Legacy Primer

By: Daniel D’Amato

Legacy is one of the most exciting formats that Magic has to offer. There are numerous, diverse decks ranging from combo, midrange, prison, and control all represented by the entire color spectrum of Magic. Like every other format in Magic though, there are the multiple top decks in the format that help define what Legacy is all about. The top decks of the format are all different in their own ways, especially with how they put away a game. My goal is to dive into what I consider the best decks in the format and provide understanding of how they win and how to combat them.

Miracles

19 LANDS
Arid Mesa
Flooded Strand
Island
Plains
Tundra
Volcanic Island
4 CREATURES
Monastery Mentor
Snapcaster Mage
33 INSTANTS and SORC.
Accumulated Knowledge
Brainstorm
Council’s Judgment
Counterspell
Flusterstorm
Force of Will
Ponder
Portent
Predict
Preordain
Swords to Plowshares
Terminus
4 OTHER SPELLS
Back to Basics
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
SIDEBOARD
Celestial Purge
Council’s Judgment
Counterbalance
Engineered Explosives
Flusterstorm
Pyroblast
Snapcaster Mage
Surgical Extraction
Volcanic Island

Miracles got its name from the Avacyn Restored mechanic “Miracle” that allowed you to play a card for an alternate casting cost if it was the first card drawn during that turn. Since Terminus’ printing, Miracles has been a strong Legacy contender, but how does it win? This deck utilizes the best cantrips and counter magic in the format to deal with its opponents’ strategy and then aims to win either through Snapcaster Mage or Monastery Mentor. Using card advantage like Accumulated Knowledge and Brainstorm, it’s able to find what it needs to win while being able to cast Terminus for its alternate casting cost on the opponents turn. This version also runs Back to Basics to tax opponents with greedy mana bases which is typically your Delver and Lands variants.

So, what are its strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths: This deck is very solid against creature-based strategies and combo decks. With the access to essentially an instant speed board clear along with numerous forms of free and regular counter magic, this deck can persevere through those matches with ease by gaining card advantage and putting the game away either through creature combat, or a Jace, the Mind Sculptor lock.

Weaknesses: This deck can have a tough time against the taxing variants of Legacy like D&T and Maverick. Anything that strains the mana base of Miracles or makes their spells cost more is typically a rough situation for them. Gaddock Teeg stops a lot of the deck and requires an immediate answer.

Turbo Depths

29 LANDS
Bayou
Bojuka Bog
Dark Depths
Forest
Ghost Quarter
Maze of Ith
Misty Rainforest
Sejiri Steppe
Swamp
Thespian’s Stage
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Verdant Catacombs
Wasteland
Wooded Foothills
11 CREATURES
Dark Confidant
Sylvan Safekeeper
Vampire Hexmage
15 INSTANTS and SORC.
Abrupt Decay
Crop Rotation
Inquisition of Kozilek
Sylvan Scrying
Thoughtseize
5 OTHER SPELLS
Mox Diamond
Sylvan Library
SIDEBOARD
Dread of Night
Dryad Arbor
Duress
Gaddock Teeg
Green Sun’s Zenith
Karakas
Liliana, the Last Hope
Pithing Needle
Surgical Extraction
Tireless Tracker

Turbo Depths is a land-based combo deck that utilizes Vampire Hexmage and Dark Depths along with support from Thespian’s Stage to create a Marit Lage as quick and efficiently as possible. Since this combo involves mostly lands, it can be rather difficult to interact with due to most removal referring to nonland permanents. Marit Lage also happens to be a 20/20 flying indestructible Avatar so unless you have a form to exile or bounce it, its also a rather tough beat. This combo is assembled either through Vampire Hexmage removing all the ice counters from Dark Depths per its ability or Thespian’s Stage making a copy of Dark Depths, except it won’t have counters and will create Marit Lage. But how well does this deck fare?

Strengths: This deck is very good against creature-based strategies and other forms of combo. Its game one is also decent vs control decks since they tend not to have too many mainboard cards that answer Marit Lage, or enough ways to interact. This deck can typically win in the first three turns making it a resilient contender in the format.

Weaknesses: Like any combo deck, the hands are very dependent on the required pieces to win. Accordingly, this deck typically can’t mulligan efficiently since it lacks cards like Brainstorm to fix awkward draws. This deck can also be run over by Wasteland and other land destruction that can stop the combo from happening.

