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Cook’s Kitchen: GP Atlanta Results & Analysis

Cook’s Kitchen – GP Atlanta Results & Analysis

This past weekend was Grand Prix Atlanta, the format? None other than Legacy! The American Legacy Grand Prix was won by Gaudenis Vidugiris with RUG Delver/Canadian Threshold. Gaudenis isn’t a stranger to Grand Prix wins with GP Atlanta being his third win! When looking at the top eight finishing decks from the event there are some unexpected decks, some expected, and surprisingly some exclusions from the top 8. We’ll get to the exclusions in a bit, for now, let’s look at the top 8 decks:

Cavern of Souls

I’m not shocked to see a Maverick deck in the top 8 with the green and white creatures being one of the most popular decks in the format after Griselbrand combo. I’m a pretty big fan of the inclusion of Cavern of Souls in Maverick since most of the creatures are humans or have errata to be humans – I’m talking about Mother of Runes! I would like to see a second copy of Cavern of Souls in the decklist, probably in the slot of that terrible Taiga. Seriously, it’s a wasteland-able land that might as well have been a forest since in most scenarios the deck wasn’t going to fetch a Taiga and hardcast Gut Shot anyway. If that was the situation, Maverick was probably in a pretty bad place to begin with.

When viewing the creatures in the deck, the first thing that seems odd to me is a one-of Stoneforge Mystic. Green Sun Zenith does not search for white creatures, this is a problem with singleton off color creatures. The line of play to have the one of Fauna Shaman to search for the one of Stoneforge Mystic seems unrealistic in my eyes and it probably only happened once or twice in the entire event. I’d much rather see some added consistency with a third Scavenging Ooze or a second Fauna Shaman. Something I find interesting being a combo player is that Ben Stark does not have a main deck Gaddock Teeg to Green Sun Zenith for! But instead is opting for the full complement of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. I believe diversifying the hate would’ve been useful due to their legendary status. The two legends also serve different roles with Teeg shutting off Sneak Attack and other combo and Thalia being great versus control and some combo.

The second Karakas out of the sideboard is definitely needed in the current metagame. Although, I don’t think the Crop Rotation with two Karakas was necessary.

Sam, if you read this, I have nothing but respect for you. I know what it’s like to tune a pet deck into something fun, playable, and good enough to do well at a Grand Prix. It’s a lot of work and something not to be over looked. Although, honestly, I’m still a bit unsure of how this deck made the top 8. I just don’t see how Zombies beats Reanimator or Sneak and Show, but due to the lack of numbers in the top 8, I can only imagine Sam didn’t have too many on his path to victory. Does the deck hope to just draw multiple discard game one and ride those cards to victory? Seems tough against the Griselbro combos. What I do see Sam’s Zombie deck crushing is anything that is mid-range! Holy crap, this deck is all value-town.

Uniscovered Paradise

I really like that Sam is playing an Undiscovered Paradise – a card I used to jam in T.E.S. The card’s synergy with this deck is really cool, in fact, the deck’s synergy in general is just fascinating. With so many Small Synergies and recurring threats, Zombies will grind down the opponent until their resources are gone or the opponent is dead. I know this isn’t the first time Zombies has seen play, but it’s the first time it’s done well. Sam’s list is really refined now. The only card in the list that seems awkward to me is the one of Tragic Slip. I don’t know Sam’s exact reasoning but how often does it kill a huge creature? With the card being a one of and the opponent having a creature the deck couldn’t handle already, the chances seem slim.

Thought Scour

These two lists are so very different! They’re the two spectrums of the deck currently – with and without Stifle. Stifle is a big contributing factor in the rest of the deck right now. With Stifle it’s often difficult to find room for Thought Scour which is important because ‘Scour turns on Nimble Mongoose earlier increasing the tempo aspect of the deck. Some could argue that Stifling a fetch land would increase the tempo of the deck as well while mana screwing the opponent. It’s really a personal preference. Recently, I’ve been in favor of Thought Scour over Stifle and so was Gaudenis Vidugiris – the Grand Prix champion! I’ve liked Scour more due to the interaction with Delver of Secrets on the upkeep not drawing extra late game lands or other cards not wanted in the hand.

