tisdag 29 april 2014

The n00bcon top8, part 2

Many of the decklists from Worlds 94 have been lost. It was a single elimination tournament, rather than having separate elimination rounds after a swiss. Due to this structure, extra focus on a top8 was not really relevant. Also, as the saying goes, Wizards wasn't overly keen on showing the winning decklists in the Duellist or similar, lest other players would try to copy them rather than building their own decks. Time changes.

We have a pretty solid idea of the lists from the top4 though; those of Zak Dolan, Bertrand Lestree, Dominic Symens, and Cyrille de Foucaud. All these players played blue and green; and everyone except Dolan also played red and black. Dolan was the only one playing white. The reason I though about this was because every deck in the n00bcon top8 also played blue. Maybe unsurprising. I still think that it is not as utterly dominant as it was a year ago, after all we had a monored Gauntlet of Might deck at 9th place and WW won last BSK. Anyway, lets look at the last four sweet decks from the n00bcon top8.

The top4 players: Stalin, Robin, Mikael Magnusson, Anthrox
Stalin has been playing this game for a long time. He is a mainly a player of eternal formats, in particular Vintage, and has been active in the 93/94 community for about six years. He is the former national champion in Vintage, and I do believe Stalin currently leads the Vintage ranking in Gothenburg (he may be second to Mikael Linden).

For most of the larger tournaments in 93/94, he has been acting as a judge or TO. Among the things he have contributed to the format is the concept of pimpwalker points and creating this blog. He played a few tournaments in the 12/13 season though (WG eternal weekend, n00bcon Warmup, Gråberget Champs), and got the 8th seed at Pimpvitational when Robert Schram cancelled on short notice. He repeated this feat for n00bcon, where he turned his 9th place into the top8 after Kalle Nord dropped out before the elimination rounds (Kalle was ranked 6th in the swiss).

Stalin's deck is a great meta choice, built to beat control. The Electric Eel aggro is a fairly reasonably priced deck, as you can mostly play it pretty well without power. It uses cheap beatdown creatures and burn combined with denial in the form of Energy Flux and Blood Moons.

Power Sink rather than Mana Drain here.
Robin "Hagelpump" Lundberg is no stranger to the n00bcon top8. What else do I know about him though, as far as Magic goes? I heard that he bough a graded beta Lotus a while back, and cracked the case so he could play with it. I heard that he had a complete set of beta, which he framed and put up on his wall (and hence, that he had an understanding girlfriend who let him). I think he top4'd a PTQ with Red Deck Wins, and is big fan of playing red. I'm sure that there's a good story behind the propeller caps Robin and his teammates wear during the tournaments as well :)

Robin's deck is fairly similar to Stalin's; a very aggressive UR burn deck. Robin's deck is slighly (misspelling intended) higher on the curve though, skipping the one-drops like Electric Eel and Flying Men, and instead going big with cards like Juggernaut and Shivan Dragon.

And the full 12 bolts/blasts. No info about the sideboard atm.
I'm sure I'll be missing something relevant here, but I know that Mikael "Nesid" Magnusson has a pretty solid list of accomplishments. In the more recent era, he came second in the 2000+ player Gatecrash team limited GP, and he was the Vintage champion at GP London 2013. More historically, he finished 34th (between Mark Justice and Tom Chanpheng) at Pro Tour Dallas 1996. This was his second n00bcon top4, and again he played a very solid version of The Deck (a picture of his old top4 deck from n00bcon 4 can btw be seen at the mothership here).

Yep, this is a pretty expensive deck.
Nesid's sideboard. I really like the Fissure and Ice Storm against control.
Finally we have Samuel "Anthrox" Lowejko and his blue/black control deck. Anthrox is a casual player of some reputation in Sweden, a builder of rouge decks and a dabbler of niche formats. He was one of the driving forces behind Växjö's gaming convention (http://www.wexiospelkonvent.se/), he's written a few articles on the pauper format, and he owns random decks in most conceivable formats. He is a member of team Kaffebryggers (alongside e.g. long time 93/94 player Jokemon), and this was his first Old School tournament. Impressive début :)

I just love this deck. Vesuvan Doppelganger? Check. Prodigal Sorcerer? Double check. Oubliette? Triple check. This deck also only plays a single power card (a Mox Sapphire), and is all-in-all, fairly affordable in its current state.

