July 7, 2017

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Going for the Gold: My Vegas Legacy Top 8 Match: Grixis Delver vs Lands [Part Two]

Today, I’ll continue my analysis of the match that I played in the Top 8 of GP Vegas Legacy.

But first, a quick homework check…

Have you watched my Top 8 match yet, if not click here.

Did you read the first part of this article? If not, click here.

So when we left off last week, I had just stolen game one. Just look at that shocked face!


FYI: I was checking to see if anyone else noticed how I just got away with highway robbery. TFW even the judge is like “How did you pull that off?”


We kind of look similar…right?

Game Two:

Looking at Jody’s sideboard, I figured he would probably do something like: +1 Needle, +2 Drop of Honey, +2 Tireless Tracker.

Which made me want to sideboard in the following way: +2 Flusterstorm, +3 Surgical Extraction, +1 Ancient Grudge.

I took out two Dazes, one Fire // Ice, one Dismember, one Grim Lavamancer and one Ponder.

For game two, I looked down and saw a hand of:


Jody opened up with Mox Diamond, discarding a Horizon Canopy. He continued by playing a Thespian’s Stage as his land. On my turn, I played my Gitaxian Probe and saw:

I instinctively let out a sigh because this guy always seemed to have every answer in his hand. My Grixis deck has no basic lands, so he would be able to get rid of my mana, and I had to ensure that he didn’t remove my ability to generate a specific colour. I only have three sources of red and two sources of black, outside of Deathrite Shaman‘s ability.

How am I always seemingly locked out of the game before I play a land?

While staring at those cards, I came up with a game plan. I would play Deathrite Shaman to force him to cast Punishing Fire, then I would Force of Will it and remove it from the game, allowing me to play my other creatures with impunity and build out my board. I draw Ancient Grudge off the Gitaxian Probe, and the plan is not changed at all.

I played Flooded Strand and immediately sacrificed it for Tropical Island. A lot of people seeing that might have been confused since I didn’t have any green abilities I wanted to use in this matchup, outside of the flashback of Ancient Grudge. In reality, I was protecting myself from a Wasteland removing my ability to use certain colours since I could still cast the Deathrite Shaman off this land.

After casting Deathrite Shaman I pass back to Jody who untaps and draws before going into the tank and casting Punishing Fire on Deathrite Shaman. This is a play that he would have to make 100% of the time, so all I had to hope was that he didn’t draw one of his three Grove of the Burnwillows in the one turn window that he had. I cast Force of Will, removing another copy of Force of Will and going down to 18 life.

He OBVIOUSLY slams down the Grove of the Burnwillows that he drew for the turn and I go “really?” and he says, “when it’s your tournament, it’s just your tournament”. He uses the ability to make me go up to 19 life and return Punishing Fire to his hand. Some members of Twitch Chat think that he next levelled me, but if they paid attention to what was going on they would realize that he was forced into making this play even in the situations where he doesn’t draw Grove.

On my turn, I cast Ancient Grudge on Mox Diamond by removing the Horizon Canopy in his graveyard to make red mana, then play my Flooded Strand to hold up Flusterstorm. It already feels like I’ve lost this game after that topdeck, but I’m still trying to find a way back in.

Jody, on queue, draws Life from the Loam (does this guy ever brick?), and passes back. I crack Flooded Strand to find a Volcanic Island, cast Young Pyromancer, and leave up Flusterstorm to protect myself from Punishing Fire if there’s no red mana. Because of the presence of his Wasteland, I needed to keep my copy of Deathrite Shaman untapped instead of a land. I was already hanging by a thread because of that Grove topdeck, and after some interaction, Jody goes for a mainphase Thespian’s Stage activation on Dark Depths prompting a concession on my part since I have no way to win from that spot or even survive.

While sideboarding for game three, I made sure that I had all four copies of Daze back in as they can be huge on the play to buy me just enough time.

Game Three:

In the final game, I was on the play and saw a hand with a lot of card draw and Delver of Secrets but it did not contain any lands so I went down to six cards and hesitantly kept:


I was pretty sure that this hand could beat everything but the top percent of hands from Lands if I drew a way to cast the Deathrite Shaman, and going to five felt like a death knell. So I went to complete my pre-game scry and sent a Gurmag Angler to the bottom (obv!).

Jody kept, man this guy never mulligans!

I then told my opponent to go ahead and he got confused and called the judge and stated that I said I was on the play.

I re-emphasized that I was passing my turn without doing anything. Now I did have a land drop, but playing Wasteland here would accomplish nothing. I wanted to keep it in hand as a way to disrupt the Dark Depths combo and I figured that if I showed it prematurely, he would use his own Wasteland to destroy it at no cost.

Quick Aside: I actually was deciding whether or not to play the Wasteland during my scry, as to not give it away to a more astute player.

So Jody draws for his turn, plays a Wasteland (inside I’m smiling as I already feel vindicated in my choice of not to play the Wasteland) and then plays Mox Diamond and discards The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. The Mox Diamond is used to cast Exploration.

Now I pause here, because Force of Will can prevent it from landing, but then I think about how I can win this game and it involves stopping higher impact cards in the post-sideboard game. I resign myself to losing to the super nut hand if he has it.

Once I let Exploration resolve, he casts Pithing Needle. Now this card can name either Wasteland (if he has the combo) or Deathrite Shaman (if he doesn’t have the combo rolled up yet). For me, this is a must counter as I only have one Ancient Grudge to remove it. I exile my Brainstorm to cast Force of Will and lose a life going to 19.

On my turn, I draw a Tropical Island and cast Deathrite Shaman. Jody untaps and slams both Thespian’s Stage and Dark Depths into play and instantly makes a Marit Lage token. Now since we both have decklists, he knows I have no way of removing it and it’s an auto-loss at that point.

I concede and show my hand of Wasteland, Surgical Extraction, and Deathrite Shaman.

Jody sighs in relief as I’m sure he was shaken at how badly he played the first game. He then tells me I punted by not casting Force of Will on his Mox Diamond, but there’s no universe where I do that because I can’t know that he has no other green source. Maybe if I was able to Gitaxian Probe him first.

I received a lot of feedback from people who watched the coverage who said I should have Force of Willed the Exploration, but that would only protect me from the nut hand and I would lose to every average hand by doing it. Also Pithing Needle coming down locks me out if he names Wasteland so I think I was correct, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments.

At least I was able to achieve my second Grand Prix Top 8. It took four years since my first and I hope I can get my next one within the year. I’ll just have to play and test more to give myself the best shot of eventually picking up a trophy.

Now I have a few weeks off before Grand Prix Toronto and the Pro Tour in Kyoto, so next week it’s back to the improvement article series!


I hope you enjoyed this article. Please post in the comments below or tweet at me (@SammyTMTG). And, if you want to keep up with my articles and happenings, please make sure you hit the follow button for Twitter @ SammyTMTG. I’ll see you next week and until then, have a great weekend!

Sammy T