torsdag 22 januari 2015

Winter deck

Heiner, you fox:
Yep, a Mana Vortex deck. I don't know how it placed in the Eudemonia tournament, but I'll assume that it won. At least some bragging rights, if nothing else. If someone who played the tournament at Eudo Games would like to write something about the tournament or the local playgroup (or share some pictures), it would be much appreciated :)

So, unrestricting Black Vise to make this deck viable in the Nordic meta? It's a hard nut to crack. The finals of last n00bcon was between two UR draw7 burn decks, and 3/4 decks in the BSK top4 were UR draw7 burn decks. It might be a bad idea to give our current tier1 deck access to the full playset Vises. A man can dream though. As per usual, we have our yearly update of the B/R list during the weeks after n00bcon in April. If you have any thoughts, feel free to share.

But I digress. I've recently updated the decks-to-beat with most of the decks from the Frippan Open top8, as well as the top4 decks from the more recent Sehlskapsspelen (the name of the tournament is a pun on Sehl's name in Swedish. The title of this post could also be interpreted as a Swedish pun btw. If you don't speak Swedish, don't worry; it's really not that funny).

Munchhausen took down Sehlskapsspelen with his new take on Lestree Zoo. He actually went 7-0 in matches in the tournament, against a very strong field. Turns out Lestree Zoo is a real deck if you can tweak it and know how to play it. Some of my other favorite decks from the elimination rounds of the tournaments are Elof's Troll Disko deck (which placed second in both tournaments) and Kalle's The Burn Deck, which is what The Deck would look like if it was a burn deck rather than a control deck. Mikael Lindén's UW control is also worth a second look, very impressive pile.

So, this was a short post. If you have the urge for some more old school tech, fear not. Christian Zoli recently wrote a great tournament report from the second tournament in Ravenna. Check it out, it's Stasis tech at its finest :)

torsdag 15 januari 2015

2014 Retrospective

2014 was an impressive year for old school Magic. The interest in the format has grown both locally in Sweden and internationally. Starting on a personal note, this is the curent state of Project M:

It's actually somewhat finished. One might argue that I could use more duals, but with their current price tag, that seems like a long shot. I have the Unlimited versions of the UGs and Volcanics should I want to play them, but I think I prefer to keep the deck BB for now. It's nonetheless a pretty impressive pile compared to the version of the deck I played in Regensburg two years ago:
Did not have the cards for a sideboard, but the main was actually pretty solid.
On another personal note, the nerdy side of me thinks that this is pretty sweet:
Full A/B power on a 1994 Khalsa-Brain mat. Checking it off the bucket list I guess ;)
So, raising our sights a little to the Swedish tournament scene, we can in good conscience say that it has been a good year to play old school. We've had 12 tournaments in Sweden this year, and the major ones have really been major. Both BSK and n00bcon attracted 40+ players, and Freespace's Frippan Open tournament attracted 27 players, being the fifth largest tournament in the format yet (after n00bcon 6, BSK 2014, n00bcon 4, and n00bcon 5). I personally had even more fun at Frippan Open than at BSK 2014, being able to drink at a tournament and upholding the casual ambience feels important to enjoy playing 93/94 fully. There used to be more beer in Magic. Long gone are the days where each GP had their own bar, or when Mark Justice got to casually drink beer in the semifinals of Worlds (check the first 10 seconds of that link if you want to see Justice drawing his opener from an unsleeved deck right next to a beer at the table).

One of the best things with the evolution of the format in Sweden during the last year is the emerging groups of old school players in other towns though. I hope to travel to Scania at some point this year to battle Arkanon and his playgroup at their own turf, and I'm very much looking forward to travel to Arvika to play in a tournament against Kungmarkus and the Arvika players in February. Great excuse to meet new people.

