Phoenix Rising – SCG: Phoenix Legacy Report

Hello everyone, normally I talk about Standard in my columns but this is going to be a little bit of a special case after the recent SCG: AZ event that rolled through town. Several local players did very well in the event with AZ, even taking 8 out of 16 spots in the top 16 in the Legacy Open and half of both top 8s.

I had a rather interesting experience both days getting to the convention center but I will be elaborating on that a little bit later. This story begins with play testing at a friend Phil Renaud’s house for the Standard Open and the Legacy Open came up. I said that if I were to play, I’d most likely play Aggro Loam. I find the deck incredibly fun to play and have the most experience playing with it, slightly ahead of RUG Delver/Tempo Thresh, as I’ve played Aggro-Loam in Extended just after Ravnica was released when the deck was also known as CAL (Solitary Confinement- Seismic Assault – Life from the Loam). In a recent Modern tournament, I saw a good friend of mine, Justin “Chino” Kame, playing an Aggro Loam deck. I knew I wanted to start playing Life from the Loam again. Life from the Loam is a card engine that fuels two main decks to my limited Legacy knowledge, 43 Lands and Aggro Loam. Aggro Loam uses it to create a continual Wasteland loop rendering most decks unable to cast their spells over time. You continually get the Loam card back into your hand with the help of the 6 cycle lands in the deck and replacing the draw off cycling with dredging the Life from the Loam. Life from the Loam also makes Mox Diamond’s “drawback” much more manageable as you can always play a turn 1 Loam get back the land you discard (or multiple if you have more than 1 Mox in hand) and start to dredge your deck to get cards into your graveyard. This is a very grindy deck which features some of the best creatures in Green and Black: Dark Confidant, Tarmogoyf, Commander-print only Scavenging Ooze and the Magnivore cycle green Lhurgoyf: Terravore.

Another engine in this deck is the Grove of the Burnwillows/Punishing Fire combo that was originally featured in Brian Kibler’s Pro Tour Austin Zoo deck. This engine allows you to continually deal 1 damage for each instance of the combo. Grove gives your opponent 1 life every time you tap it for Red or Green mana, while Punishing Fire states: “Whenever an opponent gains life, you may pay R. If you do, return Punishing Fire from your graveyard to your hand.” This 3 mana combo deal 1 damage to a creature or a player every time. This combo even plays around Extirpate when Punishing Fire is in the graveyard because it is a triggered ability and plays around Split Second.

Without further ado, this is the 63 card list that I had registered:

Creatures (12)
Scavenging Ooze
Dark Confidant
Eternal Witness

Sorceries (23)
Inquisition of Kozilek
Life from the Loam
Maelstrom Pulse
Green Sun's Zenith
Punishing Fire
Diabolic Edict
Mox Diamond
Seismic Assault

Lands (28)
Barren Moor
Tranquil Thicket
Forgotten Cave
Volrath's Stronghold
Wooded Foothills
Verdant Catacombs
Grove of the Burnwillows
Sideboard (15)
Tormod's Crypt
Zuran Orb
Umezawa's Jitte
Engineered Explosives
Chalice of the Void
Maelstrom Pulse
Surgical Extraction
Red Elemental Blast
Huntmaster of the Fells

The list I originally was going to use was 61 cards with the Green Sun’s Zenith, I assume, as the 61st card. After talking with eventual SCG:AZ Top 8 player Nathan Cardinell I was advised to play an Eternal Witness in the deck as well, since with her and Volrath’s Stronghold you can get any card back into your hand as long as she lands in the graveyard. The 63rd card was a result of me getting handed the Modern and Legacy cards at once by previously mentioned Nathan and me not reading the deck correctly and assuming this Loam list played 4 Loams, when it in fact only ran 3.

