lördag 10 november 2018

Fishliver Oil Cup Top16

I must confess I kinda enjoy not opening the floodgates on decklists too quickly. Sure, we lose some instant gratification by not getting the info as soon as it is available, but on the other hand it gives players a chance to reveal their own tech in the way they see fit - with own reports and such - and may give a little more lasting feeling from the events. And lest we not forget, back in the oldschool days decklists weren't public at all. Once they were, you'd still have to wait a few weeks until you got your hands on the latest magazine.
Or in the case of The Wizards' Tournament, about a year.
There's a good handful sweet reports from the Fishliver Oil Cup on the webosphere now. Svante Landgraf wrote Pictures of Genoa over at End of turn, draw a card; the honorable winner Francesco posted his tales on a glorious "altervista" page; Flafoux shared some great experiences on French Boars; Bryan had a sweet interview with Martin Berlin about the tournament on the All Tings Considered Podcast; and Wak-Wak have posted all the streams. I think it is about time we can spoil the top decks in good conscience. The Fishliver Oil Cup hosts sent them over a few days after the event, and gave me the privilege to reveal them :)

Before that I must state once again how much I appreciate all the content contributions to this blog in the last months. It both give some spectacular insight to other sides of the community, as well as give me personally some spare time to write for players outside this particular corner of the Magic blagosphere. (Which I btw did, so if you speak Swedish, or are a fan of google translate, you might want to check out this part of an article series on SvenskaMagic about the most powerful cards in the earliest sets. Also, if you have a site or blog, feel free to ask if you want me to write something in particular for you.)

What else? I'd be amiss not to give a shout out to Eternal Central and the fifth annual Eternal Weekend that took place November 4th. Awesome organization by Jaco and the crew, inspiring contributions to charity, and once again taking back the title for "largest old school event yet". 181 wizards showed up this time! It is not possible to fit that many players at the Rotary Pub where we host n00bcon, so I guess Fishliver Oil Cup will have to raise to the occasion and give Jaco a run for the title next year ;) Check out decks and photos from the event here at Eternal Central. Tipping my hat :)

Anyways, Fishliver Oil Cup decklists! I have 16 of them right here, so I'll try and be quick in my presentations to avoid making this a proper marathon post. Goal is no more than three sentences for each deck. Let's go!

Fishliver Oild Cup Ed. 2, Main Tournament Top 16

Francesco Delfino's Unspoiled Burn. 1st place.
Glorious Francesco drew inspiration from the Shahrazade Sick Burn article on Eternal Central for his deck at the EC-rules tournament the Friday before the main event. It put him in the top8 of that gathering, so he decided to cut all the power cards, update it for Italian rules (i.e. "Swedish B&R"), and try to win the prize for Best Unpowered Deck at the 115 player main tournament. He then went on to win the whole thing. Check out Francesco's full report here.
Leo Bruder's Workshop Aggro. 2nd place.
Leo Bruder from Germany followed up his Top4 at Fishliver Oil last year with a Top2 this time; sporting a deadly artifact aggro deck. In the wake of restricted Workshop, Leo opted for the full set of Mana Vaults, which also combos real well with his Sages of Lat-Nam. Also note the sweet Animate Dead tech.
Marco Signorini's BWu Dead Guy. 3-4th place.
Marco's new take on Dead Guy took him all the way to the top 4. Apart from the fairly straight-forward blue splash for Power and deadly Energy Fluxes, one of the more interesting choices here is going down to a single maindeck Sinkhole. Also the playmat, I guess ;)
Martin Berlin's CounterBurn. 3-4th place.
2016 World Champion Martin Berlin brought the pain with this extremely well tuned CounterBurn. I think this may be the first time I've seen him sport UR Burn; last time I saw him on Fishliver Oil he top8'd with TwiddleVault, and he won his Worlds title with The Deck. We could note the omission of Recall in this take of the strategy.
Alban Lauter's LauterDeck. 5-8th place.
2018 World Champion Alban Lauter took his signature LauterDeck to the top8 this time; actually a slightly worse performance than last year when he placed 2nd. Alban is a brilliant player and great sport, but we should all mock him for playing 16 cards in his sideboard. Or could it be that he didn't put his Shark in his deck?!
Kevin Olivotto's The Deck. 5-8th place.
Now this is a beautiful pile of cards! Kevin sported the top placed The Deck in the tournament, and give us some really interesting options in the "flex slots". In particular we take note of his two copies of The Abyss, the two Stone Rains, and cutting down to three maindeck Tomes. Also sideboard Icy!
Marc Lanigra's Troll Disco. 5-8th place.
Famed Alpha-collector and champion of the inaugural Wizards' Tournament Marc Lanigra Troll us all by opting for an almost completely wb deck. The fact that he randomly plays a maindeck Twiddle is just icing on the Troll cake (Marc is often known by his nickname Twiedel). And let us gasp in disbelief over that he doesn't even play Timetwister here. TT is not only a good card, but arguably Marc's signature Power card as he won the Vintage World Championship where the new art of Timetwister was the top prize, and he even has TT art as his profile picture on facebook. And not least the outlandish style of playing wb as an apparent "budget option", while a good amount of the cards are revealed to be Summer Magic on closer inspection. This is a Troll decklist if I ever saw one.
Marco Rocchetti's Disaster. 5-8th place.
We had the 2016 and 2018 World champions representing themselves in this top8, but it is up to Marco to represent the 2017 World champion's strategy; the black Disaster. Marc's evolution of the deck includes going up to the full playset of Juzam, but in particular adding Disenchant and Swords to the deck to give it better answers and a more rounded sideboard plan.
Andrea Braida's BraidaDeck. 5-8th place.
The third deck with Juzam in the top8! Andrea Braida is no stranger to the Fishliver Oil Cup top8 with his signature BraidaDeck. This is a fantastic deck played by a fantastic man; Braida and his pile of sweetness in many ways encapsulates the spirit of the Italian players for me.
Andre Brunet's LauterDeck. 9-16th place.
It is kinda funny how some decks just become so closely associated with a player. Most Italians I've met would refer to the previous deck as BraidaDeck; and most aggro brewers would be able to recant the differences between Lestree Zoo and Cermak Zoo. So I'll state that Andre's pile is a LauterDeck. But oldschool deck lists are obviously not simply a list of card names, but rather the cards themselves. So let's bask in the fact that Andre have beautifully Star Wars altered Balance, Demonic Tutor, and all four Counterspells. And then let's question why the Strip Mine have a Scaled Wurm alter rather than a Sarlacc ;)
Jocke Almelund's The Deck. 9-16th place.
So Jocke has like five n00bcon top8s and is generally credited with being one of the guys who evolved The Deck from its 1994 form to the more modern adaptation. And now he's playing Icy Manipulator maindeck. Along with Kevin's sideboard Icy, we might be on the verge of a new trend here.
Joep Medden's GW Geddon (without Armageddon). 9-16th place.
Joep Medden's has quickly become one of the most renowned players from the Netherlands scene. Just a few weeks ago he shared his story from winning the inaugural Frost Giant cup, and here we see him sporting an ErhnamGeddon without Armageddon. What the actual balls. Really impressive list, and well worth a second look. I mean, no Birds to get extra sick value from the miser's Ifh-Biff. Spice!
Marco Buti's Atog Burn. 9-16th place.
Marco's Atog Burn can be interpreted as the love child between Sligh and Workshop Aggro. This time he's splashing blue not only for Power, but also a couple of Psionic Blasts. Note that the Blood Moons are relegated to the sideboard, and that the maindeck split of artifact removal is 2-1 in favor of Detonate to Shatter.
Miguel Angel Diaz Gonzalez's The Deck. 9-16th place.
Miguel gives us the third and final The Deck of the Top16. And this one have some spicy choices. If we look at the "flex slots" we see that he opts out of e.g. Stone Rain, the 4th Tome, and The Abyss in favor of two Moat, Transmute Artifact and Sylvan Library. But the real spice is that he completely cuts Mishra's Factory, giving him the opportunity to go down to 28 mana producers. And yeah, that's a single Fireball and a Serra as the sole wincons.
Per Rönnkvist's ErhnamGeddon. 9-16th place.
Unlike Joep, Per got the memo that ErhnamGeddon plays geddon. There are a couple of things I really like with this tech; one is the focus on agressive starts and the weenie suit of no less than seventeen 1-2 drop attackers (counting the factories). These guys force the opponent to commit to the board or waste removal before the geddon hits. The other thing I find sweet is how "clean" the deck is; no splashing blue for power nor black for Tutor/Twist. Just get your mana right and start pressuring.
Yuri Ancarani's Next Level Disaster. 9-16th place.
Yuri! As one of the pioneers to push a broad adaptation of "house rules" for 93/94, Yuri properly fanned the flames of the international oldschool scene. Similar to Marco, Yuri opted to take the Disaster strategy to the next level. And boy is this some sweet tech. Look at the four maindeck Energy Fluxes. Then look at the sideboard and take in one of the most surprising transformation sideboards I've ever seen. Then take an extra look at the Juzams, as Juzam always deserves some additional admiration.