Terror in the sideboard and maindeck Oubliette. Tech.
On average, the t8-decks contains 5.875 power cards each. The most played card after "actual lands" is Mishra's Factory, with 24 copies. The single most popular card is Sol Ring (8/8). Lightning Bolt and Strip Mine are also played in 6/8 decks. Both players who didn't used Strip Mine also mentioned that it would have been correct to play the card; one of them accidentally forgot it and the other one didn't own the card.

The discussion on potential updates to the ban/restriction list for the next season has started btw. The meta doesn't really look unhealthy right now, but it might be interesting to do some changes to stir it up a bit nonetheless. Feel free to give any feedback or suggestions.

fredag 25 april 2014

The n00bcon top8, part 1

Winning is not everything, not even the main thing. However, getting to the n00bcon top8 is quite a feat.

A great majority of the tournament players back in the mid 90s didn't have the same understanding of the game as we have today; with tempo, card advantage, who's-the-beatdown and whatnot. The players at our world championship are probably, on average, better than they were at the actual worlds 94. In the midst of our casual environment, we have players with backgrounds from national teams at Worlds, former Pros, the formerly consensus master of Legacy in Sweden, a former Vintage national champion, and players with impressive records from previous 93/94 tournaments. Amongst all the beer and laughs, there is a competition, and the competition is skilled. Building a deck in this format is hard, time consuming, and expensive. Winning with, and tuning, said deck is even harder.

Getting to the top8 shows that you have what it used to take to be a champ; before it was called Vintage, before it was called Type 1, when it was simply called Magic.

But again, if you had a good time and got to chat with some sweet people, you did it right regardless of the final standings. We'll get back to more sweet and inspiring decks from n00bcon in the coming weeks, but for now, let's take a look at the first half of the top8.

5-8th players: Elof, Åland, Icelander and Freespace
For frequent readers of this blog, or eternal players in Sweden in general, last year's winner Elof needs little introduction. For many years he's been considered one of the absolute top eternal players in the country, having won most tournaments of note in Sweden at some point. On the international stage, he's only played a couple of eternal GPs, but the ones he played he has finished in the top64. When the Scandinavian masters in Legacy was held a few years back, he emerged the winner there as well. He is also the only player in the format to have won more than a single Giant Shark, currently holding three of them. His deck of choice for n00bcon was a monoblue control deck. He wrote a tournament report in Swedish, and hopefully he'll translate it and post it here ;)

Hurkyl's into Amnesia for the stab.
Next up we have Åland. Åland won the swiss, being the only player at 6-0 before the elimination rounds. Ranked 4 in the pimpvitational race for 2013/2014 without even attending BSK (due to Bazaar of Moxen at the same time), he is a force to be reckoned with. He is an eternal player of rank, and one of the top performing players in the format to have yet to win a Giant Shark. Åland is an avid The Deck player, and had teamed up with pimpvitational winner Jocke Almelund to optimize their Decks before the tournament. Among the more interesting things here are the sideboard Time Vault to break the control mirror.

And 2-off sideboard Lightning Bolt. Next level.
Next up is Icelander, and god is this a sweet take on The Deck. Icelander top8'd last n00bcon as well, and finished top4 in last summer's Kingvitational 0.5. Other than that I actually know pretty little about him as far as Magic goes. What I do know is that he is both a humble winner and smiling loser, and always seems to have his spirit on top. This is the first time I've seen him playing The Deck, and he plays a Deck with maindeck Nicol Bolas, which he hard casts. That is sweet.

Nicol Bolas. Now that's a wincon.
Rounding up the first half of the top8 we have Freespace. It would probably be feasible to have blog only devoted to Freespace's antics in the Swedish magic scene during the early 2000s; once one of the top ranked Vintage players in the country, and at the same time a pretty controversial character in the community. On a personal level, I and Freespace go back about 10 years, and we have been long time friends both with and without magic in the equation. His deck is a Juzam Smash/Machine Head/5C$20k, which has been optimized to survive City in a Bottle and beat the Berserk mirror. It is actually pretty satisfying to lose against a turn two double Berserk on Juzam (which I got to experience during round 2 of the tournament).

