Unlocking Legacy – The Tutelage of Thich Nhat Hanh, Part 2

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Wednesday, March 19th – Anyone who knows my writing from other websites knows that I need little provocation to write a tournament report. If someone looks at me cross-eyed: I’ll write a tournament report. If I stub a toe on the coffee table in living room while drunk: I’ll write a tournament report. And when I have two first place finishes at local Legacy tournaments fresh in my memory, you can bet your ass I’ll write a tournament report.

“One power descends and wants to scatter, to come to a standstill, to die. The other power ascends and strives for freedom, for immortality. These two armies, the dark and the light, the armies of life and of death, collide eternally.”
Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek novelist and playwright

Continued from “Part 1


Anyone who knows my writing from other websites knows that I need little provocation to write a tournament report. If someone looks at me cross-eyed: I’ll write a tournament report. If I stub a toe on the coffee table in living room while drunk: I’ll write a tournament report. If I don’t like your obnoxious hipster haircut and those thick-rimmed hipster eyeglass: I’ll write a tournament report, and make fun of you in it. And when I have two first place finishes at local Legacy tournaments fresh in my memory, you can bet your ass I’ll write a tournament report.

In the annals of Magic: the Gathering journalism, tournament report writing is at once a proud and noble tradition and yet becoming a lost art. Odds are, if you have fifteen minutes to digest Magic content on a non-official website, you’d rather read about new decks and emerging technology instead of how someone performed, who they played, etcetera, in a tournament setting. And yet, writing tournament reports, for me, remains my favorite kind of writing.

In an effort to make this article interesting to a wider audience, I’ll use the structure of a tournament report as a pretext to cover a lot of other topics. Since we have a lot of ground to cover today, let’s get to it!


At the end of Part 1 of this two-part series, I had just finished testing and tinkering with Leif Whittaker’s (a.k.a. “Tacosnape”) excellent four-color Landstill list and was about to head out the door to a local tournament. The changes I made to Leif’s original list were at once modest, in terms of the number of slots changed, and apparently controversial: finding yet another home for the ubiquitous Tarmogoyf in a sixty-card deck; this time in a dedicated control shell (this was before I saw him as the sole monster in the Next and Previous Level Blue in Extended). I’ll admit that I was skeptical of the Green beast in this deck at first, but after a few dozen games I realized that Tarmogoyf is the Magic equivalent of the philosopher’s stone: everything he touches, turns to gold*.

In testing, Tarmogoyf was a Swiss Army knife of awesomeness, playing the role of an early game wall against aggro; adding threat diversity, to a deck with limited win conditions, in a format where Extirpate is a default sideboard card; providing meaningful pressure against combo decks when you need to seal the deal quickly; and as a dirt-cheap late-game finisher against a variety of other decks, after you’ve brought the board under control.

One of Landstill’s historic weaknesses has been its slow clock. If manlands are your endgame, swinging for 2-4 damage per turn always gave your opponent a few extra draw steps to try to turn the game around. By cutting Landstill’s endgame clock in half, Tarmogoyf summarily reduces those “lucksack topdecks.”

Lastly, Tarmogoyf grants Landstill a certain amount of strategic flexibility. Instead of always being the slow and plodding control deck, Tarmogoyf opens up the possibility of being an early game aggressor akin to Threshold. While an offensive turn 2 Goyf is almost always the wrong play, the ease of switching roles to become the beatdown deck has its merits in many matches. As I discussed in a previous article on this topic: strategic hybridization and versatility are the hallmarks of the most successful tournament decks in Legacy.

Okay, enough of the Tarmogoyf apologia, here’s the deck I played in the December 2007 Legacy tournament at the Batcave in Vancouver, Washington (not to be confused with the awesome Vancouver, British Columbia):


With a whopping nine people in attendance, consider these results as a high-stakes testing session; though it was a testing session in which I was handed a pile of bills from the cash register at the end of it. At least everyone came prepared with viable and competitive decks (i.e. nothing budget). I’ll spare you the turn-by-turn details and will limit myself to three sentences per game.

