2011 Grand Prix Amsterdam Day 2 Blog

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  • Sunday, 12:10pm - Undefeated Deck Lists

    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Jerome Puchod
    GP Amsterdam 2011 - Legacy


  • The Fastest Game Ever Played – Youmelia Gay vs Elie Pichon
    by David Sutcliffe

  • This feature match threw together two French players on 9-1 records, and two very interesting decks with two diametrically opposed views to mana. Elie Pichon was playing the Ad Nauseam/Tendrils of Agony combo deck, hoping to chain together a string of cheap mana-producing cards to create a huge Storm count and win the game. Across the table Youmelia Gay was playing with ZERO mana-producing cards. No lands, and very few spells, Gay was running an extreme variant of the Dredge deck we say James Allingham play last night, replacing lands and spells with more creatures like Faerie Macabre and Phantasmagorian that would help him to fill his graveyard more rapidly.

    Winning the dice roll, Youmelia Gay chose to play SECOND – yet another rule of 'good Magic' that the Dredge deck ignored. While Pichon began with an Underground Sea, Giataxian Probe and a Ponder, Gay drew a card and immediately discarded a Stinkweed Imp in his end step to go down to seven cards. A second turn saw Pichon Ponder twice more and take another look at Gay's hand with a second Gitaxian Probe – the Dredge player had four Gitaxian Probe of his own, Street Wraith, Faerie Macabre and Golgaria Thug.

    At the end of Pichon's turn, Gay cycled his Street Wraith to Dredge 5 cards, and hit paydirt immediately – an Ichorid, a Dread Return, and two Bridge from Below. Starting his own turn, Gay returned his Ichorid to play and began to Dredge again, played Gitaxian Probe and Dredged again, and again... and again... and again... once he'd done playing all four of his Gitaxian Probe there were 30 cards in Youmelia Gay's graveyard, and his possibilities seemed endless. Sacrificing his Ichorid to play Cabal Therapy (naming Lion's Eye Diamond), Gay spawned two Zombie tokens thanks to the two Bridge from Below in his graveyard. Casting a Dread Return he resurrected his Sphinx of the Lost Truths to Dredge even deeper into his deck, putting more Narcomoeba into play and more Bridge from Below into his graveyard. One Dread Return later and Gay had Flame-Kin Zealot in play, handing all his newly-minted Zombies +1/+1 and Haste.

    Youmelia Gay

    Devastatingly, Youmelia Gay had just pulled off a turn 2 kill without generating a single mana in the game!

    Youmelia Gay 1 – 0 Elie Pichon

    "I lost so I'm choosing to go second – you can play!", Elie Pichon already knew how Youmelia Gay's deck had worked before the round began, but he'd been handed a fresh demonstration of just why he should try to prevent his fellow Frenchman from getting to eight cards in hand.

    The first game had been quick. The second was the quickest I've ever seen, perhaps the quickest ever played. Blink and you miss it.

    Gay: "Ready?"

    Pichon: "Yes, sure"

    Gay: "Ok. My turn. Your turn", Gay had no land to play and only seven cards in hand so couldn't discard anything.

    Pichon: "Cabal Therapy: Narcomoeba."

    Gay: "I concede"

    Youmelia Gay revealed the three Narcomoeba from his hand – discarding those meant that it would now be another three turns before he could ever get to discard a Dredge creature, and he knew that game would be long-over by then.

    Youmelia Gay 1 – 1 Elie Pichon

    Elie Pichon

    Back in the happy territory of playing second, Youmelia Gay discarded a Golgari Grave-Troll at the end of his first turn, while Elie Pichon swung for his dread Cabal Therapy... and... missed! Pichon continued to draw into his deck with Ponder and Brainstorm, while Gay got his Dredge engine rolling, replacing his draw step with a Dredge 6 before happily discarding the Golgari Grave-Troll again.

    Pichon was rolling towards his own kill, though.

    Lion's Eye Diamond, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Infernal Tutor.

