1st Place SCG Madison Legacy Report: Ian Ellis with Dark Horizons

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So, funny thing: I was planning on having to sleep in my car.

Courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Bet you didn't expect that for an opening statement. Let's be honest, I didn't want to pay for a hotel and there was only one comment left on my request to crash with people. Why? Rooms were already 6+ people and, at a certain point, it becomes more of a hindrance to add more.

I did try to contact the person I was told to contact but things didn't work out. Lucky for me, I stopped by one of the weekly Legacy tournaments to return some cards I was borrowing to Steve Farkas, and it turns out I wasn't the only lone person planning on going. Also lucky for me, they thought the trip was only going to take 3 hours.

If you don't know, Minneapolis and Madison are about 4 ½ hours apart.

So I tell them that they should probably leave sooner than wait until the morning.

We end up leaving at 6ish because traffic was pretty bad getting to them. Minnesota has two seasons: winter and construction. Plan accordingly.

Steve found Dylan Streater and Alex Olson to fill the car. We get gas and Steve books a hotel while we talk about how credit cards allow for inflated pricing, making it harder to live without one... basically I bore them for about an hour.

Most people have complex stories about the places they go, but, unfortunately for you, our only stop was Culver's. Granted, it was my first time ever going to Culver's and I wasn't impressed. I think it should come with whatever it obviously has in the picture. Apparently you have to ask to have the lettuce and tomato on your burger?

It didn't help that this particular Culver's also messed up Dylan's order and he even had to go back up to get his shake/malt/frosty or whatever it is people are calling them these days. Either way, I'd prefer to go to McDonald's next time. They have great breakfast at 4am, but that's it.

I guess I don't have to tell you that we showed up to the event and played. So let's just skip to the 'action'.

This is what I played at Star City Games Madison's Legacy event:

Round 1 vs Esperblade

My opponent is newer to Legacy, which isn't as uncommon as you might think. Unfortunately for newer Legacy players, that means they're typically found playing something from a smaller pool of decks. Typically Maverick, Blade (Esper or traditional) or Canadian Thresh (RUG Tempo for anyone not too familiar).

Game 1 I'm on the draw. Luckily for me, my hand is 1st turn Bob, Liliana, Wastelands and Thoughtseize. When Bob sticks and comes back to me, I know the game is pretty much over. My opponent starts discarding and then I start Wasting away. My opponent does discard Lingering Souls but had no black mana to bring it back.

I eventually land another creature and finish things up a bit faster than 2x2.

Out - 3x Mox Diamond, 1x Swords to Plowshares, 1x Inquisition, 1x Thoughtseize.
In - 2x Choke, 2x Thalia, 1x Pernicious Deed, 1x Gaddock Teeg

I know it may seem weird to pull out some Swords and some discard, but you can't always fight things pre-emptively. Sometimes you have to plan for the worst. Hence, Deed. Thalia, Teeg, and Choke deal with the rest.

Game 2 involves a Choke on turn 2 via Green Sun Zenith into Dryad Arbor. My opponent had played Stoneforge Mystic... Choke landed. The game was over shortly after on the back of my Stoneforge. I wish I could say more but this matchup requires you to draw pretty poorly in order to lose. The Esper deck is fine to just keep jamming spells against until something sticks. Bait as much as possible. Choke + friends will do the rest.

After that I notice that we're one of the first tables done. I turn in the slip and walk away. I see Bennett walking up to turn in his slip so I know he's won. I start checking on the other players from Minnesota are. Most people are looking pretty good, which is nice. Unfortunately, I start thinking about how, if we're all doing well, we'll have to play. We all didn't drive 4 1/2 hours to play against people I could have driven 10 minutes to see. So I start sending up chants to reporter to avoid people I know.

During the downtime Mike Hawthorne asks me if I have an English Scavenging Ooze(s)... turns out another friend didn't know exactly what Ooze did... He had 3x Chinese Ooze in his deck. I pull mine out and start to hand it to Hawthorne, he tells me that he wants to find the other two before we all swap Ooze.

- In case you're new, or just not sure, you can swap cards as long as it's for the exact same card. So no Scavenging Ooze for Tarmogoyf. Scavenging Ooze for Scavenging Ooze is fine, though, regardless of language.

Round 2 vs Deadguy Ale (B/W Aggro)

Prayers answered. Reporter sets me up against someone I didn't know.

