torsdag 27 november 2014

Atog Smash: A report from Playoteket

Last weekend Playoteket hosted their second 93/94 tournament. The attendance had grown since September, and a lot of new tech was represented in the wake of BSK. The eventual champion was none other than our artistic friend Felipe Garcia. This is his story. Enjoy!

When I moved from Spain to Sweden I thought I would deeply miss the old school booster drafts from Sevilla's Vintage scene. We used complete collections of CE Beta, Arabian, Antiquities, Legends and Dark to create boosters and play 8-man drafts. The games were surrounded by beer and an amazingly fun ambient.

It was a great surprise when I, in the beginning of 2014, discovered that there not only existed a great oldschool scene in Sweden, but that this scene was one of the most active and interesting in the whole world. I became a hardcore Magic collector three years ago when I made an important decision. By that time Legacy was huge in Spain, and Legacy GP Madrid had been the largest Magic tournament to date. As many other long time players, I had the opportunity to complete a pretty decent Legacy pool which allowed me to play most of the top tier decks in the format. The birth of my twins drastically reduced the amount of Legacy tournaments I could attend, so I decided to exchange that pool into some oldschool collections. I began with the “easier” sets (LE, AR, AN, TD), and left the Beta to the end. Finally, five months ago, I could get my hands on the last card of the sets, a Beta Ex signed Black Lotus from a well known Spanish/German player.

My family moved from the southern Spanish city of Sevilla to the Swedish countryside near Gothenburg one year ago. Representatives from Västra Götalands Regionen's health care system went to Spain in 2013, to hire doctors in order to alleviate the severe lack of specialists that suffers Sweden. A couple of other young doctor families encouraged us to take the offer and leave behind our comfortable life in Spain.

I'm an architect myself, and at that time 80% of my projects came from China and South Korea so for my overseas clients it wasn't a huge change. We thought about it for some time. Then in June 2013 the recruiting company invited us on a visiting trip to take a close look at the working place, kindergartens, houses and the country in general. We had a great experience and the other doctors who came before finally convinced us.

I spent the first 6 months learning the language, and now I am waiting for a final interview to get a job in the city. I must give great thanks to Stalin (the first Swedish player I contacted), Johan and Jenny, Mg, and all the players who trusted in my art skills for some playmat alterations. First year in a different country can be difficult due to the language and culture shock. In my case I must say that the people in SvenskaMagic's OldSchool community have been an awesome help. In those moments the feeling of being a little part of a larger group is extremely important.

In Borås BSK I played a 5color combo deck based on Mana flare and Candelabra of Tawnos. It was pretty fun and included one-offs of almost every card, as I only had singles in my collections. But my knowledge of the metagame proved to be very short.
The CandleFlare deck from BSK
I have previously discussed with MG the deepness of oldschool magic in terms of strategy choices. I am convinced that Richard Garfield originally created an incredible vast game. Later expansions have added a lot of new cards, but mostly only tweaks to the already existing strategies from the first years of the game. Therefore I think that oldschool is still a world to be discovered.

In Borås a realized a couple of things. Under the current metagame there are no reasons to prescind of the strong Mishra's Factories, so I cut a couple colors (green and white)  in order to play four of them. Nowadays I thinks is obligatory to have an answer to them, which in my case was the Lightning bolts and the Cyclopean Tomb. The second decision was to take a more proactive role in my game style, because with most of the decks running Disenchants it was difficult to keep Candelabra/Flares alive. So the best thing to do, rather than trying to defend them through Counterspells, was to cast some Disenchant targets early in the game. 
The AtogFlare deck
 In order to beat agresive decks I added a playset of Lightning bolts and Earthquakes. I think control decks are possible without counter magic. Another thing Johan and I talked about was the power of the Mana Vault playset which work great with Transmute artifact and the Atogs.
Freespace's Atog deck in full motion.
Match 1, vs Erik “Sehl” Larsson.
White Weenie, blue splash for Power and Psionic Blasts.

I played against Erik in the the final battle for the top8 at BSK. It was a great match back then and in Malmö. He is a great player which it has been a pleasure to meet.

A quick Su-chi and Triskelion pressured his board in the first game, but it was not enough to stop his White knights and Serra angel. Sehl carries 4 Swords to Plowshares and 4 Disenchant maindeck which makes it really difficult for my artifact creatures to survive.

