Richard Veenman, a recently relapsed veteran of old card board. His weapon of choice is Ernham Burn'em, and his battlefield is the largest gathering the quickly growing Dutch community has seen yet. Enjoy, and happy holidays! /Mg out
After playing, collecting & selling MtG from 1995 till the summer of 2000 I sold all my cards. it was time to venture into other games, eventually this would be poker. In the years that followed, once every couple of years we would play a booster draft but that was just about it. I loved MtG when I started (just after Ice Age was released) but when the popularity of MtG shifted from "Type 1" to "Type 2" most of the fun was over for me. I never regretted selling all my cards but I never forgot the fun I had playing Type 1 tournaments. those were some sweet memories.
A couple of years back my buddy, with whom I used to play, collect & sell MtG, started buying vintage MtG cards again. I wasn’t interested because there wasn’t really a format in which you could play them. Why buy a Mox if it’s only sitting in your binder? That changes at the beginning of this year when my buddy found out that there apparently was a format called 93/94 and it was gaining popularity fast in the Netherlands!
It immediately peaked my interest and after trying to restrain myself from starting to play again due to the expensiveness of the cards nowadays, I bought my first cards in June 2017. I should never have done that... Without further extending this intro, I bought way too many cards, played as often as I could and couldn’t wait for my first tournaments: The Gathering of the Knights of Thorn III.
The Tournament:In 1995 I always played Erhnam Burn’Em and the first cards I bought this year were to rebuild this deck. Obviously I tweaked it after 22 years, since Incinerate isn’t 93/94 legal, Berserk isn’t restricted anymore, Chaos Orb is somehow made legal (and fun), and Mishra Factory got a great upgrade compared to back in the day.
|Red/Green Erhnam Burn’Em|
Match 1 – Thomas Meddens: Orbatron
Outside my very small playgroup of 3 people, I hardly played against other people but I had played against Thomas in a small table kitchen gathering in Amsterdam. Back then he played a black weenie deck but this time, already before we knew we would play each other, he was happy to tell me he had a new deck: Orbatron!! (Uhm, what?)
He won the die roll, played an Urza’s land and it was my turn. Mishra, Black Lotus, Erhnam Djinn and we had a laugh. Mishra’s Workshop, Su-Chi. Okay, this is going fine since my creature is bigger! I attack, he takes his 3rd turn and plays Maze of Ith and a Winter Orb, aha now I get the Orbatron, argh! My Djinn gets untapped each time he attacks, Icy Manipulator tables in Turn 4 and I’m not recovering from this old fashioned Icy/Orb combo, damn!
|1st Turn Erhnam Djinn|
Mulligan to 6, Mox Emerald, lots of green stuff but no lands at all but I refuse to Mulligan to 5 since I’m able to table something with my Mox. Scry, no land, damn! I get a Taiga in turn 3, table a Kird Ape which attacks in turn 4. Mishra’s Factory blocks, I play 2 Giant Growths and 1 Berserk for 13 trample damage which puts him on 6 due to a City of Brass, I love my pump spells! He then has a Sylvan Library with Sindbad (draw a card, put it in your hand if it’s a land, otherwise discard it) so can start looting his Library. My Scryb Sprites gets a Fireball for 6 (you can never be too sure), I table an Erhnam, he misses an orb flip, I hit an Orb Flip, I strip his Mishra, he blocks the Erhnam on his Triskelion and tables an Icy again to hold back my Erhnam. Unfortunately I still don’t have red mana to kill him with my Fireball at hand so I lose, 0-2, damn!
Match 2 – Bye
39 players, so somebody needs to get a bye. I didn’t bring any cards for trade since I only wanted to focus on playing. I look around, 39 players, awesome! This really feels like back in the day, only 3 more matches to go after this one, let’s have some fun!
Match 3 - Wikke Westra: Black/Red Ponza
I need to mulligan and explain him I’m allowed to scry after taking 6. It was new to him, just like it was new to me a couple of months ago, this wasn’t around in 93/94! He doesn’t really get anything going, although I have to play against another Maze of Ith, one of the best cards against my deck I noticed. I was able to table various small creatures and nibble away his life until he’s dead.