    Sacrificing the Lion's Eye Diamond with Infernal Tutor on the stack, Pichon searched out his singleton copy of Ad Nauseam. Casting his deck's key card, Pichon began the life countdown, flipping cards off the top of his deck, trading his life essence for dark knowledge... 18, 17, 16, 12, 11, 10, 9, 6, 5, 4... the year's Pichon's life flew past like pages from a calendar, but emerging from the other side of his combo, Elie Pichon had sixteen new cards in hand and was ready to begin again:

    Lion's Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, Lotus Petal, Grim Tutor for Tendrils of Agony. The Storm count was nine, and that was ten copies of "You lose 2 life, I gain 2 life", and Elie Pichon had sealed his win.

    Youmelia Gay 1 – 2 Elie Pichon


  • Grand Prix Amsterdam Day 2 Metagame
    by Tim Willoughby

  • You remember all that talk about sampling yesterday for the Day 1 metagame breakdown? I didn't need to worry about that for day two. With 225 decklists, I have been able to compile a metagame breakdown including every last deck.

    Feast your eyes;

    Canadian Threshold 13.33%
    Team America 9.78%
    ANT 8.44%
    UW Stoneforge 8.00%
    Maverick 7.56%
    Reanimator 5.78%
    Bant 5.33%
    Merfolk 4.00%
    Dredge 3.11%
    NO Bant 3.11%
    Elves 2.22%
    Aggro Loam 1.78%
    Darkblade 1.78%
    Sneak Attack 1.78%
    UB snapcaster control 1.78%
    UWR Stoneforge 1.78%
    Zoo 1.78%
    Goblins 1.33%
    Hive Mind 1.33%
    Painters Servant 1.33%
    Belcher 0.89%
    BUG landstill 0.89%
    Burn 0.89%
    Deadguy Ale 0.89%
    NO RUG 0.89%
    Pattern Hulk 0.89%
    BUG 0.44%
    BW aggro 0.44%
    Caw Go 0.44%
    Countertop Bant 0.44%
    CounterTop/Thopter Sword 0.44%
    Dark Depths GWB 0.44%
    Doomsday 0.44%
    GB Pox 0.44%
    Grixis Control 0.44%
    Grixis Wizard beats 0.44%
    High Tide 0.44%
    Junk 0.44%
    Lands 0.44%
    Landstill 0.44%
    Mono Brown Metalworker 0.44%
    Past in Flames 0.44%
    RUGstill 0.44%
    Trinket Mage Burn 0.44%
    UB Dreadnought control 0.44%
    URW Dreadnought 0.44%
    Veteran Explorer Junk 0.44%

    If you're thinking to yourself 'that's a lot of different decks... I'm not quite sure what all of them are' then that's probably fair enough. There are some interesting outliers toward the bottom of that collection, and even at the top some of the decks might not be as familiar as all that. The top ones there, we'll be covering off in deck tech today, but in the meantime, here are some lists that didn't get played in substantial numbers, but did catch my eye. If you are looking to do something a little off the beaten path in Legacy, then any of these might be a good choice.

    Past in Flames – Sebastian Born
    GP Amsterdam 2011 - Legacy


  • Deck Tech – Canadian Threshold
    by Tim Willoughby

  • Canadian Threshold is a funny little deck. Beginning with a blue/green aggro control shell, sporting the usual suspects of Force of Will and Tarmogoyf, it gradually evolved to include Nimble Mongoose (hence the threshold), and Lightning Bolt (hence the Canadian?). That burn element pushed through and allowed the blue green tempo deck to have a great deal more reach, and removal that in many respects was interchangeable with the white removal employed by Bant, on the understanding that a large proportion of the creatures hit by Swords to Plowshares might just as easily fall to it, and that the life just might be relevant.

    Over the years, Canadian Threshold has changed quite gradually, adopting some of the most powerful threats in the format (Jace, I'm looking at you), and adjusting to what is most powerful. With Innistrad, it has gained a few new weapons, which has propelled the deck to being the most represented here in Amsterdam on Sunday. Depending on how you look at it, this is either the next level of Canadean Threshold, or a whole new deck. Certainly Nimble Mongoose has fallen by the wayside, but in spite of the sometime lack of any cards bearing the keyword, it still fits a very similar mould.

