Like every year, Legacy Champs was held at Gen Con, aptly sold as the best four days in gaming. Last year, I didn’t pay mind to other games, and spent most of my Gen Con playing Magic. Since then, I’ve broadened my horizons, including Small World, Ascension, Seven Wonders, Lords of Waterdeep, and so on, and I promised myself to demo new games and spend as much time as possible outside the TCG hall.
Indy is a mere four-hour drive from Chicago, and most of my friends make the trip every year. We had a minor setback Wednesday night, as a full-scale construction crane fell across the tracks of Gleicher’s train, but we arranged to have him picked up, and everything worked out.
Thursday morning, I felt different. Alive, invigorated, and ready for a week of good times.
I wanted to make a pun here, but that’d be too corny.
Though there were seven of us, only Gleicher played in the Block Championships, and he was sponsored. I began the day with a Game Designer Open Forum, which was co-run by Mike Elliot, who worked on Magic between Mirage and the original Mirrodin. Most of the questions people had were based on breaking into the field of game design, and I was content to sit back and take notes.
I’ve grown increasingly interested in the Gen Con Seminars. They’re always on topics a gamer might be interested in (Fantasy/Science Fiction writing, for example), and always presented by an interesting figure in the field.
I grabbed a unicorn’s favorite meal (a corn dog), before spending the rest of the day exploring, meeting up with old friends, and, of course, testing some Legacy. I toyed with adding blue to Nic Fit, as Consecrated Sphinx and Brainstorm are a few of my favorite cards, but in the end I stayed with the more typical GB build.
Friday was Vintage Champs. I didn’t want to devote precious Gen Con time to finding a set of power, and again our group was underrepresented. I spent a few valuable hours discovering anime in the Westin Wing (Gen Con is so large it doesn’t all fit in the convention center). Giant Robo and Harlock were the couple I was most excited to get home and watch in their entirety.
After that, I tested a few games in the Playtest Hall, which was a neat experience. I got a glimpse into what publishers and designers were looking for in test groups, as well as a taste of a few independent games before they hit the shelves.
Saturday brought Legacy Champs, and for once our group had a strong showing despite roughly half of us opting out for other games. Up until the last minute, I was second guessing whether I should even enter. The time commitment was huge, and it was the same day as Ascension Champs, but in the end the lure of Legacy, the best format in Magic, swept me in.
While I’m somewhat convinced Elves is the best deck in Legacy (resilient and consistent, but not without its bad matchups), I took Nic Fit because, as Gen Con is supposed to be my vacation, I didn’t want to go through the trouble of borrowing cards. Besides, I expected much RUG and little combo.
This is the list I played:
I’ve written about Nic Fit a number of times, so I’ll just go over the changes I made for this tournament.
Hornet Queen is the real deal. A lot of the time, getting Eternal Witness or Scavenging Ooze is game-breaking in the late game, but Hornet Queen takes care of a lot of otherwise unwinnable situations. It also gives the deck a bit of reach, which is nice.
Nature’s Lore is not just a Rampant Growth in this deck, as it grabs an untapped Bayou or even Dryad Arbor, and fills out the Sensei’s Divining Top curve nicely. Next time I play this deck, I would try -1 Hymn to Tourach and -1 Nihil Spellbomb, for +1 Sensei’s Divining Top and +1 Nature’s Lore, to increase the chances of seeing this opening.
Smallpox is also new—my idea for beating RUG. I tested the card in the main deck for a while, but making my opponents sacrifice a land while I was giving them two was lackluster. Also, the cards I was discarding had a higher average power level than my opponent’s, due to my higher curve, which worked against what I was trying to do. Against RUG, however, they don’t have two basics to fetch up with Veteran Explorer, and the edict effect is brutal, making Smallpox an ideal sideboard card for that matchup.
In game one, I had a hand full of removal, and his deck did its thing.
This matchup is dependent upon early disruption, leading to a steady stream of mid-game to late game pressure. Without said pressure, the opponent will eventually chain Goblin Ringleaders together and swarm through multiple Pernicious Deeds.
Personally, I think there are still too many Umezawa’s Jittes in the metagame for Goblins to be good, but if it’s what you feel like playing then that’s often reason enough (see how I was playing Nic Fit).
I took the match with an above average draw, with some Engineered Plagues helping out.
I was more grateful than usual to sit down for this match, as we’d had almost an hour in between rounds.
We went to three games, and Smallpox performed. The matchup used to be much tougher when people ran quad Stifle, which shuts off Veteran Explorer, Pernicious Deed, and fetches. Most players have swapped over to Spell Pierces and Spell Snares, however, and this particular opponent ran a single Stifle. His reasoning was that he wants to catch the odd Terminus, which seems fine. Since I saw the card game one, I played around it all match, which made his Wastelands slightly better.
After playing the match a bit more, I think the miser Hornet Queen could be boarded out. It simply costs too much, and once the game goes late it should be won with a simple Scavenging Ooze or Thrun, the Last Troll.
It was only round four, yet it was past four in the afternoon.
Again we went to three games, and again I felt slightly advantaged. At this point, the tournament was dragging, and my interest waning. My Cabal Therapys all missed, but my deck covered for my ineptitude.
This opponent was competent as heck. I missed a point of damage game one, then bricked on Green Sun’s Zenith for Hornet Queen for far too long, and a Goblin Ringleader chain eventually gave him the win. The win at a single life point, of course.
Game two I dropped both Engineered Plagues.
Game three I kept Engineered Plague, Pernicious Deed, Maelstrom Pulse, and four lands on the draw. I had bad feelings about it, knowing it would lose to a strong [card goblin lackey]Lackey[/card] draw, but also knowing it’d crush most Aether Vial openings.
