After my incredible run I felt an obligation to write a report. I would have been glad to say win, win, win, win, win, win, and win, but it will only be win, win, win, win, win, win…and loss. I ended up finishing second at the Grand Prix in Paris.
First of all, I will make a short introduction of myself. I am Maxime Gilles, and I have played Legacy for several years. I am currently an administrator on legacy-france.org, and a member of the team GT Paris (even though I moved to Lyon last year).
The choice of deck for this tournament was easy. It was the deck I played in the last major tournament I played in, and that went well. Moreover, Miracles seems well positioned in the current metagame. 3 of the 4 of us on the team decided to play Miracles for this tournament, and we agreed on 73 of the 75 cards.
Benjamin Guillerm (who finished 82nd) wanted those last 2 slots to be 2 Spell Pierce. Adrien Gerard chose the 4th Swords to Plowshares, as well as a Wear//Tear. I ended up playing 1 Pyroblast and 1 Red Elemental Blast. The first reactions from my teammates: “What a fool! I would never play Red Elemental Blast in the main deck!” OK, thanks for the support guys. 😉 After my results in the tournament, it is much easier to say that it was a good bet.
My will to play REB in the main deck comes from the fact that Legacy is disproportionately blue, sometimes with as much as 70% of a given tournament. It bored me to side in the same cards for each match, so I chose to play them in the main deck instead. This choice was supported by the following facts:
– Spell Pierce counts for almost nothing against non-Blue decks, or these decks are just a near-bye for Miracles anyway.
– Delver is the most aggressive creature in the format, and REB can either counter it or destroy it once it’s in play.
– True-Name Nemesis is hard to remove (outside of Terminus), and is becoming more and more played. REB counters it for 1 mana.
After this tech provided efficient enough in my Magic Online testing, I decided to play the following list in Paris:
|[Business]4 Force of Will (34)|
1 Red Elemental Blast
4 Sensei’s Divining Top
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
3 Swords to Plowshares
1 Supreme Verdict
2 Snapcaster Mage
2 Vendilion Clique
3 Entreat the Angels
[Mana Sources] (22)
3 Arid Mesa
3 Scalding Tarn
4 Flooded Strand
2 Volcanic Island
[/Mana Sources] (0)
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Pithing Needle
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Relic of Progenitus
2 Rest in Peace
1 Spell Pierce
1 Swan Song
Days Before Grand Prix Paris
Round 0 vs. GIRLFRIEND
This is one of my hardest matchups. Each time it is a hard battle in order to spend all weekend with guys playing Magic, and the matchup is getting harder and harder…
Game 1 was lost very fast because of a mistake of my part. I completely forgot the date of the Grand Prix. So when I answered “Yes” to “My sweetheart, can we go skiing all weekend for Valentine’s Day like last year?” It was too late…
Nevertheless, it is not every day we have a Legacy Grand Prix in Europe, so I decided to win games 2 and 3.
Game 2 went quite well for me. After arguing that Valentine’s Day is only commercial, and we can do it the weekend after, she accepted (to my big surprise) very easily. I could start looking at the deck I would play.
Finally the 14th of February came. After a day at work, and with my luggage already packed, she wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day a little. In spite of all her traps, I succeeded in catching the last train to Paris.
After 2 hours by train, late in the night, I joined the teammates who had won over their girlfriends to have their weekend free. They were still testing, and Adrien took a lot of smacks against BUG.
Grand Prix Paris Day 1
Early in the day, without byes, we were ready to battle 9 long rounds, and we needed 7-2 or greater to advance.
Round 1 vs. Gottfrid Sjödahl with UR(w) Painter
Game 1 was very quick. My opponent won the die roll, and opened with turn 1 Tundra and Grindstone. Turn 2 he dropped Ancient Tomb, Mox Opal, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and cast Painter’s Servant. In response to the activation of his Grindstone I tried to Swords to Plowshares the Painter, but he answered with Red Elemental Blast. OK. A turn 2 kill with counter backup is a good start for round 1 at the GP.
Game 2 was short as well. I resolved a Counterbalance on my turn 2. He resolved a Painter naming blue. A few turns later, I tried a Sensei’s Divining Top, and in response he wanted to REB my Counterbalance, and after a blind trigger reveal failed I Red Elemental Blast back (with his Painter in play), and then took over control of the game from there with CounterTop.
