Frankfurt 🇩🇪 | Top8 in The Largest Event of ’16

First of all: big Shoutouts to MKM and their tournament organizer JK Entertainment for finally putting Germany back on the map of big international tournaments. Ever since the disaster of GP Xbox in 2009, where local laws caused WotC to substitute cash prizes for consoles and other stuff, German tournaments had earned a reputation for paying out in all kinds of goods, including 46-inch televisions. Have fun taking one of those back through the airport. And of course, there were headsets, tons of them. Because even at Wizards of the Coast everyone knows that you can’t be “top5 esports” without headsets. (I wonder whether Martin Jůza still has that “Swagdog t-shirt” he got for first place in Bochum in 2010. Or what a Swagdog t-shirt is.)

Following WotC’s eventual abandonment of our country after 2012, MKM has finally put it onto themselves to make German tournaments great again. And they did. Kind of. To work their way around gambling laws, we’re not officially playing tournaments anymore but rather attending a fair, which also happens to offer some kind of games people can participate in. Think High Striker, Balloon Darts or Coconut shy but with magica cards. When I first heard of that legal construct it sounded quite weird, but it seems to be working out perfectly well. When said concept was first applied in Franfurt this year, we were joking about how there would be random people attending in search for a medieval carnival of sorts. What we instead got were over 600 players for Modern and 400+ for Legacy, making this the by far largest event in the history of MKM and the largest German tournament in four years. This is their true story. (I always wanted to say that because it sounds cool.)

Here’s the three players we used to crew our vehicle car:

Armin “Dredge Armin” Art — GWb Maverick
Christian Reuschel — Eldrazi
Me — Elves

Friday- Grand Trial Modern

Even though Frankfurt is just about a 4h ride away, we decided to already arrive the previous night to catch a good night of sleep before the..*inhales*… GRAND MODERN TRIAL. And grand it was. A total of 142 players showed up, making it larger than some of the MKM Main Events they have held this year.

As usual, this is the deck I rode into battle:

Creature (4)
4 Simian Spirit Guide

Instants & Sorceries (24)
4 Ad Nauseam
4 Angel’s Grace
4 Sleight of Hand
4 Serum Visions
3 Pact of Negation
3 Spoils of the Vault
2 Lightning Storm

Artifacts (8)
4 Lotus Bloom
4 Pentad Prism

Enchantments (3)
3 Phyrexian Unlife

Lands (21)
4 Gemstone Mine
4 Darkslick Shores
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Temple of Deceit
2 Plains
2 Dreadship Reef
1 Temple of Enlightenment

Sideboard (15)
4 Leyline of Sanctity*
3 Darkness
2 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Patrician’s Scorn
1 Duress
1 Slaughter Pact
1 Pact of Negation
1 Echoing Truth
1 Laboratory Maniac

*my decklist actually said Leyline of the Void

Round 1 — UW Emeria Control — 2:0 Win
Round 2 — UWr Control — 2:0 Win
Round 3 — Abzan Chord — 2:1 Win
Round 4 — Rwb Burn — 2:1 Win
Round 5 — Merfolk — 2:1 Win (had a Game Loss for decklist error)
Round 6 — MonoU Tron — 2:1 Win
Round 7 — ANT — ID
Round 8 — Scapeshift — 2:0 Win
Result: 7-0-1 for 1st out of 142 players

Eight rounds later and 4 Tarmogoyfs richer, I still don’t quite get this format. What I do understand is that people back in early May really weren’t respecting Ad Nauseam as much as they should. I guess things eventually changed once Andreas Ganz won GP Charlotte with it two weeks later, so I probably really hit the sweetest of spots when I picked this deck up in January and had thus far Top8’ed every tournament I entered with it.

