Category Archives: MTG

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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New Year’s Lock-In Announcement

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Come celebrate the New Year at Battlkegrounds! We love New Year’s, and we’ve been throwing some of the best NYE parties at our store since we opened. We’d love for you to join us for a great evening of fun and games! Keep updated on all of the events that evening (and every other day!) by following us on Facebook.

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.

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.

When To Concede

By Daniel D’Amato

Concession is something that every Magic player hopes to be on the receiving end of, but one of the most important skills that a Magic player can learn is knowing when a game is over. Being able to analyze the current game state and make appropriate plays is important to success in competitive Magic; knowing when to concede is one that isn’t addressed as often, if at all. Anyone that has played in a competitive Magic tournament knows that every round is timed and that sometimes matches can get drawn out leading to draws or even one game matches. Ideally you don’t want to put yourself in that situation, so what is the best way to approach that? Conceding. I will be the first one to admit that conceding doesn’t feel good, ever, especially when the game was close or could have been the deciding factor in receiving prizes or even making top 8, but there are numerous benefits to conceding games, and especially game one. There are multiple factors to consider when determining whether a game is winnable or if conceding is the right answer. One of the most common factors that is associated with early concessions is the amount of time left in the current round.

When to Concede?

Time in round, while a necessary parameter for not only Magic but any competitive atmosphere, can be one of the most stressful factors in giving yourself the best chance to win a match. Just how football teams must practice clock management when there is two minutes left in the game, Magic players need to practice clock management for playing at a proper speed and giving themselves plenty of time to win the match. So, what does time in round have to do with conceding? Control is always going to be in the game regardless of what format you play. There are many very efficient control players, but there are also many control players who have a slower pace of play. It is typically these matches that you worry about going to time and understanding when a game is a lost cause can be extremely beneficial to your success. All the following scenarios for time consideration are from a midrange deck’s point of view.

 

Control Matchups

The best way to elaborate on this matchup is to explain personal experiences I have had. About a year ago when I was playing the best midrange deck in the Standard format, Temur energy. Control matches could go either way, but I knew that game one was always tough and that I had to play quick and tight. I can’t count on my hand the number of game ones I conceded against control while on Temur before turn 10. Temur was a midrange deck that planned to win through tempo creatures and quality removal, both of which are not great against control due to counter magic and board removal. I knew during sideboarded games that I would have access to 5 forms of counter magic along with my own Torrential Gearhulks to keep the tempo. Being able to properly analyze the board and the matchup your playing is important because conceding allows you to have plentiful time in what could be a grindy matchup to win. So how do you know?

The most common signals in this matchup that conceding may be the right call are card advantage and board state. Card advantage is something in Magic that can make or break a game. Control decks are designed to deal with threats, refill their hand with utility and spells, and then eventually land a threat that can’t be dealt with. This makes them very agile game one against midrange decks because they can use spot removal or board removal on our threats after our hand is depleted all while they have upward of five or more cards still in hand. This is a spot to consider conceding because now you are just watching your opponent play Magic until they find a win condition and finally beat you. This is not only one of the worst feelings in Magic but can also be one of the most time consuming. Concede. The average midrange deck has multiple answers to control style decks in the sideboard and will ultimately have a stronger success rate in the post sideboard games. When your threats have been dwindled, it is not a bad idea to just concede the game instead of wasting time. Conceding here allows for enough time to win games two and three, saves some frustration, and allows you to focus on winning the match. Staying focused on winning the match rather than the game is a huge factor because these types of matchups can become very frustrating and can cause you to lose sight of the objective. Control matchups can be straightforward or difficult and knowing when to concede can potentially give you the upper edge in the matchup.

 

Midrange Matchups

Midrange mirrors can be the grindiest matches you will play. Both decks being designed with the same goal in mind can clash and cause a board stall or blowout very quickly. Time can sometimes be even more of consideration in these matchups due to the fact it can take a very long time to win game one and board stalls can cause a person not to concede since there are still outs to win the game. The key to winning these matchups is card advantage and threat removal. If you notice yourself falling further and further behind, consider the concession. Like the control matchups, conceding here allows for less frustration and more time to focus on the match at hand; figure out the best way to approach the matchup and how to give yourself the best chance to win the other games. Tempo and counter magic are important in the control matchup; removal and tempo are very key out of the board in this matchup. Time management is vital in this matchup because every draw and turn matters when both decks are looking to grind their opponent out to win the match. Having access to your sideboard for the next two games and hopefully plenty of time on the clock can be a strong factor in determining the outcome of this matchup.