I sit down and introduce myself. My opponent tells me he's been playing since Revised. It's nice to see someone who's been playing about as long as I have. There are a lot of people who have only begun to play. Unfortunately, as far as being able to guess on what my opponent's been playing, all bets are off.

Side note: Something about most who have been playing for a while: we tend to stop playing and sell our collections only to come back. I myself am rebuilding after my last sale. This time with a new rule: I can only use money from tournaments (-entry fee) to buy cards.

Game 1 doesn't start off the way I want it to. I don't remember my opening hand. Instead, I remember my opponent's plays in order. Let me list them:

Turn 1, Scrubland, Mother of Ruins (Mom)
Turn 2, Plains, Dark Confidant (Bob)
Turn 3, Scrubland, Liliana.

That's terrible for me. It was like he was building a script for a movie or something. Everything had a face. Plus it's Mother's Day here and now I have to kill Mom!

Only problem, I didn't have a Swords for the Mom (drew it the turn after she went active). He drew tons of cards off of Bob. And Liliana killed my only creature... Now look at my plays.

Turn 1, Thoughtseize, take Swords
Turn 2, Stoneforge, get Jitte.
Turn 3, Pridemage, drew Swords.

So what does that mean? It means Mom died on turn 4, trying to give herself protection from the Jitte equipped Pridemage (reminder, Pridemage was big enough to survive Bob blocking if he had gone that route), Liliana was forced to comment Harikari to save Bob from the Jitte wielding Pridemage next turn, and Bob... Bob was hunted down shortly after. I took the game from there.

Out - 3x Thoughtseize, 1x Inquisition
In - 2x Dismember, 1x Ulvenwald Tracker, 1x Pernicious Deed.

While I'm boarding, the table next to us is talking about how judges are terrible Magic players. All kinds of jokes. I shake my head and let them keep going. We're all at the X-0 table and I'm a judge, but there's no point picking a fight.

It's Magic. I'll let them be ignorant an have fun laughing at them on the inside. "Those who can't play, judge. Those who can't, just suck." Good job guys, you at least made me chuckle.

Anywho, back to the match.

Deadguy's bodies aren't particularly large. Landing anything of size, or exalted, would be enough to kill them with tracker. It also helps to keep Mom tapped on their turn. This usually leads to her dead on yours.

Beyond that, it shouldn't be too difficult to figure out: "Kill Everything." Discard is pointless since the only thing you'll really want to discard is Liliana. Just realize that Deed will destroy your Mox every time you use it... It's your Deed. Plan and play accordingly.

Game 2 is a slaughter. I kill his Mom (Happy Mother's Day... too soon?) and play Stoneforge and Bob. From there, the game is over shortly.

I wish my opponent luck and thank him for the conversation. It's always nice to meet players who have been in it for a while. The games rarely feel as serious with them. You're never mad at losing unless you personally do something really stupid (or your opponent's a jerk... but I suppose we're not all nice all of the time). Then you're more upset with yourself.

I hoped my opponent would make it to the top and we'd meet in the finals but a loss this early meant the odds were against him. That doesn't mean I can't hope for it though.

A couple of Minnesota people are done, and some had even come to see how my match was going. Most people are still doing well.

That means the odds of us playing are getting better. 🙁

I run into Bennett again and he tells me about how he won his match. I tell him about how I defeated my opponents. We joke for a little while and talk about how we'll just play in the finals (Epic Foreshadowing).

Round 3 vs Canadian Thresh

My opponent is playing Canadian Thresh. In Iowa he absolutely destroyed me with a smile and in round 2 beat my friend Troy, who, to my knowledge, hasn't played a ton of Magic recently.

I didn't go out the night before the tournament, so I figured I'd give him a better game than the last time where I cast dismember before declaring all blockers, making his attack lethal. I can't spell out everything. Make an assumption on why you think I'd do that.

This match is on camera. If you didn't catch it, this will do more justice than words:

Out - 3x Thoughtseize, 1x Inquisition, 2x Liliana
In - 2x Thalia, 2x Choke, 2x Timely Reinforcements

So, after being down a game and since I was on camera, it was time to make someone else happy.

Enter Timely reinforcements. Choke and Thalia are the real things you want to do, and Liliana is actually supposed to stay, but I know I can do this without worry. You can also bring in Teeg, but post board they typically take out their Forces to bring in more relevant solutions (Submerge).

