Hello everyone, this is the second part of a two-part article series about my experience testing for and playing the Legacy Grand Prix in Bologna. The first part is mainly about my preparation for the tournament, how I got to the deck I ended up on and the process of finding it. The second part will be about the tournament itself. A round by round tournament report with anecdotes about the trip. I recommend checking out part one before diving into this article.
- 11th Place at GP Bologna with 4C Mentor -Part 1-
- Arne Huschenbeth
I promised at the end of part one to provide you with a Bant 《Natural Order》 decklist. A deck that my friend and Legacy expert Jasper Grimmer brewed up and that we tuned together. I will tease you a little more, the decklist and thoughts on the deck will be at the end of this article.
Day 0 of the Grand Prix Bologna
Let’s get started on Friday. I was traveling alone to Bologna and I was staying not with my friends from Berlin as usually (neither Jasper, Jamin, Toffel or Robin were attending). I was staying with three good friends from Hamburg. Though at the airport in Berlin I meet a few Magic players to chat about Legacy and could share a Cab to the convention center in Bologna later. I was surprised to see so many players from Berlin going to a Legacy Grand Prix. I wouldn’t have thought the old format would be this popular.
The trip started out lucky. When we landed in Bologna, we heard about that they found a bomb from the second World War on an construction site near the runway right after our departure. The airport did not allow any machines to depart or arrive for a couple of hours. We were lucky to be able to fly out of the airport in time. The bomb did not cause any issues besides delays and got quickly disposed by a special force team.
I wanted this trip more to be like a fun vacation than a tournament I have to perform in. First priority for the group of friends I was staying with – Mirko, Jochen and Felix – was to have a good time. Their goal wasn’t to win the entire thing, their goal was to have a memorable trip with their buddies. As an overly ambitious player myself, I am starting to learn from them in that regard (and many other regards). It takes away a lot of mental pressure when you aim to have a great time at a tournament instead of only focusing on winning the tournament/the result you are achieving. I felt relaxed going in, I wasn’t afraid of failing.
This Grand Prix meant the last time I would be playing with three Byes. The last time playing a high-level event as a Gold Level Pro. A chapter closing. A good one. And a new one beginning. Instead of being high up in the hierarchy of professional play, I will be back to the “streets” as they say. Starting from scratch, just with the invite to the first Players Tour in Brussels as a jumpstart. I am looking forward to proving myself once again. This time with the first priority being to have a good time.
Let’s get back to Bologna. After arriving at the convention center and saying Hello to my friends. I spend the rest of Friday playing a Mystery Draft, discussing card choices with the Legacy Aficionados (learning a lot) and cheering for Felix in the 360-player PTQ. Felix reached the finals, playing Death & Taxes, but then fatigue got the better of him and he lost a mirror match. Still a very strong finish, infinite Prize Tickets and very good testing for the Grand Prix. We finished our evening with pasta, pizza and beer in the beautiful “Oldtown” of Bologna. The food was great, Italian cuisine is just so much better in Italy itself.
Day 1 of the Grand Prix Bologna
2 《Snow-Covered Plains》
1 《Snow-Covered Mountain》
1 《Tropical Island》
1 《Volcanic Island》
4 《Flooded Strand》
4 《Scalding Tarn》
1 《Prismatic Vista》
-Land (20)- 3 《Snapcaster Mage》
3 《Monastery Mentor》
4 《Swords to Plowshares》
1 《Spell Pierce》
1 《Spell Snare》
2 《Force of Negation》
1 《Council’s Judgment》
1 《Supreme Verdict》
4 《Force of Will》
4 《Arcum’s Astrolabe》
1 《Engineered Explosives》
2 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》
2 《Teferi, Time Raveler》
2 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》
This was my weapon of choice. I really enjoy playing this type of deck, it plays to my strengths. Late on Friday the Legacy players playing the same archetype were considering to add 《Terminus》. I didn’t want to torture myself with to many decisions, so I just stuck with my list. Though I made one last minute change at 8:58 on Saturday morning. My second copy of 《Supreme Verdict》 got kicked out for a second copy of 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》. A decision that turned out to be very good.
After a coffee and a tomato-mozzarella panini in the morning I equipped myself with bananas, cereal bars and a fruit smoothie. And of course carrying my most important tool with me, the refillable water bottle. Sometimes the simple things can make all the difference. If you are attending a tournament and you don’t have a water bottle, you lost before you even started to play. Let’s get into battle.
