In Magic Online’s most recent week of Super Qualifier events, I managed to pilot my favorite deck, Sneak & Show, to an undefeated 11-0 record in the Legacy Super Qualifier on Thursday, April 8th. I hope you will find the following tournament report informative and enjoyable to read!
Looking For the Right Deck to Play
In the weeks leading up to the Super Qualifier, I had felt rather lost about what to play in Legacy. While the format had been pretty open after 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》 and 《Dreadhorde Arcanist》 had gotten banned, Delver decks had started taking up to 30% of the metagame share in Magic Online events.
Even though the Delver matchup had improved for Sneak & Show, now that they didn’t have the main deck option of turning 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 and 《Griselbrand》 into Elks anymore, it still remains one of the most difficult matchups. An aggressive clock, paired with free counter-magic and mana denial is a great recipe to fight a combo deck that aims to resolve 3 mana sorceries and 4 mana enchantments.
I used an old configuration from early 2019, before 《Dreadhorde Arcanist》 and 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》 had been printed, to good success in the first weeks after the bans, winning one Legacy Challenge and finishing in the Top 4 of another.
However, as the popularity of Delver strategies rose, I started feeling generally less confident in Sneak & Show and switched decks several times, to see if another archetype would fare better in a Delver-dominated metagame. I also tried the Temur and Sultai flavors of Delver myself and got some decent tournament results with them.
Other decks I tested during the weeks leading up to the Super Qualifier were Bant Stoneblade, Miracles, and Mono Red Eldrazi. While all powerful in their own right, and even though any deck with 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 and 《Swords to Plowshares》 felt pretty well-equipped to fight Delver, I didn’t find any of them had a convincingly more positive Delver matchup than Sneak & Show.
Moreover, I felt Sneak & Show had favorable matchups against most of the classic “anti-Delver” strategies, such as Bant Miracles, Hogaak, and Mono Red Stompy. Therefore, after taking Easter weekend off from playing Magic, I decided to return to old faithful.
Decklist: Sneak & Show
The list is also very fast and proactive in general, making it a good choice in any open metagame or big tournament.
I didn’t want to change any main deck slots and constructed a relatively stock sideboard. Since I wanted to stay fast and consistent, and the main deck was already well-prepared against Delver decks, the only card I would board in against them would be 《Defense Grid》, boarding out the 4th 《Sneak Attack》. You rarely get to jam multiple enablers in a row against them due to mana denial, especially not the 4 mana 《Sneak Attack》 (5 mana if you include the activation).
Some notable omissions from this sideboard are 《Blood Moon》 and 《Arcane Artisan》. Their slots get filled by 《Sorcerous Spyglass》 and 《Omniscience》, respectively. While 《Sorcerous Spyglass》 doesn’t provide the option of locking your opponent out completely like 《Blood Moon》 does, it does a similar job of shutting off problematic lands like 《Karakas》. Its cheaper mana cost makes it easier to cast on the curve on the turn before you want to combo off, or even on the same turn.
Furthermore, the Karn Forge deck had been hyped up leading up to the tournament. 《Sorcerous Spyglass》 can provide versatile disruption against them, most often naming 《Karn, the Great Creator》, but also being able to cut off their mana production by naming 《Manifold Key》 or 《Voltaic Key》, especially if they could otherwise cast 《Mystic Forge》. Lastly, as always, the “Peek” effect of 《Sorcerous Spyglass》 is also generally helpful in a 《Show and Tell》 deck to see if you can safely cast the symmetrical sorcery.
As for 《Arcane Artisan》, I used to like it mostly as an enabler that dodged some of the hate-cards such as 《Containment Priest》, as well as providing a non-symmetrical 《Show and Tell》 effect. The main reason I found 《Arcane Artisan》 less effective lately has been the inclusion of 3-4 copies of 《Skyclave Apparition》 into Death and Taxes decks.
It is still a very powerful card in the mirror match, but I didn’t expect to face many other 《Show and Tell》 decks in the tournament.
《Omniscience》, while not providing an additional enabler effect, serves a similar purpose to 《Arcane Artisan》, by getting around 《Containment Priest》 and making your 《Show and Tell》 a safer play against Death and Taxes and in the mirror match. Against Simic OmniTell or UR OmniSneak, it can still be trumped by an opposing 《Omniscience》 + 《Cunning Wish》, but, as stated before, I didn’t expect 《Show and Tell》 strategies to be popular.
The rest of the sideboard consists of the usual combination of additional counter-magic with 《Flusterstorm》 and 《Red Elemental Blast》 / 《Pyroblast》, and the classic removal-suite of 2 《Abrade》 and 2 《Pyroclasm》. I went with 2 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 as my graveyard hate of choice, mostly due to their additional utility against Elves, shutting off both 《Natural Order》 and 《Green Sun’s Zenith》.
Considering I already knew the configuration of 《Daze》 and 《Simian Spirit Guide》 well, a 5-0 league run on the day before the Super Qualifier was enough for me to lock in my deck choice. 307 players registered to battle for two invitations to June’s Strixhaven Championship.
In the upcoming tournament report, I will describe some of the more interesting rounds in greater detail than others, where my opponents couldn’t interact or I cruised to easy victories.
Looking Back on How My Tournament Went
Round 1: Rakdos Reanimator on the Draw
My opponent won a Legacy Challenge with Rakdos Reanimator in January. The matchup is rather rare nowadays but can be an unpleasant affair.
They mulligan to 5, while I keep a powerful double 《Force of Will》 7 card hand.
They lead off with 《Thoughtseize》 on turn 1 and take one of my 《Force of Will》. I draw 《Ponder》, play 《Volcanic Island》 and pass the turn, leaving up 《Brainstorm》 to hide my second 《Force of Will》 in case they follow up with another discard spell.
