fbpx

Reviewing The Bazaar Of Moxen

Read Carsten Kotter’s take on Europe’s largest independent Eternal event, Bazaar of Moxen, and get an edge going into this weekend’s SCG Legacy Open in Nashville!

The latest iteration of the Bazaar of Moxen (BOM for short) happened last weekend in Annecy, France. Sadly I once again didn’t have the funds and time to
make it to Europe’s biggest and sweetest Eternal event that isn’t a Grand Prix – I really want to make it to one of these eventually. That doesn’t mean I
didn’t hotly wait for the results to come in from this half-week of gaming – events began on Wednesday – and there were a lot of interesting developments
to be observed.

What I’ll do today is show off the top decklists of the 708-player main event and the surrounding huge tournaments. I’ll also try to figure out what we can
learn from those lists. I’ll start off by commenting on those lists I have access to, some in more depth than others. If you want to know more about the
format mainstays, I suggest reading this article of mine.

I’ll then follow the decks themselves up with some observations about what we can conclude from these lists and what they might mean for Legacy going
forward.

What You All Want

All right, let’s get started with what you’re all most interested in – the decklists (as far as I could find them) with some words of (questionable) wisdom
from yours truly, though I’ve largely withheld commentary for the truly standard lists:

Main Event Top 8 – 708(!) players:


Jean-Mary Accart

went undefeated on day one of Grand Prix: Strasbourg

with a very similar list so this Enter the Infinite-focused build of Show and Tell isn’t exactly new. It has been flying under the radar in spite of that
performance, though, but winning a 708-player event should give the deck more credibility – especially given that there is not a single more traditional
Sneak and Show list among the winning BOM lists I have access to.

Nicolas has cut the last useless maindeck win condition – Emrakul, the Aeons Torn – for a full focus on consistency towards the deck’s main plan and relies
purely on Cunning Wish for access to an actual kill-condition.

That win condition under Omniscience is quite interesting: cast Enter the Infinite, Cunning Wish for Research/Development, Research shuffles a Laboratory
Maniac into your one card library, you draw it with a cantrip and follow that up with a Brainstorm.

For those wondering, the Firemind’s Foresight in the sideboard turns Cunning Wish plus two blue cards into a win under Dream Halls. Pitch a card to get
Firemind’s Foresight, pitch another card to cast it, get Impulse, Intuition and any cantrip, cast Intuition pitching the cantrip to get Enter the Infinite,
and pitch the Impulse to cast that.

One thing I find intriguing is the singleton Force of Will in the sideboard. I guess the versatility of turning Cunning Wish into a really bad Cancel
worked out for Nicolas, and with Dream Halls in the deck it’s hard to afford pitching cards to your countermagic more than once.


Leo Schulhof’s Elves list looks truly excellent to me and given the reason for that – his sideboard – I’m actually somewhat surprised he lost to combo in
the finals. The manabase with its singleton Tropical Island and no Savannah aside, the only non-standard things in Leo’s maindeck are the singleton
Beck//Call – pretty much a fifth Glimpse of Nature – and the Ezuri, Renegade Leader I remember fondly from the GP Ghent finalist’s decklist. Being able to
Green Sun’s Zenith for a reusable Overrun is quite a nice tool to have.

Not content with sideboarding the regular hatebears, Mindbreak Trap, and Cabal Therapy, Leo went one step further and also splashed for a playset of
one-mana blue counterspells to really ram home the combo matchup. Given that the two really bad matchups for Elves are other, faster combo-decks and U/W
Miracles, having ten cards to hate combo, three Abrupt Decays to deal with Counterbalance and a singleton Qasali Pridemage to deal with random artifacts
and enchantments seems like a great way to go about things if you want to rely on the power of the forest-people.

Once again here’s an idiosyncrasy for us to observe: the only ways for Leo to actually hardcast his sideboard bears or the Call half of Beck//Call are
Deathrite Shamans and Birchlore Rangers. Relying on Green Sun’s Zenith for the most part helped make room for the two basic Forests, I guess.


Well, Cabal ANT showed once more that Storm is still bringing the business. I really don’t like that there are three Ad Nauseams in that maindeck – though
the two Chrome Moxes are clearly meant to make that particular engine as consistent as possible in spite of the huge rise in converted mana cost the
additional copies represent – and I’m far too addicted to Gitaxian Probe to ever play without those again.

In spite of my misgivings it seems Yohan found his own way to make things work for him and I’m sure having this many Ad Nauseams makes for a lot of nice
Necropotence-style comebacks against discard-heavy opponents.


