tisdag 27 mars 2018

Hill Giant Cup 2018: A guest report from Joep Meddens

These are magical times. In a few days the tenth Old School Magic World Championship will take place in Gothenburg. But it is always you guys who make this format what it is; you the organizer, you the player, you the content creator. This is a story of a player, organizer and creator gathering the first round table in his town of Hilversum, North Holland. This is Joep Meddens's story. Enjoy! /Mg out.

The Dutch old school community has been taking Giant steps lately. The gatherings of the Knights of Thorn have become serious affairs, with the last edition in Deventer boasting 40 players.

I had already entertained the idea of organizing a tournament in my hometown of Hilversum. I had even acquired the prize for the first winner: an alpha Hill Giant (for good measure I acquired 5, if it spikes the tournament will be good for the foreseeable future).

Playing in Deventer and seeing 40 spellslingers ready to travel to that somewhat remote part of The Netherlands (sorry Mari!) swung it for me. There should be a Hill Giant Cup, with the winner being crowned King of the Hill.

Luckily for me, my local game store owner Robert Kerklaan (Vendetta Spellen) is simply a games enthusiast who enjoys having people over. Clearing the store for a Sunday tournament between a bunch of old guys? Sounds like a plan!

When announcing the plan on Christmas Eve, I wished for some positive responses to start of with. After that, I hoped it would be possible to fill 32 spots (and Robert's small store by the way) in the months running up to the tournament. Within a week, the tournament was fully booked.

Serious planning could begin. Craft beer from Hilversum was sourced (www.gooischebierbrouwerij.nl, the weizen is my favourite but the chestnut proved most popular on the day), the brewery being so charmed by the idea of their beer entering Magic the Gathering 93/94 subculture that they gave us a deal on the order. Sweet.

Robert cleaned up the store and Dutch trader Wijnand provided us with some nice prizes (a playset of Beta Hill Giants being one of the nicer things). Some Homelands booster packs were added to the prize pool at the last minute; interestingly they ended up with owners of alpha power who were genuinely thrilled to get pack fresh Homelands cards.

Finally, our local alter master Jordy made us a true King of the Hill, and we were ready to go!
But what to play? My trusted GW Geddonless Erhnamgeddon had brought me to the final in Deventer and to the semi's of Dave's Winter derby on Skype. I love the deck and its annoying Ice Storms. But I really wanted to try something UG this time and so set out to make a new deck without the comfort of 4 Swords and 4 Disenchants.

Life without White is hard! A control version of UG sorely lacked the White removal suite. I then tried and failed at a tempo-counter combination (trying to ramp into Serendib/Erhnam and counter afterwards). After a long and hard evening of play testing with Florian von Bredow ("if you like Enchantress, just play her Joep") the Saturday before the tournament, I settled on what can probably best be described as Suicide Ernham'serk'em.
Suicide Ernham'serk'em.
Sunday morning, 36 players show up and we find seating for the two extra players. Coffee is served, pairings are made and we are off!

Match 1 vs. David Croom (mono-Black)
David is a recent addition to the old school group, but it does not show in the cards he rediscovered in his cupboard. David brings a very nice black bordered unpowered mono-Black to the table. Game 1, I see a T1 Hypnotic Specter from a ritual. My blue mana shows up just after I am forced to discard my second Psionic Blast. Hmm... I summon a Serendib Efreet but can only make it count if my Orb hits his Icy. I miss the flip and do no recover: 0-1.

Game 2 and I get to board in my three Whirling Dervish. I see a Hippie again, but only on T3 this time and my Ifh-Biff makes quick work of it. A Serendib added to the front and Game 2 is mine: 1-1.

Game 3 goes according to plan: I cast Unstable Mutation on my T2 Dervish and never look back. 2-1.

Match 2 vs. Tom Posthuma (The Deck)
Not the best possible match-up for any deck, I usually struggle with The Deck. Today it is in the hands of former Knights of Thorn winner (then piloting White Weenie!) Tom Posthuma. Game 1, I surprise myself and Tom by getting of to an unanswered swift start. Serendib Efreet gets some damage in before going Giant Berserk, having been allowed to resolve that I have no problem finishing off with Psionic Blast. 1-0.

Game 2, I have a slower start and an early Timetwister allows Tom to stabilize. I miss another Orb Flip. The inevitable happens ten or so turns later. 1-1.

