By my own standards, I did not have a good tournament in Chantilly, last weekend. I did not top 64. I did not make the cut to day two. I did not even win my meaningless last round after getting knocked out in round eight. It’s hard to have that happen to you when you feel like you’ve poured so much of yourself into preparing for the event, analyzing every minute detail of the format, practicing, feeling validation, only to fall short after playing to a 3-2-1 record after six rounds of actual Magic (I was 5-2-1, but I had two byes). Yeah, it’s just a children’s card game, and there are worse things in life to fall short in, but it still stings a little bit. That said, I’m just going to quickly run through how the event went. Here’s the final list I ended up playing. Tell me if something looks off to you!

UWr Miracles: Grand Prix Edition

Planeswalkers (3)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Creatures (4)
Vendilion Clique
Venser, Shaper Savant

Spells (31)
Sensei's Divining Top
Rest in Peace
Force of Will
Spell Pierce
Swords to Plowshares
Unexpectedly Absent
Entreat the Angels
Supreme Verdict
Lands (23)
Arid Mesa
Flooded Strand
Misty Rainforest
Mystic Gate
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Volcanic Island

Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Entreat the Angels
Force of Will
Pithing Needle
Red Elemental Blast
Rest in Peace
Unexpectedly Absent
Venser, Shaper Savant

You guessed correctly if you said 61 cards in the main! I’ve seen in done before (particularly in European lists; I don’t know if it’s more popular there, but I’ve seen a number of 61-card Euro lists), and I liked the ratio of lands to spells in this configuration. I was happy with my pre-existing 22-38 ratio, as opposed to the 23-37 ratio from the Joe Lossett list that I modeled my list after, but I also wanted to add another Mystic Gate to help cast Unexpectedly Absent. The fetches couldn’t be cut because they are wonderful with Top and/or Brainstorm. The basics are important for the deck to get enough mana to fight through Wasteland decks. The duals are already at a bare miminum. And we need two Karakas with all of the great legends we’re playing. So 23-38 seemed like a brilliant idea, to me, in the day leading up to the event. I never really got to test it, as Unexpectedly Absent is the card that is making the stricter demands on my mana base, and the new Commander cards have yet to make their way to MODO. In hindsight, I would have rather played the deck I played in Philly. If you will notice, the two lists are nearly identical, with the only differences being the extra Mystic Gate in the Grand Prix list and the replacement of Humility with Moat (which I was able to obtain last minute from Brendan, thanks buddy!), and a slightly different fetch configuration. In hindsight, I wish I went with my Philly list, but replacing the maindeck copy of the new Commander instant with either the 23rd land or one of the “wildcards”* I’ve done a great deal of testing with. Humility actually makes a lot more sense than Moat, because it’s an extra card against Sneak and Show, which can be a difficult matchup. The only difficult matchup that Moat dramatically improves is Goblins, which is far less common than Sneak. I think I just had a bad taste in my mouth regarding Humility, after dying in my heavily favored Elves matchup at the Legacy Championship.

*Detention Sphere, Engineered Explosives, Ponder, Predict, extra copy of RIP, 4th Terminus in the main

Alright, let’s get to the matches. I started out the event with two byes, so that was two free wins, already in the books, while I got to stay in bed until 11am. S0 2-0.

Round 3

Opponent’s Deck: TES

In game one, I stuck an early Top, then was able to use Brainstorm to hide some key cards from his discard. Seeing that the coast was clear, he decided to gamble on the top card of my deck. He lost that bet, as he tried to go off, but I was able to Force him after using Top to draw it from the top of my deck. I used a Clique to put the clock on him for a few turns, at which point, he hit me with another discard spell. His heart sank when he saw Force, Flusterstorm, Counterspell, Spell Pierce. When I resolved Counterbalance on the following turn, he scooped. He would later tell me that was the most depressing Duress he had ever cast.

Game two involved a quick CounterTop lock, followed by Venser, followed by an Entreat for two. I also have in my notes that I Forced something, but I don’t recall what. This is usually a pretty favorable match for my deck, and he felt the same way. I wished him luck the rest of the way and that he does not see anymore Miracle decks.

3-0, 2-0

Round 4

Opponent’s Deck: RUG Delver

This was an incredibly frustrating game that took well over thirty turns. I was able to resolve an early Top, expertly play around Stifle and Daze, neuter eight of his twelve threats with RIP. But I only saw five lands all game, spread far enough apart that Wasteland could keep me below the crucial number of four. When I finally found a fetchland, he was able to kill me in response with a Bolt. By the time we sideboarded and shuffled, we didn’t have much more than 10 minutes left. In this particular game, my opponent Dazed my Supreme Verdict. I am able to kill him with a pair of angels as time was called. It was frustrating how long game one went and how few land I was able to see, but that just happens sometimes, even if you have a Top.

