The n00bcon 11 top16 (+1)

Top8ing the 93/94 World Championship is a special feat, reserved for a particular kind of mage. A testament to both casual and competitive vigor, perhaps unlike any other gathering in the game of Magic. And it doesn't only require some absurd skill with the cards, but also serious endurance. Eighteen hours passed between the door opened and the champion was crowned.

With well over 40 communities represented, we had 120 players competing for the Shark at the n00bcon main event. Some blocks away from that, an additional fifty or so mages gathered at a nearby rooftop bar to compete for the last spot in the top8, making the total force fishing for this particular Shark 170 players strong.

Apart from the World Championship during Friday, we had old school events running from Wednesday to Sunday; August-93 to PreModern; Ice Age Block to Ante 40K. This was a festival; a tribute to the history of the best game in the world and a gathering of the finest of fools.

The very finest.

Let me start by congratulating the winner of Hövveturneringen ("The Main Tournament"):

Nikita Shelest from the Russian Тiме Воак team.



Nikita's Monogreen Stompy.

And let's give a shout out to the 1993 World Champion Stephen Menendian!

Wearing his priceless spoils of victory. That was one insane deck he had assembled btw!

But I guess that's not the main reason why we're here. We're here for the n00bcon top decks, as is custom. This time, let's go a little deeper than previous years and look at the full top16.

Putting all the side stories on the sidelines for now.

The whole top16 in one go? Jesus. I remember back when we used to split up the top8 into two separate posts. This could be a long one, so I'll try to keep myself brief with each deck and player introduction. Ok, let's go.

Martin Lindström's The Deck. 1st place.

I've written about Martin "Fluffy" "Bond Villan" Lindström a handful times before on this blag. He's a physically strong mathematician who pretty much broke the format when he started playing it more frequently around three years ago. Martin first played the n00bcon 8 warm-up tournament, which he won, and then finished second at n00bcon 8. His next tournament was BSK 2016 where he won yet again and picked up his first Giant Shark. Then he played the Alara Games tournament in 2017 and won that one as well. He followed that as the only player with a 7-0 record after the swiss at n00bcon 9, and it almost surprised me that we didn't see him in the finals yet again that year. At BSK 2018, he once again won the swiss, but lost lost in the finals. I could go on, but the main point is that he is, like, a super consistent and insanely skillful Magic player. Not only in 93/94 of course, dude was a runner up for Rookie of the Year at the Pro Tour back in the day, and I have a hard time finding another 93/94 player that can rival Martin's finishes at Bazaar of Moxen.

It could be easy to look at Martin's deck and say that "The Deck won", but I think we can in pretty good conscience say that "Martin won". Or as runner up Svante Landgraf noted (to the effect) "It is hard to be too upset losing when the actual best player in the room is the one who won". Well deserved, well played, and congratulations!

Svante Landgraf's Svantog. 2nd place.

I am henceforth calling this deck Svantog. I know that it was a collaboration, and that the three players who brought these 75 went a total 18-3 in the swiss; but Svantog sounds better than ManoTog. Will MagrannTog sounds really cool though. Ah, damn it, don't have the energy to change my mind now. Svantog it is. For now. It will change in a couple of paragraphs.

Svante Landgraf is another name long-time readers of this blag should recognize. Or perhaps readers of his own blog, End of turn, Draw a card. He is also a frequent contributor to the All Tings Considered podcast, and just a solid contributor in general. Combining veteran insights with frequent output makes him a cornerstone in the 93/94 webosphere.

I put a curse on Svante after he defeated me to put me out of the top8 at n00bcon 8 - the last year I played myself with my Project M - and as such he was forced to be an eternal bridesmaid and never actually win a 93/94 tournament. He did however follow up with a top8 at n00bcon 9, and had a year when he top8'd all the Swedish National Magic Championships (Standard/Draft, Modern, 93/94, Legacy, Vintage). And he's got a second place at the 93/94 Scandinavian Championships, some solid results in online Skype derbies, and a bunch of other near-misses on his CV. Hah. Now he has a 2nd place at n00bcon as well.

In all seriousness Svante does have what it takes win the 93/94 World Championship, and the five-game final could have gone either way. It was a great game to watch, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before we see him with a Shark in hand.

