OmniChord: The story behind LSV's first US Nationals win | Magic: The Gathering


The first big tournament I did well in was US Nationals in 2006, and I almost didn’t make it to the tournament. I was still deciding if I wanted to fly to a Magic tournament, and given that it was my last year of college, I felt like I should be focusing on that. Luckily for me (and the country), the airline didn’t offer refunds, so I was priced into going. After finishing third, and being on the team with Paul Cheon (my roommate and close friend), I was more than ready to shoot my shot at Nationals 2007. We got our tickets, and started to test.

This was well before we had a team, but we did have David "Web" Ochoa on our side, and with the three of us qualified, we were determined to make a sweet deck. After much trial and error (more of the latter), we certainly did.

OmniChord by Luis Scott-Vargas (1st Place US Nationals 2007)

Creatures (19)

1 Arcanis the Omnipotent
1 Brine Elemental
1 Crovax, Ascendant Hero
3 Loxodon Hierarch
2 Mystic Snake
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Venser, Shaper Savant
Vesuvan Shapeshifter
4 Wall of Roots
2 Willbender

Instants (11)

3 Chord of Calling
4 Remand
4 Rune Snag

Sorceries (7)

4 Compulsive Research
3 Farseek

Lands (23)

4 Breeding Pool
2 Calciform Pools
2 Forest
2 Hallowed Fountain
2 Island
1 Nimbus Maze
2 Plains
2 Simic Growth Chamber
2 Temple Garden
4 Yavimaya Coast

Sideboard (15)

3 Aven Riftwatcher
1 Brine Elemental
2 Calciform Pools
2 Indrik Stomphowler
1 Loxodon Hierarch
1 Riftsweeper
2 Serrated Arrows
3 Spell Snare

This deck had it all - Chord of Calling for Arcanis, the Vesuvan Shapeshifter + Brine Elemental lock, Remands, Willbenders, and tons of card draw.

This deck also played too few lands, too many clunky cards, and I’m sure had other issues, but we were happy with it. Here are some of the high points of playing the deck:

  • Chording for Arcanis and drawing a million cards. That’s my most enduring memory of the event, and certainly the thing I enjoyed most.
  • Having so many different game plans. This deck could play out like a Rune Snag/Remand/Compulsive Research control deck, a Wall of Roots into high-end deck, or a combo Pickles deck. All of them worked at various times, and it made the deck pretty flexible
  • Getting to play a rogue deck that my friends and I brewed up. I’ve rarely done well with decks of my own creation, and it was super cool getting to experience that. Plus, most of my opponents had no idea what I was up to, which gave me a lot of extra equity.
  • Winning the tournament! I ended up finishing first, making it back-to-back National teams for me, and really making me feel like pro Magic was something I could do. Spoiler: It was.

The importance of practice and knowing your MTG deck

After this tournament, versions of this deck went on to win a couple more Nationals, though with some relevant adjustments. The idea was good, but adding Sakura-Tribe Scout and bouncelands sped it up significantly.

My biggest takeaway from building this deck was how much practice and knowing your deck matters. I don’t think this was the best deck I could have played, as it had a variety of issues, but it was a complicated deck with multiple angles of attack. That, combined with my familiarity with the deck, let me eke out some percentage points against the field, and ultimately take down the tournament.

It’s rare to find a good homebrew in this day and age, but back then, the environment was a little different. I’m just glad I got to have that experience (and claim the title), and hope you can find something similar, even if it’s at FNM instead of Nationals.

Author: Luis Scott-Vargas

Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame, Member of Team CFBUltimateGuard

Luis is one of the most accomplished players in Magic: the Gathering history. His journey with Magic began in 1994, when he and his friend Seth bought a starter deck of Revised and two packs of The Dark each. Little did he know that this was a life-defining moment, as once he opened a Fire Elemental and Wrath of God, he was hooked. Learn more about Luis.