by Rich HagonPodcast:The Last of Legacy (Day One)
by David SutcliffeRound 9: Feature Match/Deck TechDredge For Victory (?)
by Tim WilloughbySaturday, 9:30 p.m.:A Snapshot of the Day 1 Metagame
by Rich HagonPodcast: Learning LegacyBUG and Reanimator
by Event Coverage StaffSaturday, 8:57 p.m.:GPT Winning Decks
by David SutcliffeRound 7: Feature MatchLouis Deltour vs. Florian Kirchbacher
by Tim WilloughbyRound 6 : Feature MatchNikolaus Eigner vs. Robert Jurkovic
by David SutcliffeSaturday, 5:28pm : - It's Aliiiiiiiive!!!
by Rich HagonPodcast: Learning Legacy: In your Face and High Tide
by Rich HagonPodcast: Launching Legacy
by David SutcliffeRound 4: Feature MatchRuud Warmenhoven vs. Antoine Bresse
by Tim WilloughbySaturday, 3:30am: Legacy with Innistrad
by Rich HagonPodcast: Learning Legacy: Zoo and No Bant
by Rich HagonPodcast: Setting the Scene
by Tim WilloughbySaturday, 1:32pm:A Plainswalk in Legacy Land
by David SutcliffeSaturday, 1:05pm:Legacy Players
by Tim WilloughbySaturday, 12:24pm:The Most Powerful Things to Do in Legacy
by Event Coverage StaffInfo: Fact Sheet
Saturday, 12:24pm - The Most Powerful Things to Do in Legacy
Here at Grand Prix Amsterdam 2011, we have 1,879 players, playing a format with a whole host of different decks. We'll be getting on to the specifics of what people are playing over the course of the weekend, but first I just wanted to take you through a few of the things that you are going to see a lot of here in the Netherlands. They aren't necessarily one deck, but more indicative of just what this format can do.
Casting a big storm spell
This is a format where just about all the 'ritual' effects around are legal, and card drawing is abundant and cheap. Consequently, there are quite a few decks which, one way or another, are looking to build up a hefty storm count, and then do something degenerate with it. For High Tide decks, this might be casting a hefty Brain Freeze. For Ad Nauseam Tendrils (ANT), it could be casting a whopping Tendrils of Agony to end the game. Goblin Charbelcher (Belcher) decks frequently find themselves casting a substantial Empty the Warrens to end things.
One of the key strengths of the storm mechanic is that it is inherently strong against one of the pillars of the format; Force of Will. A counterspell will only counter one copy of a storm spell, and will itself build the storm count, which can be a little dangerous. There is an answer though. Flusterstorm, a counterspell with storm printed in the Commander decks, can counter every storm copy on the stack, as well as frequently being at least a Spell Pierce against other things.
Something you should expect to see: Someone casting a Tendrils of Agony with a storm count of 10+.
Something you are unlikely to see: Someone casting Wing Shards with a storm count of 10+.
Something you won't see: Someone casting Mind's Desire. It is far, far too powerful not to be banned in Legacy.
Tapping lands for lots of mana
While Tolarian Academy and Mishra's Workshop are not legal in Legacy, there are quite a few lands that tap for more than one mana that are just fine, and are being played this weekend. Tapping Ancient Tomb does hurt somewhat, but that additional mana can power out some dangerous threats. Trinisphere is among the more oppressive options (and this is the one format where you can play a full four of them), but past that there are plenty of things that can be scary when they come early. Show and Tell can be cast as early as the first turn with a little help from an Ancient Tomb and Chrome Mox or perhaps a Lotus Petal. From there we can have some of the scariest threats in the whole of Magic, be they Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or a Hive Mind/Pact of the Titan kill.
What other lands tap for multiple mana in the format? Well, with a little setup, basic Island (heralded by some as the most powerful land in the game) can. High Tide decks are all about resolving multiple copies of the namesake card, such that Island can tap for truly unwholesome amount of mana. When you combine that with the land untapping power of Turnabout, Time Spiral, Candelabra of Tawnos and such, you have a deck that can go from zero to hero very fast indeed.
Affinity is not exactly a deck that has lands that tap for two, but with artifact lands it certainly gets more use out of its lands than most. Those Frogmites mean that the deck practically can produce two mana, and even when they are simply adding to the metalcraft for Etched Champion, or pumping a Cranial Plating, they are certainly pulling their weight.
Something you won't see: Someone slumped on a table watching an opponent count their artifacts to work out how much their Tolarian Academy taps for.
Playing enormous monsters for tiny amounts of mana
The older the format gets, the more options become available both in terms of terrifying creatures to play, and cunning ways of getting them into play without paying their full casting cost. The poster child for this type of deck is Reanimator. It will get creatures into its graveyard fast, and then put them onto the battlefield using spells like (surprise surprise) Reanimate.
The baddest creature of the bunch isn't even necessarily the biggest. Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur might not have power and toughness that is particularly scary given his 8UU mana cost, but his ability to draw a handful of cards at the end of each turn, and to deny oppoenents the opportunity to do the same, has immediately skyrocketed him to the top of the pile as a great creature to 'cheat' into play.
Other great creatures to get in play this way include Sphinx of the Steel Wind, Blazing Archon, Empyrial Archangel and Iona, Shield of Emeria. If you want to get really fancy, you can even do sneaky tricks with getting back Sharuum the Hegemon, so that filling graveyards doesn't backfire if some of the things that go in there aren't big creatures.
Some creatures though, are just so badass that reanimation is not really an option. Neither Emrakul, the Aeons Torn nor Progenitus likes to hang out in peoples' graveyards. Both will enter play a fair amount this weekend, and by and large they will not cost double digits of mana to play. For Progenitus, a nice method of getting him into play is Natural Order, which can be cast as early as turn two; clearly far earlier than most decks can deal with the 10/10 protection from everything machine. Tooth and Nail works, but is typically a bit slow, and better placed to simply fetch a two card combo to end the game then and there. For Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Blightsteel Colossus even Natural Order doesn't work. This means that decks have to resort to one or more of the following to make sure that he isn't late to the party;
Casting Brainstorm and using Fetchlands
This is the only widely played format where writing a decklist with four copies of Brainstorm is allowed. Sure, your Ice Age and Masques Block constructed lists could include it, but it is much more powerful here. Drawing three cards at instant speed is fairly unreasonable at any stage, and putting two back is not nearly as much of a drawback as all that. It gets all the better when there are ample shuffle effects around to make sure that those cards that are put back are not necessarily going to remain stuck on the top of your deck. Fetchlands do that, and a great deal more. This is a format where the original dual lands are legal to play, and as they count as two land types, they allow for a huge amount of flexibility on mana bases.