Grixis Delver

19 LANDS
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island
Wasteland
13 CREATURES
Delver of Secrets
Gurmag Angler
True-Name Nemesis
Young Pyromancer
28 INSTANTS and SORC.
Brainstorm
Daze
Force of Will
Forked Bolt
Lightning Bolt
Ponder
Preordain
Spell Pierce
Thoughtseize
SIDEBOARD
Abrade
Diabolic Edict
Flusterstorm
Grafdigger’s Cage
Grim Lavamancer
Izzet Staticaster
Liliana, the Last Hope
Null Rod
Pithing Needle
Pyroblast
Surgical Extraction

Grixis Delver is one of the best aggro/midrange decks the format has to offer. It plays the best cantrips, countermagic, and some of the best creatures in the format. This deck utilizes Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer to provide a quick clock while being able to protect the strategy with free spells like Force of Will and Daze. It’s also able to clear the path for combat damage using Lightning Bolt and Thoughtseize to ensure damage will be pushed through. True-Name Nemesis along with Gurmag Angler can close out games very quickly while the deck protects them.

Strengths: This deck is very strong against combo-based strategies and fair midrange decks. Having access to free countermagic along with premium removal helps this deck shine. The diverse sideboard of this deck also allows it to be prepared for any matchup while not having to take too much away from the desired game plan.

Weaknesses: This deck, while it does run Wasteland, is not very good against Lands or 4c Loam. This deck has a very difficult time dealing with cards like Tabernacle and opposing Wastelands due to the lack of basics in the deck. This deck can also have a tough time with D&T and Maverick due to the taxing features of those decks along with their lands like Rishadan Port and Wasteland. But if you think you are the best player in the room, this is the deck to play since even the worst matchups are very winnable.

Ad Nauseam Tendrils

15 LANDS
Bayou
Bloodstained Mire
Island
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Swamp
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island
37 INSTANTS and SORC.
Ad Nauseam
Brainstorm
Cabal Ritual
Dark Petition
Dark Ritual
Duress
Infernal Tutor
Past in Flames
Ponder
Preordain
Tendrils of Agony
Thoughtseize
8 OTHER SPELLS
Lion’s Eye Diamond
Lotus Petal
SIDEBOARD
Abrupt Decay
Chain of Vapor
Dread of Night
Echoing Truth
Empty the Warrens
Flusterstorm
Hurkyl’s Recall
Tendrils of Agony
Xantid Swarm

I’m biased and love this deck but will do my best to give an honest review for those interested in the format. Storm is a strong combo deck that utilizes the Storm ability from Tendrils of Agony to drain the opponent for 20, but how does it get there? This deck abuses cards like Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, and Lion’s Eye Diamond (LED) to generate a lot of mana to essentially cast spells for free. Since LED discards your hand upon activation, and Hellbent checks on resolution, Infernal Tutor functions essentially as Demonic Tutor for whatever card you’re missing for your combo.

Strengths: This deck is very strong against creature-based strategies and other combo strategies due to how fast it can kill, potentially as early as turn one. While most decks mulligan rough, this deck can be great on 5 cards since that’s technically all you need to win the game.

Weaknesses: This deck has numerous weaknesses, specifically any blue control-based strategy. This deck also gets hit by all the taxing decks which cause the spells to cost more. While this deck can have a very good game one, another downside of this deck is that the play or draw can matter significantly due to cards like Thalia, Gaddock Teeg, Rishadan Port, and Thoughtseize.

Grixis Control

21 LANDS
Badlands
Bloodstained Mire
Island
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Swamp
Underground Sea
Volcanic Island
9 CREATURES
Baleful Strix
Gurmag Angler
Snapcaster Mage
26 INSTANTS and SORC.
Brainstorm
Diabolic Edict
Fatal Push
Force of Will
Hymn to Tourach
Kolaghan’s Command
Lightning Bolt
Ponder
Thoughtseize
4 OTHER SPELLS
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Liliana, the Last Hope
SIDEBOARD
Blood Moon
Dreadbore
Flusterstorm
Liliana, the Last Hope
Marsh Casualties
Pithing Needle
Pyroblast
Surgical Extraction
Toxic Deluge

Grixis Control, as opposed to Miracles, typically plays more creatures and aims to protect them and win the game. With cards like Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach, this deck aims to have its opponents’ hand empty and just beat them with value via Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Baleful Strix. This deck also utilizes Force of Will, as most blue decks do, to protect its creatures and planeswalkers and ideally ride them to victory. Hymn to Tourach allows for this deck to get extremely far ahead on card advantage as early as turn 2 and tax their opponents’ resources while also getting in for damage with Strix or Snapcaster. In my opinion, this is the best control deck in the format currently.

Strengths: What makes this deck great is that its game one is solid against most decks apart from Elves, the creature-based combo deck. With a variety of removal and interaction, this deck can hold its own against most of the field and is supported by a sideboard that makes the other two games significantly easier.