Game 3 turned out to be the sweetest of the lot. We see two Timetwisters which seem to help me a bit more than Tom. A third resolves and my hand looks promising. A Mind Twist for seven hits me. I try not to cry as I fill my graveyard. Tom has not found anything to kill me with though. Far too slow for my liking I get him down to 3 with my two Mishra's Factories. Tom manages to stabilize however and things look bleak with me topdecking and Tom on an active Tome. With time running out, I am starting to think about Orb flips (and my misses earlier). Meanwhile, Tom desperately tries to find his Fireball. He resolves Time Walk for a turn and two more cards. Nothing. Next turn the Fireball comes and my 13 life look hopelessly inadequate against Tom's mana reserve. He announces the Fireball. I sigh, resigned to my fate: "OK, tap the mana". Tom obliges and taps out to do 15 damage. I respond with Psionic Blast and, to the amusement of even Tom, steal the game and the match: 2-1.

After the lunch break, we head for Match 3.

Match 3 vs. Marten Buhler (RUG Midrange Explosion)
Marten has a collection to envy (mint beta Volcanic anyone?) that he actually loves to use for play. Why own it and not use it? In keeping with this, he advocates the most lenient reprint policy: more opponents equals more use out of his cards. There is definitely a case to be made there, in Hilversum we had a lenient reprint policy and especially for the dual lands it proved useful.

Game 1 against Marten sees us both starting of with a Library. However, he strips mine (pun intended) and I have to Regrowth it. This sets me back. Coupled to the 8 life I paid to Sylvan Library to get to 7 cards, I get too far behind. Marten gets to use his Regrowth on a Timewalk, and two Bolts mean I am dead. 0-1.

Game 2 and I quickly mulligan to 6. I get what can only be described as the six fingered hand of god. Land-Mox into Timewalk, T2 Timetwister finding my Timewalk again. I can't play it though and I pass for Marten. He scramblers back with a T1 Timewalk of his own that he Regrows on T2. He has to pass though before playing it. I use mine, Chaos Orb his Volcanic in an attempt to block off Blue and put a Serendib on the board. Marten finds City of Brass, casts Timewalk and follows up by casting Su-chi, tapping out and having 18 life left because of the City. I take my turn, and realize my Serendib-Giant Growth-Giant Growth-Berserk is enough for 18... 1-1.

Game 3 and I am under the cosh quickly: T2 Su-chi backed up by a Factory is just too fast. I Timewalk, I even Timetwister, but when my Erhnam is Control Magic'ed, my Pixies get Bolted and my remaining five cards are twisted, the game is up: 1-2.

Match 4 vs. Roy Nijland (mono Black)
Roy is a familiar foe, he beat me with his mono-Black in the Knights of Thorn final.

First game, I am simply quicker. A Serendib gets going and when Ifh-Biff gets in on the act this one is mine. 1-0.

Game 2 and the nightmare scenario unfolds: City in a Bottle hits the table (at this point I realize Roy did not employ any Juzams for this tournament). As my hand fills up with Serendibs I wait for the Crumble I did not board in: 1-1.

Game 3 and I feel I need to get a break on the City in a Bottle front to make it through. I have boarded in the Crumbles, so I do have a shot.

I get some early damage in but my creatures encounter Maze of Ith (Roy plays 4 he tells me) and my clock is slow due to an Ivory Tower adding back to Roy's total every turn. He resolves a City in a Bottle again, but this time I am holding a Crumble. I add Serendib after the Bottle goes, but it does mean I am losing life as well. Knowing Roy plays Drain Life, I am hoping to finish this sooner than later. After some nervous turns, I finally find a way to zero with a Giant Growth: 2-1.

Match 5 vs. Frenk (RUG Zoo)
I am 3-1 and get the feeling one more win will most likely get me in Top 8.

Game 1 sees the classic opener Taiga/Kird Ape. Frenk follows up with a Factory and I am getting some serious beats early on. I am in need of answers and Sylvan Library tempts 8 life out of me in an attempt to get past the lands on top. It helps me find an answer (Psionic Blast), but this also puts me within shooting range. A Chain Lightning ends the first one 0-1.

Game 2 is over quickly as well: I simply fail to match the fast board development and get Bolted to a 0-2 defeat.

I resign myself to my fate, but apparently my losses have come to some really good players (both are in top 8) and I end up number 8 of the lot. This is getting to be somewhat of a theme for me as I ended up nr. 8 in Deventer as well as in David Firth-Baird's Skype summer derby.

Quarter-Final vs. Michel Hollenberg ("That was Easy", UWrb aggro-control by Dyan de Rochemont)
Michel is a laid-back kind of guy from the Alkmaar region where one of the earliest 93-94 playgroups in the Netherlands started. He plays a very pretty deck made by his friend Dyan. It combined Savannah Lions with Lightning Bolts, Swords to Plowshares, Disenchants, Counterspells, Mishra's Factories, Serendibs, Serra Angels and the usual restricted suspects. All of these are clearly staples for a reason and the deck works like a charm as Michel finds the right order of play. I'm not sure whether Dyan will agree, but I'm naming his deck after the Staples company slogan: "That was Easy".
Game 1 and really, I never get a chance. The Lions pounce on me while the control elements take over. I lose and wonder what on earth I am going to do game 2. 0-1.

