I Know You Got Soul – 10th at SCG: Phoenix

So, SCG: Phoenix is finally in the books, and I just have to say, I had a great time. We managed to get 341 players for Standard and 138 players for Legacy. Both exceeded my expectations. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit pessimistic about Legacy. Standard would no doubt get a good turnout, but we hadn’t had a 40+ man Legacy event for a couple of years. I’m glad to say I was wrong. I met players from all over – The expected visitors from California and Vegas were here, as well as some guys from Colorado, Albequerque, and I even played a guy from Canada! I think it’s great that StarCityGames is branching out to less popular areas for their Open Series – let’s hope to see another SCG: Phoenix soon!

Anyway, coming into the event, I knew I was going to play Legacy. This was obvious. By Thursday though, I decided on the spectacular idea of playing…Standard (insert gasping face here). I had my buddy Nathan (who Top 8’d the Legacy Open, by the way. Congrats!) conjure up a UB Zombies list, since it was a pretty easy deck for me to pick up. I played it for the first time at FNM (which is also the first time I’ve played at FNM since like, Alara/Zendikar or something). I ended up going 3-3 for the night, winning EVERY SINGLE DIE ROLL. The other highlight was casting a Phyrexian Oblierator, next turn, casting a Phyrexian Metamorph, copying Obliterator, then casting a third Obliterator the next turn. I was totally sold with this deck.

The Standard Open went mediocre for me. I went 3-3 (but not winning every die roll unfortunately), but I had some awesome plays. In Round 2, I managed to Metamorph a Wurmcoil Engine, Mortarpod a germ at my opponent, and Tragic Slip my opponent’s Wurmcoil Engine. Then I untapped, casting a Phantasmal Image, copying Wurmcoil, then casting a Phyrexian Obliterator. We were on turns, so luckily my army of Mirran Wurms and Phyrexian Negator v2.0 took the game.

In another match, I also copied my opponent’s Havengul Lich with Phantasmal Image and proceeded to cast his Metamorphs from his graveyard. That was pretty saucy too.

After dropping my third match of the day (for those wondering, I beat RG Aggro, RG Liquimetal Coating, and Lich Combo, and I lost to Delver, BW Tokens splashing Rally the Peasants, and RWB Rites), I dropped to go grab some beers with my bro at the Hard Rock Cafe. We managed to get back at exactly 5:00pm, just before they were gonna fire up the Legacy Challenge. We figured, why not? We were the last ones out of 43 players to register…and I got the bye! Score!

For the Challenge, I played the exact same Esper Stoneblade list as the one I played in the Legacy Open (scroll down for it). I beat Phil in the mirror match (which was hilariously awesome), and I lost to Lowell playing Storm, and Omar playing NO Bant. I wasn’t too disappointed. I did go 2-2 at the Legacy Challenge at SCG: LA and I did Top 8 so my hopes weren’t completely crushed…

On Sunday my brother and I woke up early and we left early…only to find that basically all freeway entrances were closed due to the triathlon. We had to go waaay out to finally find the right path to take to get to the convention center, which made us like 10 minutes later than we wanted to. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was a little frustrating. The two hours before the event was spent scrambling to find decks for people. I swear Nathan lent out like three or four burn decks, and SCG was sold out of Surgical Extractions. A ton of people were asking Nathan or us for Surgicals, but no one had any. I offered Belcher to Billy, but he (probably rightfully) declined, and chose to play Dredge. Leon borrowed some cards for his Combo Elves sideboard, including Natural Order, which incidentally destroyed my brother in Round 4. I lent out my Sulfur Elementals and Dread of Nights out (why do I do this to myself?).

Anyway, I’m sure you’re bored of listening to me. Let’s get on with the event.

First of all, the decklist:

Creatures (8)
Stoneforge Mystic
Snapcaster Mage
Vendilion Clique

Spells (30)
Force of Will
Spell Snare
Swords to Plowshares
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Lingering Souls
Sword of Feast and Famine
Umezawa’s Jitte

Lands (22)
Flooded Strand
Glacial Fortress
Marsh Flats
Polluted Delta
Underground Sea
Academy Ruins
Sideboard (15)
Engineered Explosives
Tormod’s Crypt
Force of Will
Spell Pierce
Surgical Extraction
Zealous Persecution

This list is pretty similar to Tom Martell’s winning list from GP Indy. I’ll explain some of my card choices:

The creatures
4 Stoneforge Mystic
3 Snapcaster Mage
1 Vendilion Clique
4 Lingering Souls

This should be pretty obvious. The four Stoneforges are a given, since Batterskull gives you the win condition, Jitte gives the edge in the aggro matchup, and Sword of Feast and Famine gives combo and control fits. I know some people are moving Feast and Famine to the sideboard, but I personally like it main. It gives me an edge in the Stoneblade mirror, since it makes my Batterskull germs better, and it also helps the combo matchup game one. Also versus Punishing Fire, it puts your dudes out of Firing range. Lastly, Lingering Souls is simply amazing. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to cut it down to 3, especially since I’m not running Intuition.

