Sneak & Show at GP Bologna

Jonathan Anghelescu

Jonathan Anghelescu

Introduction

Hello everyone – I’m back with another Legacy GP testing diary! Unfortunately, similarly to GP Atlanta, I didn’t enjoy any personal success in Bologna, finishing 8-6 drop and in 198th place after a promising 8-1 on day 1. Nevertheless, my motivation and passion for the Legacy format haven’t faltered and, as always, I hope you find this article about my preparation and the tournament itself informative and enjoyable!

My Testing Diary for Grand Prix Bologna

Delver of SecretsWrenn and Six

Following GP Atlanta, RUG Delver quickly cemented its spot as the deck to beat of the format. Although I didn’t face it too often in Magic Online leagues, the premier events such as PTQs, MOCS Preliminaries and Challenges were all full of RUG Delver decks. A GP-sized field would always be reasonably diverse, but RUG’s dominance was unusual enough that it warranted special attention. Therefore, I wanted to play a general configuration with a preferably favorable (RUG) Delver matchup. This led me back to the 《Daze》 list that I had almost played at GP Atlanta.

DazeSimian Spirit Guide

《Daze》 is much better than 《Spell Pierce》 against any Delver variant. Protecting your combo with 《Spell Pierce》 often turns on opposing 《Daze》s and usually can’t be cast in the early turns. 《Daze》, on the other hand, doesn’t expose you to further soft counters and even hits opposing 《Daze》s, enabling very early protected combo turns. 《Simian Spirit Guide》 (SSG) further supports that strategy and generally interacts well with 《Daze》 by compensating mana setbacks. I kept testing other Sneak & Show builds simultaneously, but quickly found that they were too shaky against RUG Delver and therefore put all of my focus on the SSG + 《Daze》 list.

New Enemy from Throne of Eldraine and Ban

Oko, Thief of Crowns

The release of Throne of Eldraine gave the boogeyman RUG Delver another powerful weapon in 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》. Unlike 《Wrenn and Six》, which was mostly irrelevant against Sneak & Show’s proactive game plan, Oko gave them a main deck out to my creatures and initially made me question my deck choice in general. Luckily, testing showed me that they could rarely tap out on turn 3 for Oko without getting punished and 《Show and Tell》 into 《Griselbrand》 was still often enough to win through an opposing Oko.

In addition, Oko was a 1- or 2-of at most and didn’t appear in some RUG Delver main decks at all. Still, I lost game 3 of a Legacy Challenge Finals to my opponent’s Oko turning my 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 into an Elk. This anecdote did not dissuade me and I finished roughly two months of testing the SSG + 《Daze》 list with 296 wins and 144 losses, including two 15-0 runs and a promising 35-18 record against RUG Delver.

Wrenn and Six

Despite RUG Delver’s dominance, I did not expect a ban before GP Bologna, and was very surprised when I saw the 《Wrenn and Six》 ban announcement on November 18th. The first obvious metagame shifts I expected were a significant decline in RUG Delver, with UR Delver or BUG Delver taking its spot as the most popular deck. Death and Taxes (D&T) and Maverick might see a resurgence, which could warrant a return of 《Omniscience》. No more recurring 《Wasteland》s could make more Boseiju-focused builds such as EurekaTell and OmniSneak viable again. I started out with an older classic Sneak & Show list featuring 《Omniscience》 list similar to this one:

After a few leagues I already missed 《Daze》 dearly. It plays so much more cleanly into the natural inclinations of Sneak & Show, like tapping out to cast cantrips in the early setup turns instead of leaving up 《Spell Pierce》, not having to play out 《Lotus Petal》s in game 1 to keep up 《Spell Pierce》 and give away what you are playing, or not wanting to activate 《Griselbrand》 to find both 《Spell Pierce》 and 《Lotus Petal》. Thus, I decided to return to my final SSG + 《Daze》 list and only changed the 《Blood Moon》 sideboard slot into 《Sorcerous Spyglass》 (you can read more about my reasoning of Spyglass over Moon in my previous article).

Blood MoonSorcerous Spyglass

《Blood Moon》 had been an integral part of my sideboard plan against RUG Delver and while it would be similarly effective against BUG Delver, I was expecting UR Delver to come out as the most popular Delver deck at this point.

