Hey everyone, welcome to what I hope will be an entertaining romp through a written detail on what turned out to be a particularly sweet GenCon this year, some discussion on Show and Tell variants, and the story of my win at Legacy Champs!
My GenCon started out as many have before, with no solid plan but to hurl myself into the maelstrom of nerdiness that devours Indianapolis once a year and see what turns up. If you’ve been to GenCon you are definitely familiar with the feeling, the near-overwhelming cacophony of tens of thousands of people doing what they love. If you haven’t yet been, you’re missing out, and I can’t possibly tell you enough reasons to go next year.
The trip started with a slight mishap involving a crane, train, and a Dave Gleicher, but we managed to swoop in for the rescue and a cadre of dorks and I made our way safely to the Indianapolis Convention Center. Immediately after parking Caleb Durward produced a unicorn mask and wore it for a solid 30% of the convention I think, and after I jokingly said he should just start screaming at random points he certainly did that too. So if you saw a screaming unicorn man walking around GenCon please don’t be alarmed.
As the Legacy Champs event approached I still had the task of figuring out which Legacy deck to battle with. After lurking around the dealer hall and picking up some choice played cards to work on altering (my other hobby by night), I plunked down in a sea of magicians and goldfished some games with the Omniscience version of Show and Tell. I knew I wanted to play something as unfair as possible, as the Legacy Champs tended to bring out the play-what-you-want crowd, so I figured I would see a lot of tribal and otherwise fair decks, and I was definitely not wrong.
The Omniscience deck seemed sweet and had been getting some press lately, and I liked how Show and Telling in Omni and using it to storm out with Petals of Insight and Grapeshot is more resilient to answers that come post-Show and Tell (Karakas, Gilded Drake, Humility, Ensnaring Bridge, etc.), but was skeptical about the manabase and number of Lotus Petals most of the lists ran.
Normally Sneak and Show decks play a full complement of 4 Lotus Petal to use to sneak past Daze and pull out quick wins, and don’t require red mana until going off with Sneak Attack, but the Omniscience list cuts the Petals for more cantrips, which it needs to use after resolving Omniscience to find something relevant to cast. The Omni list also demands early red mana to cast Burning Wish, so you’re either adding more red fetches to get basic Mountain (which also forces you to fetch Volcanic Islands when you want to cantrip), or you’re fetching Volcanic Island early which opens you up to Wastelands. Ideally I’d rather just be fetching Islands and cantripping to find what I want.
There is also the issue of you having to have another relevant card after resolving Omniscience, essentially making it a three card combo (Show and Tell + Omniscience + combo piece). With Sneak and Show decks the standard operating procedure is to cast Show and Tell or Sneak Attack and then put a dude into play which will often lead to immediate death for the opponent. But with Omni it is Show and Tell into Omni into cantrip/dude/Burning Wish before death for the opponent, so there is an extra card needed post Show and Tell, which is kind of loose.
So after figuring out all that I fell back on my usual Sneak and Show list:
Sneak & Show, by Chris Bergeson
4 Force of Will
3 Spell Pierce
4 Show and Tell
4 Sneak Attack
4 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Mana Sources (25)
1 Simian Spirit Guide
4 Lotus Petal
2 Ancient Tomb
2 City of Traitors
1 Misty Rainforest
2 Polluted Delta
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Flooded Strand
3 Volcanic Island
1 Ancient Grudge
4 Defense Grid
1 Pithing Needle
1 Red Elemental Blast
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Wipe Away
On to the tournament! I didn’t take notes throughout so there will just be highlights, and some rounds are complete blanks at this point (chalking those up to the post-GenCon daze/haze).
Round 1 vs. Dean Homan playing Goblins
It was nice to have my tournament start out with a Plateau from my opponent, especially since I had kept a turn one Griselbrand draw with a Brainstorm as backup gas. Game 2 saw him Show in a surprise Stingscourger, but I had the Sneak Attack for the blow out. In retrospect this match stood out, as earlier I had met one the owners of Xtreme Games for the first time (which was super nice since they had invited me to do alters at some of their events). Unfortunately the owners walked over in time to see me annihilate Dean (their son), so that was slightly awkward. Thanks for being awesome Xtreme Games! 😉
Round 2 vs. Death and Taxes
My opponent started on Plains into Aether Vial, so I knew I needed to wait to have Sneak Attack active so he couldn’t use one of his plentiful Karaki to bounce a Legendary guy. I quickly found a Sneak Attack and we moved on. Game 2 was a loss chalked up to a string of Thalias and Phyrexian Revokers, but game 3 went according to usual plan, and Sneak Attacking with awesome creatures finished him off.
Round 3 vs. ?
I don’t have any notes for this match, other than #WINNING. Sorry if I forgot you!
Round 4 vs. Matt Elias playing Elves
Turn 1 Forest into Llanowar Elves from Matt issued a mental sigh of relief on my end, but past experience against Elves (and being around Caleb Durward who has been talking the deck up a lot recently) put me on edge again, as I knew the deck can generate some incredibly quick wins. Both games were pretty straightforward in my favor though, and after the match we talked about how sick Elves is, but also that it is weak to Sneak and Show because the sideboard cards like Thorn of Amethyst are not a great or focused deterrent to either Sneak Attack or Show and Tell.