Weaknesses: Like Delver, this deck can also fold to land based strategies due to having spells taxed and being held off certain colors through Wasteland and Ghost Quarter. But even with those setbacks, this deck can rally through one creature or planeswalker.

Eldrazi Aggro

26 LANDS
Ancient Tomb
Cloudpost
Eldrazi Temple
Eye of Ugin
Glimmerpost
Karakas
Thespian’s Stage
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Vesuva
20 CREATURES
Endbringer
Matter Reshaper
Reality Smasher
Thought-Knot Seer
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Walking Ballista
2 INSTANTS and SORC.
All Is Dust
12 OTHER SPELLS
Chalice of the Void
Grim Monolith
Karn, Scion of Urza
Sorcerous Spyglass
SIDEBOARD
Basilisk Collar
Emrakul, the Promised End
Ensnaring Bridge
Leyline of the Void
Ratchet Bomb
Sorcerous Spyglass
Thorn of Amethyst

I’d like to introduce Zendikar the deck. This deck uses our colorless friends along with taxing artifacts like Chalice of the Void to put games away quickly. In this format, a Chalice on one can be back breaking to some strategies and this deck hopes to capitalize on that as often as possible. With the help of Ancient Tomb and Eldrazi Temple, this deck can play its two-drop slot on turn one and follow it up with one of the most powerful four drops ever printed, Thought-Knot Seer. This version has an alternate win condition in the form of Karn, Scion of Urza who can just make a bunch of 4/4 and 5/5 Constructs that help put the game away quickly.

Strengths: Chalice of the Void is an insane Magic card, especially on turn one for one while on the play. That play alone can allow this deck to run free but if that didn’t do the trick, the card advantage and sheer size of Thought-Knot Seer will help. This deck can be tough to combat as well since the most played answers to creatures are one mana. This sideboard is also equipped to handle any deck you throw at it without shutting down its gameplan.

Weaknesses: This deck can have a tough time against some combo strategies like Turbo Depths and the traditional version of Lands due to how quick both can make a Marit Lage. Other than that, unless the opponent has it all, one of these creatures will stick and that’s all it takes for this deck to steal games.

Death and Taxes

24 LANDS
Karakas
11 Plains
Rishadan Port
Snow-Covered Plains
Wasteland
25 CREATURES
Flickerwisp
Mirran Crusader
Mother of Runes
Palace Jailer
Phyrexian Revoker
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Spirit of the Labyrinth
Stoneforge Mystic
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Walking Ballista
4 INSTANTS and SORC.
Swords to Plowshares
7 OTHER SPELLS
Aether Vial
Batterskull
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa’s Jitte
SIDEBOARD
Containment Priest
Council’s Judgment
Disenchant
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Ethersworn Canonist
Faerie Macabre
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Isolate
Orim’s Chant
Path to Exile
Rest in Peace
Surgical Extraction
War Priest of Thune

Probably the fairest deck of the bunch is Death and Taxes. This deck aims to just play great creatures and win through combat. Cards that make the deck are Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Stoneforge Mystic and Recruiter of the Guard. Thalia can tax the opponent out of the game by making spells cost one more while Stoneforge Mystic can tutor up Umezawa’s Jitte to help push damage through. This deck also utilizes Rishadan Port to tap down opponents’ lands so that their turn is a wash or to keep them off mana of a certain color.

Strengths: This deck can be very strong against creature-based decks and some combo decks, especially while on the play. It generates value through Stoneforge Mystic and can shut down opponents’ strategies through Thalia or Phyrexian Revoker. The manabase is also solid because as mentioned earlier, Rishadan Port and Wasteland work well together while Karakas can keep some unfair strategies in check.

Weaknesses: This deck can be rough game one against some combo variants like Storm while on the draw or not having a taxing piece in the opening hand. This deck also has a tough time with Eldrazi due to the size of the creatures. Cards like Massacre and Dread of Night also exist in the format and can swing matchups wildly after sideboard.

