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This Week in Legacy: The Min and the Max


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're doing yet another look at our friends in the community with another Player Spotlight Series! This time it's a focus on the minds behind MinMaxBlog: Minhajul Hoq & Max Gilmore! In addition to that we've got some paper event news from over the weekend with the Leaving a Legacy Open in Acton, MA as well as two Challenges from the weekend, one of which was a Showcase Challenge!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Player Spotlight Series: Minhajul Hoq & Max Gilmore - The Minds Behind MinMax

This month's Player Spotlight series focuses on two players who banded together to bring us plenty of great Magic content via their own blog, the MinMax Blog. Those players are Minhajul Hoq and Max Gilmore! Let's hear from them in their own words as we like to do in these Spotlights!

Min

My Journey Into Competitive Magic

Hello folks! My name is Minhajul Hoq, more commonly known as Min and Minniehajj/Minnifer on various social media platforms.  I’m the Min, of MinMaxBlog and I started playing magic in college when a dorm friend gave me all of their cards, a bunch of bulk from like Lorwyn back until Avacyn Restored, and I learned the game with this massive (albeit subpar) card pool with some friends.  We bought a bunch of cards, and became more competitive, until one of my buddies built a “standard” legal mono red deck, featuring Stromkirk Noble and Rakdos Cackler. We were soon off to the races and Magic and the community around it became one of my favorite things.

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We moved from Standard to Modern, until a shop we visited said they had full proxy Legacy, and I decided to go straight for the throat with the deck everyone definitely knows me for today, Ad Nauseam Tendrils. :D

In all seriousness, it was my first exposure to Legacy and I was hooked, and I took a “play what beats me” approach.  I moved from ANT to Delver  (yes, I lost to Delver as ANT, I was very bad) to finally, Miracles.  I became swift friends with Sith Sriharan, and through him, I was introduced to Philipp Schoenegger, and fell in love with the nuances of the deck, which leads to…

The Miracles Cabal

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At this point, the Miracles Cabal has taken on an infamous status throughout the Legacy community, known for either being a shadowy group of individuals that were the true source of all of the draws in every event when Sensei's Divining Top was legal, or a bunch of people discussing the nuances of Miracles during the height of that deck’s popularity.  The Cabal went through multiple different iterations, but my favorite version of it is when I met Max Gilmore and we really hit it off on a personal level.  Max loved to test off-the-wall ideas that he believes to present holes inside of metagames, whereas I iterated on the tried and true stratagems to find the one key nuance, sideboard card, or microdecision tree that would tilt the game to our favor.  Our approaches were vastly different from one another, but we worked together, and more importantly, discussed together in a manner that was extremely productive. And also, extremely fun.

Content Creation and MinMax Blog

While we both played Magic and our lives got increasingly more complex, I graduated from college and began my career as a web developer. I developed a passion for coding, as well as a greater understanding of how the web worked.  I also completely devoured Carston Kotter articles, but as he began his hiatus I was finding that I really missed hard-hitting analytical articles about Magic, and there was a bit of a void in that space.  The writers in other places were obviously excellent, but they didn’t really specialize in Legacy and I missed reading those pieces a lot.

I hatched a plan with Max, after having read his piece on Nonbos in Legacy. I realized he was an excellent writer, I was getting better at being a developer, and thus, the original MinMaxBlog was born!  We began to write stuff that we thought our peers would want to read, analytical content pieces that didn’t have the driving force of advertising, click rate, anything attached to it.  It was very much a passion project, and to this day, still is.  We’ve not made a dime doing any of our writing, but that’s the way we want it to be.

Since starting MinMax, we’ve grown a lot, people love our writing, and the website’s been rewritten into a much more smooth experience (for those that care about webdev stuff), but our lives have also grown a lot busier, and our passion a  bit waning.

Looking to the Future

Seeing how we’ve grown the past few years has been a real joy to me, both as content creators but also as people. We’ve both got families, busy work lives, and Magic as a whole is a lot harder for us to balance with those other things, and with the lack of substantial paper events, writing for the sake of writing just isn’t as enticing as it used to be.  However, as the world recovers from this crazy pandemic, perhaps we’ll have a bit more reason to write what speaks to us.

If people are interested in seeing some of our best work, here’s a few of my personal favorites:

Meanwhile, my professional skills have increased exponentially and I’m planning on doing another rewrite of MinMaxBlog to an even more cutting edge tech stack, so stay tuned for some exciting updates there!

