tisdag 30 oktober 2018

The Frost Giant Cup: A story from the Netherlands

During the last couple of weeks, much of the buzz in the old school webosphere have centered around the Scandinavian Championship, the upcoming US Eternal Weekend, and of course the massive Fishliver Oil Cup in Italy. But Giants reside outside of Arvika, Pittsburgh and Genoa, and reveler Joep Meddens lay their paths. The new recurring tournament series in the Netherlands took to their second brawl in the cages earlier this month, and we have an organizer's story to tell. Enjoy! /Mg out

These days, the Dutch tournament scene is finding its shape. The Gatherings of the Knights of Thorn are becoming must-attends twice a year and now there are two Giant Tournaments to nicely round out the calendar. We organized the first of those, The Hill Giant Cup in March two weeks ahead of n00bcon and it was a roaring success. The day after crowning Michel Hollenberg the first King of the Hill (check out the N00bcon stream to enjoy Michel and Mg share precious nuggets of wisdom), questions started about a second installment. Looking at that Other Big One, it was clear when it should be taking place: ahead of Fishliver Oil to send the Dutch Wizards to Genova prepared for battle! This is my tournament report of Sunday's Frost Giant Cup (7 October 2018).
Sunday morning arrives and after the smoke clears 37 players enter the race to win the first Frost Giant Cup. Like at the Hill Giant Cup, Swedish B&R applies with same art same frame reprints allowed (no CE/IE). We have a vintage Juzam Djinn poster for the maker of the most creative deck, a Revised Only Side Event, and an oversized Chaos Orb for flippers who miss three in a row. We also have great home-brewed beer again; this time players have a choice between White, Blond, Chestnut and Bock from the Gooische Bierbrouwerij.

Although I am organizing, I opt to play a strong deck: GWu Geddonless Ernhamgeddon. I tell myself it is OK to do so, as I will actually be one of the five Dutch guys flying to Genova to play in the tournament that the Frost Giant Cup is supposed to prepare the Dutch Wizards for. Also: it is my favorite deck because of the different roles you get to play depending on draws and match-ups.
My deck, including the sideboard and the beautiful signed Frost Giant that we were playing for.
Round 1 starts and I am paired with Marten Buhler. He is a familiar foe: at the last GotKoT he beat me 2-1 in the semi's in some spectacularly swingy matches. A painful loss after I had won in the Swiss earlier... Marten is as much of a creature of habit as I am, and so I gear up for some speedy Su-Chi's, Erhnams and Bolts that accompany Marten's beautiful restricted list cardboard. Geared up as I might be, Marten is easily too fast for me: in quick succession he picks up a 2-0 win and I am at 0-1 for the day. I remember thinking it was not to be for the day when I more or less stabilized at six life and Marten drew two bolts of his Timetwister. I responded by a City of Brass fueled Swords on my own Erhnam to go back to three, only to find Marten also got a regrowth from his Twister to deal me the third and final Lightning Blow...

Round 2 and I meet Marten's travel companion Frenk. Players like Marten and Frenk and the aesthetically pleasing cardboard they bring are reasons to be in this format. Frenk is usually on some form of powerspice and today is no different: in an otherwise reasonably normal WUB controllish-deck (Abyss/White Knight) he is playing no less than three Shahrazads main board! The first Shahrazad resolves and I happily battle away to send Frenk to 10 in our main game courtesy of some fast Erhnams. Back in the main game, Frenk resolves the second Shahrazad and I remind him it is actually restricted in Sweden... We finish the game regardless, and off the back of some Ice Storms I manage to get the second Shahrazad game as well. Frenk is now down to 5 life in our main game courtesy of his two Shahrazads. The last five are gone in a flash as another fast Erhnam hits the table, this time in the main game. After Frenk replaces two Sharazads for cards from his sideboard, we head into game 2. Proving the wisdom of restricting Shahrazad from a timing point of view, the card is not seen again in this game and I manage to take it within time in the regular way. 2-0 and I am 1-1 for the day. 

After the lunch break, we start of with a small auction to help out a fellow player who had the misfortune of seeing his Library of Alexandria stolen. A Legends Land Tax and Greed donated by our house dealer Wijnand Schoenmakers are sold for handsome prices (thanks to Tom Posthuma and Michel Hollenberg for winning those auctions!) and we are good to go for round 3.

