CanCon is a gaming convention that has been held in Canberra, Australia for thirty-nine years now. It’s a convention that specialises in board-games and wargaming, cosplay etc. etc. Nerd heaven! This is the sort of stuff I file under the “I’m aware you exist but I don’t care about you.” I went to Canberra and CanCon for one reason and one reason alone. To have a holiday. And to also indulge in some Legucci I guess.
The deck I chose to play is called 4c/BURG Delver which I have been brewing and testing with for close to six months now. It’s been the only deck since Goblins to really captivate me, and I’m glad we stuck with it. I basically took Jarvis Yu’s/Ben Friedman’s list, gave it the Jonathon Alexander treatment and voila, we have the decklist:
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Delver of Secrets
1 Gurmag Angler
2 Snapcaster Mage
2 True-Name Nemesis
Non-Creature Spells: (27)
3 Abrupt Decay
4 Force of Will
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Spell Pierce
1 Spell Snare
4 Flooded Strand
1 Misty Rainforest
3 Polluted Delta
2 Tropical Island
3 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island
1 Ancient Grudge
2 Painful Truths
1 Pithing Needle
2 Red Elemental Blast
1 Sudden Demise
1 Sulfur Elemental
3 Surgical Extraction
Since I am still a Goblins player despite not really playing it at all anymore, the sideboard is packed to the rafters full of combo hate. When metagames get like this, you have the ultra-fair on one side (D&T, Eldrazi, Miracles) and the ultra-rude on the other side (Storm, Show and Tell). In this sort of metagame, it’s easy for a fair blue deck to be squeezed out as it is still just playing a whole lot of bad cards and can either be killed through a Force of Will or be outvalued and outbrawled. BURG Delver represents the best of the middle ground. With four Bolts, three Decays, two True Name, Tombstalker and a maindeck Jitte you are able to brawl with the fair decks game one while still having very good game against the combo-decks thanks to the high number of hard-counters and the false-tempo that playing only blue duals will naturally give you.
I deliberately chose to play minimal amounts of soft countermagic because cards like Spell Pierce stink in this metagame. Spell Snare and Counterspell are in my deck because they can actually attack both the ultra-fair and the ultra-unfair without warping your game plan. They are also incredibly underrated cards and I would like to shout out Jonathan Alexander and his blog TheWeeklyWars for teaching me this lesson.
In any case, the day started bright and early. 5 am to be precise. By the time I picked up Matt and Jesse and hightailed it over to Stephen’s house where Sean was waiting, it was 7 am. From there we had a lovely eight hour drive to Canberra. The drive was pretty amusing, with highlights being Jesse singing Sk8er Boi like someone gacked on MDMA and Stephen being accosted by some grumpy old dude in a small country town for going through a stop sign that may as well have been purposely hidden.
I got to enjoy some Block Constructed on Friday at Cancon, busting out Goblin Bidding which is a super sweet deck, and going 3-1 drop before we forced ourselves to FNM for what was the first FNM I’ve ever played in. By this stage we were all absolutely exhausted, starving and dehydrated which made for some comical nihilism from the entire crew. I played Death & Taxes at the FNM and went 3-1, losing only to a severe case of mana-screw. I decided against it playing it on the day because the meta was:
a: full of other DnT decks and I hate playing the mirror and;
b: There was a loooooott of Dread of Night floating around.
Furthermore, I think not playing Brainstorm in Legacy automatically writes you off from having a serious chance at contending at this stage. This is not to say that decks without Brainstorm won’t top 8, but bad luck will eventually get you and not playing the most powerful card in Legacy seems stupid if you own dual lands and care slightly about winning. With such a fair local meta, Jesse broached to me the idea of cutting one of the two Spell Pierces to play a maindeck Umezawa’s Jitte. After some discussion with the rest of the team, to which there was almost unanimous agreement, the change was made.
The drive to the tournament was great. I dry-wretched potentially thirty times and we listened to music from the Rocky soundtracks. Call me corny but I really think good pump-up music can do the trick and it did just that. Our group photo has me looking like I’m chewing my lip like a good Ketamine fuelled weekend rocker but I was just in the zone.
Left to right: Sean, Me, Matthew Larcombe, Jesse Bartle, Stephen Tang
With fifty-five players, I was super excited to show to the Canberra people that I was a serious contender. I anticipated going 3-3 or maybe 4-2 at best, still being fairly new to the Delver archetype, but I just wanted to play some good games.