Round 4 (3-0): vs Grixis 《Stifle》 Delver
My opponent had a slow start with just cantrips in Game 1. We traded resources early and after a counterbattle my opponent got to stick a 《Gurmag Angler》 on an empty board. I was out of cards and my opponent had one card left in hand. Things were looking grim. I took a few hits until I drew a 《Ponder》 into 《Swords to Plowshares》. 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》 soon after took over the game. My opponent showed me 《Stifle》 by pitching it to 《Force of Will》 that game, note for myself.
Again a slow start from the Delver player, keeping up a 《Polluted Delta》 right from Turn 1. The way he played, it just had to be 《Stifle》. I had a draw with three fetchlands myself. I planned on playing it slow, not making a move. So we just exchanged landdrops for the first four turns, which I was very happy about. Keeping up the 《Stifle》 used up a mana on every turn, slowing things down and playing right into my plan. I just want to get into the mid-late game with enough mana on the board and no pressure on me. My more powerful spells will take over against Delver. Turn 5 the board was still empty and from there on it was fairly easy to maneuver the game to a victory.
Round 5 (4-0): vs 4C Snow Control without Red
This is exactly why I love Legacy. Decision heavy blue mirrors. Back and forth. Game 1 took 30 minutes and ended up with my opponent getting the better of me. At one point I committed both my 《Monastery Mentor》s to the board to end things quickly. My opponent was ready with a copy of 《Dead of Winter》. I then could blow him out with a 《Engineered Explosives》 destroying both his Oko and 《Teferi, Time Raveler》. 《Sevinne’s Reclamation》, a haymaker in these grindy matchups, got put on the stack by my opponent meaning the end for me in Game 1.
Game 3 went similarly. I got to use 《Veil of Summer》 in a crucial spot to get ahead yet again. After being victorious in extra time, my opponent revealed me 《Veil of Summer》 from his hand. He didn’t have a spot to use it, because I just did my proactive thing and used 《Pyroblast》 instead of blue counters to deal with my opponent’s threats. A reason why I like 4C Mentor over the “《Baleful Strix》” Astrolab decks. 《Veil of Summer》 is much worse against you. I boarded out all my 《Force of Will》s, just keeping in the 《Force of Negation》 because it is good against 《Sevinne’s Reclamation》 and can be hardcasted easier.
Round 6 (5-0): vs UR Dredge
I was facing Hareruya Hopeful Andreas Ganz this round. Andreas is great by the way, very funny in his own sepcial way and always has a story up his sleeve. His deck wasn’t double-sleeved, which is a signal for not many expensive cards. Less Dual Lands. I put him on Dredge or BR Reanimator. My assumption turned out correct. He was playing UR Dredge. I could slow Andreas down with an early Force on his discard outlet, but his draw was consistent enough to still make short work of me. Dredge is almost impossible to beat Game 1.
Game 2 I mulliganed into a hand with lands, cantrips, 《Force of Will》 and 《Snapcaster Mage》. I couldn’t find any graveyard hate and even 《Brainstorm》 locked myself. Andreas dispatched me quickly and went on to make Top8 of the Grand Prix. Back to back GP Top8s for Ganz. Master.
Round 7 (5-1): vs BR Reanimator
Here I was playing against one of the Berlin players that I shared a Cab from the airport with. I knew that he was on Reanimator and was lucky enough to be rewarded with a double Force hand in Game 1. No 《Chancellor of the Annex》 meant no chance for my opponent.
In game 2 my draw was less strong. I drew two of my 《Swords to Plowshares》, one of your weak cards in the matchups. After a 《Thoughtseize》 taking away my 《Brainstorm》 as well as revealing that I did not have a counter, my opponent decided to 《Entomb》 for 《Iona, Shield of Emeria》 and name White. I started digging for Oko and Jace. And after taking two hits from the angel, I found an 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》 to turn the angel into an Elk and turn the game into a victory.
Round 8 (6-1): vs 《Food Chain》
My opponent started with Snow-Basics and a Turn 2 《Ice-Fang Coatl》. Turn 3 they cast a 《Brainstorm》, me thinking I am playing a control mirror of some sorts decide to hardcast my 《Force of Negation》 on the 《Brainstorm》. I did not want to give my opponent the chance to 《Brainstorm》 away their useless cards. This would also exile the powerful blue cantrip and make 《Snapcaster Mage》 less effective. My opponent nodded, let my Force resolve, fetched a 《Tundra》 and played a 《Manipulate Fate》. Making me regret my decision of using my counter. I was playing against 《Food Chain》. The king of grindy games.