Gaudenis Vidugiris opted to run a singleton Scavenging Ooze over the forth Tarmogoyf which is probably the correct call in a metagame filled with reanimated monsters. The list I most recently ran in a local was running two Ooze over the third Tarmogoyf. The other option was over the forth Nimble Goose. I’m unsure if the second Ooze in the main deck was correct but it was something I wanted to experiment with.

Fire // Ice
Forked Bolt

Fire/Ice over Forked Bolt is an interesting debate. Fire/Ice while costing more can keep the opponent off of an important mana during the upkeep or tap a Griselbrand for that extra turn necessary to deal lethal to those combo decks. At the moment I see Fire/Ice being better, but if the metagame becomes more Maverick like it was in past months Forked Bolt would become appropriate again.

Spell Snare Vs. no Spell Snare – it’s a tough debate. Originally people started shaving Snare’s numbers then once Sneak and Show became popular it was often dropped from lists. With Reanimator hating out Sneak and Show it may be time to add them back into the deck again. Being able to hit Exhume/Animate Dead against Reanimator or Ooze, Thalia, or Umezawa’s Jitte against Maverick is a big deal too. Two seems like a fine number, it was probably even the right number seeing as it was good enough to win 18+ rounds of Magic.

Not the combo deck I was expecting at all. I’m more shocked than it top 8’d than Sam’s Zombie deck, the reasoning being that I didn’t think Belcher had the consistency to last that many rounds. Tipping my hat off to Gerardo!

Xantid Swarm

There isn’t a whole lot to be said about this Belcher list, it’s a fairly standard main deck. The sideboard seems a bit excessive in some places to me. I hope like in Storm combo that he sided the Xantid Swarms in against some matches and the Pyroblasts in others. Otherwise, he could’ve really self imploded by siding in eight protection spells in a deck that already needs everything it has. Xantid Swarm really shines in the Sneak & Show and Reanimator match-ups but isn’t that spectacular against RUG or Miracle Control. Against the latter blue decks Pyroblast is much more efficient due to not dying to creature removal.

If Gerardo was siding in all eight cards, I hope he wasn’t, I imagine he would of had to board out Gitaxian Probe for Xantid Swarms and probably Pyretic Ritual for Pyroblasts. The Hull Breach in the sideboard is a bit redundant to me with Shattering Spree and Reverent Silence already doing a number in the match-ups they need to. That slot could have been something more useful such as an Infernal Tutor. Using Lotus Petal or Lion’s Eye Diamond for black mana after a Burning Wish to get Goblin Charbelcher and activate rather than being forced to make Goblins. While Goblins are nice sometimes, they are not always the answer.

Thalia

Well congratulations on the finish. But holy crap, that deck list is ugly. This Goblins list is very reminiscent of 2009-10 when people were trying to rock Tarmogoyf in everything, including Goblins. It’s very similar to J. Sawyer’s list except with a more modern creature – Thalia. While Thalia does shore up some of the bad match-ups such as storm combo and the Griselbrand combos, it has awful synergies with the deck due to Goblin Ringleader and Cavern of Souls. Not to mention Pyrokinesis! A more effective way to solve these problematic match-ups would’ve been to go in a different direction. Say the direction of Nick Patnode? Playing black! Black gives access to Leyline of the Void, Cabal Therapy, and Warren Weirding. Leyline is huge in the nightmare match-up that is Reanimator, Cabal Therapy can come in versus a countless number of decks, and Weirding is great against both Griselbrand combo decks. Oh, besides Thalia, there’s Gilded Drake! C’mon man, really? You just had to splash a third color for Gilded Drake? There wasn’t already an answer in Red or White (There is in black)!? This is just inexcusable in my eyes. While we’re on the topic of things I dislike, the toolbox of Goblins seems a bit excessive. I think that the Goblin King, Fanatic, and Sharpshooter all could’ve been cut for something more useful.

Enough being negative, let’s look at what Sawyer did do right. The main deck Stingscourger is definitely the right call in the current metagame with Griselbrand and Emrakuls everywhere. The extra slots from King and Fanatic should of become additional copies of Stingscourger.

