Grand Prix Providence Day 1 Coverage

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  • Saturday, 9 a.m.: More from the Roundtable
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • For my column this week I checked in with eight notable Legacy writers to get their take on the format. The response was so in-depth from everyone that we had to shave some answers out of the main column to make it more digestible. But never fear! Those answers live on in this "director's cut" of The Week That Was.

    • AJ Sacher is a 21-year-old Pro—who lists "The Road" as his hometown these days—with one Grand Prix Top 8 to his credit. He has been carving up both sides of the Open Series and writes a weekly premium column for SCG.
    • Adam Barnello is a 28-year-old engineer from Syracuse, New York who writes weekly about Legacy for ChannelFireball and is also an admin for the Legacy resource
    • Caleb Durward is a 23-year-old writer from Chicago who writes a weekly column for with a Legacy Grand Prix Top 8 on his resume. He is also credited with (or blamed for) getting Survival of the Fittest> banned in Legacy.
    • Ali Aintrazi is a 24-year-old student from Matthews, NC who has gained a reputation as a rogue deck designer while battling in the ranks of the Open Series with Top 8s in Standard and Legacy.
    • Sam Stoddard is a 30-year-old administrator from Columbus, Ohio who has cashed multiple Grand Prix, played in seven Pro Tours, and is a vocal advocate for Legacy in his column on
    • Drew Levin is a 20-year-old statistical analyst from Arlington, VA who has leveraged his success in the StarCity Open series into a premium Legacy column on that site.
    • Matt Elias is a 31-year-old manager from Lansdale, PA who has written more than 100 articles on the free side of Star City and focuses largely on the older formats like Legacy and Vintage.
    • AJ Kerrigan is a 13-year-old student from Manville, New Jersey. His age belies his grasp of the complicated Legacy format—he's a weekly writer for Star City and made his tournament debut back in 2009.

    BDM: For people not familiar with Legacy give them a little sense of what the Tier 1 decks are. What do you think the top five decks in the format are right now and what makes them so potent?

    Durward: BUG: Featuring some of the most powerful cards and filtering, the BUG deck has been the choice of many great players lately. The deck to beat.

    Adam Turk -- Team America
    3rd Place, Legacy Open Louisville

    Merfolk: The other deck to beat. Now that Zoo and Goblins are seeing less popularity, Merfolk is the only play-dudes-and-attack-style deck left.

    Landstill: The best answer to a Hymn to Tourach deck is a Standstill deck. Good luck beating Merfolk consistently.

    Jitte/Stoneforge decks: The best answer to a Merfolk deck is a Stoneforge Mystic deck. Good luck beating BUG consistently.

    I wouldn't consider any other archetype to be "top five," but a combo deck with Brainstorms in it will always be a strong contender.

    Aintrazi: I believe there are really only two decks in this format. Ones that play unfair or ones that stop you from playing unfair. Unfair decks include combo, locking your opponent out of games, or cheating big things onto the table quickly. The other decks are controlling decks or ones that attempt to stop whatever is you are trying to do that is unfair. I would say top five best decks in no particular order are Painter Stone combo, Team America, Metalworker decks, blue-base control decks like Landstill or just mono-blue control splashing a color, and lastly the B/W/G junk decks.

    Barnello: In no order, Bant/RUG with Natural Order – The most flexible game plan in the format, along with active disruption, large, efficient threats, and a one-card combo.

    Team America – Best disruption in the format paired with the best color in the format. When things go right, this deck is the best in the format.

    Merfolk – The best blue aggro deck. That's really enough.

    Michael Tabler -- Merfolk
    8th Place - Legacy Open Louisville

    Junk – Better than most of the similar aggressive strategies because it gets to play real cards like Thoughtseize, Hymn, Vindicate, Goyf and Bob.

    Stoddard: UW Landstill–This deck was barely playable for years due to problems beating turn-one vials or Goblin Lackeys and now....well, now it has a better plan than just Force of Will. Misstep has turned this into the de facto pure control deck in a format that was lacking one for a while.

    Gerry Thompson -- UW Standstill
    2nd place, Legacy Open Orlando

    Merfolk–As of right now, this is the deck that gained the most from Misstep's format shake up. Not just because it can play it, but because many of its enemies are being pushed out of the format as a result.

    Team America/BUG–The requisite "Good Stuff" deck in the format right now. It's a bit more midrange-y than I usually like, but you get to play most of the best cards in the format. Dark Confidant, Force of Will, Goyf and Hymn? How can you go wrong with a lineup like that?

    Dredge–People seem to be forgetting about just how dangerous Dredge is, and their sideboards are too. The deck needs some adjustments in both mulligan decisions and construction to get around potential Mental Misstep blowouts (Counter my one discard outlet? This is going to be a long game...), but it's still a predator. If people think that it's safe to take the graveyard hate out of their boards now, they will regret it.

    Painted Stone (Grindstone/Painters Servant)–This deck can be a bit vulnerable to Misstep, but its access to main deck Red Elemental Blasts also give it a good leg up against the increasingly blue format. The weakening of the Natural Order decks also means that you won't have to dip into your semi-awful sideboard plan of Show and Telling Emrakul into play.

    Levin: This format is about either grinding out a material resource advantage or doing something completely unfair. This is the first time that there's been a Legacy Grand Prix where Counterbalance is legal while not being the best deck in the format. My article from Wednesday on discussed what I think the best decks are. To be brief:

    BUG: This plays the best cards in the format's best three colors. Presents an unending stream of two-for-ones that cripple fair and unfair decks alike. Weak to other decks that can outdraw it—see UW Standstll for a good example of a deck that does this.

    UW Standstill: Gerry Thompson's brainchild that he and I ambushed Orlando with to moderate success. An inheritor to the Mono-blue Control archetype, UW Standstill plays for a long game where it can build a massive resource advantage. It's weak to 50-minute round clocks and the occasional Lord of Atlantis.

    Merfolk: The best pure attack deck in the format. It's best against blue decks, but can hold its own in a ground-pounder war due to the dozen cards it plays that "lord" all of its Merfolk. Has both a blindingly quick early game and a very strong, synergistic late game. Because it doesn't play any deck manipulation aside from Silvergill Adept, it can have a questionable matchup against various combo decks. It is naturally weak to decks that apply a lot of pressure, although Mental Misstep's prevalence has weakened those types of aggressive decks, making Merfolk that much stronger as a deck choice.

    The format actually drops off a lot after those three decks. There are plenty of unfair decks to play–Painter's Servant + Grindstone, Show and Tell + Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Dredge, Reanimator with Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, Ad Nauseam Storm, and so on–but they're all about as good as one another. They have various strengths and weaknesses, but at the end of the day, they have to consider their matchups against The Big Three. It's certainly a little frustrating for Mountain-lovers out there to see red at such a nadir, but I'm confident that the metagame will shift and adapt. After all, this is Legacy. Here, Tier 1 has three decks and Tier 2 has thirty entirely viable and competitive options. While red may be relegated to Pyroblast + Red Elemental Blast duty for now, it's only a matter of time before it breaks out again.

