onsdag 4 februari 2015

Void of the Underworld: A report from MindStage

Last weekend Vasa Gaming celebrated new owners and a name change with a Magic convention in Gothenburg. What was formerly Vasa Gaming is now MindStage. The new owners had the great taste to hold a 93/94 tournament at their convention. The eventual champion was none other than n00bcon 3 winner and tech aficionado Viktor "Oldschool" Peterson. This is his tournament report (translated from Swedish by yours truly). Enjoy! /Mg
To the Viktor belong the spoiled.
The birth of a concept
Void of the Underworld took shape after many years of secret teching with land destruction. What eventually made it see the light of day was the contemporary discussions on Mishra's Factory. Many players claim that the Factory is simply too good, and some even argue for a restriction. I wanted to build a deck without the Factory, to prove that they are easy to overcome if you just change the way you build your deck a little. Additionally, it had been a while since I won a tournament, and I hence wanted to build something that could put up a good fight against The Deck.

Step I: Red - Green - Black
Early versions of the deck started with the trio of Stone Rain, Sinkhole and Ice Storm. This combination however turned out to have a hard time actually winning the game. We need room for proper win conditions in the deck, alongside cards that can handle opposing permanents that manage to enter the battlefield.

Step II: Red - Green

RG brought a lot of interesting ideas to the table, e.g. Kudzu. Alongside Icy Manipulator, which can handle both lands and moxen, I think that there is potential for a really cool ponza deck here (you heard it here first! ;)). An RG deck also has a huge advantage over RGB in that the mana base supports Blood Moon. Blood Moon is the best mana denial card in the format, and it single-handedly makes a lot decks unable to cast spells at all.

Step III: Red - Black - Blue
In my opinon, Energy Flux is the best artifact sweeper in the format. Most of my attempts to fit blue in the deck failed though, as Blood Moon is a more important card than the Flux. Fitting a third color in a deck with Moons is pretty hard, in particular when your preferred win condition is Underworld Dreams with triple black in the mana cost.
Step IV: Nether Void
Like in most of my home brews, I wanted to create a lock down. I've been dabbling with Nether Void in my brews for quite some time. The biggest issue with Nether Void is that it's an Enchant World, and will destroy your best defensive card, The Abyss.

Developing a strategy
Whenever I build a deck, I start with a few simple parameters and then develop the concept. This is of particular importance while building combo decks, where cards that are usually regarded as "too good not to play" must be neglected. So, let's look at the given parameters for Void of the Underworld:
  1. Maindeck Blood Moons. Blood Moon is at its strongest in game 1, as the opponent will have a minimum amount of answers to it. Those who play it safe with Blood Moon in the sideboard will usually face a lot of additional answers to it game two, like e.g. Blue Elemental Blast.
  2. Mishra's Factory is not almighty, and I'll prove this by beating them without joining them.
  3. Lock down with Nether Void, as I haven't seen anyone else manage to do this in a consistently successful way yet.
  4. Fit Energy Flux in the deck to get that last edge needed to win the final duel.
Balanced deck construction
The core of Void of the Underworld was pretty easy to put together. As usual, the idea was to optimize the deck for game 1. Anything that wouldn't help me win the game with Underworld Dreams and Nether Void had to go. At this stage I e.g. cut the Abyss and Hypnotic Specter, which in turn opened the door for some badass Juzam Djinns.
The main focus of the deck is to heavily attack your opponent's mana base. The small creatures that manage to hit the board before that will be handled by Bolts and Fireballs.

The bad match-ups are still the weenie decks. As I don't play blue or green maindeck I also lack good card advantage. The solution to this was to include the good old Ivory Tower - Greed combo. The towers will give weenies an uphill battle, and Greed will provide a huge card advantage during late game. The weenie decks also have a fairly fragile mana base, which will make them vulnerable to land destruction if I get to survive long enough.

Against The Deck, Blood Moon and Energy Flux are MVPs. If you resolve a Moon that disrupts your own lands against The Deck, it's usually still the correct play. There are a few cards that you wont be able to cast yourself, but it will be back breaking for your opponent.

Sideboard from Hell
A good sideboard is the difference between a good and a great deck. For the Void of the Underworld deck, I didn't want to change too many cards between each game, as I could otherwise lose the ponza edge. Only the few best cards for each matchup were good enough. This made it possible to build a very dynamic and flexible sideboard where I could fit both Energy Flux and Power.

