by Nate Price
Saturday, 10:00 p.m.
20/20 Vision: End of Day
by Frank Lepore
Round 9 Feature Match
A Battle of One Drops - Lucas Siow vs. Kyle Dembinski
by Nate Price
Saturday, 9:39 p.m.
Deck Tech - Hive Mind with David Sharfman
by Nate Price
Round 8 Feature Match
David Sharfman vs. Todd Anderson
by Nate Price
Saturday, 8:29 p.m.
Bad Moon Rising: Dark Ascension in Legacy
by Frank Lepore
Round 7 Feature Match
Adam Yurchick vs. Jacob Kory
by Nate Price
Saturday, 6:00 p.m.
20/20 Vision: Round 6
by Frank Lepore
Round 6 Feature Match
Ooze Your Daddy? - Adam Prosak vs. Max Tietze
by Nate Price
Saturday, 5:33 p.m.
For the Fun of It.
by Nate Price
Round 5 Feature Match
Michael Bernat vs. Christian Calcano
by Frank Lepore
Saturday, 4:56 p.m.
A Commanding Hobby
by Frank Lepore
Saturday, 4:17 p.m.
Deck Tech - Caleb Durward, Canadian Threshold
by Frank Lepore
Round 3 Feature Match
Chain Lightning For All! - Caleb Durward vs. Austin Yost
by Nate Price
Saturday, 3:17 p.m.
A Brief Legacy Overview
by Nate Price
Saturday, 2:09 p.m.
20/20 Vision: Round 3
by Event Coverage Staff
Saturday, 11:55 a.m.
Grinder Winning Decklists
by Event Coverage Staff
Info: Fact Sheet
Saturday, 11:55 a.m. – Grinder Winning Decklists
by Event Coverage Staff
GP Indianapolis Grinder
GP Indianapolis Grinder
GP Indianapolis Grinder
GP Indianapolis Grinder
GP Indianapolis Grinder
GP Indianapolis Grinder
Saturday, 2:09 p.m. – 20/20 Vision: Round 3
GP Indianapolis Grinder
by Nate Price
As I'm sure we've drilled into you a million times by now, one of the most defining characteristics of Legacy is the sheer number of decks that are not only in existence in the card pool, but completely viable. In the past, it was a common occurrence to see seven or eight distinct deck archetypes in the Top 8 of the event. Because of that, this seems like a great time to provide our readers with a series of snapshots of what is doing well here at Grand Prix Indianapolis. We'll be looking at the top ten tables, and giving you a quick glance at the decks resting nicely atop the standings. So here's the view from the top ten tables for Round 3:
As expected, there are a lot of decks represented at the top tables. Continue to check in as the rounds of play continue to put these decks to the test. At some point, the cream will rise to the top, but at this point, there's no telling what that will be.
Saturday, 3:17 p.m. – A Brief Legacy Overview
by Nate Price
Preparing for a Legacy event is no easy task. I've been covering Legacy Grand Prix for the past few years, and it never ceases to amaze me. At its very base, you have a core of decks that have been around forever, decks like Storm, Bant, Goblins, Merfolk...the list really does go on and one. Then, as decks have risen to dominance in the more contemporary formats, such as Standard or Extended, players have been eager to see how they can adapt them to the Legacy environment. This has added such powerhouses as Stoneblade, Faeries, and Affinity to the mix. And then you get the brewers who eagerly anticipate the release of new sets, waiting to see what cards they can either mix into the plethora of existing decks or build an entire deck around. Most recently, this has included cards like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Kuldotha Forgemaster, and Delver of Secrets. In any case, navigating the winding passages of Legacy can be very difficult without a map, so consider this a brief primer to help keep you from getting too lost.
One of the best ways to describe the appeal of Legacy is that it allows spectators to see how really cool some cards can be. Often, very cool cards will slip through the cracks because the time and environment simply aren't right. At some point in the future, though, these cards are given a life of their own in another format where they can really shine. Often that format is Legacy, and often those decks are combo decks. The sheer variety of different combo decks available in the format is one of the true hallmarks of Legacy. First up to examine is one of the creature-based combo decks in the format: Elves.
This deck is a derivative of the Elves Combo deck archetype that Luis Scott-Vargas used to dominate the Extended Pro Tour in Berlin in 2008. Here's a sample list:
So at first glance, it's hard to look at a deck containing this many creatures and immediately identify it as a combo deck. I mean, you play creatures, you overwhelm your opponent, you win, right?
While that is ultimately one of the main ways that this deck goes about its business, it's execution of this plan that really exemplifies the combo nature of it. Elves runs with a couple of different engines that work together to provide all the resources its pilot needs to win. The first is the mana engine created by Heritage Druid and Nettle Sentinel. If you manage to get three Sentinels and a Heritage Druid into play, every green spell you play nets you three mana. A large amount of mana can also be generated with Priest of Titania, Quirion Ranger, and Wirewood Symbiote. Returning the Ranger with a Symbiote resets the "once per turn" clause on the Ranger, allowing for a large amount of mana to be made for minimal effort. When you add that to the card drawing capabilities of Glimpse of Nature, Regal Force, and Elvish Visionary, it's really easy to simply snowball into more cards and more mana than you can imagine. Once you have all of that mana, you can use a Summoner's Pact to fetch your Emrakul, which you can cast, taking the extra turn needed to kill your opponent.
Now that's a combo.
Another vein of combo decks viable in Legacy are the graveyard-based ones. Here are a couple of examples:
The graveyard is a resource that is back in vogue in Standard nowadays thanks to the return of flashback, but it has always been a major player in Legacy. The first deck shown above uses a powerful suite of methods to put its creatures in the graveyard in combination with a slew of cheap ways to get them back into play. I can tell you from first-hand experience that Jin-Gitaxias, shall we say, limits your options? Each of the creatures in the deck has a specific purpose, and the deck does an exceptional job of searching for the exact one required and making sure that it gets into play as soon as possible.
Dredge, on the other hand, relies on a combination of cards to build an army rather than just swining for the fences. A graveyard filled with copies of Bridge from Below, powered by Breakthrough and a bevy of dredge creatures, takes advantage of the flashback on Dread Return to build an army of Zombies, all while using the Return to bring a Flame-Kin Zealot back from the dead, turning the Zombies into Zoombies and finishing the game in one fell swoop. Because of their immense power and the relative ease of disrupting them (just remove the graveyard), these decks have been in and out of play in the format as the metagame shifts around them. New cards like Grafdigger's Cage put yet another kink into the works for them, but there are always the brave souls willing to sleeve them up and show off a bit of their necromantic side.
I'm going to round this up with a quick tour of what I refer to as the "pure" combo decks. These decks are the essence of combo. They pick a pair or trio of cards that have a dominating interaction, and they design an entire deck to make sure that they get into play as soon as possible. Here are a few samples:
These decks are what combo is all about. The first, Belcher, is so explosive that it has the capability of killing before opponents have drawn their first card. Using a slew of cards that generate mana for free, the deck tries to jet out a Goblin Charbelcher. At this point, if it has a Land Grant, it removes the one Taiga in the deck, letting the Charbelcher run through uninterrupted, firing a massive salvo, killing opponents in one shot. Even if there is no access to the Taiga, the number of cards revealed is often lethal even without the safety net.
