Victory At GP Atlanta *1st*

In his first article for StarCityGames.com, Grand Prix Atlanta winner Gaudenis Vidugiris tells you why he chose to play RUG Delver for the Legacy Grand Prix in Atlanta and how it led him to victory.

After a red eye back from GP Vancouver, I found myself back at my desk with lots of work and Legacy to catch up on. Work proved to be busier than usual, and with the Euro Cup and a brief visit from my parents, that meant actual playtesting time was hard to come by. I was likely going to have to wing it.

The fact that I skipped the most recent Legacy GP means the last time I played Legacy might have been back when you could counter any spell by paying two life. It was time to ask for help. Naturally, the first person I asked was Sam Black.

Unfortunately, Sam’s brilliant idea was a bunch of creatures that can’t block and some Blood Artists (you know, for value). However, I figured I’d give it a shot and played some games with it. Overall, the deck played out much better than it looked and actually won a game or two. But too often I found myself paying two mana for a 0/1 while my opponents got a 5/6 or worse, a 2/2 against which I had approximately one out. Alternatively, I would Cabal Therapy / Thoughtseize / Tidehollow Sculler their hand away, and they would untap, draw a card, and the next thing I knew they had a 7/7 and a new hand.

The deck was certainly playable, but I was not sold on it. After that, Emanuel Sutor and I briefly tried adapting my favorite deck of all time—Ben Dempsey’s Temporary solution—to Legacy. Here’s what we tried:


The results were somewhat promising, but I knew that I just didn’t have enough time to put in the work needed. I was vaguely tempted to rekindle my relations with the fishies, but given that fishies haven’t put up a good finish since Bertoncini decided to go exploring, I decided to postpone that project till the fish got a new master. 

As of Friday, it was down to Zombies or one of the stock decks: RUG, Reanimator, or Maverick. Scouting reports indicated that Reanimator was blatantly unfair, but I was concerned that people would be ready. My suspicions were confirmed when Twitter lit up with Karakas requests and dealers sold out of Gilded Drakes. So it was down to Maverick or RUG. Given that I hadn’t played a single game with Maverick and I really, really didn’t want to join the great Karakas search, it was down to RUG or Zombies.

I asked Sam: should I play RUG or Zombies? When Sam said RUG, the decision was pretty much made; when Ben Rasmussen told me he had a spare RUG deck, I was sold.

Now it was time to figure out what to actually put in the deck. The first question was Stifle or no Stifle. Stifle + Wasteland is good for many free wins and works really well with your Dazes. Stifle also has lots of other random utility, like stopping our favorite enchant dead creature card (don’t actually know why or how that works, but I was told that it does).

However, to get maximum value out of Stifle, you really want to have it ready when they are popping their first or second fetchland, which doesn’t really mesh with your plan of applying early pressure. I went up to Brad Nelson and lamented on how awkward Stifle is in a deck with all one-drops. He pointed to his rejects pile, and I was immediately on board. Here’s what I played:

Spell Pierce replaced Stifle.

Brad also sold me on cutting a land and a Bolt for two Spell Snare. Lightning Bolt is a great card and is really important for killing pesky critters like Thalia, but a Demon was recently released from the Helvault and a little Lightning won’t stop that. Given that public enemy number one plays no Stifles or Wastelands, eighteen land seemed a risk worth taking.

Brad also talked me into swapping Forked Bolt for Fire / Ice, a change I was very happy with all weekend. Forked Bolt is better versus dedicated aggro decks, especially ones with Thalia. But the extra versatility of Ice proved useful time and time again. Plus it’s a blue card, and as discussed above, Lightning doesn’t seem to work on big bad Demons.

The maindeck Ooze was another nod to fighting the big bad picked up from Costa’s Worcester deck, and both Brad and Drew insisted on three Thought Scours to power the Geese. Plus Thought Scour plays well with Brainstorm, allows you to not draw the card you revealed with Delver, mills their Goyf after a Submerge, and sometimes even surprises your opponent with a pretty good Wax impression (all of which came up at some point during the weekend). 

After I watched Martell eat coffee-soaked eggs for breakfast (apparently it’s better if you keep your coffee in the coffee cup), it was time to play some Magic. 

I don’t remember much about the first two rounds (after the byes) except that one of the matches was very close, and in the other my opponent stumbled early and could not recover. 

