Bazaar of Boxes tournament – ELM invite
It’s time for the Bazaar of Boxes tournament in Tilburg, Netherlands! Held every three months, this tournament is getting bigger and better each time. The organizers of this tournament love Magic: The Gathering, and especially the Legacy format. They even stream twice a week on Twitch with English Legacy content. And of course, every three months there’s this tournament. The winner gets an invite to the European Legacy Masters in Bologna; an awesome tournament with a super strong field. My goal for this tournament was set: eyes on the prize!
Meta calling and deck choices
I had been playing the blue splash online for the past few weeks, mostly for Flusterstorm. That card far exceeded my expectations. I also tried Slogurk main, but I don’t like that card for competitive play. It has amazing synergies with the deck, but it’s too slow. (Although it can kill out of nowhere!)
I made a meta call that there would be a lot of red decks around, and relatively little combo. So I wanted blue cards like Blue Elemental Blast and Hydroblast, cards that nobody expects from Lands. I also included Flusterstorm to replace Spheres since there wasn’t much combo. I chose Minsc main to do well against the fair decks I expected. To keep my matchups against Delver and Magus of the Moon decks strong, I chose to put 2 Punishing Fire and 2 Lightning Bolt main. That meant moving my 3 Endurances to the sideboard.
Something that immediately stands out is that I played with 71 cards – 10 Attractions (without ‘enablers’) to throw my opponents off. Unfortunately, in the Netherlands, most players know I play Lands.
As a wise man once said in the Lands Discord: “You will waste more mental edge presenting and registering an attraction deck than you will gain from your opponent thinking you have an attraction deck.”
I had the 61st card in my main deck be Field of the Dead. With two Elvish Reclaimers, I didn’t think 61 cards would do too much damage to the deck but I had a silver bullet for grindy, slow games too. With my two Reclaimers I opted to play two Dark Depths. The Reclaimers make my Delver matchup better, they are good in fair matchups, and they are also really strong against certain combo decks like Reanimator and Doomsday due to Ipnu Rivulet. With the absence of Spheres, I chose to play Ipnu Rivulet for Doomsday and since I had Endurance in the sideboard, I chose to main Soul-Guide Lantern instead of Shadowspear.
Otawara was a card that disappointed in testing, but I did see the power of recurring Otawara with a lot of mana in play and a Loam engine this tournament.
It’s worth seriously considering not having Spheres in your 75 anymore, unless you’re playing Leagues on MTGO, and especially if you are playing Flusterstorm. RUG Lands is a good, balanced version of the deck with lots of sideboard slots. It has enough GY hate cards, it’s good against fair decks with Minsc and Field and Sagas, it’s good against Delver and against creature decks. It’s relatively weak against spell-based combo decks, but cards like Flusterstorm can be winning there as well.
Another whole different approach is to just play RG Lands and have higher Stages + Depths count and add in a Sejiri Steppe. Even then, I would play at least two Reclaimers, and Shadowspear instead of Soul-Guide.
Round 1 – (Atraxa) NO SHOW 2-0
Round one was a breeze and gave me the opportunity to take a stroll and check out what the competition was playing. Exactly what I suspected: a lot of Red, plenty of artifacts, and not many combo decks. I was happy with my Blue Blasts.
Round 2 – PVDH on Esper Control with Attractions 2-0
Round two was against one of the best Dutch Legacy/Magic players, Peter. He’s known as an innovator, and this ‘fun’ control deck with Attractions was something he brought to the table when he made the top 8 in the previous edition of this tournament. It had plenty of value and splashed Red for maindeck Comet Planeswalker and I guess Red Blast in the sideboard.
Game one I won after a mulligan to five with a mediocre hand. I knew I had to go all-in on my Marit Lage plan and he had no answer despite two Ponders and two Brainstorms. He tried to bluff by keeping White open, but I had no choice with zero cards in hand.
Game two was a long one. He had a few creatures on board, including two Deadbeat Attendent and thus two or three Attractions open. He also had Triumph Of Saint Katherine and was at about 35 life.
I bought enough time and eventually had a Thespian’s Stage-Saga-Field of the Dead. Pretty nice; every land drop gave me two zombies, plus a Construct every turn.
Time was running short and, since I was leading one-zero, I decided to play defensively. I made some sloppy plays near the end, but he couldn’t break through my wall of creatures and I won the match.
Round 3 – UR Delver 2-0
You can watch the game on Twitch here https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1781612222?t=00h15m58s
Despite my name and deck being wrong in the information bar, that was me.
In Game 1 I played Exploration into Daze, knowing I had another Exploration, Loam, Wasteland and Crop for Tabernacle. The game went exactly as I had hoped and my opponent eventually gave up. In Game 2 I went for the Marit Lage and my opponent seemed flooded. After a Force on my Soul-Guide Lantern, I expected a Murktide and it did indeed came down the following turn. I went all-in on my token and he had no answer.
Round 4 – Painter – 2-0
This match is also on stream and you can watch this match right after the other one. I was playing against Justen, someone I’ve known for a while and is a funny dude.
In Game 1 I had all the answers, like Pithing Needle for his Grind Stone and Soul-Guide after he put Painter in his graveyard. I also had Wasteland for his Saga and I was able to take the game with the help of my Loam + Exploration engine.
In Game 2 he had a Turn 1 Magus of the Moon. I anticipated this by having a hand with Mox Diamond and Blue Blast. I searched for Dark Depths with Crop and waited until he tapped out. He did and I destroyed his Magus of the Moon. I could have gone for the win earlier, since Painter practically has no answer to Marit Lage, but I took my time and played around Dead/Gone.
Round 5 – Painter 2-0
My opponent here is Maarten, a good Legacy player who ended up winning the tournament. I had advised him to play Painter beforehand since he’s a player who can see all the complex lines of Painter, while his opponents make mistakes. In Game 1 I won with an Otawara-lock. I had Loam + Exploration, enough mana and an Otawara. After a few turns he had seen enough.
In Game 2 Maarten mulled to four or five and again I had all the answers to whatever he did, like Soul-Guide after Painter was in the graveyard, Pithing Needle, Force of Vigor + a green card and a surprisingly fast Marit Lage.
Round 6 + 7: ID
Without losing any games in the Swiss, I could easily ID both rounds and had two spare hours to relax and grab some food and mentally prepare for the top 8.
The top 8 had these decks in it:
Mississippi River (a cool deck that you can watch on stream a couple of times, but was also weak to a wasteland lock)
I wanted to dodge one deck (Zenith) and especially wanted to avoid Boros Initiative. And that was exactly the deck I had to play against.
I lost both games without a chance, with an early initiative creature and many removal spells.
It was a shame, because I felt I had a good chance against the rest of the top 8 and would have liked to win the invite to Bologna.
I had a blast! (Nerd humor)
Great tournament, great Legacy scene in the Netherlands and great deck. Enjoyed the blue splash and would recommend.
Thanks to the organization, especially Rob as the commentator.