Did you know that in Back to the Future II, Marty McFly travels to the 21st October 2015? That is this Wednesday! I’m already super excited for my new hoverboard and all the other awesome toys we are about to get! But did you know also that one of the most relevant parts of the entire series was actually omitted from the final cut?
- Thursday – Arrival in Prague
- Friday – Big Legacy Trial
- Saturday – Legacy Main Event
- Sunday – Duel Commander
- Epilogue – Payouts in Prague
In-between getting his Dad laid in the first movie and Doc Brown in the third one, Marty uses the DeLorean to travel back to 26th September 2014 to undo one of the worst mistakes of all time (citation needed). On that fateful Friday, Dig Through Time and
Treasure Cruise entered the Legacy format. What followed can only be described as the Magic equivalent Permian–Triassic extinction with a significant amount of non-blue decks rendered pretty much useless.
Fortunately, McFly succeeded in reverting us back to the state of the pre-Khans era where Miracles, Elves and Shardless used to dominate but were closely followed by a wide field of other highly competitive contenders. The previous weekend, the third stop of the MKM Series, this time in Prague, would give us the first opportunity to once again go back to the future of Legacy. Ever since the Dig Through Time eventually vanished from the format, I was already super hyped for the tournament and started to once again play a lot more Elves! After doing well in a couple of Daily Events and local tournaments, this is what I settled on for Prague:
Elves! at MKM Prague
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Quirion Ranger
4 Nettle Sentinel
4 Elvish Visionary
4 Wirewood Symbiote
3 Heritage Druid
2 Birchlore Rangers
2 Craterhoof Behemoth
1 Reclamation Sage
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
4 Glimpse of Nature
3 Natural Order
1 Sylvan Library
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Gaea’s Cradle
2 Dryad Arbor
1 Verdant Catacombs
3 Cabal Therapy
3 Abrupt Decay
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Pithing Needle
1 Scavenging Ooze
Note: for the Legacy Trial on Friday, I played only 2 Abrupt Decay in favor of one copy of Krosan Grip.
Thursday – Arrival in Prague
I arrived in Prague on Thursday night, checked into our apartment and then went to meet up with the other Euroswaggers in the LGS where Marc and Tomáš were playing the weekly Legacy event. I have to say I was quite surprised to see such a rather flourishing scene with what seemed like 15-20 players. Definitely a good turnout for a weekly tournament; but what do I know, maybe half of them were just trading? Sometimes you can’t really tell whether there’s a guy running NicFit into Maverick — or just a really complicated trade going on.
Both Marc and Tomáš finish with 3-1 records and we head out to grab Chinese dinner with an international party from about 6 different countries. I’m still not sure whether the restaurant actually had 40 different items on their menu or just 10 different pictures of the same 4 meals. Anyways, my duck tastes really good after two more drinks I am presented with a total bill of about 735.428 CZK (roughly equivalent to 6,50- Euro) that I happily round up to 10,- €, which still feels like a steal. But that’s Prague for you: it’s one of the most amazing and beautiful cities you will get to visit in Europe AND provides great overall value for your money if you avoid the obvious tourist traps. Which we usually never do. At least one night in Prague just has to be Hard Rock Cafe time!
After dinner we stock up our supplies in a nearby supermarket open until 11:30pm, which feels super amazing to me as our Bavarian ones always close at 8pm.
Friday – Big Legacy Trial
On the next morning I wake up super excited about the tournament ahead of me. As I mentioned before, as much as I love playing Elves there were certainly a lot of times in the last 12 months were I had grown severly frustrated with the metagame and eventually defected to a couple of other decks. I still piloted Elves through two GPs during that era, New Jersey and Lille, which both provided two awesome experiences as a whole but ended up rather disappointing from a competitive point of view. Things were about to change!