The night before the Standard tournament I got the cards together played in FNM with some light goldfishing of the Loam deck and headed home for the night. When I got home I realized my alarm clock was dying and needed to replace the batteries to prevent a tragedy in the morning. Cue the foreshadowing. My alarm clock is an atomic clock and gets synced up to a satellite but you have to manually set what time zone you live in. I wound up setting the wrong time zone (Pacific instead of Mountain) and my clock was an hour behind, so when my alarm went off at 745 to get into the shower and be wide awake when Chino was going to pick me up in the morning I would be totally ready… Turns out I wake up at 845, all possible rides are already at the venue so I need to get over there ASAP. A missed exit and a few wrong turns late,r I get to the venue at roughly 10am just as last calls are being made for registration. I go 0-2 in the Standard Open, win my next two rounds, and when I lose my last round to UW Delver I call it quits on Standard for the day and decide to focus on Legacy and the Legacy Challenge. The Legacy Challenge I wound up going 2-2 in and getting 1 pack out of it. Leaving the venue I knew I wanted to get to bed early to change the pace of the morning earlier.

The next morning I get up real early get my deck half written out shower and get otherwise ready and wait for Phil, my ride, to show up. My ride is a little bit behind schedule so I write out his decklist on the way up. He drops me off at the venue and I wait in line to register while he parks his car. I get in at last call again and Phil is awesome enough to write out my list for me and we get done just as the player meeting is called.

Round 1 RB Control

My opponent plays a mountain turn 1 followed by a Goblin Guide and immediately I think I’m playing against one of the many Burn decks rumored to be floating around the Legacy event. I try my best to play around his burn spells and he winds up playing a Dark Confidant and I slowly begin to think that he’s on a more controlling plan after seeing Mr. Maher. I wind up resolving a very big Terravore and the game ends shortly afterwards. Game 2 he begins to strip my hand down with Inquisition of Kozilek, Hymn to Tourach and Liliana of the Veil while beating me down with Goblin Guides, Dark Confidants and Vampire Nighthawks. After seeing what he played Game 2 I revise my board plan and take out my burn hate and bring in more anti-control cards especially Chalice of the Void since he relied on his 1 drops pretty hard Game 2. In game 3 I am able to get a a Turn 1 Tarmogoyf down and pass the turn. My opponent cracks a fetch getting a Badlands, plays a Dark ritual then Inquisitions my hand revealing Green Sun’s Zenith and a pair of lands, my opponent then Hymns me leaving me with no cards in hand and himself with 3 in his. I draw my top card and its’ a Wasteland which I promptly use against my opponent and start to attack with my 3/4 Goyf and the game winds up ending on the back of this creature as my opponent does not draw another land for the rest of the game.

Round 2 Esper Stoneblade

Me and my opponent sit down from each other and talk about what we played in the last round. We then begin our match and he reveals that he is in the Esper Stoneblade deck, similar to the Caw-Blade decks of the past in Standard but with better and more swords, better card draw, and Lingering Souls. Game 1 took a very long time and wound up being on the wrong side of a Batterskull beating and losing the game. Game 2 we each brought in our sideboard cards and I cannot give you guys a definitive sideboard from what I put in as I’ve lost my notes and it seems like I bring in different things each match, I believe this time around I brought in 2 Red Blasts/Pyroblast, 2 Surgicals, 1 Jitte to combat his and 1 Maelstrom Pulse. I probably should have brought in my EE as I can blow it up for up to 5 counters with the use of Mox Diamond. I wound up winning game 2 after a long battle and resolving both Seismic Assault and having Grove/Punishing Fire in play at the same time with Loam backup. Game 3 was a quick affair even after Extracting his Surgicals in response to giving one of his flashback with Snapcaster Mage. I believe I was just on the wrong side of Batterskull again. Also in the course of this match I forgot that I could bring back my Punishing Fire every time he connected with Batterskull due to lifelink.

Round 3 Burn

I knew when I sat down for this match there was a very real possibility in which my tournament would easily be over after losing this match. Game 1 went exactly as expected; my face being burned off before I could get anything ready and quickly grabbed my sideboard knowing I came prepared for this matchup. In went: 2 Zuran Orb, 2 Huntmasters, 2 Chalices, 1 Jitte. Out came: 2 Pulses, 2 Terravore, 2 Seismic Assault, 1 Eternal Witness. In games 2 and 3, Huntmaster of the Fells saved my ass in both games with Jitte backup. Zuran Orb didn’t see the light of day until game 3 but even then it was a little overkill. Interesting plays of note in this match-up: casting a Lightning Bolt on a 2 / 3 Goyf will not kill it if there is not an Instant in the graveyard already. By the time state-based effects are checked the Goyf is a 3 / 4. Also, Unearthing a Hellspark Elemental and Suspending a Rift Bolt will still cause Huntmaster of the Fells to flip into Ravager of the Fells because neither are actually considered casting a spell.