In the second game I resolved a Mind Twist for 5 early, and countered his Ancestral Recall with Red Elemental Blast to run him out of gas. In our final game my Factories and his City of Brass lowered his life quickly and he never got a significant board presence.
Tournament organizer Arkanon vs Sehl.
Match 2, vs Kim
Monored Goblin Burn

Kim was piloting a very effective and aggressive deck. Around 10 goblins, some other fat guys and burn spells. In the first game I got burned away through big Disintegrates and Fireballs. I never got the opportunity to apply early pressure on him to force him to waste his spells on my creatures.

The second was quick because I played Su-chi on the first turn and his 4 toughness keep him safe enough time to take the game.

In the third one I tried to play slower, as the Ivory Tower on my starting hand is a good option against burn. That is one of the things I really liked about this deck, it is very flexible in terms of speed. You can adapt to the starting hand and the opponent. Finally double Ivory Tower keep me in the safe range of 16 life for the remainder of the game. I must say it was not easy though. The burn deck is quite dangerous when it reaches 8 lands.
White Weenie vs Black Weenie
Match 3, vs Jesper “Munchhausen” Riis
Su-Chi Quicksilver

First game. I think an early mind twist cleared this one.

In the second game Energy Flux appeared on his side. It made things quite difficult for my cheap artifacts (ivory, candelabra, mana artifacts…), but fortunately Control Magic proved vital after I stole away two of Jesper's Su-chis.
A year full of Mishras is a strong alternative win condition.
Fourth match, vs Johan “Freespace” Andersson
Atog Smash

Very interesting match against the other Atog deck. The things I really liked about his deck: The Howling Mine/Relic Barrier draw engine and the 4-off Atog finisher style.

In the first two games both decks showed their potential. Johans 58/30 trampling Atog killed me right away in the first game, while I was quick enough to beat him in the second before he could get his pieces together.

In the third one I was lucky enough to have a Time Walk at the perfect moment. We could say that Time Walk is automatic win when the third Howling Mine is played.
Johan "Freespace" Andersson and Felipe. 'Tog bros.
Semi final, vs Olle “Rolex” Råde
The Deck

I began to play Magic in 1994. Back in the days before the web, information was much more restricted. Rumours were spread through specialised magazines like The Duelist or Spanish magazine URZA. I still remember how my small Magic community dreamed about what the card called Black Lotus could be. We did not have a way to know its text or cost. We just knew it was worth 8.600 Spanish pesetas (around €50).

Through that spanish magazine I read about the adventures of legendary players like Olle. Needless to say that it was a tremendous honour to meet him in Borås and play with him in Malmö.

First game I was constantly behind him in threats and he seemed to hold an answer to every line of play I tried to develop. I tutored for the only card I supposed it would be hard to counter, the Library of Alexandria, but it was already too late to beat his Serra Angel.

In the second I started with a first turn Timetwister off two moxes, and followed with a Cyclopean tomb which sealed the game. I have found the Tomb a great card versus a wide range of the decks, and a perfect answer to the factories when it's played early enough.

Olle's Mishras vs Felipe's Cyclopean Tomb.
In the third and definitive match my moral was a bit higher and a first turn library gave the advantage to overwhelm his control tools. A Mind Twist sealed the game, taking me to the finals.

Final, vs Johan “Freespace” Andersson
Atog Smash

The last swiss round gave me great information about Johan's strategy. He had a very synergetic deck, but I felt that my deck had stronger topdecks. I must keep attention to his Atog which I think is his bottle neck, and knowing that his only protection for the red creature was Avoid Fate, I strongly hoped to find board swepers like The Abyss or Earthquake.

The winning deck from BSK ran 3 Earthquakes, and I think that this was one of the reasons of its success. I played a playset in Malmö and they proved highly valuable.

I don't remember too much about the details, but I managed to win the first game.
Starting hand of game 2.
Johan begins game two. Awesome start by Johan through Workshop, Vault, Howling Mine and Relic Barrier.

I tried to search for an answer to his Atog with my Demonic Tutor. The choice was between Maze of Ith and Abyss. I picked the latter as it would be more difficult to handle and could take care of multiple copies. It was promptly removed from my hand by his Wheel of Fortune.

I played Su-Chi to distract his Relic Barrier and balance his card drawing advantage, but Johan could follow up with sacrificing 6 artifacts to his Atog and play Berserk for the win.
Coffin shenanigans.
In the last game, I played some early threats as Johan played multiple Howling Mines without finding Relic Barriers. The advantage was on the side who had enough mana to cast the 3 or 4 cards drawn per turn. I played Maze of ith and Tawnos coffin which stopped his Su-chis and factories. Finally when Johan overextended in his board presence, the Nevinyrral's disk sealed the game.
The spoils of victory: two Blasts and a signed Contract from Below.
The prices were perfect for my Beta collection as both REB and BEB was an upgrade in terms of card condition to my previous copies.