When looking at the sideboard I’m left a bit confused. Gilded Drake, Sulfur Elemental, and Shattering Spree? I understand the reasoning behind Drake as bad as the idea is, but Sulfur Elemental? Another non-Goblin? You’re forced to sideboard out Thalia in order to bring Elemental into the deck. Shattering Spree is for what match-up exactly? Seems like a generic sideboard slot in a metagame that doesn’t warrant the inclusion.

This is a deck list that I would run, this deck looks pretty solid. Although, there’s a few small changes I would make. I’m not at all a fan of Stoneforge Mystic in the current metagame. It’s not a tempo card at all, it’s slow, and takes up too many slots in the deck. I would cut the four Stoneforge Mystic and the three equipment for three Vendillion Clique and four Spell Pierce or three Pierce and a third Snapcaster. I think then this deck is optimal, in fact, I believe the main deck would be gorgeous then.

Jotun Grunt

Jotun Grunt out of the sideboard is very cool. I have fond memories of the short amount of time that Jotun Grunt ran supreme right up until Tarmogoyf was printed. Two mana 4/4’s just weren’t that great anymore. But he’s back! Kind of… Grunt can really do a number on Dredge not allowing them to continually grind you out. However, if they have an explosive hand, he’s pretty much useless. Against Reanimator the Coldsnap fatty is pretty useless is played around correctly. It’s not difficult to play a main phase Careful Study then Reanimate or even an end step Entomb and Animate Dead. Well I suppose this is the reason Fred chose to also play a pair of Surgical Extractions.

Echoing Truth seems weird to me, I’m unsure of why it’s necessary when the deck already has Vapor Snag. Ensnaring Bridge really that scary? I think these would probably be better off as something else, possibly Disenchants or more Oblivion Ring. With the moving of Spell Pierces to the main there are three or possibly four open slots in the sideboard. The fourth Submerge should definitely be in there, another Surgical Extraction, which leaves one to two open metagame spaces. Cursed Totem would work wonders in a list that features Clique over Mystic.

Right after Tom Martell says even he wouldn’t play Esperblade Michael Majors pilots the deck to a top 8 finish. Well done sir. Michael made some changes that I believe to be crucial for the deck’s success this past weekend. The biggest change being a lack of Lingering Souls, which is a bit ironic since it was the original reason to be Esper. Now the reason to be Esper is the ability to be proactive, mainly discarding the opponents cards not allowing them to sit back and wait until they’ve sculpted a great hand. This is important because of the number of decks packing Misdirections and other cards that make them appear to have more counterspells than the control deck.

Geist of Saint Traft

As many of you could tell, I’m a big fan of tempo cards. I’m happy to see Geist of Saint Traft making the cut in this list, while it may still not be that great against Reanimator it certainly does work in other match-ups. The rest of the deck list looks pretty fine and standard to me, nothing really to complain about.

Griselbrand

What does this mean for Legacy?

Well if you were paying attention through my commentary on each deck list I mentioned a big bad wolf that appeared to be missing. That’s right, where the hell was Griselbrand combo?

No Reanimator. No Sneak and Show. Nowhere to be found at least in the top 8, there were a pair of Reanimator decks in 9th and 10th place. But for all of the numbers that these Griselbrand combo decks put up, there weren’t any that made top 8. That is truly shocking to me.

Could it be that Wizards was right in not banning Show and Tell and/or Griselbrand? For those of you who don’t remember three weeks ago, there were popular Magic jokes and twitter references saying #Griselbanned or #BanShowandTell. I’ve always been a fan of the wait and see policy and it’s proving to be correct right now. Legacy has a tendency to be self correcting, it’s looking like it’s correcting itself to beat those flying Avacyn villains as we speak.

The results of the Legacy Grand Prix Atlanta 2012 speak for themselves. Altanta was a diverse top 8, that appears to show a healthy format that can join together to stop Griselbrand from destroying the format. While I wouldn’t have guessed that Zombies or Belcher would’ve top 8’d, the other six are decks to be expected of Legacy. That’s also part of the beauty of the format, any given day, any given deck or archetype can do well.

Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep storming!

Bryant Cook
Bryant Cook on MTG the Source
BCook3289@Yahoo.com

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