Grand Prix Denver 2013 Day 1 Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on January 5, 2013


Saturday, 12:45 p.m. – Magic Glossary of Terms

by Nate Price

Bob: After winning the 2004 Magic Invitational, Bob Maher, Jr. won the right to design his own card. His initial design turned into Dark Confidant, the Ravnica: City of Guilds rare. Like all Invitational winning submissions, Maher is incorporated into the artwork of the card. Dark Confidant is traditionally used as a source of card advantage in decks like Jund.

Burn: Since most of the spells that are capable of directly dealing damage to a player or creature use fire or lightning imagery, they are collectively known as burn spells, even if they don't actually use fire. Examples of burn common to Modern include Lightning Bolt, Shrapnel Blast, and Forked Bolt.

Cantrip: Cheap cards with minimal effects that have the primary purpose of replacing themselves by drawing you another card (ex. Gitaxian Probe, Ponder, Preordain).

Card Advantage: The concept of card advantage has received more discussion over the history of Magic than any other topic. In short, the concept of card advantage relates to the equivalences of exchanges in Magic. Basically, if one card allows you to draw two cards or destroy two of your opponent's permanents, you are gaining card advantage.

Combo Deck: Combo decks are decks that rely on a combination of cards to win their games. One example of a popular combo deck in Modern is Storm, which relies on the combination of mana-generating and card-drawing cards to play a large number of spells in one turn before playing a card with the storm mechanic, such as Grapeshot, to kill their opponents. Hive Mind is another example. It uses the card Hive Mind to provide copies of any spells cast to all players. They then use the various Pact cards, such as Slaughter Pact, to put a copy of that spell onto the stack for their opponent. When their opponent is unable to pay the costs of all of these Pacts during their next upkeep, they lose the game.

ETB: A shorthand acronym for "enters the battlefield". Creatures with ETB effects, such as Snapcaster Mage, have abilities that trigger upon entering the battlefield, giving a spell in the graveyard flashback in the case of Snapcaster Mage. Other textbook examples with cards in Modern with ETB effects are Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Kitchen Finks.

Fetch: Fetch is simply a catchall term used to describe the action of retrieving a card from the library. For example, lands such as Verdant Catacombs are called "fetch lands". Birthing Pod is another example of a card that lets players fetch a particular card.

Grindy/Grindier: A "grindy" deck is a deck that wins slowly through tiny increments, while at the same time establishing a board presence or winning an attrition war against the opponent. Esper Stone-Blade in Legacy and Bant Control in Standard would be considered "grindy" decks.

Metagame: The term metagame refers to the state of the current Constructed environment, most frequently speaking of the types of decks that are prominent and popular, as well as individual card choices within those decks. For example, if I told you that the three most popular decks in Legacy right now were BUG Control, Sneak and Tell, and Esper Stoneblade, you would have a pretty good idea of the Legacy metagame. Since each tournament gives players a chance to react to what they experienced in the previous one, the metagame is constantly changing. Staying on top of and correctly predicting the metagame is one of the most challenging aspects of the professional level of Magic.

Mill: A verb derived from the card Millstone, the act of milling a player is to put cards from a player's library into their graveyard. Since players lose the game when they can't draw a card, milling an opponent's entire library is one of the most frequently used alternate win conditions.

Mirror Match: A match between two decks of the same archetype. For example, two Jund decks playing against each other is called the Jund mirror match.

"#"-Drop: This terminology is used to describe a permanent of a given converted mana cost. For example, Tarmogoyf, which costs 1G, is a two-drop. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, is a fifteen-drop. This terminology applies most often to permanents, such as creatures and artifacts, but it can be used to also describe the cost of spells.

Pump: Pump is a verb that means to enhance the power or toughness of a creature. Pump effects in Modern right now include Giant Growth, Mutagenic Growth, and Groundswell.

Red Zone: The red zone is an allusion to the older play mats used for Feature Matches, which had a large red area between the players. Players would use this area to indicate the spells they were casting and the creatures that were attacking. Nowadays, the phrase "sends them into the red zone" is synonymous for attacking.

Silver Bullet: A reference to the very specific weakness of werewolves, the phrase "silver bullet" in Magic refers to a card that exists in a deck, usually only one or two copies, that serves the purpose of providing an advantage against a very specific deck or effect. A good example of a silver bullet is the card Ethersworn Canonist against Storm decks or Aven Mindcensor against any decks that rely on searching the library, such as Pod decks.