It was a great day. It was my first time in Malmö, which looked much bigger and more interesting than I had guessed. Definitely I need to take my family there for some proper tourism. Thanks to Kristoffer for the 6 hours drive, it was a fantastic language training journey.

Hope to see you all in the next 93/94 event!!


söndag 23 november 2014

Worzel's rules

"Worzel felt the telltale prickling at the back of her neck; her domain was being challenged!"

Magic rules used to be fairly fluid. The idea was that players would find their own interpretations on how to play. Many cards were intentionally worded ambiguously to force players to make their own conclusions. The rulebooks noted that you should discuss your interpretation of the rules whenever you played with someone outside your local playgroup to "make sure that you play the same game". When I started, we e.g. though that "X" represented the roman numeral 10. In hindsight, that may not the brightest of interpretations. I still played with Word of Binding in my deck though, as the Ron Spencer art was far to sweet to pass on.
You decide if this gives all Goblins flying or only itself.
It was expected that most players would buy a starter and maybe a few boosters to build their decks. Not surprisingly, the playtesters realized that the blue "boon" was a pretty powerful card. To fix this, rather than nerfing the power level, the rarity of Ancestral Recall was changed from common to rare. Arguably, if there only existed one Ancestral in every other playgroup or so, the impact of the card would be acceptable. In that same vein, it got clear that taking extra turns was very powerful, so the playtesters scrapped the red and black versions. Starburst and Paralysis would never see the light of day, and only Time Walk was left at a high rarity.

So in this wild west of Magic, the expectations were that players would play locally and without knowledge about all of the cards. The old golden rule states that "Whenever a card's text directly contradicts the rules, the card takes precedence". For many cards in Alpha though, it can be taxing to understand what precedence to take.
So if I steal the Hordes with Control Magic, should I be more worried about what "pay BBB" means, or that my Control Magic could be "CARD ed"?
It's not crystal clear. It's pretty funny though :) A few weeks back, I finally got my hands on an Alpha rulebook, and in some ways it makes me wonder how people ever learned how to play the game with strangers. Now, the Beta rule book is a remarkable work, but reading that in order to learn how to play modern Magic is only slightly more useful than reading The Merchant of Venice to learn how to build a bridge. The Alpha rule book is actually even more confusing. Like an Icy Manipulator or Channel from Alpha, the rulebook itself was updated for the Beta and Unlimited releases.
Alpha to the left, Beta/Unl to the right.
Not having an appendix in the Alpha rule book is harsh, but I guess that it was simply overlooked. The Beta rulebook also added a "Clarifications to rules" section, among other things.
Like anyone would need clarifications on Banding.
All in all, six new pages were added to the Beta rules. The main reason I wanted to get my hands on the Alpha book was the two pages that were removed though; Worzel's Story.

Magic was developed by role players, and it was marketed towards gamers. The flavor "drew on the milieu of Dungeons and Dragons". Hence, the first thing you see when you open the first ever Magic rule book, is a short fantasy story written by Garfield. The story doesn't make a lot of sense as to how the card game works, so I guess I can understand why it was cut. It does however hint at the mechanics of sweet cards like Sea Serpent and Glasses of Urza.
If you don't control any Islands, opposing Serpents can't attack you. Subtle hints on the rules ;)
I'm usually not that interested in lore, but I find this story interesting as it was the first introduction the earliest players had to the game. Worzel's story was continued in Roreca's Tale from the 1994 Pocket Player's Guide, but I don't think we've heard anything about her in the last 20 years. Looks like she's been outdated by the Jaces and Lilianas of today. 

This weekend there was another tournament at Playoteket in Scania btw, looking forward to hear some stories from that event :) November 30th there will also be tournament in Gothenburg, at Vasa Gaming. Planning to test out some new tech, hope to see you there!

måndag 17 november 2014

Myfz's story

Today we have a guest report from Kristoffer "Myfz" Karlsson, finalist at BSK and all-round good guy. Enjoy!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....

That's how the soon to be nine part long Star Wars saga begins, or at least the first six episodes. This nine round 93/94 story starts in April of 2014 when I first started to play Hearthstone. After a few hours I realised that it was Magic I really wanted to play. Every move I made in Heartstone made me longing for turning real cards sideways instead. So after a 2 year long break from Magic, and with no cards left but my black 93/94 deck (without Juzam and power), I embarked to to check how things were going. I set out to build a cheap deck for Legacy to pass the time while waiting for some new 93/94 tournaments.

