The much-anticipated Grand Prix Vegas is finally underway, beginning with Day 1 of the Legacy event! Rows and rows of tables in the cavernous convention center hall filled with an eager 2,565 players battling with Grixis Delver, Storm, Elves, and more. Outside the main hall, the hallways and rooms were crowded as well, as Magic enthusiasts from around the world gathered to marvel at cosplayers, peruse the Magic Art Show, sling spells against pros, content creators, and WotC staff, and so much more.
Today's highlights are a small slice of the events, news, sights, and more to come out of Grand Prix Vegas over the next three days. Be sure to follow the continuing action here and at twitch.tv/magic.
The Main Event (and More!)
With the first of the weekend’s three scheduled Grand Prix underway, and a host of panels and side events happening as well, Thursday at GP Vegas offered plenty for both competitive and casual players alike.
Side Event Adventures
While there’s plenty of Magic happening in the triple main events of GP Vegas, a lot of the Grand Prix’s magic comes from the players who have brought their enthusiasm for and love of the game to Vegas.
Outside the main hall, players queued up to battle against a number of familiar Magic faces.
There are also a pair of incredible sand sculptors on site, carefully carving out a slightly ominous tribute to Amonkhet and its God-Pharaoh.
Nick Accristo brought along an impressive collection that even the God-Pharaoh would have to deem worthy of his approval.
These are just a small sample of the amazing events and incredible community contributions that we’re so thrilled to continue featuring over the next three days of coverage.
Building a Legacy
Meanwhile, in Day 1of the Legacy event, the banning of Sensei’s Divining Top recently turned Legacy on its head, weakening (though not entirely disappearing) Miracles, which was widely considered to be the format’s best deck. Rather than a clear challenger or two leaping into the new space created by the departure of Sensei’s Divining Top, a wide range of decks are jockeying for position.
Many of these decks are engaged in a rock-paper-scissors type battle, aiming to defeat part of the field while conceding an advantage to others.
Elves is one of the decks that gains the most from Miracles’ reduced presence, since Miracles was a particularly bad match-up for Elves. Storm, however, is also a deck that gains from the reduced presence of Miracles, and it presents another difficult match-up for Elves. This kind of outmaneuvering between different decks existed across the Legacy field.
The breakdown of decks entering Round 8 undefeated illustrates the metagame diversity prevalent in the Legacy Grand Prix.
|Deck||# of Copies|
|Blue-Black Death's Shadow||1|
|Mono-Red Through the Breach||1|
|Sneak & Show||3|
Day 1’s 9-0 Players
Seven players reached the end of Day 1 with undefeated records, an impressive feat in such a large and varied field.
Zachary Koch, from Huntsville, Alabama, doesn’t travel often to Grand Prix, unless they’re Legacy. He’s spent a lot of time cultivating the local Legacy scene in Huntsville, where he set up a monthly tournament that’s grown from about a dozen players to over thirty. He likes that Legacy rewards dedication and practice, because the diversity of decks requires getting familiar with your chosen archetype.
Koch’s Legacy deck of choice is Infect, because it has one of the highest ceilings, being able to kill on turn two, while also remaining flexible and able to adapt to different match-ups, play styles, and opening hands.
Christopher Iaali prefers Grixis Delver, because he likes that it puts a quick clock on the opponent, threatening to kill them quickly, while backing that up with a lot of disruption. A player from Southern California who put in a lot of his preparation at local game stores, Iaali likes the amount of decision-making required in Legacy, and that a lot of thought goes into each game.
Patrick Tierney is from Seattle, where he plays Legacy locally once a week, and he just started traveling to Grand Prix a lot this year. He’s playing Temur Delver at the Legacy GP, because, in his words, “it plays Magic against anything." He enjoys the diversity of Legacy, and noted that in seven rounds he played against six different decks, and they were all interesting matches.
Collin Rountree, from Houston, Texas, travels to Grand Prix fairly frequently, making it to one about every other month. He’s playing Grixis Delver because he likes “when Delver flips," and that all of the spells in the deck are cheap, costing only a mana or two. Rountree appreciates that Legacy gives everyone the opportunity to play whatever strategy or style they like best.