    Have a look at this version run by Johan Steurs, 9-1 at the time of writing;

    Canadian Threshold - Johan Steurs
    GP Amsterdam 2011 - Legacy

    This build has many classic elements. Great disruption in the Force of Will/Counterspell/Spell Snare/Stifle package, all of which can be flashed back thanks to Snapcaster Mage. That Stifle is as good at stopping fetchlands as it is storm, making it a winner this weekend. Powerful threats in Tarmogoyf and Vendilion Clique. Reach from Lightning Bolt, Grim Lavamancer and Fire//Ice. The inclusion of the one Chaos Warp is a nice touch. The rare from the Commander set provides the ability to deal with any permanent if needed, and in many cases with little to no drawback, given what a spell heavy format Legacy is.

    Other builds of Canadian Threshold are being even more aggressive, running Delver of Secrets/Insectile Aberration as an additional threat. Best friends with Brainstorm, this little guy is being heralded by some as 'the new Tarmogoyf, who is really blue'. For a deck like Canadian Threshold, getting a creature on the board on turn one who can start beating while disruption is happening is a key component of its plan. The plan put more people in day 2 than any other deck, so it's probably one worth trying further.

    For reference, here is another list – if you are looking to have a go at Legacy, and like attacking for 3 in the air on turn two, this is a good deck to do it with. More aggressive than the other build, this one has Daze and a full set of Wasteland to back up the Stifle disruption, keying in on having a very cheap set of threats.

    Canadian Threshold - Johannes Gehizer
    GP Amsterdam 2011 - Legacy


  • Deck Tech - Ad NauseamTendrils with Elie Pichon
    by David Sutcliffe

  • I watched Elie Pichon's Ad Nauseam Tendrils deck in action against fellow Frenchman Youmelia Gay a couple of rounds ago, and after the match I cornered Elie and asked him to lead me through his deck. As much as any deck in Legacy, Ad Nauseam looks like the classic combo deck – generating mana at a frightening rate and abusing powerful card drawing effects to create a quick kill.

    The core of the deck is mana production, from cards like Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, and the poor man's Black Lotus, Lion's Eye Diamond. The Lion's Eye Diamond is a key card in the deck, moving from being a trash to take center-stage thanks to its interaction with Infernal Tutor. When you activate the Lion's Eye Diamond you add three mana of any color to your mana pool, but must discard your hand – usually that's a heavy price to pay for three mana, but if you have Infernal Tutor on the stack when you use the Lion's Eye Diamond things are very different. The Lion's Eye Diamond activates the Hellbent keyword on Infernal Tutor, meaning you gain three mana and can immediately go and search your deck for a card and put it into your hand!

    Usually that card will be your single copy of Ad Nauseam, and you'll proceed to cast that with all the mana you had stashed away, then suck up a brand new hand of a dozen or more cards, paying life to draw with Ad Nauseam. So you play more mana, cast another Tutor, and find Tendrils of Agony. By now your storm count is already into double figures thanks to all your Dark Rituals, Lotus Petals and Infernal Tutors, and the Tendrils of Agony sucks 20 life out of your opponent in one shot.

    Like all good combo decks, it's a simple and pure design with lethal execution. Elie Pichon led me through some of the subtleties of building an Ad Nauseam deck, though...

    "A lot of the deck is fixed, like all the mana production," Elie told me, "You cannot mess with the engine in the deck so all the Ad Nauseam decks look pretty much the same. One card I'm using that not many decks play is Grim Tutor – it's just a really hard card to get hold of so most Ad Nauseam decks don't have it in, but it's an extra Tutor to help you find cards".

    "The other card I'm using that most don't is the new Past in Flames, and that is really good. A lot of the time your plan is to play discard to chew up counterspells, but against decks like Bant and Merfolk you take too much damage while you're doing that and it means you cannot make use of Ad Nauseam to help you get to your kill. Past in Flames is like your Ad Nauseam against aggro decks when you cannot afford to pay life – you get to reuse your graveyard again and can replay all your mana cards to add to your Storm count".