Only fourteen sideboard cards are listed on the BOM site. The last is unknown. I find the choice of Sensei’s Divining Top over Sylvan Library in the
maindeck surprising and like the two Chains of Mephistopheles in the board. Other than that, this is just standard Jund fare.


The Lejay-approved – the aforementioned Jean-Mary Accart strikes once again – European version of GerryT’s Shardless BUG list really loads up on the
Planeswalkers. Not only are there three Jace, the Mind Sculptor in this deck but also a full compliment of Legacy’s best three mana Planeswalker, Liliana
of the Veil.

We also find a full set of Force of Wills in the maindeck with less discard than what we’re used to – which makes some sense, I think. Countermagic is
still the most likely tool to buy a random win against combo if they feel the need to go all in because Liliana applies pressure on their hand. Between
seven Planeswalkers and the four Ancestral Visions, it doesn’t seem likely this deck ever loses a grindfight even with four Force of Wills hurting its
in-hand resources, so I like the way this is set up.


All right, color me confused. 62 cards? 21 lands and 40 spells and a Maze of Ith? No Green Sun’s Zenith!? Three Mother of Runes but two Sylvan Safekeeper?
Birds of Paradise over Noble Hierarch in a G/W deck? Four Stoneforge Mystic and three Weathered Wayfarer but also only three Knight of the Relinquary?

Now, if you’d asked me if this was from the top eight of a 708-player event, I’d probably have laughed in your face. That being said, Luis actually did
manage to top eight said 700 player event with it, so clearly there is some kind of method behind the madness.

Weird deckbuilding choices aside, the deck looks like the result of an effort to push Maverick’s best hatebears into a Death and Taxes shell and the hybrid
actually delivers a very powerful combination of hatebears to control the game even without the redundancy of Green Sun’s Zenith to pull it all together.

One thing I completely approve of is Luis’ sideboard. An overload of combo-hate in the form of five anti-graveyard cards, Mindbreak Traps as well as a
third Gaddock Teeg and a full playset of Oblivion Rings to fight Show and Tell leaves room for two Chokes to really punish control-decks for tapping out –
and that’s it. Everything he wants against the fair decks is in the main already, it seems, and this kind of sideboard usage really makes it possible to
turn bad matchups around. As much as the maindeck surprises me, the sideboard makes perfect sense.

[I left the above paragraphs intact to preserve my instinctive reaction to the deck for all of you to see, but there are some interesting things I’d like
to add. This is actually the original, very old school Maverick list piloted by none other than [email protected] – the deck’s original designer – himself.
According to what I’ve gathered on mtgthesource, it seems the decklist was also misrecorded and shouldn’t contain any Scavenging Oozes – and therefore be
sixty cards, a much saner number. I’m adding this mainly to point out that Luis has been playing and tuning this deck for actual years, so however weird it
looks, the raw power to do well outside of this isolated European event is most likely there.]


From the weirdest G/W deck ever to an absolutely standard RUG Delver aka Canadian Threshold list. Nothing in Frederico’s list is a brilliant innovation but
it looks solid and well tuned.


After being considered dead for half a year now, Merfolk is back to racking up results all over the globe. Last time Merfolk was a real player in the
metagame, Standstill started to get cut for just more creatures after a while and fittingly, this latest well-performing list of merfok eschews the Odyssey
uncommon.

Running the fourth Force of Will in the board makes some sense without Standstill and I really like the Aquitect’s Wills in Omar’s sideboard. There’s
nothing like giving your non-blue opponents a tiny piece of sealocked land to make your team unblockable while drawing a card.

I also really like that his sideboard countermagic is Envelop. The main things you want to counter when playing Merfolk are either wrath-effects or
combo-enablers and Envelop hits most of those independent of how much mana the opponent has available.

Legacy Trial 1 (05/08/13) – 148 players


The second Elves list doing well is a blast from the past. Eschewing the new standard of Natural Order for a Fauna ShamanVengevine grind plan and Modern
MVP Chord of Calling, Bernd Fritsch reminds us that there are still a lot of forgotten, older options that might be worth re-exploring.

Trial 2 (05/09/13) – 425 players


Jund, too, kept doing well – I guess the BOM had less combo than I’d expect in France – but card choices still follow “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and
remain very much true to common lists.