    Elias: The top five decks are, honestly, changing at an impressive clip. Mental Misstep has really shaken things up. Headed into the Grand Prix, I'd probably say the top five (in no order) are: Landstill, Merfolk, Team America, B/W aka Deadguy Ale, and Dredge. Landstill is the most potent pure control deck. It makes the best use of Jace and Standstill, and really Mental Misstep is what allows it to put up a wall of counters to get one of those draw engines online. Team America is versatile, and disruptive; it is a powerful option when the format is wide open. Personally, I prefer the versions that play Dark Confidant over Tombstalker, sometimes known as BUG Tempo. Mental Misstep to protect Bob feeds that deck a steady supply of Stifles, Wastelands, and counters. Merfolk is Merfolk, haters gonna hate, but it is consistent and good against other blue decks. It's the last-standing Aether Vial deck, simply because it also plays Mental Misstep. Deadguy Ale is resurgent because its key spells cost two mana–Bob, Stoneforge Mystic, Hymn to Tourach, Bitterblossom, Jitte, and so on–so it can dodge Misstep. And, Dredge doesn't even need to pay mana for spells to win, so in its own way, it can dodge Misstep when it needs to. At the moment, it is the best "combo" deck around.

    Sacher: BUG–has power and versatility and plays a lot of the best cards in the format

    Merfolk–By far the best Aether Vial deck in the format, which automatically will make it a serious contender.

    Landstill–More of a deck for a well-defined metagame, preys on Hymn to Tourach decks and non-linear strategies.

    Team America–Important distinction from BUG is that Team America is far more tempo-oriented rather than controlling. Mental Misstep hurt this disruption package but it is still quite potent.

    Then there are general control decks such as Enlightened Tutor control and Painter Servant. There are also a bunch of Tier 2 linear strategies such as Goblins, Elves, Affinity, Enchantress, and so on. Aggressive strategies such as Zoo and Burn are lower-tier as well but will still show up in significant numbers. Counterbalance may not be a statistically significant portion of the metagame right now, but a surprising amount of them show up at every Legacy GP so be prepared for them.

    BDM: What is your favorite Legacy deck of all time?

    Elias: Tough to say... I'll always love Zoo, and I really enjoy Storm combo like TES, but right now, I'd have to say Elves. It is such a fun deck to play, and it draws a crowd. It's one of the decks I've "pimped" out to be all-foil, so that helps.

    Durward: I enjoy playing Magic, and am not wedded to specific decks. Painted Stone has produced the most memorable matches for me.

    Kerrigan: My favorite legacy deck of all time is The Epic Storm. This is mainly because it is the only deck I have had built. It is a good deck in a bunch of metagames and can do crazy things. It also takes a lot of mathematics to play correctly, and I LOVE math. Lately though, the deck has started to seem very linear to me and it is becoming slightly boring. I might be taking a break from it for a bit. I want to try and learn to play more reactive decks to make myself a better player.

    Aintrazi: Hmmm...of all time? Man I remember the first time somebody handed me a Reanimator deck. What's more fun than bringing back huge fatties with crazy abilities? I dunno, how about playing a deck with 43 lands that actually wins, or maybe you would like to play with a 240-card deck? Not your style how about winning on turn one with some stupid combo? So many fun decks in Legacy I can't just pick one. They are all so fun!

    Sacher: It's impossible not to be biased towards nostalgia, so I am going to shamelessly say pre-Flash Threshold and Goblins as they are the two decks that really started my Magic career.

    Stoddard: Wrapter's (Josh Utter-Leyton) Survival Elves from Worlds 2010. I have always liked the Elf combo, and it added in the Vengevine combo to make things even simpler. The deck could race combo, out card-advantage just about anything, and it was able to fight hate really effectively. It even boarded in Natural Order/Progenitus if needed. The deck just sang, and if it hadn't been banned when it was, this deck would have dominated the format.

    Levin: Steve Sadin's–or was it Billy Moreno's?–Counter-Top Hulk-Flash deck from the first Legacy Grand Prix Columbus is a work of art. It has so much depth to its design and strategic positioning that I've revisited it more than a dozen times while looking for inspiration in deckbuilding. The numbers, card choices, and sideboard speak volumes about how to properly build a blue deck in Legacy.

    BDM: There have been six Legacy Grand Prix with wins going to Jon Sonne, Helmut Summersberger, Steve Sadin, Andreas Muller, Gabriel Nassif, and Tomoharu Saito. All pros who have spent time on the Pro Tour gravy train and not players who have come through the Legacy ranks. With regular Legacy events taking place almost every week do you expect to see that result changed for this event?

    Levin: I would be surprised to see the StarCityGames Open Circuit ringers shut out of the Top 8. We play this format week in, week out, and I believe there's a real edge to be gained from all of that format-specific muscle memory.

    Nassif, triumphant in Chicago.

    Durward: Earlier I mentioned how Legacy has depth and rewards technical play. This means it's a low-variance format, and the best players will consistently do well. No one bats an eye when a no-name player wins a Limited GP, but as you mentioned, it has yet to happen in Legacy. The impact of regular Legacy events is that metagaming is more refined than in years past. Also, people that have been grinding the format do have an edge. I would give AJ Sacher higher odds of success at this event than Brian Kibler, for example. AJ has had multiple tournaments to immerse himself in modern legacy, fine tuning his list, while Kibler will be playing Elspeth.dec because that's what he always plays–though that seems to work out for him.

    Elias: Honestly, no. A lot of pros really like Legacy. When you combine format interest with superior play, the result is easy to predict. I suspect a mix of SCG grinders, true pros, and popular figures on The Source will all have success at this GP.

    Sacher: It's possible, but the format is so skill intensive that the most proficient players will always rise to the top. That impressive list of champions shows that people who are good at Magic are going to be good at Legacy.

    Stoddard: I think we will see a change. I wouldn't bet against a pro winning the event, but the Legacy grinders have been getting considerably better over the last year or so, competing in Starcity events week after week. I think they may finally be at the level where their expertise with their decks and with the format can put them over the edge and earn one of them the title.

    Kerrigan: I think having all these Legacy events gives stuff to both players who play Legacy very often and people who don't. On one hand, players who play Legacy very often now have more opportunities to play and learn how to play in a tournament setting. On the other hand, players who don't play legacy as often can get an idea of what people will be playing by watching the weekly legacy tournaments. In the end, weekly legacy tournaments give things to both ends of the spectrum.

    Aintrazi: Probably not right away but eventually my generation will start taking over. People like Gerry T, AJ Sacher, Drew Levin, Orrin Beasley, Alex Bertoncini and hopefully myself will be putting up big finishes in a couple of years.

    BDM: Who are some of the notable Legacy players the coverage team should be looking to for deck techs this weekend?

    Durward: While not specifically legacy players, Conley Woods and Patrick Chapin have been known to brew. Other possibilities include Ali Aintrazi, the Hatfield brothers, and David Gearhart. A non-Legacy type to look into might be Craig Wescoe.

    Stoddard: There are pros, SCG grinders, and Magic Online grinders. I think each will approach it in very different ways, and I'm interested to see how that goes. In terms of pros, it's always interesting to see how Patrick Chapin and Mike Flores are tackling the format. I heard Mike is playing High Tide, which seems like a bold move with all the Missteps, so I'm curious if he has made any radical changes.

    The main SCG grinders I would be interested in are Drew Levin (because of the 'story' around him trying to recapture the Top 8 he lost in Columbus), and the Hatfields. They are old-time Legacy players who are getting their first time to really shine on the pro stage. Jarvis Yu has come into his own in the last year qualifying for two Pro Tours, and has been playing a ton of Legacy on Magic Online, now that it is a supported format there. The current Team America decks with Confidant came out of a deck that he and Bing Luke played extensively on Magic Online recently.

    Elias: Mr. Nightmare (Adam Barnello) should be rocking CB/Top, he's one of the few holdouts. I have high hopes for him and believe he'll do well. Liam Kane is hopefully going to show that Storm isn't dead, assuming he attends (and I hope he does). I'm curious to see what the Hatfields play (Alex and Jesse) as well as Ari Lax. The hive mind of AJ and Drew Levin has to be a favorite to Top 8 this event.

