If you were wondering what a Collector Legion is. look no further. If you want to know about the musings of a small-time Magic: the Gathering player, keep reading. Finally, if you’d like to hear about someone calling their shot in a Magic tournament, and paying that shot off, keep your eyes here.
To start off, one of my local stores, Collector Legion, had their invitational this past weekend. If you’d like to check out their website, they have fair prices on Magic cards and other collectibles. My preparation for this event was limited to say the least. To qualify for the tournament, you had to play in tournaments at their store. I made it to the finals of two of their qualifiers, so I was not only in the invitational, but I had a first round bye to boot. In Magic, a bye is a basically a free win. So I started off this tournament 1-0, a couple months ago.
I started off my week with a bout of crippling anxiety. I won’t go into too much detail about what led to this anxiety, but I couldn’t really leave my house. Magic Online isn’t something I use too often. So, I had to use what I already knew about the pioneer format. At MagicFest Austin, I lost in the finals of a Players Tour Qualifier with Mono Green Aggro.
This deck served me well for that tournament, but the metagame was moving too quickly.
Enter The Great Henge
If the deck above was a blistering pile of aggro, I needed something similar, but a little bigger. There were tons of new decks coming out for the brand new Pioneer format, that we wrote about right here. So I went looking and played a local tournament with Green/Black Turbo Henge. My list looked exactly like this:
After getting swiftly beaten down by a Blue/Red Ensoul Artifact deck and Five-Color Niv Mizzet Control, I had to go back to the brew factory. My tournament didn’t go as well that day, but it was good practice for the upcoming event. I knew I wanted some different sideboard cards for the event, and my maindeck could get tweaked a bit. So I tweaked my deck based on those small results I had. It wasn’t great testing, but I figured I could sort of skate by on some knowledge of the format and watching and reading MTG content. I also had to prepare for the split format nature of the event. My thought process and effort went more into the Modern portion of the event. Which would end up being quite funny.
My Modern Choice
My modern deck of choice is usually something with Noble Hierarch in it.
Theros: Beyond Death also recently put a new combo into Modern and Pioneer that is tutor-able with cards like Collected Company and Chord of Calling. So I thought that would be a natural place for me to go. I put a lot of thought into this decklist with the brand new modern format after the bans from about a month ago. I played with a Spike Feeder heavy version one time, and knew that card was too weak to play in the deck. It just didn’t fit.
When I play Modern, I like to be aggressive and disruptive. So when Humans was really good, that’s what I played. I don’t feel like that deck is in it’s best position, so trying to kill people on turn 3 with Devoted Druid, and having a solid backup plan for after was the next best choice. Here’s my modern deck:
Lots of one-of targets, to help stop other decks from doing their gameplans. Now we can fast-forward to the event itself.
The Actual Event
The event was held at Collector Legion’s storefront in Gardena, CA. It’s a nice big area with lots of play space. So other than being a bitch and a half to drive to from Pasadena, CA, it’s a great spot. My GPS took me some random way that I’ve never been before but I got there on time to register my deck and mentally prepare. After decklists were collected, I registered the modern deck above, and this pioneer deck.
So I had a first round win, I got to go around and see what the rest of the room was playing, it was nice. Lots of different decks, but not many of the new hot deck from the Player’s Tour events in Nagoya and Brussels, Blue/Black Inverter. So I got myself some food and prepared for the second round to start. My second round opponent was on Mono-White Devotion built around the same Heliod, Sun-Crowned combo with Walking Ballista.
Game 1 I was swarmed by aggressive white creatures out of his deck. Mine stumbled a bit and couldn’t recover. Game 2 was in my favor, I started off strong and he stumbled, he had the chance to get the combo in play, but couldn’t find both pieces to kill me. It went down to a crucial game 3, where he mulligan’ed and stumbled. So my aggressive strategy took the first actual match I played, I went to 2-0.
The Middle Rounds and Great Henge Comes In Handy
The third round I was on camera for their event. If you’d like to watch the whole tournament from round 1 all the way to the finals, check it out here. My match starts around the 2:10:00 mark. I was paired against a UG Uro/Delirium deck. I was confident that he wouldn’t have any solid ways to remove a turn 1 Llanowar Elf/Elvish Mystic so I would be able to go on with my gameplan of playing threats ahead of the curve. Game 1 went very much like this, a turn 2 Lovestruck Beast, turn 3 cast both sides of Lovestruck Beast, turn 4 attack for 12, play Ghalta, win. Game two would be a different story. My opponent had a better draw that included an Emrakul, the Promised End, which is conveniently bigger than a 12/12 Ghalta. I died that game, but we would go down to the third.
In game 3, I played a 7/6 Rotting Regisaur on turn 2 and rode that to victory alongside the best card in the deck, Surrak, Hunt Caller.
The Modern Rounds
My modern deck of choice was a comfortable one. Abzan Company has been my choice in modern for a good while. As for the fourth round, I sat down across from Mono Red Prowess. Not a great matchup in game 1. It’s basically a burn deck with more aggression and spells that can kill almost every piece of your combos. Oh, and it has Soul-Scar Mage.
So naturally in game 1, I got rolled. I fought through some of the burn spells and Kitchen Finks goes a long way here, but it wasn’t enough. Bedlam Reveler gasses them back up and I couldn’t do anything about it. Game 2 went more my way with an infinite mana combo involving Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies. When you have those two in play, you can make infinite green mana and cast a Walking Ballista or Shalai, Voice of Plenty to kill your opponent. It went down to game 3, because why not. In game 3 it was looking grim for me, I got stalled on two lands after a promising start with Giver of Runes into Devoted Druid. Luckily for me, my opponent flooded out and drew a couple more lands than he needed. This gave me the time to get both combos in play and win.