Sure enough, they cast a second 《Thoughtseize》. 《Brainstorm》 finds 《Preordain》, 《Scalding Tarn》, and 《Daze》. Since they haven’t made a second land-drop, I still consider 《Daze》 to be a hard-counter at this point and therefore decide to hide both of my counters. 《Daze》 below 《Force of Will》, just in case I do still want to fetch 《Daze》 away, for instance, if they do follow up with a second land or 《Lotus Petal》.
My opponent only has 3 cards in hand after casting 《Thoughtseize》, so they can’t cast a full combo of mana sources + 《Dark Ritual》 + 《Entomb》 + Reanimation spell. Otherwise, there would have been a case for hiding neither 《Force of Will》 nor 《Daze》, giving up one of them go get 《Thoughtseize》d, but being protected from an ensuing combo attempt.
Still, by putting both counters on top, you give them the option of getting a creature in the graveyard with 《Entomb》 or 《Faithless Looting》 (or 《Thoughtseize》 / 《Cabal Therapy》 targeting themselves), but with double counter backup against reanimation attempts on following turns, it feels like a risk worth taking.
Moreover, I already have 《Show and Tell》 in hand, so I probably wouldn’t have countered a 《Faithless Looting》 anyway, since it can allow me to cast 《Show and Tell》 without the risk of them putting their own fatty into play with it (although the risk of 《Animate Dead》 via 《Show and Tell》 remains). They take 《Ponder》 with their second 《Thoughtseize》 and pass.
《Preordain》 shows me the already known 《Daze》 and 《Griselbrand》, I choose to keep both and draw 《Daze》, leaving 《Griselbrand》 on top. This leaves me the option to cast 《Show and Tell》 into 《Griselbrand》 on my next turn. While I prefer to wait until I have no other options before I cast a blind 《Show and Tell》 against Reanimator, it can often be strong enough to power through, even if it leads to a 《Griselbrand》 vs 《Griselbrand》 face-off.
Although they already cast two of their usually 8 discard spells, I don’t like to keep 《Griselbrand》 in my hand against them, since them discarding and reanimating it is a disastrous possibility.
I play 《Scalding Tarn》 and pass. I immediately notice I should have played 《Ancient Tomb》 instead. This would leave me with the option to cast 《Show and Tell》 on the next turn to draw 14 cards with 《Griselbrand》 and find and play a second sol land to increase my chance to combo off via 《Sneak Attack》 into 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 (or 《Show and Tell》 into 《Sneak Attack》).
They pass the turn back without playing anything. I draw the known 《Griselbrand》 and, considering their rather weak position, decide to 《Preordain》 to look for 《Sneak Attack》 instead of taking the riskier play of playing 《Ancient Tomb》 and casting 《Show and Tell》. Had I played 《Ancient Tomb》 on the previous turn, I would probably go for 《Show and Tell》 here.
In response to 《Preordain》, they cast 《Entomb》. I decide to 《Daze》 it, returning the tapped 《Volcanic Island》 to my hand. Even though this costs me a blue card for 《Force of Will》 and sets me back on mana again, which will be relevant if I have to go for 《Show and Tell》 《Griselbrand》 or if I find a 《Sneak Attack》 with 《Preordain》, I don’t want them to get a fatty in the graveyard.
Mostly because it adds the possibility of them getting their own creature with 《Show and Tell》 by way of 《Animate Dead》, but also because it is always good to keep your Rakdos Reanimator in a place where they need two cards to combo off. With the 《Entomb》ing already done, an 《Unmask》 into Reanimation spell turn is one way for me to lose this game.
《Preordain》 shows two copies of 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》, which I bottom. I draw 《City of Traitors》, leaving me with three lands, 《Show and Tell》, 《Force of Will》 and 《Griselbrand》 in hand. A much worse position than a few turns ago when my hand was mostly blue cards. Even though I don’t have an additional land drop left, I decide to go for 《Show and Tell》 here. It is my last blue card to pitch to 《Force of Will》, and being forced to cast that would leave me very constrained and at the mercy of topdecks.
Naturally, my opponent has their own 《Griselbrand》. As usual in this position, I decide against activating 《Griselbrand》 here, since the chance of finding enough 《Lotus Petal》 and 《Simian Spirit Guide》 for a full 《Sneak Attack》 combo are too small and I don’t want to be limited to 7 cards for their and my next turn, considering I will probably need multiple counters and my own full combo.
My opponent leads off their turn by activating 《Griselbrand》 twice, going down to 1 life. They play 《Badlands》 and cast 《Unmask》, taking my 《Force of Will》 that they knew about from their early 《Thoughtseize》.
At this point I have 2 《Force of Will》 and 3 《Daze》 left as potential counters to draw. Before we trade off our 《Griselbrand》 in combat to each gain 7 life back, I activate mine to draw 14 cards, too. Luckily, I draw two 《Lotus Petal》, 《Show and Tell》, 《Sneak Attack》, 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》, 《Force of Will》, 《Daze》, and some irrelevant cards.
They cast 《Dark Ritual》, which I decide to 《Force of Will》. They would have probably played any 《Lotus Petal》 or 《Chrome Mox》 before casting 《Dark Ritual》, so I feel confident countering the accelerator to restrict their options of following up with discard into Reanimation. They cast another 《Dark Ritual》, which I 《Daze》 and I proceed to win via 《Sneak Attack》 into 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 on my turn.
Their Challenge-winning list doesn’t play any 《Ashen Rider》, so I feel confident to keep 《Show and Tell》 into 《Omniscience》 as an enabler. 《Preordain》 are less necessary when I want to keep up 《Flusterstorm》 or 《Brainstorm》.
Once again, they mulligan to 5 while I keep a 7 with two pieces of counter-magic.