Game 2 and I get off to a decent start. Some fast board development followed up by a Time Walk and Timetwister allow me to finish the game up with a pumped and Berserked Serendib. I feel happy to have at least shown Michel what my deck is capable of: 1-1.

Game 3 will decide this and despite winning the last game I feel that this is an uphill struggle. This turns out to be true and in this game I feel like I am always one or two steps behind. Savannah Lions doing damage, as soon as I resolve a Serendib the Lions attack again and being behind in life I have to block into the Bolt, after which the Serra hits even harder. 1-2 and my hopes of becoming the King of the Hill are over.

Being knocked out is never great, but Michel was simply the better player on the day. And making top 8 again was definitely more than I had considered possible beforehand. Time to take another beer and enjoy the semi's.

The semi's saw a great Atog/Shivan list defeated by Robbie van Bakel, who brought 3 Two-Headed Giants all the way to the final (pic below). Amazing to see the Big Beaters both guys played actually beating Decks. In the other semi, Michel defeated Marten Buhler's midrange explosion to set up a rematch (Michel had won in the Swiss) between himself and Robbie in the final.
In a battle between Serendibs, early pressure and Control Magic on Erhnam finally swung it for Michel, who took the final 2-1 to become the inaugural King of the Hill.
Beware, mages at N00bcon, because from Holland comes The King of the Hill to challenge you all!

/Joep Meddens

onsdag 14 mars 2018

The Oldest School: A Wizards' Tournament Primer

Every now and then a stroke of abandon land in the twilight between awesomeness and lunacy. From an outside perspective, going full old school and playing a Magic tournament like it was August 1993 is a perplexing idea. Even if you go zero-wincon-full-budget and build a deck with only mixed basic lands, that pile of basics will still have a price tag comparable to the winning eternal deck from the last Modern Pro Tour. A single powerful card in this format may only exist in a few hundred copies in the world, and will probably set you back more than a tier1 UBR deck in Legacy. Still we don't use proper sleeves nor protection for the cards. And right here you can actually play a deck of 20 Black Lotus and 20 Plague Rats. It is the most expensive, broken and confusing Magic format I've seen. It is also one of the sweetest.
Snap keep!
I don't know how many players we have signed up right now. 50? 60? Somewhere in that ballpark. Over ten countries representing at least. I am yet to find evidence of a larger tournament in August or September 1993, so it is possible that this is the largest event ever playing the purest form of Magic. Now that's something for the 25th anniversary of the game :)

Looking past the card availability issues of the format, one of the biggest things is how confusing it can be to those of us used to modern rules. And as the only info I've posted about the tournament is a text file without the opportunity to comment, I've gotten a lot of questions about how the old rules actually work. And no, it is not just "modern rules with mana burn between steps", or "dying from having zero life at the end of a phase instead of as a state based effect".  Heh, the oldest rules don't have steps, and that "dying at the end of a phase" thingie was a rule change that came with Revised (and was removed again with Sixth edition).

So, let's take a look at the most frequently asked questions about the original rules. We'll divide this into the sections of New rules, Old rules, Turn structure, and Tournament floor rules. Lets go back to 1993!

New rules!

There are a bunch of rules today that didn't exist back in old school times. These are a few of the more important rules that are NOT in effect during The Wizards' Tournament:

The idea of taking mulligans did come pretty early, and in 1994 the all-land/no-land mulligan was introduced. A few years later the Paris mulligan took its place, and then the Vancouver mulligan most of us know today. In the oldest school however, there are no mulligans. You'll have to keep whatever your starting seven gives you.
Yet another snap keep!
No, there are no sideboards. Just put all the sweet cards in your deck from the start. On the plus side, no one will expect that you play Karma.

Play/Draw rule
What is this, late 1995? The starting player gets a draw phase, so it is very much upside to win the coin flip.


Again, restricting the number of cards you could play in a deck was a fairly early tournament rule, but still something that took effect in 1994. No card restrictions means that you can technically play 9 Ironclaw Orcs and 3 Ancestral Recalls if you have them. Minimum deck size is also 40 cards rather than the 60 we normally use for constructed decks today. Real mages play more than 40 though. And please try to have fun and appreciate the atmosphere. A deck with just 27 Lightning Bolts and 13 Mountains seems supremely boring in a format like this ;)
Oldest School Sligh done properly.
There's no Oracle errata. Uniform errata on card name basis was a surprisingly late addition to the rules; well into 1995 cards like Iron Star had a different effect in the ABU printing compared to the Revised/4th printings. For this tournament, I have added errata to two cards that were misprinted so badly that they would be impossible to use with current wording (Red Elemental Blast and Cyclopean Tomb), and clarified a few more in the Wizards' Tournament document. But the idea here is mostly to read the card and try to figure out what it does. And yes, you may activate Iron Star multiple times for a single red spell.