So I Only Played Three Rounds In The Swiss
Sitting at 4-0 after four rounds, meant that I could either intentionally draw both of my last two rounds and be one of the lower seeds in the top 8, or I could draw, and then see what my options were for the last round. So in round 5 I drew with my opponent to go to 4-0-1. Round 6 standings went up and it was more logical just to draw and guarantee a spot in the top 8. So heading into top 8, I was 4-0-2, and the 6th seed. Being one of the top 4 seeds in a top 8 is important because it means you can choose to go first or not. In pioneer, going first is incredibly important, and in my deck it’s almost mandatory.
My top 8 match was on camera with the amazing commentary by Connor Oakes and Adam Fiffles. The matchup was UR Lotus Field vs. GB 5/5’s. As you can see on the camera match, I had to get pretty fortunate that my opponent’s combo deck didn’t operate properly. He missed his combo piece of Hidden Strings after looking at more than half his deck. Game 2 went very similarly, his deck doesn’t play many removal spells for a turn 1 mana elf, so those are good to go. After board, I brought in my removal spells in case he brought in the creatures from his sideboard. I only saw 1 creature, but he also missed on his combo and I went on to the top 4.
Top 4 and the Finals
So my match in the top 4 was against a familiar deck and opponent. In the event that first qualified me for the 5K, the other person who qualified with me was Tyler, the guy I played here. He was on Bant Spirits. As I was a higher seed this time, 6v7, I was going first. I started with my normal draw of mana elf into a big creature. His deck stumbled on lands, and I was able to attack him for lethal after a couple turns. Game 2 went a little differently. I had my first big The Great Henge game of the day. I played the Henge on turn four and went to town. The turn after my board had increased from two creatures to six. It was good enough of overwhelm his defenses and I got to the finals.
Funny enough, in the finals, I played against another familiar opponent. From the tournament where I earned my bye for this event, I also played my finals opponent, Ben, in the finals there. He was on Mono Black Aggro, a pretty close matchup. This one was for all the marbles, my reputation for calling the shot in this tournament was on the line here. This final match was also on camera for the world to see. Luckily my opponent kept a slower hand, I had the elf into a Rotting Regisaur. In my upkeep of the next turn I discarded a Scrapheap Scrounger. I attacked with my 7/6, played an elf, and the front half of Lovestruck Beast for another 1/1.
On his turn he played his land, and attacked. The thoughts going through my head were: “take 2 here, and keep a 1/1, but then get a Spawn of Mayhem dropped on me. Or I can just block and not risk that.” I blocked. Then he passed with 3 mana up. I discarded another elf to the Regisaur and then he killed it with a Murderous Rider. I played Heart of Kiran and passed with 2 mana up. This is where the play of the game comes up. Ben plays his fourth land, slams Rankle, Master of Pranks, and attacks. He didn’t see the Scrapheap Scrounger in my graveyard, I activated it, brought it back, crewed the Heart of Kiran, and blocked his 3/3 with my 4/4. He conceded on the spot.
Game 2, he had a fast start and my elf ate a removal spell. I was left to make a 1/1 with the first half of Lovestruck Beast on turn 2. I got stuck on lands, and he played a Rankle. It was a quick one.
The Finals Continued And The Great Henge Makes One Last Appearance
My finals hand was a bit sketchy in the face of a Thoughtseize. If he casts that card and takes my Rhonas, I need to draw another 5 power creature or better or The Great Henge rots in my hand. He doesn’t cast Thoughtseize and I get to turn four The Great Henge. Another interaction comes up here that’s worth noting. Indestructible versus -4/-4 from Grasp of Darkness. Rhonas is a 5/5 with indestructible, that means that lethal damage cannot kill it. Grasp of Darkness gives it -4/-4 turning it into a 1/1 with indestructible with 2 damage on it from the block he makes in this game. I win this one on the back of the namesake card, The Great Henge.
Finally, I had won the whole thing. The prize money was nice, it always is. This one meant more to me personally though. It was a goal of mine to win this tournament and prove that I could win through a field of some of the best in Southern California. We had Player’s Tour competitors, a Player’s Tour winner in Eli Loveman, and a lot of other great players in attendance.
Little old me, was the winner. It felt great. You can tell by the post-tournament victory speech on the stream after the finals. You’re all probably wondering if I would play this deck again in Phoenix. I would. Here’s the updated list after this tournament.
An Updated List for PT/GP Phoenix
The list is a little diferent now. Instead of being a Ghalta deck, you’re playing Questing Beast and Scavenging Ooze. It allows you to have more clean draws when your elf dies with the Ooze. Questing Beast lets you have a theoretical 3rd and 4th Surrak that isn’t held back by Surrak being legendary. Finally the Vivien, Arkbow Ranger is there to give creatures trample and have another nice top end threat.
The sideboard is more focused on some of the new decks that came out of the weekend. UB Inverter is the new hot deck in Pioneer, so we have Leyline of the Void to help combat their Dig Through Time. It doesn’t stop their combo fully, they can still just throw it out, but you don’t have much recourse against that. Thoughtseize is back as a weapon against them and the other control decks of the format. I’m trying to go for as much flexibility possible here. Kraul Harpooner is also another card that attacks well and holds down the fort against Mono Black, Mono Red, and UR Ensoul if they make some thopter tokens.
Overall, this tournament was a fun one for me. I got to realize my Magic goal, so now it’s time to make another one. That’s it from me to you for now.
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I’d also like to thank Collector Legion and Scryfall.com for their amazing deck builder that made this article possible.