So that's the main tournament's Top16 for you! Properly diverse strategies (though only a single deck that didn't opt for any blue cards). Fishliver Oil Cup keeps the streak in leaving little to ask in terms of tech and inspiring builds.

Next up we'll look into the top8 of the Columbus Night EC tournament, as well as a short meta breakdown of the full field at Fishliver Oil Cup. Might take a deeper look at the Eternal Weekend Top8 as well. And then it's time to start exploring some strange cards in preparation for next year's Arvika Festival.

torsdag 8 november 2018

Fishliver Oil Cup - Columbus Night: Notes from an improbable winner

Genoa. One of the true strongholds for mages of old. A couple of weeks ago we saw the third annual Fishliver Oil Cup take place in the ancient buildings of northern Italy. And to commemorate the Columbus Night celebration, the evening before the main event saw the wizards borrowing inspiration from their brethren in The New World. That meant Eternal Central rules, and 70 mages joined for the most anticipated EC-rules gathering this side of the ocean yet. It is my pride and honor to share with you the words of a master wizard. I give you our Columbus Night champion; Daniele Brunazzo. Enjoy! /Mg out

Hey ho, let's go! It was a cold and stormy night... Ok, never mind, it was actually quite sunny when I landed in Italy the day before the Fishliver Oil Cup in Genova. You see, even if in my veins runs pure Italian blood (some would say Nebbiolo at this point, but whatever), I am living in Germany since five years. And before that I made sure to enjoy the life of quite a few different countries; six months in France, a couple of years in Switzerland, and last but not least six months in Sweden.

It is therefore with pleasure that I start to write this report - on the Swedish blog that brought me back actively into Magic: The Gathering. You see, even while I was busy switching country, job and companies, I had a few things that always accompanied me; an insatiable lust for life and alcohol (yes, the two are strictly related, believe me), music and Magic. It is not hard to imagine how I was immediately attracted to the gorgeous pictures of old cards being tossed on pub tables, close to large beer glasses. This was roughly the summer of 2015.

Needless to say, I did not have a single old school card nor any Power in my card collection. But my Legacy collection sat unplayed in some box, so after some hesitation I decided to trade most of it and voilà! After a couple of months I owned four Juzams, and three Moxen - Jet, Emerald, and Pearl. I started playing mono Black, splashing white and green from time to time. With time and patience I was finally able to get hold of an unlimited Black Lotus in another colossal trade, and I was ready (or so I thought) for my first large Old School Tournament - the 2017 edition of the Fishliver Oil Cup. I brought a mono Black (Hymns, anyone?) on Friday night and a Black\Red\White midrange on Saturday, without any luck - a couple of Blood Moons proved to be too strong against my brew, that contained at the time almost only duals.

Finally I decided it was time to complete my P9 collection, and bought myself a huge Xmas present last year (special thanks to Giulio Trapani - simply the best Italian trader); an unlimited Mox Sapphire, and the remaining three blue pieces of the P9. While time was passing I even managed to bring some old friends - I can be quite persuasive when I want - into the game, and therefore in the past three years I was able to play and enjoy what I believe is the most beautiful game ever.

I have always been a black mage - seeing pictures of mono Black decks got me really excited, and for a while that was all that I played. That is why I decided to run a mono Black deck with a blue splash in the main event on Saturday - that was already decided. But I wanted to play something different on Friday. As I just moved close to Stuttgart one month ago, I had the chance to train briefly with some of the best German Old School players; the one and only Marc Lanigra, a real Alpha man, Leo Bruder, Patric Hiness, and Philipp "Karl" Steinisch. Some of the best players and people I could wish to play with were now just 30 minutes away! In our last testing together, I decided to go for Arabian Aggro, thinking that in a format allowing four Strip Mines control decks would be an uncommon choice. As City in a bottle can utterly destroy this kind of decks, I inserted a main deck Crumble and was unsure about the black splash for a while, but in the end I decided for it given the high number of silver bullets this deck plays.
Such a sweet pile of cards!
Man, every cool card is in there! Demonic tutor, almost a complete P9, Braingeyser, Wheel of Fortune, Sylvan Library, Regrowth... the only notable card missing is Library of Alexandria, as the abundance of Strip Mines and the speed with which the deck empties its hand just make it a suboptimal choice in my opinion. The sideboard is super sweet; I will never leave with less than four Red Elemental Blast ever again when playing red.

Finally, the day of the tournament came. I started the journey by car with one of my long-time friends - Matteo Giorgio Malisan, whom I've known since the age of 10. We were really close once, and Magic gave us another occasion to reconnect on many levels in the past few years. Another aspect of the game that I just love.

One last important detail before starting the trip. As we all know Mr. Lanigra is a gentleman of taste, so as promised I packed (with some pride) a bottle of Nebbiolo, by far one of mine and Mark's favorite “beverages” from my home region, Piemonte. This bottle were to give me a nice energy boost before the Top8 on Friday night, so another detail just clicks in place. We arrive at the Hotel after a couple of hours, check in rapidly and proceed with the rest of the people towards the Lighthouse. Man, what a cool place for a Magic tournament! I immediately start to see familiar faces while gulping down local wine and focaccia - after a few glasses I am already a bit tipsy, so I start the fist game knowing that whatever result I make, I will have fun.

Match “Ooops” - Miguel Diaz Gonzalez with The Deck

It looks like I have to play against THE DECK in the 1st round of this tournament. Luckily (for me), the organizers recognized an issue with the pairings and so the match was simply cancelled a few seconds after its start. Oh well, I will have the chance to play again against Miguel in the Top8. But as often happens in Old School, I can already tell that he is a real gentleman, in addition to being a very good player - two Top8s in the two days can attest to that.

Match 1 - Matteo Savioli (IT) with a BUR, 2-0

Tastes like home!
One of the "few" Italians participating on Friday! We had a chat while drinking a few minutes ago, so the start is quite relaxed. I do not remember too much of the first games, with the exception of the start of our game one. Land, Lotus, Erhnam, quickly followed by... an Unsummon from Matteo. Ouch. He is playing four Hymns; they are always good but not so great against such an aggressive deck as mine. We finish quite rapidly and I rush over to the focaccia & wine tables, to get some energy for the following games.