Round 3 I meet up with one of the new players, Wouter Janssen. He is on some sort of Erhnamgeddon, as I briefly get to see Birds and indeed one Erhnam. My deck turns out more efficient, and I brutally dispatch him 2-0, with timely Swords doing work and fast Ice Storms proving better than unseen Armageddons. Also, I simply play more guys than he has swords. Despite the harsh match-up in this round, this deck does show how lenient reprint rules can allow new players to join and play a deck that can get match wins without spending thousands upfront.
Wouter's transitional Ernhamgeddon
Round 4 and I am 2-1. I see another new face in Evert Visser. Evert is an experienced Legacy player, now fully bitten by the Old School bug. He brings a very good looking Troll Disco deck to the table complete with Guardian Beasts. He took it to 3-0 for the day at that point and accordingly he turns out to be a tidy player. We exchange games with my loss coming courtesy of early pressure finished of with some burn. My win comes off a well timed Time Walk giving me an extra Swing with the Green Army. In the deciding game, my Ice Storms provide me a head start and I take it from there: 2-1. Having enjoyed my first beer of the day in this match (my favorite, a White Beer brewed with buckwheat), getting to 3-1 I am thinking I might still make it to Top8 if I somehow manage to win the next match.
Evert Visser's Troll Disco
Round 5 couples me with Tom Posthuma, a former GotKoT winner and formidable foe. Also on 3-1 for the day, he is playing a classic UR-burn. Game one sees his Flying Men do quite some damage as my removal is spent elsewhere first. When I finally deal with it, Tom starts sending Chains and Bolts to my head. I somehow find a Swords to gain life and stabilize at one. Thinking I will be dead in moments, I start swinging back regardless. Tom finds variance in his way and draws blanks for what seems like an eternity. I close out the game and can't really believe I am 1-0 up. Game 2 is all about my Ice Storm efforts as I try to block the red sources. I succeed long enough to deal 20 with some help from restricted cards along the way. The match is mine, and I turn out to have one of six 4-1 records. Roy Neijland is the single undefeated player (5-0), and Marten Buhler sneaks through as the best of a large field of 3-2 players. Rounding out the Top8 are Koos Cramer (2) on his Swedish-tweaked version of Randy Buehler's Land Tax deck, my brother Thomas Meddens (3) on his amazing White Tron, Evert Visser (4) on Troll Disco, father to a newborn Richard Veenman (5) on a sweet, sweet Titania's Parfait and Nick Kramer (6) on The Deck.
Richard Veenman's Titania's Parfait
In the quarter-final, it appears a fast ramp deck is a terrible match up for Koos Cramer's Land Tax / Ivory Tower. In about 20 minutes, I take it 2-0, with the one scary moment being a Moat which promptly got Disenchanted. If only that had been a Wrath of God... Meanwhile, in one of the other quarter-finals my brother unfortunately has a problem similar to Koos: he meets a bad match-up and loses to Koos' brother Nick who knows how to pilot The Deck.
Koos Cramer's Swedish Randy-ness
In the Semi-final I meet Roy Neijland, undefeated for the day. As usual, he is on a mono-Black control list that he has refined to reach remarkable results. Roy is another former GotKoT champion (Mari Steinhage is the third), beating me in the GotKoT 3 final to get that crown. So this is going to be hard, but there is also a veritable chance of redemption here for my Green and White Wizardry against all of Roy's Evil Black Magic. Game 1 and I am out of white sources courtesy of a well place Sinkhole. Being on Ice Storms myself, I really can't complain. Problem is that a wall of Black Knights and Maze of Ith stops me from getting anything green through. When Roy sticks a Hippie I am toast: 0-1. Heading into Game 2, I remember Roy's City in a Bottle(s?). I also remember Roy is mono-black... I side in my four Whirling Dervish to replace the Ernies and basically take it from there. Game 2 and we both see LoA. I just see my land removal earlier than Roy does and manage to live to see all four (!) of the Dervishes. This proves too much for Roy and we head into the decider. In this game I eventually see three Dervishes and also manage to Ice Storm a Maze and Disenchant an Icy to allow them to break through. I get there 2-1 and basically have my Dervishes to thank for it. In the other semi-final, Nick Cramer beat Evert Visser, meaning another Cramer - Meddens matchup would decide the tournament.