Round 1 – Elves
This was my opponents first Legacy tournament, and he was playing a Modern Elves deck. I had turn one Delver both games and crushed him with some excellent draws. I finished game one with Jitte on a Gurmag Angler, and Force’d a Dwynen’s Elite. I felt bad, I’m not gunna lie. Welcome to Legacy I guess…?
+1 Sudden Demise
+ 3 Thoughtseize.
A personal highlight of this round was sitting next to someone who had rather offensive body-odour, and his opponent seeing my “The Salt Mine” playmat and telling me how much he liked the podcast. Day = made. Thanks buddy!
Round 2: Burn
These were some close games to a really good player and a really nice human being. Game one was a farcical affair with me winning at sixteen life or something equally ridiculous. Thanks Deathrite Shaman!
Games two and three were much closer with me just squeaking out a win at four life in game three after my opponent failed to draw his 4th mountain to double Fireblast me.
In game two I died from fifteen life after the red-mage combo of Bolt, Price and Fireblast dealt me exactly lethal. I told him Matt Vaughan would have been proud and he liked that!
How loose is your goose? I’m sure I should have sideboarded out something else like Tombstalker but I’m always worried about losing because of not drawing a threat to close the game out. Thoughts Burger-bros?
Round 3: ANT
This was a tournament of fifty-five players. There were probably twelve or so other players who were undefeated at this stage. I would have given anything to have played one of the other eleven players but such is life I guess. You see, I had been paired with Jesse Bartle. One of my best friends. I like to think of us as an impromptu comedy team that doesn’t care whether you laugh with us, because we’ll be laughing harder than you anyway.
I offered Jesse the draw before we started playing. If we won out would definitely make it, and x-1-1 would have made Top 8. Jesse declined. So we played.
In very BURG fashion, I rode a turn one Delver to victory, using Snapcaster to buy-back Spell Snares and Bolts. I offered him the draw again to which again he refused.
Game two saw me mulligan to six, but a scry left Counterspell on top of the deck. Jesse started with a turn one Gitaxian-Therapy, which took away my Delver, leaving me with Deathrite Shaman and some other cards. I drew my Counterspell, played the Shaman and passed. I cantripped into a Delver the turn after which flipped to a blind Force the turn after that. Now the heat was on and Jesse had almost perfect information… Boy that scry rule is good when it does stuff like this.
Jesse tried to go off, but the Force, blue card and Counterspell got him. My attack put him to one life, and my Ponder found Lightning Bolt to seal the deal.
I begged Jesse to take the draw but he refused. I felt awful about beating Jesse, but I really was overjoyed at the prospect of my 3-0 start. Still, I stayed focused. This is not how this usually goes!? I even declined cigarettes, worried that getting too relaxed would break my focus. Again, this is not how this usually goes!
Round 4: TES
I had no idea what deck my opponent was on until it was too late into game one. I panicked and Force of Will’d a blind Infernal Tutor which is so wrong it isn’t even funny. This was probably my first punt of the day. He ignored my Force, made a billion Goblins and killed me. He had no way to protect his combo and my premature ejaculation punt cost me the game.
+1 Sudden Demise
-1 Gurmag Angler
-1 Lightning Bolt
-1 True Name Nemesis
-1 Umezawa’s Jitte
The postboard games were defined by my ability to turn one Thoughtseize + Surgical. Unfortunately, I hit the wrong card with the Thoughtseize/Surgical in game two but won anyway because I am good at blind flipping Delver, which let me race the fifteen Goblins he made on his go-off turn.
Game three a quick mulligan to 6 let me hide a Thoughtseize on top of my library. A Gitaxian Therapy from him took my Delver, but my draw of Thoughtseize allowed me to Surgically-Thoughtseize his Infernal Tutors, which was followed later up by a Surgical on Lion’s Eye Diamond which made my life a hell of a lot easier. He tried going off with lethal on board that turn, but he fizzled. My opponent was again a great person and a fantastic player which made that squeaked out win even sweeter.
After winning such a close match, I unfortunately had to put up with some bullshit that involved Sean’s round four opponent trying to “allegedly” cheat him. I saw what I saw and heard what I heard but you know… “allegedly.” This really annoyed me and I was ready to drop from the event at 4-0 because of this. Not to tangent, but I do the Salt Mine podcast because I love Legacy. I don’t care about winning, but if you are going to win, earn it the proper way. When I see stuff like this, it ruins the atmosphere completely for me, and I don’t need to win at magic to feel good about being alive and hanging with the boys. Anyway… Sean, Jesse, Matt and Stephen all convinced me to keep playing and to ignore that bullshit. Thank you boys. I would also like to specifically thank the Judges at this event for their professionalism, in spite of the “alleged” cheater and I getting into a verbal blue. You can try and cheat against me all you like but don’t try and cheat Sean, especially in front of me you drongo. Fuck off.
