January 16, 2017

Top 8 at Eternal Euphoria (Manila) with Elves!


       I was on a trip to Manila recently, and it just happened to fall on the Legacy day of Eternal Euphoria - a set of tournaments in Modern, Legacy, and Vintage. I missed the Vintage tournament, and I really wanted to join the Legacy tournament because I thought it would surely be larger than the 8-mans I usually join in Cebu. I picked my Elves deck for this tourney, mostly because the players at Kick Engines (the card shop that hosted the tournament) liked to pimp their decks, and I thought I'd bring my best pimp deck so far. The deck is mostly Japanese non-foil except for 5 cards in the maindeck and a few in the sideboard. I also thought it would do well in the expected metagame of MUD, Eldrazi, and midrange decks.

      I had a quick, but intensely satisfying lunch at Tim Ho Wan and proceeded to the venue as quickly as I could. I literally ate at Tim Ho Wan every single day I was in Manila. I cannot wait for it to open in Cebu. I arrived at the venue about 15 minutes past registration time, but the shop was still closed. I didn't know people were usually late at these things. At least, one of my friends was already there, so we had a few playtest games at a place that served espresso. Their espresso machine, a single group Rancilio, didn't even have a faceplate! I have no idea how they accessed the brewing functions on the thing, but the coffee was surprisingly quite drinkable.  

     After a few rounds playing Storm, we went back to the store for registration. It took some time for everyone to get registered, so we ended up starting the tournament at about 2:30. Really late but I was definitely still playing. I mean, I was already there, right? Apparently, delays like this one were common there, so I won't be too early next time!
Round 1: Infect
Still an elf, right?

G1 I mull to 6. He opens with land, Glistener and I cry. I make an Elf. He plays two Hierarchs and hits me for 3. He attacks me again before I use two Zeniths to find Ranger and Dryad Arbor to fog him while I pray for a Natural Order off the top. He Brainstorms into Berserk and I die.
G2 I mulligan to 4 and lose. I still manage to get into a position where I can fog his Elf and pray for a NO for lethal, but he gets a Blighted Agent and I lose to it.


Round 2: Burn

G1 I mull to 5 and lose.
G2 I mull to 5 and lose. UGH! I lost to Burn with Elves. First time for everything.

Round 3: UR Delver

G1 I play elves and he doesn't seem to have anything other than the Delver that doesn't want to flip. I Glimpse and kill after casting Nissa into Hoof.
G2 We get into a race situation that I win with a hardcast Hoof right before he kills me with his flipped Delver and Stormchaser. I think this matchup is pretty good for Elves.


Round 4: Pox

It's been years since I've seen anyone play this card!

G1 He starts with a Dark Ritual, Liliana, +1. I play a land and creature. He casts Smallpox. I play another Land and Creature, he casts Smallpox. I manage to topdeck enough creatures to kill his Liliana, but he plays a Tombstalker. I find the Natural Order before he kills me.
G2 I mulligan my hand of 2 lands and no card advantage. I keep a 5-land hand with Green Sun's Zenith. Hey, this is Pox. As long as you can keep casting stuff, you can win. He opens with Inquisition of Kozilek taking my GSZ, then follows up with a Hymn taking a land and a topdecked Nettle Sentinel. He later casts Massacre on the four creatures that I manage to get into play, but I bounce the Visionary with a Symbiote. A few turns later, I know he has Black Sun's Zenith due to a Cursed Scroll reveal. I Glimpse anyway, because I needed to find a Rec Sage or I was going to lose the game to the Scroll. I Glimpse into three draws, finding the Reclamation Sage. Pretty good. So he sweeps the three creatures with his Zenith, and I cast Sage to kill the Scroll. He starts attacking with his Mishra's Factory, and he soon adds one more Factory and a Nether Spirit to his side while I drew lands and a Wirewood Symbiote. Fortunately for me, my opponent forgot I had Pendelhaven, so he attacked his 2/2 factories into my 2/3 Symbiote and I got to kill one. I drew a Deathrite Shaman and started eating things out of graveyards. I found a Scavenging Ooze and then a Natural Order to win the insanely grindy game. This is what usually happens in Pox games. Elves is forced into a grindy game with no hand, then somehow recovers with a card advantage engine, and finally closes the game before dying to Pox's win conditions.


Round 5: Death and Taxes
Hardcasting Hoof is insane in this matchup!

G1 I felt pretty good that I was matched up against D&T. I thought I could still make top 8 with 3-2. He started with a land, pass. I played an Elf, and he played a Stoneforge for Jitte. I played a bunch of creatures on my turn, including a Symbiote and Visionary. His turn 3 Thalia, Heretic Cathar completely ruined my turn 3 Hoof plan (I had Cradle to make 8 mana and Hoof in hand), and I had to try to find Rec Sage for the Jitte soon or I would have died to a topdecked Mother of Runes. He had Wasteland on board so I couldn't play my Cradle. I topdecked the Reclamation Sage after I block-bounced his Thalia with a Visionary. He realized he had to plow the Symbiote and did exactly that. I cast the Sage to kill the Jitte and we grind forever. Eventually, he got Revoker on Ranger and Heritage, and the game slowed down to a crawl. He gave me a window by using both of his Wastelands on Cavern and another land (Bayou, I think). I punished him by playing the Cradle and passing the turn, untapping, and casting the Hoof. I had both cards in my opening 7!
G2 He opens with a land, and I play an Elf as usual. He plays a Turn 2 Revoker on something, and I just keep playing Elves. This game goes long enough for him to be able to find a Sanctum Prelate with Recruiter of the Guard, and then cast Prelate on 4 to block Natural Order. I need either Hoof or Decay to win through it. I topdeck the Hoof, play my Cradle, and win.

     The tournament had only 18 players (usually there are around 30 for the Legacy events here!) so I managed to place 6th with my meager 3-2 record.

Top 8:
G1: I don't know what my opponent is playing. I keep a hand with Visionary, Symbiote, and GSZ to get the best friends down on T2. He Reanimates Sire of Insanity on turn 1.
G2: I mull to 4 and I still have nothing. He turn 1s me with Iona anyway.

     Well, that was a massive buzzkill, but it was bound to happen. There were three Reanimator decks in the Top 8, one Infect, and one Miracles. I didn't have high hopes once I knew what most players were on in that Top 8. I'm just happy I made top 8 at all with Elves. It's one of my favorite decks of all time, not because I'm particularly devoted to the tribe. I actually hate playing most tribal decks in Legacy because they tend to be linear and underpowered even when their synergies come up, but Elves is on a completely different level. Elves players are well aware that the deck is deceptively complicated and powerful. 

     I think I might be too picky with my hands. In the match against burn, I mulliganed hands that I thought wouldn't be able to race my opponent, and I ended up with a worse hand by the time I mulliganed to 5. It happened in both games.

     I'm definitely glad I made it to this tournament, though. I saw a lot of familiar faces from back when Manila had 50-60 player Legacy tournaments every other week. It was a great experience for me, and it felt great to hit Top 8 right after the Vintage Top 4 in Chiba. People say 2016 sucked, but it seemed alright to me!

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