Winning at General Games Legacy with Esper Miracles

The morning of the event I wake up and I’m not feeling super keen on Miracle of Science (my pet deck that I have been playing the last few weeks). So I make the last minute decision to change my deck half an hour before I leave for the event. I had seen a cool-looking Esper Miracles list of Nicklas Krull from Europe recently and I had the list written up on my phone already, so thought why not give it a try. It’s just a small event (it ended up with twenty-five players). May as well have fun, then drop and Cube. My notes are not overly detailed and my memory is not the best, so if I have gotten anything wrong then I apologise. With that being said, this is the list I settled on:

Land: (19)
2 Island
1 Plains
1 Swamp
3 Tundra
2 Underground Sea
4 Flooded Strand
4 Polluted Delta
2 Marsh Flats

Creatures: (7)
3 Monastery Mentor
2 Snapcaster Mage
2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy

Non-Creature Spells: (34)
4 Brainstorm
3 Force of Will
3 Daze
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Ponder
3 Gitaxian Probe
2 Cabal Therapy
1 Painful Truths
3 Terminus
3 Counterbalance
4 Sensei’s Divining Top

Sideboard: (15)
1 Zealous Persecution
1 Massacre
1 Diabolic Edict
3 Surgical Extraction
1 Cabal Therapy
1 Thoughtseize
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
2 Disenchant
1 Force of Will
1 Entreat the Angels
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Flusterstorm

Round 1: Sneak & Show (Tyson Hiriart)
2-0

I know most of the regular Legacy players in Melbourne and I don’t think I have met this guy before. I have no idea what the matchup is or what any of my matchups are like, but what’s the worst that can happen, right?

Game 1: I keep a double fetch hand with some cantrips and Dazes. My opponent wins the roll and leads with a Scalding Tarn pass. I play my land and fetch, hoping he doesn’t play Stifle. My fetch resolves and I get to Ponder. Sweet. At the end of my turn he fetches a Volcanic Island and untaps. At this point I’m thinking it’s either Delver or Sneak and Show. He plays a second Volcanic then Ponders. I play another land and decide to take a punt with therapy. I name Show and Tell and he shows me some Sneak & Show things, but no counterspells and no Show and Tell. He left it on top with the Ponder and jams it. I Daze him and get to untap. Replay my land and pass it back. From this point it gets pretty hazy but I land a Mentor shortly after and Daze a second Show and Tell then Mentor and friends claim the win.

+2 Disenchant
+1 Force
+1 Flusterstorm
+1 Diabolic Edict
+1 Cabal Therapy
+3 Surgical Extraction
+1 Thoughtseize
-4 Swords to Plowshares
-3 Terminus
-2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
-1 Painful Truths

Game 2: My opponent again fired off an early Show and Tell which got countered then had his hand shredded by Therapy. At this moment I’m feeling really happy with how the deck is playing and am super excited to have what feels like a positive match up against Sneak & Show as it’s not something I usually feel with Miracles. It also helps that I can see two other Sneak & Show regulars in the room.

Round 2: Sneak and Show (Justin Ventura)
2-1

Justin is one of those Sneak & Show regulars so I’m excited to see if Round 1 was a fluke or whether I actually have a chance against this overpowered pile.

Game 1: I honestly remember nothing about this game and my notes are simply my life total creeping down a little bit with a big cross under it. Pretty sure it was an unanswered attack from an Emrakul.

+2 Disenchant
+1 Force of Will
+1 Flusterstorm
+1 Diabolic Edict
+1 Cabal Therapy
+3 Surgical Extraction
+1 Thoughtseize
-4 Swords to Plowshares
-3 Terminus
-2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
-1 Painful Truths

Game 2: The game stalled out a little as I developed a CounterTop and eventually got a Mentor online for the win. Justin draws poorly here and I am able to bait out his counterspells with haymaker after haymaker until the Mentor resolves. And then I spun some Tops and got there.

Game 3: This game was interesting and we both got to have a bit of a laugh about it afterwards. I kept a rather greedy hand with Mentor, Therapy, a Top and some lands. Most notably no counterspells assuming that Justin will wait a little until he has protection. Not so much. He jams a turn 1 Show and Tell off an Ancient Tomb and Lotus Petal. I reluctantly put in my Mentor thinking that this game is over as he puts in a Sneak Attack. I play a fetchland and get to resolve a Cabal Therapy naming Griselbrand. Miss. He’s left himself with a Volcanic, a Show and Tell and an Ancient Tomb. I forget to attack with my Mentor here and felt like a fool when he mentioned it to me after the game. Oh well. He doesn’t top deck a creature which fills me with joy when he instead uses the volc from his hand to cast a preordain. I untap and tank for a little. I end up going with the line of Ponder, Brainstorm, Surgical on his Show and Tell, see that he has nothing in hand. I think for a second and of course come to the realization that 13 life is the same as 15 in this matchup, so I jam a second Surgical extraction on his Preordain. I pick up his deck to have a look and realize that his only out is top decking a creature. And with my current board of Monks I take him to 7 so he can’t activate Griselbrand if he draws it. I decide to leave the Preordains in his deck in the hopes that he doesn’t draw an Emrakul and go face. He flips the top card but the heart of the cards was not with him this day.

