The Baltimore Convention Center and I have a little history, none of it being good, unfortunately. All things considered, though, I guess there are worse things that can happen to you in Baltimore than losing a few games of Magic. As I sat down to write this article, I took a quick foray into my DCI history, and found that my record at the BCC is as follows: at my first Grand Prix in Feb 2012 I went 3-3 in the main event and carried a combined record of 3-5 in various side events, then in Dec 2012, I returned to Baltimore for the SCG Open and started off on a 5-1 tear before succumbing to the flu and finishing the weekend with a combined 7-7-1 record (fine, it was really 7-8-1, but I’m not going to count forgetting to check “drop” as a real loss). I can’t say I’m particularly proud of my 13-15-1 record in that building, so I was looking for a little redemption last weekend as I boarded the three-hour train out of Penn. Redemption, sadly, was nowhere to be found on this visit to Monument City, but that doesn’t mean that there were no lessons to be learned. I finished out with a combined record of 7-7-2, going an even .500 both days.

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. The other reason for my choice was how much Mike Flores and our own Zac Clark raved about the deck. The real issue came when I realized halfway through the tournament that I was terrible at evaluating mulligan decisions. About half the time, the deck will just give you what you need and you win, and sure enough, I won EXACTLY half the time. The other half of the time, you get these awkward hands that are either missing a color, a dude, or some pants to put on your dude. It’s much different when you’re playing a control deck where most of your spells give you some form of protection and you’re loaded with enough Think Twices and lands; in this scenario, simply asking yourself, “Am I mana screwed?” when evaluating your hand is often good enough, as you can afford to let the game come to you rather than taking it by the horns. I’d still be willing to give this deck another chance, though. It makes for some great stories when you swing in the air with a 10/10 Fencing Ace (eat your heart out, Emrakul). Anyways, I’m skipping the decklist, as I just went with Flores’ 75.

Here’s what I decided to register in Legacy:

UW Miracles

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

Spells (35)
Engineered Explosives
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)
Enlightened Tutor
Ethersworn Cannonist
Spell Pierce
Swords to Plowshares
Vendilion Clique

If you’ve read my article last week, you’ll notice that this is almost the exact same list. A few minor changes like putting Engineered Explosives in the main, and switching the sideboard Force of Will for the maindeck Misdirection (both changes were because I really didn’t want to lose against Liliana of the Veil; I ended up losing several games to Liliana of the Veil).

Round 1—Li playing Punishing Jund


Li and I were surprised to be seated across from each other in Round 1, as we had played in the latter rounds of Standard on the previous day. I had asked him during our Standard match if he planned on playing Legacy, and he said he wasn’t sure, but his friends were playing and he might borrow a deck. My suited up hexproofers got the better of him on Saturday, but he would get revenge in our first game of the day on Sunday by grinding out a win with the Punishing Grove combo and a slew of seemingly small creatures that his Bob kept feeding him. Abrupt Decay and discard effects did their job to keep me from setting up my combo pieces to end him. Li was able to whittle me down to 6 life, mostly off of Deathrite activations, but I was afforded enough time to set up the RIP-Helm combo and win. Game 3 featured a horrible punt that would condemn me to a day of battling in the draw bracket. Li started things off with a turn 2 Hymn to Tourach, to which I responded, “How about we Hymn YOU?” and cast Misdirection. The punt was my decision to pitch Force of Will over Detention Sphere, Jace, or Spell Pierce. Remember how I said I really didn’t want to lose to Liliana? My thinking was that I would save D-Sphere or Pierce for his Lily and I didn’t want to have to pitch twice; unless I’m playing a combo deck, I will often pitch Force to cast Force, because pitching too many times can leave your hand quite barren. Li followed up on his next turn with a Bob, and after the Great One resolved, he expressed a great deal of relief that I threw away my Force on the previous turn. So now what do I do? Do I tap out to Sphere his Bob, then sigh in exasperation when he resolves Lily the next turn? I decided to wait it out and Sphere the following turn when I could hold up Spell Pierce. He ended up playing another Bob, and according to my notes, taking advantage of four Bob triggers during the game. I was still able to regain control with Jace, but by turn 5 of extra turns, I was presented with the choice of making a bunch of summoning sick angels or going for the RIP-Helm kill. Fortunately for Li, he had Abrupt Decay for the RIP, and that was that.

