I’m going to spare you all a full article ranting about the M14 rules changes, because by now, I’m sure most of you have read about 30 of them. Instead, I’ll try to keep this short and then get down to business (SCG Baltimore).

You’ve all met that guy (or gal). You know, that Spike friend that cringes anytime someone talks about flavor-related elements of the game. You might hear them proudly exclaim that they play this game strictly as a battle of wits in which they wish to display their superior deductive reasoning skills and their ability to rapidly calculate probabilities. Maybe I’m describing you. I’ll own up to the fact that this would have been a reasonably accurate description of me at some point in the past. The truth of the matter is, though, that if you honestly believe that you don’t give one iota about the lore and flavor of the game, and that you’re looking at each card as just a collection of statistics that interact with each other, you are either lying to yourself or you are not very good at these calculations that you take so much pride in—because if you were, you would be playing poker instead of tapping lands for mana.

I’ve been in denial for a while regarding whether I actually care about flavor. While I would occasionally get lost clicking through links on the MTGS Wiki to read up on various plot-related elements, I told myself little lies to rationalize this behavior, like, “Oh, I’m only looking at this to give myself an idea of where the story is going next so I can hypothesize what kind of tools the upcoming set/block will give us.” It wasn’t until reading the M14 rules changes that the blood of my inner Vorthos started to boil. From a gameplay standpoint, I was a little hesitant at first, as humans can naturally be hesitant to change, but I came around; after all, I’m bound by the same rules as my opponents, so those who adapt more quickly to the new rules will be advantaged over those who don’t.

From a flavor perspective, though, my brain could not find a way to reconcile this change. How could there be two Olivia Voldarens? I don’t buy the whole argument of “she’s helping me when I attack with her, but then runs over to the other side and helps my opponent when they attack with her.” The Olivia card on my side of the battlefield represents a physical manifestation of this unique character and unique means THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE DAMMIT! It was towards the end of having these thoughts race through my mind when I had that epiphany of, “Oh crap, I actually give at least a tiny bit of a damn about these silly fantasy worlds I visit to throw spells at people’s faces.”

And that’s that. I’ve said my piece on why I dislike the rules changes. I guess I’ll get over it, because sometimes things happen that don’t really make sense, flavor-wise, and we just have to accept it.


Fifty hours after this article is published, I will be boarding an Amtrak to Baltimore to compete in this weekend’s Star City Games Open. I still haven’t decided on my final lists for both portions of the weekend, but I have a pretty good idea of where I want to be. I won’t go into too much detail with my options for Standard, as I talked extensively about it last week. Unless I have a really poor run on MODO with Grixis Control (aka Evil Tim’s Super Villains) over the next couple of days, I will probably bring out a slightly tuned version of that list. My backups in mind are two different flavors of patriotism (UWR Auras/Control) or the old standby, Esper.

For Legacy, I am pretty locked into registering an updated version of the list that I used to punt away a top-8 berth at SCG Edison. I haven’t finalized the exact 75 yet, but here’s a preliminary version (those who know me well know that I often decide on the final 75 during the player’s meeting, especially for the sideboard):

UW Miracles

Planeswalkers (3)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Lands (22)
Arid Mesa
Flooded Strand
Glacial Fortress
Polluted Delta
Volcanic Island

Spells (35)
Helm of Obedience
Sensei's Divining Top
Blood Moon
Detention Sphere
Energy Field
Rest in Peace
Enlightened Tutor
Force of Will
Spell Pierce
Spell Snare
Swords to Plowshares
Entreat the Angels
Supreme Verdict

Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Grafdigger's Cage
Pithing Needle
Ethersworn Canonist
Force of Will
Vendilion Clique

There are a few other lists that caught my attention and are in my crosshairs for the near future. I saw an interesting take on the miracles archetype from SCG’s Eternal Europe writer, Carsten Kotter. I’ll wait here while you have a look at the list.

Pretty crazy, right? Four Jaces? Three Entreats? ZERO Terminuses (or is it Termini)? Kotter makes some valid points in defending his choices, but I would like to give it a test drive before taking it out to the big show, as Legacy is a format that greatly rewards pilots who know their decks inside and out.

Another list I would probably need considerably more practice with than the list that Carsten provided comes to us from the recently completed Bazaar of Moxen. For those not in the know, BoM is THE must-attend Magic event of the year for European Eternal lovers. An important thing to keep in mind with these lists is that the European meta is typically far more combo-heavy than in North America. The Northeast United States meta (when I say Northeast, I’m also including Mid-Atlantic) is typically a more blue-skewed meta from what I’ve gathered by talking to more seasoned Legacy players than myself. Regardless, the winning list from BoM is mono-blue combo-control and packs enough countermagic defenses to fight through the abundance of Force of Wills and Spell Pierces that are to be expected in this region. It plays much differently than the UR/Grixis Show and Tell lists that I’m more accustomed to, and it appears to have a far more resilient win condition.

Come next week, I will have a tournament report for you, covering how I fared and the types of decks I faced in both Standard and Legacy. Maybe if I play well, I will even have another feature match to share with you. Before I go, I want to touch on some personal goals of mine, as a player, for the near future. The upcoming string of SCG Opens means a great deal to me, as I am hell-bent on qualifying for the Invitational when it returns to New Jersey. I currently need eight more points or a top 8 to qualify, which means that if I attend Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Worcester, I just need one decent finish to qualify. I’m hoping for more, though, mostly because I don’t particularly want to go to Worcester; the loftier goal is to qualify before the Worcester Open. That said, WISH ME LUCK, PEOPLE!

Until next time, may you successfully bash someone for 14 with a Nicol Bolas carrying a Nicol Bolas!

“Evil” Tim Akpinar is one of Brooklyn’s finest durdlers. If there’s a top-tier control deck in the meta, you can bet he’s spent a minute taking it apart to see what makes it tick. If it wraths and draws cards, “Evil” Tim Akpinar approves.

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