Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – Trial and Error
by Event Coverage Staff
One of the most appealing things about Legacy is its massive card pool. Virtually every Magic card that has seen print is legal in the format. This massive card pool has manifested itself in a wide open field, with a near limitless number of deck choices. The best example of this is in the Grand Prix Trial winners from Friday evening. There were eighteen trials run with sixteen distinct deck types represented amongst them. The decks ranged from the highly aggressive Goblins and White Weenie decks, crushing control decks such as Counterbalance and Land, all the way up to the intricate combo decks like Hive Mind, Aluren, and Dream Halls. With over 11,000 cards at their disposal, the possibilities for innovation are near limitless. Here are the Grand Prix Trial winning decklists:
Grand Prix Trial 1: Columbus 2010
Grand Prix Trial 2: Columbus 2010
Grand Prix Trial 3: Columbus 2010
Grand Prix Trial 4: Columbus 2010
Grand Prix Trial 5: Columbus 2010
Grand Prix Trial 6: Columbus 2010
Grand Prix Trial 7: Columbus 2010
Grand Prix Trial 8: Columbus 2010
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. – Quick Hits: Dealer Talk
Grand Prix Trial 9: Columbus 2010
by Blake Rasmussen
Dealers always have a unique take on a format since their livelihood literally depends on their ability to read a format and know exactly what last few cards players will be scrounging for before a tournament. That's especially true for Legacy, where cards like Imperial Recruiter, Doomsday and Grim Monolith can be hard to find in player's binders.
Especially in demand are those niche metagame cards that saw little or no play in Standard or Extended. At Columbus, Merfolk is driving a lot of the dealer sales today, as players stock up on tech both for and against the little blue fish.
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner has begun to catch hold in Merfolk lists as a way to dodge removal and fly over blockers, and has sold particularly well. Merfolk is full of creatures that can look awfully small if their various lords bite the dust, so an extra way to protect those lords, and one that can be vialed in at the three spot, is a welcome addition.
And just to show how fast the metagame can move, players just as quickly snapped up some anti-Kira tech in Llawan, Cephalid Empress. Llawan can be a backbreaker in the mirror or for any deck vulnerable to Islandwalkers, and can keep Merfolk from replaying any of its creatures by any method other than Aether Vial. Of course, one of Merfolk's best answers to a Lawan could just be to Vial in their own.
Other archetypes are getting some love as well. Mother of Runes has started to reassert itself in decks looking to attack with disruptive white creatures, usually paired with green or blue. Leyline of the Void , despite its reprinting in M11, has also sold well as various graveyard strategies continue to put up results. And City of Traitors is busy fueling any number of broken early plays, from Seething Songs to Show and Tells.
Aluren, a deck that has also picked up steam in recent months, has left several dealers sold out of its namesake card. The quick sales of Aluren are especially impressive considering the price of Imperial Recruiter, a key component to the combo deck's kill.
Several dealers also mentioned they were a little surprised at the slow sales for Force of Will, a key cornerstone of the format. However, given the diversity of viable decks available, and the importance of Force of Will, it's possible blue players already had their play sets around.
Finally, Grim Monolith, fresh off the ban list has sold well for several dealers as well, though no one agreed exactly what deck they were going into. Still, good card is good, and it wouldn't be surprising to see any number of Monolith-powered decks on Day 2.
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. – Dealing with Legacy
by Nate Price
Formats change on a near-daily basis. Every time a deck succeeds or fails, its legion of followers shrinks or grows. Over time, Magic players have become adept at reading the ever-shifting tides of formats to determine what the next big thing is going to be. With each change in the metagame, players are forced to react by changing their deck to deal with this newest threat. To fill this need for cards, players often turn to the many dealers lining the event halls.
Dealers can be an invaluable source of information. First as a player, and now as a coverage reporter, dealers have always provided me an early look into the field for a tournament. By taking stock of what cards are hot sellers, a player can learn what decks are in high demand, allowing them to prepare appropriately.
Perhaps the most invaluable resource dealers have access to is…well, cards! Whether you are looking to build a deck from scratch or simply fill the last couple of slots for a deck, there is no easier way to get things done by visiting a dealer and dropping a few bucks. I can't count the number of times that I've needed to make last minute alterations to a maindeck or sideboard only to be bailed out by a dealer that happened to carry the two or three cards I was missing.
As hard as it is for players to keep on top of the changes in a format, dealers have to be one step ahead. In order to do their jobs properly, they have to anticipate the needs of the players showing up at events. It does no good for them to learn about a new big card if they failed to bring it. On the other hand, they can't just carry a full stock of all 11,000 cards in Legacy. They have to properly read the format and bring the cards that players are most likely to need, and that can be difficult.
Pete Hoefling, from Star City Games, has become something of an expert in the field of Legacy preparation. In the past year, his tournament series, the StarCity Games.com open series has really blown up, recording record numbers for attendance at each stop. The stops feature both a Standard tournament and Legacy tournament, for which Hoefling has to make sure he is stocked. Having to stay stocked for each event and making sure that any changes are noticed can be a trying task, but one Hoefling admits he doesn't suffer through alone.