4 Swords to Plowshares
1 Darkblast
1 Vindicate

The Swords to Plowshares is standard. Darkblast might be a bit of a strange main inclusion maindeck, but I love it. Versus Maverick, it deals with Mother of Runes without spending a Swords to Plowshares. Plus, you also blank all of their mana dorks with Darkblast as well. The Darkblast I feel was key in my matchup versus Maverick game 3 since I was able to Swords-Snapcaster-Swords two Knights since Darkblast took care of the Mother of Runes. Otherwise, the last Knight would have gone unchecked and I could have lost.

3 Force of Will
2 Spell Snare
1 Counterspell
2 Thoughtseize

Spell Snare is just really good and I didn’t like just having one (originally I had cut the Clique for it). Having two gives me a decent chance of having it on the draw to stop any Mystics, Goyfs, etc etc. Counterspell is just awesome, but sometimes double blue can be tough to hit, since I’m running so many basics, so I think one is the correct number.

Thoughtseize is just amazing as well. Knowing your opponent’s hand is crucial in knowing how to preserve your spells and mana. It’s much better versus combo as well. Combo decks will usually just wait until they have a wall of counterspells, so stopping either the combo or the counterspells can send them struggling to find those missing pieces. Sometimes, that extra turn or so will draw you into that Jace, that Force, or that Mystic you need to win the game.

Anyway, here is what I recall from my matches. I apologize for the horrible, horrible notes, but I didn’t take any at all so this is from memory.

Round 1 – Gabriel with Burn

In game one, I take the game after I land a Stoneforge, grabbing a Jitte. He bolts my Stoneforge. I cast a Lingering Souls on turn 3, and I equip a Jitte on turn 4. After I stabilize at 6 life with Jitte, he scoops it up.

In game two, he unleashes me with a flurry of burn spells. I Force a Reckless Abandon to take one damage instead of four. I land a Stoneforge Mystic and grab a Batterskull I grabbed a Batterskull instead of Jitte this time around because 1) I had a Force of Will, and I did not have a Lingering Souls (In game 1, I grabbed Jitte since I had Lingering Souls). The board state when I reach six life is this:

Him: Two Mountain and Two Barbarian Ring, 20 life

Me: Four land (two of which are nonbasic), Stoneforge Mystic, Batterskull in hand, 6 life

He untaps and draws. He spend a long time in the tank, relooking at his graveyard again, looking back at my board state. It was definitely a tense moment, since he had plenty of outs at that point – Fireblast, Price of Progress, and Smash to Smithereens, to name a few. Luckily for me, he passes and I flash in my Batterskull. With only two mana untapped, I opened myself up to Smash to Smithereens, but I would rather open myself up to Smash rather than leave a whole draw step open for him to kill me. Once Batterskull brings me back up to 10, he extends the hand. Phew.

1-0 matches, 2-0 games

After round one, I find my brother. He also played against burn. Jon Kornacki, who was playing next to me, also faced a burn deck. It seemed as though burn was everywhere today. Then I chug my first Red Bull of the day. I drink Red Bull a lot, not gonna lie, but this one just hit me like a train. I was so amped up when the Round 2 pairings were announced.

Round 2 – Tony with ANT (He Top 32’d)

Tony is from California, and the admin of West Coast Legacy. We’ve met each other before but this time we have a formal introduction. I put him on Aggro Loam initially since, well, he plays Aggro Loam usually. If I remember correctly, he also mentioned that he beat burn.

This time is different though. He has a turn one Cabal Therapy to take my Force of Will in game one, but I Thoughtseize back, revealing something like Lion’s Eye Diamond, Cabal Ritual, Ponder, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor, and a land. I take the tutor and pass. He Ponders, shuffles, and draws. I Snapcaster back Thoughtseize, revealing Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, Duress, Cabal Therapy, and some rituals. I soon get a Jace out and I think Stoneforge Mystic. He continually Ponders & shuffles but gets nothing so I manage to take game one.

Game two was hilarious. He casts both a Snapcaster Mage and a Dark Confidant, beats me in the face with those until the Bob draws him enough cards for a lethal Tendrils.

For game three, he mistakenly boarded out his Ad Nauseam (since he boarded in Dark Confidants), which would have won him the game. Instead, he is forced to Infernal Tutor for a Snapcaster, which doesn’t do much versus a Sword of Feast and Famine’d Stoneforge Mystic, which eventually gets there.