Up next is High tide. This deck is a revisiting of a deck that was a powerful older deck. Using High Tide in conjunction with an array of ways to untap lands, the High Tide deck is capable of generating an inordinate amount of mana. Between Blue Sun's Zenith and Time Spiral, the deck never has to take a break as it eventually builds up such an enormous amount of mana that it is able to sed that same Blue Sun's Zenith at an opponent's face, decking them with one spell. Backed up by a hand of free permission, it can even protect itself as it goes for the kill.
This final combo in this list is a variation on the Show and Tell decks that have found a nice niche in Legacy. The deck uses some combination of Show and Tell, Sneak Attack, or even Shelldock Isle in some versions, to get an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, or a Progenitus into play. At this point, since virtually nothing that players are playing can deal with these two threats, the player who controls them goes about defeating their opponent in a pair of attacks. If Sneak Attack is involved, it can even be shortened to one.
Very few dedicated control decks exist in this format, mostly owing to the fact that it's really easy to take a permission backbone for a deck and add in a few cheap, efficient creatures, and actually put your opponent on a clock. As such, the majority of the field that isn't running combo is running some creature-based aggressive deck. They can run from the hyper-aggressive Goblins deck to the more grinding Stoneblade decks. Here are a few sample lists:
Here is a nice cross-section of the aggressive decks in the format. On one side, you have Zoo and Goblins. Both decks run as many one-cost creatures as they can cram into their sleeves and follow that up with copious quantities of burn to finish what the creatures are unable to get done. These decks are lightning fast and use that speed to kill opponents before they are able to establish control or set up their combo. Ironically, the Zoo decks tend to be more focused, relying on playing threat after threat to drive things home, while the Goblin decks seem to pack more disruption for opposing strategies in the form of Watelands or Rishadan Ports, which the Zoo decks can't compromise their mana bases for, as well as some utility creatures such as Stingscourger or Tuktuk Scrappers to deal with appropriate threats.
On the other side of the spectrum, you get the more grinding creature-based decks. These decks use the powerful interaction between Stoneforge Mystic and big knives that dominated Standard to the point when they were no longer invited to the party. This deck comes in all flavors, with the Stoneforge and her tools providing the cone that the delicious multi-colored scoops are placed upon. Because the only thing that really connects them is the Stoneforge set, it could be possible to classify each different iteration of this deck as a separate entity. Ultimately, though, the only difference comes in how the decks win. Some overload with creatures and use the Mystics as support, some use the Mystics as the kill condition in an otherwise more controlling skeleton. Regardless, these decks offer an immense amount of variety. All you need is the basic 30 card skeleton, and you can fill in the blanks with whatever floats your boat.
Hopefully this gives you a bit more of an idea about what to expect as this Legacy Grand Prix goes on: pretty much anything.
Round 3 Feature Match - Chain Lightning For All! - Caleb Durward vs. Austin Yost
by Frank Lepore
Caleb Durward is no stranger to the feature match table, and legacy is his bread and butter. Austin Yost is an up-and-comer on the SCG Open Circuit, which gives both players weekly opportunities to test the format.
As the players shuffle up, they banter about their luck in terms of having to run the gauntlet against the known pros at every event, and after winning the die roll, Caleb assuredly chose to play first.
Caleb kept his opener, and Austin mulled to six, opening on a Figure of Destiny. Caleb didn't hesitate to Chain Lighting the Kithkin into Oblivion and pass back the turn. Caleb then landed the nimblest of mongeese - a Nimble Mongoose - and Austin responded with a Goblin Guide and a suspended Rift Bolt. Caleb took his turn, then cast Predict during his upkeep, followed by a Ponder to guarantee both plenty of cards in the graveyard and plenty of deck filtering. A Wasteland came down, and Caleb's graveyard was threatening Threshold in quick fashion.
He passed back to Austin and the suspended Rift Bolt faced a Force of Will before Goblin Guide crashed into the red zone, revealing a Lightning Bolt from the top of Caleb's deck. After some graveyard shenanigans, a newly minted 3/3 Nimble Mongoose surprise blocked the Guide, then Caleb took six damage from a pair of Lava Spikes from Austin. Caleb then responded with a Chain Lightning of his own before passing back.
Austin played another Goblin Guide, then a Flame Rift, dropping Caleb to a still-healthy 14 life, while Austin sat at 10. The Mongoose got in there for another three and Caleb passed the turn. The Goblin Guide threatened to drop Caleb to 12, but instead simply revealed a Brainstorm before swallowing a Lightning Bolt from Caleb. Caleb Pondered for some gas before keeping all three cards on top and playing a Wasteland.
With both players at four life, the game was looking close. A Price of Progress from Austin forced Caleb to Wasteland his own Taiga, leaving Caleb with zero lands and a mere Mongoose on the field! But this was no ordinary Mongoose, as he was able to drop Austin to a mere one life! Without an answer on the top of his deck, Caleb took game one.
Caleb 1, Austin 0
Both players sideboarded as they mused about how many byes the other had. Caleb took the opportunity to casually mention how good Predict was for both his deck, and just in general.
Austin chose to play first, and Caleb went to six cards; such is the cost of visiting Paris. Austin led off with a Goblin Guide that put Caleb into the tank before it was met with a Force of Will. With a land and pass, Austin directed a Lava Spike to the face before Caleb cast an end of turn Thought Scour on himself. Caleb untapped and cast Counterbalance. When Austin attempted to resolve a Chain Lightning, it was met with a Stifle from the top of Caleb's deck from the aforementioned Counterbalance. Caleb then cast a 4/5 Tarmogoyf that threatened to hastily put the game away.
Austin attempted to cast a Flame Rift and was thankful that it hit, dropping Caleb to 12 life. The Goyf then crashed into the red zone for four, dropping Austin to a similar 12 life! Another Flame Rift brought Caleb to eight and revealed a Lightning Bolt on the top for Caleb from the Counterbalance. The turn was repeated, reavlead a second Lightning Bolt and Caleb crashed in with the Tarmogoyf once more, bringing Austin to a precarious four life!
Caleb considered his options before passing the turn; he had to hold his Lightning Bolts, as cracking his pair of fetch lands to cast them meant Austin could respond by killing him with the cards in his hand. Austin thought for a moment, untapped, and cast a Lava Spike that was promptly countered by the Delver on the top of Caleb's Deck. The Tarmogoyf crashed into the red zone for what could be the final time and this could be it!
As Austin asked how many cards Caleb had, he thought about what would come next. With only a Fireblast and a Lightning Bolt in hand, and knowing Caleb had two Lightning Bolts in hand, Austin extended his physical hand in concession
Caleb 2, Austin 0
Saturday, 4:17 p.m. - Deck Tech - Caleb Durward, Canadian Threshold
by Frank Lepore
Caleb Durward is running one of the stalwarts of the Legacy format this weekend. While the deck has done away with a good number of its original Threshold cards over time, the deck is still referred to by the title Canadian Threshold in addition to RUG Delver or RUG Aggro.
Caleb Durward - Canadian Threshold
2012 GP Indianapolis - Legacy
The main premise of the deck is to play a tiny, efficient creature early in the game, that gets much larger over time, such as Delver of Secrets, Tarmogoyf, or Nimble Mongoose. You then back this up by efficient counterspells, burn spells, and library filtering, such as Ponder, Brainstorm, and Predict. These not only give you an amazing amount of card selection, but they also manage to fill your graveyard at breakneck speed! As you can imagine, such a quality is incredibly beneficial to almost all of the aforementioned creatures. Some lists also opt to run Snapcaster Mage, and yes, filling the graveyard benefits that gentleman as well.