The Stack: The stack is the order of spells that have been played during a given priority step. For example, when you play a spell in your main phase, it is said to go on the stack. After that, any spells that are played in response to the first one are said to go on the stack above them. Spells on the stack resolve from the top to the bottom.

Swing/Smash/Battle/Bash: All of these words have at some point in Magic history been the preferred method of saying "to attack". Now, they are all interchangeable and frequently used as slang.

Saturday, 11:35 p.m. – The Decks of Legacy

by Steve Sadin and Frank Lepore

In formats with relatively small card pools like Standard, and Block Constructed, it can be difficult to find a good, consistent, deck that truly fits your playstyle. In Legacy, that's never a problem. If you like to play control, aggro control, combo, or even green white creature decks, then you're in luck!

However, these decks can't be built purely in a vacuum. In order to thrive at Legacy tournaments, then you need to have a good understanding of what you're going to face.

To help you find a deck that piques your interest, and to learn more about what to expect at your next tournament, we've collected some of the most successful Legacy decks from the past few months.

Ready to learn about Magic's most Diverse format?

Then read on!

Alexis Ang - RUG Delver

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While it might not look like much on paper, RUG Delver is one of the most effective decks in Legacy.

First, the deck looks to get off to an early lead by playing cheap creatures like Delver of Secrets and Nimble Mongoose. Then it maintains that advantage by disrupting their opponent's mana with Wastelands, and Stifles (which counter opposing fetchlands such as Misty Rainforest). Should their opponent finally get the mana that they need to cast their key spells, then the RUG Delver deck will be able to counter them with Dazes (which are particularly effective when you've been attacking your opponent's lands), Spell Pierces, and Force of Wills.

So while RUG Delver decks might get into trouble if they let their opponents gets to a point in the game where they're resolving all of their most powerful spells -- with enough disruption, it isn't particularly difficult to ride an army of one mana 3 power creatures to victory.

Jack Fogle - BUG Delver

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Before the release of Return to Ravnica, RUG Delver was the premier aggro control deck in Legacy. But Deathrite Shaman has threatened to change that.

The abundance of fetch lands, and Wastelands in Legacy means that Deathrite Shaman will almost always be able to produce mana for you. And should the game drag on, you can also use your Deathrite Shaman to drain away your opponent's life total 2 points at a time.

Plus, playing a heavy black base allows you to gain access to Hymn to Tourach (one of the most disruptive spells in Magic's history), Abrupt Decay (a great way to deal with everything from Counterbalance to Grindstone to Knight of the Reliquary), and Tombstalker (an incredibly large, and cost effective, threat).

Like RUG Delver, BUG Delver decks look to disrupt their opponents early, and finish them off before they get a chance to recover. But while RUG Delver decks are filled with all of the cheapest spells they can get their hands on, BUG Delver sacrifices a bit of speed for more raw power.

Joe Losset - Blue White Miracles

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If you're looking for a dedicated control deck, then Blue White Miracles very well might be the deck for you.

This deck can lock its opponents out early with Counterbalance plus Sensei's Divining Top; or it can settle in for a long game with counterspells, and board sweepers to deal with any threat that an opponent might present.

And while players piloting Standard decks full of Terminuses, and/or Entreat the Angels will often moan and groan when they draw their miracles, that's rarely a concern in Legacy. Here you can use Brainstorms, Sensei's Divining Tops, and Jace, the Mind Sculptors to ensure that your miracles are exactly where you want them - on the top of your deck.

Rob Hunsaker - Maverick

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In a field full of combo decks that can win as early as turn one, you might expect that decks without access to Force of Will would be completely out of luck.

Surprisingly, that's not the case.

Maverick, a green white deck full of disruptive creatures, has been a Legacy mainstay for a while now. This deck looks to accelerate its mana on turn one by playing a Noble Hierarch, or a Green Sun's Zenith for Dryad Arbor - and then play a devastatingly disruptive creature on turn two.

Depending on the matchup, that creature could be a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, a Scavenging Ooze, a Gaddock Teeg, or a Knight of the Reliquary (which can be used to find a series of Wastelands), or a Stoneforge Mystic. If things have gone particularly well, then you might even be able to supplement your turn two play with a Wasteland.

While it hasn't been topping the standings at many Legacy tournaments recently, Knight of the Reliquary driven Maverick decks have found a way to remain relevant in seemingly hostile formats for a long time - so don't count it out just yet!

