Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #189 – Welcome to Legacy

Read Peter Jahn... at StarCityGames.com!
At U.S. Nationals, I head judged a Legacy tournament. I collected decklists, started round one then walked along the tables. Towards the end of one table, two minutes into the round, a player was sitting alone. I asked “no opponent?” His response — “No, match over. I never got to draw a card.”

Welcome to Legacy.

At U.S. Nationals, I head judged a Legacy tournament. I collected decklists, started round 1 then walked along the tables. Towards the end of one table, two minutes into the round, a player was sitting alone. I asked “no opponent?” His response — “No, match over. I never got to draw a card.”

Welcome to Legacy.

The Legacy tournament at Nationals started at 9pm. It was straight Swiss, no cut, no Top Eight. Straight Swiss tournaments use the normal number of rounds, plus one.

As registration progressed, I kept track. We hit seventeen players early — meaning 6 rounds, or a projected finish of after 3am. Then it got closer and closer to 32 players, and another round. Since I had arrived at the venue sometime in the morning, 4 am was a really, really long day.

Fifteen minutes before registration closed, we had 27 players.

Ten minute to go we had 29.

Six minutes to go we hit 32.

With four minutes t go we were holding at 32.

With three minutes to go, I was asking if we could move the clocks forward.

Two minutes to go, we hit 33.

Very Wild Mongrel

Staying up until 5am is something we judges do Sunday night, after the event, to draft and play EDH. Working a tournament until after 4am, then walking the half mile to the hotel? Not by choice.

Oh well, stuff like that is why judges get foils. That and having to clear trash off tables because Magic players are apparently incapable of lifting soda cans and bottles once they are empty.

Whatever — back to the Legacy tournament: With one minute to go, two players wander over and ask how long it will run. I tell them. They ask if they can still drop.

OF COURSE! Thanks you, thank you, thank you! Thirty-one players, six rounds, done by 3:30 with any luck.

Life is good — well, better, anyway.

I know everyone is interested in my judging experiences, and no one really want to hear about decks, but I can’t pad these articles out without decklists and mini-stories about the rounds, so here goes.

The first deck is from Brian Beemer, who drove up from St. Louis for the event. He says there is no Legacy at all in St. Louis.

Best quote: “You are going to Counter the Wild Cantor?!?”

Yes, someone really did counter Wild Cantor. I’m not screwing up the name — it was not Wild Mongrel. Wild Cantor. It was game two. Here’s what I saw game one. BB = Brian, Opp = opponent.

BB: Lion’s eye Diamond?
Opp: Resolves.
BB: Chrome Mox?
Opp: Resolves.
BB: remove Wild Cantor. Lotus Petal?
Opp: Resolves.
BB: Chrome Mox?
Opp: Resolves.
BB: remove , Land Grant revealing Belcher?
Opp: Scoop!

Turn 1 Charbelcher? Nice
Turn 1 Charbelcher and the mana to activate it? Priceless.

One question I never expected to be asked at a Legacy tournament by someone holding an Engineered Plague: “What is the creature type on Wild Cantor?” (It’s a Human Druid, FWIW.)

Brian won the first three rounds. Round 3 he mulliganed to three, then got mana flooded. The last two rounds he faced Threshold decks, which are, he said, his worst matchup. I think he could have won his second to last match, but made a play error. Take my comment with a grain of salt: It was 2:30, we were both tired, and he knows his deck far better than I do.

His advice on playing the deck — play it a ton. Learn what hands you can keep, and learn to read your opponents. Then kill them with Charbelcher or Empty the Warrens.

I should note that these decklists are in no particular order. I have a copy of the pairings going into round 6, and the decklists, but I didn’t print out final standings. We scrolled them, electronically, on the screen, then went home. It was just before 4am. If I had asked for a print-out, the scorekeeper probably might have killed me. (Alternatively, I forgot to ask. Believe what you like.)

At least I do know who won the whole thing. His deck is at the end.

I’ll start with a couple of Threshold decks.

Jesse Hatfield ran an almost identical version (slightly different fetchland count), and also finished well.

I could talk about the decks in more detail, but I know just enough about Legacy to be dangerous. My advice is likely to be skewed by the strange decks I play (and play against).

Here’s the other version of Threshold:

(At least the pairings had him as Paul Lynch… his decklist reads more like Lynen. Either way, that guy.)

This is the deck I would play if I had a lot more time to devote to the format. I love Force, and I much prefer Swords to Lightning Bolt as removal. My downfall, however, would be Meddling Mage. I don’t know all the decks well enough to name the right cards. I could name a relevant card for each deck — but the point of playing Pikula is to name the right card.

Case in point — the following deck was doing well, and in contention up to the last round. I don’t know it at all well.

I like the concept. I like the idea. Dan Paskins likes the color. I just have no idea how good it is. All I do know is that Jon was 3-1-1 going into the final round, and was paired against Red Thresh. I should remember the outcome — I paid out prizes — but I don’t.

