Cook’s Kitchen: Back from Baltimore

Cook’s Kitchen: Back from Baltimore

This past weekend was the Star City Games Open in Baltimore. I attended with about ten other guys from the Syracuse, NY area. Out of the ten of us, three of us decided to pilot the same seventy-five storm cards for the Legacy open. Saturday did not go so well for the home team.

I opted to play black and red Zombies in the Standard portion and lost the mirror match round one to a guy who missed more than one Exalted trigger, as well as his Knight of Infamy adding a counter to Falkenrath Aristocrat. It was frustrating. I even considered being “that guy”. In the middle of game two I realized the only foils in his deck were lands, not one other card that I saw was foil. I contemplated calling the judge, but I was already down a game and was losing, I’m not the type of person to fish for wins from a judge. After losing the round to the gentleman, he asked me how to sideboard with the deck because he didn’t know. Thanks for the slap in the face, man! Round two was another loss to zombies, a young lady piloting black and green zombies. Red has a huge advantage in the mirror thanks to Pillar of Flame and the ability to go over the top with Falkenrath Aristocrat and Thundermaw Hellkite. However, a couple of poor opening hands and a few mulligans ended my day.


I was walking around the event when I came to the artists. Originally I wasn’t interested in having anything signed since I thought didn’t have or use anything by these particular artists but I was wrong! Cynthia Sheppard had created the zombie tokens I use for my Zombie Horde in Commander! I went and un-sleeved all one-hundred of her zombie token from Innistrad and handed them over to her. She may have looked at me as if I was a madman, but was very flattered that I choose her token over any of the others. Being a designer myself, I chose the most visually appealing zombies for my horde. Over the next ten minutes or so as she signed her name one-hundred times we chatted a bit about the design industry as that’s where she received her start. Cynthia was a very kind woman, it was certainly a good experience. After she was done, I handed her a ten dollar bill for her troubles. I thought that was a decent tip since artists sign things for free at most events, however, a couple people thought I was being stingy. As I continued to walk around I decided getting some practice in with T.E.S wasn’t a bad idea, I opted to sign up for a Legacy “Win-A-Box.”

In the first round I was paired against Roy, a gentleman that I had played against at Grand Prix Indianapolis a while back. He was on Miracles which was a shock to me considering that the last time I saw him he was perfecting Enchantress. The first game was decided by a Counterbalance on turn 3, followed by me making sixteen goblin tokens. Roy untapped, activated Sensei’s Diving Top, shuffled his deck using a Flooded Strand, and then topped again before drawing. He then put an Engineered Explosives onto the table. During the next two games, Abrupt Decay did what it was there to do – destroy Counterbalance. It allowed me to continue in the event.

The next around was against an older fellow running Mono-Blue Control with Wasteland, Force of Will, Chalice of the Void, Erayo, and Spellstutter Sprite paired with Ninja of the Deep Hours. I managed to Empty the Warrens twice against him on the first turns of the game for over fourteen Goblins, there were simply just too many Goblins for the Islands to handle.

The final “Win-A-Box” round was against lands. He played out five cards on turn one, none of which were Trinisphere or Chalice of the Void. On my turn I cast Gitaxian Probe looking at the final two cards of his hand, a Wasteland and a Tranquil Thicket. I figured that it was safe enough to drop fourteen goblins onto the table. On my end step the Thicket was cycled, then on his turn a Wasteland was played and he passed. On my turn I attacked, played a five-color land, and then passed the turn right before another end step effect, Enlightened Tutor. I sat there smug staring at the Silence in my hand.

The next game was a blow-out considering my lands opponent mulliganed to five and didn’t disrupt me on the first turn.

+1 Booster Box of Return to Ravnica

As the Win-A-Box was finishing the Legacy Challenge was beginning, I figured, “Why not?” It proved to be a profitable choice as I received a round one **BYE**… followed by a round two **BYE**? Something was up, I found the judge and let them know that something was wrong. I probably should’ve just kept my mouth shut, but I’m an honest person. As a result I got paired against a BUG deck where Empty the Warrens shined two games out of the three.

After that I was paired against Burn. By fetching a turn one Volcanic off of Scalding Tarn into Ponder, I wanted to look like I was playing RUG. But then Ponder found Gitaxian Probe, Empty the Warrens, and Duress. I took Gitaxian Probe, played Lion’s Eye Diamond, Chrome Mox (Imprinting Silence), Lotus Petal, cast Rite of Flame, and then Gitaxian Probe (Adding RRR using Lion’s Eye Diamond) to drop simply too many Goblin tokens onto the battlefield. The burn opponent did some counting and then realized it was impossible to kill me before I killed him. Game two was a similar in the fact that sixteen Goblins killed him. At this point in the day after talking to Dan Walton who was piloting Five-Color Aggro Zombies (Dredge) I decided that my deck should be called Five-Color Aggro Goblins. The final round against Aluren came down to T.E.S. being the faster combo deck with more disruption, winning me 50$ in store credit, enough to get a cheap dual land to trade.

After all of the events of the day were done, we headed to P.F. Changs for some delicious food, mainly because we wanted a place to order drinks with alcohol too. Which lead to bars and going back to the hotel room. Sunday was here! The day I was actually excited for. I sleeved up T.E.S. in new perfect fits and regular sleeves, it needed to look good considering that the deck was now 100% finished.