Round 1. Brad with R/g Goblins

Aside: An excerpt from The Landstill Player’s Bible, “How to Beat Goblins” (page 19)

Here’s how it works: Landstill is a mana-hungry deck that is vulnerable to land disruption and game losses from an early creature swarm. With this in mind, trade your removal and counters for threats, on a 1-for-1 basis, in the opening turns. Your objectives in the early game are to play your lands and reach the mid-game with a manageable life total. Ideally, you want enough lands on the board so that you can conduct multiple operations on the same turn; such as casting Fact or Fiction and still having Counterspell mana available, or deploying a Tarmogoyf and following it up with Standstill. As more lands accumulate on your side of the table, Landstill’s power increases exponentially; unlike Threshold, which can do as much with five land as it can with twenty.

Post-board, Blue Elemental Blast / Hydroblast serves double duty as Swords to Plowshares 5-8 and as additional countermagic. Engineered Plague’s role is to buy time. Some people misunderstand this card as being an ultimate trump, but Goblins has Krosan Grip and enough x/2s that a single Plague will just slow your opponent down. Luckily, that’s all we need it for.

Tarmogoyf is superb in this match, providing a cheap and massive wall in the early game, a mid/late-game win condition and providing superior power and toughness for relative investment. Goyf is also key if your manlands are shutdown by Goblins’ land disruption (i.e. Wasteland and Rishadan Port) – which is even more of a nuisance in this version of the deck which eschews Wasteland to more reliably satisfy its colored mana demands. End Aside.

Game 1
Once my Counterspell-heavy hand has been exhausted of disruption, my opponent is able to resolve a Siege-Gang Commander. I send the SGC farming in response to its “put some dudes into play” trigger, so as not to get burned out and to buy a few more draw steps. However, I fail to find any mass removal in my next few cards and die to three 1/1 goblin tokens and a Goblin Warchief.

Sideboarding, I yank the Standstills and some slower board control cards for four Engineered Plagues and Hydroblasts.

Game 2
(This game was ripped straight from page 19 of the Landstill Player’s Bible.)

In the second game of our match, I trade my spot removal for a squadron of goblins, while an early Tarmogoyf holds down the fort. My removal and the Goyf buy me enough time to find and play Fact or Fiction. Fact reveals an Engineered Plague which, when played a turn later, destroys most of his board — allowing my 5/6 Tarmogoyf to go on the offensive.

Game 3
In the last game of our set we both mulligan to six – and with me on the draw – my opponent leads with a Goblin Lackey which goes unanswered for a couple of turns as a Wasteland and Rishadan Port make my odds of winning this one slim. Determined to win, I gather my composure, manage my resources judiciously, exploit whatever openings are offered and stabilize at six life. By this point, my opponent has double Rishadan Port pinning down my Monastery and Factory but Tarmogoyf cares not for such matters, as a 5/6 Goyf slowly beats my opponent from 23 to —2.

(The game was a bit more complicated than this, but I did give myself that three sentence limit.)


Round 2. Bradon with Angel Stompy

Game 1
In the tradition of the good Dr. Gonzo, here are my game notes as they were hastily scrawled at the time:

“Morph – Deed 0; [Ancient] Tomb damage; Cataclysm!; [Mother of Runes]; [Engineered Explosives] kills Mask [of Memory] and [Silver] Knight; [Exalted] Angel #2 hit, x1; StP; Angel #3, hit x1 w/ SoFI; StP; 6/7 Goyf x2; Standstill; W[in].”

Getting hit by an unmorphed Exalted Angel wielding a Sword of Fire and Ice was a cause for concern, but my buckets of creature removal and the brutality of twelve power of Tarmogoyf for 2GG were enough to save the day. Engineered Explosives was also key in defending my position, or rather “not losing,” after Cataclysm resolved.

I was at a loss to find anything to sideboard against my opponent, then I realized that my version of Landstill was in its post-sideboard configuration before I sat down to play.

Game 2
More Gonzo notes from our second game:

“Isamaru — StP [Turn 1]; Jitte — Counterspell; morph — Deed; StP his dudes; 5/6 Goyf; Standstill; Win [Concedes.]”