They lead off with 《Thoughtseize》 again, taking 《Force of Will》. I draw 《Flooded Strand》 and cast 《Ponder》 after fetching 《Volcanic Island》 with 《Scalding Tarn》. 《Ponder》 shows me 《Island》, 《Lotus Petal》 and 《Show and Tell》. If I were to play this game again, I would probably keep these cards, draw 《Lotus Petal》 and put 《Show and Tell》 on top.
While this is a high-risk play that can go wrong in a number of ways, it also has a high reward if they don’t have a 《Griselbrand》 in hand and no way of comboing through 《Daze》. The 《Lotus Petal》 adds the utility of being able to cast 《Daze》 on their next turn and play 《Ancient Tomb》 to cast 《Show and Tell》 with 《Lotus Petal》 on my turn.
Still, I do not think this through enough at that point or decide I don’t want to risk casting 《Show and Tell》 for a “mere” 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》, so I shuffle the cards away with 《Ponder》 just to draw 《Polluted Delta》, leaving me with 4 lands, 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 and 《Daze》 in hand. My opponent casts 《Faithless Looting》. With the previously mentioned line, I would let this resolve increase the chance of my 《Show and Tell》 not letting them put their own creature from hand into play.
Alas, this opportunity has gone and I decide to use 《Daze》 here where I still have a window to use it. Again, in hindsight, I should have probably rather let it resolve instead of putting myself back on mana, in case I do draw 《Show and Tell》 (doubly so for the aforementioned reason) or 《Sneak Attack》. I proceed to draw three more lands in a row and concede after my opponent 《Exhume》s 《Griselbrand》.
The rest the same as in game 2.
Even though it shuts off my own 《Griselbrand》 too, I like 《Sorcerous Spyglass》 against Reanimator versions which rely more heavily on 《Griselbrand》 and don’t play fatties such as 《Tidespout Tyrant》 or 《Ashen Rider》.
Also, 《Sneak Attack》 into 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 or 《Show and Tell》 into 《Omniscience》 / 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 are my preferred ways to go off in post-board games against Reanimator. Still, I am not sure I would always make this sideboarding decision. It feels right in this moment.
In game 3 we both keep 7 card hands and my opponent reveals 《Chancellor of the Annex》.
My opponent fetches 《Badlands》 and casts 《Entomb》, which I have to let resolve. Them searching 《Griselbrand》 to put into the graveyard makes me think they don’t play 《Shenanigans》 as a clean 《Entomb》 target to get rid of 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 and/or they already have removal for 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 in hand (their latest list has 4 copies of 《Wear/Tear》).
My opponent casts 《Thoughtseize》, discarding 《Daze》, plays 《Verdant Catacombs》 and passes. I draw 《Sneak Attack》, play 《Flooded Strand》 and pass, to avoid a blowout of fused 《Wear/Tear》 destroying both 《Sneak Attack》 and 《Grafdigger’s Cage》. Even if they have another discard spell, they are most likely to take 《Sneak Attack》 with it and I put a second copy on top with 《Ponder》.
My opponent fetches another 《Badlands》 in my end step and moves to their turn. They play 《Marsh Flats》 and cast 《Dark Ritual》, 《Wear/Tear》 targeting 《Grafdigger’s Cage》 and 《Exhume》, putting 《Griselbrand》 into play.
At this point, I am pretty sure this match is lost since they are at 16 life and can draw 14 cards to either combo off to put 《Chancellor of the Annex》 into play, or discard my remaining two nonland cards. They activate 《Griselbrand》 once and cast 《Unmask》, discarding 《Sneak Attack》, as expected.
Luckily for me, they decide against drawing another seven cards, possibly to avoid losing to fringe scenarios such as 《Vendilion Clique》 into bounce-spell on 《Griselbrand》 or 《Cunning Wish》 into 《Sudden Shock》. I am ecstatic and draw the known 《Sneak Attack》 off the top to win the match.
1-0 (2-1 in games)
Round 2: Moon Stompy on the Draw
My opponent mulligans to 6, I keep a rather mediocre 7, although I’m reasonably happy to keep it in the dark. A full combo and some mana with the option to cantrip into acceleration is quite solid.
They lead off with 《Ancient Tomb》 into 《Chalice of the Void》. I draw 《Force of Will》, play 《Polluted Delta》 to play around 《Wasteland》 if they are Eldrazi Stompy and to have the option of fetching a basic 《Island》 if they are Moon Stompy, and pass the turn.
They play 《Shatterskull Smashing》 and cast 《Goblin Rabblemaster》, which I 《Force of Will》, pitching 《Preordain》. They attack me down to 16 with 《Magus of the Moon》 before passing. I draw a dead 《Brainstorm》 and have to pass back.
I draw the missing mana source in 《City of Traitors》 and cast 《Show and Tell》 to put 《Griselbrand》 into play. They play an irrelevant 《Blood Moon》 before conceding to my second 《Show and Tell》 into 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》.
If you know they play 《Chandra, Torch of Defiance》, 2 《Sorcerous Spyglass》 for 2 《Preordain》 is another sideboarding option. While I like to board out 《Preordain》 against 《Chalice of the Void》 decks, I still prefer it to 《Daze》 here. Having them pay for your 《Daze》 with 《Simian Spirit Guide》 is simply too disastrous. Additionally, this matchup can turn into a race, where you don’t want to set yourself back on mana by Dazing.
We both keep 7 cards, although I am not thrilled about mine.
They lead off with 《Chrome Mox》, imprinting 《Hanweir Garrison》, into 《Magus of the Moon》. I want to keep my 《Force of Will》, so I let it resolve, even though it forces me to draw a second mana source to be able to cast 《Pyroclasm》 or 《Abrade》 to free up blue mana for my cantrips.
