I didn’t have high expectations going into Eternal weekend. I basically considered the tournament a free roll because I was heading to the Pro Tour anyway. My good friend Steve Rubin lives in Pittsburgh, and he offered to host Andrea Mengucci and myself for a week. So I went to have some fun, and maybe get a little lucky in Legacy.
I did: my tournament journey ended in Top 8. I originally planned to play Vintage as well, but when a set of Power 9 did not magically fall into my lap, it was pretty obvious that I was better off spending Friday recovering from jet lag. As for Legacy, I didn’t do much preparation either. The tournament was just too close to the PT to justify testing when I could be drafting or playing Standard. Not that I did much of that anyway, but that was the theory. Given that, my deck choice was simple. My good friend Tomas Mar is the original creator of the so-called 4c Czech Pile, and he was willing to lend me the cards.
An aside on the name: I was pleasantly surprised to hear so many people in the USA calling it that. I thought it was just a ridiculous name that my friends and I were joking around with, but it actually caught on, and I’ve rarely heard it referred to by another name. This warmed my heart with pride. It’s nice to see our small country leave a mark in this huge game.
To be honest, I did prepare a little. I went to pick up the deck from Tomas at our local store where they have their weekly Legacy tournament, so I decided to play. I dropped after 2 rounds, going 1-1 because I had to leave. I thought that would be good enough. I also talked to Tomas, who told me that he had the stock version (4 Strix, 3 Snapcaster), but that he had been recently experimenting with Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. I didn’t need to hear more as I absolutely love Jace, so that was settled.
4c Czech Pile
Like I said, I hadn’t played much with the deck beforehand, but I’ve found throughout my career that I usually learn the most from a deck while playing a big tournament rather than play testing. Therefore, I feel pretty qualified to talk about the deck.
I think the most interesting aspect of the deck is the mana base. I’ve already had endless debates with Andrea on the issue of basic land versus Wasteland. You can see that I’m firmly in the Wasteland camp.
The reason is twofold. First, I think Wasteland is just a great land. It has “free win” written all over it. Sometimes you will waste that Eldrazi Temple and your opponent will look at you sadly with a bunch of giant, uncastable Eldrazi stuck in their hand. Second, I don’t think the basics improve your mana base enough. You are playing a deck that plays Lightning Bolt, Hymn to Tourach, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. This deck is greedy, and you have to be greedy with your mana base as well. I know that there are cards that punish you like Blood Moon or Back to Basics.
The first is a problem, but I don’t think the card is heavily played in Legacy and you still have some answers. Back to Basics is easy to beat. I won 2-3 games where it resolved. The basics are relevant against Grixis Delver, where they help you resolve Kolaghan’s Command, which is the most important card, and I do agree that if everything lines up perfectly they are useful.
Overall, the mana base worked well for me. I had very few problems, losing only 1 game to it, so I would recommend it moving forward.
As for the rest of the main deck, small Jace and Inquisition of Kozilek might raise some eyebrows. Jace was amazing for me the whole weekend. There isn’t much removal in Legacy as the whole format is about grinding, so traditional removal isn’t as good. Jace sticks often, and if he does he wins the game by himself.
Inquisition is a kind of 2-card combo with Jace—the classic “clear removal for my big threat.” I could have maxed out on Thoughtseize in that slot, and instead went with 3 Inquisition and only 1 Thoughtseize. I honestly don’t know if this is correct. I lost a game where I couldn’t take Force of Will, but I think the life loss is a high price to pay in the Delver matchups. That seems to be the most prevalent deck, so I suspect that Inquisition of Kozilek is right. It’s not like there is a huge list of relevant cards it misses. Force, big Jace, and Eldrazi are the biggest hitters and all those decks play cheap cards that you want to deal with.
I’m playing only 3 Strix and 2 Snapcaster, which is unusual, but a concession to the fact that I’m jamming Jace, VP. I also have all of these spicy 1-ofs that work well in this deck. You just have so much card draw—basically every other card in the deck provides some sort of card advantage or selection, making it easier to get the 1-of you need. I don’t think I’d change much in the main deck—it’s clear to me that Tomas put a lot of work into the deck. It’s fine tuned and it works well.
In the sideboard there are a few things I’d like to touch on. First, the Nihil Spellbombs. I’ve seen people play Surgical Extraction in this spot and while I agree that it’s better against dedicated graveyard decks like Dredge or Reanimator, Spellbomb is quite good in the Snapcaster mirrors. You blow up their graveyard, denying them a bunch of value. This is especially great versus creatures with delve.
Second, Sylvan Library has been the MVP of my sideboard. Legacy is all about grinding the value and this card does it amazingly well. Third, the only cards I didn’t use in the whole tournament were the Blue Elemental Blast and Hydroblast. I guess they’re good against Burn and straight U/R Delver, which aren’t very popular in U.S. The rest is pretty self explanatory: Pyroblast for blue mirrors, Flusterstorm against combo, Forked Bolt against pesky creatures, Diabolic Edict versus Marit Lage, and True-Name Nemesis and Hymn to Tourach because those cards are great.