We don’t need a forensic scientist specialized in collectible trading card games to understand how this game went down.


Round 3. Don with White-Splash Threshold with Counter-Top

Threshold is arguably the Best Deck in the Format (see “Appendix A” below). While it may look underpowered on paper, Threshold has superb versatility, disruption and speed. Despite this, Landstill — when constructed with Threshold in mind — relentlessly pounds the ever-living hell out of the aggro-control deck. Pernicious Deed, Engineered Explosives, and Vedalken Shackles are all notable sources of card advantage while efficiently attacking Threshold’s primary win conditions.

Game 1
Despite Landstill’s favorable match-up, there are those rare occasions when Threshold leverages six cantrips over its first few turns to find all four (!) Tarmogoyfs in its deck. And four opposing Tarmogoyfs is one too many to handle.

Game 2
An early Engineered Explosives for 1 clears his board of double Nimble Mongoose and a Pithing Needle on “Mishra’s Factory.” Pernicious Deed takes out his second offensive wave and I win with a single Tarmogoyf and Mishra’s Factory swinging for seven.

Game 3
Our last game is a drawn out affair where the potential resolution of Armageddon threatens my doom. I play conservatively, stockpiling extra lands, but the potency of Engineered Explosives and Pernicious Deed on Threshold’s clustered mana “curve,” along with the card advantage that Fact or Fiction provides, proves too much for my opponent to handle. Double Mishra’s Factory beatdown ends it all.


Round 4. Nick with Cephalid Breakfast

Game 1
Our first couple of turns sees us dropping blue duals and fetchlands with the occasional Brainstorm between us, so I’m not sure what I’m up against, until my opponent announces Nomad en-Kor and puts him on the stack. I attempt to Force of Will, he Forces my Force and I let him have it, sandbagging Force #2 for the Cephalid Illusionist he plays next turn. His combo temporarily disrupted, I resolve two Fact or Fictions to restock my hand with counters and win with double 5/6 Tarmogoyfs.

Sideboarding is surprisingly difficult since I can conceivably bring in eleven cards, though there’s no way I can free up that much space. In the end, I settle on boarding out the consistently underwhelming Smothers for a couple of Tormod’s Crypts.

Game 2
In our second game, Nick keeps his opening seven while I mulligan into barely a keepable six of Tormod’s Crypt, Pernicious Deed and four lands. My opponent’s first turn Duress nabs my Crypt and a second turn Cabal Therapy clears out the Deed, leaving me with no way to stop his combo, should he have it. However, luck shines upon me as I topdeck a Counterspell to stop a critical combo piece and chain Facts and Standstills to sculpt a ferocious grip, while Tarmogoyf serves as the coup de grace yet again.


Long story short: Tarmogoyf earns his keep.


For the next few weeks I continuously alternated between the three and four-color version of Landstill. Both have their relative merits and weaknesses: with 3c Landstill trading the versatility and power of 4c Landstill for superior early-game mana consistency and greater resilience to non-basic hate.

I was going to list some of the proven Landstill card choices by color in an appendix below, but I’m in desperate need of a segue at this point. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive summary and is primarily an exercise in harvesting some low-hanging fruit. Thanks to SCG Legacy columnist Adam Barnello for providing the basic framework.

A. White Splash
As far back as 2003, more than a year before the separation of the Type 1 Banned/Restricted list from the Type 1.5 Banned list, Landstill was splashing white for Swords to Plowshares and Meddling Mage. Granted, this was also a time when you could power out a gargantuan Decree of Justice with Mana Drain mana, but the T1/1.5 list separation otherwise left this deck untouched.

