onsdag 29 juni 2016

Rise of the Trolls & Goblins: Stockholm and the first Ivory Cup

*Rod Serling voice*

There is another format beyond that which is known to the DCI. It is a format as vast as perception and as timeless as stone. It is the middle ground between competition and chivalry, between structure and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's wistfulness and the summit of his jubilation. This is the format of old.

Scene: Stockholm. Summer’s day. Witness a man called Gordon Andersson, age thirtyish. Occupation: Jack of trades. Gordon Andersson, perhaps the sight of a rather minor component to a hot June, but in a moment he will venture a trail of invocation and revelry. For Gordon Andersson, this is just another step on a journey he began some twenty years ago. But for fellow mages, it is masonry of hidden paths in a city where the roads oft laid plain. If in any quest for Magic, in any search for sorcery, witchery, legerdemain, first check the human spirit. This is Gordon’s story. This is the story of the first Ivory Cup. /Mg out

Two weeks ago the first Ivory Cup was held in Stockholm, Sweden. Ivory Cup is the first dedicated old school tournament in Stockholm and the plan is to make this a yearly thing. This year 29 people showed up to try to win an Alpha Ivory Cup (what else?) and have a chance to take on the reigning world champion in 93/94, Martin Berlin. But let’s leave the Ivory Cup for a while and talk a little about Stockholm’s old school community.
The Stockholm community
First of all it’s important to note that even though 93/94 is credited a Swedish creation, it was founded on the west coast of Sweden while Stockholm is located on the east coast. It’s about a five hour drive from coast to coast in Sweden and this means that the community in Stockholm is not the same as the community on the west coast, something MG wrote about a couple of weeks ago. The format did however reach Stockholm quite fast and there have been old school players in Stockholm for many years, but mostly playing at their kitchen tables in separate local playgroups and just meeting up at tournaments in other cities.
Until last year that is. As we all know the format skyrocketed all over the world last year and of course Stockholm was no exception. A small group of players then started playing more regularly at a local pub and with that more and more old timers started to come out of hibernation. The scene slowly started to become more organized which also meant that more and more people heard about 93/94 Magic. This in return brought a lot of new faces to the format and the community grew to what it is today, with both old fogeys and new players joining up all the time.
Nowadays the scene in Stockholm is consisting of well over 20 active players, also counting some players from Uppsala, just north of Stockholm, that often come here to play. We also have a standing game night the first monday every month. The venue of choice is a small quiet pub (Bishop Arms, Folkungagatan) with one of Stockholm’s best beer assortments and tables perfect for spell slinging. So if you’re ever in Stockholm you now know where and when to go.
The usual game night consists of around 8 - 12 players, some that just started playing and some players that have been battling old school for many years. Some of the players own complete sets of black bordered power and some don’t even have a Chaos Orb, let alone power. But some things are true about us all, we play because we love the game, the old cards and the great atmosphere. Some people have their pet deck that they play every time and constantly try to improve while other players have big collections and come with different brews almost every time.
The first Ivory Cup
Sometimes at our game nights we play mini tournaments but when it comes to larger, more organized tournaments, Stockholm has only had one, the last L.I.G.G tournament. L.I.G.G is a classic, beer infused tournament here in Stockholm that is organized by Pefken and Alexander Midjich every now and then. L.I.G.G doesn’t have a set format, instead it changes from tournament to tournament, but the main focus has been on Legacy and Vintage. At this year’s L.I.G.G Vintage was the format of choice but the organizers also asked the players if they wanted to play some 93/94 Magic. The answer was a ringing yes and the 93/94 part of this year’s L.I.G.G ended up having around 20 players flipping Chaos Orbs and smashing each others faces with Juzam Djinns. It was clear that there was a big local interest in the format, which got me and my co-organizers to start thinking about organizing a stand alone 93/94 tournament here in Stockholm. And so, Ivory Cup, the first dedicated 93/94 tournament in Stockholm was born.
So with the help of wuberg (aka Paddan) and invaluable input from sebcelia, berlin and Eksem we started to make plans for the first Ivory Cup. Most things went smoothly but we ended up having a lot of setbacks concerning the venue. At the last minute we got ahold of  a photo studio called Fotostudion [www.fotostudion.se]. The problem though was that the studio didn’t have enough tables or chairs for the event so we had to become a little creative. The chair problem was solved easy with us going to IKEA to buy some cheap plastic ones but the table problem was a little worse. We ended up building table legs from lighting stands and then using the studio’s different backgrounds as table-tops. All in all I must say that I’m happy how it all ended up and the studio was a great place to have the tournament at, but yes, the tables could have been a little better.
Some quick facts
The tournament consisted of 29 players with roughly 20 from Stockholm, 3 from Uppsala and 6 came all the way from Arvika and Karlstad (about a 5 hour drive). We played 5 rounds of swiss before a cut to the top 8 and intentional draws where strictly prohibited. We drank over 200 bottles of beer, ate 19 pizzas, broke one mirror and had more than a few laughs until the last bunch gave up around 5 am. Amongst the players where multiple people with Giant Sharks and also one player that is 5 years younger then the game itself (more about him later on). We also had a player that came into contact with us because he wanted to sell his cards as he hadn’t played for many many years. One buyer then told him about the old school community and Ivory Cup so he paused his selling spree to play some last games and after winning his first 93/94 game at Ivory Cup it became clear that he ain’t selling anymore.
The Swiss
I actually don’t have much to say about the swiss as I either played or stood at the bar serving beer but I’ll try to write about a couple of highlights. To everyone’s surprise the world champion Martin Berlin showed up with an aggro deck completely without counterspells instead of his classic The Deck. But he still showed us all that he is the champion for a reason by being the only player to end the swiss undefeated at 5-0. One of his opponents was Seb Celia who became the only player to make it to top 8 with a 3-2 record, a top 8 in which he got his revenge and knocked out Martin Berlin in the quarter finals.
We also got to see Johan Larsson with his Goblin Sligh deck get his only loss in the swiss to Max Weltz. Both those players later went on to crush the competition and meet each other again in the finals, a final where Johan was out for revenge.
The Uppsala player Per Algander came to the tournament with one goal in mind, he wanted to Earthbind (yes, he played Earthbind in his deck) a Serra Angel. Maybe a strange dream, but a dream nonetheless. We are really sorry to say that he never got to fulfill his dream at this year’s Ivory Cup but from us organizers, good luck next time Per, we really really hope you’ll be able to do it then!