    "I think maybe the only other big change in my version is that I'm running Cabal Therapy. Most decks play Thoughtseize, but I am using the combination of Gitaxian Probe and Cabal Therapy to see their hand then name the right card, and that's really effective".

    With a lot of the main deck fixed, Ad Nauseam players only get to start innovating when it comes to sideboarding strategies but there are even problems there, as Elie explained to me;

    "It's actually really hard to sideboard the deck, because so much of your main deck is essential you cannot really change too many cards. I really like my sideboard Xantid Swarm – against a lot of decks they take our their creature removal against you, and blue decks put in things like Spell Pierce and Flusterstorm, but those can't counter the Xantid Swarm. Once you have Xantid Swarm attacking there is nothing they can really do because they cannot play counters and took out the removal".

    "Then there's Slaughter Pact for Gaddock Teeg and Ethersworn Canonist, which are both a problem, and Chain of Vapor as well helps to deal with those creatures. Actually I think you should probably always side in at least one Chain of Vapor, no matter what match you play – every deck puts in something that you don't want to play against and having a single Chain of Vapor means you can Tutor for it when you have to".

    "I've also got Empty the Warrens in as another kill, but I don't really like it. I've never played it, and just put it in because a friend recommended it. I think 99% of the time you're better off just making sure your Tendrils of Agony works rather than trying to get the Goblins into play".

    With the deck discussion out of the way I asked Elie how tough the deck was to play – was it straightforward?

    "No, definitely not. I've played this deck for a long time and it's pretty hard to play. You've always got to think about what your opponent has in hand so you can play around it. And you also need to plan two, sometimes three turns ahead – where you want your hand to be, what you want to do. When you are playing against the decks will all the counterspells and disruption it doesn't come easily. But if you know your opponent's deck then you know how to win – against discard decks you put down all your artifacts early and try to get to your kill quickly, but against counterspell decks you sit back with cards in hand, and try to create the gap to exploit".

    Was there any good news?

    "Well, I think every non-blue deck is a good matchup, it's the really disruptive and counter decks that are hard. Like you expect to play against a Daze and a Stifle or something, but you can deal with those with the Cabal Therapy, it's the decks with a lot of counterspells are a problem, or a lot of discard. Team America is maybe the worst matchup around at the moment because it had lots of discard as well as counterspells, and that makes it very difficult"

    Ad Nauseam/Tendrils - Elie Pichon
    GP Amsterdam 2011 - Legacy

  • Learning Legacy: Hive Mind and Painter's Servant

    by Rich Hagon
  • There are some incredible combos in Legacy, and we talk to two pace-setting players here on day two. Kim Grymer of Denmark is at 10-0 from ZERO Byes, and his painter's Servant deck looks to mill the opponent in one Grindstone activation. Then overnight leader Jerome Puthod of France talks us through his Hive Mind deck. Oh look, here are some Pacts that you won't be paying for...

    Download this podcast in MP3 format (7.03 MB)  

  • Judging Legacy
    by David Sutcliffe

  • By now we've touched on most of the areas of the format – the players, the metagame, the decks, the matches, the card interactions. But there's one vital ingredient that's at every Magic tournament that we haven't mentioned yet... Legacy judges!

    If Legacy is one of the most varied and diverse format, featuring 12,000 possible cards and umpteen possible rules interactions, spare a though for the expert DCI judging staff who manage to make these massive events run smoothly. I pulled one of the busy judging staff aside to steal a few minutes of his time and find out about some of the added challenges that judges face when they come to work at a Legacy Grand Prix.

    Arttu Kaipiainen - Legacy Specialist Judge

    Name: Arttu Kaipiainen

    From: Tampere, Finland

    "I think I'm probably a specialist Legacy judge. I play Legacy a lot and so I know the format, the decks and the cards. That made it quite easy for me to prepare for the Grand Prix, but I know that it was hard for a lot of the judges who aren't so familiar with Legacy. I think the single biggest problem that judges face in Legacy, especially if they aren't playing the format a lot themselves, is that a lot of the older cards now have totally different Oracle text wordings. So you arrive at the table and you cannot always just read the cards and understand what should happen. A really good example of that is Animate Dead – we have had a lot of questions this weekend about whether Stifle can stop an Animate Dead. The answer is that yes it can, because in the current Oracle wording Animate Dead creates a triggered ability when it comes into play, and Stifle can counter that".

