Unplugged – SCG Seattle Legacy Open *1st*

Ben Swartz took down the finals of the Legacy finals in Seattle with Hive Mind, proving that this deck is anything but a passing fad. Read his report and the wild stories from the Open.

You know what’s fun? Your last day of your summer internship—the idea that you can walk outside and tomorrow you don’t need to wake up at 7 am—you’re free. You know what’s even more fun? An hour-long taxi ride in Chicago rush hour without air conditioning when it is 100 degrees outside. Oh wait…

After battling through the heat in Chicago, I got off the plane and met Cedric Philips outside of the airport. He drove me to his/Dwayne/Teresa St Arnauld’s place, where I stayed for the week (thanks again guys for letting me stay). Cedric told me that Patrick Sullivan was getting in the next day at noon, and, before he could even tell me his plans, I immediately asked if we were going to Paseo’s right after the airport. For those of you who have never been to Seattle and never been to Paseo’s, it is honestly the best sandwich in the United States. They serve a Cuban sandwich with garlicky aioli, grilled onions, and your choice of meat. Honestly it is the best.

From Paseo’s, we picked up Steven Birklid and headed over to the local card store/bar, Café Mox, to get some testing in before the tournament. Coming in, I was sure that I wanted to play Hive Mind in Legacy—being bored at my internship and talking to Tom Ma on Facebook chat all day can do that to people.

The next day, we all woke up, and Cedric beat me seven times in a row with his Valakut deck versus my Forgemaster Combo deck. After the seventh game, he mulliganed to five and immediately offered to play that game for $5. Knowing when Cedric is overconfident, I happily accepted, smashed him, and had him quickly looking for a way to earn his money back. He offered to high roll—double or nothing. He lost. Double or nothing again, he lost again. Double or nothing a third time, he lost. Down $40 and demoralized, he stopped, and we all headed over to the Tap House for lunch with Billy Moreno. While we were paying our bill, Cedric started talking about how lucky I was. I offered to flip a coin double or nothing again for his outstanding bet. He accepted. Again, I won. Baffled by how lucky I was, he offered again to flip a coin, this time for $80. Again, I won, up a total of $160 from Cedric. When will Cedric learn that I never lose coin flips or high rolls?

After lunch, Cedric led us to a harbor cruise tour of Seattle. While I was pretty sure that no tour could possibly be worth the $22.50 that Cedric was freerolling me on, the tour guide surprised me. Amid his terrible jokes, his bashing on Seattle teams (especially the Mariners), and his lack of arithmetic skills, he was stuttering and hemming and hawing the whole time. Imagine putting someone who can’t even finish a sentence without laughing in the middle or butchering the words he is trying to say in front of a microphone broadcast to all 200+ people on the tour. Such winners included:

“Seattle was incorporated, TEEHEE, in 1969 when Chief, wait, um, hmm, 1869, HEEE, Chief Seattle, uhm yeah! Hyuk-hyuk.”

“Over there you have the, uhm, most direct view of the, hehehe, Space Needle, a bat built sooo big that even the Mariners couldn’t hit a ball with it, HEHEHEHE.”

What dude? I couldn’t take this guy anymore, and although there was plenty of enjoyment in PSulli, Moreno, and me trolling this guy, I had to hit him where it hurt. So, during the intermission, I walked up to the upper deck where he was standing and walked up to him. Expecting to see a fourteen-year-old kid holding a microphone, I actually saw a twenty-something making the ‘:B’ face every time he opened his mouth. I proceeded to have this little exchange:

Me: “Hey, are you the tour guide?”

Him: “Yuppp. Thaaaaaat’s me! Hyuk hyuk.”

Me: *Extend hand for hand shake* “I just wanted to tell you that you are doing a really great job! Keep up the good work!”

Him: “Uhh uhm, thanks man… TEEHEE. You just came up here to put a face with a name, err face with a voice hyuk hyuk.”

Me: “Yeah, I just wanted to thank you for all of the wonderful announcing you’re doing.”

At the end of the tour, the guy had the gall to ask people for a tip. Who tips a tour guide?

From there we again headed to the card store; this time I just played a couple of cube drafts before we headed back to Cedric/Teresa/Dwayne’s place to get some sleep before waking up for day one.

I got crushed in embarrassing fashion during the Standard portion of the event (perhaps that Forgemaster deck isn’t as good as I thought it was). Cedric and Patrick also lost quickly. We, along with Billy Moreno, headed over to Ezell’s Famous Fried Chicken. Another amazing place you must eat at if you go to Seattle.

That night, we headed to the casino after the event. Cedric quickly lost $200 dollars at craps (but not before I found an ingenious hedging strategy). We then headed to the blackjack table. Cedric lost another $200 right off the bat, before maxing out his card’s limit at his final $100. Before long he was on his way to winning back his money, and we hit the King of the Slowroll, Blackjack Dealer, Giau.

Whenever he dealt himself an Ace, he completely slowrolled the insurance check. He continued to do insane dramatic reveals and dramatic dealings until the end of one shoe where he was quickly replaced by some boring, run of the mill, life-tilting blackjack dealer. I made a quick a $100 and started sitting out, while Cedric continued to grind out his $100 dollars to try to make it back to even.

