Monday, April 11, 2016

Legacy Challenge first steps with Shardless BUG

Since last month Magic Online players can participate in a monthly premier event named Legacy Challenge. I couldn't participate in the very first Challenge because I decided to play in several Vintage events instead. This time though I decided to give it a try. I plan to participate in few big Legacy events in the near future and I need to see what a Legacy tournament can look like and choose a deck for those events.

A month ago I was still convinced that Grixis Delver is the deck I wanted to play. But after being massacred by Shardless BUG again and again I decided to give my greatest enemy - Shardless BUG - a try. I was well aware that Shardless BUG is not my friend but I wanted to learn a bit about the deck to see what it can do and what it cannot do. If I would learn to play the deck I could play with it in the upcoming tournaments.

I played with it in the tournament practice room with mixed results (losing against Storm and Miracles in general and winning against Delver and Eldrazi, 15-1 the latter) and participated in two tournaments in which my final record was 3-1. I found out that Eldrazi is a good matchup and any kind of Storm is a very bad one (what I lost to in the finals of the two tourneys). Lastly I tried playing a Legacy League which was a nightmare...I ran into too many Jaces. I wondered if there is a way to beat Miracles somehow because the games usually ended with me losing to a second or third Jace. With all this experience (not much) I did not really know what to expect in the Challenge and I did not expect to do well. But I joined the event to learn and gain some experience with the deck.

Round 1
In the first round my opponent played Mox Diamond discarding Wasteland. This was something I did not expect and started to wonder if I face Eldrazi, Lands or possibly MUD. The Mox was joined by Mutavault and then Chalice of the Void showed up on the stack. Since I did not get the chance to play one of my Deathrite Shamans I was a bit sad about it but on the other hand I already found out that I don't usually care much about Chalice for 1. I let it resolve since I had zero counterspells in my hand - Deathrite Shaman, Deathrite Shaman, Abrupt Decay, Underground Sea, Polluted Delta, Wasteland, Ancestral Vision.

On turn 2 my opponent played City of Traitors and Smokestack. I stared at my hand wishing I would be playing my Vintage deck and with a tear in my eye I pressed F2. At that time I did not know that Tangle Wire would be the next card followed by Crucible. For that reason I decided to destroy the Chalice rather, play my Deathrite Shamans and deal with Wasteland. This way I would have enough permanents to tap and sacrifice and still be able to play something. But unfortunately 20 life against Smokestack and Tangle Wires was too much for me to handle.

When looking at my sideboard I missed my Ingot Chewers and Wear/Tear from my Vintage deck. Lone Krosan Grip wasn't much. Other cards I could sideboard were Toxic Deluge, Dismember, Life from the Loam, Thoughtseize and Surgical Extraction. The second game was quick as well. T1 Wasteland, T2 Chalice of the Void, T3 Crucible of Worlds, T4 uncounterable Lodestone Golem. My hand with Creeping Tar Pit, Shardless Agent, Verdant Catacombs, Verdant Catacombs, Abrupt Decay, Maelstrom Pulse would have been ok if I could only play my spells. Lodestone Golem sphere effect was simply too much alongside 2 Rishadan Ports.

Round 2
After the first surprise I hoped to play against something 'normal' for Legacy.

Swamp, Wasteland, Deathrite Shaman, Tarmogoyf, Bayou, Disfigure, Polluted Delta. My opponent started with Misty Rainforest -> Underground Sea and Deathrite Shaman. So it was most probably either a Delver deck or mirror match. I played a Swamp and my Deathrite Shaman. My opponent played Ponder, Volcanic Island and Bolted my poor Shaman. I did not like that. So I decided to Disfigure the opposing Shaman and Wasteland his Volcanic Island so I wouldn't need to face Young Pyromancer. Next turn my opponent missed a land drop so I destroyed his second hand. Then we both played some lands and I could play my only nonland card - Tarmagoyf - that got countered. Few turns later I had Abrupt Decay, Force of Will, Brainstorm in hand. I drew Force of Will so I played my Brainstorm. I drew 2 Shardless Agent and Tarmogoyf. I put the Tarmogoyf on the top of my library so I could Cascade into it. After I played the second Agent my opponent conceded.