Losing or having to concede a close match can be very frustrating and defeating. Midrange mirrors being as grindy as they are can mentally drain you and can sometimes feel like they are just one game with the chance of finishing a second. Being focused on each individual game and playing tight can help you win more matches but evaluating the current board state and mastering clock management can allow you to consider variables that not every player can consistently consider. In these midrange matchups, the main parameter to consider is card advantage. Currently in Standard we have midrange all-star Glint-Sleeve Siphoner which allows its controller to draw extra cards for the cost of one life and some energy. In midrange matchups this guy is a massive advantage because he can give the controller the card advantage necessary to apply and deal with threats efficiently; unanswered it is likely the controller will win due to the card advantage alone. However, if cards like this go unanswered and you can’t seem to find the line to win, concede and refocus, the other games are more important; remember that a match is best of three and not one.

When Not to Concede

I figured since I am giving all these examples of when concession may be the right call, it’s important to know when you are ahead and maybe your opponent should be the one considering it. All the topics can just be repeated above with roles switched obviously but it is possible to be in a losing situation and not conceding is important…. combo. Combo exists in the eternal formats and not so much Standard but eventually everyone will have the pleasure of playing against a combo strategy. For those unfamiliar, combo likes to just try to pull off a win by assembling the pieces of whatever puzzle and executing it and doing everything to protect it. It’s important that when a combo player is “going off” that you don’t concede and wait to be beaten. Not only will you gain valuable insight on how to shut down the combo, but people are also human, and they may mess up the combo along the way allowing you a victory. The latter happens often which is why it’s important to let your opponent do their thing and follow closely for better understanding.

I previously touched on situations on when to concede in control and midrange matchups but there are times where concession isn’t necessary. Things you need to consider are whether you are ahead on life total, card advantage, or board state. You obviously never want to concede a game that you are winning especially just because your opponent finds an answer. With the Glint-Sleeve Siphoner example I talked about card advantage. If you have a hand of 6 cards while your opponent has a hand of 1 card, the board state doesn’t matter because you are still ahead pending life total situations etc. Times like this is when concession should be considered because you have a greater opportunity to win based off just card advantage alone. Its situations where your opponent is the one with the card advantage where concession should be considered. I know it sounds self-explanatory on how you should be able to tell you are ahead but there are issues where people do concede while ahead or give an early concession when they analyze the state of the game incorrectly. Overall concession, while a difficult concept to grasp sometimes, can be a good tool for growth in professional magic.

Concession

Conceding a game or match obviously doesn’t feel good but it can have its benefits. The most beneficial aspect of conceding a game early is the amount of time you can gain to win the match. Time is important in competitive Magic and unfortunately this game is no stranger to slow players and thus this skill must be analyzed carefully. Conceding isn’t something that should be impulsively done but rather analyzed and determined if it is the best line to help you win the match in the end. Thanks for reading and I hope your concessions are more received than given!

What is Tempo?

     Written by Myles Miller

Tempo is defined as “the rate or speed of an activity”, and you’ll usually find this term applied to music and how fast/slow it’s played. Tempo in the context of Magic refers to the advantage created by putting yourself ahead in a game, while setting your opponent back a step or two. The most effective tempo plays will add to your board while taking something away from your opponent: one of their creatures, a removal spell from their hand, or a chunk of their life total. Whether you’re adding a creature to your board, destroying one of your opponent’s threats, or creating a situation in which your opponent has to react to your plays instead of making their own, a game of Magic is all about the give and take of tempo. In this article, I will go through each color and discuss how each creates tempo in a different way. A blue deck plays very differently than a green deck, and the ways those colors generate tempo differ as well. Normally I’d start with White and move around the color pie, but I’d like to start with the color that most exemplifies tempo; that is infamous for finding ways to stall the opponent and wear them down over time:

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