Caleb had a mere two byes this weekend, but he managed to dispatch his round three opponent, Austin Yost, in efficient fashion. I sat down with Caleb after his match to ask him a few questions.
Why did you choose to play RUG Delver, otherwise known as Canadian Threshold?
"Well, I was doing a lot of testing, and I had this homebrew list I liked with Life from the Loam, Hakkon, Stromgald Scourge, and Lingering Souls in it, and that was testing well. I realized it had bad Maverick matchups, and I had to keep upping the number of Damnation. RUG Delver was just about 5% better against the field, so if there's a clear best deck, you should probably just play it, right?"
There was also a nostalgia factor for me, from the old Werebear days."
What decks are you expecting to face today?
"UW Stone-Blade, RUG variants, GW Maverick (GW Aggro), spotty bits of everything else you could imagine."
You just beat Monored 2-0 in round 3. How do you think your Red matchup is?
"Very good. Counters are very good against Monored, and CounterTop is at it's best there. I'm even running the miser's Scavenging Ooze for the incremental lifegain. I've also played against red decks about a million times in my career, and it was one of the first decks I'd ever played, so that also helps."
The RUG Delver/Canadian Threshold archetype is one of the premier decks in the Legacy format, and if you're playing any Legacy in the near future, you'd do well to look out for it! I wouldn't be surprised to see Caleb occupying the top tables in the coming days, so we'll keep our eyes peeled!
Saturday, 4:56 p.m. - A Commanding Hobby
by Frank Lepore
If you're playing Legacy here today, the odds are good that one of the primary reasons is your penchant for being able to play with older Magic cards; more specifically, being able to play with nearly every card available in Magic's long and illustrious history. Well with that being the case, the odds seem good that you might also be interested in Commander!
If you aren't in the know, Commander (formerly known as EDH, or Elder Dragon Highlander) is a format that uses 100 card decks, but there's a catch! You can only use a single copy of any given card in a deck, excluding basic lands of course. However, as I alluded to earlier, every set is legal in Commander! So if you can play a card in Legacy, the odds are pretty good that you can play the card in Commander - barring the cards that are found on their limited-but-necessary banned list, such as Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
The format also requires that your hundredth card be your "general" or "commander." The general is a legendary creature – any legendary creature you want - that starts out in the Commander Zone and can be cast from there. When your commander dies, he returns to your Commander Zone once more, only to be cast again when you have the mana. Though be warned, for each subsequent casting, the general will cost you two more colorless mana to cast!
Jonathan Medina and Adam Styborski, left to right.
Anyway, enough about the specifics! I'm sure all of you are already familiar with Commander enough as is, and if you aren't, you should be! The point is that when they're not slinging spells for the awesome prize pool that's given away at every large Magic event, many Magic players and personalities choose to play Commander!
Take Jonathan Medina - owner of LegitMTG.com, co-host of the Untapped podcast, and all around Magic financial guru - for example. He can be seen here playing side-by-side with DailyMTG.com's own columnist, Adam Styborski!
While most players choose to foil, or otherwise "pimp out," their Commander decks, Jonathan took it one step further: he purchased 100 Beta Scathe Zombies and put one behind every card in his Commander deck facing outward!
Some people use opaque sleeves; Jonathan chose to use actual beta commons! Of course Jonathan's general is none other than Sedris, the Traitor King: a zombie befit to rule an army of zombies.
"And when they go to the graveyard," Jonathan said of the sleeved cards in his deck, "I can just use them as Grave Titan tokens!"
Talk about utility! If the Legacy format is the Cadillac of competitive Magic, than Commander is most certainly the casual Magic equivalent.
Round 5 Feature Match - Michael Bernat vs. Christian Calcano
by Nate Price
"Man! No camera table," Calcano moaned! Apparently I wasn't good enough company for the established east-coast Magic pro. The shame! Though I guess when you put up the kinds of numbers he has over the past "The coverage loves me! I got six or so Feature Matches last Grand Prix, but no face time on the camera..." I assured him that if he kept winning, there was a special request to see his smiling face at some point.
His opponent this round, Michael Bernat, is an old-school Midwest Magic player who has put the game on the back burner at this point in his life. Once a regular face on the Pro Tour, he now can occasionally be seen popping up at the occasional Grand Prix, where his strong skillset always seems to guide him to at least a Day 2 finish. Despite this, he was still self-deprecating.
"I really suck. I only played in like one or two Grand Prix last year."
Bernat spent his first couple of turns digging through his library with Ponder and Preordain, searching for a way to get his combo rolling. On the other side of the table, Calcano started to set up his own board, accelerating his mana with a Noble Hierarch before adding a Stoneforge Mystic to his team. The Mystic fetched up one of her favorite targets: Sword of Feast and Famine, which could prove to be an important disruption for Bernat's High Tide assembly.
In the face of the impending cutlery, Bernat continued to dig a little deeper, using Braistorm and Explore to both sift through his deck and improve his board. He described his deck as "not very much fun to watch" before the match started, and I'm sure this is what he had in mind. The deck requires a large amount of set up in order to reach its goal, but it's the payoff that is when the real entertainment starts.
With a second Brainstorm and second Preordain, Bernat tapped himself out on his third turn. Combined with a bit of library manipulation from Polluted Delta, Bernat had seen a large portion of his deck considering the early stage of the game. Calcano was about to put some serious pressure on him, so it was important for him to get the ball rolling, and soon. Calcano untapped and added a Sylvan Library to his board, leaving two mana and his Mystic untapped, waiting to slip in a Sword at the end of Bernat's turn. Surprisingly, that came faster than I think even Calcano expected, as Bernat simply passed his turn with a full hand and five available mana.
After handing the Sword of Feast and Famine to the Mystic that had fetched it, Calcano attacked Bernat, knocking a Polluted Delta from his hand. After combat, Calcano added everyone's favorite planeswalker to his team: Jace, the Mind Sculptor. He immediately sent the top card of Bernat's deck to the bottom, though the result was less than desirable.
"Well that was a good card," Bernat admitted, grinning as he tapped his lands. "High Tide."
Calcano let it resolve, and Bernat floated a boatload of mana and announced a Time Spiral. Calcano had a Force of Will, but Bernat had a Pact of Negation. When Calcano emptied his hand for a second Force of Will, Bernat emptied his to play another Pact. The Time Spiral resolved, and both players drew new cards. At this point, they both started tallying Storm counts and mana in pool. There had been six spells played, and Bernat had four mana left in pool, a High Tide active, and a slew lands untapped. He used a Merchant Scroll to fetch a Meditate, knowing there wasn't going to be another turn. He had another Pact to stop Calcano's attempt at Force of Will, leaving Calcano surprisingly amused as he watched Bernat go through the paces.
At this point, it was a matter of Bernat finding the cards needed to either generate the mana he needed or a Storm card to kill with. Calcano joked as Bernat was thumbing through his deck one of the million times that I was "Probably on Facebook or something" since Bernat was just going off. Admittedly, the idea tempted me, but I was intrigued to watch him go through the motions. For those who have played Magic with me, they know that there is nothing I love more than drawing cards. I would rather draw every card in the universe than ever kill my opponent. For me, this was basically fan service.
