Guest Tournament Report with Allen Norman

Note from Phil: Allen Norman recently top 4’d MTGFirst’s Win-a-Lotus event up in Baltimore. It was a pretty high profile event as well as the culminating event of a series, so I reached out to him with the offer to write a tournament report for the event. He happily obliged. The content below is his content and in his style, though I’ve done some editing for clarity and such. Feel free to let me know what you do or don’t like about this article; it’s very different from how I write up my own tournament reports. Your comments may influence how I choose to go about doing guest articles in the future.

Hi, my name is Allen Norman and I am a Software Engineer who plays in the Baltimore/Glen Burnie area. I have been playing Death & Taxes for a few years now. Though I initially borrowed this deck from a friend, I was immediately hooked. I bought it for an Invitational a couple years ago and basically have not played anything else in Legacy since. I do not get to play a ton of Magic as I have wife, work, and various other adult responsibilities. When I do have time to play, I prefer to play Legacy D&T.

I had been testing a few different versions of the deck since before the recent SCG Team Open, but I was consistently struggling with the Czech Pile matchup. My friend Weston and I always bounce ideas off of each other and try wonky cards. Let’s put it this way: I definitely have 4 Treasure Hunter on my MTGO account. We tried builds with 3 Spirit of the Labyrinth in them for the purpose of helping the Czech Pile matchup. Its three power was relevant and its effect is pretty good at letting you attack their mana through Leovold, Emissary of Trest since you can still Wasteland and Rishadan Port them without giving them cards. This build initially showed promise, but then we pretty much stopped winning with it all together.

Ultimately it didn’t help the Czech Pile matchup as much as we had hoped. In addition, Spirit was just awful against Grixis Delver; it can only trade down in combat and they have many ways to easily remove it. I was still unhappy with my decklist despite trying out a few things that seemed promising. Unfortunately, I was not able to play in the Baltimore Open, but I later saw Derzco’s list from the Open with 4 Mirran Crusader. I was going to give it a shot, as that was a pretty direct way to attack that matchup. I actually ran into Phil at the Team Open at a table of mutual friends/acquaintances; he said he had been playing a similar version for a while and consistently winning the 4 Color Control matchup. Leading up to the Quest for Power: Black Lotus event at MTGFirst, most of my testing I was with versions of the deck that had 4 Mirran Crusaders. I had a solid record the month or so before the tournament, so I started to feel good about the deck again. This is the list that I ended up at for the tournament.

Allen Norman, 4x Crusader D&T

Creatures (26)
Mother of Runes
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Stoneforge Mystic
Phyrexian Revoker
Mirran Crusader
Sanctum Prelate
Recruiter of the Guard

Spells (11)
Swords to Plowshares
Aether Vial
Sword of Fire & Ice
Umezawa's Jitte
Lands (23)
Rishadan Port
Cavern of Souls
10 Plains

Sideboard (15)
Rest in Peace
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist
Council's Jundgement
Path to Exile
Sword of War & Peace
Surgical Extraction
Gideon Ally of Zendikar


Round 1: UW Miracles, Anuraag Das
G1 – He had the Force of Will for my turn one Vial. Without it, my hand wasn’t really able to pressure him effectively. He stuck a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and the game was basically over; an army of angels off Entreat the Angels left no doubts.

I had seen him around at tournaments and I felt like he was likely to be on the full control version of the deck with no Monastery Mentor in the main or sideboard. Accordingly, I sideboarded out my Swords to Plowshares.

Sideboarding:-4 Swords to Plowshars, -1 Umezawa’s Jitte; +1 Sword of War and Peace, +2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, +2 Council’s Judgement.

G2 – I was able to stick a Vial and attack his mana a little bit. Eventually he had to try and stick a Jace into an active Vial on two. Unfortunately for him, I had the Phyrexian Revoker and lethal damage the next turn.

G3 – I kept Revoker, Stoneforge, Council’s Judgement, Flickerwisp, Crusader, Karakas, and a Wasteland. The hand was a bit clunky and I was pretty consistently behind in the game. It dragged on for a while and he made 8+ angels and killed me. He asked me what I kept and he said he would have mulliganed. He knows that side of the matchup very well and thinks Vial is so important in the matchup that it is worth mulliganing that hand to find one. I agree that Vial is the most important card, but I don’t think I am quite at the point where I would send that hand back; Stoneforge is also one of your best cards and that hand has quite a few things covered. I could certainly be wrong though.
1-2 (0-1)

Round 2: Lands, Steve Newcombe
G1 – He had a decent hand with Life from the Loam, but was not able to dredge into a way to slow down my creatures before Sanctum Prelate locked out his 2 drop spells. Some little beats ensued and we were on to the next one.