4c Loam

26 LANDS
Badlands
Barren Moor
Bayou
Cabal Pit
Dryad Arbor
Forest
Ghost Quarter
Grove of the Burnwillows
Karakas
Maze of Ith
Savannah
Scrubland
Taiga
Tranquil Thicket
Verdant Catacombs
Wasteland
Windswept Heath
11 CREATURES
Dark Confidant
Gaddock Teeg
Knight of the Reliquary
Queen Marchesa
Scavenging Ooze
11 INSTANTS and SORC.
Abrupt Decay
Assassin’s Trophy
Green Sun’s Zenith
Life from the Loam
Punishing Fire
12 OTHER SPELLS
Chalice of the Void
Liliana of the Veil
Mox Diamond
Sylvan Library
SIDEBOARD
Ajani Vengeant
Containment Priest
Golgari Charm
Knight of Autumn
Leyline of the Void
Liliana, the Last Hope
Nissa, Vital Force
Swords to Plowshares
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

This deck is quite the pile and it has been seeing a lot of success. Here, we use cards like Chalice of the Void and Mox Diamond paired with creatures like Knight of the Reliquary to put games away quickly. Obviously, being four colors, it has a greedy manabase, but everything flows smoothly thanks to Life from the Loam and Knight of the Reliquary which allow you to filter lands and bring them back to your hand. Occasionally, you can also steal games through repeated use of Wasteland and Ghost Quarter to prevent your opponent from ever playing Magic.

Strengths: This deck is very strong against most combo strategies, while it can fumble on some game ones. This deck is very good against delver-based strategies and most control-based strategies due to being able to tax their opponents’ mana while providing a strong creature threat in Knight of the Reliquary. Liliana of the Veil is also a planeswalker that requires an answer immediately or it can run your opponents out of threats.

Weaknesses: This deck can have a tough time against Eldrazi type aggro decks as well as some versions of land-based combo. Some of the cards can be awkward at times as well so this deck requires numerous reps and understanding to be played efficiently.

I know that was a ton of information, but this format is seriously one of the most exciting formats Magic has. There are numerous other decks than the ones I just listed here, and they all have their own impact on the format and can provide a pleasurable play experience. I hope you enjoyed this primer and as always if there are any questions or if you want to jam games, reach out to me. Thanks for reading!

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The New Jersey Experience

By: Adam Bialkowski

Grand Prix New Jersey was an amazing experience of the standard format. A week before the event I had no idea what I wanted to play; I couldn’t make a deck to deal with the current meta since it hadn’t quite been defined. I had to play what I was best at and that led me to control. I decided Jeskai control fit my play style best and was off to test it for a week right before the GP.

I loved how the decked played in testing, but my only issue was feeling like I couldn’t kill people fast enough. Crackling Drake is a great card in the spell deck, but I didn’t enjoy playing it in Jeskai control. I thought the card was too slow and often just died the turn you played it because the deck runs no other creatures to draw out removal. As I was in the shower of my hotel room the night before the GP, I was running through simulations of different cards and deck matchups that I couldn’t beat or had too easy of a time beating. One card came to mind that I couldn’t actually beat:

xln-1-adanto-vanguard

This card is amazing as an unkillable two mana threat. When I got out of my shower, I had this card embedded in the main deck as a four of, and let me tell you, this card carried games just by itself. This was the final list I settled on right before the GP started.

Creatures: 7

4 Adanto Vanguard

1 Lyra Dawnbringer

2 Niv-Mizzet, Parun

Spells: 27

2 Syncopate

1 Essence Scatter

2 Expansion // Explosion

4 Justice Strike

4 Deafening Clarion

4 Ionize

4 Chemister’s Insight

2 Cleansing Nova

4 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Lands: 26

4 Clifftop Retreat

4 Glacial Fortress

3 Island

2 Mountain

1 Plains

4 Sacred Foundry

4 Steam Vents

4 Sulfur Falls

Sideboard: 15

2 Lyra Dawnbringer

1 Nezahal, Primal Tide

1 Spell Pierce

2 Dawn of Hope

2 Disdainful Stroke

4 Lava Coil

3 Negate

Round 1

Bye :p

Round 2

Up against the mirror, however I was on the play and landed an Adanto Vanguard turn two against them and they had no way of dealing with it. Game two I played Nezahal and won immediately after.

Round 3

Played a U/R control deck called counter drake. A lot of counter spells and burn spells. The mainboard Niv-Mizzets won me game one and he took game two with aggressive tempo I couldn’t get ahead of, so game three I played the big Nezahal and immediately won again.

Round 4

The first time I go up against U/R Arclight Phoenix. This deck is very hard to beat if your opponent has more than two Phoenixes by turn four. Luckily for me, my opponent didn’t see a

single one all of games 1 or 3. Nezahal continued to win me game three. It was around here I started to realize how good Nezahal actually is.

Round 5

Mono White

     Weenie_Hut_Juniors.png

Turn 3 Deafening Clarion each game was too back breaking for the deck, so I snagged the match.

Round 6

The second time I go up against Arclight Phoenix. Three Phoenixes hit the graveyard each game before I could even say keep. First loss of the day but hey I’ll take 5-1 by round six.

