Casually Pursuing Perfection – You Can Win a Tournament Tonight

My girlfriend went out of town on Saturday morning, leaving me home alone.

For the entire weekend.

I realize this sounds like the start of one of those movies where tons of partying and bad decisions end up happily ever after, but only after an incredibly efficient cleaning session takes place moments before the front door opens. One of my all time favorite movies is Risky Business, so I briefly considered just what it would take to organize and manage a brothel out of my 3 room duplex for a couple of days, but came to the conclusion that some things just work better in movies.

However, as you might imagine I did play some Magic the Gathering over the weekend.

My local store, Hi De Ho comics in Santa Monica runs a very relaxed legacy tournament every Sunday, but because I normally spend Sundays with my lady, I have never played in it.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with legacy, it’s format that includes cards from every set all the way back to the beginning of magic’s history, making for some very powerful and diverse decks. I’ve also never played legacy before, and being that most of the decks i’d want to play retail somewhere in the $1,800.00 to $2,500.00 range, i’ve always just assumed i’d have to borrow some cards or sell off most of my cards to play at all. Even so, I figured it could be fun to put together a deck with the cards I had laying around and try it out. It’s not a competitive scene, so I figured I might be able to win a game or two unexpectedly.


If you’ve ever felt intimidated by not knowing a format, or not playing a “good” deck in a tournament, please take the time to read the rest of this article, as I promise you’ll find some value here.

Not every “tournament” is really that at all. The public ones with big money prizes like Pro Tour Qualifiers, Grand Prix, and SCG Open Series are going to be a bit more serious, but the local events often aren’t even in the same ballpark. Your local Friday Night Magic will be a much less serious field of players, and many of these 10 and 20 person weekly events feature a much lower level of competition.

The legacy event I mentioned that I played in last week had 11 players show up to it, with maybe half of those players playing decks of their own design. I spent about 30 minutes in the morning putting together a blue/red Delver of SecretsDelver of Secrets deck with the few cards I had available. I was missing all of the classic dual lands, as well as the Chain LightningChain Lightnings, Force of WillForce of Will’s, and probably about 50% of the other ideal cards for a deck like this.

My sideboard was nearly useless, with a bunch of singleton’s of cards due to availability. However, when I arrived people immediately started offering to let me borrow cards to fill out my deck. I only borrowed maybe 2 or 3 things, including my buddy Claude’s foil Thunderous WrathThunderous Wrath. I mean, why not. Winning with the foil had to be sweeter than with the non-foil right?

In the first match I was paired against the guy who organizes the Sunday tourney, Roger. He was playing a home brew b/r MindcrankMindcrank/Bloodchief AscensionBloodchief Ascension deck with Sinkholesinkholes, ThoughtseizeThoughtseize’s and Phyrexian ObliteratorPhyrexian Obliterator’s. I beat him in 3 games, despite having almost no answer to his Obliterator’s. He even got it into play in game 2 on the second turn with a Dark RitualDark Ritual. Holy Crap!

The second match I was paired against a nice guy named Kyle who was playing another brew. This time with Temporal SpringTemporal Spring, Plow UnderPlow Under, and Crystal ShardCrystal-Shard. He had a reasonable number of good creatures, between Troll AsceticTroll Ascetic and Eternal WitnessEternal Witness, but ultimately I beat him in 3 close games with a nail-biter finish to an epic game 3.

The final match I was paired up against my friend Kevin, who had actually lent me a couple cards for the afternoon. He was playing G/W Maverick, and a near perfect version of it at that. He told me he had been playing the deck for a year solid and told me he’d win because he knew how to play his deck better than I did.

Though I agreed he had an advantage, I wanted to play the games anyway, just for fun. We ended up going to 3 games and playing off the top of our decks at the end.

I was going to lose if I couldn’t draw a burn spell for the final 3 damage, and after he resolved ChokeChoke, I knew it was almost over. I activated my Desolate LighthouseDesolate Lighthouse for the last time i’d be able to with my available Islands and drew an ElectrolyzeElectrolyze I couldn’t even play anymore!

My next card was my single copy of Price of ProgressPrice of Progress and despite almost playing myself out of the win by not reading one of his cards close enough, I managed to narrowly win the match.

So there you have it.

First place at a casual legacy event, playing a 30 minute home brew, probably worth less than $200 matched up against a legitimate tier 1 deck in the finals.

If you have a fun idea for a deck, I recommend you build it. Build it, take it to your local game store and play it. I promise you, winning is more fun than just about every other part of magic, even if you have to lose for a while to find out.

Until next time.

Take care, and play magic.

– Ben Bateman

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