Games 8-1, Matches 4-0
Round 5 vs. Mark Sun playing RUG Delver
Game 1 I built up to a pretty insurmountable hand, leading to us fighting over an Overmaster. I won the fight and Mark scooped after Overmaster resolved, which really made me wish I were bluffing with it. Game 2 was an awkward affair with his only threats in the game being Nimble Mongeese, and me having a Relic of Progenitus on turn one to keep them at bay nearly indefinitely. I built up a hand with nothing but Sneak Attacks and dudes, and after being stuck on 3 mana for a while just died. Game 3 saw me forced into topdeck mode facing a lethal board state and got to windmill slam the Show and Tell, but Mark still had all deez Flusterstorms and I picked up my first loss of the tournament.
With the prize payout being fairly awful you were out of winning anything relevant after 2 losses, and at this point playing out a bunch of hours of tournament and losing a day of GenCon was almost not worth it, but I decided to hunker down and grind, since I felt myself getting into that happy/focused zone that I get into when I’m at my tournament best.
Round 6 vs. RUG Delver
Everything went according to plan, but at this point it became clear to me that my board was a bit cluttered against the RUG matchup, and should be reworked in the future.
Round 7 vs. Maverick
I had some strong draws and he did not have the aggressive Thalias back with multiple Wastelands and Karakas needed to keep my monsters at bay, and I quickly overwhelmed him.
Round 8 vs. Ryan Lumpford playing Zoo
Semi-win-and-in vs. Zoo, eh? I’ll take it! We had some close games where he was almost able to race me, and in game 2 he actually made the tournament highlight play of Mindbreak Trapping my Show and Tell after two Lotus Petals! I definitely played around that one in subsequent games, and picked up another match win.
Round 9 ID
My opponent offered the draw and was on U/B Hive Mind, a turn faster version of my deck with slightly better disruption, and my breakers were pretty decent so I took the draw. I was worried for a bit when my friend Wayne Tam crushed a previous opponent to worsen my breakers, but I rolled into 7th place after the Swiss. Kudos to Wayne for losing the first round of the tournament, then X-0’ing the rest of it before we met in the quarterfinals. Sweet run!
Top 8 Quarterfinals vs. Wayne Tam playing Bant Maverick
We both frequently play locally at Hotsauce Games, so we both had an idea of how this matchup plays out, and I was able to take the first game while cautiously playing around a Knight/Karakas that I figured he had in hand. I wasn’t able to piece together what I needed in game 2 and died quickly. In game 3 he gave me a scare when he flipped in Gilded Drake off of my Show and Tell, but naturally I had the Sneak Attack to obviate this hate. I had actually put his list together at GP Indy and I thought I knew the whole thing, but he snuck in a Drake recently that he hadn’t told me about, and almost got me. Whew!
Top 8 Semifinals vs. Brad Campbell playing Goblins
Brad seemed like he had slightly awkward draws both games, but in one game I remember being dead on board if I let him get to his next attack phase even with a swing from a lone Griselbrand, so I drew 7 off of Griselbrand and bricked on drawing Emrakul or a good cantrip. I did have an Overmaster to cantrip 1 more card, and I rolled my eyes at the dumb luck Emrakul that flipped off the top to snatch the win. Mise well!
Top 8 Finals vs. Ryan Lumpford playing Zoo
A rematch with Ryan for the title! Game 1 brought us to a board state with both of us in topdeck mode. I had a Sneak Attack in play and no cards in hand, and Ryan has zero permanents in play post Emrakul Thrashing. I was at 3 life when he landed a Qasali Pridemage, but he didn’t kill the Sneak Attack immediately so it was obvious he was going for the one turn kill. I attributed this to GenCon weariness, a devil that has devoured many a weary tournament-goer (looking at you Reid), and on my next turn I drew a Simian Spirit Guide. He was at 1, so counting on him being off his game and rather than wait around and try to chump and give him more time to rethink and kill my Sneak Attack I put Guide into play from Sneak, turn him sideways and thrust him at the Pridemage, and he makes the trade. He misses on his next topdeck, I draw the Griselbrand, and we move on to the next one. Game 2 was fairly academic, and I’m now the owner of a sweet Brainstorm painting!
In the midst of this Caleb was wearing his unicorn head, Joe Bernal was wearing a top hat and monocle, and multiple people were riding Caleb around, but as the last game ended they all shouted HUZZAH! And many hats and such were thrown into the air.
Obviously winning the tournament felt amazing and was a fantastic way to finish GenCon. Sunday was a blur of friends and well-wishers everywhere. Tons of thanks to everyone who congratulated me. The
Brainstorm painting is simply gorgeous as well, so many thanks to Wizards’ and Pastimes for lining these up for us Eternal format junkies.
The Sneak and Show deck was a fantastic choice for this tournament and is still heinously powerful. For changes to the deck going forward, I thought the main deck was very solid and doesn’t need much tweaking. In the sideboard a Defense Grid can probably be dropped, and the count on Pithing Needle and Karakas can probably be revisited, depending on your metagame. Needle is better against Wasteland-centric metagames, while Karakas is better against the mirror and against Reanimator.
Shout-outs to my cadre of friends who were essential in making this GenCon the best ever: Ocean, Whinocerous, Sam Kuprevuwevuwiski, Gleichberg, Screaming Unicorn Man, Joe Bernal, Jaco, Soly, everyone from Hotsauce Games, Zim and Nick and Tinman, Dan Crawford for always being super supportive of my alter work, and all my old and new friends I saw at the Con. Hope to see everyone again next year!