3-0-1, 3-1

Round 5

Opponent’s Deck: UW True-Blade

My opponent is able to beat me down to nine life with a True-Name Nemesis and Snappy, but Terminus is able to clear the way, and later, a Clique backed up by the CounterTop lock induces the scoop. I board into all of my sweeper effects and don’t get hit by a single Nemesis. Angels are able to seal the deal, in the second game.

4-0-1, 5-1

Round 6

Opponent’s Deck: Esper Deathblade

This matchup just felt really awful, especially since I haven’t played much against it at all outside of that short window of time where it was the deck of the month. Even when I was able to stick a Counterbalance, he always seemed to have the card on the curve that I wouldn’t be able to counter. Sword of Fire and Ice did serious work against me in both games; seems like a pretty reasonable piece of tech to help swing past opposing Nemeses. I get crushed in both games by Jitterskull.

4-1-1, 5-3

Round 7

Opponent’s Deck: UWR Delver

After my last loss, my back is against the wall. Another loss, or even a draw, and my tournament would end on day one. These tempo matchups are fun to play, carefully navigating around their Dazes, Pierces, and Stifles. All three games end with my life total at three or less, but somehow, I won two of them. There was a particularly tense moment in game three, where I had CounterTop online, but time was called, so I quickly needed to find an Entreat. I do, but in order to get a fast enough clock on him, I need to crack a fetch, which also gets rid of my top. He casts a Ponder on his turn and I am having a heart attack, saying to myself, “PLEASE DON’T FIND THE BOLT!” but I may have been saying it to myself loudly enough that I was actually saying it out loud. Fortunately, he does not find the Bolt, and angels are able to swoop in to kill him.

5-1-1, 7-4

Round 8

Opponent’s Deck: UR PyroDelver

After the drama of the last round, it would seem like I would just be a lock to breeze through the last two rounds to play in day two, the next morning, right? Nope. This is a matchup that I don’t think is particularly bad. He was able to get me with a fast hand, in game one, where he was able to create pressure with a Young Pyromancer and follow up with a Goblin Guide. In the following game, Guide is able to get me down to 13, but then I set up CounterTop and Jaced him out. One thing that I thought was a little ridiculous was that my opponent actually played it out after Jace got to 13 counters. I asked if he wanted to scoop, because otherwise, I would get to see his deck, and he became rather salty about it and said something to the effect of, “Go ahead and look at it. If you’re gonna play the deck that takes 70% of the time, I’m gonna make you use all of it.” So, I looked through his deck, then waited for him to draw the cards that used to be in his hand. In game three, I wasn’t happy with what I saw on top of my library, and made the mistake of hoping to not get Stifled when I attempted to get a shuffle out of a fetch (along with another mana source). I was stuck on three lands for too long with a number of four-drops stranded in my hand, including Verdict and Jace. By the time I finally found the fourth land I needed, it was a fetchland, and I was at one life.

5-2-1, 8-6

Round 9

This must be how a team feels when they have to show up to their next game, coming off the loss that eliminated them from playoff contention. I figured, what the hell; I’m already here and the multiplier is high, so I may as well play one more round. I play a half-hearted game against Sneak and Show where he goes off through zero countermagic in game one to smash me with both of his giant monsters. In game two, I have one piece of countermagic, but as it happens, he had a piece of his own. So, both giant monsters kill me immediately. Again.

5-3-1, 8-8

Without the byes, that’s dead-even .500. As I mentioned already, far worse than I had hoped for, but it’s fine. I already have my eyes set on January for when SCG’s Open Series comes to Baltimore (I sadly am unable to attend Providence this weekend, but I would have loved an immediate shot at redemption). Until then, I may start experimenting with some new brews. Now that all of my Magic focus isn’t solely on the Grand Prix, I can start trying out some weird things like that Ashiok deck I wrote about, a few weeks back.

Despite the poor performance, it was still a fun, and well-run tournament. The format saw so much love that weekend, with over 1700 people playing in the main event. This was a clear statement to Wizards that the players are passionate about this format. I hope Wizards responds by going back to having at least three Legacy Grand Prix events in 2015 (eww, that seems so far away and feels awful to type). I’d be even happier if they were able to fully support the format by abolishing the reserved list and running a Legacy PTQ season, but that would never happen, so I’ll be quiet, now, and just let for the magnitude of Grand Prix DC speak for itself. (But seriously, WotC, if you’re listening, give us another Grand Prix!!!)

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