I've always loved the 93/94 format, but only played in a tournament once before. That was the annual n00bcon of 2012. I managed to top8, losing only to Jocke Almelund with The Deck in the swiss (think I was 4-1 or 5-1), and was beaten by the same deck and pilot again in the quarter finals. I was playing Mono Black, the same as now, but back then with Juggernauts filling the role of Juzam Djinn number 3 and 4 which I didn't own at the time.

Preparing for the BSK tournament I made some changes to the deck. In with 4 Underworld Dreams and a Lotus. I didn't have the money to put up for the Jet, Lotus or Juzams, but some nice friends borrowed me the last cards so my deck could perform as it should. When I was sleeving up my deck, noticed that I only had 2 Underworld so it was panic button in the forums to buy or borrow them for the evening. With the deck fixed I was on my way. I picked up Stalin and Tgd, and we were of to Borås; the city with highest number of rainy days in Sweden.

We were 40 player battling for 6 rounds before it was time for top 8. I was a little nervous about the outcome of the evening. It would be fun to win some duels and games, but I didn't expect to go all the way to the elimination rounds. If the tournament would be a complete disaster, I had made sure Tgd would be the one driving home, and I had prepered a cooling bag with some beers in the car.

Would my deck be completely crushed? Had the format evolved to such that a mono black deck had no room in it? Could I beat the UR counterburn deck? Many of my questions would be answered through the night. I just had to remind myself not to mulligan too much.

I was paired against berntsson86 with a green and white deck for the first round of the day. My deck performed well with me having one Hypnotic and two Juzams on the table by turn five the first game. Second game I don't really recall, but Juzam was there to tip the odds in my favor. Berntsson86 was playing CoP:Green in his maindeck and some green creature from Legends that made stuff green when attacking or blocking. Also the big scary Force of Nature. Whirling Dervishes and CoP:Black came in from the sideboard. He never got to assemble his combo against me with terror being there to stop it. 2-0 to me and I was happy for winning the first game to set the mood for the evening.

Next stop at the other side of the table was Felipe "Felipega" Garcia. I recognized him from reading his posts about alterations of cards and playmats. It feels like if we give it a year or two, all tables at upcoming n00bcons will be adorned with playmats from this guy. Felipega is playing a 5-color Mana Flare/Candelabra deck. The Underworld Dreams backed up with Hypnotic wins me game one. Lost the second one and won the third. I'm very impressed by Underworld Dreams performance in the control matchup, much better than I ever imagined. In the third game I made a huge misplay by casting my sideboarded Pestilence with no creature in play (its good to read your own card sometimes), so I had to activate my Mishra to be able to keep it alive. The factory was then bounced by my opponent to kill my Pestilence. In the end, I paid 7 mana to deal 2 damage to Felipega and getting a land bounced. Hard earned points of life. The match had gone long and neither of us had that much life left, but I topdecked an Underworld Dreams the next turn that won me the game and match. Both the second and the third game could have gone either way so I was pleased with the 2-1.

Now I'm up against UR, with the Shark-eating Elof behind the wheel. He runs me over in game one. He had the upperhand all the way to my last lifepoint. Game two and three play quite similarly; Elof keeps hands pretty low on lands when I have Underworld with backup from Sinkholes, and he doesn't draw any land that a Sinkhole or a Strip Mine cant handle. Some creatures on my side helps to close the deal while Elof is locked out of mana for most of the games. Now I'm 3-0 and I'm starting to get my aim on top 8. Some of the 4-2s should make it. Thats only one out of three I have to win. But 4-0 should be too easy on my mind, so I get paired against Mg for my first loss of the day.

Mg is piloting his Project M. I really like this deck a lot. It feels like every card in the deck just answers what I play. When Juzam lands to take home the game for me, Mg plays his own. I lock his Juzam in an Oubliette, but then Mg follows up with freaking Sol'Kanar! Sol'Kanar should always be played with his name screamed out load like a warlord to get the right feeling when he enters the battlefield. At least based on Mg's reaction to casting him. All games could have ended either way, but copying Mirror Universe with Copy Artifact is a nasty play, it's supposed to be restricted. Mg wins with 2-1. Now I'm starting to think how the f$$k I made my way to top8 on n00bcon 4 without Underworld Dreams. It is so insane against any control deck or any deck that wants to draw a lot of cards if it lands in the first turns.
On the other side now sits Icelander. The guy who borrowed me his Juzams for the evening. I promised him half the Shark if I would win when he handed over the Juzams. All for fun (never thought i would get close) but now I'm starting to realise that it could be possible, at least if I win against him. He's playing The Deck, in his own words a pretty crappy version of The Deck, but better than the one he played at last n00bcon. I don't have any notes on my battles with him and my memory is fuzzy here. I know I won 2-0 though, so I'm starting to get pumped up for the last match of the day to seal my fate for top8 or not.

