Unlocking Legacy – From Here to Eternity

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Monday, July 14th – This story begins with an announcement that was posted on The Source by Chris Lennon (Volt) advertising a Legacy tournament in Vancouver, WA. People start discussing the possibility about driving out to the tournament. This suggestion seemed to be joke at first. Driving across the country to play in Magic tournament where even if you win you can’t make more than equivalent of 200 dollars is pure madness. Or is it?

This story begins with an announcement that was posted on The Source by Chris Lennon (Volt) advertising a Legacy tournament in Vancouver, WA. Mike Edinger (TeenieBopper), Adam Barnello (Nightmare) and other players from Syracuse, New York start discussing the possibility about driving out to the tournament. This suggestion seemed to be joke at first. Driving across the country to play in Magic tournament where even if you win you can’t make more than equivalent of 200 dollars is pure madness. Or is it?

The New York players continue to discuss the trip in the days that follow. Around this time Jesse Krieger (Krieger), a friend and a fellow Virginia player, starts a thread on The Source suggesting that he would like to go if other people in Virginia are interested. At this point, I believe still this whole idea is just a flight of fancy. Discussions by the New York and Virginia players continue for days. It seems strangely possible that both New York and Virginia could send a delegation to Vancouver, Washington to play in the tournament.

In the end, the Syracuse players were not able to make it the trip. However, Four Virginia players: Jesse Krieger, Alix Hatfield (Obfuscate Freely), Jesse Hatfield (Mad Zur) along with Dave Price (quicksilver), a player from Rochester, NY, decide to take a three week trip that spans the country and of course includes the tournament. While I didn’t start the trip with them, I was able to spend the middle part of it with them through Nevada, California, and Oregon to the tournament. I flew into Las Vegas, Nevada, and spent the weekend with some other friends. Since I was able to get a week off from work instead of flying back from Las Vegas as per my original plan, I caught a ride with them through the west coast to the tournament. This plan worked out so well because they were planning to be in Las Vegas the very same weekend.

The time in Las Vegas was enjoyable, but the week we spent getting to the tournament was much more of an adventure. We drove out of Las Vegas to San Diego, California. We visited the world famous San Diego Zoo and stopped off at the grandparents of the Hatfield brothers. Our next stop took us briefly through Hollywood, California where we walk down Hollywood Blvd. Next we planned to take drive up the coast of California on our way to San Francisco. The view along Highway 1 is simply amazing. As you look out to your left you can see the Pacific Ocean.

We arrived in San Francisco and spent the day walking around downtown and visiting the Golden Gate Bridge. Our next stop led us to camping in the Redwood Forest in northern California. The following day was spent driving to Portland, Oregon to arrive in time for the tournament the following day. We met many of the locals at a gaming shop, including Chris Lennon, who graciously agreed to let us stay with him while we were in town for the tournament. After having dinner with the guys we head back to Chris’ place to focus on Magic in preparation for the following day. One last thing we have to do is pick up Mike Turpyn from the Portland Airport. Mike Turpyn, a fellow Virginia player who is now living and working in Kentucky, flew out for the weekend to play in the tournament.

Tournament Report

The day of the tournament finally arrives. Before the tournament gets started we meet some of the other members of The Source, including Dan Spero (Bardo), James Hammer (Pinder), and a few others as well.

Here is the deck that I chose to play.

This list differs from most other builds, mainly in its inclusion of three maindeck Unmask. Unmask provides a way to answer cards that might disrupt the deck’s strategy. Since Unmask costs no mana, this allows the deck to answer any troublesome card and setup to dredge its library on turn 1. Unmask has very little drawback, as card disadvantage does not matters as cards in hand are largely irrelevant. It also provides additional disruption against fast combo decks, which can be Ichorid’s toughest matchups.

Round 1: Wes Dawson playing UR Painter’s Servant/Grindstone combo

Game 1 — This game isn’t very memorable. I get a first turn Putrid Imp to resolve and use him to dredge and discard. My opponent starts with Seat of the Synod and then follows that up by Wastelanding my Gemstone Mine. I’m not actually sure what he’s playing, but I’m guessing some Affinity build. I eventually build an army of Ichorids, Narcomoebas, and the Putrid Imp to beat him down. At some point I think I Therapied him and realized that he was playing the Painter’s Servant/Grindstone combo. .

Game 2 — He plays a turn 1 Tormod’s Crypt for which I have trouble finding an answer. I dredge by using my Putrid Imp but no other dredgers hit the yard. He activates Crypt at some point, and while I try to bluff that I have other dredge cards it doesn’t work as my dredging comes to a grinding halt. He assembles the combo shortly after, and wins.