"It's not like we have something secretive or special that we have access to. What we do is the same thing that all of the other dealers have to go through to prepare for a tournament."
Despite their best efforts, sometimes, cards slip through the cracks or simply show up too late for the dealers to prepare.
"I remember a couple of years ago at US Nationals when players started going around looking for Yavimaya Barbarian. It became a sideboard card for the red/green decks against the blue decks in the field. You couldn't find them anywhere. Another good example is Uril, the Miststalker at Pro Tour-Honolulu. It literally blew up overnight."
To prevent things like this from happening to you, it's highly recommended to search for the lesser known cards for your deck ahead of time either online or at your local card shop. Only after those have been assembled should you really go trying to finish off a decklist. Commons and uncommon are also (ironically enough) considerably rarer at events than the big chase rares. It's a little easier trying to find the Tropical Islands for your deck than the one copy of Havenwood Battleground you need. Things like this are just something to keep in mind as you prepare for your next big tournament. At the end of the day, though, whether you're trying to figure out the metagame, or trying to find the cards to beat it, the dealers are your friends!
Saturday, 1:30 p.m. – Feature Match Round 3: Steve Sadin and Cory Deroos
by Blake Rasmussen
Round three featured a pairing of near opposites. On one side, Cory Deroos, the Michigan native running Merfolk at his first Legacy tournament ever.
On the other, Steve Sadin, bringing some Goblins to the table at what is most assuredly not his first Legacy tournament. It's not even his first Legacy Grand Prix in Columbus. Sadin took down Grand Prix Columbus in 2007 playing Flash Hulk Counterbalance. Oddly enough, he had to beat Goblins in the finals to take that crown.
"The deck was awesome," Sadin said. "But be sure, it was the man, not the deck."
Sadin was also the only former Legacy Grand Prix Champion in attendance. So, uh, no pressure or anything.
Sadin won the roll and chose to play first, like a champion. Unlike a champion, he had to mull to five while the new kid on the feature match table got to keep his seven
"Seems good for me," said Deroos.
"Don't get too excited," warned the defending GP champion.
"It's better than you drawing seven."
"That's what you think!"
Both players played "Aether Vial, go," turn one while Sadin just ticked up his Vial and laid a land turn two. Deroos had a second Vial while both players continued playing lands, but no creatures, in the early turns.
Deroos was first on the board as he hard cast a Merfolk Sovereign on turn three, while Sadin merely Vialed in a Mogg War Marshall that he let perish during his upkeep.
All that build up led to some pretty explosive turns. Sadin used Aether Vial to put Goblin Warchief onto the battlefield, followed by Goblin Lackey and a cycled Gem Palm Incinerator on the Sovereign. Steve though for a moment, contemplating various attacks in the face of two untapped Vials on one and two, but ultimately decided to attack with everything, two tokens, the Warchief and the Lackey. A Cursecatcher jumped out of Deroos hand and in the way of the Lackey, but the other little green men ran in unabated.
Deroos, well up on cards in hand over Sadin, merely upped both Vials to two and three, then cast another Sovereign before passing.
Sadin, out of gas, could only play a land and pass the turn while Vial brought out the popular Kira and a Coralhelm Commander, who was immediately fully leveled on Deroos' first main phase before attacking.
Out of gas, Sadin played nothing but lands and had to watch as his Mountains were overrun by fish.
Cory Deroos 1 – Steve Sadin 0
Deroos liked his opening hand while Sadin, once again, was forced to mulligan.
"The pressure got to me. None of these hands look good enough. Are these champion hands? I don't know," he said.
Neither had a turn one play, and Sadin's turn two Goblin Piledriver met the full Force of Deroos' Will. When Deroos had the turn two Standstill, it looked like this agro matchup would slow down a step or five.
Deroos tried to work under the Standstill with a Mutavault, but Sadin's Wasteland made short work of that. And while Sadin was able to play lands, including a Rishadan Port to lock down the only Island on the table, Deroos was left, um, fishing for more lands.
Eventually Sadin broke the Standstill with an Aether Vial, which Deroos allowed. The follow up Piledriver however, was countered by Force of Will. However, when Deroos got his turn back, he still didn't have another land, though he did play an Aether Vial that could help mitigate the problem.
Sadin, meanwhile, had a second Vial and Lackey, who eventually brought out both a Goblin Cheiftan and a Goblin Ringleader.
And while Deroos eventually freed his Island from the Rishadan Port with a Wasteland, it came far too late to stop Sadin's growing army.
Cory Deroos 1 – Steve Sadin 1
This time both players were able to avoid mulligans, each leading with a turn one Aether Vial. Deroos, however, missed his second land drop and only upped his Vial. Given that his only land was a Wasteland, the keep seemed strange at first.
Until, that is, he played his best weapon against Goblins after drawing the Island he needed: Umezawa's Jitte. With the Coralhelm Commander he Vialed in, that Jitte threatened to take the game over quickly.
Sadin, however, wasn't without his own tricks, and shot down the Commander with a Pyrokinesis during Deroos' upkeep.