I draw 《Sneak Attack》, play 《Scalding Tarn》 and pass. They play 《Shatterskull Smashing》 and cast 《Goblin Rabblemaster》. A Goblin token and 《Magus of the Moon》 attack me down to 17. I draw 《Volcanic Island》 and sweep the board with 《Pyroclasm》. They cast another 《Goblin Rabblemaster》, which I let resolve. The Goblin token attacks me down to 16.
I draw 《Island》, play it and cast 《Ponder》 with it, which shows me 《Misty Rainforest》, 《Show and Tell》 and 《Ponder》. I already have an enabler with 《Sneak Attack》 in hand, so I shuffle the cards away, drawing 《City of Traitors》. I pass the turn, planning to 《Abrade》 my opponent’s 《Goblin Rabblemaster》 on their main phase, to give me more time to find a creature for 《Sneak Attack》.
They cast 《Legion Warboss》, which I 《Force of Will》 pitching 《Brainstorm》, going to 15 life. Since I plan to crack my 《Scalding Tarn》 to cast 《Abrade》, I don’t value 《Brainstorm》 as highly as 《Preordain》 at this point. I can see letting the 《Legion Warboss》 resolve, but don’t want to give them any clock at this point. I fetch up 《Volcanic Island》, going to 14 life, 《Abrade》 their 《Goblin Rabblemaster》 and they attack me down to 13 with the Goblin token.
I draw 《Simian Spirit Guide》 for my turn and find 《Griselbrand》 with 《Preordain》. I activate 《Griselbrand》 once, drawing 《Lotus Petal》 and 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 to end the game and match on the spot.
2-0 (4-1 in games)
Round 3: Temur Delver on the Draw
My opponent mulligans to 5, I keep this powerful 7.
They play 《Polluted Delta》 on turn 1. I draw 《Brainstorm》, play 《Misty Rainforest》 and pass. They activate 《Polluted Delta》 on their main phase, to which I respond by activating 《Misty Rainforest》 to play around 《Stifle》, fetching 《Island》.
They fetch 《Volcanic Island》, play 《Tropical Island》 and cast 《Sylvan Library》. I cast 《Brainstorm》, draw 2 《Lotus Petal》 and 《Sneak Attack》 and put 《Lotus Petal》 and 《Sneak Attack》 back. 《Sylvan Library》 resolves.
I cast 《Lotus Petal》, play 《Ancient Tomb》 and cast 《Show and Tell》. They cast 《Force of Negation》, I 《Force of Will》 back, 《Show and Tell》 resolves, 《Wasteland》 is no match for the 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》, we are off to game 2.
They mulligan to 6, I keep this 7.
They play 《Tropical Island》 and pass. I draw 《Griselbrand》, play 《Ancient Tomb》 and cast 《Defense Grid》 with it. They hardcast 《Daze》, I pay with 《Volcanic Island》. They return 《Tropical Island》 to cast another 《Daze》, I 《Daze》 back returning 《Volcanic Island》, 《Defense Grid》 resolves.
On their turn, they cast 《Brainstorm》 and find 《Wasteland》 to destroy my 《Ancient Tomb》, leaving my board empty except for 《Defense Grid》. I draw 《Daze》, play 《Scalding Tarn》 and pass. Fetching here to play around 《Stifle》 is no consideration anymore, thanks to 《Defense Grid》.
《Delver of Secrets》 flips with 《Daze》, which they shuffle away by cracking 《Flooded Strand》, fetching 《Volcanic Island》. 《Delver of Secrets》 attacks me down to 12, they play 《True-Name Nemesis》 and pass.
I draw a third 《Force of Will》, activate 《Sneak Attack》, put 《Griselbrand》 into play and activate the demon, going down to 5 life. I find mana and cantrips, which I cast to try and find 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》. I fail to find 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》, but find another 《Griselbrand》.
A 《Misty Rainforest》 activation puts me down to 4 life. I also have enough mana with two 《Lotus Petal》 and one 《Simian Spirit Guide》 to have the option of casting 《Force of Will》 on their turn through my own 《Defense Grid》, in case they have an answer to 《Sneak Attack》, even though it is likely they have their own counters to push through my 《Force of Will》. I attack them down to 11, 《Griselbrand》’s lifelink puts me back to 11. I discard 《Force of Will》 and 《Daze》 to hand size.
They cast 《Ancient Grudge》 on their main phase to destroy 《Defense Grid》, which frees up my whole counter-suite. They only attack with 《True-Name Nemesis》, to avoid a sneaky 《Griselbrand》 blocking 《Delver of Secrets》, putting me to 8 life.
I draw 《Sneak Attack》 for the turn and lead off with 《Brainstorm》. They only have one 《Volcanic Island》 as open mana, which, alongside their decision to 《Ancient Grudge》 《Defense Grid》, makes me think they are planning to 《Red Elemental Blast》 any cantrips I want to cast to dig for 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》.
As expected, they 《Pyroblast》 my 《Brainstorm》, which I let resolve. Them being tapped out removes the possibility of casting 《Stifle》 or 《Lightning Bolt》, so I activate 《Sneak Attack》, putting 《Griselbrand》 into play and activate 《Griselbrand》, going down to 1 life. I find the elusive 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 and win the match.
3-0 (6-1 in games)
Round 4: Sultai Midrange on the Play
We both keep 7 card hands. My hand is acceptable, only lacking a red source and a fatty.
My opponent passes with 《Underground Sea》 in play before playing 《Tropical Island》 and 《Baleful Strix》 on turn 2. I find 《Griselbrand》 and two red sources with several cantrips to cast a turn 4 《Sneak Attack》. They have two 《Brainstorm》 but don’t manage to find a 《Force of Will》 effect, which I would have been prepared for with my own 《Force of Will》, anyway, and we are on to game 2.