The top 8 decks!
If we are allowed to say it ourselves we had an amazing top 8 with a good spread of archetypes and players of all ages and backgrounds.

Finalists
The winner of the tournament, Max Weltz has only been playing for a bit over a year but has put up some great results with his aggressive take on Troll Disco*. His eight trolls are joined by a full set of Nevinyrral's Disks, and to get rid of all those that oppose the trolls, including players, he plays eight Bolts and two Fireballs. And just to make the opponent feel even worse he also plays a full set of Sinkholes which can win games all by themselves. A big congratulations Max from the organizers of Ivory Cup!
Max Weltz's Troll Disco
In the finals Max’s trolls fought an army of orcs and goblins piloted by Johan Larsson. Johan is the player I wrote about earlier who is a whole five years younger then the game itself. Johan hasn’t played Magic for more than a couple of years but has already become a respected player in Stockholm’s Legacy community. Another fun thing is that he had never ever played a game of old school before this tournament and was only there because I asked if someone would like to try the format and borrow my extra mono red goblin deck. Said and done, Johan shuffled up the deck and showed us amazing skill when he smashed through the swiss and the top 8 all the way to the final where he lost to Max’s Trolls. If you want to know more about Johan’s first impressions of the format you can find a short interview with him later down the page.
Johan Larsson's Goblin Sligh
The deck Johan played is one that me and the other organizers have been talking about for quite some time and also think of as the format’s most underestimated budget deck. I usually play the deck with four more goblins and a full set of Goblin King just for fun, but the day before Ivory Cup I changed the deck according to suggestions made by master deck builder Martin Berlin. That meant going down on Goblin Kings, cutting a couple of goblins and instead adding Ironclaw Orcs for a better curve.

