Hey guys, my name is Andrew Schneider and this is my first time writing about magic. I got back in to the game February of 2011 and started playing “competitively” a month or two after that. I’ve had a good bit of success recently and the kind owner of this site, Adam Eltarhoni, asked if I would write a report about my experience at Star City Game’s Invitational in Baltimore last week. He maybe sort of also asked me for a write up from when I won the Legacy Open in Charlotte, but I never got around to that (sorryyyy Adam).

I’ll touch on that tournament really quick though. That was my 4th Legacy open, and really my 4th legacy tournament besides a few locals. I played U/R delver in all 4 of these opens and I top 32’d the first three times I played the deck, and got the win the 4th time. I will say that I don’t think the deck was very well positioned in any of these tournaments, and I don’t recommend it to everyone. However, I’ve been on a good run with it. U/R Delver is the definition of the kind of deck I want to play: you’re aggressive when you need to be, you’re not just dead to combo, you force people to play a game that interacts with you, and sometimes you auto win because a deck just can’t beat price of progress 😉 It’s going to take a lot to get me to switch to something else. I won’t go over any of my matches but Star City covered a good bit of them if you would like to read some (final is on video).

Star City Open Series Charlotte

List I played in Charlotte: U/R Delver

And yes, I know how poorly I played in the last round. There is something to be said about how nervousness can mess with your thinking. I was calm and clear headed the whole tournament, but put me under the camera and playing for the trophy and I turn in to the guy that slams a Chain Lightning because it says 3 damage on it.

 

Skip ahead one month.

The night before the invitation I’m leaving Charlotte at 11:30 PM with Ali Aintrazi, his brother Amer, and Justin Parnell. Baltimore is an 8 hour drive… I had never played a tournament with no sleep before, but it ended up not being horrible. 5 hour energy should probably give me a sponsorship for how much I endorse their product.

The invitational’s format being split between legacy and standard was something I hadn’t experienced before and I found out that I really enjoy it. It provided the “grass is always greener effect”, when I got nervous about the legacy decks I saw around me I would think, “Just one more round of Legacy!” vice verse for standard. Funny stuff.

Standard Deck I played, U/W Delver:
4 Seachrome Coast                                       Sideboard:
4 Glacial Fortress                                            2 Jace, Memory Adept
3 Moorland Haunt                                            3 Celestial Purge
1 Plains                                                             3 Phantasmal Image
9 Island                                                              2 Dissipate
4 Delver of Secrets                                          2 Timely Reinforcements
4 Snapcaster Mage                                         2 Steel Sabotage
2 Invisible Stalker                                            1 Oblivion Ring
4 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Ponder
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mana Leak
4 Vapor Snag
2 Dismember
2 Sword of War and Peace
2 Runechanter’s Pike
3 Midnight Haunting

This is the deck I played for the 2 weeks leading up to the invitational on MODO. I was pretty sure this wasn’t the best deck but I knew that I would play it well, and I thought Midnight haunting was where I wanted to be. Turns out I was right about it not being the best deck for the invitational because of the very high number of lingering souls at the top tables. Midnight haunting looks pretty dumb when your opponent has one that gets flashed back without help from Snapcaster.

 

Legacy Deck I played, U/R Delver:
4 Volcanic Island                                             Sideboard:
2 Island                                                              1 Price of Progress
2 Mountain                                                         1 Force of Will
4 Scalding Tarn                                                 2 Smash to Smithereens
4 Misty Rainforest                                            2 Pyroblast
4 Arid Mesa                                                       2 Sulfuric Vortex
4 Goblin Guide                                                 3 Submerge
4 Delver of Secrets                                          4 Surgical Extraction
4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Grim Lavamancer
4 Brainstorm
3 Ponder
3 Force of Will
2 Spell Pierce
2 Daze
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Chain Lightning
3 Price of Progress

 

