Mark your calendars, folks.  I followed through on something from my New Year’s resolution list.  Shocking!
We’ve hinted at this over the past few weeks (and Twitter followers already know the story on a high level), but I had re-found a little bit of interest in Legacy as of late, and decided to use my writer’s exemption to actually try to play in an actual sanctioned event when I realized that there was a StarCityGames Open series in Worcester, Ma. 
I informed Mr P that he was coming along.  This was met with polite dissent, which I accepted.  Other than limited events, neither Patrick nor I have actually played in a sanctioned constructed event for a very long time.  I won’t speak for him, but the last time I shuffled a sixty-card deck, Kamigawa block was still legal in standard.  The last time I shuffled a Legacy deck, George W Bush was still in his first term, and the format may or may not have still been called “Type 1.5”. 
I can’t quite remember…it was a long time ago.
Anyway, I put in some time and money, called in some favors, and shamelessly net-decked Omni-Tell after reading Drew Levin’s wonderful part-primer, part-argument for banning here:  
For those of you not invested in Legacy, here’s what the deck does:
  1. Resolve Dream Halls or Omniscience.  Either can be done via Show and Tell, but Dream Halls will occasionally get hard-cast.
  2. Play Enter the Infinite, drawing the entire deck and putting back something with a very large casting cost (either another copy of Enter, or Emrakul, The Not EDH Legal)
  3. Cunning Wish for Release the Ants.  Yup…that’s actually a valid competitive win condition, kids.
  4. Play for free under Omniscience, win the clash, put it back into your hand, rinse, and repeat.
In a pinch, you can always go with the tried-and-true Show and Tell à Emrakul as well, but this is rarer, because you only run one main, you have to pass the turn, attack, pass the turn again, and attack again to win, and you don’t get the free Time Walk if you don’t cast it.
Anyway, deck details are in Drew’s article.  The only change I made was to pull a single Pact of Negation main for Flusterstorm, and put Eladmri’s Call in the vacated sideboard slot. 
You know, because I have such a good idea what I’m doing.  Speaking of which…

Nope.  Didn’t.  Mr P and I played a few games three nights in advance, but since we didn’t have any of the tier-one decks in the format, I got some experience playing against Aggro-Loam, Ad Nauseam Tendrils, and Goblins.  For about an hour.
Yeah…this was essentially what it looks like – a strict EDH player, sleeving up a deck and jumping into a major tournament cold after a decade.
What could go wrong?
Sunday, July 7th

After staying up to finish a Dear Azami article for StarCity, I get in about four hours of sleep.  That should be sufficient for a day’s worth of competitive gaming, right? 
Out the door at 5:30am, a tank full of gas, a bucket of Dunkin Donuts coffee, and an Ipod that spit out Guns n’ Roses (“Civil War”) into Duran Duran (“Wild Boys”), and before I knew it, I had picked up friend-to-GDC Asa and we were at Mr P’s house.
Mr P showed me his game plan for the day.  It involved a backpack of hard alcohol, two flasks, and zero Legacy decks.  (‘Side drafts FTW!”, as he put it.)  It was up to me to take this thing down for the legions of screaming EDH fans everywhere.  
Again, no pressure.
The drive was a pleasant mix of conversation, jumping wildly from our days playing in bands (the differences between Mexican and Chinese Stratocasters, and the joys of the 1990’s Zildjian Z Heavy Power Crashes, for you drummers out there.) to Paula Deen for some strange reason.  Yeah, we’re still trying to figure that one out too.  In any case, we made it to the DCUCenter in the heart of Worcester in about an hour, and I headed in to get signed up while Mr P headed to the store to find something to mix with his peach moonshine.
While waiting for the event to fire, we wandered over to the feature match area to discover that the finals for the Saturday Standard event were being held.  (If you wander over to StarCityGames and search up the video from the Standard finals, I’m the dude in the Puma shirt standing behind eventual winner Michael Bonde.)
By the way, Michael is important to our story later on.
An Aside – StarCityGames’ traveling Open Series singles booth explained.

They don’t bring foils, unless it’s a GP or higher.  End explanation.  (And end shopping.)
The Main Event
Other-friend-to-GDC Tyler makes it just as registration is closing.  Tyler knows what he’s doing in this format, and has opted for a pretty cool UR Delver list he brewed.  This is similar to what he played in the Legacy World Championships at GenCon last year. 
I’m glad he’s here.  He can help explain to me what the hell I should be doing.
We get seated for deck registration.  There are 307 players, meaning nine rounds.  X-3 should break top-64 and get paid.  ($50!  $100 to top-32, and on up to $2,500 to the winner.  I had my sights set squarely on that sweet portrait of Ulysses S. Grant, baby.)
Round 1 – Pete, playing Mono-R Burn