So, looking at an international scale, there are actually quite a few non-Swedish groups by now. A year ago, the only tournaments outside of Sweden had been in Canada, but last year we saw players organizing tournaments in France, Italy and different parts of the US. There are also players in Germany, Russia, Denmark and many other places. There are a lot of people who does a great amount of work to keep the format living and create opportunities to play. Without people like Jason Jaco, Dustin Espersen, Greg Titcomb, Manuel Sternis and Jacopo Borrelli the format could never have grown internationally the way it has during the last year. Thanks, people like you gives me a lot of motivation to keep this blog going! :)
Dustin's deck from last week's tournament at Eudo Games in Berkeley. This is just ridiculously sweet.
The format has also grown over social media last year. If you haven't checked them out, have a look at Greg Titcomb's Instagram or Kalle Nord's ditto. There's also a subreddit for Old School Magic now, also started by Greg. The traffic to this blog is about double of what it was a year ago, and a year ago I was almost certain that we had peaked. It's pretty cool to see that other people shares your passion for 20-year old playing cards :)
Monthly pageview trend since March 2012. The monthly views have now passed the total number of Unlimited Lotuses ever printed. There actually seems to be an interest in old school tech ;)
Good netiquette holds that I should mention a few of my favorite posts from the last year. Among my own posts, I would probably pick these as some of the better ones (in no particular order):
  • The return of The Deck. I've written a few short "deck techs" during the year, and this is probably my favorite of them. Very impressive deck, with an interesting background.
  • All in good timing. This is the only post I've written yet where I go well beyond 1994, and discuss rules and decks up to Urza's Saga. It started with me trying to write a "Magic: The Puzzling" quiz post using rules from 1994, but evolved into a rant about how odd timing used to be in the mid 90s.
  • The Fire of Sri Lanka. A post about the card Serendib Efreet. It's a cool card :)
  • Cut from a different Cloth. A nostalgic post about the first Magic play mats and the history of Khalsa Brain games, with comments from Japji Khalsa. Japji is an awesome craftsman, and he does some great work. "Fun" fact: after this post, the cost of early Khalsa-Brain mats on ebay tripled.
  • Priorities and Luxury. A post about why we prioritize to spend so much money on our cards, and why we play an expensive card game with little to no price support.
There have been some great guest reports during 2014 as well; e.g. Olle Råde's report from BSK, Felipe's report from Playoteket and Heiner Litz's report from Eudemonia, among many others. Thanks a lot, they have been very appreciated! Please keep them coming :)

All in all, it has been an exciting year for old school Magic, and I'm happy to be a part of the great community. It's a fun hobby to have, and has helped me wind down when life has gotten stressful.

Here's to a great 2015!

måndag 12 januari 2015

Åland's perspective

Lots of interesting things has happened in the last days. One of my personal favorites is that Heiner Litz from California actually built and played a Mana Vortex deck in an old school tournament. We'll get back that (and the 2015 retrospective) later though. For now let's give the word to our own World Champion, Christoffer "Stalin" Andersson. Stalin got a hold of Mikael "Åland" Johansson after his win at Frippan Open to ask him some questions. Enjoy :)

Stalin: For the people that's not in the Swedish 93/94-community and know you; How would you introduce yourself?
Åland: My name is Mikael but everyone in Sweden calls me Åland, which is the name of the island I grew up on. Apart from 93/94 I like to play vintage but I also play legacy, modern and sometimes standard. I’ve studied for quite some time and have a bachelor of information technology and a master of public administration. I work as a systems analyst at Mölndal municipality. When I don’t play magic I like to watch TV-series, play board games or read police investigation reports and verdicts.

What got you into playing 93/94?
A couple of things. This blog surely helped but the fact that I started playing during the revised era and bought a lot of (Italian) Legends makes this format very nostalgic to me. Also the fact that it was a childhood dream to play The Deck but I never could afford it back then.

You just won Frippan Open, any particular moments from the tournament that you want to share with us?