Round 4 Storm

Before the match starts me and my opponent, fellow AZMagicPlayers writer Lowell Thompson, comment on how the 2 tables to my left and the table to his left are all feature matches and how we feel left out. However, this match is quick and easy to write up. My opponent storms me out game 1 and I think I’m done for the day as this is a pretty bad matchup for me. Game 2 I get a Chalice of the Void on 1 down and slow him down long enough to kill him with Punishing Fire, Bob and Goyf. Game 3 he casts a Tendrils of Agony for 4 copies knocking me to 3 and himself up to 16. I have a Bob, Scavenging Ooze, Goyf and Terravore on the board. My Bob flips over a land while I draw a Seismic Assault afterwards. When I cast the Seismic Assault and attack then kill my Dark Confidant after the fact my opponent scoops knowing he has no win conditions left in his deck. That sound that you hear, by the way, is the second bullet I’ve dodged in this tournament.

Round 5 UR Delver Burn

I sit down from my opponent and just tell myself to keep calm and move along as I know i’m getting pretty close towards reaching the feature matches. Game 1 I see he casts a Lightning Bolt and a Brainstorm with Goblin Guide back up so I think he’s in the Burn variant of Delver eschewing the Green creatures for a more burn-centric package. I also die to a Price of Progress in response to casting a Life from the Loam which further cements this in my head. I opt to bring in my normal burn hate and take out the same things as mentioned in the Round 3 note. Game 2 I fan open my opening cards and see: Mox Diamondx2 Scavenging Ooze, Tarmogoyf and 3 lands. I start the game up by casting my Mox Diamonds pitching 2 of the lands in my hand leaving a Wasteland in my hand. I then play the wasteland and cast my Ooze leaving a Mox Diamond up just in case. My opponent then plays a Volcanic Island which allows him to cast Ponder and I waste him during my upkeep. I then attack with my Scavenging Ooze which my opponent tries to Submerge but we both realize he cannot as he doesn’t control any Islands and my only mana sources are my Mox Diamonds… except for the fact that I just drew a Taiga and had it sitting in my hand. Since I now have this information, I cast my Goyf and proceed to not play any more lands for the rest of the game leaning on these two green monsters to finish off my opponent. Game 3 I look at my opening hand and it quite possibly could not be any better. I see Chalice of the Void, Life from the Loam, Zuran Orb, Mox Diamond, Grove of the Burnwillows and 2 other land. I know that I cannot lose this game. I keep as does my opponent and he casts a Brainstorm with his Volcanic Island. I draw a Punishing Fire for my card for the turn and lay out the Mox Diamond, a land, the Chalice of the Void on 1 to stop his cantrips, Goblin Guide, Grim Lavamancer and other 1 drops and the Zuran Orb. My opponent is not pleased with this turn of events. On my next turn, I float mana, sacrifice my land to the Zuran Orb then cast Life from the Loam putting the land I sac’ed back into play untapped. Needless to say this game is promptly over and we’re just going through the motions until my opponent scoops up his cards. I get my cards back together and look over to see where my other friends are playing and how they’re doing.

Round 6 RUG Delver *Feature Match*

I’m a little ecstatic to be announced for a feature match so I get over to the feature match area and notice that in each of the matches at least one AZ player is in all of them and I can’t be happier. I’m really proud to see all these AZ players showing their stuff and being at the top tables at our first SCG event in Phoenix. I then turn around to start shuffling and notice I’ve played my opponent in Legacy before, the day before in fact and know I’m up against a RUG Delver matchup. In the match we played yesterday I wound up losing, but not before I cast a turn 1 4 power Tarmogoyf. To accomplish this my opponent played a Volcanic Island and cast a Ponder passing the turn to me. For my turn I draw a Mox Diamond allowing me to play my Goyf around Daze. I play the first Mox Diamond which is quickly Dazed then play the second pitching a land and playing a Wasteland for my turn then use the artifact and the land to cast my 4 / 5 Goyf with Artifact, Instant, Land and Sorcery in the yard.