Reid Duke - BUG Midrange

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But Maverick isn't the only creature heavy deck that's found ways to succeed without maindeck Force of Wills. Reid Duke recently won the StarCityGames Invitational in Los Angeles with a BUG Midrange deck that moved its Force of Wills to the sideboard!

While most BUG decks have a very heavy blue base, allowing them to play an abundance of counterspells, Reid's deck instead relies on black discard for the majority of its disruption.

Thoughtseize, Hymn to Tourach, Wasteland, and a single Daze were the only ways that Reid had to keep opponents off of their spells early - but that proved to be more than enough for him as he cruised to the top with his Deathrite Shamans, Tarmogoyfs, Dark Confidants, and Planeswalkers.

Dan Walton - Dredge

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Dredge is an unusual archetype to say the least. It prefers that, instead of the library, most of its cards are located and played from the graveyard. The premise is to get multiple Bridge from Below into the graveyard, while at the same time "milling" your Narcomoeba into play. Once this is accomplished, thanks to your multiple discard outlets and dredge cards, you are able to sacrifice your creatures to Cabal Therapy and produce multiple zombies from Bridge from Below, or remove those unwanted creatures to return hasty Ichorids to play. Out of the sideboard, the deck is able to assume a more "reanimator" role as it Dread Returns into things like Terastodon, Iona, Shield of Emeria, or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite (which will still net you a bevy of Zombies).

Shaheen Soorani - Esper Stone-Blade

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Esper Stone-Blade managed to take down 2012's Grand Prix Indianapolis in the hands of Tom Martell. The deck utilizes efficient creatures like Snapcaster Mage and Stoneforge Mystic for their immense value, while it equips its tiny army with things like Umezawa's Jitte and Batterskull. While the deck can be aggressive in nature, it has numerous controlling elements as well such as hand disruption, board sweepers, counterspells, card drawing, and Planeswalkers. Lingering Souls and Supreme Verdict were the most recent additions to the archetype and, in conjunction with the deck's control elements and lifegain, they give the deck a little more of a handle over the more aggressive decks in the format.

Rory Draxler - Elves

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While Elves might seem like an aggro deck, it has combo roots through and through. While it is packed full of its namesake creatures, the deck utilizes powerful engines such as Glimpse of Nature, Heritage Druid, and Nettle Sentinel to draw a large number of cards and "combo out." The basic premise is to play a Heritage Druid with multiple Nettle Sentinels in play. Once you have done that, a Glimpse of Nature will allow you to draw a card for every subsequent elf played. Each of those elves will also untap your Nettle Sentinels that you used to produce three mana with (thanks to your Heritage Druid). Eventually you should be able to draw your entire deck, with or without the help of Regal Force or additional Glimpse of Nature, play a Mirror Entity, and then attack with one or multiple 20/20 creatures.

Feline Longmore - High Tide

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High Tide is that outlier of Magic archetypes that enjoys as little interaction with the opponent as possible. The premise behind High Tide is to draw and cast multiple High Tide, tap all your lands for double, triple, or more blue mana, spend significantly less mana than you produced to untap them all with Candelabra of Tawnos, then cast Time Spiral to refill your hand, and untap those lands all over again. This ends up generating a nigh infinite amount of mana. Combine this mana with the decks extensive suite of one mana card drawing spells and recurring High Tides and eventually you will be able to Cunning Wish for your win condition: either a Blue Sun's Zenith, forcing your opponent to draw their entire deck or something like Brain Freeze, that simply causes them to lose on the following turn when they are unable to draw a card.

Richard Centanni - Sneak and Show

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Show and Tell has definitely spawned numerous archetypes. The basic premise is to cast Show and Tell, then either play Omniscience or not, followed by nigh unstoppable creatures such as Progenitus, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, and Griselbrand. Certain decks eschew Omniscience and play Sneak Attack instead, allowing them a single attack with the aforementioned creatures, but also being able to utilize their abilities like annihilate or drawing seven cards before they are ultimately sacrificed. This maneuver puts the pilot in a tenable position and almost assures victory as their opponent is left with six permanent and fifteen less life, or they've taken seven damage and the pilot has drawn an impressive seven new cards. This almost guarantees them the ability to do it all again next turn.