Not really. The main thing with the deck is to play consistent during the day and don’t make any major mistakes. I got no Mind Twist for seven round one stories but I started with Library of Alexandria turn one a couple of times. 93/94 seldom gives really intricate lines of play like in legacy or vintage.
Kalle testing an interesting line of play against Åland in the quarterfinals.
We talked during the event and you told me that you where not as competitive this time around as you where at n00bcon (where you tilted quite hard vs me in the quarterfinals). Was that just a lie or how and why has your take on the format changed since then?
I want to clear up one thing, I didn’t tilt against you I tilted against myself. Generally people think I tilt against my opponents, but most of the time I tilt against myself (bad plays, bad mulligan decisions etc). I made a fatal deck building error in my deck during n00bcon ‘14 where I had too many mana sources, I had been lucky all day and got “unlucky” during the quarter finals. I wanted to sell my cards the next day (not the power, but cards like balance, tomes, mind twist etc). I was really upset with myself for a couple of days. I realized that there is no point in taking 93/94 that seriously when there is no prize money involved. I need to take the losses with a smile and during BSK where I did not make top 8 it still felt okay, I went to sleep with a smile on my face. In Frippan open I lost the first match. I just shaked my opponents hand and didn’t think more about it. It sounds weird but I might have become a better person by losing to you in the quarter finals of n00bcon compared to if I had won the whole tournament.
Åland and Elof have faced each other before; here in the finals of Warcon 2012.
I know that you've been playing ”The Deck” for quite some time. Is it since you entered the format several years ago? Any thoughts you want to share with us about the evolution of the deck? Did you do any changes for this tournament to beat the current meta?
I’ve played The Deck since I’ve started playing the format, my début was the 16th of June 2012 and I’ve played in 12 tournaments since that day, I have all the deck lists still saved. There are several The Deck players in Sweden and everyone has their own take on how to build the deck. I never fancied Mishra’s Factory in The Deck when some people see it as a must, it doesn’t fit my style of play. I don’t like weird variations with Fissure either. For this tournament I went down from 31 to 29 mana sources, it is the biggest change in a long time. I cut all the weird cards like Disrupting Scepter, Icy Manipulator, Copy Artifact, Circle of Protections etc. I call my deck “The Deck with Wincons”, I play 2 Serra Angel and 2 Fireball. I didn’t make any big meta changes, I played 2 Lightning Bolts in the sideboard and Mirror Universe main because I thought it would be creature heavy meta and that was the right call. I don’t like fancy strategies with weird cards or combos, I prefer a consistent deck with the best wincons. Moat is probably one of the best cards in the format, to quote my final opponent Elof “Your Moat worked overtime in the finals”.
The Deck with Wincons. Including Riven Turnbull.
What do you think about the format right now? Anything thats particularly good or bad? Anything you want to change? Anything that you feel should not change?
I think the format is really healthy, we see new decks popping up. The Atog Smash is a new variant which I haven’t seen before. Alot of people are talking about Mishra’s Factory restriction/ban, I don’t really understand what people see in that card. I mean it gives you random wins sometime but most of the time you open up yourself for opponents land destruction without them having land destruction cards in their decks.

There are lots of people out there interested in the format but they feel that they can afford to get into it. What's your thoughts about that? Any pointers to people on how to get into playing 93/94?
Either be very certain about what deck you want to play and just buy it, which I did with The Deck, or find a cheap variant. I think the best budget deck is White Weenie which you can buy for around $250 with the cheapest card versions available. It can quite easily be remade into a RW Tax Edge or WW with bolts. If you like blue you can splash Ancestral Recall, Time Walk and/or Psionic Blasts. Remember this about the old expensive cards, they are a good investment. Stop playing drafts and standard which effectively is a big money sink.

If you could ask yourself a question. What would that question be, and how would you answer it?

"What is your goal with playing Magic?" My goal is actually three different goals: top 8 a Grand Prix, win a Giant Shark and become the Swedish national vintage champion. I think the most reasonable one is to win the Giant Shark, I’ve already been close a couple of times. I have won a couple of smaller vintage tournaments and top eighted Bazaar of Moxen so winning the Swedish national championships in vintage isn’t that unreasonable. The problem with that is that you only have one chance every year (starting again in 2015). The hardest goal is to top 8 a Grand Prix, I have only made day two once and I wasn’t even close to top 8 that one. Top 8 a Grand Prix would be sweet so that I would qualify for a Pro tour which I want to play once in my life.

Thanks for taking the time for this interview!

tisdag 6 januari 2015

Pics from Gothenburg and Ravenna

During the last weeks there have been two impressive tournaments in Italy and Sweden. Jacopo Borrelli hosted a 13-player tournament in Ravenna, Italy, which was the second largest tournament thus far outside of Scandinavia. The Italian community is growing quickly, and Jacopo's work with it can't be understated. A few days before that, Johan "Freespace" Andersson hosted a 26-player tournament in Gothenburg, Sweden. Freespace had rented a location where beer was aplenty, and had even invited a local game store too the event to sell old school cards and refreshments.

Jacopo has posted a tournament report with some more decklists and pics at his Magic Time webpage, and I hope to get a tournament report from the winner of Frippan Open (*nudge*), so I won't spoil to much about the tournaments right now. Until then, enjoy some pictures from the events.