The sixth round was a really tight feature match versus David Shiels (also playing RUG). Game 1 took forever as we were both down to the bottom third of our libraries before he pulled out the win. Game 2 was also close, as it looked like he might be able to stabilize from my early pressure, but a timely Brainstorm found a Submerge for his Goyf, which meant that my Delver plus Mongoose plus a Lightning Bolt proved too much. Unfortunately this left virtually no time for game 3, and we were forced to accept a draw.

Round 7 was another close match against Jason Brinkman with Goblins; I somehow managed to 2-0 despite my atrocious sideboard options in this matchup. The Spell Pierces were essentially dead so I had to bring in four cards. If you look at my board, my options were less than stellar. Obviously the one Ooze had to come in. After that…

I ended up bringing in the two Ancient Grudges despite Vial being their only artifact. Vial is actually quite an important card, as it makes them faster while blanking your counterspells. After that, it was between Cursed Totem—which stops Sharpshooter and Siege Gang—and a Spell Pierce. I chose to keep the Spell Pierce mainly since it’s a blue card. 

Round 8, I played Jeremy Blair and before I knew what hit me, he who shall not be named was in play and he was up fourteen cards. Game 2 I had early pressure and was able to win relatively quickly. Game 3 was close; he tried to enchant a dead Elesh Norn. We fought a counter war where my Spell Pierces were answered by his Force of Wills, which meant my Surgical Extraction got the Elesh Norn, which incidentally tipped me off about his plan to show off his Demon friend next turn. Unfortunately for him I had a Gilded Drake to tell him about. 

Round 9 was against Daniel Potter with a B/W brew. Game 1 was looking pretty dicey as his Jotun Grunt was happily eating our graveyards while keeping my Goyf and help at bay. Then the grind of a long day of battles caught up to him and he drew a card for his turn, which led to the following conversation:

Me (rather relieved): “That’s dead.”

Him: “And why, would you say?”

Me: “‘Because you drew your card.”

Him: “Hmm, so I did.”

Then my Goyf (which was back to original size again thanks to the smell of fresh meat in the graveyard) made sure that my opponent followed the Grunt to an early demise. 

Then it was time to eat; there was a steak house nearby, which we managed to make it to without dropping dead from the unbearable heat despite a minor detour (mostly my fault). Kibler “won” the credit card game and treated us all to dinner, and it was time for bed.

Round 10 I faced Phillip Lorren with a U/W/B deck that had a seemingly endless stream of Swords to Plowshares and miraculous Terminuses, but eventually I drew more creatures than he had removal.

Round 11 was against Alex Hon with RUG. I got crushed. Badly. Game 1 he came out faster and managed to Stifle and Wasteland me off green, which made catching up impossible. Game 2 he got me with the old Wasteland + Surgical Extraction on my Tropical Island. Not a plan I would actually recommend for the mirror, as a lot has to go right to actually put it off and while pulling it off is obviously very good, it doesn’t actually guarantee a win. And you look really, really stupid if they happen to have a Taiga in their deck. But when it works, it works, and for him it worked hence me getting crushed.

Round 12 I faced Tinac Xing with Esper Stoneblade. Basically, he got mana screwed (with a little help from some Wasteland). Game 1 was actually somewhat of a fight, but he fell behind and couldn’t really catch up. Game 2 I Spell Pierced a Brainstorm, which led to a visible slump followed by a lot of not doing anything. 

Michael Majors with Esper Stoneblade was my round 13 match. Game 1 was an epic game where I think he killed the five guys I played, but eventually (approximately 30 minutes later) I managed to get there. This didn’t leave us much time for game 2. Feeling that he had to make something happen, he jammed a Jace as soon as he got to four land. Unfortunately I didn’t have either Daze or Spell Pierce, and many turns later I found my library in my graveyard. This left virtually no time for game 3; for a second it looked like I might have a chance to come out quickly enough to somehow kill him in extra turns, but a Snapcaster Mage on a Path put him out of reach.

After the match we discussed it for a bit, and in retrospect I probably should have conceded game 2 a turn or two after he resolved Jace, as my chances of winning were really low—apparently even lower if I’d known his hand. A few extra minutes would have gone a long way to giving me a chance to win game 3. 

Round 14 I played Ulanov Denis with Esper Stoneblade (I think). If I recall correctly, this was the match where game 1 I lost to an early Stoneforge Mystic and then won the other two somewhat easily in large part to Ancient Grudges.