This being an Instant would make it unable to counter spells. It will be played as an Interrupt.
Then there are a few commonly used words that aren't really defined in the old rules. Like "defending creature" and "target". Basically it works mostly as we'd expect, but you can for example cast a Righteousness on any creature a defending player controls rather than just a blocking creature. This could be useful in the UBW Creature Bond deck I guess.

Some other stuff that might come up is that auras enchanting an illegal permanent won't "fall off" (e.g. you cast Living Lands turning all lands into 1/1s, then cast Control Magic on one of your opponent's lands. If someone then destroys Living Lands, Control Magic will not fall of even though it is enchanting an illegal target, and the opponent won't get their land back), and that an attacker may distribute damage between blocking creatures as they see fit (i.e. no "blocking order" among blocking creatures).

Old rules!

In the original rules we also had a few features that don't exists today. These are probably the most likely to come up.

Mana Burn
From ye old rule book: "You lose all of the mana in your mana pool if you do not use it before a phase ends. The mana pool is also cleared when an attack begins and when an attack ends. You lose a life point for each mana lost in this manner. However, you cannot be deprived of a chance to use the mana in your pool. If a card provides more than one mana, you must draw the full amount into your pool when you use it." This rule (later called "mana burn") changed a few times over the years until it was removed entirely in 2009 with the release of M10. We'll look more at phases and attacks a little further down.

Ante was an integral part of the original game. At the start of a duel, you would remove the top card of your deck and put it in the ante. The winner of the duel would become the owner of all the cards in the ante after the game.

To avoid too much deck metamorphosis over the course of a longer tournament, the first tournament floor rules introduced something called "fake ante", which is what we'll use here as well. It is described in more detail in the Wizards' Tournament document, but basically you just exile the top card of your library whenever a duel starts, and get it back after the duel. Even though we don't use ante with cards from the decks, you are still encouraged to ante something else (like a beer or the monetary equivalent of the card in Scrye #3 prices).

Tapped cards
A tapped card is basically shut off. When an Artifact is tapped, imagine that it has no rules text. You can't gain life from a tapped Iron Star, a tapped Gauntlet of Might won't boost red creatures nor Mountains, and a tapped Forcefield will offer no protection. Additionally, a blocking creature that becomes tapped during combat will not assign any damage.
Damage prevention
There are no rules covering this; the rules from 1993 are before the introduction of the damage prevention step. So just do what seems reasonable. How does Reverse Damage work when you're at four life and get attacked by a Sea Serpent? How does it work when you're attacked by two? Maybe you survive in one or both cases, but there's nothing to back that up. If in doubt about some damage prevention interaction, ask the referee to make a decision or flip a coin.

As long as a creature with protection from a color is in play, it cannot be affected by cards of that color. For e.g. a Black Knight this includes, but is not limited to, surviving Wrath of God, punching straight through a Circle of Protection: Black (if such a card would exist...), surviving all damage from white creatures, and being unblockable by white creatures.
Timing (or lack thereof)
To quote the Alpha rule book: "In general, you should try and cast as few spells at once as possible, because it makes things simpler." Yeah. Timing is weird here, but there are some illuminating examples in The Wizards' Tournament document. Four things that may be good to note in particular is:
  • There are no stacks, batches nor queues as we have known them for the last decades. Once an instant or fast effect starts to resolve, everything else will resolve at the same time. So for instance, if someone casts a Terror on one of your creatures and you cast Ancestral Recall, if you draw an Unsummon with the Ancestral you wont get the chance to save your creature with it as Terror resolved as soon as Ancestral did.
  • The last player casting an instant (or activating a fast effect) in a series of effects that would affect a card in play differently depending on the order of the effects, chooses in which order all the instants/effects applies.
  • An interrupt will take precedence over any other effects. If an interrupt removes a card from play, it will counter any abilities activated by that permanent that haven't resolved yet. ("Interrupts take place more quickly, actually being resolved before actions in progress, whereas instants don't take effect until both players have finished reacting to one another.")
  • As all spells and abilities resolve at once and damage is dealt after an effect dealing it resolves, it is e.g. not possible to destroy a creature by casting a Lightning Bolt in response to a Giant Growth or Frozen Shade activations. Damage will not be dealt before the creature is boosted no matter how you try to time it.