If you're playing this deck and can't get used to playing without a Forest (since you have Mox, Birds and Canopy), I'd suggest leaving in
the Thoughtseize and trimming elsewhere.

The reason you take out the discard on the play is that you get to fetch right away. I'm a basics whore. I admit it. I'll actually fetch a basic even if I may not be able to get my colors in time to curve. Why? I'd rather cast my spells than look at lands in the yard. It's fine when you have Knight and are threatening lethal, but what are you going to do before?

Also, if you'll notice, I don't like Forests in this match-up. I accidentally fetch one (if memory serves me correctly - it was a long day and I played 3 Canadian Thresh decks under the camera). I normally fetch the other two basics because I don't like having to wait for a night to shuffle my deck.

Can't submerge without five mana or me having a forest.

Round 4 vs Nic Fit (Real Rock)

I sit down and my opponent has... Judge Sleeves! This is the way Magic is meant to be played.

Judges have way too much fun doing things together. My opponent and I are pretty much in joke mode the entire match. I'd tell you one but I'm afraid my memory isn't the greatest right now (yup, that cop-out).

Game 1 is a disaster I keep a hand with Bob, Stoneforge, Knight, Pulse and the mana to cast it all. Want to know what all I cast? Bird and Top... Yup.

What happened? That's simple.

Turn 1, Thoughtseize
Turn 2, Cabal Therapy, Explorer, Flashback Therapy..

I was out of the game at that point. He followed up with Thrun and Liliana to keep the game.

Out - 3x Mox Diamond, 1x Inquisition, 1x Thoughtseize
In - 2x Thalia, 2x Timely Reinforcements (this was a bad call), 1x Dismember (also a bad call)

Nic Fit is the only 50-50 that I've really found. It is The Rock and his Millions re-popularized by Caleb Durward. If you don't know that deck, it's currently called "The Rock". The deck is designed to stop creature based strategies. Not to say that it doesn't work against me, but I just operate in a similar fashion.

Game 2 my opponent doesn't have Explorer-Therapy to abuse as discard and ramp. I proceed to waste my opponent and play threats. Lucky for me, Knight fetches more Wastelands and gets bigger at the same time. The game ended shortly after due to Knight's growth rate.

Out - 2 Timely Reinforcements, 1x Dismember
In - 3x Surgical Extraction

Game 3 is a bit longer. No blowout either way.

We get about 7 turns in and the boards are both lands. LOTS OF LANDS. He had blown Deed to kill off my team. He wouldn't let me bait with Stoneforge + Goyf since he had drawn Ooze. I really tried to get him to blow it so I could drop Bob. Instead I had to give him up too.

The next turn he Zenith'd for another Ooze and I, instead of letting him gain tons of life and everything else, decide to Bog myself. His Ooze hit me for 3 and then dies to Pulse. We topdeck'd some more (about 8 turns) and then I was reminded of why I used to have a Sun Titan in the list from 8-24-10.

Remember, just because it didn't work for you doesn't mean it doesn't work... in this case amazingly well.

When his Sun Titan hit and he pulled back Deed and I really wanted some kind of removal. I realized I had used 2 Swords already and 2 Pulses. 1 Liliana was in exile as well. That meant I didn't actually have too many things to deal with it. I could take him Deeding me again, I couldn't take him getting back an army.

My draw? Horizon Canopy. Well, we're not dead yet... Draw with Canopy... Bayou. Ouch. He swung on his turn (I Mazed this time, of course), but that wasn't the issue. He brought back Ooze. Liliana was out. Removal count down to 3. I drew again, Savannah, and scooped them up.

We realized at that point that we had amassed a group of people who were watching us.

Why? We were playing. And having fun.

You draw people when the game is fun. We hadn't noticed that we were being watched. There was even a judge laughing right next to me. I never realized the match next to us had even finished. My opponent and I shook hands, exchanged some small banter and moved on.

Even with the loss, I didn't worry about it at all. Besides, it's always fun when two judges play.

After the game I ran into the people from Minnesota. Most were either X-0 or X-1. Happy that we were all still in contention. I don't have time to do much since the next round is up shortly after.

Round 5 vs Esperblade

When I sit down my opponent is wearing a Vikings Jersey. Don't know the Vikings? It's Minnesota's local Football Team.

