On Saturday morning I drove to Stroud to meet with the London crew at Atlantic Games for the first GPT of the weekend. A five round event ensued, in which I and my deck of choice (Grixis Delver) did pretty poorly ending the swiss with a 2-3 record after facing Lands twice; not the way I wanted my weekend to start.

A note on my deck choice for this weekend, I found in testing that I couldn’t get a control list to work that I was happy with for what I expected to face, and I found that the aggression and power level available in the Grixis deck was too good to reject.

FGC - Grixis Delver

Spells (28)
Gitaxian Probe
Lightning Bolt
Cabal Therapy
Forked Bolt
Spell Pierce
Force of Will

Creatures (14)
Deathrite Shaman
Delver of Secrets
Young Pyromancer
Gurmag Angler
True-Name Nemesis
Lands (18)
Polluted Delta
Flooded Strand
Volcanic Island
Underground Sea
Tropical Island

Sideboard (15)
Surgical Extraction
Grafdigger’s Cage
Cabal Therapy
Ancient Grudge
Sulfuric Vortex
Sudden Demise
Forked Bolt

A little disheartened after Saturday, I obviously decide to change nothing and jam Delver again in the Axion Mega GPT. On Sunday 137 players turned out to play the greatest format of Magic: the Gathering; the largest Legacy event ever held in the UK.

Rd 1 – Eldrazi (2-0)

G1 – I win the die roll and promptly mulligan to five. I keep a hand with a Delver of Secrets, a Deathrite Shaman, two fetchlands and a Daze. About as good as I can hope for on five. The game comes down to me needing to flip a Delver to a Lightning Bolt to drain with Deathrite, Bolt my opponent and hit for three in the air to deal exactly eight damage before I die the next turn. Lightning Bolt it was.

G2 – I start off on the back foot, as my first turn Shaman is Pithing Needled, my True-Name Nemesis is taken by Thought-Knot Seer and I am forced to trade my Gurmag Angler for a Reality Smasher. Despite this, my opponent had taken quite a lot of damage from his Ancient Tombs, and I managed to Brainstorm into a second Delver to join the one I had in hand already, play them both, flip them and win the race against the wave of spaghetti.

Rd 2 – Aggro Loam (2-1)

G1 – I had an aggressive draw on the play with a Daze and a pair of Wastelands and my opponent had a hand with some three drops. Not much to say here.

G2 – In this game, I was locked out by multiple Chalice of the Void. Whilst I could answer the first, my Ancient Grudge got exiled by an opposing Deathrite and I was beaten down by a Knight of the Reliquary.

G3 – After opening with a turn one Deathrite, I was able to Daze a Chalice, a Punishing Fire and a Knight. My opponent failed to draw enough mana to keep up with my Wastelands and Dazes, and the game ended when I let my opponent’s Trinisphere resolve and I wasted them below three mana. Deathrite cleaned things up.

Rd 3 – Grixis Delver (2-0)

G1 – Once again I was on the play (lady luck was on my side). I passed turn one after playing a Polluted Delta, and Bolted their first turn Deathrite Shaman with Daze backup. Not needing to use my Daze, I was able to play a second turn Young Pyromancer. They play Wasteland and attempt to Dismember my Pyromancer, which I Force of Will, after which they Wasteland my Volcanic Island. I then untap and Ponder looking for a Gitaxian Probe to pair with the Cabal Therapy in my hand. I find the Probe, see two Brainstorms and a Lightning Bolt, Mind Twist my opponent and they scoop.

G2 – On the draw, I keep a reactive hand with some library manipulation. I’m able to remove his Delver of Secrets and follow up Pyromancer with a Forked Bolt, but he resolves a Gurmag Angler and I’m pushed down to 5 life by the reel big fish and an elemental token. At this point, I am able to stabilise with a Deathrite and a True-Name Nemesis. I know that my opponent has a Bolt in hand and without green mana for my Shaman, I know I need to close the game out quickly. True-Name does a good impression of Moat whilst I drain my opponent with the elf. I find Force to protect myself from shenanigans, and True-Name eventually crashes in for the last points of damage.



Rd 4 – Infect (2-0)

G1 – I have a very aggressive draw with two Delvers, a Lightning Bolt and two Wastelands. The Delvers flip into their insectile counterparts, I bolt my opponent’s Glistener Elf and the Wastelands force my opponent to use protection on two Inkmoth Nexus in my turn. There is a moment where I fear my opponent could combo me out after I draw two lands, but he doesn’t have it.

G2 – My opponent leads with a Noble Hierarch, which I Bolt, declining to play my Shaman. I play a Shaman with Flusterstorm up on my second turn. The game becomes quite grindy, I play a Pyromancer on my third turn and I Flusterstorm a Brainstorm, the Infect player continues to sculpt their hand over the next couple of turns and lands a Nexus. We race for a turn or so, and I win the fight over an Invigorate to end the game at 8 poison.