I decided not to use my 《Force of Will》, thinking I could outtempo my opponent with the 《Monastery Mentor》 in my hand, that might have been an mistake. He got himself two 《Misthollow Griffin》 and an 《Eternal Scourge》 into Exile. I play Mentor and pass. My opponent goes for an 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》. I use my 《Force of Will》. Next turn I play a second 《Monastery Mentor》, my opponent 《Brainstorm》s into a 《Force of Will》 and counter my second Mentor. On their turn they cast a 《Food Chain》 which I don’t have an answer for, sacrificing the 《Ice-Fang Coatl》 to gain infinite mana for creatures and play out their exiled creatures. Fortunately no 《Walking Ballista》 or 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 to end the game on the spot. Over the course of the next turn I got to win a very close race against the undying 3/3s from my opponent with 《Monastery Mentor》. Mentor really shined in that game.
Game 2 was much easier. Everything lined up perfectly. I drew both my 《Wear/Tear》s for 《Carpet of Flowers》 and 《Food Chain》 on my opponent’s side. And got to land a 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 on an empty board. Later flashbacking a fusioned 《Wear/Tear》 with 《Snapcaster Mage》 on the second 《Food Chain》 and an 《Walking Ballista》 to seal the game.
Round 9 (7-1): vs Manaless Dredge
Another opponent on a single-sleeved deck. Again I put them on a Graveyard-Centric deck. I win the die roll and choose to play first. My opponent discards a 《Phantasmagorian》 on his first turn. Manaless Dredge. I stand no chance.
I knew I could only stand a chance with Surgical plus 《Snapcaster Mage》 or 《Containment Priest》. So I mulliganed accordingly. I could not find a Surgical or 《Containment Priest》 in my first four hands and I found myself mulliganing to three. I kept 《Ponder》, 《Flooded Strand》 and 《Surgical Extraction》.
I used Surgical on my opponent’s first discard, a 《Golgari Grave-Troll》. If my opponent has 《Street Wraith》 in hand I would have gotten blown out, but on a mull to three I figured my highest chance of winning is take his dredger and hope he kept a hand with exactly one. And indeed my opponent had no more dredgers in hand. My opponent discarded a 《Phantasmagorian》. I could not find anything meaningful with 《Ponder》, chose to shuffle and drew a land. I also drew a land for my draw step. My opponent goes to discard an 《Ichorid》. I draw another land. My opponent discards a 《Prized Amalgam》.
I draw 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 on Turn 4 with three lands in play and one land in hand. What a draw. I remind you, mulligan to three. My opponent had 《Ichorid》, 《Prized Amalgam》 and 《Phantasmagorian》 in the graveyard, so I had to plus my Jace. I target myself to find more answers, 《Brainstorm》 on top, keep that one there. Next turn opponent hits my Jace with 《Ichorid》 down to 2, gets back Amalgam and discards another 《Phantasmagorian》. I cast 《Brainstorm》 find 《Containment Priest》 and 《Surgical Extraction》, keep the Priest, bounce Amalgam with Jace. Cast Priest, my opponent shakes his head in disbelief. My opponent has two 《Contagion》 in his deck, which I saw with my Turn 1 《Surgical Extraction》. His only two outs. I 《Brainstorm》 into a 《Force of Negation》 next turn with Jace and basically lock up the game. 8-1 on Day 1. I felt amazing after winning that one.
We went to the same restaurant again and afterwards for a drink to an Irish Pub. Soon after tiredness got the better of us and we went to bed. On the next morning I felt fresh and ready to battle. I already had so much fun on Day 1. Every opponent was nice and polite, the Legacy community in Europe is pretty great. It’s like a huge family, that gets together to these Legacy tournaments celebrating their favorite format by playing and eating out together. Especially in Italy Legacy is pretty big, no doubt Andrea Mengucci’s constant Legacy content contributes to the popularity.
Day 2 of the Grand Prix Bologna
Round 10 (8-1): vs BG Depths
Game 1 was pretty lopsided, my opponent made one Marit Lage, I Swords it and they flood out.
Game 2 was much closer. Discard into 《Dark Confidant》. Stuck on two lands my opponent played a creature every turn and just went for the beatdown plan. I found an 《Abrade》 for the Confidant and cast 《Blood Moon》 on Turn 4. He could fetch out a basic 《Forest》 with his 《Elvish Reclaimer》 while still pressuring me with 《Vampire Hexmage》. I used 《Snapcaster Mage》 to flashback 《Abrade》 on the Reclaimer, but the damage was done. My opponent had one Basic 《Forest》 and was deploying another Reclaimer. I turned the game in my favor with a 《Ponder》 finding me 《Swords to Plowshares》 and a second 《Snapcaster Mage》. After getting rid of 《Vampire Hexmage》, I could deploy my 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》 to take the game over. Honestly, I can’t exactly recall this particular game, might have played out a little different in the end, I am not sure.