Phyrexian RevokerOmniscienceKarakas

Another disadvantage of losing 《Omniscience》 could be a worse Death and Taxes matchup, which I expected to have a considerable metagame share at the GP. However, I think 《Simian Spirit Guide》 provides a similar advantage against D&T. Spirit Guides don’t break a 《Phyrexian Revoker》 + 《Karakas》 lock like 《Omniscience》 does, but they are very effective against their mana denial plan and can help power out an early 《Sneak Attack》 before their hate-pieces come online. Furthermore, 《Daze》 is better than 《Spell Pierce》 against them, since they don’t have many high-impact targets for Pierce except an early 《Aether Vial》. 《Daze》 sets you back a turn, but countering a crucial early hate-bear such as 《Thalia, Guardian of Thraben》 or 《Phyrexian Revoker》 can be more relevant.

Even though a 10-5 start wasn’t better than my record with the 《Omniscience》 build, I kept going with the SSG + 《Daze》 list, because it felt so much smoother, independent of win or loss. I was instantly rewarded with a 16-0 streak and won the only Magic Online Legacy Challenge between the 《Wrenn and Six》 ban and the GP. Since I got sick on Monday after the Challenge, I didn’t do any more gameplay testing until Wednesday, where, still sick, I went 0-4 drop in a Legacy League. Still, a 29-10 overall record was good enough for me to submit the exact Challenge-winning list for the GP. While I would have preferred to have a larger sample size of results – like I had had before the 《Wrenn and Six》 ban – there just wasn’t enough time left. I wanted and succeeded to both clear my head and recover from sickness in time for the GP weekend.

Final Decklist and Grand Prix Bologna Report

Here is how some of the rounds played out:

Rounds 1 + 2: Byes

Round 3: Death and Taxes LL

Game 1 I have a strong start with turn 3 《Griselbrand》 to my opponent’s turn 2 《Thalia, Guardian of Thraben》. Unfortunately, they put in 《Spirit of the Labyrinth》 with 《Show and Tell》 and already had 《Karakas》 on board. I am not able to recover. I didn’t have any other plays, so I had to hope they don’t put in 《Phyrexian Revoker》 (or 《Spirit of the Labyrinth》, apparently) and that one or two 《Griselbrand》 activations would be enough to power through Thalia.

Spirit of the LabyrinthGriselbrandKarakas

In game 2 I cast turn 2 《Pyroclasm》 on their turn 1 《Mother of Runes》, followed up by a turn 3 《Show and Tell》 on an empty board (they had 《Karakas》, though). They put in 《Flickerwisp》 and bounced my 《Griselbrand》 with 《Karakas》 after I had drawn 14 cards. I didn’t find any 《Pyroclasm》 or counter magic except 《Daze》, but both 《Echoing Truth》s, which bounced their 《Flickerwisp》 for two consecutive turns. Still, I was unable to find enough mana and combo pieces or 《Sorcerous Spyglass》 to combo off through 《Karakas》 and Thalia that followed in time.

2-1

Round 4: BUG Delver WW

Lotus PetalLotus PetalSimian Spirit Guide
PonderShow and TellForce of Will

Game 1 in the dark I keep a risky 6-card hand of 《Lotus Petal》, 《Lotus Petal》, 《Simian Spirit Guide》, 《Ponder》, 《Show and Tell》, 《Force of Will》 on the draw. I need my opponent to have one piece of interaction at maximum and need to rip a creature, ideally 《Griselbrand》 to not lose to any 《Karakas》 or hateful permanents able to deal with Emrakul. When my opponent starts with turn 1 《Underground Sea》 into 《Delver of Secrets》 my heart sinks a bit. Still, I draw 《Griselbrand》 on my second draw step after passing the turn without making a play on turn 1. My opponent only has one 《Force of Will》 as protection and I am able to power through. Game 2 my opponent doesn’t have any clock, but a lot of interaction with two 《Force of Will》s, 《Spell Pierce》 and 《Thoughtseize》. I have enough enablers and counter magic to power through their permission.

