SCG: LA Legacy Open Champion Report

Hi, my name is Phimus Pan and I’m going to tell you about my trip to Los Angeles this past weekend for the StarCityGames Open. For a little background, I’ve been playing Magic on and off since Stronghold. I started playing competitively in sanctioned tournaments since Judgment and although I don’t like the term “grinder”, that might be the easiest way to describe what I do Magic-wise.

I have a pretty good car for this roadtrip, with Zach, Kevin and Hadley joining me. We leave early on Friday and through the use of Nyquil and a hoodie, we’re in LA before I know it. We get there pretty early in the day and my friends want to play FNM so we end up at MTGDeals. It goes smoothly and I feel reasonably confident in my Standard deck.

Saturday morning comes and I sleeve up a regular Black Devotion deck with 2 Watery Graves and 2 Notion Thieves in the board. Going into the weekend, I had decent aspirations for doing well in Standard and thought I would have a chance to money in Legacy. Turns out, I was pretty wrong.

The following are some situations that happened in game during the Standard Open:

  • I’m on the play versus Mono-Blue and play turn 2 Pack Rat and proceed to make a rat every turn. My opponent casts Vaporkin during this game.
  • I Notion Thief my U/W/b opponent for 7.
  • I’m up 16 to 2 in life versus the burn deck. I have Gray Merchant vs his board of Ash Zealot, Mutavault and we’re both hellbent.

The common thread tying those 3 scenarios together is that I lose each and every one of those games and matches. I start the tournament 1-4 and then stay in for rounds 6 and 7 and win those while waiting for a friend to pick me up for dinner. Needless to say, I’m disappointed in my performance and a little disheartened at Magic overall.

Sunday arrives and I wake up not looking forward to the Legacy tournament due to what happened in Standard the day before. But since my friends back home had graciously lent me a whole deck and carmates really wanted to play Legacy, I sleeve up the following and get ready to battle:

I normally don’t play Legacy (~100 sanctioned matches lifetime and it feels like way less) but have played a bit more recently due to Jeff and Jason Abong running a Legacy tournament each of the last 3 months for some pretty great prizes.

One of my friends sent me this list and I played the last AZMagicPlayers Legacy tournament and won. I made a few adjustments to my sideboard before this tournament and left the maindeck the same.

Since everyone is familiar with BUG Delver and Shardless BUG, I’m going to touch on some of the card choices that are different about my deck.

23 Lands: This is a lot of lands for a Legacy deck and the deck got flooded a bit more than I would like. However, extra lands in Legacy means that you’re more insulated from Wasteland and this also allowed me to play 3 copies of Creeping Tar Pit which was fantastic all day.

3 Baleful Strix: This is just a good value creature that pitches to Force of Will. A lot of games, it pecks at the opponent for a few points and then trades off with something much better. It stares down Griselbrand very well.

4 True-Name Nemesis, 0 Tarmogoyf: It’s pretty rare to see lists with all 4 TNN and no Goyfs but here we are. I don’t need to go over why TNN is good but by not having Goyf, white opponent’s sideboard plans of RIP turned out to be poor versus my deck.

4 Thoughtseize, 2 Inquisition of Kozilek, 3 Force of Will: My deck is trying to be proactive and either disrupt my opponents’ combo pieces or their possible answers for TNN. Force of Will isn’t very good when your opponents are playing fair but some number is needed to not automatically lose game 1 to degenerate decks.

Onto the tournament:

Round 1: Manaless Dredge

While shuffling, my opponent flipped a card over that I only saw briefly. I thought it was Swan Song. After game 1, my opponent told me it was Woodfall Primus. Even if he had showed me that card, I still wouldn’t have been able to put him on a deck.

I get crushed game 1 while he dredges a bunch of cards and kills me with said Primus and zombie tokens. Game 2 I draw my Cage and my opponent is dead. Game 3, I have a discard spell to put him behind a turn and also a Deathrite. He had some sort of Land Grant, Forest removal spell sideboard package but overall his draw was pretty weak as he played a Forest and also a Dakmor Salvage and tried to attack me with a team of Golgari Thug and Bloodghast.

2-1 games, 1-0 matches

Round 2: Bant True Name

I play against a really nice guy named Ken who I had met at FNM the night before. We had told each other the night before what Legacy decks we were playing but I didn’t remember. In the first game, I disrupt him some and feel like I’m decently ahead but run my Jace into a Daze. We play some turns where I do some damage with Deathrite until I land a True-Name. I think that I’m going to win comfortably until he lands True-Name plus Jitte. I’m ahead enough on life to somehow race him after he puts counters on Jitte 3 times. On the last turn, I peel a land and hurriedly activate my Tar-Pit and attack him while he’s on 2 with 2 counters on Jitte. It’s not until my guys are tapped that he realizes he had drawn a Stifle previously and could have countered my fetchland or activation of Tar-Pit to win. I win game 2 after he draws a lot of equipment but not enough guys to put them on.

