Guf Ballarat Legacy Ladder Final *Top 4* with Death & Taxes

As a bit of background to this, let’s explain what this event was all about. Melbourne Legacy has skyrocketed in popularity over 2016, though there has been a surprising lack of large payout events other than the annual “Eternal Masters” event (that pays out a piece of power to first place). The Legacy Ladder series started by the Guf chain of stores has caught on that people want more big payout tournaments – and set up some feeder tournaments into a “Legacy Ladder Final”. First gets two Volcs, second gets an Underground Sea and Bayou, third and fourth get an Underground Sea each and 5th-8th gets Eternal Masters boosters. Sounds sweet.

Ballarat is, however, quite a drive from the CBD (it’s around 1.5 hrs), but was nonetheless the setting for fifty-four expensive cardboard slinging wizards – which is quite a turnout for our Legacy scene. And what a setting it was – although a bit stuffy, there was plenty of room for the higher-than-expected turnout and the staff were an excellent bunch. The only complaint is the amount of Byes people got from the feeder tournaments, but this was certainly just growing pains of the new event being established. A bunch of Melbourne Legacy players banded together to carpool there, and our buddies from Canberra also made the six-hour-or-so trek too!

For myself, I brought the love of my life per usual, my list below:

Creatures: (26)
4 Mother of Runes
4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
3 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Stoneforge Mystic
2 Serra Avenger
4 Flickerwisp
2 Recruiter of the Guard
2 Sanctum Prelate
1 Mirran Crusader

Non-Creature Spells: (11)
4 Aether Vial
1 Batterskull
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Swords to Plowshares

Lands: (23)
4 Wasteland
4 Rishadan Port
3 Karakas
2 Cavern of Souls
1 Horizon Canopy
9 Plains

Sideboard: (15)
2 Council’s Judgement
2 Ethersworn Canonist
2 Rest in Peace
1 Containment Priest
2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Palace Jailer
1 Leonin Relic-Warder
1 Pithing Needle
1 Faerie Macabre
2 Path to Exile

The only change I really made for this event was:

-1 Containment Priest
+1 Faerie Macabre

Just as a bit of a nod to BR Reanimator, as many D&T players have been adopting. That being said, I’m not prepared to go up to two or trim into my RiPs as others have been doing – I don’t expect it to be that popular.

Anyway, on to the matches!

Round 1 vs. Elves

This is Melbourne Legacy buddy Xian, who’s typically on Delver decks but has been running with Elves the past few weeks. I was hoping he was on Delver but alas… He started with basic Forest.

Game 1: I think I mulligan pretty aggressively here to a SFM hand, and end up getting one with Recruiter and friends to assist. I end up getting non-lethal Hoofed, which I can Fog in the next few turns with Thalia + Karakas (my Vial is on two) and can then start Flicker chaining with my Recruiter and set up Jitte! There is hope! He has a second NO and then I lose. Boo.

-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
-2 Sanctum Prelate
-1 Flickerwisp

+1 Containment Priest
+2 Council’s  Judgment
+1 Pithing Needle
+2 Ethersworn Canonist
+1 Path to Exile

I’m not sure whether I’m happy with bringing in the Path, as it’s a poor turn one play to kill their mana dorks, of course, but it is good in the late game to deal with Wirewood shenanigans.

Game 2: He’s never really in this one, having to play incredibly reactive. I Swords his t1 Birchlore, turn two Stoneforge and have a Flickerwisp coming up to push through the ground stall for Jitte (and get me my SoFI). He has multiple Decays and Rec Sage at some stage, and I end up finishing the game with just flier beatdown while SoFI and Jitte end up in the graveyard.

Game 3: I’m lucky as hell here. I don’t have much going on after a Canonist gets Decayed, but am turning off his mana with Revokers on two DRS and Flickerwisp doing some work – I end up Flickering my own Flickerwisp to Port down one of his lands. He eventually assembles four mana for NO into Progenitus – I think I can race it as long as I don’t brick on lands, as I have double Avenger in hand! Alas I do brick on lands, but draw something even better – Council’s Judgment – and Progenitus is outta here. That was lucky. I continue the flier beats and get there. Dodged one!

Round 2 vs. Sneak & Show

And now karma bites me in the butt. Lucksack an unfavourable matchup, and then lose to your best.