Like I said before, this is the deck I have done well with in Legacy so I’m going to continue to ride it. One of the changes I made for this tournament was to cut a Spell Pierce and add a 3rd Priceto the main. I predicted a large amount of players to play Sam Black’s/Tom Martell’s Esper Soul Blade deck. Also, with all the Maverick around I assumed the people playing that deck would go to a third color to get the edge in the mirror, which makes them more vulnerable to getting PoP’d out of the game. In the side board I cut the 3 Pyrostatic Pillars and added the 3rd Submergeand 2 Sulfuric Vortex, for the same reasons above. Submerge is very good against Maverick, it is also your only real way to get rid of a Tarmogoyf in the RUG matchup. Sulfuric Vortex smashes the Stoneblade decks if it resolves/stays in play. The way they get out of burn range is Batterskulland vortex does a good job of making him a vanilla 4/4. Cutting the pillars made me weaker to Storm/Hightide, but I hoped I had enough disruption/fast enough clock that I’d still be OK against them. Can’t sideboard for everything :/

I’m writing this a week and a half after the tournament, I took notes and have a pretty good memory when it comes to magic but some of the matches may be a little vague.

 

STANDARD
Round 1 – Nils Tolpingrud, RUG Control
Nils deck was really cool, reminded me of something JVL posted not too long ago. Shocks, werewolves, counters: things I don’t want my opponent to have.
Game 1: I get ahead with 2 delvers, or so I thought. Shock, snapcaster-shock, mayor of avabruck that flipped, and I was out of it.
Games 2 and 3 he stumbled on mana (he is playing 3 colors after all) and I was able to punish him for it.
1-0

Round 2 – Jonathan Sukenik, U/B Control
First time I have played against Jonathan, he was an extremely nice player.
Game 1 I had a turn 1 delver that flipped after my turn 2 ponder. Geist helped close to game out pretty quickly.
Game 2 I probed on turn 1 to see his hand of Liliana, Liliana, Probe, SORRIN (the big one), Karn, and 2 lands. I ended up playing the stalker, letting him edict it, then playing geist. Killed his first lilianna with my giest on my turn 4 and I had the mana leak for his 2nd Liliana on his 5th turn.
2-0

Round 3 – Brian Stanek, R/B Zombies
I don’t remember a lot from this match. I know I got blown out game 1 and did the same to him in game 2. In game 3 I stabilized at 1 life. He had a mortapod in play that I had to oblivion ring. I then pondered a total of 5 times (I think?) with ponders and snapcasters trying to find 1 of my 2 timely reinforcements. I never found one and I died to a messenger off the top the turn before I was going to get there with my spirit tokens. It happens, I do it to people in legacy all the time.
2-1

Round 4 – Charles Johnson, U/W Delver
I lost game 1 when he went turn 2 invisible stalker, turn 3 pike. That’s how the match up goes game one.
Game 2 I probed and saw a 6 card hand that he was embarrassed to show, it’s funny how often people react to probe that way. He had a lot of lands and 2 turns later he showed me that he drew 2 more when he decided to scoop.
Game 3 was very grindy with delvers on both sides, etc. I don’t remember how I got ahead but I eventually did and took the match.
3-1

LEGACY
Round 5 – Ali Aintrazi, G/B Pox
We were joking in the car how we would both 0-3 because of our lack of sleep, but here we were both at x-1.
Game 1 I had double goblin guide and Ali never really had time to set up his loam.
Game 2 Ali got WAY ahead of me with a turn 2 small pox. It’s crazy how good that card is against me. I was never in the game after that.
Game 3 was very close. I had a turn 1 delver which I flipped on my upkeep with a brainstorm. I had a spell pierce for his turn 2 small pox this time. Ali got to a low life total, but was dealing with my threats. We got to a point in the game where he flashed back his wurm harvest and was representing a two turn clock, but he was at 3 life. I had a delver and a goblin guide in play, basically I had to flip any nonland/noncreature card in my deck, or a snap caster for one of the bolts in my graveyard. I had a surgical on top and I got the game.
4-1

Round 6 – Ross Merriam, G/W Maverick
Game 1 I won with price and snapcaster.
Game 2 he won with a choke that made me lose when I had no business losing. Choke is super good.
Game 3 I don’t really remember, I got it though.
5-1

Round 7 – Sam Black, Esper Soul Blade
As it turns out, my standard AND legacy deck were pretty weak to lingering souls. Good choice, seeing as everyone as all the good players (who were at the top tables with me) were playing it.
Not going to lie, this is the most nervous I’ve been for a game of magic, more so than the finals in Charlotte.
It showed, I played my worst game of the weekend and got myself in a terrible position. I lost very quickly. I made myself chill out while I was sideboarding. It definitely helped.
Game 2 Went better for me, I had a delver on turn 1 and another on turn 2. I flipped them both with a brainstorm on my upkeep and went to work. Surgical on his lingering souls was pretty key as well.
Game 3 was interesting. It got to a point where he was at 11 life and I was out of cards and he had 1 card in hand. I drew a ponder, cast it to show Lavamancer, land, land. I put my Lavamancer on top, drew it and cracked my fetch. 6 turns later Lavamancer won the game. Sam showed me his full hand of counters and things that couldn’t interact. Bad luck on his part, sometimes you have to run good/have your opponents run bad.
6-1

