The n00bcoM top8

So this whole thing was unexpected and awesome.

Some personal context. The oldest recurring gaming convention in Sweden is GothCon. Taking place each year during the Easter weekend since 1977, it gathers around 2,000 gamers of board, sheet, figurine and card. Gothcon is something akin to a GenCon of tiny Sweden; if you enjoy your analogue games, GothCon is probably either on your calendar, your to-do list, or in your memory. I went to my first GothCon in 1997. In 2008 I was co-hosting my first Magic event at GothCon; the first "official" 93/94 tournament. It was fun to see our casual format on a stage, but those of us who played thought that, while sweet, it would be even sweeter if we could combine this with drinking and using sailor language. (My sometimes colorful language have, rightly, given me judge warnings in sanctioned tournaments in the past. I hope that I've bettered myself in those contexts - and one clearly shouldn't be trashing to harsh around strangers - but in the late aughts I wished for a tournament where I could laugh at a familiar opponent and call them a n00b in good faith, preferably while drinking a beer.) So the year after that first 93/94 tournament at GothCon, n00bcon was born. The original reason for it being during Easter was that players flocked to the city for GothCon regardless, and some of them might be interested in joining us as well.

n00bcon was basically our idea of how we wanted to play a tournament. Beer, good people and negligible prize support. We would be the people that didn't drop after going 0-2, but rather stayed and played as the tournament itself was the event. We would be the n00bs and casuals that didn't care about rating or having the best deck; the guys that played because Magic was fun and the Gathering was focal. And so, for the last eleven years I organized n00bcon each Easter. It seemed like Easter and Magic would always go hand in hand for me, as they had done since 1997.

Enter pandemic.

GothCon got cancelled pretty early, but I still held out hope for some kind of n00bcon. But a couple of weeks before the tournament would take place, it was clear that it wasn't in the cards. This looked to be the first Good Friday in clear memory where I wouldn't play Magic or meet friends. A solid streak would end.

Leave it to the global community to surprise me. Solving what I thought was a Gordian knot of infeasible proportion. March 16th I found an email as well as a  message on facebook from two familiar guys, both of them having separately solved the problem before we were even sure how big a problem we were looking at.

The Reindeer


Crafty heroes of both community and cyberspace. I am personally surprisingly unfamiliar with online play. Sure, I very much like the concept. I was an early adopter of the idea and admin of the original Facebook group. I've been online to comment a handful streamed games in the past. Certainly, we had a post about it here from Bjørn Einar in the budding days of Skype Magic four years ago. But for some reasons I never really partook in the actual playing myself. I always found excuses. Not anymore. I would finally join the ranks of the cyberspace community, and my Easter would be saved. Would even have the time to hang out with the family a bit for once.


That's my short background. For this tournament, I was fully in the backseat as organizing or fixing went, and last week Florian wrote an organizer's report for the gathering. But there's also another traditional post we lest not forget; the top8 decks. So today, let's check out the top decks of this year's Easter showdown. Before we jump into the Top8 however, let's take a quick look at the decks on 5-2 that missed the top8 on tiebreakers.

Brother Ben: Koboldly, 5-2

Dave Firth Bard: Primal Green, 5-2

Jeff Watkins: The Hammer, 5-2

Nicholas Imwinkelried: MaskNought, 5-2

Brother Stebbo: Keeper, 5-2

Brother Jordan: Fish!, 5-2

Sweet stuff. Spicy stuff. Cool to see Scryings versions of decks like Merfolk, UR Burn, Green Weenie and Keeper/The Deck starting to evolve. And Enduring Renewal combo and MaskNought are of course rad as gravity. But let's jump into the elimination rounds.

5 Color Jeff White. 1st place.

From what we've seen from Jeff White lately, it appears he's the second, possibly third, best player in Team Sped. While the man has some actual finishes in actual formats (spanning both eternal and recent standard), for those of us that gather more aptly around bar tables than sanctioned top tables he may have gained most familiarity from his visits at the All Tings Considered podcast. Jeff has been talking about Team Sped and Broken Draft before, and just last week he was on to deliver a great episode about this deck and his tournament. So I won't get bogged down in details here; tech is best served from the horse's mouth. But I will mention three things.
  • It is very sweet to finally see a control deck doing good in Scryings. In Arvika they were nowhere to be found around the top tables, and I'd be hard pressed to mention a control deck doing well since this format's inception four months ago. Control is a very important part of old school Magic in general, so it's nice to see that it hasn't been put fully wayside by the aggro, midrange and combos of the world. Is Sacred Mesa the new Jayemdae Tome?
  • This is a horribly illegal deck as traditional n00bcon reprint rules goes. This dude takes effort to meticulously frame his collection of original Magic art, but can't be bothered to dig up one of his The Dark Tormod's Crypts when playing a fancy tournament. Well, the humor is not lost on me, and the man is well worthy of the Amonkhet Invocation Mind Twist I threw into the pot as an extra prize for the person whom finished highest with a n00bcon non-legal deck.
  • Jeff has accepted the daunting challenge of making this win into a Giant Shark. I will follow his progress with great interest over at his new blog Quest for the Shark. Check it out!