Bryan Manolakos' ManoTog. 3-4th place.

Dammit, I am not keeping it short at all. Luckily I didn't have to write anything about Svantes deck, as Bryan "Mano" Manolakos showed up with the same list and I can add some details here instead.

But first, the man. With an undefeated 7-0 record in the Swiss, Bryan was the first American to break into the n00bcon top8, not a small feat in itself. He is also an avid contributor to all tings old school with his weekly All Tings Considered podcast. And he placed 10th in the 180-something-player Eternal Weekend 2018 tournament playing a deck with 4-of Orgg. He is also one of the brains behind the "Atlantic Rules", he's a fierce contender in the huge online Skype derbies, one of the founding member of Team Sped, and a truly masterful deck crafter. And a bunch of other things. Like the other players in the top4, Bryan also has a few stints on the Pro Tour on his belt.

The deck that broke the tournament is a Swedish port of Will Magrann's Atog list from EC rules. The baseline combo is to build a prison with Black Vise and Ankh of Mishra, forcing the opponent to use a hefty portion of their life total in order to get any resources online. 4 Shatters makes the opponet much less likely to have access to fast mana to get under the Vises (or past the Ankhs). The Atogs themselves will give lategame value to the artifacts, and of course is an insane threat against anyone not playing white. There is a lot to unpack here, but what we can say with full certainty is that Atog was the true breakout strategy of the tournament. I don't think anyone will argue that this isn't a new tier1 anymore, and a tier1 with a positive win rate against both The Deck and URb Burn.

Ålands UR Atog. 3-4th place.

Atog you say? Shark-winner and n00bcon top8 regular Mikael "Åland" Johansson round out this year's top4 with his own take on the Atog strategy. If we ask the pros, there are basically three broad Atog plans right now; the "Serendib plan", the "Su-Chi plan", and the "neither plan". The Svante/Bryan/Will deck (it is actually called EyeTog according to the creators) is one of the "neither decks" (at least pre-sideboard). Olle Råde's list which he took down the DOS tournament with is a good example of the "Serendib plan". And Ålands version in this top4 is a prime "Su-Chi plan" list. And a damn sweet list. Do you know the sweetest part? Åland decided to go Full Gentleman this tournament and opted to not play neither Library of Alexandria nor Mind Twist. Now that is some serious politeness, and a stunning result to booth.

Jordan Boyle's Merfolk. 5-8th place.

Speaking of fair journeymen, this is the hero we need. Jordan is a member of the South African team whom won their invites at the team championship in the UK last year, and he seems to be just a stellar human specimen. Apart from his South African passport, he also have a Dutch one, so I guess that the Netherlands' players could take some extra note of his performance as well.

Seems like I have far too few pictures of the players this time, and Jordan might not be a face most people recognize from before. So here's a screencap with him doing the lord's work (arguing with Gordon, that is).


Jordan's deck is a monoblue Merfolk list without most of the relevant Power cards. Nor Serendib Efreet for that matter, which is usually a pretty good horse to bet on if one is playing monoblue aggro. It attacked on an angle few players were prepared for, and the maindeck Energy Fluxes seems to have been a perfect meta choice. Having Phantasmal Terrain to battle factories and libraries is just awesome, and a strategy we've pretty much never seen in action before. This is, at the very least as the traditional old school rule set goes, a proper budget deck with a spectacular finish.

Leo Bruder's Ubr Artifact Aggro. 5-8th place.

Someone will have to correct me if I am wrong here, but as I understand it Leo's list was co-created with fellow Germans Marc Lanigra and Richard "Pickle.69" Leßmann. Leo, anyways, is no rookie to the n00bcon scene, this being his third time to pick up the gauntlet at Rotary Pub. While perhaps a slightly less familiar name than Marc Lanigra on the global old school hive mind, there is no way that you've tapped a mox in Stuttgart without running across Mr. Bruder. Leo and his brother-in-arms Patric Hiness are pretty much responsible for the old school culture in that part of Germany, and Leo manages the Mtg Stuttgart group. So shout out to those guys.

While Leo's deck may have Atog in it (#ReRestrictBlackVise), I would not call it an Atog deck. This is Artifact Aggro, a list fairly similar to one used to put a man from Stuttgart in the n00bcon top8 before. Though this one has some proper spice. Eschewing the Icy Manipulators from last time and opting in for Animate Deads is pretty wizard. And a man must love every deck with Sage of Lat-Nam.