Deroos wasn't without his own tricks, though as he Vialed in a Reejery on his main phase then cast a Lord of Atlantis, untapping another Island drawn this turn, and then equipping Jitte. Sadin simply Vialed in a Piledriver, an imposing blocker that could stall Jitte for the time being.
Deroos continued to add more creatures to the battlefield with a Sovereign and another Reejery, making all the Merfolk on his side of the table 5/5s. Sadin kept pace with a Tin Street Hooligan on the Jitte to avoid falling too far back, but he still looked to be in trouble as his Ringleader whiffed on all four revealed cards.
Deroos attacked with the team and dropped Sadin to 7 life all the way from 19, while still himself sitting pretty at 20. It looked like the reigning champ was in trouble against the new guy.
On what looked like it could be his last upkeep, Sadin though for some time whether to up his Aether Vial from 4 to 5 counters. Eventually, he went with 5.
The move paid off as he drew one of his outs, tapping three of his lands and casting Goblin Matron, which immediately found the Siege-Gang Commander Sadin was looking for.
"Yyyyyup," said Deroos.
Cory Deroos 1 – Steve Sadin 2
With no good attacks on the ground, Deroos was only able to attack with Kira and pass back after playing a Jitte he couldn't equip.
Sadin did some math, checked that Deroos had no cards, and then attacked with everything, for a total of eight goblins. Piledriver was a 15/2, and with two Siege-Gang activations, suddenly Sadin and his "Deck of Champions" had pulled out a close one.
"By the hair of my chinny chin chin," said Sadin.
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. – The Variety of Legacy
by Blake Rasmussen
More so than any other format, Legacy gives players options. With a card pool that spans the entire history of Magic, new decks and old cards are always threatening to step back into the limelight. And with the banning of Mystical Tutor, Grand Prix Columbus is one of the most diverse tournaments in terms of viable deck choices in recent memory.
A quick scan of the top tables and the Grand Prix Trial winning deck lists reveals nearly 20 viable decks.
Goblins, Merfolk and Zoo looked to be battling it out for the most popular decks among the top 50 or so tables, but they faced some steep competition from some known and unknown decks.
Reanimator, thought to be in trouble with the loss of Mystical Tutor, put up a strong showing as players were bringing anything from Iona, the Shield of Emeria to Stormtide Leviathon in play from their graveyard. Also looking to utilize the graveyard were several Dredge decks hoping to catch players without their Tormod's Crypts or Relics of Progenitus.
Noticeably absent, however, was the other primary Mystical Tutor deck besides Reanimator, Ad Nauseam, as combo players looked toward other decks. There was a smattering of Belcher, Aluren, and Dream Halls near the top in round four. Belcher tries to play a quick Goblin Charbelcher or Empty the Warrens for the quick kill, while Aluren wants to simply resolve its namesake card to infinitely bounce Parasitic Strix and Cavern Harpy. Dream Halls, a deck that has been on the fringe of playability for a while, utilizes Show and Tell – one of the most popular cards in the room not named Brainstorm or Force of Will – to play a quick Dream Halls followed by Conflux and multiple Cruel Ultimatums.
Another deck that utilizes Show and Tell is Hypergenesis, and at least one player was seen attacking an Emrakul, the Aeon's torn into his opponent's very small Merfolk.
Counterbalance decks of all shapes and sizes were also making their presence known. Most were using Jace, and most were also Bant colored. Almost all of them had Tarmogoyf to hold the fort while they locked their opponent down with the Coldsnap enchantment.
Seismic Assault/Life from the Loam decks were also eating up spots at the top tables, most of them sporting Dark Confidants and a Burning Wish sideboard.
42 Land, a recent darling of the Legacy circuit, had a number of players sitting at 4-0 early on. The combination of Life from the Loam, Explore, Manabond and friends remained popular.
A number of other decks had a few lone representatives still rocking undefeated records, including Burn, Survival Madness, Junk, and Faeries.
Unlike the last Grand Prix in Columbus, this one looks like it'll be less about one deck and more about how many decks can possibly co-exist in one room.
Feature Match Round 4 - Brad Nelson vs. Adam Yurchick
by Nate Price
By this point, both of these players have become household names in the world of Magic. Adam Yurchick is a longtime player originally from right here in Ohio. In addition to his National team appearance, he finally broke through with a win at Grand Prix-Houston earlier this year. His opponent has been on quite a tear recently himself. Brad Nelson, originally bursting onto the competitive scene as FFFreak on Magic Online, he has translated his game into a win at Grand Prix-Washington DC, a Top 8 performance the following week at Pro Tour-San Juan, and, most importantly, a victory for himself and the Community at the recent Community Cup Challenge in Seattle.
"I guess we shouldn't have told each other what we were playing," Nelson smiled as he sat down.
"I knew we were going to play each other…I just didn't think it'd be this soon."
"You knew!? That's pretty impressive!"