Sam Tharmaratnam is a Gold pro from Toronto, Canada, who’s chasing the last three points he needs to secure Gold for next year as well. It’s those last points that convinced him to play today, in his first Legacy tournament. He picked up a deck his friend recommended, complete with a 10-page essay about the different Legacy match-ups. Tharmaratnam was surprised by the speed of the format, and that card advantage lost precedence to tempo.
Platinum pro and Team Genesis member Lukas Blohon, from Prague, played Grixis Control because he wanted to play Deathrite Shaman, Brainstorm, and Force of Will, the cards he considered the best in the format. He also wanted to play Leovold, Emissary of Trest, but thought that ultimately, the red cards in the Grixis deck were just better than those in Sultai. Blohon likes that Legacy games (that don’t end on turn one) are very interactive.
Mathew Chung, from Southern California, travels to about a Grand Prix a year. For this one, he switched decks at the last minute, ultimately landing on a Jeskai Miracles list. He enjoys the deck because he likes making his opponents squirm. Chung always enjoys Legacy because of the amount of interaction, and because small mistakes can make a big difference, which keeps him on edge.
Sam Roukas, from New York, New York, doesn’t travel to Grand Prix often, opting only for the Legacy ones. His favorite cards are Force of Will and Brainstorm, but, even though his deck is playing both, he doesn’t like it too much. His post-Sensei’s Divining Top version of Miracles was the only deck he could win with in testing, however. He attributes this to his familiarity with the deck, which he has played iterations of for years and has the most specific knowledge for.
Nathan Smith travels to GPs frequently, making it to about one a month, and more than that recently. He chose Show and Tell for the Legacy Grand Prix, because he likes that it’s a linear and powerful deck that keeps decks that aren’t playing enough permission in check. Smith enjoys that Legacy gives players lots of opportunities to make relevant decisions, though he notes that that also means lots of opportunities to mess up.
Jacob Haversat, from Tewksbury, Massachusetts, also frequently attends GPs, making it to about one every other month. This weekend he chose a four-color control deck that a friend recommended, because he was on vacation for the weeks leading up to the Grand Prix and didn’t have much time to play the format since Sensei’s Divining Top was banned. Haversat likes Legacy’s complexity, and that the format has been tested as much as others.
Congratulations to the GP Vegas Legacy Day 1 undefeated players!
Day 1 Deck Spotlights
A wide variety of decks were represented on Day One of Legacy, and echoed in the decks that went undefeated in Legacy Last Chance Trials. Below we’ve spotlighted a handful of classic Legacy decks that show a sliver of what’s possible in this varied and fascinating format.
Sneak and Show with Nathan Smith
Sneak and Show’s name refers to two of the deck’s key cards – namely, Sneak Attack and Show and Tell – which the deck’s pilot uses to put creatures like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Griselbrand into play much earlier than they ought to be.
“You use those creatures to create an insurmountable advantage over your opponent by drawing cards and annihilating permanents, or just outright winning the game with damage," Smith said. In a perfect world, the deck can put an Emrakul or Griselbrand into play as early as turn one or two. “There is really no plan b," Smith added. “If plan a doesn’t work, there’s really no recourse. You’re not hard casting your Griselbrands or Emrakuls. You’re not really good at coming back from behind without using those combo cards, so, there’s really no plan b. It’s not for the faint of heart."
Smith played Sneak and Show this weekend after arriving at his own conclusions about what other people would be playing. He reasoned that other players would think of Delver decks as the most popular in the format, and arrive with strategies chosen to beat Delver. So, in his own rock-paper-scissor style maneuverings, Smith landed on Sneak and Show, even though it’s not great against Delver of Secrets decks, because it’s “really good at beating up the random decks that prey on Delver."
“My favorite thing about the deck is that I can win on turn two without having to make many decisions, if I’m being honest," Smith added.