3-1

Round 5: Mono-Red 《Sneak Attack》 WW

My opponent thanks me for the OmniSneak primer before the match, which could mean they play or used to play a similar strategy (or they want to make me think they are on a 《Show and Tell》 deck). When they start off game 1 with 《Ancient Tomb》 pass, I am still wary of the possibility that we might be playing a mirror match. I have a counter-heavy hand and when they play turn 2 《Mountain》, exile 《Simian Spirit Guide》 and cast 《Sneak Attack》, my 《Force of Will》 is ready to deal with it. I am still not completely convinced they aren’t on Sneak & Show, but Mono-Red looks much more likely.

Blood MoonChalice of the Void

They spend the next turns casting a 《Blood Moon》 and 《Chalice of the Void》 for 1, which I can let resolve. 《Blood Moon》 actually hurts them more, since they still only have 《Ancient Tomb》 and 《Mountain》 as their on-board mana sources. I am stuck on three lands, but eventually draw the fourth and slam 《Sneak Attack》, followed up by Emrakul and 《Griselbrand》 on the following turn.

4-1

Round 6: ANT LWW

Round 7: Medium Depths LWW

I don’t remember many details about these rounds, except that I lost game 1 in both of them and had to battle with my back to the wall in very close post-board games. After locking day 2 afterwards, I felt very relieved, but still wanted to finish the day strong and therefore not decrease my focus.

6-1

Round 8: Eldrazi WW

We get called for a feature match, but when we arrive in the feature match area, all the tables are already full, so we get sent back to our original table. I won this round in less than ten minutes. Game 1 I had an early 《Show and Tell》《Griselbrand》 before my opponent could cast 《Thought-Knot Seer》. They didn’t draw their 《Karakas》 and 《Griselbrand》 found 《Sneak Attack》 on the next turn.

Game 2 I had another early 《Show and Tell》 for 《Griselbrand》, but they had 《Endbringer》 this time. I quickly assembled an easy answer with 《Sneak Attack》 into Emrakul (《Echoing Truth》 or 《Sorcerous Spyglass》 were among other possible answers to 《Endbringer》).

Show and TellGriselbrandSneak AttackEmrakul, the Aeons Torn

7-1

Round 9: Dredge WLW

In game 1 another early 《Show and Tell》《Griselbrand》 is good enough against their early cantrip shenanigans. I don’t find my graveyard hate in game 2 and only assemble 《Show and Tell》 + Emrakul on turn 3 or so, which isn’t enough. In game 3 they mulligan to 3 and I have a solid 6-card hand with 《Force of Will》 and eventually combo off via 《Sneak Attack》.

8-1

I am stoked to end day 1 at 8-1. Except rounds 6 and 7 most had been relatively quick and easy, my cantrips usually found exactly what I needed, the deck performed smoothly and consistently. Unfortunately, day 2 would turn out to be the drastic opposite.

Round 10: Dredge LWL

We get deck-checked and my opponent gets a warning for marked sleeves (no pattern). Game 1 my turn 3 Emrakul is way too slow and I get alpha-swung by a bunch of Zombies, 《Ichorid》s and 《Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis》. I ride an early 《Griselbrand》 to victory in game 2. In game 3 I keep a cantrip-heavy hand with 《Force of Will》 and counter their turn 1 《Faithless Looting》. Alas, they explode on turn 2 with cantrip into cantrip and my own cantrips find nothing.

8-2

I don’t feel too bad about this loss, since Dredge is a close matchup and my opponent kept 7 cards in every game. I lost the first round on day 1 too, so I’m ready and confident to run the tables again.

Round 11: Bant 《Food Chain》 LL

In game 1 I resolve 《Show and Tell》 into 《Griselbrand》 through 《Force of Will》. They put 《Food Chain》 into play. Unfortunately, I only find several 《Daze》s in two 《Griselbrand》 activations and three cantrips and they apparently top decked another 《Force of Will》 to push through 《Recruiter of the Guard》 into 《Walking Ballista》, powered out by the 《Misthollow Griffin》 they had exiled with 《Force of Will》.

Misthollow GriffinFood ChainWalking Ballista

Game 2 I mulligan to 5. My turn 2 《Arcane Artisan》 gets 《Force of Will》ed, my turn 3 《Show and Tell》 gets 《Force of Will》ed and they once again have the full combo of 《Food Chain》, 《Misthollow Griffin》 and 《Recruiter of the Guard》.