As a quick breakdown, things went more or less like this:
Bernat: Draw some cards.
Bernat: Draw some more cards.
Bernat: What's the Storm count?
Bernat: I have a Brain Freeze in my sideboard.
Michael Bernat 1 – Christian Calcano 0
After about five minutes of watching Bernat effectively play solitare and hunt through his deck, the novelty had worn off on Calcano. He went from chuckling at how good Meditate was for Bernat to the dead eyes of a stuffed animal. Only the sweet release of Bernat revealing his kill condition seemed to once again infuse him with life. He commented during Bernat's combo that he should have used the Vendilion Clique in his hand to stop Bernat rather than gone with Jace.
"I don't know what I was thinking," Calcano sighed as he watched the game play out in a completely different manner than it probably would have otherwise.
The seven cards that he drew for his first hand in the second game took a little of the remaining luster out of him as he was forced to send them back for a fresh six. Those were much better, providing a Noble Hierarch and Sylvan Library over the first couple of turns. Worried about the Sylvan Library's ability to remedy Calcano's mulligan, Bernat chose to Force of Will the powerful enchantment, but Calcano had a Spell Pierce to force it through. Knowing that Bernat's deck wasn't going to touch his life total, Calcano would be able to use the Library to maximal advantage, simply using it to draw as many extra cards as he wanted, all while using Polluted Deltas and the like to send away the undesirable cards.
As expected, Calcano paid 8 life the first chance that he got, drawing and playing a Sword of Feast and Famine. Bernat's opening had been just as methodical as his first, playing an array of Ponders, Brainstorms, and Preordains in an attempt to sculpt the perfect hand. Calcano took a chance to chip at that perfect hand by equipping his Hierarch and attacking, eating a land from Bernat's hand.
At this point, Bernat chose to go for it. After untapping, he put a High Tide into the center of the mat. Calcano used Spell Pierce, making Bernat think. He had the mana to pay, but it would leave him with only one land untapped, which would make the post High Tide play impossible. It was like a hard counter in this spot. Bernat had to counter it, but didn't have an answer to the second Pierce that followed it. Even if he paid, he would have no play to follow it up, and was depleted on cards, facing down Calcano and a creature equipped with a Sword of Feast and Famine. Knowing how long his deck can take to go through the motions, he simply packed it up and went to the third game.
Michael Bernat 1 – Christian Calcano 1
Calcano once again started with a mulligan and a first-turn Noble Hierarch, though he didn't follow it up with anything this time around. Bernat had some mana acceleration of his own, an Explore, something that would have made the last game a completely different story. At the end of Bernat's turn, Calcano aimed a Vendilion Clique, the same card that could have changed the first game, at Bernat. He saw a hand of Preordain, two Turnabouts, Pact of Negation, Gigadrowse, and High Tide. Taking the Gigadrowse, Calcano untapped and attacked Bernat with the Clique, dropping him to 14.
Calcano's clock was almost as fast as the round clock seemed to be, now ticking down to eight minutes. Despite this, Bernate remained calm, still intent on piecing his combo together. Calcano used a Spell Pierce to stop a Merchant Scroll and then exacerbated Bernat's problems with a Knight of the Reliquary. Calcano was down to four cards in hand, but Bernat didn't seem to have anything. An attack dropped him to six, and Bernat had one last chance to assemble the big blue machine. He Brainstormed at end of turn, almost forgetting to keep one of the cards in his hand!
During his draw step, Calcano made his move. He floated a blue mana before fetching out a Karakas with his Knight of the Reliquary. He then returned the sneakily Legendary Vendilion Clique to his hand. When he tried to replay it, Bernat stopped him with a Pact of Negation. This was going to be the last turn anyway...
Then it began. Bernat had the High Tide. Calcano pushed back with a Spell Pierce, wich Bernat was happy to pay for. The earlier Explore had given him enough lands that he was able to pay for it and still have enough mana available to Turnabout. Calcano had one more chance to stop him with a Force of Will, but Bernat had the second Pact.
After a long, deep inhale, Calcano sighed, "Sure."
At this point, I'm sure there was a Storm count being kept. I'm sure there was a mana pool being tracked. I'm sure of these things because I had a wave of numbers and colors washing over me like a flood. I don't remember any of them. I couldn't tell you what they were. I just know that after a long slew of them, Bernat aimed a Blue Sun's Zenith at himself to replenish his hand. Calcano had a new hand himself, and that hand contained a pair of Force of Wills. Calcano played the first, and Bernat Forced back. When he played the second, Bernat switched gears. The second Force had put the Storm count to the point when Bernat could use a Cunning Wish to fetch the Brain Freeze from his sideboard, lethally aiming it at Calcano in a surprise win on the last turn of the game.
"I literally threw away every game," Calcano said, his head heavy in his hands. "If I just get Wasteland instead of Karakas, you can't go off there. I'm so stupid."
While a wall of spectators began to dissect the play of the games with Calcano, Bernat quietly picked up his cards, wished Calcano good luck, and melted through the throng.
Michael Bernat 2 – Christian Calcano 1
Saturday, 5:33 p.m. - For the Fun of It.
by Nate Price
With bigger, better, fuller Grand Prix schedule this year, many top flight players are carefully sculpting their schedules, picking and choosing the events they attend. Coming into Grand Prix Indianapolis, I wasn't sure how many players were going to make the trip considering that it is smack in the middle of a nice run of events of varying formats. Another strike against it in many players' minds is that it isn't either a Pro Tour format or a frequent Grand Prix format. With that in mind, it would make sense if they didn't want to expend the resources to attend an event that they surely weren't spending a lot of effort testing. I would completely understand that.
Brainstorms on LSV's mind.
Imagine my surprise then when Luis Scott-Vargas same by to say hello. Funny, I expected him to stay home... Curious, I asked him why he had chosen to come to Indianapolis of all Grand Prix.
"To play four Brainstorms . And to play cool foil cards. Actually, you could probably say to play four foil Brainstorms and that would be just fine," he laughed. "It's just nice getting to play these sentimental cards, like Karakas, Swords to Plowshares, and, obviously Brainstorm. You don't really get to play four Brainstorms in any format other than Mercadian Masques Block Constructed, and there aren't too many of those events going on!"
Clearly, LSV had Brainstorm on the mind. I wasn't sure to what extent until I probed him further. I asked him if there were any other non-Brainstorm reasons that he enjoyed the format so much. Clearly he wouldn't hop a plane to the Midwest and brave the cold simply for the love of Brainstorm, no matter how shiny or quadrupled it may be...or would he...
"The format is very diverse, and I mean beyond just looking at decks. There are so many things that can happen, and so many interesting decisions to make every game. Each game is different. Brainstorm is actually a perfect analogy for the format. You get to see a little bit of everything, and at the end of the day, you always enjoy it."
There it is again! More Brainstorm! And yet, I completely understand what he's saying and agree. You never know how your experience will go in a Legacy tournament. You could go fifteen rounds and play against fifteen decks. Every game you play is certain to have a different direction in which it goes, despite the enormous number of homogenizing cards like Preordain and Ponder in the format.
