I had a chance to take couple of new decks—that is, archetypes that are new to me, as opposed to something brand new and rogue—out for a spin in the last week, in both Legacy AND Modern. In Legacy, I finally tried the one-time king of the format, Reanimator. I originally started writing this week’s post as a creative-writing, vorthosy/fictiony piece, describing a Legacy match between Reanimator and TES as if it were a duel between two powerful wizards. I ultimately scrapped it and decided that I didn’t want people to find what was basically a Magic fanfic when they Googled my name; it’s bad enough as it is that one of the first hits is a video feature match of me punting my way out of a potential top 8! Instead, I decided to just give my first impressions of Reanimator and Tarmo-Twin as a Magic player, rather than as a storyteller.

Monday Night Legacy: Reanimator

Once upon a time, Reanimator was the big, bad bully of the format. Granted, this was a time when Mystical Tutor was legal, Deathrite Shaman didn’t exist, nobody took decks that played three to four copies of Karakas seriously, and blue didn’t have a flying Nacatl. I never had the chance to play the deck in its heyday, but based on the evidence I presented last week, it seemed like the deck was putting up some solid results in recent events, and since I owned most of the expensive pieces (read: manabase, Show and Tell, Griselbrand), I figured I’d put it together and give it a spin. Many pros will try to tell you that this is a relatively easy deck to successfully pilot without a lot of prior experience. It’s behind a paywall, but Drew Levin advocated for Reanimator as a strong choice for anyone going to the Invitational that lacks Legacy experience and wants a good shot at still being able to win. I, personally, disagree with this notion. Yes, this is a very fast combo deck that can often put the game out of reach by turn 2, and sometimes you can get free wins like that. I guess if you just ignore your opponent and hope for the best, this sometimes works. Sometimes, though, you need to worry about hate, disruption, and finding your own protection before trying to go off.

Round 1 – TES

I’m up against Mike Herbig in this round. Both of us were walking to the store together and were running a little late for the 7pm start time, so we end up getting paired against each other. I get a fast Griselbrand in game one, and that’s that. In game two, I don’t remember exactly how it went down, but Herbig cast Ad Nauseum to draw a million cards and kill me with Tendrils. In game 3, Herbig leads off with a Probe, which I probably mistakenly Daze while floating a blue (I say “mistakenly,” because I really only did it because I didn’t want him to know how easily he could go off, when I could’ve saved the Daze for something more relevant). I use that floating blue to Brainstorm, when Herbig moves to attacks. He then casts another Probe in his second main. Seeing that my hand has nothing (I have a Lotus Petal, but nothing to cast), he starts going off. On turn ONE. It almost looks like he’s going to have it, but he isn’t sure what’s on top of my deck. I have Exhume, so if I have a way to bin Elesh Norn, Empty won’t get there. He decides to go for the Ill-Gotten Gains loop. Seeing my only out, I take a Brainstorm and cast it off the Petal, to find a Force three cards deep. I can safely coast to a win here, but I almost make things scary by casting Reanimate for Griselbrand to put me at two life. A 0-storm count Tendrils now kills me. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen, but wow, what a misplay!

Round 2 – RUG Delver

I get another fast game one win with the turn two or three Reanimate. In the other two games, Delver did as Delver does. That is, stick an early threat, Waste me out of the game, have a bunch of countermagic, etc. I came close with the Show and Tell plan in game three (or at least I thought I did), but was not able to find another blue card to make both of my Forces live. It would prove to be moot, anyways, because Zac had 2+ counters available for pretty much the entire game.

Round 3 – BUG Control

Tony is playing Phinus Pan’s list that I talked about, last week. Speaking of which, I’d really like to give this one a try in the near future. In game one, I’m unable to beat his Deathrite Shaman, as it’s able to go all the way on me. In game two, I can’t mount any sort of offensive, due to Baleful Strix. I Exhume back my Griselbrand, only to have a “Doh!” moment when he gets back the Strix. I think at one point that I am very clever, because I cast Exhume with a Griselbrand in yard, and then cast Entomb in response to Deathrite eating Griselbees. Elesh Norn would wipe his board of Strix, Deathrite, True-Name, but there’s just one problem: I sided her out (“Doh!” again). I get Terastodon, instead, and blow up all my own lands to make lots of elephants. (embarrassing aside: at first, I tried to turn Tony’s creatures into elephants, but he was quick to point out “non-creature.” DOH! Is this becoming a trend?) Then I curse at myself when I draw a Show and Tell that I could’ve cast to put whatever fatty was in my hand into play. So yeah, I lost a game where I put Gris into play at least thrice. That never feels good! For those wondering why I sided out Elesh, when she kills pretty much all of Tony’s creatures, it’s because all I saw in game one was a Deathrite, so I didn’t think she was all that relevant.