There is really only one reason that decks might avoid splashing extra colours in Legacy, and that reason is Wasteland. Nonbasic land hate keeps the format honest up to a point, but that point is certainly not enough to stop players from using plenty of fetchlands with their Brainstorms.
The finesse to casting Brainstorm in the best possible way is something that separates the top pros from the pretenders. Often it is correct to leave casting the powerful instant as long as possible, until it is entirely clear what cards you really need. The powerful blue card can be played in so many different decks though, that the answer really can vary a great deal. Combo decks can be much more aggressive with it, proactively searching for their kill. Control decks can save it for almost a whole game before using it, and against heavy discard, some decks really want to be casting it to hide their best threats.
One way or another, Brainstorm is a card that is many players' motivation to be playing Legacy, and is a defining card in the format.
Kill people with a two card combo
This is a format where there are only 61 cards that are banned. That leaves 12,010 cards to work with, and some of them work very well with one another. There are some combinations that are so powerful that they define decktypes and end games, and plenty of clever ways to search them up. Below are just a few of them;
Something you are likely to see: people being decked by the third turn of the game
Attacking for Two(ish)
My favourite thing to do is not wholly unreasonable as something to do in Legacy right now. The addition of Snapcaster Mage to a whole host of blue decks means that they get to join in with the attacking for two plan, but there remain various decks in the format who focus on this plan to a far greater degree.
Zoo is just full of creatures who attack for at least two, be they Goblin Guide, Kird Ape, or a Tarmogoyf who has only had a couple of Weetabix for breakfast. Merfolk's creatures start out by being able to swing for two, only to be pumped by a dizzying array of lords, from Lord of Atlantis to Merrow Reejerey, to Coralhelm Commander and beyond. Goblins does its fair share of entering the red zone, and even Dredge is at it, making a whole mess of Zombie tokens thanks to Bridge from Below.
My personal favourite deck when it comes to attacking for two is the comparatively new 'Maverick' deck, a green/white hatebear concoction that is just full of different creatures showing a pair of deuces, who combine attacking for the magic number with disrupting opponents' best laid plans. Have you noticed that casting a big storm spell is good? It's hard to do with Ethersworn Canonist in play. How about using Brainstorm with fetchlands? Those fetchlands aren't nearly as good when Aven Mindcensor is about, with the same being true of Natural Order amongst others. Green Sun's Zenith fetches Scavenging Ooze, Knight of the Reliquary fetches Wasteland for lands that tap for lots of mana... the deck has a lot of redundancy and answers to much of the format, even including Gaddock Teeg to stop Force of Will. It is just one of the decks I'll be looking out for this weekend in particular, but in general, even if you aren't looking for them, in Legacy, it's easy to find people doing powerful things.
Something you will see: Attacking for 2 with Snapcaster Mage
Something you are unlikely to see: Attacking for 2 with Grizzly Bears
Saturday, 1:05pm - Legacy Players
Legacy not only features a slew of cards that you wouldn't see anywhere else, it also offers the chance to see players who wouldn't normally make the trip out for a Grand Prix – these are the Legacy specialists. I wanted to find out more about this rare breed of Magic player – were they all veterans of 17 years of Magic or have they worked hard to pick up the older cards they needed? And just what is it about Legacy that makes this format so special?
Name(s): Sander Hendricks and Frederik De Keyzer
From: Gent, Belgium
How long have you been playing?
Frederik – Competitively, really only five or six years.
Sander – I've been playing since Fourth Edition. I had a lot of the old cards, but then when Worlds was in Brussels in 2001 I went along and sold a lot of my cards. A couple of years after that I started playing Vintage with proxies, and sort of sidestepped from Vintage into Legacy. These days Legacy is all I ever play.
So do you make a special effort to come to Legacy events?
Sander- Oh sure, we wouldn't travel to Madrid for a Sealed Grand Prix.
Frederik - We wouldn't even travel to Amsterdam for a Sealed Grand Prix!
Sander - We only play Legacy, nothing else. We have a playtest session every Thursday at the Outpost store in Gent and we have around a dozen players every week. Then we also host Legacy tournaments and players travel from all over Belgium to play in them. Although, you know, Belgium is pretty small... so all over Belgium doesn't actually mean people have travelled far. If we have to drive for an hour and a half it's too far!
What makes Legacy such a special format?
Frederik – It's just really fun. You can play pretty much any deck you want to and be competitive; combo, aggro, control. You're not limited at all to what you can play. If there's a deck you want to play then you can play it, and know that you're competitive.
Sander – Sure. I mean there's always some decks that are better than others, but there's a lot of decks that are competitive. It makes Legacy really diverse – if you come to a big tournament like this you never know what decks you are going to play against because anything can show up. It's really unpredictable. It's been many years since I played Standard or Limited so I can't be sure, but I think it's a very different game to other Magic formats... not harder, necessarily, but very different.
And finally... what Innistrad cards are we going to see?
Both – Snapcaster Mage
Sander – there are a few Innistrad cards that are getting played, though, like Liliana of the Veil is pretty good.
Frederik – and the white Coffin Purge, I forget its name though (Purify the Grave – Ed)... I think that is really good as well.
Name: Amar Dattani
From: London, England
How long have you been playing?
That depends on what you count as starting! I started with Tempest block but my first ever tournament was a Mirrodin Prerelease, and then I didn't start playing tournaments competitively until Kamigawa block.
So how did you go about picking up the older cards?
Well I was always interested in the Legacy, right from the start I liked the older cards. I just picked the cards up slowly and targetted the ones I needed for my deck... like I got my Sinkholes, Dark Rituals and Hymn to Tourachs very early on because I played a mono-black disruptive deck. I've built my collection up slowly over time, and I still don't have four of everything. For instance I won my playset of Scrublands in a tournament and that meant I could swap out the Godless Shrines I had been playing with, and then one year I splashed out on a set of Underground Seas and Volcanic Islands.