Death and Taxes with Craig Wescoe
It’s said that nothing is certain except death and taxes. However, it’s nearly as certain that Craig Wescoe will be playing an army of cheap white creatures whenever the opportunity presents itself, and Legacy is no exception.
According to Wescoe, players should consider picking up Death and Taxes “because it has multiple game plans that are good against so many different decks."
These strategies include using cards like Wasteland and Rishadan Port to lock players low on mana out of casting their spells by effectively killing their mana base, killing creatures with cheap and effective spells like Swords to Plowshares, and making non-creature spells more expensive with creatures like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Vryn Wingmare.
The deck’s plan is reactive, and depends on what a given opponent is playing. Sometimes it’ll hold up removal in early turns, other times it’ll play an Æther Vial as quickly as possible.
“In general, unless the opponent is going to kill you in the first or second turn, you want to play an Æther Vial and tick it up, and play out your creatures on curve using the Æther Vial, and use your lands to Wasteland and Rishadan Port the opponent. So you’re basically negating all of their mana, while developing yours via the Æther Vial."
“I like that I get to play with all of my favorite cards through Magic’s history, all in one deck," Wescoe said. “A lot of people, they can’t do that, because their favorite cards are spread amongst a bunch of different archetypes, but with me, it just so happens that it works out that all my favorite cards are in one deck."
Storm with Matt Nass
Legacy Storm, like other decks mentioned here, has the potential to kill an opponent on turn one, though it’s also able to play a longer, slower game.
“You can buy time with discard spells, and set up a perfect hand with card draw spells, and then kill later on” Nass said of Legacy Storm. “It’s a very versatile deck, even though it might not seem like it at first glance."
“Lion’s Eye Diamond and Infernal Tutor are the best cards in the deck. That’s the easiest way to combo off. If you have those, it’s usually pretty trivial, if you don’t, then it’s a little tougher and you have to get more creative."
In a perfect world, on turn two Storm might cast a discard spell like Thoughtseize or Cabal Therapy to make sure the way is clear for the win before making mana with Dark Rituals and Lion’s Eye Diamonds and finding the final necessary cards with Infernal Tutor or Ad Nauseam. A longer game relies more on cards like Ponder and Brainstorm to sculpt a great hand, paired with discard spells to slow the opponent down.
“I find it pretty fun to do the math," Nass said of Storm. “It’s kind of exciting because often there’s often places where you know you can combo, or you know that you can’t, but sometimes you really do have to go through and say if I do this, then I end up with this mana and this storm count, and I really do find that fun because I’m a math guy, it’s what I enjoy."
Black-Red Reanimator with Eric Froehlich
Like Sneak and Show, the game plan of Black-Red Reanimator is, in theory, straightforward. Giant, powerful creatures get sent to the graveyard by a variety of discard spells. Reanimator spells then fetch them out of the graveyard and put them on the battlefield, sometimes as soon as turn one.
Rather than the reanimation spells or the impressive creatures, however, the cards that create “fast mana” are the keys to the deck.
“It really is a deck that effectively goes off turn one," Froehlich said. “Every other card in the deck is a giant creature, a way to put a giant creature in the graveyard, or a way to bring a giant creature out of the graveyard."
“The only card that really does anything different is Dark Ritual, and that allows you to do everything on turn one. Dark Ritual and Lotus Petal allow you to cast Entomb and Reanimate on turn one, but all of the other cards do the same things, so the ones that give you fast mana are the keys to getting under the other decks so that you can do something before they’re on the board."
That’s plan a, and the deck doesn’t have a whole lot of a plan b in the main deck. Froehlich’s version does play four Show and Tell out of the sideboard as a way to navigate around effects that exile cards from the graveyard.
“It’s just a choose-your-own adventure in a lot of ways," Froehlich said of the Legacy format, which he viewed as having no defined “best deck” with a significant advantage over the rest of the field. He thought that Reanimator seemed fun, and noticed that it also had a decent number of turn-one kills. “Just play the sweetest thing," he said.