Hey everyone, just wanted to give you a brief report from my experiences at SCG Atlanta featuring the Invitational this past weekend.  While I did not play in the actual invitational, I did play in both the Standard and Legacy Open events.

In the standard event, I played a solar flare variant that splashed Green for Thragtusk.  I did not do very well in the event, picking up a couple of quick losses in the first rounds of the event to B/R Zombies and Wolf Run Blue.  I kept a loose hand in the first game against the zombies opponent and quickly lost to his triple one-drop + Blood Artist hand.  I won game 2 decisively by keeping his early pressure off the board with removal and then sealing the deal with Thragtusks and Sun Titans.  In game three, I mulled to 5 and did my best to fight through three Geralf’s Messengers.  After finally stabilizing the board, I was left at 1 life and my opponent resolved a Blood Artist and then Tragic Slipped his own Artist to win the game.

I lost the second round to Wolf Run Blue in three as well.  Games one and two were both fairly long, back and forth games, and game three I lost quickly when my opponent cast back-to-back Frost Titans on turns 4 and 5, locking me out of lands and preventing me from being able to reset the board.  After the two losses, I decided to drop from the Standard event and spend some time working on my Legacy deck for the Sunday open.

 

I knew I was going to be playing Aggro-Loam for the Legacy Open, but I wasn’t sure of the exact list that I was going to play.  I spent a couple hours Saturday evening reviewing my list and making adjustments to the numbers and eventually settled on this:

Creatures
3 Countryside Crusher
2 Tarmogoyf
4 Dark Confidant
2 Scavenging Ooze

Planeswalkers
1 Liliana of the Veil

Artifacts
4 Mox Diamond
2 Engineered Explosives

Spells
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Life from the Loam
3 Thoughtseize
2 Maelstrom Pulse
3 Seismic Assault

Lands
2 Badlands
2 Taiga
1 Bayou
4 Wooded Foothills
1 Verdant Catacomb
2 Bloodstained Mire
4 Forgotten Cave
2 Tranquil Thicket
4 Wasteland
1 Volrath’s Stronghold
2 Mountain
1 Forest

Sideboard
2 Chalice of the Void
2 Red Elemental Blast
1 Pyroblast
2 Firespout
2 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Zuran Orb
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Darkblast

Most recent versions of the deck were running Faithless Looting for additional card drawing.  While I do like Faithless Looting, I felt like the card was too much of a do-nothing against many decks, especially Show and Tell.  Rather than load my deck down with more card draw, I decided to instead re-up on disruption and removal.  I cut the Lootings from my list completely and added in Liliana and another copy of Engineered Explosives.  I also cut the Inquisition of Kozileks from my previous list in favor of Thoughtseize.  I decided that I would attempt to make up for my weak combo match up by making my list even more resilient against aggro and other fair decks.  This proved to be a wise decision for me as I ended up avoiding combo decks the entire day.

I wanted to have some defense against combo though, so I included 2 copies of Chalice of the Void, along with 2 Red Elemental Blasts and a Pyroblast in the sideboard.  I really wasn’t convinced that this was right and after speaking with one of my play test partners, Brenden Hagan, I decided that, instead of Chalice of the Void, I would run 2 copies of Ensnaring Bridge .  Our thinking was that the only combo deck that is really seeing much play right now is Show and Tell, and most of the lists we were looking at had no way to answer an Ensnaring Bridge, other than the occasional Angel of Despair in the side board.  While obviously this is a very situational trump to Show and Tell, it seemed like a much better idea to me than Chalice of the Void, which really does nothing against Show and Tell other than stop their cantrips.  Obviously, Ensnaring Bridge does also affect me by making my Crushers less impressive, but usually it is easy for me to maintain a grip of 4-6 cards, making my other threats live.  If my opponent does resolve Show and Tell and I am able to show in a Bridge, that should prevent their Emrakuls and Griselbrands from attacking until they are able to somehow deal with the bridge.  This should give me enough time to resolve a Seismic Assault and win the game that way.

As I said though, this never came up for me.  I ended up playing against nine fair decks and ended the day at 6-3, in 64th place.

My matches went as follows:

R1 vs Goblins: 1-2 (0-1): Kept a slower hand game 1 on draw and got crushed. Boarded in Spouts, Darkblast, and 1 Ancient Grudge. Game 2 went much better, used removal to hold him off and was able to grind out the game. Game 3 he had another fast draw and was able to wasteland/port me early to lock me out of casting my spells.

R2 vs Goblins: 2-0 (1-1) Won the die roll this time. Both games I had removal for his early spells. Was able to resolve early goyfs/crushers to keep his creatures at bay.  In the second game I was able to Wasteland my opponent off of his single dual land and he didn’t draw a Mountain for a few turns, allowing me to set up a dominate board position that he couldn’t come back from.

R3 vs Goblins 2-1: (2-1) Same story as round 1 except I won the die roll and got to start on the play. Kept hands that had removal + early blockers. Game 3 I was able to wasteland his cavern and he was stranded without mana for 4 turns while I built up.