Game 3 — I open with an Unmask, seeing something like Polluted Delta, Academy Ruins, Tormod’s Crypt, Brainstorm, Trinket Mage, Painter’s Servant, and Counterbalance. I end up taking his Crypt. I also end up playing a Pithing Needle on Tormod’s Crypt. I’m not sure what I did was correct, but it seemed like a way to fight his only relevant hate card. I started dredging my library and was able to flashback Cabal Therapy to prevent him from assembling the combo. I eventually beat him down with Bridge tokens and Ichorids.

Round 2: Abe Wright playing UB StifleNaught

Game 1 — I win the die roll and open with Unmask seeing Flooded Strand, Wasteland, Ponder, double Daze, and Trickbind (he mulled to 6). I take Ponder to prevent him from finding other relevant cards as his current hand has very few ways to disrupt my plan. On the same turn I’m able to resolve a Putrid Imp. The following turns I spend dredging a Golgari Grave-Troll. The problem is that I don’t hit much with my dredges and settle for swinging for two with the Putrid Imp. My opponent isn’t doing much either other than playing a couple of cantrips that he was able to find and destroying my land with his wasteland. I start to recur an Ichorid a few turns later to speed up my clock, but my weak dredges have given him plenty of time.

A turn or two after I get an Ichorid he casts a Dreadnought and stifles the trigger. I only have 3 turns left to race the Dreadnought. I dredge, hitting a Narcomoeba but not much else. I swing over with the Putrid Imp. On his turn he swings for 12. I have one turn left. On my turn I bring back Ichorid, dredge a Narcomoeba into play, and hit a Bridge from Below. My yard also has Dread Return, which was useless earlier with no creatures to sacrifice. My main problem here is that he still has both of his Dazes from the beginning of the game. I flashback a Therapy sacrificing a Narcomoeba… he hardcasts Daze, but I still get a Bridge token. I flashback a second Therapy sacrificing the other Narcomoeba (getting a second Bridge token), but he bounces an Island and Dazes it. He has a few cards left in hand, but I have no option but to flashback Dread Return sacrificing token, token, Putrid Imp to put the Flame-Kin Zealot into play. He doesn’t have the Force of Will and I’m able to swing in for lethal damage.

Game 2 — He opens with a Crypt and a second one follows soon after. Since I saw that he was playing Black I boarded in Chain of Vapor for either Leyline of the Void or Yixlid Jailer. My only option against double Crypt is to use Putrid Imp to slow dredge and hope that he uses the Crypts at the wrong the time. After a few turns I cast a Breakthrough for one, hoping to get him to use at least one of the Crypts, but he doesn’t. I flashback a Cabal Therapy, which resolves, and I get 3 Bridge tokens. I attempt to flashback another Cabal Therapy, but he Crypts with the Bridge triggers on the stack. I think that I might be in this game, but he ends up resolving 2 Tombstalkers that race my army of Narcomoeba, Putrid Imp, and 3 Bridge tokens.

Game 3 — He mulls to either 5 or 6 and I open with Putrid Imp. During my upkeep I discard a dredge card and dredge my draw for the turn. I then play Breakthrough into the win — hitting all 4 Narcomoebas with 3 Bridge from Belows and flashback Dredge Return into Flame-Kin Zealot. He didn’t have the Force of Will or the Tormod’s Crypt. He commented after the match that he should have probably kept mulling for some way to stop me.

Round 3: Bret Lindholm playing BHWC (4color) Landstill

Game 1 — My opening seven includes an Unmask, Putrid Imp, Land, and a dredge card. My Unmask takes his Swords to Plowshares and then I play Putrid Imp. I start dredging and begin to bring back a couple of Ichorids. Bret at this point admits that he has no chance to win this matchup preboard. I win a turn or two later.

Game 2 — Bret opens this game with a Crypt. I keep hand without Pithing Needle, but it did have Putrid Imp as a way to keep a dredge card in my hand in addition to having one in my yard. Bret activates Crypt at some point, but I still have a Putrid Imp and a dredge card to continue my plan. The very next turn my opponent rips another Tormod’s Crypt off the top of his library and puts into play. He has also resolved a Tarmogoyf, which is starting to chip away at my life total. The second Crypt is nearly fatal. I’m not certain if I had a dredge card left in my hand, but the situation was looking quite grim. A couple of turns later my opponent plays Fact or Fiction into his third and final Tormod’s Crypt.