We get seated, and introduce ourselves.  Pete is a really nice guy, about my age if I had to guess, and he also hasn’t been playing the format in a while.  (Actually, he just picked the game after a layoff, and decided to jump in head-first without checking to see if there was water in the pool.  My kinda guy.)
I win the die-roll, and proceed to flip half my deck onto the table face up while shuffling.  I’m so good at this.  Pete didn’t seem to notice (or likely didn’t know what I was representing anyway), but the four players to my left and right immediately all started talking about the deck. 
Nice start.
It didn’t really matter in the long run, however.  Without any disruption, Omni-Tell does a great job racing Burn.  I was dropped to nine life game one via a flurry of Lightning Bolt effects before I found the mana to play Dream Halls and immediately combo off. 
Pete hadn’t seen it before, and was pretty stoked as I fumbled through the motions of demonstrating the win.  He laughed and mentioned the deck was pretty awesome. 
Game two played out nearly identically.  Nine life, Show and Tell, Omniscience, Enter the Infinite, good games, Pete. 
I was pleasantly surprised to play a really cool guy.  I had this vision of competitive players all being stuffy rules lawyers, and this was a guy that would have been right at home at one of our EDH tables.  I wished him good luck and moved on.
Round 2 – Taylor, playing Elves

Taylor was seated next to a friend, and they were chatting as we shuffled.  I presented my deck, and wished him good luck as I always do.
“Hey…you too, man!”
Cool…another nice guy! 
Of course, I went a ruined it by playing Emrakul on turn two via Show and Tell.  He looked at his hand after leading with Forest into Llanowar Elves and scooped up his cards.
Sideboard Plan –
Uh…no clue?  I think I left everything in, including a mostly-dead Flusterstorm and both Pact.
Shuffle, shuffle.  Present.  Wish Taylor good luck.
“Good luck.”  Quiet and reserved through clenched teeth. 
Game two was closer.  Taylor raced out to playing Glimpse of nature into a flurry of other cards turn two.  I say “flurry”, because his entire deck was made up of foreign cards, and I had no clue what half of them do.
He played That Card into That Other Card, drew some cards, played a card that untapped everything, and then played Natural Order (I was so shocked that I knew what the card was that I forgot to counter it) for Craterhoof Behemoth.
That’s a win-con in this format?  Really?
Anyway, after playing this all out, he realized that his math was off and he was short one damage from lethal.  Fortunately for him, I drew Island.
Sideboard Plan? –
Nah.  Just go for it.
ShuffleShuffleShuffle.  Good luck!
No response this time.  Heh.
Game three was a mirror of game one.  Turn two Emrakul.  Untap, attack, annihilator trigger resolves, bin your entire board and take fifteen.  I pass, he untaps, draws, and scoops up his cards.  The match slip is signed in silence, and I move on with the day.
Round 3 – Akash, playing the Omni-Tell mirror!

We’re seated at table one.  This is my glory moment.  Suddenly, I’m also very afraid of getting called for a feature match, so that I can punt some games on camera for the world to laugh at.  Fortunately, this is not one of those games.
I win the die roll again.  I lead with Island into Ponder.  Akash makes a similar play. Turn two is a Brainstorm, and I see that I have all the pieces I need in my hand for turn three, albeit with no counter backup.  I decide my plan is to go for it.  Akash Ponders, plays Brainstorm, and passes.
I play Island into Show and Tell.  He grins.  We both flip Omniscience onto the battlefield.
“The mirror!  Nice!” I exclaim as I bury him under a pile of ants for which he has no counter to stop.
We go to sideboard, look at each-other, and laugh.  “All those options in there, right?” he says. 
Game two is a little different.  We both end up playing out cantrips, and I Force his Gitaxian Probe.  Mine reveals that he’s close to having the pieces he needs.  I have lots of land, Dream Halls, and another Force  of Will.  We play draw-fetchland-cantrip-go for a bit, and he finally tries to go off. 
I Force Show and Tell, and he Forces back.  I drop Omniscience into play, he goes for Dream Halls, and I immediately realize that I punted the game.  He doesn’t need to even win at this point, but he can Cunning Wish to bounce my Omniscience and leave me stranded with it and nothing else in hand.  If I let Show and Tell resolve, my Force is free and I can counter his Cunning Wish and still have a shot at the win.  He shows me the Cunning Wish, and we move to game three. 
This is an academic instance of The Joys Of Winning The Die Roll.  I have turn two Show and Tell with Pact backup, and take the match 2-1.
Wait…does that mean…
Round 4 – Oliver, playing ANT