8-3

After this loss I am out of top 8 contention and feel accordingly devastated. I still decide to do my best in the last rounds to maybe salvage a solid finish.

Round 12: Eldrazi LWL

Game 1 I have a cantrip- and counter-heavy hand. I 《Daze》 a turn 1 《Thorn of Amethyst》 and eventually find a 《Sneak Attack》. Unfortunately, I can’t find a creature before my opponent’s 《Cavern of Souls》 kills me with a fast clock of 《Eldrazi Mimic》 into 《Reality Smasher》.

Game 2 I have an early 《Griselbrand》. Game 3 I am missing a combo piece and don’t find it before my opponent takes away my other pieces with two 《Daze》-proof 《Thought-Knot Seer》s.

8-4

Round 13: UR Delver LWL

I stumble on mana in game 1 and can’t beat my opponent’s double 《Daze》 backed by a fast clock of 《Delver of Secrets》s and 《Dreadhorde Arcanist》. I don’t remember how I won game 2. I lose game 3 to triple 《Force of Will》 on my double 《Flusterstorm》-protected 《Sneak Attack》.

Force of WillForce of WillForce of Will

There is still some hope on the final turn where I need to cantrip into one of four 《Show and Tell》s in about 30 cards, while my opponent is Hellbent. Unfortunately, I only find two 《Sneak Attack》s with three shuffle cantrips, which I can’t use due to only having one red source on board.

8-5

Round 14: RUG Burning OmniTell WLL

Fellow German Florian Koch is my opponent in this round. He was on UBx Shadow variants and UG OmniTell variants when I encountered him on Magic Online, but is back on a version of his GP Ghent 2012 《Burning Wish》 OmniTell deck for this tournament. We have some friendly talk before, during and after the match and he proceeds to beat me in a close 3-game set. There is a period where I might have had a chance in the later stages of game 3 if I find a 《Sneak Attack》, but after shuffling from 《Ponder》 I draw five lands in a row.

8-6 Drop


Sadly, the deck didn’t want to cooperate with me on day 2. Most cantrips just found more cantrips and eventually dead cards, I missed to draw multi-outers on critical turns, and so on. Still, I was glad to see Matt Brown, with whom I had been chatting online about Sneak & Show for some time, make Top 8 with 72 of my 75. Back in the hotel room I finished the day with an unsatisfying 5-2 in the Legacy Challenge with my unchanged list.

After returning home on the Monday, I continued to play the list online and managed to get a 5-0 trophy each day for four consecutive days. I am still convinced the configuration is excellent for any metagame, 《Daze》 especially has gone from feeling like a mostly anti-Delver card to impressing me in almost every matchup, even on the draw. I wouldn’t change anything about the list and continue to feel confident about Sneak & Show’s general position in the metagame. The popular multi-color Oko piles are more value-oriented to gain edges in the mirror and are good matchups overall, even though you will lose games to Emrakul getting Oko’d and the post-board games can be close.

Veil of SummerShifting Ceratops

EurekaTell with sideboard 《Veil of Summer》 and 《Shifting Ceratops》 might be another good call at the moment, but I see SSG + 《Daze》 Sneak & Show as my weapon of choice for the upcoming weeks.

Bonus Content: Sideboard Guide

Please enjoy the bonus content, a sideboard guide for SSG + 《Daze》 Sneak & Show. Until next time!

Delver Decks

Against Delver Decks

Out

Preordain
Sneak Attack

In

Flusterstorm Flusterstorm

Exception; BUG Delver on the Draw

Against BUG Delver on the Draw

Out

Griselbrand
Sneak Attack

In

Flusterstorm Flusterstorm

UGWx Oko

Against UGWx Oko

Out

Preordain Preordain Simian Spirit Guide Simian Spirit Guide
Sneak Attack Griselbrand

In

Flusterstorm Flusterstorm Arcane Artisan Arcane Artisan
Red Elemental Blast Pyroblast

UGBx Oko

Against UGBx Oko

Out

Preordain Preordain Preordain Griselbrand
Simian Spirit Guide Simian Spirit Guide

In

Flusterstorm Flusterstorm Arcane Artisan Arcane Artisan
Red Elemental Blast Pyroblast