And yet more Elves! Seems like it was a nice weekend for the tree-huggers. This time we get the completely standard version of the deck, with one
interesting touch: there is no more Regal Force to provide a burst of midcombo draw potential and instead we see a full focus on instantly winning off of
Natural Order with Craterhoof Behemoth number two. It makes some sense. After all, if you have enough elves to draw a meaningful amount of cards, you
should usually also be able to deal a lethal amount of damage by just ‘Hoofing.


And another Jund deck. I guess porting soon-to-be-banned Modern decks to Legacy is a recipe for success. Not playing Punishing Fire is something I wouldn’t
endorse – the engine is just that good in so many matchups – but it leads to a much more stable manabase. Two seems like a really low number of Bloodbraid
Elves to have in your maindeck, especially given the number of fair decks we’ve seen so far, but the card definitely is slow and there’s a third in the
board to bring the number back up to normal.

Michel also seems quite low on combo-hate in his sideboard ,but by now I get the impression that combo just wasn’t that well represented in this metagame
or at least lost a lot during the early rounds.


Take Maverick, splash blue for Geist of Saint Traft, and once you’ve done that Brainstorm becomes too good to ignore. Throw in a few Spell Pierces to help
with the combo matchups and what you get is this deck.

One thing I really like is the mini-combo of Elspeth, Knight Errant plus Geist of Saint Traft. Attacking for 18 over two turns is quite impressive and
Geist on its own is such a good threat that I can see why you’d play Islands just to get access to it. Bant hasn’t seen many results lately but maybe
that’s just because nobody has brought it up to speed yet?

Event 05/11/13 – 258 players


Martin Van der End made sure the European version of Shardless BUG didn’t completely outperform the American version by winning a huge side event with it.
More discard main while still keeping nearly the full set of Force of Wills makes his combo-matchups better than the Liliana-version’s. You end up weaker
against the fair decks but in all honesty, Shardless BUG is so good in those matchups that I’m unsure which variant is actually superior in an unknown
metagame.


And the Elves just don’t stop. Harald rocked a totally standard version of the main deck but decided to sleeve up the old-school tech of sideboarding
Humility in the all-creature deck to improve his Sneak and Show matchup.


What feels to me like America’s favorite deck finally gets one on the scoreboard in Europe – though this is still far from a standard Esper StoneBlade
list. Restoration Angel and Baleful Strix aren’t what we usually expect in Stoneblade, but unsurprisingly I like having more things that draw cards quite a
bit, even if it means cutting down on Lingering Souls.

Of note: I love seeing a Notion Thief in Yohan’s sideboard. I wonder how many games that card won him straight up.

Additional trial/side-event lists

All right, the BOM coverage didn’t actually tell me who, if any, of these players actually won their event and the number of players isn’t mentioned
either, though I suspect it was probably reasonably large given the size of all the other events – and really, the difference between top 4 and first place
is basically two matches.


Interesting choice of one-ofs but essentially still classic Canadian Threshold.


Tristan decided to focus differently from me – he crushes fair decks main – and has a heavy sideboard for combo. This event looks like it happened after
most of the others had finished already, so given the amount of midrange creature decks and Elves that seem to have been around at the BOM this year,
bringing a configuration like this looks like an excellent choice.


Well, clearly there is something powerful going on with this list, even if it still looks a little weird. Another solid result with a different pilot, the
Death and Taxes – Maverick brew made it to the top tables once again – and I doubt that there were all that many people playing it, so “strength in
numbers” is out as an explanation.

Note: Once again, this is actually the original Maverick decklist and should probably be 60 cards because it likely doesn’t contain any Scavenging Oozes.


Snapcaster Mage is an interesting touch in Team America and I really like the Winter Orb in the board, but other than that, here’s another traditional list
– Team America as we know and love it.

General Commentary

Whew, those were a lot of decklists! Time to do something useful with them. Some numbers:

There are twelve distinct archetypes among these twenty decks. Eleven of them run blue and exactly half of these twenty decks have Brainstorm in them – I
know there are some of you who really focus on that latter number all the time, so here you go.

The two most successful decks are Elves followed by Jund (four placings and three placings, respectively) and after these two the only repeat performers
with two appearances each are Canadian Threshold aka RUG, the rogue Mav and Taxes deck (or whatever I’m supposed to call it), and Shardless BUG – and
that’s it. Everything else is its own brilliant unique flower sprouting successfully from large tournament fields to show us that Legacy is wildly diverse
even after years of diligent exploration.