As the semi's were contested, Gideon Evers crowned himself the day's Revised Master by winning the Revised Only Side Event with his UG Berserkless Berserk-list.
Gideon's Revised Only brew, the Kird Apes were the prize to accompany the pride won.
Nick is on The Deck, no easy match-up for any deck.
Nick Cramer's The Deck
Game 1 of the final I deploy an army of Llanowar Elves to chip away at Nick's life. As I manage to land an Erhnam to come within reach of the final blow, Nick really only has two outs: Balance or Tutor into Balance. In typical The Deck fashion, the Tutor comes up, spitting out the Balance. From there on, I am set to lose and convincingly do: 0-1. Having seen plan A fail, I go for Plan B and bring in 13 sideboard cards including the four Dervishes and three Psionic Blasts. This effectively turns me into a weenie deck of sorts. Game 2 sees my changed plans more or less working: I manage to keep Nick low on mana and chip him away to 9 before he removes my final threats on the board. With Nick too low on mana up to counter, I have a window to send in a Psi Blast to get him to five. Next turn, as I am tapped out with my hand on 3 cards, Nick goes for a Mind Twist for 2, taking one damage from City in a Bottle in the process (going to four). Nick agreeingly sees me discard a Disenchant and an Energy Flux "that could have been worse". To my great relief, the one card I get to keep is my second Psi Blast, which I cast as soon as I have the lands untapped to do so. 1-1 and fittingly a final match will decide who wins the whole thing. That final game, I fully outpace The Deck with Llanowar Elves and two Dervishes, backed up by Ice Storm. There is no saving Balance this time and I manage to take it over the line: 2-1 and I win the whole thing!
The winning deck
Having played in Florian van Bredow's Raging River tournament in Cologne (won by the host, Florian von Bredow) and in Mari Steinhage's Gathering of the Knights of Thorn 4 (won by the host, Mari Steinhage), it seems there is no shame anymore amongst tournament organisers... 

Most importantly, the whole day was an absolute blast. Great thanks go to Robert Kerklaan, owner of our LGS Vendetta, for clearing his store for all of us once again. Thanks also to Wijnand Schoenmakers for providing the top class prizes that were raffled away and organizing the auction. Thanks to Thomas for organizing the Revised Only Side Event. And thanks to all 36 fellow players who traveled to Hilversum for the chance to win a signed Frost Giant.
Some fine gentlemen

fredag 26 oktober 2018

Shark fishing in Arvika

The epic Scandinavian Championship is in the books. The man to hoist the Shark this year was a familiar face for the Swedes; a man who has properly done his tenure and gotten both the highs and the lows of emotions over his last six years in the format. A man who is quoted as stating that The Deck-mirror is the best way to play Magic, but who's recent results have been with new innovations of Zoo. This is Åland's time. /Mg out

The Deck and me
I started playing old school back in 2012 after the success of n00bcon IV. If I remember correctly it was Stalin (the n00bcon VI winner) who got me into the format talking about it during our regular Tuesday Legacy tournaments. I wanted to play Vintage so I made a post just for fun buying power on our local Swedish community forum, and a guy wanted to opt out of Vintage due to the player base so I got a sweet deal. My first tournament I sleeved up this Deck. The tournament was a small gathering at Kalles place (whom at the time I never met before). At that tournament I also got the predictable nickname “Åland,” which has stuck since that day (I come from the small Finnish island named Åland between Sweden and Finland). The reason I chose to play The Deck was not because it was the best deck, but when playing back in 1995-1999 I wanted it but never had the money to buy it.
Elof and Åland at Warcon 2012.
The second tournament I played was Warcon 2012 with another version, and this time I managed to reach the final against Elof. Two hours later in The Deck mirror I lost after forgetting to activate a Disrupting Scepter in turn 30 or so. At n00bcon V I managed to reach top 8 with this version and lost in the quarter final against Jocke Almelund on the deck (who is a far superior player to me).
Åland vs Honka with Tax Edge at n00bcon V.
A year later I tweaked The Deck a bit and went 6-0 in the swiss of n00bcon VI but lost to Stalin on Electric Eel Aggro in the quarter finals.
n00bcon VI top8
This was one of my worst Magic memories ever. I don’t know why this one got me so bad but I considered quitting old school. But in December I was back again with my first tournament win with this version at Frippan Open. The sweet part, aside from winning, was that I got to get my revenge on Elof in the finals against his Troll Disco.
Kalle vs Åland in the quarterfinals of Frippan Open.
After that tournament I took a break from old school; there were some really stupid things going on which I just hope to forget. I didn’'t play at n00bcon VII and I considered quitting again. But I returned for n00bcon 8 with a 10th place finish with yet another version.
Vs Mg at WSK 2014. Gentleman's game with LoA removed from deck.
In 2017 I wanted to try something else than The Deck and had some success with a deck named “Fantasy Zoo”.
Fantasy Zoo from the BSK 2018 Top8.
But for the Scandinavian Championship 2018 I returned to sleeve up yet another version of The Deck with a little help from my friends. I didn’'t have any expectations anymore, I didn'’t want to be a try-hard anymore and instead focus on the aspects of great friendship and drinking beer.