On a related sidenote, yes, Artifact Aggro is a very real deck with restricted Workshops. E.g. last year it was Valerio from Italy who was responsible for representing Su-Chi, Triskelion and Juggernauts in the n00bcon top8 (and Seb Celia placing 9th with the strategy). It is not necessarily the most frequently played strategy, but when it shows up it usually comes with results. Arguing for unrestricting Workshops to make artifact decks "more viable" is not really in touch with their current performance (given a skilled pilot of course).


Alban Lauter's LauterDeck. 5-8th place.

Reigning champion Alban Lauter shows us yet again why he is considered one of the most consistently great old school players in the world. I think that his average finish at n00bcon the last three years is something like fifth; placing 9th, 1st and 5th at n00bcon 9, 10 and 11 respectively. In any tournament he chooses to participate, this German Juggernaut will rightfully be considered one of the end bosses.

Alban played the signature LauterDeck he used to break n00bcon last year. If the breakout card for this year's top8 was Atog, at n00bcon 10 it certainly was Savannah Lions, with three different decks using playsets of the Lions getting into the top8 that time. Alban shows us that it was no fluke, and that the LauterDeck is poised for glory even when the field is prepared for it.

Jesper Ejsing's Robot Deck. 5-8th.

Jesper Ejsing from Denmark took a slightly more convoluted tour to the Top8 than the rest of the rooster. As the Rotary Pub has a cap on the number of players we can physically fit, there has been capacity issues since around n00bcon 7 leaving a lot of battle-ready wizards on the sidelines. This year however, Christian Reinhard from Switzerland decided to create a parallel event for the players in Gothenburg whom were hankering for some old card board but didn't have a spot at n00bcon. This was of course an awesome idea, and we thought it would be funny if whomever won that swiss would be automatically qualified for the n00bcon top8. A champion of the n00bs if there ever was one. You can read more about the Urborg Feast over at Christian's blog, but long story short, they gathered around 50 players at an adjacent rooftop bar and the man standing tallest after the swiss was Jesper Ejsing.

Jesper is no stranger to the cards of old, having around a quarter of a century slinging spells on his CV. That is not only a joke; it is actually possible that his long experience playing the game is on his CV. While Jesper is core ganster in the Copenhaugen 93/94 community, he is probably more known to the average Magician as a creator of cards than a player of them.

He does tend to hide some hints about his legacy in his art though. Loading a Goblin Charbelcher with a Black Lotus is seriously sweet. Also a Ratchet Bomb there btw, for all y'all Scars of Mirrodin fans.

Jesper has illustrated 140 cards thus far in his career making Magic, ranging from Foglio-feeling concepts (like Fblthp) to deeply alluring fantasy (like Bitterblossom).

Anyways, I now kinda understand why this post is two months late. I can't really blame work and family obligations anymore, as instead of writing about decks I just went off on an hour-long binge to read about Homunculi lore in Magic. Did you know that Sneaky Homunculus was technically the first card of the creature type, but at the time of its release (in Nemesis), it was only printed as an illusion? The first card with the creature type printed as Homunculus was Bonded Fetch in Future Sight. I could go on, but I bet you'd rather I didn't. On a more chronistic note, back in 1994 The Duelist was only released every other month, so it is kinda 1994 to wait two months for "official" tournament results. Yep, gonna tell myself that was the plan all along.

Aaaaanyways. Jesper's deck is a cool contraption, a merge of sorts between Artifact Aggro and The Deck. If you take most of The Deck but cut all the card advantage via books along with most of the "flex slots", and replace them with Su-Chis and Triskelions, it appears that you can get a deck that wins the swiss of a 50-player tournament. A creative route to take from traditional artifact beatdown decks for sure, and it would be really interesting to see how a deck like this would preform in a 4-Workshop environment. So get cracking, Atlantic Rules players!

Roy Neijland's MonoBlack. 8th place.

