Well that was neat. I dodged some bad matchups, beat the others, then ended up losing to a good player on a good matchup with a good draw and good play in the finals. What made this finish cooler was having so many of my friends from different periods of playing the game in the room. I had players from Baltimore’s Legacy community, players from my past life on the New England grind, players from every LGS I’ve ever been involved with, and even one of the players who reintroduced me to Magic in college. In fact, Open competitors Akash Naidu and George Flete as well as Champion Ed Demicco were in my first major Top 8 at Eternal Weekend last year.
Game’s great; Lands is great and you should play it. For Worcester I wanted a build that could beat Delver and Miracles more than my usual hedge against the mirror that I run in the Baltimore area. I expected more Counterbalance decks than The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale decks and I played Joe Lossett twice and the Lands mirror never. That’s perhaps a bit results-oriented of a look at the meta, but it worked out. Here’s the list I jammed:
Lands 2nd Place at StarCityGames.com Legacy Open on 7/9/2016
I wanted to maindeck all of my Dark Depths because our best plan against Delver is to just have a fast 20/20. It’s how I beat blue creature decks throughout the tournament and while I ended up losing to Delver in the finals, it’s how I won Game One there too. This was my first time running Riftstone Portal and while it is the reason I won Game One against fast combo, I still don’t know that it is worth the slot. Maindeck Boseiju was, again, just because I didn’t want to lose to Miracles. Ever since the sweet new Dark Lands dropped on SCG Philly in March, I have had trouble beating Miracles and I knew I couldn’t do well in Worcester if I kept up the streak. It’s a toolbox deck, so bring whatever you feel you need to.
I won the first six rounds, beating Junk Loam Pox, UR Delver, MUD, Eldrazi, Merfolk, and Death and Taxes. Round Two had an interesting situation where I was at 18 facing down a lone Monastery Swiftspear with combo on board. I decided there was no way UR Delver could 18 me with a Swiftspear, so it was best to play around a potential Set Adrift. As it happens, I took one and made a Marit Lage in his end step for the win. After the match, he told me he was in fact running a Set Adrift. Read decklists, friends, and play around whatever you can afford to, even in the good matchups.
Round Seven was a rough one as I was paired against grinder friend Brandon Pascal on Death and Taxes. Going into the round I was 0-2 lifetime in the head-to-head against Brandon and I’m now 0-2-1. After the match, we talked it through and I did not have the outs I thought I did and I was dead to his creatures or decking; my pick. It should have been a loss and Brandon earned it, but the judge needed the slip and it was recorded 1-1-1.
Round 8 was a loss to Shardless BUG which put me in a win-and-in situation to make Day 2. It was a pair down against Peter Ingram of Meta Game Gurus on BUG Delver and only one of us could make it. In Game Two, I top decked my third mana for the combo and immediately made a Marit Lage on my turn to avoid a potential Wasteland on his turn. It turned out he had it in hand and should have run it out to disrupt the combo. He played it from hand the next turn and passed. I was at 8 facing down a big Tarmogoyf, Dark Confidant, and a Deathrite Shaman, so if I swung with Marit Lage and Peter had Vendilion Clique, Peter could chump, Wasteland my Maze of Ith, and kill me with his onboard power next turn. I swung with Marit Lage into the flashed in Clique, killed it, then activated Maze of Ith in the End of Combat Step while Marit Lage is still an “attacking creature.” This left me Wasteland proof with a blocker for his lethal Tarmogoyf and the win. Peter is a phenomenal player but in the end, the good matchup and my familiarity with my deck and the format gave me the win 2-0 and a slot in Day 2.
Rounds 10-12 were wins against Bant Deathblade, Punishing Maverick, and Eldrazi. Controlling The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale with all of Eldrazi’s lands wasted is still a great situation to be in. Round 13 was partially covered by SCG and was a particularly brutal win against Joe Lossett. Miracles is traditionally Lands’ downfall but between maindecked Boseiju, Who Shelters All and Joe’s low counterspell count in Game One, I went into the board games up 1-0. Game Two was a great hand that allowed me to run out Exploration and Gamble as bait spells, snagging a Force of Will pitching Vendilion Clique on the Exploration. I Gambled for Boil just to keep the hate train going. The only tension in the opener was the need to resolve my one drops before playing the Chalice of the Void: a good problem to have, but an awkward one. Joe Pondered with a Counterbalance in play on Turn Three and ended up taking the shuffle. Playing the odds that Joe’s top card was not a one, I played a Rishadan Port, floated the mana, and Rotated it away for Boseiju, Who Shelters All. Joe flipped a four, meaning that I could use my third land and the mana floating to land a Chalice of the Void on one. Joe passed the next turn with Island, Island, Tundra as his only lands and the Boseiju-tagged Boil on my next turn was enough to get the handshake.