1. Removal
• Swords to Plowshares
• Wrath of God
• Disenchant
• Seal of Cleansing
• Dismantling Blow
• Wing Shards
• Porphyry Nodes
• Return to Dust

2. Win Conditions
• Decree of Justice
• Eternal Dragon
• Exalted Angel
• Hoofprints of the Stag
• Nantuko Monastery (with green)

3. Sideboard and Other Maindeck Options
• Enlightened Tutor
• Humility
• Meddling Mage
• Moat
• Pulse of the Fields
• Renewed Faith

B. Green Splash
More than a few have flirted with the power of green in Landstill over the past few years, but it only reached widespread recognition after a few successful runs of the four-color BHWC (now BHWW) Landstill in some large tournaments in the latter half of 2006. When paired with black, Landstill gains access to Pernicious Deed, which answers all manner of sundry and menacing threats in wilds of Legacy. Lastly, Krosan Grip has become the de facto weapon of choice for destroying Counterbalance, among other obnoxious enchantments and artifacts in this format.

1. Removal
• Pernicious Deed (with Black)
• Krosan Grip
• Drop of Honey

2. Win Conditions
• Garruk Wildspeaker
• Tarmogoyf
• Nantuko Monastery (with White)
• Krosan Tusker (Tusky says “Hi,” Jack.)
• Gigapede

3. Sideboard and Other Maindeck Options
• Life from the Loam
• Living Wish
• Loaming Shaman
• Moment’s Peace
• Trygon Predator

C. Red Splash
With Lightning Bolt and/or Fire // Ice in place of Swords to Plowshares and Pyroclasm substituting for Wrath of God, U/R Landstill was popular until the recent rise of the U/b/w/g and U/b/w variants of the deck. Zvi’s coverage of the 2005 Legacy World Championship offers a fine overview of the Landstill decks at the time.

1. Removal
• Lightning Bolt
• Fire / Ice
• Pyroclasm
• Rolling Earthquake
• Rough / Tumble
• Slice and Dice
• Starstorm

2. Win Conditions
• Chandra Nalaar
• Lightning Bolt, etc.

3. Sideboard and Other Maindeck Options
• Red Elemental Blast
• Pyroblast
• Pyroclasm
• AEther Flash

D. Black Splash
It took a surprising amount of time for the Legacy community to come around to the power of black spells in Landstill. Apart from the periodic success of BHWC’s 4-color model, the first instance of black-splash Landstill making the Top 8 at a major U.S. Legacy tournament, to my knowledge, goes to Scott Scheurer (Overlord95), who piloted U/b Landstill (a.k.a. “Duck Hunt”) to the Top 8 at a 54-player tournament in Geneseo, New York on February 17, 2007. By now, the power that black cards offer Landstill should be obvious.

1. Removal
• Pernicious Deed (with Green)
• Damnation
• Smother
• Diabolic Edict
• Chainer’s Edict
• Slaughter Pact
• The Abyss
• Innocent Blood
• Decree of Pain
• Crime / Punishment (with White and/or Green)

2. Win Conditions
• Haunting Echoes
• Tombstalker
• Shriekmaw
• Liliana Vess

3. Sideboard and Other Maindeck Options
• Dark Confidant
• Duress
• Engineered Plague
• Extirpate
• Leyline of the Void
• Phyrexian Negator
• Thoughtseize
• Yixlid Jailer

E. Colorless Maindeck and Sideboard Non-Land Cards
• Chalice of the Void
• Crucible of Worlds
• Culling Scales
• Engineered Explosives
• Nevinyrral’s Disk
• Powder Keg
• Sensei’s Divining Top
• Tormod’s Crypt
• Vedalken Shackles

F. Other Maindeck and Sideboard Lands
• Academy Ruins
• Dust Bowl
• Faerie Conclave
• Maze of Ith
• Mutavault
• The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
• Tolaria West
• Treetop Village
• Volrath’s Stronghold
• Wasteland

G. Possible Living Wish Targets
• Boseiju, Who Shelters All
• Dust Bowl
• Gaddock Teeg
• Goblin Pyromancer
• Indrik Stomphowler
• Maze of Ith
• Meddling Mage
• Mutavault
• Plague Spitter
• Shriekmaw
• Sower of Temptation
• Viridian Shaman
• Yixlid Jailer

From the December tournament and dozens of hours of testing, I wasn’t completely sold on the four-color version of Landstill. Its power was undeniable, but I loathe losing to manascrew; more so when deck design is to blame. For the next week or two I kept the cards for both the three and four-color versions of the deck close at hand and kept switching to the three-color deck when four colors didn’t reliably come together, then back to the four-color version when I got bored with three colors, etc. That’s exactly what the three-color versus four-color debate comes down to: options versus mana consistency.