Adam Yurchick (Left) and Brad Nelson (Right)
Nelson's first seven cards didn't even spend two full seconds in his hand before returning to the deck. Finding his second hand more to his liking, he started things off with a Sensei's Divining Top. Yurchick made a Top of his own to match Nelson's and passed the turn. Nelson used his Top on his upkeep to search for a second land, finding a Karakas. Meanwhile, Yurchick wasted no time assembling the combo with a second-turn Counterbalance. Nelson dug for a third land, finding a Scrubland to power out a Hymn to Tourach. Yurchick's blind Counterbalance revealed a Force of Will to come, but the Hymn hit, forcing him to discard an Enlightened Tutor and Daze.
Yurchick continued building, this time adding a Relic of Progenitus to his board. When Nelson tried to add a Knight of the Reliquary to his board, Yurchick responded to his Counterbalance trigger by cracking a Polluted Delta, setting up a fresh Top. He found an Oblivion Ring to counter the Knight, which drew a frown from Nelson.
"Do you promise to keep the Oblivion Ring on top for the rest of the game," Nelson asked?
When Yurchick just responded with a quizzical glance, Nelson just prodded him with a "just say yes."
"I had planned on it," Yurchick responded with a chuckle.
Without missing a beat, Nelson scooped up his cards.
Brad Nelson 0 – Adam Yurchick 1
"You know, if you beat me, you can't come to my pool party," Nelson told Yurchick.
"Wait, wait…you're having a pool party?"
"I put up on my Facebook page a little while back that I wanted to go swimming and anyone who didn't day two was free to join me. Since then, people keep coming up to me asking when the pool party is."
"That is awesome."
Both players kept their opening draws. Nelson started with another Top in the second game, though this one was joined by a Mox Diamond for a little extra juice. Yurchick found himself Top-less in the second game to the delight of the female spectators. An Engineered Explosives for zero cleared away the Mox Diamond just in time for Yurchick to get his Top on (sorry ladies!). With the way clear, Nelson played a Tarmogoyf. Yurchick had neither Force of Will or Daze to spend on the monster, and it hit play unscathed. The one he attempted next turn was not as lucky. After an Enlightened Tutor for Back to Basics, Yurchick Topped into a Force of Will to stop the second 'Goyf.
All of Nelson's lands were locked under Back to Basics. This gave Yurchick the time he needed to dig for a Swords to Plowshares to kill the 'Goyf before it killed him. A couple of turns later, he searched up a Counterbalance to put Nelson in the lock. Mr. DC refused to go down without a fight. He found a Marsh Flats to search up a basic Swamp, allowing him the ability to Top each turn. He had gotten Yurchick to a low three life, but Yurchick soon found a way out of the hole. A Thopter Foundry provided him a way to gain a little extra life if necessary.
Nelson has seen enough.
Stuck under the lock, Nelson had his Hymn to Tourach countered by Counterbalance even with Yurchick tapped out. Duress met a Sensei's Divining Top. With the lock in place, Yurchick began the long road to victory. He sacrificed his tapped Seat of the Synod to make a 1/1 flying Thopter. After a couple more turns of being locked out, Nelson scooped up his cards.
"I've seen enough."
Brad Nelson 0 – Adam Yurchick 2
Feature Match Round 5 - Kyle Boggemes vs. Josh Utter-Leyton: "How many cards do you have?"
By Blake Rasmussen
Both Kyle Boggemes and Josh players shuffled up in silence. Maybe it was a Bloods/Crips sort of thing, as both were sporting t-shirts from competing web sites. Or maybe it was just because they knew they were in for a Counterbalance mirror and couldn't afford the time or the distraction. Turns out, the definitely couldn't afford the time.
Both kept players kept their hands and had strong openings. Boggemes led with Academy Ruins into Sensei's Divining Top, while Utter-Leyton had a turn two Counterbalance resolve.
Boggemes had the perfect answer, as played Engineered Explosives with Sunburst=2 but X=3, allowing him to likely dodge any Counterbalance blind flips.
And that's how the board sat, with a few lands added, for several turns as Boggemes worked his Top and Utter-Leyton accumulated cars.
"How many cards do you have?" asked Boggemes.
Again, they passed back.
"How many cards do you have?" asked Utter-Leyton.
Again they passed back.
"How many cards do you have?"
Boggemes eventually blew up the Counterbalance with the Engineered Explosives then played a Relic of Progenitus. Utter-Leyton Brainstormed at the end of turn, then cracked a Flooded Strand to shuffle away the junk.
Utter-Leyton attempted another Counterbalance on his turn, but was likewise met by Counterspell. Utter-Leyton didn't argue and promptly placed his second CB in the graveyard. Of course, Boggemes' ability to re-buy Explosives with his Academy Ruins likely played a part in that decision.
This time it was Boggemes turn to try a Counterbalance, which, likewise, was met by Counterspell from Utter-Leyton. Boggemes didn't argue either, and the third Counterbalance of the game was put into the graveyard.
It was, however, a feint, as Boggemes followed up with Jace the Mind Scupltor. Utter-Leyton had the Counterspell, but Boggemes was able to protect it with a Force of Will, removing Thopter Foundry.
Utter-Leyton had another answer on his turn with an Oblivion Ring removing the offending Planeswalker. Boggemes let it resolve, but then Force of Willed Utter-Leyton's attempt at a Jace of his own.