Match 2 - Mathieu Derothe-Renaud (FR) with White weenie, 2-0

Another thing that I like about international tournaments is that they give me the chance to speak all the languages that I love. I always felt a deep connection with France, as I spent quite a few summers there when I was a kid - and I had the chance to learn the language later when I was a student in Grenoble. So merci Mathieu!

I win the first game using two Erhnam and bolting every small critter that is played by Mathieu. My deck really does what it is supposed to without any issues. The second game is much longer; Mathieu sides in his single City in a bottle, and of course manages to destroy one Kird Ape, one Serendib and one Erhnam with it. Nice! He was however already low on life, even with three Crusades in play. I risk losing the game when he attacks with a Spirit Linked Order of Leitbur. I have to thank the alcohol running in my veins here, as it grants me a steady hand for the most important Chaos Orb flip of the tournament. Had the Order connected, Mathieu’s life total would have skyrocketed quickly outside of bolt range.

After a couple of Timetwisters thanks to Regrowth and one Wheel of Fortune, the opposing wizard lays burned on the ground. On with the 3rd match!

Match 3 - Ben Twitchen (UK) with monoU War Barge, 2-0

What a match! This gentleman from London definitely knows how to brew a deck. MonoU playing War Barge to give opposing creatures islandwalk, Merfolk Assassin, and some main deck Energy Flux. If I remember correctly I won 2-0, but it could have been 2-1 - the wine runs strong within this one! As Ben asks me to sign his Fishliver Oil card (yes, he is playing one main deck!), I decided to ask every opponent tonight to sing the Fishliver Oil mat from 2017 that I just bought before the match from Francesco, one of the organizers of the event.

Match 4 - Alessandro “Zigo” Sagoleo (IT) with Black Aggro, 2-0

Even before the match is started I know this will be a blast, as I receive a bottle of Fishliver Oil Stout Beer from Zigo. Look at that happy face!
Fishliver Oil Beer - how cool is that?
Zigo is usually a dedicated Arabian Aggro/Zoo player, but decided to play a black deck splashing Blue and Red. Well, I am doing exactly the opposite, and here the fortune favors the drunk - I just always have the right answer or the right threat, and I bring home another victory with two fast games. (PS - if you can read Italian, here's the report from Zigo!)

Match 5 - Philipp “Karl” Steinisch (DE) with Black Aggro, loss (0-2)

Well, this is a surprise. One of the good German players with which I have now the honour to play regularly. He is a very good deck builder and a very good player, and I know this will be a hard match. The combination of all the best black cards plus the blue P9, and the best removal of the format, are quite a nightmare for me. And so as expected - he destroys me 2-0 or 2-1, between Juzams, Hypnotic Specers, Royal Assassins and Swords.

At this point I am starting to feel sleepy - the famous "Pizza Coma" after having eaten one pizza in approximately 0.05 seconds while watching my mate Giorgio losing to a MonoW prison after the third match. We walk back towards the hotel, where the last round of Swiss will be held.

Match 6 - Joep Meddens (NL) with… ehm… I won anyway (2-0? 2-1?)

I drank half a bottle of Nebbiolo while waiting for the tournament to continue at the hotel. The God Baccus was on my side, but unfortunately this means that I cannot remember much of the last match of the Swiss. I remember clearly the gentleman from the Netherlands playing some Initiates on the Ebon Hand and some Order of the Ebon Hand, so I know that he was playing black at least, but not much more. At this point I was at 15 points, and definitely in the top 8.

Really happy and ignoring the call of the bed - I am actually feeling quite good and relaxed, as I usually do when I am in the middle of something intense. Another thing I love about this game.
Twiddle party - together with some Pre-Modern goodies.
At this point I have a small break, and finally have the chance to met Paolo, who came after an extremely tough working day to meet me. Kudos! This way I actually get some sweet old cards for my next deck - can you guess what it is?

Top 8

Quarterfinals - Miguel Diaz Gonzalez with The Deck, 2-0   

So Miguel and me met again in the quarterfinals. At this point we know what everyone is playing, so we start after wishing each other good luck (or better, "in bocce al lupo" and "mucha mierda" - simply wishing good luck to Latin people is supposed to bring bad luck). Unfortunately for my opponent, he mulligans down to six in the first game and down to five in the second one.

Both matches were done in no more than 10 minutes, with a Mind Twist for two settling the score in the last game. Well, I have to add that Miguel beat me to death on Saturday when I was playing my monoB with U splash. But that is another story!

Semifinals - Phillip “Karl” Steinisch with Black Aggro, 2-0

Agh, my nemesis! Seriously, it is not a nice feeling when you have to play against an opponent that already defeated you. On the positive side, Karl is a great guy and a great player - if my deck can keep up with his Juzams, I definitely have a chance to advance to the Final!

The firstst game is over pretty quickly and there is not much that he can do. I do not remember exactly how I won as it was already quite late, around 3:00 a.m., but I know that the second game involved quite a bit of Control Magic on one of his Royal Assassin. Between this back and forth accompanied by some serious Mishra beating, I manage to burn him out. He admits that he has been a bit too greedy, waiting with a Disenchant in hand for the best moment to blow my Control Magic and get back his Assassin - but it did not work out as intended. On the positive side, he can finally go to sleep - and he is even happy that I am swearing in Italian. Klasse.

At this point there are just a couple of people left in the room - drunk Gordon, drunk Jason, Gene, Martin Berlin still playing against Patric Hiness, and of course Matteo and Megu. I watch the last minutes of the other semifinal, noticing how Martin has a City in a bottle in play. Ouch. "Well, hopefully he sided that in after the 1st game", I think. Nah, no such luck, as I will learn on my skin during the finals.

Finals - Martin Berlin with Robots

The man that invented Pre-Modern, aka the other format with which I am currently in love. And he is also playing a super sweet deck featuring no less than four Mishra’s Workshop thanks to EC rules - just have a look at the deck in all its magnificence! (And notice the quantity of City in a bottles. Exactly what I did not want to play against. Oh well...) We chat a bit and I manage to use the few words that I learnt while I was living in Stockholm - a city that will forever remains in my heart.

Looking at his deck list after the match, I realize that at least I was able to sideboard correctly. Energy Flux, Argothian Pixies and Red Elemental Blasts were all I needed to bring home this match and win the tournament. As the staff was kind enough to stream the match online, here we go with the links and a detailed description.

Game 1
Not a very good start. Martin starts due to ranking, opening in the first turns with a Strip Mine, Mishra's Factory and the dreaded City in a Bottle while I had a Bayou, a Sol Ring and a City of Brass in play. Back to one land. Then he proceeds to play a second Strip and to Orb away my Sol Ring. Oh well, in response I crumble away his City in a bottle. Back in the game - so to say. He plays a Fellwar Stone and starts attacking with a Mishra while I cast Regrowth off a Taiga to take back my Sol Ring. Mana, need mana. Life: 22 to 15 for Martin.

A turn later, while I go to 13 thanks to his Mishra, Martin plays a Mana Vault and strips away my only two lands. I am lucky enough to top deck a Lotus, which I quickly sacrifice for blue to cast Sol Ring and Timetwister. One blue mana left floating, I manage to play a land and a mox to cast a Serendib Efreet. Woaaah!

Martin replies with a Library followed by a Sol Ring and a Su-Chi. He passes and I drop to 12 from the Efreet. I play a Kird Ape, pass, and got a Volcanic stripped. Then he taps my Efreet with an Icy, and beats me with his Su-Chi. I draw and scoop - there was no way out of this game, in the worst case he could have just waited and let my own Efreet do the killing.

