I received this email on a warm day sometime in October of 2013:

November 17, 2013

Dear Matt,

I’m truly sorry, but all those people who you’ve been battling for two years, you’re going to join them when you decide to play Shardless BUG at Grand Prix DC. You don’t really have a choice. You must play blue. See, you want to play Punishing Jund, you really do. You enjoy bullying other fair decks with your superior and unrelenting firepower. However, the concessions you’ve made to destroy all fair decks have left you wide open to the shittiest deck of all: combo. Holy shit is Legacy full of combo. What do you do? Try and force them to discard their key spells? Why not just Force the spells when they’re cast? See, that’s the real issue. Sure, counter magic is the pits when it’s one-way ticketing your creatures to the yard. What if counter magic instead sends Show and Tell to the yard? What if counter magic leads to Goblin Charbelcher shitting the bed? The enemy of my enemy is my friend, right? Abso-fuckin’-lutely. Combo decks are the shittiest way to play Magic: The Gathering that has yet been discovered and you’re going to need blue to help you defeat those assholes.

If worse comes to worse you can tell everyone you’re playing Blue Jund.

Lots of love,
Future Matt
MTGO: The_Obliterator

Uh oh.

Cut to Saturday, 9 November.

I’m on the L train headed to meet Monique and her car of fellow Hipsters of the Coast B-Mac and actual hipster sometimes Hipster Sean “No Code” Morse. Theros Limited remains the format. I’ve more or less accepted the fact that Limited, sealed specifically, is pretty dependent on one’s pool and you’re probably stuck with a deck you’re not thrilled with for a few hours (the whole length of the tournament if you’re traveling with Monique—she’s a grinder of the most dedicated order). A friend was telling me this week how PTQs sound awful. I agree that limited PTQs are pretty awful without a correctly built but pool. I barely go to these things thinking I’m headed to its related ProTour stop. I go because I get to spend heaps of time with people I adore spending time with who I’d otherwise spend much less time with, and for Planeswalker Points. I need the points for byes at GPs. GPS are like super PTQs. After Eternal Weekend, my new favorite event, I’m up to two byes and have a shot at three byes with some good results at upcoming GP DC and GP Toronto.

GP DC—it’s where most of my non-art thought-time has been allocated. Legacy is a hell of a format. My mind keeps checking my heart as it does with any new love. Is this as amazing a format as it feels like it is? AA brainwashing kicks in whenever I hear someone say “feelings,” myself included-“feelings aren’t facts.” Still, I’ve now fully committed, own the cards to fully make four decks, and will see this new relationship through to its conclusion (or hopefully bask in continuing and expanding love).

Why play Limited (sealed) Magic of any set when one could be playing Bloodbraid Elf and cascading into Goyf, Liliana, or Hymn? Machine gunning Delvers with Punishing Fire is amazing. Still, I keep losing to Dredge and especially Omni and/or Sneak & Show. My main complaint with Jund is stalling on cards. My hand empties out, not good enough.

The spectre of Legacy combo and non-interactive decks looms large. Jund has a hard time with decks that are generally known as “unfair”. Punishing Jund’s main route to victory is through hand disruption, creature destruction, and having the monster on the table that gets in the last point of damage. There is little defense against combo. My matchup against Dredge last weekend was atrocious. Not one Show and Tell based deck sat across from me at eternal weekend. Only Dredge got in my face.

“Do you have Force of Will?”

Over and over unfair decks ask this question. Jund does not have Force of Will so most combo match ups are impossible. Jund beats on other fair decks. It’s a bully. In a meta heavily leaning towards fair decks Jund is excellent. It seems like combo would be excellent, too, and if lots of people figure that out then Jund won’t be so good at the lower tables in the higher rounds. I don’t have Magic: The Gathering meta game future sight. Winning is fun, and not running Force of Will seems incorrect.

Anyway, I am not gonna list my sealed deck because most of it got left in Poughkeepsie. Here are my opponents and the results of our matches (including any noteworthy bits). OH! And I got a Master of Waves and a Thoughsieze for my efforts (I opened a pool with foil Xenagos, the Reveler, and a Purphoros, God of the Forge—sickest pool I’ve ever had to pass!).

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I almost always sit near Kevin Jones during the player’s meeting. I’ve never actually played him. He won in three games. Game three I was seriously mana boned or flooded, I don’t remember. His deck was good and I saw him playing at the top tables late into the tournament. 0-1.