I still don't have four of every dual land though, but the Legacy community is really good at helping each other out and lending cards to people who need them for decks.
What makes Legacy so special for you?
I like the variety. It's rare for there to be 'the best deck' so people play a wider variety of decks. I mean a deck might be right for this one tournament, but next week it won't be the best deck, and if ever a deck does get too good the DCI are always quick to ban something. I also really love all the technical interactions between the cards. It feels like a different game to the other formats – it's not just creatures attacking, there's a lot more going on.
Do you get to play Legacy often?
It's important that Legacy players get out and make things happen for themselves, because you don't get many tournaments being organised by Wizards of the Coast. We got together and organised a fortnightly tournament in London and we usually get about 20 players for that.
And finally... what Innistrad cards are we going to see?
Snapcaster Mage, of course – that's probably the best Magic card printed since Jace. Delver of Secrets, and Purify the Grave is really good as well. It means that decks can mess with the graveyard that couldn't really do it before, and being a 2-for-1 makes it powerful.
Saturday, 1:32pm - A Plainswalk in Legacy Land
There are 445 lands legal in Legacy. Five of them, the basic lands, are ones that everyone should be familiar with, but there some which see play in more or less only this format, and no other. As I strolled the hall today in Amsterdam, it didn't take me long to encounter five more that are slightly less well known.
If you're a bit of a Laboratory Maniac, then Legacy is the format for you! This rare from Onslaught didn't really cause any great ripples when it was legal in Standard, but over the years more and more quality wizards have come along to increase its value. Spellstutter Sprite and Vendilion Clique are both the real deal, with very powerful coming into play abilities worth the rebuy. What is really interesting though is what Riptide Laboratory does with Snapcaster Mage. We are now in a position where it is possible that sooner or later all of the instants or sorceries in your graveyard will have flashback, as required. The mini Past in Flames effect is quite nice, as is the ability to have a pseudo regenerator, by repeatedly blocking and bouncing a creature like Snapcaster Mage
The only things that stop Karakas from being a strict upgrade to a Plains are the fact that it can't be fetched by any fetchlands, and can be destroyed by Wasteland (my shorthand for 'can be hit by non-basic land hate'). Assuming you are willing to put up with this, Karakas does a number of very cool things. Some of these are very similar to Riptide Laboratory, principally bouncing Vendilion Clique, but others are really quite special. Karakas is a fantastic answer to various legendary creatures that opponents might play. Reanimator decks with J Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur or Iona, Shield of Emeria can have a hard time against a Karakas. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn needs to be cast the old fashioned way if he's going to do much against a Karakas (to get an extra turn), and that is not something that many decks are well set up to do.
My favourite Karakas interaction though comes from the Death and Taxes deck. One of the things that sets the deck apart is the inclusion of Karakas with Mangara of Corondor. Mangara's ability is worded such that if you bounce him after tapping him, he'll still Vindicate something of your opponent's. With an Æther Vial set to 3, this becomes one of the most efficient combos around.
Maze of Ith has been being used to keep players safe from big monsters since its printing in The Dark. There are more big scary monsters in Legacy than just about any other format, and Maze of Ith can deal with most of them. The fact that it can be fetched with Knight of the Reliquary (along with everything in this column) makes it of particular utility. Obviously I could be talking about the Knight more or less the whole way through this article. The reason that I've waited until now to do so is that Maze of Ith has a nifty little trick that works especially well with the Knight. One of the issues that sometimes comes up with the Knight is a slight tension between using his ability, and swinging in for lots of damage. With Maze of Ith out, you can do both. The trick is to use Maze of Ith after damage but still in the combat phase (yes, there is time to do this). You untap an attacking creature, and until the end of the combat phase, even after damage, all creatures that were declared as attackers have the status of 'attacker'. One can use Maze of Ith in this way to give any creature pseudo-vigilance, but of all of them, Knight of the Reliquary would be my pick.
When Tower of the Magistrate was printed back in Mercadian Masques , it was rather overshadowed by Rishadan Port as the rare land that you wanted to open. Port is still played, but Tower of the Magistrate is certainly gaining ground on the one of the only cards banned in Masques block constructed.
The reason for this change is that between then and now, various very powerful equipment have been printed. In a world where Batterskull can be put into play for the princely sum of 1W at instant speed (thanks Stoneforge Mystic), it seems only fair that for 1 mana and the use of the tower, that Germ can get un-equipped. Any other equipment can be removed too, meaning that Jitte's are hard pressed to gain counters, and Swords of Justaboutanything and Moreorlessanythingelse get conveniently dropped at exactly the wrong moment.
Just briefly, it was possible to cast Green Sun's Zenith for Dryad Arbor in Modern. That isn't allowed any more, but in Legacy, not only can you fetch the 1/1 Forest with the versatile creature fetcher, but you can use it to set up an even more powerful search effect in Natural Order. Getting Progenitus into play with Natural Order is a backbreaking blow to deal an opponent, and Dryad Arbor makes it all much easier. First of all, fetching the 1/1 with the green Zenith is mana acceleration to help cast the four mana sorcery. Follow that up with the fact that you need a green creature to sacrifice to Natural Order, and you have everything you need to make the magic happen. Nice.
Podcast - Setting the Scene
1,878 players have come to the RAI Convention Center here in Amsterdam for what is the fifth largest GP in Magic history. Once again, Legacy has proved to be a massive draw, with a vast array of over 12,000 cards to choose from. We look at some of the players who have made the start list, and talk about some of the decks we're going to see in action.
Download this podcast in MP3 format (6.1 MB)
Podcast - Learning Legacy: Zoo and No Bant
Carrie Oliver burst onto the scene with a terrific performance at Pro Tour Nagoya, while Germany's Klaus Jons is a veteran of the European Grand Prix and Pro Tour circuits. We talk to Carrie about her aggressive Zoo deck, and then Klaus talks us through the entertainment of pairing Natural Order with Progenitus in his No Bant deck.
Download this podcast in MP3 format (13.3 MB)
Saturday, 3:30am - Legacy with
Walking the room, it really didn't take me any time at all to find Innistrad making an impact. Tiago Chan's invitational card Snapcaster Mage is everywhere this weekend, being played in all sorts of decks. When the only requirements are for you to be playing lands that tap for blue mana, and spells, it seems like a reasonable card to squeeze in. I've seen it in blue/white Stoneforge Mystic decks, I've seen it in High Tide decks. In Team America it is flashing back Hymn to Tourach, and just about everywhere it is flashing back Brainstorm.
