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Coverage of Grand Prix Strasbourg Day 2

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EVENT COVERAGE

 

  • Sunday, 10:10 a.m. – 9-0 Decks

    by Tobi Henke

  • Just four players stood the test of nine rounds of competitive Legacy play yesterday and finished the day with perfect records. One might assume their decks were some of the staples of the format, RUG maybe or Stoneblade or even Jund. But no. Which decks went 9-0? Storm, Elves, Death & Taxes, and one very cool-looking Show and Tell/Dream Halls/Omniscience/Enter the Infinite concoction. Check it out!







     

  • Sunday, 11:16 a.m. – Metagame Breakdown

    by Tim Willoughby

  • I've mentioned it in passing a few times this weekend, but wow, Legacy really is the format where diversity rules supreme. Going through the decklists categorising them on day two was both a voyage of discovery, and something of a stone around my neck – there's just so much going on!

    As you might have spotted, there are a few decks that stand out as being the 'most popular' choices, but even that is a little bit of a misnomer, as quite simply, there are a tonne of different decks in the room. For today's metagame breakdown, I've split out BUG and Shardless BUG, and Jund/Punishing Fire Jund, but otherwise kept things fairly general. Let's take a look.

    RUG 13%
    Sneak and Show 9%
    Storm 9%
    UW(r) Miracles 9%
    Esper Stoneblade 8%
    Shardless BUG 8%
    Punishing Jund 6%
    Elves 5%
    Maverick 5%
    BUG 4%
    Jund 3%
    OmniShow 3%
    Dredge 2%
    Junk 2%

    After this we have a lot of 1% decks. These are some of the concoctions that might be homebrews, or simply more marginal choices in the field. They include Lands, Aluren, Merfolk, Goblins, Belcher, Death and Taxes, Burn, Painter's Servant – a whole mess of exciting things. Some of them in fact, were so exciting that I thought I'd juice up your understanding of the metagame, by bringing you a few cheeky little decklists. Get your peepholes around this bunch, which all finished at at least 7-2 on Saturday;


    Alexander Rosenberger
    Grand Prix Strasbourg 2013



    That last one is my personal favourite. We've seen plenty of Helm of Obedience this weekend, in concert with Rest in Peace, but Helm of Awakening is a different kind of win condition. With the Helm reducing costs, and a pair of copies of Sensei's Divining Top, it is possible to set up a massive storm count to kill out of nowhere with Grapeshot. Just when you thought you'd seen all the combo decks... Legacy proved you wrong (again).




     

  • Round 10 Feature Match – Michael Bonde vs. Andreas Bendix Nielsen

    by Tobi Henke

  • "I read what the other 9-0 decks were yesterday, and they're all bad matchups," complained Bonde. "I'm playing the only fair deck, the rest is all combo." But he surely must have played against some combo decks on the way to his 9-0, no? "Only one. I beat Andre Müller playing Elves."

    Michael Bonde got this far with "Death & Taxes," the mono-white creature deck. His likewise undefeated opponent in this all-Danish feature match, Andreas Bendix Nielsen, was playing Storm.

    Game 1

    Bendix Nielsen started on Underground Sea and Brainstorm, Bonde on Rishadan Port and Æther Vial. Next, Bendix Nielsen Pondered and cracked a Polluted Delta, then cast Gitaxian Probe. Bonde revealed Stoneforge Mystic, Umezawa's Jitte, and lands—one of them a Wasteland that took out one of Bendix Nielsen's Underground Seas. But another Brainstorm provided Polluted Delta, so there really was no danger of mana screw here.


    Andreas Bendix Nielsen

    On turn three, Bendix Nielsen cast Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, and Lion's Eye Diamond which was cracked in response to the Ad Nauseam that followed. He flipped two more rituals, Ponder, Brainstorm, another Lion's Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, Infernal Tutor, and even Tendrils of Agony, then stopped. That was well enough for Bonde to concede on the spot.

