Today we have guest author Marius Hausmann tell us everything about Legacy’s new kid on the block: Food Chain 2.0. An avid Legacy enthusiast ever since the inception of the format, he looks back at a long list of successes in European tournaments, including a 1st place finish at the first stop of the 2017 MagicCardMarket Series in Milan earlier this month.
some might remember me from the Death & Taxes article I published some months ago on Channel Fireball. My name is Marius Hausmann and I’m a friend of Julian Knab; kind of a fan too since his articles are great to read and written in much better English than mine 🙂 [Editor’s note: citation needed]. When I talked about Death & Taxes the last time, I was quite convinced of the strength even before stuff like Sanctum Prelate or Recruiter of the Guard were printed. One should think that Death & Taxes has gotten stronger but in my opinion the opposite is the case, since people pack a lot more hate for it (Hello, Dread of Night) and the format itself has become much more. When I played the deck at a big event in Frankfurt in January, I finished with a sad record of 3:3, losing all 6 (!) games to a “hardcasted” Emrakul, the Aeon’s Torn: 2 times coming off an Omniscience, 1 time paid for with Cloudpost mana. In fact, Death & Taxes was the most played deck at this tournament (over 10% of the metagame), yet none finished the Top16. As much as I liked the deck, i think Julian is right when he says: “The times of Stoneforge Mystic are over.” (except for Craig Wescoe of course).
While I’m known for brewing around with many different types of Legacy decks (only with creatures!) building decks around Blood Moon / Magus of the Moon has always felt a bit unsatisfying, since the best builds just lose too many games against themselves. Having all the BUG stuff in my binders I eventually tried out Shardless, but it was far too clunky for my play style, while Delver decks on the other hand just lost against Miracles most of the time (at least when I played them). A bit desperate about which kind of deck I should focus on, Daniel Schuh told me some months ago about a new card named Walking Ballista, which would fit perfectly into a BUG Food Chain shell. Daniel might actually be the world’s first guy to discover this synergy. [Editor’s Note: some say he even invented Legacy!]. So I spent some days studying Food Chain lists and first was a bit sceptical. I had played several times against the classic builds with Fierce E into Emrakul, the Aeon’s Torn several times with my trusty old Maverick / later Death & Taxes, and Qasali Pridemage or Phyrexian Revoker (with Mother of Runes protection) had always been enough to beat them.
Why should you play Food Chain?
“Marius, why do you play Food Chain? It’s so bad!” That’s the opinion of one of the world’s best Miracles players, Tomáš Vlček . I had not much time to explain it to him because the next round in Milan was about to start, so i just said: “Because it beats Miracles!” This of course might not always be true, but in my opinion Food Chain is is very favoured against Miracles, which I will later explain in my matchup analysis.
Another reason to get into Food Chain is its general positioning in the metagame. You have quite a lot very good matchups, some are decent and only few ones are bad. And even those can be fixed with the flexibility that BUG provide in Legacy.
Third, your overall card-quality is extremely high. Food Chain is a deck that can generate real card-advantage via Manipulate Fate/Baleful Strix and has excellent synergies. Have you always felt uncomfortable countering a mediocre threat with Force of Will pitching a good card? Nevermind, just pitch your Misthollow Griffin, he very much likes it to be exiled! Another way to realize how high the deck’s card quality is: Tarmogoyf is too bad for the deck.
Fourth, not only does the sideboard have great flexibility, your maindeck does, too! In various matchups you can either play the role of a hard control-deck (never underestimate the power of a Phantom Monster that can’t really me sworded or decayed) or go straight for the combo. Now one might say “But it’s a 3-card-combo, I’m never going to find it in time!” That might be true but in most matchups you don’t even need Walking Ballista to finish them. You can just play 3 Griffins and an Eternal Scourge and fly straight into your opponent for 2 or 3 rounds – and thanks to Food Chain your creatures even have sudo-Vigilance!