Top 4
Pefken is one of the old timers when it comes to 93/94 in Stockholm and he is also one of the revered few who has a Giant Shark in his deck. For this tournament he sleeved up what I would say is his signature archetype, Parfait, a classic prison deck that wants to make the opponent’s life miserable with Winter Orbs, Icy Manipulators and more. The fun thing is that he decided on this deck before Eternal Masters changed the game big time with it’s errata on Winter Orb. That of course only made the deck better and as one of Pefken’s victims in this tournament I would say, this deck is for real. But no matter how good the deck is, Pefken lost in the semifinals to Troll beatdown. It’s hard to beat four Nevinyrral's Disk when your whole deck is built around permanents.
Pefken's Parfait
The last top 4 contender was Seb Celia who played a classic The Deck and if I remember correctly the same configuration that took him to a top 8 placement at this year's n00bcon. There isn’t much more to say about the deck as it is THE Deck, but do note Seb’s favorite wincon in the sideboard, The Hive. Seb was also as far as I could tell the only player who showed up with The Deck. But even the mighty The Deck fell to the goblin horde after a couple of Blood Moons and a bunch of Red Elemental Blasts that showed up out of the sideboard.
Seb Celia's The Deck
Top 8
As I wrote earlier Martin Berlin came to event surprising us all with a deck completely without counterspells. Martin is calling it Arabian Aggro but you could also call it Zoo, or maybe Big Zoo? With only two answers to City in a Bottle a deck called Arabian Aggro will probably die if one hits the board, but on the other hand, not many players are using City in a Bottle these days, so why not play some of the best creatures in the format and back them up with restricted cards and Lightning Bolts? This deck took Martin to a top 8 finish where he was stopped in his track by Seb Celia’s The Deck.
Martin Berlin's Arabian Aggro
Johan Guldbrandsson was one of the guys who traveled all the way from Arvika to be able to play in this event, and the only one of those guys who reached the top 8. And as many other players in this tournament he did it without blue. Johan played a mostly green and red Zoo deck with full playsets of both Berserks and Giant Growths to get those quick wins. He also had some nice tech splashing white for one of the formats best removal spells, Disenchant. This deck hit hard and fast, and many players died before they even knew what was going on. But 8 Lightning Bolts and 4 Nevinyrral's Disk was too much for Johan who fell to the might trolls in the top 8.
JohanGuld's Erhnam Burn'em
The last two players in the top 8 were combo players, one being Felipe Garcia who played his signature Twiddle Vault. This deck draws an absurd amount of cards and takes a very large number of consecutive turns by playing Twiddle on Time Vault while deploying a bunch of Howling Mines. It really is an amazing deck, but it is also a really complicated deck with so many decisions all of the time that only a true master can handle it. Felipe has shown us many times that he is a master of his deck and this time it took him to the top 8 before the goblins ran him over.
Felipe's TwiddleVault
The last contender in the top 8 was yours truly who for once did not play UR Counter Burn which is the deck I have been playing for quite some time now. Instead I at last sleeved up a deck I’ve been brewing on and playtesting for a while now, The Tower of Power, or as most people call it; Power Monolith. My latest “innovation” was to add white to the mix for Disenchants and Swords to Plowshares. Those cards helped me survive the early and mid game better both against control and aggro so I had the time to actually draw my combo. I do however only own three Disenchants, otherwise the deck would have had four, but that will be for next time. I got crushed by an Underworld Dreams combo deck in the swiss and later by Pefken’s Parfait but all in all my deck worked like a charm and I also were able to pull of a turn two combo kill.
Gordon Andersson's Power Monolith
Special mention
Keeping with the local tradition in Stockholm, the last non-dropping player in the tournament was designated Rag Man and of course awarded with the signature card, this time with signed greetings from Daniel Gelon Congratulations Andreas Ahlgren!

Interview with Johan Larsson
At last, some quick questions for Johan Larsson who may not have won Ivory Cup, but for his efforts got a signed and limited print of Elves of Deep Shadows from 1995. He was definitely the story of the day as he hadn't played the format at all before Ivory Cup and still made it to the finals. Hi Johan!

Johan: Hi!

GA: You usually play legacy and have never tried 93/94 before, what are your first impressions of the format?

Johan: It is very fun. The formats offers exciting plays, exciting cards and exciting decks. It definitely a format I want to play more of.