    Animate Dead

    Do the types of rulings change?

    "Yes, there are definitely more actual rules questions in Legacy tournaments. When you go to a Standard tournament the players pretty much all know the cards and what they do, so as a judge you spend most of your time dealing with things like players failing to agree the game state, or their opponent doing something that they shouldn't have done. In Legacy you get a lot more "Judge, what does that do?" sort of questions, because there are so many more cards – I'd say it's probably about a 50/50 split between rules questions and game issues in Legacy"

    What about the players, are Legacy players different?

    "I think Legacy players are more casual on the whole. You really saw that yesterday, and in the grinders on Friday. It was very good natured and the players were often fixing problems themselves without having to call a judge. I judged at the Madrid Legacy Grand Prix last year and I really noticed that for a lot of the players it was their first Grand Prix, and their first experience of Professional level rules enforcement. This weekend has been similar, and I think we have a lot of people playing in their first Grand Prix.

    And finally... I loved the Animate Dead example, can you give me another odd Legacy ruling?

    Painter's Servant

    "Hmm, one where it doesn't work the way you would expect. Oh ok... you know the Painter's Servant/Grindstone deck? Well if you play Humility against the Painter's Servant you would expect that Humility would stop Painter's Servant from working, but it doesn't. Because of the way the Layers system works, Painter's Servant's ability resolves in Layer 5 and changes the color of all the cards, and then Humility removes the Painter's Servant's ability text in Layer 6. It means that you end up with a 1/1 Painter's Servant with no ability, and a deck full of White cards!"

    Thanks Arttu!


  • Round 13 Feature Match – Lukas Maurer vs Marijn Lybaert
    by Tim Willoughby

  • For round 13 Belgian Marijn Lybaert of Belgium found himself up against Manface from Germany. While Lybaert has played all formats at the highest level, the German Maurer was something of a Legacy specialist. In fact the two had played before once, when Lybaert was gunslinging at a previous Grand Prix. Maurer had brought a Legacy deck that day too, in spite of the fact that all Lybaert could match it with was a block deck.

    Manface led with a Forest and Wirewood Symbiote. Elves would be the match for Lybaert's Team America for this round. The Belgian had a Spell Snare for a turn two Elvish Visionary, and a Thoughtseize to follow it up, seeing Wirewood Symbiote, Dryad Arbor, Forest and Green Sun's Zenith. He took the sorcery before using a Ponder to fix his draws a little.

    Maurer's start was not an exciting one, and Lybaert killed off a Symbiote with a Ghastly Demise, before flashing it back with a Snapcaster Mage to get another. Maurer had a third, but little else. He drew into Gaea's Cradle, but Lybaert had the removal to make it unimportant, and a Wasteland just in case. An Inquisition of Kozilek snagged a Summoner's pack from Maurer's hand, leaving the German out of gas. He cast a Viridian Emissary with no artifact to destroy, hoping to build some sort of board presence. Nettle Sentinel was next.

    All this time, Lybaert was not exactly doing a great deal either to build his board, but the difference was that the Belgian still had cards in hand. He also had enough mana to cast Force of Will on a second Nettle Sentinel. Lybaert's follow up was a good one. Jace, the Mind Sculptor went immediately up to five loyalty, picking up five counters, which were each tiny metal weights. This extra loyalty meant the planeswalker would survive an attack. The following turn Liliana of the Veil joined the planeswalker party, and between the two of them they cleared Maurer's board of creatures, leaving each on just one loyalty.

