I have a new love.
Not a woman, a deck.
Have you ever drafted a Constructed deck? With the aura of power, palpable, shining out from your cards as you crush opponent after opponent?
Such is the feeling when you play an Extended deck in Standard, a Legacy deck in Extended, or, yes, a Vintage deck in Legacy.
Painter, by Caleb Durward
On terms of sheer power level, this is the best deck in Legacy. Sure, Belcher can win turn one, but turn one isn’t the crucial turn of Legacy. Turn three is, and this deck averages that with at least Force of Will backup.
“But Caleb,” one might ask, “what puts this deck over the top all of a sudden?”
Well, I’m not sure who this “one” guy is, but he’s direct and I like that. The answer is that now the deck has Moxen, and not the bad kind. In Legacy, spinning a Top on turn one is one of the more broken plays possible, and Painter can make that play between one in five games on the play and one in four on the draw. In tournament play, it’s more slanted toward one in four, as the deck can expect to be on the draw for game two.
The Moxen also increase the chance of going turn one Goblin Welder, turn two Intuition. This leads to fetching a pile of Grindstone, Painter’s Servant, and Lion’s Eye Diamond and welding one into play, then untapping and welding another into play and casting the missing piece from hand for the kill.
Running four of each combo piece not only turns on the moxen, but also increases the chance of raw-dogging the win. In these cases, the Welders are not dead, as they protect the combo from removal and countermagic better than Force of Will does. Naturally drawing a Force or Welder by turn three happens three games out of four, and with the rest of the deck being Brainstorms, Tops, and Intuitions, it’s possible to win through multiple pieces of disruption.
Killing turn two through multiple Force of Wills is a Vintage move, but this deck does it with consistency. Painter has done well in Vintage before (though now it’s outshone by Time Vault), and Vintage decks are known to maindeck Ancient Grudge and Null Rod. I’m not saying that Legacy is free of hate, but the level directed at artifacts right now, with Fish and Goblins being top dogs, is at a low point.
Meanwhile, did I mention we get to play four Black Lotus? Sounds fair.
The transformative sideboard was figured out the night before the event, where I was testing against Drew Levin with Countertop. The testing was going well, very well, but I was still worried about Zoo, which had maindecked Swords to Plowshares, Qasali Pridemage, Lightning Bolt, and Fireblast to disrupt the combo alongside a blistering clock. Plus, unlike against Goblins or Merfolk, the Ancient Tombs were a serious liability.
I went through a long list of crappy answers to Zoo. Firespout, Flametongue Kavu, and Flame Slash were all shouted down. I almost considered switching to a list that Lewis Laskin had worked on a few months ago that splashed white for Enlightened Tutor in the main, and could fetch Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek postboard, but I really loved the elegance of my list, and didn’t want to scramble for cards. Finally, either Ben Weinberg or Mark Sun suggested a Show and Tell transformational sideboard plan, and dollar symbols appeared in front of my eyes.
Later that night, I goldfished the plan and loved it enough to run it untested. Post board against aggro I could drop Emrakuls into play while they stared at their Krosan Grips and Pithing Needles, and against control I could force Emrakuls through with a pile of Red Elemental Blasts. My boarded list excited me more than the maindeck of most Show and Tell decks, and that was a good sign.
Back at the hotel room, Christopher McCord, winner of the Richmond legacy 5k, made an interesting offer to Ryan Rolen.
“I’ll give you a hundred bucks to jump naked into the shower with Jessie [Butler, who top eighted the invitational with Mono Black Control].” he said, laughing out loud at the image.
Ryan thought for a moment, then declined. Here was my big chance. I knew my dignity was worth far less than Ryan’s, so I undercut the offer.
“I’d do it for twenty.”
I probably would’ve done it for ten. Christopher McCord is a sucker.
With that image permanently implanted in your mind, on to the tournament. We got to the site early, and I consumed some caffeine and an energy bar, the combination that suits me best for these events.
My apologies in advance if I forgot your name.
Round 1 – Aluren
Game one I comboed him out turn three with a redundant Force in hand.
Round 2 – Julian Booher with RB Goblins (Top Four)
This one is on GGslive here.