Despite all of these positive things that LSV is pointing out about the format, many people are leery to bother with Legacy. After all, the decks can be expensive to build, and the format can appear, at first glance, to be filled with a bunch of unfun games against non-interactive decks.
"If someone came up to me with those concerns, I'd tell them that it isn't like that at all. The amount of scary combo decks is much lower than people think. Cards like Force of Will and Spell Pierce have really done a good job of keeping it under control. I mean, I just played against Belcher, but... Well, you get the idea. Legacy is just too much fun to pass up. If it wasn't, I wouldn't be here."
No matter what else he may say, he's right. The strongest statement he can make is his presence. Though the four foil Brainstorms are a pretty strong one, too...
Round 6 Feature Match - Ooze your Daddy? - Adam Prosak vs. Max Tietze
by Frank Lepore
As they shuffled up, both players discussed their preference for transportation when attending events, promoting a very casual atmosphere. "It was only a twelve hour drive," Max said, "but after picking up a friend it would have been fifteen, so I flew." The conversation certainly gave a good idea as to what constitutes a "reasonable" drive in the name of playing Magic!
When it came time to roll, Adam produced a mere four while max would respond with an 11. Max would play first.
Both players opted to keep their hands, and Max led off with a Noble Hierarch. Adam put Gemstone Mine into play and chose to Cabal Therapy Max, choosing Knight of the Reliquary. Max revealed his hand, and Adam saw a Misty Rainforest, a Savannah, an Aven Mindcensor, an Elspeth, Knight-Errant, and a Dryad Arbor; a whiff, but not without gaining some valuable information.
Max played the Rainforest, fetched up a Savannah, and cast the Mindcensor. Prosak took his turn, cast a Putrid Imp, then followed it up with a Careful Study, guaranteeing that his graveyard would not be lonely on these cold Indianapolis nights. He discarded a Bridge from Below along with some other cards, and passed the turn.
Max played a Green Sun's Zenith for two and searched out a Scavenging Ooze - arguably one of Dredge's worst enemies - before proceeding to remove a Golgari Thug from Adam's graveyard and passing the turn.
Adam cast a Breakthrough for one, filling his graveyard with threeGolgari Grave-Trolls, a Dread Return, and a Faithless Looting. After that he followed it up with anotherBreakthrough, this time for zero, filling his graveyard with...well, nigh infinite options! A Narcomoeba returned to the battlefield while Adam surveyed his massive graveyard laid out before him. Adam flashed back Cabal Therapy, putting two zombie tokens into play and named Elspeth. He then flashed back Dread Return, targeting what would be a 12/12 Golgari Grave-Troll!
Things were looking grim for Max. He perched over the table in awe of Adam's graveyard, wondering if there was a way he could get out of this mess. He swung with his Mindcensor, dropping Adam to 14 life before exiling an Ichorid from Prosak's graveyard with his Ooze. Adam took his turn, dredging a Golgari Thug, but when a Narcomoeba tried to sneak in, Max removed it from the game with the Ooze while the Narcomoeba's trigger was on the stack. Max kept removing Adam's dredgers as a Grave-Troll followed the same face as the Thug before him. Max blocked Adam's troll with his Noble Hierarch, which sent the Hierarch to the bin and subsequently removed Adam's Bridge from Belows from the game.
Max untapped and ate two more Grave-Trolls with his Ooze before dropping Adam to 12 with his Mindcensor. Three Stinkweed Imps and a Thug later and the Scavenging Ooze had grown up into a formidable 12/12, matching Adams Grave Troll! With few cards left in his library and dwindling threats, Adam saw the writing on the wall and it was on to game two!
Max Tietze 1, Adam Prosak 0
Adam led off with a turn one Putrid Imp while Max had another Noble Hierarch. At the end of Max's turn, Adam pitched a Grave Troll to the Imp to dredge six during his turn. He hit a Bridge from Below, an Ichorid, and three dredgers before pitching a Dread Return with the Imp. Things were certainly off to a great start for Adam!
At the end of Adam's turn Max cast an Enlightened Tutor, searching up...Grafdigger's Cage!
Adam slumped in his chair, and with a forlorn expression exclaimed, "I'm not going to pretend I can beat that. You got it."
And in an instant, Max Tietze took the match!
Max Tietze 2, Adam Prosak 0
Saturday, 6:00 p.m. - 20/20 Vision – Round 6
by Nate Price
Three rounds have passed since we first checked in on the top tables of the tournament, and there are definitely some trends that are forming. First, the numbers:
I would say that this is a definite shift from the broad spectrum seen in Round 3. The creature decks are starting to really take charge of the field. I expected to see the Stone Blade decks and the Canadian Threshold decks, flush with the Innistrad power duo of Delver of Secrets and Snapcaster Mage, to be throwing their weight around. What I didn't expect was for green/white to be so strong. Here's a nice sample list to see what they're working with:
First off, let me say how happy I am to see a Commander card seeing the kind of love that Scavenging Ooze is this weekend. Then let me continue by saying how perfectly poised the format is for the card right now. First, it single-handedly shuts down the graveyard decks. That alone is worth inclusion. Then you take into account the heavy creature-based nature of this iteration of Legacy, and the large creature combined with lifegain becomes relevant. Face it: the card is just good.
Other than that, the green/white aggro deck just appears to be a streamlined machine. Rather than running a blue-based disruption package like many of the Stone Blade decks are, it chooses to run disruption in the form of creatures. Cards like Gaddock Teeg, Qasali Pridemage, and the aforementioned Ooze really provide a sort of toolbox to keep opponents off their game by just enough that the deck can usually defeat opponents before they can react. In addition, the threats in this deck are enormous for their costs. Knight of the Reliquary is usually at least a 5/5. Scavenging Ooze can be giant. And don't even get me started on Terravore. Even the smaller guys can be reasonable threats due to the large amount of exalted and equipment cards in the deck. Meaningful pressure and appropriate disruption win.
In a field full of snazzy and flashy cards and decks, it's refreshing to see that this head down, fight you type of deck seems to be doing well. But it isn't alone. Clearly, the other Stoneforge decks are doing quite well, as are the Canadian Threshold decks. With three more rounds until the end of the day, it'll be interesting to see how the tables shake up.
Round 7 Feature Match - Adam Yurchick vs. Jacob Kory
by Frank Lepore
Adam Yurchick is a mainstay on the Pro Tour while Jacob is a relative newcomer to the spotlight. Both players agreed to let a high roll decide their fate and Yurchick would proceed to go first. With one player piloting UW Stone-Blade and the other playing GW Aggro, these are two of the decks that have come to define the Legacy format
Jacob kept his hand, while Adam sent it back for a brighter six. He led off with a Volcanic Island - a card included for its interaction with Engineered Explosives - and passed. A few lands were played by both players before Jacob attempted to resolve a Gaddock Teed. The legendary Kithkin was met with an old school Counterspell - like, the actual card "Counterspell" - from Adam. Adam then played a Mishra's Factory and passed it back.
Turn three saw a Noble Hierarch resolve from Jacob, while Adam played his forth land and passed back. A third fetch land brought Jacob down to 17 life before attacking for one with a Noble Hierarch. Adam activated his Factory and blocked the Druid, which preceded Jacob fetching his forth land from his deck. He played a Thrun, the Last Troll and passed back to Adam.
