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Finally! My First Grand Prix Top 8, with Sultai Delver in Legacy

It finally happened. After 76 GPs, I Top 8’d my first! I couldn’t have chosen a better place to do it—2 hours away from my house, and in my favorite format: Legacy!

I wasn’t at all upset about my past near misses. My positive mind set helps me move on from a loss pretty quickly, and I’m always happy to attend another GP. Not only because I wanted the Top 8 title, but because I LOVE to compete in a MagicFest. To be around my friends and spend a weekend doing what I love the most—playing Magic.

Whenever I was playing at a Grand Prix, I was less focused than when I was playing a PT, less prepared, and maybe even less lucky. All this together meant that in 75 GPs played, I’d only reached Top 16 three times, and never got to the Top 8.

1,600 people attended the main event—12 of them from my own small town, plenty of whom had played Magic for over 10 years, but never a PTQ or a GP. We have never had a store in my town, Senigallia, but we have always played Legacy. One of those 12 players, Lorenzo Tassone, Top 4’d. So the level of play here is quite high, which is very likely the reason I love Legacy so much.

I signed more playmats and took more pictures at Bologna than any GP I’ve attended. I love to share a quick chat with anyone who watches my Legacy Veedeos, my streams, or who roots for me when they see me playing. I want to say thank you and that I’ll try my best to be at every MagicFest in Europe, although that’s quite hard with my streaming schedule.

But let’s get back to Magic, and how I ended up playing Sultai Delver. After Wrenn and Six got banned (and after I cried a bit) I played some MTGO Leagues with my friend Zen Takahashi before I settled on Sultai Delver. But it was last Sunday’s 4SeasonsTournaments that locked me in, after I placed 17th with a 6-2 score.

The reason I still want to play Delver of Secrets—despite my love for Baleful Strix midrange decks—is that combo decks are very good in Legacy right now, and it’s important to keep them in check with a fast clock plus Daze and Wasteland. I chose Sultai over Grixis and UR because I like how Sultai is able to change plans post-sideboard against the mirror, becoming the more midrange of the two and gaining that small edge.

I expected Delver to be the most played deck, so I wanted to have a good version against it, and that’s why I chose to play this 75.

Sultai Delver

Andrea Mengucci – 8th, GP Bologna

1 Bayou
1 Misty Rainforest
4 Polluted Delta
2 Tropical Island
4 Underground Sea
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Wasteland
4 Delver of Secrets/Insectile Aberration
2 Gurmag Angler
4 Tarmogoyf
2 Oko, Thief of Crowns
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
4 Fatal Push
2 Force of Negation
4 Force of Will
4 Ponder
4 Thoughtseize

Sideboard
2 Baleful Strix
1 Blue Elemental Blast
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Brazen Borrower/Petty Theft
1 Crop Rotation
1 Karakas
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Plague Engineer
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Sylvan Library
1 Veil of Summer

I am very happy with this list that Zen Takashi and I played to 15th and 8th place at GP Bologna. With a combined record of 24-6.

Card Choices

Fatal Push

Lots of people have asked me why I chose to play the full four copies of a conditional removal spell in a format like Legacy where Miracles and combo decks are popular. I expected Delver and Death & Taxes to be the two most played decks, which they were on both Day 1 and 2.

When I build my Legacy decks, I always have being on the draw against Delver in the back of my mind. No one is a favorite against Delver on the draw, unless you build your deck with lots of lands (even better if they’re basics) and lots of cheap spells—that’s why Miracles has historically had a strong matchup, and why it won the GP in the hands of Marc Eric Vogt, who lost a single match the whole weekend.

Force of Negation

Two copies Force of Negation is another choice that raises some eyebrows. It is by far the card I sideboard out the most, but it’s also the card you need the most versus Chalice of the Void and combo decks.

In a deck with this many Force of Wills, no blue card is truly dead, as you can easily pitch it. Also Force of Negation being a 3-mana Negate is playable in many different spots, whenever the game goes long. I’m pretty sure I tapped 3 mana more often than I paid 0 to cast Force of Negation this weekend, but that’s because I got paired against combo decks only twice the whole weekend—and they were slow combo decks.

Baleful StrixCrop Rotation

When I construct a sideboard, I make sure to have a midrange package for when I want to board out Delver of Secrets, which is often when I’m on the draw in the mirror. That’s where Baleful Strix comes in handy. Baleful Strix is a filler that I sideboard in every matchup, because against combo it’s a blue card to pitch to FoW, and against aggro it’s a great two-for-one to deal with Delver of Secrets and Gurmag Angler. It’s also an artifact which can enlarge Tarmogoyf up to 6/7 out of double-Lightning-Bolt range (a scenario that happened often in testing). If you’re ready to ask in the comments why don’t I play Baleful Strix in the main deck when I bring it in for every matchup: it’s a filler for the various sideboard plans and the glue that holds them together.

Crop RotationKarakasBojuka Bog

This package I have less confidence about. It was popularized during the rise of B/G Depths, and it stuck with me. I liked having Crop Rotation + Bojuka Bog available versus Reanimator and Dredge in testing. Drawing natural Karakas was very good vs. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Show and Tell, and I wouldn’t get rid of that even if I’d cut Crop Rotation.

If you’re looking for my personal sideboard guide, you will not want to miss the second part of this guide, later this week!

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