We both mulligan to 6. I bottom 《City of Traitors》 and keep this unexciting hand:
Again, hands with 0 combo pieces never feel great to keep with Sneak and Show, but I’m fine with a cantrip-heavy hand against a midrange/control deck that might have discard spells.
Their only clock turns out to be a turn 2 《Ice-Fang Coatl》. I have enough time to cantrip into 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 and two enablers in 《Show and Tell》 and 《Sneak Attack》. They have 《Force of Will》 and 《Flusterstorm》 to counter my 《Show and Tell》 through 《Pyroblast》 and manage to 《Surgical Extraction》 my remaining Show and Tells. They don’t have another counter for 《Sneak Attack》 and die to 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 on the following turn.
4-0 (8-1 in games)
Round 5: Sultai Reclaimer on the Play
We both keep 7.
They spend their first turns playing 《Tropical Island》 and 《Wasteland》 while passing. This makes me think they have 《Stifle》 and probably some permission in hand, or choose not to play early beaters like 《Tarmogoyf》 to not open their counters up to my 《Daze》, in case I go for the combo.
On Turn 3 they cast their first spell in 《Sylvan Library》. I smell blood and find 《Sneak Attack》 and a few more cantrips. They 《Stifle》 my Upkeep fetchland activation, but my 《Daze》 on 《Stifle》 resolves.
I cast 《Sneak Attack》 without a creature in hand yet, they 《Force of Will》, I 《Force of Will》 back, 《Sneak Attack》 resolves. My opponent 《Wasteland》 one of my two 《Volcanic Island》 and casts 《Life from the Loam》 to 《Wasteland》 my remaining red source.
Again, we both keep 7 and I am happy with my keep.
My opponent spends their first two turns making land drops with 《Scalding Tarn》 and 《Karakas》. Showing me the 《Karakas》 leads me to think they don’t have a third mana source in hand. I am happy making fetch land drops and passing the turn back, while drawing 《Brainstorm》 and 《Lotus Petal》.
They crack their 《Scalding Tarn》 on turn 3 and I respond by casting 《Brainstorm》 and drawing 2 《Daze》 alongside another cantrip. I decide not to fetch to play around 《Stifle》, since I want them to use a potential second mana source in order to have double 《Daze》 as protection for my 《Show and Tell》 on my upcoming turn.
They fetch 《Tropical Island》 and cast 《Ponder》, keeping the cards and playing another 《Tropical Island》 before passing. I draw 《Volcanic Island》 for the turn instead of fetching it away, since it allows me to cast 《Show and Tell》 on this turn and potentially 《Sneak Attack》 on the next turn.
They have 《Karakas》 as their second land drop, which could become problematic for me, but should be fine thanks to 《Sneak Attack》. They 《Stifle》 one of my fetchlands after I 《Brainstorm》, but I can develop the rest of my mana in peace.
I activate 《Sneak Attack》, they 《Force of Vigor》 it in response, I activate 《Sneak Attack》 again, put 《Griselbrand》 into play, draw into 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 and other powerful cards. 《Force of Vigor》 destroys 《Sneak Attack》, the remaining 《Sneak Attack》 activation is still on the stack, though. 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 joins 《Griselbrand》 to win the match.
5-0 (10-1 in games)
Round 6: Bant Miracles on the Play
My opponent mulligans to 6, while I keep this all-in 7.
This turn 1 《Show and Tell》 hand leaves the option of 《Preordain》ing instead, but since it would expose myself to a bunch of disruption like 《Wasteland》 and discard, I decide to jam 《Show and Tell》 on turn 1.
On turn 3, they tap out for 《Narset, Parter of Veils》. I have 《Sneak Attack》, 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 and 《Daze》 in hand, with enough mana to play and activate 《Sneak Attack》 on my turn. Thus, I let 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 resolve. 《Narset, Parter of Veils》’s ability finds 《Brainstorm》.
With 4 cards in hand and one 《Force of Negation》 already gone, I feel confident casting 《Sneak Attack》 on my turn. They 《Force of Will》 pitching 《Brainstorm》, I 《Daze》, they have a third 《Force of Will》!
You could make a case for 《Abrade》 or 《Omniscience》 to come in as an answer to 《Containment Priest》, but most recent Bant Miracles decks have preferred 《Ethersworn Canonist》 and 《Meddling Mage》 as their hate-bears of choice. 《Defense Grid》 is another potential inclusion, but I prefer it against red-blue fair decks, mostly.
My opponent mulligans to 5 and I keep a slow 7.
Despite several cantrips, I don’t find a second mana source until turn 6. Fortunately, my opponent doesn’t cast any spells except 《Carpet of Flowers》 until turn 6, when they cast 《Teferi, Time Raveler》. I 《Pyroblast》, they 《Counterspell》, I 《Flusterstorm》 their 《Counterspell》.
On Turn 7, I finally draw a third mana source to cast the 《Show and Tell》 I 《Ponder》ed into on turn 1. They 《Force of Will》, leaving them with 0 cards in hand, I 《Force of Will》 back, 《Griselbrand》 takes the game and we are off to game 3.
In game 3, we both mulligan to 6 and I keep this solid hand, bottoming a 《Lotus Petal》.
I decide against all-inning on turn 1, since getting 《Force of Will》ed / 《Force of Negation》ed or them putting a land into play with 《Show and Tell》 and casting 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 would probably lose me the match on the spot.
Therefore, I cast 《Ponder》 instead. I find 《Griselbrand》 and another 《Show and Tell》, which lines up nicely to cast 《Show and Tell》 into 《Show and Tell》 on upcoming turns. This time, they don’t have a single 《Force of Will》 effect and the first 《Show and Tell》 resolves on turn 2, 《Griselbrand》 hits the battlefield.