Project M going monoblack style against Hannes Löfgren.
Elof goes binder browsing.
Kudzu is making an appearance in Ravenna. Amazing playmat btw.
Control vs aggro, old school style.
Abyss and Moat have nothing on Tetravus in Ravenna.
Frippan Open, finals. Elof's Sedge Troll and Factories are stopped cold by Åland's Moat.
Monored spinning the Wheel.
Old school players in Ravenna
Old school players in Gothenburg
If you draw a land, would you play Juzam or Greed turn 2? One looks better, but the other looks cooler.
The proud top8 from Frippan Open. From the left: Mg, Kalle, Jenny, Brorsan, Myfz, Lindén, Åland and Elof.
Mishra's Factory attacks for 18.
Olle Råde going for the beats with Force of Nature.
The glorious prize at Frippan Open.
Adrea Morrone takes down the first Italian old school tournament! Congrats!
Kalle doing his best Bertrand Lestree pose. Lacking the black shades, a Beta and an Alpha Lotus will have to do to shield his gaze.
This weekend, the 11th of January, there will be a second Old School Tournament at Eudemonia in Berkeley. The last one was won by legendary Vintage player Stephen Menedian. If I had the possibility to go there to hear some stories and play with some of the pioneers of the game, I most definitely would. You'll even get to play with your Revised duals and Thrull Champions in the tournament, so it's a good opportunity if you want to try out some old school Magic.

I aim to post a "2014 retrospective" in the coming week, even though it'll be a little later than usual. It has been an interesting year. I'll also update the decks-to-beat section with the decks from Ravenna shortly, and the decks from Frippan Open as soon as I get them.

And lastly, a great thanks to the people who have been giving me support and helped me get out of bed the last weeks. It has been a rough couple of weeks, but you have really helped me. Life is what it is right now, but it will change and your support have gone a long way.

onsdag 31 december 2014

Moxen and Timon of Atens 4:2:30

It was a shock to learn that Daniel didn't play with his Island Fishes. Daniel was "the local mister suitcase", and had the strongest collection of all of us. Among his gems where two Lord of the Pit, Force of Nature, Keldon Warlord, and even a Colossus of Sardia. My older sister had opened a Gaea's Liege in her first Revised starter, and Daniel had offered her a choice of two Island Fish Jasconious, or a misprinted fish with a big red ink-dot on the card. After some deliberation she decided to trade her Liege for the misprinted one. We hence knew that Daniel owned two more, which for some reason wasn't in his deck. It was a huge 6/8, and few cards could compare to it in size. Daniel argued that he simply had too many of the great creatures, and it wasn't good enough to get a spot.

It was around this time we started wondering what the actual best card in magic was. We couldn't deny that Force of Nature was better than the Island Fish, but there could after all be cards even better than that. Christian had heard that the best card was called Black Lotus and the second best card was called Mox, but wasn't sure what they did. We asked Daniel, and he said that Black Lotus was a zero-mana card that tapped for three mana in any combination of colors, and that Mox tapped for two mana of any colors. We all thought that that sounded very strange; those cards could do nothing against a Force of Nature, and they didn't even sound that much better than an ordinary Sol Ring, which we all had a few of.

It is strange, and wonderful, how our perceptions change over time. What we consider good or important evolves with our time and experience. The last two and a half years, I've lived with a lot of change. I've often seen the last years as a boot camp of sorts, I've moved seven times, and worked at different jobs in three different countries. Five days a week, I've been trying to build a CV and a network that would make my "real" future possible. Two days a week, I've been ignoring work and seminars to focus on one of the only solid and truly important things in my life and future; my relationship. After this holiday, the years of long-distance was supposed to be over. I first started writing this post two weeks ago. A few days later, I started my winter holidays. That same night though, life took a huge turn.

...

I don't think any new player, at any time of the game, has thought that the Moxen were broken at first sight. Once we realized what they actually did, their main pull was the legendary status and their insane price. The first time I remember seeing a Mox was when Olle Råde bought a green one from TV-spelsbörsen, one of Gothenburg's' now closed game stores. If I recall correctly, he paid 600 sek for it, almost $80. We knew that Olle was a player at a different level than us, but how anyone could pay that much for a single card felt crazy. The card didn't really do anything after all, it was just a Forest with a price tag of at least six Shivan Dragons.