The event site was only about a 3 minute walk from our apartment, which was super convenient. As much as I like travelling and figuring out things, I really prefer things being a bit more relaxed right before a tournament — this time I even wrote my decklist the night before the event, I still can’t believe it. At the site I meet up with a lot of friends that I haven’t seen since GP Lille and get ready for the first round of the Big Legacy Trial, which gathered 62 players. Here’s how my tournament went:
Round 1 — Shardless— 1:2 LOSS
Round 2 — 4c Delver — 2:0 WIN
Round 3 — 4c Goyf — 2:0 WIN
Round 4 — Merfolk — 2:0 WIN
Round 5 — UWr Stoneblade — 2:0 WIN
Round 6 — 4c Delver — 2:0 WIN
Quarters: — BUG Pod — 2:0 WIN
Semis: — Shardless — 2:0 WIN (same guy as Round 1)
Finals: — Shardless — 1:2 LOSS
Yeah, so Shardless. You used to be one of the main reason to play Elves because you were everywhere and got crushed by little green men. These days, only one of those things is true anymore. While still being a quite favorable matchup for Elves (and almost unlosable game1), the deck has evolved and has picked up some new toys along the way. Between maindeck Toxic Deluge and a sideboard of 4 Meddling Mage, a couple of Golgari Charms as well as the devastating Night of Souls’ Betrayal, the Elves player might find himself at the losing end of the table more often than used to. The Pikulas are especially annoying as they force you to keep in Abrupt Decay, which is otherwise pretty useless as it doesn’t faciliate the plan of grinding them out; since they also have no flyers it also isn’t needed to stop some inevitable threat. Which leaves us with only one strategic purpose: to enable your actual strategy. Being put into such a position always feels weird in an otherwise critical mass deck that doesn’t really care too much about what your opponent is trying to do in the long run. This is also the reason why a card like Grafdigger’s Cage is especially strong out of their sideboard as it serves a similar purpose.
Because of this, knowing what the opponent’s sideboard looks like is especially valuable versus Shardless BUG. In the first round of the Swiss I lost the guy I eventually ended up beating in the Semifinals, because my sideboarding was off. During his Quarterfinal I was able to see that his sideboard contained no Night of Soul’s Betrayal, a single Grafdigger’s Cage and (I believe) only 1 copy of Golgari Charm. This allowed me to sideboard much more aggressively and also remove my otherwise not very exciting copy of Reclamation Sage. I guess it also helped that this time his Meddling Mage didn’t blank two of my Glimpse of Nature like it did in the Swiss.
The rest of the Swiss felt pretty easy and I really enjoyed the explosiveness and staying power of Elves that for most of the DTT/TC era just faded in comparison to the raw card advantage of Delve-based decks. In the Quarters I quickly dispatched my friend David Hölker who keeps porting his crazy Modern brews to Legacy and still does quite well with them. Still, the matchup is terribly well in favor of Elves and we both knew about that heading into our match, which was over in less than 10 minutes including shuffling.
In the finals I face off against another guy on Shardless. As usual I manage to steal game1, but quickly fall behind in a long and drawn out game2, where a single Scavenging Ooze keeps holding the fort against an army of pretty much every creature in his deck until he eventually finds Decay. During that match he once misses his Ancestral Visions trigger and proceeds to the draw step. I then see one of his friends silently move the dice on Visions from “4” to “3”. I immediately return it to 4, give him my grimmest look (I’m pretty bad at that) then tell him that this is a pretty serious thing he’s doing there. The judge then comments that this indeed “would be outside assistance if I was serious…but I am now.” To be clear, I didn’t want my opponent to suffer a penalty from this, but his friend was highly annoying and I was happy when he was eventually told to shut up after he kept talking about the gamestate and wondering out loud what certain plays of mine would indicate.
In the third game I mulligan on the play and keep what I would call a 4/10 hand. It didn’t really have anything amazing going for it, but was still better than the average 5 card hand I’d expect out of my deck. Long story short, I’m behind for pretty much the entire game but apparently my opponent also isn’t really drawing anything exciting. One turn before I eventually succumb I am actually able to setup a potentially lethal Craterhoof Behemoth from hand if I can topdeck any 1 mana Elf. I draw a Wooded Foothills, which is neither 1 mana nor an Elf, and the game is over. My opponent earns his Bye for tomorrow’s main event.
Saturday – Legacy Main Event
Round 1 — Deathblade — 2:0 WIN
Round 2 — Shardless — 2:0 WIN
Round 3 — ANT — 2:1 WIN
Round 4 — UWr Stoneblade — 2:0 WIN
Round 5 — Sneak Show — 1:2 LOSS
Round 6 — Dredge — 0:2 LOSS
Round 7 — TinFins — 2:1 WIN
Round 8 — ANT — 2:1 WIN (Jamie Westlake)
6-2 – 14th place out of ~210.