    Maurer had to do something, and went for a Glimpse of Nature. After casting just two copies of Nettle Sentinel though, he was done. While Jace brainstormed on Marijn's turn, Lybaert elected to not use Liliana, meaning that both planeswalkers remained vulnerable on one loyalty. Both 2/2s attacked Liliana, killing her, before untapping when Maurer tried for a Llanowar Elves. The elves were hit by Force of Will, and Marijn untapped into a Tarmogoyf, using Brainstorm again with his 1 loyalty Jace.

    Marijn Lybaert

    Lybaert was left with just a Tarmogoyf when Maurer attacked again, losing his Jace. He was at 9 life after using a fetchland, but finally ready to make inroads on his opponent's life total with Tarmogoyf. Swinging for five a turn, he soon caught up in the damage race, and when Snapcaster Mage flashing back Brainstorm found him a second Tarmogoyf, he rocketed into the lead on damage.

    Maurer cast Green Sun's Zenith for Nettle Sentinel, followed by Elvish Visionary. A Quirion Ranger came next, joining the team of elves who seemed likely to need to chump block. Attacks from Lybaert put Maurer to five. He cast a Regal Force, but only drew two off it, as it died to Dismember with the draw trigger on the stack.

    Maurer cast an Extra Heritage Druid blocker, but it was all for nought as a Snapcaster Mage allowed Dismember to clear a path for the Tarmogoyf needed to lock up game one.

    Marijn Lybaert 1 – 0 Lukas Maurer

    Both players kept in game two, and Maurer led with Fyndhorn Elves, while Lybaert had an Inquisition of Kozilek. This saw two copies of Elvish Visionary, Heritage Druid, Nettle Sentinel and Regal Force. The Heritage Druid hit the grumper, ensuring that the start from the German would not be too explosive.

    When a Hymn to Tourach came from Lybaert, taking a Nettle Sentinel and Elvish Visionary, it seemed that Maurer's best hope might simply come from doing things the old fashioned way, and getting stuck in. Lybaert had a Ghastly Demise for Fyndhorn Elves though, meaning that soon Maurer's board was just two copies of Forest, Llanowar Elves, Quirion Ranger and Elvish Visionary, while his hand was just that Regal Force, stranded for now.

    Lukas Maurer

    Maurer attacked Lybaert to 13, and the Belgian then put himself down to just 9 life with a Dismember on Llanowar Elves. Lybaert, again down on life totals, seemed up on cards. He had a Jace the Mind Scupltor, and used it to put a Gaea's Cradle on the bottom of Maurer's deck. Jace survived an attack to be able to Brainstorm, before being protected by a Pernicious Deed for two, leaving Maurer with just a pair of copies of Forest. The lone Birchlore Rangers he cast the following turn looked a little weak, especially in the face of a Darkblast from Lybaert.

    Jace commenced gaining loyalty, while Lybaert also found a Tarmogoyf and Creeping Tar Pit to attack with. Maurer shrugged. While his Legacy deck had beaten Lybaert's block constructed deck all those years ago, on an even playing field it had not been close in a whole different way.

    Marijn Lybaert wins 2 – 0!


  • Round 15 Feature Match – Christof Kovacs vs Bas Melis
    by David Sutcliffe

  • "Good luck, have fun!" Bas Melis said, with a good natured smile, as the two players kicked off this feature match. The luck quickly deserted the smiling Melis, though, with the former Dutch National Champion forced to mulligan away his first hand before accepting six cards. His opponent was the young German talent Christof Kovacs, fresh from a strong run at the German national championships where he had narrowly missed out on a place in the Top 8, losing the last round of the Swiss competition. The matchup placed two heavily Blue decks against each other with Kovacs running the Show and Tell/Hive Mind combination against Bas Melis' UW Control deck with Stoneforge Mystics.

    The first game went by in a blur, with Bas Melis struggling to piece together a fighting hand in time. By the fourth turn Kovacs felt in a position to make his play and cast Show and Tell, Melis fought that off with a Force of Will but Kovacs countered the Force with his own free counterspell – Pact of Negation and Show and Tell resolved. Kovacs deployed his lethal Hive Mind while Melis could only throw down the less-troublesome Mishra's Factory. And Christof Kovacs wasn't finished.