Daniel Yann Franzen's Gorilla Tactics. 2nd place.

Daniel Yann Franzen is a familiar face in the Swedish community. A member of the Stockholm in a Bottle crew, and apart from solid finishes and good travel stories, he's an organizer of some repute; having his hand in sweet gatherings like the yearly boat cruise. Yann was the highest finisher with a deck that obliged to the traditional reprint rules, and as such he is entitled to some extra swag from the proverbial swag chest. And his pile surely looks sweet.

My first thought when seeing his deck was that it looked like something Constantine Prishvitsin would enjoy playing. And going a step or two deeper, it is very much in the same ballpark as Constantine's deck from the Arvika 6 Top8; mostly cutting Mana Vaults and Titania's Song for some higher numbers on other main deck cards. So this GBu Nether Void Aggro Ponza style deck (aka Gorilla Tactics) appears to be a high tier contender in the Scryings meta. It is possible that this is the actual best deck for Uktabi Orangutans, as destroying a Mox or Stone is very much according to the primary game plan here, and hitting something bigger is just gravy. At the very least, this gives me a great excuse to finally buy Nether Voids.

Olof Robertsson's Räksallad. 3-4th place.

Shark winner Olof Robertsson from Gothenburg is - as top level Gothenburg players go - a somewhat new addition to the meta. He played his first n00bcon a year ago (after having won the invite at ViennaGeddon in Austria) and since then he has fully cemented himself as a force to be reckoned with in the format. More than that, he is one of the brainchilds behind the weekly Gothenburg old school meet-ups and just a stellar character to have a beer with.

This deck somehow feels very Gothenburg to me. It kinda resembles an evolution of the Fantasy Zoo deck that were one of the breakout piles at n00bcon 9, and I would not be surprised to se Åland, Beyonce, Tibia or any of the other players of that particular crew to sleeve up something like this alongside Olof. Of particular note perhaps is that Savannah Lions are nowhere to be seen here, and the one-drop playset of choice instead lands on Goblin Vandal.

Jonas Twitchen's Pink Control. 3-4th.

Ach, I'm already a week late with this post, and there's just so much I want to say about each player. I actually just cut down a couple of paragraphs of the first three to make this a shorter post. And then Brother Jonas of the Fire joins the fray, and I feel like writing an essay about the man and his exploits. But I'll keep the rants to myself for now. Let's just note this:
  • Three other Brothers of Fire (Ben, Stebbo and Jordan) just missed the top8 on tiebreakers. This is a really strong crew.
  • Jonas's deck is the actual fire. Dragon Whelp galore in the Top4.
  • Playing four maindeck Blood Moon is hardcore.
  • That's a miser's Freewind Falcon!
  • The second most played card game in my home (after Magic) is this one:
Dude made a card game about earning £11 by making jam. Legit.

Mark Evaldi's Rest in Pain. 5-8th place.

Mark Evaldi from Pennsylvania showed up with what was probably the actual best deck in the tournament. He broke the swiss 7-0, and his loss in the quarters to eventual winner Jeff White could surely have gone either way. Jeff only had one Tormod's Crypt in his sideboard, but successfully drew it at the right moment game two and three. I recommend listening to the ATC podcast for some reflections about the game from Jeff White, or check out the quarterfinal match around the 04:50:00 mark here. Regardless, this is a devastating pile against anyone unprepared for it. And I adore this deck.

There are so many pieces and synergies here that it is hard to know where to start. But I must note that Buried Alive is one of my favorite Magic cards. It may be a little hard to grasp today, but in 1997 using the graveyard as a resource was a novel thing. At glance Buried Alive almost looked like a misprint; why would anyone want to Jester Cap themselves? Understanding the synergies of this card was a litmus test for many young players, and it soon turned out to be the missing puzzle piece of many quirky decks. Mark Evaldi's Rest in Pain is nothing for the faint of heart though.

The reason I think this might have been the best deck at the tournament but I'm still not worried about restrictions here, is that this was the breakout preformance. Many players skimped on graveyard hate this time, and/or were uncertain of the deck's attack angles. The deck will suffer a lot from a well-timed Tormod's Crypt, and knowing when to counter what will also put more sand in its cogs. And I would bet on a deck like Jonas Twitchen's above to have a favorable maindeck matchup aginst it, four maindeck Blood Moon an whatnot. But this is proper old school graveyard shenanigans, before we were overwhelmed by things like dredge (or even pre-dredge Ichorid or Oath of Ghouls), and it answers to Tormod's Crypts rather than Leylines. In my mind, the golden age of shenanigans. It is fun to see it find a place.

Michael Scheffenacker's RUG. 5-8th place.

