“But… I don’t like Legacy. Why would I want to play in it?”
“Wait… it’s free to enter when you are Level 3 in the Player’s Club? I guess I will try play in it since the StarCityGames.com Invitational has a Legacy portion…”
For a long time, I refused to play Legacy for one reason or another. Part of it was the inability to acquire the hundreds of dollars of cards for a deck that might be made unplayable by the printing of certain cards (I’m looking at you, Mental Misstep). The other part of it was simply the lands.
So let me get this straight: you can play any amount of dual lands in any colors without any drawback? You don’t have to take two damage or have them come into played tapped sometimes? That doesn’t seem fair; something has to keep them in check.
However, now I am on good terms with Legacy. So, why the change?
The first reason really is StarCityGames.com. They provided a great incentive for Magic players to leave their comfort zone, play different formats, and make them more well-rounded. While I consider myself a Block Constructed and Standard expert, I needed to prove to everyone and to myself that I could branch out. We also have the pleasure of seeing Legacy experts, such as Eli Kassis, play Standard. Wizards of the Coast appears to like having Magic players focus only on certain formats for Pro Tour Qualifiers, but StarCityGames.com really opened the door for people to try slinging different types of cards.
The second reason is my friends. Whether you are teaching a high school friend Magic or showing a buddy how to play Legacy or Standard, friends will always help open the doors for you. William Nehlsen and Griffin Lynch may be two names that none of you guys have heard, but they are two of the many people who indirectly allowed me to Top 4 the StarCityGames.com Legacy Open this past weekend.
William Nehlsen is a local Legacy specialist and is also notable for being the only person to give me a birthday present this year (thanks Will!!). His goal for the past year, other than getting better at Legacy himself, has been to get me into Legacy. He is a great friend who will not hesitate to lend me a deck and usually wants me to watch his games.
With access to Legacy cards, the only reason I didn’t like Legacy was the lands. Enter Griffin Lynch. Even though I am working hard to become a better Magic player, I always have time for my friends who don’t play Magic. Griffin Lynch is one of my closest high school friends and also happens to be the first person I ever gave tennis lessons. He is the first person to take me on vacation with him, outside of my family, and that was when I taught him Ascension.
This whiz kid was able to learn quickly and even start beating me. That was when I decided to teach him Magic, using the monocolor 30-card starter decks. He oo’ed and ahh’ed over all of these cards that I knew were fine in Limited but not so great in Standard. The list included: Act of Treason with Fling, Frost Breath, Leeching Bite, and Alabaster Mage. He thought most of these were unfair.
So, what does this huge side story have to do with the lands in Legacy I thought were unfair? Griffin thought these cards were unfair because he never played with them before, along with a multitude of other cards. I thought duals and Wasteland were unfair because I never played with them before, either. I was making a judgment on a format that I had no right to make and decided to make William Nehlsen proud by playing Legacy.
Sunday, August 14th. StarCityGames.com Legacy Open: Richmond.
You Guys: “Wait!!! What happened to Saturday? And Night Shift…”
Me: “Well… I Pride Guardianed.”
Yeah… unfortunately, Standard didn’t go so well for Night Shift. Ray Wickersham’s wheels fell off after 4-1 as did “Friend Rudy’s” after his first ever on-camera feature match. My 0-3 was simply due to it not being my day, along with Night Shift being less of a surprise. Maybe I should add Birds of Paradise or at least keep Gravity Well in the sideboard of my next deck.
After scrubbing out, I remembered getting a NO RUG list from Chris Kronenberger. The Ohio Gang of Chris Kronenberger, Dan Musser, Max Jacob, Ross Koblentz, Kevin Gerhart, Jonathan Benson, and Nick Montaquila has some of the coolest and best Magic players I have met through the StarCityGames.com Open Series. I knew if I wanted to do well in Legacy, I had to go to a Legacy expert, and I couldn’t think of anyone’s opinion I’d value more than Chris Kronenberger’s. He shipped me the following list, which closely resembled Alex Bertoncini’s.
A special thanks to Branch, Joe, “Friend Rudy,” Jonathan “Superman” Fleming, Max Jacob, and Ben Friedman for lending me practically the whole deck. Now to explain card choices!
2 Dryad Arbor– While I thought that this was going to be like having training wheels for newer people with the deck, it has the potential to be a blowout. Sometimes, people will think you only run one. Having the extra chump blocker or attacker can be enough to turn the tide of a game.
3 Mental Misstep– I honestly forgot that there wasn’t four in the deck. I think three is the right number because you are not as dependent on this card as other decks that are crippled by certain one-drops.