Round 8 – Todd Anderson, RUG Tempo
This one was on camera, and I’m not happy about it.
I got smashed both games, it involved nimble mongoose being bigger than goblin guide way too early. And a wasteland from him in game 2 that put me out of it. 2nd time hes gotten me in a star city event, I’ll win one eventually.
6-2

I was pretty happy to be moving on to day 2 with a 6-2 record, I was still in a spot to top 8, and at the very least cash. And I got to play the next day on a full day of sleep.

Still Legacy
Round 9 – James Higginbottom, Esper Soul Blade
I don’t remember a lot from this match except getting very lucky in game 2 when I needed to top deck a price or a Snapcaster to cast the price in my graveyard. I drew a price and then I got game 3 as well.
7-2

Round 10 – Dan Jordan, G/W Maverick
With all the good people I played against in the tournament, I have to say that Dan played the best. I’ve never felt so outplayed before. After getting game 1 he was able to slow me down enough with Thalia and Maze of Ith to get game 2. In game 3, I flipped my delver by showing him Submerge. After he played his Knight of the Reliquary I was waiting for him to fetch to get the most value out of my Submerge. He did no such thing and played the rest of the game with me NEVER having priority while he had a forest in play. Guess you can lose to Maverick when you have 2 submerges in your hand. I’ll remember this for a while; Dan was a cool guy and a very good player.
7-3

Round 11 – Ruben Bresler, Hivemind
I don’t remember game 1 all that well, it involved me getting copies of cool pacts that I couldn’t pay for.
Game 2 he mulliganed to 6 and started the game with double white leyline. He didn’t play a land for a while and I won the game with Delver and Snapcaster with my 3 Lightning Bolts in hand.
Game 3 I boarded out all 4 Bolts and Chains. He started with Leyline. I was able to get there when he Intuinitioned for Emarakul and I had the surgical for them.
8-3

Round 12 – Ryan McKinney, Reanimator
Game 1 he played a turn 2 Asshole Sphinx ,sphinx of steel wind (but seriously that card does everything) and had the daze for my spell pierce.
Game 2 I had the counters to get there.
Game 3 I had the counters, but he had 3 dazes :/
8-4

STANDARD
I was still in top 8 contention at this point, pretty weird saying that with 4 losses.

Round 13 – Harry Corvese, U/W Delver
We had good games. In game 3 I set up to have the game on the next turn as long as he didn’t top deck a sword of war and peace…
8-5

Round 14 – Josh Cho, Esper Delver
Game 1 I was getting behind but set it up so that if I drew a non Seachrome Coast land I could play and equip my stalker for exactsies as long as he didn’t have Mana Leak. Luckily I drew a plains, and luckily he didn’t have a Mana Leak.
Game 2 he got me with Lingering Soul tokens and Intangible Virtue. That card isn’t very fair, especially when my lingering soul say midnight haunting.
Game 3 I was way ahead and Josh started working his way back in to the game. I had a flipped delver and an unflipped delver in play. He left 2 tokens back to block while he was at 3 life. Top of my deck was a vapor snag. Lucky again, sorry Josh.
9-5

Round 15 – Gerard Fabiano, Esper Delver
He got it in 3 games, Lingering Souls was very hard for me to deal with efficiently.
9-6

Round 16 – Lauren Nolen, Esper Delver
Turns out we got to squeak in to the top 32 with a draw, so we did.
9-6-1

 

I ended up in 31st place, which sounds pretty mediocre, but based on the quality of the players in that tournament I am very content with my finish. I also got $500. I had a great time playing against some of the best players I’ve ever played and I really want to do it again. I can’t wait for the next invitational.

 

If you enjoyed this send me or Adam some feedback. I enjoyed writing it and will definitely do more if there is a want.
Thanks for reading,
Andrew Schneider
@On__The__Grind on twitter