Game 3 — This game was very close, but I’m unsure how the game started. There is a crucial point in the game where my opponent has a Tarmogoyf and an Engineered Explosives at two. I have two Narcomoebas and an Ichorid that is coming back each turn. Bret ends up activating the EE for two essentially clearing the board including his Tarmogoyf. I continue to bring back two Ichorids. He gets another Tarmogoyf, which slows my Ichorid assault. I believe the final turn I have two Ichorids that are both lethal and he only has the Tarmogoyf to block. He ends up not having the Swords to Plowshares to answer my other Ichorid.

Round 4: Dave Price playing RGBSA

Game 1 — Dave mulligans to either 5 or 6 and opens with a blind therapy on Putrid Imp. He sees my hand that consists Lion’s Eye Diamond, Breakthrough, and a couple of dredge cards. On my turn I win the game by casting Lion’s Eye Diamond, playing a Land, casting Breakthrough (activating LED in response and discarding my hand), and dredging most of my library. The dredging puts 3 or 4 Narcomoebas into play and then sacrifice them to Dread Return (generating Bridge from Below tokens) on Flame-kin Zealot to attack for lethal damage.

The following is an excerpt from Dave Price’s tournament report, which best describes how game 2 played out.

Game 2: I keep a no land double Leyline, double Yixlid Jailer hand on the play. My first turn consisted of me saying go with two Leylines in play. He plays a land and passes. I rip a Fetchland for Bayou, and I Thoughtseize him. He has double Chain of Vapor and Ray of Revelation, but no actual gas. I take a Chain of Vapor. In a turn or two he plays LED, then on my turn I rip a Birds. I get out double Jailer in the next two turns, but cannot beat because of a Putrid Imp, and I’ve got a Narcomoeba beating me down. I am at 10 life. By this point he has bounced one of my Leylines. He Rays the other one. I rip a third Leyline, and replay the second one, so I have 1 Leyline, 2 Jailers, and a Tarmogoyf in play, and I’m gonna play a second Leyline next turn. I swing in with my Jailers, and one trades with a Putrid Imp. I figure I am pretty safe, so I don’t mind saccing a Jailer to kill an Imp and greatly speed up my clock. Boy, was I wrong. He rips his third Chain of Vapor that turn, bounces Jailer, flashes back Ray. I am thinking “okay, I can just replay Jailer next turn…” He has to kill me in one turn with only two mana, and he started with pretty much nothing in hand.

I do not see another turn.

I was able to win on that final turn because I drew Breakthrough the turn before and already had LED in play. I was not sure if Dave would swing with both Jailers, but in reality he couldn’t expect that I had the third Chain of Vapor, especially since I had no way to find it.

Round 4: ID

Round 5: ID

I spent most of the time in these two rounds relaxing and playing some video games.

Top 8: Dave Price playing RGBSA

Dave Price describes this match in his report and this is another excerpt from it:

Game 1: First turn win again..

Game 2: I start with double Leyline. I play turn 2 Survival and tutor up double Jailer. He only sees two Chain of Vapor this game, and isn’t able to play them in time and win before the Jailer hits, since I am on the play.

Game 3: I begin with Leyline in play. I have a Jailer in hand. I don’t have a turn 1 play. He bounces Leyline at the end of my turn, and I do not see a second turn.”

Top 4: Brad Gourley playing Vial Goblins.

James Hammer (Pinder) covered this matchup as it was happening. His report is reproduced here to provide more detail than either my notes or my memory. I’ve included my additions in brackets to help fill out information that was missing.

Anwar is running Ichorid (which he piloted to a flawless 4-0-2 in the Swiss, and a victory in the quarterfinals) opposite Brad Gourley’s Black/Red Goblins list. They roll, and Anwar wins and chooses to go first.

Game 1

Anwar mulligans two terrible hands in a row into a mediocre five-card hand containing (from what I remember) LED, Golgari Thug, Cabal Therapy, Gemstone Mine, and some random blank [the last card was LED]. After a moment of thought he decides that it’s better than going to four and keeps. Brad keeps his opening grip of seven.

Anwar opens with a Gemstone into a Therapy targeting himself and pitches the Thug into the yard, passing the turn. On his first turn Brad cracks a Foothills into a Mountain and plays a Mogg Fanatic to foil any Bridge plans Anwar may have had. (Anwar 20, Brad 19)

Anwar dredges the Thug during his next draw step, hitting Cabal Therapy, Flame-Kin Zealot, Cephalid Coliseum, and Narcomoeba. He puts the ‘moeba on the table and passes the turn after playing an LED. Brad uses his second turn to play a Badlands and make a Piledriver. (Anwar 20, Brad 19)

During his third upkeep, Anwar cracks his LED to get Thug back into his graveyard for the dredge on his draw step. Unfortunately, he hits nothing relevant, takes 3 burn and passes the turn.