Making Some Sense of Things

One striking thing to note is that the heavy graveyard decks – Dredge and Reanimator – seem to be all but dead on this side of the pond right now and even
the other combo-decks have failed to really leave a mark on these events – other than Elves, that is. The other kind of little green men aside, we see
exactly two combo decks among these twenty top performers.

The other obvious observation has to be that Europeans run weird lists and succeed with them. The 62-card G/W hatebear deck is clearly the most striking
example of something unexpected doing well, but looking beyond the archetype-alignments reveals that a lot of the known decks were configured in unusual
ways.

In this context, let me highlight a few cards we’re seeing more and more of. I think we can reasonably call this the breakout tournament for Baleful Strix
and Phyrexian Revoker. The faux-uncommon from Planechase has slowly but surely slipped into more and more Shardless BUG lists – a cantripping removal spell
is some value – and is now turning up even in the only successful EsperBlade list I have access to.

As for Phyrexian Revoker, it has ventured beyond its traditional home territory of Death and Taxes and MUD to turn up in decks as different as Shardless
BUG, Bant, Elves and Jund. I guess this little guy is one reason Griselbrand was nowhere to be seen at the top tables of the Bazaar of Moxen*.

*Well, as far as I know. Sadly the coverage team has released surprisingly few actual high-placing decklists for such a huge event.

A final card to keep on your mind: oldie but goldie Aether Vial is back on the rise. Between Merfolk coming back, the success of Death and Taxes in
Strasbourg and the G/W decks we’re seeing at the BOM now, the percentage of Aether Vial fueled decks in high places is reaching a level we haven’t seen in
quite some time. Get your Engineered Explosives ready!

As far as the metagame as whole is concerned, Europe seems to be either one pendulum swing ahead or several behind the US at this point or maybe the chain
of SCG Sealed Open Sundays in the US just masks that the return to grindy midrange decks is a global trend.

By now, we’re getting used to the metagame tides carrying us from combo and disruptive blue decks through a rise of slightly grindier and more controlling
control archetypes all the way to a heavy midrange metagame that finally is feasted upon by combo, leading us back to square one.

Looking at the results we’re seeing here, Europe is clearly at the high point of midrange madness, though on this side of the ocean, one thing jumps out at
the careful observer: the midrange decks actually go out of their way to make sure they can beat combo. Instead of a few token hatecards, we see nearly
entire sideboards dedicated to keeping the unfair predators in check and even maindecks show a bigger tendency towards dealing with combo.

One minor example of this is, once again, Baleful Strix in the EsperBlade list. Lingering Souls – the card that got cut down to one measly copy to make
room for the birds – usually is a little more valuable in a fair-deck mirror, though a cantripping removal spell is nothing to sneeze at. At the same time,
though, a blue card that replaces itself once you have something else to pitch to Force of Will is just infinitely better against someone trying to kill
you on turns 1 to 3.

This also explains why Elves did so well last weekend. Against a fair deck, it is, for all intents and purposes, a plenty fast enough combo deck that is
really hard to hate out with true anti-combo measures and can always fall back on just swarming the board if those measures turn out to be actually
effective. Similarly, if it has to bring in ten or more defensive cards against a faster combo deck, it still has a totally reasonable beatdown plan to
back up the hate. Basically you play out as the most broken fair deck, which sounds like a good place to be, all things considered.

Letting It Sink In

Well, so much for this week’s little public service announcement. If you’re a truly dedicated follower of Legacy, you might have been aware of the Bazaar
already and the lists above are nothing new to you. If you’re in that group, hopefully my conclusions and observations provided some value for you or you
were at least happy to find all the decklists together in one place.

On the other hand, if you don’t spend your time scouring the interwebz for Legacy results, this article should be a useful resource as to what’s going on
and where the metagame is headed at least in the old world – wide-open, if you want it spelled out.

That’s it for me for this week. Let me know what you think of the article or my work in general in the comments – or if you can enlighten me of the story
behind the Mav and Taxes deck. I promise I read them all, even though I’ve been quite busy lately and therefore unable to respond in an even remotely
timely/complete manner.

Until next time, keep your finger on the pulse!

Carsten Kötter

PS: I usually keep these articles (almost) strictly Magic as that’s what I assume you come to read on a Magic the Gathering website – and it’s what I like
to talk about. After seeing this movie, though, I feel like the least I can do is to use my little
soap-box here to spread the word. If you don’t know it yet, please watch Sharkwater – it isn’t exactly a nice, Saturday afternoon family movie, but I think
we should at least be aware of what’s going on out on/in the oceans with our unknowing consent. Thanks for reading!