    Levin: I expect AJ Sacher to play a very stock build of a blue control deck that lets him outplay his opponents, so his deck would be a good call for establishing a baseline of the format. I think I have a pretty sweet angle on the format, although I owe much of my insight and card choices to my good friend and mentor, Gerry Thompson. Finally, I think that it should be mandatory to cover whatever Caleb Durward plays. After all, didn't he premiere the deck that eventually grew to dominate Legacy for half a year and culminate with a banning? I have nothing but respect and admiration for Caleb as a brewer and a personality, so to let his invention slip through the cracks would be a real shame.


  • Saturday, 11:44 a.m. – Legacy of Legacy Grand Prix

    by Legacy of Legacy Grand Prix
  • There have been six previous Legacy Grand Prix in Pro Tour history.

    The Champions from each of them have been firmly supported the Pro Player side of the debate regarding Pros vs. Legacy grinders that has existed since the first Legacy GP was announced.

    Jon Sonne -- Grand Prix Philadelphia 2005, USA

    For the first event nobody was quite sure what to expect besides little red men and Goblins were played by 1 in 4 players of the just-under-500 players. It was soft-spoken Pro Jon Sonne who emerged on top of the pile carrying a big goblin. Patron of the Akki was the difference maker for him as he managed to overcome Chris Pikula's Engineered Plague -- his turn one Engineered Plague.

    Patron of the Akki never really caught on in the wake of that event but Chris Pikula's Deadguy Ale, a black-white home brew of discard and destruction, has become a metagame staple.

    Helmut Summersberger -- Grand Prix Lille 2005, France

    It was just a few weeks later that the Legacy format landed in Europe and no one knew what to expect in terms of attendance but there were close to 1000 players getting into the red zone with Goblins and Werebears. Old time Pro Helmut Summersberger surged back onto the scene with his four color Threshold deck that utilized white for Meddling Mage and red for Lightning Bolt and Fire//Ice.

    It was a big weekend for Threshold in Lille and two versions of the deck went 9-0 on Day One. Both of those players, Helmut and Nick LaBarre made Top 8 along with another copy of the deck. The third undefeated deck -- Red-White Lightning Rift played by Martin Brenner

    -- shows what a force weenie creature decks were at that time as it was ideally suited to hunting goblins.

    Steve Sadin - Grand Prix Columbus 2007, USA

    Limited Information columnist Steve Sadin is the only member of small club of Legacy Grand Prix winners in a position to double up on trophies this weekend with none of the five other winners in attendance. Steve's run in Columbus was the stuff of legend. He came back to the game and picked up the best deck in the room -- Billy Moreno's hybridization of Counterbalance/Top with the Hulk/Flash combo

    -- and had to learn how to play the deck as he made his way through the tournament.

    When he met up with Owen Turtenwald in the Swiss rounds, Owen did not simply concede in the face of Steve flashing out a Protean Hulk. Steve had not had to demonstrate the mechanics of the combo for an opponent to that point -- they had just conceded instead -- and he ended up losing when he got some wires crossed. The two players met again in the finals -- Owen was playing the ubiquitous Goblin deck -- but with two days of practice Steve was able to earn his way back onto the PT with a shiny new trophy for his efforts.

    This is the entirety of the action from game three of the finals:

    "Owen cracked first with AEther Vial prompting Steve to Brainstorm. He let the Vial stick and Owen passed the turn with red mana up. Steve Mystical Tutored at the end of the turn for Daze and was able to defend his Flash when Owen played Pyroblast. And as quickly as that Steve Sadin was the Grand Prix Columbus Champion."

    Gabriel Nassif - Grand Prix Chicago 2009, USA

    Hot on the heels of his unbelievable win at Pro Tour Kyoto, soon-to-be-Hall of Famer Gabriel Nassif just kept on winning. There were over 1200 players in attendance for the event and Counter-Top was the talk of the tournament. Nassif played a BUG version of the deck that looks somewhat similar to modern takes on that color combination.

    The finals was a Counterbalance mirror against Eternal format stalwart Andy "Brassman" Probasco. It would have been a heckavu feather in the collective cap for the Eternal format community to take down the 9-time Pro Tour Top 8 -- and two-time winner -- competitor but the Pro held his ground two games to none in the Finals.

    Andreas Muller - Grand Prix Madrid 2010, Spain

    Andreas is probably the least recognizable name of the six GP Champs

    -- and this is not the PT Valencia Top 8 competitor Andre Muller who you were likely thinking of as you read this -- but he was coming off a Top 16 at PT Berlin just a season previous and the best finsih of multiple Pro Tour Day Twos in his career.

    Andreas' weapon of choice for this event was Reanimator -- a deck he called the "really unfair" in his profile. Madrid was the largest Grand Prix of all time with over 2200 players so what better way to win than by putting giant monsters into play on the first couple of turns.

    Tomoharu Saito -- Grand Prix Columbus 2010, USA

    The first Legacy Grand Prix saw goblins reign over all but the last one was -- and the second in the city of Columbus -- was conquered by the Lord of Atlantis and his minions. Tomoharu Saito defeated Tom Martell in the finals of the event who was playing Counterbalance Top with a sideboard card that weas selling out from all the dealers this weekend in Rhode Island -- Llawan, Cephalid Empress.

    Legacy grinder Caleb Durward also got his first taste of the Sunday stage playing Blue-Green Madness with Survival of the Fittest and Vengevine -- an innovative new deck that played a large role in getting Survival banned in the interim from Columbus to Providence.


  • Saturday, 12:00 p.m. – A New Type of Grinder

    by Nate Price
  • Blog Entry – A New Type of Grinder

    Over the past couple of years, Legacy has undergone a sort of renaissance. In times past, the chairs at Legacy Grand Prix went unused. Once the cards rotated out of Standard and Extended, they sat untouched and ignored in dealers' displays. Legacy was the place that Magic cards went to die. It was Elephant Graveyard's elephant graveyard.

    Drew Levin

    Then, something magical happened. Cards that once sat collecting dust, or been relegated to binders hidden in a warehouse, started being sought out. People were starting to become actively interested in Legacy again, and it was due, in large part, to a little thing known as the Open Series. Thanks to the Open Series, there were now regularly held Legacy tournaments with excellent prize support. With the support in place, players started to flock to tournaments. Legacy was thriving. With the increase of players in the tournaments, the competition really started to pick up. Decks became tighter, players became better... it was a similar phenomenon to when Magic Online was released. Soon after it became available to players, a generation of Magic Online-bred superstars started to leave their mark on Magic. Even before they finally broke through on the paper Magic scene, they were well known and respected within the Magic Online sphere. The Legacy grinders that have been created thanks to the Open Series are about at that point right now.

    Ali Aintrazi

    With a venue to test their skills in an incredibly deep, and constantly-shifting format, the newest generation of superstars is being bred. Ali Aintrazi, who had been tearing up both the Legacy and Standard Open Series since its inception, recently finished 19th at Worlds. Edgar Flores exploded onto the scene with multiple Top 8 finishes in a row with tweaked versions of the same decks in both Standard and Legacy, eventually getting a feature by weekly writer Brian David-Marshall. Caleb Durward made his debut at Grand Prix Columbus with a UG Madness deck, which many people feel is at least partially responsible for the banning of Survival of the Fittest thanks to its interaction with Vengevine. He went on to finish fourth at Grand Prix Columbus. Drew Levin is another player that has been putting up incredibly consistent performances in the Legacy Open Series. These are the next Brad Nelsons, the next players who cut their teeth in an incredibly competitive environment who are going to vault up to the next level. It isn't a question of if; it's a question of when.