Yup.  Table one two games in a row.  It’s almost like I know what I’m doing.  Almost.
He wins the die roll, but I have the Show-into-Emrakul turn two start, and take game one in a hurry.  We sideboard, and I bring in Leyline of Sanctity, which is a beating against Tendrils-based decks if two conditions are met:
1. Omni-Tell mulligans into it.
2. Omni-Tell protects it.
Of course , I fall prey to shiny things, don’t fulfill the first condition, and Oliver Cabal Therapys away my Show and tell and combos out on turns two and three.  (His math was off turn two and he left me at two life, but I again drew nothing relevant, and he just recurred Tendrils.
You’d think I would have learned my lesson, but again, I keep a hand that has no Leyline and no Force of Will.  I lead with Island into Preordain and pass.
Now, this is Legacy.  Storm combo decks are good in this format, but not Vintage-good.  They’re rarely turn-one wins.
Except, of course, in game three.  Duress to see if the way is clear, Lion’s Eye Diamond into multiple Lotus Petals into Ad Nauseum into Past in Flames into a huge Tendrils, and I don’t get to see turn two.
This is where the wheels fall off, for those of you keeping score.
Round 5 – Joey, playing Punishing Jund

Joey is an unbelievably nice guy from Canada.  He loves small talk, and apologizes several times for being so chatty.  I’m happy to have the pleasant conversation, though. 
One of the guys at the next table recognizes me as a SCG writer, and the topic shifts to EDH.  Joey doesn’t actually play the format, but is an old-school aficionado and lets me know he has a card in his deck that I’m sure to appreciate. 
Game one is fairly academic for him.  I keep a bad hand that has potential, but I run out of cantrips before I find Show and Tell or Dream Halls.  Meanwhile, his Bloodbraid Elves and Deathrite Shaman tear me a new one. 
We move to game two, and he happily exclaims that he has the card he was telling me in his hand.  We get into the game, and I cantrip a bit to find a hand that wins on turn four with Dream Halls into Enter the Infinite. 
On turn three, he grins, taps his mana, and plays…
Chains of Mephistopheles.
We all laugh, and pause the game while I marvel at the condition of the card.  It could have come straight out of a pack that day.  He was really excited about it, and he tells me the story of how he got it as he’s re-sleeving it.  It’s a really nice card.
…unfortunately, it also wrecks my deck, so I slow-roll the Force of Will without realizing it and combo out the next turn.  I’m a jerk.
I bring in the Leylines again to prevent him from taking me apart with Thoughtseize and Hymn to Tourach.  Again, I fail to mulligan into one. 
Joey is in the driver’s seat the whole game.  He Thoughtseizes away my early Cunning wish, and then hits my Omniscience.  I Force a Hymn, and he catches Bloodbraid Elves, cascading into another Thoughtseize.  I have Emrakul in hand, and just need Show and Tell.  Unfortunately, the turn I find Cunning Wish and get Intuition, he top-decks Liliana of the Veil, and I’m done.
We shake hands, and wish each-other luck with the rest of the day.

Round 6 – Jack playing Tempered Steel

Here’s the stereotypical “My notes are a little foggy” round.  I know that he gets a quick beating on with multiple Signal Pest and Etched Champion while I fail to find my combo in the first game.  The second game is drastically different, as I get off Show and Tell for Omniscience fairly quickly.  
My notes for game three – “Me: 20, 19.  Him: 20, 19.”
If memory serves, I think this was a quick Emrakul.  In any case, my hopes were still alive at 4-2.
At this point, Patrick and Asa wander up to let me know they’re headed to Uno’s to get a good lunch.  I’m looking at a cookie and a Gatorade from the snack bar.  The woman charges me $8.75.  This is a bad omen.
Round 7 – Kevin, playing RUG Delver

More nice players.  I could get to like this format. 
Kevin and I talk a bit.  He recognizes my name as a writer, and we discuss EDH a bit.  He’s played a few games, but isn’t a big fan of the format.  He asks for some suggestions on how to get started, and I tell him a good way is to find a card or a color combination he likes and go from there.  He mentions U/R, and thinks he may build Jhoira.  Fair enough…he is a competitive Legacy player. 
We get to the games.
Game one, he hits a turn one Delver, flips it, and rides it to victory before I can come up with a way to win.  I board in my three Defense Grid, and win a counter war on turn two to get one into play.  This is decisive, as I find my combo in a few turns and win over a dead hand he shows me that contains Spell Pierce and 2 x Red Elemental Blast.
Game three is a trainwreck, however.  He sticks two early Delvers and gets to beating my head in.  I have Show and Tell and Enter the Infinite, but his clock means I’m short a turn and need to burn the Cunning Wish I want to get Intuition with in order to Rushing River his team.  Sadly, they come right back down (plus a Tarmogoyf for good measure!), and I blank on my draw.  Loss number three.
At this point, I need to win out, but I’m in a good bracket to make that happen.  Or so I think.
Round 8 – Phil playing Zombardment