The Turn Structure!

The turn is divided into six phases. Most of the time, you wont notice the difference from the modern turn structure, but it can be a good idea to note this just in case. Here's the original turn structure:

1) Untap. Untap all your previously tapped lands, creatures, and artifacts. I will go out on a limb here and state that you cannot do anything before you untap permanents during the untap step. This is by no means defined in the rules, but it is clearly against the spirit of the game to tap your Prodigal Sorcerer to deal one damage to a Knight at the start of your untap phase, then untap it and deal one more damage during that same turn. As it was never intended to be played that way, I'll interpret the rules to disallow it for this tournament.

2) Upkeep. Deal with any enchantment, creature, or artifact that requires upkeep or has an effect at the start of a turn. The card will tell you if a given item requires upkeep. Note that you cannot activate abilities of permanents requiring an upkeep cost before the upkeep has been paid.

3) Draw. Draw one card from your library.

4) Main. You may do several things during the main phase. In no particular order:
 - You may put any one land from your hand into play.
 - You may make one attack against your rival with any or all of your creatures in play except those that came into play this turn. Combat is divided into four turn sequences: Player Declares Attack; Opponent Declares Defense; Fast Effects; Damage Dealing.
 - You may cast any spells in your hand, provided you have enough mana. You can cast spells before and after taking other actions.

5) Discard. If you have more than seven cards in your hand, discard until you again have only seven. Note that Library of Leng make you skip this phase altogether, which means that if you have a Library you go directly from Main to End.

6) End. Let your rival know you are finished. Note that you may cast instants and interrupts after you have discarded.
Super high tech with end phase Ancestral Recall. And I know at least one fellow that just picked up a second Ancestral for this tournament. Craziest deck I've heard about will be playing 20 copies of a certain Alpha rare btw, but I wont spoil which one here. It is a bad one though ;)

Tournament floor rules!

Again, please check out the Wizard's Tournament text file for some more clarifications on the floor rules.

So back in the days there were no judges in the modern sense of the word. Instead there were so called referees that had a surprisingly large mandate. The referee is the person with final say on interpreting rules, as well as someone that may at will terminate or influence matches he/she finds going excessively long. So if you are the last match playing, the referee might go up to your table and drop a pair of Copper Tablets on the play area to speed up the match or state that next person dealing damage wins, or whatever. The referee will also interpret Declarations of Forfeiture; e.g. disqualifying players that cheat. The ones of you participating at the Wizard's Tournament don't have to worry too much about the referee holding grudges or being unfair though. The referee during The Wizards' Tournament will be none other than the man mostly known as Flax; the man holding possibly the lowest active DCI number in Sweden as well as the friendliest Magic player most of us will ever encounter. He was my clear first choice for the role, and I am surprisingly stoked to have him on the team! He is also one of like three people I know that are versed in the original rules.

If you use sleeves, it is very much encouraged that you use sleeves from the era. This means penny sleeves, toploaders, or something else available in 1993. While you might be frowned upon for using more modern sleeves, you obviously won't be disqualified for doing so. However, if you use more modern sleeves, use clear ones where you can see the back of the card.
The Italian gang use old credit card sleeves for their decks. Dope!
Participation fee
The participation fee is 50 SEK, which translates to about $6 in a more international currency. This almost covers the rent of the pub ;)

I did design playmats which I was going to offer for 50 SEK, but didn't find a good way to properly get the paint on the cloth. So unfortunately no. Here's the design though, might be something similar for next year:
Prize structure
Pretty much nothing. You could try and win something sweet playing for ante though. The person who manage to destroy all other players gets a unique artifact however, handmade in a single unit by master craftsmen and painters. It is awesome, and you can use it as a necklace to look supremely dope while summoning beasts.
All n00bs must be discarded.

Bonus FAQ!

Q: Can I come visit and look at the games?
A: Only players are allowed at the site. It would unfortunately be far too crowded if we allowed visitors.

Q: Will there be video coverage?
A: No. We will avoid most modern technology.

Q: Why would anybody play with $25,000 decks for no tangible EV in a dirty pub using only penny sleeves?
A: It seems fun.