Round 3: Death & Taxes (Jonathan Gilchrist)
0-2

This was another person whom I hadn’t seen before and had no idea what he was playing. But after going 2-0 in matches against Sneak & Show I was feeling on top of the world… But oh boy, did that come crashing down quick.

Game 1: My opponent won the die roll and led with turn 1 Plains, Aether Vial, go. At this point I figured I was probably in a little bit of trouble. I fire off a Probe and see a hand of Thalia, Revoker, Stoneforge, Plains and a Rishadan Port. Not looking promising. The board gets gummed up with little white idiots and I eventually find a Terminus but I can’t deal with the Aether Vial putting more dudes in at end of turn and I succumb.

+2 Disenchant
+1 Cabal Therapy
+1 Zealous Persecution
+1 Massacre
+1 Diabolic Edict
-3 Force of Will
-3 Daze

Game 2: I keep a very questionable seven with five lands and two spells. One of which is a terminus. This game starts off with my opponent laying down a bunch of dudes but no real mana denial which suits me perfectly. I eventually get to turn 6 without dying and resolve a terminus getting rid of all those pesky dudes, however I fall victim to the Jitte on board. He eventually draws a Stoneforge and without any way of stopping it he suits it up with the Jitte and the Sword of Fire and Ice he just searched up and it makes short work of me.

Round 4: High Tide (Michael Bullard)
2-0

This was a feature match:

Game 1: Because this was a feature match I didn’t bother to take notes game 1 like the genius that I am. But cliffnotes version is that I used up some counterspells against his early stuff then jammed a Mentor and lucked my way into double Top and presented an aggressive clock. It was good enough.

+2 Disenchant (This may look odd but I know that Bullard plays 3 Candelabra and I want to make it harder for him to go off. If I were to play the matchup again I would leave in Jace.)
+1 Force of Will
+1 Flusterstorm
+1 Diabolic Edict
+1 Cabal Therapy
+3 Surgical Extraction
+1 Thoughtseize
-4 Swords to Plowshares
-3 Terminus
-2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
-1 Painful Truths

Game 2: This game is a little silly. I fire off some early discard and manage to Surgical his two remaining High Tides (one now in the board). I also resolve a Counterbalance. At this point his win condition is Cunning Wish into his last High Tide, whilst getting through my Counterbalance and the countermagic in my hand. I tap out to drop a Mentor to put him on a clock and he decides its now or never and jams a Time Spiral. There goes my plan to just keep a three drop on top for Counterbalance. We both shuffle up and he goes for a Cunning Wish. I let it resolve and don’t bother to trigger my Counterbalance. I only have two three-drops left in the deck and I have a lot of 1 drops. He gets a High Tide with the Cunning Wish and casts it. I blind flip a Thoughtseize to the Counterbalance and he scoops it up shortly after.

Round 5: Dragon Stompy (Graham King)
ID

Really stoked to have made the Top 8. I went in not really expecting to get anywhere with the deck after having been told again and again by local miracles expert Stephen Tang that the Esper version is inferior. Not only that though, it was really good to see that a bunch of my friends and teammates had also made Top 8. The Top 8 ended up looking like this:

1. Jonathan Gilchrist (Death & Taxes)
2. Thomas Sellitto (Sneak & Show)
3. Jacob Phillips (Grixis Delver)
4. Matthew Larcombe (Esper Miracles) (The hero of this report)
5. Graham King (Dragon Stompy)
6. Tom Sullivan (Eldrazi Stompy)
7. Lukas Diem (Ad Nauseum Tendrils)
8. Justin Ventura (Sneak & Show)

So now we were onto Top 8 and all its promises of glory.

Quarterfinals: Dragon Stompy (Graham King)
2-1

Game 1: I have a very good hand. I manage to curve into an early Mentor while countering all of my opponents threats for a fairly easy win. At this point I’m thinking the matchup seems easy. Play tight and I should be fine…right?

Game 2: I keep a somewhat questionable hand with multiple fetches. Encouraged by his turn one of Mountain go I decide to spend my first turn firing off a blind Cabal Therapy naming Blood Moon using a fetched Underground Sea. He didn’t have Blood Moon but he did have Magus. And a Sulfur Elemental for my Mentor. He played a turn two Magus and I never saw a black source for my Edict or a Swords.