Round 15 was an on-camera feature match for all the marbles. We both had turn 1 Ponders, and then on turn 2 we both had Mongeese, but when he tried to Brainstorm I Spell Pierced it. He Dazed the Spell Pierce, which left him with only one land in play. My Brainstorm found a Wasteland and set up a Delver. That plus a Daze on his Lightning Bolt aimed at my Delver basically put him too far behind to recover.

Game 2 we traded blows for a while, but he had four lands while I only had two so when he played out the last card in his hand (a Goyf), I knew I could just Submerge, Submerge, and Ice the Goyf while my Goose and Delver carried me to the Top 8.

After making Top 8, in the quarterfinals I faced J. Sawyer Lucy with Goblins. Game 1 I got to go first and had a turn 1 Delver followed by turn 2 Ooze while he didn’t have a one-drop. A Bolt for his Thalia and Wasteland for his Cavern of Souls meant he was too far behind to deal with the Ooze and the Aberration.

Again with my awful sideboard for Goblins…

Game 2 I forced his turn 1 Vial and had a turn 1 Goose then Dazed his turn 2 Piledriver. This was likely a mistake, as I had a Bolt in hand, an Ooze, a Delver, and a land in play. Also Piledriver doesn’t do anything without friends, and I had a Bolt for it in case it got friends. I probably should have just let the Piledriver resolve and saved my Daze for a real threat.

The only way I could have gotten truly destroyed was if he had a Cavern of Souls, but if he had one, he would have likely played it turn 2 to protect the Piledriver so it was only a concern if he drew it right then and there. Anyway, I Dazed the Piledriver, played a Delver, and when he didn’t have anything on turn 3 and I had an Ooze, I thought I had him.

However, he had a Ringleader, a Pyrokinesis, and a Siege Gang, and before I knew it, things were not looking so hot. When he played a Matron he got a Goblin King, threatening a lethal army of Goblins with Mountainwalk. Luckily I had a Bolt for his Siege Gang, which meant he was short of killing me, and when our armies traded I drew a Goyf which he could not answer.

In the semifinals I played Fred Edelkamp with U/W Stoneblade. Game 1 was really awkward, and honestly I’m still not sure how I lost. I had a turn 1 Delver, turn 2 Goyf (which was Forced), and another Delver on turn 3. But he managed to resolve a Geist, Path a Delver, then bounce a Delver. He then hit with the Geist. When I replayed Delver and played a Goose he managed to resolve a Sword of Feast of Famine thanks to a timely Daze, and before I knew it, I was facing a Geist with a Sword.

Game 2, I started with a Delver which was Red Elemental Blasted. His Brainstorm resolved. Then Ooze resolved thanks to a Spell Pierce on his Force of Will, and before I knew it we were on to game 3. This time I had a Daze for his Geist and a Grudge for his Sword while my turn 1 Goose went the distance.

I was then on to the finals against Michael Majors with Esper Stoneblade.

This was rematch of round 13, but this time the winner would come out on top. Game 1 felt very easy. I knew that he didn’t have any way to punish me for overextending and he didn’t have Daze, which meant that I could basically just jam creatures until I overloaded his removal. Luckily my draw was creature heavy and his was removal light; soon I had an army. He temporarily held it at bay with his Snapcaster + Sword of Feast and Famine combo. But I Iced his Mage and bashed with the team, putting him dead next turn.

Game 2 he Wasted my Tropical Island and my Brainstorm couldn’t find a replacement, which meant I was limited to Wastelands as my only source of mana. This, as you can imagine, led to my rather quick demise. Game 3 I played a turn 1 Goose. He then killed every other creature I played, but I made sure he couldn’t resolve anything that would stop the Goose. When I had a Spell Pierce for his Humility, he extended the hand.

Thanks to Sam, Brad, Pikula, and Cuneo for advice in choosing the right weapon and to Ben Rasmussen, Drew Levin, Brad, and Morgan for help putting it together.

Thanks for reading,


P.S. The only change I would make to the main is to add the fourth Goyf—a 4/5 for two is simply too good not to play. I’m not sure what I’d cut, but right now I’m leaning towards trimming a Spell Pierce. The sideboard felt pretty good as is, though at least one more card that’s not a blank against Goblins is probably advisable. Adjust based on the expected meta.  

P.P.S. Given that this is my first article, feedback (positive or negative) is highly appreciated.