    Michael Bonde 0-1 Andreas Bendix Nielsen

    Game 2

    The game began with Plains, Æther Vial on one side, Polluted Delta for Swamp followed by Thoughtseize on the other. Bendix Nielsen saw Rest in Peace, Phyrexian Revoker, Mother of Runes, Mirran Crusader, and an Ethersworn Canonist which he made Bonde discard. On turn two, Bonde cast Rest in Peace, then lost his Phyrexian Revoker to Cabal Therapy before vialing out Mother of Runes.

    On turn three, Bendix Nielsen went for it. He cast Lotus Petal, Cabal Ritual, and Lion's Eye Diamond, but in response Bonde vialed out the Phyrexian Revoker that he had just topdecked. "Nice draw, eh?" he laughed.

    With Lion's Eye Diamond switched off by the Revoker, Bendix Nielsen could only Burning Wish for Massacre, wipe the board, and pass the turn. After that he was left with just three cards in hand, far from another attempt to go off. Bonde put pressure on him with Mirran Crusader, Bendix Nielsen bought some time with Chain of Vapor.

    Bendix Nielsen cast Burning Wish and in response sacrificed Lion's Eye Diamond to get and then cast Diminishing Returns. With Rest in Peace on the battlefield nothing was shuffled back into his library and the Returns also exiled his only copy of Tendrils of Agony. But his new seven looked awesome: Infernal Tutor, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lotus, Petal, Lotus Petal, Ponder, Island, Dark Ritual. He cast all of the artifacts, cracked a Petal for Dark Ritual, cast Infernal Tutor, cracked the Diamond in response, searched for Ad Nauseam, taking note of the remaining contents of his increasingly small library, and cast it.

    I didn't get a good look at his library before, but it seemed as if he needed to get more than a little lucky with Ad Nauseam. He didn't.

    Michael Bonde 1-1 Andreas Bendix Nielsen

    Game 3

    Bendix Nielsen opened with Gitaxian Probe, seeing Plains, Rishadan Port, Mirran Crusader, Mother of Runes, Stoneforge Mystic, Æther Vial, and Ethersworn Canonist. He played a land and passed the turn to Bonde who cast Æther Vial and passed right back.


    Michael Bonde

    Bendix Nielsen had Cabal Therapy to get rid of Ethersworn Canonist (seeing a new Aven Mindcensor in Bonde's hand) on turn two and then on turn three (apparently the usual combo turn here) he pondered his options. After a while he decided to wait a little longer. Bonde summoned Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, which left Bendix Nielsen with no choice but to wipe the board with Burning Wish, Massacre. With the Burning Wish gone, all that remained in his hand was mana (both rituals and artifacts) and a Chain of Vapor. No Tutor, no Burning Wish, no Ad Nauseam, no nothing.

    That didn't change for the next couple of turns (only more of the same accumulated) and it really only took a couple of turns for Bonde's Stoneforge Mystic, Batterskull, and Mirran Crusader to take the game.

    Michael Bonde 2-1 Andreas Bendix Nielsen

    So how bad is this matchup for Death & Taxes really, Mr. Bonde?

    "Really?" Bonde asked. "No seriously, it's not good. Even after sideboarding, with Ethersworn Canonist in addition to Thalia, you basically can't do anything against a turn-two kill if they're playing first."

    Luckily, Andreas Bendix Nielsen never had the turn-two kill in any of these games and Michael Bonde advanced to 10-0.




     

  • Round 11 Feature Match – Alexandre Darras vs. Lino Burgold

    by Tobi Henke

  • Two Grand Prix champions faced off in this round, both on 24 points. Rookie of the Year 2009 Lino Burgold went 7-0-3 so far with Helm of Obedience/Rest in Peace, Darras went 8-2 with Sneak & Show.

    Game 1

    Darras started into the game fast, with Scalding Tarn for Island, two Lotus Petals, and Sensei's Diving Top, all on the very first turn. Then he said, "Go."

    "Interesting," Burgold commented, playing a Flooded Strand and passing right back. Over the next couple of turns Darras continued to improve his hand with Sensei's Divining Top, more fetchlands, and Brainstorm, but it still wasn't clear to what end, exactly. A third Lotus Petal left him with just three cards in hand.


    Alexandre Darras

    Burgold cast a Brainstorm and cracked his fetchland for a Tundra, then on his turn, played another fetchland and Pondered. Pass again.