One interesting flashback card that doesn't need any help from Snapcaster Mage is Purify the Grave, a card that is good against both Reanimator, and Snapcaster Mage itself. It is seeing play in some sideboards for exactly that reason, gaining gradual incremental value as it gets cast twice over the course of the game.
In Team America, another addition that is rather interesting is Liliana of the Veil. Slightly less proven in Legacy, the hot new planeswalker on the block is a nice choice for fighting the likes of reanimator decks, who frequently only have one creature in play. On top of this, the discard ability is one that some decks have trouble with, while feeding Tombstalker, a handy little upside.
Bump in the Night is being played in some of the burn decks in the format, as a big Firebolt of sorts, which is worth 6 points of damage overall, assuming that the red deck can afford to splash an additional colour (hint – it can).
Finally we have my favourite addition to the format thus far. Delver of Secrets is not exactly an all-star, but when he transforms into Insectile Aberration, he becomes a very efficient threat. A number of players around the room have been spotted with a blue/black control deck sporting the flip card (and some very opaque black sleeves), to be able to start aggressively with 3/2 flyers.
It's a little daunting for any set to break through in Legacy. With a little more than 2% of the legal cards being Innistrad cards, and the set being new, it will naturally take some time for all the nuances of the set to be appreciated in this expansive format. Already though, there are the first signs that in Legacy Innistrad is not to be ignored.
Feature Match Round 4 - Ruud Warmenhoven vs. Antoine Bresse
The first game began with the two players establishing their mana bases. Polluted Delta and City of Traitors was Warmenhoven's route while Bresse had a Polluted Delta and Misty Rainforest of his own sat alongside an Underground Sea. The action began in earnest when Warmenhoven sacrificed his Polluted Delta to find land and Antoine Bresse responded by sacrificing his own misty Rainforest then used a Stifle to prevent the Polluted Delta's ability from resolving, meaning Warmenhoven had lost his land to no purpose! Down to just the lone City of Traitors, Warmenhoven played a Grim Monolith for more mana but that was countered by a Spell Snare. Finally Warmenhoven played an Island, but that meant his City of Traitors was immediately lost. It had been a horrendous series of plays for Warmenhoven – we were three turns into the game and the Dutch master had just an Island to his name.
It was time for Bresse to press the advantage. Hymn to Tourach tore a Slaughter Pact and Show and Tell from Warmenhoven's hand, and on the next turn the Frenchman played Snapcaster Mage and replayed the Hymn. As the second Hymn to Tourach was cast Ruud Warmenhoven flashed his hand my way to reveal that all four cards in his hand were Intuition before solemnly placing them facedown on the table for Bresse to choose at random.
"Roll a dice, 1 through 4 and I reroll a 5 or a 6"
Roll... 5. Roll... 5. Roll... 6. Roll... 5. Roll... 6.
"How about you just use your four-sided dice?"
After we had finally decided at random which two Intuitions would be discarded Ruud Warmenhoven was left in a bad way, with just a couple of land in play and just those two Intution in hand!
Fortunately for the Dutchman he pulled a third land on his next turn and could begin casting his Intuitions. While Bresse deployed a sizeable Tarmogoyf searched through his deck to put both Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, the Aeon's Torn and Show and Tell into his hand. Taking Bresse to school with Show and Tell Warmenhoven showed Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to his classmate and was immediately back in the game!
Now it was Bresse on the back foot, despite all his successful disruption. As Emrakul, the Aeons Torn attacked he aimed a Stifle at the old Eldrazi god to at least prevent Warmenhoven from destroying all his cards with Annihilator. The Dutchman parried the Stifle with a Force of Will, but Bresse had a backup Stifle. It bought Bresse a turn, and an attack step, but the Frenchman could only bring Warmenhoven down to 6 life before Emrakul, the Aeons Torn crushed him on the next turn.
Ruud Warmenhoven 1 – 0 Antoine Bresse
The second game began with more blue cantrip jousting – Ruud Warmenhoven smoothing his draw with a pair of Ponder and a Brainstorm, while Bresse used a Preordain to Scry for something. What Bresse needed was a land, though, and the Frenchman missed his third land drop.
Ruud Warmenhoven decided to try his luck, searching out three copies of Show and Tell with an Intuition – two copies went to the graveyard and one to the Dutchman's hand. It was the pair in the graveyard that was most important, however, as Bresse was waiting with a Surgical Extraction that threatened to exile all the Show and Tells from Warmenhoven's deck. It was something worth fighting for and Warmenhoven sallied to the defense of his key spell with a Flenserstorm, storming two copies of the spell to mean Bresse had to pay 3 extra with his two lands. Paying for two of the Flenserstorms, Bresse pitched a card to counter the third Flenserstorm with Force of Will, but Warmenhoven replied with a Force of Will of his own before Bresse trumped that with yet another Force of Will!
The gathered crowd murmured appreciatively as the Cranial Extraction resolved, removing the threat of Warmenhoven's Show and Tell, and revealing that the Dutchman was holding onto a Hive Mind as his big threat.
After that exchange both players had just two cards in hand, and two lands in play: Warmenhoven with two basic Islands to his name while Bresse had an Underground Sea and Wasteland. With the board carefully poised at a stalemate, draw quality would be key... and it was Bresse who got the stronger draw of the two players. A Bayou gave the Frenchman a second black mana and Hymn to Tourach tore into Warmenhoven's hand, before the same dual land fuelled a Tarmogoyf on the next turn, and then a second Hymn to Tourach!
Bash! Bash! Bash!
The Dutchman's lifetotal was in freefall to Bresse's marauding Tarmogoyf, and as a last-ditch Intuition was countered by Force of Will Ruud Warmenhoven conceded the inevitable and picked up his cards.
Ruud Warmenhoven 1 – 1 Antoine Bresse
Thoughtseize was the first spell cast in the deciding game of the match; Bresse probing at the defenses in Warmenhoven's hand, although the Dutchman parried that thrust with a Spell Pierce. Taking to the front foot, Ruud Warmenhoven played Show and Tell, protecting it from Force of Will with a Force of Will of his own. The Show and Tell resolved, and Warmenhoven got to play a Hive Mind while Bresse responded with his trusty Tarmogoyf.