I love big Legacy events because it means you get to play people outside of your mates and meet new people, but I hate that it brings out the Spikes who are miserable gronks to play against and who try and cheat to win when they have no other outs. Get out of my card-game you miserable rats.
Round 5: Reid Duke’s Deck
At 4-0 we could have both easily double drawn in but there is bad blood between me and my opponent so he wants to play. Don’t you love the drama I get myself into? Spicy.
A mulligan to six in game one led to a no-threat hand full of soft permission and removal which he was able to easily overcome with two Jace, the Mind Sculptors, which obviously took over the game in short order.
My game two hand of double True-Name + Deathrite but no fetchland hand was beat when I failed to be able to use Deathrite’s “pretend to be Bird of Paradise” ability. By the time I got to three mana, he was able to counter the first TNN and Thoughtseize the second one away while his True-Name cruised to victory, using his own Deathrite to outpace my flipped Delver and Deathrite.
The matchup still feels ok, and I’ve beaten it before against equally strong/stronger players, but that deck definitely brawls. I had intended to buy a Marsh Casualties before the event but forgot in all the madness that is finding Onslaught block cards the day before an event.
A bit shaken, worried that I would lose out of Top 8, I had my first cigarette of the tournament and asked for hugs off of the Melbourne crew. I think they did the trick!
Round 6: Death & Taxes
I did some rough maths and worked out that him and I could both draw into the top 8. He didn’t want to “risk” it, so we played. I knew he was on D&T too which is why I really didn’t want to play the match as 4-2 would definitely knock me out and it’s definitely not my favourite matchup to play.
I think the matchup is actively bad, having played it a few times against Sean who has just crushed me. I was also never scared of a Delver deck when I played Death & Taxes and had the most ridiculous lifetime record against them over my life of playing D&T, and this was before D&T had been boosted by a kilo of pure steroid. It’s legitimately something like 60+ wins to 2 losses.
I lose the die roll and look at a hand of Fetch, Fetch, Wasteland, Tropical, True Name, True Name, Force of Will. If there is any hand that will give me a chance, it is this one. He leads with Mother of Runes which could be bad but I top deck a Lightning Bolt to stay in the game. He plays a Spirit of the Labyrinth on turn 2, to which I do nothing, then he plays a Flickerwisp, to which I play True Name, then another True Name and followed by a Bolt on his Flickerwisp. Other stuff happened but it wasn’t relevant against the triple one-sided Sulfuric Vortex.
-4 Force of Will
-1 Spell Pierce
+ 1 Sulfur Elemental
+ 1 Sudden Demise
+1 Pithing Needle
+1 Ancient Grudge
+2 Painful Truths
Postboard you basically just pretend to be BURG Delverblade. It’s a confusing name isn’t it? Fun to say though and it’s what I love about the deck; the ability to transform into a much grindier deck that doesn’t throw it’s tempo away.
My opening hand had plenty of mana, Deathrite, Delver, Bolt and Thoughtseize which is a snap keep. He opened on Port… Go.
Woah, what!? That’s it?! No Vial?
Again, I’m used to Sean just having it every single time on turn one so this was a real treat.
I drew a Derpstorm for my opening turn, and played a Deathrite. In his turn he played a Wasteland and passed. This Thoughtseize was going to be amaaaazing!
He ported me in my upkeep, drew a Delver, Wastelanded his Port, Deathrite became a bird and I saw his hand of more colourless lands, Recruiter of the Guard and Frank, Heretic Cathar. Goodbye Recruiter of the Guard, hello tempo! I played a Delver which flipped blind straightaway (#skillgames) and I started beating down, very much ahead but still wary of the D&T comeback.
He eventually found a a white source and cast Frank, Heretic Cathar. That card is such a piece of shit, so I couldn’t have cared less. He followed it up with the only real Thalia, which ate the Bolt EoT, and I just kept bashing. The problem with Frank, Heretic Cathar, is that while it is annoying it is not enough to actually do anything relevant outside of being a 3/2 with First Strike.