The commentators did a good job of pointing out the key cards and predicting the games. Also, I’m a big fan of the side cameras, as many players give away cards in their hands, and being able to study them without having to actually play in a tournament is a neat tool to have. Kudos, coverage folks.
I won the roll, and dropped an early Painter’s Servant to Red Elemental Blast his turn one Aether Vial. I considered the land, but over the course of a game the Vial was going to give him much more value. I ran into the problem of drawing too many Force of Wills (poor me), but Top got me there eventually. Painter’s Servant was surprisingly good at holding off Goblin Lackey.
I de-boarded for game three, as I was on the play and wanted a more consistent turn three win. Goblin Welder did his thing.
Round 3 – Bant (SpikeyMikey on the Source)
Game one I fanned open a grip that could win turn three and kept. He opened with turn one Noble Hierarch, turn two Cold-Eyed Selkie on the play. I ripped the combo piece I needed so that I didn’t need to Intuition, which let me go for the throat turn two. He Force of Willed, untapped, and dropped a second Noble Hierarch, Ancestral Recalling off of his exalted triggers. I Intuitioned for a second Painter’s Servant, floating Lion’s Eye Diamond mana, but he Forced again to take the game.
Game two I cast some Red Elemental Blasts and brought an Emrakul to Show and Tell.
Game three he dropped an early Knight of the Reliquary and started bashing. I was forced to Red Elemental Blast a Rafiq of the Many to buy a few turns. I went for the turn three Emrakul, and he flipped over Karakas. I should’ve known that, since he wasn’t using his Knight to fetch Wastelands, he probably had an out in hand. I spent my turn casting Trinket Mage for Grindstone and Intuitioning for Painter’s Servant, but he had a Swords to Plowshares for my Trinket Mage to crack in for lethal.
I flipped over the top card of my library, and it was a blue card to go with the Force I had in hand.
After the match I felt fairly exuberant. In Legacy, some people can tilt after losing to something seemingly random like a turn two Selkie, but I felt like I had lost a hard battle against another Vintage deck. A Viking would call it a good death.
Round 4 – Dredge
Game one he mulled to four, I turn 3’ed him, and he muttered about how he hates Legacy.
In game two he opened with an Unmask, which I Forced to protect my hand of land, Sensei’s Divining Top, Tormod’s Crypt, and Painter’s Servant. He cast a second Unmask, taking the Top, and then he dropped a Pithing Needle naming Grindstone. I ended up beating him down to nine with Painter’s Servant before Intuitioning for Goblin Welder and recurring Nihil Spellbomb for value, which he scooped to.
Round 5 – Merfolk
I opened with the good ol’ Artifact Land, Sensei’s Divining Top, Mox Opal start, and spun my Top while his Cursecatcher looked on. I saw three blanks, so I continued to develop my hand to play through multiple Daze effects while looking for a Force of Will. I landed a Goblin Welder, and with two cards left in hand he Forced my Brainstorm. Now, this play wasn’t as bad as it looks. If he read me as being out of gas, the Force buys him a turn or two to apply some pressure. However, my last card was an Intuition, which fetched Painter, Grindstone, and Grindstone. I welded in what he didn’t give me and cast the other for the win.
Round 6 – Chris Osinski with Goblins (Eventual winner)
In game one I kept a suspect hand that needed a Blue source, a Top, or a Painter’s Servant to get there, but featured a Force, a Welder, a Grindstone, and a Lion’s Eye Diamond. I did the math and that left me with twenty-five outs, not counting ripping a second Force to buy another turn. I didn’t get there, and should’ve mulled the hand, as even giving myself three or four turns to draw out, thanks to the Force, was riskier than my average six card hand.
I boarded the same as round two.
In game two I dropped an Emrakul into play, which he scooped to. After the match a friend of his pointed out that he knew I was on the Emrakul plan, but that he hadn’t boarded in the Stingscourger, as he hadn’t played in a while and didn’t know what Stingscourger did. Not only that, but he hadn’t brought in Mindbreak Traps against Christian Valenti playing Belcher, either. His logic was that Mindbreak Traps were blue, and his Mountains could only produce red, so he didn’t read the card.