Round 7

I went up against the G/R dinosaur Experimental Frenzy deck, mainboarding four Carnage Tyrants. I take game one through way too many wrath effects and Adanto Vanguards. Game two he plays a turn four Carnage Tyrant followed by Vivian Reid. I lost that game. Game three I wrathed the board then cast Nezahal, which is great at blocking Carnage Tyrants. Proceed to win and make Day Two.

Round 8

Arclight Phoenix is now reminding me far too much of Prized Amalgam. My opponent draws the nut all three games making my record now 6-2 to finish up Day One.

Round 9

I play against a super cool U/R control deck. My opponent won the die roll and played his Niv-Mizzet first and proceeded to stomp on my hopes and dreams. Game two I resolve my own Niv-Mizzet first and do the same. Game three I had to mulligan to six and keep three lands and proceed to draw no more lands until turn seven. 6-3

Round 10

First time playing against G/B Carnage Tyrant. I take game one from them with a lot of wraths and even more Vanguards. Game two my opponent played six Carnage Tyrants. Game three I saw no lands and proceed to lose. 6-4

Round 11

I can still get a Pro Point at this point, however the G/B Carnage Tyrant deck hadn’t finished stomping on my dreams just yet. 6-5

Round 12

Alright I’m in it for the Planeswalker points now, but by the time I had finished that thought my opponent already had two Phoenixes in the graveyard. 6-6 Drop :(.

I very much underestimated the Phoenix deck for the weekend which was my biggest mistake. I should’ve been playing mainboard Settle the Wreckage because exiling creatures is incredibly relevant in this format. The mainboard Vanguards won me too many games that I would normally lose, the six to seven turn clock you put your opponent on when you play one is amazing for a control deck with so much burn. Had a great weekend by the time it was all over, had a blast playing magic, enjoyed playing in a tournament setting again, and most of all had an unforgettable experience with some great friends.

Mathemagics, Part 2, Color Distribution

By Joseph Davis

Hi, I’m Joseph, and welcome back to Mathemagics. The goal of this series is to help you level up your deck building whether you’re new to the game or just trying to improve your brews. We’ll be exploring important aspects of deck design and diving very lightly into the math behind it, so you know not just how to build a deck, but why some deckbuilding choices are better than others. This week we’ll be building on last week’s article by talking about color distribution.

 

Last week we talked about your deck having a plan, and we’ll continue that this week. When building your deck, you will have certain spells you want access to on the turn they become available. A good example of this is Settle the Wreckage or Ritual of Soot: decks playing these sweeping cards will usually be slower and trying to halt the tide of aggro decks with one of these spells on turn 4. A card like Crackling Drake is generally not a good turn 4 play because it is often simply a 0/4 or 1/4 , so when building our mana base we will not need to be worried about having 2 red and 2 blue on turn 4.

 

We’ll be using the term “pip” to refer to mana symbols, so a card that costs 1G would be described as having 1 pip since you must use 1 green to cast it, while the other portion of the cost can be any color. Here are some tables:

 

One pip Turn 1 Turn 2 Turn 3 Turn 4 Turn 5 Turn 6 Turn 7
5 47.46% 52.41% 56.99% 61.21% 65.09% 68.65% 71.91%
6 54.14% 59.33% 64.03% 68.26% 72.07% 75.49% 78.55%
7 60.09% 65.36% 70.02% 74.14% 77.76% 80.94% 83.72%
8 65.36% 70.59% 75.11% 79.02% 82.37% 85.25% 87.71%
9 70.02% 75.11% 79.42% 83.05% 86.10% 88.66% 90.78%
Two pip Turn 2 Turn 3 Turn 4 Turn 5 Turn 6 Turn 7  
10 39.98% 46.74% 53.14% 59.13% 64.63% 69.63%  
11 45.44% 52.55% 59.13% 65.12% 70.50% 75.27%  
12 50.72% 58.02% 64.63% 70.50% 75.64% 80.07%  
13 55.76% 63.13% 69.63% 75.27% 80.07% 84.09%  
14 60.51% 67.84% 74.13% 79.44% 83.84% 87.40%  
15 64.97% 72.13% 78.13% 83.05% 86.99% 90.07%  
16 69.11% 76.02% 81.65% 86.12% 89.59% 92.16%  
Three pip Turn 3 Turn 4 Turn 5 Turn 6 Turn 7    
15 39.90% 48.11% 55.90% 63.05% 69.44%    
16 44.91% 53.44% 61.30% 68.31% 74.35%    
17 49.86% 58.55% 66.34% 73.04% 78.59%    
18 54.68% 63.40% 70.96% 77.22% 82.14%    
19 59.32% 67.93% 75.12% 80.82% 85.00%    
20 63.75% 72.10% 78.81% 83.84% 87.16%    
21 67.92% 75.90% 82.02% 86.26% 88.64%    