It was just after New Year’s that I settled on testing and tuning the three-color version of the deck after getting color-screwed one too many times. I wanted to preserve black in the deck for its powerful sideboard cards and was sold on green on the basis of Tarmogoyf and Pernicious Deed; so I shed white, primarily losing Swords to Plowshares and Meddling Mage. I reasoned that with enough testing and further refinement of the U/b/g version of Landstill, the splash for white wouldn’t be missed.

H. Testing Counter-Top in Legacy Landstill

The idea of running Sensei’s Divining Top with Counterbalance in Landstill came after seeing Zvi’s U/W list from the Legacy portion of Worlds 2007 (listed in Appendix B below). In Zvi’s deck, Counter-Top seemed to drag out already lengthy games to an epic degree, given the glacial pace at which that deck could close games under control. However, the use of the Counter-Top combo in Patrick Chapin NLU (Next Level Blue) Extended deck finally convinced me to try it here, since Tarmogoyf provided a means to end games in a reasonable amount of time once the soft-lock was in place.

And what did I discover? In a format defined by 2s, an active Counterbalance / Divining Top, is the picture of brutality.

Arcbound Ravager, Counterbalance, Counterspell, Cranial Plating, Dark Confidant, Diabolic Edict, Fire / Ice, Goblin Piledriver, Hoofprints of the Stag, Hymn to Tourach, Jotun Grunt, Life from the Loam, Living Wish, Isochron Scepter, Magma Jet, Meddling Mage, Nantuko Shade, Price of Progress, Serra Avenger, Sinkhole, Standstill, Survival of the Fittest, Tarmogoyf, Tin Street Hooligan, Umezawa’s Jitte, Warren Weirding, Wild Mongrel, etc., etc. You get the point.

Basically, any deck that can adequately exploit Counter-Top is likely to kick this format’s ass. The trick is running enough 2s to make the combo profitable while not leaving yourself vulnerable to an opposing Counterbalance. Here we must rely upon our 3s (Pernicious Deed, Krosan Grip, Engineered Explosives for UUB, etc.), which are plentiful.

It should probably go without saying that having a Divining Top in play with Counterbalance is like having a 1 converted mana cost (CMC) spell sitting on top of your library at all times; just be aware of possible tricks with the stack when you activate Top to draw a card.

I. “The Vorosh Deck”

Updating my U/b/g version of Landstill with the Counter-Top combo produced the deck I played at the Batcave at the end of January.

One of the most impressive aspects of this deck is the number of strategic lines of play that are available to it. This is far from a one-dimensional ‘drop some guys and burn your opponent out’ or ‘control the game and win when you get around to it’ sort of deck. “Vorosh” can play draw-go, using its powerful board control cards to clean up messes that accumulate on the board. The deck can also assemble Divining Top and Counterbalance and essentially “combo” its opponent out of the game, in the right match-up. At other times, it can throw down an early 5/6 Tarmogoyf and ride that thing to victory with the support of the deck’s other control cards.

The speed at which this deck can correct its strategic course, mid-game, is also exceptional; e.g. “Vorosh” needs only a single turn to switch from the control role to the aggressor, by deploying 12-power Tarmogoyf for only four mana. Correctly playing this deck means understanding which role is appropriate in each match and at each phase of those games.

For the sake of Counterbalance, here’s the deck broken down by converted mana costs (CMC).

0 CMC cards: 28
1 CMC cards: 7
2 CMC cards: 15
3 CMC cards: 5
4 CMC cards: 1
5 CMC cards: 4

Further refinement of the deck after the tournament led to a few more changes which you can see in section X below. As for the tournament, we again had only nine players. Yippee.

Since we’re already 4,000 words deep into the article, feel free to take a break and come back later. The action will still be waiting for you.


Round 1. Bye.