3 Vendilion Clique– Faeries have never left me down, and I was never unhappy to see this one. I do have to admit that sometimes I wished I played four, but until room is found, it will be three. The ability to quickly finish the game when accompanied with Noble Hierarch and knowing their hand will tell you if you can Natural Order safely or not.
2 Sylvan Library– This… card… is… bonkers!!! I loved this card so much! It might be the reason why I keep on playing Legacy. The ability to mini-Brainstorm every turn and shuffle is nothing to sneeze at. Paying life for cards is not something we have access to in Standard, so I am always more than happy to draw a few extra cards when I can.
1 Kitchen Finks– This is Chris Kronenberger main innovation in the deck and something I really appreciated in the board. This helped secure a lot of the aggressive matchups and can combo with Jace, the Mind Sculptor should you want to bounce it to gain more life.
The only card I really didn’t like was the one Thrun, the Last Troll. I really wish I was able to get my hands on a Scavenging Ooze… onto the tournament reports!!
Round 1- Jason- Merfolk
I apologize in advance to all of my Legacy Challenge opponents. I didn’t write down your last names because I thought that I wouldn’t be including this in the article.
My very first game with the deck, and I had a slightly land heavy hand in four lands, Tarmogoyf, Fire / Ice, and Daze. I decided to lead on my duals instead of fetchlands in order to bait his Wastelands. He spent his first two turns Wastelanding me, but this allowed me to draw more action. I am always surprised at how aggressive Legacy players are with Wasteland. Is it always worth it to try to get a free win? My Tarmogoyf was bigger than all of his fishies, and we were off to game two.
When his second turn yielded an Umezawa’s Jitte after his turn 1 unanswered Aether Vial, I knew I was in trouble. Lord of Atlantis allowed his fishies to swim past my double Tarmogoyf, and a Coralhelm Commander joining the party meant that we would have to play the tiebreaker.
After boarding in some of my Ancient Grudges, I felt a lot safer. This time, Fire / Ice was able to dispatch his Lord of Atlantis, allowing my two Tarmogoyfs to finish the job. One thing a lot of players don’t expect is the fact that NO RUG will side out their Natural Order combo and turn into more of a RUG beatdown deck. Just some food for thought.
Round 2- EJ- U/W Stoneforge Mystic
Game one was pretty much a piece of cake. I put him on playing a Stoneforge Mystic deck after his turn one, Island, go. I would say this game was eventful, but it honestly wasn’t. I went for a turn 3 Natural Order with Force of Will backup. In the spirit of Reid Duke Grand Prix Providence report with NO RUG, “Luckily, Progenitus has protection from Mishra’s Factory.”
The final game was very back and forth a while. I was pretty sure I was going to get it. A well-timed Wrath of God put me back in my place and made me reconsider how I sideboarded. I originally took out many of my Force of Wills for more proactive cards, but maybe that was wrong. We ended up drawing this game when I only had five points of burn with him at six, while I was suffering Mishra’s Factory beatdown, courtesy of Crucible of Worlds. Personally, I feel like this matchup is favorable on the NO RUG side, but maybe it is also player dependent.
Round 3- Justin- U/W Faerie
Justin told me he was a fellow New Jersey native, which is always good to see. I spent many of the early turns of game one using Sylvan Library to sculpt how I was going to play this game. He spent a lot of time attacking with Mutavault after a timely Daze on his Vendilion Clique. Daze is a good counter that is really easy to bluff and can keep people honest so easily. I feel like in Legacy, people should try to be less hasty with their spells and really think whether it is worth running them out there. Eventually, I was able to Natural Order at two life with him at ten life. Good thing Progenitus was there to block Mutavault and attack back for the win.
Game two… is not something I particularly enjoy thinking about. He led off with a turn two Stoneforge Mystic, which I was not able to burn in time. Vendilion Clique showed up, making sure I didn’t have Ancient Grudge in my hand. He proceeded to re-equip Batterskull to Vendilion Clique and smash my face in. I guess that’s how U/W Faeries wins… virtually the same way as U/W Stoneforge.
The last game showed how aggressive a deck NO RUG can be. Turn 1 Green Sun’s Zenith for zero to get Dryad Arbor into Turn 2 Vendilion Clique was pretty spicy. I was able to take his Brainstorm from a hand of Brainstorm, Spell Pierce, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and two lands. I proceeded to attack every turn and use my Mental Missteps and Force of Wills to keep my Vendilion Clique alive until my opponent was dead.
Round 4- Mike- Zoo
Honestly, I was slightly afraid of this matchup. Luckily, Grim Lavamancer with Tarmogoyf is better than his Tarmogoyf. It seems like if you are able to stunt Zoo’s first two turns with either big creatures of your own or counters, this matchup is a cakewalk. The Kronenberger sideboard Kitchen Finks really shined here too.