 

Magic is a best two out of three game, so again we are looking for our plan to work on time 66% of the time or greater. The number listed on the left is the number of sources which produce the percentages going across their row. When looking at the pip requirements, there is only a small distinction between mono and multicolored spells. For example, Merfolk Trickster costs UU (blue blue). You should have 16 blue sources to reliably cast it on turn 2. Thought Erasure costs UB (blue black). You should have 16 blue AND black sources to reliably cast it on turn 2. This does not mean you need to run 32 lands consisting of 16 islands and 16 swamps though. A Watery Grave, Drowned Catacomb, Dimir Guildgate, or Submerged Boneyard counts for both one blue source and one black source. One last note, when looking at hybrid mana costs like the Find (G/B G/B) half of Find//Finality you can count sources of either green OR black, so if you wanted to cast Find on turn 2 for some reason, you would need 16 green OR black sources to reliably cast it on time.

 

The overall thing to take away from this is that the earlier you need multiple colors, the fewer colors you can afford to mash together. In order to consistently cast a 3-mana card with 3 pips such as Goblin Chainwhirler, you need 21 sources of the color of that pip. This is the reason decks which use Goblin Chainwhirler, Steel Leaf Champion, or Benalish Marshall tend to be mono colored, as it is very difficult to produce the mana required to play them on time otherwise.

 

Let’s look at some decklists and discuss the construction of the archetypes:

RW Angels – Carson Lewis

5-8th Place SCG Classic – Dallas

 

2 Adanto Vanguard
3 Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
4 Knight of Grace
4 Lyra Dawnbringer
4 Resplendent Angel
3 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
2 Tocatli Honor Guard

1 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants

2 Conclave Tribunal
3 Deafening Clarion
4 History of Benalia
2 Justice Strike
2 Lightning Strike

4 Clifftop Retreat
4 Mountain
12 Plains
4 Sacred Foundry
SIDEBOARD
2 Banefire
1 Ixalan’s Binding
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
2 Rekindling Phoenix
3 Seal Away
2 Settle the Wreckage
1 Silent Gravestone
1 Sorcerous Spyglass
2 Tocatli Honor Guard

 

This deck is almost a mono white deck but is splashing red for Justice Strike, Deafening Clarion, and most importantly Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice. This deck’s plan is to curve out with good threats, most importantly playing Aurelia on turn 4. The Justice Strike on turn 2 and the Deafening Clarion on turn 3 are less important to the plan for the deck than consistently landing Aurelia on time, as she pumps whatever threats you have out already and adds a significant clock on the next turn when she can join the battle. Looking at our chart, they should have 13 sources of both red and white to consistently cast Aurelia on turn 4. They have 20 white sources and 12 red sources, so the deck is almost exactly where it should be mathematically but may wish to change one more Plains into a Mountain to bump their numbers slightly more into line. If the deck wanted to cast Justice Strike consistently on turn 2, it would need to climb to 16 red sources, but since Justice Strike is a late game removal card to clear out a card like Ghalta, Primal Hunger, we don’t have to worry about being able to cast it on turn 2.

 

Jeskai Control – Michael Hamilton

9-16th Place SCG Classic – Columbus

 

1 Ral, Izzet Viceroy

3 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

2 Chemister’s Insight

1 Cleansing Nova

2 Deafening Clarion

2 Essence Scatter

4 Expansion // Explosion

4 Ionize

2 Justice Strike

1 Lava Coil

2 Lightning Strike

1 Negate

2 Search for Azcanta

3 Settle the Wreckage

1 Shivan Fire

1 Shock

4 Clifftop Retreat

1 Evolving Wilds

2 Field of Ruin

4 Glacial Fortress

2 Island

4 Plains

4 Sacred Foundry

4 Steam Vents

3 Sulfur Falls

 

SIDEBOARD

1 Chemister’s Insight

1 Dawn of Hope

1 Deafening Clarion

1 Disdainful Stroke

1 Invoke the Divine

3 Lyra Dawnbringer

1 Negate

1 Nezahal, Primal Tide

2 Shalai, Voice of Plenty

1 Shivan Fire

2 Siege-Gang Commander

 

Now, you might be saying, are multicolored cards always a worse choice than mono colored cards? For example, is it always harder to cast Ionize (1UR) instead of Sinister Sabotage (1UU)? The answer is: it depends. If you are playing a three (or more) color deck like this one, and especially if you have multiple cards you want to cast on the same turn, multicolored cards and dual lands can make it easier to have different plans spread across multiple cards. In this deck you want to cast Deafening Clarion (1WR) or a counterspell on turn 3, depending on what you’re playing against and what you draw. For both Sabotage and Clarion to work in this scenario you need 14 sources of each red, blue, and white to have all your options open, but for Ionize you can share dual lands when building your mana base. For example, Steam Vents counts as both a blue and a red source for Ionize AND a red source for Clarion. Likewise, Sacred Foundry counts as both a white and a red source for Clarion AND a red source for Ionize. The overlap between the two enables a more reasonable mana base for achieving the desired plan for the deck.