Game 1: I have a flooded seven, and zero-mana six and then a five with Stoneforge, Crusader and Flickerwisp. Seems fine. My opponent leads on Island, and I cast SFM. He tanks and then Brainstorms – since he cares about the SFM, I’m guessing he’s on Miracles with an awkward Top-less and Plow-less hand, which my hand is great against! He lets SFM resolve and I get SoFI. He then plays basic Mountain. I grimace. I put in the Sword next turn while he casts a Sneak Attack off a Tomb and his two lands. SFM connects and I draw – Karakas! Just gotta hope he has no second red source. Alas, he does, and I get Emrakuled. SFM, SoFI and all my lands disappear, but I’m able to keep a Vial that is ticking up. If I can topdeck Revoker I’ll be in good shape. But he has Griselbrand next turn and I’m dead. Well, we fought as hard as we could with a rubbish hand, I guess.

+1 Containment Priest
+2 Council’s Judgment
+1 Palace Jailer
+1 Pithing Needle
+1 Leonin Relic-Warder
+2 Ethersworn Canonist

-1 Umezawa’s Jitte
-1 Stoneforge Mystic
-4 Swords to Plowshares
-1 Mirran Crusader
-1 Flickerwisp

Maybe Avenger is a better cut than the Wisp. But three drops are clunky.

Game 2: My love scumbags me here. A no-lander seven, a flooded six and a no-lander five. We go to four, keep Thalia, Recruiter, Wisp and Wasteland and hope to find a white source at some stage. I Scry to the bottom and play my Wasteland. I draw Port and then keep Porting him for the next few turns. He’s actually getting choked on mana from this, so we’re still in the game. Eventually he gets to three mana and I expect to die (though my Recruiter may help if he casts S&T), but he Blood Moons me. Boo. At least I can draw a basic Plains and do stuff, right? I cannot help but laugh as I draw a Horizon Canopy off the top next turn. Next turn, he Sneak Attacks my face off for the full twenty-two.

Typical non-blue problems, I guess.

Round 3 vs. Grixis Delver

Another Melbourne regular, Mr. Cael McGann, is an excellent player and we always have some good games.

Game 1: I can’t remember much, but I think D&T does what D&T does and locks him out. I remember him keeping a sketchy mulligan with only a Wasteland (but a Dismember to kill my turn one Mom!) but has a Trop as well. Sadly, the DRS the Trop produces dies and I capitalise on his mana struggles.

+2 Path to Exile

-1 Mirran Crusader
-1 Flickerwisp

Game 2: We trade resources back and forth but he lands a big fish my motley crew just cannot deal with. I try to get a SoFIed up Revoker to connect but he chumps continually with Deathrites and I have no outs.

Game 3: This was a nice D&T game. I settled in for a little bit of a grind and again we trade resources a bit, with him having an early Delver backed up with Bolts – exactly the kind of hand he needs. However, I have Recruiter to dominate the late-game with Prelate grossly locking him out through a Cavern of Souls. Batterskull gets assembled and the game is essentially over.

Round 4 vs. Dredge

A wonderful member of the Canberra crew Sam Spurling, this was my first time meeting him and it was certainly a pleasant interaction. Then again, maybe I just felt that way because my post-sideboard hands were pretty nutty, I’m surprised he didn’t salt. I guess that speaks to his lovely character.

Game 1: He has an ultra fast hand – I have turn one Vial but die before even making a turn two play. Alas.

+1 Faerie Macabre
+1 Containment Priest
+2 Rest in Peace
+2 Path to Exile
+1 Pithing Needle

-1 Flickerwisp
-1 Stoneforge Mystic
-1 Sword of Fire and Ice
-3 Phyrexian Revoker
-1 Mother of Runes

Revoker comes out because LED typically gets cracked before you can really do much about it, a Mom comes out because they’re overall pretty unimpressive (only great at saving Priest from removal), Wisp comes out so we can keep our curve lean and SFM and Sword are a bit slow – I much prefer using either Batterskull or Jitte to nuke Bridges, especially since they’re great against gummed up boards of Zombies too, while Sword often just gets chumped.

I may just like some other random card over Needle. But it was fine.

Game 2: I start with a Vial, he has a turn one Therapy naming Rest in Peace. I smirk a little as I reveal my hand of Faerie Macabre, Containment Priest and some lands (including a Wasteland). Vial is ticking up, and I Wasteland to cut off mana, rather than deploy Priest (don’t want to get it Firestormed). He cracks an LED at end of turn to dump his hand but it only has two Dredgers – I eat them with Faerie. He doesn’t draw land and then I cast a Priest and the anaemic 2/2 beats (eventually assisted by a Wisp) get there.