Had you told me that 5 out of my 8 rounds would be against some variant of Combo, I would have probably not expected this finish. Given the circumstances it’s kinda ok even though I feel it’s really time to once again break out of the 6-2 or 7-2 mold that I have fallen into when it comes to my finishes with Elves at all the MKM, Ovinogeddon and JK Eternal serieses of the past months.
An interesting situation I want to discuss here is game2 against my Deathblade opponent in the first round. On the play, he only played lands on his first three turns and passed. When I untapped for turn3, I looked at my board of Wirewood Symbiote, Elvish Visionary, made another land drop and cast Cabal Therapy. What do you name here? I think it’s pretty straight forward to name Zealous Persecution here. My reasoning is that he must have kept something. Apparently that something is neither Discard, Cantrips, Stoneforge Mystic and also probably not Abrupt Decay since he would have used it on my Wirewood Symbiote at the end of my second turn. This leaves a surprisingly small amount of cards left to choose from: Force of Will and Snapcaster Mage are only what I refer to as “secondary” cards that support your game plan; they are not something inherently threatening. Therefore I want to name the quite common Zealous Persecution, fully aware that if he casts it in response, I would bounce my Visionary and only trade a single Symbiote for it. Getting a 1:1 trade with your opponent’s best card is amazing! This is exactly what happens, so when my Therapy resolves I just name Snapcaster Mage and hit. Flashback for Supreme Verdict and the game is pretty much over at this point and I just quickly burry him under card advantage and a couple of well-timed Beats by Dr.Eathrite Shaman™.
My matches against ANT follow the general gameplan I have adopted for the matchup: quick beatdowns to some 12 points of life while establishing control over their graveyard. And drawing really wells also helps, of course. During those matches I also learned how Dark Petition actually changes the dynamics of the matchups quite a bit since it gives them another strong out even after extracting Infernal Tutor from their deck.
My two losses came at the hands of Dredge and Sneak Show. While the former is pretty much a coinflip and not going first will just randomly screw you, my loss against Sneak Attack was a bit more tragic. The matchup isn’t really amazing despite the 2 Pithing Needles in my sideboard, but after stealing the first game and establishing a strong lead in game2, I felt quite comfortable. Even though I had mull’ed to five, I was able to Cabal Therapy away my opponent’s Show and Tell on the first turn and resolve Surgical Extraction on it. After he failed to do anything on his second turn and third turn, I draw another Therpay and hellbent him by discarding Girselbrand and Pyroclasm (of which he played 4!!). My beatdown isn’t strong but still puts accross 2-3 points of damage a turn. My opponent topdecks the Sneak Attack he needed, plays it and passes; I attack for 3 and pass. He untaps, draws and passes. I topdeck Green Sun’s Zenith (for Reclamation Sage) but the card my opponent has drawn is Force of Will, which once again makes him hellbent. I attack again for 3, preparing for a lethal attack on the next turn…next thing I know there’s 15 lethal points of spaghetti monster flying my way 🙁
Despite not making Top8 I’m happy for my friends Marc and Johannes getting there. I’m especially happy for Johannes who’s car was broken into on Friday with several thousand Euros worth of cards (and all his clothes) stolen. They both fall short in the quarters though.
Sunday – Duel Commander
Sunday, that’s Duel Commander time! Even though the format has been around for something like two years or even more, it still feels kinda new and unexplored. It basically works very similar to your regular EDH Multiplayer Commander, but has a banned list geared towards competitive 1v1 play and a few minor changes like 30 life starting totals.
What would you play in 100 card singleton format with pretty much every non utterly broken card legal? Would you maximize cantrips for decreased volatility of draws? Some combo deck to abuse the abundance of tutors and strong engines? Build the ultimate Esper Control Deck? Of course not! The WWJD answer is simple: take every mana elf in the game, throw in a bunch of land destruction and finish them off with everyone’s favourite Craterhoof Behemoth! Works like a charm..unless you’re up against some commander who looks like a carnival elk.