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Conor’s a very positive and fun guy to play Magic with. His deck was 1/2 bonkers and 1/2 lackluster. Game one was one of a few games on the day that I wanted to scoop, didn’t, and won. I Gainsay’d one of two Sea God’s Revenges he played against me game three. 1-1.

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TABLE #69! Mikey Mike McMikerson here beat the every living shit out of me. The whole room smelled like living shit (because he knocked it out of me). It was awful. I mulled to five one game but who cares? My deck was so outclassed it was ridiculous. I mean, Mike is a gameday champion for crying out loud. 1-2.

We’ve now reached the “If I had taken mass transit here I’d go home and paint” portion of the PTQ. When traveling with Monique one has no exit policy as simple as “board a bus and leave”. When one travels with Monique you’re in the tournament until the bitter end. This is one of the many benefits of Monique travel—you always get a lot of Planeswalker Points.

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This is Ken. His playmat is of that crazy witch foxy witch lady from some video game by Capcom that always gets her into the Marvel vs. Capcom games. I am usually too embarrassed to ever choose her for my Marvel vs Capcom team because of … really obvious reasons. I’m usually Ghostrider, Wolverine, and Hulk.

Anyway, we had some sick games, I won, and we talked about Ken’s podcast (which he hasn’t emailed me about yet so I can’t properly shout out) relating to them getting drinky and playing Commander. Ken gave me some good ideas re: acquiring Standard cards, getting value, etc. that I’ll probably never use due to lack of savvy on my part. Matt smash! Matt buy smash cards at inopportune times! #sigh. 2-2.

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This guy again. HA! I had fun battling Chris. It’s extra fun to win. 3-2.

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Nice guy of the tournament award goes to Curtis! After thoroughly thrashing me, Curtis signed the results slip and then marked that he was dropping. “So that’s it? You beat me mercilessly and then drop?” He laughed and said he had to get home to his wife. I asked if he cared about points and said that if he didn’t I’d love it if he scooped to me ‘cuz I care a lot about points. He said it was no problem and the judge changed the results. WHAT A FREAKING NICE MAN!!! THANKS CURTIS! 4-2.

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Jimmy James was my favorite match of the day. He came off of two byes the previous rounds due to no-show opponents. We agreed that win or lose it’s better to play than get free wins and not play. I was sort of excited that he wouldn’t have some insane deck like everyone else at 4-2 would (because his wasn’t proven, it was scooped, like mine, so figured I had a better chance). Game one I Gray Merchant of Asphodel‘d him with a Rescue from the Underworld targeting Agent of Fates. I won with exactsies. Game two I was able to Rescue some blue creature and my Master of Waves to make a healthy portion of 2/1 elementals (having just used the remaining ones to block or attack into his x/2 bear folk and semi-wipe his board). Rescue from the Underworld was a beast this match.

James and I talked Legacy a bit. I don’t remember WTF we actually talked about. Is he gonna be on OmniTell? I can’t remember. I think someone said “Delver” at some point. 5-2.

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Dude, seriously. Luke gave me the second greatest thrashing of the day behind Curtis’s rout. Luke didn’t give me the win like Curtis did though. Eventually he took off his hood and we got along nicely. He said his buddy played a Hipster of the Coast recently and when asked if it was ok to take his photo he just flatly, emotionlessly, said “No.” And that was it. I’m glad Luke didn’t say no. I’d hate to replace his image with a dinosaur’s.

Post match we talked a bit about Legacy and he showed me and Longo his Oops! All Spells deck list. I’d never heard of it. It seems mental. Then I played it Wednesday after work in the tournament practice room and won game three thusly:

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If you can’t quite see it, my opponent played Summoner’s Pact, some kind of mana creature, then Dark Ritual. I Mindbreak Trap’d the Ritual and after an awkward pause scooped (due to dying during his/her upkeep on the following turn). Game one I thought my opponent was on Dredge and I was wrong. Oops! All Spells and all combo decks: screw you guys!

Poughkeepsie is behind me and my car mates. It’s pretty cozy in the back seat since Ferrando joined us. The best results of our crew were 5-3.My day’s work fell into that category. My deck was fine. We all know by now that “fine” is short for “not nearly as good as I want and certainly not a Top 8 deck.”

