It was a huge weekend for fans of Legacy and Vintage Magic with the Inaugural Eternal Weekend taking place in Philadelphia, PA in the States at the same time as Bazaar of Moxen in Paris. Eternal Weekend was covered by Matt Elias, Chris “Meddling Mage” Pikula, Hall of Famer Randy Buehler, and Rashad Miller for GGSLive. Bazaar of Moxen was covered by Lotus Noir including Raphael Levy providing English commentary for the European event. We tuned into as much of the coverage as possible to immerse ourselves in the oldest, but one of the most exciting Magic communities there is.

Eternal Weekend

Coverage picked up in the afternoon on Saturday with Sneak and Show vs Elves in Round Three. Combo vs. Combo provides pretty exciting but fairly non-interactive match-ups. Still, if you are accustomed to watching coverage of Limited, Standard, and Modern events, there’s a huge change in pace and play-style when watching Eternal Magic. Elf, go. Ponder, go. Elf, go. Ponder, go. Elf, go. Things can move very slowly, but then boy do they ever pickup. The decision-making process in Eternal makes for a viewing experience that requires intelligent commentary and the GGSLive team did a solid job of highlighting a lot of the important plays, feints, and explanations of hidden information. Fans can rest assured that the coverage team would not let them wander through the game aimlessly.

On turn 4 Sneak Attack hit play and the game was over just like that. Because it’s Legacy.

The fans of Eternal Magic are a smaller subset of the larger Magic community, but they are a very dedicated and passionate group. The appeal of Legacy and Vintage is multi-faceted and it is surprising to me that the fan-base isn’t larger. The most exciting part of watching Eternal games is the explosive draws and the use of the most incredibly powerful cards in the game. Combos in both formats are absolutely insane, but there’s a feeling of anticipation watching them build up to their conclusion.

Another large part of the appeal of these formats is consistency. Unlike Standard which changes substantially every three months, and changes entirely every year, the Eternal formats remain consistent from set-to-set. The formats only see their meta-game shift when there is a new card printed that has impact (e.g. Jace, the Mind Sculptor) or when a card gets banned or un-banned from the format (e.g. Survival of the Fittest). This creates consistency in the meta-game which makes the matches familiar to watch.

This consistency in format also leads to consistency in card value. As an investment, Eternal staples are the large-cap products of the MTG Finance world. Dual Lands, Power 9, Force of Wills, Wastelands, and so on. These are cards whose value remains stable due to the consistency of the format. Unlike Standard and Modern cards which tend to be more speculative because of the instability of those environments, Eternal cards are a ‘safer’ investment. Fans of Legacy can acquire their favorite decks and cards for a higher price than Standard, but their value will be maintained for a longer time.

That value, in fact, is one of the most polarizing aspects of Eternal Magic. On the one hand, many fans are exciting by the cost and appeal of acquiring and owning these decks and cards. A collection of alters, foils, and other valuable cards is the high-end sports car of the Magic collecting world. Many fine art collectors prefer quality over quantity, and collecting Legacy and Vintage staples is a similar mindset. On the other hand, many players are turned off by the incredibly high cost required to play Eternal Magic and therefore find themselves avoiding the formats entirely.

The last great thing about Eternal Magic is versatility. Want to play aggro? Combo? Control? Whatever makes you happy to play Magic, you can probably find a competitive deck for you being piloted at the top tables at Eternal Weekend or the Bazaar of Moxen. These are the only formats that literally have something for everyone and that should help with their broad appeal as Wizards continues to support their growth in the future.

Legacy Championship

Ari Lax won the 2013 Legacy Championship taking home an over-sized alternate-art Wasteland as top prize.

Ari Lax won the 2013 Legacy Championship taking home an over-sized alternate-art Wasteland as top prize. Creepy grin not included.

Legacy has always been one of my favorite formats. I played in one of the earliest Legacy Grand Prix events in Phialdelphia in my senior year at Lehigh. I brought a Zuran Orb-combo deck with a Stasis lock-down. It didn’t go very well. I got creamed in the first round by a Turn 1 kill out of a Tendrils combo deck. In round two I was crushed by Stephen Menendian with Flame Fusillade and Time Vault, which wouldn’t be banned until 2008 after multiple erratas. In round three I fell to Survival of the Fittest and then dropped from the event. Legacy has changed a lot since then, and this week plenty of exciting decks, including Delver, Death and Taxes, and Tendrils of Agony combos were featured at the top tables.

Ari Lax won the event with Death and Taxes, a creature-based deck which is one of the premiere aggro decks of the format. There has always been a great creature-based deck in Legacy. At one time it was Goblins and at many times it was Merfolk. The strength of creatures like Stoneforge Mystic, Mother of Runes, Mangara of Corondor, and Aven Mindcensor allow the deck to plow through the field without relying on a traditional beater like Tarmogoyf. His opponent, the everlasting Osyp Lebedowicz, was piloting UR Delver. It seems like Delver has been dominating Eternal formats since he was printed two years ago. Osyp’s deck is the latest in a long line of Vintage control decks. The spirit of Legacy, from the earliest days to modern times was strong through this event and it was an entertaining tournament to watch.

Vintage Championship

Joel Lim won the Vintage Championship with Merfolk, taking home the alternate art Ancestral Recall.

Joel Lim won the Vintage Championship with Merfolk, taking home the alternate art Ancestral Recall.

Spending my Sunday evening watching the top-eight of the Vintage Championship with Hall of Famer Randy Buehler and should-be Hall of Famer Chris Pikula was a good decision, even if they’re terrible at counting Storm triggers while watching Reid Duke, 3rd overall in the world, school the rest of the Vintage players with an out-of-date Tendrils combo deck. Seriously, this was a Tendrils list from maybe two or three years ago, and Reid Duke powered his way into the top-eight with it. It’s a testament to how good of a planeswalker Duke is, since he didn’t acquire a set of Power 9 to play with until Saturday, just before the event.