Roy Neijland from the Netherlands landed in this year's unenviable 8th place. As the top8 bracket this year was the top7 from the n00bcon swiss plus the swiss winner of Urborg Feast, this was a rare kind of backstab. Instead of fighting in the last elimination rounds, he got a bag of coal (actually not a joke). In our heart, and in all technical sense that matters, Roy was still a part of the n00bcon top8, and should be revered by his countrymen as such.

Roy first rose to old school fame when he won the major Gathering the Knights of Thorn III with a black deck that packed zero power cards and zero duals. After some dabbling with Atog and other strategies, he went back to Monoblack for n00bcon 11, this time with a Jet and a Lotus in his arsenal. The results did not disappoint (or maybe they kinda did, but that is more my fault for having a weird cut to the elimination rounds than Roy's for not making it to a solid place in the swiss).

On a personal note, I find it interesting (and perhaps a little disheartening) that whether you should play Juzam or Su-Chi as the 4-drop in Monoblack is actually a question. Surviving City in a Bottle is a big enough deal that this is by no means only a question of "budget".

Also, I am once again questioning what it would take for some people to acknowledge that Black is a real deck. First the reasoning on why Black ran good was that the sample size and tournaments were small, then at a 50-ish player BSK tournament some years ago when Monoblack was one misplay away from winning a Giant Shark it was a fluke (even though there was another monoblack in that top8 as well), then when it won n00bcon 9 two years ago it was another fluke as "people weren't prepared the right way", and now that it keeps posting results at tournaments on the continent (and had a better average record than The Deck at n00bcon 11), it just keeps fluking? It is not that many people that play it after all. Either the black mages are the luckiest wizards on the planet, or we will just have to swallow our pride and acknowledge that this belongs among the tier decks even without pump-knights and hymns. Given the right pilot, of course.

Guillaume Soucy's UW Antiquites Aggro. 9-16th place.

Guillaume Soucy may be best known on this side of the ocean as the man behind the Argivian Restoration blog. He is an avid tournament organizer in Quebec (I belive his Roi de la Chope series was the first recurring 93/94 tournaments in Canada), and is often seen as one of the progenitors of the "theme tournaments", having hosted things like an All Hallow's Eve tournament already a couple of years ago. As he placed 9th, I owe him a Blaze of Glory which I forgot to hand over at the tournament. It is not forgotten.

Two Guillaumes (Denoix and Soucy) taking over the stream and talking French.

As Guillaume runs a blog called Argivian Restoration, his deck was fittingly a tribute to Antiquities. As such, this is one of the better looking deck pictures I've seen. The only real issue, which he lamented, was that he somehow forgot to put Argivian Archaeologist in his deck. With Sages, Juggernaut and Chaos Orb, it would actually have been not only cute, but in fact good. Regardless, Artifact Beatdown strategies are looking healthy as ever. #RestrictedWorkshopDoesNotKillTheArchetype.

Felipe Garcia's TwiddleVault. 9-16th place.

Felipe Garcia, our Swedish Spaniard, is probably the most experienced TwiddleVault player in the world. If you haven't read it, I very much recommend that you check out his primer on the archetype. Felipe has presented some serious results with this combo strategy, though some of his tournament successes actually comes from the back of Atog in the pre-Black Vise days.

Felipe is no stranger to tweaking the strategy, and I'm very interested in what his finding may be in a world with unrestricted Time Vault and the new "London mulligan". If anyone will bring combo to the top, a good chunk of my money is on Felipe.

Note the crazy sideboard plan btw, almost a full transformation from TwiddleVault to ErhnamGeddon! Now that is some serious tech.

GaJol's Trick Deck. 9-16th place.

GaJol from Gothenburg, Sweden, was the hero we needed but didn't deserve. He started on a 5-0 tear at n00bcon, but got paired against EyeTog decks in the last two rounds of the swiss and had no chance to answer the Blood Moons. Blood Moon was almost a non-question at the top tables in the last years, but this time playing mono-non-basics with only two moxen and no lotus certainly took its toll at the endgame. Still, and amazing run from an amazing dude.

GaJol is no stranger to strange tech. He is credited as an innovator of the first Distress strategies and has dabbled in most areas between Eureka, Skull of Orm and Lich. If someone sacrifices a Colossus of Sardia to Priest of Yawgmoth in order to kill you with Drain Life, it is usually GaJol. Also, I think this was his 9th showing at n00bcon, which is braggable.

