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Vial Goblins at the Scandinavian Open

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Legacy

Hi everyone. Today I wanted to do something a bit different from what my articles normally look like. Rather than talking about any particular subject, I wanted to share with you my adventures and experiences from the Scandinavian Open Legacy tournament that I played in recently, as of writing this. I played seven rounds of Swiss, snuck into top 8, and ended up finishing in second place. I’m going to lead off this article with a short overview of my tournament, and only then proceed to write a more detailed, in-depth story, in hopes of providing some sort of structure to this article. First of all, check out the list I played!

This list is my personal creation. Those of you who read my article “Vial Goblins – An Introduction” probably remember that I mentioned that I would be rocking Goblins at the SCV Open. You may also remember hearing something about my list being very different from the stock lists. I’m not going to go in depth on all the numbers in my list today, but I wanted to at least touch on some of the more unconventional card choices, and explain why I think the black splash is the best version at the moment. Now, which version is best will vary depending on what your metagame looks like, what kind of tournament it is, and your own personal experience with different versions. That being said, I’m strongly in favor of the black splash right now, especially because of how strong it is versus many of the combo decks. In a mono red version, our best card versus a deck like storm is a permanent based one; Chalice of the Void. Chalice of the Void stops a lot of the cards out of Ad Nauseam Tendrils when you play it for zero or one (or the rare but effective Chalice for two). It stops Show and Tell based decks from using cantrips to sculpt their hands. It counters most cards out of Elves, and is often a soft lock versus Delver decks. These are all very consistent decks though, decks that are quite capable of dealing with a single troublesome card. There is a lot to be said on how to beat combo decks in legacy, but the key thing you need to do so is a fast clock backed up by diversified disruption. Show and Tell decks are incredibly consistent, requiring only two combo pieces in order to win. If they want to beat counterspells, they can bring in the cards to beat counterspells. The same goes for Hymn to Tourach, and the same goes for Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. If your storm opponent is bringing in Abrupt Decay to deal with your chalices, they will be able to answer your Thalias and Ethersworn Canonists as well. If instead you diversify your disruption, your opponent is forced into a difficult position. They can bring in removal, and risk having dead cards while the rest of their hand is ripped apart by Cabal Therapy. They can bring in answers to both, and dilute their deck in the process, or they can ignore it and hope you don’t draw your good cards. I haven’t tried the blue splash myself, but I don’t see it adding much in the fair matchups.

When playing against other fair decks, Vial Goblins is usually has a lot more card advantage. We don’t have to deal with all their cards; instead the game comes down to a few very powerful cards, and whether or not we’re able to answer them. The most common examples of these cards are the various equipments that see play in legacy, and True-Name Nemesis. Cabal Therapy strips that Umezawa’s Jitte from their hand when they fetch it up with Stoneforge Mystic. This is reason enough to bring it in versus most Stoneforge decks. The exception is when we’re up against something along the lines of Patriot Delver, where our late game will be so superior that it’s not worth it for us to dilute the rest of our deck too much. It took me a while to figure out how to fit them into the maindeck, but I’ve been very happy with my current iteration.

The singleton Earwig Squad has probably caused some raised eyebrows, but it’s in the deck for the same reason as Cabal Therapy. So many matchups lean so heavily on a small set of cards. Infernal Tutor is rather unimpressive when you still can’t find a Tendrils of Agony with it. Have you tried playing against Miracles when you don’t have to be afraid of them suddenly drawing Entreat the Angels and winning on the spot? It’s delightful! There is also the somewhat less obvious upside in that getting a look at an opponent’s deck gives you a lot of information on the state of their hand. A lot of the time you should be able to figure out the exact contents of their hand this way. This can be difficult to do in practice however, and I know I could gain a lot from getting a few more reps in with Earwig Squad. The card can be a bit clunky however, which is why I added the two copies of Chrome Mox over two lands.

Enough about the list for now, let’s take a look at my Swiss record instead. I played seven rounds of Swiss, going 5-2 in total. Following is a short summary of my matchups, and how I fared in each of them.

Round 1 – Sneak and Show 2-1
Round 2 – Death and Taxes 2-0
Round 3 – Death and Taxes 2-0
Round 4 – Shardless BUG 2-0
Round 5 – Grixis Omnitell 1-2
Round 6 – Food Chain 0-2
Round 7 – Shardless BUG 2-1

There you have it, 5-2 and eighth place going into the elimination rounds. I had made it. Some of these matches were more memorable than others, but I still want to tell at least a few stories from each one of them.

In the first round I sat down against an unknown opponent. I was on the play, and my opening seven had only one land. It was a risky keep, but I’ve played this deck long enough to know when it’s correct to gamble, and I knew this was a risk I was willing to take. My hand consisted of a single Badlands, a Goblin Lackey, Cabal Therapy, Tarfire, Gempalm Incinerator, and some goblins. I lead off with a lackey, and when my opponent went Misty Rainforest into Island, Ponder, I knew my decision had paid off. Goblin Lackey + Cabal Therapy is as close to a perfect draw as I can hope for game one versus Sneak and Show.

Excited after having won my first round, I was paired versus a friend who I knew was playing Death and Taxes. Game one an early Stoneforge Mystic got a Batterskull into play and I took a few hits from it. We got to a point where I had about three goblins, a vial and some lands in play. A turn earlier I had played Goblin Matron, getting me a Tuktuk Scrapper. I used Wasteland on my opponent’s Karakas, and he bounced his Batterskull to protect it from my scrapper. Instead I deployed Krenko, Mob Boss. With a Vial on three and a Goblin Chieftain in hand, the game was over from there. In the second game my opponent had an active Mother of Runes, preventing me from interacting profitably with his board. My turn three chieftain was met with a Swords to Plowshares, which meant my follow up Goblin Sharpshooter was able to clear his board with the help of a Tarfire.