When Ben Friedman conceded Round 14, I couldn’t believe it. I had planned for a grueling two rounds of win-and-ins and instead I was in a situation to draw at Table One into first seed of my first Open Top 8. As it happened, Ben got the pairdown the next round and had to play it out for Top 8, ending up in first seed above me.
For some self-indulgent history, my first two round win-and-in at an Open was two years ago right after I moved to Maryland and I was on Grixis Delver in Richmond. I ended up losing to Dave Long on Lands and Joe Lossett on Miracles to even miss Top 16. Joe’s match was the worst punt of my life (including this tournament’s finals) and it was after that tournament that I decided to build Lands. I borrowed the deck for an Open and got my The Tabernacle At Pendrell Vale with Eternal Extravaganza prize credit. I’ve had it ever since.
Back to this weekend. For Top 8 I was paired against Jonathan Morawski. Reanimator is usually a pretty bad matchup for Lands and is made way worse when both Karakas and Bojuka Bog are in the sideboard. All Reanimator has to do is get a Tidespout Tyrant into play and cast multiple spells to beat us. Jonathan’s Tidespout was maindeck and in play on his Turn Two. Very luckily, I had the Turn Two combo hand with Riftstone Portal and Mox Diamond to take Game One. It turns out this is my “Holy crap he has to chump with Tidespout” face.
I got game two with a bit more luck as Jonathan’s one-land-Ponder hand never found enough mana to get out from under my Rishadan Ports and Wastelands and it was off to the semifinals for the rematch against Joe Lossett.
The semifinals were really neat. It’s good they were untimed because I ended up Game One on the 20/20s-until-you-run-out-of-answers plan. After Joe cast 4 Terminus, 1 Swords to Plowshares, and 1 Vendilion Clique to chump, I eventually got Game One with 7 cards in my library. There was also room to, with one of those Loams, get back more Rishadan Ports and take a turn off comboing to keep Joe off of white mana for the real win, but I frankly just didn’t expect six answers in a row. It was the tighter line to go for the mana denial, especially considering the few turns I was open to an Entreat the Angels, and if you end up in that situation, take the safe line and don’t get so close to milling out.
Game Two I Krosan Gripped two Sensei’s Divining Tops and a Rest in Peace to eventually jam enough hate on the table for the win. Joe had an early Rest in Peace, but I didn’t have or particularly rely on Life From the Loam to win, so I aimed Krosan Grip at the Sensei’s Divining Top that would help him find lands and wins. Against Miracles, we have the inevitability if they can’t do anything and we lose if they have even the minimum requirements to play a real game of Magic. It’s almost always correct to go after their resources and utterly destroy them before worrying about how to win. Once I had Boseiju, Who Shelters All in play off of a Gamble, it became much easier to Krosan Grip the second Top rather than Counterbalance or Rest in Peace. Counterbalance was at that point nearly irrelevant, but Joe had found white mana, so I had to be patient and not combo into Swords to Plowshares, exiling my lands in the process. It wasn’t until I had the Life From the Loam and the third Krosan Grip that felt it prudent to Krosan Grip the Rest in Peace, combo, then Loam back the lands.
Let’s talk about that finals. I lost it. Ed played great and his deck is a neat sort of innovation-by-throwback to his own list of years ago, but the match was mine to lose and I did. Here’s the turn:
The play is: Waste Ed’s Underground Sea, change phases to burn the mana he floats, then combo on my turn. Instead, I tunnel visioned on “There’s no way the last card in his hand is another Stifle,” didn’t look for the watertight play, and lost. Again, Ed played great and deserves it but to lose the finals to an onboard punt is rough.
I am really proud of the finish and am surprised how much the missed trophy didn’t mean to me. To have been able to play some high level Legacy to a great result and show SCG’s viewers that Legacy is alive and awesome felt really neat. I got to meet some new people and to do well in the presence of old friends. I got to do well in my format and be recognized for it.
As for what’s next, I’m going to keep playing Legacy. My next major event is SCG Baltimore with a borrowed and poorly piloted Standard deck into an inevitable entry into the Sunday Legacy Classic, but my actual next event is the 40-50 player $10 Thursday Legacy at MTGFirst in Glen Burnie, MD. As fun as these huge tournaments are, I was only so prepared for it because of all the Legacy weeklies with great players around the beltway. Go to your locals and if there are none, show up with seven friends and jam proxies once a week until the TO starts offering prizes.
It’s a while before the next major Legacy event, but it looks like I just won the money for a plane ticket to Chiba in November. I’m still in booking hell, but it’s looking ever more likely that I’ll get to go. The break will also give me plenty of time to figure out what to play in the SCG Invitational I just accidentally qualified for. See you there!
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