The trip
I have never really considered traveling to Arvika for a tournament but earlier this year KungMarkus asked me when I was gonna come to Arvika, so I made a promise to show up. I booked a hotel room and didn'’t plan to travel with anyone else. In the end I asked Jan, who started playing old school in May this year, if he wanted to join. On the train station I met up with Gothenburg old school regulars Martin, Jocke "Jaok" Almelund, Sveby, Tibia and Beyonce.

I was tired and hadn'’t sleep for more than four hours the night before and on the row behind us on the train there were people watching YouTube clips on their cellphones. I thought this trip was a really bad idea. But suddenly a wild Sveby appears with a portable beer cooler, and suddenly this trip felt like a really good idea.

After changing trains in Karlstad we found the SiaB-crew playtesting on the train to Arvika. I don’t playtest for old school tournaments. I felt pretty satisfied with my deck as it was.

After a quick check-in at the hotel we found ourselves at the restaurant Regi, which I’m pretty sure is the best in Arvika. I immediately found a mixed grill share platter and told Jaok I'd found our food and gave him a high five. Upon seeing the portion size I felt we would need a kebab afterwards but after we finished eating I was actually really well fed.

A short walk later (after seeing a mix of alcoholics and children playing in a park) we found the site. After a couple of hours of “"späksnack"” and good beer drinking opportunities I found myself in an extremely good mood. Jan arrived later after trading for a lot of unlimited duals with the participating Germans.

The Tournament
As I don’t have any notes or pictures there won’t be much details from the games, but there is some stuff worth mentioning.

Round 1, vs –Kjartan
First round opponent, we sat down and he said they had joked about him facing me first round. We played twice on GP Stockholm (in a four Strip Mine format) and both matches were close. I knew he played mono-green with four Scavenger Folk. This round we were 1-1 and he started with a Sylvan Library turn 2 which was unanswered for the whole game, he had me down to 2 life and a Mishra'’s Factory in play with me having nothing. I top-decked a Serra Angel, being able to block the factory and win. Pretty fast match, got lots of time to sit outside with a beer watching the sun go down.

Round 2, vs Erland
I don’t remember playing against Erland before but he was a really nice guy and the atmosphere in the match was perfect. He beat me 2-1 thanks to one of his four Icy Manipulators being able to tap down Serra Angel. His deck felt strong with Su-chi, Serendib Efreet, Serra Angel and black splash, he also made top 8. After losing I bought an unlimited Underground Sea from William as compensation.
William's impromptu card store.
Round 3, vs Mikael Nastic
This was a brutal match which was over in about 10 minutes. Game one I drew a Library of Alexandria and had all the cards as he was trying to catch up. Game two I landed a turn one Serra Angel which went unanswered. More beer and picked up an unlimited Copy Artifact from William.

Round 4, vs Cermak
Game one we had a long game where I won with five cards left in my deck (Jonnie Myrbacka had a bye so he fetched me some beer, much appreciated!).
Game two was long where I lost after Cermak resolving two Armageddon.
Game three finished in a draw after time rounds. I was at 4 life and he had a Psionic Blast in hand. Needless to say, I got lucky here. Since we were 82 players and this would end me up with a 2-1-1 record there was no point in me scooping as we both were live for top 8 after this round.

Round 5, vs Johan Guldbrandsson
When the round started he was nowhere to be found, but 10 minutes later he showed up “as he "had to buy some more kôrv" (sausages)”; a good reason to show up late! I thought Johan was on Troll Disco but he played (according to me) a Trick Deck with Sedge troll, Stone Rain and Sinkhole. Don’t remember much about the match except that I won.