Unlike round two, I didn’t de-board, as I hadn’t seen Cabal Therapy from my opponent.
In game three I mulled to oblivion and lost to some 1/1s. Apparently, this is also how he beat Valenti.
There was a point where I named Blue with Painter’s Servant, despite him having a Goblin Piledriver on the field. There was, however, a Force of Will on top of my deck, and I was dead from two swings anyway. Chumping Piledriver was not part of the game plan, and so naming blue was the correct call.
Congratulations to Osinski; he tapped guys sideways just fine, but his winning should give some incentive to anyone who hasn’t played legacy before. You do not need experience to win a Legacy tournament.
Apparently, you don’t even need a sideboard.
Round 7 – Christian Valenti with Belcher
Christian Valenti is a friend and, like all good friends, immediately tried to tilt me by mentioning our money draft record (0-2 him.)
“Oh my god! That card is sooooo good!” he said, looking to his hand. “How brutal!”
This implied he had a Belcher, but needed a Lotus Petal to cast it, and didn’t have enough mana to play the Belcher and activate.
I got a Top down and started spinning. I let him resolve a couple of rituals, as an Empty the Warrens would only give him six goblin tokens, but forced his Seething Song, as that would have made ten, a much deadlier number. He nodded and passed back, still confident in his game plan.
I hard cast a Force of Will to stop a Burning Wish. His second Burning Wish resolved, which grabbed Flame Slash. I slammed down a second Goblin Welder and a Grindstone. He untapped and resolved a Goblin Charbelcher, but needed to untap to activate it. I did the math, and figured that Grindstoning him twice, trying to hit an artifact, was safer than Grinding myself twice and spinning to try and hit Painter’s Servant. My first Grindstone hit a Lion’s Eye Diamond off his deck, and I swapped it into play for his Goblin Charbelcher.
“How savage would it be if you wanted a Lion’s Eye Diamond all along?” I said. He smiled.
I untapped and used Grindstone like a Crystal Ball to mill away some Chaff. After I drew a land, Top revealed Force of Will and blue card, but I had no mana open. Christian went for a second Goblin Charbelcher, and with his fancy new Lion’s Eye Diamond would’ve been able to activate it that turn. I tapped Top to draw a card, responding with Goblin Welder to replace it with a Grindstone I’d milled away earlier. Then, I used my other Welder to replace the blue card on top of my deck.
At this point, Christian realized what I was doing and shouted “Noooo!” as I blew him out with Force of Will from a position with no mana up and an empty hand.
I blanked his Chrome Moxen with my Welders, and he scooped with no cards left against my dominant board position.
“You have what they call ‘inevitability,’” he said.
In game two I kept another Goblin Welder plus Force of Will hand, and the game went similarly. He stopped me from winning turn three by Red Elemental Blasting my Intuition, and then my Force of Will, but when he resolved a Goblin Charbelcher I was again able to naked grind him, hitting an artifact, and welding the Belcher away. In retrospect, the only thing I regret about this line of play is using the term “naked grind” in relation to Christian, but I guess there’s no changing the past.
Round 8 – Mark Sun with Zoo
Mark was one of the people who had helped me figure out the Show and Tell plan the night before, and I laughed when I saw him sit down in front of me. Unfortunately for Mark, he was tilting a bit from his last match, and, knowing my board plan, his earlier decision to remove his sideboarded Karakas for a Bojuka Bog nagged at his brain. While he kept fine hands, I don’t think his mental state allowed him to be in it.
In game one, I turn 3’ed him with a Force of Will to protect Painter. For game two I boarded the same as versus Goblins, and Emrakul’d him out from a healthy life total.
I finished the day at 6-2, which was barely good enough for 16th. I feel my deck was the best in the room, and will continue to be for some time. However, I will continue to brew and test the format, as that is what I love doing.
The Mountain was bad all day long, and the deck loves shuffle effects. I wouldn’t fault anyone for keeping the fourth Lion’s Eye Diamond over the maindeck Pyroblast.
Join me next week for another edition of Legacy Weapon, where we’ll talk about more sweet cards and lists.