Usually I try to have synergy between the card in my main deck and sideboard. In this deck it's quite the opposite in some cases; we have cards like The Abyss mixed with non-bos like Nether Void and Juzam Djinn. We have Blood Moon alongside a third color. On the other hand, this made me able to successfully change the attack pattern of the deck to handle a broader spectra of opponents. The only card in the sb I never used was City in a Bottle. It was supposed to be a third copy of The Abyss, which I unfortunately had misplaced somewhere and couldn't find before the tournament. Doh...
Void of the Underworld
Entering the battlefield
In a rare flash of punctuality, I arrived just in time to the MindStage tournament. Sehl welcomed me with open arms, "Oldschool, I'm so glad you could come!". The tournament started promptly as everyone else was already good to go. It was nice to be back in the sweet old place where we've been playing in Magic conventions for the last couple of decades.

Match 1 - Refefe
Void of the Underworld kickstarted the first duel with the old Swamp, Black Lotus, Juzam Djinn. This prompted a lot of laughter, and Refefe could just agree and shuffle up for game two.
Magic.
Refefe played WW, which made sideboarding easy. In with The Abyss and Earthquake. In game two Void of the Underworld played nicely, and promptly delivered the whole combo.
More Magic.
Match 2 – Erik_Sundberg
Erik played an awesome Howling Mine - Underworld Dreams deck with all the good cards. He did a slight miscalculation turn two though, when he played Library of Alexendria instead of a blue land. This made me able to resolve a Blood Moon, and Erik could just sit and watch as Void of the Underworld assembled the hard lock and won.

In duel two, I sideboarded no less than nine cards. Five good blue cards and 4 REBs joined the party. As Erik played a lot of lands, I felt confident sideboarding out a lot of land destruction, Nether Void and Greed and instead use his own cards against him. Erik did not make it easy on himself though, as he mulled to 4. He tried to resolve an early Timetwister to get back in the game, but I got to Blast it and eventually claim the victory. This was btw one of the most fun games of Magic I've played in a very long time, which unfortunately made me forget to take any pictures of our match.
Here's another pic though: Erik resolves Time Walk + Fork against Mg, and promptly casts Recall for 5, then Time Walk + Fork on his extra turns. By his fifth turn in a row he resolves three Underworld Dreams and cast Timetwister for the win.
Match 3 – Myfz
Myfz is playing the same deck he recently took to the finals of BSK, a black horror with Underworld Dreams backed up by a menagerie of strong creatures. He managed to win a duel, but was hard pressed by land destruction, The Abyss and my own Juzams. Some post-board Power eventually made Void of the Underworld pull the longest straw.
Monoblack facing Underworld Dreams and Juzam. Karma :)
Match 4 – Sehl
Team Leatherjacket hates white... Sehl was at the top of his game. He came into the match with 3-0, won the coin flip, and started to pour out White Knights. Void of the Underworld won the second duel, but Sehl kept up fast tempo, and managed to take home the match with his great WW build.
"Haha, I'm so glad you could come!"
Semifinals Myfz
My second match against Myfz was similar to our first. Void of the Underworld won the Underworld Dreams race on the back of Ivory Towers, and made life hard for creatures with The Abyss.

Finals Sehl
At this point, Sehl retracted his statement that he was glad that I could join the tournament (with a smiling wink in his eye of course). Our last match had been tight, and so was the final. Very tight! In the first duel, Sehl ran out of threats, got locked down by Nether Void, and lost against his nightmares.
Finals
In the second duel, Sehl had sideboarded in more white mana sources to avoid getting locked down. It felt like he played no less than 17 Abyss-proof White Knights, which eventually won him the duel.

The third and last duel would however be a real nail biter. Void of the Underworld kept a nice and solid tempo, and only let a single Tundra Wolves resolve... The wolf however managed to stick a around for a long time, and chewed up 16 life before I could handle it. I resolved a Mind Twist to transform Sehl from White Weenie to White Whiner, and felt that I had already won the game, even though I only had four life left. Sehl went into a strong topdeck mode though, and a few turns later he had a Thunder Spirit backed by two Crusades on the table. Go... This time it was Sehl who started celebrating an impending victory.
C'mon topdeck!
Void of the Underworld only had one draw left to get out of it. The audience is cheering as I activate my library, and slowly look at my last card. It's a Demonic Tutor!!! Getting The Abyss!!! Aha…

Three Stone Rains and a Strip Mine depleted Sehl's mana sources, and his life ticked away under the Underworld Dreams. After an intense finals, I got to close out the tournament with triple Lightning Bolt for the win.
Sehl and Oldschool.
A great thanks!
Thank you all who contributed to create an event with a very sweet and amusing ambience. Everyone shared their joy of the game, and it was a true pleasure to play. Props to MindStage who organized the tournament very nicely. Finally an extra thanks to Myfz who beat me in a duel, and to Sehl who was so happy I could come ;)

3 kommentarer:

  1. Congratz Viktor! 8D

    /axelsson

    SvaraRadera
  2. Great read again. The format seems very healthy, there are many different deck types viable.

    Andreas

    SvaraRadera