2-0 matches, 4-1 games

Round 3 – Art with Maverick (He Top 32’d)

I recognize him from SCG: LA, at least the name. I remember that he was on Maverick then, so I try to keep that in mind when I look at my opening hand. My hand is something like Jitte, Jace, Spell Snare, Force of Will, another card I don’t remember, and two land. Unfortunately, I don’t draw another land for awhile. I draw into a Brainstorm, but that gets me my other two equipment in my deck instead of land. I eventually succumb to a Knight.

Game two was a bit of a blowout. He keeps a super sketchy hand and after I Darkblast his turn one Mother of Runes (which he cast off of a Karakas), I get to see the goodness with a Thoughtseize: Scavenging Ooze, Birds of Paradise, Enlightened Tutor, Green Sun’s Zenith, and Elesh Norn. I don’t remember what I take, but he does topdeck a Bojuka Bog to rid me of my Darkblast. He eventually draws into a Savannah, and Green Suns for a Dryad Arbor. I land a Jace and fateseal him, putting a Thrun to the bottom. He E-Tutors for Sylvan Library, and casts Library and Birds. I promptly Disenchant the Library and Zealous Persecution his mana dorks away. His Ooze meets a Swords. Oh, and I also play my anti-Choke tech – Glacial Fortress. But he responds with tech of his own – Defense of the Heart! I love that card so I was ecstatic to see it. That prevents me from playing my Lingering Souls (which is now dead in my hand), but Batterskull and a FoF-equipped Mystic get there.

Game three was much closer. He lands a turn one Mother of Runes again, which I Darkblast (again). We begin to grind this out. I save the Swords to Plowshares for his Knights and eventually we go to time. Fortunately, I have Lingering Souls tokens, getting 6 spirits out. I start to take chunks out of his life total, and I get there on I think on turn 2 or 4 of time.

3-0 matches, 6-2 games

He tells me after the match that he had boarded out one of his two Chokes once he saw my Glacial Fortress.

Round 4 – Kelvin with MUD

He starts out with an Ancient Tomb -> Chalice of the Void, but luckily since I was on the play, I have the Spell Snare for it. I get Stoneforge Mystic out with Sword of Feast and Famine. I also cast a Thoughtseize after he plays a Metalworker, revealing two Grim Monolith, Chalice of the Void, and a Sundering Titan. He plays Chalice at one, and eventually draws into another Sundering Titan. He kills three of my land. However, since he is at 1 life due to Mystic beats, he cannot attack me with the Titan, so we draw go for a couple of turns. I eventually get the three mana to Vindicate the Titan…destroying three more of my lands. When he casts a Blightsteel Colossus…onto game 2.

All I remember from this match is my Vendilion Clique revealing both a Copper Gnome and Blightsteel Colossus. I take the Colossus and even though he hides his Copper Gnome under a Lightning Greaves, Sword of Feast and Famine on a Clique gets there. Apparently I was the first person in the event so far to not read Copper Gnome (this is definitely thanks to Mat down in Tucson who has used that on me before).

In game three, I am faced with a hand of Swamp, Thoughtseize, Force of Will, Vindicate, Stoneforge Mystic, two blue cards. I feel like that this is a keep…but I don’t know. I do keep it because hopefully Thoughtseize stops his first threat, and Force stops another. Turns out they do (Thoughtseize a Copper Gnome, and Force a Metalworker), but a hasted Kuldotha Forgemaster into Blightsteel does me in.

3-1 matches, 7-4 games

Round 5 – Jacob with Belcher (He Top 16’d)

Belcher does its thing in game one and kills me. Game two I was a little unlucky. I had a turn one Thoughtseize, revealing two Xantid Swarm, a Chrome Mox, a Pyroblast, a Manamorphose, a Land Grant, and a Spirit Guide. I take the Land Grant, but he rips the Taiga off the top. The Xantid Swarm comes down, causing me a bit of a problem. I am stuck on land. I Surgical his Pyroblast away after he stops my Brainstorm, just to get an update on his hand, which isn’t much better than before (but he does have the Swarm, so all he needs to do is draw a win condition). I Stoneforge for Feast and Famine, but he rips a Burning Wish off the top to generate 14 goblin tokens. Them’s the breaks.

3-2, 7-6 games

Round 6 – Mat with RUG (He Top 32’d)

He opens up with a turn one Mongoose, which apparently I can’t deal with game 1. I try to cast Mystic, but it gets Snared. He lands a Delver, which I Darkblast. He Dazes, but I Force back so the clock is a little slower. Unfortunately the Mongoose chips my life total down a bit. He lands a Goyf soon after, taking me down to 5 life. I cast Lingering Souls to buy some time. I don’t flash it back, since I use the two mana to equip a Spirit with a Jitte. He rips the Forked Bolt off the top to kill my Spirits and then me.