Right before round three I’m chatting with a friend when he decides to refresh mtgpairings for fun. Apparently we’re playing each other. A few seconds later we hear the sound from the speakers, letting us know we’re playing a feature match. Both games went fairly straight forward in my favor. Game one I Wastelanded him after he had played Karakas and passed. He was stuck on one land long enough for me to run away with the game. Game two I kept a hand with a lot of removal and then got to reload with a Goblin Ringleader. My opponent bought me lunch afterwards, which I’d say strongly improved my ability to focus during the rest of the day. Thanks, buddy!

Round four was another friend of mine, this time on Shardless BUG. This matchup can be quite difficult, as they are one of the few decks capable of keeping up with our card advantage. This time though I had fast starts both games, and was able to put early pressure on my opponent’s life total. When my first turn lackey was facing down a Deathrite Shaman I managed to topdeck a red source in order to use Tarfire to clear the way for my lackey.

At 4-0 I knew I was only inches from being locked for top 8. I was paired against a sweet Grixis Omnitell deck that I later beat in the quarterfinals. Game one came down to me having a few draw steps to draw a creature with which to flashback the Cabal Therapy in my graveyard. I bricked. I evened things out in game two, but Chalice of the Void for one wasn’t enough in game three, where my opponent had the combo naturally.

I was in round six, game one versus Food Chain, and things were looking good for me. My opponent had a Food Chain in play, but not much in the way of other resources. As it turns out though, Brainstorm into Deathrite Shaman and Fierce Empath with a Misthollow Griffin in exile is pretty good. The second game was more even, but double Engineered Plague was too much.

Right before the last round of Swiss I was 4-2. I was pretty sure I would make it into top 8 with a win, as my tiebreakers were amazing. I really didn’t want to miss out after having started out so well. I was up against another Shardless BUG player, and we went on to a deciding game three. I had been putting some pressure on my opponent, but when he showed me the Engineered Plague, I knew my chances were slim. I continued to beat down with a Goblin Ringleader and a Tuktuk Scrapper, but I wasn’t hopeful. Basically any spell in my opponent’s deck would be enough to turn the board in their favor. Then came one of the most insane turn of events I have ever experienced in a game of magic. My opponent cast a Brainstorm, followed by a Shardless Agent. He revealed the Abrupt Decay from the top of his library, and started to look closer at my two goblins. I realized what was going on, and that this was my one shot. I asked “Do you want to cast it?”, and he said yes. I pointed out to him that the only legal target for Abrupt Decay was his own Engineered Plague, and a nearby judge ruled that he had indeed confirmed his decision to cast it. From that point a Goblin Ringleader was enough for me to take the game home. While I felt a bit sorry for my opponent, I still couldn’t believe how lucky I was. The top 8 was announced, and I managed to sneak in as the eighth player in the standings, the only person at fifteen points to do so.

Top 8

(All my top 8 matches were on camera, and you should be able to watch them online)

In the quarterfinals I was up against the same Grixis Omnitell player from before. I was going to be on the draw throughout the elimination rounds, and knew it was going to be tough. Well, I thought it would be. Game one I had both of the Cabal Therapies in my starting hand, and used them to rip apart my opponent’s hand. Game two went in a similar fashion. I spoke with one of the commentators afterwards, and he mentioned how they had thought I had about a zero percent chance to win that game. “Goblins on the draw versus Show and Tell, who do you think is favored?”

This time my opponent was on Patriot Delver, a matchup I felt a lot happier about. We both kept one landers game one, and even though he had Daze for my Aether Vial I ended up victorious as he Brainstorm locked himself and I drew Wasteland. In the second game I had established control of the game. He managed to get both a Delver of Secrets and a Brainstorm through my Chalice of the Void, but it didn’t matter. We laughed about it, and I complimented him on how flawlessly he had executed his act.

Going into the finals I knew what was on the line. I wanted that trophy. Still, the atmosphere was friendly, and we joked about how I should use my Earwig Squadto exile his Misthollow Griffin. In game one he had his three copies of Misthollow Griffin in play, and Goblin Piledriver having protection from blue could have saved me here, if he hadn’t also had both Deathrite Shaman and Tombstalker, as I had quite enough goblins in play to make it lethal. Game two I had an interesting choice with a Chrome Mox, a Pyrokinesis and a Goblin Matron. I ended up pitching the Pyrokinesis to the mox to go matron into Krenko, but an opposing Engineered Plague sealed the deal in my opponent’s favor.

The Scandinavian Open Legacy Main Event was a fantastic tournament, and I want to thank everyone who took part in making it so. My deck felt super consistent throughout the day, and I played well aside from a few sloppily played chalices. I came really close this time, and second place got me two copies of Tropical Island, as well as enough SCV Open Points to lock up silver and give me a fair shot at the end of the year invitational. I’m still looking for a trophy.

My name is Sandro Rajalin and you can find me on Facebook or Twitter, email me at RajalinSandroMTG@gmail.com, or hit me up in the comment section. I have included the links to all my feature matches below, enjoy!

R3 versus Death and Taxes
Quarterfinals versus Grixis Omnitell
Semifinals versus Patriot Delver
Finals versus Food Chain

Until next time,

Sandro Rajalin

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