    "Summoner's Pact, Pact of the Titan, Pact of the Titan, Slaughter Pact, Pact of Negation. Your turn"

    Courtesy of Hive Mind, the Dutchman had played a copy of his own of each of those cards, but Kovacs was killing him with kindness – Melis now had to find 16UUUUGGRRB in his upkeep to avoid losing to the Pacts. Unsurprisingly, Bas Melis couldn't get together mana he needed, and Kovacs took the first game.

    Christof Kovacs

    Christof Kovacs 1 – 0 Bas Melis

    Melis opened the game with a Tundra and Mishra's Factory, following up with a Stoneforge Mystic. Across the table Christof Kovacs had the classic opening of a pair of Islands, which he tapped to play a Grim Monolith. Bas Melis followed up with a Vendilion Clique, forcing it into play through a Force of Will battle. The Clique entered play, and Melis got to look at Kovac's hand – Show and Tell, Hive Mind, and Summoner's Pact... taking a few seconds to choose, Melis decided to send away Kovac's Hive Mind.

    That left the Show and Tell in hand, and the German immediately cast his signature blue sorcery, even though he hadn't had a permanent he could put into play just a few seconds earlier. Show and Tell resolved, and Kovacs revealed that he had just drawn Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn! That was quite a pull, but not quite as good as Bas Melis' immediate reply – the former Dutch champ played Karakas – the land that time forgot, and the land that is the perfect foil to a rampaging Eldrazi god! Sending Emrakul back to hand, Melis sent his forces into the red zone and added a Batterskull to the beating. It was too much for Kovacs, and the match was levelled.

    Christof Kovacs 1 – 1 Bas Melis

    After a third mulligan in three games, Bas Melis was feeling the pressure. Things very quickly went from bad to worse for the Dutchman as Kovacs began strongly with a pair of Ponder and a Thoughtseize. The Thoughtseize gave Kovacs a look at Melis' hand, and he must have liked what he saw – Vendilion Clique, Snapcaster Mage, Phantasmal Image and Disenchant were not the wall of countermagic that Kovacs had to have been fearing in this final game. Kovacs took the Vendilion Clique, then returned a turn later with a second Thoughtseize, ripping away a Force of Will that Melis had just drawn.

    Kovac's lifetotal was heading steadily downward through all this, with damage from the Thoughtseize joined by more damage from his Ancient Tomb, which the German had to use for a Slaughter Pact on Kovac's Snapcaster Mage. Almost without realising it, Kovacs had got down to single digits and was still no closer to winning, with no sign of his Hive Mind in sight! Dropping from 8 life to 6, Kovacs paid for a Pact of the Titan and began attacking with his 4/4 Giant. Kovacs took the hit and summoned his Phantasmal Image as a copy of the Giant token, but Kovacs trumped that by playing a second Pact of the Titan!

    This was now a bizarre race between two misfiring decks. Kovacs next attack made the scores 6-10 before Melis played his Stoneforge Mystic (finding the inevitable Batterskull), paying the upkeep of his second Pact of the Titan took Kovacs to 4 life, then the next attack made it 4-6, still in Melis' favor, and now the Dutchman could untap and put his Stoneforge Mystic online!

    Bas Melis

    Kovacs was close, but couldn't afford to attack into the Batterskull and allow Melis to gain life, but the German was boxed into a corner, because he couldn't afford to sit back either. Reluctantly, Kovacs passed the turn straight back to his opponent and Melis activated the Stoneforge Mystic to play the Batterskull, ready for next turn.

    Swinging onto the offensive, Melis sent his forces into the red zone. Kovacs blocked down the two biggest threats with his Giant tokens, clinging to life as the damage totals swung the wrong way for the German – from 4-6 to 2-10!

    Two life remaining. No cards in play. Christof Kovacs needed a miracle. He needed an instant kill, he needed his Hive Mind and a Pact, but he also needed a Show and Tell because on 2 life he couldn't afford to use his Ancient Tomb for mana.

    The odds of having those cards were astronomical. The odds of casting Brainstorm and seeing all three of the cards you needed were even higher.