6-0 (12-2 in games)
Round 7: Elves on the Play
My opponent mulligans to 5 and I keep a pretty strong 7.
Again, they mulligan to 5, while I keep 7.
After I play a 《Polluted Delta》 as my second land and pass, they empty their hand and add 《Quirion Ranger》 and 《Wirewood Symbiote》 to the battlefield. My end of turn 《Brainstorm》 finds the missing third land and 《Griselbrand》, which I put into play with 《Show and Tell》.
Their topdecked 《Glimpse of Nature》 gets countered by another 《Force of Will》, leaving me at exactly 3 life to avoid an alpha strike with 《Wirewood Symbiote》’s ability to “counter” 《Griselbrand》’s lifelink. I win the match with 《Show and Tell》 into 《Sneak Attack》 into 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 on my turn.
7-0 (14-2 in games)
Round 8: Temur Delver on the Play
They keep 7, I mulligan to 6, bottoming 《Force of Will》.
We both play fetchlands on turn 1. I draw another fetchland on turn 2, play 《Island》 and pass. They play 《Wasteland》 and tap out to cast 《Sylvan Library》. I draw the single perfect card in 《Daze》 for the turn, play my third land, both 《Lotus Petal》 and cast 《Sneak Attack》. They cast 《Force of Negation》, I 《Daze》 it, 《Sneak Attack》 resolves, 《Griselbrand》 wins the game.
Both players keep their 7 card hands in game 2.
They play 《Volcanic Island》, cast 《Ponder》, keep their cards and pass. I draw 《Ponder》 for the turn, which I cast off of a fetched basic 《Island》. I keep two 《Show and Tell》 above an 《Island》, drawing one of the 《Show and Tell》. Ready to pounce on turn 2 if they tap out or pass with only one open mana.
They play a second 《Volcanic Island》 and pass, so I draw the second 《Show and Tell》, play 《Volcanic Island》, and pass back. My opponent plays 《Wasteland》 and activates it, destroying my 《Volcanic Island》. I draw 《Island》, play it, and pass.
They play 《Misty Rainforest》, fetch 《Tropical Island》 and cast 《Tarmogoyf》, having only one 《Volcanic Island》 left as open mana. I prepare for a combo turn and cast 《Brainstorm》 in response to 《Tarmogoyf》, drawing 《Ponder》, 《Griselbrand》 and 《Volcanic Island》. I put back 《Griselbrand》 below 《Volcanic Island》, which I draw for my turn.
I play 《Ancient Tomb》, cast 《Lotus Petal》 and 《Show and Tell》. With 5 cards in hand, I am sure to see it 《Force of Will》d, but, to my surprise and joy, it resolves and 《Griselbrand》 enters the battlefield. They play on for a few turns, getting an escaped 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 and 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 both countered by 《Daze》.
At this point, I have two 《Force of Will》 and pitch cards in hand and can afford to 《Force of Will》 another escaped 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》, to keep them below 8 life. 《Griselbrand》 swings for lethal on the following turn.
8-0 (16-2 in games)
Round 9: Simic OmniTell on the Draw
Since I am already locked for Top 8, I assume a more relaxed mindset in this round and keep a rather loose hand on the draw. My opponent mulligans to 6.
They fetch 《Tropical Island》 and cast 《Preordain》, bottoming both cards. I draw a second 《Sneak Attack》 for the turn and see 《Daze》, 《Griselbrand》 and 《Show and Tell》 with 《Ponder》. I draw 《Griselbrand》, putting 《Show and Tell》 below 《Daze》.
They spend the following two turns casting more cantrips, while I play lands and pass.
On my third turn, I decide to cast 《Show and Tell》 with two mana open. They respond with 《Veil of Summer》, which I have to let resolve. 《Show and Tell》 resolves, I put 《Sneak Attack》 into play, their 《Omniscience》 hits the battlefield. Fortunately, they don’t have 《Cunning Wish》, and 《Griselbrand》 finds 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 to win the game.
We both mulligan to 6 and I keep this iffy hand, bottoming 《Polluted Delta》.
I proceed to draw mana sources and 《Pyroblast》 in the first 6 turns of the game, eventually dying to 《Show and Tell》 into 《Omniscience》 and 《Cunning Wish》, protected by 《Veil of Summer》 and 《Force of Will》.
In game 3, my opponent mulligans to 6, while I keep this decent, but unexciting hand.
Apart from 《Ice-Fang Coatl》 or 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 beats, they usually have to resolve 《Show and Tell》 (or sometimes 《Eureka》) to win the game. Even if they put in 《Omniscience》 against my 《Griselbrand》, they would need to have exactly 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 in hand already to prevent 《Griselbrand》 from drawing enough cards to counter their 《Cunning Wish》 or cantrips.
《Red Elemental Blast》 effects are especially effective here, since you can destroy an 《Omniscience》 in response to a 《Cunning Wish》 or cantrip, even through 《Veil of Summer》. They spend their first turns casting cantrips.
On turn 3, I cast 《Sneak Attack》 with 1 mana open. They 《Force of Will》, I 《Red Elemental Blast》 it, 《Sneak Attack》 resolves, I pass the turn tapped out with 《Daze》 and two fatties in hand. They exile 《Elvish Spirit Guide》 to cast 《Show and Tell》, I counter it with 《Daze》 and win the match via 《Sneak Attack》 on my turn.
9-0 (18-3 in games)
Quarterfinals: Karn Forge on the Play
We both keep 7 cards.
I’m not sure what my opponent is playing, but most of their recent results have been with Bant Miracles. If I had known they were on Karn Forge, I would have thought longer about this hand, since it doesn’t contain any permission for fast Mystic Forge or Karn starts. A fast double enabler hand seems fine against most decks, even if I fail to find a fatty on my first few draws.