    At end of Darras's turn, Burgold cast Enlightened Tutor which met Spell Pierce. On his turn, Burgold resolved Talisman of Progress.

    Now, finally, the time had come for some actual action. Darras cast Show and Tell. Burgold's response Enlightened Tutor (for Detention Sphere) resolved, but his Brainstorm didn't thanks to Darras's Force of Will.

    Griselbrand entered the battlefield on Darras's side, Helm of Obedience on Burgold's. Darras activated Griselbrand once, in response Burgold cast Swords to Plowshares, and in response to that Darras activated Griselbrand once more and cast Brainstorm. Neither Griselbrand nor Brainstorm found a counterspell for Swords to Plowshares and his next cards didn't include any countermagic either.

    On his turn, Burgold found Rest in Peace via Ponder and cast it, thus completing the deadly combination with Helm of Obedience.

    "No Force of Will in 14 cards," said Darras, shaking his head.

    "15 actually," Burgold offered. "Don't forget the Brainstorm!"

    Alexandre Darras 0-1 Lino Burgold

    Game 2

    The usual Ponders and Brainstorms of the early game werde dealt with on both sides without much ado. On turn four, however, things got interesting. Darras forced Show and Tell past two copies of Force of Will with his own two copies of Force of Will.

    This time, Darras got Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Burgold got Vendilion Clique. During his upkeep Burgold cast Enlightened Tutor to go get Detention Sphere and smoothly took out the Eldrazi during his main phase.


    Lino Burgold

    After the Force battle, both players' hands were almost completely empty, and now Burgold had a formidable clock in Vendilion Clique. Darras tried to recover with some Pondering, Burgold had Thirst for Knowledge.

    When Darras was down to 4, he cast Red Elemental Blast on Detention Sphere to potentially free Emrakul during combat, but it was not to be. Burgold had Counterspell and Darras went to 1. A final last-ditch Brainstorm didn't cough up an answer, and that was that.

    Alexandre Darras 0-2 Lino Burgold




     

  • Round 12 Feature Match – Jan van der Vegt vs. Sergey Petrushchenko

    by Tim Willoughby

  • For round 12, Jan van der Vegt of the Netherlands found himself up against Sergey Petrushchenko, who hails from Moscow in Russia. The MOCS competitor lost the roll, and found himself up against Petrushchenko's Jund deck on the play. For himself, van der Vegt (known as Dzyl to those who follow his online Magic streams) was playing Sneak and Show – the explosive Legacy deck which had been his original ticket onto the Pro Tour.

    A turn one Deathrite Shaman came from Petrushchenko, which is normally pretty good. Van der Vegt had better though, with two copies of Lotus Petal and an Island, allowing a first turn Show and Tell, to put into play Griselbrand. Petrushchenko got a land out of the deal.


    Sergey Petrushchenko

    Petrushchenko had Dark Confidant the following turn, but his black card drawing engine didn't look quite as explosive as the powerhouse that is Griselbrand. Van der Vegt drew an additional seven cards with it in Petrushchenko's turn, then seven more for his turn. He played Ancient Tomb, and a Lotus Petal before a second Show and Tell. After all that card drawing and Ancient Tomb damage, van der Vegt was at just three, but it turned out he had a Misdirection to stop a Lightning Bolt from Petrushchenko, and was then able to put Sneak Attack into play with the Show and Tell. With one red mana left from Lotus Petal, Jan put into play Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. As Petrushchenko scooped up his cards, Jan couldn't help but smile to the crowd watching the game. "That was not a bad start."

    Jan van der Vegt 1 – 0 Sergey Petrushchenko

    Game two began with a mulligan to six for Petrushchenko, and a turn zero Leyline of Sanctity from van der Vegt. This would protect his hand from targeted discard, and his creatures from 'edict' effects like the -2 ability of Liliana of the Veil.


    Jan van der Vegt

    Petrushchenko didn't have an early, play, but the same could not be said of Van der Vegt, who was quick to improve his hand with a Brainstorm. This soon led to a turn two Show and Tell, thanks to an Ancient Tomb. With a Griselbrand in play and ready to go by the start of his third turn, it looked that van der Vegt would be in good shape to make it a quick match. He had a Sneak Attack after combat, and still had to discard to get back down to seven cards in hand.