Fifth, for me the deck is extremely fun to play. I like all the BUG goodstuff, I like Brainstorms, Ponder and even while I’m not a big fan of combo decks – this combo-control deck reminds me of my highly successful Dreadstill days, while Walking Ballista is a modern version of Triskelion, which I loved back when I played Vintage a long time a go.
Building the deck
4x Food Chain
As with most Legacy decks there is a certain core that is necessary to make the deck functional and consistent. In Food Chain there are a lot of core cards, which means you only get to tinker with very few slots.
Manabase: There’s not much to say about the manabase; it’s a typical BUG manabase with the benefit of being able to afford 3-4 basic lands, since you have no strategic use for Wastelands. In fact the manabase is one of the things I really like as you can easily fetch for your basic, thereby shutting down your opponents’ Wastelands. Just remember to play enough fetchlands to have access to your basic lands, enable your Deathrite Shamans as well as have access to shuffle effects for Brainstorm.
Creatures: Some argue he has to be banned in Legacy: Deathrite Shaman. As soon as you consider playing a BUG deck, Deathrite Shaman becomes an auto-inclusion into your deck; even Bant decks sometimes splash black just for Deathrite Shaman. A 1/2 dude that accelerates, hates on grave-based strategies like Reanimator, Lands or Dredge AND slowly ends games draining your opponent for 2 per round sounds “fair” to me. Not to forget the lifegain.
4 Baleful Strix: One of my favourite creatures of all time, since it is pure card-advantage. Against every creature-based deck Strix trades 2 for 1 and holds the ground (and the air), until you get the upper hand with your combo or your flying griffin-armada. Even mighty Griselbrand trembles in fear of Baleful Strix, especially when coupled with his good friend Leovold, Emissary of Trest.
2 Leovold, Emissary of Trest: There is a reason this guy is worth 40,- € on magickartenmarkt.de: it’s a high impact hate-card in nearly every matchup. As soon as Leo successfully enters the battlefield, he generates card-advantage (exception: he dies to mass-removal). No card-draw-engine works for your opponent with him in play, every discard-spell gets you a fresh card and even targeting him with any removal-spell will result in you getting card-advantage.
3 Misthollow Griffin + 1 Eternal Scourge: These guys basically do the same: enable infinite mana with Food Chain. The reason for the 1of Eternal Scourge over the 4th Misthollow Griffin is that you can chain into your combo with 1 mana less, which is important quite often: for example in a situation in which you have Food Chain, but fail to draw a 4th land for the griffin. Overall, Griffin is till the superior card, since you can pitch it into Force of Will, flies and can’t be Abrupt Decay‘ed. [Editor’s Note: Eternal Scourge also blocks and potentially nullifies any attackers+Equipment protected by Mother of Runes, which might come up in the Death & Taxes matchup. With Food Chain, it’s kinda like a build-your-own Wirewood Symbiote fog there]
4 Walking Ballista: The newcomer to the deck! Before WotC had created this brother of Triskelion, one had to go for Fierce Empath into Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to make use of the infinite mana, since you can only use it to cast creature-spells. Now you get to use this mana to cast an infinitely big Walking Ballista and directly shoot your opponent. Just remember that you can’t use the mana of Food Chain to put counters on a ballista that is already in play! Since Walking Ballista is the reason i picked up this deck, I want to explain some upsides over the previous win condition of Fierce Empath into Emrakul, the Aeons Torn version:
#1: You have a card that is not dead on its own. While Empath & Emrakul were pretty much useless without Food Chain, there are multiple situations where Walking Ballista will be able to hold its own. Of course it is a clunky card but in matchups like Elves or Infect (or even Delver / Ppyromancer) it can be just fine to deal 1 damage to kill a dangerous creature in the early game. In the Death & Taxes matchup it can turn around games on its own, s a mother-protected Phyrexian Revoker on Food Chain used to be a huge problem for our deck. Now you just deal one colorless damage to the Revoker and play all your Misthollow Griffins (or even kill directly, if you have a second Walking Ballista.) Other than that, Ballistas are also great mid-/lategame answers to your opponent’s planeswalkers. An activated Jace, the Mind Sculptor bounce on Ballista for example becomes really bad if you can just kill the him in response.