On the penultimate turn I topdecked a Sulfur Elemental and decided that I was definitely going to cast it over the Deathrite block + drain, untap and swing for lethal plan that had been there. The power of cool plays! I guess it also plays around a Swords on my Insectile Abortion too, which could be relevant.
And with that, I was into the Top 8. When Sean won, I knew he was locked in and we hugged and congratulated each other. What a treat I thought, Top 8 with Sean at a proper sized event. The two Salt Mine casters, in the Top 8. Delicious!
The real icing was yet to come… you see Mr. D&T could have drawn in with me at 4-1-1. By forcing me to play it out, he had knocked himself out of the Top 8, which allowed Stephen Tang to sneak in as the last seed. If you think I was happy before, you should have seen me when they announced Tang was in. After his 0-1-1 start, I thought he was something like 3-2-1. Not quite… THE BOY HAD WON OUT!!
I was so happy to have made the Top 8 that it didn’t matter what happened. I was legitimately exhausted at this point and my play in the Top 8 match was pretty abysmal. I played against a very, very good player, playing a very, very cool UR Delver/Control hybrid and I lost in two lopsided games when he stabilised against me in game one with True Name after killing my lone Delver, and Blood Mooned the crap out of me in game two after a huge error on my part with er… Blood Moon. I definitely had the tools to win game two but decided to throw it away instead which is fine. Live and learn!
It was a heap of fun to play seven rounds of magic, but I’m not anywhere near used to it and I did not have the stamina I’d like.
We hung around to watch Tang steal the whole thing (read his excellent report after this here) and then celebrated by playing Super Smash Bros. Melee in our rented apartment with two of the Canberra boys, drinking beers, smashing darts and eating the most amazing Amatriciana that Jesse knocked up in ten minutes. Italian cooks are amazing, I highly recommend having one in your friendship group.
Since the forced foreclosure of Goblins on me, I have really struggled to find “my” new deck. Sometimes I’ll hear a sad/love song and I’ll think about Goblins when they bust out the old “I’m always thinking about you” variant that is par for the course in these types of songs. I highly recommend listening to the Exies “Tired of You” and listening to the chorus. Then think about me thinking about Goblins. I’m sure it will go down delightfully. For the record, at no stage did I consider playing Goblins for this event. That deck is awful in these meta-games, and simply bad in good metagames for it.
To have made such a deep run really feels validating and incredibly satisfying. God damn I love Legacy.
- The team. What can I say more about this incredible bunch of people. I think I laughed more in these seventy-two hours than I have in my whole life prior, and I laugh a lot. It felt really good getting three out of the five of us in the Top 8, although I would really have loved to have seen Jesse and Matt in there too. They were only one or two wins away each from it as well, which is still an incredible performance from them.
- The Judges: They did a lot on this day, but perhaps the highlight of highlights was in the final game of the finals match. I’ll let you read Stephen’s report, but after the game loss was awarded, the two decided to play it out for “honour.” The Judge’s quite rightly said at 11 pm “no seriously, pack up and get out, we’ve been here since 8 am”. And people are worried about Goblin Recruiter, hah.
- The Legacy crew of Canberra. Sasha, Nick, Brando, Angus. I love you all deeply and hope to continue to annoy the shit out of you well into the future.
- The event organisers and Judges: thank you for letting us play Legacy.
- “Alleged” Cheaters and other angle-shooting players: fuck off out of Legacy you dropkicks. Go chase the Pro Tour dream elsewhere, cos CanCon 2016 isn’t getting you to the pro-tour and neither is CanCon 2017. I don’t know how you can feel proud of yourself or even validated trying to win on made-up technicalities, but you make me sick. Thank god the Judge staff wanted nothing to do with them, and that common sense was the victor.
- The bugs of Canberra: they were everywhere, and I don’t mean the “alleged” cheaters. I really think that they are secretly holding the residents of Canberra hostage because they certainly don’t pay rent but they are also everywhere and enormous. Frightful stuff.
- Canberra’s night-time scene: a beer at midnight from a bar would have be nice, just saying.
- Sasha: Getting a stomach bug the day of Canberra’s biggest yearly legacy event? Rough beats hun.
- The speed limit in Australia: In Germany, I drove at 160 km/h on all the highways and they were not part of the Autobahn either. While doing so, the cops flashed their lights at me for going too slowly (I’m not kidding). Having to drive 550+ kilometres at 110 km/h in a straight line is fucking miserable and takes way too long.
I love a good Delver.
By Steven Stamopoulos