The first turns of game 3 were very intense. He opened with a Goblin Welder, and on my turn I answered with Swords to Plowshares. He followed with a Sensei’s Divining Top. On my turn, I played a Ponder, which found Pithing Needle, a Counterbalance, and an Entreat the Angels. I drew and cast the Pithing Needle, and named Grindstone. During his upkeep he activated Top, trying to find a land but he failed, played a Grindstone, and passed. On my turn I drew and played the Counterbalance. He tried to REB it, I answered with Flusterstorm, and the Counterbalance resolved. On his turn he activated his Top again looking for business, and passed the turn back. On my turn I miracled the Entreat for a single Angel. It was a hard decision to make, with REB and a Swords in hand, but with Counterbalance and a Pithing Needle in play, I thought it was difficult to win with only 3 lands on board.
On his turn he played a Painter’s Servant, and I revealed a Ponder with the Counterbalance trigger, so his Painter and subsequent Lion’s Eye Diamond resolved, and he passed back. After my draw step, he tried to REB the pithing needle, and I revealed a land. In response I tried to Swords his Painter, but he Red Blasted it as well, and I answered with my own REB on his Painter. It resolved, so his REB had an illegal target, and he lost to Angel beatdown. This game was one of the most intense games I played. There was a lot of actions at each turn, but I won after some stress.
Round 2 vs. Patrick Plößer with Elves
He won the die roll, and opened with a Green Sun’s Zenith for a Dryad Arbor. I played a Tundra and passed back. On his second turn he played a number of elves, but without a Glimpse of Nature to really go off. On his end of turn I Brainstormed so set up a Terminus on top of my deck. On my draw step I miracle Terminus, and it was very difficult for him from this point on, being nearly out of gas. After a second Terminus I assembled the CounterTop package, and an Entreat sealed the game before his Dryads could do much damage.
Game 2 was very quick, as he did not manage the Counterbalance, and multiple board sweepers were too strong.
Round 3 vs. Rune Jørgensen with Death and Taxes
This may be the easiest match up for the deck. It is difficult to lose without a mulligan to the abyss, and a killer set up from him. He cannot manage our Angels, and the Terminus are devastating against their deck.
A short summary: Game 1 saw 7 angels. Game 2 saw 6 angels only. 😀
Round 4 vs. Massimiliano Davi with Death and Taxes
It was a copy paste of the last round above. Nothing more to say.
Round 5 vs. Lutz Boehnstedt with OmniTell
He countered my counterbalance with a Force of Will, and the next turn I followed up with a Vendilion Clique. I knew the matchup is not favored for me in game 1 because of a lot of dead draws (even if I had REB in the main deck). I know that some of you will say you should wait for the Show and Tell, but my hand was not the perfect one against this deck. So I had to go for it. He sculpted his hand with multiple Brainstorms, Ponders, and Preordains, and he went for it the last turn he could. Here was the stack:
He casts Show and Tell.
I answered with a Counterspell.
He countered it back with a Force of Will.
I used a REB on the Show and Tell.
He answered with a Pact of Negation.
I let the Pact resolve, and I countered the Show and Tell again with a Force of Will as my last chance.
He had only 3 cards in hand remaining at this time, and I assumed Omniscience and an Enter the Infinite. The last one was another Pact of Negation, so the Show and Tell resolved and he played after that the Enter, at which point I conceded.
After his perfect hand, my opponent said ” I hope you won’t be mad if I call a judge, because I’ve never seen REB in the main deck…JUUUUUUDGGGGEEEEE,” he screamed while raising his hand. After some verifications by a judge about my deck we went on.
Game 2 was too difficult for him, I had just too many counters for him.
In game 3 he fought over my Counterbalance and gave me a bird token from a Swan Song, which started to eat his life. I countered his Defense Grid, and we sculpted our hands in the meantime. After a few more turns and several battles of counterspells, we had only a few cards in hand and him low on life, because of the bird token. He tried to resolve a Show and Tell. I tried to REB it, and he answered with a Pact of Negation. So his Show resolved, and he put an Omniscience in play. With his last card which was again an Enter the Infinite. I destroyed the enchantment. I beat him again with the bird, and passed. On his turn, he drew the last card of his library. So I said “I hope you won’t be mad, but it seems you did not pay for your Pact of Negation…JUUUUUUDDDGEEEEE” After explaining the situation to the judge he lost this game.