I draw 《Ponder》, which shows me 《Griselbrand》, 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 and 《Force of Will》. The only way to still win this match is if they don’t search 《Ensnaring Bridge》 with 《Karn, the Great Creator》 on their turn or if they search 《Ensnaring Bridge》 up and cast it, so I can 《Force of Will》 it.
I draw 《Force of Will》 for any other proactive plays they might make and leave 《Griselbrand》 on top. They go for the tutor 《Ensnaring Bridge》 play, wisely do not cast it and I concede with no main-deck outs to 《Ensnaring Bridge》.
With a ton of artifact acceleration, I don’t like 《Daze》 too much here. It can save you from some explosive early starts, and unlike against Moon Stompy, you don’t have to fear a hidden 《Simian Spirit Guide》 blowout, but setting myself back a turn in a racy matchup is still something I want to avoid.
My opponent mulligans to 6, while I happily keep this 7.
I lead off with 《Flooded Strand》 and pass. Since I don’t play 《Spell Pierce》 and they don’t have 《Chalice of the Void》 or 《Trinisphere》 / 《Thorn of Amethyst》 effects, I prefer to keep 《Lotus Petal》 in hand to make them believe I don’t have an explosive hand.
They start with 《Ancient Tomb》 into 《Grim Monolith》, which I let resolve, into 《Defense Grid》, to which I respond by cracking 《Flooded Strand》 for 《Volcanic Island》 and casting 《Brainstorm》. I draw 《Preordain》, 《Lotus Petal》 and 《Ancient Tomb》, pretty much the perfect cards. I let 《Defense Grid》 resolve, they pass and I annihilate them on my turn.
They manage to rebuild over the next few turns, but I still have 《Force of Will》 as a safety valve in hand and draw 《Sorcerous Spyglass》 to turn off their double 《Manifold Key》, leaving them unable to generate mana to cast 《Mystic Forge》 or 《Karn, the Great Creator》. I cantrip into 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 a few turns later and we’re off to game 3.
They mulligan to 5 and I keep another strong 7.
They empty their hand for all but 1 card on turn 1, casting 《Grim Monolith》 off 《Ancient Tomb》, followed by 《Voltaic Key》 and 《Mesmeric Orb》. I can definitely see using 《Force of Will》 on a 《Grim Monolith》 or deeming 《Mesmeric Orb》 a business spell since it mills 《Echo of Eons》, but their mana production is too redundant and I want to save 《Force of Will》 for their two game-enders in 《Karn, the Great Creator》 and 《Mystic Forge》.
I draw 《Simian Spirit Guide》 for the turn, which allows me to cast turn 1 《Show and Tell》 if I can find a fatty. I miss on 《Ponder》, shuffle and draw a third 《Lotus Petal》. Considering 《Mesmeric Orb》 increases the chance of an 《Echo of Eons》 line drastically, I play out all three 《Lotus Petal》 to improve my post-《Echo of Eons》 options with additional mana, before passing the turn.
They mill some irrelevant cards and cast 《Lion’s Eye Diamond》 into 《Basalt Monolith》, which I have to 《Force of Will》 to prevent them from being able to mill their whole library and potentially cast multiple 《Echo of Eons》. I pitch 《Brainstorm》 to 《Force of Will》, leaving me with only 《Simian Spirit Guide》 and 《Show and Tell》 in hand.
It’s definitely a viable line to cast 《Brainstorm》 first, especially considering 《Mesmeric Orb》 lets you mill one dead card in your Untap Step, but I don’t want to take the risk of failing to find a blue card and having to pitch 《Show and Tell》. 《Sneak Attack》 gets milled by 《Mesmeric Orb》, I draw 《Abrade》 for the turn and think for a bit. My opponent has 0 cards in hand at this point and the following board:
I am definitely going to cast 《Abrade》 on something and decide I want to wait and see what they mill with their 《Mesmeric Orb》 triggers first, so I pass back. They mill 《Karn, the Great Creator》 and 《Mystic Forge》. Since they didn’t hit 《Echo of Eons》 yet, I let them proceed to their turn.
I draw 《Flooded Strand》, play it and pass. They mill more non-《Echo of Eons》 cards and cast 《Defense Grid》 and 《Lotus Petal》 before passing back. This tells me 《Defense Grid》 was the card they would have played on the previous turn and 《Lotus Petal》 was their topdeck.
I draw 《Ponder》 for the turn and find 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 with it. It’s jam time and I have to hope they don’t mill an 《Echo of Eons》 or if they do mill it, that they can’t find enough mana for 《Karn, the Great Creator》 + 《Ensnaring Bridge》. As it stands, they are 1 mana off 《Karn, the Great Creator》 + 《Ensnaring Bridge》 if they topdeck 《Karn, the Great Creator》 in their draw step.
Fortunately, they don’t find any 《Echo of Eons》, and concede. I’m in the Semifinals and one win away from qualification for the Strixhaven Championship. What a close match!
In hindsight, I might have had to 《Force of Will》 their 《Mesmeric Orb》, since it gave them too many looks to find 《Echo of Eons》. However, they didn’t have 《Lion’s Eye Diamond》 at the time and, as stated before, I really wanted to keep 《Force of Will》 for their heavy hitters, so I stand by my line, overall.
10-0 (20-4 in games)
Semifinals: Sultai Reclaimer on the Draw
We both keep 7 cards, although I’m a bit scared to keep this hand on the draw against a 《Stifle》 deck.