Round 6, vs Jan Eid
This round was a The Deck mirror against my roommate at the hotel. Game one was slightly interesting but game two he missed land drops which basically is game in the mirror. At this time I was getting pretty drunk and now I felt I really needed to do well in the tournament after knocking out my roommate.

Round 7, vs Erik Sjödin
I was at 4-1-1 and my opponent was at 4-2 with best tie breakers, so the match was a win and in for both of us. Erik played pink weenie and we had two interesting duels where I played a Serra Angel into my own the Abyss and ended up 1-1. In game three time was called. I had 31 life, The Abyss and Moat in play. Erik asked if he could concede since a draw would kick us both out of the top 8, I didn'’t really know what to say but I felt I would have won the game. I try to thank him as much as possible for his honorable scoop.

Top 8
The top 8 consisted of a healthy mix of sober and non-sober players. In my book someone who was drinking beer had to win the Shark so I put the hope to me, Mitja or Simon. After drinking 12+ beers and a bottle of Caprice Kir my memory is a bit cloudy. Mitja seemed to win his quarter final and decided to drop instead of playing his semifinal against Emil.
The glorious Shark.
Quarterfinal, vs Anders Ekman
Anders Ekman was a new acquaintance, but I know his little brother from several Magic trips abroad. Apparently it was Anders first old school tournament and he was making top8, which is impressive in my book. I don’'t remember many specifics about the match. He played what I think was strictly white/blue with about the same plan as me. In these matchups I think The Deck with all the restricted cards really shines and I don’t remember it being that close at all. The only thing I remember is Emil taunting me for destroying an Ivory Tower instead of a Fellwar Stone. My thought process (after 14 or so beers) was that it would shorten down the game.

Semifinal, vs Morgan Karlsson
Morgan was 8-0 at this point and Emil had already discussed some kind of deal with him for the finals. I don’t remember anything about this match. I think I drew a Library of Alexandria in game three which sealed the deal. Sleeping only for 4 hours and staying up for 20 hours drinking beer all day long goes hard on your memory.

Final, vs Emil Klintbäck
15 beers or so later it was time for the finals. I've lost a couple of times to Emil, but never with The Deck which he reminded me of (I won our The Deck mirror at n00bcon 8). We agreed to play the final in one game only (this seemed reasonable with my state and the fact that the clock was around 03.00). Emil was on the play and I took a mulligan to six. Emil played - if I remember correctly - a Volcanic Island and no second blue source. I had an Ancestral Recall in my hand which I could resolve. A couple of turns later I had a Serra Angel in play, and then some turns after that Emil offered me the best handshake of my life.
The living end.
The happiest of winners :)
Final thoughts
I got struck with lots of emotion after the final. I think I screamed quite a bit, there might have been some tears in my eyes. Being able to get that Shark after six years of playing old school and sharing the joy with my friends is one of the best feelings of my life. After the tournament we took a walk back to the hotel. Tired, drunk, hungry (hadn'’t eaten anything since lunch) and happy. After sleeping about two hours I tried to eat breakfast without throwing up and explain the top 8 to Svante. There were lots of congratulations IRL and on Messenger, and I am thankful for every single one.

So what comes next? I won’t be playing The Deck anymore since I now got my Shark (except in “money tournaments” like the ones on Grand Prix), and I'll be trying to brew with Twiddle Vault and perfect the Fantasy Zoo deck. My next goal is to have a rubber match final against Elof in some old school tournament.

Thanks to everyone and I am looking forward to meet everyone at BSK and n00bcon XI.
The winning deck of Scandinavian Championship 2018.
  • The Janitor, Ballad and Thai –- for deck help and support.
  • Jan - –for on-site support, great companionship and staying the whole night.
  • Sveby and JhovalKing - for being all-around good guys and keeping the old school spirit alive.
  • Markus ”Kungen” - for convincing me to travel to Arvika and hosting an awesome event.
  • ”Haups” (GaJoL, Honka, Kalle, Mg) - for being the main reason I really continued playing oldschool.
  • ”Övik-gänget” - for being the nicest and friendliest community in the world.
  • Lindén - for lending me cards for the tournament.
  • Me - for not visiting the great Arvika community before 2018.

lördag 20 oktober 2018

Notes from the Scandinavian Championship

Arvika. My seventh time over at the most dense 93/94 scene in Sweden. Hell, probably in the world. 14,000 people live in the city, and you could presumably dig up around fifty old school players in the neighboring area if you were inclined. The FNMs at the local card shop are 93/94, and most of the players here stay abstinent from modern cardboard. Apart from the Magic, the city and the people have a certain feel I can't really put my finger on. This is a special place in the Swedish woods.