Forcing the Hive Mind into play so early seemed to put Ruud Warmenhoven in the driving seat. Antoine Bresse had other ideas. Destroying the Hive Mind with Nature's Claim, the Frenchman followed up by casting Surgical Extraction to exile all the Show and Tells before wrapping up his game-changing turn by Wastelanding one of Warmenhoven's land.
While Warmenhoven drew desperately to find answers Bresse began to beat down on Warmenhoven relentlessly with his Tarmogoyf ...22...18...14...9 turns passed quickly as the Tarmogoyf returned to the red zone time and time again.
Aiming a Thoughtseize at Warmenhoven's hand, Bresse kept up his disruptive offensive, but this time the Thoughtseize backfired. Forcing Warmenhoven to discard Emrakul, the Aeons Torn meant the Dutchman had to shuffle his graveyard into his deck, and Bresse's Tarmogoyf shrank down to a 3/4.
Not that it made a difference – Warmenhoven was left topdecking with little he could hope to draw, and the Tarmogoyf closed out the match in similar fashion to way it had closed out the second game.
Ruud Warmenhoven 1 – 2 Antoine Bresse
Podcast - Launching Legacy
Into the feature match area we go, and the intracies of Legacy up close and personal. Robert van Medevoort and Ruud Warmenhoven look to claim victory for the home team, while others in the public spotlight include Player of the Year contender Vincent Lemoine and Czech standout Petr Brozek.
Download this podcast in MP3 format (22.6 MB)
Podcast - Learning Legacy: In your Face and High Tide
GP Paris 2008 winner Arjan van Leeuwen has an unusual deck this weekend, that features Innistrad unheralded black card Bump in the Night! Then New Zealander Gene Brumby talks us through the classic Combo deck High Tide.
Saturday, 3:15pm - It's Aliiiiiiiive!!!
Legacy is a format the puts all the best cards of the past 18 years at the disposal of its players. Being able to pick and choose the treasures from around 12,000 different cards means that players have literally no excuse for playing anything that isn't either extremely powerful or entirely undercosted (hopefully both at once). That's true in every deck, but one popular archetype makes a particular virtue of this by embracing some of the biggest and most devastating creatures in Magic history: the Reanimator deck.
Reanimator decks have been around since pretty much the earliest days of Magic, and particularly gaining in popularity once Weatherlight brought Buried Alive to the game. They're essentially a two-step combination that allows you to bypass the enormous casting costs of the biggest creatures in the game by re-routing them through the graveyard – firstly find a way to discard your big creature (a Careful Study is the popular choice here) and then secondly retrieve your dead guy from the graveyard for very little cost but maximum profit (Exhume, Reanimate).
With all the biggest and baddest creatures in Magic awaiting your necromantic commands, there's really only one question – who you gonna call?
As a mere 5/4, Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur is one of the smallest creatures that a Reanimator deck is likely to call on, but it's also the creature that they're most likely to want, and Reanimator decks frequently play three or four copies of Jin Gitaxias, Core Augur where most of the other creatures are single copies. So if they play it a lot but it's the smallest creature in their deck... what gives? What gives is Jin Gitaxias' abilities – they're crazy. Reducing your opponent's hand size to zero is good against pretty much everyone and it makes Jin Gitaxias a threat that must be answered immediately (before your opponent gets to his discard step!). Even if they did manage to answer Jin Gitaxias with hand intact, you've already drawn seven cards yourself and are ready to deliver more of the same on the next turn!
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite is almost the flipside of Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur – while Jin Gitaxias doesn't affect the battlefield at all with his ability, Elesh Norn is all about what she does to your opponent's creatures. Against an aggressive Zoo deck, or the tricksy Merfolk, the -2/-2 that Elesh Norn gives to all your opponent's creatures is a crippling blow, where Jin Gitaxias' ability wouldn't really affect a deck that had already played most of its hand anyway...
If Elesh Norn is all about defense, then Empyrial Archangel delivers in much the same way – as a creature with Shroud, the Empyrial Archangel is hard to kill by normal means but so long as she remains in play your lifetotal is beyond reach as all the damage you would take is redirected to her! Along with Elesh Norn, the Empyrial Archangel is the staple creatures that Reanimator calls upon to see off the angry hordes.
Strap yourself in, take a deep breath, and get ready to deal with all the keywords that come bundled together in the Sphinx of Steel Winds. The Sphinx has a place as the big flying beatdown threat from Reanimator decks, dishing it out equally hard on both offense or defense thanks to the combination of Lifelink and Vigilance, and of course that hefty 6/6 body. As powerful as he is, though, the Sphinx cannot always demand a spot in the reanimator deck and just as often finds himself commanding a sideboard slot.
After mentioning a couple of creatures that existed as much for their defensive capabilities as offensive we return to Jin Gitaxias territory with another massive creature that doesn't impact the battlefield at all, but whose ability wreaks havocs with your opponent's future plans – Iona, Shield of Emeria. Although this shining Angel comes with a 7/7 power and toughness she's really all about her ability to shut your opponent out of a color of spells entirely, an effect that is just as devastating as Jin Gitaxias against many decks. Shut down blue cards and that's no Intuition, Force of Will, Daze, Show and Tell, Ponder, Brainstorm or Snapcaster Mage, for example. With a little knowledge of your opponent's deck and plans you can use Iona to leave them entirely helpless.
So Iona and Jin Gitaxias are your answers to the decks that have control elements, and cards like Elesh Norn and Empyrial Archangel are your defense against a mad rush of creatures, but what do you when your opponent drops something onto the battlefield that isn't a creature but IS a problem? Depending on personal preference you turn to either the Angel of Despair or the stampeding green bulk of Terastodon. Both these cards destroy any permanent when they enter play, with the Terastodon trading up more power (destroying three cards instead of the Angel's one) for a higher possible cost (facing down against three 3/3 Elephants instead of none!).
Virtually all Reanimator decks play some configuration of these creatures, as time and experience has proven them to be the dominant dogs in the Legacy yard. But the jaw-dropping power of the best creatures in Magic doesn't quite stop with the 60-card main decks, and a couple of other massive creatures tend to find a home in sideboards...