I don't know this person though. I was pretty sure I knew of everyone who had come down. So I start asking. Turns out he's just wearing the jersey for the Punter... a former Packer. Yeah, we normally take their good players. We can't really make good choices by ourselves.

(I wish he had made an offer to Vick of Favre. We actually had a line that could defend and enough breakout speed to keep people afraid of rushing in. Just my own opinion though...)

Game 1 I don't really remember too much from it. Sorry, I got nothing. I know my opponent only had a couple of lands in play at the end and scooped at the second knight.

Out - Same as above
In - Same as above

I make mention of my opponents almost full mat of PTQ T8 pins and keep going. I don't use a mat anymore so I can't put a pin on anything. 🙁

Game 2 I make a serious play error that costs me the game.

What was it? Simple. My opponent plays Jace and has 2 Lingering Souls tokens. He fate seals himself as I have Library active. I have Thalia, Bob, and Dryad Arbor on the field. In hand I have Pulse and Deed with enough mana to do one or the other. So, what do I do?

I'll tell you what I don't do. Pulse the tokens and kill Jace.

No, I Deed the tokens... See the flaw? Dead Arbor... That meant 4 damage.

Now, I had started to lay the Deed on the field and tried to not cast it, but my opponent said that since I had touched it to the table (a corner hit) I had played it. I didn't feel like arguing since I know it takes me drawing dead for me to lose 3 and this game wasn't gone yet. So I just go with it. I lose because he gets to Brainstorm twice before I can kill it with damage, countering my Pulse the next turn. Oh well.

Game 3 I keep a one lander on the play. Why? Zenith, Library, and Choke. I chuckle to myself a bit about it. My Zenith resolves and the Arbor survives to my upkeep! I get excited.

He had Pondered so I could draw a land and choke him this turn! So I draw... Bird?! WTH deck! I wanted a land. Not something I have to wait until next turn to use.

I play the Bird anyway and pass. My opponent plays Stoneforge getting Jitte. I Choke him. Fetch-land for basic plains... He's one land away from playing it. I draw Stoneforge!!! And go get my Jitte, thinking I'd just legend rule his. He plays a Karakas. So, what do I do?

Still at land, Arbor, Bird for mana. I have in hand: Thalia, Batterskull, Jitte, Pulse, Library.

I vial in the Batterskull... He puts the Jitte into play, equips to the Stoneforge on his turn, Swords the skull and swings. I'm down to 1 land... Lucky for me, I draw one and play Library.

If you've ever wondered what makes green able to compete when you're opponent thinks you've already lost, it's Library.

I find answers for everything he is doing. Everything except playing non-islands. I can't find a Karakas. I can't find a Wasteland. HECK, I can't even find a Knight! I mean, it's nice and all that my Jitte killed his Jitte. His Batterskull token got Sworded, Thalia makes Lingering Souls cost 4 so he can't play it. PS: Thalia's a legend, which was missed by my opponent's Karakas for most of the game.

But I can find threats with lands galore and my opponent is having to use every Sword he has access to.

In the end, I robbed this game from my opponent. And he wasn't happy about it at all. You couldn't cut the tension with a knife. We complete the post game rituals (gg's and all) and go our separate ways.

The only issue? Now I'm not in a happy mood. What happened to Round 4? I lost that game but it wasn't to your opponent punting into gold mines, which is what happened here. I didn't feel I deserved Game 3 and I could have cared less about Game 2.

I go talk to a couple people. One of the guys I came with is offering to get food.

He wanted 5 Guys but I've had their Burgers and they're average to me. Most people love them. I don't. As far as the Fries go, when you're hungry, they're amazing. But, I'm hungry so I convince him to go somewhere else, hand him money, then change my mind less than 2 minutes later. He laughs, asks for the keys, which I forgot were in my pocket, and takes off.

Round 6 vs Maverick

I see the name of my opponent (something I don't normally notice) and it's a friend of mine from Minnesota.

Great, I knew this was going to happen eventually. We meet at the table and agree to split whatever we make. He's not happy about the match-up because he knows I've been tuning this deck for a while. It's my pet deck. This game goes super casual, really fast (we keep the rules... yup).

Game 1 when I fetch my third land he flashes in Aven Mindcensor and I'm pretty much dead from there. I play a Stoneforge and start searching (finish this before you judge). He knocks on his Aven Mindcensor to call my attention... I don't even notice what he knocked on. Then he picks it up and starts waving it in my face.