Round 11 (9-1): vs Hogaak Depths
Game 1 was long and dragged out, I had a 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 in play forever, but my opponent was constantly threatening a 20/20. I fortunately had the answer every time.
Game 2 was quick, my opponent had a great start while I was having mana issues drawing 《Tropical Island》, 《Snow-Covered Mountain》, 《Snow-Covered Plains》 and 《Snow-Covered Island》. Not being able to cast 《Council’s Judgment》 on my opponent’s 《Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis》 cost me the game. They had 《Sylvan Safekeeper》 to protect Hogaak from targeted removal.
In Game 3 I answered all my opponent’s plays and played a 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 on Turn 4. Things were looking great. But we were low on time. Me needing to 《Swords to Plowshares》 Marit Lage made things tougher. I assembled an army of 《Snapcaster Mage》, 《Containment Priest》 and Elks. I got there on the fifth extra turn after needing to 《Swords to Plowshares》 another Marit Lage. I dealt like 50 damage in the three extra turns. Lots of Astrolabes turning into beautiful 3/3 Elks.
Round 12 (10-1): vs 5C Czech Pile
I was playing against Legacy Master and creator of the “Czech Pile” Tomas Mar in a feature match. In no time we had a crowd watching our match. Tomas’s deck is built to beat the blue control mirrors in Game 1. He grinded me down with threat into threat and 《Hymn to Tourach》. The game was early on decided, I could not keep up with all his 2-for-1s.
Onto Game 2. 《Veil of Summer》 and 《Pyroblast》 were by far and away the most important cards. We traded resources and 《Pyroblast》ed each others planeswalker until we were both low on cards. One of Tomas’ last cards was a 《Sylvan Library》, threatening to take over the game. I was fortunate enough to 《Ponder》 into 《Engineered Explosives》 to get rid of it. From then on I drew only spells and won the game with ease.
Game 3 was trading lots of resources early and then it was just a topdeck war in which Tomas got to resolve an 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》 with three 《Arcum’s Astrolabe》 in play. I went down to three life, having to chump with my 《Izzet Staticaster》 to stay alive. Just lands in hand, no board besides Astrolabes, on three life against an Oko, two 3/3 Elks and another Astrolabe ready to turn into a green deer. I draw 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》, 《Brainstorm》ing into 《Swords to Plowshares》, 《Monastery Mentor》 and another Land. I play my Mentor and use Swords in Tomas’s upkeep to exile an Elk. Sadly I had to trade away my Mentor and chump with my monk token to stay alive, but at least I was alive, with a Jace in play nonetheless.
Tomas deployed a 《Sylvan Library》 with plenty of life, I find a 《Snapcaster Mage》 to 《Pyroblast》 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》. Tomas finds a 《Snapcaster Mage》 of his own, to 《Pyroblast》 my 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 out of existence and I lose soon after to the advantage provided by 《Sylvan Library》. Great games though.
Round 13 (10-2): vs BUG Delver
Both games played out perfectly with my opponent never really sticking a threat. I drew a lot of 《Swords to Plowshares》 that match. A quick 2-0.
Round 14 (11-2): vs Eldrazi Stompy
In Game 1 I had my one-of 《Abrade》 for my opponent’s Turn 2 《Chalice of the Void》. 《Thought-Knot Seer》 in conjunction with 《Cavern of Souls》 made my 《Force of Will》 obsolete. A 《Brainstorm》 of the top does not find me 《Swords to Plowshares》, but many planeswalkers. A couple turns later I find myself with Jace, Oko and Teferi on the board. My opponent’s draw was fairly threat light, I just had to deal with one 《Thought-Knot Seer》 and a couple of 《Matter Reshaper》s and 《Eldrazi Mimic》s.
Now I am 12-2. The Grand Prix had 1600 players, so I am expecting that I cannot draw myself into Top8 and have to play next round. Before Round 15 I was relaxed and enjoying the gameplay, focussing on the games and not thinking about my standing in the tournament. I was in a good mental state. That unfortunately changed for Round 15.
I was thinking what it would mean to add another Top8 to my resume, I imagined myself already celebrating. I didn’t want to lose this one. I made myself nervous by putting expectations on me and weight on the match. Yes, the match of course was important. There is a huge difference in terms of prestige and money. I still should have try to keep myself calm and focus on what I already have, a locked up Top16 finish and 600$ safe. I was afraid of losing the match and that made me play worse.
