|The bandit testifies.|
I came back from a long vacation that week, and the circadian rhythm was still out of joint. Pick up five hours that night, six that one, and four and a half the next. By Friday, the body was sluggish. But excitement was abound, and I mise well run on fumes.
It would be my first time playing old school in Stockholm. Hell, the first time playing Magic at all in the Swedish capital. Stockholmers and Gothenburgers have a history of love/hate relationships of sorts. The old story goes that west coasters think of the people in the capital as capitalistic douchebags with flamboyant shirts, and the Stockholmers perceive the Gothenburgers as slack-jawed fishermen with a terrible sense of humor and no sense of direction. Guess it’s mostly friendly rivalry these days. At least as long as you keep the conversation away from the cities' soccer teams and the Swedish monarchy. I don’t know that much about soccer, but mentioning the King has never ended well.
|I offer this picture without comment.|
|First prize: Urza's Chalice. Last prize: Rag Man. Other prizes: Neglible.|
|Party Crasher / Gonzo.|
Context. There is a tradition of sorts in Oslo called Tom Waits Løpet (“The Tom Waits Run”). A couple of decades ago, the city hosted a running competition named Grete Waitz Løpet, named after famous Norwegian marathon runner Grete Waitz. In the active years, 1984-2003, it had up to 40,000 runners and was one the world’s largest female-only running events. As the story goes, the men in the city decided they should also get active during that weekend in early May, and so Tom Waits Løpet was born. Rather than simply running from point A to point B, this run was a pub crawl among the most run-down (“bruna”) pubs in the city. The goal was to take one beer each at around 15 pubs in the city. As the years went on, Tom Waits Løpet became one of the defining parties in the Oslo spring, with thousands of men and women participating each year. It is awesome. This spring I managed to combine it with running a leg in an actual race, Holmenkollstafetten, that took place in the middle of my crawl to check off two traditions at once. Gotta embrace the culture of Norway. #VisitOslo.
I think it was Mårten who came up with the idea. At the very least, he was the guy who actually made it happen. There's a street in Gothenburg named Andra Långgatan. It's a street of used record stores and strip clubs, of counterculture and cheap beer. It's not a particularly long street (even though its name translates to "2nd long street"), but the number of pubs there is staggering.
|Andra Långgatan by night.|
Mårten kicked off the planning like a man possessed. This mountain was to climb, not to leave on the cutting room floor alongside the schemes so often conceived in the twilight of intoxication. A date was set, August 20th, and a crew of crawlers was formed.
|If ideas were blood types, this would be A+.|
|Not North Korea.|
So I had two trials that particular Saturday. To win a 25-ish player 93/94 tournament in the City of Shadows, and to remotely win Gyllene Lången in the City in a Bottle. Eight rounds of Magic and 21 beers. Welcome to the MtgUnderground. This would be hard a nut to crack during a Standard PPTQ.
|They usually don't even have a bar.|
|Best coffee I've had since Ethiopia.|
|Pefken, Fork, and myself. Wide legs, as are custom in the capital.|
|I need Drain Lifes with "B" in the text box instead of black mana symbols. For strategic purposes.|
|Time to rock this sled.|
|UR, we hardly knew ye.|
|Fork also have one of the most retro play mats I've seen. A proper piece of table cloth.|
|And this is why we have play mats.|
|The glorious Top8: Per Algander, Seb Celia, Lafsen, Pefken, Fork, Mg, David Chambers and Berlin (sitting).|
I don't always brag, but when I do, I try to do it shamelessly. So I'll just loudly state that I am a master of drunken drafting. I have hundreds of hours of Drunken Reject Rare Draft on my CV. Honka and I practically wrote the book on Winchester Drafting drinking games. I've made my own drinking cube, The Haups Cube, and played that one more than all other limited formats combined during the last three years. So the fact that I'd had fifteen beers when I sat down to draft the 93/94 Cube didn't necessarily work against me. I'm not blatantly stating that it was doping, but at the very least the ABV in my blood put me at no handicap. Unlike my Chaos Orb flipping skills, my draft abilities have moved to a part of my brain that is highly functional while drunk, much like my rap battling and dance-off skills. I recall the draft pretty well, so lets go through the basics of it.
|The 93/94 Cube.|
- It had four City of Brass and two of each dual. It is hence viable to play more than two colors if we pick mana fix high (having one Volcanic Island doesn't do much for splashing red, but having two Volcanics and a City of Brass is another story).