    Edgar Flores

    The Open Series has done wonders for the level of play and understanding in Legacy. With frequent events, the format has been able to evolve at much the same rate as Standard, which adapts on nearly a daily format thanks to the pure amount of exposure that it gets. Legacy now has an established metagame. It has consistency. It has the depth allowed to encourage strong deckbuilding, and it has finally been around long enough in this well-supported state for that deckbuilding to have really suffused the format. There are simply so many decks available that deckbuilders first needed to find as many of them as they could before they could start fine-tuning them. Now, with that fine-tuning more or less completed, the weekly metagame tweaks are all that really have to be done. But that isn't to say that the format is stagnant. New decks are appearing at every event, and decks that at one point seemed impossible to win with eventually return to being en vogue. Having had the ability to focus on Legacy in a highly competitive environment, these grinders are at the forefront of the format, knowing the matchups and ins and outs of the format as well as any Standard superstar knows theirs.

    Caleb Durward

    As the weekend progresses, it will be interesting to see how this new brood performs. They've already proven themselves in an incredibly pressure-packed environment. The Grand Prix actually offers a little more room for error than most of the Open Series events do. They get byes that they don't normally get. In essence, it is a better set up for them to succeed. The one major disadvantage at the Grand Prix is its sheer size. Over a thousand players are here to battle. That means fifteen rounds and two grueling days of play. It is simply exhausting. Will they be able to hold up? These grinders have put themselves through a lot to get themselves to this point, now it's the time for them to chase down the title and prove that they're just as good as the pros that have traditionally taken home the Legacy trophy. This is their format, and this is their tournament to win.


  • Saturday, 1:35 p.m. – Trial Winners

    by Nate Price
  • The sheer variety of Legacy never fails to amaze me. The last Legacy Grand Prix I covered (Columbus) featured eight distinct deck types in the Top 8, which is an amazing feat. Here in Providence, things are equally as diverse, with fourteen Grand Prix Trial winners using fourteen different decks. From standards like Team America and UW Control to rogue decks like Infect and Rebirth Hulk, the Trials have provided a slice of the format that once again demonstrates the diversity and openness of the format. Here are the winning decklists:

    Grant Garvin - Grinder 3
    Grand Prix-Providence 2011 Legacy Grinder

    Anthony Collora - Grinder 4
    Grand Prix-Providence 2011 Legacy Grinder

    Matthew Casey - Grinder 5
    Grand Prix-Providence 2011 Legacy Grinder

    Dominik Chlorowski - Grinder 6
    Grand Prix-Providence 2011 Legacy Grinder

    Matthew Whilden - Grinder 8
    Grand Prix-Providence 2011 Legacy Grinder

    Kurtis Droge - Grinder 9
    Grand Prix-Providence 2011 Legacy Grinder

    Gregory Hatch - Grinder 10
    Grand Prix-Providence 2011 Legacy Grinder

    Samuel Tharmaratnam - Grinder 12
    Grand Prix-Providence 2011 Legacy Grinder


  • Feature Match Round 3 – Adam Barnello vs. Pascal Maynard

    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Adam Barnello is a Magic columnist who took part in the Legacy roundtable that appeared in my weekly article and -- with bonus footage -- in the coverage for this event. To keep with a time-honored tradition of covering Magic authors in last round before all the Pros start to show up with their hard fought byes expired and Barnello got the call in Providence.

    Barnello was playing the blue-white deck that many of the pros wearing ChannelFireball shirts were apparently very high on. In addition to all the control staples that make up the Legacy format it dips into the Standard pool for Stoneforge Mystic and its newest creation Batterskull.

    His opponent was Pascal Maynard, who was one of the members of last year's Canadian National team that thrust Tempered Steel into the Extended spotlight at the World Championships in Chiba. Maynard was not at all happy about his deck choice for this event.

    "My deck is very bad," he sighed out of ear shot from Barnello. "I should have registered anything else."

    He was playing a blue-white merfolk deck that also featured everyone's favorite Mystic and an assortment of powerful equipment.

    Game 1

    Both players kept their opening hands with Maynard on the play. The Quebecer tried Silvergill Adept -- revealing Rejeery -- only to have it was Spell Snared for the first action of the game. Barnello had a Wasteland for Mautavault and another a turn later when Maynard played his own Wasteland and tapped it to pay for Umezawa's Jitte.

    Maynard was stuck on one land which he used to play Cursecatcher while Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull was going on over on Barnello's side of the table.

    Aether Vial was attempted a turn later but it drew Force of Will.

    Barnello put a 4/4 vigilant life linked germ into play. He untapped and played Jace, the Mind Sculptor; when he reached for a die to mark the loyalty counters Pascal stopped him: "In response..."

    And scooped up all three of his cards.

    Adam Barnello

    Game 2

    The two players sideboarded with no chatter. Maynard no doubt quietly regretting his deck choice while Adam explained his silence: "Even after one game I can't shake the nervous jitters."

    It was his first feature match but Maynard was experienced having been last featured in Atlanta. Turn one Aether Vial from Maynard did not draw the dreaded Mental Misstep from Barnello and the two players settled into their game. Adam Wastelanded Mutavault and Maynard untapped.

    Adam Brainstormed and tucked a couple pieces of equipment back on top of his deck. Maynard Vial'd in a Silvergill Adept and passed the turn back to Barnello after attacking with his Vial still on two and two lands in play.

    Barnello shuffled back his two equipments with a fetch land and untapped to play Vedlaken Shackles. Maynard had the Disenchant and then activated his Vial and Stoneforged for his own Batterskull.

    He left the Vial on two and cracked for two with the Adept before playing Mutavault and passing the turn. Barnello passed the turn with no play and a germ joined his team. He used the Vial to put another Adept into play and Barnello played Swords to Plowshares on one of them.

    When Maynard activated his Mutavault another Swords showed up after a Brainstorm to stem the bleeding. Maynard played Coralhelm Commander and leveled it up twice. When he tried to level it a third time on his next turn it drew a third Swords.

    Maynard attacked and Barnello flashed in Vendilion Clique. Maynard let it resolve and when Barnello targeted his opponent with the ability, the Canadian National team member used Vial to flash in Lord of Atlantis. Barnello did a little survey of the battlefield and conceded.

    Pascal Maynard

    Game 3

    More silent shuffling as they moved toward finally getting the rubber game of the match underway. Neither player liked their opening seven and went back for six more cards after another round of silent shuffling. Barnello was not happy with his six-carder and sent it back in hopes of five cards he could work with.

    Aether Vial landed without a response from Barnello -- as did the second one that Maynard played a turn later. Barnello took advantage of a small window and attacked for two with his Mishra's Factory.

    Maynard used his first Vial on his own turn two to drop an uncounterable Commander and level it up twice.

    Maynard fully leveled it a turn later and Vialed a Rejeery in play to take it even higher. Barnello untapped, searched for Tundra and Wrathed away Maynard's team. The Quebec player restocked with Lord of Atlantis and Merrow Rejeery over the end of Barnello's turn and the main of his own.

    Barnello dropped Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull and played Vendilion Clique on Maynard's turn. The Quebecer played Forece of Will, discarding Misstep to protect his last card. Barnello put the Batterskull into play at the end of Maynard's next turn and it was promptly Disenchanted.

    Maynard was out of cards and Barnello was about to untap and play Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Maynard sent his Rejeery into the red zone leaving his Lord of Atalntis back.