lördag 10 mars 2018

Third time is the charm? A guest report from Arvika

So I actually wrote a post about The Deck this week. My experience with it is mostly from the opposite side of the table. It is in fact possible that I have played against The Deck (with card pool including The Dark but not Ice Age) in more tournament matches than anyone else in the world. Playing 93/94 tournaments with high frequency for eleven years certainly has given me a somewhat informed opinion about its presence in the meta at least. But I am by no means a master wielding it; I haven't remotely put down the hours as a pilot to reach the level of the true mages. I actually only ever played it in a tournament once; two weeks ago in the ~50-player Arvika Festival 4. In the first match in the top8 I faced Emil, and it was an amazing experience. My friends (and former Best Men) Honka and Hardy sat next to me to cheer me on, and even they - in a highly drunken state - were utterly impressed after watching Emil play. Emil plays an average turn with The Deck in about ten seconds while he has fourteen lands in play, two draws and six cards in hand, against the mirror. Dude has mental shortcuts for everything and make very few mistakes. He is one of around four people I would consider masters with The Deck. So when he sent over his winning report from Arvika, I figured this should clearly take precedence. His report even had matchup notes and stuff, like a real report. And to avoid a spring over-commit into The Deck, I'll keep my post on the burner for a few weeks and post a sweet Sindbad deck next week instead. Or perhaps some rule clarifications about The Wizards' Tournament. So, without further ado, I give you the words of Emil "MrSinclair" Klintbäck. Enjoy! /Mg out.

Sitting in the car with my long time Magic buddy Morgan “Farsan” Karlsson we both have big expectations for the weekend and the Arvika Festival. We start already Friday night with dinner out followed up with playtesting for hours. Morgan swings back and forth on his deck choice, but ends up deciding for an early version of Cermark Zoo. I stick as always to my old pal "The Deck". I have played at Arvika two times before and been pretty consistent making into the final eight, but never succeeded to pass the quarterfinals. Could this be the where I take it to the next level?
Arvika Festival 4 version of The Deck. Zero Stone Rain, but main deck Mirror.
Round 1: Andreas Cermark, with UWG Cermak Zoo
So, the tournament starts and I see Andreas name on the wall. Andreas started showing up a year ago in the 93/94 community and showed great results from the get go. (Editor's note: Cermak won the Arvika Festival last year with this deck.) Although he is a great guy he is not the player I wanted to face the first round. But I have play tested a lot versus his archetype and think I have pretty good picture of how to play against it and what to keep. I did grind the matchup for three hours just the night before after all.

Game 1
I look down at a quite bad hand but it is still no mulligan. I start playing Mox, Land and pass the turn. Andreas plays three Moxes, Land, Timetwister and smiles!!! I respond by Disenchanting one of his Moxes, and feel that this is not the start that I was looking for. However, after the Twister I look down at a strong hand with LoA, Time walk. This is followed up with an Ancestral on one of my draw. When I finally give the turn back to Andreas I have like 8-10 mana and a full hand. Game is over.

Game 2
I do not remember much of this game but think Andreas did not draw that much of a hand and therefore never really gets to pressure me.
KungMarkus; the engineer behind the Festival.
Round 2: Andreas Andersson with BR Underworld Dreams Ponza
I have never played versus Andreas before and he is quite new to the community for me. So, going into the game I have no idea what I am playing against.

Game 1
Andreas plays Howling Mine turn two and passes to me. I find Time Walk on my draw and follow up with a Regrowth on the Time Walk and take an extra turn. When I finally pass the turn back to Andreas my hand is full, mana base solid and no Howling Mine on board. This becomes too much for Andreas to handle and game is over.

Game 2
We cast a lot of spells and in the end, he makes a Hypnotic Specter stick and wins the game.

Game 3
Unfortunately, Andreas need to mulligan to five cards and the final game never becomes a game.

Round 3, Mällroth with RUG Lestree Zoo
Mällroth is one of the oldest members of the oldschool community and truly a great guy. We have already played during the day in one of his famous "Påsdrafts" which is one of the cornerstones of the Arvika Festival. The Lestree Zoo deck is Mällroth signature deck and he has been playing it for as long as I have known him. (Editors note: Mällroth won the Arvika Festival two years ago with this deck.) This is a deck that I have play tested a lot against and according to me this is one of the decks witch actually have an advantage vs The Deck pre-sideboard, especially if they find Sylvan Library early. However, the deck has one major downside which is its compact creature base from Arabian Nights which can be exploited with the use of “City in a Bottle”. The deck normally also has major problem with The Abyss if they don’t play tranquility in sideboard.
Mikael Mällroth.
Game 1
Mällroth plays on the curve with treats from the start. I cannot find any answers and he pretty much crushes me in five minutes.

Game 2
After sideboard, I have two Abyss and two City in a Bottle. I find LoA in my staring hand and Mällrtoh cannot find an answer. Abyss comes out quite early and game is over.

Game 3
I play out city in a bottle turn two killing an Kird Ape. It takes time for Mällroth to find an answer and when he does I can protect it with a Counterspell. When Mällroth gives up he shows his hand containing six creatures from Arabian Nights.

