Grand Prix Washington D.C. 2013 - Andrew Cuneo vs. Kurt Spiess

Posted in NEWS on November 17, 2013

Round 7 brings us something of an East Coast grudge match, and something of a snapshot of Legacy with combo, control, and tribal creatures all represented.

On one side we have Philadelphia native and all-around control aficionado Andrew Cuneo, rocking, surprise, surprise...Elves?

Yes, Andrew Cuneo, the master of Islands and Plains, a player who, as recently as a few months ago, was playing Trading Post in Standard, was attacking with small Green creatures. As it turns out, Cuneo always plays Elves in Legacy and has been for the last year. Despite my (apparently mistaken) impression that Cuneo plays mostly control, he finds himself attracted to creature combo decks in older formats.

"I also play Melira Pod in Modern," Cuneo said. "You can combo or you can just attack for the win. With Elves, sometimes I just attack with 1/1s and win."

On the other side we have Baltimore resident and local ringer Kurt Spiess playing what I might have expected from Cuneo, an Esper Stoneblade featuring Thoughtseize, Stoneforge Mystic, Swords to Plowshares, Deathrite Shaman, and a multitude of ways to disrupt opponents plans.

It was a fairly classic combo/control matchup. Or aggro/control matchup. Could go either way, really.

Game 1

Cuneo started off dropping some, well, Elves, into play, as Spiess did his best to disrupt Cuneo's game plan with Thoughtseize and a pair of Deathrite Shamans. Cuneo fired back with a Wirewood Symbiote off Green Sun's Zenith to start protecting his team from the removal Spiess surely had at the ready.

Though the Symbiote decided to take up farming, Cuneo used it to start cycling his Elvish visionary, pulling ahead as Spiess was unable to do much more than draw lands and stare at a pair of Force of Will in his hand.

Kurt Spiess is a local ringer, but found himself flooded out early against Andrew Cuneo.


Cuneo attempted to go off at one point with Green Suns' Zenith, but Spiess, flush with mana, was able to hard cast Force of Will to halt the progress. Snapcaster Mage plus the same Force of Will kept things copacetic the next turn too. At least that's how it seemed.

But that turned out to just be so much bait, as Gaea's Cradle let Cuneo cast Craterhoof Behemoth and attack for the win that very same turn.

Cuneo 1 – Spiess 0


Game 2

Stymied by a weak draw in game one, Spiess wasted no time enacting his plan in the second, playing a second turn Stoneforge Mystic to find Umezawa's Jitte, one of his best cards against Elf decks.

Cuneo returned fire with a Glimpse of Nature, but Spiess was able to turn a Brainstorm into Flusterstorm, stopping it cold. He was then able to untap into attacking with a Jitte-equipped Stoneforge Mystic, which, if active, could destroy Cuneo's board.

And destroy it it did, however, it was at the cost of the Mystic itself, leaving Spiess with no creatures and just a Sword of Feast and Famine to go with lands.

Cuneo, meanwhile, started digging out of the Jitte-induced hole with three Elvish Visionaries, a surprisingly strong card in a format capable of putting Emrakul, the Aeons Torn in play on turn two. Stuck on two lands and no mana producing elves, it was all Cuneo could do for several turns.

But it was really all he needed to do, as Spiess drew land after land after land. His first nonland card was, awkwardly enough, a Thoughtseize. It revealed a hand full of goodies on Cuneo's side, accomplishing, in essence, little more than helping to kill Spiess faster.

Cuneo was anything but Green with envy in the second game. And other puns about Elves.


But just when Cuneo thought he was going to deliver the killing blow, Spiess drew some spice in Zealous Persecution. It was enough to effectively Fog for a turn and wipe out two of Cuneo's creatures, but it also allowed Cuneo to cast Glimpse of Nature and draw a handful of cards. It was better than dying...but not by much.

Brainstorm yielded some form of hope for Spiess, small though it might have been, but all Cuneo needed to do at that point was activate his Deathrite Shaman to drain Spiess's last few life points and take the match.

After the match, Cuneo said he feels favored in the matchup against Esper Deathblade, even if he expects he'll have to overcome Umezawa's Jitte at some point.

"You don't really feel like you're going to win," Cuneo says of being forced to block a creature with Jitte. "But sometimes it works."

Cuneo 2 – Spiess 0