    And then things got interesting.

    Barnello cast Swords to Plowshares on the Lord of Atlantis that was granting Islandwalk to the Rejeery. Barnello then used his Mystic to put another Batterskull into play. At this point a spectator stopped the game to get a judge because their was some confusion about how many lands Barnello had played. They all agreed that Barnello had played an extra land and they backed up the play. Barnello had to Swords the Lord of Atlantis and then chump block with Mystic since he did not have enough mana to do both.

    Barnello, who was still visibly nervous about playing in Feature Match

    announced: "My land for the turn."

    He then used the Brainstorm ability of Jace and reflexively went to play another land which was immediately caught by everyone who had heard him announce his first land drop a few seconds back. The judge, who was still writing up the dual warnings from the previous infraction, added it to the list. Should Barnello pick up another warning on the day -- regardless of the infraction -- it would result in a game loss.

    Barnello attacked for four and played yet another Mystic for yet another Batterskull. Maynard was not happy and Vial'd an Adept into play. He then hardcast a Batterskull of his own. He was out of cards.

    Barnello played Swords on the germ and attacked with his own Batterskull and Mishra's Factory.

    Maynard equipped his Adept and attacked Jace. Barnello chumped with Stoneforge which had summoning sickness and he untapped to play another Mystic -- this time fetching Sword of Body and Mind. He had enough mana at this point to simply play the Sword and attach it to his germ token. Maynard took six, milled 10, and Barnello started working on his wolf pack.

    Time expired as Barnello passed the turn but with the remaining extra turns he was able to get through with his 10/10 vigilant, life linked, protection from blue, germ token for the win but he was not happy with the jitters he had displayed in doing so.

    Final result: Adam Barnello sheepishly won the match 2 - 1


  • Feature Match Round 4 – Paul Rietzl vs. Brian Kibler

    by Nate Price
  • Sometimes, you're just handed a gimme. For me, picking this match was a gimme. For the players involved, getting their first actual win of the day was not. Paul Rietzl and Brian Kibler have been staples on the Magic scene for about as long as I can remember. They have literally done it all in Magic, getting just about every type of accolade you can imagine between them as Magic players. Having been around as long as they have, the two are good friends, and this match had a definite feel of joking comfortability to it. Rietzl even went so far as to take a page out of David Ochoa's book, declaring this a war of good versus evil. I'll let you guess what side he was on.

    "Gotta rep it," Rietzl said taking his jacket off as he sat down to reveal his Your Move Games shirt underneath.

    "Old school, eh," Kibler responded.

    "99% of this room probably has no idea what this shirt even is," Rietzl joked.

    "Yeah, I never thought that I'd be the elder statesman of anything,"Kibler laughed.

    Game 1

    Kibler won the die roll and chose to go first.

    Rietzl started the first turn with a Thoughtseize, peeling a Stoneforge Mystic from a hand also containing a Knight of the Reliquary, Tarmogoyf, Vindicate, and two Wastelands. Apparently Kibler drew a Thoughtseize for his turn, immediately aiming the conspicuously new card at Reitl's hand.

    "That was probably the perfect card to draw," Rietzl said, sliding his hand onto the table.

    Two copies of Green Sun's Zenith, an Umezawa's Jitte, Swords to Plowshares, and two lands stared back at him. After merely a few seconds to record the info, Kibler sent the Swords packing.

    Rietzl kept the land count minimal, using a Wasteland to kill Kibler's Bayou. Upon finally reaching a second and, Kibler made the Tarmogoyf he was holding, currently a 4/5. With a Savannah and a new Swords to Plowshares in his hand, Rietzl could simply Swords the Goyf, choosing instead to use a Zenith to fetch a matching copy of his own. When Kibler made a second copy for his team, Rietzl once again chose to let it be, clearly saving his Swords for the far more dangerous Knight of the Reliquary. Instead, he made and equipped an Umezawa's Jitte, passing the turn in defense.

    Kibler had no intention of smashing into the equipped Goyf. Instead, he made a freshly drawn Stoneforge Mystic, which fetched a Sword of Fire and Ice. On his turn, needing to thin the board some, Rietzl sent his Goyf into Kibler's team. Kibler blocked with the whole team. Rietzl's Goyf died, but not before dealing enough to one of Kibler's for the Jitte to finish it off. After combat, Rietzl replaced it with the far more imposing Knight of the Reliquary.

    "Right on time," Kibler said triumphantly as he put a Scrubland into play. A Vindicate sent the Knight to its final resting place. Even with the board clear, Kibler chose not to attack, fearing an attack back from Rietzl's Dryad Arbor. With Kibler only having two blockers, Rietzl chose to use a Swords to Plowshares to get rid of the Goyf, leaving just a Mystic behind. He then equipped his Arbor with the Jitte and sent it in Kibler took the damage, which let Rietzl use the Jitte to kill the Mystic before it could ever activate. On his turn, Kibler put Rietzl in some mana troubles, using Wasteland to kill his Savannah, his only source of white mana. In addition, he had finally gotten to the point when he could play his Knight of the Reliquary, giving him the largest creature on the board.

    Brian Kibler

    Rietzl untapped and made a pair of Tarmogoyfs, collectively larger than the Knight of the Reliquary. Kibler used a Vindicate to get rid of the Jitte, bringing things to an absolute halt. Rietzl found a way to get the advantage the immediate next turn. Sensei's Divining Top gave him the ability to dig for an answer, and, after talking himself through a tutorial on how to use top ("So I have to peek then draw…or do I draw then peek…I'll figure this out…"), he ended up putting a land into play and a mystery card on top.

    Kibler couldn't attack, instead opting to draw some cards with some Horizon Canopies and his Knight of the Reliquary. Rietzl had a plan for his turn. It was time to turn up the heat. He attacked with his two Tarmogoyfs. When Kibler blocked with his Knight of the Reliquary, Rietzl used his to search out a Bojuka Bog, erasing Kibler's graveyard and shrinking his Knight. Rather than lose the only way he could really get back into the game, Kibler chose to fetch up a white source with his Knight to cast a Swords to Plowshares on the Tarmogoyf he'd blocked. Unfortunately, the Bog had put him so far behind that Rietzl's men only needed a couple more turns to overwhelm Kibler. Kibler aimed a last-second Hymn to Tourach at Rietzl, hoping to just get a little more information.

    Paul Rietzl 1 – Brian Kibler 0

    Game 2

    "You have a major advantage right now," Rietzl said bobbing up and down.

    "What's that," Kibler asked?

    "I really have to go to the bathroom."

    Kibler opened incredibly strongly in the second game. His first-turn Thoughtseize stripped a Green Sun's Zenith from a hand containing a pair of Hymn to Tourachs, a Knight of the Reliquary, and a couple of lands. That cleared the way for his Dark Confidant to start cementing his advantage. Rietzl tried to stem the advantage with a Hymn to Tourach, but it wasn't really any match for Dark Confidant.

    Kibler kept the aggro up, adding a second Dark Confidant to the board and using Wasteland to put Rietzl off of double black. When a Knight hit the table a turn later, and Rietzl found hiself unable to cast any meaningful spells, the game was over. This lightning quick game was the antithesis of the first, with things going Kibler's way from the start and Rietzl never really even being in it.