I really think you should consider restricting the City in a Bottle to boost the creature decks in the format. I cannot really see the downside?
Honka with TaxEdge by the 3-0 table.
Round 4: Thomas Nilsen with Eureka Artifact Madness - The Deck Killer?
Thomas is a strong player from Norway known for his nice manners and his beautiful collection of magic cards all in near mint condition. First time I met Thomas was 4 years ago playing my first Noobcon tournament. He was back then not playing 93/94 and was participating in Gothcon. I was missing a Lotus and a Mox Jet for my deck and was looking for a way to borrow them. My friend Morgan “Farsan” Karlsson knew him from back in the days, but had not seen him for years. We started talking and after ten minutes I asked If I could borrow his jewels. Without hesitating Thomas said yes, only knowing me for ten minutes. I think this a great story of showing what a great guy Thomas is.

Game 1
I look down at a LoA in my starting hand and smiles. However, Thomas goes Workshop, Mox, Su-chi turn one, land Su-chi turn two and land Tetravus turn three. My hand/play is simply too slow and he wins the first game quickly. Sometimes LoA isn’t enough.

Game 2
Thomas plays threats and I have answers. After some turns game stabilizes and I get a Tome to stick and Thomas falls too much behind.

Game 3
I look down at a slow hand without any strong plays. Thomas starts and plays Mishras factory turn one, Mishras Factory turn two, and I can only respond with land, go. Thomas plays Gloom turn three and I must use my only Counterspell to stop it. Turn four Thomas plays Eureka and I cannot do anything. He slams Su-chi and another Gloom into play and I can only play land, Mirror. My disenchant and Swords to Plowshares in hand suddenly looks expensive and slow. Turn five Thomas hits me for eight with two Mishras and Su-chi and I cannot do anything to stop it. However, on my draw I find my only fireball and suddenly there is hope. I pass the turn, Thomas hits me again for eight taking me down to four life. He also plays a Copy Artifact to copy my mirror. But that does not matter during my upkeep I switch life and then fireball him for four. Game is over.
Round 5, Svante Landgraf with MirrorBall Combo Wombo
Svante is known for being the “professor Balthazar” of 93/94. We are both fellow players of The Deck and always love to discuss how you should optimize it in the current meta. However, in this tournament he has a mission to invent/improve a combo deck in the format and I have no clue what he is playing.

Game 1
I look down at an Ancestral Recall in my hand and like my odds. Svante starts and plays land, mana vault.  I start playing land and cast Ancestral during his upkeep. Svante goes land sylvan library. Unfortunately, I have no disenchant in hand and I go land Fellwar Stone. Svante goes Land Mana Vault and Mind Twist for my entire hand, I feel like game is over. Svante passes the turn and in my draw, I find a Time Walk and plays it as cantrip. To my great surprise I find a Time Twister on top. The Twister gives me LoA and from that I can improve the control. I further improve my advantage with a Tome and after a couple of turns Svante gives up.

Game 2
Svante starts Land, Mox, Sol Ring, Timetwister and smiles. However, this is apparently my day. Svante finds like 6 Lands and a Dark Heart. I on the other hand find some power. Svante pretty much does nothing for a couple of turns and I can develop a board that wins me the game.

Round 6, Johan Rådberg with UWB Good Stuff
I have seen Johan in many tournaments but never had the pleasure to play against him. I have never seen him play the same deck, but they are always beautifully black bordered.

Game 1
I find LoA and Johan finds no answer. Game over not more to say

Game 2
Johan plays an early Underworld Dreams and I cannot find an answer for 14 turns. Furthermore, Johan have strong sideboard vs me and keeps throwing treats like Armageddon and Energy Flux. I end up in a situation where I must use my Regrowth to find a Disenchant for another Underworld Dreams. The problem is that my Time Twister and Recall is already in the graveyard from an earlier Mind Twist. My win conditions are running out.
However, with one card left in my deck I can Fireball Johan for 13 damage and kill him. Game was really close, I had no Couterspells left and I had to use three City of Brass to cast the Fireball taking me down to one life.
Cermak in his awesome Lestree outfit fighting back to the top8.
Quarterfinals, Magnus "MG" de Laval with The Deck
I think MG need no further presentation. He is one of the forefathers of the format and a guy impossible not to love, you all know what I am talking about. The atmosphere is really great when we start shuffling and MG's wingman Hardy is playing magic songs (the best at magic!) on his iPhone to boost the atmosphere even more.

Game 1
My hand looks sad without any real power or strong plays. However, the hand is no mulligan and I play land and say go. MG slams Land, Mox, Sol Ring, Fellwar Stone, Ancestral Recall and I feel like the game already is slipping through my hands. I decide to go for Land, Fellwar Stone. If MG's turn one was great, turn two is not worse. He cast Mind Twist and strips my hand to one card, game is over?