Some of the more interesting scenarios that occured included my Round 4 opponent on Burn immediately foldding to Phyrexian Unlife since he had “no way to deal Infect damage”, or me beating Abzan Chord despite a mulligan to 4 in Game 3; sometimes all it takes to lose 7 life and draw 5 cards. #ValueAdNauseam. While I won most of my other matches pretty easily, round 6 versus MonoU Tron was surprisingly tough considering that both Tron and blue decks are usually great matchups for Ad Nauseam. The card that gave him a huge edge was Chalice of the Void set to 0, which would shut down all of my Pact of Negatons, while Tectonic Edge kept my Boseiju, Who Shelters All in check. I eventually still managed to overcome him because as per the nature of his deck, he didn’t really put me under any real pressure. Or so I thought. He actually managed to take game2 by putting me into the Mindslaver lock completly out of the blue. At least for me. Anyone who knows anything about Modern was probably expecting that move from the very first turn, I guess.

15 of my 23 sideboard cards

During a deck check in round 5 it was discovered that I had accidentally listed Leyline of the Void in my sideboard instead of Leyline of Sanctity. Since my opponent also had a deck list error, I was told that under the new policy these mistakes cancel out each other and we’d only play game1, which I think is fantastic. There’s no point in introducing an unnecessary amount of variance. And especially in Modern, there’d actually be some serious cases where one player would benefit a lot more than the other from jumping straight into game 3 without sideboarding.

I was also told that unless I had 4 Leylines of the Void with me right away, I could replace the four cards in my sideboard with Basic Lands; so I added 2 Islands and 2 Swamps in case I get paired against a Blood Moon deck. Interestingly I was later told I could still include the Leylines of the Void at any point once I found them, so when the round was offer I sifted through my friends’ binders to come up with what I needed. Even though there’s probably hardly anything more ugly than having mismatched Leylines in your sideboard. (That even gives 7th Edition Counterspell a run for its money.) Fun fact: technically I have had 23 different cards in my sideboard over the course of the tournament.

In the penultimate round, the only two players left undefeated were another Ad Nauseam pilot and I. Both very well knowing that the mirror was absolutely dreadful, we agreed to an intentional draw that would still allow us to take the first two places should we win our last rounds. Which we did. All glory to the nauseating overlords and their prophet Rodrigo Togores, who came down from the heavens to teach us (or at least me) about the glory of Lightning Storming people. (Or sometimes Grey Ogre-ing them. But more of that tomorrow.)

Yoshi & I were asked for signatures 🙂

As planned, I win my last round vs Blue Scapeshift, which from my limited experience seems to be a really good matchup. While Angel’s Grace doesn’t technically counter Scapeshift (it will still put you to 1 life), it makes the setup required for the other player to kill you much harder. They need to keep either a Sakura-Tribe Elder or an uncracked Fetchland around to try and kill you in your next Upkeep; make that five uncracked Fetchlands if you also have Phyrexian Unlife. At that point they might as well just try to bounce the Unlife with Cryptic Command, which in itself is quite a huge commitment against a deck that threatens to win at instant speed and has Pact of Negation. It gets somewhat better for them once they get Slaughter Games out of the board, but you’re also bringing in Leyline of Sanctity, which complicates both their plans. At least that’s what I do. I’ve had many Scapeshift players rage quit on me on MTGO after telling me how stupid I am for sideboarding a card they just lost to. And here I am thinking that’s just how Modern works.

My first place finish gets me 4 Future Sight Tarmogoyf as well as two Byes and free entry to the main event. I already had 1 Bye and free entry from a local MKM Trial, so they shower me in playmat vouchers.
After grabbing late night dinner from a local McDonalds, we arrive back at our hotel.

Saturday – Modern Main Event

As you could already tell from the title of this post, I did quite well. Here’s what I faced:

Round 1*BYE*
Round 2*BYE*
Round 3 — BW Eldrazi & Taxes — 1:2 Loss
Round 4 — Jund — 2:0 Win
Round 5 — RG Tron — 2:0 Win
Round 6 — Abzan Midrange — 2:0 Win
Round 7 — RG Tron — 2:0 Win
Round 8 — Ad Nauseam — 2:1 Win
Round 9 — Affinity — 2:1 Win
Round 10 — Scapeshift — ID
Result: 8-1-1 for 6th out of 617 players!