Utter-Leyton had a Tarmogoyf, but Boggemes put his Engineered Explosives on top of his library before blowing up both graveyards with Relic.
Boggemes had a Counterbalance on his turn, and the Counterspell for Utter-Leyton's hard cast Force of Will.
The instants let the Tarmogoyf get in for one damage while Boggemes continued to work his Top, now with the lock well in place. When Engineered Explosives blew up the Oblivion Ring, allowing Jace to bounce the Tarmogoyf, it looked like Boggemes was taking control of the game. And when he found a Moat to keep any further Tarmogoyfs at bay, Utter-Leyton scooped up his cards.
Kyle Boggemes – 1 Josh Utter-Leyton – 0
Boggemes mulliganed, but both players had Island, Sensei's Divining Top on turn one. It was going to be that kind of game.
Both players also had Krosan Grips for each other's Tops soon thereafter. This wasn't an exact mirror (Utter-Leyton was four colors, while Boggemes was three and had Enlightened Tutor), but it sure seemed like it.
"How many cards?" asked Boggemes.
Eventually, Utter-Leyton attempted a Vendilion Clique, to which Boggemes responded with a Brainstorm and a Swords to Plowshares. Boggemes revealed Island, Counterbalance and Vedalken Shackles. Utter-Leyton let him keep them all.
With the way clear, Utter-Leyton then managed to play out his Counterbalance first, though he still lacked the Top to go with it.
Boggemes tried his own Counterbalance, but it was met with Pyroblast. He followed up with Vedalken Shackles, which resolved, but was quickly trumped by Jace, the Mind Sculptor from Utter-Leyton.
When Boggemes attempted his own Jace the following turn, Utter-Leyton had the Counterspell, as well as the follow-up Sensei's Divining Top.
Boggemes tried the EE trick again, with Sunburst=2 and X=4. It resolved. However, with only 20 minutes left on the clock and no answer to Jace presenting itself in his next draw step, Boggemes chose to pack it up.
Kyle Boggemes 1 - Josh Utter Leyton 1
On the play, Boggemes mulliganed while Utter-Leyton was content to stay with his original 7.
Neither player had Sensei's Divining Top to start this game, but Boggemes had a turn two Counterbalance, which drew a Force of Will, pitching Jace. Boggemes let the Force resolve and passed back.
Naturally, Utter-Leyton had a Counterbalance, though Boggemes lacked the Force of Will to really make this match a ridiculous parody of itself. Instead, Boggemes tried a Back to Basics on his turn, but was thwarted by another Force of Will from Utter-Layton.
Boggemes main phased an Enlightened Tutor for a Sensei's Divining Top, then Brainstormed it into his hand once Utter-Leyton revealed a land on the top of his deck with Counterbalance. Out came the Top.
Utter-Leyton had a Pithing Needle for the Top, as both players continued to eek out any advantage they could find.
Boggemes then tried Jace, while Utter-Leyton fought back with a Counterspell. Continuing to slug back and forth, Boggemes had a Force of Will, while Utter-Leyton had ANOTHER Counterspell.
Another Boggemes Jace was countered by a hard cast Force of Will, and Boggemes followed up with a Vedalken Shackles, which didn't have anything to Shackle at the moment.
Again, both players drew, passed, and asked how many cards the other had.
Eventually, Boggemes jumped back in the game with a Krosan Grip on the Pithing Needle locking down his Top.
An Enlightened Tutor from Boggemes made it past the Counterbalance, which had yet to actually counter anything, and found Engineered Explosives. With an Academy Ruins on the table, Boggemes looked like he was going to start getting back in the Counterbalance game with another X=4, Sunburst=2 Explosives.
Oblivion Ring for Utter-Leyton took out the Shackles in the meantime.
Boggemes blew up the Counterbalance, then brought back the Explosives once again. When he tried to leave his draw step, Utter-Leyton had a Vendillion Clique. Two Counterspells and a Brainstorm from Boggemes, and Pyroblast, Brainstorm, and a Spell Snare from Utter-Leyton later (in some order. It was complicated), and the Clique resolved, but the Explosives was safely hidden on top of Boggemes' library.
Still, the Clique went to work, taking Boggemes to 14 for the first non-fetchland damage of the game (almost the match if it wasn't for that pesky 1/2 Tarmogoyf).
Utter Leyton had a Tarmogoyf and Counterbalance to follow up, but Boggemes had an Engineered Explosives, this time with Sunburst and X both equal to 3. This killed the Clique and freed the long-ago Oblivion Ringed Shackles, allowing Boggemes to take the Tarmogoyf.
The Tarmogoyf was a 5/6 and got one attack in before approximately the 87th Jace of the match, this time from Utter-Layton, bounced the Tarmogoyf back to its rightful owner's hand. Boggemes, in turn, fought right back with an Oblivion Ring on Jace, and, once again, the board was pretty much at parity...
Utter-Leyton then had his OWN Oblivion Ring, freeing his Jace and using it to Brainstorm, followed by a Counterbalance and another Top.
Meanwhile, time had been called, and, with no way to win in extra turns, this Counterbalance mirror ended, appropriately, in a tie.