- The Cube didn't play Library of Alexandria (thank god), but it did have everything else. Lotus, Sol Ring and Ancestral Recall were all there.
- The Cube had Fallen Empire cards, but didn't go overboard with all the different artworks on pump knights or such.
- It had four Mishra's Factories (as the only card in multiples apart from mana fixing).
- There were a few "Oops, I win" cards for the control decks. Like Island Sanctuary and to a lesser degree Nova Pentacle and Moat. I should either play these or be able to beat them in some way.
|Mind Twist's relative power level is not that far behind constructed here, even though we don't have the same mana acceleration.|
Third pack rounded out the strategy, first-pick Control Magic, then passing a Nova Pentacle in favor of Maze of Ith, finding a Shivan Dragon as alternative wincon, and a Bazaar of Baghdad to smooth out the draws and help find the synergies. The deck ended up with a small black splash for Tetsuo of a pair of Cities and a Swamp. It may look a little janky, but the sum is greater than the parts.
Next in line was Seb Celia. There is no such thing as a free beer apparently. Seb top8'd n00bcon 8, top8'd the Ivory Cup, and is currently the third highest rated player in the format after Martin Berlin and Norwegian Erland Petersen. He is one of the "second generation" of Stockholmers who started to play around n00bcon 5, and has been a fixture of the Championship for the last few years. I also find it somewhat amusing that I got a mental meltdown when I wrote the top8 profiles for last n00bcon, and for some odd reason didn't recall him. Embarrassment followed.
|Seb Celia's GB Rock|
At this point, eight of the starting twelve in the Gothenburg pub crawl had given up. Among the lucky clover still standing were Honka and Mårten. Honka, the man with whom I perfected drunken drafting. And Mårten, the dude who put it all in motion. I couldn't stop here. They were about to hit the 20th pub for the evening, and I was to join them. I knew that during this five-round final, in the next 90 minutes, it was in my hands to win both the pub crawl and my first Magic tournament in the Swedish capital. Or to slip my grip, let the alcohol take the upper hand, and lose it all. The drunken philosopher was getting to me. He spoke.
You will lose everything. It's not inherently a sad thing; everybody does. Things break, people move on. Eventually we lose our life, or, in case we come up with cure for mortality, we'll get stuck somewhere. Being immortal in this universe will clearly suck in about 10^40 years unless scientific consensus on the future of an expanding universe is way off. Might be better to dodge that bullet.
So you'll lose stuff. Should we try to minimize the impact of losing, so we wont get upset when it happens? Should we try to make things that are decent enough that they will create a sort of legacy after they've slipped from our hands, to keep them reachable with nostalgia? Should we try and change together with the people around us, so that we'll get new things or experiences replacing those that we lose? Are you looking for the Buddhist approach of the middle way, avoiding high pain and high pleasure for a tranquil path through life, or do you want more?
This night I would win. Or I would lose in a blaze of glory or tragic. There was no reason to play it safe anymore, so the last beers would be imperials.
One obstacle left. Mr David Chambers. The top rated rookie in the current PWP standings. And dude lives nine time zones away from Sweden.
|The most lovable of nemesi.|
|This could be a match between constructed decks.|
|The living end.|
David is awarded with an old Duelist magazine for the second place prize and looks like a ray of sunshine. This is a lovely game.
This was a noble gathering of mages. I want to extend an extra hand to Gordon and Paddan who helped us gather in Stockholm; to Mårten and Honka who kept it crawling in Gothenburg; to Constantine and David who graced Sweden with their presence and triggered the event; and to Berlin who created the cube and gave me an amazing match in constructed. I look forward to the next gathering. Then, the night might be best for hiding all.