ANT

Against ANT

Out

Sneak Attack Preordain Lotus Petal
Simian Spirit Guide Simian Spirit Guide

In

Flusterstorm Flusterstorm Tormod's Crypt
Surgical Extraction Surgical Extraction

Sneak & Show

Against Sneak & Show

Out

Show and Tell Show and Tell Simian Spirit Guide Simian Spirit Guide
Preordain Griselbrand

In

Flusterstorm Flusterstorm Arcane Artisan Arcane Artisan
Red Elemental Blast Pyroblast

BR Reanimator

Against BR Reanimator (On the Play)

Out

Show and Tell Show and Tell Show and Tell Show and Tell
Simian Spirit Guide Simian Spirit Guide Preordain Griselbrand
Lotus Petal

In

Flusterstorm Flusterstorm Arcane Artisan Arcane Artisan
Echoing Truth Echoing Truth Surgical Extraction Surgical Extraction
Tormod's Crypt

Against BR Reanimator (On the Draw)

Out

Show and Tell Show and Tell Show and Tell Show and Tell
Simian Spirit Guide Simian Spirit Guide Preordain Preordain
Griselbrand

In

Flusterstorm Flusterstorm Arcane Artisan Arcane Artisan
Echoing Truth Echoing Truth Surgical Extraction Surgical Extraction
Tormod's Crypt

《Lion’s Eye Diamond》 (LED) Dredge

Against LED Dredge

Out

Daze Daze Daze Daze
Preordain Preordain Sneak Attack

In

Surgical Extraction Surgical Extraction Flusterstorm Flusterstorm
Echoing Truth Echoing Truth Tormod's Crypt

Death and Taxes

Against Death and Taxes (On the Play)

Out

Force of Will Force of Will Force of Will Force of Will
Daze Daze Sneak Attack Preordain

In

Pyroclasm Pyroclasm Arcane Artisan Arcane Artisan
Sorcerous Spyglass Sorcerous Spyglass Echoing Truth Echoing Truth

Against Death and Taxes (On the Draw)

Out

Daze Daze Daze Daze
Preordain Preordain Preordain Sneak Attack

In

Pyroclasm Pyroclasm Arcane Artisan Arcane Artisan
Sorcerous Spyglass Sorcerous Spyglass Echoing Truth Echoing Truth

BG Depths

Against BG Depths (On the Play)

Out

Preordain Preordain Preordain Sneak Attack
Force of Will Force of Will

In

Sorcerous Spyglass Sorcerous Spyglass Flusterstorm Flusterstorm
Echoing Truth Echoing Truth

Against BG Depths (On the Draw)

Out

Daze Daze Daze Daze
Sneak Attack Preordain

In

Sorcerous Spyglass Sorcerous Spyglass Flusterstorm Flusterstorm
Echoing Truth Echoing Truth

Moon Stompy

Against Moon Stompy (On the Play)

Out

Preordain Preordain Preordain Preordain
Simian Spirit Guide Simian Spirit Guide

In

Pyroclasm Pyroclasm Echoing Truth Echoing Truth
Sorcerous Spyglass Sorcerous Spyglass

Against Moon Stompy (On the Draw)

Out

Preordain Preordain Preordain Preordain
Daze Daze

In

Pyroclasm Pyroclasm Echoing Truth Echoing Truth
Sorcerous Spyglass Sorcerous Spyglass

Eldrazi

Against Eldrazi

Out

Preordain Preordain Preordain Preordain
Daze Daze

In

Sorcerous Spyglass Sorcerous Spyglass Arcane Artisan Arcane Artisan
Echoing Truth Echoing Truth

Lands

Against Lands

Out

Preordain Preordain Preordain Sneak Attack

In

Sorcerous Spyglass Sorcerous Spyglass Echoing Truth Echoing Truth

Jonathan Anghelescu (Twitter)

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Jonathan Anghelescu

Jonathan Anghelescu Jonathan Anghelescu is known as JPA93 on Magic Online as well as Show and Tell deck master. A lot of Legacy players pay attention to him. He is a finalist of Grand Prix Santa Clara 2018 and has top 4ed 2015 Magic Online Championship. Read more articles by Jonathan Anghelescu