This is what I played in the Duel Commander Event with 31 players:
Duel Commander at MKM Prague
I’ve been playing this weird cousin of Legacy Elves for a couple of weeks now and have thus far been really impressed with it. It’s capable of some insanely explosives openings that lead to quick turn 4 kills (the equivalent of a Legacy turn 2.5 kill) and has a lot of staying power through the Yisan, the Wanderer Bard toolbox. One great way to abuse my General is to use Quirion Ranger to activate him a second time in response to his first activation; since putting a verse counter on him is part of the cost, you basically get to skip every other mana cost (if needed) and quickly ramp into your high end.
This is how my tournament went:
Round 1 — Zurgo Bellstriker — 2:0 WIN
Round 2 — Merieke Ri Berit — 2:0 WIN
Round 3 — Marath, Will of the Wild — 1:2 LOSS
Round 4 — Alesha, Who Smiles at Death — 2:0 WIN
Round 5 — Vendilion Clique — 2:0 WIN
Quarters: — Marath, Will of the Wild — 0:2 LOSS
That elk commander, damnit! I knew ahead of time that Marath, Will of the Wild should probably be a bad matchup but boy does it suck when you don’t get an explosive draw. I defintiely paid for my inexperience in the matchup that I had never actually played before. Both decks are able to quickly go way over the top and while Yisan is significantly faster, it’s also heavily vulnerable to the opponent’s cheap spot removal. When your opponent’s Bolts are like Time Walk if played during the first couple of turns, you know you’re in for a rough ride. Still, I had a great time playing the format, which I think is one of the greatest custom formats in the history of the game. The huge draw towards it comes from the incredible depth of the card pool, the fun of very diverse games and the competitive nature of Duel (aka “French”) Commander. If you enjoy these aspects of Magic just as much as I do, you should really give it a try!
Epilogue – Payouts in Prague
There are a couple of things that need to be said about price payouts because the overall feeling among my peers was that they sucked quite a bit for a tournament of this size. Now I understand that a TO has to keep a certain % to pay for venues, judges, coverages and of course, also some profit to himself. Still, once the payout decreases too much, you feel a bit stupid. To be specific, this is how much the Italian guys behind the MKM Series paid out:
Big Legacy Trial:
Taken in: 62 participants * 20,- € signup = 1.240,- €
Total payout: 430,- €
Main Event Legacy:
Taken in: 210 participants * 30,- € signup = 6.300,- €
Total payout: 3.400,- €
Duel Commander Event:
Taken in: ~31 participants * 15,- € signup = 465,- €
Total payout: 290,- €
Main Event Modern:
Taken in: 175 participants * 30,- € signup = 5.250,- €
Total payout: 3.400,- €
Main Event Standard:
Taken in: 52 participants * 30,- € signup = 1.560,- €
Total payout: 2.200,- €
Main Event Vintage:
Taken in: 52 participants * 30,- € signup = 1.560,- €
Total payout: 2.350,- €
As you can see, the payouts are super weird and in dire need of some serious fixing. If you like Standard and Vintage, the MKM Series Prague was the ultimate cash cow for you whereas especially Legacy players (by far the most popular format of the series) got the short end of the stick. I understand that it’s difficult to correctly predict the eventual turnout of an event but it’s not like there aren’t ways to fix this. One way would be to increase the payout if a certain threshold of players is met (like they planned for Standard) and/or to guarantee prices for everyone finishing x-2 and x-1-1. As it stands, a lot of people at x-2 actually got nothing. And to be honest, I also felt a bit shortchanged winning only 50,- € for Top 16 in an event that took in 6.300,- €, and 80,- € as the finalist of an event worth 1.240,- €-
Anyways, I hope the guys behind the MKM series will take these issues seriously and look into some of the changes I suggested here. Especially with the next event being in Spain, which always used to have a strong and vibrant Legacy scene, I hope we’ll see some increase for the fourth and final stop of the year.
At the end of the end I got the chance to talk to what I assume is the MKM Series’ boss and he was very, very helpful with getting decklists and other information that I needed. I didn’t get the feeling that they were trying to actually “milk” the Eternal scene, so props for having established this new series! It’s also important to mention that the Czech organizers of the event did a great job and the tournament felt very smooth despite some delays because of the large number of signups. But I didn’t except any less of them anyways as I recogized several of them as the guys who always help to make the Prague Eternal events such huge successes!
Anyways, that’s it for today. Happy Back to the Future day tomorrow!