Storm was always my favorite combo to play in Vintage, and watching Duke pilot it was a lot of fun. But, the format is always fun to watch, because the smallest decisions can be game-breaking. If you want to improve as a Magic player, even if you don’t intend to play an Eternal format, you should really make sure you watch the coverage archive of matches. The decision-making process is well worth taking a look at, especially when great players and great commentators come together to make a solid experience for the viewer.

In the semifinals we took a break from Reid Duke to watch an Oath of Druids vs Merfolk match-up. Game one featured one of the highlights (or lowlights) of Vintage, a blowout thanks to Strip Mine. This is one of those explosive plays that highlights how important mulligans and “going for it” can be in a format with the most punishing cards ever made. Joel Lim kept a one-land hand and lost that land to Strip Mine. Greg Fenton proceeded to play his Oath of Druids deck, powering the namesake card through a Cursecatcher and a Force of Will with double-Force of Will. After that exchange the interactive part of the match was over and the Griselbrand beatdown was inevitible. A few exciting turns and a blowout, hallmarks of the Vintage format. This game was essentially lost in mulligans.

Vintage has a stigma of being full of three-turn games that are over before they begin, but the 2013 Championship proved this wrong. Watching the games was some of the most exciting Magic coverage I’d seen in a while and hopefully you all enjoyed it as well. Delver vs Merfolk in the finals, as Chris Pikula pointed out, highlights the diversity of Vintage. Joel Lim’s victory with a bunch of fish lords is something that all fans and players of the game can relate to. These are cards, strategies, and lines of play familiar to all fans of Magic, but also feature the excitement of the Power Nine and the full restricted list. One can only hope that the Inaugural Eternal Weekend and Vintage Masters on MTGO are signs of great things to come for the Eternal community.

Pro Tour Update

Grand Prix Santiago

Luis Navas Santiago

Chilean native Luis Navas won Grant Prix Santiago, defeating a field of more than 700 players.

The feel-good story of the season comes from Chile this week, where native planeswalker Luis Navas won the top prize at the 700+ player Standard Grand Prix. The tournament was the fourth ever in the city of Santiago, but the first major event in Luis Navas’s young career. Navas only began playing Magic a year ago, and now became champion at his first ever Grand Prix event. According to his profile, he is currently a civil engineer in Columbus, OH, but Santiago is his home town. His previous best accomplishment was 2nd place at the 2013 World Magic Championship Qualifier. He brought Rakdos Aggro to the event and took down a top-eight that included five Devotion decks.

Interesting fact: all 8 competitors in the final bracket are originally from South America. Two hail from Chile, three each from Argentina and Brazil. However, all of them now live in the USA. Their current homes include New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Ohio. While it’s great for South American players to have so many great planeswalkers to look up to, would it be better for growing the community if these players lived in South America? I don’t know the answer. I’m open to opinions on either side.

Top 25 Rankings

Not much to talk about here. GP Antwerp had minimal impact on the Top 25 rankings. Stanislav Cifka swapped spots with Tom Martell and Makihito Mihara moving up past Eric Froehlich. Grand Prix events aren’t going to have large impact at this stage anyways. Pro Tours are the big movers and most of this season has already been played out. The five-point gap between the top six players and the rest of the field is likely insurmountable. There are only 7 Grand Prix events left in this season.

The Quick Hits

  • It’s a combo-extravaganza when Urza takes on Mirrodin in the Battle of the Blocks [StarCity Games]
  • Darwin Kastle changes the way he approaches Pro Tours, reflecting on his results from Dublin [Gathering Magic]
  • Travis Woo gets his Freud on analyzing the psychology of Magic players  [Woo Brews]
  • Conley Woods considers how we can improve the ways we learn Magic [TCGPlayer]
  • Heather Lafferty interviews MTGO streamer Jack Grannan [Gamer Boy, Gamer Girl]
  • Mike Linnemen looks at some original MTG artwork on the auction market [Gathering Magic]
  • MJ Scott talks about her experience writing flavor text for Theros [Gathering Magic]
  • MTGO introduces $2 Phantom Sealed events every Tuesday in November [Daily MTG]
  • Wen Fu continues his application of Myers-Briggs personalities to EDH Commanders [Legit MTG]
  • Blake Rasmussen complains a lot [Gathering Magic]
  • Sam Stoddard reviews the development process for sets like Commander 2013 [Daily MTG]
  • Anthony Lowry suggests some changes to be made to the Pro Tour Qualifier experience [StarCity Games]

Wallpaper of the Week

Commander week seemed like a good time to get a Commander 2013 card as the Wallpaper of the week, but I was surprised to find it was Hythonia the Cruel from Theros. Hythonia actually makes for a pretty cool wallpaper. Her blank stare with golden eyes, paired with a throne that looks translucent but may actually be made from souls, puts together a fairly terrifying image. Perhaps this was an appropriate wallpaper for the week of Halloween after all.

Grade: A- for being a great piece of art but still being art from Theros

The Week Ahead

The Pro Tour Circuit returns to Valencia, Spain this weekend with a Grand Prix event for the first time since 2007. How long ago was that exactly? Well the format for that Pro Tour was Extended. That’s how long ago. This will be the third time Valencia hosts an event on the Pro circuit, with a Grand Prix in 2001 being the other event. That Grand Prix was Invasion-Planeshift limited, and was won by Ricard Tuduri. The Pro Tour in 2007 was won by Remi Fortier. Who will become the third planeswalker crowned champion in Valencia?

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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