I sided in some additional removal and kept no-creature hand - Polluted Delta, Disfigure, Underground Sea, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Abrupt Decay, Force of Will, Tropical Island. My opponent played Deathrite Shaman so I wondered if I want to try to play Disfigure into Daze. Even if the card would be Daze'ed though he would lose some tempo. So I decided to play it. DRS died. Next turn it was Delver that took Shaman's place and Abrupt Decay awaited it. Next creature my opponent tried to play was Gurmag Angler, I FoW'ed it since this creature is quite a big problem for Shardless BUG. Then it was time for me to play something. I played Tarmogoyf that was joined by another Tarmogoyf the following turn. My opponent played Painful Truths that I couldn't counter. Then he played Deathrite Shaman and next turn discarded my hand with Cabal Therapy (FoW and Maelstrom Pulse). He had Delver of Secrets and Deathrite Shaman that could possibly race my remaining Tarmogoyf. I was down to 6 life, my opponent was down to 1. I drew Baleful Strix and played it. The card drawn was Abrupt Decay. Unfortunately I couldn't play it without fetching. I haven't seen a single Lightning Bolt from my opponent yet so it was actually pretty likely he had one in his hand. That combined with Deathrite Shamans ability would mean I'd die. So I attacked with my Tarmogoyf forcing my opponent to chump the Goyf. He Bolt'ed my Strix and then attacked with Delver. I Decay'ed it and hoped my Tarmogoyf would stick. My opponent played Brainstorm tapping his Tropical Island so I wasn't afraid the Goyf would die but I suspected Submerge. He played Delver of Secrets and then passed the turn. I top decked Dismember so I played it and attacked with my Tarmogoyf. It got Submerge'ed. Next turn I replayed it and my opponent conceded.

Round 3
The first game against this player was one of my most embarrassing games ever and I can imagine my opponent swearing a lot during the game.

I kept Maelstrom Pulse, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Underground Sea, Baleful Strix, Shardless Agent, Verdant Catacombs, Disfigure and awaited what my opponent would play on t1. He played Mox Diamond discarding Mishra's Factory which scared me a bit but it was followed by Bloodstained Mire (fetching a Swamp) and Life from the Loam which meant I wouldn't need to face Smokestack and Lodestone Golem. I did not expect much disruption so I played my Strix and Shardless Agent. I really wanted to hit a creature because I knew that my lands could be destroyed any time. What did I Cascade into? Ancestral Vision. I frowned and drew three cards - 2 lands and Tarmogoyf. Next turn I played Tarmogoyf, Deathrite Shaman and destroyed Tabernacle which was the most stupid play ever. My opponent dealt with Deathrite Shaman so I wouldn't eat his Loam/lands and replayed the Tabernacle. Then I was facing Nether Spirit I couldn't deal with and Dark Depths. I had enough mana to play for my creatures though so I was attacking each turn. One turn my opponent tapped his Mishra's Factory for something so I Disfigure'ed the Spirit and dealt 8 damage this way. I still had Maelstrom Pulse and Wasteland to do one more attack like this (my opponent was down to 7). I miscalculated my mana though and couldn't believe how badly I played. I top decked a land though so I won the game (I seriously pitied my opponent).

I hoped that in the following game I would not mess up like this again. What I wanted to have in my opener was enough land and if possible a creature (Tarmogoyf or Shaman preferably). I kept a hand with Force of Will, Underground Sea, Wasteland, Force of Will, Tropical Island, Tarmogoyf, Brainstorm. I could have had some fetchlands but it seemed ok to keep (worst case scenario was Brainstorm...). My opponent started with Pithing Needle. I was like WTH but then realized that well Deathrite Shaman is a problem for him. I countered the spell and hoped to draw the Shaman. I drew Underground Sea (good). The land I played earlier was hit by Wasteland so I played Brainstorm to see if I can find something I could possibly play. There was a land, Deathrite Shaman and Abrupt Decay. That seemed fine. I played the Shaman not being afraid that it would die anytime soon since my opponent did not have any green sources and Tarmogoyf that would most probably become a problem soon for my opponent. He continued to Wasteland my lands and also played Pithing Needle naming Deathrite Shaman so DRS's role changed to 'attacker'. In few turns my opponent died to DRS's and Tarmogoyf's attacks.

Round 4
In round 4 I once again lost the die roll and I mulled to six keeping Underground Sea, Bayou, Abrupt Decay, Abrupt Decay, Wasteland. I did not really like the hand but 5 cards could be worse (there was Brainstorm on top). My opponent played a Mountain and Goblin Welder. I couldn't think of a deck that would want to play the card. This card could be found in Painter decks though (I wasn't really thinking 'Legacy' at that time). The next card my opponent played was indeed Painter's Servant naming Blue. I had 2 Abrupt Decay in my hand so I could stop the artifact recursion and get rid of one Painter. Imperial Recruiter followed fetching Jaya which I wasn't really happy about but still dealing with Painter would solve one of her abilities (my lands wouldn't get blown up). I destroyed thus the Welder not really anticipating that the situation could get even worse. Next turn my opponent played another Recuiter this time fetching Magus of the Moon. Since I don't really play Forest and I did not have Deathrite Shaman in play I had to Decay the Magus. That meant I would have to stare at Jaya and hope she wouldn't kill me. I was rather fortunate though. I managed to play Tarmogoyf, 2 Shardless Agent and Deathrite Shaman. This meant that Jaya had her hands full with getting rid of some of the creatures and I had some time to find another Abrupt Decay, Maelstrom Pulse, Liliana of the Veil or Disfigure. Jaya wasn't the only problem for me though since Grindstone would kill me. I drew Force of Will though and since Jaya was busy with my creatures I could hardcast it when my opponent played the Grindstone. On t11 I finally managed to stack the cards on top of my library and cascade into Abrupt Decay dealing with Jaya. Next turn I played Jace, the Mind Scuptor and fatesealed my opponent. Few turns later I won.