This is the list Sam Black put together a few months back featuring a boatload of recurring zombies (think Gravecrawler) and Goblin Bombardment, plus a whole bunch of hand disruption.  It should be fairly academic, and when I open on a hand that has Force of Will, Island, City of Traitors, Show and Tell, and Emrakul, I get a little excited.
Sideboard Tech – My Flusterstorm is weak and my Pacts are dead, and he’s playing discard and Goblin Bombardment.  Clearly, the logical play is to not board in the Leylines.
As a result, I discard my business and get a bunch of Zombies thrown at my face.  Wow.
Game three is pretty epic.  I miss on the Leyline again, and he manages to find a ton of hand disruption, hitting my early Show and Tell with Emrakul in my hand. 
This works out in my favor, however, as I also have Enter the Infinite and Dream Halls.  I need to get to five mana for Halls, so I start aggressively using my Brainstorms to hide it on the top of my library while I try to represent that I’m looking for a way to get Emrakul in play.  If I play it right, he’ll leave Enter the Infinite alone while aggressively preventing me from playing the Eldrazi. 
Zombies are whittling away my life, and he seems to be finding all the right discard.  He nabs the Omniscience I draw into and keep in my hand as bait, and he finally Tidehollow Scullers away my Emrakul and attacks me to eight. 
I untap, draw the Dream Halls I’ve been keeping on top of my library, and pop off the Scalding Tarn I’ve been sitting on unused for a shuffle.  The post-fetch Brainstorm shows me a City of Traitors, and I pounce.  Dream Halls, Enter the Infinite pitching the last card in my hand, a Preordain, to play Enter.  He immediately sees what I had been doing and puts his head into his hands for a minute before shaking my hand and signing the slip.
I’m at 5-3.  A winning record either way.  The standings going into the final round are posted, and I’m in 58th place.  A win here gets me a money finish.  This is academic, right?
Round 9 – Michael Bonde, playing Death and Taxes.

Yeah…that Michael Bonde.  Of course, this is how the day ends.  Because of who he is, there are thirty-five people watching the match.  And boy, oh boy – Death and Taxes shreds Omni-tell.  I wasn’t in either game at all. 
The first one sees him land Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to totally wreck my ability to cantrip.  He follows that with Mirran Crusader while I’m frantically trying to find a Cunning Wish to get rid of Thalia, and I can’t beat the clock before I’m dead.
He boards heavily.  I pull my Pacts and Flusterstorm for RushingRiver and Sapphire Charm and some other thing that made no difference in the long run.
He leads with an Aether Vial that I can’t force, and the game is over before it began.  I Force a Phyrexian Revoker to keep the clock manageable, but I can’t gain leverage against the Vial.  I try for a Show And Tell, and he has the Oblivion Ring.  I have to tap City of Traitors and then play a land to have the mana to Cunning Wish for an answer, but I have to burn that to bait out the Thalia in his hand, which he Vials in.  I’m dead in the water.
0-2.           The only time I get shut out all day.  No money for me.
The Aftermath

I do get to eat a nice steak on the way home.  And almost fall asleep and drive into the woods somewhere north of Greenfield on I-91.  But all in all, I had an absolute blast.  I had forgotten how fun it was to play competitive Magic, and I forgot how much I used to enjoy Legacy. 
What did I learn about Omni-Tell?  Well, the myths are overstated by a country mile.  It’s not a format-crushing deck like it is being made out to be.  There’s a reason that Esper Deathblade and RUG Delver are all over the top-16 of these events, while this deck maybe pushes in one or two players.  It simply has a hard time with blue-base control, especially pre-board.  This means that even winning the die roll isn’t a guaranteed bit of breathing room.  As I mentioned, Death and Taxes is a nightmare, and I saw other players running this list get crushed by Reanimator all day too. 
It’s a solid deck, but it’s not perfect. 
I also absolutely hated the Pact of Negation.  I never wanted to see them.  What I needed was counter protection that I could use before I was ready to go off, and Pact is nearly always a counter for the turn you’re winning.  If you can pay for it, you’re still tapping out next turn, which is basically giving your opponent a free Time Walk, so you need to make sure what you counter is crippling.  Otherwise, you’re likely sitting there with a dead card while Jund makes you discard your combo pieces on turn two. 
If I played it again, I’d keep the one Pact in the board, and run better maindeck options.  Possibly another Flusterstorm, or likely a pair of Spell Pierce. 
As for Legacy?  Yeah…the bug has bit me.  I’m brewing a deck or two for some monthly tournaments up in this neck of the woods, and I’m now planning on representing at GenCon next month too.  If my admittedly-terrible research holds up, I’ve got some new stuff that I’m ready to throw at the format, so it should be interesting to see if I’m right about my thoughts.
And maybe that’s what it takes to succeed…a casual EDH hack who doesn’t know a thing about the format.  That’s one thing I’ve got completely covered.