The Trick Deck wants to deploy one or more Underworld Dreams and then start chaining Draw-7s. It usually employs Winds of Change for additional drawing shenanigans, but GaJol's list rather opts for more disruption in terms of e.g. Icy Manipulator and Sinkhole to get the option for a slow kill with the dreams as well. A pretty cool strategy in my opinion, and fun to see a deck like this at the top tables again. We have certainly missed it :)

Alessandro Sagoleo's Big Lestree. 9-16th place.

For some weird reason both Gordon and I managed to confuse Alessandro Sagoleo with a Spanish player while commenting on the stream. Confusion and embarrassment ensued. Alessandro is of course Italian, and perhaps not surprisingly one of the big names in the Italian 93/94 scene. He's one of the forces behind the Fishliver Oil cup for one, and if you read Italian you can check out his report from the last event here. He also won the the major Old School event at Nebraska's War last December, and certainly has both the community building and the play skill needed to represent at the top tables at the World Championship.

Alessandro's list reminds me of Bertrand Lestree's zoo deck that placed 2nd at the 1994 Magic Worlds, but bigger. The largest difference from "classic" Lestree Zoo is of course that this deck has a curve that focus on the 3-4 mana creatures rather than the 1-2 mana ones. Erhnams and Su-Chis galore, backed up by early removal in burn and Shatters. Very interesting list, and always happy to see some Birds of Paradise doing what they do best.

Javier Vincente Mora's MonoBlack. 9-16th place.

Javier Vincente Mora is, unlike Alessandro, in fact from Spain. And I don't think anyone swinging old cards in that country can possibly have missed him. Javier is the Administrator for the Ilicitana League (Liga Elche), runs oldschoolmtgspain.com, vividly represents his community across the web, and have hosted a truly impressive number of tournaments down in southern Europe in the last years. He is also strong player from the dark side.

Yeah, monoblack. Lets just all agree that perhaps it is a deck. Even you, Gordon Anderson. And this is not only a deck that is legal in every local B&R-version and reprint variant of 93/94 I can think of, it also contains four Juzam Djinns. So I think we all know who the real winner of this tournament is.

Will Magrann's Magranntog. 9-16th place.

Didn't we see this one already?

One fun thing with decklist pictures is however that we can look at the actual cards. Even though Svante, Mano and Will played "the same 75", the decks still tell slightly different stories. Svante's deck is pretty straight forward, though clearly going for black borders where possible. All cards except three Volcanics in his deck are BB, which could mean that full bling is a project in progress. His cards are mostly Beta, and he goes for the Autumn version of Mishra's Factory. Consistent, and while not getting out "cheap" by getting Spring versions, he's also not paying triple or so for Winter versions. The scattered signed cards are probably just that because they were signed when he got them, it doesn't seem likes he's actively looking for signs.

Mano's deck, on the other hand, is fully blinged out. Not a white-bordered card, the factories are four Winter, and the power is Alpha. This man is a collector and clearly appreciates the extra style points. A few card stand out here still; a Psionic Blast, a City of Brass, a Chain Lightning and an Atog. I would bet some amount on that all these cards have a personal story. The PsiBlast looks like a cherished participation card from one of the bigger US tournaments that I assume Mano himself picked up, and I'm sure that there's a story for that Atog. This was a fully finished deck by all standards, and now it is picking up trophies and battle scars along the way.

An then we have Will, who presents the most playful of the three decks. Again, this is full BB, but slightly less Alpha, and some strange things going on with the togs. The most telling thing is however the Factories, where Will opts out of his teammates' consistence of one season and goes full Vivaldi on Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

From my brief interactions with Will, I would definitely put him in the "playful player" category. Don't let his extraordinary results playing Shops in Vintage fool you, this is a man that seems to fully appreciate the creative and social sides of Magic. Will was a pioneer in breaking Atog in the EC meta, and was a core talent to transfer that list to the "Swedish B&R". For more on Will, I recommend giving this epsiode, this episode, this episode, this episode, or perhaps this episode of All Tings Considered a listen.

Danny Friedman's Recall Deck. 9-16th place.