Adam cracked a fetch and then hardcast a Batterskull from his hand. Jacob would then attempt to Green Sun's Zenith for two which ultimately met a Force of Will from Adam. Jacob cast a Mother of Runes before giving it back to Adam. Adam swung in with the Germ token, putting Jacob at 12 and Adam at 22. Adam then played an Elspeth, Knight-Errant and made a Soldier token. A flying Batterskull was threatening to close the game quickly if not answered.
Adam Yurchick takes game 1
Jacob thought for a moment before playing his second Noble Hierarch. He gave his Thrun protection from white and attacked Elspeth trying to avoid a block from Adam's 1/1 Soldier token. This forced Adam to block with his Germ token instead, gaining him four life and keeping his Elspeth alive. The score was now 12 to 26 in Adam's favor.
Adam equipped his Soldier with the Batterskull and crashed into the red zone with the 5/5 vigilant, lifelinker. Jacob declined any blocks, and drew his card after Adam passed. Upon seeing the active Elspeth and being at a mere seven life Jacob scooped them up.
Adam Yurchick 1, Jacob Kory 0
Both players wished one another good luck after discussing the local stores in their areas. Jacob once against kept his opening hand, while Adam was forced to send them back. He stuck on six and off they went.
Jacob led off with a Green Sun's Zenith for zero this time, fetching up a Dryad Arbor. Adam was forced to simply play one land on his turn and pass it back. Jacob's second turn found his summoning a Knight of the Reliquary (3/3). Adam Brainstormed, putting two back, and kept his fetch land up to shuffle the unwanted cards back. Jacob attacked Adam for four before attempting to cast a Stoneforge Mystic. Adam no-sired it with a Spell Snare and took his turn.
Adam played an Oblivion Ring on the Knight, leaving Jacob with a single Dryad Arbor...that is before he cast his second Knight of the Reliquary! Adam began to Brainstorm once more and look for an answer. He found one in his very own Stoneforge Mystic which brought along a friend in the form of Batterskull. Feeling confidant, Adam passed back the turn.
Jacob tapped one land and laid out a Mother of Runes. He then sacked a Forest to his Knight, searching out a Gaea's Cradle and putting it into play. The Cradle could add three mana, and Jacob tapped it for just that as he attempted to cast a Green Sun's Zenith for two. It resolved and a Scryb Ranger joined Jacob's growing Army. Not finished yet, Jacob cast a Stoneforge Mystic of his own, which also resolved, before searching up a Sword of Light and Shadow. He untapped his Knight with the Scryb Ranger, searched again with the Knight, then used a Wasteland on one of Adam's three lands.
Adam looked at his hand, then simply passed the turn. It wasn't looking good, as Jacob had four creatures to Adam's single Stoneforge Mystic. Jacob attacked and dropped Adam to nine life before casting a Qasali Pridemage. Adam had fallen too far behind and with that they were going to game three.
Adam Yurchick 1, Jacob Kory 1
With a deep sigh, Adam went down to six cards for the third game in a row. Jacob kept his hand as he asked Adam whether he was on the play or not. Adam confirmed and shuffled back his hand.
Adam kept his six and led off with an Island. Jacob fetched and, as usual, had some action on turn one in the form of a Mother of Runes. Adam took the turn and wasted no time in playing a Swords to Plowshares on the summoning sick Mother. Jacob attempted to cast a Stoneforge, but Adam had the Spell Snare. The two players seemed to be on an even keel thus far.
It was land go for Adam, as he chose to cast a Vendilion Clique on Jacob's Draw Step. He noted a hand that contained Scavenging Ooze, Knight of the Reliquary, Qasali Pridemage, Oblivion Ring, Choke and an Eternal Witness...but no third land! Adam chose to have Jacob put the Choke on the bottom, allowing him to draw a card and potentially fix his land situation. Jacob didn't draw a land, but he did hit a Sylvan Library which he promptly played.
Adam attacked Jacob down to 16 then cast a Brainstorm, played a fetch land and passed back. Jacob utilized his Sylvan Library, drawing an extra card at the cost of four life. He was now at 12 and dwindling steadily. He cast a Knight of the Reliquary and passed to Adam.
Adam cast another Swords to Plowshares on Jacob's Knight, gaining Jacob his lost four life. Adam then attacked him with his Clique before playing a Mishra's Factory and casting a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Let there be no doubt, this was a brutal turn for Adam!
Jacob searched his top three cards for an answer, but chose to only keep one card. He used his Wasteland on Adam's Tundra, making sure that Adam was tapped out, then attempted to resolve a Scryb Ranger. The turn was once again Adam's and things were looking up. Adam used Jace's Brainstorm ability then played a Misty Rainforest, shuffling the two unwanted cards into the abyss. He then cast a Snapcaster Mage, targeting his Swords to Plowshares to deal with the Ranger, getting in there with both his Factory and his Clique.
Time was running out for Jacob. He looked at the top three from Sylvan Library and kept the best one of the three. He tapped three lands and used an Oblivion Ring on Adam's Jace before passing back the turn.
Adam played an Oblivion Ring of his own, returning his Jace to play, then using his Brainstorm ability. With seven power on the board and Jacob at a mere nine life things weren't looking good. Adam declined an attack with his Factory, however, opting to simply cast a Stoneforgee Mystic and search for a Sword of Body and Mind!
Jacob cracked another fetch land, bring his life to a dangerous three points, while Adam had a veritable Murderer's row of the best cards in the any format. Jacob looked at his options, laid a Dryad Arbor and went into the tank. He played a Qasali Pridemage, which could free his Oblivion Ring but not much else.
Adam attempted to bounce the Pridemage, and in response, Jacob used it to kill the Oblivion Ring. Jacob had no choice but to use his newly freed Enchantment on Adam's 3/1 Faerie. Adam tapped four, laid down an Elspeth and Jacob knew that was all she wrote!
Adam Yurchick 2, Jacob Kory 1
Saturday, 8:29 p.m. - Bad Moon Rising: Dark Ascension in Legacy
by Nate Price
The card pool in Legacy is so massive that it seems like the addition of a couple hundred new cards would be like a drop in the bucket. While that may be in terms of volume, new cards provide new strategies, opening doors that may not have previously existed. With so many cards, there are destined to be decks out there that would exist if only there were a card that did a specific thing. With each new set that gets released, there's a chance that one of these cards gets printed, filling a need that prevented a deck from existing. It happens with every set. Innistrad brought the obviously powerful Snapcaster Mage and Geist of Saint Traft and the deceptively strong Delver of Secrets. These cards made an immediate impact on Legacy, each finding its own special home. Snapcaster and jolly old Saint Traft have teamed up with everyone's favorite duo to hate: Stoneforge Mystic and anything else. Alongside her, the Innistrad additions are right at home, picking up Swords, dealing obscene amounts of damage to opponents, and recasting the perfect spell at the perfect time to keep the game right where you want it. Meanwhile Delver of Secrets has bought himself a house north of the border in Canadian Threshold, where three-powered creatures for one mana are always welcome, no matter how incredibly grotesque they may be when they transform.
