onsdag 27 maj 2015

Haupsdeck Distress

Finally getting to play a deck is a pleasure. I started teching on my own take on Monoblack Distress in November last year, and yesterday I finally got the last pieces of the puzzle for a solid 60-card maindeck. Apart from my very first deck - which was a pile of Sea Serpents, Erg Raiders and Phantasmal Terrains - building decks in 93/94 has always been measured in months or years for me. Yeah, it goes faster once you've gathered a few staples, but it's still not a speedy process. Them Sinkholes, Icy Manipulators, Rituals and Demonic Hordes will still be a visible expense.

They can actually be pretty hard to find as well; for each one of these there are e.g. more than four Unlimited Lotuses printed.
The idea of my latest pile is that of black Distress; make most of your opponent's removal useless, count on them having no more than 4 Disenchants, and bleed them out in the long game with control elements and slow damage. The strategy was first popularized by Daniel "GaJol" Nilsson after his top4 at BSK 2012, though his deck was more into Warp Artifacts and didn't use e.g. Pestilence nor as much mana denial.
Haupsdeck Distress. No holds barred.
The ideal start is a Ritual or Lotus into Underworld Dreams, and then just follow up with Sinkholes, Icy Manipulators and Relic Barriers for control. Pestilence combo well with the Factories, as you can activate them after Pestilence has dealt damage to keep the enchantment in play.

There's definitely some work to be done. For one, I need a sideboard. Current sideboard is something like 4 Glooms, 10 Swamps, and an altered Disenchant. I would like to play Hypnotics or Juzams in the board to take in after the opponent has sided out a majority of the creature removal. Having a transformational sideboard is also a solid excuse to complete a playset of Juzams. Need them Juzams.

As for the maindeck, the most glaring omission is The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. Turns out that they are kind of expensive. If I get me a Tabernacle or four, I could use them for a future Mana Vortex deck, so it isn't a complete silver bullet aquisition. If you haven't seen Heiner Litz last article on Mana Vortex decks at Eternal Central btw, I highly recommend giving it a read. Heiner is one of the pioneers of Old School tech across the ocean, and has contributed with reports and articles both for this blog and at EC.

Just checked the price for Tabernacle at Starcity Games. Seven hundred bucks. Might have to settle for Paralyze in that slot for the foreseeable future. I also noted that Chas Andres just posted an article about Old School Mtg at SCG. Pretty cool. I'm not much of a fan of Magic finance, but Chas Andres is still my favorite Magic writer, at least as far as writing skills goes. I don't have SCG premium, but every Wednesday his articles from a month back go live for everyone, and every Wednesday I read about what happened in Magic finance five weeks ago. I'm really not interested in speculating on Dragons of Tarkir cards, and I don't play sanctioned non-eternal formats, but the dude really can write. Looking forward to read the article in a month.
Solid keep and solid game drink.
So, the Distress deck. I think my next acquisition for the deck will be an Alpha Cyclopean Tomb. Very powerful card and sweet flavor. I do own the card in Unlimited, but something about the aesthetics hinders me from playing a single white-bordered card in an otherwise BB deck. That is a pretty funny thing with 93/94 btw; had I owned the Scrublands or Badlands to splash a color in the deck, I'd most assuredly would have played the Unlimited Cyclopean Tomb, as most of my duals are white-bordered as well. Instead I go "budget" and play mono colored, but that opens a whole other bag of snakes. Now I want an Alpha Cyclopean Tomb and a playset Beta Hypnotic Specters.