Kyle Boggemes 1 - Josh Utter Leyton 1
Feature Match Round 6 - Noah Swartz vs. Gabe Walls
by Nate Price
"I'm not very good at the coin flipping part of life."
Coming from Gabe Walls, Magical Playboy Billionaire, that statement could have a number of meanings. His opponent, the grizzled Noah Swartz, is coming off a spectacular Top 8 finish at Pro Tour-San Juan.
Swartz started off with a Goblin Lackey.
After a brief pause, Walls simply informed him, "That's not going to resolve." A Force of Will joined the Goblin in the graveyard. On his second turn, Swartz attempted an Æther Vial, which is arguably the most important card in this matchup, with a Mountain untapped to pay for a potential Daze. Walls went into his deck with a Brainstorm, eventually surfacing with a second Force of Will. After sadly putting his Vial into the Bin, Swartz followed it with a Goblin Lackey.
On his turn, Walls cracked his Scalding Tarn before playing a Brainstorm.
"I bet you'll never guess what I'm looking for," he joked, pointing at his untapped Tundra.
"Uh…Path to Exile?"
"Yes. Path to Exile."
Some people are content just playing Goblins. Noah Swartz wants to be one.
Unfortunately , Walls didn't find his "Path to Exile" and was forced to settle for a Sensei's Divining Top instead. On the following turn, Swartz exploded. A Goblin Lackey allowed him to put a Goblin Warchief into play, enabling him to cast two Mogg War Marshalls into play off of his two Mountains. Walls simply Topped at end of turn, untapped, played a land, and passed. Swartz paid the echo on his War Marshall before sending his Goblins over for seven. Walls dropped to nine.
A Flooded Strand dropped him even further, though it did provide a fresh deck to Top into. He found a Swords to Plowshares for the Warchief, but a pair of Goblin Ringleaders provided him with too much gas for Walls to stabilize.
Noah Swartz 1 – Gabe Walls 0
As soon as the game finished, Walls reached into his pocket for his Luis Scott-Vargas approved Cheat Sheet™ to figure out how to sideboard the matchup. The oversized blueprint-for-success brought a chuckle from Swartz.
'What? I said don't judge.'
"Don't judge," Walls said with a laugh of his own.
After consulting the hieroglyphs and making the appropriate exchanges, he presented his deck. As he did, Swartz picked his up and said, "I need to change my sideboard."
"What's wrong," Walls asked? "Don't know the matchup? It's not like they're the two most played decks in the format or anything."
After drawing his first seven cards and immediately mulliganning, Walls shot a deadpan "Nice joke, deck."
Walls started the second game with an immediate Pithing Needle set on Æther Vial. Swartz started with the same Goblin Lackey from the first game. Walls dispatched it soon thereafter with a Swords to Plowshares. Two Wastelands from Swartz ate two Tundras, but not before Walls could assemble Counterbalance and Sensei's Divining Top on consecutive turns.
"Show me a two," Swartz said as he cast a Goblin Piledriver. After sacrificing a Flooded Strand and activating his Top, Walls was unable to oblige. The top of his deck contained an Island, a Force of Will, and a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. After drawing the Jace, Walls shuffled his deck with a Scalding Tarn to try and Counterbalance a Gempalm Incinerator. He missed again.
Swords to Plowshares took care of the Piledriver, leaving Swartz with only the Incinerator in play. A Goblin Ringleader met an immediate affirmation by Walls, knowing that there weren't any four drops on top of his deck. A second Swords put Swartz back down to his Incinerator, though the Ringleader had wrangled up a Mogg War Marshall for him. A second Ringleader added even more gas to his hand. Walls had his back up against the wall. He had a Force of Will to stop Swartz's attempt at a Goblin Warchief, but the ensuing attack dropped him to five. The final Wasteland dropped Walls to a mere Plains and Island. With no way to clear the board available to him, Walls conceded.
'And I will call him…Mini-Me.'
"Oh, math and Magic."
Noah Swartz 2 – Gabe Walls 0
Saturday, 5:15 p.m. – Public Events: Just how you like it
by Blake Rasmussen
Not everyone makes Day Two of the Grand Prix. True story. In fact, not everyone makes it out of round three. Almost as many don't even make it into the big tournament, instead coming to cheer on their friends, sell some cards, absorb that Grand Prix atmosphere and, of course, play in some side events.
The Public Events schedule at Grand Prix Columbus offers players literally any type of tournament they can imagine. Two-Headed Giant booster draft? Sure. Elder Dragon Highlander? Why not! Vintage? If you've got eight, they'll run it. Standard win-a-box? They've got that and plenty more.
Most players are Grand Prix competitors who just didn't have that Magic touch this time around and quickly found themselves out of contention for day two. And even the most competitive players are spending their extra time in formats like EDH for the sheer thrill of something different.
"It's the randomness of it. Who knows what your opponents are going to play?" said Spencer Donaugh, who was one of the players who checked the drop box for the Grand Prix.
Only in EDH, one of the many side events available at Grand Prix Columbus
Then again, one of his opponents, Nishu Doshi, simply showed up to sell some cards and play in some side events. His EDH deck was the only deck he brought with him.