Danny Friedman of the Lords of the Pit is American Old School. The first tournaments, the first teams, and the first contemporary stories have him in the picture. He is the oldest recurring visitor at n00bcon from the US, this marking his fourth time battling for the Shark. And for the n00bcon before that, he actually provided the Shark we fought for. Much more than that, he is just a stellar human being.

Danny likes weird interpretations of control. Be it Millstones or any strange interpretation of The Deck with what most players would consider "handicaps". Like this pile. At first glance it appears to be a modern The Deck with some brisk dares on the flex slots. Then you realize that Danny doesn't play Factories. Nor Serras or any other creatures in the main. This deck basically has one Fireball and one Mirror Universe as its means to win, unless it wants to reach for a Shivan Dragon or an Underworld Dreams (!) after sideboard.

Zeroing in on the wincons is not the only thing going on here though. What may have the biggest impact on the gameplan is that Danny plays no less than 3 Recall in his maindeck. Recall is usually found as a one-off lategame play in The Deck, acting as a final nail in the coffin to ensure control. With three of them, plus the Regrowth, Danny can be far more aggressive recurring spells.

George Garner's Sweet Dreams. 9-16th place.

And finally we have George Garner. Like Jordan Boyle a few decks up, George was representing Team South Africa, as well as the UK based Brother of Fire. George's story on the team is a little different than Jordan's though.

The Old School team championship is hosted in London by Chris Cooper. In it, teams of three people compete in "unified oldschool", i.e. the decks and sideboards of the three players in a team cannot contain more than one copy of a restricted card nor four of an unrestricted one in total. The winning team gets invites to n00bcon, a keg of beer, and all the honor they may carry. Team South Africa - who won the championship last year - originally consisted of Jordan, Andrew and Pieter, three friends who relapsed to the game after a 15 year hiatus at the 2017 team championship. In the finals of the 2018 championship, they faced off against (and defeated) Chris Cooper's team, which George was a part of. Now, Pieter couldn't make it to n00bcon, and George appeared to be a simply spectacular character to have in the rooster, and so George was inaugurated into the South African n00bcon squad. That is the short story. The longer story is filled with subtle irony, such as the fact that George's original team was called "The Lords of Atlantis" and that Jordan went on to top8 n00bcon with a Lord of Atlantis deck. I suppose good karma is a thing.

Another somewhat fun fact is that at 23 years old, George was not only the second youngest player at n00bcon, but also younger than every card in his deck. And what a deck he played!

Juzam! Also Sol'Kanar! And only two factories. I have no idea what to call this deck except sweet. It is kinda like you took a monoblack deck, made it an uB Disaster, and then realized you had a bunch of sweet red cards like Shivan Dragon and Wheel of Fortune and just went to town, opting it as you went. This is the kind of deck that just screams old school Magic to me. And dude placed top16 at n00bcon on his first try. Well played George!

....

So that's it! Better late than never I suppose. If you want a broader coverage of the 11th world championship, the stream can be found on Wak-Wak. Occasionally we even comment on the games ;)

All in all, this was a fantastic event, and I am so proud to be a part of what we as a community have built. Meeting you all was a delight, and the memories from the weekend will stay with me forever. And the loot and gifts and stories you guys gave me would be an equally long blogpost in itself. Maybe it will be. But this particular post is not really about me, it is about the road warriors that proved their extraordinary skill to the world.

Next year's championship will take place in Genoa, Italy, rather than Gothenburg, Sweden. n00bcon will give place to winc0n and a new era will begin. It feels a little weird to have finally passed the torch of the Old School World Championship. But after a decade hosting it I guess it was high time. And I really couldn't have hoped for a better send-off.

Thank you for playing!

Kommentarer

  1. Great blag and well worth the 2 months wait!

    SvaraRadera
    Svar
    1. Thanks Richard! Warms my heart :)

      Radera
  2. Hey MG - thank you for that well written report :-) But i have to amend: We shall not forget that Leo Bruder is also a proud member of Legion Urborg! Cheers

    Regards and see you soon
    Christian

    SvaraRadera
    Svar
    1. True that, an honorable man of the Legion indeed. Thanks for the addendum!

      Cheers!

      Radera
  3. I teamed up with Almelund for building my deck this time. He contributed most of the tech in it and I just changed a few cards. It felt great to get my 3rd n00bcon top 8 in five attempts. /Åland

    SvaraRadera

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