Mistakes Were Made at Grand Prix Sea-Tac

Feature Article from Shahar Shenhar
Shahar Shenhar
11/13/2015 11:02:00 AM
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It's been months since I played Legacy. The last time I played Legacy was Grand Prix New Jersey where I played Jeskai Delver with Treasure Cruise. Man that was a long time ago and so much has changed in the format. Since then Dig Through Time was banned and a couple old decks started playing new cards: Miracles is playing Monastery Mentor, Grixis Delver is playing Gurmag Angler, and, most importantly, Death and Taxes is playing Vryn Wingmare.

I haven't even played more than twenty Legacy tournaments, but the deck I have the most experience with is Death and Taxes. My first Legacy tournament was with that deck; it was the Bazaar of Moxen in Paris where I lost in the finals to Elves. This was right at the release of True-Name Nemesis. You could play it at the tournament but they were not easy to find and were at very high demand. I really enjoyed playing Death and Taxes at the Moxen, and since then, every time there was a Legacy tournament Death and Taxes was one-of-if-not-my-top contender.

So with the new Vryn Wingmare I had to make room; the deck always had an awkward three-drop slot. The options were Mirran Crusader, Aven Mindcensor, Brimaz, King of Oreskos, Mangara of Corondor, and of course, the one that no deck is without, Flickerwisp. I went with this list:

Death and Taxes by Shahar Shenhar
Main Deck
Sideboard
3 Flickerwisp
1 Mirran Crusader
4 Mother of Runes
4 Phyrexian Revoker
3 Serra Avenger
4 Stoneforge Mystic
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Vryn Wingmare
Creatures [26]
4 Aether Vial
1 Batterskull
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
4 Swords to Plowshares
1 Umezawa's Jitte
Spells [11]
1 Flagstones of Trokair
3 Karakas
11 Plains (253)
4 Rishadan Port
4 Wasteland
Lands [23]
Deck Total [60]


2 Cataclysm
3 Containment Priest
1 Council's Judgment
2 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Mirran Crusader
1 Path to Exile
2 Pithing Needle
2 Rest in Peace
1 Sunlance
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!

The biggest difference from most lists I looked at was that I shaved off one Flickerwisp, and instead of playing multiple one-ofs in the three-drop slot, I went with the six flyers and one Mirran Crusader. Reason being I wanted to have two Mirran Crusaders in the 75 and I wasn't making room in the sideboard for another. I wanted to cut one X-1 creature just to have some game vs. any of the -1/-1 effects.

I want to tell you a couple “bad (and good) beat stories” or just some punts that happened.


Round 4 (after the byes) vs. Miracles

This matchup has always been about AEther Vial and Terminus, fortunately he never saw a single Terminus all match despite having Top untouched for a million turns along with lots of Brainstorms and Ponders. When they don't have Terminus their deck is useless against you, their Jace will never stick, and the rest of their deck doesn't do anything.


Round 5 vs. G/W Post (First Mistake)

I was told what John Kassari was playing before I was called to the Feature Match area by a friend of mine. In most formats when someone says the name of the deck I know close to 65 of the cards I'm going to be facing. In Legacy, not even close. I threw away the first game due to lack of experience in the format. I had him basically locked out as he passed the turn with four mana up when I had a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Vryn Wingmare, and Wasteland in play, along with another in hand. I drew and, before attacking him with my creatures, I was scared, and so I Wastlanded his Savanah. That's when he responded by tapping three mana to sacrifice his land and play Crop Rotation to find a Cloudpost. I hit him for four and Wastelanded his Cloudpost anyway.

What this basically did was not only waste my Wasteland but also gave him an opportunity to play Crop Rotation. If I had just played the Wasteland, attacked him and passed the turn he couldn't do anything. I gave him at least one turn with my mistake and he stabilized at two life to come back and win with Primeval Titan, getting Glimmerposts and healing back up, eventually killing me with Ugin and Emrakul. I did mulligan to five and got destroyed the second game, but I deserved the loss so I wasn't upset at all.


Round 6 vs. Jund (Second Mistake)

The first and second games were very one sided; he drew cards and killed all my guys game one, and I mana taxed into oblivion game two. The third game was more interesting however.

He was on the play and his first play was a Sylvan Library on turn two. I just had a Mother of Ruins on the board then and so I passed after playing a Thalia. He used his Library, played a third land, and slammed Engineered Plague on the table so fast I almost binned my guys to it. I told him that the card costs four mana now, he apologized, and was a little embarrassed; he had no other plays so he passed the turn. I attacked him for two, played my third land, and a Vryn Wingmare. He again used his Library and passed. I'm thinking that he just has a bunch of removal spells that are now expensive and because of my Mother of Ruins he can't use Abrupt Decay or Lighting Bolt if he only has one.

I play my fourth land and I have the option of playing another Wingmare to hit him for four, then six, and he will still be a ways away from casting Plague, or I can play Stoneforge Mystic to hedge against any -1/-1 that he could have. That seemed foolish though since he obviously doesn't have anything to kill my guys because he would have done so already. I decide to play the Vryn, he untaps after using Library, and casts Golgari Charm to wipe my whole board. He must have found it as the last card off the Library, but still, if I had played the Mystic he was still two mana away from Plague and that would have been the window to hit with an equipment. Pretty brutal that he found his one-of Golgari Charm.


Round 7 vs. Burn

The first game I was able to slow him down to casting one spell a turn with Thalia, but was still behind in the race. When he went off the last turn to Bolt me and sacrifice his Mountains to Fireblast me for lethal, I Swords to Plowshare my own guy to go to two life and he missed his window to draw the last burn spell on his next draw step.

