Hope Eternal—Changing of the Guard

Hello again, hipsters! I was recently approached by drafter extraordinaire Hunter “Rolex” Slaton (of 23/17 fame) about whether I would be interested in writing a weekly column on eternal formats. For those of you that know me, that sounds like a hand that I would snap-keep, right? Well, spoiler alert: I said, “Yes.” So, it is with great pleasure that I introduce myself to you as your new “Hope Eternal” writer. I know Jess will be a tough act to follow, but I hope you give me a shot. Many of you who regularly sling spells in North Brooklyn may already know me from Monday Night Legacy at Twenty Sided Store (along with various other events, but you should reeeeally come out to Monday Night Legacy). Perhaps you may not know me, but you have have heard people speak in hushed whispers of an “Evil Tim.” That would be me, though I assure you, I’m not actually evil.

I’ll kick this off with a quick bit about myself and what I hope to accomplish with this weekly series. I suppose you could call me a grinder as I will travel to most local PTQs and will attend most GPs and SCG Opens within a four-hour bus-ride radius. I’ve had some moderate (emphasis on that last word) success on the tournament circuit; by that, I mean I’ve Day 2’d more often than not and have cashed at a couple Opens, but I still seek that elusive top 8. I’ve also written a few guest columns for this blog, in one of which you actually got to watch me fall on my face on camera as a top 8 berth slipped through my fingers. Legacy is my format of choice, followed by Standard, but I will play just about any competitive format, along with some non-competitive formats. I practice Legacy and Standard year-round and pay attention to other formats prior to an upcoming GP or when they are in season for PTQs. I have a strong tendency to play blue decks, so you can think of me as HOTC’s foil to Matt Jones.

My vision for this column, first and foremost, is to be HOTC’s source for all things Legacy. Of course, that can be difficult given the paucity of Legacy events (compared to, say, Standard) and the relatively small change that a new set will typically have on the format due to its overall vastness. For me, I have a biweekly Monday Night Legacy at Twenty Sided Store, and a few scattered Opens here and there. Sure, there’s MODO, but the buy-in can be steep (or is it? more on this later!) with Force of Wills pushing $100 despite a recent promo reprint. Because it might be unrealistic to do all Legacy, all the time, I will mix in some Standard from time to time since I am currently putting much of my MtG-related efforts into the PTQ scene, and if something interesting in the Modern world catches my eye, perhaps I’ll run it through a daily and share my findings. I’m also looking into this new-fangled Twitch thing that all the kids these days are doing, so hopefully in the coming weeks I’ll be able to create some video content for you.

Anyways, enough about me! How about an article? Remember when I talked about the steep buy-in for Legacy on MODO? Remember how Evil Tim only plays blue decks? Well now everything you know is wrong, because last night, I decided to dive into the world of Digital Legacy with this pile:

Creatures
4 Goblin Guide
4 Grim Lavamancer

Spells
4 Chain Lightning
4 Fireblast
4 Flame Rift
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Price of Progress
4 Rift Bolt
4 Sulfuric Vortex

Lands
12 Mountains
4 Arid Mesa
4 Scalding Tarn

Sideboard
3 Ensnaring Bridge
4 Mindbreak Trap
2 Pyrostatic Pillar
4 Red Elemental Blast
2 Searing Blaze
#noislands #wtf (but hey, at least my sideboard has blue cards, right?)

I know that burn is nothing new or innovative, but it’s a huge leap for a guy that wants to jam Jace TMS into every deck he plays. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way about blue spells and the greatest planeswalker card ever printed, so for all of you fellow mind sculptors out there, it’s OK to go ahead and try something completely different and outside your wheelhouse. The games play out very quickly, as one would expect. There is an excitement from the moment you draw your opening hand and just start adding up the points of damage in it. There is a certain visceral joy that comes from tapping three Mountains on their end step and then sacrificing two to play Price of Progress, Lightning Bolt, and Fireblast, to suddenly have them dead from 13 life. It must have been close to 15 years since I’ve harnessed the raw power of the Mountain like I did last night. That said, please do not confuse me for an expert with this deck, because this is a place where I am totally out of my element—but at the same time, it was incredibly fun, and incredibly cheap. Buying the cards that I did not already own from Standard and Modern cost a little north of $50, but I was able to dispatch the far more expensive RUG and Junk lists I played against in three and two games, respectively. For anyone who has been thinking about giving Legacy a try, but has been scared away by sticker shock, I would highly recommend this deck.

My one loss of the evening came in the mirror match, where there were a few factors working against me. First and foremost was the die roll. Each game was won by whoever was on the play. Secondly, my opponent had Vexing Devils in his list, which (I think) gave him an edge and is a card that I might want to consider running. Lastly, I made a very greedy keep in game three, at least according to my roommate, Charles. I had one land, a few one-drops, and the rest of my hand would be turned on by a single land. I thought it was correct to keep, as it would take awhile before I was forced to discard, and I was scared to be the first one to run out of gas in a burn-war. I’m still not sure if a mulligan was correct; I did lose, but my opponent also kept on one land.