I don’t remember game two, but my notes show my life total going up by 4 at the very end, so I assume a Batterskull hit once and he scooped after.

Game three was a long game. He mulligans to six cards while I keep my seven. We do land go for the longest time. I play three fetchlands (two Flooded Strand and a Polluted Delta) and a basic Island. I eventually EOT discard due to maximum hand size two turns in a row – I discard Lingering Souls and Jace. Since he had played Stifle earlier in games two and three, I wanted to avoid it. However since he had no clock, I felt no need to run into the Stifles. As long as I wait it out, I know I can get there. The turning point begins when he has three land in play, and he Brainstorms at the end of my turn, leaving two up. I Spell Pierce it to try to tap him out, but he Spell Pierces back. I take this opportunity to fetch (since he only has one open). He OKs them all after tanking for a bit, so I fetch all of my basics and pay the Spell Pierce. After awhile he finally plays his first creature – a Nimble Mongoose. Unfortunately for him, I was able to develop a stacked hand since he never put a clock on me. Lingering Soul tokens, Jitte, and Sword of Feast and Famine get the game for me.

4-2, 9-7 games

Round 7 – Chase with SneakShow (He Top 32’d)

Chase is the second Arizona player I face all day. He opens up with a Scalding Tarn, then next turn a Lotus Petal. However, he misses a couple land drops, so when he plays a basic Mountain, I take the opportunity to Vindicate the land. He declines, using Force of Will to stop it after fetching with his Tarn to Brainstorm. He misses a couple more land drops again, so I take a second opportunity to Vindicate his Island, using Snapcaster to flash it back. He has the Daze, but Snapcaster has the clock too. I cast a Sword of Feast and Famine, equip, and I attack him, bringing him down to 13. Batterskull comes down via Stoneforge Mystic and is equipped to the Snapcaster to kill him.

Game two had me mulligan to five, but I had a pretty decent five. I Spell Pierced his turn two Blood Moon, then a Thoughtseize revealed a Ponder, Ancient Tomb, Progenitus, Sphinx of the Steel Wind, and Sneak Attack. I take the Sneak Attack, and I cast Stoneforge Mystic, fetching Sword of Feast and Famine. Eventually the Mystic + Feast and Famine beats get there, taking down chunks and chunks of his life total slowly.

5-2, 11-7 games

Round 8 – Chris with Dream Halls/Conflux (He Top 32’d)

The feature match is here: http://www.starcitygames.com/events/coverage/feature_match_round_8_zachary_.html

I’m pretty sure I punted game 1 by taking the wrong card. In game 2, I had the nuts of T1 Thoughtseize, T2 Thoughtseize, T3 Snapcaster Thoughtseize. In game 3, I mulliganed but I had an opener of something like double Force, Spell Pierce, Ponder, Mystic, Land. I eventually had a grip of double Force of WIll, double Spell Pierce, Flusterstorm, etc…I drew really well since my deck was basically either cantrips, win conditions, or disruption. Not having Swords to Plowshares in my deck for games 2 and 3 was awesome.

6-2, 13-8 games

I was overall happy with the deck choice I made. I spent many nights before the event wondering if RUG or Stoneblade was the right choice, but overall I think I made the right choice for myself, even though RUG won the event and dominated the Top 8.


  • First of all, to StarCityGames. Thanks for holding an event in Phoenix! We hope to see another event in Phoenix sometime!
  • My brother, for also making Top 16. Congrats Jeff!
  • Not being paired up with my brother, even though we both had the same record at all points in the day (Win rounds 1-3, lose rounds 4-5, win rounds 6-8).
  • To all of the Arizona guys that did well in Standard and Legacy. There are too many to name.
  • My opponents – everyone was super chill and overall just having a good time.
  • The diversity – 8/8 of the decks I played were all different. In my opinion, a diverse metagame is a great skill tester since it forces you to adapt to each deck with your limited 75. For example, Hydroblast actually has some splash damage in the Dream Halls/Conflux matchup since it can counter a Conflux.
  • Thoughtseize – Definitely the MVP all day. Discard is pretty underrated these days, especially with Snapcaster making it pretty useless. However, being able to proactively rip out a combo piece out of your opponent’s hand and force them to find yet another card can buy enough time for Jace, Mystic, or Lingering Souls to get there.
  • Lowell’s amusing Doomsday pile of Chants and Silences to force the draw in the Storm mirror.


  • Jace ultimate activations throughout the day: zero.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Again, sorry for the horrible, horrible notes. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here.

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