Sideboarding: -4 Swords to Plowshares, -2 Mirran Crusader, -1 Umezawa’s Jitte; +1 Surgical Extraction, +3 Rest in Peace, +2 Path to Exile, +1 Sword of War and Peace

G2 – He had a turn 2 Life from Loam, but I had the ideal curve of Rest in Peace into Sanctum Prelate. He was not able to remove my RiP or assemble anything without Loam. He promptly died.
2-0 (1-1)

Round 3: Sneak and Show, Jeremy Bowman

G1 – I thought he was likely to be on this deck, as I see him around at Legacy events playing it. Thankfully I opened a good hand for the matchup: Vial, Thalia, Revoker, Karakas, Rishadan Port and 2 other cards. I win the die roll and my Vial sticks. He forces my turn two Thaila and follows up with a sol land, Lotus Petal, and Sneak Attack. Luckily for me, he doesn’t have another red source to put anything in this turn. I vial in Revoker on Sneak Attack and the game is effectively over. He plays on for a turn or two then concedes.

Sideboarding: -4 Swords to Plowshares, -1 Umezawa’s Jitte, -1 Mirran Crusader; +2 Ethersworn Canonist, +1 Sword of War and Peace, +1 Council’s Judgement, +2 Containment Priest

The second Council’s Judgement could be better than another Crusader, but I have found it to be pretty clunky in this matchup; the spots where it is good don’t come up a ton. I could see it being better though.

G2 – My hand was very good with Canonist, Vial, some other reasonable creatures and some Ports. After being Ported for a few turns, he is able to get off a Show and Tell for Omniscience. I have the Canonist to put in to buy myself a turn and a Flickerwisp to blink the Omni during my next end step to save myself for yet another turn. I equip a Sword of Fire and Ice to my Canonist and attack him down to 6. He gets his Omniscience back and casts Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. I have a creature to Vial in, giving me exactly 8 permanents. I live through the Emrakul attack, keeping just the Sword and the Canonist, and crack back for lethal.
2-0 (2-1)

Round 4: Lands, Lucas
G1 – I don’t remember much about this game besides that he had an early unchecked Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. He still died. I think I sideboarded the same as before.

Sideboarding: -4 Swords to Plowshares, -2 Mirran Crusader, -1 Umezawa’s Jitte; +1 Surgical Extraction, +3 Rest in Peace, +2 Path to Exile, +1 Sword of War and Peace

G2 – He had Life from the Loam, an early Tabernacle, and a Seismic Assault! After he mowed down my initial creatures, I just passed for a bunch of turns until I had a Sword in play and two Vials on three. I used Flickerwisp to blink out his Seismic Assault, giving me a chance to safely put in a Prelate on 2. I equipped Prelate with the sword and started getting in the red zone. He drew Maze of Ith to buy time and copied it with Thespian’s Stage multiple times, but thanks to some combination of Flickerwisps, Wastelands and Ports, I was able to push through for the last couple of hits.
2-0 (3-1)

Round 5 Aggro Loam, Nick Ditizio
G1 – His mana didn’t really come together. I was able to attack his lands and beat down with some ladies.

Sideboarding:-4 Thalia, -1 Phyrexian Revoker, -1 Aether Vial, -1 Mirran Crusader; +2 Council’s Judgement +2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, +3 Rest in Peace

G2 – I was not able to get on the board fast enough. He basically ground me into nothing with Wastelands and Knight of the Reliquary finished me off.

G3 – We traded off resources for most of this game. Eventually he had Liliana of the Veil and I had nothing. I drew enough creatures to keep Liliana’s loyalty manageable until I stuck a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. It took me a few turns to find the fourth land, but Gideon took over the game with ease.
2-1 (4-1)

Round 6: Punishing Maverick

G1 – He was on the play and went for a very aggressive kill: mana dork into Knight of the Reliquary into a main phase activation of the Dark Depths and Thespian’s Stage combo. I think this is a bit too aggressive, as I could Flickerwisp it next turn and set him back immensely. I didn’t have an out to it in my hand, but luckily peeled Karakas, bounced the token, and went on with my life. It was a long game, but I eventually took it down since he never assembled the Punishing Fire and Grove of the Burnwillows lock. Thalia + Karakas + Vial on 2 kept gigantic Knights out of my face for a few turns until I got in with a Jitte to take over the game.

In my opinion the matchups where you care about both their graveyard and their individual creatures are difficult to sideboard for. This is what I chose to do, within a card or two:
-4 Thalia -1 Sanctum Prelate, -1 Phyreixna Revoker, -1 Mirran Crusader; +2 Rest in Peace, +2 Council’s Judgement, +2 Path to Exile, +1 Sword of War and Peace.

G2 – My opponent mulliganed to 5 and I kept a hand with some lands, Vial, Rest in Peace, and a Flickerwisp, just hoping he didn’t have a Stoneforge. He had it on turn two and searched up a Sword of Fire and Ice. I knew he had a Jitte. It turns out he had the Batterskull as well, as that is what he Stoneforged in turn three. He got counters on a Jitte a couple times, which put him way ahead, but eventually I was able to Council’s Judgement the Jitte and start hitting him with my equipment. I took down a very close game.