With the exception of Eldrazi & Taxes, which is a horrible matchup for Ad Nauseam, my entire tournament consisted of really smooth sailing. It’s really ridiculous how good the Tron matchup is. In one game my opponent actually hit the absolut nuts and had turn3 Karn Liberated into turn4 Karn, removing THREE of my lands in the process…and still lost soon after. Given, I also had a pretty good draw with Lotus Bloom, but nothing too out of the ordinary. One of the guys I played against got really salty and started “complimenting” me on how much of a great and interactive match I had created by bringing Ad Nauseam. Says the guy playing Tron. Or Modern, for that matter.

Welcome to the Ad Nauseam Mirror

In round 8 I once again faced off against Ad Nauseam, this time a different player from the one I ID’ed with the previous day. Fortunately for me he had never played the mirror and you could tell that he felt quite lost and didn’t know what to do. He made some half-hearted attempt at comboing but quickly realized that resolving a main phase Ad Nauseam doesn’t really get him very far, so he stopped at like 10 cards in hand. When I then countered his Simian Spirit Guide it must have clicked with him as he started fighting back. Soon after we’re in full-blown Monkey Wars, good old Richard Garfield style. When the end seems near, Phyrexian Unlife prolongs but can’t turn around the war, needlessly leading to even more casualties along the way. In the end my Army of Twelve Two Monkeys emerges victorious, even using one of my Lightning Storms to clear the path for their ferocious attacks.

For game 2 & 3 things switch back to real Magic again. Or at least as far as playing Ad Nauseam (or that joke getting old already?) can be called “real Magic.” The addition of discard spells not only gives you the much-needed information to see whether it is actually save to go off, but also helps with creating exactly that scenario. As such, it is important not to mindlessly fire of your Duress but actually wait for a situation where it seems worth it. I also don’t hate adding Boseiju, Who Shelters for the occasional value-Ad Nauseam. (These days people are also playing all sorts of alternative plans like Grave Titan and Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, which add another avenue of attack.) Another card that can make a huge difference, especially if you have it in the maindeck, is Laboratory Maniac (which my opponent did actually have as it later turns out). Unlike Lightning Storm it’s not a one-shot kill that can be negated by Angel’s Grace, but a continous threat that requires either a removal spell or another Grace on every turn once the opponent has depleted his library.

Those last two games play out as I mentioned most of the postboard games do. G2 he calls my “bluff” after Duressing and seeing that I have no Angel’s Grace, so he kills me with Lightning Storm. Game3 I return the favor and advance to the next round. This is actually the first time ever I have neither ID’ed nor naturally drawn the mirror in a tournament.

Standings before R10. #3 wants to play #1 and loses, ends in 9th.

In the last round of the Swiss, I draw with Scapeshift to lock both of us for Top8. To everyone’s surprise the RG Tron player on table 1 actually wants to play vs Jund even though a loss could potentially put him into 9th place. I can understand wanting to play for the top seed, but given how much money was on the line, he was taking an unnecessary risk given that a draw would still give him the second overall seed. If you give the Jund player, who’d be #1 seed with a draw a 50% chance of winning in the quarters and the semis, that still puts you at 75% to go first in every round of the Top8, including guaranteed being on the play in your own quarters and semis. However, if you fall to 9th place, you’re missing out on almost 800% of the money that an average Top8 finish would give you. Taking the risk of losing 8x the money just to go from 2nd to 1st seed seems insane to me. Even if he was guaranteed to still be 7th or 8th with a loss, I still don’t like those odds. The guy even told his opponent that they’d both be safely in with a loss (which was only true for his opponent) so they should definitely play it out. Under different circumstances, I might have told the guy that he was wrong, but he had been acting like a total douche for most of the tournament. I hadn’t personally faced him myself but been sitting next to him for all of the later rounds. Maybe he just had a bad day, but every time I saw him play he put on a pretty annoying attitude; the kind of player who’s fake kind but also condescending while winning, and a whiny bitch while losing. So needless to say, I just remained silent and saw him lose his way out of the tournament. To be honest, I almost felt sorry for him when I saw the devastation in his face after Top8 had been announced. Even half an hour later you’d still see him dig his way through printouts of the previous round’s standings and results.