#2: You have a safer kill. While your Emrakul could sometimes still be stopped by stuff like Ensnaring Bridge, Walking Ballista just ends the game on the spot. I already had the situation where my Miracles-opponent hat Sensei’s Divining Top in play and Terminus on top which would have handled an Emrakul, but Walking Ballista just killed him without any opportunity to do anything about it.
#3: You can have a ton of fun against Dredge, removing all their Bridge from Below for 0 mana :-P. Or play the Walking Ballista for 1 and keep it until a Narcommoeba enters the battlefield which you can shoot AND remove all Bridges from the game before the opponent gets any zombie tokens.
The rest of the deck:
4 Brainstorm / 3 Ponder: I don’t think I have to explain the benefits of these cards to anyone reading this article. It has its reasons many players name Brainstorm the best card in Legacy. [Editor’s Note: Gaea’s Cradle for most powerful card!]
4 Force of Will: Even though it’s your only maindeck protection against unfair stuff, in Food Chain Force of Will is better than in many other blue decks. First, your blue-count of 23 is already pretty high. Second, as mentioned above Force of Will with a pitched Misthollow Griffin is the only Force of Will in the format that causes no card disadvantage. Nevertheless there are certain matchups in which you board out some or all copies of it. What’s so great about this card is not only that you have a zero mana answer to unfair turn1 or turn2 stuff, but also you have a psychological effect: Combo-decks might hesitate to kill you just because you MIGHT have a Force of Will even if you currently don’t even have one in your hand. And as long as they don’t see cards like Food Chain or Manipulate Fate they might even fear cards like Daze or Spell Pierce which can give you the turn you need to win.
4 Abrupt Decay: It is simply the best removal of all time in its flexibility. I saw lists which cut 1 Abrupt Decay for a Fatal Push or a Murderous Cut, but I prefer the uncounterable solution for Counterbalance / Chalice of the Void.
4 Food Chain: The namesake of the deck is a card that is quite useless on its own, which might be the weakest point of the deck. Still, you might (rarely) find yourself in situations this card can be good in without the combo-kill: when you chump block with a Misthollow Griffin or an Eternal Scourge and remove it from the game before damage is dealt to replay it from exile in your turn. This also shuts off your opponent’s ability to trigger equipments like Umezawa’s Jitte or Sword of Fire and Ice (the later only works with Eternal Scourge as SoFI grants protection from blue). To those people wondering how a combo deck that can be disrupted by Abrupt Decay can be playable in Legacy, one has to note that a significant amount of games with Food Chain are won through just grinding your opponent out. This works especially well if he/she feels compelled to always keep up 2 mana for Decay out of fear of being combo’ed out. And it’s not like Food Chain was your only important target for Decay: between Leovold, Emissary of Trest and sometimes even Deathrite Shaman, holding back your Decays might not always be feasible/correct anyway.
3 Manipulate Fate: The most awesome card advantage engine in your deck, which is better than Ancestral Vision: You remove 3 Misthollow Griffins (or 2 Griffins and 1 Eternal Scourge) from the game AND you draw a card. The deck would probably play Manipulate Fate even without the cantrip-effect, but with it the card is really awesome. Nevertheless you play only 3 copies of it since once your Misthollow Griffins are exiled, the card gets quite bad (you can still remove some lands from your deck, but keeping it to pitch into a Force of Will is normally better.) Another upside of Manipulate Fate is the shuffle-effect it provides after a Brainstorm or a Ponder.