Moving on, here’s the deck that was playing on table 1, at 4-1, playing against the only 4-0-1 deck. Jordan lost game 1, I’m not sure how, and got badly mana flooded game two.

I have one amusing memory of this finals match — and I threatened to include it in this article. I’ll be nice, though. It was 3:30 am, everyone was tired, Zuhair had the match won and made a bonehead play. It didn’t change the result of the game, so whatever. People play sub-optimally in the late rounds, and in the wee hours of the morning. This was both.

Zuhair’s deck was sweet. He also made a lot of really good and subtle plays. One I remember — his opponent cast Control Magic targeting Zuhair’s Tarmogoyf. In response, Zuhair blew Seal of Fire targeting his own Negator, then sacced the Tarmogoyf to the Negator’s trigger. Obvious in retrospect, but a nice play in the heat of the moment.

Anyway, the winning deck:

I really like this deck, despite it containing one of the cards I have hated most over the years. Ingrid is a devotee of Hymn to Tourach, and I have randomly thrown away a pazillion cards and a couple hundred games, over the years, thanks to that card. That does not mean Hymn is bad — quite the contrary.

The deck also has Wasteland and Duress — two cards I value very highly. I spent a lot of time ranting about that back in the Ultimate Extended Tourney series.

If I had to play Legacy tomorrow, this is the deck I would take. It does not require the subtle knowledge needed for Meddling Mage — it just messes with an opponent’s hand, manabase, and life totals in a highly effective manner.

I likes.

For those of you going to the Legacy Champs at GenCon, or playing Legacy at Worlds and wanting a head start, I hope this helps. For everyone else, let’s see what other info I have at hand.

Tenth Edition Limited

I have been playing a lot of Tenth Edition sealed on the MODO beta, but I don’t know how relevant that is. Well, since the Online Release is starting tomorrow (as you read this) here’s some quick advice.

Open this:

1 Angelic Wall
1 Ballista Squad
1 Demystify
1 Loxodon Mystic
1 Luminesce
1 Reviving Dose
2 Skyhunter Prowler
1 Soul Warden
2 Steadfast Guard
1 Tundra Wolves
1 Venerable Monk
1 Warrior’s Honor
1 Youthful Knight

1 Boomerang
2 Cloud Elemental
1 Crafty Pathmage
1 Evacuation
1 Horseshoe Crab
1 Merfolk Looter
1 Reminisce
2 Robe of Mirrors
1 Sift
1 Snapping Drake
1 Spiketail Hatchling

1 Dross Crocodile
1 Relentless Rats
1 Assassinate
2 Essence Drain
1 Hate Weaver
1 Mind Rot
1 Phyrexian Rager
1 Scathe Zombies
1 Sengir Vampire
1 Severed Legion
1 Spineless Thug

1 Demolish
1 Firebreathing
1 Lightning Elemental
1 Rock Badger
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Sudden Impact
2 Uncontrollable Anger
1 Viashino Runner
1 Viashino Sandscout
1 Blaze (premium)

1 Commune with Nature
1 Regeneration
1 Skyshroud Ranger
1 Aggressive Urge
1 Blanchwood Armor
1 Canopy Spider
1 Giant Growth
1 Grizzly Bears
1 Hurricane
1 Llanowar Elves

1 Llanowar Sentinel
1 Recover
1 Rootwalla

1 Angel’s Feather
1 Demon’s Horn
1 Leonin Scimitar
1 Loxodon Warhammer

1 Ghitu Encampment
1 Treetop Village

Then build this:

7 Swamp
7 Forest
2 Mountain
1 Treetop Village

1 Aggressive Urge
1 Assassinate
1 Blanchwood Armor
1 Blaze (premium)
2 Essence Drain
1 Giant Growth
1 Hurricane
1 Mind Rot
1 Recover

1 Leonin Scimitar
1 Loxodon Warhammer

1 Canopy Spider
1 Grizzly Bears
1 Hate Weaver
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Llanowar Sentinel
1 Phyrexian Rager
1 Rootwalla
1 Scathe Zombies
1 Sengir Vampire
1 Severed Legion
1 Spineless Thug

I didn’t lose a match with this deck. I’m pretty sure I didn’t lose a game.

Loxodon Warhammer is still stupid good. Sengir Vampire with Giant Growth, Blanchwood Armor, and a Warhammer is just silly.

Okay, some serious comments on the format — which I am psyched to do because I won my FNM draft, then four straight sealed on the beta.

Let’s run down the “I’m qualified to write this” checklist:

* enough ego to do it: oh, yeah
* played the format a lot: check
* won some events: check (almost a dozen)
* against quality opponents: – umm –

Moving on.

Seriously, this format is not Ninth all over again. The main strategy for ninth was draft Blue/White and cream the n00bs. That isn’t true with Tenth. I think I have won with practically every color combination, and all colors have both pluses and minuses.

