Gen Con was a wild ride. The weekend did not at all play out the way I thought it would, but I had an amazing time and I think the story of the weekend is one worth telling. For those of you who were unaware, Gen Con did something spectacular this year. Each winner from eight different qualifier events across Standard, Modern, and Limited got to play in a Legacy Cube draft where all participants get to keep the cards they draft.
This was already insane, but to make it more insane, the winner gets an invite to the Mythic Championship and a booster box of Legends. These are listed on eBay right now at $20,000. I think it would be fairly trivial to get about $12,000 for one. That’s a big chunk of cheddar! A veritable Unexpected Windfall!
Our adventure began Thursday, the first day of the convention. Joslyn slept in and we both packed slowly, so we were out the gates considerably later than we had planned. We finally left around 1:30 pm. Unfortunately, we had not eaten, had a half tank of gas, and 4 hours of driving separated us from the first Modern qualifier event. I had resolved to only attempt to qualify via Modern, as I disliked Core Set 2020 sealed and was not actively playing Standard or Modern Horizons limited at the time. Joslyn and I both wanted to play the event, because of course we did. Who wouldn’t? It’s just awesome and the prize support for the qualifier events is good enough to justify playing in them even if we don’t make it.
A Race Against the Clock
As we approached Indianapolis with some food in our stomachs and our vehicle on empty, we began to suspect we were not going to make it in time for the Modern qualifier. We were set to make it there at 6:20PM for an event that starts at 7PM, and that is assuming we don’t stop to get gas. We also chose to pick up our badges through will-call, and Gen Con lines are notoriously long. We shrugged our shoulders and decided to try and push our luck. We elected to not stop for gas and try to make it with what we had.
I dropped Joslyn at the convention center at 6:20 and drove off to find parking. All the parking lots within two blocks of the convention center were full. I parked in a Sheraton Hotel parking garage, knowing I was gonna eat a hefty tab for my unwillingness to look for parking farther away. That said, I was not close. I was about 5 blocks from the convention center.
A single Bird scooter was resting directly outside the parking structure. I had downloaded the Bird app at the last event I attended for funsies and already had funds added. Based on the distribution of these scooters in Indianapolis, it appeared to have been a 50/50 shot to be the correct brand. What a stroke of luck! I jumped on the scooter with Joslyn and my backpacks strapped around my chest, looking full-on ninja turtle.
With a look of determination as stoic as a person wearing a Hamtaro backpack on their chest can possibly appear, I swiftly strode through downtown Indianapolis to my destination. Upon arriving, I ditched the Bird and snapped a picture of it in the app. (I did not have cell phone service, so Bird decided to translate that to meaning I was taking an extremely long and expensive joy ride and took the liberty of auto-adding funds to my account to bankroll it. Thanks!) Joslyn had, by some miracle, already managed to snag both of our passes. We bolted through the convention center and to the registration line for Magic events. We arrived two minutes prior to the registration cutoff.
I borrowed and bought some Leyline of the Voids and registered my deck just in time for round 1. I won’t go into too much detail about my Modern matches. I played Aggro Hogaak. I gaak’d on some fools. It was only a 4-round event with about 30 or 40 entrants. I intentionally drew into 6th seed after a 3-0 for top 8 and played against the person I drew with. His name was Will, and he was everything you could want from another Hogaak pilot.
He and I goofily mulliganed to hands consisting of Leylines, cards that destroy leylines, and whatever else we could cobble together. Game 3 I drew the nutty one and slew him. Next round I got to be on the play against Ryan Overturf. His deck did not do the thing and my deck did. At the end of Game 2, his heart was visibly heavy as the three dopey Mountains in his hand stared back at him. Had one of them been a Lightning Bolt (or presumably any of several other spells) he would have had me. But had me he did not.
Onto the finals, at 12:30 in the morning, I played against Big Tron. My opponent was friendly enough for a person who says “Turn 1 Relic of Progenitus, Turn 2 Relic of Progenitus ” on the play Game 1, but Force of Vigor is a hell of a card. The price growth on that card is real and has only begun. I will never sell my set.
Game 3 came down to a simple decision made before I took my first turn. My opponent started with two Leyline of the Voids, which I destroyed with Force. I correctly chose to pitch Vengevine over Assassin's Trophy. I was rewarded many turns later, as I didn’t have an immediate path to Vengevine recursion but did get to destroy Ensnaring Bridge to win the game. Wow! I won! I got to play in the Legacy Cube draft on Sunday! Joslyn and I got refunds for the rest of the Modern events and partied hard all weekend until the promised day.
As I’m writing this, I'm still amazed I got to do this draft. This was the coolest thing I have ever done and the most fun I have ever had playing or interacting with Magic. Meeting my girlfriend through the Star City Games Invitational does not count.
The Morning of the Draft
The draft itself was scheduled to start at 8 am, so I went to bed early and got an appropriate amount of sleep. The morning of, we went to the convention hall, mingled with the judges, Wizards employees, and other players for a little bit, then began the draft around 9 am. What a fun draft! We drafted the entirety of the cube, fifteen cards at a time. There was no time set aside for pool review; only a brief 30 seconds allotted to reviewing the cards on the table. I imagine this was somewhat overwhelming for 3 or 4 of the drafters, who were playing their very first cube drafts. I think I picked very well and only made one glaring objectively wrong pick, but with so little time, my attention was largely devoted to my own pool rather than figuring out the nitty-gritty of everyone else’s decks.