Dark Ascension has added some of its own unique flavor to the mix. The first two cards that have been making a splash are definitely at odds with one another: Faithless Looting and Grafdigger's Cage. Faithless Looting is the second coming of Careful Study. And occasionally the third coming. Decks like Reanimator and Dredge loveFaithless Looting. While not often flashed back, having a card that can get a dredge card or a big reanimantion target into the graveyard for one mana is incredibly important, especially so now that Mental Misstep isn't around to ruin the fun. Take a look at this list:
This deck was built to take advantage of Faithless Looting. A quartet brings the total to nineteen cards in the deck that can be cast for one or less mana which will put cards into the graveyard. That's one-third of the deck. Accomplishing the first-turn dredge card in the graveyard is such an essential part of the workings of the deck that it was one considered common play to mulligan to an enabler.
Fighting on the other side of the table is Grafdigger's Cage. Things that go into graveyards were meant to stay there, and the Cage makes sure they do. Its power against the graveyard-based decks like Dredge and Reanimator is obvious. Adam Prosak simply picked up his cards in his Round 6 Feature Match when Max Tietze resolved a Cage. But often discounted is the effect that this card has on Snapcaster Mage. With a Cage in play, Snapcaster is nothing more than a 2/1 for two. A fast 2/1, but a mediocre creature nonetheless. The Cage has only really seen a modest amount of play in sideboards such as Tietze's, but there have been whispers of Forgemaster decks and Tezzeret decks running a copy in their maindecks...
Another card that has been doing its best to disrupt opposing plans is Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. This little wonder has been seen gallivanting around with other tiny white and green creatures. Like here:
Making non-creature spells more expensive is very good against the combo decks in the field, which is important since combo decks are traditionally the foils for aggro decks, as they are able to win faster and their life total has no effect on their ability to win the game (unless it's zero). Since the green/white decks in the field don't have Force of Will or Spell Pierce to hold the beast at bay, they have to rely on cards like Thalia and Gaddock Teeg to get the job done. Perhaps the only real drawback Thalia has is that she's not green, which prevents her from being fetched up by Green Sun's Zenith. Despite this, she's definitely doing her job well.
The final Dark Ascension card I'd like to mention here never ceases to amaze me. It made a Top 5 cards of the weekend list in both an Innistrad Block Limited Grand Prix and a Standard Grand Prix within weeks of each other. Now it's starting to pop up in Legacy. I'm talking about Lingering Souls. At first, I thought it was just a joke, just a fluke on one list. Then I dug around and saw another. And then another. It isn't in anything other than a small portion of the decks here this weekend, but the fact that it is even in one is nothing short of a complete surprise to me. Look at this list:
In this more controllish version of Stone Blade, the Lingering Souls have found a perfect home. On one hand, they do a wonderful job of playing defense in this heavy creature format, especially against other equipment. On the other, the have hands themselves and make for excellent equipment targets since evasion is rare in Legacy. The Spirits trade with Vendilion Cliques and Delver of Secrets. It just seems like a really good card against many of the decks in the field. Not an amazing one, and not one that's going to be everywhere like Stoneforge Mystic. But given the right environment, such as the one shown above, it's safe to say that Lingering Souls could find its way to haunting yet another format.
Round 8 Feature Match - David Sharfman vs. Todd Anderson
by Nate Price
Neither of these players are strangers to the Feature Match area. David Sharfman got his first big taste of it back at Magic Weekend Paris 2011, where he won the Grand P rix. Anderson, meanwhile, cut his teeth in the Starcitygames.com Open Series, posting Top 8 finish after Top 8 finish. Since then, both players have become fixtures on the Pro Tour and Grand Prix scene, putting up strong finishes and really proving that they are on top of their game.
Anderson's green/white deck got up to full speed fast, with a Mother of Runes followed by a potentially back-breaking Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Sharfman's Hive Mind combo deck plays a grand total of three creature spells, though I'm not sure I want to count Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. This makes him very vulnerable to the Dark Ascension rare. Backing up Anderson's already impressive duo was a Knight of the Reliquary, giving him an impressive army very early in the game, one that Sharfman was going to find difficult to deal with. In fact, all Sharfman managed to do all game was cast a single Ponder and crack a pair of Flooded Strands. An Elspeth, Knight-Errant from Anderson lifted one of his attackers and put the game one turn away. Sharfman found nothing on his turn and picked up his cards after an eight minute first game.
David Sharfman 0 – Todd Anderson 1
"That game actually played out extremely awkwardly," Sharfman said, quite the understatement. "I mean, I only cast one spell, but still. I'll tell you after the match."
"Ok. So now you kill me turn two, right? Just to give me a chance," Anderson joked as he shuffled for the next game.
Sharfman once again started with a Ponder, choosing to keep his cards. Unlike last game, Anderson didn't have a creature on turn one, just sitting there with an uncracked Verdant Catacombs as he passed the turn. Sharfman Pondered yet again. Anderson cracked his Catacombs at the end of Sharfman's turn for that first-turn creature, grabbing a Dryad Arbor from his deck. Rather than attack, he chose a more damaging route: play another Thalia. With his ability to cast Ponders, Brainstorms, and Preordains halved, Sharfman once again found himself in trouble.
In trouble, but not out of the game, Sharfman dug anyway. Two mana for a Brainstorm is a fine price to pay when it allows you to find a Firespout, clearing away Anderson's board, along with a freshly cast Stoneforge Mystic. With his army now gone, Anderson used a Wasteland to rid Sharfman of his lone Volcanic Island. Anderson made himself a Sylvan Library on his turn and then passed the turn. Sharfman made a City of Traitors and passed the turn right back.
During Anderson's draw step, Sharfman used Intuition to snag himself a copy of Hive Mind. Anderson, not wanting to die immediately, used Wasteland to put Sharfman back to only three mana before adding a Qasali Pridemage to his team. Three mana turned out to be just enough, however, as Sharfman used Show and Tell to slide a Hive Mind into play, revealing a grip full of Pacts.
"Just all of them, eh," Anderson remarked with a laugh.
David Sharfman 1 – Todd Anderson 1
For the final game, Anderson got moving with a Mother of Runes and a Sylvan Library. For his part, Sharfman did nothing, looking dangerously similar to the first game that had gone so poorly for him. Anderson used his Library to draw two extra cards, knowing that damage wasn't Sharfman's path to victory. He attempted to make the powerful Thalia, but Sharfman had a Force of Will to keep her away, removing a second Force of Will to pay the cost. With her out of the way, and Anderson with only one untapped land, Sharfman had the chance he needed. After untapping, he dropped a Show and Tell into play, getting himself a Hive Mind. Unable to pay for the Pact that followed it, Anderson conceded, ending an uncharacteristically quick match.
After the match, Sharfman revealed that he had a Show and Tell and an Emrakul in the first game, which would've spelled a second-turn kill...if Anderson's first land hadn't been Karakas. Sharfman couldn't find an Intuition or Hive Mind to kill him in time.
David Sharfman 2 – Todd Anderson 1
Saturday, 9:39 p.m. Deck Tech – Hive Mind with David Sharfman
by Nate Price
So I just joined a cult.
More than a cult, really. More like a collective. A Hive Mind, if you will.
I was recruited in by David Sharfman. Sharfman's a pretty nice guy, so he did his best to show me the ropes, help me get my bearings. Hearing the millions of unified voices of the hive all at once for the first time can really be a bit disconcerting. Despite his best efforts, though, I still had questions that didn't have their answers directly implanted into my brain. Though I understand that such frivolities are now below me, I sat down to have a chat with the part of the collective that once called himself David Sharfman to learn more about how the Hive Mind functions. You know, the old fashioned way. With...dare I say it...speech.