Freespace's given name is btw Johan, hence the techy sideboard card ;)
I'll follow up with the rest of the top8 soon, and after that, we'll take a look at some other sweet tech (like the Moss Monster deck and Enchantress). Other people who played and haven't sent me decks are very welcome to do so.

söndag 20 april 2014

n00bcon 6 pictures

The dust have settled after the world championship in Old School Mtg. Forty-four players came to play nostalgic magic in a casual setting. We saw players with resumes ranging from a few years of kitchen table play to players with multiple success stories from the early years of the Pro Tour. There are many anecdotes to be told, but for now I'll let some pictures do the talking.

Players gathering at the pub to chat and trade before the tournament starts.
Burken, our glorious scorekeeper, at work. A mostly casual but skilled player, with a résumé that includes defeating Brad Nelson at Worlds 2010, which lead to the Player of the Year play-off for that season.
Round 1 has started.
I faced off against Danish player Jimmy in the first round. Doppelganger doing good work against the Meekstone.
We had to get some extra tables to the pub and move around the furniture to make room for everyone. The last tables are in a sofa area. A lot of power in this room btw.
These rad dudes travelled down from Arvika to show off a pair of really nice decks; UBR Sweetstuff and the Moss Monster deck (without Moss Monster).
White Weenie having a hard time against triple Mishra and Abyss.
Freespace, Elof, Kalle and Mg from Team 0-2 Drop showing off Lotuses.
Hashi, Herr Glans, Anthrox and Jokemon from Team Kaffebryggers showing off an Oubliette.
The Deck mirror. "The absolute best way to play Magic" -Åland.
Kungen took his Kobold-less Kobold-deck to a 9th place.
Timespiral's Black Weenie just resolved Hellfire against White Weenie.
Honka playing WR No-Win against Goodstuff.
Shark-winner Robert Schram playing his first tournament since the restriction of Mana Drain. Looking sharp.
Inquisition hits Balance and Alabaster Potion.
Top4 player and casual aficionado Anthrox got a playset of White Wards as a bonus price. It is a funny card :)
Enchantress having an impressive board state against control.
After the swiss, 20 or so players who didn't make it to top8 stayed and played a spontaneous side event (Huvudturneringen) for a signed Rukh Egg.
One player have played two lands and a Howling Mine. Enchantress plays about half its deck, and wins with Channel Fireball. Magic!
Robin, aka Hagelpump, finishes second after an impressive performance. Robin is no stranger to the n00bcon top8, and his Shivan Dragons took him to top4 last year.
Stalin, the original founder of this blog, old national champion in Vintage, pimpvitational competitor, and 93/94 player since 2008 takes home the trophy and the Shark! Stalin used great Karma to his advantage during the entire tournament, and show that nice guys finish first!
Stalin's 2014 World Champion deck. 4-off Electric Eel!

torsdag 17 april 2014

T minus 3

I've been practising my Chaos Orb flips the last days, and I'm reaching a decent level. Two more players have signed up today, Jenny and Sveby. Jenny is a new 93/94 player, and Sveby was one of the format's first players from 2007.

I, Honka, Freespace, Jenny and Åland gathered at my place tonight for some tech. I wasn't really in the mood to playtest that much with Project M, as I hadn't played "seriously" since Kingvitational, I was fairly tired, and the deck has decision trees that goes on for days. I did play a couple of rounds though, and I think the deck seems pretty good.

Pictured: Teching
Honka's deck is awesome and incredibly annoying to face. The round I saw him playing, he was gaining about 20 life each turn, and eventually comboed out and dealt 22 damage to his opponent on the spot. Jenny's deck is a Berserk deck that can win out of nowhere. Freespace's 5-color Machine Head has been updated since his top8 at BSK, and looks very well positioned. Åland has been teching together with Jocke Almelund, and together they seem to have optimized The Deck even further. All the decks looks very different, and mirrors the players' style well. I know that all of us will have a good time playing even if we don't reach top8.