I'm still clueless, laughing, thinking he's being funny, and I'm actually laughing because it is. Then he reminds me of what that card does... Oops.

What he doesn't realize is that I've got almost everything already racked up and am digging for cards to take out and have already pulled the cards from my sideboard. We both break out into laughter and it's on to game 2.

Out - 3x Thoughtseize, 1x Inquisition
In - 1x Ulvenwald Tracker, 2x Dismember, 1x Pernicious Deed

No Timely Reinforcements in this one. I'm not on camera and even though they provide off color'd creatures (since Stoneforge is the only pure white creature in the deck), they only buy a little bit of time. I'd rather go with plan B: Kill EVERYTHING!

Game 2 starts and I kill his Mom (again with the Mother killing on Mother's Day). Next turn it's Bob, then Pulse for his Library. Kill everything is an effective plan.

Game 3 I mull to 5 and keep. I have 2 lands! I'm excited.

The people next to us are nervous because we've been all over the place (literally, I think I rested my head on one of them at one point). We start playing and I Sword his Mom! From there I get a Top and it looks like I might be able to be in this, but he just goes pure aggro and drops body after body.

Luckily Liliana had a blocker and was just making us discard. He drops all but the last card in hand and Liliana goes to 2. He thinks I'm going to edict him so his clock is slower. What he doesn't know is that I've already resigned the game to me finding Deed or nothing.

Discard... Parallax Wave goes to the Bin. Liliana dies on his next attack. When I top, at his end step, after fetching, Deed is the third card down. I draw the Deed and Play it. Next turn I go to 3 from the attack.

At this point, when I untap I have choices. He didn't find an answer with his library and is at 4 because of it. I really haven't hit him at all.

So, I pop Top and crack Deed so he can't continue to look and go to pass the turn. He flashes in Aven Mindcensor... Everyone cheers. I throw a Swords on it and give a cry of victory. Everyone laughs at us.

I know There's a Thalia on top of my deck and play it. Next turn it's a Knight. He did find another creature but I had already hit him down to 2.

I Pulse the creature and swing for lethal. We joke a bit and he tells me I better win. I tell him it's in the bag. Combo and Burn are out and it's all easy street from here on out.

Round 7 vs Aggro Loam

(Just FYI, I get really lazy from this point of writing on. Look at how long this is! Why on earth did someone let me win this thing?)

This match is written about here:

If you've ever played against Pat you know it's an event. Pat is hilarious and I'm pretty sure that if we could record Pat on a regular basis he would be the new standard for comedy. I'll put it this way, though. We played three games on paper but it was really only 1.

Game 1 Pat is in control, entirely. Game 2, we play Magic. Game 3, Pat's land availability was lacking leaving him out of the match.

It's never fun to knock a friend out of contention

Round 8 Vs Canadian Thresh.

Bennett and I ID into T8.

We joke about how Round 2 we'd split in the finals.

Then it starts. Everyone that we run into is telling us we just drew ourselves out of top 8. Oh crap. Tension sets in and we're pretty much thinking, "Crap! We hope we didn't just screw this up for one of us."

Lucky for us we're in 7th and 8th. Deal.

At this point We enter Top 8. I'd give you the low down for my top 8 match but video does it much better:

Top 4 is also captured. Not by video this time, but by Glenn Jones. It can be found here:

Courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

From there we're off to the finals which are, again on video.

Lucky for me I don't have to worry too much about the car ride back. 5 ½-ish hours after we leave the event site (and one Big Mac with a Vanilla Shake in place of a drink) I get back home. Crawl into bed, get right back out and get on Facebook to say thank you to all the people who tagged me in their status'.

If you're interested in the deck, you can catch semi-weekly updated videos at

PS: Celebrated Roller Coaster day at the Mall of America at 10am the next morning. Best end to this weekend. Ever.

4 thoughts on “1st Place SCG Madison Legacy Report: Ian Ellis with Dark Horizons

  1. It was pretty good against the 2 aggro decks I played. The others being, more control based, made it seem like it was lacking something. against the aggro decks it was more of a creature only Lavamancer than anything (Since I typically had bigger stuff than them).

  2. I was thinking it would be pretty damn good considering you dont need to have the creature untapped for entering the arena. And you can zenith it up. Even against Maverick i would think it would decent, basicly blanking the mother for 1G per turn ? Anyways, congrats and thanks for the report.

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