Game 2
I side out my Efreets and the Apes, afraid of more City in a Bottle. I leave the Erhnam in as they are bigger than Su-Chis and Triskelions, boarding in some killer cards: three Energy Fluxes, two Argothian Pixies and three Red Elemental Blasts. At this point I also realize that the first prize is a Transmute Artifact Artist Proof with a super cool artwork on the back from Anson Maddocks. Wow. I am playing for the sake of it, to have fun, but at this point (it is almost 4:00 a.m.) this gives me another motivation to concentrate. Finally a stroke of genius - beer. The audience (aka Gene and Jason) are super cool and pour me glass after glass of refreshing Italian beer, Moretti. Cheers men!

Martin starts with a strip mine, but I follow up with a mox and a 2nd turn Pixies. Martin tries to start the race by playing a Tetravus off a Lotus, but I have the right answer - a Crumble that brings him up to 26, but allows me to stay in the game. Then I tutor for Energy Flux and pass with some mana open. This is crucial, as I wanted to avoid being screwed by anything before I could play the Flux. Martin tries an Ancestral, but unfortunately for him I was waiting with a Red Elemental Blast. He is forced to Copy Artifact my Mox Jet, while I bolt him to bring him back below 20.

I finally untap and cast Energy Flux. From here it is quite an easy win, as I drew a couple of Mishras that were able to kill Martin together with the Pixies while he was stuck without mana. Flux and REB won me this game.

Game 3
On with the final game! The most intense of the three, swinging back and forth with powerful plays from Martin and some bluffing from my side. I start with a mulligan as my 1st hand consisted of something similar to Bolt, Bolt, and lands. Not what you want to see when you are facingg 4/4 robots on the other side of the table!

My second hand is better: Time Walk, Chaos Orb, Mishra, Land, Chain Lightning and a Mox. Martin goes first and play a Mishra. I draw the Strip Mine I kept on the top, reasoning that my biggest hope is to go for the mana denial route hoping to see some beaters or enough bolts to close the game before he manages to cast some of his large threats. So I go land, Mox, Time Walk. I see Lotus, strip his Mishra and cast Chaos Orb. Second Mishra for Martin, I play one myself and flip correctly destroying his after playing a Sol Ring.

Martin plays Mox Pearl plus a Mana Vault while I start the Mishra beating. He resolves an Ancestral, and the taps his Mana Vault plus Mox Pearl to cast an Icy Manipulator. Ouch. Not to mention the freshly casted Mox Jet, so he can activate the Icy right away.

At this point Martin started to tap my blue sources during my upkeep, to prevent me casting an Energy Flux should I draw one. Not a bad play seeing how I won the last match with that card, but this forced him to lose some quite some life to my Mishra. This proved fatal at the end, but to be honest it was already 4:15 a.m. - just by looking at our faces it was easy to understand how fatigue was starting to play also a role. I wanted to continue attacking, therefore I kept all the blue sources in my hand hoping Martin would continue tapping my Tropical Island. 20-15 for me. He copies my Sol Ring and strips away my Tropical, finishing the turn with a nice City in a bottle. Wow. Not bad Martin, not bad.

I play another Tropical Island and bolt Martin down to 12. 11 due to the tapped Mana Vault. Then he tries to turn back the game casting a Triskelion using a Mishra’s Workshop. Oh well, I had a Psionic Blast waiting for that. 15-11 still in my favour.

Once again he taps my Tropical Island, and I bring him down to 9 using my Mishra. He plays another Triskelion and strips away another Tropical Island, not knowing that I am keeping a Lotus in my hand since the beginning of the game. I just did not draw any Energy Flux, that’s all!

Volcanic Island. Pass. Down to 11 due to his Triskelion. 11-9 - we are getting even, and I know that I have basically two turns left as he just needs to attack twice and to send three damages direct to my head. With an active Icy, blockers should also not be an issue. I play a second Mishra and Martin here still decided to tap my Volcanic Island. He will admit the following day that it was a bad decision, but I understand completely why he did it - losing the last game from that card had quite a spooky effect, and let us not forget it was not past 4:30 a.m. I attack and he decides not to blow it up with his Triskelion, going down to 6 as I pump it hoping to see some card draw the following turn.

I go down to 7. Untap. Braingeyser. I had seven mana on the table, but hey - I still have an unused Lotus in my hand! I play the Lotus getting three blue mana, and tap my two Mishras plus Sol Ring to draw five cards. The tension is high, but the odds should be on my side - I play 10 burn spells after all. That is why I keep three mana sources untapped - I could need as much as four mana to cast a bolt and a Psionic Blast. Just think if I lost with an uncasted blast in my hand! Losing to Martin would have been ok, but not like that. Oh no.

Mox. Red elemental blast. Regrowth (wait! That counts as a Bolt!). Lighting bolt. I realized then I could win this match, unless Martin his holding a Blue Elemental Blast in his hand. Oh well. Let us try.

Bolt. Down to 3. Regrowth. Ok. Bolt. Game over.

It was an amazing match, well played on both sides considering the late hour. It was truly an honor playing against Martin, it is clear that "he knows how to hold the cards in his hands" - how we say in Italy. Sa tenere le carte in mano. We shake hands and display our decks before finally going to sleep. It has been a long and incredible day, and it takes quite a while to get rid of the adrenaline so that I can sleep the sleep of the unjust.
Tired but happy
Saturday I wake up as my room mate Giorgio decided to put the alarm clock at 9:00 in order to have breakfast. Agh. He went to sleep after the quarterfinals, and is quite happy to discover that I won the Columbus Night tournament. His unspoilered Goblin deck was not so lucky, but hey, that is life. We wait for the arrival of the other players from Torino - Beppe Rinaldi, Simone Merlo and Marco Amateis. I decide to follow Martin and get myself a nice Mishra’s Workshop - Hell yeah. I will not spend too many words on the main tournament, as I was basically a walking zombie. Nonetheless, between coffees, water and nicotine I managed to arrive 21st with a 4-2 losing to Miguel playing the deck and Marco Rocchetti with monoB with UW splash.

With Miguel we had some very cool games. In one I had two Underworld dreams on the table, and yet he managed to turn that game around playing his Mirror Universe. At that point I had to blow everything using my Disk, but he still won the match thanks to his Serra Angels and Moats.

Marco’s deck was simply better than mine - quite the same, but playing Swords and Disenchant in this sort of mirror match is quite nice. I thought about that, but wanted to avoid any Blood Moon related problems - my bad.

Between jokes, trades, opponent from Israel, the Netherlands and Switzerland, I finally collapse before the top 16. What can I say? The atmosphere at the tournament was great. The organisers are incredible. The local stereotype of the typical Ligurian man in Italy goes a bit like this:
Notice any similarities with Megu, Lorenzo, Matteo and the crew?
This could not be further from the truth. They proved once again to be incredibly generous, and true gentlemen. They even managed to rally 1300€ thanks to a Chaos Orb raffle to help the people affected from the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genova. Just amazing.

Well, I am happy and still rejoicing from the memories I got at the 2018 Fishliver Oil Cup. The prizes are now on display, some here with me in Germany and some in my hometown close to Torino.
New playmat signed by every opponent on Friday night and from THE PRESIDENT Megu, Fishliver Oil Beer, the Lighthouse of Genova and an amazing Artist Proof. Awesome.
Before closing this report, let me thank all the incredible organizers, the players - without you this format would not exist! - the guys from Torino, and the German team for all the support and the training. Not to mention Magnus for letting me put this long post on his blog. Hej, tack! And yeah, even my girlfriend Christine that was waiting for me in Torino while I was playing. At the moment we live in different countries - seeing each other when time allows it - not easy, but she was still cheering for me. Half-British and half-Italian, she can actually play Magic herself - and has the bad habitue to crush me with her Affinity deck. Oh well, that is another story.