Power level was very different when you didn't know how to play or build decks well. Me and my sister played 2-3 Sol Rings in our decks, and I'm sure that moxen would have been no problem had any of us owned them, but cards like Rag Man was outright banned when we played as it was considered too powerful. The first really expensive card I bought was a Ring of Ma'ruf; not a powerhouse by today's standards. I was offered three duals for it by a guy who tried to rip me off, and when I refused to trade it, he simply stole the card from me and ran away. I took a long hiatus from the game after that.

So, mox. It's not really a word. Richard Garfield derived it from "moxie", meaning "force of character, determination, or nerve" according to a local thesaurus, or "energy, courage, or determination" according to WotC's webpage. And it really takes some determination to get them all. In 93/94, you didn't have the social media in place to find them, and even if you hung out at usenet, you probably didn't know you wanted them. Today, the price is the biggest barrier. How many hours would you have to put down to afford one? What will you give up for that time and money spent? It took me six years to complete the set, and my last one had a price of almost five times that of my first. The waiting game has never been a good game if you want to get Power.

The cost of trading up this one from wb to bb was almost three times of what I paid for my first mox btw.
So, now I finally have them all. These last days though, I sometimes feel that I would tear them all up. I made a mistake, or rather, I failed to do what I could have done. My life is very different now than two weeks ago. I could have sold that Sapphire and gone to Argentina for a week. I could have sold the Jet to make up for the leave of absence at work. I could have sold them all, and went away for the whole two months. If I'd done that, my life would have been different today. Maybe not better, maybe even worse, and maybe it was inevitable, but it would have been different.

I apologize that this post is a little different from what I usually do, and that it is unusually personal. I haven't been online for a while, and I needed to write something to get it off my chest. Passion is a strange creature. We take stuff for granted, not because they are not important, but because they are so important that they define who we are. We know we have ourselves, and that we will live with ourselves until we die. We may have people, places or ideas that define us, and become a part of us. When our home burn or our closest friends leave, something breaks. We didn't focus on it, because it defined us, rather than being something we simply had. We spent too much time on hope and didn't live for the present. As Albert Camus wrote "The typical act of eluding, the fatal evasion, is hope. Hope of another life one must "deserve" or trickery of those who live not for life itself but for some great idea that will transcend it, refine it, give it a meaning, and betray it."

I wish you all a great new year. Give some thought to your priorities, and try to not sublime your present in hope of some less tangible future. Life is a strange beast, but we are privileged.

fredag 19 december 2014

Gatherings

After input from Marcelo from Brazil, I've added a page with upcoming gatherings/tournaments in 93/94. You can check out the page in the side menu. If you want to add a local tournament to the list to spread the word about it, feel free to send me an email and I'll post it here. Local interpretations of the rules are very welcome, and I don't mind posting about small gatherings where e.g. you're four local players looking for a fifth. The requirements are that the gathering/tournament should be played without proxies, and that you send some pics or a short report to post e.g. here or at Eternal Central for the joy of the community.

So, this was a very short info post. We'll wrap up with a pic of our latest BSK winner Hagelpump, contemplating an attack with Ywden Efreet in 2008.
Storm World ftw.

måndag 15 december 2014

Burning WW: A report from Vasa Gaming

Today I have the pleasure to post a tournament report from Erik "Sehl" Larsson. Sehl's first year playing 93/94 has been very impressive, and he has tested multiple different decks in tournaments across Sweden. Two weeks ago he took his latest creation to the win at Vasa Gaming. Enjoy!

It all started during the Christmas holidays a year ago, when Viktor ”Oldschool” Peterson brought his complete magic collection to my place for some casual gaming together with Jesper “Munchhausen” Riis and his older brother Pontus. By this time I hadn’t barely seen a magic card for over 15 years, but thought it would be really nice with a stroll down the nostalgia lane. We had a great evening with many laughs and noobie plays. Viktor lured us into start playing magic in the mid 90’s and after this evening, I must confess, he had done it again.

At first I and Jesper placed an order together of cheap revised cards from the US, foolishly thinking that we will stop there and not buy any of those expensive 93/94-cards.  This was of course inevitably followed by ordering some unlimited cards. Power, duals and for that matter beta-cards was still way too expensive and definitely out of the question. I managed however quite quickly to scrape together a fairly cheap Ehrnamgeddon, my deck of dreams from the 90’, aiming for my first tournament in 93/94 Kingvitational 1.