Brad uses his turn to drop another Badlands, make a Warchief and turn it and his Piledriver sideways. Anwar lets them through, dropping to 12. (Anwar 12, Brad 19)

Anwar spends his fourth turn drawing a card, followed by a heavy sigh and a pass.
Brad drops a Rishadan Port, sacs his Fanatic to kill Anwar’s only blocker and taps out to make a Siege-Gang Commander. With that, Anwar picks up his cards and they move to game 2.

Game 2

Brad sideboards some number of cards which I didn’t catch (I want to say 3?), and Anwar puts in 4 (?) Chain of Vapor from the side. I was distracted at this point, so Anwar is free to correct me if I got this wrong. [I also sideboarded in 4 Pithing Needle to answer either Fanatic or Crypt.]

Anwar only mulligans once this time, and decides to keep his six-card grip. Brad once again keeps his opening seven.

Anwar opens this game by dropping a City of Brass and passing the turn. Brad uses his first turn to fetch a Badlands, taps it to make a Fanatic and then plays Tormod’s Crypt just in case anyone was still wondering if he had the nuts again. (Anwar 20, Brad 19)

Anwar plays another City on his second turn, and Therapies himself to get a Grave-Troll into the yard, passing the turn. Brad drops a Port, summons a Piledriver (again) and swings in for 1. (Anwar 18, Brad 19)

Anwar dredges the Troll during his next draw, hitting (among other things) a Bridge, a Therapy, and a Dread Return. He then plays a Breakthrough for 1, deciding to keep the Putrid Imp in his hand and pitching the rest. Brad attacks for 4 and plays a Vial on his postcombat main. (Anwar 12, Brad 19)

Anwar dredges his Troll again during his draw, and finally hits something relevant: two Bridge from Below and a Stinkweed Imp. He plays the [Putrid] Imp in his hand and passes the turn. Brad moves Vial up to 1 counter, and plays another Piledriver, but doesn’t attack with anything. (Anwar 11, Brad 19)

Anwar dredges the Stinky Imp on his draw, hitting a Narcomoeba and an Ichorid. He sacs the ‘moeba to Therapy, but in response Brad Crypts away his entire graveyard. Bereft of zombies, Anwar names Warchief when the Therapy resolves, but whiffs as he ends up staring down a hand of Earwig Squad (we would later find out these were there because Brad didn’t have the Extirpates for the board), and three (that’s right, three) Goblin Matrons. Brad pushes his Vial up to two counters, turns everything sideways for lethal, and Anwar throws his Imp into the red zone to get Piledriven (is that a word?), but not before he pitches Grave-Troll and Stinkweed Imp to it. (Anwar 5, Brad 19)

Anwar dredges the Troll on his draw, but sees nothing that would help him, and extends his hand, securing Brad’s place in the finals.

My opening hands were poor in this match, and perhaps I should have tried to mulligan more aggressively to find better ones. I also made a mistake while sideboarding. I was not sure what Goblin players sideboard for the matchup, and since I saw him playing Badlands I thought that he might have something like Leyline of the Void or Yixlid Jailer. I should have definitely brought in my own Leyline of the Void instead of Chain of Vapor to neutralize his ability to remove my Bridges.


After the tournament, a group of us went out for pizza. Much of the group split up after that, with people doing whatever they had planned. I headed back with Chris to his place to relax for the evening. Mike Turpyn was dropped off to the airport early the next morning to catch his flight home. The next day involved waking up late and getting ready to leave. Alix Hatfield, Jesse Hatfield, Jesse Krieger, and Dave Price continued the road trip to Seattle the following night, and made their way back to the east coast over the course of the following week. I caught a flight back on Monday night from Portland, Oregon to Dulles, Virginia. The long flight home gave me a good amount of time to write at least the tournament report for this article.

As I flew home, I realized how enjoyable the trip had been. The trip provided us the opportunity to visit new places, see new things, meet new people, and play Magic in a new place, and most of all to enjoy to the ride.

Anwar Ahmad

AnwarA101 on The Source, StarCityGames Forums

A trip like this is not really possible without the help of so many people. There are probably too many people to mention individually without forgetting someone but here is a list off the top of my head — Chris Lennon (for a place to stay), the Hatfield’s parents (for letting us take van), the Hatfield’s grandparents (for a place to stay and for being so helpful in San Diego), and Dave Price (for planning the trip and keeping us on schedule).