Michael Scheffenacker should be a familiar name for anyone dabbling in the dark arts online. He's a self-declared spike from the northeastern corridor in the US - Maryland to be more exact - and one of the more active and fearsome opponents in online derbys (and local taverns). I hadn't really talked to Michael one-on-one before this tournament (where we were paired against each other in round three), but I did provide some commentary alongside Mano for the Winter Derby last year when Michael faced off against Brother Stebbo in the finals. So I'd like to think we're on first name basis of sorts, even though he obliterated me in the swiss.

Michael's next level RUG deck is just shock-full of burn and fast damage. It's kinda like UR Burn and Arabian Aggro had an angry kid. And the man's got a properly impressive sideboard with solid meta call after solid meta call. This particular day, one could argue, Blue Blast was the new Red. And props to the miser's Wildfire Emissary.

Daniel Imfeld's Memory War.

I probably should do some better research before I write these things. Like, actually message Daniel Imfeld and ask him about his background and his deck. At least google around a bit more and pretend I know. But that's apparently not how I roll. My rolling appears to be more in terms of finding twenty minutes here and there between the kid sleeping and wife being out running and just ranting from memory and previous correspondence. And I sadly haven't had a good talk with Daniel in person yet. We were supposed to, as Daniel were all packed up to come to n00bcon 12 in Gothenburg this Easter to represent Legion Urborg along with The Reindeer and Leo Bruder. But some sort of global pandemic put a firm stop to that whole thingie. And while I know that Daniel was in the city last year, joining gatherings like the Saturday Smash and the Urborg Feast, I don't believe we met. So all I can say in good conscience is that Daniel is a well-traveled member of one of the most fearsome teams in Europe, that his results speak, and that I hope that he'll have the opportunity to have a beer and chat at n00bcon 13 next year.

Daniel wields an actual, proper, tempo deck. The kind of deck that'll have you saying "I would have won if had one more turn" more often than you'd like to admit. But you never get that next turn. Memory Lapses and Man-o-Wars will put syrup in your gears while the Lions and Efreets keeps chipping you down. The Memory War deck is akin to Lauter, Fantasy Zoo, and Temple of Sped in its use of dibs and lions backed up by white removal, but can play in a different pace. I also love that it doesn't splash for Demonic Tutor and Mind Twist. While the jury is still out on whether or not that is the right call, playing non-basics comes with a steeper cost in a world with Primal Orders and Dwarven Miners.

Danny Friedman's TwiddleVault. 5-8th place.

Most every n00bcon in the last five years or so have included some quiet beering with Danny Friedman, Kalle Nord, Shane Semmens and I. Danny was one of earliest adopters in the US way back when, and was the first American to travel to Sweden to play oldschool. As such he enjoys the questionable privilege of sleeping on Kalle's couch in Gothenburg each Easter. Last year he mentioned that it was getting harder arguing to his family that he should skip Passover yet again to play cards. The Easter weekend is a big deal in his crew, and the "travel to meet friends" argument was wearing thin. So I must say that it is next level sweet to see him still skip a day of Easter to play cards, even without the "physically meeting friends" argument at hand. I take this as a carte blanche for him to play Magic every Easter for the foreseeable future. Well played, on multiple levels.

Lord Danny of the Pit is no stranger to combo, so seeing him doing the lord's work with his Time Vault was no real surprise. But how much better is Time Vault combo in the Scryings format than in ordinary 93/94? Actually slightly worse, according to Danny in the stream chat. Yeah, the deck gets better in a vacuum with Emerald Charm and City of Solitude, but far more people have Tormod's Crypt (or even Jester's Cap) in the sideboard to beat Deep Spawn and things like that, so it kinda ends up in the red. Still, this is a really cool and well-crafted deck, and I'm happy that it ended up as simply high-tier rather than completely broken.


So that's the n00bcoM top8. Solid mix of aggro, midrange, combo, control and prison. Nothing appears clearly broken, nor clearly dominating. At least not yet. It looks like the meta is healthy and still open.

It is strange, and a little sad, and very humbling, to talk about a meta in Scryings even without n00bcon 12 having taken place. n00bcon 12 was supposed to be the main showing for the set after all. I didn't really expect a wide adoption of Scryings (if I had I would have playtested), and I certainly didn't expect n00bcon 12 to be cancelled. But in the wake of how things are, I could not ask for a better community to play with. I mean, instead of haters we have fixers. Instead of whine we have encouragement. And instead of dropping we find a way to keep playing.

This is awesome. Don't forget that it is awesome. And here's to seeing you at Winc0n or n00bcon 13. Much love.


  1. Just another thing tha phyrexian pandemic has ruined. Surely n00bcon will get back on its feet eventually.

  2. True, but sadder still if there was a void on the date where n00bcon should've been. Plus it gave folks in our community (who could never physically make it to Sweden) a chance to play for the Shark. That meant a lot.


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