For the rest of us, off to the Top8 it was. Or so we thought. The TO asked whether we’d be willing to split since it was already past midnight and they hadn’t expected such a huge turnout. They also let us know that because of the huge crowd we gathered, they had decided to increase the prize support of the event, which meant that a split would give each one of us almost 800 €. To be perfectly honest, I still wanted to play. From the way the pairings worked out, both my quarterfinals and semifinals would have been really good matchups for me (Scapeshift and likely Tron), probably making a split a significant loss of financial EV. But on the other hand, I didn’t want to be that guy draggint the tournament on for another 2-3 hours beyond midnight and putting some of my friends in the Top8 at risk of missing out. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t ever blame someone for not wanting to split a Top8; but in this case I was ok with just calling it a (great!) day. Looking back now, I don’t even regret the more money I could have won: it’s the official tournament win which was awarded to the #1 finisher after Swiss, that I would have really liked to claim.

Still, even with “just” the split, I had already won a four-figure amount of money with my best format yet to come. What a great weekend! 🙂

CMS Modern Top8

Sunday – Legacy Main Event

For Legacy, I decided to go with Chaos Elves as I expected to run into a ton of Delver and Miracle decks where Natural Order is often more of a liability than a card you actually want to see.

Creatures (30)
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Wirewood Symbiote
4 Elvish Visionary
4 Nettle Sentinel
3 Heritage Druid
3 Quirion Ranger
2 Birchlore Rangers
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Shaman of the Pack
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Wren's Run Packmaster

Sorceries (8)
4 Glimpse of Nature
4 Green Sun's Zenith

Artifacts & Enchantments (2)
1 Sylvan Library
1 Umezawa's Jitte
Lands (20)
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Gaea's Cradle
2 Bayou
2 Cavern of Souls
2 Forest
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Pendelhaven

Sideboard (15)
4 Abrupt Decay
3 Cabal Therapy
3 Thoughtseize
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Choke
1 Null Rod
1 Garruk Relentless

Round 1 — *BYE*
Round 2 — BUG Thing in the Ice — 0:2 Loss
Round 3 — Eldrazi — 2:0 Win
Round 4 — Belcher2:1 Win
Round 5 —
BUG Delver — 2:0 Win
Round 6 — 4c Delver — 2:0 Win
Round 7 — Esper Humility Thopters — 2:0 Win
Round 8 —
ANT — 1:2 Loss
Round 9
— ANT — 2:0 Win
Round 10 —
BUG Pod — 2:0 Win
Result: 8-2 for 19th out of 427 players!

Hello x-2, my old friend
I’ve come to end with you again

Well, that was that. I would have loved to Top8 this one as well. In fact this was my fourth MKM Main Event this season and the first one I actually didn’t Top8. And I have only myself to blame for the most part. See that Round 2 loss? Yeah, that one was definitely on me. When my opponent, who was triple dead on board on the next turn attacked me with an Awoken Horror, I just scooped up my cards and shook his hand. After all, it has Flying so there was nothing my board of about a gazillion creatures could have done about it.

Johannes in his natural habitat: extra turns.

Except for block since it doesn’t have Flying. But for some reason I decided that the artwork of a card was a better indicator of its abilities than the text box. I wonder what my opponent thought about that brainfart. At least that’s a mistake I’m never gonna make again. It of course sucks when it happens in an important spot, but we can’t always pick the spots where we level up as a player.

So after just playing one round I had already positioned myself comfortably with my back right up against the wall. Fortunately, I then hit a string of friendly, but seemingly less experienced opponents, who allowed me to stay in reach of the Top8 for quite a while. Only the Belcher guy was a bit sketchy as he played a deck with 56 non-foil cards and 4 foil copies of the people’s cannon. I didn’t call a judge on him as I only discovered it while Surgical Extractioning him to pretty much seal game 3, but alerted the head judge after the round.

Round 7 against what I can only describe as “Humility Thopters” was a very special event. Creatures big and small from all sorts of editions came together to celebrate the Magic Oscars for the Best Card in a Supporting Act. Nominated this year round were  Legacy all-stars Pendelhaven and Umezawa’s Jitte, as well as Sword of the Meek, which had been recently released from Modern prison. (According to Sword of the Meek’s agent, its nomination was merely a symbolic gesture to make up for the unlawful imprisonment of his client, who had always maintained that it didn’t do anything. Recent Modern results have confirmed the same.) After a long and brutally one-sided battle, the contest ended in a tie with Pendelhaven and Jitte sharing this year’s MVP trophy. God, I love Elves.