The second game was quick. I couldn't counter Magus of the Moon on t1.

In the deciding game I kept Tropical Island, Polluted Delta, Force of Will, Brainstorm, Wasteland, Polluted Delta and Thoughtseize. I played Thoughtseize t1 seeing Grindstone, Imperial Recruiter, Pyroblast, Simian Spirit Guide, Ancient Tomb, Bloodstained Mire, Mountain discarding Grindstone. Next turn I drew Hymn to Tourach so I happily played it, I hit Simian Spirit Guide and Great Furnace though. My opponent then played Imperial Recruiter that I countered. Next he played Spirit Guide that resolved. The Guide shouldn't be a problem for few turns and the game could get worse. He played Jaya then which I Decay'ed and hoped to draw a creature soon (Tarmogoyf if possible or Agent). Then I learned that the deck plays Blood Moon as well. I wanted to Force it but I decided to Decay it because my opponent had one mana open and the deck runs...erm 8 Blasts? I top decked Shardless Agent and cascaded into Tarmogoyf. The Agent was countered. My opponent played Imperial Recruiter finding Painter's Servant and played it. I tried to Force it but my Force of Will was countered. I found Abrupt Decay soon so I got rid of the Servant, my opponent blasted one of my Tarmogoyfs but died soon after.

Round 5
With 3:1 record I expected to fall in the competitive meta (Miracles, Delver, Storm) and I did not expect to win any other match but I hoped so (so I could get my 25 tix back). I kept a hand with Polluted Delta, Deathrite Shaman, Underground Sea, Baleful Strix, Hymn to Tourach, Hymn to Tourach, Baleful Strix. That did not look bad. My opponent's turn 1 was Flagstones of Trokair and Mother of Runes. My hand suddenly did not look that good since I couldn't deal with Mother of Runes and I expected Thalia to follow. She did. So I played my Strixen and later tried to discard the remaining cards my opponent still had. I drew few Wastelands and destroyed Rishadan Port and Wasteland. In the meantime I was taking damage from Thalia and Phyrexian Revoker (Deathrite Shaman). It did not look good at all. My opponent played one more Mother of Runes and Revoker this time naming Liliana of the Veil. My following draw was Liliana of the Veil. I conceded.

I mulled because I did not want to have only one land on play and kept Wasteland, Golgari Charm, Disfigure, Underground Sea, Bayou, Hymn to Tourach. That looked fine. My opponent did not Wasteland my land and did not even play Mother of Runes/Aether Vial. That was good. I played Hymn to Tourach hoping to hit Stoneforge Mystic or Thalia but it was Swords to Plowshares and Plains that was discarded. Thalia and Brimaz followed. Brimaz caught me offguard. I played Baleful Strix so I could try to block the creature but I drew Dismember so I Dismember'ed the cat and attacked with Tarmogoyf that I played a turn earlier. My opponent played Aether Vial and Stoneforge Mystic finding Umezawa's Jitte. I destroyed one of his lands and Disfigure'ed his Mystic. I drew Krosan Grip but decided to keep it since anything that would crawl out of Aether Vial with one counter would die to Golgari Charm and I might still need to deal with Jitte later. What I did not expect was Rest in Peace played next turn. Suddenly my Krosan Grip had a completely different target. I drew Hymn to Tourach so I played it hoping to make my Goyf bigger and I attacked with it. Thalia chumped my Goyf. My opponent was down to 1 life and any creature that would go through would win me the game. He played Council's Judgment so I waited for the vote and voted the same card (Baleful Strix). I attacked with Tarmogoyf waiting for a two drop wanting to chump my Tarmogoyf. It was Thalia though which has 1 toughness so I played Golgari Charm and dealt the last point of damage.

Game 3 we both mulled to five. I was too reluctant to mull to four but it was probably what I was supposed to do. My only land was Creeping Tar Pit which was bad. Even though I drew another land my opponent's land drops were Rishadan Port, Rishadan Port and Wasteland. The only thing that could save me was that my opponent would be stuck with his Rishadan Ports for the rest of the game. I for some reason decided not to check my opponent's hand when I still had mana to do so and that probably cost me the game (I did not draw a land anyway so in the end it didn't matter but it was a serious misplay).