Game 3: Again, he starts with naming RiP… And again I have Priest! Essentially the same thing happens as last game, with me cutting off his mana and Priest being safe and cushy. I think I Needle a Cephalid Coliseum at one stage, but it’s pretty inconsequential. She and an eventual Thalia get there while I flood.

Round 5 vs. ANT

This fellow seems pretty new to his deck and apparently got a bunch of Byes in one of the feeder tournaments.

Game 1: He starts with Probe Therapy. I have two Wisps and a Thalia, and he takes Thalia. Now this is where I make a mistake – he says “of course, Thalia” while Flicker is the most high-value. For some reason I still put him on Grixis Delver (he was a bit of a macho kind of guy – surely he wouldn’t be a fan of the elegance of Storm!) and got a Mom that just sat there for multiple turns. If I put him on Storm I’d start bashing with my Mon’s Goblin Raider as early as possible, and it almost affected the outcome of this game. Anyway, I have Flickerwisps that start to come through Aether Vial to Port his black mana every turn and get him to a very low life total. He eventually has to go for it and goes for Ad Nauseam for some reason. He doesn’t hit much and dies.

+2 Ethersworn Canonist
+2 Rest in Peace
+1 Leonin Relic-Warder
+1 Faerie Macabre

-4 Swords to Plowshares
-1 Flickerwisp
-1 Mirran Crusader

Again, likely cutting an Avenger is better, as at least Wisp provides disruption. I also am not the biggest fan of Relic-Warder in this matchup, but smart Storm players will put mana rocks into play to get around Thalia, and Relic-Warder has a bit of upside as a Stone Rain there. Also, Dread of Night is a thing.

Game 2: I’m not really in this one as he Decays a Revoker on LED after I mulligan a little and don’t have any insane hate pieces. He then goes off from there.

Game 3: I mull to a six with some guys plus two Revokers – prone to Probe Therapy, of course, but good enough, I feel. I have a turn two Revoker on LED which, as he told me after the game “if you didn’t have Revoker I would’ve killed you”. In the words of a great man, Revoker is not even my best card, and I’m not going to keep a hand without a relevant turn two play against Storm. I topdeck a Canonist which further locks up the game and I think a Wasteland takes out something. These clock him for awhile until the penultimate turn where I drop my second Revoker into play for lethal next turn. It’s Massacre or bust for him, and apparently he doesn’t have it in his sideboard. So we win.

Round 6 vs. Miracle of Science

This is great friend and great player Matthew Larcombe who loves his rogue brewy McBrews. And he’s been on the Miracle of Science train after I linked him The Source thread (find that here). Little did we know, this matchup is pretty hard for him.

Game 1: I mulligan and hit an excellent six – Vial, Thalia, and double Prelate. Prelates on 6 and 3 should lock him entirely out of the game, not to mention we have Port to go with our Thalia. We tax his white mana until a Prelate on six gets in safely, but he Wishes for a Plow (that he cannot cast yet). On my turn I Vial in my second Prelate on one now, locking out all removal but still leaving Show and Tell + Omniscience + Emrakul as a way to win. I do have a Recruiter in hand though ready to do… Something. Anyway, he doesn’t have it and anyway can’t resolve a Show and Tell against my Thalia and mana denial.

+1 Leonin Relic-Warder
+1 Containment Priest
+1 Pithing Needle
+1 Palace Jailer
+2 Ethersworn Canonist
+2 Council’s Judgment

-4 Swords to Plowshares
-1 Stoneforge Mystic
-1 Umezawa’s Jitte
-1 Flickerwisp
-1 Mirran Crusader

I think cutting into a Mom would’ve been better here, as although Plow is annoying, there’s so few compared to typical Miracles.

Game 2: Thalia steals the show as always, crippling his mana, especially after he misses a land drop. I eventually assemble a Recruiter for Prelate on six, and then a crew of random idiots and mana denial stop him from comboing.

So we get into the Top 8! Woot! With a nice 5-1 record, putting us closer to the top of the standings.

Quarterfinals vs. Shardless BUG

Another guy who got some Byes from a feeder, he seems kind of nervous throughout the match, for some reason, which certainly got the better of him.