Unfortunately my run ended in the 8th round when I lost in three close games to ANT. There’s really not much to say other than sometimes things just don’t work out. It was especially bittersweet to see how easily I dispatched another ANT player in the next round. But from my impression the guy I lost to was very well aware of how to approach the matchup, so all props to him.

Swiss @ Legacy

After beating David Hölker in the 10th and last round of the tournament, I finish at an okay but unexciting 8-2, which isn’t even good enough for Top16. Fortunately, the prize payouts for this event were increased as well, so I think I got something like 50€ or so for my troubles. Special shout-outs to Felix Höfler who made Top8 with his Esper Deathblade list featuring 1 Horned Turtle in the maindeck.

Overall I felt really good about the configuration of Elves I brought to the tournament. Given the matchups I ended up facing, the Null Rod in the sideboard should have probably been a Gaddock Teeg, but hindsight is 2/2. As it’s once again really late because of the many and long rounds, we’re hitting up McDonald’s again before going to bed. While my friends fall asleep rather quickly, I stay up for another 1.5h to research what my opponents at tomorrow’s Legacy Super Finals would play. Since I didn’t know which ones of the qualified players would attend, I had to research almost every single one of them and make a list, which was quite tiresome.

Monday – Legacy Super Finals

After researching what the meta will probably look like, I noticed a distinct absence of combo decks. Instead the vast majority of the people qualified were usually playing either Miracles or Delver, as well as quite a lot of variants of Lands (RG or BG Hexmage). So I adjusted my Sunday decklist as follows in order to strengthen my matchups against said decks, at the cost of throwing my Storm matchup out the window.

-1 Umezawa’s Jitte +1 Llanowar Elves

4 Abrupt Decay 3 Pithing Needle 2 Thoughtseize 2 Surgical Extraction 2 Choke 2 Garruk Relentless

Round of 16 — ANT — 2:1 Win
Quarterfinals —
Grixis Delver — 2:1 Win
— BG Hexmage Depths — 2:1 Win
Finals —
RG Combo Lands — 1:2 Loss

“Delta, Usea, Duress”
— Julian’s opponent in the Ro16, first turn

So much for staying “ahead of the meta”: My opponent had next-levelled the shit out of me. According to my notes (and some extrapolation), he had been playing Miracles since the day his father was born. Yet here he’s sitting wrapping me in Tendrils of Agony. — What had happened? As he told me, he wanted to play a different deck because he expected people to metagame a lot in such a small and predictable field, so he randomly brought his friend’s ANT deck with him.

After he takes the first game through little resistance, I bring in my embarrassing two Thoughtseizes und Surgical Extractions and hope for the best. If you’re really desperate I could see bringing in Choke or Needle (Polluted Delta) and hope to get them, but at this point you’re probably better off just going for the speed and not dilute your deck in order to get an ok advantage in an unlikely scenario.

Game 2 I open a hand of Thoughtseize and Surgical Extraction like a boss. I still lead with a turn1 Deathrite Shaman, which gives me the much-needed velocity and also makes my disruption much more impactful as I’m putting my opponent on a 1-2 turns shorter clock than had I lead with Thoughtseize. My plan works out when my opponent just casts Ponder and passes the turn. I discard his Infernal Tutor and cast a couple more Elves. After pressuring his life total for a bit and establishing Deathrite Shaman + Quirion Ranger, his outs are down to trying to go for either a tutor chain or Abrupt Decaying my Deathrite Shaman at end of turn. Neither happens, so we head straight into game3….which didn’t really happen. I don’t remember how far down my opponent mulliganned, but it must have been at least 4, if not 3. Maybe it felt like 3 because to add insult to injury I once again had a Thoughtseize on top of an otherwise really great hand that ended up killing my opponent on the fourth turn. Dodged a bullet there; this round could have easily been the end for me.