On that same note, pretty much the only reason for me to play Demonic Hordes in the deck is that I happen to own it and it has a sweet misprint in Alpha, where the black mana symbols in the rules text have been exchanged for 'B's. It is a solid card and it can give a few wins, but it is usually a bad idea to give your opponent a target for their Swords to Plowshares.
Worth it.
So what's next? I originally planned for Project M to have the Power Artifact / Monolith combo. Now that Power Artifact is unrestricted, I might try to rebuild the deck to fit the combo. I also have some plans for a Lich/Mirror deck and a Martyrs of Korlis pile. I guess my focus should stay on the duals though. I'm up to 23/40 now, and it woul be cool to unlock the 40/40 duals achievement.
Good 'ol land, Lotus, Icy is twarted by Shatter.
But first I'll crush the meta with my new Distress deck. It is awesome to play, and I highly reccomend testing the strategy. If you want to go black but still want to turn creatures sideways, I otherwise recommenced checking out this post on monoblack from last summer or Axelsson's monoblack from Kingvitational 1.

tisdag 19 maj 2015

Brews, casualties, and scanners

This escalated quickly. International tournaments in Italy with 30 players, multiple facebook groups about the format, and a lot of opinions about what people like or dislike about the format. It's often the about same things; the legal sets, how we approach reprints, and the B&R are cause of a lot of discussions.

It is fun to see that people share the passion. The guys who are organizing the facebook groups, in particular Simone Esposito from Belgium, are doing a great job to help players in the community connect. It is more fun to build decks if you actually have someone to play against, and a tournament is usually more fun if you are 16 players than if you are four.
Kind of like that a board state is more fun with three Triskelions than one.
For me, it's important to keep it on a casual level though. I'll of course keep updating this blog as I've done for the last three years, and I'll keep hosting n00bcon Championships and smaller tournaments as I've done the last seven. But I wont go too deep and try to organize the format in other locations in a more structured way. Partly because I don't have the time, and partly because I don't really feel the need to play #mtgunderground in a more structured setting (thanks for the hashtag, DrSuperstition). One thing that I think is worth mentioning though is that allowing proxies will make the experience of the format quite different from what we've been doing here. I think it's important to ask yourselves what you are looking for in the format when deciding on local variations of 93/94. Is it Vintage style tournaments with a smaller card pool, or is it an excuse to hang out with good people and enjoy old beautiful cards and beer? I guess both are viable options, but the choice is easy for me. Proxy tournaments where I can use any cards I want and actually get something valuable out of winning doesn't really do it for me in this format. If I'm playing a tournament with mostly new players, like a month back in Oslo, I'd rather leave my Project M and power at home and play my less powerful monogreen to get more interactive matches. And if there would be "real" prices at stage, I would be much more inclined to add my Lotus and Library to the deck, maybe even a set of Tropicals to get access to blue power. The ambience is different when you are playing for a Mana Drain or Juzam compared to when you are playing for a Relic Barrier autographed by the players.
Can't deny the great ambience caused by playing monogreen :) Black Vise into Ice Storm into Erhnam is bound to make some friends.
If I want to play against opted decks with power, I play Vintage. My goal here is to block Juzam Djinn with Riven Turnbull and turn Factories into Swamps with a Cyclopean Tomb, preferably one without the casting cost printed on it. Maybe transmute a Fellwar Stone into Primal Clay or Channel out a Mirror Universe.

Speaking of Mirror Universe, a few readers have asked how we decide how to change our B&R. Basically we have a smaller Swedish forum at svenskamagic.com where we invite anyone who has organized a 93/94-tournament and a few of the more prolific players in Scandinavia. We also ask around quite a lot, and look at tournament results (both from Scandinavia and other groups). Eventually we reach some sort of consensus, though everyone don't necessarily agree on everything. If I were to roam completely free, I would probably legalize Rebirth. You don't have to ante if you don't want to with that card after all ;)
It is sorcery speed life gain at a cost of six mana (and potentially hundreds of dollars). How can this not be ok?
So anyway, I've spent the last three weekends in London, then in Montenegro, and last weekend celebrating the Norwegian national holidays with friends staying over. I hence haven't had that much time to write something well researched or though out. Being the master planner I am though, I did prepare a post three weeks ago. When I read it again today I felt uncomfortable posting it. It was about me trying to understand how to scan boosters, sorting defects of Legends boxes, and how to find out what's in sealed product from before 4th Edition. I found it fairly entertaining as an historical curiosity about how lousy the packaging and sorting processes used to be, and I did manage to tear a Legends booster in the process (along with seriously wrinkling a The Dark booster), but in the end I don't want to spread the word on how to properly do it. Judging by the emails I've received after my posts on fake cards, booster scanning could be a very touchy subject.
Though I did open a sweet Willow Satyr in the process.
So, instead I started to write a post about which beer you should pair with which deck, and how to metagame by looking at what your opponents are drinking. Did not manage tie the bow on that one yet though. I can tell you that a player drinking something non-alcoholic has high probability of playing The Deck and that a player drinking Double Dog or an American barley wine have pretty good odds of being on some black Bazaar combo (like Colossus Skull or The Machine). It's all very scientific.
Ah, yes, Yeti imperial stout. Clearly Underworld Dreams and/or Juzams ahead.
Let's end today's rant with a couple of decklists from n00bcon 7. Enjoy Ehrnamgeddon and The Burning Abyss.
Macensi's Erhnamgeddon
Axelsson's Burning Abyss