For the actual match I lose the die roll and we quickly get the board nice and clogged up with Goyfs, and a Nimble Mongoose on his side of the board and Goyfs of my own and very big and scary Terravore on mine. Neither of us attack and we slowly bleed each other out with fetchlands and I know this game is going exactly the way I want it to. I just need to hold on long enough to get my Seismic Assault engine or my Punishing Grove engine going. I eventually see the Seismic Assault and kill off one of his Goyfs with lands. The following turn I cast a Life from the Loam getting back 3 lands to compliment the 2 already in my hand. I do some quick combat math and notice the game is won, I attack with all my creatures, the Terravore tramples over to leave my opponent at 8 and I reveal the 5 lands I have in my hand to end the game. We start to sideboard and shuffle our decks and begin mulliganing and as we both go to grab our 5 card hands the judge calls over to us and asks “Do you guys wanna play on the camera?” I immediately say yes as does my opponent. We both pack up our stuff and head into the tent that the feature matches are taking place.

The camera portion of this match can be viewed here: I won’t talk about the camera portion since you can just watch it but I’ll comment on a few plays: I Extracted his Wastelands as I knew from the day before his list is very land light and knowing in my hand that if I get Wasted again I just auto-lose. I can save my Life from the Loam from being exile if I play my lands in a different order and keep the cycle land in my hand to cycle off of a Mox Diamond. In game 3 I don’t know why I attack with the Goyf when I’m staring down a flipped Delver and a Mongoose, if I don’t attack there I buy myself 3 life and keep myself alive to draw the match. Also theoretically if I slow down a little bit turns gets called sooner and I don’t get attacked as many times as I do.

Round 7 Punishing Maverick

This match is abysmal for me, I quickly succumb to an enormous Knight of the Reliquary and the Punishing Fire engine as well as multiple Scavenging Oozes. Not much of note here.

Round 8 RUG Delver

This is the match I have to win some sort of money, but I’m against a very prominent player in the past 6 months or so on the GP circuit so I’m a little worried, I also know I’m playing against RUG Delver as he sat next to my Round 3 opponent and I saw what he was playing over the course of that match. At this point in time I get extremely sloppy due to exhaustion and hunger as I haven’t eaten over the course of the day. Game 1 I succumb to a flipped Delver and a Nimble Mongoose. Game 2 I’m on the backfoot seemingly the entire game and my opponent casts a Sylvan Library which enables him to draw more cards a turn at the cost of 4 life each. He continually draws extra cards and I’m too busy flashing him cards in my hand accidentally that I think the game is lost. However, there’s a point in time that I am able to resolve my Huntmaster of the Fells and chump block a Goyf with my Wolf token to go to 1 while he is tapped out, has no cards in hand and is at 4 life. My turn comes and I draw my card, untap and quickly pass the turn so my Huntmaster flips and I can kill him with the Punishing Fire I’ve had in my hand. His library trigger goes on the stack first then the flip trigger does and before his library trigger resolves I show him the Punishing Fire to kill him. Game 3 is much more anti-climactic as I simply die to a flipped Delver and a Mongoose again.

This tournament has reignited my passion for the Legacy format, specifically the Aggro-Loam deck because of how fun I find it to play. I may start playing a little bit of a different version, utilizing a card in the old Extended version that I used to play, Burning Wish. At least I won’t be losing all my Loams to Surgicals and Crypts this way.


  • All the AZ players for doing so well in this tournament.
  • Adam Prosak – Congrats on the 2nd place finish in Legacy!
  • Phil, Chino, Nathan – Thanks for letting me use the cards, playtest with me and give me a ride back and forth to the event.


  • Myself – Eat during events and don’t give up so easily on matches!