The format also has a lot of powerful cards, and a fair number of bombs. However, while many are powerful, none just win games outright (except maybe Platinum Angel, if you are unprepared.) What the bombs do is swing the game. For example, I had a random dork, facing a Spine Wurm — then I dropped Siege Gang Commander. Five to one in creatures seemed good — until he dropped Avatar of Might.

As always, evasion and removal is critical. What is a bit different, however, is that Green fat actually matters. Green has enough fatties, and they are big enough, that they can beat through. Green also has two common pumpers, Giant Growth and Aggressive Urge, so you can have enough to matter.

Color fixing is less common — and Green is valuable because it lets you splash as well as accelerate.

In draft, signals matter again. It’s a complete reversal of Ravnica, where guilds mattered more than colors. You actually can force and cut colors, and send viable signals. After Mirrodin and Ravnica blocks, it seemed like signaling was one of those meaningless arts practiced only at RenFairs — like making chain mail. I was wrong.

In Tenth Limited, you need to be aware of double mana costs, and what that does to your manabase. You also have to be very aware of your mana curve, and 18 lands may be the baseline. Once again, basic deck-building skills matter. I watched a couple of n00bs lose games because they tried splashing cards with double colored mana costs, and so forth.

For creature size, the magic number is three. I played a bunch of 2/2s in the above pool, but mainly because I had a ton of removal, multiple combat tricks, and the Leonin Scimitar. Without those, expect to waste a lot of time running 2/2s into 3/3s. Every color has Hill Giants and various 3/3s for five mana — but, fortunately, Blue no longer has Horned Turtles. It is a lot easier smashing through Blue with cards like Stalking Tiger than it used to be.

Artifacts and enchantments matter, to the point that I was quite upset not to have a Naturalize in this pool. I am not convinced that Naturalize is playable now, but it is close. Potent enchantments run from Dehydration, Pacifism, and Treetop Bracers to Dragon Roost. Devastating artifacts include Icy Manipulator, Loxodon Warhammer, and Platinum Angel, just to name a few.

Time Spiral Block Constructed

A final wrap up. Given my timing and deadline, I have not been able to review the decklists from the events on 7/28 or later. They still aren’t up on the Wizards site. However, I have compiled data from 174 decks making Top 8s worldwide. Here are some notes. The number is the total number of such deck that have made Top 8. The Percentage is percent of the 174 I have been able to read.

Tarmogoyf Decks:
Tarmogoyf has figured in 30% of the decks making Top 8. In the mid season, the G/W versions were most popular. Recently, however, beatdown Tarmogoyf has begun to fall. In the last couple weeks, only R/G Tarmogoyf decks have made the Top 8, although tempo-controlling U/G Tarmogoyf decks have steadily picked up slots week after week. Here’s the breakdown.

G/W Tarmogoyf 17 10%
R/G Tarmogoyf 3 2%
G/W/r Tarmogoyf 7 4%
U/G Tarmogoyf 19 11%
U/B/x Tarmogoyf 5 3%

WOOT! I wrote about beating slivers a couple weeks back, and people acted like they had never heard of the tribe. Since then Poison Slivers have made seven Top 8s, and qualified one pilot. Wild Pair slivers has fallen off the face of the earth (as it should.)

Wild Slivers 4 2%
Poison Slivers 7 4%

The old Baron Harkkonnen was a U/W/g deck that only Adrian Sullivan could really have any success with. Looks like the new Baron is maintaining that tradition. Only one other person has made Top 8 — and only Adrian qualified with it. The Blink Djinn deck that Evan Erwin featured in Magic Show #50 has featured a tad better — four people have made Top 8 with that deck. As for other decks that have received a lot of press on this site — the Innovator’s U/B/x Tarmogoyf deck has made the leap to block, but I haven’t seen much RebelGoyf. Maybe next week.

U/B/x Control
This covers a number of decks, including the various U/B “Dralnu” decks, and the Korlash control decks. The numbers and builds vary, but they are all basically control decks. The U/B decks generally run Mystical Teachings. The Korlash decks generally run Korlash (duh) and Damnation.

Korlash Control: 17 in Top 8 so far.
U/B/x: 17 10%

Mono-Blue & U/B Pickles
The Pickles combo (Brine Elemental / Vesuvan Shapeshifter) has been popular since the first PTQs. When I first started tracking results, I combined U/B and Mono-Blue versions, and I’m not going back to recalculate everything. However, it is clear that the Mono-Blue versions are far more common than U/B today.

Pickles 21 12%

Everything Else:
In the all the rest category, we have Bridge from Below / Reanimator decks, U/G without Tarmogoyf, Mono-Red, White Weenie, and Mono-Green beatdown. It is a bit of everything. Mono-Red was huge week 1, vanish, and has returned. U/G (Scryb and Force and others) is building. Even Mishra has been seen at the table — briefly.

Reanimator 8 5%
Mono-Red 11 6%
White Weenie 8 5%
Lightning Angel 3 2%
U/G 13 7%
Other 8 5%

Okay, that should be something for everyone.