into play, no cards were flipped from libraries after that. It would have gone to the head judge to make a decision on. The lesson is that I should have paid more attention.

In the third game, my Spell Pierces and Force of Wills (drawn into by Merfolk Looter) stopped all of his Hypergenesis attempts.

Round 3: Ben Carp with Merfolk.

Feature Match! You can catch the video on GGSLive and see Ben and I duel. We joked throughout the whole thing that The Internets will realize how bad we were. In spite of that, I think we played some pretty tight games.

Round 4: Merfolk

I made another misplay in this game that would cost me the match. I won the die roll and my opening hand had two Wastelands, a Tropical Island and a Wild Mongrel. I led with a Wasteland, and my opponent played a Wasteland and Aether Vial. I played a Tropical Island, then a Wild Mongrel. My dual was destroyed and I was mana screwed for the entire game. What I should have done was point my own Wasteland at his. My opponent was playing Merfolk and I had a total edge if I could just make my colors work. I got too fixated on a turn-2 Mongrel and lost the game.

In the second game, I mashed him with flying shrubbery.

In the third game, I tried to bait effectively. He Forced a Merfolk Looter and I played a Jitte. He didn’t force the Jitte, so I thought the Survival in my hand would smash him. He had drawn into a counter for that and I lost the card. I had three Vengevine in my hand and I would have shredded him, but these things happen. I lost with a Vengevine and a Jitte on the board, one turn away from using the pointy stick to turn things around.

I was bummed at this point. Mike Bomholt told me to perk up and crush my next opponent.

Round 5: Zoo

I did as Mike instructed and made a Wild Mongrel, Vengevine and Basking Rootwalla on the second turn. Zoo could not race that.

In the second game, we went back and forth a little and I made three Vengevines with Survival of the Fittest, then got Wonder and discarded it to my Wild Mongrel to jump my whole team. I don’t know how plants fly, but they manage.

Round 6: Zoo

After mashing Zoo once, I was a little overconfident in this. My opponent had two Grim Lavamancers early in the game, which really disrupted me. I did not have any bit of the Vengevine combo, so I had to play fairly. I kept ripping lands and lost the game.

In the second game, I kept a decently good hand, but again, my opponent had those Grim Lavamancers to extort my Rootwallas and Wild Mongrels. I could not make my combo happen in this game either, and I lost to repeated pings.

I was considering dropping, but the potential of P3K packs for T16 was still there.

The ideal pack, by the way, is Imperial Seal as your rare and Imperial Recruiter, Strategic Planning and Loyal Retainers as your uncommons.

Round 7: Countertop

I loosened up my play in these games, since I was sort of playing for fun at this time. In the first game, I mulliganed to five cards, but my opponent scooped when I Wasted his only land. In the next two games, my opponent had Swords to Plowshares in hand for all the right times, and I lost to Progenitus coming down and messing up my stuff.

Had I not made at least one misplay in every game, I would have performed a lot better. The deck was great; it felt explosive and it won with twenty minutes left on the clock in each game. I suggest you avoid trying to toolbox this deck. Your removal bullets are just Trygon Predators. Your creature control is Wonder. Everything else is just “make Vengevines, attack.”

I was not sure the Submerges were great on the sideboard. They seemed to do too little. At one point, I made a Zoo player shuffle back in his Wild Nacatl when he went for a fetchland, but absent that interaction, the card is very weak. I wished I had Hydroblast, Mind Harness, or other good, blue, anti-aggro options. You want Wheel of Sun and Moon because Lands is a very rough match and Wheel is one of the best hosers you can play against them.

The rest of GenCon was very enjoyable. It was the first time at the convention for my girlfriend and I, and we had a great adventure. She bought a Captain Picard Christmas ornament and had Wil Wheaton graciously sign it (“this is a picture of Sean Connery signed by Roger Moore” – Comic Book Guy) and I got a Mortal Kombat: The Movie button for irony points. I expected more Stormtroopers and less Steampunk people (seriously, Steampunk has blown. up. in the past few years from nowhere). I felt that I got my value out a four-day pass. It’s definitely not worth buying a badge just to play in the event, but rolling it into a large vacation was a good value. We talked to some charming British people who sold rare D&D adventure modules and I got a chance to catch up with Tom LaPille, who, before he ascended to Ysgard, was a mortal and is still a close friend of my girlfriend and I (we met at his graduation party).

If I played in an event tomorrow, I would still run nearly the same 75 cards. I would probably put a second Waterfront Bouncer in over the Counterspell and definitely up the Forests to three copies (and shift Scalding Tarns to Wooded Foothills). It’s a fun, explosive, punchy deck that leaves time for walking around at the end of a match. It is not mentally taxing, since most situations can be solved with making Vengevines and seeing if you can get there with them.

Until next week!

Doug Linn

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