When he was sitting at about $425, Giau came back to our table to deal. After losing a few hands in a row, Cedric placed an $80 bet, and Giau dealt him an ace along with everyone else’s up card. He then dealt Cedric’s second card face down and proceeded dealing in normal fashion with everyone else’s cards face up. He then started the slowroll. He took a deep long gaze into Cedric’s eyes, trying to get a read at him, and then peeked at Cedric’s card. Cedric, unable to take the slowroll started jumping up and down and around the casino, hugging PSulli and freaking out. Then Giau did a slow reveal… A Jack for blackjack! Cedric exploded. With Cedric up, we all left the casino, getting a little sleep before the Legacy portion of the Open.

Thanks to our casino adventure the previous night, I didn’t have much of my deck together and started scrambling for cards when we got to the tournament site. One card that I could not find was Angel’s Grace. Tom Ma shipped both Chris VanMeter and me the same list, but CVM actually owned Angel’s Graces. When I looked around the room for them, no one had them, so I had to settle without them. Sitting down for the player meeting, double-checking my list, I realize that I still had Tundras in my deck (for white as if I were playing with Angel’s Grace). I jokingly mentioned to CVM, “Guess I should probably play basic Islands if I have nothing to cast with these Tundras. He reached into his bag, pulled out a Volcanic Island and an Underground Sea for me to use for the tournament. Thanks CVM! With my cards ready, I started battling.

Round 1—Aggro Loam

Game One after my opponent proved he was on Aggro Loam by playing a turn one Life from the Loam, I played a turn two Show and Tell off of an Ancient Tomb and comboed him, leading him to say, “Ugh, I have to hit my worst matchup Round 1.” I then was left wondering which decks have a good matchup against me…

Game Two my opponent halted my start with a Wasteland on one of my non-basics. I played another non-basic and passed. On my next turn, I played a basic Island and passed the turn, punting by opting not to cast my Grim Monolith. My opponent untapped and cast Tarmogoyf and Devastating Dreams for two, destroying both of my lands and any hope I had for winning the game. Unable to peel perfects after that (a two-mana land and an Island to go along with my Show and Tell and Hive Mind), I lost and went onto game three.

Game Three I simply comboed him on turn three without anything interesting going on.

Round 2—Aggro Elves

Game One I was able to get out a turn three Emrakul; however, he was able to explode his hand on the board (which included drawing three Elves off of Sylvan Messenger and a Deranged Hermit). My annihilate six was not as devastating as I thought it might’ve been so he kept me sweating when he Green Sun’s Zenithed and thought for a while. Luckily, he was unable to come up with anything to kill me, and Emrakul took him down.

Game Two I kept a slow hand, but with a Firespout. My opponent exploded his hand once again onto the board on turn three, and I casually untapped and cast Firespout destroying his board and leaving him with no cards in hand. We played draw go for a few turns while I drew my combo, and I comboed him out.

Round Three—U/B Control

Game One: Following Tom Ma’s advice, I waited a turn to make sure I had two pieces to protect my combo; my pair of Pact of Negations along with Hive Mind were enough to do him in.

Game Two: He played really weirdly where he kept a one lander (missing his second land drop) and then passed with two Underground Seas up on turn two, signifying to me that he had a Counterspell. I waited him out to get more protection, while he kept hitting land drops. On his turn five, he played an Isochron Scepter, which I should’ve Spell Pierced, but I let it resolve. He imprinted Counterspell, and at end of turn I Intuition-ed; he tried to counter it, and I Spell Pierced back. He let it resolve and then didn’t have a Force of Will or a Daze for my combo on the next turn (which surprised me because the rest of his hand must have been spells.)

Round Four—Merfolk

Game One I comboed him on turn four with only one piece of protection because I was dead to his attack the following turn. Luckily for me, he only had one Force of Will to disrupt me, so we went to Game Two.

Game Two I could’ve gone off on turn two, but I didn’t because he had an Aether Vial on one up. At end of turn he put a Cursecatcher into play (which would have ruined me had I tried to go off). I let him durdle around for a few more turns while I amassed more protection. On the final turn, he let Hive Mind resolve. I played a Pact of the Titan, which he attempted to Daze; I made a copy of his Daze countering his Daze, which he used his last mana to pay for. I let his copy of Pact of the Titan be countered. I then played Pact of Negation targeting my Pact of the Titan. He used Cursecatcher to counter his copy and let my copy resolve. I then played another Pact of the Negation, to which he had no answer.

Round 5—Burn

Glenn Jones wrote about this matcher HERE.

Round Six—Affinity Grindstone

Game One: He went turn one Painter’s Servant but was unable to find the Grindstone before I was able to combo him out.

Game Two: He went turn one Painter’s Servant, turn two Grindstone. I attempted to Mental Misstep it, but he had a Red Elemental Blast to counter my Misstep. This made it so he could not kill me immediately, which gave me an extra turn to draw perfects off of my Brainstorm (the Intuition that I was going to use was useless with my time constraint). I bricked off Brainstorm, and we were on to Game Three.