Sundering Titan doesn't like lands, and he especially doesn't like non-basic lands. Brought in against control matches the Sundering Titan threatens to single-handedly demolish your opponent's mana base
"Creatures cannot attack you"
It's a simple four words, but it's also extremely powerful. Tarmogoyf: denied. Inkmoth Nexus: denied. Vendilion Clique: denied. The Blazing Archon doesn't care about how big the opposing creature is, or how many of them there are – it just says no. Your opponent wants to attack you, but they can't because Blazing Archon won't let them. They can cry, throw their toys around and make all sorts of a ruckus, but they still won't get to attack. Against aggro decks that's a killer, but the Archon even has a role to play in other matchups by locking out Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, the Aeon's Torn from attacking. Large or small, Blazing Archon's got your back!
Round 6: Feature Match - Nikolaus Eigner vs. Robert Jurkovic
For round 6 we saw two powerhouses of European Magic sit down opposite one another. Nicolaus Eigner, winner of the first GP Vienna, and runner up at the second GP Vienna, squared off against Robert Jurkovic, the noted Slovak who first came to prominence with his performance in the Magic Online Championship Series.
Jurkovic had just an Island for his second turn, to which Eigner played a land and Thoughtseize, which revealed the Slovak was sitting on Daze, Dismember, Merrow Reejerey, Æther Vial, Lord of Atlantis, Silvergill Adept and Island. Eigner nodded to himself, and took the Daze. A Brainstorm then dug Eigner a little deeper.
Jurkovic played Æther Vial and passed. He had Dismember ready for when Eigner cast Animate Dead on Jin Gitaxis, but there was a Daze from Eigner to keep it around. At the end of turn Eigner drew seven. Jurkovic had found a Phantasmal Image to off the legend, and a Force of Will for Eigner's Force of Will, but was, in spite of not having been 'hit' by Jin Gitaxis, down to just two cards in hand.
Eigner, still with a full grip, surveyed the board and considered his next move. From having to discard from having too many cards in hand, he now had a graveyard sporting Sphinx of the Steel Wind and Angel of Despair in addition to Jin Gitaxis. After a little thought he cast a Brainstorm, before choosing the Sphinx with Reanimate. The Sphinx, with its lifelink, would be well placed to offset the life loss from Reanimate, such that Eigner would not be at 6 for long.
The Austrian looked on as first Silvergill Adept and then Merrow Reejery into play. He had a plan. An Entomb put Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite in to the graveyard, to come back (after a life gaining attack for 6) with a Reanimate, and kill off Jurkovic's team. The Slovak player was quick to reach to his sideboard. It was on to game two.
Nikolaus Eigner 1 – 0 Robert Jurkovic
Game two began for Jurkovic with a Cursecatcher. That would be good enough to slow down the lightning fast Reanimator plan a little, and in the meantime could beat down. A Lord of Atlantis meant that it would be beating for two, but for the fact that Eigner managed to get it to sacrifice itself, by attempting an Entomb.
A Thoughtseize from Eigner saw Merrow Reejery, Wasteland, Mutavault and Spell Pierce. Eigner took the Spell Pierce, and followed up with a Careful Study, binning the new Necropotence himself, Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, and his partner in crime Elesh Norn. Jurkovic just carried on beating, and cast a Silvergill Adept before using Wasteland to put Eigner back down to one land. Eigner pondered (both literally, and by casting the spell so named) but didn't have much to add to the board beyond a Swamp to replace his Underground Sea.
The Jurkovic train continued to rumble into the red zone, with Eigner only able to cast more Brainstorms. He eventually found a Pithing Needle, to stop Mutavault, but was slow on actually getting to the sort of action he needed. Soon Eigner was on just three life, and had to act decisively to pull back into the game. Reanimate wouldn't do it – he would need to find an Animate Dead effect. There was one last Brainstorm to come, and Eigner cracked a fetchland first, desperate for something to put him in the game. After shuffling, he passed his deck to Jurkovic.
"I need a good shuffle here. This is my last Brainstorm."
"That was a good cut. Did you have the Force of Will ready? Yeah, me too."
After two decisive games, there would have to be one more to decide the match.
Nikolaus Eigner 1 – 1 Robert Jurkovic
For the first time in the match there was a mulligan in game three, and it came from Robert Jurkovic, who was on the draw. It was followed by a second, and then a Duress revealed that the keep was Relic of Progenitus, Surgical Extraction, Mutavault and a pair of copies of Island. The Relic went, as Eigner complemented his opponent's keep.
A Cursecatcher off the top came from Jurkovic, still putting up a fight of it. Eigner resolved a Brainstorm, but was not off to the fastest of starts either. He had a Ponder for the following turn, which led to a shuffle. Another Brainstorm came next, with Eigner still setting up and keeping his graveyard clear of anything too threatening that might prompt Jurkovic to pull the trigger on Surgical Extraction.
Eigner, now taking beats from Cursecatcher and Mutavault, forced the issue with a Duress. This was responded to by a Surgical Extraction on Ponder. Before Jurkovic showed his hand, we saw Eigner's. Entomb, Exhume, Animate Dead, Underground Sea and Polluted Delta were all good cards, ready to set something up. Looking at Jurkovic's hand, it was just Mishra's Factory and Island. Nobody would be discarding any cards this turn.
Entomb from Eigner found Blazing Archon, which seemed likely to return the following turn. Eigner was one mana short on casting Exhume, and could only remark "You've got to be kidding me?" when Jurkovic calmly drew a card and cast Tormod's Crypt.
Blazing Archon suddenly didn't seem so good, while the Slovak player's clock was all right. Eigner forced the Crypt by casting Exhume, meaning that after losing his graveyard, he could only look on as Jurkovic got a Cursecatcher (who had hampered Eigner's mana from casting Exhume earlier) back.
Everything that Jurkovic had was on the table, but it seemed that everything Jurkovic had was enough. After having had a rough mulligan, his draws had worked out just how they needed to eke out a win.
Robert Jurkovic wins 2 – 1!
Round 7: Feature Match - Louis Deltour vs. Florian Kirchbacher
The feature match area was home to a rare sight during round seven of Grand Prix Amsterdam – the sight of Louis Deltour without a pair of headphones, after his beloved iPod had run out of battery earlier in the day. During Grand Prix Prague I had spoken to Louis about his ever-present headphones and he had explained that the music helped him to shut out the rest of the noise and clamour of a Grand Prix and focus on the game in hand. Would the Frenchman stumble in the Feature Match area without them, or could his skills still pay the bills without his aura of silence?