måndag 11 maj 2015

Banned and Restricted update 2015

People are really passionate about these things :)

I think that we have better data this time than any of the years before. We've had a couple of 40+ player tournaments along with a bunch of smaller ones in Sweden. We've also had a lot of tournaments outside of Scandinavia, some of them with different B&R-lists than the one recommended here, and we've gotten good info from players in other communities.

There are a couple of things important to consider regarding B&R updates. One is that everyone won't agree with everything. It's a nostalgic format, and as such players are passionate about being able to play their favorite decks to the greatest extent. There are players arguing for restrictions of cards like Moat, City in a Bottle, Lightning Bolt, Mishra's Factory, Transmute Artifact and Underworld Dreams, which of course would lead to a lot of disappointment in others. This can also been seen when discussing unrestrictions. A card like Fork might be fine in Erhrnam Burn'em or a BR trick deck, but it gets silly in a goodstuff deck and simply broken in a Fork Recursion deck. If you play burn, it can sometimes be hard to see the "splash damage" done by unrestricting it.

Another important thing is that this list is a recommendation. Local variations of the rules or legal cards are not uncommon, and not discouraged.

The meta during the last year have been healthy, and I would not say that it is dominated by a single, or even a few, strategies. Since the last update, the tournaments in Sweden with 8+ players have been won by UGR Tempo, Monoblue artifacts, WW, Atog Smash, Next level WW, The Deck, Lestree Zoo, Project M, Nether Void, UWB Skies, WW and The Deck, in that order. Monoblack, CandleFlare, Stasis, Erhnamgeddon, and a bunch of other strategies are also seen at the top tables.

Maybe we didn't have to make a change to the list this year. We still did though. These are a few of the cards that sparks debates, and how the arguments have gone.
Snap keep, though a couple of things about this hand don't seem to be "in the spirit of the format" ;)
Black Vise: Black Vise has a couple of issues. One is the "Oops, I win" effect of the card. If you start with a Vise on the play, it easily deals 6-7 damage even if your opponent curves out reasonably well. A start of e.g. land, mox, double Vise is silly, and would make cards like Timetwister and Wheel of Fortune even more insane. As many players have noted, there are very few cards that simply win you the game in 93/94 without having to commit a fair share of strategy, and if we can avoid non-interactive games, most players think we should. Another issue with Black Vise is the splash damage an unrestriction would do to other decks. I would most certainly play the full set in my green deck, and probably a couple more in my Tax Edge, and rebuild the decks around them. This would in part lead to more linear strategies among decks, but in particular, it would lead to even more artifact removal in decks to combat the Vises. More players having Shatters and Crumbles maindeck would in turn hurt many of the more fringe strategies, like monored Atog, Martyrs of Korlis decks or Parfait. In the end, it seems like it would narrow down the amount of viable decks rather than expand it. We have also seen that unrestricted Black Vise is not necessary for decks like Nether Void or Stasis to be viable. Lastly, a lot of players really dislike playing against the Vise, and that counts for something as well. Black Vise stays restricted.