    Paul Rietzl 1 – Brian Kibler 1

    Paul Rietz

    Game 3

    Rietzl ramped himself up with a first-turn Green Sun's Zenith for a Dryad Arbor which Kibler immediately Wastelanded. Kibler also made a Mox Diamond, enabling him to play a Sensei's Divining Top as well. He activated it on his upkeep, thinking for a while about how to order his cards. Rietzl had spent his second turn making a Tarmogoyf, so Kibler had to take that into consideration. Eventually, he ordered his cards, activating his top after his draw for a second card. With his Top still on his deck, he cracked a Verdant Catacombs to get a Swamp, allowing him to cast a Thoughtseize. The sorcery stole a Swords to Plowshares out of a hand containing a second Tarmogoyf, Thoughtseize, and a Dark Confidant. Rietzl returned the favor on his turn, using his Thoughtseize to take a Knight of the Reliquary from a hand with Swords to Plowshares and Elspeth, Knight-Errant. Not wanting to lose his Confidant to a Swords, Rietzl used his remaining mana to cast a second Tarmogoyf.

    After some thought, Kibler decided he couldn't afford to take any hits from the Goyfs, choosing to use a Swords to kill one rather than wait for the Confidant. The Confidant came down on the following turn, and began to provide a steady stream of cards to Rietzl. Kibler started to fight back, making a Tarmogoyf of his own and an Elspeth for it to defend. Eventually, Rietzl brought the big guns out, finding a Green Sun's Zenith for a Knight of the Reliquary. Kibler had a Vindicate for the Knight, dispatching it and making another Elspeth token before passing the turn.

    Every turn that went by cemented Rietzl's advantage. While the incremental advantage gained by Elspeth was good, if Kibler didn't get to ultimate soon, the Confidant was going to provide Rietzl enough tools to get her out of the way. Rietzl made a Knight of the Reliquary. Kibler drew and played a much smaller Qasali Pridemage. When the Pridemage got some Elspeth wings and attacked on the following turn, Rietzl sent it home with a Maze of Ith he fetched up with his Knight.

    Kibler's Elspeth had finally reached eight loyalty, so Rietzl had to deal with it. What he found was a Pernicious Deed (thanks to a little help from his Knight of the Reliquary and a Horizon Canopy). That let him play and cast the Deed for two, wiping away all of Kibler's permanents except Elspeth. With the path clear, Rietzl's Kitchen Finks pushed through to reduce her loyalty. With virtually all of his permanents gone, Kibler just drew and conceded.

    Paul Rietzl 2 – Brian Kibler 1


  • Feature Match Round 5 – Matt Nass vs. Felix Lapan

    by Brian David-Marshall
  • "Were there no better matches in the whole green flight?" aksed Grand Prix Oakland champion Matt Nass as he sat down for his fifth round feature against Montreal's Felix Lapan, who had won a GP Trial with his innovative deck last night. It was the combination of that deck list and Nass' resume that instigated their trip to the Feature Match area but I did not want to reveal anything about Felix's deck.

    "I was not expecting to get a Feature," admitted Lapan who described himself as largely a casual player who has been working on this deck with a friend in the Montreal Legacy community for the past year. The deck features Natural Order for Progenitus but can also win in one turn with multiple ways to tutor into play and subsequently sacrifice Protean Hulk to loop Body Double, Reveilark, and Mogg Fanatic to his heart's content.

    "This was the best there was this round," I assured Nass.

    "Don't get me wrong," smiled Nass as he shuffled up to play. "I love feature matches!"

    Matt Nass

    Game 1

    Lapan kicked off the action -- on the draw -- with Cabal Therapy into Matt Nass' Volcanic Island. Nass said "Okay" and Lapan named Force of Will. Nass showed him a hand with Brainstorm, Jace TMS, Batterskull as the highlights.

    Turn two saw Carrion Feeder for Lapan and Dryad Arbor. Nass Brainstormed at the end of the turn. He sacrificed his Scalding Tarn and got Tundra to play Sword to Plowshares. Lapan sac'd the Feeder.

    Nass untapped to play Stoneforge Mystic and fetch Batterskull.

    "Mind if I read that?" asked Nass as Lapan played a land he did not recognize. It was Phyrexian Tower. Lapan used it cast Green Sun's Zenith for two -- although he only got a one -- into Xantid Swarm.

    Nass made a sour face. He sacrificed two fetch lands on his own turn and tapped out to play Jace, the Mind Sculptor bouncing Dryad Arbor.

    Lapan attacked and played Tinder Wall. He replayed the Arbor.

    "Mind if I read that?" asked Nass. I expect Lapan to get a lot of that today.

    Nass bounced the Xantid Swarm this time and passed back to Lapan who was play acting though the sequence of what he wanted to happen.

    "You need to play a little faster," urged Nass.

    Lapan sacrificed his Wall and attempted to play Pattern of Rebirth on the Dryad Arbor. Nass Force of Willed. He then had Mental Misstep for the Xantid Swarm. Lapan passed the turn and Nass made a Batterskull during the end step. He attacked for five and then played another Mystic -- this time fetching Sword of Body and Mind. He had three cards in hand when he passed the turn.

    Lapan offered Academy Rector and Nass Brainstormed into Daze in response.

    "Its your turn," frowned Lapan.

    Nass played his Sword and equipped it to a Mystic. He attacked and Lapan was up against the wall. It was even worse when Nass used the remaining counter on his Jace to bounce the Arbor setting Lapan back on mana to a point where he could not claw back.

    Felix Lapan

    Game 2

    Gitaxian Probe opened game two for Lapan and revealed Brainstorm, Force of Will, Grim lavamancer, Stoneforge Mystic, Swords to Plowshares, and two lands. Lapan played Birds of Paradise. Nass cracked a fetch and played Grim Lavamancer -- mana denial had worked out well for him in game one after all.

    Lapan laid Carpet of Flowers and was able to make a white mana during his second main phase. He then followed up with Wall of Roots and Qasali Pridemage with a little boost from Ancient Tombs. Nass Swords'd the Wall and Lavamancered the Bird. Lapan missed an attack with his Pridemage and chided himself.

    Nass played Stoneforge Mystic for Sword of Fire and Ice and shot Dryad Arbor with Grim Lavamancer. Lapan's Viscera Seer was countered with Mental Misstep and Lapan attacked Nass down to 12. Nass had Swords for the Pridemage and waited for Lapan's next end step to deploy the Sword. Meanwhile Lapan had played Green Sun's Zenith for two mana only to fetch Tinder Wall which had to block the sworded Mystic. He could not play the Natural Order he was holding due to knowing that Force of Will still loomed in Nass' grip.

    Nass played Jace and shipped a card to the bottom of Lapan's library.

    Lapan -- now able to make two mana off of Carpet of Flowers played Reveillark. Nass allowed it. He bounced the Reveillark on his turn and Lapan returned Seer and Tinder Wall to play. Tinder Wall blocked the Swordsperson and then served to scry for one to the Seer. The Seer then went binward when Grim Lavamancer glared at it.

    Nass played Thoughtsieze and saw the 'Lark, Natural Order, and Birds of Paradise -- he took the Lark.

    Lapan drew Gitaxian Probe and played it, drawing Mental Misstep from Nass. There were two cards left in Nass's hand. One of them was Birds of Paradise and the other was Natural Order. Lapan attempted to play the Bird and it was countered with Force of Will pitching Brainstorm.

    "I was just hoping you did not have two blue cards left," sighed Lapan as he extended the hand to congratulate Matt Nass on winning the match.

    "Your deck seems really cool," said Nass who was just happy he never let Lapan have enough mana to let it do any of the scary things it was capable of.

    Final result: Matt Nass defeated Felix Lapan 2 - 0


  • Saturday, 6:14 p.m. – Quick Questions

    by Brian David-Marshall
  • What is the most unlikely deck you have seen so far in this tournament?