I knew that my opponent had Grixis value cards and a smattering of combo pieces across reanimator and splinter twin, but didn’t get enough of anything, in particular, to enable a singular strategy, from what I saw. Aside from that, I saw that Jacob Baugh was assembling a very powerful ramp deck, and the player to the left of me took Mana Tithe (I hate getting got). I didn’t notice the Mono Red player stoically assembling a pile of angry bois heckbent on sending him to the finals, although I didn’t make it through my bracket to face him anyway.
My strategy was to stay as wide open as possible since we're drafting 75 cards each, and just pick the most powerful cards possible. I figured with the way the picks would fall, it would be too easy to hate-draft against any particular strategy, and to some extent I was right. I think there are a lot of strategies you could choose from in that format and see success, since 75 cards meant everyone's deck will be reasonably powerful. I didn’t prioritize value that fact highly enough, although I think I had a chance to pick a judge promo Ravages of War early and didn’t because I forgot that card is expensive. Oh well! I scooped a Badlands and a Gaea's Cradle, which is about as good as you can ask for from the Legacy Cube.
By the end of the draft, each of us had an assortment of 75 of the most powerful Magic cards ever printed. Blue and White were my deepest colors, with Red being my weakest. I had assembled a large number of powerful control/value cards across the Esper shard. I had enough pieces for a Sneak and Show package (3 enablers and 7 bomb payoffs, including multiple Eldrazi titans).
I also had what looked like a strong green value package, although I think I’m personally just too fond of Whisperwood Elemental. While I’m on the subject, can you believe that card is still under a dollar? It’s an awesome card, and the new Sultai Commander deck has a morph theme. It’s really fun to play with too! Hopefully, it hasn’t spiked by the time this article is published, so I can seem smart.
I registered UW Control as my maindeck and planned to sideboard into Jeskai Sneak and Show when my opponents had faster gameplans than my deck could interact with. My maindeck was ridiculously powerful and streamlined. I had potent catchalls such as Venser, Shaper Savant and Unexpectedly Absent, cards that are more powerful but more narrow, such as Sower of Temptation and Martial Coup, and cards that are not fair at all in cube such as Fractured Identity and Mindslaver.
Round one, I played against Grixis Magic cards. They were playing a combination of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combo and reanimator, with some control elements to hold it together. Game 1, he binned a Kiki, then turn 4 Cast Pestermite, untapped a land, cast Exhume. Sneak and Show it is!
A long and grueling game 2 that ended with the power of two Terastodon triggers. Turned out Fractured Identity is very good against Hostage Taker! Game 3, I got the honor of playing the coolest game of Magic I have ever played. And most of it was on stream! Check it out here, starting at the 58-minute mark (warning: the game goes for about 40 minutes past this point). Too much happened for me to accurately summarize, but I wriggled my way out of seemingly unwinnable corners three or four times. You love to see it!
In the semifinals, I played against known insane Magic player Jacob Baugh. Jacob had an insanely powerful GW deck with lots of dorks, Natural Order and Craterhoof Behemoth. That’s all ya need! Game 1 I had a massive Martial Coup produce 7 handsome soldiers for me, but foolishly attacked with them and dead to the mighty Hoof. I would have just barely survived had I held them back, although of course there’s no way to know if I could have converted that into a win.
I sideboarded incorrectly for this match. I boarded into Jeskai Sneak again, which managed to produce a turn 3 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth Game 2 to win, but I lost Game 3 to a mulligan to five where I didn’t draw lands. I should have been more confident in my control elements and boarded into the Esper shard. I had excellent fixing for that color combination, and adding Fatal Push, Choice of Damnations and Toxic Deluge to my deck certainly could have been enough to stem the flow of value creatures from the opposing side and make Craterhoof an ineffective win condition.
I’m upset at myself for not seeing this until the match was over, but I take consolation knowing Jacob is a much better player than me, played excellently in our match, and took down the finals to win the event as well. I heard a vendor offer him $10,500 for the box, and I’m sure he got more than that, so congratulations!
Oops! I Didn't Win
My performance earned me 8 sealed Ultimate Masters box toppers. Joslyn convinced me to open one and we had the devilishly handsome Karn Liberated staring back at us. The deck I drafted would retail for about $1000, and my prize support for about $600 ($700 thanks to Jos). I also got two booster boxes of Core Set 2020 from my performance in the swiss of the Modern qualifier.
This is a solid return on a $50 investment, so I recommend investing in Gen Con tournament entries. Stonks! Additionally, to insert a little more actual finance info, the Magic market is very focused on the upcoming Commander product right now due to spoiler season. A lot of these cards look awesome and will probably produce a lot of demand for more Commander cards. Modern is going to be very dull until the seemingly inevitable Hogaak banning August 26th.
I would dump any Hogaak cards as soon as possible and wait another two weeks or so to buy any more Modern cards you need. They are dirt cheap and may even get a little cheaper before people get really excited for Modern again! Follow me on Twitter for more regular #MTGFinance updates!