Game Three: I Misstepped an early Grindstone, which delayed his plans for a few turns allowing me to set up the combo and kill him before he could assemble his.

Round Seven—Zoo

Game One: When my opponent played a turn one Wild Nacatl off of a Savannah, I knew I was in a good place and comboed him on turn three.

Game Two: I comboed him again on turn three with no resistance coming from his deck.

Round Eight—Draw

Top 8 Dredge

Game One: On turn one he cast Breakthrough, discarding his whole hand, which included two Bridge from Below, two Ichorids, a Golgari Grave-Troll, and a Golgari Thug. I played Island go setting up my combo for two turns from now with a Brainstorm in my hand in case he dredged a Cabal Therapy (which would have delayed my comboing for a turn). He dredged but got no Therapy and attacked me with an Ichorid, creating two Zombies. I again played draw go, while he brought back both Ichorids, dredged Stinkweed, again hitting no Therapies. He attacked me for ten putting me to six, and I untapped and comboed him.

Game Two: He mulliganed to four, and I was able to combo him on turn three with Mental Misstep to counter his only discard outlet.

Top Four—Junk Depths

This match was on camera, which can be found here.

An interesting thing to note about this match is that in game one I actually punted, but my opponent punted back allowing me to win the game. What happened was: when I played Brainstorm drawing both Show and Tell and Hive Mind, I had the option of putting two irrelevant lands back or doing what I did—which was put my extra Pact, Slaughter Pact, back. Then, when I comboed with just Pact of the Titan, my opponent—who had Knight of the Reliquary, Dark Depths, two dual lands, and a Mox Diamond—could’ve untapped, floated a green, sacrificed one of his Forests, got an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and paid for the pact. However he didn’t, and as Tim Aten wrote on my wall “I’d like to think that [my Pro Player Card Tokens] distracted him.” :B .

After watching my friend, Chris VanMeter, lose to Sean, I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t meet in the finals. I sat down, and he said, “So, I don’t really care about the points, but what I do care about is that trophy.”

Me: “So, you want to play for All or Nothing?”

Him: “Huh?”

Me: “You know, winner gets $2600 and the trophy and loser gets nothing.”

Him: “Uh, no, that’s okay…”

Me: “Okay, fine, no splits then.”

This match was again on camera, and there was a tiny chance that someone someplace in the world could claim that I got a little bit lucky both game one (when he messed up and actually took something with Vendilion Clique, and then I topdecked Hive Mind) and game three, OR perhaps in any number of my other matches throughout the tournament, OR at the casino, OR when I high-rolled/coin-flipped against Cedric; however, I would have to disagree with them (orrrrrrrr….).

And there I was, standing with the trophy. Then Cedric reminded me that since I took so long winning the tournament we would be unable to go to the sicko steakhouse in Seattle that he had planned. I had to, instead, opt for Wendy’s (I run soooo bad…).

Either way, if you want to win in Legacy, play this deck. Some new sideboard options include Angel’s Grace for the mirror, Thoughtseize for Angel’s Grace for the mirror, or perhaps some more wild ones like Magosi, the Waterveil for the mirror, or maybe even Nix (if you want to get really wild). 

When playing this deck, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. If you are playing against a deck with counterspells, you usually want to have at least two pieces of protection before going off. Another thing to do is to goldfish the deck a bunch of times before playing it. It’s really not like you are playing Magic—you are playing a different game than your opponents are. It’s really more like solving a puzzle—figuring out what cards you can beat and figuring out how to most effectively combo. But other than that, this deck is way more powerful than anything out there in Legacy now. You would have to be crazy to not even consider playing this deck or not have a plan for this deck.

Also, if you are playing against this deck, for the love of God, please counter my Intuitions at end of turn. I don’t play Pact of Negation just as a win condition, ya know… I’m pretty sure that I would’ve lost many games if my opponents would have just countered my end of turn Intuition, because most of the time my only protection was Pact of Negation, which I couldn’t have used at end of turn.

Either way, BINK. See everyone at the next event I attend (Gen Con).


Cedric Phillips

Cedric Phillips

Cedric Phillips

Tom Ma

Cedric Phillips

Dwayne St Arnauld

Cedric Phillips

Steven Birklid

Cedric Phillips

Chris VanMeter

Tim Aten

Cedric Phillips

Patrick Sullivan

Cedric Phillips

Alex Bertoncini/Gavin Verhey/Adam Prosak/Michael Bernat for lending me cards

Cedric Phillips

Billy Moreno

Cedric Phillips

Giau, our Blackjack dealer from the Casino

Cedric Phillips

Travis Woo

Cedric Phillips

Kyle Boddy

Cedric Phillips

Zac Hill

Cedric Phillips

Matthew Nass

Cedric Phillips


Cedric Phillips

Zack Hall

And Finally, Cedric Phillips


The Federal Prosecutor

Ben Swartz

Bensw at ggslive dot com

Ben Sw on MTGO

@The_BenSw on Twitter