As said before, the maindeck is constructed quite tightly with not much space to exchange cards: In the beginning I tested 2 Birds of Paradise [Editor’s Note: Marius tests Birds in everything. If your sister plays a Merfolk deck, he probably even tested Birds in that.] in the slots of the 3rd Ponder and the 20th land, but it turned out to be worse since the Birds did nothing in the mid- or lategame and the speedboost they provide felt unnecessary. A friend of mine is currently testing the 4th Ponder in the slot of the 3rd Misthollow Griffin but is not sure about it. If i had an additional slot, i would probably add one Sylvan Library to the maindeck.
As in any sideboard, here is the place for your creativity and preferences. Have a look at your metagame and make the choices you want to. I’ll explain my own sideboard and then provide a few other suggestions, knowing that especially in a BUG shell there might be enough choices to fill a little book.
1 Vendilion Clique: Lets start off with the only creature in my sideboard; it’s a very flexible card that’s great in combo- or grind-matchups. Be it in the opponent’s drawstep or at the end of their turn, you can take away a useful card or just make sure that your combo is safe the next turn. For those scared about Abrupt Decay, Clique will also take care of that. Also, don’t underestimate the ability to play the Clique on yourself to cycle a useless card (e.g. a 2nd Manipulate Fate or Food Chain etc.) It’s also one of the best ways in Legacy to both disrupt and apply pressure to a combo player. [Editor’s Note: As Rodrigo Togores told me after he beat Miracles in the finals of GP Prague: “The opponent decided not to win against Storm. He didn’t have Clique in the sideboard.”]
2 Thoughtseize: The most powerful 1-mana discard spell comes at the cost of 2 life (if it resolves) but outvalues Duress, which I had originally tested, since the ability to take your opponent’s creatures definitely does matter; especially considering that in the matchups you do bring it in the most (Combo), your life total usually isn’t under a ton of pressure. This if course worse in the Burn matchup, but overall its flexibility is totally worth it. For example: I would not board in Duress vs Delver decks, but taking away a Delver of Secrets, Young Pyromancer or even a Deathrite Shaman (on the play) is totally worth the 2 life.
3 Surgical Extraction: There is a big variety in graveyard hate, especially in black, but only few cards are usable without mana (Leyline of the Void and Faerie Macabre are the other options). As long as BR Reanimator doesn’t have a Chancellor of the Annex Surgical Extraction has the upside of getting rid of ALL copies of a card. This is great vs Life from the Loam but also against decks with Show and Tell, which heavily rely on 1 card. Once you counter 1 of their enablers and you extract them, the game might often be pretty much over (especially if they play with Omniscience and noSneak Attack.)
2 Diabolic Edict: While giving your opponent the choice which creature to sacrifice sounds quite bad, the Diabolic Edict is your weapon of choice vs decks that rely heavily on 1 big fat dude with built-in protection. It is therefore a great card vs decks that play Dark Depths, Griselbrand, Emrakul the Aeons Torn or Reality Smasher. But of course you can also bring it in vs decks with True-Name Nemesis or even just Delver of Secrets. Don’t board it vs swarm-decks or decks with token like Grixis Delver with Young Pyromancer.
2 Engineered Plague: Here we have the counterpart of Diabolic Edict: A card that can handle multiple small dudes, be it elves, Death & Taxes (human for half their deck or horror for Phyrexian Revoker), Merfolk, Goblins, Goblin Charbelcher (on Goblins although turn 3 might be too late), Infect (situational on either Elves, Humans or Blinkmoth).
2 Mindbreak Trap: a great card vs fast combo decks, the trap becomes even better with Leovold, Emissary of Trest in play. Once lethal Tendrils of Agony are put ont he stack, you get to draw a card for the original spell + each copy targeting you, giving your a great chance to actually draw into Mindbreak Trap and probably win the game. Something else to keep in mind is that you are a Deathrite Shaman deck that doesn’t play any Dazes or Wastelands, so you actually get to 4 mana rather quickly, allowing you to even hardcast Mindbreak Trap if need be. When doing that keep in mind that it EXILES the spell, so it’s even a solution for uncounterable stuff like a Boseiju, Who Shelters All-assistedShow and Tell or an Emrakul, the Aeon’s Torn casted via Omniscience or Cloudpost.