That's a cut-out Giant Shark on the big trophy, and a Deep Water on the 2nd place one.
I will fix something for the 3-4th players as well, and fix some other random prices. Again, if you're coming, any random prices you want to hand out yourself to random players are encouraged :)

Frames and Deep Waters. This has to be the start of something.
I still haven't got any information on possible videos from n00bcon. I hope we'll be able to solve something. Tomorrow will be the first day of Gothcon, and it's possible that someone there has some ideas. Gothcon is awesome, and really marks that the spring finally has come to Sweden.

tisdag 15 april 2014

n00bcon preparations

It's getting close. We are now 43 players signed up for n00bcon. I wouldn't be shocked if this is the largest tournament that that allows Moxen in Sweden for the last five years. When we consider the fact that the tournament pretty much has zero price support apart from honor, this says something sweet about the people who will play.

So what have we done this week in preparations? The pins are fixed, and I'm very happy about the service. When I first got them, there had been a misunderstanding about the layout. I sent an e-mail to CosmicWhale, who made the pins, and they sent me a new batch for free within a week. I used them for the pins last year as well, and if you're Swedish and for any reason wants to create pins or other merch, they have my highest recommendations. Professional, friendly, and reasonably priced :)

Old batch to the left, actual pins on the right.
I went to the pub last Friday to check out the selection and table spaces. It will be crowded, but the selection of imperial stouts from De Molen will help us make it comfortable.

Oh, that Tsarina Esra. Possibly even better than Rasputin.
One thing I actually spent quite a lot of time on after work the last two weeks is to create my own Magic drinking cube. I read about a "boozecube" on the web a few weeks ago, and though that the idea sounded brilliant. I however though that the execution of the existing cube was lacking;  the cards were kind of unbalanced, and also seemed misogynistic and too much into popular culture for my taste. The idea is still something I'd like to try though, so I made my own cube. Turns out it is kind of hard to make a balanced drinking cube, but I feel pretty good about it given the time. If you're coming to n00bcon/Gothcon and want to try it out, send me a mail :)

First pick Ashnod's Coupon
On the Old School side of things, I've got three new cards for Project M for n00bcon. Can't wait to slam my Relic Barrier :)

Upping the red sources for Sol'Kanar!
I'll be picking up the n00bcon trophies from the engraver tomorrow. After that, my girlfriend will be travelling up to Stockholm to celebrate Easter with her parents, and I'll be home alone, on vacation, in Gothenburg. I and Team Squattlehaups will be doing some teching tomorrow evening, and I'll be sure to update this blog frequently this week with updates on the coming world championship. I hope to be able to do some liveblogging between the rounds on Saturday as well.

Also, saving some big news for last, there will be an Old School tournament in Berkeley the 18th of May! Berkeley have some real history about the game, and I think that anyone who is interested in the format and have a chance to join should check it out. The Berkeley tournament will allow Fallen Empires and Revised, so the threshold to enter is much lower if you're just curious about testing the format. I'll try to get the players at n00bcon to sign some random card and send it over to the tournament hosts as a bonus price (if you're interested) as well. I also hope to get some sweet pictures (and maybe even a tournament report ;)) from the event. Check it out at http://www.eudogames.com/magic/norcal-old-school-magic.

måndag 7 april 2014

Black is the new black

Spent my weekend in the Austrian Alps. I've never been there before, even though it's less than two hours drive away from Munich where I worked for six months last year. Helles and skiing is as good a combination as ever though.

We're now 38 persons signed up for n00bcon in two weeks! It will be awesome. At least three nations are competing now (Sweden, Norway and Denmark), so we've actually got multiple countries represented for the world championship this time ;) The player base has grown during the last year, and there's something like 15 players participating in their first 93/94 tournament this Easter.

One of the newer players I'm looking forward to meet again is Axelsson, who first started playing oldschool at BSK last year. During BSK, he went top4 with a powerless Berserk deck, beating Elof in the quarterfinals. He also placed in the Vintage tournament at BSK, with a pretty random pile of black cards from the 94-98 era. I myself had a pretty good run in that tournament, but lost severly to Axelsson in the first round. Axelsson played cards like Black Knight, Drain Life, Contagion and Stench of Evil, and my Thalias and Leonins never had a chance. Axelsson always plays with a smile, and looks as happy weather he wins or loses. I remember in a round of that Vintage tournament, when his opponent asked him before they started playing if Axelsson was a power gamer. Axelsson replied that he didn't know what a power gamer was, but that he didn't own any power cards. That is a good sportsman :)

For the Kingvitational tournament, Axelsson opted to play a monoblack deck that looks quite a bit different from what we've seen before. He doesn't play Juzams, nor any other of the other larger creatures maindeck. Instead he uses Meekstone to shut down opposing fatties, and have Knights, Hypnotics, Beasts and Mishras for the beatdown. The deck is pretty "controlly" as well, with the full set of Sinkholes and multiple scepters. The deck looks very nice, completely black bordered and with four-off Guardian Beast.