Round 2. Chris (“Volt”) with Goyf Sligh

Having R/g Goyf Sligh in my “Dining Room Table Gauntlet,” has given me ample of opportunity to play against this deck. By the time I’m writing this sentence, I’ve played the Landstill / Goyf Sligh match no less than two hundred times, since it’s given me more trouble than any other deck I’m likely to face. After all of this testing, I can comfortably say Landstill’s chances of winning are “not great, but not bad.”

For those who don’t follow the development of the Legacy environment religiously, Goyf Sligh is a straight-forward Red/Green beatdown and burn deck, as its name implies. I recommend Legacy newcomers try this deck since it packs a lot of raw power and is fairly easy to build and play.

In any case, here’s the version of Goyf Sligh I was paired against this round:

Game 1
On the draw, I double mulligan to a barely keepable “Conclave, go” hand. Chris knocks me down to six life, but I’m able to stabilize with Divining Top / Counterbalance, while one of my Tarmogoyfs goes the distance.

Game 2
I have no notes for this game, except for a large “L[ose]” in red ink; but my life tally tells a tale of carnage: “20, 18, 17, 14, 11, 1, L.” After that Price of Progress for ten, Keldon Marauders’ CIP ability took me out. The horror…

Game 3
Falsely reasoning that Vedalken Shackles would be better against an empty board than in my hand, I unnecessarily dropped a Mishra’s Factory to play it, bringing my non-basic count to four. And Price of Progress for eight damage plus a Fireblast equals the number twelve (my life total at the time). This is all the more tragic since my 4/5 Tarmogoyf was unopposed, Chris was out of burn and I might have won the game if a few things fell into place.

So it goes.


Round 3. Brian with White-Splash Threshold

Game 1
In our first game, my opponent overextends his board only to see it wrecked by Pernicious Deed. Playing around Daze, I resolve Counterbalance, which is a soul-crushing card in this match. In his next turn, my opponent Brainstorms trying to find some action; I blindly reveal a Divining Top with Counterbalance and he concedes, knowing his chances of winning this one are next to nil.

It’s a good thing he didn’t drag the game out, since he still doesn’t know about my super secret Tarmogoyf technology.

Game 2
When going through the Landstill list above, people frequently comment on the lack of synergy between the deck’s permanents. Pernicious Deed in the same deck with Counterbalance and Tarmogoyf? Really?

While it may look like a poor design on paper, it rarely comes up in actual performance. I can literally count on one hand the number of times I’ve blown up my own goodies. The reason is pretty simple, if you think about it: they’re your cards. If you have the board under control with Counterbalance, don’t nuke it with an Engineered Explosives for two. And so on. Quoting Mike Flores: “Generally I think that you want to err on the side of power over synergy. Power is power. Power – at least when not heavily limited by speed – ensures value.”

Anyway, this is one of those few instances where I sent one of my own permanents to the graveyard. Here’s how it happened. Over the first few turns, my opponent casts Ponder and lands two unthreshed Nimble Mongeese. I play an Engineered Explosives for “1,” but am one mana short of activating it. The following turn my opponent plays a Pithing Needle naming the Explosives. A second Pithing Needle is the set to “Mishra’s Factory,” so that his Mongeese can start getting in some damage. My opponent then drops a Tarmogoyf to put me on a clock. You can see where this is going. Pernicious Deed comes down and all of my opponent’s non-land permanents hit the bin, taking my own neutered Explosives with it. I’ll take that trade any day.

Brian begins to recover with a Meddling Mage (I think on Deed) and another Tarmogoyf, but I have Vedalken Shackles in hand. I win the game a few turns later with two Tarmogoyfs: one mine, one not.


Round 4. Ryan with The Epic Storm (TES)

Aside: An excerpt from The Landstill Player’s Bible, “How to Beat Storm Combo” (page 27)

A) … In short, if they’re going for the Empty the Warrens combo and you have a Deed or EE in hand, let them have it; just be aware of Orim’s Chant / Abeyance. They’ll expend their hand and lose to a single card and a few mana. B) If TES is going for the Tendrils of Agony win, save your counters for their tutors, unless you have Stifle to counter storm copies. End Aside.