2 Hydroblast: Many good players have criticised me for playing 2 copies of this card and I have to admit: At the big tournament in Milan I never used them. I still hate losing to Burn or Blood Moon, so I just spoiled myself with these 2 copies in my board, especially since they can also hit stuff like Young Pyromancer, Sneak Attack of Through the Breach.
1 Pithing Needle: the last slot in my sideboard is quite flexible. Thinking about many other options I just decided to go with the 1 Pithing Needle which is usable in many different matchups. Some important cards you get to shut down with it include Sensei’s Divining Top, Engineered Explosives, Thespian Stage, Aether Vial, any planeswalker, Sneak Attack, Goblin Charbelcher etc
Here are some other sideboard suggestions, depending on your metagame:
- Carpet of Flowers, if you want additional stuff vs mana-denying decks like Canadian Threshold (although this matchup is already quite good): Walking Ballista can become quite big with Carpet of Flowers mana, even without the Food Chain-combo
- Fatal Push, if you fear aggressive decks
- Dread of Night if you want to make your Death & Taxes opponents cry
- A second Vendilion Clique vs combo-/controldecks
- Umezawa’s Jitte to fight creature-based strategies (you have quite a lot flyers)
- Golgari Charm for its flexibility vs tokens or small dudes
- Grafdigger’s Cage vs graveyard based decks and Elves
- Nihil Spellbomb for additional gravehate that cycles itself
Play Style and Matchups
While many decks employ a rather linear game plan (Sneak and Show, Delver-aggro), Food Chain can (and must!) take different roles in different matchups, just like Death & Taxes which has to be the aggrodeck vs combodecks and be more controlling vs aggressive decks. Sometimes you can just grind out your opponent and win with just recurring Misthollow Griffin beatdown your opponent can’t handle, but there’s also matchups in which you have to go for the combo as fast as possible because you will die if you can’t get it together in time. So the conclusion is the same as it was in my Death & Taxes article: know the role of your deck!
In the following I present you some of the most important matchups with general sideboarding suggestions and an estimation of the matchup.
These are the matchups we want to play against all day long. We both have Deathrite Shamans and Abrupt Decays, but while they have cards that are only good at start of game like Delver of Secrets or Daze, we have Balefulx Strix and Manipulate Fate which gives us enourmous grind-potential, while their manadenial-plan with Wastelands is normally easily foiled by us fetching for basics. The general plan is to trade Baleful Strixes for Delver of Secrets and to save Abrupt Decays for their Tarmogoyfs. Should they play True-Name-Nemesis, we have Engineered Plagues & Diabolic Edictss in the board. The keycard, which you do not want to get Daze‘ed is again Manipulate Fate. I suggest boarding in Thoughtseizes and Diabolic Edicts; if it’s Grixis Pyromancer, then probably no Edicts. Force of Wills can be sided out as you have no real use for them here.
- Death & Taxes – Very positive
As said before, this matchup has become much more easier with the printing of Walking Ballista which can handle multiple threats at once in the best case. An equipped Sword of Fire and Ice or an Umezawa’s Jitte aren’t that much of a problem for us since our combo does not care for our or the opponent’s life or the additional creature removal they potentially provide. Thalia is annoying at beast since we have a strong manabase which is quite hard to disrupt. Postboard the matchup becomes even better with Engineered Plague on Human clearing half their board, while Walking Ballista can take care of the rest, even without the combokill. Force of Wills get sided out in this matchup, too.