During this round, I’m seated next to my friend Zach who is playing Paul Rietzl. I hear Paul call for the judge to confirm something with Zach’s Brainstorm on the stack and his Vial on 2. Zach obviously gets Spirit of the Labyrinth’d back to the stone age and we all have a good laugh about it.

2-0 games, 2-0 matches

Round 3: Esper Deathblade

I sit in the fake feature match area this round. Game 1, I play turn 1 Deathrite which he Swords’d. I turn 2 Thoughtseize him and see lands plus Brainstorm and Snapcaster. I take the Brainstorm and think I’m in good shape. He plays Stoneforge on 2 getting Batterskull and I miss my 3rd land to Clique away the equipment. I end up taking a bunch of damage from Batterskull while trying to put together some defense but it ends with him playing both a Jace and a Deathrite one turn vs my True-Name and burning me out before I can find an answer. I beat him Game 2 but don’t remember what happened.

In Game 3, he leads on Deathrite and my t1 discard spell sees lands, True-Name Nemesis, and Detention Sphere. I take the True-Name and think I’m in good shape. I end up taking some from his Deathrite and his subsequent Brainstorms are all good and I die to a True-Name in 3 hits.

At this point, I felt like I had lost a pretty tough match and don’t feel that good about the rest of the tournament. My friends still want to play so I stay in and just decide to try to play tighter and see what happens.

1-2 games, 2-1 matches

Round 4: Mono-Red Sneak Attack

I play a few Thoughtseizes early in game 1 and take his enablers, leaving him with some monsters in hand. Eventually, I ultimate Liliana and put him on Sneak Attack vs lands and he keeps the Sneak Attack. His 2 draw steps aren’t mana source + monster and I kill him with my 3 power guys.

Game 2 is where it gets crazy. He mulls to 5 on the play and I’m feeling pretty good about myself since I have a discard spell along with some action.

His first turn is Mountain, Simian Spirit Guide x2, Blood Moon. Craaaap.

My hand doesn’t have Force of Will so that resolves and my deck without basics can only produce red the rest of the game. My first card drawn was obviously Force of Will. We still have plenty of time on the clock so I decide to play it out to check out more of his deck. On my turn 4, I peel one of my 2 Phyrexian Revoker. I play it and cross my fingers. He ends up stumbling on mana and only plays 3 lands the whole game. On one of the last turns, he has Pyroclasm with red blast backup. Luckily, I had picked up a 2nd force of will and manage to 20 him with Alpha Myr. My opponent was a super good sport about it all but it definitely wasn’t a game I should have won. Maybe my tournament was taking a turn for the better?

2-0 games, 3-1 matches

Round 5: Sneak and Show

Game 1 plays out much the same as the first game of last round. I manage to disrupt his hand enough that Liliana’s ultimate puts him in a tough spot and I fade a monster for his draw step to kill him.

Game 2, he only plays 3 lands but has Show and Tell with 2x Force of Will backup. I keep a pretty slow hand where I have just a Force of Will and Vendilion Clique for disruption. The Clique only trades for a Red Elemental Blast and I’m pretty dead.

In game 3, I Pierce his T2 Sneak Attack off of 2 Lotus Petals and close quickly with True-Name and Tar-Pit.

2-1 games, 4-1 matches

Round 6: UWR Delver

In the first game, I trade Baleful Strix for his Germ token and he draws a ton of lands and dies. He doesn’t play very many spells in game 2 either and dies to a True-Name.

2-0 games, 5-1 matches

Round 7: Reanimator

In the first game, I mull to 5 and feel like I’m in trouble. Turns out, he thought I was on Belcher and kept a shaky hand with a Force of Will and Daze. I draw Deathrite on t2 and play it and it trades for Force of Will removing Daze. My t3 Clique sees his hand and I’m pretty sure I let him keep all of it. The Clique and Tar-Pit kill him before he can put a fattie in the yard.

In the second game, my second turn Thoughtseize is met with Brainstorm. I had a gut feeling that the card he left on top was the Show and tell and turns out it was and I’m dead.

Game 3 is interesting. I have a hand with Force of Will, Brainstorm, Cage, and Deathrite. On my turn 1, I cast Deathrite which he Force of Wills by removing Brainstorm. I have a hard decision here and but don’t Force back. He then Thoughtseize me on his turn 2 which I don’t force either and he takes my brainstorm. I cast the Cage and we don’t do much for a few turns. One turn, I play my Baleful Strix which was my only blue card and don’t draw another blue card to pitch. My hand is left with Liliana of the Veil and Surgical. He goes for show and tell there and it resolves with him putting in Griselbrand. I cast Liliana of the Veil to which he responds by drawing 7. He doesn’t have enough life to draw 7 more. I respond by casting Surgical on his Force of Will and he doesn’t assemble Show and Tell plus monster to get me before I swing past his Griselbrand with Tar-Pit. After the game, he says I should have Surgical’d the Show and Tell. Now this is where my newness to Legacy hurt me a bit. That wasn’t a play I would have ever thought to make and I had just assumed that he had a way to remove my Grafdigger’s cage (he did not) so I didn’t know that extracting the Show and Tells would be game. I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on the situation.