Deltour took a few seconds to decide before taking his opening hand, immediately searching into his deck with a Brainstorm. It rapidly became obvious what Deltour had been Brainstorming to find – it was a second land, and a specifically a source of black mana. Kirchbacher played a Thoughtseize and Deltour reluctantly revealed his hand of aces: Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and a Terastodon alongside a trio of reanimation spells and Entomb. Kirchbacher took away the Entomb and a disgruntled Deltour took back his hand, drew a card, and passed the turn once again without playing a land.
It was all over. Kirchbacher played an Entomb to bury Iona, Shield of Emeria in his graveyard, then an Exhume immediately brought the Angel back from the dead. Deltour didn't even wait for his opponent to name "Black" as the color that couldn't be played, and picked up his lone permanent.
Louis Deltour 0 – 1 Florian Kirchbacher
The blame for that first defeat could hardly be laid at the door of Deltour's missing headphones as much as it could his missing land. Nevertheless, Deltour seemed rattled...
"I hope this one has a bit more interaction than the last game", Kirchbacher offered, after the two had completed sideboarding.
"Me too!" conceded Deltour
The two players mulliganed down to six in search of hands they wanted to keep, and we were underway. After a couple of turns of land Louis deltour was the first player to break cover, playing a Thoughtseize to remove Animate Dead from Kichbacher's hand, leaving him an Empyrial Archangel, Force of Will, Careful Study, Jin-Gitaxias and Echoing Truth to play with.
A couple more turns passed with no play before Deltour returned to the fray with a second Thoughtseize. That revealed Kirchbacher had drawn a second Force of Will, while Deltour focused on stripping away more of Kirchbacher's reanimation by taking the Careful Study that would send the Dutchman's creatures graveyard-bound to begin with.
Checking in on Kirchbacher's hand with Gitaxian Probe revealed that Animate Dead and Entomb had been drawn, but still a vast amount of nothing at all had occurred in the game, with the two players staring dead-eyed at each other across the table, waiting for the other to blink and make the first play. Deltour knew that Kirchbacher had two Force of Will available, while the Dutchman was struggling to put together a winning hand. More time passed with only Ponders and Brainstorms cast on either side, and this game continued to show no sign of the stalemate being broken, while Louis Deltour began to check the clock nervously – it was ticking down, and the Frenchman needed the time to win not just one game, but two.
It was Deltour who broke the stalemate, as it surely had to be, when he attempted to play Liliana of the Veil. Kirchbacher was waiting with a Force of Will and the counterwar rapidly escalated through a pair of Force of Will until Deltour finally ended it with a Flusterstorm and Liliana Vess entered play. Kirchbacher had no immediate answer to the evil Planeswalker and Deltour steadily built up to 5 Loyalty before casting an Entomb to dredge out Iona, Shield of Emeria.
Deltour aimed an Animate Dead at his great Angel, but was denied by Force of Will. Undeterred, he simply tried a second time and on this occasion the Animate Dead stuck – Iona returned from the dead and Kirchbacher was locked out of his black spells!
That play had been enough to seal the first game for the Dutchman, but now that he faced Iona himself Florian Kirchbacher had a trick up his sleeve – Snapcaster Mage! Kirchbacher played the Mage, and that allowed him to replay his Echoing Truth from the graveyard – that returned the Animate Dead to Deltour's hand, Iona to his graveyard, and Kirchbacher trumped all that by playing an Animate Dead of his own to steal Deltour's Iona, Shield of Emeria for himself!
That turn had flipped the game around, and now it was Louis Deltour on the ropes and unable to cast his black cards. Brainstorming hopefully, Deltour so no good answers and passed the turn, then immediately realised his mistake and took it back, realising that he had forgotten to use Liliana of the Veil to force Kirchbacher into sacrificing one of his two creatures. Kirchbacher was adamant that Deltour had passed the turn when he had said "Go", and that it didn't matter how quickly the Frenchman had spotted his play error, it was too late. The judge at the table agreed with Kirchbacher, but Deltour knew how important this decision could be and appealed to the Head Judge for a higher ruling.
Taking time to understand the situation Head Judge Kevin Despresz concluded that Louis Deltour had spotted his mistake immediately and had gained no advantage in the heartbeat between saying "Go" and "No, wait!". With no advantage gained, Despresz ruled that play would roll back to Deltour's main phase so that he could use Liliana Vess, as he had clearly wanted to originally. Kirchbacher was incensed that Deltour's play error could be taken back, but fortunately for the Dutchman it made no outcome on the match. The Dutchman was able to sacrifice his Snapcaster Mage to keep Liliana Vess happy, and then Iona attacked to remove the Planeswalker before she could repeat her trick to destroy Kirchbacher's Angel.
Deltour drew a card, looked at the table, and sadly reached across the table to concede defeat – beaten down by his own Iona, Shield of Emeria after that fantastic turn from Kirchbacher.
Louis Deltour 0 – 2 Florian Kirchbacher
Saturday, 8:57 p.m.: - Grand Prix Trial Winning Decks
Friday night saw a rush of interest in the Grand Prix Trials as players fought to earn three byes in the main event. We saw 33 GP Trial winners crowned, and here is a sample of their winning decklists...
Podcast - Learning Legacy: BUG and Reanimator
Decks five and six in our overview of Legacy. Ireland's Mark McGovern combines Black (B), Blue (U), and Green (G) spells to utilize powerful discard, destruction, and countermagic, while Vincent Lemoine of Belgium walks us through the awesomeness that is Reanimator. Turn one Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur? Now that's some powerful Magic.
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Saturday, 9:30 p.m. - A Snapshot of the Day 1 Metagame
|Ad Nauseam Tendrils||6.50%|
|Maverick (GW beatdown/control with Aven Mindcensor)||5.50%|
|UW Stoneforge (two of them splashing red, two of them splashing black)||5.50%|
|Canadian Threshold with Delver of Secrets||4.50%|
|UB Snapcaster Control||3.50%|
|Delver of Secrets UB||1.50%|
Round 9: Feature Match/Deck Tech - Dredge For Victory (?)