Sure enough, they not only have the 《Stifle》 after playing 《Underground Sea》 and 《Wasteland》 on turns 1 and 2, but I also have to play right into it, since I draw 《Show and Tell》 and 《Brainstorm》. I have to 《Force of Will》 their 《Stifle》, which resolves, fortunately. I fetch basic 《Island》 and cast 《Brainstorm》, drawing 《Griselbrand》, 《Brainstorm》 and 《Preordain》, putting back 《Brainstorm》 below 《Griselbrand》. With 《Wasteland》 on their side, I can’t play 《Ancient Tomb》 and pass the turn.
This might also make them think I don’t have a second mana source, while I actually have 4 mana available, including 《Simian Spirit Guide》. They cast 《Ponder》 and shuffle, not hitting their third land drop, which signals a permission-heavy hand. Still, I decide to go for 《Ancient Tomb》 into 《Show and Tell》 on my next turn.
Sacrificing 《Ancient Tomb》 to 《Wasteland》 at this point is not too bad for me, since I am only 1 mana off the second 《Show and Tell》, which should be easy to find with two cantrips. Furthermore, it frees up my 《Daze》 for a future counter-war if they sacrifice 《Wasteland》. They counter my 《Show and Tell》 with 《Force of Negation》, pitching 《Stifle》.
I draw 《Brainstorm》 and cast it, finding 《Simian Spirit Guide》, 《Lotus Petal》 and 《Show and Tell》. With 3 cards in their hand, they can’t have double 《Force of Will》 left, so I put back 《Show and Tell》 below 《Preordain》 and cast the other 《Show and Tell》 with 《Lotus Petal》 and both 《Simian Spirit Guide》. It resolves, I put 《Griselbrand》 into play, they get 《Sylvan Library》.
Since 《Elvish Reclaimer》’s ability has the land enter the battlefield tapped, they can’t use 《Karakas》 right away, but my 《Griselbrand》 activations whiff hard enough that they get another turn. Still, on my following turn I cast 《Show and Tell》 into 《Sneak Attack》 into 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》. They are already at 5 life, so 《Karakas》 bouncing one of my creatures is not enough to save them and we’re off to the sideboards.
If 《Karakas》 was their main form of disruption, I would probably board differently, but they still seem to be a BUG-colored tempo deck at core, so I keep the plan from round 5.
We both keep 7 again, and I am once again trembling at any 《Stifle》, but don’t want to ship this hand either.
They pass after playing 《Underground Sea》, I draw 《Preordain》 and pass after playing 《Polluted Delta》. Had I drawn another fetchland I would probably wait here, but since I want to cast my cantrips, I decide to crack 《Polluted Delta》 on their upkeep (to make them use mana on their turn and turn off 《Force of Negation》). Again, they have 《Stifle》 and I have to 《Force of Will》 again.
In fair mirrors, you would probably pitch 《Force of Will》 to 《Force of Will》 here to mitigate card disadvantage, but I want to keep my second 《Force of Will》 for the combo-turn counter-war, so I pitch 《Brainstorm》. They 《Force of Will》 back, pitching 《Ponder》. I am forced to use my second 《Force of Will》 and a 《Preordain》 to counter 《Stifle》.
My fetchland activation resolves, but my hand is quite crippled now. They play 《Tropical Island》 and cast 《Elvish Reclaimer》 and my cantrips don’t yield anything to fight through 《Karakas》, so we have to play a third winner-takes-all game to decide the match.
For the third time, we both keep 7 and I’m much happier with mine now than in games 1 and 2.
I am not only immune to 《Stifle》 by virtue of being on the play, but also by not having a fetch-land in my opening hand. I cast 《Preordain》, seeing the perfect cards in 《Show and Tell》 and 《Force of Will》, drawing 《Force of Will》.
They cast 《Elvish Reclaimer》, which I can let resolve, since 《Karakas》 won’t be untapped and ready until after it gets annihilated. I draw 《Show and Tell》, play 《City of Traitors》 and cast 《Show and Tell》. It resolves, they put 《Underground Sea》 into play to face my 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》.
They cast 《Ponder》 on their turn before making a land-drop, so the line of 《Stifle》 + 《Elvish Reclaimer》 activation is off the table. I 《Force of Will》 their 《Ponder》, pitching 《Brainstorm》, to prevent them from cantripping into 《Karakas》.
They play 《Tropical Island》 cast 《Crop Rotation》, which gets countered by my second 《Force of Will》, leaving me empty-handed. They do not attack with 《Elvish Reclaimer》, which, with 3 cards in hand, leaves freak scenarios like double 《Elvish Spirit Guide》 + 《Stifle》 as potential avenues to win, but unlikely.
I draw 《Preordain》 for the turn, which I cast to look for 《Daze》 as a counter to 《Stifle》. I don’t find it and my annihilator trigger gets 《Stifle》d, as expected. They have another turn to naturally draw 《Karakas》, but fail to do so and just like that, I am qualified for the Strixhaven Championship!
11-0 (22-5 in games)
It was a long day but I’m simply delighted about this success. Since I see the other semifinal is still playing game 1 at this point and prizes for 1st and 2nd place are identical, I ask a Digital Event Coordinator for permission to close MTGO and go to bed, which they kindly grant me.
Looking back at my run, I definitely had strong draws all day and won some close nailbiter games, especially in the elimination rounds. You have to get lucky to make it this far in such a large tournament. Nevertheless, it was especially uplifting to come out victorious against the Delver menace, even though I faced it slightly less often than was to be expected (18% instead of 30%).
Going forward, I will definitely keep revisiting other archetypes and testing various strategies, but for now, I am very happy with this 75 of Sneak & Show. Also, I am stoked about and very much looking forward to the Strixhaven Championship. While Legacy is my favorite format, I always enjoy exploring other formats and developing my gameplay skills outside of cheating 《Emrakul, the Aeons Torn》 and 《Griselbrand》 into play.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article, until next time!
Jonathan Anghelescu (Twitter)