- Miracles – Positive
Still probably the best deck in the format, preboard Miracles has huge problems against our strategy. We can handle their Counterbalance with Abrupt Decay, they don’t have a fast clock, no mana denial and give us lots of time to assemble our combo. Swords to Plowshares and Terminus are only mediocre against us since our Misthollow Griffins are always happy to be exiled, Baleful Strix cycles itself and Walking Ballista usually remains in our hand until we combo off with it, or becomes so big that it can deal serious damage in response on any removal. The keycard in this matchup is Manipulate Fate, which our opponent has to counter if he does not want to get grinded out Griffin by Griffin. And even if he gets rid of 1 or 2 of them via Terminus, you can dig them up again with another Manipulate Fate.
- Lands – Positive
Preboard we are clearly favoured in this matchup. Our healthy manabase can normally prevent them from screwing us long enough and Deathrite Shaman helps a lot with that, too. Once we got our combo together, there is nothing they can do to stop it (except Glacial Chasm, which prevents them from attacking with their Marit Lage as well). You will probably only loose vs Lands if they make a Marit Lage token on turn 2 or earlier. And even then you can steal games with a Baleful Strix chumpblocking the token to buy you another turn, which might often be all you need to combo off. In the sideboard we have 3 Surgical Extractions to get rid of their Loam-engine and 2 Diabolic Edicts + the Pithing Needle for their Thespian Stage. I recommend boarding out Force of Wills and Baleful Strix for these cards and to bring in Thoughtseize, since you want to be able to take away Sphere of Resistance (which stops us from comboing off) and Krosan Grips (which does the same).
There are nut-draws of this pile, where even the best decks don’t stand a chance. Thankfully these starts are rare and normally we have enough time to keep us alive with Baleful Strix, Force of Will and/or Abrupt Decay to get the combo online in time. While this is one of the very few matchups where Leovold, Emissary of Trest is really bad, our combo really gets to shine since they can’t handle it preboard (and probably neither postboard). Additionally, Chalice of the Void doesn’t hit us all that hard. Board in the 2 Diabolic Edicts and the 2 Engineered Plagues: Making the Eldrazi slower is important more often than you might think and killing all Eldrazi Mimics is still decent in mid- or lategame.
- Shardless BUG – Even
Both decks have a grindy plan; but while they only have Ancestral Vision, we have Manipulate Fate. We have the combo-kill vs their 4 Abrupt Decays. It’s our Walking Ballistas vs their planeswalkers. The main problem for us are big Tarmogoyfs after they have cleared out board with Toxic Deluge. I estimate the matchup to be quite even. I suggest boarding in the Thoughtseizes for 2 Force of Wills and perhaps the Pithing Needle vs Creeping Tar-Pit or their planeswalkers.
- Elves – Even
Much comes down to the dice-roll in this matchup. Both decks can combo off fast, but Elves do it normally a turn faster. On the other side our card-quality is higher and Leovold, Emissary of Trest can completely take them out of the game (shutting down Glimpse of Nature and
Griselbrand Elvish Visionary). Postboard not much changes, we can bring in Engineered Plagues and Thoughtseizes, while they bring in Abrupt Decays to disrupt our combo. Generally your plan here is to combo off as fast as possible.
- Burn – Even
Well, what should I say here… fetch for your basics and be faster. Hydroblasts may help you a lot! 🙂
- Show and Tell decks – Preboard terrible, Postboard even
Preboard this matchup is a mess. They have a much faster combo, coupled with countermagic going up against our lone playset of Force of Will. Most of the time they have to go for Show and Tell into Griselbrand or Sneak Attack since a single Emrakul, the Aeons Torn might not do it as we get to show and tell a Food Chain on our side. Still, the matchup feels terrible preboard just because they are too fast. Postboard the matchup becomes a lot better, since we side out our entire combo (-4 Food Chain, -4 Walking Ballista, -4 Abrupt Decay, -1 Eternal Scourge) and bring the entire board (except the Engineered Plagues). We then can grind them out and hope that the average quality of cards is higher than theirs (multiple creatures or Omnisciences in their hand are dead cards and we can normally easy evade their often boarded Blood Moons with fetching for basics). Additionally, Leovold, Emissary of Trest and Baleful Strix are awesome against Griselbrand which is otherwise supposed to be their biggest threat.
