On May 30, I made the following public proclamation:
I’m going to qualify for the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship.
Yes, I had six points and made this claim while the at-large leader had 22 points. I’ve had plenty of people tell me there is no time for me to qualify for an at-large spot, or that I’m “too far behind” to make up that amount of points. Get real.
One of the biggest things about tournament Magic is having the utmost confidence in yourself. I go into every tournament expecting to win the entire thing. Maybe that’s having a giant ego, but why would I show up thinking I’m donating my money into the pool?
As a lot of you know the Nerd Rage circuit, as well as many other popular circuits, has moved a lot of events to Modern, which is a format I am not too fond of. So what am I supposed to do if I am not enjoying a format? Easy answer: make everyone who loves it realize why they shouldn’t.
I also have only played four sanctioned matches of Legacy, which were at a SCG Invitational almost two years ago, so playing Legacy — the “toughest format in Magic” — has been described by everyone as a daunting task.
Bring it on.
The Biggest Offenders in Modern
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Grixis Death’s Shadow.I won’t get into exact details of what I particularly hate about Modern, but Simian Spirit Guide, Phyrexian Mana, and “Free” cards like Street Wraith are generally poor design. If you want exact reference points, my stance hasn’t really changed in a year.
My main problem with this deck is that it is completely negating your gameplan of attacking them. Obviously Death’s Shadow gets better as the game goes along, and with enablers such as Street Wraith, we’ve created quite the one-CMC laden monster.
Grixis Death’s Shadow, by Brad Nelson, 1st place, SCG Tour Baltimore, 5/27/17
What is the other deck I would be playing, if not a Death’s Shadow variant? Well, I finally decided to get over my phobia of Dredge and sleeve it up for a tournament.
Dredge, by Mat Bimonte, 2nd place, NRG CTQ, 6/11/17
Another highlight of why Modern is a huge stain. After playing a ton of games with the deck along with many other decks, I firmly believe that this is the best Game 1 deck in the format. To be completely honest with you, it doesn’t get much worse post-board assuming you have the correct sideboarding strategy. I can’t even count how many Rest in Peace, Nihil Spellbomb, Grafdigger’s Cage, etc., that I beat a few weekends ago. If they don’t find a minimum of two pieces of hate early, they are just dead.
I ended up getting second place with Dredge, and earning five points, putting me to a total of 11. That’s good enough to be tied for 19th place, and only 13 points out of first place. I feel very confident, especially in light of no bannings in Modern, that this deck one of these decks will carry me to a bunch of points throughout the year as we go forward.
Diving into Legacy
I’ve always been a “Best Deck” kind of guy, so you know where that makes me start. It also doesn’t hurt that I have some experience playing a worse version of Grixis Delver, and this deck is absolutely insane right now.
Grixis Delver, by Jeff Hoogland
Deathrite Shaman is a very, very messed up card, and I think that card should be on the chopping block. However, as we have seen in Legacy, it takes a very long time for them to bring the hammer down on cards (hi Sensei’s Divining Top). That said, I truly think this is the deck to be playing right now. It has tools in every matchup to be successful, while also having the benefit of being highly customizable in the sideboard to beat what you want.
A quick note about Brainstorm
People talk about Brainstorm and Ponder as if they are some unicorn cards to be casting correctly, when in reality, most of your resolutions of those two cards are fairly straightforward. Put the bad cards back and crack a fetch land. If all the cards are bad, shuffle and draw. While the cards are certainly a little more taxing than that, I think the skill level of casting them is severely overstated.
The Power of Playtesting
In order to test this deck for the upcoming CTQ, I took to MTGO, as Legacy in my area (and most areas) is pretty scarce. Close pal Jeff Hoogland was wanting to play some Legacy on his stream also, so he got some free content out of us playing the deck “together.” We played 2 leagues with a fairly stock list before coming to the changes we made above and had a record of 8-2 — not bad for a pair of first timers. We decided we made enough tickets that we were going to jump into the Legacy Challenge for the weekend. Casually dropped a 6-1 record to Top 8 the event, before losing to Death and Taxes after making some pretty massive mistakes, I felt very confident to play this version of the deck in a few weeks.
But what about making people hate the format they love?
How about this one …
Lands, by Jody Keith, 3rd/4th place, Grand Prix Las Vegas, 6/18/17
This deck is crazy against a field full of Delvers. With its only truly bad matchup being against other dedicated combo decks, this is a deck that is on my radar for Legacy events as they come up.
Since I have very minimal Legacy experience, I have immersed myself in content from more proficient players. Remember, the internet is full of resources. I’ve found tons and tons of feature matches that may be a little older, but the overall strategy is still helpful in order to understand how decks work and how they work against each other. Do your homework!
While I don’t recommend making yourself suffer through playing formats you don’t enjoy, there is certainly a method to my madness. While you might not like the format overall, playing a powerful deck that you enjoy playing makes it more bearable. I am dedicated to qualifying for this year’s NRG Championship unless something earth shattering happens, and I will not be denied. See you on the battlefield.
Thanks for stopping by,
Mat Bimonte first picked up the game during Theros block, but already has a Modern 5K championship under his belt, as well as a number of smaller Standard tournament wins. Based out of Bloomington, Ill., Mat is a regular on the SCG Tour, with future aspirations of qualifying for the Pro Tour (and the 2017 Nerd Rage Gaming Championship).