Round 15 (12-2): vs Sneak and Show
I did not know what my opponent was on. I lost the die roll and mulliganed down to five, bottoming a 《Force of Negation》 and a land, keeping a hand with two lands, 《Swords to Plowshares》, 《Monastery Mentor》 and a 《Ponder》. I don’t know why, but I had the feeling my opponent was playing Grixis Delver. Turns out my intuition was incorrect. He was on Sneak and Show. I found a 《Force of Will》, a 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 and a land with my 《Ponder》. I draw the first two, planning to shuffle away the land.
My opponent casts 《Show and Tell》 on Turn 3 and now I have the decision to pitch my only blue card in 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 to 《Force of Will》 or to let 《Show and Tell》 resolve hoping my opponent just has 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 which I would be able to bounce with Teferi. After thinking for two minutes, afraid of a 《Griselbrand》 that I could definitely not beat, I use my 《Force of Will》. My opponent lets it resolve. I draw a land and play Mentor. My opponent casts a second 《Show and Tell》 and puts an 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 into play. Ouch. I die on the following turn.
I think I should have taken the risk. In hindsight it is obviously easy to say. But I was already down to 5 cards (basically 4 if you don’t count 《Swords to Plowshares》 as a card) and I needed things to go my way. I played not to lose, instead of playing to win. Letting 《Show and Tell》 resolve would have gotten me a good chance of winning if my opponent just has 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》.
Game 2 was a mess. I was in a good position to win after forcing through 《Teferi, Time Raveler》. I had to pitch my Force to a Force to counter 《Show and Tell》 the turn after playing Teferi because of no other blue cards in hand. I made a lot of sequencing mistakes that game. I was not focused, I was afraid of losing. It was sad, I made mistakes I otherwise would never do. I played out my only “counterspell” 《Snapcaster Mage》 to put pressure on thinking I would find another counterspell or 《Containment Priest》, but could not find either. At one point my hand was a second Teferi, 《Pyroblast》, 《Veil of Summer》, 《Council’s Judgment》, 《Spell Pierce》, 《Wear/Tear》 and 《Brainstorm》.
I had nothing against 《Sneak Attack》. I was still on five lands, I proceeded to play two Astrolabes in hope of finding a land, unsuccessfully. My opponent goes to cast a 《Sneak Attack》, putting it right into his graveyard expecting a counter. I 《Brainstorm》ed trying to find an answer. Nothing. 《Sneak Attack》 resolves after I 《Spell Pierce》, he puts a 《Griselbrand》 into play, attacks my Teferi down, draws seven cards, plays an 《Ancient Tomb》 and a 《Lotus Petal》, taps both of them for 《Show and Tell》 into 《Omniscience》 into a 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》.
My tournament was over. I was mad at myself and had to go outside to get some much needed fresh air. It’s hard to accept a loss, when you clearly could have played better. Nobody is perfect, everyone makes mistake. You just have to learn from them and move on. Easier said than done. My friends cooled me down, I was back to normal quickly. I reached the Top16 in a Legacy Grand Prix and had a blast playing the deck.
A great weekend overall. I played two more Mystery Drafts to finish the day on a happy note. Andrea Mengucci made his first GP Top8, Andreas Ganz made back-back GP Top8s and Germany took home the trophy with Miracles in the hands of Marc Vogt. Congratulations to all of you. A fantastic weekend overall. A memorable trip with my friends. I hope we will have a Legacy Grand Prix in Europe in 2020. Looking at the high attendance numbers, it only makes sense.
Bonus Topic: Bant 《Natural Order》 and Conclusion
Now last but not least the Bant 《Natural Order》 decklist.
1 《Snow-Covered Island》
1 《Snow-Covered Plains》
2 《Tropical Island》
4 《Misty Rainforest》
4 《Windswept Heath》
2 《Flooded Strand》
-Land (18)- 1 《Dryad Arbor》
4 《Noble Hierarch》
1 《Gilded Goose》
3 《Ice-Fang Coatl》
3 《Voice of Resurgence》
4 《Swords to Plowshares》
3 《Green Sun’s Zenith》
3 《Natural Order》
4 《Force of Will》
4 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》
2 《Teferi, Time Raveler》
I believe the deck to be very strong versus all the grindy blue decks, besides Miracles. 《Terminus》 is very good versus the deck. The four copies of 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》 give you a good fighting chance against Miracles. You are ahead versus Death & Taxes and even versus Delver. Combo is your weakness, but the sideboard is there to help. Nobody is playing this deck, but it certainly has legs. 《Voice of Resurgence》 is really good in Legacy.
Thanks for reading and tell me in the comments or on Twitter if you like this type of content, I am always looking to improve the content I provide.