- Ad Nauseam Tendrils / TES – Very negative
This might probably be our worst matchup. We have only 4 copies of Force of Will to fight against their combo, while they have discard to take away out countermagic OR to disrupt our own combo. Their combo is also faster, which puts us in a terrible spot to begin with. Postboard the matchup gets a bit better, with Thoughtseizes, Surgical Extractions, Vendilion Clique, Mindbreak Traps coming in, taking the place of 4 Baleful Strix and 4 Abrupt Decays. Nevertheless the matchup remains bad because their combo is still faster even though postboard both decks have nearly the same amount of disruption. Our plan is to combo off as fast as possible or to get a Leovold, Emissary of Trest into play to prevent them from cantripping. Decks like Oops All Spells or Belcher are preboard similarly bad for us, postboard they are much easier to handle for us then ANT, since our free spells Surgical Extractions and Mindbreak Traps can blow them out much more easily.
MKM Series Milan 2017 – Legacy Main Event
After finishing the Legacy Trial on Friday with a 4:1 record (4th in standings at the end, top3 got Byes…) I totally crushed (myself) in the Modern main event on Saturday with impressive 0-2-drop. Fortunately, this meant I got to grind the afternoon Legacy Trial, which I won 5:0 without any problems despite facing Show and Tell-based decks twice. My finish granted me 2 Byes for the Legacy Main Event on Sunday which is quite awesome in a tournament with “only” 8 rounds of Swiss. Here’s how things went for me:
Round 1: *BYE*
Round 2: *BYE*
Round 3: UB Reanimator — 2:1 WIN
Round 4: Merfolk — 2:0 WIN
Round 5: Infect — 0:2 LOSS
Round 6: Czech 4c-control — 2:1 WIN
Round 7: Food Chain — 2:0 WIN
Round 8: Big-Stax — ID
Quarterfinals: BUG Delver — 2:0 WIN
Semifinals: Big-Staxx — 2:0 WIN
Finals: Sneak-/Omnishow — 2:0 WIN
Round 3: Not knowing what I am up against I keep a solid hand with 2 cantrips but no Deathrite Shaman. Even though I even draw a Force of Will for the turn, it’s too late to counter my opponent’s Entomb. His first Reanimate gets countered, but he soon finds a second copy just in time for my freshly drawn Deathrite Shaman to not yet be active. After Griselbrand has entered the battlefield I try to combo out my opponent but his raging demon quickly draws him into a Force of Will, sealing the game for him. G2 is over quickly despite the opponent’s Pithing Needle on Deathrite Shaman because I have double Surgical Extraction and a timely Force of Will. G3 I once again have Surgical Extraction and lead with Deathrite Shaman. The Elf is soon to be destroyed by Collective Brutality discarding Griselbrand, but in response I extract all copies of his Demon. On my next turn I summon Leovold, Emissary of Trestto start the beatdown. With my opponent at 3 life, he’s eventually able to hardcast a Grave Titan, but a hardcasted Mindbreak Trap ends this game. Interestingly I would have even won without the Trap as my top card turned out to be Vendilion Clique.
Round 4: On the play, I have a solid hand with 2 Deathrite Shamans, 3 lands and 2 Brainstorms. My opponent has no explosive draws but a True-Name-Nemesis which slowly brings the beatz, while my cantrips find only lands and another
planeswalker Deathrite Shaman. It’s quite a complex game in which I end up Abrupt Decaying 2 Lord of Atlantis and keep using both modes on my two Deathrite Shamans, while TNN keeps beating me down. In the end I have 2 Misthollow Griffins and 2 DRS (1 had to earlier trade with a Silvergill Adept) when my opponent draws one more lord and comes crushing in for massive damage which puts me to 2 life. At his end of turn my two Elves take him down two 9 life with no more Instants or Sorceries left in either graveyard. I topdeck another Abrupt Decay, destroy his lord, drain him down to 7 life and attack with 2 Misthollow Griffins and the other Deathrite Shaman for exactly 7 damage. Hurray! G2 on the other hand is quite a massacre. Despite my mulligan to 6 my hand feals really good with enough mana, a Thoughtseize, an Abrupt Decay and an Engineered Plague. After my opponent just passes with an Island, I Thoughtseize him and see 2 True-Name Nemesis, a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Venser, Shaper Savant (!?) . I take away the Jace and answer the TNN he summons with my plague. Some turns later he plays a lord, followed by the second TNN. My Abrupt Decay has a field day with my opponent’s board and he scoops soon after.