Max

My Journey Into Competitive Magic

Hi everyone, I'm Max Gilmore, probably better known by my online handle "Maxtortion." Some know me from my work on Legacy Doomsday. Some know me from my work on getting Underworld Breach banned a month after its release. Others know me from my repeated demonstrations that you can break Legacy by shoving undercosted card-advantage threats into a Delver shell. And if you regularly go outside and touch enough grass, you might not even know me at all.

Like many of the Boomer Magic players, I played Magic extremely casually for a few years as a kid. While that time didn't amount to much, it did leave behind enough nostalgia for the game that when a college friend said he was going to an Innistrad pre-release and asked if I wanted to come along. I enthusiastically agreed. By that point, I was hooked again, and this time it stuck.

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When I finished college, I moved back across the country to my home state of California and found a local game store. Apparently, I had come "out of nowhere" and won enough consecutive draft pods to catch the attention of the more competitively-minded players at the shop, who suggested I play constructed formats, which I had never done. As drafting Innistrad ad nauseam had cemented my appreciation for an Invisible Stalker with equipment, it was easy to transition into Standard via some good old-fashioned UW Delver. As I immersed myself in competitive Standard, my collection grew to the point where I could build any deck in the Innistrad / RTR Standard format. My good friend, Everyday Eternal founding member Jacob Kory, was looking at my Standard collection and told me two things: 1) Value-wise, I was sitting on a Legacy deck, and 2) When rotation nears, my collection's value would plummet. Looks like it was time to turn this mass of Standard cards into a Legacy deck!

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We made our way to a giant card game bazaar in Southern California, and after walking in with essentially a complete Standard collection, I walked out with a much more modestly-sized Legacy UWR Delver deck. As far as deck choice went, I didn't need much convincing beyond my experiences with UW Delver in standard, but the fact that I could Stifle a Geist of Saint Traft Angel's "leaves the battlefield" trigger really locked it in. Over the years, I've been eternally grateful for Southern California's robust Legacy scene providing me with both formidable opponents and incredible friends

The Miracles Cabal (or How I Met Your Minnifer)

To me, the most interesting aspect of Magic is competitive deck-building. The transient nature of a metagame means that the process of finding the best thing(s) to be doing in a format and iterating upon them is a journey without an end.

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At this point in the story, UWr Miracles had come to be known as the best deck in Legacy, while also providing a seemingly endless amount of deckbuilding decision points to work through and discuss. 4 Ponder? 0 Ponder? 2 Ponder? Are you playing Vendilion Clique and Venser, Shaper Savant? If not, how do you plan to beat Sneak and Show? How many Entreat the Angels should you be playing? How many Snapcaster Mage

At the time, one of the best places for competitive players to discuss and tune their decks was an internet forum called MTG the Source. From there, I had lively discussions around the clock with like-minded players around the world. Relatively late into the life of Miracles, I received an invitation to a private group chat that was either affectionately or disparagingly (depends who you ask) known as the Miracles Cabal. Our lovely Minhajul Hoq was an initial member of this group, and he and I really hit it off on a personal level.

During this time, as a means to play a lot more Magic than the four matches of paper Legacy that our weekly event afforded me, I bit the bullet and joined Magic Online. Thanks to some great customer service at Cardhoarder and an 8% cash discount, I became a few hundred dollars poorer, but a few hundred digital Legacy cards richer.

Content Creation and MinMax Blog

As what I'm going to refer to as the "golden era" of internet forum Legacy discussion developed, I noticed that various adages would get repeated enough to just become accepted as gospel. Examples of these are: "Force of Will is bad in fair matchups," "you should side out all of your Dazes on the draw," or the one that really ground my gears, "Swords to Plowshares is bad in a Delver deck."

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Given my history with UWR Delver as my first Legacy deck, I felt so strongly about its disparagement that I had to correct the record. I wrote an article, hosted by a couple of very kind Australian acquaintances on their site, "The Salt Mine,"  called "Nonbos: Using a Legacy Lens to Analyze Anti-Synergies." The thesis of the article was that a strictly cohesive deck is not intrinsically better than one that isn't, provided that any "nonbo" that you're playing gives you the tools you need to win the game at hand. Who cares if your Rest in Peace downgrades your Snapcaster Mage into an Ambush Viper, as long as it prevents your opponent from reanimating a Griselbrand? The article concluded that a good deck is one that has good matchup profiles against the expected field, full stop. Beyond that, it doesn't matter how elegant the deck looks or what nonbos the deck contains, provided that the power of the individual cards is sufficient to offset the times they don't play well together.