Rd 5 – BR Reanimator (2-0)

G1 – I land a Delver with Daze backup on the play and Daze their turn one Dark Ritual. I’m a little worried at this point as my hand is very weak to combo, with a True-Name, a Pyromancer a Lightning Bolt and some lands. My Delver fails to flip and my opponent reanimates a Sire of Insanity. Things start to look grim as my Delver continues to refuse to become the final test subject to aid in the race with the Sire, and I draw a couple of lands. On the last possible turn before I need to chump the Sire, I draw Gurmag Angler. I then proceed to flip Delver to Lightning Bolt, and follow this up with a Deathrite Shaman, putting my opponent behind in the race and preventing further graveyard nonsense. Sire ends up trading with an attacking Angler and the game ends with a Bolt to the face.

G2 – I keep a hand with a Ponder, two Cabal Therapies and a Surgical Extraction. My opponent attempts to reanimate Griselbrand and I successfully Surgical the demon from the deck. After this point, my opponent fails to get anything going as I Ponder into a Deathrite Shaman and blind Therapy the Exhumes I feared he would draw.

Rd 6 – Czech Pile (0-2)

G1 – I keep a slightly clunky hand on the draw with a Deathrite, a Pyromancer and a Delver. I get to make a small force of creatures and I manage to waste my opponent off of their third land, leaving them with just two Underground Seas. I know their hand is a pile of one for one removal and an Engineered Explosives, so I hope to draw cantrips to find a Therapy or countermagic but I draw a couple of fetchlands and my board gets wrathed by a surprise main deck Toxic Deluge.

G2 – In this game my smaller creatures fall to a pile of two for ones, but I get my opponent into a tricky spot where I resolve a second Angler after Therapying the Baleful Strix I know is in their hand. This left them at four life, with their hand being Fatal Push, Pyroblast and Brainstorm with a pair of Deathrites in play. They Brainstorm into the exact mana and cards to gain two life with a Shaman, Snapcaster flashback Deluge to exactly kill my Anglers and go to one. I draw a Daze and six lands and lose to a Trained Armodon (aka Leovold, Emissary of Trest).


Rd 7 – Mono-Red Sneak Attack (2-0)

G1 – I know my opponent is on Sneak Attack, as he had played against fellow L@PV writer Callum earlier in the tournament. I keep a hand with a Shaman, a Pyromancer, a Bolt, a Forked Bolt, a Force and two fetches. I lead with a fetchland into Deathrite Shaman, and my opponent plays a Mountain and passes. I play a second fetch, a Pyromancer and hold up Deathrite to cast Bolt in response to a potential Chalice. My opponent casts Seething Song and I had failed to draw a blue card for my Force of Will. He casts a Blood Moon and a Chalice with the mana, I Bolt in response to the Chalice, making an elemental token. I draw a blue card to go with my Force and my board is enough to win the game after I cast a Forked Bolt and a Probe into the Chalice to make tokens.

G2 – My opponent leads on a turn one Chalice, which I don’t fear too much as I have the Grudge in hand. We both play a land and pass the turn and I Grudge the Chalice at the end of the next turn. I blind Therapy my opponent naming Sneak Attack and miss, seeing a hand of Boil and Combustible Gearhulk. I cast Shaman and pass, not flashing back Therapy as I have excess lands in hand and Shaman protects me from Moons to some extent. The next turn my opponent casts Gearhulk  and I take nine damage from the cards that were milled. I cast a couple of cantrips, flashback Grudge on Gearhulk and flashback Therapy sacrificing Shaman to take the Boil (as I’d played some land out to cast cantrips), seeing a Griselbrand and some mana. The next turn I am asked if I have the Force for a Through the Breach, I do. We then play draw go until I draw a threat, and I find another Therapy to clean out the Griselbrand.

Rd 8 – ID into Top 8



Sitting down for the Top8

BR Reanimator (2-0)

G1 – I’m on the play as the higher seed. My opponent reveals a Chancellor of the Annex and I lead with a turn one Underground Sea. I Force of Will their Faithless Looting, paying for Chancellor. I Probe their hand to see a few threats and a reanimation spell, I cast a couple of cantrips looking for a threat and pass. I find a Deathrite and play it, and my opponent flashes back their Looting, putting Chancellor and Tidespout Tyrant into the graveyard. The next turn they attempt to Reanimate Chancellor, which I exile with Deathrite, and then they tap out to Animate Dead the Tyrant. I Brainstorm in response looking for a Daze. I find the Daze and the game is over.