Four versions of Aq Strip Mine.
Strip Mine: A few players like to argue that Strip Mine in 93/94 is pretty much the same as Wasteland in eternal formats. That is a big stretch though. You play around Wastland using fetches or basics. You don't play around Strip Mine, except maybe by using moxen. We really don't want people to be unable to cast their spells due to lack of jewellery. We've also seen Strip Mine is not necessary to build a functional Nether Void prison deck (as witnessed by Oldschool's win at the Mindstage convention). A solid alternative to Strip Mine, which has been seen a lot in the Nordic meta in the last year, is the inclusion of cards like Sinkhole, Stone Rain and Ice Storm as value spells. E.g. Munchausen's Lestree Zoo (which he played to a 7-0 record at Sehlskapsspelen in December) used the full playset of Ice Storms. There are alternatives to Strip Mine in both prison and aggro decks, the deckbuilding process just becomes a little more involved. Strip Mine stays restricted.

Mana Vault:
Not much to say here. Unrestricting the vault last year seems to have opened a number of new viable, but not dominant, archetypes. Decks like Atog, Monoblue Artifacts, and Nether Void have entered the stage in the wake of Mana Vaults unrestriction. Mana Vault stays unrestricted.

Mirror Universe: Mirror Universe is insanely powerful, but in most decks it has highly diminishing returns. It is usually bad to draw more than one Mirror in a game, and can't blow up in early game like e.g. Mindtwist or Balance. I'd probably play two in Project M, but most of the control decks in the format would stay on 0-1 copies of the card. On the other hand, it looks like it can make some crazy combo decks a little more viable. The Mirror combos very well with cards like Greed, Sylvan Library, Channel, and Book of Rass. And it is a very cool 2-card win with Lich. We'll see what will happen, and combo could use a boost in the format. Mirror Universe is unrestricted.
Unlimited mana ;)
Power Artifact: Power Artifact is a scary card. The interaction with Basalt Monolith was deemed so good that the Monolith received power level errata in 1994 to make the infinite mana combo impossible. As a blue card, it easily fits into a control-combo deck with Transmute Artifacts (to find both the Monolith and wincons like Rocket Launcher), alongside both power and counters to protect the pieces. On the other hand, it's a three-card Rube Goldberg machine combo, where the enchantment has very little effect on its own. It has not showed any great results as a one-off card in the Scandinavian 93/94 tournaments yet, though the combo is obviously much harder to assembly when you only have a single copy of the only non-transmutable part of the win. The Eternal Central B&R has the card unrestricted, and Danny Friedman played a goodstuff Power Artifact deck (without Transmutes) to the top4 of the Eternal Weekend Old School tournament in Philadelphia, so it's clear that the card has potential. Again though, it looks like a fun deck and it would be interesting to give a solid combo some more room in the format. Hopefully nothing will break, and if it does I guess we can always restrict it again in a year. Power Artifact is unrestricted.

"Oh, lovely! Especially the part about the grime of daily living."
Summer Magic: To recap the discussion on legal expansions, the sets originally included in 93/94 are the those that were distributed in 1993 or 1994 and were not easily available as sealed product in 1995. They are the under-printed sets that were already considered old school by a majority of players in 1995 (which is the main reason why we don't include Fallen Empires or Revised here). Another big reason is the aesthetic charm of the older and more rarely seen cards. Even though Revised was printed before Legends, most players from the nineties would agree that Legends feels more old school than the third edition of Gathering. In that same vein, Summer Magic is a set which was printed after Revised, but obviously wasn't easily available as sealed product in 1995. It was never easily available, and a great majority of players have never even seen a Summer card. After my post about the set a couple of weeks ago, a lot of players have commented that they want the Summer to be legal for play in 93/94. I seriously doubt that legalizing Summer would have an impact on the meta or deck building decisions as there exists so few copies of the cards. The set also pass the "pimp test" with flying colors. I guess that legalizing Summer Magic in 93/94 will lead to some random irritation from some players outside of Scandinavia who want to play with Revised, and think that legalizing this set is just silly. Well, it's a casual community, and I can assure that almost all of you wont notice the difference. Summer cards are few and far between, and players willing to actually put them in a deck are even rarer. For the small minority of players that both have access to the cards and really want to use them however, you are welcome :) Cards from the Summer Magic set are legal in 93/94.

