As another SCG Open weekend has come and gone, I find myself in a precarious position. Regular readers know that I’m gunning hard for an invite to the Somerset Invitational. Sitting at 11 points, with only one Open left that I can practically attend in Worcester (and I’m stretching the word, “practically,” because there isn’t really a whole lot that is practical about Worcester), the math looks pretty rough, especially when considering that I can only play Sunday due to prior obligations. To get to the 15-point threshold that gets me that sweet, sweet invite, I need a top-32 finish; anything less and I have to start aggressively grinding Invitational Qualifiers. In Standard. Oh, the humanity! Enough about worrying about my qualification woes, though. Let’s talk about the Philly Open. Let’s also talk about what a foodie haven that city is and how much I love going to events there, because that way, I can keep this article from sinking to these sort of levels of emo (Todd, if you’re reading, which I doubt, I’m not knocking; I just know another emo kid when I see one.. and the Thursday reference gave you away).


Standard—Mistakes We Knew We Were Making

Admittedly, I was very unprepared for Standard. I haven’t had much of a chance to play the format, lately, outside of MODO two-man queues, and on the eve of the tournament, I found myself waffling between three different archetypes (SURPRISE! they were all blue-based). I had my mind set on tweaking one of the following three lists: Cuneo’s UWR Control, Fabiano’s Grixis Control, or Duke’s Bant Control. While I was packing and deliberating on my deck choice, my roommate, Charles, came home and suggested I just play Hexproof, since I haven’t put much work into the format, lately, and it’s a fairly easy deck that plays itself. I had some apprehension, as I did recall having a poor tournament in Baltimore running UWR Hexproof. But I was pretty easily persuaded that the Bant version was better, and it would be an easy deck to pilot. Besides, I had a playset of Voices (of Resurgence) that needed an excuse to come out and play. I ended up playing this version (yes, the EXACT 75; something I kind of hate to do). My reasoning was a.) it ran Voice and b.) no Smiters, so I wouldn’t have to worry about acquiring any. Yep. Horrible reasons to play a deck. I built this bed, so I guess I lie in it by my own choices. While we’re talking about poor choices and Baltimore, let me fire up my flux capacitor and get us to 88 mph



“To quickly glaze over the Standard portion and the lesson that was learned, I will tell you this: don’t audible into something that is drastically different than what you’ve been practicing! Maybe this doesn’t hold true for everyone, but I tend to play better when I’ve put in more practice with a deck. Part of my decision to audible from the Grixis Control list that I’ve been trying to perfect into UWR Auras was laziness, or rather, anticipation of laziness (and fatigue); due to the fact that I was traveling the morning of the event and waking up at 4:30am to catch my train, and the fact that I was playing a Legacy deck that typically needed most of the fifty minutes to close out a match, I decided that I wanted something that wins (and loses) quickly.”


Yep, I repeated the same mistake I made in Baltimore for the EXACT same reason. I guess I thought cutting red for green made reusing the same terrible rationale an acceptable decision? Seriously, though, I’m not doing this again. If you’re friends with me and I bring up a suggestion like this, again, slap me across the face and tell me to get back to you after I take a moment to read my own blog posts. Everyone’s mileage will vary, but the whole fatigue factor was never an issue throughout the day, or even later in the evening; I’m fortunate enough that with three to four hours of sleep and a bottle of 5-Hour Energy on arrival, I can function normally (side note: 50% of my Grand Prix day twos were made on less than four hours of sleep in rather sub-par conditions, but like I said, your mileage may vary). Needless to say, I decided to quit the day at 3-3 to go and play in the Legacy challenge. I guess I was technically still alive, but I couldn’t bring myself to soldier on after losing to Maze’s End.


Legacy Challenge—Keeping the Blade

To quickly breeze through this portion, I won my first round against an opponent who had just recently decided to take the plunge into Legacy with Death and Taxes. He made some play errors, but it’s Legacy; even the best players make a few mistakes here and there in this format. Speaking of best players, my next two rounds were against Chris VanMeter and Brad Nelson (with Todd watching over his shoulder and taking notes), back to back, playing Omnitell/Infinitell/whatever-you-wanna-call-it and Deathblade, respectively. So much for the Legacy Challenge being some soft, scrub-out tournament. As an aside, it was kind of cool to play against VanMeter, from a personal standpoint, because I first cut my teeth on this format a year and a half ago by copying his Stoneblade list that he won an Open with. Regardless, I lost both of those matches. Omnitell, as I mentioned last week, was something that I believed to be a poor matchup for Deathblade. As for the Deathblade mirror, well, remember how last week I talked about how Geist of Saint Traft should be in the main? Well, I chickened out on that plan, but apparently Brad was on it, and was able to run me over with Mr. Traft (I would later see that all three of the Deathblade decks in the top-16 were running Geist in the main; the power of foresight is useless if you choose to ignore it). Because I expected to see a lot of Omnitell and Deathblade on Sunday, and I expected a decent number of Deathblade pilots that would be more experienced with the archetype than I was, I decided to put the deck down for my old faithful, Miracles.