Game 3: Another one of those games where you just have it. He jammed a turn 2 Magus of the Moon straight into my Diabolic Edict in hand and the rest of the game plays similarly. He taps out for something. Daze. He plays around the Daze and I have Force. The game stalls while I counter all of his threats and I eventually resolve a Mentor and he scoops.

Semifinals: Sneak & Show (Justin Ventura)
2-0

Game 1: Going into game one I am feeling quietly confident. I had already beaten Justin in the Swiss and my thinking was that as long as I kept up counters and landed an early Mentor I would be okay. He ended up tapping out to resolve a Sneak Attack and I fired off a Cabal Therapy deciding to name Griselbrand. I got lucky and hit two in his hand and he didn’t find an Emrakul in time to save him.

+1 Force
+1 Fluster
+1 Diabolic Edict
+1 Cabal Therapy
+3 Surgical Extraction
+1 Thoughtseize
-4 Swords to Plowshares
-3 Terminus
-1 Painful Truths

So I decided to leave the Disenchants out this time. It was probably incorrect, but it worked so let’s apply some results based thinking and say that it was fine. My thought process when making this decision was that the only time its better than a blue card that I can pitch to Force is when my opponent has a resolved Sneak Attack on board, and if my opponent has a resolved Sneak Attack on board I am probably dead anyway.

Game 2: He plays a turn two Boseiju and looking down at my hand of Daze, double Force and some cantrips I am terrified. He then plays a City of Traitors and drops a Sneak Attack. I can’t believe my luck as I get to Daze one of his few relevant cards in the matchup. I sit there in terror that he will draw a way to get one of the Griselbrands from his hand into play but he draws poorly and doesn’t get there before Mentor shows up to ruin his day.

Finals: Eldrazi Stompy (Thomas Sullivan)
2-0

This is recorded!

Game 1: This match was against my teammate Sully. He had a very rough time and while he had ridden the wave of variance to this point, it finally let him down. In this game he mulled to six and led with Wasteland go. I fired off a blind Cabal Therapy naming Chalice of the Void and missed but saw that his hand was pretty weak with no Sol Lands, a Warping Wail, a Thought-Knot Seer and a Reality Smasher. I passed turn and he played a Wastes. I did some cantripping and passed back to him. At the end of my turn he jammed the Warping Wail that I assumed he would hold up for a Terminus. I had an internal debate for about twenty seconds trying to decide whether or not to Daze it before finally letting it resolve so he could have his 1/1. He untaps and play a City of Traitors, then tanks for a little bit trying to decide on whether to fire off Thought-Knot Seer or to smash some realities. He decides to crack his 1/1 for the 5th mana to cast Reality Smasher and I windmill slam my Daze. I untap and replay my Island before passing it back. He goes for Thought-Knot Seer and I have the second Daze to seal the game up. I resolve a Mentor a few turns later and ride it to a virtually unopposed victory.

Half way through the boarding process I remember that Counterbalance is a terrible card in the matchup and I should probably take it out. So my boarding ends up something like this…

+2 Disenchant
+1 Diabolic Edict
+1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
+1 Force
+1 Cabal Therapy
-3 Counterbalance
-3 Gitaxian Probe

Game 2: Sully is again on the bad side of variance and mulligans his opening seven. I decide to stick to the principle that I have had for the rest of the tournament which is that if you win game one, then you can afford to keep far looser hands in game two provided they have high potential. So when I see that my opponent has mulliganed I decide to keep my hand of Diabolic Edict, Disenchant, Force of Will, three Brainstorm and a single Flooded Strand. Sully mulls again down to five then decides to keep. He fires off a turn one double Simian Spirit Guide fuelled Chalice of the Void that I cannot Force fast enough. I top deck two lands in a row into a Mentor and the game is quickly sealed up.

All-in-all it was a really fun tournament and the guys at General Games ran it wonderfully. Quick shout out to the boys who dropped early to commentate from round four onwards – great job guys.

As for the deck it feels like it has answers to everything. I really think that the deck could be a viable deck choice in pretty much any tournament. It does not play like classic Miracles in that you do not have a huge end game haymaker. You instead have the option of trying to play a tempo game with Mentor, Daze and Force, or you can go a little slower against decks such as Delver and just set up a CounterTop lock before landing a Mentor to take the game. I am not sure how good Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is in the deck but I don’t know what I would replace him with yet. I feel as though the deck is in a really good place and was really well positioned for the room. If you are looking for a fun new take on Miracles, while still playing all the best cards the deck has to offer, then you should definitely give this list a go.

By Matthew Larcombe

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