Written by Xavier McLean
What's Black, White, and Red all over?
It's a tournament report on the Legacy side event of NZ Nationals, hosted by Cerberus Games at the Wellington Bridge Club.
It required a road trip down from Hawke's Bay, and despite originally intending to only play the Legacy and Modern events I convinced myself to play the Standard main event with only a day of testing. I chose to play UW God-Pharaoh's Gift Control because I felt combo-control was extremely effective against a Green Stompy and Red/Rakdos Meta. It all went surprisingly well, with an unremarkable but decent 3-2 constructed run with both losses against Grixis decks, but then the temptation of legacy pulled me out of the main event and into my new favourite format.
I recently returned from a year-long adventure in Japan (this really requires another article or two - stay tuned). In Tokyo, I taught English 4 days per week, and spent the vast majority of my free time at Hareruya Tournament Center, grinding sometimes up to 9 rounds per day to test and tune my deck ideas. This led to a great run at my first GP in Kobe, forfeiting my first pro-point in the last round to help out a very friendly up-and-coming Japanese player. But that was all Modern, and what really got me hooked into the scene was just how popular Legacy is in Japan. I had never been exposed to the format in New Zealand and like many other un-initiated players, I considered it a turn 1 combo or bust format. After borrowing a few decks from new-found friends, I discovered that while it does have some very polarising matches, it also has exciting, intricate games and a huge amount of agency. Oh, and Legacy has Sinkhole..
Before the bannings of Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe, I spent a huge amount of time playtesting and tuning a Deadguy Ale list to great success in multiple Hareruya events, but losing DRS was such a blow to the deck that I decided to look for a new midrange non-blue deck. I played a fair amount of mono-black pox, but could never find the consistency I wanted.. And I really should have bought a Chains of Mephistopheles before the price spike… oh boy.
Browsing through legacy top 8s, I found Zombie Bombardment.dec, piloted to solid finishes by both Renerandrup and Scavenging Booze on MTGO. The deck fits a death and taxes or combo heavy meta, with huge amounts of disruption and repeatable removal for low toughness creatures. I had very little time for testing but luckily my dear friend Edward Kim had the cards on hand to help me finish the deck in time for Wellington.
My list had a few adaptations, notably Liliana of the Veil in place of Gurmag Angler that is popular in other lists, as I never felt a need for big creatures and highly valued the edict effect for the creatures I can't throw zombies at. I mulled over a flex slot in the sideboard for a long time and decided to use Sorin, Solemn Visitor as a grind engine. I never boarded it in though, which was a wasted slot in the end.
So, how did it go?
I turn 1 Cabal Therapy naming Brainstorm, and my opponent laughs and shows me his hand. MODERN Gifts Ungiven in an Esper Shell. A follow-up Therapy and a few Thoughtseize later, we move to game 2...
Which I lose. I keep an incredibly slow hand, and eventually an Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. That card is great against my deck...
Game 3 I get to play my silly discard package and throw Gravecrawler a lot with Goblin Bombardment. My opponent is glad to have won a game with his modern deck and admits the only ‘legacy' card he put in his deck is a miser Force of Will.
Round 2 (1-0)
Game 1 my opponent finds themselves in an awkward fix when he has a 20/20 with flying and a Mother of Runes but can't attack into my mix of black faeries and white spirits, which are being thrown at his face after blocking.
Game 2 I get a great value play on 2 mother of runes and a Thalia with my Zealous Persecution and then land 2 ensnaring bridges and some lingering souls, looking for a lockout but back to back Green Sun's Zeniths find answers to take them out and I fall to a large Scavenging Ooze.
Game 3 I pressure with a stitcher's supplier that hits 2 Bloodghast and then Faithless Looting a 3rd out on turn 2 with a chain of Edicts to keep him from recovering.
Round 3 (2-0)
My opponent dazes my [thoughtseize] and never draws a second land. His hand is full of scary pump spells but no creatures.
Game 2 my opponent Crop Rotations into an Inkmoth Nexus but gets blown out by Diabolic Edict and can't find any more threats. Bitterblossom and Lingering Souls quickly swarm the board and close the game.
Round 4 (3-0)
Sitting down, I can't remember what my opponent is piloting despite him playing right next to me for the last few rounds. I blind name Aether Vial and see vampires and lands that don't tap for mana. I discard his discard to protect my Liliana of the Veil in hand, then curve Bitterblossom into Liliana, and he fumbles searching for an out.
Game 2 my opponent goes low but gets a Marit Lage and just needs a Sejiri Steppe or Rite of Consumption to win, but only has one draw and can't find it.
Round 5 (4-0)
I am the only 4-0 going into the final round, and my opponent at 3-0-1 has been keeping a close eye on me for the last few matches.
I keep a hand without discard and my opponent opens with Mox Diamond, Mox Diamond, Life from the Loam, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. Well, I have a swamp and a stitcher's supplier... My opponent is somewhere around 4000 times that in value on board. Bitterblossom and Lingering Souls feel very underwhelming!
Game 2 I Wear // Tear his early Exploration, but the damage is already done and I risk naming Thespian's stage with Pithing Needle even though I know he will copy it into something else. I am punished by a very scary 20/20 the following turn, and my faerie blockers aren't enough to stop the avatar after a Gamble into Punishing Fire.
So a 4-1 into second place. I was really hoping to dodge the lands matchup but the deck was very well positioned and the pilot played well. I wanted to play more matches against blue decks but they are unsurprisingly less popular in New Zealand than in the international meta, primarily due to the cost of blue dual lands.
Other than wasting a sideboard slot on Sorin, I was very happy with my performance, and felt the deck was very consistent, resilient and most importantly fun! I look forward to further throwing of dead bodies.
Special thanks to Matthew for supplying snacks, Amy for transport and Eddie for lending me UW GFG and a few thousand dollars of dual lands.
What are your sideboard suggestions? I’m always looking for some wild solutions. Is it time for Shivan Harvest to find its home?
Feedback and discussion are always welcome.