An interesting sort of mini-game in the mirror is the Lavamancer war. It seemed that in any game that a player could get a Lavamancer online, it could take over by itself. Is it correct to point your burn at their Lavamancers? Is it correct to point burn at creatures in general as opposed to their face? The correct answer is obviously, “Sometimes,” but I think I need more play with the deck to have a better idea of exactly when that sometimes is. There’s definitely more depth and play to the deck than many people give it credit for, and it is not this mindless play-all-your-spells-as-fast-as-you-can sort of thing that blue mages are often guilty of thinking it is.

In the coming weeks, I plan to do an article covering the different flavors of Burn. I’m not just talking about different variations on Mono-Red Burn, but also exploring various complementary colors. Burn splashing blue for Brainstorm, Burn splashing black for Bob, Burn splashing white for Boros Charm—you get the idea! Here are some of the ideas I have on the backburner for future articles. Please let me know in the comments which ones interest you the most, or what you would like to see if it’s not listed here:

  • A full-on primer for my weapon of choice UW(r) Miracles. This might be a two- or possibly three-parter as I will go very in depth with card choices, different variations, how to navigate different match-ups, tips and tricks, maybe even game-state puzzles. This is the archetype that I have far and away the most experience with and have had the most success with, and it is the only archetype that I feel comfortable writing such a detailed primer about.
  • A review (with results) of my take on the Ral Zarek–Stasis deck that Adam Prosak wrote about last week on SCG Select. This is a list I’m dying to try and will probably bring out to the next Monday Night Legacy.
  • Modern Bridge-Walkers. Is this even a thing? I don’t know, but I think we’re getting to the point where we are approaching a critical mass of Modern-viable ‘walkers that it might work. Maybe it’s terrible, it crashes and burns, and I don’t write an article about it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to try it.
  • Standard Grixis Seer Redux. Remember this? I’ve done a lot of tuning and testing this list on MODO and have been starting to see a smattering of similar decklists from other people. Over the last month, Josh Fetto and I have had some email correspondence about tweaking some more, and he’s been kind enough to report his results along with what worked well and what didn’t. Perhaps it might be time to revisit this list.
  • The aforementioned various flavors of Burn review.
  • MODO videos, potentially with guest pilots and me doing commentary/critique on their play (also get at me if you would like to be a guest).
  • Tournament reports on how I won NY States and/or the SCG Open Baltimore. (I am kidding a little bit on this one. Not sure about the winning part, but you can still have a report if you’d like.)

As a closing note, some local guys have recently started up a Serious NYC Legacy group on Facebook. They are trying to build a strong NYC Legacy community with hopes of having more sanctioned and unsanctioned events in the city. The first event is an unsanctioned, 15-proxy tournament at the Citigroup Center Atrium in Manhattan, with a Plateau on the line for the winner—exact date TBD (UPDATE: Scheduled for tonight, see comments), but likely sometime next week. Buy-in is either $40/# of people (to cover cost of Plateau), or $3, depending on attendance. This is a great opportunity to explore the format in a semi-casual setting without having to own all the staples. If you want to attend, or want more information on the group, let me know and I’ll send you an invite.

“Evil” Tim Akpinar is one of Brooklyn’s finest durdlers. If there’s a top-tier control deck in the meta, you can bet he’s spent a minute taking it apart to see what makes it tick. If it wraths and draws cards, “Evil” Tim Akpinar approves. You can find Tim on Twitter @efil4zaknupome or on MODO under the username ziggy_stardust.

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Comments
9 Responses to “Hope Eternal—Changing of the Guard”
  1. Zach B. says:

    Nice article, Tim, and welcome to the team!

    Your article ideas sound great–my initial favorites would have to be a review of Miracles (as it’s something you know best), Stasis-Zarek (’cause it sounds horrible and amazing), Modern Bridge-Walkers (’cause it’s a dream of mine), and MODO videos. If you do do anything on MODO, I’m happy to lend or a hand or promote it to my Twitch followers.

  2. Tim says:

    Also, heads up to anyone who was thinking about going to that unsanctioned legacy event I made mention of at the end of the article: it appears that they are going to go ahead and run it tonight as originally planned instead of pushing it to a TBD date next week, but if you can’t make it tonight, fear not. I have a feeling (or maybe a hope?) that these will be somewhat of a regular occurence.

  3. Robert Pompa says:

    I will soldier some legacy videos for you Mr Akpinar

  4. Monique Garraud says:

    Welcome Tim! You’re already off to a rocking start!

  5. tim akpinar says:

    Looks like there’s another one this Thursday:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/583961441628803/

    Winner gets a Wasteland, and if enough (16) people attend, 2nd place gets the Plateau from last week, since the finalists agreed to just split the cash instead.

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