3-0-1 in my first Legacy event with NO RUG isn’t that bad. I told Chris Kronenberger that if I 4-0ed the Legacy Challenge, I would let him play NO RUG, and I’d play his famous Mono Blue Control. Sorry for getting a draw, Kronenberger.
Luckily, I was able to get a lot of NO RUG experience via watching, a version of testing that is hugely overlooked. For weeks, I have watched Chris Kronenberger, Max Jacob, and Alex Bertoncini play this deck, and after every match, I would ask them about a play they made or two. Sometimes, they would be justified; other times I would be right. I feel like this is something that isn’t done enough and would help many people get better as a whole. Onto the Legacy Open!!!
Round 1- Adam Sawyer- Affinity
Adam told me that it was his first Legacy tournament in a couple of years and that he also brought his nephew here, too. It is always great to see up and comers on the tournament scene, like Derek Raufeisen who almost Top 8ed at the Standard Open in Indianapolis. Game one, I was able to beat Adam with a certain 10/10 only because he chose to +1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas instead of -1ing it a turn earlier. I understand why he +1ed Tezzeret, but sometimes being out of practice prevents you from making the correct decision.
In game two, he exploded onto the table with an early Cranial Plating and Etched Champion. At least I had Force of Will for the former. Progenitus showed up to the party and was able to kill him alongside a Tarmogoyf once I Red Elemental Blasted his Master of Etherium. After the match, he showed me some sideboard tech. It was: two Circle of Protection: Blue, two Circle of Protection: Red, and two Circle of Protection: Green. If he was able to land any of those, I probably would have lost. Sideboard tech anyone??
Round 2- Jared Riddick- Merfolk
An early feature match helped to make up for not getting one during the Standard Open. I was able to land an early Sylvan Library, which I used to pull ahead on cards. I saw Island and Mutavault, which prompted me to Vendilion Clique him to see if he was a color screwed U/W Faeries or Merfolk. I saw two Mental Misstep, Kira, the Great Glass-Spinner, two Islands, Mutavault, and Silvergill Adept, so clearly the latter. I carefully used my Brainstorms in hand at awkward times so he would Shock himself with Mental Misstep and to keep him off of mana. Vendilion Clique was able to deal eighteen damage, and Fire finished him off.
Wooded Foothills, Grim Lavamancer, Tarmogoyf, Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Mental Misstep, Lightning Bolt was the hand I kept in game two while he mulliganed to five and kept the awkward Mutavault, Mutavault, Wasteland hand. Naturally, on turn 3 I had three lands and was able to smash him with my Tarmogoyf.
Whenever I keep a one-land hand, I always consider whether it is really worth it or not. Sometimes people seem to keep hands for fear of mulliganing more or the card disadvantage (I’m looking at you, Gerard Fabiano). Maybe we should all be keeping more one-lander hands on the draw…
Round 3- Joel Sukhran- Bant
Sylvan Library is amazing!!! I was able to draw three extra cards and landed a second one with two fetchlands up. He passed the turn with an Umezawa’s Jitte on his freshly played Tarmogoyf with no cards in hand to my double Sylvan Library, Noble Hierarch, Dryad Arbor, double Misty Rainforest, and four other lands. During my draw step, I peeked at three cards and got to keep one. Then, I popped the Misty Rainforest for a Dryad Arbor to look at two different cards with my second Sylvan Library. Looking at five different cards allowed me to naturally land a Progenitus via Natural Order.
In the second game, a Brainstorm into Ancient Grudge was able to kill Batterskull. His Tarmogoyf with Stoneforge Mystic tried to race my Tarmogoyf with Noble Hierarch. My double Submerge was able to break this stalemate. Finally! For the first time in my Legacy career, I was able to beat Bant.
Round 4- Jeph Foster– Merfolk
In the early turns, I was trying to fight his creatures with my removal, and the whole game boiled down to when he had an Aether Vial on two and one card in hand, and I got my Progenitus into play. He was at 15 with me at 7. I knew his only out was Coralhelm Commander, and naturally, he had it and won that game.
His blistering fast start consisted of double Merfolk Reejerey into Phantasmal Image. Image was an interesting card because it got to copy one of the best Merfolk lords but was unable to tap anything. Progenitus tech is always nice I suppose. I was able to trade a Tarmogoyf for one of the Reejereys, and Fire / Ice took care of the Phantasmal Image. Vendilion Clique took his Force of Will, and more Tarmogoyfs finished him.
A pivotal play was playing Brainstorm during my main phase; that way it looked like I was digging for something, making him Mental Misstep to Shock himself, since he was tapped out. One card that seems incredibly hard to play around is Submerge, which killed a Tarmogoyf in both games. I can’t wait to play more Legacy to figure out how to do this better.