Tips and Tricks
• When sideboarding, it’s often correct to board out Wasteland. On the draw you can cut both, but I’d keep at least one on the play. The same goes for Force of Will. That card is bad in most blue mirrors.
• Be careful with Leovold. There are a number of things that trigger him in Legacy. Also be careful because opponents tend to forget that he is in play. I had to stop a couple of Brainstorms in the tournament, which usually lead to immediate concession.
• Don’t be afraid to use Kolaghan’s Command in your opponent’s draw step to force them to discard the card. If you have the game all locked up, this is a useful way to strip them of their last chance at victory.
• Practice with this deck. This coming from me, who didn’t play more than two matches before the tournament. I did have a lot of problems not knowing the Legacy metagame. Especially when it came to the sideboard, I had to do a lot of guessing. For example, I left Abrupt Decay in against a deck where the only target could be Blood Moon, which I was informed later on that the deck doesn’t even play.
As for the tournament itself, it was a grueling experience. 11 rounds in one day with no byes—I haven’t played this much Magic since, well, ever. I’ve never played this much Magic in one day.
What’s amazing is that (including the Top 8) I played against 12 different archetypes. Here they are:
Sneak and Show: W
B/G Depths: W
B/R Reanimator: W
Grixis Delver: W
Canadian Threshold (Temur Delver): L
U/W Stone Blade: W
U/B Death’s Shadow: W
U/W Miracles: W
ID with Bob Huang on Grixis Delver
Esper Stoneblade: L
Some fun tidbits from the tournament:
Throughout the whole weekend I was playing friendly matches with Jarvis Yu and his mighty Lands deck. It turns out that I’m horrible in playing against that deck and I got embarrassed by Jarvis on multiple occasions. I think I won like 2 games out 15 we played. I’m just going to blame it on luck.
Round 3 versus Infect I had no clue what was happening and felt like I was supposed to be dead every turn. I think I played miserably, but somehow my opponent failed to topdeck the pump spell when he needed it and I eked out the win. Post-game he mentioned that he didn’t draw Inkmoth Nexus the whole match, which came as a surprise to me because I completely forgot that card existed. It’s safe to say that I would have straight-up lost if he had cast it. He also blew me out with Stifle, which leads me to the next story.
In round 6 versus Eric Vergo, who managed to Top 8 both Vintage and Legacy, we had what looked like the mirror match. We both played some cantrips, some removal, and at some point I go to fetch in his end step. Obviously, he snaps off Stifle and I’m sitting there stunned, because I could have fetched on my main phase when he was tapped out. The game goes on and he plays Nimble Mongoose, at which point I just laugh, because I absolutely love the card. It was Nimble Mongoose that got me my first PT qualification with Top 16 at a Legacy GP. Eric must have thought that I was just making fun of his card choice, but I was legitimately excited to be playing against that card yet again. Needless to say, I got absolutely destroyed in that match, but it was probably the most enjoyable loss I’ve received in years.
In round 10, which was my win and in, I played against Miracles. I didn’t know what was happening as my opponent played cards such as Counterbalance and Portent. I questioned if Top really got banned when I saw the former and questioned my reading skills when I saw the latter. It turns out that I was a huge favorite to win the matchup, and I did. One funny thing happened, though. Earlier that morning, Steve asked me why I’m playing a split of Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast. We had a 5-minute debate in the car on the way to the tournament that it sometimes helps dodge cards like Meddling Mage and Surgical Extraction.
Back in my match, I counter his Predict with my Pyroblast turn 2. My opponent goes in the tank and then decides to Surgical Extraction my Pyroblast to get some free information. Well, the information that he got was that I’m playing Red Elemental Blast and that it’s currently in my hand. My car mates were watching the match and all we could do was laugh.
Going into the Top 8, I knew that I was going to face this cool-looking Esper Stoneblade deck list. I thought I’d be a slight favorite, and playing the games I actually think I was pretty big favorite. Yet I lost, so what gives? Well, I won game 1 easily. My opponent was scared of my Wasteland so he fetched Swamp on the first turn and then got punished by never drawing a white source and locking himself with Brainstorm.
Game 2 was yet again looking good for me—I had perfect information thanks to Thoughtseize, but I made a greedy play where I was relying on my Brainstorm to give me a red source of mana. Instead, I could have pitched that Brainstorm to a Force of Will that could protect my Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and ride it to victory. I didn’t see that line, and instead pitched the Jace in the hopes that I would find a land from the Brainstorm. I didn’t, I got Brainstorm locked, and deservedly lost the almost unlosable game. A lot had to go wrong for me to lose the game, but it did, and I could have been less greedy to avoid it. Game 3 wasn’t much fun as I mulliganed into a weak 6-card hand and then got blown out by Engineered Explosives.
Well, that’s my story of Eternal Weekend. It was a blast and I’m glad to finally finish in the Top 8 of a tournament bigger than a local FNM. Ever since I’ve started writing for CFB, I haven’t Top 8’d a single event, so I was beginning to think that I was cursed. I guess the curse is gone, and I’m hopeful going into the GP and the PT. It would be nice to finally win a trophy!