2-1 games, 6-1 matches

Round 8: Death and Taxes

I play Paul Rietzl on camera here. I mull to 2x Jace, True-Name, 3 lands on the play in game 1 and kept which was terrible since I knew what he was playing. After my Thoughtseize on turn 2, he draws Spirit of the Labyrinth which is protected by Mother of Runes and he just 3’s me a turn past my True-Name.

Game 2 he mulls to 5 and I assemble True-name plus Jitte and kill him. Game 3 he Wastelands my first 2 lands but luckily my deck is more or less all lands and I have a Golgari Charm to kill 3 of his dudes. True-Name plus Jitte gets him again.

2-1 games, 7-1 matches

Round 9: Junk Good Cards

I play against a very nice 12 year old kid this round. He is the same kid that beat my friend Sam in the last round of the last Invitational and got 9th on breakers. He played very well.

In game 1, he doesn’t play a black source forever so I think he is Maverick. I Thoughtseize him and see a hand of 2 Thoughtseize and 2 Dark Confidant. He gets a Bob online but not soon enough to race True-Name. Game 2 I get destroyed by his multiple Lilianas and Lingering Souls. In game 3, I play what feels like a million Jaces but can’t get far enough ahead vs. his Sensei’s Divining Top and creatures. Eventually, I play a second True Name and put him on 1 turn lethal to my board of those plus 2 Tar-Pits and enough lands to activate both. Me Top 8ing this tournament has come down to dodging a Zealous Persecution that he showed me in Game 2. He ends up looking at about 7 cards on the last turn with a shuffle effect but can’t find a -1/-1 effect and I win a super close match to make Top 8.

2-1 games, 8-1 matches

Top 8: UWR Delver

Written Feature Match

As part of a recurring theme to my tournament, my opponent mulligans to 5 in Game 1 and he plays 1 land for most of it and I kill him with True-Name. I’m way ahead in Game 2 but he finds a True-Name to go with his Batterskull and Sword of Feast and fFamine in play. I end up winning a close race when I Brainstorm and find Liliana and Dismember to go along with an Abrupt Decay I already had.

2-0 games

Top 4: 12 Post

Video Feature Match

I’m not sure about my Brainstorm, Thoughtseize turns of the midgame of game 1 but I’m pretty certain I had to Force his Expedition Map by removing Jace. It felt really bad though. He doesn’t do much and I’m able to put him on lethal next turn after peeling a Baleful Strix on my turn to block Marit Lage. He was drawing live to probably ten cards and found one of them and I lose the first game.

His draw stinks in game 2 due to my Revoker on his two tops. In game 3, I took a really aggressive line of Pulsing his map to cut him off a tutor and a shuffle effect. I had Clique plus Thoughtseize in hand at the time so I could have gotten his Leyline but I didn’t feel like my discard spells were going to be good in light of his already active top. His tops are really miserable and I pass the Tabernacle check and move onto the finals.

2-1 g ames

Finals: U/R Delver: (2-0)

Video Feature Match

Written Feature Match

In game 1, he mulls to 5 like lots of my opponents prior. I play 2 discard spells the first 2 turns and might not have taken the cards in the right order. He spends 6 points to kill Liliana which I’m not sure is right.

Even after looking at decklists, I think I played around a non-existent Daze in game 2. I Inquisition away Goblin Guide on turn 1 in the second game which I’m pretty sure is right but I’m curious to hear what other people think. He might have drawn one more land than necessary when he could have shuffled but I’m not sure. I dodge a Price of Progress or Snapcaster on his last turn and kill him.


Some takeaways:

  • My deck is pretty straightforward for a Brainstorm deck. The discard spells and what to take are a lot of the decisions.
  • My deck transitions to offense to very quickly and TNN and Tar-Pit get to just ignore the creatures on the other side of the field.
  • The Revokers out of the sideboard were very good for me all day.
  • My deck is really soft to -1/-1 effects and luckily, none of my opponents had any throughout the tournament.


  • My friends Mike and Chris for letting me borrow almost the entire deck. Really appreciate it guys!
  • Gary for picking up the cards for me and especially for not attending this tournament so I wouldn’t owe him on a split. Thanks buddy!
  • All my opponents. It felt like I played against a really nice person every single round.
  • Jeff and Jason Abong for starting the Legacy Series in AZ so that I was able to get a better feel for the format coming into this tournament. I never would have played this much Legacy if not for them.


  • None, won the tournament.

Thanks everyone for reading and I’ll be glad to answer any questions in the comments. You can also contact me on twitter at @dream_teamus.