Whatever I table he burns it and he destroys my land at the same time as well. Unfortunately for him I have just enough lands and draw a creature each time one gets killed. I can use my Scavenger Folk against his 1st Juggernaut, Bolt the 2nd Juggernaut and again I nibble away his life points. He plays a Wheel of Fortune which gives me an Erhnam, Berserk and Lightning Bolt to finish the game, 2-0!
Match 4 - Thomas Posthuma: Blue/Red/Green Zoo
Thomas had won all his matches so far and had won the last Gathering of the Knights of Thorn. We play the same style deck but with the extra (blue) power it’s a tough match-up. To be honest, I love racing, so let’s start!
He takes a mulligan, we race hard! Within a couple of minutes I decide the game in my favor, it was so fast and I was so focused that I hardly recall any plays.
I doubt what to sideboard: Red Elemental Blasts? He will probably board Blue Elemental Blasts, hmm. 3 Cards I’m 100% certain about and being able to sideboard that card is one of biggest upsides of not splashing blue in my deck: Blood Moon! This card is great against Control Decks but also against URG Zoo and it doesn’t hurt my deck that much so now I only have to draw it.
I just draw enough burn spells to kill his first couple of creatures. Due to playing against a lot of City in a Bottles last time (hardly any White Weenie’s this time actually), he prefers Juggernaut above Erhnam Djinn, my Lightning Bolts agree with that! I table a Blood Moon which leaves him in a pickle, he draws a Blue Elemental Blast which destroys my Blood Moon but his strip mine got tapped by playing something else before that. We both have a Mishra, he is a little ahead and I decide to use my strip mine to strip his. My Mishra hold back his Mishra and I’m able to get ahead. After he desperately plays a Wheel of Fortune, hoping to turn the tide, I can finish him off, 2-0 again!
Match 5 - Ruben Kiewiet: Black/Blue/White
If I win this one I might play the final Top 4! Eventually due to the high turn-out it was decided to play a final Top 8 but I still needed to win to get there.
I start with Mountain, Kird Ape. I have a Taiga as well but most of the time table it the 2nd turn to prevent it from being stripped, Sinkhole’d etc. He plays a Mind Twist and my hand is gone, including my Taiga. Mind Twist is such a great card, how the hell can I recover from this? Lucky for me he doesn’t draw any blue mana sources, is not able to play any threats and magically I’m able to win the game, this was surprising after the bad start.
I had hardly seen any cards (only some Black & White cards) so wasn’t sure what to sideboard, every advantage has its disadvantage. He starts this time with a Mox Sapphire, 2 Mishra’s but no Black & White mana. I went all-in fast, had three 1/1 creatures and although I already had the game in the pocket with a Giant Growth and Berserk in my hand, to make it even worse he misses his orb flip so it just wasn’t his match. 2-0 again and I have reached the final Top 8!
Quarter Finals - Florian von Bredow: Sort of Machine Head
Florian is one of 2 German players who came over to the Netherlands. Since the German border is only 35 minutes away this tournament is a great opportunity for German players to come as well!
|The Top 8, playing at table #2 against Florian|
He needs to take a mulligan while my hand is pretty strong. He gets somewhat mana screwed and I’m able to take down the game easily but again had no clue what to sideboard the next game since I didn’t see a lot of cards. Since he was sitting next to me the previous game a lesson learned: pay attention to the players around you!
I think he played a 1st turn Juzam Djinn and an Erhnam shortly after but even if he didn’t, I lost without putting up a fight, easy win for him and as easy some of my victories were, sometimes you are at the other side of the coin.
I take 2 Whirling Dervish from my sideboard and I’m able to cast it turn 2 already. It grows bigger each turn and I can smell victory having 3 creatures in play. His Bird of Paradise is useful to cast a variety of cards, one of them being a Balance, ouch. Luckily since he had a living BoP I could keep my Whirling Dervish which had 3 or 4 counters already at that time. He needs to discard cards since I’m only holding 1, with an Underworld Dreams in play he plays a Timetwister but is out tapped and doesn’t draw a Black Lotus or something to go crazy. I only need a burn card, Giant Growth or Berserk to win it, with 7 cards to draw I was bound to get something useful! 2-1, ready for the semi-finals!