Magic’s a funny game. Last night I played against Storm on MTGO twice. My sideboard had 6 discard spells, 3 Surgical Extractions and 2 Mindbreak Traps. Despite many mulligans, I saw exactly zero in all my postboard opening hands. Yet in Frankfurt in the Super Finals, I hit exactly what I needed despite only running 36% of the hate I had access to yesterday. The variance is real. Sometimes it gets you, sometimes it doesn’t. All you can do is just accept it and pray to RNGesus that it won’t happen in an important situation.

“For me it was the day I lost to Knab’s Elves. But for you, it was Tuesday.”
— Julian’s opponent in the Quarterfinals

I don’t remember a lot about the first two games of my quarterfinals, but game3 was really something. Elves vs Delver often plays out very similarly to Zerg vs Terran in Broodwar. Crazy blowouts aside, Elves is usually in a very defensive position in the early stages of the game, trying to establish themselves on the map board and busy getting its tech synergies going, while Delver keeps putting a lot of pressure on them. This is why Abrupt Decay is such an important card in the matchup as we usually don’t have any other outs to an aggressive Delver, or even double-Delver opening. In game3, we traded constant blows with neither player really able to get a leg up. Every time either played passed the turn the board was in a really shaky state that could easily swing in either direction at any point. Eventually my siege mode upgrade finishes Garruk Relentless shows up and immediately shoots down the opposing Young Pyromancer. Over the next two turns my opponent is now forced to give up almost all of his tokens to eventually shut down Garruk. I can only imagine how it felt for him when I just untapped and immediately replaced it with another one. Out of cards and hopelessly behind on board, he just extends his hand in defeat, making a friendly comment about how he can never beat me, he notices I don’t seem to remember him. He chuckles and notices how it must have been “just Tuesday” to me last time we met. Being well aware of the Street Fighter reference, that one really gave me shivers down my spine 🙂

My luck continued through the semifinals when I opened on two Pithing Needles in game3, allowing me to turn off my opponent’s Thespian Stage and Vampire Hexmage before they brought about the arrival of Marit Lage. This forced my opponent into manually melting Dark Depths, trying to outrace my army of angry Elves. Fortunately, global warming hasn’t found its way into Magic yet and I was able to emerge victorious before the ice caps melted.

“How are they not covering this match?!”
— Spectator of the Finals at the conclusion of game 2

On to the finals, which made for one of the greatest games of Magic I ever played in any format. We’ll skip an uneventuful game1 and head straight into game2, where I found myself in a nearly unwinnable situation:

  • After some early beats, my opponent is down to 3 life
  • My board consists of only 4 lands, Pithing Needles on Wasteland and Thespian Stage, but no creatures because…
  • …my opponent has Punishing Fire and enough lands to cast and regrow Fire three times per turn.
  • Every turn Punishing Fire slowly takes me down a couple of points of life, while I do nothing but draw a card and pass, occasionally making a land drop. This goes on for quite a lot of turns where literally nothing else happens.

At this point,a big crowd has formed around our table and I can tell that some of them are really wondering why I haven’t given up yet. Because there’s always hope! Or even better: a very precise plan of killing my opponent with Shaman of the Pack. But considering his never-ending stream of Fires, Shaman had to be lethal right out of the gates with no opportunity to pass the turn. When the opponent was about to hit enough lands to add a 4th Punishing Fire per turn to his arsenal, I knew I had to go for it.

My favourite Top8 photo thus far!

The biggest problem at this point was mana, not cards. I had Glimpse of Nature available, but really needed my Heritage Druid to be able to produce mana in order to keep adding enough creatures to the board to make Shaman of the Pack lethal.. Therefore I started my turn by casting Glimpse, then leading with a couple of creatures I could spare, thinking my opponent would shoot all of them down immediately. Yet he didn’t, which makes me think he would start Punishing Fire-ing my board only once Heritage Druid was on the stack. However, this allowed my Gaea’s Cradle to produce more than just one mana, giving the flexibility my opponent was actually trying to deny me. I assume his biggest concern was one very large Glimpse chain that could potentially give me a lethal attack through even as many as 6 Punishing Fires. In order to stop that he would (presumably) focus on just the Heritage Druids in order to curtail my Glimpse turn as much as possible. And in a way, he actually succeeded with that plan (if it was his plan to begin with): I wasn’t able to really make use of my Glimpse as mana remained tight when he killed my Heritage Druid on first sight, not allowing me to get more than one activation out of it. However, due to Gaea’s Cradle providing a healthy boost, I was able to squeeze out just enough mana to still assemble a total of 4 Elves on the board with exactly 1GB floating following a Birchlore Rangers activation. When Shaman of the Pack entered the battlefield as my 5th Elf, all my opponent could do was shoot down two more creatures, but then lose the game to Shaman’s triggered ability for exactly 3 points of life loss. It was over. After having passed the turn at least five times vs an opponent with triple Punishing Fire online I have made one of my greatest comebacks ever.