The changes will take effect June 1st. Hope you like the updates, and happy brewing!

söndag 3 maj 2015

Gatherings and decks

I've realized that I hadn't updated the Gatherings page for a while. It's actually kind of hard to keep up these days.

These are a few from the last couple of weeks, or soon to come. Another one coming up soon is a sanctioned 93/94 FNM in a pub i Karlstad May 15. Pretty cool :)

The biggest one was the Ovinospring tournament in Milan. I unfortunately couldn't go myself, as I was off to London to run a 12-mile mud race yesterday (yep, my everything hurts today). The Italian scene is very active, and if you know the language or just want to look at some pictures of sweet tech, I recommend checking their facebook page. And you know you want to pick up the first price of that tournament:
A goddamn Metal Juzam
I've realized that I don't really have the time nor information to update the page properly with all the gatherings around the world, so I'll remove it for now. If you have something going on, like planning a tournament, feel free to send me an email and I can post a notice about it on the blog instead. Also feel free to send pics or tournament reports from local events if you want to show off :)
Showing off: Sveby's Eureka combo versus Oldschool's Living Plane combo. Look at those playmats!
I have done something relevant this week though, apart from running through mud, working, and drinking British ales in wooden taverns. I finally took the time to gather a majority of the scattered deck lists from the Mindstage convention, Stabcon 1 and the n00bcon Warmup tournament. I've posted them in the decks-to-beat section along with the decks from n00bcon 7. Go check out the latest tech here.
n00bcon Warmup finals. WW versus UR Burn.

fredag 24 april 2015

Summer time

"We were originally planning to change the card mix in September, but... well... some stuff happened and we didn't."
 - Kathy Ice. Card Collector Confidential, Scrye Magazine, Feb 1995.

Imagine if you will. Ireland, a game store in the late summer of 1994. Magic has celebrated its one-year anniversary. Players are cracking boosters from the newly released The Dark, dreaming about opening the legendary Leviathan. A couple of novice mages have just built their first decks from a few packs of "Gathering". Spells like Clone and the flavor of the Oi-Oi Troll capture their imagination, as they are yet to find out about Doppelgangers or Juzams.
And Power Sink is an interrupt.
At another table in the store, two old sharks who have played the games for many months are slinging with their finely crafted decks. Decks with price tags of tens or hundreds of dollars even at the time. New playmats are used to protect their cards. A similar scenario plays out at their table.
And Mana Drain gives mana burn.
Now, if you were to trade the cards in the first picture for the cards in the second, that would seem like a very unfair trade at a glance. After a second look, it still looks very unfair, though the other way around. Those "Revised" cards that could be found in Ireland in the late summer of 94 will make even Alpha look overprinted and cheap.

Summer Magic, or Edgar, is a set shrouded with rumors, legends and conspiracy theories. Wizards of the Coast officially denied the cards existence until October 1996, when they were described as "near mythical", stating that a few cards just had gotten misbordered. It was not until 2003 they first acknowledged it as a cancelled shipment of Revised. There's no official information about how many cards were printed, how many were released, or even why the set came to be. There are some theories though.

In April 1994, Revised was released to a rapidly growing base of Magic players. It was the most printed set of Magic by a wide margin. The set had some big issues though. People complained about the washed out colors, the "two-dimensional" edges, font issues (like missing apostrophes), and incorrect artist credits. The set had some more blatant errors as well, most famously that Serendib Efreet got printed with the art and green border of Ifh-Biff Efreet. Additionally, wizards had grown more concerned about the backlash suffered from occult references in the game. Something needed to be done.
Like airbrushing the pentagram away from the demon's forehead.
In the summer of 1994 there was a drastic shortage of Revised product. Some people say that Cartamundi's production suffered from a heat-wave in Belgium from June 27th to August 7th. Some say that the factory only had a single cutting and collating tool, which was used for Fallen Empires and Jyhad at the time. Another source blame problems with the sorting machines. Others yet state that the shortage was due to the production of what should have been the first shipment 4th Edition.