Semi-Finals - Joep Meddens: Geddonless Erhnamgeddon
I had played Joep’s brother in the 1st round and know him a little bit from the same small gathering in Amsterdam. I know what deck he plays and I’m looking forward to the match. Top 8 was already great in my 1st tournament but Top 4 somehow felt really special. Let’s get ready to rumble!
|Joep’s Geddonless Erhnamgeddon|
Joep starts with a Library of Alexandria and is able to draw cards, more cards, and after he plays a Ley Druid (taps to untap target land), many more cards. Since he didn’t draw any non-white mana for some time I was able to hold on for a while but since he was drawing 3 times as many cards as I did, this game was doomed!
Time for my Blood Moons! Lot’s of non-basic lands and that damned Library so again I was happy with my choice not to splash blue :) I tried to do as much early damage as possible which worked out pretty well with my Erhnam. When he tabled an Erhnam as well, at 8 life points, I had to make a crucial choice: continue to attack and use my giant growth to kill his creature(s) or make use of his Erhnam as it gives forest walk, which lets me nibble away his life points slowly again. I opted for the latter and it worked out great, 1-1 and still everything to play for!
Mox Emerald, Forest, Pendelhaven, Mishra, 2 Llanowar Elves and 1 Scavenger Folk to start with. Just with my Kird Ape/Mountain/Taiga start, without really thinking I start with Mox, Forest and 2 Elves. I know he plays Ice Storms, but think Pendelhaven is the better play here. Turn 2 I play my Pendelhaven and not my Mishra, this small error I realize as soon as I table it, you always remember the mistakes you make in crucial games like this but they happen all the time.
Joep has a Sylvan which lets him draw the cards he needs but he can’t afford 4 life to draw an extra card, not against my deck at this stage. I table a Blood Moon and can smell the victory since it leaves him with only red mana for the moment. I really thought I had him at this moment! With his Sylvan he looks at the top 3 cards, one of them being a Mox Pearl which enables him to play a Disenchant, plan failed...
He tables a Serra Angel, which I try to kill with a Pendelhaven/Giant Growth on my 1/1 creature when attacking, but a Swords to Plowshares saves the Angel, another plan failed. He plays Erhnam Djinn just like last game and all I think about is Forest walk, this could win me the game again. I sit back and in his upkeep I gently ask, which creature gets Forest walk? After he points at my Scavenger Folk I look at the board and notice that he doesn’t have any Forest! I played professional poker for 5 years so this shouldn’t be a problem but lots of people are watching the game as well at this time. In my turn I attack bravely with my Forest walking creature, bluffing right through his armada of blockers.
With a Serra Angel and Erhnam chopping away at my life points I have only 1 turn left to live. Joep has 4 life points left, I need a pump spell or a burn card for the kill, or at least that’s what Joep thinks does the trick, since I’m still not actually Forest walking. Unfortunately I draw a Forest, congratulate Joep and tell him my little secret.
|Game 3 against Joep, City of Brass and a Llanowar Elves proving green mana, but no Forest.|
Joep plays Roy Neijland in the final. Roy plays Black Weenie with no power 9 and wasn't only able to make it to the final table, he won against Joep and is the 3rd winner of the Gathering of the Knights of Thorn! That’s something special as most people believe it requires P9 cards being able to compete. Most certainly it helps and Roy probably had his share of luck, just like myself and all the other players.
This was a superb tournament with a fantastic turnout and a great bunch of Old School players. It literally felt like I was back in 1995 and I can’t wait to do it again! I want to specifically thank Mari Steinhage for organizing this tournament and anybody else who have helped organizing it. I would also like to invite everybody who’s reading this to join the 4th Gathering of the Knights of Torn!
See you there!
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|Winner: Roy Neijland|