And yeah, if someone missed it, the post about Homelands was an April Fools joke. We're not about to legalize Homelands ;)

tisdag 1 april 2014

There's no place like Homelands

The discussion on legal sets in this format is truly a vivid one. The arguments on Fallen Empires is the most commented post on this blog, and the third most read (after the two more general posts on fake cards). From that discussion, it's clear that many players want to add some additional cards to the format, but at the same time many players are sceptical towards the FE expansion. Another issue that commonly comes up is the lack of mana fixing, and the problems with finding duals that are format legal.

After some consideration, we've come up with a great solution which handles all these issues. There is after all another expansion that really can vitalize this format, and that is not a part of modern block structure. The people who are sceptical about legalizing Fallen Empires wont have to worry about Hymns wrecking their meta, and the people wanting to have access to new tech will get their fair share. This set even have some "triple-lands", giving the most grinchy naysayers easy access to mana fixing. The set I'm talking about is of course Homelands.

Homelands was released in 1995, but is in many ways an "older" expansion than Ice Age. Where Ice Age is a part of the modern block structure, today with Ice Age/Alliances/Cold Snap, Homelands is still keeping it oldschool as a stand-alone expansion. The themes and the artwork from Homelands is much closer to expansions like The Dark than art from Mirage or newer expansions. It will fit the artistic style of the format well.

Finally more mana fixing!
Homelands of course has quite a few powerful cards which will stir up the meta. Green, one of prevoiusly weaker colors in the format, is the biggest winner here. Autumn Willow will be the formats future finisher-of-choice for control decks, and Primal Order will make the red/green beatdown decks even stronger. Apart from these two obvious flagships, there's quite a lot more going on here. Roots gives the green mage unconditional removal (at least in combination with Mammoth Harness); Spectral Bears is a huge game even if the opponent isn't running black; and Hungry Mist is a very fast clock that usually plays around control magic (due to it's upkeep "drawback"). The list goes on.

A faster clock than Erhnam in the Ehrnamgeddon decks.
 The other colors also gets their fare share of backbreaking spells though. Blue gets the Enchant World Mystic Decree, which completely locks down creature combat (in combination with Moat or Island Sanctuary). The new Memory Lapse counter will make last years loss of Mana Drain feel much less stingy for the control players. Perhaps even bigger than that, we'll get the Vintage powerhouse Merchant Scroll, able to tutor for cards like Ancestral Recall and Mana Drain. The Scroll is one of two cards in the set we'll have restricted from the start. The other one is also blue, and is of course the almighty Marjhan. Marjhan's ping-ability can completely lock down the board, and is additonally one of only five cards in the format (apart from elder dragon legends) that can kill an opponent at full life in only three attacks. As the control decks are already very strong in the format, giving them access to 3-4 Marjhans seems like it would do more harm than good.

Also combos well with Animate Dead and Sengir Autocrat.
Black and White get their main boosts in form of creatures. Black now have access to three new game-ending 5/5s, in Baron Sengir, Ishan's Shade and Veldrane of Sengir, as well as new cheaper beatdown cards like Sengir Bats. The winner of the weenies is White though, with cards like Death Speakers and Trade Caravan, and additional Crusade effects in Serra Aviary and Soraya the Falconer.

Red even gets access to two new Tribes! You can be sure that we'll see a lot of the Minotaurs and Dwarves during the coming season. Add some combat tricks like Ambush and Aliban's Tower, and Red would be a winner even without the Shatter-machines of Joven and Chandler.

The legalization of Homelands will be in effect by n00bcon, so make sure to get your hands on your Dry Spells and Evaporates as soon as possible if you want to try them out! To peak your intrest even further, check out this Homelands booster ripping video by n00bcon 4 top8 competitor Xerent.

Feel free to give feedback and new tech ideas!