Top Eights.. errr.. Eats of the Weekend

The Legacy and Vintage Championships, which used to be at Origins, will be held in Philly, this November, so if you plan on attending, I would pay attention to this part!

Reading Terminal Market

Part of my reasoning for playing Hexproof on Saturday was because I didn’t want to go to time every round. I wanted fast rounds so I could have free time to peruse Reading Terminal Market in all of its glory. Unfortunately, I made a minor misplay, and did not realize that they closed by 6pm, so I only got to get breakfast at the market on Saturday. Regardless, if breakfast sandwiches are your jam, you MUST visit the Dutch Eating Place. The kaiser roll that your eggs and bacon (or whatever it is that you eat) has the right balance of exterior crispiness and interior fluffiness, and butter. Breakfast of champions, right there.. or 3-3 drops. Whatever, I’d do it again. I just won’t play Hexproof again. I would also find myself back at RTM on Sunday, for lunch, on Andrew Longo’s (one of our first round opponents on day two and part of the eventual champion team of Providence) recommendation to get the roast pork sandwich with broccoli rabe; I was not disappointed, though it probably wouldn’t be a terrible idea to split this with a friend as a midday snack, rather than devouring the whole thing, yourself.

Monk’s Cafe

This place is the crown jewel of Philly. As much as I hate that city and all of its sports teams, if I was offered a job with comparable salary to what I make now and could live next to Monk’s, SNAP KEEP! (or snap obesity; again, whatever!) Monk’s Cafe is a world-famous beer bar, though, even if beer isn’t your thing, all of their food is delicious. Sam and I split a small pot of muscles to start off. Now, at Monk’s, you don’t just order muscles; you have eight different choices of preparation. On our waitress’ recommendation, we went with the Red Light (Hoegaarden, fum?, toasted spicy chile de arbol peppers, chervil & garlic), and we were not disappointed. I also ate one of the best burgers I’ve had in my life (the Antwerp—topped with sottocenare truffle cheese & shitake mushroom). If the food got your mouth watering, don’t even get me started on their beer menu. Sam and I imbibed in several rare and spectacular beers. Being a New Yorker, I went for all of the Russian River brews that I could get my hands on, as they do not distribute to the Empire State, and it is a rare treat for me. Sam and I also split a bottle of another rarity, which was fantastic, Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus. They actually have a note in their menu next to the Cantillon bottles that you are only allowed one per table, and you are not allowed to text or tweet about it while drinking it (Sam did, anyways).

Legacy Open—Send Me an Angel.. or Two or Three

I probably chose a misleading title for this section, because despite upping my count of Entreat the Angels from one to two, I only used it twice, and they got D-sphere’d once. Anyways, here’s what I played:

UWr Miracles

Planeswalkers (3)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Lands (22)
Arid Mesa
Flooded Strand
Mystic Gate
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 Snare
Swords to Plowshares
Entreat the Angels
Supreme Verdict

Sideboard (15)
Blood Moon
Detention Sphere
Engineered Explosives
Enlightened Tutor
Spell Pierce
Vendilion Clique

If it looks familiar, it’s because it’s the list I played in Baltimore, with a few minor tweaks. Here’s a quick run-down of how the day went:

Round 1—Jonathan playing 4-Color Loam


No disrespect to Jonathan’s play skill, but this archetype is pretty much a bye for the Helm-combo version of Miracles. Maindeck RIP and Blood Moon are both absolutely brutal for him, and it only gets worse after board when I add the second Enlightened Tutor and Blood Moon. His deck relies heavily on abusing Life from the Loam and runs almost no basics. After the match was over, Jonathan said he was expecting to play four rounds of Deathblade and four rounds of Omnitell.. so did I, buddy, so did I.. I would actually finish the day playing zero rounds against Omnitell, and one against Deathblade. Diverse meta, much?

Round 2—Joe playing MUD (is this supposed to be an acronym? what does it stand for?)


This was a pretty tough match to pull out, and I think the only reason I was able to do so was because of how popular this archetype is at Twenty Sided Store, as well as the countless kitchen table matches I’ve played this matchup against my buddy, Dustin. I pulled the first game out by miraculously top-decking Helm of Obedience when I had a RIP (and five lands) out and probably one or two turns left to live. He got me in game two off a third turn Sundering Titan, but I took a very long game three in extra turns with a Helm. I actually could have gone for the kill earlier, but I was playing an extremely patient game. It paid off, as I would have succumbed to Karn, had I ran my Helm out at the first chance I had.