One thing is sure - Old School spirit is alive and kicking, and I will be back in Genova next year!


tisdag 30 oktober 2018

The Frost Giant Cup: A story from the Netherlands

During the last couple of weeks, much of the buzz in the old school webosphere have centered around the Scandinavian Championship, the upcoming US Eternal Weekend, and of course the massive Fishliver Oil Cup in Italy. But Giants reside outside of Arvika, Pittsburgh and Genoa, and reveler Joep Meddens lay their paths. The new recurring tournament series in the Netherlands took to their second brawl in the cages earlier this month, and we have an organizer's story to tell. Enjoy! /Mg out

These days, the Dutch tournament scene is finding its shape. The Gatherings of the Knights of Thorn are becoming must-attends twice a year and now there are two Giant Tournaments to nicely round out the calendar. We organized the first of those, The Hill Giant Cup in March two weeks ahead of n00bcon and it was a roaring success. The day after crowning Michel Hollenberg the first King of the Hill (check out the N00bcon stream to enjoy Michel and Mg share precious nuggets of wisdom), questions started about a second installment. Looking at that Other Big One, it was clear when it should be taking place: ahead of Fishliver Oil to send the Dutch Wizards to Genova prepared for battle! This is my tournament report of Sunday's Frost Giant Cup (7 October 2018).
Sunday morning arrives and after the smoke clears 37 players enter the race to win the first Frost Giant Cup. Like at the Hill Giant Cup, Swedish B&R applies with same art same frame reprints allowed (no CE/IE). We have a vintage Juzam Djinn poster for the maker of the most creative deck, a Revised Only Side Event, and an oversized Chaos Orb for flippers who miss three in a row. We also have great home-brewed beer again; this time players have a choice between White, Blond, Chestnut and Bock from the Gooische Bierbrouwerij.

Although I am organizing, I opt to play a strong deck: GWu Geddonless Ernhamgeddon. I tell myself it is OK to do so, as I will actually be one of the five Dutch guys flying to Genova to play in the tournament that the Frost Giant Cup is supposed to prepare the Dutch Wizards for. Also: it is my favorite deck because of the different roles you get to play depending on draws and match-ups.
My deck, including the sideboard and the beautiful signed Frost Giant that we were playing for.
Round 1 starts and I am paired with Marten Buhler. He is a familiar foe: at the last GotKoT he beat me 2-1 in the semi's in some spectacularly swingy matches. A painful loss after I had won in the Swiss earlier... Marten is as much of a creature of habit as I am, and so I gear up for some speedy Su-Chi's, Erhnams and Bolts that accompany Marten's beautiful restricted list cardboard. Geared up as I might be, Marten is easily too fast for me: in quick succession he picks up a 2-0 win and I am at 0-1 for the day. I remember thinking it was not to be for the day when I more or less stabilized at six life and Marten drew two bolts of his Timetwister. I responded by a City of Brass fueled Swords on my own Erhnam to go back to three, only to find Marten also got a regrowth from his Twister to deal me the third and final Lightning Blow...

Round 2 and I meet Marten's travel companion Frenk. Players like Marten and Frenk and the aesthetically pleasing cardboard they bring are reasons to be in this format. Frenk is usually on some form of powerspice and today is no different: in an otherwise reasonably normal WUB controllish-deck (Abyss/White Knight) he is playing no less than three Shahrazads main board! The first Shahrazad resolves and I happily battle away to send Frenk to 10 in our main game courtesy of some fast Erhnams. Back in the main game, Frenk resolves the second Shahrazad and I remind him it is actually restricted in Sweden... We finish the game regardless, and off the back of some Ice Storms I manage to get the second Shahrazad game as well. Frenk is now down to 5 life in our main game courtesy of his two Shahrazads. The last five are gone in a flash as another fast Erhnam hits the table, this time in the main game. After Frenk replaces two Sharazads for cards from his sideboard, we head into game 2. Proving the wisdom of restricting Shahrazad from a timing point of view, the card is not seen again in this game and I manage to take it within time in the regular way. 2-0 and I am 1-1 for the day. 

After the lunch break, we start of with a small auction to help out a fellow player who had the misfortune of seeing his Library of Alexandria stolen. A Legends Land Tax and Greed donated by our house dealer Wijnand Schoenmakers are sold for handsome prices (thanks to Tom Posthuma and Michel Hollenberg for winning those auctions!) and we are good to go for round 3.

Round 3 I meet up with one of the new players, Wouter Janssen. He is on some sort of Erhnamgeddon, as I briefly get to see Birds and indeed one Erhnam. My deck turns out more efficient, and I brutally dispatch him 2-0, with timely Swords doing work and fast Ice Storms proving better than unseen Armageddons. Also, I simply play more guys than he has swords. Despite the harsh match-up in this round, this deck does show how lenient reprint rules can allow new players to join and play a deck that can get match wins without spending thousands upfront.
Wouter's transitional Ernhamgeddon
Round 4 and I am 2-1. I see another new face in Evert Visser. Evert is an experienced Legacy player, now fully bitten by the Old School bug. He brings a very good looking Troll Disco deck to the table complete with Guardian Beasts. He took it to 3-0 for the day at that point and accordingly he turns out to be a tidy player. We exchange games with my loss coming courtesy of early pressure finished of with some burn. My win comes off a well timed Time Walk giving me an extra Swing with the Green Army. In the deciding game, my Ice Storms provide me a head start and I take it from there: 2-1. Having enjoyed my first beer of the day in this match (my favorite, a White Beer brewed with buckwheat), getting to 3-1 I am thinking I might still make it to Top8 if I somehow manage to win the next match.
Evert Visser's Troll Disco
Round 5 couples me with Tom Posthuma, a former GotKoT winner and formidable foe. Also on 3-1 for the day, he is playing a classic UR-burn. Game one sees his Flying Men do quite some damage as my removal is spent elsewhere first. When I finally deal with it, Tom starts sending Chains and Bolts to my head. I somehow find a Swords to gain life and stabilize at one. Thinking I will be dead in moments, I start swinging back regardless. Tom finds variance in his way and draws blanks for what seems like an eternity. I close out the game and can't really believe I am 1-0 up. Game 2 is all about my Ice Storm efforts as I try to block the red sources. I succeed long enough to deal 20 with some help from restricted cards along the way. The match is mine, and I turn out to have one of six 4-1 records. Roy Neijland is the single undefeated player (5-0), and Marten Buhler sneaks through as the best of a large field of 3-2 players. Rounding out the Top8 are Koos Cramer (2) on his Swedish-tweaked version of Randy Buehler's Land Tax deck, my brother Thomas Meddens (3) on his amazing White Tron, Evert Visser (4) on Troll Disco, father to a newborn Richard Veenman (5) on a sweet, sweet Titania's Parfait and Nick Kramer (6) on The Deck.
Richard Veenman's Titania's Parfait
In the quarter-final, it appears a fast ramp deck is a terrible match up for Koos Cramer's Land Tax / Ivory Tower. In about 20 minutes, I take it 2-0, with the one scary moment being a Moat which promptly got Disenchanted. If only that had been a Wrath of God... Meanwhile, in one of the other quarter-finals my brother unfortunately has a problem similar to Koos: he meets a bad match-up and loses to Koos' brother Nick who knows how to pilot The Deck.
Koos Cramer's Swedish Randy-ness
In the Semi-final I meet Roy Neijland, undefeated for the day. As usual, he is on a mono-Black control list that he has refined to reach remarkable results. Roy is another former GotKoT champion (Mari Steinhage is the third), beating me in the GotKoT 3 final to get that crown. So this is going to be hard, but there is also a veritable chance of redemption here for my Green and White Wizardry against all of Roy's Evil Black Magic. Game 1 and I am out of white sources courtesy of a well place Sinkhole. Being on Ice Storms myself, I really can't complain. Problem is that a wall of Black Knights and Maze of Ith stops me from getting anything green through. When Roy sticks a Hippie I am toast: 0-1. Heading into Game 2, I remember Roy's City in a Bottle(s?). I also remember Roy is mono-black... I side in my four Whirling Dervish to replace the Ernies and basically take it from there. Game 2 and we both see LoA. I just see my land removal earlier than Roy does and manage to live to see all four (!) of the Dervishes. This proves too much for Roy and we head into the decider. In this game I eventually see three Dervishes and also manage to Ice Storm a Maze and Disenchant an Icy to allow them to break through. I get there 2-1 and basically have my Dervishes to thank for it. In the other semi-final, Nick Cramer beat Evert Visser, meaning another Cramer - Meddens matchup would decide the tournament.