    But it's what happening. Ripping victory out of the ashes of defeat, Christof Kovacs cast Show and Tell, deployed his Hive Mind, and played a Summoner's Pact!

    Melis was one attack step away from his unopposed Batterskull claiming victory, but lost the game in his upkeep as his playset of Tundra failed to pay the 2GG he needed to satsfy the Summoners Pact! So close!

    Christof Kovacs 2 – 1 Bas Melis

    Bas Melis had begun the round by wishing Christof Kovacs good luck, and must surely have ended it with some regrets, because fortune had certainly favored the young German. Christof Kovacs advanced towards the top 8, while Bas Melis was cast back down into the mixer.


  • Deck Tech - Maverick
    by Tim Willoughby

  • Inaki Catena, Maverick at work

    One of the decks of the tournament for me as a coverage writer this weekend is Maverick, a Green/White beatdown disruption deck that owes something to the Vintage Hate Bears deck, a little something else to White Weenie decks of the Death and Taxes ilk, and does a few things that are entirely new thanks to the help of Green Sun's Zenith. Yesterday it was one of the decks that took a player through the day undefeated, and today I looked to find out a little more, sitting down with Inaki Catena of Spain, one of the 17 people running a version of it on Sunday.

    For reference, here's his list.

    On the face of things, Maverick (and no, I have no idea where the name comes from) is kind of a beatdown deck. It can certainly attack for fairly hefty amounts, being almost all creatures aside from its mana base. That label would be underselling it a little though. With the power of Green Sun's Zenith behind it, Maverick is able to find the right creature for a situation, to both put a hurt on opponents in the red zone, and hamper their strategy. Scavenging Ooze (from the Commander decks) is a great answer to many graveyard strategies, and Gaddock Teeg makes life hard for combo decks. Scryb Ranger serves to take Mother of Runes from being good to being quite spectacular at both protecting creatures, and proactively making them unblockable. One nice little trick with the Ranger is to use it with Dryad Arbor (another good Zenith target) to make a blocker that never dies (bouncing after blocks, to be replayed the following turn).

    While there is quite a lot of searching done with the Maverick deck, between Zenith, Stoneforge Mysitc and the omnipresent Knight of the Reliquary, the same is made harder for opposing decks. One of the signature cards of Maverick is Aven Mindcensor. This card does a good job of making a lot of decks lives very difficult indeed, be it using fetchlands, Green Sun's Zenith, Natural Order, merchant Scroll or any number of other search effects.

    Finally we have the equipment element. While Stoneforge Mystic doing his thing is nothing new, there is something particularly insidious about being able to give a powerful equip to a Thrun, the Last Troll, or a big trampling Terravore who will always connect.

    Speaking to Catena about the deck, he felt it was a good choice for the weekend, and going forward. He pointed to a few key sideboard cards, including Choke and Ethersworn Canonist (each fetchable with the sideboard Enlightened Tutor) that shorted up an otherwise scary combo matchup. This is a format where sometimes unfair things seem to happen. Long live the little green/white creature decks, which stops unfair things in all manner of eminently fair ways.

  • Learning Legacy: ANT and UW Stoneblade

    by Rich Hagon
  • In the final part of our Legacy podcast adventures, Jamie Westlake of the Netherlands takes us through the intricacies of the Ad Nauseam-Tendrils combo deck, while 2010 Dutch National Champion Bas Melis reveals a whopping fourteen counterspells in his blue-white Stoneblade deck. All in all, ten great decks for you to try at your next Legacy event.

    Download this podcast in MP3 format (8.2 MB)  
  • Deal with what you Can

    by Rich Hagon
  • It's the final round of GP Amsterdam, but for at least some of the feature match winners it won't be the end of the road. The top 8 beckons, but ahead of our intrepid octet are three more tables. All three may well ID, leaving these four tables effectively playing for 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th place. While all of these are excellent achievements, only two are likely to be greeted with a smile. Tiebreaks you can't control. The best Magic you can play when it matters most? It's time to deal with what you can, and wait for the final standings.

    Download this podcast in MP3 format
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