 

BG Midrange – Maxwell Jones

1st Place SCG Classic – Dallas

 

3 Doom Whisperer

2 Golgari Findbroker

4 Jadelight Ranger

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Merfolk Branchwalker

3 Ravenous Chupacabra

3 Seekers’ Squire

3 Wildgrowth Walker

3 Vivien Reid

3 Vraska, Relic Seeker

2 Assassin’s Trophy

3 Find // Finality

8 Forest

4 Overgrown Tomb

7 Swamp

4 Woodland Cemetery

 

SIDEBOARD

1 Assassin’s Trophy

2 Carnage Tyrant

3 Duress

1 Find // Finality

3 Moment of Craving

1 The Eldest Reborn

2 Vraska, Golgari Queen

2 Vraska’s Contempt

 

This deck is cluttered with mana symbols looking to cast powerful cards like Jadelight Ranger (2 pips, green) on turn 3 or Ravenous Chupacabra (2 pips, black), and Golgari Findbroker (4 pips, green and black) on turn 4. To be able to play these spells reliably, the deck has to stick to 2 colors, otherwise it would be impossible to get the required number of colored mana sources without playing an extraordinary amount of lands. With just 23 lands, this deck still plays 16 green sources and 15 black sources enabling it to reliably fill out the large number of color pips required from all the powerful double pipped cards.

 

When building your next deck, keep these principles in mind and ask yourself these questions:

1) Which of my spells do I need to cast as early as possible?

2) Are there any multicolored cards which I can substitute in to make my plans overlap better?

3) Can I achieve the number of sources I need in the number of lands I’m playing?

 

If you find yourself answering number 3 with “no”, you probably are trying to stretch your early color requirements too much. You should either substitute some multicolored spells in if possible, or change your plan to be less color intensive or involve fewer colors. I hope you’ve enjoyed your second lesson in Mathemagics, and I’ll be back with another one soon!

Scrubland – Episode 24 – PPTQs and DQs

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Casby and James are joined by David Benamino as they discuss their Sealed PPTQ experiences, disqualifications during the finals and cheating and punishment.

Musical Selections:

Intro, Welcome, Outro: Mandy by Ratatat

Interlude: Its a Mistake by Men at Work

Contact us:

Scrubland Podcast on Facebook

@scrublandcast on Twitter

scrublandpodcast@gmail.com
Read more at http://scrublandpodcast.libsyn.com/#yWIEBel2bopJ8iZc.99

How to prep for a GP

By Myles Miller

Today’s article is going to be based around the competitive side of Magic, a little bit more than usual. I and the other Battlegrounds authors always strive to create content for players at every level, especially those looking to improve their game, but this week, I’m going to focus on a more competitive aspect of Magic: preparing to play in a Grand Prix. I’ve asked some of Richmond’s most competitive players to share their experiences and insights to help you prepare for the event, whether it’s your first or your fiftieth.

What are GPs?

The Grand Prix are Magic’s premier competitive events, and certainly the largest you can enter without requiring an invitation. I will be heading to New Jersey at the end of the month with a group of friends and teammates to play at GP New Jersey, the first Standard Grand Prix since the release of Guilds of Ravnica. Let me describe a few details about GPs, to give you an idea of how these massive events work:

  • Grand Prix are two-day events. Players compete in 8 rounds on the first day, and any player with a record of 6-2 or better (18+ match points) can compete for 7 more rounds on the second day. After 15 total rounds, the top 8 players play for the grand prize.
  • The prize payout of a Grand Prix can be quite substantial. For example, the prize payout for 1st place at Grand Prix New Jersey is $10,000. $5,000 to 2nd place, $2,500 each to 3rd and 4th, and so it goes down to 64th If a GP has over 3,000 players, the cash payouts extend down to 180th place.
  • Professional Points can be earned at GPs by players who do well enough. Pro PointsImage (1).jpg are accumulated by players with excellent records at GPs, the Pro Tour, and other major events. Earning enough Pro Points will earn you special perks, such as byes, invites to the Pro Tour, and travel reimbursement. Speaking of:
  • Players earn Planeswalker Points by playing in any official event, including your local FNM. I won’t go into detail, but every recorded match you play and every win you earn is recorded in your planeswalker point total, and players with enough points are awarded byes at major events like GPs. Certain events award extra points, but the default numbers are 3 points for a match win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss. 1,300 points in the year (from the end of May to the end of May) gets you 1 bye, and 2,250+ earns 2 byes at Grand Prix events.
  • GPs are conducted at Competitive Rules Enforcement Level. This means that players are expected to know the rules and play correctly. Judges work hard to assist players with any disputes or questions. Careless mistakes will result in warnings, while serious or intentional errors can escalate to more serious penalties. Players are also required to turn in a decklist before the event starts, listing every single card in their deck and sideboard, to help prevent any cheating.

Grand Prix are massive events, and held all over the world, all year long. Players who are serious about competing at this level will travel far and wide to play in any GP they can. If you wait for a Grand Prix to come to you, you’ll miss out on a lot of events. I personally have driven as far as Providence, Rhode Island and Orlando, Florida to play in a Grand Prix, and plenty of others in Richmond alone have traveled much farther than that. Because of the level of competition and the travel that’s usually required, there are a few ways you can prepare. Let’s hear from some of the more competitive local players and how they prepare for this level of competition.

Choose your weapon!

Q: How do you prepare for a Grand Prix? In terms of choosing a deck, practicing, etc?

Daniel D’Amato: I decide a deck two weeks out, test sideboarded games especially, and consider different flex spots in the mainboard to finalize a list 1 week in advance.

Charles League: I try to read articles to find out what the top decks are. I’ll watch event roe-91-training-grounds.jpgcoverage, specifically of players who I respect playing those decks. If time permits, I play online in competitive leagues.

Orlando Lucas: Set up a testing group 3-4 days a week, play online, and read up on everything and watch streams.

Wyatt Plott: Get a lot of reps in with the deck I want to play, and play it online to get more matches in. Play in person and just do post-sideboard games to find a good plan for the expected metagame. Read articles to see what other people might be playing: don’t necessarily copy the lists but update them.

Pierson Geyer: I try to play in a weekday and weekend event to get some real practice in. Experience and performance are both important, so it helps to get a feel for your deck. I don’t recommend entirely online testing, because the human face-to-face aspect of the game in an important one. I also try to read an article or two about the format: knowing what other decks are out there will help you prepare.

Q: Travelling and logistics are also important. What do you recommend for getting to the event, and how can you be on top of your game throughout the weekend?

David Beniamino: Find someone else to do the driving. Get your own bed at the hotel, a restless night is not worth it. Make sure you know where to park and how much it will cost, so you’re not late. Play throughout the year to earn byes, they can make all the difference at a Grand Prix.

Andrew Black: Pack deodorant, book your travel ahead of time, drink water, and get Image (2).jpgplenty of sleep.

Adam Bialkowski: Never expect to win. Focus on one round at a time and try to have fun! GPs are like mini vacations.

Wyatt Plott: Travel with friends to help with the strain of driving long hours, and travel with people that have similar goals for the event.

Orlando Lucas: Bring water and stay around friends so that you’re not stressed out during the tournament.

Pierson Geyer: Getting your transportation, lodging, and budget figured out helps reduce stress, and getting a good night’s sleep is vital to performing well. I usually keep some protein bars in my bag to keep my energy up. Having a plan lets you keep your mental endurance over a full day of 8 rounds.

Daniel D’Amato: During the tournament I’m drinking water, walking around, and staying focused between rounds.

 

End Step

Each one of these players from RVA or the VA Beach area has several Grand Prix under their belt (a few even appearing in Pro Tours!), so they really know their stuff when it comes to competitive events. Whether you’ve been to a few GPs or would like to try one out the next time we have one nearby, these insights will go a long way towards helping you prepare for your next competitive event! While this article focuses on the main event, there’s plenty to do at a Grand Prix besides compete. Starting in 2019, these events will be referred to as MagicFest, a name meant to more completely describe the experience. MagicFests will include premier events such as a Grand Prix, but the weekend contains so much more than that: card vendors, cosplayers, casual and competitive events in all formats. You don’t have to be on the hunt for Pro Points to attend a Grand Prix weekend, there’s something for everyone to be found in the event hall which makes for an incredible experience. Have any habits or practices of your own you’d like to share? Further questions about GPs or competitive events? As always, drop a comment below or on Facebook, or come visit Battlegrounds anytime.

Pass Turn.

Battle Tested. Battle Approved.