A popular theory states that Summer Magic was in fact no test print nor tiny run, but instead put the size of the run around 120 million cards. Richard Garfield reportedly confirmed this while he spoke at ConQuest in November 1994. When the cards eventually were shown to WotC, they deemed the quality of the set insufficient and burned the entire print run. Almost.
A subtle hint on Summer Magic from the Magic the Puzzling book? If nothing else, it's very puzzling ;)
The set that was supposed to fix the issues of Revised had brought plenty of new errors on its own. They got the artist credit on Onulet correctly listed as Anson Maddocks, but they instead spelled Néné Thomas first name as NéNé. The washed out colors were overcompensated, and the cards looked too dark instead. They fixed most of the apostrophes in the card titels, but missed out on Gaea's Liege and Will-o'-the-Wisp. Sure, they fixed the blatant green border on Serendib Efreet, but Hurricane got a blue border. And they still listed Jesper Myrfors as the artist on the Efreet. And Drew Tucker on Plateau.
Pick your poison.
The story goes that WotC decided to burn all the cards and keep the failed run a secret. Before the cards were burned, they put out large bins of Summer Magic cards and told employees that they could pick any cards they needed for their decks. And that could have been the end of Summer Magic.

The packs looked identical to Revised though, and somewhere along the line there was a mixup. A tiny amount of product, most sources state 4 cases, were accidentally released to the public under the guise of Revised boosters. The booster boxes were then reportedly distributed in Tennessee, Texas, and Ireland. One of the cases ended up at retailer Troll and Toad, who famously wrote a big green "E" on the boosters to distinguish them from Revised.
E is for Edgar.
So, how rare are the cards really? Well, using the Clone as an example, for each Alpha Clone, there are about three Beta, 15 Unlimited and 200 Revised Clones. For each Summer Clone, there could be over a hundred Alpha ones. If you have a playset of a dual land from Summer Magic, you own no insignficant percentage of all the copies of that card in the world. I'd heard that even the most hardcore of collectors wouldn't attempt to complete a set of Summer. Just trying to find the cards can drive even the most connected and whealthy Magic connoisseur crazy. The most complete set I'd heard about before writing this post was the guy who sold his collection to ABUgames in 2009. He had assembled over 300 cards, including 30 rares, and had spent years on the set before giving up. I'm much more of a player myself, using my Clone in my crappy Biovisionary deck and whatnot, so in order to get some good info on collecting Summer Magic, I went to Daniel Chang.

Daniel Chang is one of the most acknowledged traders of high end Magic rarities in the world. If you want a booster box of Arabian Nights or mint graded Alpha Power, he'll get it for you. If you want Jesper Myrfors to paint a reinterpretation of Obsianus Golem for you, he can probably set it up. So when I wanted to know about the business of collecting Summer Magic cards, Daniel seemed like the go-to-guy. I sent him an email, and he was quick to set up a Skype meeting. So did anyone actually complete a set?

Well, he had a complete set himself for one. Daniel estimated that there were actually eight or nine in existence. As for how many copies of each cards there were, he could give some qualified guesses. "My guess, and it's more of a fact than a guess but I can't give my source, is that some cards from the common sheet are more rare than some of the rares and uncommons. And there are uncommons that are more rare than certain rare cards." Daniel stated that, as far as he had seen, the two main sources of Summer cards had been Ireland and Seattle itself. Many of the cards in circulation had come from employees at Wizards, and as such, they had been more prominent to pick up the rares. "Many collectors ask how many cards there are, but it's impossible to know. I would guess around 20-40, maybe even 50, of the rares. The uncommons are probably between 30-200, and the commons are about the same. That might sound like a lot, but even compared to Alpha which had 1100 of each rare and I don't know how many thousands of the uncommons, it's incredibly few."
So this might be the most crazy set of duals in the world. First time they are shown on the web btw :)
Clone was my first favorite card, and the first card I owned myself that was highly sought after by my playgroup. I remember getting offered stacks of cards for my Revised copy, including multiple duals, without wanting to give it up. I may not be a classic collector (I would e.g. much rather have cards I can play with than graded ones), but I do appreciate the history and rare gems from the early days of Magic. I like playing on a 1994 Khalsa-Brain playmat, learning about banding from the Alpha rulebook and getting hints on how to use Circles of Protection from The Duelist #1. The Summer Magic set is probably the most prominent source of Magic legends from the mid nineties. The set tells a story about how a much smaller WotC tried to keep up with the explosive growth of Magic players and the struggles of creating high quality Magic sets. The cover up and lacking information about the set combined with its extreme rarity makes it an exciting piece of Magic history.