Game 1
See section IX (4) (A) above.

Game 2
See section IX (4) (B) above.

(To elaborate: in our first game, Ryan ramps his storm count to six and dumps twelve goblins on to the board on his second turn. I take twelve, then Deed the board and win with double 4/5 Tarmogoyfs and a Faerie Conclave. In our second game, I lead with a Divining Top on turn 1, Dark Confidant on turn 2 and proceed to draw an unfair amount of cards while the Confidant and a Factory take chunks out of my opponent’s life total. Ryan eventually goes for it: I Counterspell a Burning Wish, he Pyroblasts in response, I Force the Pyroblast; he continues to combo, generating a ton of mana but I have Force #2 for his hellbent Infernal Tutor. Game.)


Afterwards, Ryan I walk across the parking lot to this shady dive bar in a strip mall. For what it’s worth, a couple of gin & tonics with a side of french fries and ranch dressing do not for a competent Magic player make.

Round 5. Abe with U/B/w TrinketNaught Fish

Game 1
My nervous system a bit compromised from the activities in the previous fifteen minutes, I play the most miserable game of Magic I can recall. I carelessly lose a fetchland to Stifle, throw a Standstill into Daze and apparently strive to make the worst possible decision every turn. The game ends with me needlessly losing to a 12/12 Phyrexian Dreadnought. I shake off the loss and get my head back into the game.

Sideboarding, I bring in Extirpates and Krosan Grips for the Fact, Conclave and a few other cards.

Game 2
This game was a blur, whereby I countered an early Phyrexian Dreadnought and had double 6/7 Tarmogoyfs in play on turn 4. It didn’t take long before we were shuffling up for our third game.

Game 3
Just like the previous game, it seems like this one was over before it began. I Force of Will’d a turn-2 Phyrexian Dreadnought, nailed it with Extirpate, dropped a Goyf and my opponent scooped up his cards.

Next to me, B/W/g Control (Truffle Shuffle) wins a heartbreaker against 4-color Survival and we split the finals.



After the January tournament, I took my U/b/g deck back to the shop for retuning, increasing the fetchland count, adjusting the colored mana and cutting the disappointing Fact or Fiction and Faerie Conclave for double Spell Snare.

If I were to play tomorrow, I wouldn’t hesitate to play this deck again; though the Spell Snares and Vedalken Shackles can be many other things, depending on how I expect my local metagame to shift. Contenders for the slots include Stifle, Diabolic Edict, Tombstalker, Garruk Wildspeaker, Jace Beleren, Thoughtseize, etc. The addition of the lone Breeding Pool is to obviate the “Wasteland -> Tropical Island, Exirpate” blow-out.

In closing, I want to give a brief plug for the largest Legacy tournament announced in the Pacific Northwest to date. Legacy needs every bit of support and visibility it can receive (especially on the West Coast), so I’m happy to dedicate some space for it.

Location: The Batcave in Vancouver, Washington
Address: 6415 East Mill Plain Boulevard; Vancouver, Washington 98661
Date: Sunday; June 29, 2008
Time: Registration beings at 9:30 a.m.; round one begins at 11:00 a.m.
Format: Legacy
Prizes: A complete playset of forty (40) dual lands, to be drafted by the Top 8 finishers. Prizes are guaranteed, regardless of attendance.

There’s 165 miles of I-5 between Seattle and Vancouver***, so if Wizards’ R&D wants to see Eternal grassroots Magic in action, we’d love to have you. Turian, Forsythe, Buehler: free your calendar for June 26th. The plan is to have this tournament sanctioned, but that can be changed.

Thanks for reading.

Dan Spero
“Bardo” around the Internet
Team Reflection

Appendix A: 2007 Legacy Tournament Statistics

To preface this Appendix, let me first address a piece of SCG forum feedback from my previous article.

Shawon writes: “I like your articles, but I thought you weren’t writing anymore.”

Some habits are harder to kick than others, Shawon. I’m done writing about Legacy for now but I had my tale(s) of Landstill to tell, so there you go. I also compiled a bunch of Legacy tournament data that I have no intention of doing anything with at this point, so I might as well share this too.