The second game he played an Eidolon of the Great Revel and passed. I had no choice but to play Stoneforge Mystic to try to race with Batterskull. He let it happen though and missed his trigger. He played Sulfuric Vortex on his turn and the race was on. I ended the game at two life which was the trigger he missed.


Round 8 vs. Storm (Jesse Hampton)

I knew what Jesse was playing coming in to the day because I was staying with Matt Nass and the two were playing the same 75. This allowed me to keep a hand that I may not have kept normally: two colorless lands, AEther Vial, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Vryn Wingmare, Mother of Ruins. Knowing how important the Thalia effect is, a hand with two on the play was for sure a keep.

I played the Vial and Jesse cast Gitaxian Probe into Cabal Therapy naming Thalia, I drew a Plains but didn't want to give him any information, so I played the land he knew and passed the turn. Rishadan Port on his upkeep tapped his Swamp down and he chose not to play his other Cabal Therapy because he thought he had one more turn before the Vial can get the Wingmare into play, but since I drew the Plains it came in a turn earlier than expected and he wasn't able to kill it. That deck can basically never go off with that effect on the Battlefield.

The second game I have a Phyrexian Revoker naming Lion's Eye Diamond and a Mother of Ruins to protect it. Jesse ends up playing the Lion's Eye Diamond then realizing he is one storm short and passed the turn. When he did eventually go off he was only able to deal me eighteen damage with Tendrils of Agony so he had to tutor for Ad Nauseam and it wasn't enough to kill me. Another game losing mistake.


Round 10 vs. Storm

In the first game, even though I won the die roll and had a turn two Thalia, he played Gitaxian Probe, Cabal Therapy, took my Thalia, and killed me on his second turn. If they have that draw game one there is nothing you can do.

The second game he again had Gitaxian Probe and Cabal Therapy but this time he took two of my Phyrexian Revokers. I drew another immediately though and played it naming Lion's Eye Diamond. He wasn't able to deal with it in time and eventually had to attempt to go off with Ad Nauseam while I had Revoker in play, as well as a Rest in Peace. He died to a Dark Petition, the new five-drop the deck plays.

The third game my opponent made a major spew. End of my turn he casts a removal on my Revoker which I stopped with Mother of Runes. He untapped, played Disfigure on the Revoker, and began to go off. He ended up with seven mana after casting the Infernal Tutor and sacrificing his Lion's Eye Diamond, and discarding his last card ( Brainstorm). This gave him seven storm (notice if he hadn't discarded the Brainstorm and just cast the Brainstorm he would have had exactly twenty damage and six mana to grab another Tutor, then a tutor to get Tendrils for ten storm). Instead he searched for an Ad Nauseam and killed me anyway, although it was much closer because he stopped the Ad Nauseam without having me dead and at one life. He had to find the Tendrils and two Rituals with Brainstorm and a Preordain.


Round 11 vs. Temur Delver Game One, Sneak and Show Game Two

I mulliganed to five and kept the best zero land hand you can imagine on the draw: Vial, Mother of Ruins, Stoneforge Mystic, Thalia, Swords to Plowshares. I scry another Swords to the bottom and once I draw a card that isn't a land, in my mind I've already lost. He cast Gitaxian Probe and since I haven't revealed what I'm playing yet I decided to concede. There are so many reasons why this was so wrong.

First off I still don't know what he's playing since all I saw from him was Scalding Tarn and a Gitaxian Probe, he could be at least three decks for sure: Storm, Sneak and Show, or a Delver deck. And sideboarding for me is huge knowing what deck he is. I reasoned out that he wasn't playing Storm because he was a player from California that I knew doesn't play much Legacy, someone new to Legacy doesn't just pick up Storm to play; they choose a Delver deck. So I boarded accordingly. I cut the Revokers, the Flickerwisps, and boarded in the Path, Sunlance, Rest in Peace, and Council's Judgment. Wow, this was the dumbest move I've made in a Magic tournament probably ever. He turned out to be playing Sneak and Show and I play turn two Rest in Peace and have Swords and Sunlance in hand at the end of the game. Meanwhile, my Containment Priests, Pithing Needle, and Revokers are sitting in the sidelines just shaking their heads.

It was Hubris that caused me to be so stupid. I was so confident that I knew what he was playing based on a hunch that I knew this guy's playstyle. Not only that, but even after missing my first land drop I'm not 100% dead and I can still come back and win if I draw the land the next turn. What if he kept a loose one and didn't have any pressure? Or what if he was playing Storm and he can't kill me before I get Thalia online and then I just win?

I was trying to make a play that's odd and “next level,” but it was just dumb and it cost me a matchup that's probably one of my best. When I told everyone what happened, it was hilarious to them and I'm laughing as I'm writing this, but while I was holding those removal spells in my hand while dying to Sneak Attack I felt so embarrassed. I was honestly worried that a friend was watching and would see those cards in my deck after board (I don't know why I was mortified someone would see, because the second the match was over I told the whole room what I had done) but that's what I remember.

A couple things I can take from this tournament:

1) Don't be overconfident for no good reason.
2) Next time I play Legacy, I need to know what cards decks are playing, even the more fringe ones like 12 Post.
3) Death and Taxes is not a good choice, so don't play it again in the near future.

Hopefully I'll have some stories or a good Tournament report for Grand Prix Atlanta.

Thanks for reading,
Shahar Shenhar




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