G2 – I keep a hand with a Flusterstorm, a Daze and some cantrips, hoping to make it to my turn one without seeing Griselbrand. My opponent leads on Dark Ritual, and my heart sinks, but they follow it up with Defense Grid and Pithing Needle on Deathrite Shaman. I untap and start digging for Cabal Therapies and Grafdigger’s Cages. I cantrip for a couple of turns and play a Delver, before finding a Therapy to cast after playing a Young Pyromancer on turn four. My opponent had simply drawn and passed the turn up until this point. I blind Therapy naming Faithless Looting, as their only land was a Swamp and they hadn’t cast an Entomb. I hit, and flashback the Therapy naming Reanimate, leaving them with some threats and a second Defense Grid in hand. Young Peezy and the elementals take it down.


Czech Pile (0-2)

G1 – This game was extremely complicated with the each of us having six or seven creatures in play towards the end, and I can’t remember exactly what happened. I think there was a point where I punted by not playing my Gurmag Angler pre-combat to exile the creatures in my graveyard to prevent my opponent gaining more life when I attacked with True-Name (they only had one creature in their yard). The game came down to them draining me out with Shaman advantage whilst they were at one life.

G2 – The sequence Delver, Baleful Strix, Delver, Baleful Strix, Angler, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, is never going to work out well for the Delver player. The match ended with a not particularly close game, where my opponent had the luxury of drawing lots of extra cards all the way into the final!

The wheels finally come off!

BONUS ROUND! (Playing for 3rd place prizes)

Canadian Threshold (1-2)

G1 – I had an aggressive opener with two Delvers and a Bolt for their Delver, Wasteland took care of their Volcanic Island and the insects took it down.

G2 – A turn one Nimble Mongoose backed up by multiple Spell Pierce, Stifle, Lightning Bolt and Daze prevented me from ever getting off the ground and big daddy Tarmogoyf sealed the deal.

G3 – I play a turn one Delver, and a turn three Delver, and later a Gurmag Angler to hold off the Tarmogoyf my opponent plays. I never flip my Delvers and lose to a single Insectile Aberration needling me to death as my Bolts get Spell Pierced.

To Finish…

I was very happy with my fourth place finish and the Underground Sea, Tundra and Bayou I received as prizes. The day was filled with fun games and great people and I thank Axion for running this event. I’ll definitely be back for more in the future!

As for the deck, I don’t think it’s any surprise that I feel like the Grixis strategy is well positioned at the moment as it has unrivalled efficiency in both threats and cheap disruption (Cabal Therapy = MVP). It will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming months (as long as it dodges the Lands players).

Thanks for reading!

Francis Cowper


Find me on Twitter @FrancisCowper

BONUS EVENT! Monday – Modern Side event

On occasion, many a Legacy player must bite the bullet and play a match or so of Modern. I know Tom Kellock won’t like me for adding this in here (sorry Tom!) but maybe some of you will find this interesting and/or useful. I had played Grixis Death’s Shadow at the last couple of tournaments I had attended and felt like I could snag some wins with the deck, and maybe one of the Expedition fetchlands on offer as prizes.

FGC - Grixis Shadow

Spells (25)
Inquisition of Kozilek
Serum Visions
Thought Scour
Lightning Bolt
Fatal Push
Stubborn Denial
Kolaghan’s Command

Creatures (16)
Death’s Shadow
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Gurmag Angler
Snapcaster Mage
Street Wraith
Lands (19)
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Bloodstained Mire
Watery Grave
Steam Vents
Blood Crypt

Sideboard (15)
Nihil Spellbomb
Surgical Extraction
Kozilek’s Return
Izzet Staticaster
Stubborn Denial
Crumble to Dust
Painful Truths
Hurkyl’s Recall

I don’t own Fulminator Mages or Liliana, the Last Hopes as I refuse to pay extortionate amounts of money for Stone Rains and Standard cards, but if I did have them they would certainly have a place in the sideboard. (The above sideboard was thrown together last minute, as all good sideboards are).

Rd 1 – Jund (2-1)

Rd 2 – Burn (2-1)

Rd 3 – Grixis Control (2-1)

Rd 4 – GW Combo Soup (2-1)

Rd 5 – ID into prizes

This is the best I’ve felt in a long time playing a Modern deck; the power level is high, the consistency is reasonable (I still hate Serum Visions but what can I do) and Death’s Shadow leads to lots of novel choices regarding combat and life totals. Stubborn Denial is probably my favourite card in the deck, which is excellent in both the Burn and controlling matchups where staying alive at the end of the game and countering Ancestral Vision are extremely important respectively.

Francis started playing Magic in 2012. His preferred format is Legacy, though with a little persuasion can be convinced to Cube. His most notable finish is 12th place at the 2016 European Eternal Weekend Legacy Championship.
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