Game 1: I turn one Vial off a Cavern, as I kept a sketchy one-lander with no white source. It also includes Stoneforge and some random equipment. He Wastelands me, making me think Delver, and then Seas into Deathrite. So Grixis here we go. My Vial is ticking up and I get a Revoker on DRS into play. He Brainstorms around and then Decays it from a Shardlessy land. I then get a Thalia into play off my Vial and am starting to draw lands but have also all three of my equipment in my hand. I eventually get SFM into play and shuffle my library around – I probably should’ve just bluffed I missed the trigger, something to do in future in this situation. He Hymns me and hits the most important equipment in this matchup – Batterskull and Sword – leaving me with a pretty meh Jitte. Jitte gets onto Thalia and I’m bashing and killing his random idiots, mainly Shardless Agents that have drawn him mountains of cards (he’s Ancestraled twice, I have no cards in hand). I draw more Mystics and my Squires get in there, getting gobbled by an Agent but letting my Thalia use only one counter to get rid of it. He plays a 5/6 Goyf and next turn I confidently attack with her. He blocks, but misses the power of Jitte and first strikers – I pump her to a 4/3, first strike the Goyf, and then minus twice to kill it. Next turn he goes to Decay my Thalia but I’ve ripped a Wisp off the top and save her. Eventually I draw Recruiter, make an air force and kill my opponent.

My opponent made some interesting and questionable decisions at times, but we were lucky to squeak this one out.

+1 Palace Jailer
+2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
+2 Rest in Peace
+1 Leonin Relic-Warder
+2 Council’s Judgment

-2 Swords to Plowshares
-1 Flickerwisp
-1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
-1 Umezawa’s Jitte
-2 Sanctum Prelate
-1 Stoneforge Mystic

Could potentially keep all Stoneforges and cut a Mom instead.

Game 2: We have the nutters. Mom into a top deck SFM (I would’ve played Revoker on Lili otherwise) into Wasteland + put in Batterskull into Crusader into Jailer. He Needles my Mom, Null Rods me and Golgari Charms me but I ride the Monarchy to victory. Leonin Relic-Warder also did some nice work taking out Needle. Cool interaction – playing RiP after getting the board -1/-1ed kills Goyfs, woot.

Semifinals vs. Death & Taxes

I meet friend and fellow white creature comrade in the semis for the D&T mirror. Most D&T players have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the mirror, and this time it devolved into a rather uninteresting series of games, despite the potential for a really tricky Vial mirror.

Game 1: We both have no Vials, and I keep a fairly reactive hand with Revokers and some fliers, while Tom has an early Stoneforge for Batterskull – and hence likely has Jitte in hand. I Revoker Mystic and have him Ported at only one mana for a few turns. I’m flooding a fair bit and cast a kinda useless Prelate, and he Plows my Revoker in response. I then name two, forgetting that he now has SFM active and Jitte can just be cheated in anyway. I lucksack and draw a second Revoker for Jitte but am still dying to his air superiority and now a Batterskull that is in play. I eventually assemble a Wisp that can trade with his Avenger or Wisp, and hence only his Wisp is attacking. Thalia + Karakas stonewalls his Batterskull. Sadly I flood a bit and end up dying to his air superiority in slow, painful increments of three.

-4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
-2 Sanctum Prelate

+2 Council’s Judgment
+2 Path to Exile
+1 Leonin Relic-Warder
+1 Pithing Needle

If I had more slots I might try squeeze in Jailer, Priest and Gideon, but there’s not too much to cut.

Game 2: We battle a bit back and forth, me killing his Mom with my only Plow but being forced on the backfoot with few proactive threats backed up by his double Plow. Avengers stare at each other but he starts to aggro me out with a Thalia and Flickerwisp after these trade. I’m almost able to stabilise with a Stoneforge Mystic putting in Jitte to equip to my Wisp, and then untapping and Relic-Wardering his Revoker on Jitte to connect with it. Alas, he casts Council’s Judgment and I go deep in the tank, eventually putting in Jitte with SFM since I need to trade my Wisp with his and want him to CJ my Jitte, because otherwise I’ll lose. He exiles Wisp anyway, with me forgetting that he now has lethal on board after I’ve tapped my Stoneforge. Derp.

At the end of the day, I came for an Underground Sea and that’s what I got, so I couldn’t be much happier. Tom ended up not needing two Volcs and conceded for the Sea and Bayou to Sneak & Show.

Death & Taxes served me incredibly well, as always, and it’s never failed me in recent tournaments, despite the hiccup against Sneak & Show in the Swiss. But for that unlucky game, there was top decked Wisps and CJs among other things, so it all evens out in the end. I couldn’t help but give my deck a kiss when we squeaked out game one against Shardless in the semis. All the new additions served me incredibly well and the list felt pretty perfect overall, with I’m sure only slight modifications to come as the metagame shifts once more – Leovold is certainly an annoying card we’ll have to adapt against.

Anyway, thanks for sitting through all this drivel, hopefully it was enjoyable and gave some kind of useful information.

by Sean Brown

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