As the semi's were contested, Gideon Evers crowned himself the day's Revised Master by winning the Revised Only Side Event with his UG Berserkless Berserk-list.
Gideon's Revised Only brew, the Kird Apes were the prize to accompany the pride won.
Nick is on The Deck, no easy match-up for any deck.
Nick Cramer's The Deck
Game 1 of the final I deploy an army of Llanowar Elves to chip away at Nick's life. As I manage to land an Erhnam to come within reach of the final blow, Nick really only has two outs: Balance or Tutor into Balance. In typical The Deck fashion, the Tutor comes up, spitting out the Balance. From there on, I am set to lose and convincingly do: 0-1. Having seen plan A fail, I go for Plan B and bring in 13 sideboard cards including the four Dervishes and three Psionic Blasts. This effectively turns me into a weenie deck of sorts. Game 2 sees my changed plans more or less working: I manage to keep Nick low on mana and chip him away to 9 before he removes my final threats on the board. With Nick too low on mana up to counter, I have a window to send in a Psi Blast to get him to five. Next turn, as I am tapped out with my hand on 3 cards, Nick goes for a Mind Twist for 2, taking one damage from City in a Bottle in the process (going to four). Nick agreeingly sees me discard a Disenchant and an Energy Flux "that could have been worse". To my great relief, the one card I get to keep is my second Psi Blast, which I cast as soon as I have the lands untapped to do so. 1-1 and fittingly a final match will decide who wins the whole thing. That final game, I fully outpace The Deck with Llanowar Elves and two Dervishes, backed up by Ice Storm. There is no saving Balance this time and I manage to take it over the line: 2-1 and I win the whole thing!
The winning deck
Having played in Florian van Bredow's Raging River tournament in Cologne (won by the host, Florian von Bredow) and in Mari Steinhage's Gathering of the Knights of Thorn 4 (won by the host, Mari Steinhage), it seems there is no shame anymore amongst tournament organisers... 

Most importantly, the whole day was an absolute blast. Great thanks go to Robert Kerklaan, owner of our LGS Vendetta, for clearing his store for all of us once again. Thanks also to Wijnand Schoenmakers for providing the top class prizes that were raffled away and organizing the auction. Thanks to Thomas for organizing the Revised Only Side Event. And thanks to all 36 fellow players who traveled to Hilversum for the chance to win a signed Frost Giant.
Some fine gentlemen

fredag 26 oktober 2018

Shark fishing in Arvika

The epic Scandinavian Championship is in the books. The man to hoist the Shark this year was a familiar face for the Swedes; a man who has properly done his tenure and gotten both the highs and the lows of emotions over his last six years in the format. A man who is quoted as stating that The Deck-mirror is the best way to play Magic, but who's recent results have been with new innovations of Zoo. This is Åland's time. /Mg out

The Deck and me
I started playing old school back in 2012 after the success of n00bcon IV. If I remember correctly it was Stalin (the n00bcon VI winner) who got me into the format talking about it during our regular Tuesday Legacy tournaments. I wanted to play Vintage so I made a post just for fun buying power on our local Swedish community forum, and a guy wanted to opt out of Vintage due to the player base so I got a sweet deal. My first tournament I sleeved up this Deck. The tournament was a small gathering at Kalles place (whom at the time I never met before). At that tournament I also got the predictable nickname “Åland,” which has stuck since that day (I come from the small Finnish island named Åland between Sweden and Finland). The reason I chose to play The Deck was not because it was the best deck, but when playing back in 1995-1999 I wanted it but never had the money to buy it.
Elof and Åland at Warcon 2012.
The second tournament I played was Warcon 2012 with another version, and this time I managed to reach the final against Elof. Two hours later in The Deck mirror I lost after forgetting to activate a Disrupting Scepter in turn 30 or so. At n00bcon V I managed to reach top 8 with this version and lost in the quarter final against Jocke Almelund on the deck (who is a far superior player to me).
Åland vs Honka with Tax Edge at n00bcon V.
A year later I tweaked The Deck a bit and went 6-0 in the swiss of n00bcon VI but lost to Stalin on Electric Eel Aggro in the quarter finals.
n00bcon VI top8
This was one of my worst Magic memories ever. I don’t know why this one got me so bad but I considered quitting old school. But in December I was back again with my first tournament win with this version at Frippan Open. The sweet part, aside from winning, was that I got to get my revenge on Elof in the finals against his Troll Disco.
Kalle vs Åland in the quarterfinals of Frippan Open.
After that tournament I took a break from old school; there were some really stupid things going on which I just hope to forget. I didn’'t play at n00bcon VII and I considered quitting again. But I returned for n00bcon 8 with a 10th place finish with yet another version.
Vs Mg at WSK 2014. Gentleman's game with LoA removed from deck.
In 2017 I wanted to try something else than The Deck and had some success with a deck named “Fantasy Zoo”.
Fantasy Zoo from the BSK 2018 Top8.
But for the Scandinavian Championship 2018 I returned to sleeve up yet another version of The Deck with a little help from my friends. I didn’'t have any expectations anymore, I didn'’t want to be a try-hard anymore and instead focus on the aspects of great friendship and drinking beer.

The trip
I have never really considered traveling to Arvika for a tournament but earlier this year KungMarkus asked me when I was gonna come to Arvika, so I made a promise to show up. I booked a hotel room and didn'’t plan to travel with anyone else. In the end I asked Jan, who started playing old school in May this year, if he wanted to join. On the train station I met up with Gothenburg old school regulars Martin, Jocke "Jaok" Almelund, Sveby, Tibia and Beyonce.

I was tired and hadn'’t sleep for more than four hours the night before and on the row behind us on the train there were people watching YouTube clips on their cellphones. I thought this trip was a really bad idea. But suddenly a wild Sveby appears with a portable beer cooler, and suddenly this trip felt like a really good idea.

After changing trains in Karlstad we found the SiaB-crew playtesting on the train to Arvika. I don’t playtest for old school tournaments. I felt pretty satisfied with my deck as it was.

After a quick check-in at the hotel we found ourselves at the restaurant Regi, which I’m pretty sure is the best in Arvika. I immediately found a mixed grill share platter and told Jaok I'd found our food and gave him a high five. Upon seeing the portion size I felt we would need a kebab afterwards but after we finished eating I was actually really well fed.

A short walk later (after seeing a mix of alcoholics and children playing in a park) we found the site. After a couple of hours of “"späksnack"” and good beer drinking opportunities I found myself in an extremely good mood. Jan arrived later after trading for a lot of unlimited duals with the participating Germans.