So, Magic player formerely known as David Sharfman, what made you decide to join the Hive Mind for this Legacy Grand Prix?
"Legacy is such a wide open format that there isn't really a best deck. It's really about what you want to play from the list of the top tier decks. I played Hive Mind in Extended, so I knew it well. That and I think it's the most unique way to win in Magic. I get to play with cards that say you lose the game on them, which is a lot of fun."
Interesting. A format that encourages uniqueness... Seems like just the kind of place a Hive Mind would be of use. To impart order to chaos. So tell me, how does one traditionally go about joining the Hive Mind? Are there other options?
"You generally want to go the Hive Mind route. It's the easy way to win. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, is more like Hive Minds five, six, and seven. I can't think of a situation in which Emrakul is better. Except for situations involving Stifle. Having them Stifle their copy of a Pact is really bad. In that case, you just make an Emrakul and kill them."
I agree, the Hive Mindis the easy way to win. So are there any types of starting requirements that make joining the Hive Mind easier?
"Show and Tell is huge. Generally you want a Show and Tell and Brainstorm or Ponder. Those are the kinds of hands that I'll keep every time. With a Show and Tell in the opener, you can often just play and Island and a City of Traitors or Ancient Tomb to cast Intuition for Hive Minds and kill them on turn three. All you need to win are two of either a kill condition, Show and Tell, or Intuition, really, which is why keeping hands with Brainstorms and the like are so good. There are a large number of cards that you can draw into to just win the game."
Excellent. Should someone want to join the Hive Mind and introduce it to their local community, do you have any words of wisdom that might help them in their glorious endeavor?
"Winning with Hive Mind is very straightforward, but I wouldn't say that it's easy. It is still a combo, and still requires practice. There are a few pitfalls that can be avoided by playing smart, such as not getting blown out by Wasteland and knowing when you should go for the kill or wait a few turns. Properly using your Pacts is important, too. There will be times that decks can pay for Pact of the Titan. There will be times that there isn't a good target for Slaughter Pact. And don't forget in situations like these that you can use your own Pacts as targets for Pact of Negation. These things take practice to learn, but once you've learned them, the deck will do the rest of the work."
Thank you, Magic player formerly known as David Sharfman. I think I understand the Hive Mind much more clearly now. If you'll excuse me, I've got some more droning to do. Thanks for your time.
Round 9 Feature Match - A Battle of One Drops - Lucas Siow vs. Kyle Dembinski
2012 GP Indianapolis - Legacy
by Frank Lepore
Lucas and Kyle were both sitting comfortably at 7-1 going into round nine. Before the match, both players bantered about where they might know one another from. "Well, I once punted a match for Top 8 at a Grand Prix on camera," Lucas quipped. And this was how it went, with Kyle piloting UR Delver and Lucas piloting GW Aggro.
Both players kept their openers as Kyle led off with a turn one Delver of Secrets: a horrifying sight for any player. Lucas played his land and fetched out a plains before passing the turn. Kyle's Delver refused to flip on its first activation and Kyle was reduced to swinging for a mere three damage with the help of a Goblin Guide. He finished his turn with a Ponder.
Lucas played a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on his turn, and passed. Kyle revealed a Chain Lightning from his Delver as it flipped it into some new type of monster. He swung for five after playing a Searing Blaze on Lucas's Thalia, quickly bringing Lucas to a mere nine life! Lucas took his turn and managed to cast a Mother of Runes and a Qasali Pridemage. Lucas was able to block the Goblin with his Kitty Cat, but after taking three from the Delver, it left Lucas within range of the two burn spells within Kyle's hand.
Kyle Dembinski 1, Lucas Siow 0
Once again both players kept their initial hands. Lucas led off with a Noble Hierarch this time, and Kyle followed with his own one drop in the form of another Delver of Secrets. Lucas spent his next turn playing a Mother of Runes and a Stoneforge Mystic, where here sought out an Umezawa's Jitte.
No reveal from Kyle meant the Delver wasn't going anywhere fast. Kyle had the Chain Lightning for the Mother of Runes and the Lightning Bolt for the Stoneforge Mystic. This forced Lucas to play an Oblivion Ring to stifle the damage that the Delver could end up doing. He finished his turn by using his Wasteland on one of Kyle's two lands.
Kyle took his turn, played a fetch land, then cast a second Delver of Secrets. Lucas would respond by casting a Green Sun's Zenith for zero and finding a Dryad Arbor. He used his last two mana to cast a Thalia and pass the turn.
Delver remained a 1/1 for another turn and Kyle was resigned to simply playing a land and passing the turn. Lucas cast his Jitte, but in response to cracking his fetch land, Kyle had the Submerge for his Thalia, guaranteeing that she would never see the light of day again. Lucas found his land then equipped the tapped Dryad Arbor with the Jitte.
Kyle drew his card and went into the tank. He played his land and cast a Goblin Guide, getting into the red zone for three damage. The life totals were 15 to 17 in Lucas' favor. Lucas declared an attack with his Dryad Arbor, prompting Kyle to fetch another land. A Snapcaster got back a Lightning Bolt to make short work of the Arbor, which was followed by a Gaddock Teeg and an equip from Lucas.
Kyle drew his card and played a second Goblin Guide before passing his turn. Gaddock Teeg got in there and was chump blocked by a Goblin Guide, netting Lucas two counters on his Jitte. He then cast Green Sun's Zenith for three, searching out a Knight of the Reliquary. He removed a counter from the Jitte to kill Kyle's Delver and passed the turn. With an active Jitte and a 6/6 Knight of the Reliquary, it was on to game three!
Kyle Dembinski 1, Lucas Siow 1
Both players kept their hands, and for the third time, Kyle led off with a Delver. This time the Delver would flip on his first try off of a Fireblast, making Lucas' Noble Hierarch look somewhat foolish. Kyle followed it up with a Grim Lavamancer and was already in a commanding position.
"Four?" Lucas asked, inquiring about the number of cards in Kyle's hand.
"Four," Kyle shot back.
Lucas searched out a land and cast a Knight of the Reliquary.
Kyle proceeded to brainstorm on his turn, putting two back and cracking a fetch land. A Lightning Bolt would deal with the Knight and Kyle would take Lucas down to 12 life. Lucas took his turn and decided to Green Sun's Zenith once more for three, finding a second Knight of the Reliquary. Kyle took back the turn, cast a Ponder, then attacked for three in the air. He cast Chain Lightning on Lucas, bringing him to six life, before using the earlier-drawn Fireblast to deal the last three points.
Kyle Dembinski 2, Lucas Siow 1
Saturday, 10:00 p.m. - 20/20 Vision: End of Day
by Nate Price
With nine rounds of play in the books, here's how the top tables shook out:
This looks like a reasonable representation of the Legacy format to me. You have a good number of the big creature-based decks in the format, mostly in the form of Stone Blade variants and Threshold. On the other side, you have a smattering of combo as well, with High Tide seemingly doing the best. Not grouping similar decks under the same banner, you end up with over a dozen different deck types represented in the top tables, which is a healthy sign if I've ever seen one. Based on this, we would expect to see four Stone Blade Variants, two Threshold decks, and two different combo decks in the Top 8 tomorrow. I guess we'll have to wait until tomorrow's coverage to know for sure!