Saturday, 2:55 p.m. – Legacy's Best Pairs: A Look at Combos

by Frank Lepore

When you have a format with over 12,000 cards unique available to it, powerful combinations are sure to follow. It's simply an inevitable when you have so many potential interactions. While we went over a few of the combo decks in Legacy here, the following are some more of the most powerful and popular combo cards in the Legacy format that you might expect to see this weekend!

Natural Order

Natural Order

Natural Order has fallen a bit off the radar recently, but several players have been talking about the powerful sorcery this weekend. The premise of Natural Order is to play a relatively aggressive deck with relatively unassuming creatures like Noble Hierarch, Qasali Pridemage, and Tarmogoyf until you're able to transform one of your weaker offerings like a Dryad Arbor into a game winning Progenitus. While not technically a combo, Natural Order and Progenitus is such a powerful two card interaction that the team is able to get away with the honorary title.

Inkwell Leviathan


Reanimator decks have been around since... well, since cards were printed that allowed us to reanimate creatures from graveyard. The fact is if we liked the creature enough to play it once, we probably like it enough to bring it back. But often, the creatures in Reanimator decks are never "brought back," as they never left the battlefield a first time! The basic premise of Reanimator decks is to get creatures such as Inkwell Leviathan, Sphinx of the Steel Wind, Iona, Shield of Emeria, Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, Tidespout Tyrant, Griselbrand, Blazing Archon, etc., by bringing them back from the graveyard through cards like Reanimate, Animate Dead, and Exhume. How do they end up in the graveyard you might ask? Well, the deck plays cards like Entomb, Hapless Researcher, or in a pinch, a self-targeted Thoughtseize. After that, it often becomes academic to win a game on the back of your resilient, turn two behemoth.

Ad Nauseam
Tendrils of Agony

Ad Nauseam Tendrils

Ad Nauseam was a card that was begging to be broken. Any card that lets you draw as many cards as you like will always have its powerful interactions. For Ad Nauseam that interactions includes playing cheap, one mana spells and cantrips (cheap cards that replace themselves by drawing you another card) until you reach Ad Nauseam. You are then able to draw as many cards as you have life for before playing them all into a Tendrils of Agony with a lethal storm count. The deck only runs one Tendrils of Agony, but with a full suite of Infernal Tutor and the ability to dig very deep into your deck, this is rarely an issue. In case the deck manages to run out of gas for some reason, there is also a single Past in Flames to help you "rebuy" all of your previously cast spells.

Hive Mind
Show and Tell

Hive Mind

Hive Mind is simply another variation of the Show and Tell archetype. The idea is to cast your Show and Tell as normal, but instead of a large creature – or in addition to – you play out a Hive Mind. The enchantment allows you to play any of the "Pact" cards (Pact of Negaction, Pact of the Titan, Summoner's Pact, etc.) and your opponent must put a "copy" of that spell onto the stack. When their turn comes around, they are forced to pay for the Pact, lest they lose the game. This is often impossible given the restriction of their available mana or colors of mana, and the Hive Mind player will subsequently win the game.

Painter's Servant

Painted Stone

Painted Stone is a deck that doesn't show up too often, but contains a powerful two card combo nonetheless. The deck operated by playing a Painter's Servant and naming any color, then following it up with a Grindstone. This allows the deck to activate Grindstone on the opponent, and since every cards will "share a color," the process will repeat ad infinitum. Eventually the opponent, with no cards in his library, will lose the game when he attempts to draw a card for his turn. While the deck relies on a single fragile creature, it is able to protect it with cards like Force of Will, and Red Elemental Blast and Pyroblast; assuming the named color with the Painter's Servant is blue, this gives you six hard counters and allows you to exile any card in the deck to Force of Will.

Goblin Charbelcher


Belcher is one of the most obscure creations in the Legacy microcosm. It revolves around casting and activating a single artifact: Goblin Charbelcher. Once this is done, which the entire deck assists in, you are able to reveal every single card in your deck to the Charbelcher, since the deck runs a mere – wait for it – one land! Yes, the deck runs one land, but an entire arsenal of supplementary mana producers like Tinder Wall, Land Grant (which should always be free), Chrome Mox, Lotus Petal, eight Spirit Guides (Elvish Spirit Guide and Simian Spirit Guide), and an abundance of ritual effects. The deck is very powerful and has the capability of winning on turn one if it can assemble the correct combination of cards.

Saturday, 3:45 p.m. – Grand Prix Denver Grinder Winning Decklists

by Nate Price

Casey Hogan - Ad Nauseum Tendrils

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