The Patron Wizard around these parts is KungMarkus. When he organized the first Arvika Festival tournament four years ago, we were 16 players. Hardy and myself were the strangers. A couple of years into the Festival the Arvika players also got responsibility for hosting the Scandinavian Championship. This gathering, the sixth tournament were the Arvika Crew invite the rest of the country to battle on their turf, saw somewhere around 85. This time we even had distinguished guests from the continent, with ViennaGeddon organizer Mitja Held and reigning world champion Alban Lauter from Germany joining the fight.

Last time I set foot in Arvika I brought The Deck. It was my virgin journey with the boogie man of the format, and I can't say I didn't enjoy it. I like drawing cards and playing the legendary artifacts that pile brings, and my initial plan was to sleeve it up for a second time. My competitive gene was in unusually high spirits for this gathering, and I'm yet to pick up a Giant Shark myself. But then I recalled last time at the championship, and how the length of the rounds and intense sound level made me unable to fully enjoy the experience between matches. So I decided to scrap my control plans and give UR Burn a try. Never played that one before, and it could be interesting to check out its power level from a pilot's perspective.

I sleeved it up and tried out a bunch of games against the goldfish and a few real decks. And my god, that pile is one horrible way to arrange Magic cards. It won, sure, but I can hardly image a deck I felt more bored playing. I would rather challenge my opponents to a game of Monopoly than play this deck for seven rounds. I am not saying that Olle Råde or Gordon Anderson are wrong to enjoy this deck, fun is clearly subjective, but piloting this deck for me was about as fun as eating a bag of salt.

I threw it away, and went back to more familiar grounds. It had been a few years since I last sleeved up Distress, and I had gotten my hands on a second The Abyss since then. The temporal spike in me made an easy upgrade by splashing the blue-pack, and I was off to the races.
Distress! Fun!
So I had somehow picked an even grindier deck than The Deck by virtue of discarding The Deck for being to slow to play. I am pretty fast at playing Distress though, and much more familiar with this than The Deck, so I figured I could use mental shortcuts more often and perhaps keep my energy up longer regardless. Seven rounds filled with beer, starting five in the evening, will necessarily be a test of endurance as well as Magic.
Haupsdeck Distress
Most choices here are fairly straight forward for people familiar with the brew. Hypnotics in the sideboard are against combo and some versions of control, Black Vise is an answer to Ivory Tower, Gloom is pretty much only to slow down Circle of Protection. The blue power is an insurance against Mind Twist, and Timetwister is a proper wincon. Blue could possibly be cut for red, the maindeck splash would then probably only be Wheel of Fortune, and the sideboard could have Shatter instead of Black Vise. Never let the the opponent draw cards of your Howling Mines if you can avoid it. Fun :)