The Tournament
As I don’t have any notes or pictures there won’t be much details from the games, but there is some stuff worth mentioning.

Round 1, vs –Kjartan
First round opponent, we sat down and he said they had joked about him facing me first round. We played twice on GP Stockholm (in a four Strip Mine format) and both matches were close. I knew he played mono-green with four Scavenger Folk. This round we were 1-1 and he started with a Sylvan Library turn 2 which was unanswered for the whole game, he had me down to 2 life and a Mishra'’s Factory in play with me having nothing. I top-decked a Serra Angel, being able to block the factory and win. Pretty fast match, got lots of time to sit outside with a beer watching the sun go down.

Round 2, vs Erland
I don’t remember playing against Erland before but he was a really nice guy and the atmosphere in the match was perfect. He beat me 2-1 thanks to one of his four Icy Manipulators being able to tap down Serra Angel. His deck felt strong with Su-chi, Serendib Efreet, Serra Angel and black splash, he also made top 8. After losing I bought an unlimited Underground Sea from William as compensation.
William's impromptu card store.
Round 3, vs Mikael Nastic
This was a brutal match which was over in about 10 minutes. Game one I drew a Library of Alexandria and had all the cards as he was trying to catch up. Game two I landed a turn one Serra Angel which went unanswered. More beer and picked up an unlimited Copy Artifact from William.

Round 4, vs Cermak
Game one we had a long game where I won with five cards left in my deck (Jonnie Myrbacka had a bye so he fetched me some beer, much appreciated!).
Game two was long where I lost after Cermak resolving two Armageddon.
Game three finished in a draw after time rounds. I was at 4 life and he had a Psionic Blast in hand. Needless to say, I got lucky here. Since we were 82 players and this would end me up with a 2-1-1 record there was no point in me scooping as we both were live for top 8 after this round.

Round 5, vs Johan Guldbrandsson
When the round started he was nowhere to be found, but 10 minutes later he showed up “as he "had to buy some more kôrv" (sausages)”; a good reason to show up late! I thought Johan was on Troll Disco but he played (according to me) a Trick Deck with Sedge troll, Stone Rain and Sinkhole. Don’t remember much about the match except that I won.

Round 6, vs Jan Eid
This round was a The Deck mirror against my roommate at the hotel. Game one was slightly interesting but game two he missed land drops which basically is game in the mirror. At this time I was getting pretty drunk and now I felt I really needed to do well in the tournament after knocking out my roommate.

Round 7, vs Erik Sjödin
I was at 4-1-1 and my opponent was at 4-2 with best tie breakers, so the match was a win and in for both of us. Erik played pink weenie and we had two interesting duels where I played a Serra Angel into my own the Abyss and ended up 1-1. In game three time was called. I had 31 life, The Abyss and Moat in play. Erik asked if he could concede since a draw would kick us both out of the top 8, I didn'’t really know what to say but I felt I would have won the game. I try to thank him as much as possible for his honorable scoop.

Top 8
The top 8 consisted of a healthy mix of sober and non-sober players. In my book someone who was drinking beer had to win the Shark so I put the hope to me, Mitja or Simon. After drinking 12+ beers and a bottle of Caprice Kir my memory is a bit cloudy. Mitja seemed to win his quarter final and decided to drop instead of playing his semifinal against Emil.
The glorious Shark.
Quarterfinal, vs Anders Ekman
Anders Ekman was a new acquaintance, but I know his little brother from several Magic trips abroad. Apparently it was Anders first old school tournament and he was making top8, which is impressive in my book. I don’'t remember many specifics about the match. He played what I think was strictly white/blue with about the same plan as me. In these matchups I think The Deck with all the restricted cards really shines and I don’t remember it being that close at all. The only thing I remember is Emil taunting me for destroying an Ivory Tower instead of a Fellwar Stone. My thought process (after 14 or so beers) was that it would shorten down the game.

Semifinal, vs Morgan Karlsson
Morgan was 8-0 at this point and Emil had already discussed some kind of deal with him for the finals. I don’t remember anything about this match. I think I drew a Library of Alexandria in game three which sealed the deal. Sleeping only for 4 hours and staying up for 20 hours drinking beer all day long goes hard on your memory.

Final, vs Emil Klintbäck
15 beers or so later it was time for the finals. I've lost a couple of times to Emil, but never with The Deck which he reminded me of (I won our The Deck mirror at n00bcon 8). We agreed to play the final in one game only (this seemed reasonable with my state and the fact that the clock was around 03.00). Emil was on the play and I took a mulligan to six. Emil played - if I remember correctly - a Volcanic Island and no second blue source. I had an Ancestral Recall in my hand which I could resolve. A couple of turns later I had a Serra Angel in play, and then some turns after that Emil offered me the best handshake of my life.
The living end.
The happiest of winners :)
Final thoughts
I got struck with lots of emotion after the final. I think I screamed quite a bit, there might have been some tears in my eyes. Being able to get that Shark after six years of playing old school and sharing the joy with my friends is one of the best feelings of my life. After the tournament we took a walk back to the hotel. Tired, drunk, hungry (hadn'’t eaten anything since lunch) and happy. After sleeping about two hours I tried to eat breakfast without throwing up and explain the top 8 to Svante. There were lots of congratulations IRL and on Messenger, and I am thankful for every single one.

So what comes next? I won’t be playing The Deck anymore since I now got my Shark (except in “money tournaments” like the ones on Grand Prix), and I'll be trying to brew with Twiddle Vault and perfect the Fantasy Zoo deck. My next goal is to have a rubber match final against Elof in some old school tournament.

Thanks to everyone and I am looking forward to meet everyone at BSK and n00bcon XI.
The winning deck of Scandinavian Championship 2018.
  • The Janitor, Ballad and Thai –- for deck help and support.
  • Jan - –for on-site support, great companionship and staying the whole night.
  • Sveby and JhovalKing - for being all-around good guys and keeping the old school spirit alive.
  • Markus ”Kungen” - for convincing me to travel to Arvika and hosting an awesome event.
  • ”Haups” (GaJoL, Honka, Kalle, Mg) - for being the main reason I really continued playing oldschool.
  • ”Övik-gänget” - for being the nicest and friendliest community in the world.
  • Lindén - for lending me cards for the tournament.
  • Me - for not visiting the great Arvika community before 2018.

lördag 20 oktober 2018

Notes from the Scandinavian Championship

Arvika. My seventh time over at the most dense 93/94 scene in Sweden. Hell, probably in the world. 14,000 people live in the city, and you could presumably dig up around fifty old school players in the neighboring area if you were inclined. The FNMs at the local card shop are 93/94, and most of the players here stay abstinent from modern cardboard. Apart from the Magic, the city and the people have a certain feel I can't really put my finger on. This is a special place in the Swedish woods.

The Patron Wizard around these parts is KungMarkus. When he organized the first Arvika Festival tournament four years ago, we were 16 players. Hardy and myself were the strangers. A couple of years into the Festival the Arvika players also got responsibility for hosting the Scandinavian Championship. This gathering, the sixth tournament were the Arvika Crew invite the rest of the country to battle on their turf, saw somewhere around 85. This time we even had distinguished guests from the continent, with ViennaGeddon organizer Mitja Held and reigning world champion Alban Lauter from Germany joining the fight.

Last time I set foot in Arvika I brought The Deck. It was my virgin journey with the boogie man of the format, and I can't say I didn't enjoy it. I like drawing cards and playing the legendary artifacts that pile brings, and my initial plan was to sleeve it up for a second time. My competitive gene was in unusually high spirits for this gathering, and I'm yet to pick up a Giant Shark myself. But then I recalled last time at the championship, and how the length of the rounds and intense sound level made me unable to fully enjoy the experience between matches. So I decided to scrap my control plans and give UR Burn a try. Never played that one before, and it could be interesting to check out its power level from a pilot's perspective.