After that start, I have/need to go into top deck mode. I get like 3-4 draws until MG plays a Tome. Luckily, I have found a disenchant. Turn after Mg plays a Serra Angel but I have a Swords to Plowshares. I start to realize the after all the draws from MG there may be that he could be missing a Counterspell? So, when I draw my Demonic Tutor and go for an Ancestral Recall I do not get surprised when it goes through. From the Ancestral I find a Regrowth and cast the Ancestral once more. Turn after I find Mind Twist and strips MG's hand down to zero. MG never finds his way back and game one is mine. I was really lucky that MG could not find a Counterspell in his first 20-25 cards.

Game 2
I would say it is a classic “The Deck mirror game” were I win one big Counterspell fight that leaves MG in a situation where he has to pass the turn all tapped out. From that situation, I can go Timetwister into Time Walk and develop a really strong board with solid mana base and a Tome that I can protect. Game two is mine. (Editor's note: Mg won the Arvika Festival three years ago, so with this win our writer has defeated all of the three previous Festival champions in one sitting.)

Semifinals, Andreas Cermark Again!
Game 1
I find a really bad hand and need to mulligan. My new 6 cards are 4 lands, 1 Swords to Plowshares and 1 Mirror, not the hand I was looking for. Andreas start with LoA, Mox Pearl, and a Savannah Lion.
The following turns I play Land and deal with Andreas two first creatures on board. But LoA is LoA and Andreas keep putting creatures on board and stays on a full hand. Turn five I play the Mirror with my Lands and 1 Mox. To my surprise Andreas have no artifact removal and the Mirror sticks.
I do not exactly remember the life scores but in Andreas last turn before the game ends he hits me for three taking me down to six life’s and plays Su-chi. When he passes the turn, he has only two lands untapped which makes me comfortable going down below four lives since there is no threat of a Psi Blast. So, in the end phase of Andreas turn I take two damage from City of Brass and swords to Plowshares his Su-chi. During my upkeep, I take two more damage from City and go down to two lives and use the Mirror. I end the game by hitting Andreas with a Mishras Factory. Again, very lucky that my opponent did not find the answers.

Game 2
This time it is my turn to find LoA in my starting hand and Andreas find no answer to it. I get too much card advantage from the Library and game is won.

Finals, Odd Kjöstvedt with UR Burn
For me Odd is a new face to the community. We actually had some discussion concerning his deck before the tournament started. So, going into the game I have a pretty good picture what I am playing against.

Game 1
I find LoA, a great start. Odd keeps a hand with blue and red Mox (no lands) and plays a Chain Lighting. Turn two I go for an extra card from LoA and play City of Brass. Odd plays no land showing he is “mana screwed” and plays a Flying Men that gets REB:ed. Turn three I go for a bad play when I go Land, Mox, Mox and The Abyss(no longer seven cards in hand). I think my plan was to cast the Timetwister the next turn because I was scared of him casting Wheel or Time Twister before I could get the Abbys out, which I know is really powerful versus his deck (I had no Couterspell in hand). The turn after I draw a Tome and decide to cast it before going for the Timetwister.
Looking back, I can just say it is a poor play for many reasons, but hey it was 3 in the morning and I was tired. However, I do not get punished for my bad play and can pick him down with a Mishras Factory ending the game with a Fireball for 13 damage.

Game 2
Another great start with Ancestral Recall in hand. Odd on the other hand need to mulligan to six. From the Ancestral I can develop into Fellwar, Mox and Ivory Tower. Odd plays a Serendib Efreet and passes to me. I go Time Talk into a Tome. Odd finds answers to both my Tower and my Book, but I handle his Serendib with a Sword. I play a new Tome and pass the turn. Odd add additional pressure with a Su-chi and a new Serendib. My response becomes Balance taking us both down to one card in hand. Again, miss fortune is with me and I find a Braingeyser giving me a Demonic Tutor leading me to a Mirror. Odd hits me down to seven with Flying Men and a Bolt. I take two additional damage with City of Brass before and swap my five remaining life. On my draw, I find a Regrow where I take up my Demonic again finding me my only fireball and the game.
Third time's the charm!
I think I played pretty solid the entire tournament except for the finals where I made some bad plays. I think I never played a tournament where I in so many matches have been so far behind and still managed to turn the table. I guess I was pretty lucky but also played for the outs.

I would not change anything in my main deck, but I think three REB is too much in the sideboard. There where simply no room to put them all in. Maybe cutting one for Amnesia which I think is underplayed in the format. In this tournament I never had the option to put in the Serra Angels either, they could perhaps be switched for something else? 

That’s all, thanks for reading and hope to see you all at Noobcon!

//Sinclair out