    The very next turn, when Emrakul decided to get sneaky it was all over. Sergey Petrushchenko extended his hand, and Jan van der Vegt advanced one step closer to a top eight finish.

    Jan van der Vegt wins 2-0!




     

  • Round 13 Feature Match – Jacob Wilson vs. Loic Le Briand

    by Tobi Henke

  • Last year's Grand Prix Chicago champion Jacob Wilson came all the way from the United States to potentially add another Grand Prix Top 8 to his résumé. With a score of 10-2 so far, he was still on course for that, but now Loic Le Briand stood in his way, who has a Top 8 to his name as well, incidentally from the last French Legacy Grand Prix in Lille back in 2005.

    Le Briand was playing Sneak and Show, Wilson had brought RUG.

    Game 1

    Wilson had only seen an Island and a Scalding Tarn from Le Briand, so he didn't really know what he was up against when he tapped out for Tarmogoyf on turn two. At end of turn, Le Briand cast one Brainstorm, on his turn another, then he played City of Traitors, Lotus Petal, Show and Tell, and got it past Wilson's Force of Will with Spell Pierce.


    Loic Le Briand

    Wilson put another Tarmogoyf onto the battlefield, Le Briand had Griselbrand. Over the course of the next few turns, the 7/7 drew some cards and went on the offense, but Wilson was very much still in the race when he added a Nimble Mongoose and a Delver of Secrets to his two 4/5 Tarmogoyfs.

    With lifetotals at 3 (Wilson) to 10 (Le Briand) Insectile Aberration blocked Griselbrand, and before damage was dealt, Wilson bolted his own flier to prevent Le Briand from gaining life. Le Briand Brainstormed but didn't find a counter for the Lightning Bolt. He subsequently lost on the next attack.

    Jacob Wilson 1-0 Loic Le Briand

    Game 2

    Both players just played lands for a couple of turns. Le Briand had a Ponder, a Brainstorm, and a Lotus Petal, but nothing of much consequence. Wilson's first spell—literally—came on turn four, a lowly 1/1 Nimble Mongoose, followed by a 3/4 Tarmogoyf on turn five. Even his two Wastelands were sitting on the battlefield rather uselessly, as Le Briand got basic land after basic land out of his library.


    Jacob Wilson

    Now Le Briand cast Show and Tell. Wilson's Force of Will met Le Briand's Force of Will, then Wilson decided the counterwar with Flusterstorm on the original Show and Tell.

    Another Tarmogoyf entered the fray, putting Le Briand on a potential one-turn clock. Le Briand was at 11. Wilson had three cards in his graveyard, five lands including two Wastelands on the table, and Krosan Grip in hand to destroy Le Briand's Lotus Petal. So he could, in theory, make his Nimble Mongoose 3/3 and his two Tarmogoyfs 4/5. It was a close call, since he also held Spell Pierce and a newly-drawn Brainstorm. He decided to give Le Briand another turn which was just as well; Le Briand only had more counters and an Emrakul, no Show and Tell or anything to interfere with Wilson's creatures.

    Jacob Wilson 2-0 Loic Le Briand




     

  • Round 15 Feature Match – Frank Baier vs. Raphael Levy

    by Tim Willoughby

  • There is just one current Hall of Fame member playing at Grand Prix Strasbourg, and while Raphael Levy, on three losses, is likely not making top eight here, every Pro Point counts for the current leader of the race to be the French National Champion. With 27 points at the moment, he is less concerned with hitting Gold level than most (thanks to Hall of Fame status) but staying in front of the pack and getting to represent his country is still an important goal for the Frenchman, and a strong finish could never hurt, such that a strong finish at Pro Tour Dragon's Maze could mean Platinum.

    His opponent, Frank Baier of Germany won the roll, and started on a Gemstone Mine, allowing him a Ponder. The land signalled that he was likely a combo deck, and Levy had a little think before playing an Island and a Ponder of his own. Levy's deck was blue/white miracles, which has plenty of deck manipulation and countermagic, including the powerful Sensei's Divining Top/Counterbalance combination that can frequently mean a rough ride for many combo builds.