If we were to legalize another set in 93/94, Summer Magic would be at the top of my list. It would be pretty damn cool to get my Thunder Spirits destroyed by a blue Hurricane.

An extra thanks to Daniel Chang for the info on Summer collecting and the pictures of the graded Summer cards. Daniel will be launching the his vintagemagic website (www.vintagemagic.com) this Summer, and the crew will be attending their first Magic Grand Prix in Las Vegas May 28th to 31st. If you want to contact them, you can check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/vintagemtg or email Daniel at daniel@vintagemagic.com.

torsdag 16 april 2015

The n00bcon top8, part 2

Time to round up the n00bcon top8! While UR Eel decks dominated the top tables last year, recently The Deck seems to have reclaimed its place as the prime tier1 Deck to beat. It might be that fewer people are prepared for its raw power, skip a little on the sideboard cards, and instead opt for cards against UR Burn or Monoblack. Whatever the case, The Deck is back in style, and claimed no less than four spots in the Top8 (five if you count Sehl's The Burn Deck, though Sehl would probably have top8'd with any random pile of 75 cards). I actually kind of like that The Deck is a monster in this format when piloted by a skilled player. It wouldn't feel "old school" if it wasn't ;)

Top8 players: Jocke, Artelas, Kalle, and MrSinclair.
So, yeah, Jocke Almelund. You'll pretty much always see Jocke Almelund here. The latest (and so far only) Pimpvitational winner has top8'd n00bcon five out of six times, only narrowly missing the elimination rounds at n00bcon 6 last year. He is also mine and Myfz's nemesis, having something like a 100% match win against us in the format. His latest take on The Deck is pretty interesting; playing no less than three Amnesia in the main and sideboard. This time he also cut Moat and Time Vault, but plays maindeck Fork. He got to use it dreamcrush my own hopes of a top8 in the swiss with Fork+Timewalk, Recall for Fork+Time Walk. It's a pretty sweet play.
Surprisingly many wincons for a Jocke Deck.
Tommy "Artelas" Aaen is a Vintage and 93/94 player from Karlstad, not that far from Arvika. He is a pretty new player to the format, having started just last year. Arteleas picked up his first top8 at his first BSK last November, and followed up with his first top8 at his first n00bcon. He can hence brag about a 100% top8 ratio in Shark tournaments, not a feat to be taken lightly. At BSK, he was seen piloting Monoblack, and at Stabcon in late February a Monored Atog took him to the top4. This time his decision landed on a monoblue deck. Well, monoblue maindeck at least. With his set of fellwar stones, transmute artifacts and jewellery, he can fairly easily find a single colored mana source for the other four colors. He caught a lot of unexpecting players off guard, having them stare down at a Blood Moon or a Balance post sideboard.
Brutal and tricky at the same time.
Then we have Kalle "egget" Nord. Kalle is the epitome of a lucksack with all the charm of a grease fire. If he would have been an actual troll, no one would build bridges. And also obviously a great friend. Kalle and I were the first to start playing 93/94 back in 2007, and now he finally got to claim his title as world champion. His deck is pretty techy, with e.g. three Lightning Bolts main deck. It is also a jaw-droppingly gorgeous pile of cards.
Picking up his second Giant Shark :)
For our last player, I must unfortunately leave it pretty much blank for now. Emil "MrSinclair" Klintbäck claimed the last spot in the top8. This was his first tournament in the format, but I don't know what he played or much about his background as a magic player at this time. If you're reading this Emil, you are very welcome to send me a decklist and a small presentation!