Matches: 0-0-1; Games: 1-1-1

Round 2—Steve playing High Tide

Steve declined to have his picture taken. He also declined to engage in any sort of banter whatsoever, and checked drop when he quickly lost in two straight games. There’s not a whole lot to say about this match. I established the Countertop lock early in both games, and his deck basically shuts down if I lock him out of ones while keeping another backup counter or two in hand. Game one was decided by Helm-RIP, and game two saw a lonely Vendilion Clique go all the way.

Matches: 1-0-1; Games: 3-1-1 

Round 3—Gerard Fabiano (you get to have your last name posted if you’re famous) playing Esper Deathblade


Gerard was a true pleasure to play against and chat with before, during, and after our match. Before we started out, I told him I was pulling for him in the voting for King of the Nerds. He complimented my Black Lotus sleeves as we shuffled up, then we got down to business. Remember last week how I said I wasn’t afraid of this matchup? Maybe I should have been. On paper, yes, I have a lot of good cards against this deck. The problem is that they have a lot of discard to prevent you from playing your cards that are good against them. My matches against the discard-heavy decks, in general, went much worse than I had expected. I died to double Bobs and a Clique in the first game. Between games, we were talking about my feature match in Edison that he did coverage on. “I hope I wasn’t too hard on you,” he joked, when I told him that I made a huge punt in that match. “You were, but I totally deserved it,” I said. I was about to start explaining what happened, but we decided to talk about it afterwards so as not to give too much information away. He was able to get me in game two off of four spirits and a Clique. The pivotal moment of the game, I thought, was when I resolved Jace against his four spirits and decided to fateseal. My line of thought here was that Jace at five loyalty could survive the onslaught of spirits and let me Brainstorm the following turn, after untapping. I even got to fateseal away his Jace. But Gerard had an end of turn Clique at the ready, and he was able to dispose of my Jace AND play his own. There was no clawing my way back into the game after he established a Jace to go along with his seven power on the board.

Matches: 1-1-1; Games: 3-3-1

Round 4—Sage playing Goblins


Also, I spy 20ss Legacy regular Luke (aka Lukatron) to the left of the picture.

Sage and I have some history, having played each other at the DC Open, earlier in the year. He’s from relatively nearby, in Virginia, so we chatted about our excitement for the upcoming Legacy GP in Capitol. Sage was also pretty excited to show off his sweet shirt for the camera. We both had a pretty good idea of what the other was playing, as we were both playing the same lists we played during our last encounter. During game one and game three, I had the turn one plow for his Lackey, which went a long way towards setting up the win. I was also able to decimate his board by using Detention Sphere to kill two Aether Vials in one of my victories, and Explosives to kill two of them in the other win. His win in game two came off the back of hitting the perfect Ringleader draw, followed by a huge, hasty Piledriver. As an aside, I picked up a sweet tip for all you Goblin fans out there, while watching my buddy, Mike Herbig, play against another Goblin deck in an earlier round: splash black, and maindeck Rakdos Charm, then use it to make your Lackey hit you. You get a maindeck answer to abusive artifacts and graveyard shenanigans, and you turn yourself into a pseudo-combo deck, because you can do crazy things like turn one Lackey, turn two swing with Lackey to drop in a War Chief, and then Charm yourself to drop in Krenko and immediately tap him for three more Goblins!

Matches: 2-1-1; Games: 5-4-1

Round 5 – Keegan playing Elves

Keegan declined to have his photo taken. He was playing an Elves deck that was splashing black for (sideboard?) discard and white for a couple hatebears. Game one was an incredibly long affair, in which I swept the board and stabilized several times, but I could never find any action with my Top to either lock him out and stop him from rebuilding his board or just win. I was able to get him in game two with the RIP-Helm combo. We didn’t have a whole lot of time left for game three, but I feel confident that I would have gotten there, had there been no more than five extra minutes on the clock. I ended the game Entreating for three on the final turn of extra time (after neutralizing his board) in hopes that maybe it would induce a concession, but such was not the case. With a little extra time, I feel pretty confident that I would have been able to present a lethal entreat on his end step. There were some spots in game two where I think he probably could have been a bit quicker, but I tanked on a couple decisions myself, so I can’t fault him for that.