Round 3—Jeff playing Miracles (non-Helm combo version)



While Jeff was a worthy opponent, and good guy, this was a miserable match. In both games, Jeff won the Jace war, and got substantially ahead. I knew it was over when he resolved the Mind Sculptor, and then proceeded to Force my own Mind Sculptor (which he probably brainstormed into). I played it out, anyways, hoping for a miracle, which I got, but he had the Detention Sphere for my angels. I guess, in hindsight, I could have waited for one more mana, so that I would have had a lethal number of angel tokens, but I was worried that every turn I waited made it more likely that he would draw into an answer. I scooped in game two when Tony came by and saw me trying to helplessly swim against the current of a Jace, and said, “This is over, just scoop so we can get food.” When Jeff sensed that I was quite ready to scoop, he helped me out by showing me his hand of Force, blue card, Brainstorm, maybe even a Spell Pierce. That was all I needed to see to be on my way to Reading Terminal Market.

Round 4—Jack playing Dark Maverick


If this guy looks familiar to you, it’s probably because you saw him on the front page of Star City on Monday morning, for winning the Legacy Open. I guess it’s cool playing the eventual winner of the tournament, but it’s getting old; I wanna win, dammit! Anyways, if you’re wondering how in the hell I lost such a favored matchup, it’s quite simple: I forgot to de-sideboard. I must take this opportunity to apologize to Jack, though I’m sure he doesn’t mind, since it worked out to his advantage (and he won the whole damn thing!), as I had just played a control matchup where I cut all of my removal. I scooped game one when I activated my Top, saw a Flusterstorm in the top three cards, and realized what I had done. Game two played out exactly like this matchup is supposed to for me (kill all of his dudes, set up the lock). In game three, I saw a one-lander with a top, and decided I couldn’t keep it since it was a non-basic, and he was a Wasteland deck; I would be very sad if I went turn one top, only to have my land blown up before I even got to activate the top. My six cards had two non-basics and a top. One of them got wasted, and then Thalia happened. And then Knight of the Reliquary found another Wasteland.

Round 5—Edward playing Tezzerator

Edward and I had played before in the first round of the Edison Open. He specifically asked that I not take his picture, just because he hates pictures, and I can respect that. He died in game one due to keeping a hand that he described as extremely greedy; he only had one land, but said that he pretty much wins if he found a second one. I believe him, as that deck can be pretty explosive with cranking out early bombs. He got me in game two off a Tezzeret ultimate through my Energy Shield; he actually made a judge call to ask if Tezz’s ult went through E-field, and before the judge could respond, I just scooped and said, “It does.” I got him in game three by quickly assembling the Helm-RIP combo.

Round 6—Mike playing Elves


In round six, I squared off a fellow New Jersey native. Mike was from the mythical (or non-existent) land of Central Jersey. If you are from North Jersey, you will say Central Jersey doesn’t exist; if you are from South Jersey, you will try to tell people you are from Central Jersey. It’s okay, Mike, I still think you’re cool 😛

Anyways, I put the beats on him in game one with a pair of angels. In game two, I appeared to be in control, sweeping and swordsing everything at will. I even had a Humility to hold him down! But a lonely Dryad Arbor, with some help from my fetch lands, whittled me down from 15 to 0, despite my constant usage of the Top. Because of how long the kill took in game two, we had very little time for game three, and went to a draw. I felt like I had it, as I was starting to build my mana-count, while floating an Entreat in my top three cards, but there wasn’t enough time to get the job done.

Round 7—Spencer playing Deathblade



Spencer is part of our weekly playgroup at the Atrium. We both knew beforehand what each other was on, and I was not super-excited to be playing my first Deathblade matchup of the day. My notes on this match are a little foggy; I may have been in a pseudo-state of tilt after giving away a winnable match against Maverick and going to time in what seemed like another winnable match against Elves (no disrespect to the players, I just think those are pretty favorable matchups that I have to be able to win if I want to have a good tournament). He got me in game one off an early Batterskull, and in game two, he beat me down with Tiago and Bob. Tiago was nothing more than an ambush viper, as I had RIP out, but sometimes, 2/1s get there.

So I ended the weekend with the minimum two points. What does the future hold? Going forward in Legacy, I think I want to move my Miracles list towards something more like the Joe Lossett version. As much as I love the Helm-RIP combo, I think the version Joe plays has more game against control variants. I’ve finished off the deck on MODO, so maybe we’ll get some video on here, soon. I might also take this time to practice some different decks at our regular Thursday night gatherings at the Atrium (if you live in the NYC area and want to play Legacy, let me know if you want to play in these! proxies are welcome!) or at Monday Night Legacy at Twenty Sided. I’ve had a rough run, of late, but I’m not giving up.. I’m due for a miracle, I’m waiting for a sign; I’ll stare straight into the sun and I won’t close my eyes till I understand or go blind.

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