Unfortunately, this is where our fairy tale ends. Not through some amazing dragon attack on our hero’s village, or an evil skeleton warlord taking over the world. It’s my own inability to constantly play at the highest standard throughout an entire tournament that ends up costing me both game 2+3 and with that, official MKM sponsorship for the next season. What had happened? My stupid mistake was not taking my opponent’s Life from the Loam with Deathrite Shaman when I had the chance. I literally didn’t see it when I looked into his graveyard. I should have known it was there since he had actually played it on his turn, but then a couple more Fetchlands entered the yard on top of it. What made it worse was that it was the bottom card of his graveyard, close to his library which obstructed my view. I’m not saying this to put any blame on my opponent, who wasn’t trying to hide it. It was all my fault for just quickly glimpsing at his yard while planning my turn, instead of picking it up and looking through it carefully. So instead of taking Loam, I just used my Deathrite Shaman for mana to add a couple more Elves to the board. That was a fine move but given the situation much worse than cutting my opponent’s access to his dredgeable Ancestral Recall. Eventually, he manages to turn around a game he would have been super unlikely to ever take, had I removed the Life from the Loam. I wasn’t mentally aware enough of it though, so I lost  G2, sending us into the final game of the final match of the season:

After some initial skirmishes, here’s the endgame situation of the third game:

Because I was above 20 life, it would take my opponent two hits with Marit Lage to kill me. This would give me enough time to just barely kill him with enough DRS activations on my turn following his attack. But in order to do so, I would also need to use my DRS on my opponent’s turn, which would provide the crucial additional activation to win the race. While Surgical Extracting him, I had also noticed that his only potentials outs here were two(?) Abrupt Decays he still had left in the deck. And even Decay would only work if I made the stupid mistake of not untapping my DRS on his Upkeep before he even gets to draw.

Some sweet *BLINGBLING*

Did someone say “stupid mistake”? Sign me up! Having concluded that I could force a win in this situation I just go ahead and don’t. I really can’t tell you why these things keep happening. Every once in a while I while be fully aware of how I’m about to make a mistake and what I should do instead…but then just don’t. Is it mental laziness? I have to admit when I passed the turn I assumed my opponent probably wouldn’t draw the Decay anyway, so I was more concerned with what kinds of “traps” he could set for me in order to make a follow-up mistake: stuff like dredging his Loam with a Cycle-land if targeted with DRS to make my activation fizzle. While I was thinking about all that kind of stuff, I carelessly allowed him to draw. After he swung in for 20, I tried to untap my DRS in his end step, which he was quick to respond to with the Abrupt Decay he had actually drawn. Game Over.

Losing always sucks at least somewhat, but no matter how or why I lost, I’m mostly quite indifferent to it (Gerry Thompson recently mentioned his own indifference to losing in a great interview with James Hsu). You either lose because you played correctly but your opponent hit the unlikely out (in which case you couldn’t have done anything about it anyway) or you lose because you made a mistake (in which case you become a better player afterwards). Still, of all the losses I have suffered, this one actually did hurt at least somewhat. It would have felt so great to eventually emerge as the overall Legacy champion of MKM’s first Europe-wide series, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be I was just too lazy and therefore couldn’t get it.

But if anything, this had made me want this even more now. Let’s get there next year!

[Editor’s note: her got there next year]

So long,


Insert Coin

Generous support from listeners like you keeps the lights on at your favourite most deceptively-named, bi-weekly Legacy podcast. If you enjoy Everyday Eternal, please consider supporting.