Matches: 2-1-2; Games: 6-5-2

Round 6—Sam Roukas playing Esper Stoneblade


This is the face that Sam makes when he’s ready to dreamcrush you. We were joking after every round that we were going to have to play each other, as we kept winning, losing, and drawing the same amount, and at this point, there could only be so many people with two draws. This was hardly a match, as I made an awful keep in the first game on a hand of one land and Enlightened Tutor. I will usually keep on a single land and a Top, but using Enlightened Tutor to get the Top and then cast it on your second turn AND be guaranteed not to hit your second land-drop is just too much of a tempo blowout in a format like Legacy, where people are capable of doing powerful things on any given turn. In game two, I learned my lesson and shipped a similarly greedy hand that contained a single land and a Brainstorm. Of course, after looking at the top three, I saw two basics to go along with the Volcanic Island and Blood Moon in hand. That hand probably would have gotten there. That’s why it’s a terrible idea to look after you decide to ship because then you make poor decisions in the future because you think you might get that awesome Brainstorm again. In any case, I mulled to five, then died to Geist of Saint Traft. I think I may have Spell Snared a Stoneforge, but it was a pretty hollow victory when I saw Sam tap out on his next turn for the ghost with the most.

Matches: 2-2-2; Games: 6-7-2

Round 7—Derek playing Four-Color Loam


Derek had just gotten into Legacy recently, so I give him all the kudos for tackling a complicated deck like this one. When I took his picture, he said that this is the face that his brain makes while he’s playing Legacy. I don’t know that much about his list, but I remember from watching Jeff Hoogland play it on camera in an Open that it plays that crazy card where you discard X cards and it does damage and blows up lands or something like that (Devastating Dreams). I was able to beat him in game one by surviving the onslaught of his Knight of the Reliquary (that was turned into a bear by my RIP) long enough to draw a Helm. RIP does a number on this deck, as they really want to Loam, and Loam often, and the fact that I’m running three (plus a virtual copy in the tutor) in my maindeck makes this matchup a nightmare for him. The other nightmare is the fact that he’s running four colors and I have Blood Moon, which is what locked him out of game two. He tried on two occasions to resolve a Mox Diamond to fix his mana and get out of the lock, but Countertop was able to flip a land and keep Derek from having non-red mana. After the loss, Derek said his goal on the day was to finish with the bizarre record of 3-3-3. I didn’t ever find out if he pulled it off, but I overheard him telling his next-round opponent about his plan.

Matches: 3-2-2; Games: 8-7-2

Round 8—Josh playing Shardless BUG


There would be one additional round after this, but this would be my last round of the day, as I was already out of contention and simply getting one more in for funsies before catching my bus. Josh and I had a fun match of chatting with each other. The actual game wasn’t all that fun, since I didn’t have a lot of action and he drew almost all of the land in his deck. Eventually, he was able to get there with a large ‘Goyf after pecking at my life total all game with a Deathrite Shaman. He was able to draw several Abrupt Decays in that game to deal with my Counterbalance and RIPs. Game two started off on the wrong foot, with my taking a mulligan before keeping on a six-card hand that included one land and a Top. When the Top failed to produce the second land-drop, Josh sighed and said, “Man, I don’t have a Wasteland, but if I did, I don’t think I’d even want to use it on you, because you’re a cool dude.” Appreciated, Josh! Eventually I found more land, but not before he had a six-power ‘Goyf. I could not find an answer to deal with that kind of clock in time, and that was that.

Matches: 3-3-2; Games: 8-9-2

While this event ended with mediocre results for me, my “team” (we’re not a real “team” as pros would define the word, just a bunch of buds having fun traveling the Mid-Atlantic seaboard to sling expensive cardboard) did quite well. Big shoutouts to Keith Blackwell on his top 8, Sam Roukas on his top 32, and Mike Herbig and Greg Komar for placing in top 64. My train/bus buddy, Will Juseck, dropped early in the day, but he was able to Top 64 the Standard portion with UWR Control, so he gets a shout, as well. I’ll mostly be taking a break from Legacy this weekend to play in the Team Grand Prix in Providence, but I may get some side events in. While I only picked up two Open Series points this weekend, there is still time for me to qualify for Somerset, with SCG Philly and SCG Worcester on the horizon. Now that I have my playset of Bobs, I may give Esper Deathblade a whirl.

“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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