The last game was a huge race that involved me Brainstorming into a timely Red Elemental Blast to snag his fully leveled Coralhelm Commander. The game stalled a little, but he was battling with a Lord of Atlantis while I fought back with Tarmogoyf. Kitchen Finks put me into a safe location, and burning out Lord of Atlantis made ending this game fairly easy.
Round 5- Kyle Miller- G/W Maverick
I only won game two courtesy of a hydra with a billion heads and with protection from everything. Game three was impossible for me as he had Mother of Runes and Scryb Ranger with Umezawa’s Jitte, which didn’t allow my Progenitus to race him. I feel like this type of G/W deck should be explored more. I was very cold to Mother of Runes, Gaddock Teeg, and Aven Mindcensor, and I can imagine other decks having an equally hard time.
Round 6- Tyler Edwards- Bant
This match was an on-camera feature match that I would link if the videos were up.
The first game, I was able to protect a Grim Lavamancer with a Mental Misstep on his Swords to Plowshares. He stuck a Tarmogoyf on turn 2 while I went for Sylvan Library. He played Force of Will on it after much thought; then I slammed down my own Force, removing my favorite burn card, Fire / Ice. He decided to pitch his last two cards through another Force of Will. I chose to lead with Sylvan Library because I knew that my Tarmogoyf in hand would be the trump here. Even though he Wastelanded my only red source, after my draw step, I was able to attack with Tarmogoyf. He couldn’t block for fear of a ripped red source. This alone let me race him and win.
In game two, I tried my hardest to not laugh. He Vendilion Cliqued me, and I showed him Ancient Grudge, Submerge, and Vendilion Clique. He took my Vendilion Clique, and I ripped another and proceeded to kill his with Grim Lavamancer. When I Cliqued him, I saw double Llawan, Cephalid Empress. Good thing I boarded out my Natural Order combo!!!
Round 7- Josh Adams- Reanimator
I elected to keep Misty Rainforest, Grim Lavamancer, Tarmogoyf, Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Force of Will, Fire / Ice. I led with Misty Rainforest and passed because I didn’t want to lose to a Wasteland and would Brainstorm on my turn if I really had to. He passed with a Polluted Delta.
I ripped Wooded Foothills and landed my Grim Lavamancer. On turn two, he went for a Careful Study. I Forced it, but he Forced it back and got Iona, Shield of Emeria into his graveyard. He proceeded to cast Reanimate on it. This put him to ten.
Eventually, we got to the point where I had Dryad Arbor, Tropical Island, Volcanic Island, Grim Lavamancer, and four cards in my graveyard to his Iona. I was at nine, and he was at eight. I drew and played a Tropical Island before passing. I feinted like I forgot to attack as well. He proceeded to Brainstorm and Pondered before attacking and passing the turn. End of turn, I flashed in Vendilion Clique, shocked him with Grim Lavamancer, and then dealt the last six damage. I would say what happened in game two… but I kind of just stomped him with counters and Progenitus.
A Round 8 intentional draw gave me a 6-1-1 into Top 8!!! If you didn’t check out some of those Top 8 pictures, such as this one, you really should!!
I’m a little over my word limit right now, so let me summarize the last two matches. Glenn Jones covered the matches very well, and I’m glad he didn’t write the witty comments I cracked every turn, such as “Shuffle twice?” with Green Sun’s Zenith, and all of these other corny jokes I’m known for. It was sort of a “you had to be there thing.”
In the Top 8, I would say that I got fairly lucky in the games I won, especially in game three where I kept double Tropical Island, double Force of Will, double Red Elemental Blast, and Dryad Arbor. I ripped a Wooded Foothills on turn one…
In the Top 4, I think I played the games I lost fairly well. Game two, I should have mulliganed my five-land hand. In game three, my opening hand was Grim Lavamancer, Ancient Grudge, double Fire / Ice, Force of Will, and two lands. I Forced his Mental Misstep on my Grim Lavamancer mainly because I was really exhausted and wasn’t thinking. I know this isn’t an excuse considering I’m known for playing three matches at once for 13+ hours a day during the school year as Watchwolf92 on Magic Online, but it’s what happened. If I thought more, I may have gotten the trophy.
In the end, I want to thank all of my friends for helping me grow as a person and Magic player. You may have done so without even knowing it! Thanks to StarCityGames.com for giving me incentive to play a format that I used to hate… now I just tolerate it 😛
Sometimes, it’s good to leave your comfort zone. You may discover new talents.
Thanks for reading,
Jonathan “Watchwolf92” Sukenik