Longo went through my pool with me afterward the final round. I’m not sure we came to a conclusion but he ran through the same deck variations as I did during deck construction with hours earlier. He brought up splashing red for coordinated assault and Magma Jet. The mana was too wonky.

I was on the black and blue removal and devotion plan. I had a couple of games where I Rescued Gray Merchant from the Underworld for exactsies. I had one game where I Master of Waves’d from the Underworld for tons of pressure. Otherwise, a mixture of pretty tight play, not scooping too early (there were three games that looked super dark for me, I didn’t scoop, and I won), and a round four loss in which my gracious opponent with a need to get back to his wife scooped to me cuz he was dropping. The tournament was fun but I’d rather have been playing Blue Jund in Legacy.

Here’s the list I’m presently working with for Grand Prix DC:

Blue Jund

Creatures (14)
Baleful Strix
Shardless Agent
Deathrite Shaman
Tarmogoyf

Planeswalkers (4)
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Liliana of the Veil
Lands (22)
Bayou
Creeping Tar Pit
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Tropical Island
Underground Sea
Verdant Catacombs
Wasteland

Spells (20)
Abrupt Decay
Brainstorm
Force of Will
Ancestral Vision
Hymn to Tourach
Thoughtseize
Maelstrom Pulse

Sideboard (15)
Baleful Strix
Toxic Deluge
Golgari Charm
Nihil Spellbomb
Force of Will
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Liliana of the Veil
Flusterstorm
Mindbreak Trap
Hymn to Tourach
Thoughtseize

Monday Night Magic 4 November

I played mostly poorly and had a good time.

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Justin was on a mono black troll deck this week. I won despite siding incorrectly. I was grateful the urge to scoop up my cards and get a sandwich never took hold and we had a pretty fun match. 1-0.

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Bones and I tied. Lousy. Always a pleasure to play the man. I’ve never seen him tilt prior to this match when he knocked over his deck and went to shake my hand saying the match was mine. I suggested he picked up his cards and we continued our match (and I giggled a bit—robot frustration is super funny). 1-0-1.

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I was finally able to pull a win out of Vin. We actually played three games despite me winning the first two. At the end of our practice game three (with some eventually helpful coaching by Teeth) Vin got a little heated about his lack of removal or mana flood or something. I think swears were uttered and cards were slammed. 2-0-1.

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Kadar is finally playing Legacy! He’s playing Meathooks aka Slivers. Of course he is. I played really badly two games in a row. G1 I unnecessarily Wasteland’d his Mutavault when, had I waited, I could’ve wasted his Cavern and he’d be unable to cast some spells most turns. Game two I end of turn killed a lord sliver instead of his Thalia which meant my Toxic Deluge in hand required another land to play. #sigh. 2-1-1.

Monday Night Magic 11 November

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I drew and played suboptimally and Li took advantage of me as he often does. 0-1

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I got my first win against combo (Sneak and Show variety) in this match with playtesting bud Jamie. It’s insanely difficult for me to remember I can Force of Will spells. 1-1.

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I kept shady low mana hands and didn’t draw lands either game. Tony strikes again! 1-2

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Zac Clark loves this merfolk divider. He loves merfolk, period. He beat me easily. I kept weak hands, I think, and didn’t draw out of them. We laughed our asses off the whole match. 1-3.

Conclusions

While a combined 3-4-1 record sucks, I feel pretty great about the potential of this already proven deck. It’s resilient, draws cards, and has big monsters. I’ve gotta be better at knowing what I need to do against various decks. I need to know when to Force, too. Counter magic doesn’t come naturally to me so I’m kind of out of the loop when it comes to denying people their spells. Blue Jund, I think, is the right deck for me for this tournament.

Well, you’re reading this the day after I’ve returned from the Grand Prix. Was selling my soul to fight a greater evil the correct thing to do? Did I play well? Did I have a good time?

I was talking with my bud Dan at basketball this morning (10 November) about the GP. He asked what I’d be playing and I said after weeks with Punishing Jund I felt frustratingly without answers against combo. My RUG Delver match up wasn’t so hot amongst the fair decks, either. I said I’d switched to Shardless BUG because I needed blue for combo. He asked why I didn’t just play BUG as True-Name Nemesis looked really good. “Come on, man, I still want to have fun,” was my response.

Thanks for reading!

Much love,
Matt
MTGO: The_Obliterator

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