Full of hope and excitement I faced Magnus “mg” de Laval in my first duel in my first tournament for over 15 years. He quickly squeezed the fresh fish and finished the humiliation by screaming scornfully to my face: “Synd att du inte är bättre på magic!” (Too bad you’re not better at magic!). Despite my poor results in the tournament I had a great time playing and hanging out with the guys that evening. The addiction to the game just got worse.

Teching at BSK
So, one intense year of insane bidding, orders from worldwide and participation in several 93/94-tournaments I can now say that I’m a proud and overly pleased winner of my first tournament. The tournament itself was not the most crowded one in the Swedish scene but nevertheless full of, in my opinion, very skilled players and for that matter; actual shark-holders.

Match 1, vs Brorsan - Eel Aggro
I felt really excited meeting Brorsan in the first match, hoping that he would play his great Eel aggro deck from BSK. That type of deck is one of the decks I tried to improve my game against. Red Elemental Blast added to the sideboard and Serra Angels in the main, hoping that they would be tough to burn away.
In the first duel Brorsan literally drew blanks, and I simply ran him over with some small creatures. Of course a great start for me, but it gave me very little information about how my new tech would work.
The second duel was a pure race to the bottom, he was attacking me from above with Flying men and Serendib and I was hitting him on the ground with Savannah Lion and Mishra. He eventually played a second Serendib for blocking, but my newly added Red Elemental Blast showed its greatness and led the way for my small ones.
Stare-down with Brorsan.
Match 2, vs Felipe – Atog Smash
Gaah, not Felipe again! That was my thought seeing him in the second match. He's a really tough player to meet and the actual winner of the last tournament I attended. It feels like he weighs every move with extreme precision making you feel that he’s going to win at any moment. I've met him twice before in tournaments this fall, with 1-1 as a result and my win was only thanks to a very lucky Chaos Orb ("If you have sleeves on cards, they count as the cards." Thanks, Matt Tabak).

The first duel started with an early Mind twist putting me down on my knees. I tried to recover and to get my Loa started, but it was too late. His Mishra’s and mighty Triskelion was hitting me hard and they eventually killed me topped with a Lightning bolt.

I don’t recall much from the second duel, but I remember that an opportune Blue elemental blast protected my creatures from an Earthquake making them able run the race. In the final duel I started with Loa, drew tons of cards, played tons of creatures and won. Loa is a ridiculous good card to start with even in a “Weenie deck”.
"Unlimited is just a gateway to the harder stuff"
Match 3, vs Munchhausen – URG Zoo
Munchhausen is one of my oldest and best friends and we’ve played magic together thousands of times always trying to tech against each other. Our two current decks are basically 50/50, but with an overhand for me after side boarding. He, however, plays one of the things I fear most with my deck; land destruction in form Ice Storm. I’ve always liked to play with a tight mana base, so there’s more room for fun cards instead of lands. This is of course the case of my current deck.

Munchhausen in deep thought.
First duel, Munchausen cast Ice storm, Ice storm and then Chaos Orb on my first three lands, and that's it. I hate Ice storm.

For the second duel I sideboard Red Elemental Blast, Blue Elemental Blast and of course City in a Bottle.  After resolving an early City in a Bottle I managed to lock him down and make way for my creatures. He responded after a few turns with Shatter, but a second City in a Bottle on my hand closed the deal. City in a Bottle kicks ass!

I remember the third duel as "my creatures are bigger than yours thanks to Crusade, I win".

Match 4, vs Elof
Since I don't remember much at all from our duels I asked Elof if he could write some lines about our game. Elof doesn't need much more of an introduction, he holds no less than three Giant Sharks. This is his words:

I sit down for round 4 to play against the mighty Sehl. We are both 3-0 and locked in for top 4. It does make this game somewhat meaningless and we are pretty certain that we won't face each other again until earliest the final.