    Caleb Durward

    Caleb Durward: I lost to Reanimator? I don't know, most Legacy decks are fairly likely unless they are a straight brew and I haven't seen any of those.

    Zaiem Beg

    Zaiem Beg: Hexmage Depths is pretty unlikely. It seems pretty poor in an environment full of Wastelands.

    AJ Sacher

    AJ Sacher: Its Legacy so you always see crazy stuff. Enchantress?
    There is no unlikely in Legacy. Anything could happen in Legacy! I saw some guy playing Dragon Stompy and I was like, "Yup, its Dragon Stompy!"

    Brian Kibler

    Brian Kibler: I just played against mono-black, artifact infect deck.
    I was not expecting to battle against that. When I sat down to play him my opponent said: "You are going to be really amused by this match." I Thoughtseized him and saw Necropede. "You're right I am very amused!"

    Alex Bertoncini

    Alex Bertoncini: Hive Mind! I have seen four or five people playing Hive Mind! People are Show and Telling it into play on turn two and then playing Pact of the Titan. Its Legacy where any deck is possible but I saw a bunch of people playing this and thought: "What is going on here?"

    Nick Spagnolo

    Nick Spagnolo: Team Italia -- Gerard Fabiano's deck. It is red-black-white. It plays Badlands! What deck plays Badlands?!? It plays Figure of Destiny, Hymn to Tourach, Stoneforge Mystic, Grim Lavamancer, and all these cards that do things -- I guess.


  • Saturday, 7:43 p.m. – Watch Where you Misstep

    by Nate Price
  • Not since Jace, the Mind Sculptor had a card received as much hype as Mental Misstep, and it's easy to see why. First, it's a new counterspell. Second, it's free. Put those two together and you have one of the most dominating combinations in Magic. Look at Daze and Force of Will. Both have at various points been completely dominant in the formats in which they were played. Right now, players often refer to different Legacy decks as Force of Will decks or non-Force of Will decks. Designing cards with a more-or-less free mechanic in it requires a careful touch for developers. So far, it appears that it was beautifully executed.

    I took a bit of time to sit down with three noteworthy deck designers to get their opinions about the card and its impact on the format and on their deck designs. The three players I talked to all have reputations as excellent deck designers. Conley Woods, now a staple on the Pro Tour, earned his way there mostly with decks of his own design. Using cards like Raven's Crime, Violent Ultimatum, and Serra Ascendant, Woods has proven that he is able to deftly navigate any format, often finding avenues to victory often overlooked by most players.

    AJ Sacher

    Caleb Durward first came to my attention, and the larger stage in general, at Grand Prix Columbus last year, when he used a UG Madess deck featuring Vengevine and Survival of the Fittest to make Top 8. Since, he's been making more waves on the Open Series, with multiple Top 8 finishes. He epitomizes the spirit of the Grinder, battling week after week, often with decks of his own design, pushing himself to the cusp of national community recognition. The third designer I talked to is the perfect example of a person from both worlds. AJ Sacher is a well-known and respected pro player. He is also a regular at the Open Series, grinding away in both the Standard and Legacy portions of the events. He often posts amazing finishes, and has shown a special affinity for the Legacy format.

    Nate: When a card like Mental Misstep, one that targets a specific set of cards, is in a format, how much does it affect your design process?

    Woods: It impacts it a bunch. It has an effect on the format as a whole, and that factors into deck design. Decks like Goblins and Merfolk aren't as good so decks that are worse against those tend to get better. In addition, you have to be more careful about the contents of your own decks. It's the same thing that happened with Counterbalance. People started running cards that they wouldn't have played as many of to match the casting costs the format was showing them. This card makes one-drops worse and slows down the format. You have to take that into account.

    Caleb Durward

    Durward: Yeah, I definitely changed things up a bit. I added cards like Chrome Mox to my deck. With Misstep out there, I figured things would be a little easier if I could play the Chrome Mox and just start with two drops. I like the ability to negate the cards that are trying to negate mine.

    Sacher: Um, do you mean beside the fact that you have to play your own Missteps and that one-drops are worse? (He continued with a smile) Cards like this have a definite impact on design. Before this card came out, I was playing a lot of decks like UR Stifle, and those decks find it really hard to deal with Misstep. I've been playing BUG since Misstep came out because it doesn't have the same problems. Generally, my deck doesn't mind getting its one drops countered. Decks where that is the case are at a huge advantage. In addition, it has allowed tempo-based decks to become better. When I can still curve out and protect my cards with Misstep, it has made what should be a very reactive card into a proactive threat. Another really important thing it has done is improve the cards that are weaker against one-drop spells. Most of them were already good, but they get even better with an essentially free way to protect them.

    Conley Woods

    Nate: Do you feel that Misstep has lived up to the hype that surrounded its release?

    Woods: Yes and no. It's definitely a powerful card, but I think it's already worse than people thought it was going to be. Since people were so on top of its release, it was easy to start building decks to combat it from the beginning. In addition, most people will just buy straight into the hype and start every deck with an Island "4 Mental Misstep," which I think is a mistake and makes the card worse.

    Durward: Oh definitely. The card has impacted the format on all levels, from individual card value, to deck design, to the strength of a deck in the format. I would call that worth the hype. I don't think it's quite as good as people thought it was going to be, but it's close.

    Sacher: Yeah, but I don't know how long that's going to last. I think this is going to be a card that at some point evens out, and some decks may stop playing it, or at least drop the number of them played. As the decks become slower and more controlling, the card becomes worse. Eventually, it becomes so bad that people stop playing it. At this point, the decks that it beat, like Goblins, are fast enough to beat the slower, more controlling decks. At this point, the blue decks speed up again and Misstep comes back. It's the cycle of the metagame. Right now, I think the best barometer for the power level of the card is the number of Jace, the Mind Scupltors decks play. The higher the number, the worse it is. Jace is the first step in the slowing down process, so I'd keep an eye on it.


  • Feature Match Round 8 – Anthony Eason vs. Drew Levin

    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Anthony Eason burst onto the Magic scene last year when he earned the chance to represent the USA at Worlds in Chiba as a National team member. The St. Louis native may not have much experience playing Legacy but he found himself with only one loss with just two rounds to go playing a black-white deck descended from the likes of Chris Pikula's Deadguy Ale that took second during the firts ever Legacy GP.

    Drew Levin has yet to make his mark on the Pro Tour or trod upon the road to Worlds but he has made quite the name for himself in the Star City Open events posting Top 8 finishes on Standard Saturdays and Legacy Sundays. He recently made his mark on the elder format when he and Gerry Thompson both made the Top 8 in Orlando by resurrecting the Standstill archetype when they realized that Mental Misstep meant the deck would have an answer to back breaking turn one plays like Aether Vial and Goblin Lackey -- cards which had made the deck untenable to play. He was playing blue-white this week with Ancestral Visions and Fact or Fiction.

    Game 1

    There were mulligans on both sides of the table before Eason led off by cracking a Marsh Flats and played Cabal Therapy.

    "Two life," announced Drew as he reached for his Mental Misstep to counter it. Then he had a moment of regret. "I don't know if you even know what I am playing."

    "I played next to you for the last couple of hours," laughed Eason.

    Leving suspended Ancestral Visions and waited for his investment to pay off. Meanwhile Eason played a turn two Umezawa's Jitte. The two players played the waiting game with Eason sitting on a pair of Wastelands band Levin waiting until it was absolutley neccessary to fetch.