This article was so well-received at the time that it miraculously managed to achieve its goal of reducing the incidence of blindly-repeated adages, and it motivated me to write more. During this time, as Min and I were chatting, he expressed how he was also bursting with content to write. At some point, one of us brought up the obvious: Why don't we make our own site? With our names (Min and Max), the brand practically builds itself!

We were also aligned on our objective for the site: write what we want, when we want. This meant that we would not accept any compensation (from subscribers or otherwise) so that there was no obligation to pump out content that we weren't going to write anyway. At this point in time, my first child was just a few months old, and I didn't want my hobby to feel like a second job. I needed my creative and competitive outlet to stay fun (as I still do).

Around this time, I became a lot more active on Twitter (@maxtortion), and my tweets, ranging from good-hearted jokes, to short-form decklist content, to just good old-fashioned shit takes, amassed more of a following than my Magic resume would otherwise merit. At this point, my Twitter account is somewhere between a Magic journal (what's been working and what isn't) and a way to hopefully sprinkle a bit of lightheartedness and humor into a cold and unforgiving niche-hobby Twitter community. On good days, it's both at once.

Looking to the Future

I wish that days had 28 hours. I would also settle for needing 4 hours less sleep, or ideally, work being 4 hours shorter. Since none of those wishes are showing any signs of manifesting, long-form article creation has slowed way down. It typically takes me upwards of 10 hours to write and publish an article, and that's a week's worth of downtime, at the cost of everything else I had hoped to do in that time window. It's a lot easier to record and upload a Magic Online league, or just play a league on my laptop while my wife and I are watching Critical Role, and then tweet about the deck afterwards along with a decklist screenshot, so that's what I've been doing these days. To make sure my hobby doesn't end up feeling like a second job, I'm keeping it fun. Competitive, but fun.

Wrapping Up Another Player Spotlight!

I really love doing Player Spotlights quite a bit, and I'm planning on doing at least one of these a month, so keep an eye out for further ones. Both Min and Max are awesome people and good friends of mine, so it was a real pleasure to have them on the column for sure. I actually owe a lot of format knowledge to both of these people with their articles, so thanks to both for coming on and telling their story. Be sure to check out MinMax Blog, because it really does have a ton of great resources for Legacy and Magic in general.

Leaving a Legacy Open 6/25

This past weekend our good friends at Leaving a Legacy held their latest Leaving a Legacy Open event at Gaming, Etc. in Acton, MA! This event had 104 players in it, which is super sweet to see from such a solid event. The event was also streamed on Twitch, with Pat, Jerry, and Zac Turgeon all providing commentary throughout the day. The VODs for this event will be up later this week on YouTube.

In addition to the event, Pat and Jerry also did a solid charity challenge for this event, raising money for the "Room to Grow" fundraiser with some live streamed spicy chicken wing action just like The Hot Ones! They ran the full gauntlet of sauces too, so props to Pat and Jerry for raising money for a great cause.

With that said, let's take a look at the Top 8 of the event! You can find all of the Top 8 decklists here.

Deck Name Placing Player Name
UR Delver 1st Mike Munchbach
Death and Taxes 2nd Tom Kessler
UR Delver 3rd-4th Nick Bonnyman
8Cast 3rd-4th Joe Conados
Death and Taxes 5th-8th Roland Chang
The EPIC Gamble 5th-8th Tony Scapone
GW Depths 5th-8th Ezra Christensen
The Epic Storm 5th-8th Jonathan Castagna

Definitely an interesting Top 8 here. Half of this Top 8 is taken up solely between UR Delver and D&T decks (with a special shoutout to friend of the column Roland Chang playing D&T). At the end of the event it was Mike Munchbach on UR Delver who managed to pull out a win. He ended up with his best card framed in the trophy, this time being Murktide Regent!

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Definitely a solid straightforward list here. Really clean and what we've come to expect of the overall archetype as of late.

Big thanks to Jerry and Pat of Leaving a Legacy for providing us the info on this event, and look forward to another LaL Open at some point in the future!

Legacy Challenge 6/25

Our first Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Saturday event. This event had 61 players in it, thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

UR Delver was the most populous deck here and it had the most middling performance here, with straight 50% across the board. It was some highly unique decks that had some crazy good performance here, alongside D&T. Red Stompy was also super popular but didn't fare as well.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Death's Shadow 1st MM_17
Riddlesmith Containment 2nd Killabee
Hammer Time 3rd CrusherBotBG
UR Delver 4th karma_00
Hogaak 5th Aplinco
Mono Green Cloudpost 6th Angers
Death and Taxes 7th MissTrigger
Reanimator 8th tabunghasisi

Pretty wild Top 8 here. Lot of really off the wall stuff. In fact, at the end of the event it was DEATH'S SHADOW that won it!