Quietly making waves through the blue half of this Grand Prix, Brit James Allingham was having a good day. Starting in Round One with no byes, Allingham's record has been 1-0, 2-0, 3-0... all the way through the day to 8-0 and a spot on the top table to duke it out for the perfect 9-0 record overnight. Allingham's record was flawless, and this round gave us the ideal opportunity to swing the coverage spotlight onto another Legacy deck archetype that we hadn't really talked about this weekend – the Dredge deck.
The Dredge deck is odd in that it takes pretty much all the basic tenets of Magic, screws them up into a tiny ball, and throws them out the window. It doesn't particularly care about playing land, or casting creatures, or even drawing cards! It cares about Dredging. Dredge is a keyword mechanic from Ravnica that means when you have a card with Dredge in your graveyard you can replace any draw effect with Dredge X, putting the top X cards of your deck directly into the graveyard instead, and returning the Dredge card to your hand. That fuels a combo of undead cards that thrive on having a full graveyard, such as Ichorid, Narcomoeba and Bridge from Below. From there the deck can rapidly spawn a horde of 2/2 Zombie tokens and shamble to victory.
Allingham's first game started badly, and the Brit was forced to mulligan twice before finding a hand he wanted to keep, and even then he found himself skipping a pair of land drops. Maciej Pasek, his opponent, wasn't wasting any time – a Green Sun's Zenith retrieved Dryad Arbor on the first turn, and that powered the Pole into Jace, the Mind Sculptor on his third turn. Drawing a second land – Cephalid Coliseum – Allingham punched the button on his Dredge deck by casting Breakthrough to draw four cards before discarding his entire hand to put a handful of Dredge effects into his graveyard!
Pasek replied by playing a Knight of the Reliquary before passing the turn. The Knight was a curious double-threat against Dredge – with the Dryad Arbor in play Knight of the Reliquary could sacrifice the Arbor at any point, sending both a land and a creature to the graveyard at the same time. That was bad news for the Dredge deck's Bridge from Below, should it ever see them in the graveyard.
"Put my Ichorid Trigger on the stack, respond by activating Cephalid Coliseum to draw cards and Dredge 5, Dredge 4, and Dredge 5". Allingham sucked his Dredge creatures back into hand and flipped the top 14 cards of his deck into the graveyard as a reward, then Allingham replaced his draw step with another Dredge 5, flipping even more cards. All that Dredging had revealed a trio of his deadly Bridge from Below and a Narcomeoba that Allingham put into play.
Pasek aimed a Swords to Plowshares at the Ichorid, Exiling the awkward ghoul, but Allingham wasn't done with his turn yet. Sacrificing his Narcomeoba to pay the Flashback cost of a Cabal Therapy, Allingham sent a creature to his graveyard and activated the three Bridge from Below that he had dredged into his graveyard, generating three 2/2 Zombies!
Pasek played a second Knight of Reliquary and passed the turn, content to wait it out against the pressing Zombie threat.
"Pull Ichorid into play, Dredge 6 cards. SacrificeIchorid to Cabal Therapy...", Allingham was at it again, but this time Pasek had an answer ready and the Pole respeonded to the threat by sacrificing Dryad Arbor to the Knight of the Reliquary, exiling all three of Allingham's Bridges without a single other zombie being spawned!
For all the effort that James Allingham had gone to in Dredging through his deck, the Brit still found himself behind in the game after that play, and on the Pole's next turn one of his pair of Knights moved into the red zone, dealing 7 damage in one attack!
"Dredge 6, get really lucky?" Allingham was down to his last chance.
The Dredge revealed Allingham's final
James Allingham 0 – 1 Maciej Pasek
Although the first game had ended in defeat for Allingham, it had served as a great demonstration of what the Dredge deck tried to do. Unfortunately for Allingham his opponent's deck had a perfect in-built answer to his Bridge from Below in the shape of the equally-unique Dryad Arbor.
Cephalid Coliseum was the first land in play, and Allingham wasted little time in getting his Dredge creatures online, using a Careful Study to discard a Golgari Grave Troll and Stinkweed Imp! Unfortunately for Allingham, Maciej Pasek seemed to have the perfect answer to everything and the Pole's first turn was a Wasteland that destroyed the Cephalid Coliseum and a Tormod's Crypt to sweep the whole of Allingham's graveyard into Exile!
It was essential that the Brit get his Dredge engine online as quickly as possible, but with no ways of discarding creatures by choice, James Allingham was forced to skip land drops for a few turns before finally discarding a Golgari Grave Troll in his end step. During those turns Pasek had been able to do little but play out mana and had only a Noble Hierarch in play – the Pole was content to wait and see what pressure Allingham could build.
Brainstorm, go. That was Pasek's response.
Vendilion Clique at the end of your turn, begin attacking.
Dredge 4 in another draw step:
It proved critical - the Dredge deck was building momentum a turn too late to matter.
Just before the Brit could throw down a big turn and get onto the offensive, Maciej Pasek played a Windswept Heath. That humble land was a nightmare for the Brit and as Allingham moved to spawn Zombies with his Bridges the Pole sacrificed the Windswept Heath to find Dryad Arbor, then destroyed his own Dryad Arbor with Wasteland. Just as in the first game the Dryad Arbor was the creature hitting a graveyard that Pasek needed to wreck Allingham's plan, and just as in the first game, the Dryad Arbor had proven the perfect foil to Allingham's Dredge deck.
With his Bridges gone from the game, Allingham offered the hand and Pasek wrapped up a comfortable win.
James Allingham 0 – 2 Maciej Pasek
Maciej Pasek will advance into the second day on an unbeaten 9-0 record, but James Allingham could sleep content overnight having played his way to a legitimate 8-1 record from no byes. His Dredge deck wasn't done just yet, and would return tomorrow morning hungry for more living flesh.
Podcast - The Last of Legacy (Day One)
Six perfect records in the feature match area - Jerome Puthod of France, Hans Jacob Goddik of the Netherlands, Matthew Frauenschlager and Jonas Kostler of Germany, Mark McGovern of Ireland, and Daniel Bertelsen of Denmark. Then there's Lucas Blohon and Daan Pruijt, looking to secure a day two berth with a seventh win here in the last round. Who gets the perfect day one record? Listen to find out.
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