    Frank Baier

    City of Brass and Chrome Mox (imprinting Brainstorm) were soon followed by Rite of Flame and Empty the Warrens from Baire, to make six Goblin tokens in short order. The German clearly respected Levy's ability to frustrate a big storm plan given the time, and was content to use Empty the Warrens to build an advantage while he could.

    Another Ponder came from Levy, who followed up with a Misty Rainforest activation to find Tundra. Attacks from the Goblin hordes knocked a chunk out of Levy's life total, before a Brainstorm helped out Baier's hand. An end of turn Brainstorm also came from Levy, and this one set up a Terminus which would keep the French Hall of Fame member in the game. For just one white mana, Levy was able to miracle his Terminus and clear the board. Baier would have to rebuild.

    Levy had Vendilion Clique after Baier's draw, and saw Dark Ritual, Burning Wish and Ponder. The Burning Wish went away, to be replaced by a mystery card. Soon enough Ponder replaced itself in more typical fashion, being cast to let Baier fix his draws just a little.

    Levy had survived the early game, and was now on the attack with his Vendilion Clique. He let a Duress resolve, revealing two copies of Counterspell, Force of Will, Plains and Flooded Strand. One way or another, Levy was not going to lose control of this game. While he lost a Counterspell to the Duress, he had the lead on the board, and powerful answers still in hand.

    An Elspeth, Knight Errant from Levy further allowed the Frenchman to dominate the board, and with Counterspell mana up, he remained fairly safe from whatever Baier had going on. Baier went for it with an Infernal Tutor, which let him double up on copies of Dark Ritual. The ritual resolved, as did its twin, giving Baier a great deal of mana, and putting him up to three storm.

    "Is that it?" laughed Levy. It was Baier's turn to laugh as he cast Ad Nauseam.

    Baier was out of mana, and on just five life. Levy chuckled to himself and thought about countering, or indeed letting it go, and trusting Baier's small life total to work in his own favour. City of Brass in play for Baier would not help much, but Baier had not yet played a land.

    Levy started some calculations. He was at 12 life, and had to work out the likelihood that he would be dead. Eventually he did cast the Counterspell.

    Baier then cast a Lion's Eye Diamond, with one card left in hand. Levy had the Force of Will, but had to think about whether to make the play now or later.


    "I don't think I can screw this up, given that I have a Force of Will... are you going to make me think?" he asked playfully. Baier nodded with a small smile. Levy let it resolve, and snap countered the Infernal Tutor that was the last card in Baier's hand. That Force of Will provoked the scoop from Baier – despite his best efforts he was down a game against the one Hall of Fame member in the room.

    Frank Baier 0 – 1 Raphael Levy

    Baier led with a Ponder in game 2, while Levy had Sensei's Divining Top. A Dark Ritual into Duress the next turn from Baier showed a pair of copies of Force of Will, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Flooded Strand and a Plains. One of the copies of Force of Will got sent away, but Levy still had one left to potentially counter the Infernal Tutor that followed. The counter did not come though, and Baier picked up another copy of Dark Ritual.

    Ponder came from Levy, followed by Flooded Strand into Tundra. For now the Frenchman was all about defence, and seemed quietly satisfied that Baier was running very short on lands, still stuck with just an Underground Sea.

    Baier was playing draw-go, which was problematic, given that he was not the blue/white control deck. With just a single land, he had nothing going fast, affording Levy the time to use Sensei's Divining Top and to build his hand quality and mana base turn on turn.

    Lion's Eye Diamond was the only play from Baier for his next turn, and Levy got to have a look at his hand with a Vendilion Clique. He saw Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor, Infernal Tutor, Burning Wish, Xantid Swarm and Abrupt Decay. That was a fine hand for Baier to keep decided Levy, not wanting to give him an extra draw at finding land.

    When Baier went to the discard step of his turn, Levy used Snapcaster Mage to play Brainstorm again. Now was his time to be aggressive. Counterbalance combined nicely with Sensei's Divining Top to make it very hard for Baier's deck to get into action, and Vendilion Clique was a fine attacker backed up by Snapcaster Mage. Attacks took Baier to six life, and he was still hurting for lands.