Round 6
During this round I was trying very hard not to fall asleep in the middle of the match and I even forgot to click on record/stream (so I can't review game 1 now). I kept a hand with no fetchlands once again and I hoped that my Deathrite Shaman would stay alive and my land would stay in play. Since the blue fetchlands everyone played where Misty Rainforests I wasn't sure what my opponent was playing. My opponent though fetched for a Tundra so I expected Miracles. I knew that this match would drain the remaining energy I had in me. But at least I knew that my lands would be safe^_^ and losing Deathrite Shaman to Swords to Plowshares seemed as a good deal. This slowed me down but I had more creatures to play and eventually played Jace, the Mind Scultor that resolved. I tried to put a Sensei's Divining Top on the bottom of my opponent's library just to see him play another one next turn (did I really put it on the bottom?). Next I found Tarmogoyf, counterspell and Abrupt Decay. So I played my Goyf keeping FoW for Terminus and tried dealing lethal damage. The FoW countered Snapcaster Mage that could deal with both of my creatures in and play and the game ended soon after (me winning).

After staring at my sideboard for a while I did not really know what to do with it. I usually take out 1 Disfigure, 1 Force of Will, 2 Baleful Strix and 1 Decay if I feel like it. My hand in the second game seemed ok even though it lacked any counterspells or Null Rod. I had Deathrite Shaman, Verdant Catacombs, Abrupt Decay, Bayou, Polluted Delta, Maelstrom Pulse, Tarmogoyf in my hand. I played the Shaman and passed the turn. It got STP'ed and my opponent also had Sensei's Divining Top in his hand obviously. He played it as well. I played my Goyf hoping it would survive a bit longer but Snapcaster Mage showed up ruining that. I Thoughtseize'ed my opponent and discard one of the Jaces. Next turn Jace, the Mind Sculptor showed up on the other side of the table. I couldn't counter it but I had Maelstrom Pulse in my hand hoping it would resolve. It resolved but my opponent played another Jace and added Monastery Mentor as well. I knew I was screwed, I did not expect a third Jace. I Decay'ed the Mentor but was already behind. Then I played Hymn to Tourach to try to get rid of my opponent's remaining 2 cards. In response my opponent played Swords to Plowshares targeting my Tarmogoyf. Without that creature I would never be able to deal with Jace (nor my opponent) so I tried to counter the card which probably wasn't the best idea either. My opponent drew a card with his Top and played Flusterstorm on my Force of Will. Next turn all I could do is stare at Foil Entreat the Angels since the only card in my hand was Vendilion Clique that I couldn't even play.

But I still had one more game to go but I'd rather not even write about it. On turn 5 I faced Jace once again followed by Mentor. I decided to be greedy and played Toxic Deluge hoping that Jace did not find anything. It got (obviously) countered and I faced an army of white Monks. I could have Decay'ed the Mentor and tried to Toxic Deluge (Golgari Charm) the rest. Not that it would have worked but my play was the worst one I could choose *facepalm*. I asked what my opponent would do if his Mentor died and would have played Blood Moon so I would just die anyway. The second game was winnable though I just messed up somehow.

Round 7
After round 6 I felt a bit unlucky and hoped that I wouldn't need to face Storm in the last round. Volcanic Island -> Lotus Petal did not really see myself as the winner of the match. On the other hand I played against Sneak and Show not Storm. But since this deck plays usually many counterspells and Blood Moon I wasn't really sure if I could even win the match.

Game 2 I kept a hand with discard and no counterspells. I managed to discard 2 Sneak Attack, Show and Tell, Force of Will and Omniscience. My opponent had Jace, Vryn's Mage in play so I knew I would sooner or later had to deal with Show and Tell once again. But my opponent was in top deck mode and I had two Goyfs on my side. I won the game a bit later.

Game 3 I had access to Force of Will, Thoughtseize, Hymn to Tourach (couldn't play that) and Krosan Grip in case of Blood Moon. My opponent started with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy again. I discarded his Sneak Attack but I knew I would face Show and Tell soon. I countered that but a turn later Blood Moon hit the table. I still at 2 lands couldn't deal with it since I haven't seen Deathrite Shaman nor a third land so I could possibly play the Grip. A turn later Emrakul came to see me.

After the tournament ended (for me) I wished that there would be more rounds to be played. Even though I was half asleep since the Death and Taxes match (probably the reason I lost every single match afterwards...) I wanted to play against other decks. I couldn't find Legacy games so I joined few EDH games and Vintage games (at once by accident - I won them all^_^) and then went to sleep.

I expected to lose my entry and learn something. I lost the entry since I did not managed the 4-3 record. I'm not entirely sure about the learning part. What I found out is that I can't play with the deck while being tired and that I lack experience in general with the deck. What I did not expect though was that the tournament was actually fun. So from time to time I might actually participate in the Legacy Challenge.