I sleeved it up and tried out a bunch of games against the goldfish and a few real decks. And my god, that pile is one horrible way to arrange Magic cards. It won, sure, but I can hardly image a deck I felt more bored playing. I would rather challenge my opponents to a game of Monopoly than play this deck for seven rounds. I am not saying that Olle Råde or Gordon Anderson are wrong to enjoy this deck, fun is clearly subjective, but piloting this deck for me was about as fun as eating a bag of salt.

I threw it away, and went back to more familiar grounds. It had been a few years since I last sleeved up Distress, and I had gotten my hands on a second The Abyss since then. The temporal spike in me made an easy upgrade by splashing the blue-pack, and I was off to the races.
Distress! Fun!
So I had somehow picked an even grindier deck than The Deck by virtue of discarding The Deck for being to slow to play. I am pretty fast at playing Distress though, and much more familiar with this than The Deck, so I figured I could use mental shortcuts more often and perhaps keep my energy up longer regardless. Seven rounds filled with beer, starting five in the evening, will necessarily be a test of endurance as well as Magic.
Haupsdeck Distress
Most choices here are fairly straight forward for people familiar with the brew. Hypnotics in the sideboard are against combo and some versions of control, Black Vise is an answer to Ivory Tower, Gloom is pretty much only to slow down Circle of Protection. The blue power is an insurance against Mind Twist, and Timetwister is a proper wincon. Blue could possibly be cut for red, the maindeck splash would then probably only be Wheel of Fortune, and the sideboard could have Shatter instead of Black Vise. Never let the the opponent draw cards of your Howling Mines if you can avoid it. Fun :)

As every time before I've joined a tournament in Arvika, my partner at the train would be Hardy. Hardy is currently on parental leave, and his fiancee was away for the weekend, so he brought along the six-month old for the ride. Dadgic: The Fathering.
Train people.
I before we go further into the city of Arvika, I just want to throw out an extra shout to KungMarkus and the Arvika Crew. Fantastic hosting! It is a supreme pleasure to be able to go to a tournament of this caliber without doing anything except enjoying the gathering. You guys truly embody the spirit of the format.
Carro and KungMarkus keeping the fort.
Or, I did do one thing for the gathering, as have become custom. I designed and ordered the pins. This time I thought it could be funny to use the warrior from Holy Day in Legends on the backdrop of a Swedish/Norwegian union flag. It was a holy day as tournaments go, and the contenders on the Scandinavian Championship were mostly Swedes and Norwegians. It took until the Sunday hangover before I realized that the pins looked kinda odd if you remove our MtG-tinted glasses. This could possibly be mistaken for the logo of some unsavory power band.
Now I can't unsee it.
Back to the train.
Sideboard teching.
Fellow Oslo Magician Michael Kjebekk.
Upon arrival in Arvika, we were greeted Ruaro and The Beef from Team Lisch in Lidköping. Catching me completely off-guard, they had the most amazing surprise in store.
What the actual balls. All the whiskey in the world, branded glass and bottles, and sweet stuff.
Ruaro and The Beef. Note the Juzam tattoo btw :)
They had arrived a day earlier for an Alpha-only tournament at the site. Don't have much details about that one, as details for those kind of gatherings tend to be scarce as a part of the experience, but as I understood it JhovalKing had picked up the victory with a fully broken Time Vault deck, facing Kalle Nord in the finals.
Shenanigans in the makings.
As for a tournament report, I can note that I had a great time, went a respectable 5-2, and got in some sweet trading and Alpha games as the Top8 unfolded. I'm expecting a report from the winner in the next few days, so lets just look at a few pictures from the gathering for now.
The main room, hosting a little north of 50 players. This was the first time in Arvika we needed to open up more rooms to fit everybody.
Room B, with the top tables. Lots of familar faces all around.
Hardy got his own table to accompany the stroller and kid. Also note the sweet Norway Oldschool Mtg t-shirt. Rad stuff.
William's trading table has become a fixture at the major Swedish gatherings.
Facing off against 2017 Rookie of the Year Erik Sjödin from the Ö-vik community. Started the match with a decisive Timetwister for 21 damage, but in the end lost a close match against his WR Midrange.
Managed to beat Kenneth from the Olso community, a notoriously hard opponent for me. His Troll Disco is a though matchup for Distress, but I somehow managed to seal the deal on the back of The Abyss and Drain Lifes. Next to us we have international guest and current World Champion Alban Lauter.
Facing off against Kalle in round five. Hide your children.
We did get some cheering from the bar though :)
And I got some swag! Thanks Kalle!
Alban's trade binder. Not a shabby set of lands. Alban and Mitja help fund their trips and spread some more powerful cards to the Nordic countries by doing some trading and selling. Win-win. They also swung by Oslo to hang out at a local meetup this Monday before they returning to the continent.
Erland's binder. Somewhat HP Beta Ancestral right there.
Mitja managed to reach the top8, despite a truly impressive intoxication level. He won his quarterfinal, but the alcohol prompted him to drop in the semis. Fairly rare occurrence in most 80+ player Mtg tournaments. Welcome to Arvika.
Meanwhile, I'm off playing one of the stranger mirror matches in my years of Magic. As August-93 (or Wizards' Tournament Magic, or Alpha 40) is mostly brewed on the sidelines of social media and the web, decklists are fairly rare, and I had no idea that I could face another guy with the same gameplan. Hell, neither of us had a clue there existed another Psychic Venom deck in the world before we met up at Arvika.
Tap your Island, you take 10. As Garfield intended.
Surprisingly I don't think we managed to steal any of each others Psychic Venoms, but I did find an extra Braingeyser in my deck when I got home and unpacked. Sorry about that, it is coming in the mail.
Loff vs Audun in more Alpha shenanigans.
The Alpha tables are filling up.
JohavalKing vs Kalle playing a couple of properly broken decks. It surprises me in so many ways that the Wizards' Tournament format became a thing. I mean, it is in fact a joke that we're all just taking way too far. We're somehow like 100 players from fifteen countries signed up for the next one. So I will from here on start subtitling Wizards' Tournament as The Magic World Championship. Hah.
Some old school trading with Kalle. Downgrading my Alpha Sapphire to a more beat up Beta one, and getting some sweet, sweet filler. Never thought I'd actually get a Tabernacle as I'm unwilling to buy it, but trading surely works. It will find a good home in the Distress sideboard for sure.
Friendship is Magic.
Back at the tournament at hand, it is  time for the game for all the marbles and the coveted Shark. Some proper Elder Dragons in the format facing off, neither of which are unaccustomed to previous Shark finals. A proper report from the winner is coming soon, so I'll keep my spoilers at a minimum.
Sometime after five in the morning, a ragtag gang is back in the room I'm proud I get to call a second home at Markus's place. Hardy is sleeping downstairs with the kid this time, but Honka and Kalle doesn't disappoint as bedfellows go. Situations made me laugh so hard I got tears in my eyes.
Back to life. The sun shines over Arvika.
The traditional post-tournament pizza.
Swinging by one of the hotels, spellslingers keep spellslinging in the lobby.
Lobby Mtg.
Honka getting back into the game.
Hardy contemplating his tech.
The final treasure. Thank you so much, this was fantastic.
With that I bid Arvika adieu for this time. Next time on that turf will probably be in February, when the annual Festival returns for its fifth iteration. Thank you all for a magical weekend!