The event began with seven turns between two rounds against Goblins and Maverick, I actually felt very bad about what I did to my Goblins opponent. Before game one he spoke a lot about how much he loved Legacy because it’s such an interactive format and “blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH!” So… I went turn one on the play ” twenty-four Goblins, go.” I could only make red mana post Ad Nauseam, but in hind sight, the irony made it a little sweeter.

The rest of the day went as follows, I lost to Spiral Tide drawing very well against me. He went off turn three through a Silence and then another after the Time Spiral, several rounds later I took another loss to Edgar Flores with Esperblade. He simply had all of the right cards at opportune times, I couldn’t draw the right cards when I needed to. I had windows where I destroyed his hand and just needed to draw a business spell, but they never appeared. The same could be said for my match against Josh Cho where if I had waited a single turn before using my Brainstorm I won game three. I managed to beat BUG, RUG, BANT, ANT, Goblins, and Maverick on the day. All of my loses were very close and could’ve gone either way given a slightly different variable here or there, I was happy with the main deck but after the event I knew I needed to make some changes.

Xantid Swarm

After six rounds in the side events and nine rounds in the open, I boarded in Xantid Swarm twice then took it out after I saw post-board removal. I never wanted my bug friend. It hurts, but Xantid’s time isn’t right now, it needed to be cut. Ning and Royce were complaining all day about Reforge the Soul; how bad it was for them, and how they’ll never play it again. I cast it once and won instantly, I never felt their pain. Regardless, after hearing all of their complaints about why it was just terrible I’ve made the switch back to Diminishing Returns. I still don’t think Reforge is terrible, but Returns may be just better. I needed to find cards to replace Xantid Swarm with, these were the options I was considering:

  • Duress
  • Abrupt Decay
  • Echoing Truth
  • Empty the Warrens
  • Ill-Gotten Gains


The fourth Duress in the sideboard would allow for all of the Cabal Therapies to be sided in every match-up instead of just the non-blue match-ups. The downside to this is finding out what to take out of the deck, it’s incredibly streamlined to beat the blue decks already. Its tough finding room to side in more than one or two cards against Island based decks. Another Abrupt Decay would help against Miracles as well as against Chalice decks. The only problem with this is that the third Decay isn’t exactly useful right now. Miracle’s numbers are slowly dying out and this deck does well enough with just two Abrupt Decay. Five discard spells post-board, could be six, but I like to leave a wish-able discard spell. Chalice decks aren’t exactly a large part of the metagame, discard spells and the two Decays the deck has should be enough already without sacrificing space. Some would argue that the Decay is good against the midrange Junk/Maverick type decks. The problem with this is that you were already siding out seven not so good cards for seven cards, now eight. You’re taking out a relevant business spell or accelerant for a circumstantial answer. If I was to add another answer card in this slot, I’m not sure if it would be Decay either way. Echoing Truth is easier on mana, deals with Chalice of the Void at zero and/or one, and can also deal with Leyline of Sanctity or Lodestone Golem. A little bit of diversification never hurt anyone.

Empty the Warrens

I didn’t choose any of these options, what I did decide on was an Empty the Warrens for one of the two slots. An additional Empty the Warrens to be sided in against the currently popular BUG or tempo decks is very good right now, although, an additional Warrens main deck makes Ad Nauseam slightly worse. Just something to keep in mind, I would still keep Ad Nauseam in the deck even when siding in the extra copy of Empty. The extra copy would allow for a higher consistency of being able to open hand and plow through counter magic. The other slot for the moment is Ill-Gotten Gains, it provides a guaranteed kill against non-blue decks. I don’t dislike the card, I just don’t think it’s necessary. I would ultimately like to see it become something else. I just don’t see a better option for the moment.

Ill-Gotten Gains



With the changes to the sideboard, it currently looks like this:

3 Cabal Therapy

2 Karakas

2 Abrupt Decay

2 Empty the Warrens

1 Tendrils of Agony

1 Grapeshot

1 Hull Breach

1 Past in Flames

1 Diminishing Returns

1 Ill-Gotten Gains

I had a great time in Baltimore, unfortunately, I only did well in the side events. But you aren’t always the big winner. My friend Dan Walton who was a big winner with a successful performance going undefeated until the top 4 of the Legacy Open I’d like to congratulate.

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


Bryant Cook

Bryant Cook on MTGthesource


4 thoughts on “Cook’s Kitchen: Back from Baltimore”

  1. Good article! I just played in SCGBalt with ANT. We probably didn’t see each other because I was playing around table 100 for most of the day. That said, I’ve got a question for you about playing storm at this level: how often do you go off without protection? There seem to be so many games where I resolve one or fewer protection spells and I have to go off or I die. Do you have any advice?

    1. It depends on the match-up really, the deck is built to be extremely adaptable. In match-ups you don’t need protection the deck is built to sideboard it all out. In the match-ups you do need protection, after sideboard there’s nine main deck spells as well as one “Wish-able” target. TES also has the ability to plow through countermagic thanks to Empty the Warrens.

      I recommend trying the new sideboard and siding in the additional Empty against tempo based decks. You’ll notice a big difference.

      1. Awesome! Thank you so much! I’ve been thinking about shifting to TES for a while now because of its flexibility. I think I’ll try your list for Wednesday night Legacy at Curio Cavern. BTW, if I don’t have Karakas, should I just keep the Xantid Swarms in or is Ari Lax’s Reanimate/Bribery package better?

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