Round 5: I recognize my very kind Swiss opponent from the Vintage-tournaments I played with him several years ago and know he plays Infect. He starts off with Glistener Elf, while I land Ponder, with 2 Baleful Strix and 2 Walking Ballista in my hand. Unfortunately my opponent has the second round kill and we quickly go on to game 2. This time I have Thoughtseize, double Walking Ballista, Abrupt Decay AND Diabolic Edict, but still lose to 2 Inkmoth Nexus, a Submerge, 2 pump spells, Pendlehaven and double Blighted Agent. Shit happens.
Round 6: Tomáš Már is probably the best BUG/4c-player in this tournament, so I’m quite excited and nervous about this match. I’m sorry for not remembering too many details anymore, but the match lasted lasted really long. What I can remember is him having mana issues for several turns of game1, but when he finally recovers (Food Chain has no Wastelands to punish opponents for greedy manabases) he outvalues me with multiple Hymn to Tourach and Snapcaster Mages. When I begin to stabilize with 2 Misthollow Griffins, he utilizes his reach provided by 2 Deathrite Shamans and just drains me out. G2 I put on some pressure with Baleful Strix into Vendilion Clique, and despite his best efforts to grind me out I’m finally able to combo him around turn 8. G3 he again has double Hymn to Tourach (after the match he told me he plays exactly 2 of them), but, most importantly, I’m still able to resolve a Manipulate Fate. Adding insult to injury, I also get to resolve a Leovold, Emissary of Trest, which forces Tomáš to go for a 1-for-2 removal spell on him. Meanwhile, a pair of Misthollow Griffins has started to go to town on his life toal, earning the concession soon after.
Round 7: Unfortunately for my opponent he was smoking outside and got a game loss for tardiness (yep, smoking does not only ruin your health, it might ruin your tournament too :-P), which he is really unhappy about. He mulls to 6 and starts with Underground Sea, pass. I have a solid hand, fetch a basic Forest and play a Deathrite Shaman. On his second turn my opponent plays Manipulate Fate — I have finally found the last one playing Food Chain in this tournament (the second being Christian Reuschel, a guy from my own car.) On my turn 2 I answer with my own copy of Ancestral Recall Manipulate Fate. After my opponent summons Leovold, Emissary of Trest on his third turn, I just combo him with Force of Will backup.
Round 8: ID against the Big-Staxx-Man, which he was quite happy about.
Quarterfinals: My opponent is on BUG-Delver, so there’s not much to say about this. I switch into autopilot, fetch for basics, do not run into Dazes and Abrupt Decay early pressure. Both games Manipulate Fate and Baleful Strix get there easily.
Semifinals: Big-Staxx: This might have been the easiest matchup the whole weekend. In game 1 my opponent takes a mulligan to 5 and does not play any relevant spell until he just rolls over on turn 4 or 5. Game 2 he has an early Thought-Knot Seer but nothing else and gets raced by a Misthollow Griffin coupled with Deathrite Shaman and a 3/3 Walking Ballista.
Finals: You can read about it in the coverage here, even with pictures! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this article and I could answer some of your questions about Food Chain, which in my opinion is quite a solid choice in the current metagame. So long, stay tuned and keep turning cards sideways!
Greetz from Germany,
Bonus Content: a short (written) MKM decktech with Marius’ Food Chain deck