Also, retronick.com just posted an interview with cutter of cards and Forker of Mind Twists Danny Friedman about old school Magic. I highly recommend giving it a read!

söndag 12 april 2015

The n00bcon top8, part 1

I would never have guessed. If someone had told me a few years back that 93/94 tournaments would attract more players than the national championships in Vintage, or that players would travel multiple time zones to battle for a Giant Shark, it would be hard to not be a sceptic.

There are communities around the world these days. There's a thriving scene in Italy, the second double-digit tournament in France was held last weekend, this Sunday I'll be playing in my first tournament in Norway, at the same time as n00bcon there was a Magic '95 tournament in New York, two weeks from now the first tournament in Russia will take place, and a month back I was playing old school in Germany. When we first started to call n00bcon "the world championships" it was mostly as a joke. The first tournament at Gothcon in 2008 had four players, all from Gothenburg. Today, with well over fifty players from different countries, I think that we in good conscience can say that n00bcon is the largest and most prestigious tournament for wizards and mages interested in the origins of Magic.

It's not about winning though. It's about nostalgia and to enjoy the game, your deck and the company. The four hidden Easter eggs at n00bcon contained a Sandrelin altered unlimited Scrubland, a Legends booster, a playset Felipega altered unlimited Enchantresses, and a two-player ash Khalsa Brain mat. Prices that you probably could use as incentives to get players to join the tournament, or give as incentives to win. These prices were not mentioned before the tournament though, nor given out to the top performers, but randomized to players after the swiss. If you win, you'd get a Giant Shark, if you placed second, you'd get nothing.

That's not the whole story, of course. Top8'ing n00bcon gives some pretty big bragging rights in the eternal community. It shows that you have what it used to take to Master Magic Cards.
Sehl, Icelander, Myfz and Arkanon.
Erik "Sehl" Larsson played his first game of Magic in 16 years in Januari 2014. Since then, he has pretty much crushed the format. He placed 2nd at both Warcon 2014 and the Mindstage premiére tournament, he top8'd BSK, won the 93/94 tournament at Vasa Gaming, and came into the tournament as the fifth highest ranked player in the format, behind three recent Shark-winners and Freespace. It is notable that he has used a myriad of different decks during the year to claim his victories; WW, Erhnamgeddon, WUR aggro and Monoblack. It is also notable that he doesn't own all the moxes nor the Lotus, but is still a favourite against most of the full-powered players.

Sehl's deck of choice for the tournament was The Burn Deck. It's a five-color pile of Lightning Bolts, Chain Lightnings, Psiblasts and Fireballs, backed up by most of the restricted list and a set of Factories. Simply put, it's broken burn.
Sehl's The Burn Deck
Erling "Icelander" Hansson showed his consistence with a third consecutive n00bcon top8. Last year he was maindecking Nicol Bolas, but this time it looks like he has slimmed his strategy quite a bit. Icelander was a member of the Icelandic team in the Magic World Championships in the 90s, and showed yet again that his masterful skills with old cards. He is also a really cheerful and friendly dude, which goes a long way in this format :)
Icelander's The Deck
Myfz had a pretty long hiatus from old school Magic in the last few years. He last played at n00bcon three years ago, though he top8'd that one as well. More recently, Myfz placed second at BSK last November and top8'd Frippan Open in December. During the last six months, he has pretty much been a fixture in the elimination rounds of the Swedish old school tournaments. He deck of choice was, as always, monoblack.
Myfz's Monoblack. It was a long night.
Last we have Nicklas "Arkanon" Johansson. Arkanon has played the game for well over 20 years but is actually fairly new to 93/94, having found the format last year. After placing second at WSK last summer, he kickstarted the local scene in Scania and organized a couple of tournaments in the autmn/winter. Arkanon's deck of choice looks like a very hard nut to crack for any creature based deck. He uses The Abyss backed up with the full playset of both Juggernauts and Su-Chis. With stones and jewlery, Arkanon can fairly easily cast one of the four-drop creatures turn one or two and start smashing. He backs up his core strategy with card advantage and control using restricted cards and the Tome.
Arkanon's Abyss Beatdown