To set this up a bit, after my last article I was curious about the most successful Legacy tournament decks last year, and the relative frequency of combo, aggro-control, etc. in the Top 8s of the larger Legacy events. Compiling the data in the MTS “Historic Top 8s” thread provided the following:

Top 8 Placements in Fourteen (14) U.S. Legacy Tournaments (40+ players**)
January 1 — December 31, 2007

Threshold 1111111111111111 (16)
Vial Goblins 1111111111111 (13)
Landstill 111111111 (9)
Survival 11111111 (8)
Fish 1111111 (7)
Cephalid Breakfast 1111111 (7)
Aluren 111111 (6)
Sligh 1111 (4)
The Epic Storm (TES) 1111 (4)
Enchantress 111 (3)
Red Death 111 (3)
Zoo 111 (3)
Hulk Flash 111 (3) [BANNED!]
Angel Stompy 111 (3)
43 Land 11 (2)
Reanimator 11 (2)
Armageddon Stax 11 (2)
Gro-A-Tog 1 (2)
Mono-Red Chalice Aggro 11 (2)
B/w Deadguy Ale 1 (1)
Psychatog 1 (1)
Faerie Stompy 1 (1)
Belcher 1 (1)
Suicide Black 1 (1)
Aggro Loam 1 (1)
Ichorid 1 (1)
Affinity 1 (1)
BGW Control 1 (1)
UWB Control 1 (1)
GWB Aggro-Control 1 (1)
Other Tendrils Combo 1 (1)
CounterSliver 1 (1)
(Total: 112)

Looking at these figures, 2007 looks an awful lot like 2006, where Threshold, Goblins, Landstill and Survival are the most popular decks making the Top 8. From here on, I’ll be ignoring Flash’s performance at GP: Columbus, which will forever remain an anomaly in the tournament history of this format.

Top 8 Placements in fourteen (14) 2007 U.S. Legacy tournaments, by archetype (Excluding Flash)
Aggro-Control: 57 (51%)
Combo: 24 (22%)
Control: 16 (16%)
Aggro: 12 (11%)

Once we start aggregating the data, we see that aggro-control, once again, had the best overall performance in a tournament setting last year, though I’m including Threshold (obviously) along with Goblins, Survival and Fish into that category as well. Combo took 22% of the slots, with the purer forms of control and aggro faring far worse at 16% and 11%, respectively.

First Place Finishes (Key: !: First Place; &: First/Second Place Split) (Excluding Flash)

Threshold !!&&& (3.5)
Survival &&& (1.5)
TES !!! (3)
Zoo && (1)
Mono-Red Chalice Aggro & (0.5)
Goblins ! (1)
Belcher & (0.5)
Reanimator ! (1)
Cephalid Breakfast ! (1)

Excluding Flash, here are the first place (“!”) and first/second place splits (“&”) in the thirteen (13) non-Flash large U.S. Legacy tournaments last year. The results of TES are exceptional, though I should add that one person (Bryant Cook) is responsible for 3 out of 4 of the Top 8 placements of the deck. Anyway, while TES had only four (4) Top 8 placements in 14 tournaments, it took first place 75% of the time it made the cut!

Broken Down by Archetype: First place (including splits (0.5); excluding Flash)
Aggro-Control: 6.5
Combo: 5.5
Aggro: 1
Control: 0

While I’d like a larger sample size (having only 13-14 tournaments to work with), this is very interesting set of data. While combo has a pretty shaky chance of making the Top 8, once it gets there, it performs very well, taking first place 42% of the time it survived the Swiss rounds.

Appendix B: “Zvi’s Blue/White Landstill at Worlds 2007”

* A bit of a generalization? Sure.

** In October 2007, the reporting threshold for “Big Events” on The Source was lowered from 50+ to 33+, corresponding with the number of players needed for six Swiss rounds.

*** Depending on your comfort with high-velocity transportation, it’s about a 2 hour and 15 minute drive.

Seriously, now this article is over. Selah.