The most popular format has been M11 limited, said David Weitz, who was organizing the public events tournaments, followed by the Legacy win-a-box tournaments for players who want to get a little more out of the Legacy cards.
Standard, Weitz said, has also been popular as players prepare for the Pro Tour Qualifier being held on Sunday. Players are getting in all the extra practice they can for what will likely be a large PTQ.
Among the casual crowd, Weitz said Two-Headed-Giant Booster drafts have been popular among spectators, the guys-with-girlfriends crowd, and father-son duos.
With so many options, the Public Events area is a bit of a fantasy land. Where else can you see players playing Moxen next to the table with Erratic Portals bouncing Eternal Witnesses next to Sun Titans deciding which head is better to attack?
Public events will continue through Sunday, when a Pro Tour Qualifier feeding Pro Tour Amsterdam will start at 10 a.m. (9 a.m. registration), and a Grand Prix Trial for Grand Prix Portland (Sept. 11-12) will start at 1 p.m. (noon registration).
Video Feature: Deck Primer - CounterTop
by Nate Price
Feature Match Round 7 - Brett Blackman vs. Tommy Kolowith
by Blake Rasmussen
"I'm not gonna lie, I don't know why this is a feature match," said Blackman before confirming that Kolowith was also 5-1. That, Brett, is why.
Kolowith has long been an Eternal format specialist, and today he's brought a version of his signature Dark Rituals and Tendrils of Agony combo deck, this time featuring Doomsday and Helm of Awakening.
Blackman, meanwhile, is hoping to cheat out Progenitus or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn early enough and backed by enough counter Magic to keep Kolowith's combo deck off balance.
Blackman won the die roll and elected to play first. He made a bit of a face at his opening seven, but, like Kolowith, ended up keeping.
Kolowith had the first play of the game, a Sensei's Divining Top off an Underground Sea that signaled what was to come. Meanwhile, Blackman Brainstormed and fetched out a Tropical Island, allowing him to play a Noble Hierarch on turn two.
Kolowith, looking for an opportunity for his combo deck to go off, merely played a fetch land and passed the turn.
A Pondered and Hierarch attack was all Blackman had, likely setting up his own combo of Show and Tell + Monster the following turn. At the end of Blackman's turn, Kolowith Brainstormed and fetched before Topping. (That sentence care of every Legacy game ever.)
Kolowith considered his hand again before casting a main-phase Brainstorm, then cast an unkicked Orim's Chant in Blackman's upkeep. Blackman merely cracked for two with a Dryad Arbor and, unable to cast any spells, passed the turn back.
Once again Kolowith considered his options, this time attempting the main phase Orim's Chant that would signal he was ready to go off. Blackman, however, Force of Willed the Chant, forcing Kolowith to pass back.
Able to cast spells once again, Blackman cast Show and Tell. It wasn't exactly a fair trade, as Kolowith's Sensei's Diving Top could neither attack for 15 nor destroyed six permanents at any point. Blackman's Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, however, could.
Still, Kolowith could largely ignore it if he went off this turn. A third Orim's Chant gave him the space he needed to start casting Rituals, a Lion's Eye Diamond, and a Helm of Awakening. The Helm along with two Tops gave him a storm count of roughly a million. When he cast Doomsday with a Tendrils on Top, Kolowith showed exactly how 15/15s can get beaten by one-mana artifacts.
Tommy Kolowith 1 - Brett Blackman 0
If game one was fast, game two was even faster. Blackman played a few spells early that attacked and blocked (Tarmogoyf, Noble Hierarchs), but only had one Force of Will for disruption. On turn three, Kolowith mapped out his turn perfectly with some help from a turn one Sensei's Divining Top. Kolowith played Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual and Ad Nauseam. Blackman had the Force of Will, but that merely gave Kolowth the storm count he needed to play Lion's Eye Diamond, flip the Top for another Diamond, play Infernal Tutor (cracking the Diamond's in response) for another Infernal Tutor, which fetched the lethal Tendrils of Agony.
Tommy Kolowith 2 – Brett Blackman 0
Feature Match Round 8 - Ben Lundquist vs. Alex Bertoncini
by Nate Price
"That was a big die roll, there. A big die roll," Bertoncini joked as he lost the roll to Lundquist. The die they used to randomize who went first measured about three millimeters per side.
Both players mulliganned their opening draws. Then their next.
'Lundquist is unhappy about his mulligan to five. I don't blame him.'
"What do we have mulligan disease over here? It must be spreading," Bertoncini joked. "This is going to be the most epic match ever. All these mulligans, they're just the calm before the storm.
With a fresh set of hands, and only ten cards between them, they players began the match. Lundquist's opening Duress stripped a Force of Will from a hand containing a Wasteland and three Merfolk. When Bertoncini untapped, drew, and then put an Æther Vial into play off of the Wasteland, he shot Lundquist a sly grin.