R4 vs Esper Stoneblade : 2-0 (3-1) I consider this a good match up for us. Our game plan is bigger than theirs is and ancient grudge out of the sideboard is good against SFM. For boarding, I bring in grudges and REB/Pyroblast.

R5 vs RUG Delver: 0-2 (3-2) Both games my opponent had draws that included multiple lands/threats/counters. He was able to resolve and protect delver + Mongoose/goyf. I had wastelands, but for every wasteland I played, he seemed to have the fetch to make up for it. It didn’t help that I drew fairly threat-light both games, but them’s the beats.

R6 vs BUG Delver: 2-0 (4-2) Both games I was able to resolve Bob’s on turn 1 and my opponent didn’t have immediate answers. Game 1, I was at 2 life from being attacked by a delver for 5 turns. I managed to resolve Seismic Assault with a Loam in the yard and a land in hand. I killed the Delver and my opponent had no follow up. Game 2, I fought through 3 Surgical Extractions ripping my wastelands, loams and bob’s. Surgical just isn’t very effective against us because, while it did hinder plan A, I was able to switch gears and rely on Goyf and Crusher and discard to seal the deal.

R7 vs UW Stoneblade: 2-0 (5-2) Same story as above. I really feel like this mu is highly favorable for us. They don’t really run answers for seismic assault, so resolving one is very, very good. In game 1, my opponent was able to flash in Batterskull off of a SFM he was able to protect. I responded by resolving crusher. My opponent attacked into me with his germ and I had multiple cycle lands in hand + loam in the yard to blow him out.  In game 2, I had multiple answers for his 2 SFMs I saw in his opening hand after Thoughtseizing on turn 1.  I took his Snapcaster and ran one of my two Bobs into his StP that I left in his hand.  He had hidden a second StP using Brainstorm in response to my Thoughtseize, so the 2nd Bob met the same fate as the first.  Fortunately, I was able to follow up my Bobs with a Crusher and then an Assault.  At that point, my opponent was fairly behind and even though he had a Jace in hand with the mana to cast it, he had no way to protect it from either Assault or the Bolt in my hand.

R8 vs WB Stoneblade: 2-1 (6-2) Lost the first game off a mull to 6. Opponent led with t1 and t2 discard, leaving me with only lands. I then proceeded to draw land for the next 3 turns while my opponent resolved SFM and Vialed in Batterskull + Sword of Fire and Ice. Games 2 and 3 were more on par with the other Stoneblade matches. I was able to resolve Bobs and Seismic Assaults and kept him off of his game plan through discard and removal.  Liliana was very good in this match as it disrupted my opponent and forced him to use his own Liliana to remove mine.

R9 vs UR Delver: 0-2 (6-3) Both games my opponent had pretty solid hands that included delver/guide and burn spells. I boarded in Zuran Orbs, but didn’t draw one. I don’t know if it would have made a difference. His hand in game 2 was really good, having multiple bolts/chain lightning + delver/guide and Fireblast to end the game. These decks also play Price of Progress, which is very scary for us.

I ended the day at 6-3 which was good for top 64 and a $50 cash prize. This was my first ever cash in a SCG event, so I was happy with my results. I managed to dodge combo all day and stay out of the draw bracket where all of the UW miracle decks were.

 

Can’t Stop the Top!

One thing I wanted to mention, and this is simply just an observational opinion, is my feelings toward UW miracles and, more specifically, Sensei’s Divining Top. I really hope that WotC considers banning top in legacy, not because it is overpowered or too good, but because it causes an inordinate amount of draws to occur. A friend of mine, and fellow Roxie Cards writer, was doing really well in the event, sitting at a comfortable 6-2, until he faced against UW miracles is round 8. The game went to time and eventually ended in a draw, which put him in the draw bracket, which was filled to the brim with multiple other UW miracle decks. Inevitably, he played against another miracle player in round 9, which also ended in a draw. The two draws knocked him out of the money and were strictly caused by both miracle players’ over-utilization of Top. Every time a spell was cast, or an ability was activated, the miracle players would activate top and spend 10-15 seconds looking at cards and reordering. While 10-15 seconds doesn’t sound like much, when you activate top 30-40 times over the course of a match, it adds up.

Top seems much more fair on MTGO because of the way time is kept, more in line with how time is kept in a chess tournament. If the top player spends all his time topping, he loses. In paper magic, the non-top player is punished with a draw because his opponent spent 15-20 minutes of the game durdling around and doing nothing.

Anyway, that’s my rant. I know the report isn’t super in-depth, but I hope it is entertaining nonetheless.
If anyone has ideas of a better sideboard card, other than Zuran Orb, I could use to help combat burn-based decks, please feel free to suggest.  I don’t feel like Zuran Orb is as effective for us as it is say a Lands player because we can only replay one land each turn.  Would Tree of Redemption work to fill the role?

It was great to see everyone over the weekend.  I got to meet some new people which is always a blast and managed to win a little money.  I’m really looking forward to Return to Ravnica and the changes it brings to all formats.  I hope you all have a lot of fun this weekend and I hope your pre-releases all yield some positive results.  Until next time, happy planeswalking!