    Raphael Levy

    By the time that Baier had a second land, to potentially stop Counterbalance with Abrupt Decay, he didn't have the time, given the attack force Levy had marshalled.

    "I have a one and a two cost spell on top, and countermagic in hand, just in case" declared Levy matter-of-factly.

    While Baier thought through his plays, Levy smiled. "I don't think you're winning this one." After surveying things a little longer, Baier agreed and extended his hand.

    Raphael Levy wins 2-0!




     

  • Sunday, 4:20 p.m. – Overheard at the Grand Prix

    by Tobi Henke

  • "I had Helm of Obedience and Rest in Peace in play, and next turn I would have gotten rid of his Leyline of Sanctity with Detention Sphere too! But what did he do? Make his own Helm of Obedience with Phyrexian Metamorph, that's what!"



    "I finally managed to ambush a creature with Sneak Attack! Nimble Mongoose versus Griselbrand is not a fair fight."



    "My opponent had Phyrexian Revoker for Heritage Druid as well as Umezawa's Jitte on his attacking Thalia. I blocked with Qasali Pridemage and sacrificed it before damage to destroy the Revoker instead of the Jitte, so that on my turn I'd have enough mana to cast Natural Order for the one Craterhoof Behemoth in my deck. That would have been the win right there and then. Of course, then I topdecked Craterhoof Behemoth ..."



    "So player A cast Show and Tell. Player B responded with Force of Will, player A responded with Misdirection, and player B responded with Flusterstorm. Still in response to the storm trigger, player A then cracked his fetchland. Player B cast Stifle on that. And then player A cast Misdirection on Stifle to counter Flusterstorm's storm ability, got his land off his fetchland to pay for Flusterstorm itself, and finally resolved Show and Tell for the win."




     

  • Sunday, 4:27 p.m. – Decktech: Putting the BURG in Strasbourg

    by Tobi Henke

  • BUG? RUG? Why not combine the two and make it BURG? A group of German players including Legacy mastermind Carsten Linden, day-two regular Mike Hoffmann, and the Grand Prix champions Timo Schünemann and Florian Koch had this very same idea and actually made it happen. Three of them made it into day two with the deck, including Koch who told me how that works.


    Florian Koch

    "It's basically RUG with black for two Abrupt Decays and three Deathrite Shamans, though it's not clear whether that should be four. Of course, it puts additional strain on the mana, but Deathrite Shaman kinda also helps out with that. In any case, we found we could still run just 18 lands including four Wastelands," said Koch. "Originally, we wanted to leave it at blue-producing dual lands only, but when you open on Underground Sea you really want that Taiga.

    "Anyway, Deathrite Shaman is totally awesome, great against everything and extremely powerful. The most important targets for Abrupt Decay are probably Counterbalance specifically and more generally Tarmogoyf. Just killing stuff without having to worry about any countermagic is a big factor. The rest of the main deck is pretty standard, I guess."

    Where it's really at is the sideboard. Take a look at this:


    Fire Covenant? What does that card do?

    "Well, for one thing it killed Delver of Secrets, Delver of Secrets, and a Tarmogoyf when I played against BUG," said Koch. "And someone killed nine Elves with it. It's a great sideboard card against creature decks and most of the fair decks. Not that great against RUG though, because they have Nimble Mongoose and more counters."

    What's up with the rest of the sideboard? Reanimate? Koth of the Hammer?

    "Reanimate is good against some of the same decks too. Just getting a Tarmogoyf or another Nimble Mongoose can put you at a huge advantage already. You simply have more of the best creatures. Of course, what it's really insane against is Reanimator. It actually makes sense for a Reanimator player to cast Entomb during his main phase, instead of waiting till the end of your turn, to get around Daze and Spell Pierce and stuff," Koch explained.

    "And then Reanimate comes just at the right time. I personally reanimated Griselbrand today, which is highly recommended by the way. Koth of the Hammer is mostly for Blue-White Miracles. We were looking for a resilient threat a.k.a. a planeswalker and Garruk just didn't cut it because he wasn't aggressive enough. The rest of the sideboard is pretty boring, I guess. I believe Life from the Loam for the Wasteland lock is old news by now."




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