The Eternalist - Learning to Cope with Failure

Joseph Dyer II • April 1, 2019

Howdy folks! Joe Dyer here with yet another monthly Legacy focused article. Heavy title this month, I know, but I wanted to spend some time talking about things in regards to my introspection as relates to the Legacy format and some my personal experience with it.

So without further ado, let's just get right into the meat of things.

Me vs. Legacy in a Nutshell

As I said before, part of this article is a little bit about me and Legacy. I started playing this format with Manaless Dredge, eventually moving into LED Dredge with the real intent of eventually playing Storm. One of the things I eventually found with Storm is that I was really not so great at actually playing the deck and I felt a little hopeless in regards to the price of the dual lands and learning the deck. Nowadays, I actually have tried to go back to the deck and learn it a little better, not with the intent of actually buying in, but so that I can understand it more intelligently.

Fast forward past this and I was looking for something new that played my favorite card in the format: Cabal Therapy. It was around this time that I discovered Nic Fit, realizing quickly that I very much enjoyed piloting it a lot, and began playing it more often.

I decided that I wanted to go a Grand Prix event (Grand Prix Columbus 2016) and I would play Junk Nic Fit. This event took place hot off the heels of Eldrazi Winter, and thus the Eldrazi Stompy deck was all over this event. When all was said and done, I had made Day 2 and I actually made for a 10-5 record at this event. Suffice to say I was really proud of this accomplishment. It was my first GP ever and I did reasonably well.

A few months later I had spent more time within the Nic Fit community and came across a variant called Sneak Fit. I enjoyed the idea immensely, built the deck and took it to an SCG Legacy Classic, going 4-3 (I believe) which put me into cashing the Classic directly in 32nd place.

During 2017, Sensei's Divining Top was banned, and I dove into MTGO, searching for a continual way to make Sneak Fit functional. Unfortunately, there was no saving the deck after the loss of Top, a loss that became well known to me as I attempted to play the deck at US Eternal Weekend going into a stunning 0-4 drop record.

Enter Scapewish. A friend of mine was playing the deck at Eternal Weekend, managing to place 10th in the event. I'd been watching this version and my friend's finish was just what I needed to jump gears and start piecing it together and learning the deck. I entered a Classic with it.

Things did not go well to say the least (in part to a judge call during the event that did not help my mental state at the time.) As I learned the deck, I grew to try and understand why I played certain cards as my friend's own Legacy scene died, leaving me as one of the players hard developing Scapewish as an archetype.

Flash forward a bit, and I was not only developing content but also taking care of the Nic Fit Discord community. I had returned to Scapewish for a bit after trying some different versions, but I had also spent a lot of time playing a lot of other decks as well. I posted an actual writeup on the deck on (a resource for Valakut players) and I very poorly played at a Legacy Classic in Columbus (3-5 record).

Now that we're up to date, let's talk about SCG Cincy.

Coping With Failure - Team Events

With the announcement of SCG Cincy as a Team Constructed Event, I was on the hunt for a possible team and the possibility of playing Legacy. I decided to play with a good close friend of mine Scott Campbell on Modern and we hunted for a Standard player. Salvation came in another close friend by the name of Jeremy Beardsley, who I currently work with as part of a content venture called Strictly Average MTG (where I help manage the content) who was able to make the flight up to compete.

I continued developing Scapewish, knowing that I would be playing Legacy in the event and that I needed to shore up weaknesses in its construction and try new things. I settled on a list I liked and I started prepping for the event. This meant playing in local Legacy and many games on Magic Online. Taking advice from Top Down Legacy (a wonderful podcast by Cyrus Corman-Gill and Eric Vergo, you should listen to it,) I also began to develop a sideboard, helped by Arianrhod of the Nic Fit community.

The list I registered for the event:


3 Assassin's Trophy
4 Badlands
1 Bayou
3 Burning Wish
3 Cabal Therapy
1 Carnage Tyrant
1 Eternal Witness
3 Forest
4 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Huntmaster of the Fells
2 Mountain
2 Nissa, Vital Force
2 Pernicious Deed
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Primeval Titan
1 Regisaur Alpha
2 Sakura-Tribe Elder
2 Scapeshift
2 Swamp
2 Sylvan Library
4 Taiga
2 Thoughtseize
1 Thragtusk
2 Tireless Tracker
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
3 Verdant Catacombs
4 Veteran Explorer
2 Wooded Foothills

1 Cabal Therapy
1 Cindervines
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Innocent Blood
1 Kolaghan's Command
1 Lost Legacy
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Scapeshift
2 Slaughter Games
1 Subterranean Tremors
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Tsunami

I played a local Legacy event the night before the Team Open, going 4-0 and feeling rather good about my play.

Of course, this was a tell that the next day would really ultimately be about failure. The gory details of the event are that my team went 1-4-1 before deciding to drop on being out of contention for Day 2. But my personal record was 1-5 with losses to LED Dredge, Grixis Delver, Eldrazi Aggro, and Sneak and Show. My single win was against Death and Taxes.

Despite the fun that I had hanging out with my team, despite the feeling of winning and losing as a team, I still felt like I had failed them. I felt as if I had not been able to play up to the level that I demand of myself. I had expected better based on my preparation and the work I'd put into the deck. I'd put into my mind this image of how things were meant to have gone. No matter how the rest of the weekend went I still came out of it all feeling like a failure. Team events lead to this sort of thinking a lot and in the long run, I realized that I was wrong. That I needed to take a step back and consider how to cope with failure.

Coping with failure is something we all must do at some point within this game, and there are times I have been genuinely unable to do so. Has the deck decision been a poor one or is my level of play just not up to snuff? These are all things that have been running through my mind since this event.

Legacy in general is a tough and interactive format and I do consider that while I am technically capable of playing and understanding the format, failure is pervasive, and a powerful feeling.

We have to learn to cope with failure, with how we approach these events and the competition. One thing we can do is to learn to separate ourselves from the feeling of failure and learn to focus on more important things. The takeaway for me from this event was not just that I had failed but that I had gained something I didn't know I had: support from others. Friends. I found solace in my failure from my friends.

So while I did not do well this weekend, simply giving in to failure is not an option, nor is it a reason to stop playing or stop pushing forward.

Other Legacy Related Stuff

I could not finish this article without giving at least some shoutouts to people who have helped impact my view of the Legacy format or of Magic in general. One such guy is Minhajul Hoq, who is a prominent part of the Legacy community in regards to the Miracles deck, who made his first Top 8 finish at SCG Cincy with his team. I was very happy for Min in this regards, as he is a really wonderful guy to talk to and very intelligent.

A few others I want to shout out are folks such as Lawrence Harmon (a local friend and another strong thinker in the Legacy community) and Cyrus Corman-Gill (whose advice in tournament preparation was very thankfully needed).

Legacy is a great format and full of incredible people that I am absolutely grateful to be a part of it. I can only hope that I can continue to contribute to the format positively myself going forward more and more.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have for this month's article. Next month we'll be getting back to talking more about metagame and decks in the Legacy format, along with a little bit more on some various tricks you can do in the format. I know that I've been promising more tips and tricks but this article was necessary to get off my mind.

Until next time, may all your Magic be eternal!