GA: Tell me about your experience at the tournament.

Johan: I went into the tournament with no expectations whatsoever. I thought I might win a match or two if I got lucky. But then the wins started pouring in. Somehow the small goblins backed up by lightning and a giant red moon got there over and over again. And on top of that I managed to get lucky as well. For example i topdecked a ball lightning for the win in the last round of the swiss (which felt amazing) and in game 3 of the quarterfinal my opponent went land into ancestral on turn one but never managed to find a second mana source which made it easy for me to win. As for the sideboard, there were many very good cards such as the REB:s but a few cards should certainly be replaced. Goblin Cave for example might be cool, it just isn't very good.

GA: Any additional comments  about the deck, any MVP:s or completely useless cards? And which matchups seemed to be the hardest ones?

Johan: The deck felt good. It did what it was built to do, namely dealing damage and getting free wins with Blood Moon (which is the best card in the deck). The individual cards in the deck are of very different power levels but all seemed to fulfil their role. A card that actually surprised me was Ankh of Mishra which dealt a lot of damage to my opponents throughout the tournament. A matchup that felt really hard was the one against Troll Disco. I played against that deck three times in the tournament going 1-2 against it. The game I won was against a build of the deck with more land destruction and less trolls and it is the trolls my deck have a really hard time dealing with.

GA: Enough about goblins now, if you had an infinite amount of money, what deck would you play?

Johan: Hmm. I think many of the blue combo decks such as Felipe's Twiddlevault deck and Gordon's power artifact deck are very interesting. Even though I love Juzam Djinn over all the other card in this format I have to go with one of those two decks.

GA: Any thoughts about how the 93/94 community or the tournament differs from your other Magic experiences?

Johan: I would say that the term “Laid back” best describe both the tournament and the community. There are for example very few magic tournaments where I can enjoy a beer while playing a match. The vibe of the tournament is much less competitive than tournaments in other formats which is perfect when the main goal is to have a good time. As for the community there were many nice people i knew from earlier and the new people I met were also very nice.

GA: Last but not least, how well did you do with your Chaos Orb flips? Because as I understand it you had never flipped one until this tournament?

Johan: I only got to flip it once and that was a hit. On an Ivory Tower if I remember correctly. I was taught how to do it just before the tournament however. If I hadn't gotten those reps in it would probably had gone worse on that part.

* = Max himself wants to call the deck Disco Troll but as he isn’t the one writing I’ll call it Troll Disco. You want to know why? Because it’s not ONE troll dancing disco, a Disco Troll. It is eight trolls dancing disco, so it becomes a Troll Disco.

12 kommentarer:

  1. Big up to everyone that showed up!

    / Paddan

    SvaraRadera
  2. David Montag29 juni 2016 22:09

    Amazing tournament execution, and what a top-notch group of players! Loved it.

    PS. Maybe Max meant to call it "Disk å Troll" ;)

    SvaraRadera
  3. Baller! Looking forwards to more writeups

    SvaraRadera
    Svar
    1. First we need to have more tournaments ;) But I promise to write something everytime we have one!

      Radera
  4. What are the two white border cards between the 4x Ironclaw Orcs and the 2x Goblin Digging Team in the Goblin Sleigh mono red budget deck? Looks like a sweet deck, always like to see some budget brews for us powerless plebs!

    SvaraRadera
    Svar
    1. That is Goblin Kings. Dont know why Johan put them under the digging team :p the deck could probablly use a playset of shatters amongst other things but those cards were in my other deck :)

      Radera
    2. Johan Larsson29 juni 2016 23:54

      It is two Goblin Kings

      Radera
  5. Great post, and fantastic evening! Thank you!
    Also, big props to the amazing bartender!
    /nackamasterna

    SvaraRadera
  6. The Goblins are truly inspiring! Copying as best I can with a splash of green.

    SvaraRadera
  7. Wow, a great post, and truly inspirational - been working on a Winter Orb deck myself, this one looks solid!
    Also - GOBLINS! Woooow!

    Can't wait to play with you guys again, meanwhile busy building and testing new decks...

    //Twiedel

    SvaraRadera
    Svar
    1. Thank you! Im playing orb myself now and wow! I Love it!

      Radera