We talked about the Stage+Depths play game one after the match and he thought that going for cost him the game; he said he didn’t think I had Swords to Plowshares because I did not Swords his Knight turn two, which made sense. If he was planning on going for it I think waiting is better as it plays around Flickerwisp, a card I couldn’t have played yet. It is a little worse against Wasteland, but I can’t tap it in fear that he will make a 20/20. If I do have the Wasteland, he doesn’t have to commit to going for it and destroying two of his own lands; he can just play a normal game and try and beat me with an early active Knight of the Reliquary. I still got very lucky and he got punished quite hard for taking the aggressive line.
2-0 (5-1)

Round 7 Eldrazi, Chris Hair
My breakers were not very good and there were a couple 13 pointers who would make it so at least one of the 15 pointers have to play it out. Luckily I got paired against another 15 pointer and we could safely ID in.
ID (5-1-1)

Top 8 – BUG Control, Brendan McGrail
G1 – Some gigantic Tarmogoyf murdered me. Unfortunately, there’s not much else to say here.

Sideboarding: -4 Aether Vial, -2 Swords to Plowshares, -1 Sanctum Prelate; +3 Rest in Peace, +2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, +2 Council’s Judgement

G2 – I stuck a Rest in Peace and we were pretty much in a stalemate with both of us having pretty large board states. Most importantly I had a Crusder that was being held back by his True-Name Nemesis. I drew a Stoneforge and found Sword of Fire and Ice to get protection from blue. He was at 10 and based on his lines of play, I suspected he did not have an Abrupt Decay. There was a spot two turns ago where my opponent would have fired off an Abrupt Decay if he had one, so my opponent only had two draws to have drawn one. I felt like my spot was not going to get better, so I just suited up the Crusader and went for it. He didn’t have it. Phew!

G3 – My hand was great with Rest in Peace, 2 Mirran Crusader, Council’s Judgment, and some lands. He took my Rest in Peace with a Thoughtseize, but my Crusader stuck on turn three. My opponent did not answer it for 3 or 4 turns, and by the time he cast Toxic Deluge, it put him down to one life. My hand was still pretty stacked, and he couldn’t answer the follow up Crusader.

Top 4 – UW Miracles, Anuraag Das
G1 – My turn one Vial stuck, which can be very important in this matchup. I was able to pressure him, but he had Swords to Plowshares for my first couple of creatures. I got him down to about ten life pretty late in the game when we were both getting low on cards. I had been sitting on a Batterskull for a while and didn’t want to cast it into open mana, as he had a Counterbalance in play; I didn’t want to just have him Brainstorm back a Force of Will to counter it with Counterbalance. He eventually tapped low to try and save his Jace, the Mind Sculptor that I was attacking with Flickerwisp. He fetched with all his lands tapped and I Vialed in a Sanctum Prelate on 1 in response to ensure his Jace died. Post combat I played Batterskull and he blind flipped Force of Will to Counterbalance. Then during his upkeep he used Predict to get the Force of will off the top of his deck and blind flipped Terminus to kill my Flickerwisp and Prelate…. That one hurt. After that he played another Jace and a Search for Azcanta. I conceded shortly afterwards.

G2 – I cast a couple Stoneforges, but with a combination of Unexpectedly Absent and Swords to Plowshares, he was able to keep me from connecting with equipment. My opponent resolved a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, leaving me in a bit of a bad spot. I could go for casting my Sword of Fire and Ice to kill the Jace right now or play it more patiently and use Stoneforge to put it in without exposing it to a counterspell. My opponent only had one mana up and two cards in hand, so I opted to cast the sword and go for it. I felt like I just needed to get the Jace off the board. He had the Force of Will for my Sword, so I was punished for not just playing it slow. I’m not sure if I was in a position where I could afford to play it slower, hoping he doesn’t hit an out on his next turn. After that point, Jace just buried me in card advantage.

I was fortunate to finish as well as I did. I had some good moments like the topdecked Karakas in round 6, winning the top deck war against Aggro Loam, and some of my hands lined up well against my opponent’s hands when they really needed to; however, it was hard not to feel disappointed after getting wrecked by that Terminus in game one of the quarterfinals. I walked away with $600 of store credit, so that certainly helped to make me feel better about my day! Congrats to Anuraag and Chris who split $4000 in the finals. I know Anuraag played extremely well in our matches; he was certainly a deserving winner.

I liked this list a lot and I will probably play something similar if the metagame doesn’t change too much. I would be remiss if didn’t try these Judge’s Familiar builds that have been popping up in lists online. I suppose time will tell what I will be playing in the upcoming weeks. The next big event I have is the Philadelphia Team Open; all signs point to me being the Legacy player for my team there. I am happy with where D&T is right now in Legacy, so I will certainly be playing it in Philly. Hopefully I see you there and thanks for reading!

About the Author

Phil Gallagher

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