I have chosen for this day to play Bantamgeddon, a list similar to what JACO wrote about at Eternal Central. I made some changes, and my list is viewable in the decks to beat section. Basically it's a deck designed to use some of the best cards in 93/94 - Disenchant, Swords to Plowshares, Serra Angel, Armageddon and Power. Unfortunately those cards are white and blue and only supply 4 creatures (the Serras). So in order to add win cons I added Erhnam Djinn. It could have been Serendib Efreet, but I was afraid of running into several Reb blasts and also playing Erhnams makes playing Mana Vault more attractive as it can ramp out Serra, Erhnam and Geddons. Anyway, back to the game at hand.

I look at my opening hand and realize it does need some help. If I recall correctly it was something in the line of Tropical, Tundra, Fellwar and Erhnam together with some cards I can't recall, probably Disenchant and Geddon. In retrospect this was not a hand to keep. I knew that Sehl was playing something aggressive since he borrowed a Plateau from me and also traded for some Lightning Bolts. So basically I should mulligan but somehow I hope to get lucky with my draws. A very bad choice since Sehl plays Savannah Lions and other creatures. I sword one but Sehl has Disenchants for my Fellwar and things spiral even further after that.

I sideboard in all the removal I can find, the Control Magics, Preacher, Drop of Honey and a Balance. I remove my Geddons and Mana Vaults. The second game locks several times, I have removal for his creatures and I'm able to steal White Knight but it get bolted, same for my Preacher. I drop a Drop (of Honey) but Sehl has Disenchant, something I wasn't counting on. My very controlling hand starts to run out of answers and Serras, Erhnams or any of my good cards is nowhere to be seen and I die slowly after hitting a land pocket.

Sehl played really good and I didn't, and that made most of the difference. Apparently Sehl had cut his Swords to Plowshares so playing a fast Serra would definitely been a good play against him. I do recall him having Serras in play one of the games, so that would be his best answer I would guess. He also plays some amount of Psionic Blasts so the matchup does favor him, especially since my Geddons does very little in the matchup.

Semifinal, vs Felipe
Not again?!
He started, as per usual, with an early Mind twist, but this time I was able to respond immediately with an Ancestral Recall followed up next turn with a Wheel of Fortune, both making his awful Mind twist quite useless. My creatures went the distance easily after this.
I decided to play a bit differently in the second duel; usually I save my artifact removal for something other than moxes, but this time I went after them directly. This turned out to be a great strategy, since Felipe had a very light land draw. He couldn’t respond to my attacks and the final was waiting around the corner.

Elof vs Freespace in the other semifinal.
Final, vs Freespace
I’ve fought Freespace a couple of times before in tournaments almost always resulting in extremely tight duels. He’s a great player and he always seems to look for the big smash with one or two Berserks. This time I had the chance to glance at his deck during the swiss and knew that he was playing lots and lots of brown cards. This made me quite relaxed facing him in the final, since I played 6 artifact removals maindeck and 3 Dust to Dust in the sideboard. Whatever he plays I should have an answer for it.

I got a dream start in the first duel; land, mox and two Lions, thinking that this would be over quickly. Freespace responded by completely pouring out artifacts in forms of moxes, Fellwar Stone and Howling Mine. In turn two I tried to destroy his card engine Howling Mine, but a well played Avoid Fate stopped me. Quickly after this he blocked away my Lions by playing his terrifying Atog. A few turns later, whilst the game was locked and when further Howling Mine had entered the board together with several other artifacts he beat me down with the Atog, huge as freakin’ monster.

Freespace was unable to get his game going in the second duel, if I remember correctly he never summoned a single Howling Mine. Eventually I had two Serras, flying over his Atog, smashing him down pumped with Crusade and topped with a Lightning Bolt.

The third duel looked quite alike the second one, he was unable to get his game going. This time it was a very opportune Dust to Dust who stopped him by removing a Relic Barrier and a Howling Mine. The really sweet price and honor was finally mine!
Who's the noob now, Mg?
Some thoughts in retrospect:
It seems like you never can play enough artifact removal, especially instant ones as almost everyone has a playset of Mishra’s in the main deck. Being able to remove moxes is never bad either.
A solid sideboard is extremely important; this in terms of cards that actually are sideboard cards and not cards that could be good against any deck, hence resulting in that you probably never use them.
If a deck doesn’t make you feel like mulligan particularly often you probably have a deck that is both well balanced and a deck that works well against any opponent.

Now I’m looking forward to Frippan Open at December 20 and I sincerely hope that Freespace will get his revenge and take the price back home, until then: Cheers and Merry Christmas!
//SEHL