As every time before I've joined a tournament in Arvika, my partner at the train would be Hardy. Hardy is currently on parental leave, and his fiancee was away for the weekend, so he brought along the six-month old for the ride. Dadgic: The Fathering.
Train people.
I before we go further into the city of Arvika, I just want to throw out an extra shout to KungMarkus and the Arvika Crew. Fantastic hosting! It is a supreme pleasure to be able to go to a tournament of this caliber without doing anything except enjoying the gathering. You guys truly embody the spirit of the format.
Carro and KungMarkus keeping the fort.
Or, I did do one thing for the gathering, as have become custom. I designed and ordered the pins. This time I thought it could be funny to use the warrior from Holy Day in Legends on the backdrop of a Swedish/Norwegian union flag. It was a holy day as tournaments go, and the contenders on the Scandinavian Championship were mostly Swedes and Norwegians. It took until the Sunday hangover before I realized that the pins looked kinda odd if you remove our MtG-tinted glasses. This could possibly be mistaken for the logo of some unsavory power band.
Now I can't unsee it.
Back to the train.
Sideboard teching.
Fellow Oslo Magician Michael Kjebekk.
Upon arrival in Arvika, we were greeted Ruaro and The Beef from Team Lisch in Lidköping. Catching me completely off-guard, they had the most amazing surprise in store.
What the actual balls. All the whiskey in the world, branded glass and bottles, and sweet stuff.
Ruaro and The Beef. Note the Juzam tattoo btw :)
They had arrived a day earlier for an Alpha-only tournament at the site. Don't have much details about that one, as details for those kind of gatherings tend to be scarce as a part of the experience, but as I understood it JhovalKing had picked up the victory with a fully broken Time Vault deck, facing Kalle Nord in the finals.
Shenanigans in the makings.
As for a tournament report, I can note that I had a great time, went a respectable 5-2, and got in some sweet trading and Alpha games as the Top8 unfolded. I'm expecting a report from the winner in the next few days, so lets just look at a few pictures from the gathering for now.
The main room, hosting a little north of 50 players. This was the first time in Arvika we needed to open up more rooms to fit everybody.
Room B, with the top tables. Lots of familar faces all around.
Hardy got his own table to accompany the stroller and kid. Also note the sweet Norway Oldschool Mtg t-shirt. Rad stuff.
William's trading table has become a fixture at the major Swedish gatherings.
Facing off against 2017 Rookie of the Year Erik Sjödin from the Ö-vik community. Started the match with a decisive Timetwister for 21 damage, but in the end lost a close match against his WR Midrange.
Managed to beat Kenneth from the Olso community, a notoriously hard opponent for me. His Troll Disco is a though matchup for Distress, but I somehow managed to seal the deal on the back of The Abyss and Drain Lifes. Next to us we have international guest and current World Champion Alban Lauter.
Facing off against Kalle in round five. Hide your children.
We did get some cheering from the bar though :)
And I got some swag! Thanks Kalle!
Alban's trade binder. Not a shabby set of lands. Alban and Mitja help fund their trips and spread some more powerful cards to the Nordic countries by doing some trading and selling. Win-win. They also swung by Oslo to hang out at a local meetup this Monday before they returning to the continent.
Erland's binder. Somewhat HP Beta Ancestral right there.
Mitja managed to reach the top8, despite a truly impressive intoxication level. He won his quarterfinal, but the alcohol prompted him to drop in the semis. Fairly rare occurrence in most 80+ player Mtg tournaments. Welcome to Arvika.
Meanwhile, I'm off playing one of the stranger mirror matches in my years of Magic. As August-93 (or Wizards' Tournament Magic, or Alpha 40) is mostly brewed on the sidelines of social media and the web, decklists are fairly rare, and I had no idea that I could face another guy with the same gameplan. Hell, neither of us had a clue there existed another Psychic Venom deck in the world before we met up at Arvika.
Tap your Island, you take 10. As Garfield intended.
Surprisingly I don't think we managed to steal any of each others Psychic Venoms, but I did find an extra Braingeyser in my deck when I got home and unpacked. Sorry about that, it is coming in the mail.
Loff vs Audun in more Alpha shenanigans.
The Alpha tables are filling up.
JohavalKing vs Kalle playing a couple of properly broken decks. It surprises me in so many ways that the Wizards' Tournament format became a thing. I mean, it is in fact a joke that we're all just taking way too far. We're somehow like 100 players from fifteen countries signed up for the next one. So I will from here on start subtitling Wizards' Tournament as The Magic World Championship. Hah.
Some old school trading with Kalle. Downgrading my Alpha Sapphire to a more beat up Beta one, and getting some sweet, sweet filler. Never thought I'd actually get a Tabernacle as I'm unwilling to buy it, but trading surely works. It will find a good home in the Distress sideboard for sure.
Friendship is Magic.
Back at the tournament at hand, it is  time for the game for all the marbles and the coveted Shark. Some proper Elder Dragons in the format facing off, neither of which are unaccustomed to previous Shark finals. A proper report from the winner is coming soon, so I'll keep my spoilers at a minimum.
Sometime after five in the morning, a ragtag gang is back in the room I'm proud I get to call a second home at Markus's place. Hardy is sleeping downstairs with the kid this time, but Honka and Kalle doesn't disappoint as bedfellows go. Situations made me laugh so hard I got tears in my eyes.
Back to life. The sun shines over Arvika.
The traditional post-tournament pizza.
Swinging by one of the hotels, spellslingers keep spellslinging in the lobby.
Lobby Mtg.
Honka getting back into the game.
Hardy contemplating his tech.
The final treasure. Thank you so much, this was fantastic.
With that I bid Arvika adieu for this time. Next time on that turf will probably be in February, when the annual Festival returns for its fifth iteration. Thank you all for a magical weekend!