Lundquist added a Crystal Vein to his side. It soon became his only land, as Bertoncini stripped the Underground Sea away. The Vial went to work, powering out a Cursecatcher, Silvergill Adept, and Lord of Atlantis for Bertoncini on a board with no lands. When Bertoncini added a Merfolk Sovereign to play, Lundquist scooped up his lone permanent.
"That was a good Æther Vial."
Ben Lundquist 0 – Alex Bertoncini 1
You'd be smiling, too, if you were up a game.
Hands were a little better for the second game, both players sticking on their original seven. Lundquist led with a Ponder, trying to set up his combo. A Cursecatcher from Bertoncini gave him a little protection, and the second copy on the following turn, coupled with the Wasteland to kill Lundquist's Underground Sea, equaled a lot of protection.
A Mox Diamond enabled Lundquist to Duress Bertoncini, but it ran into a Force of Will. The following turn, Lundquist went for the setup. Dark Ritual led into Ad Nauseam, but Bertoncini had the Spell Pierce. Lundquist paid for it by sacrificing his Crystal Vein, but it left him tapped out. Bertoncini just sacrificed one of his Cursecatchers, stopping the combo cold. He added a Silvergill Adept to his team, revealing a Merrow Reejery.
Lundquist set up the following turn by using Infernal Tutor, doubling up on Dark Ritual. As he begin to cast them on the next turn, Bertoncini slowly started to tip his hand, revealing the Force of Will and blue card required to stop the eventual Ad Nauseam. Realizing that he was unable to win from that point, Lundquist conceded.
Ben Lundquist 0 – Alex Bertoncini 2
Feature Match Round 9 - Brian Arnoldy vs. Caleb Durward
by Blake Rasmussen
As diverse as the Legacy format is, most of the decks making the rounds today have been known quantities in some fashion. Blue-Green Madness was not one of those decks.
A throwback to a deck that once ruled Odyssey Block and was once a powerful Standard option, Caleb Durward's take on Madness mixed a little something old and a little something new. With Survival of the Fittest powering out Basking Rootwalla-fueled Vengevines, the deck was capable of some pretty quick kills.
Standing in his way was Brian Arnoldy who was rocking a Counterbalance/Natural Order deck that had been floating near the top of the standings most of the day. Could Arnoldy slow down the Vengevine assault in time to drop a Progenitus?
Blue-Green Madness, going first, came to play in game one, Stifling Arnoldy's first fetchland and following it up with Survival of the Fittest, the engine that makes his deck hum.
Arnoldy cast a Brainstorm and a Noble Hierarch and even the venerable Tarmogoyf. But none of them kept up with what Survival of the Fittest could do once resolve.
Durward discarded a Wild Mongrel
to get the chain going, fetching up three Vengevine
s over two turns, and Madnessing out two Basking Rootwalla
s. Before you could blink he was swinging for 12 hasty, uncounterable damage.
"The mongrel's actual a proxy for a good card, is that ok?" quipped Durward and Arnoldy checked his graveyard.
Even the Swords to Plowshares wasn't even close to enough, as Durward simply attacked the next turn with three Vengevines and two Rootwallas for just enough damage.
Caleb Durward 1 - Brian Arnoldy 0
Both players chatted between games about the aborted feature match next door, which was to feature Luis Scott-Vargas until it became apparent he had already conceded to his opponent.
"Who wants to watch LSV when you can watch Blue-Green Madness?" asked Durward, somewhat rhetorically.
Either way, no one got to watch for very long.
Arnoldy kept and led with Top, while Durward simply Wastelanded the opposing Tropical Island, once again playing the mana denial game. He followed up with a Noble Hierarch.
The Wasteland did its job, as Arnoldy, even after Topping, was short another land. Durward had Survival, and, after both players traded Force of Wills, the Survival stuck.
Arnoldy didn't find a land the next turn, but he did manage a Tormod's Crypt, which would keep Durward from going too nuts with the Survival. At least until the Trygon Predator Durward searched up got to attack.
The Counterbalance player finally found a second land, but the Predator, pumped by a Noble Hierarch took a 3-point bite out of Arnoldy's life. More importantly, he took out the Tormod's Crypt, which let Durward cycle through Vengevines again. He put two Vengevines in the graveyard and kept one Basking Rootwalla in his hand while Arnoldy searched for a Tundra, Brainstormed and Topped, finding a Relic of Progenitus.
Durward attacked again with his Predator on his turn. When Arnoldy went to break the Relic, Durward Survivaled out a third Vengevine and two Basking Rootwallas, via Madness and thus at instant speed, to bring back all three Vengevines. They were sitting on the sideline this turn, but Durward's board was quickly cluttered with lethal attackers, not to mention the Vengevine waiting in his hand. Arnoldy looked, topped, and, finding no help, extended his hand.
After the match, Arnoldy pointed out that he had made a mistake not using the Relic while Durward only had one Green mana open. Durward admitted it would have been better, but that he would have been able to simply find and attack with the other two Vengevines that turn, instead of waiting till after the Predator had already attacked.
"That deck's sick," said a passerby. "That deck is sick!"
We'll see just how sick it is on day two, as Durward will be back with more Rootwallas on Day Two.
Caleb Durward 2 - Brian Arnoldy 0