He killed me turn four.
R6: Matt Hoey with Stone Blade
I travel to some events with Hoey, and he’s part of my testing group for PT Seattle. Despite the long drags in the tournament, he still had the fire (which I’d never quite caught), which gave him the edge in the closest of matchups. In my experience, UW vs Nic Fit comes down to whoever plays tighter. [card cabal therapy]Therapy[/card] can’t afford to miss, for example, and an error in sequencing on the UW mage’s side will also lead to a loss.
In this particular match, I missed a point of damage in game one, as well as making a few more obvious mistakes due to fatigue, and he won at 1 life. In game two I got greedy early on, burning my Pulses, and he ground me out with Jace.
I wished him the best of luck and grinned. Finally, this glacier of a tournament was over (for me) and at least I’d dropped to a friend.
This gave me more time for gentlemanly pursuits, like the swigging of Mountain Dew, dressage betting, and mixing “indubitably” into as many sentences as possible.
After a quick break to achieve a railroad monopoly, count my sacks of money, and sell some orphans for medical experiments, I returned to find that Hoey had finally dropped to Zoo in the quarterfinals. I reached him for comment:
While I think it was one of the worst run tournaments I have ever had the displeasure of playing in, I’m glad that they continually run this massive event at Gencon for the sweet painting year after year that brings these ~300 Legacy players there to battle. And while I’m accustomed to the Open payouts, I still think its awesome that they ship us P3K and Legends packs (pulled a Karakas, for the loss of course). My quarterfinals was really a non-game, my Zoo opponent optimized his damage and swiftly defeated me while I lacked sufficient removal to fight back. I need about 2-4 [card swords to plowshares]Swords[/card] to resolve, I think I had one each game.
A member of our group, Chris Bergeson, made it to the semifinals, though he’d had to fight through Wayne Tam to get there. Their meeting in the quarters was of no small amusement to me, as they’re both regulars at Hot Sauce, the shop I play Monday Night Legacy at. I jokingly refer to it as “The FNM of Legacy,” but we clearly have some strong players.
I arrived just in time to see Bergeson Sneak in a Griselbrand with a pile of mana, draw seven, and brick against an ominous horde of Goblins. He didn’t tilt, however, and instead cast the only cantrip in his hand: Overmaster. His draw? The [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card], of course!
A fellow gentlemanly type, a Mr. Joe Bernal the III, esq., joined me in watching the finals.
“That’s the game,” Joe said.
“I’ve seen Sneak and Show brick on the last five damage,” I said.
And brick Bergeson did. Turn after turn, he drew more lands and Spell Pierces, and his opponent whittled his life away with the odd burn spell. Finally, Bergeson was at 3 life and out of countermagic, and his opponent stuck a Qasali Pridemage. Chris drew a Simian Spirit Guide and tanked. His opponent was at 2 life, so he decided to Sneak in the Guide and attack. The Zoo player blocked and traded 2/2s.
Our monocles dropped. The Zoo player, tired as he was from an overlong day of grinding, had forgotten to sacrifice the Qasali to kill the Sneak Attack before damage! This left both decks drawing live.
Game two was a more typical affair, with a Sneak Attack into [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card] and Griselbrand. Our hats flew from our heads, and our cries of “Huzzah!” could be heard throughout the hall.
Bergeson’s decklist and glorious Amish-style muttonchops can be found on the mothership here.
The next morning, Bergeson drove Gleicher and I to the half day on Sunday.
“This was my first big win,” Bergeson said.
“I know. You earned it, though. It takes tight play, the right deck, and lot of luck to take down a large event,” I said.
“Yes, that’s it exactly it! I had the right deck, played well, and definitely ran hot.”
And we both knew it was true. He’d been playing that deck for months, testing its various forms, and played it better than anyone else in the room. Now, for the rest of the year, he’d be known as the Legacy Champion. We sat through the rest of the drive in relative silence.
An Aside on the Tournament Organizer
A running theme of Legacy Champs was that it wasn’t particularly well-run. While I was appreciative of a segregated area, preventing the rampant theft of decks that occurred last year, I didn’t appreciate security telling me to step away from the ropes every time I wanted to watch a match. That’s only a quibble, though. The real mistake was letting Pastimes run the event in the first place. I understand that Gen Con is crazy, and there’s a lot of stuff going on, but most of the events were actually miserable to participate in, and I heard a number of horror stories over the course of the week.
In the 64-person draft event, they had the players draft the lands but not record them. This meant that deck checks were almost impossible, and the whole registering process was a giant waste of time. After the three swiss rounds were concluded, they ended up with multiple undefeateds in some pods. Rather than cut to the Top 8 via tiebreakers, they added another round, cross pod. I talked to one player who, despite being undefeated after three rounds, had to fight against Shuhei Nakamura from a different pod and not make Top 8. Talk about a bad beat!
In the mixed Sealed (where people opened a variety of different sets), they were going to have people pass pools, then changed their minds. They started having people register their pools, one sheet per set, before running out of paper and switching to not registering. This event, which sounds like a lot of fun, turned into a bad experience for a lot of players.
And so on. I remember a speech Alan (the Pastimes Tournament Organizer) once gave during a Top 8. He ranted about how we were there to serve the store as a sort of promotional tool, and the whole ordeal left a bad taste in my mouth.
If you had a bad experience at Gen Con due to how an event was run, you should let Wizards know!
Fortunately, it’s almost impossible to have a bad time at Gen Con. I’ve been there twice, and still haven’t managed to try out True Dungeon, the real-life, real-time D&D experience that’s unique to the convention, but it’s on the main list for next year. I recommend making a trip of it if you live in other parts of the States.
Gleicher and Bergeson for taking sweet pictures
Gen Con for living up to its name