Nevertheless, without this mistake, I am not sure that my opponent would have been able to win this game. He had only 5 mana on board, just enough to pay the Pact, and would not have been able to cast anything else on his turn. So if he sideboarded out his Emrakul, as many OmniTell players do, he would have died from his empty library anyway the following turn.
Round 6 vs. Richard Ducarre with ANT Storm
In game 1, he discarded some counterspells from my hands, but did not find all pieces he needed to go off for the kill. So I had the time to assemble the CounterTop lock, and he would never succeed in getting through it.
Game 2 was very similar, but in addition I cast Swords to Plowshares on his Xantid Swarm he brought in.
Round 7 vs. Romain Gherbezza with OmniClash
Game 1 showed how REB in the main deck was very strong, providing a hard counter for 1 mana.
In game 2 I opened this hand:
Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Red Elemental Blast
Force of Will
I kept it, because even if I did not draw lands for a few turns, I would not die easily. I missed some land drops, but when he tried to go for it I had already 3 lands on board. So nothing he played resolved, apart from a Pact of Negation. 😉
At this point I am ensured to make Day 2, so our first goal was reached.
Round 8 vs. Michael Brandtner with ANT Storm
He could not answer the Counterbalance in game 1 and lost.
In game 2 he began with a Xantid, and I could not find a Swords to Plowshares in time to answer it, and died on his third turn.
In the last game, I handled his Xantid, and played a Counterbalance and a Top. And I followed up with a Rest in Peace and Vendilion Clique, and he died very quickly.
Round 9 vs. Omar Rohner with Merfolk
I lost the die roll again, and my opponent opened with Mishra’s Factory and Aether Vial. On the next turn he played another Factory and attacked me for 2. Next he played a Mutavault and attacked me for 3. Next he played another Mutavault and attacked me for 4. I did not find a Terminus and lost very quickly.
In game 2 I found too much removal for him, and Jace easily finished him off.
In game 3 he made a small miscalculation which was fatal to him.
I finished Day 1 undefeated and was very happy because I made Day 2, and a record of only 4-2 the next day was necessary to make Top 8. I was also very happy too Benjamin finished with 7-1-1 after starting out at 2-1-1 very early. We were a little disappointed for Camille who was at 6-1 and failed to qualify for Day 2, finishing at 6-3.
Grand Prix Paris Day 2
After too short of a night with not enough rest, we were back bright and early for Day 2. There were only 5 undefeated players after Day 1, including Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, of whom I had to avenge a Grand Prix Bilbao loss to.
Round 10 vs. Gregorio Soriente with BUG Delver
The video coverage of this match starts in Game 1, at the 0:12:40 mark of the WotC Twitch.tv stream, embedded below (just click play).
My opponent opened the game with an Underground Sea into Delver of Secrets, which amazingly enough was the first Delver I sat down against in this tournament. I opened with a Flooded Strand into Island into Sensei’s Divining Top. To make a long story, this game was ultimately won when I stabilized with Jace, then Top, then Terminus, followed by an Entreat the Angels to wrap up the game. The most ‘interesting’ play was my Counterspell on his Spell Pierce. This game I finished at 1 life, but we will blame these misplays on the fact that I felt like I was still sleeping from the night before. 😉
In game 2 my opponent was always behind. He had some difficulties finding threats and getting them to stay on the board.
Following this round there were only 3 undefeated players, and they were all playing Miracles!
Round 11 vs. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa with UWR Miracles
As I had already mentioned, I sought revenge from a previous loss to PVDDR. I think it best to refer to the official written coverage for this feature match. Warning: only adults can read what will follow (because it was quite hard for PVDDR).
“The red Blasts in the main deck completely changed the dynamic in the first game,” Damo da Rosa explained after the match. “He basically started with a sideboarded deck.” That and a few mana issues on Damo da Rosa’s side clinched the match for Gilles.