    Eason played Dark Confidant and drew a frown from Levin who Brainstormed and then let it resolve. He broke a land to shuffle away the dross and filled up his hand. Eason was able to equip his Bob and attack the next turn. Eason imprinted Mirran Crusader on Chrome Mox and played Stoneforge Mystic for Sword of Fire and Ice.

    "I got a good one for you," grinned Levin when Eason ended his turn.

    Levin played the oldie-but-still-very-goodie Fact or Fiction and offered Eason a selection of Jace TMS, Spell Snare, Mental Misstep, Swords to Plowshares, and Force of Will.

    Anthony Eason

    Eason put Jace and Misstep in one pile and Levin took it despite having to pass on Swords to Plowshares. Levin then played Jace and bounced the Dark Confidant. Eason moved the Jitte onto the Mystic and attacked Jace but Levin had another Swords. Eason replayed Dark Confidant only to have Levin play Vedalken Shackles and take it.

    Eason attempted to Vindicate the Jace but it was met with Force of Will. Eason used his remaining Jitte counter to kill the Confidant.

    Levin followed up with Crucible of Worlds and returned a fetch land to play from his bin. Levin began pounding him with quick jabs -- RepealChrome Mox, Fatesealing -- and the game limped on for a couple more turns until Eason finally had enough and they moved on.

    Game 2

    Eason led off with a turn one Bitterblossom after imprinting Cabal Therapy on a Chrome Mox. Levin suspended Ancestral Visions. Eason followed with Wasteland for Levin's Tundra and Stoneforge Mystic for Sword of Fire and Ice.

    Levin Brainstormed and played Wasteland and braced to take seven from Eason's team once the Sword was deployed. Eason played a second Mystic and with the threat of Battered Skulls looming and no time to find answers to what was already on the board Levin reached for his sideboard.

    "That was a good Bitterblossom."

    Game 3

    The two players chatted about the Legacy format and Levin admitted that he expected Eason to be playing a red deck -- that was the Standard archetype Eason used to burn his way onto the National team last year.

    "I don't know much about this format but it seems like whenever I play a turn two Bob or Stoneforge this deck just wins," said Eason of his choice to play black-white.

    "Or turn one," nodded Levin who led off with Celestial Collonade.

    Eason played Cabal Therpay naming Counterspell. He hit and also saw Swords, Force of Will and Repeal along with some lands. The threat of the aforementioned loss to a turn two Stoneforge prompted Levin to pitch his remaining blue cards to Force of Will the ubiquitous critter.

    Levin played Aura of Silence and Eason gave it a good read. He played Dark Confidant but it only drew a Swords to Plowshares from Levin. A turn later Eason's next Mystic resolved and earned him a Batterskull for his efforts.

    "That was good," smirked Levin as he peeled a card off ther top of his deck and played Jace, the Mind Sculptor to bounce the Mystic -- Eason was jammed up on only two lands. Eason replayed the Mystic, this time getting Sword of Fire and Ice. He had eight cards in hand and had to discard Jitte.

    Drew Levin

    Swords bobbed to the top for Levin to dispatch the Mystic and he suspended Ancestral Visions. Eason played Cabal Therapy and missed but saw the last card in Levin's grip was Spell Snare. Levin fatesealed and left Thoughtsieze on top. He held up his lone card as Eason drew for the turn. "You want it? You can have it."

    Eason paid two life, cast the Thoughtsieze, and took it. He shrugged:

    "I am not losing to damage anyway."

    Levin could barely contain himself until Eason's next end step after drawing Fact or Fiction. Eason resolved Dark Confidant but the game was sllipping away. Visions was about to resolve and Levin got the fat side of a four-one FoF split that Eason arranged to keep his oppoinent from Swords. Levin drew one anyway when Vision resolved and he suspended another for good measure.

    Eason had to pay two extra to even try playing a Chrome Mox -- that Aura of Silence still loomed -- and Levin was so flush with cards he was able to pitch Misdirection to Force of Will it. A turn later Elspeth joined his team and that was enough for Eason to give in to the inevitability of the situation.

    "Well we played one real game," said Levin.

    "I had two Vindicates and two lands in my opening hand," said Eason with a shrug of his shoulders.

    "Fact or Fiction was just as good as I wanted it to be," said Levin basking in the feeling of climbing back into a game on the back of overwhelming card advantage. "It feels like this is such a grindy format right now.

    Final result: Drew Levin defeated Anthony Eason 2 -1


  • Feature Match Round 9 – David Williams vs. David Price

    by Nate Price
  • With a loss and a draw, both Williams and Price were in need of a win here to continue playing in the morning. Williams has been a staple around the feature match area for close to as long as it has existed. He has shown an affinity in recent years for older formats, taking part in the Vintage Championship at Gen Con every year, and always making the trip out to a domestic Legacy Grand Prix. His opponent, David Price, isn't as well-known as Williams (as he said when asked by Willians, "No, I'm not that David Price"), but he has had the most recent Magical success. He's coming hot off a Top 16 performance at the Open Series in Louisville, where he played High Tide. This time around, he opted for a deck on the other end of the spectrum: Zoo.

    Game 1

    Price threw his opening hand back, but kept an aggressive six-carder. His first-turn Wild Nacatl fell to the card du jour, Mental Misstep. His second one fell to a Force of Will. He was able to stick a Grim Lavamancer, though, and his offense was going to at least have to start with him. The Knight of the Reliquary that he played on the next turn resolved, though Williams did try to dig for an answer with Brainstorm.

    David Price

    Williams had used a pair of Brainstorms to help sift through his deck, but hadn't made anything to really help him. Price was starting to amass an army, and Williams did all he could to slow him down. He used a Spell Snare on a Qasali Pridemage, but a second resolved. Price waited for a turn to attack with his Knight, choosing to grow it a little more. He also used his Lavamancer when he had three creatures in his graveyard, making sure to keep one around for any potential Tarmogoyfs. Once the knight started attacking, things went quickly for Williams. With no Swords to Plowshares to remove the enormous creature, Williams conceded after a couple of turns.

    David Williams 0 – David Price 1

    Game 2

    Both players kept their opening draws. Williams made the first blow, using a Stoneforge Mystic to snag a Batterskull. Price responded deftly with a Qasali Pridemage, preempting the powerful new equipment. This time, it was Williams who preempted Price, shutting down his Pridemage with a Pithing Needle. At that point, things got interesting. Williams had two mana available when Price cast Choke. After a moment of thought, Williams decided to use his Mystic to put Batterskull into play. With his Islands locked down, Williams rebuild with a Wasteland and a Misty Rainforest. Price, meanwhile, built his defenses with a 3/3 Wild Nacatl and a 1/2 Tarmogoyf. A second Pridemage hit the table, and his defense suddenly turned into an offense. He swung his now 5/5 Nacatl into Williams. Williams used his Wasteland to destroy Price's lone Taiga. When Price floated a red mana, Williams took the four damage.

    David Williams

    On Price's turn, he aimed a Krosan Grip at the Batterskull, killing it and making his Tarmogoyf a 3/4. Price swung. Williams's life was dropping rapidly. A mere turn later, he was facing an alpha strike from Price while at six life. He used his Misty Rainforest to fetch up a Tundra. In response to Williams activating the Rainforest, Price tried to Lightning Bolt the Mystic, but Williams tapped himself out again to play a Mental Misstep. With his new white mana, Williams used a Swords to Plowshares to kill the Tarmogoyf. All the gesture did was buy him one more turn. After drawing his card, he wasted no time before conceding and wishing Price good luck the next day.

    David Williams 0 – David Price 2


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