Sideboarding, in general, seemed to be a consistent problem for me on this evening. I just never knew what I was supposed to cut. I get that it’s good to cut some of the Reanimation cards for Show and Tells to attempt to dodge their hate, but I also found myself cutting some of my fatties and would end up having a hard time having something to Show. Another major problem I had was not knowing how to best utilize the toolbox of creatures at my disposal. Sure, the “when in doubt, get Griselbrand” plan is often correct, but it isn’t always the best choice. I think most of my issues with the deck could be worked out with some practice, and, more importantly, watching a good pilot stream the deck while explaining their decisions. It’s a lot easier to figure things out with a teacher than just trying to learn it all through intuition. Several friends have told me to give up on trying to work and that it is a bad deck. Tony thinks there is no point to playing it because Sneak and Show is a far superior blue-based, cheat-a-fatty deck, but I maintain that there are merits to playing Reanimator. Three matches is too small a sample size to judge a deck by, so I will most certainly be raising Griselbrand from his grave, again, in the near future.

Tuesday Night Modern: Tarmo-Twin

I just finished up my playset of ‘goyfs! I’m exhausted, from a busy weekend followed by a late Monday (I 4-0’d the Legacy Daily with Miracles after coming home from Monday Night Legacy), but I really want to play with these ‘goyfs. I could go home to MODO, but I haven’t bothered acquiring digital ‘goyfs yet, so I’d have to play some boring old deck that I’ve been playing, and I wanted something new. I didn’t use Dickmann’s exact list, but a list I found from a MODO Daily or PE that had a slightly higher land count. This seemed like a good idea to me, because A.) I was now playing three colors, instead of the two that I ran in Tempo Twin, and B.) I wanted to reliably cast Cryptic, sometimes off of a Snapcaster. This would prove to be a mistake; by the third round, I found myself siding one of the lands out, just to have more high-impact cards.

Round 1 – Bant Geist

Every game in this match is close. Interestingly, he is running 2+ Vines of Vastwood, which prove to be pretty effective all match. Whether it’s getting in an extra four damage, growing a creature to survive, countering a bolt, or casting it on my Exarch to break up the combo (!!!), it did a lot of work. I don’t remember all of the details, as I was very tired on this evening, but every match came down to an opportunistic swing-in at a low life total.

Round 2 – UWR Control

I stumble a bit on gas in both games, while he has lots of answers. In game one, when I finally establish a ‘goyf to begin the beatdown plan, he is able to race me very effectively thanks to burn. Lightning Helix proves particularly useful in this race. In game two, I get beaten by an early Clique, backed by lots of burn. This match didn’t even feel close!

Round 3 – UWR Control

I get Ajani-geddon’d out of the game in game one. In game two, I run him out of resources while beating with some one/two power dudes. I know that he’s holding a Sphinx’s Revelation that I’m likely just dead if he casts. Luckily, I catch a window where he’s tapped out and I can get him with double Bolt. He’s later bemoaning the fact that he should’ve played around double Bolt and that he sequenced some things incorrectly. He wasn’t being a poor sport at all, as I agreed with all of his points. I’d do him a solid and return the punt in the next game, by shrinking my own ‘goyf with with a Snapcaster’d Serum Visions—the only sorcery in either yard. I immediately realize, as it’s happening, but it’s too late. He Snapcasters his Electrolyze to hit my Snappy and ‘goyf, before using a Bolt to finish off what used to be a 4/5 ‘goyf. Blowout! I will attribute that one to having roughly zero experience playing with Tarmogoyf. I did enjoy the power level of the two-drop monster, though, and I will learn all the little nuances to playing with it in due time; it’s just not really the type of card I’m used to casting. Eventually, he resolves a Rev, and that’s that. I fought as long as I could, post-Rev, but he had too much gas.

Overall, I think I enjoyed Tempo Twin a bit more than Tarmo-Twin, as I prefer to play as much Magic as possible on my opponent’s end step, but I’ll try this again before passing judgement. Like I said before with Reanimator, three rounds is too small a sample size to make a fair assessment on a deck. I think I will gain percentage points just by cutting a land and getting more comfortable with my Tarmogoyfs.

Afterhours: Cube

I’m not going to go into too much detail about how I feverishly tried to use up my Phantom Points before Cube goes on a temporary hiatus. I just want to point out how I won this match by creating the greatest creature type of all-time. (click the picture to make it bigger)


Seriously, what beats a fucking Dragon Ninja? That’s right, nothing!

…Hey, you over there! I can see you mouthing, “Dies to Doom Blade.” Can it!

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