Round 12 vs. Philipp Schönegger with UWR Miracles
We were the two only undefeated players left in this tournament, and we were a little disappointed not to have any coverage for this match. We were on the feature match tables, but no video nor written coverage. Neither of us had any byes, and being undefeated at this point was already a great result, but only one of us can continue on this path.
Before we began to play Philipp seemed to already know what I played and my secret tech, but I had no yet what he was playing. I was fixed on what he played when he tried to resolve Counterbalance. He succeeded twice but he did not find any Sensei’s Divining Top. So I attempted a Jace and it resolved, then a Counterbalance which succeeded too. At this point I gained more advantage every turn, and I finally found and resolved my own Sensei’s Divining Top which helped close out the game.
The second game was similar, and closed quickly with Jace on my side.
At this moment I was the only undefeated player in the tournament. I could offer an intentional ID to my next 3 opponents and still be locked in for Top 8, but none of my opponent could yet afford that, so I just needed one more win to lock in my place in the Top 8.
Round 13 vs. Jared Boettcher with BUG Delver
As I could afford it, I proposed an ID to my opponent, but I knew that he could not, so we played. He cast threat after threat in Delver, Tarmogoyf, and Liliana, but each of these threats met Swords, Terminus, and Counterspell. He followed up with a Jace, but I was tapped out. On my turn, I untapped, fetched and Red Elemental Blasted his Jace. My opponent said “REB in the main deck, fucking genius!” After that, I resolved a Jace of my own, which quickly closed the game out.
In game 2 my opponent provided little resistance, and died under a CounterTop soft-lock, plus Jace, plus some Angels.
Still undefeated, with very high tigh-breakers, I was ensured of Top 8 whatever happened in the last two rounds.
Round 14 vs. Loic Le Briand with Reanimator
I proposed the ID, and after he saw the standings (thanks to the Head judge) he accepted.
Round 15 vs. Jean-Mary Accart with WR Painter Combo
As a former administrator of Legacy France, and a friend, I conceded to Jean-Mary to ensure he would be in the Top 8 as well.
In the final standings I was second behind Loic, and just in front of Jean-Mary. So 3 French guys at the top, in Paris…
Top 8 Quarterfinals vs. Stefan Böttcher with EsperBlade
We started the match by taking a look at the opponent’s deck list. I saw that my opponent did not play any Force of Wills in the main deck, and that he had only 2 Wastelands I would need to navigate.
Game 1 could be summarized by the fact that I quickly assembled the CounterTop lock. Even if he had Engineered Explosives plus his Academy Ruins, he lost a lot of time and resources to manage the Counterbalance. A fatal Entreat the Angels came to seal the game.
The second game was paced and won by an early Jace on my side.
Top 8 Semifinals vs. Philipp Schönegger with UWR Miracles
We met again and Philipp did not seem very happy to play against me. His losses were only in the mirror against me and PVDR. The first game was another illustration why playing REB in the main deck was strong for this GP. As we fought over a Sensei’s Divining Top he had to use Counterspell, whereas I had to only pay 1 red mana to counter via my Pyroblast.
Game 2 Philipp kept a hand only with a Top and a land. He did not find his second land. In the meantime I assembled the CounterTop package which gave me the victory. I really enjoyed our games, as the mirror was very interesting, and Philipp was very cool.
One more victory and I will be the Grand Prix winner, and the first player to be undefeated in a GP! Loïc lost this round, so I was the last Frenchman in the tournament, and I had all the French people behind me, as well as somes judge which wanted to see an undefeated player in a Grand Prix.
Top 8 Finals vs. Javier Dominguez with BUG Delver
The video coverage of this match starts in Game 1, at the 10:37:32 mark of the WotC Twitch.tv stream, embedded below (just click play).
Game 1 was very easy, as he did not put any pressure on me, and so I easily beat him.
In games 2 and 3 I made a lot of errors which cost me the games. The most important one was to shuffle the Ponder I played on my first turn in the second game. Better choices could have been made…
So I finished this Grand Prix with only one defeat, and second place. Even if I know nothing of Block Constructed, it will be a pleasure to be a part of the upcoming Pro Tour in Atlanta.
Thank you all for reading. If you have questions or comments, or want to read about other subjects from me, please post in the comments section below.