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Pretty straightforward and solidly updated list here for 2022 standards. Tourach, Dread Cantor in the sideboard is such a strong card against stuff like D&T. Sweet list for sure!

In Second Place we've got the Riddlesmith deck.

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Having played around with this a little bit, it's a pretty wild deck that sometimes just gets to take all of the game actions. It's pretty cool for sure.

Also in this Top 8 we had a Legacy HAMMER TIME showing in THIRD PLACE.

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So much of this deck is just Modern Legal, but you do get a lot of stuff like the Artifact lands, Mox Opal, and Retrofitter Foundry that really accelerates a deck like this. There's also a Citizen's Crowbar in the sideboard!

Further down the Top 8 we had a showing by Hogaak.

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Solid BUG list here. Getting to see the impact of Boseiju on this kind of list, with three copies in the sideboard.

Legacy Showcase Challenge 6/26

This past weekend was yet another Showcase Challenge event. Showcase Challenges are larger events that need Qualification Points (QPs) to enter, and the Top 8 of the event feeds into the Showcase Qualifier at the end of the season. This event had a whopping 315 players in it, thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

UR Delver (and Delverless Delver variants) had a massive metagame share in this event at a whopping 87 players (27.62%) and a non-mirror win rate close to 53%. Red Stompy was the next most popular deck, in addition to Jeskai Control and 8Cast. Of these, Stompy had a better performance. D&D did well in this even, so did Lands and 4C Control variants, as well as Doosmday.

It is worth noting since I'm sure people will ask about it that we do currently not separate the "Delverless" Delver variants from Delver, because their same basic game plan for each of these variants is the same, and being too granular on something like this makes it harder to actually identify what deck is which if we are watching a replay of the deck. This helps our data collectors for the project not have to spend a ton of time watching replays just to verify that the person never cast a Delver ever.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
4C Control 1st Ark4n
The EPIC Storm 2nd FirstToThirst
UR Delver 3rd Bullwinkkle6705
Lands 4th Garlan
Reanimator 5th pokerswizard
UR Delver 6th kbol_
UR Delver 7th Baku_91
Elves 8th fluffy21

Quite a bit of UR Tempo/Delver variants here in the Top 8, but at the end of the event it was a Czech Pile-like 4C Control deck by Ark4n that took it all down.

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Definitely a much more Czech Pile-esque style deck with Grixis splashing white for removal and Planeswalker threats. This definitely gets back to the Grixis train of Snapcaster + Kolaghan's Command for sure.

In Second Place we've got The EPIC Storm.

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Very solid and straightforwardly built list here. Definitely a lot of hedge against blue with multiple copies of Carpet of Flowers in the sideboard too.

Also in this Top 8 we were shredding some Ledgers with Isaac Bullwinkle.

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Very strong and focused list here by going deeper into the blue arms race of going slightly bigger with cards like Ledger Shredder for increased card advantage and ease of turning on cards like DRC and Murktide. Shredder being a functioning evasive threat through graveyard hate is important as well.

Further down the Top 8 we had some Reanimator action.

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Very strong and clean list here. Four copies of Grief and Unmask is really groovy.

Around the Web

  • I was on last week's episode of Leaving a Legacy! Check it out here!
  • Our friends at IN RESPONSE have a new episode! Check it out here.
  • Everyday Eternal also has a new episode out. Check that out here.
  • LucksackGames has a new video on RUG 8Mulch. Check it out here.
  • AN EPISODE ABOUT NOTHING
  • TonyScapone on yet another undefeated 5-0 trophy with The EPIC Gamble. Check it out here.
  • Phil Gallagher playing a little ditty called Ad Nauseam Depths. Check that out here.

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 deck lists over here.

Combo Master Jax has a little Sudden Substitution for us.

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Mono Blue Delver gets to Delver all the Delvers!

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Tin Fins Omni-Tell is gas!

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Esper Vial master Jeff Lin is hitting things off with Oji, the Exquisite Blade just right!

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Chain of Smog Nic Fit Combo with Feign Death!

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Mono White Stompy!

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Displacer Kitten Combo in a Bant shell. SWEET.

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Speaking of Displacer Kitten, our good friend Brian Coval won an event this past weekend at Taitan Games with the following Kitten combo variant.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join us next week as we continue our journey into Legacy!

As always you can reach me at Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the MTGLegacy Discord Server.

Until next time!



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