Of course the last man on earth I want to play against waits for me in the final round. A very skilled The Deck pilot that I have a zero win-% against in previous 93/94 tournaments: Jocke Almelund! The nemesis! To boot my luck I get paired down to meet him, he is 3-2 before this duel. Jocke takes the game with 2-0. In game 2 he takes 17 dmg from my turn one Ritual into Underworld before he finds an answer and wins. I also backed up the Underworld with a Gloom some turns later, but I couldn't go all the way on my enchantments this time. Still always a joy to lose to a nice guy. But I really thought that I at least could get the opportunity to win a game against him. Maybe in the future. Lifetime games in 93/94 are now 6-0 to jocke.

Okay. Time for some waiting game before the rest of the participants finishes the round. Tgd saved my day by bringing me a well needed midnight sandwich. Hadn't eaten for about eight hours, and the time was closing in to 01:00. To make my head even clearer I'd spent my week home with my two sick children whom had allowed me about 20 hours of sleep since the Sunday before (BSK 93/94 was taking place on Friday 31 October. Also my daughter Elva's one year birthday). Never though I would be the reason we were to go home late. My bet had been that the previous Shark winner Stalin would have been the one from our car to top8 and make us stay.

To get in the top8 would prove little tricky. While I was in 8th place on tiebreakers, so was also Magnus "Eneas" Nilsson on identical tiebreakers. So we had nine guys in our top8. We decided to settle the last spot on the top8 with rolling a die. He got to pick even or odd and got the honor of rolling. He chose even. Die stopped at odd. I'm in! At this point I was so tired that top8 or not I would have been more than satisfied with the day to drive home and get some well earned sleep. But this was great!

Getting ready for pairings and crossing my fingers that I would not run in to Jocke this time. I dodge him but get my other loss in swiss, Mg.

As in our previous meeting earlier today, the matches are tight. At 1-1 we shuffle up and draw seven. I get Ritual, Hypnotic, Undeworld, Sink, Sink and 2 Swamps. I'm thinking about what to play turn one; Hypnotic or the Dreams. I go for the Dreams. It is harder for Mg to remove, and backed with two Sinkholes it will be difficult to race if I can also land Hypnotic some turns later. My plan proved to be a great success. I draw a second ritual and Underworld Dreams, followed by a third Sinkhole to seal the match. 2-1, and Mg is still Sharkless despite another top8.

Semifinals. My opponent here is last years BSK winner, Brorsan. He has abandoned his WW from last year and is piloting another UR burn deck. Seems like it was the most popular deck on the tournament. But I also noticed quite a few black decks similar to mine in the room, some with red, white or blue splashes. The hour is getting really late and I don't remember much from this match. My notes only states that I won with 2-1, and I'm off to the finals to compete for our highly desired Giant Shark.

Time to prove that I'm worthy of the Shark signed by all competing players, and the glory of being forced to have it in my 75 as long I'm playing a 93/94 tournament. One of my biggest concerns were that I had promised Icelander half the Shark if i would win. Maybe I could make some deal with him. It would be very hard to present a deck in the future with half a card in it. Also the devastating shame to have violated a signed Shark by cutting it in half.

The opponent in the finals was no one less than Robin "Hagelpump" Lundberg. Always well performing in the format when he show up, and clearly a Shark worthy opponent. The deck of choice today is UR (though, that has been his pet deck in the format since 2008). I feel pretty confident in this matchup, and know that it is more than winnable for me and my deck. I take home the first game, lose the second.

So we are up for the last and third decisive game. After explosive starts and a lot of back and forth, I start to get the upper hand with two Underworld in play. I'm at 10 life with Hagelpump at 6, and my Underworlds will deal him 2 damage in his drawstep. I have a Ritual and a Tutor in hand and five lands on the board. I play the Tutor for a Drain Life as it will put me at higher life and give him one less turn to try to finish me. My plan is to tutor for two mana, ritual for one and use my last five to drain him for three. When I've fetched my Drain I start to think about maybe it could be better to play it for five on my next turn. I am at 10 life and he had taken me there with 2 bolts and a Psionic Blast. He's got some cards in hand, but it would be hard for him to hit me for 10 in one round with bolts. So I decide to stand up, bend over, and ask him to please take the Giant Shark and give me all he's got in the behind.

Well, no, that's not exactly how it happened, but that's how it feels now ;) I keep the Drain in hand and eat a PsiBlast in my end step. I ask him if he's got any bolts, and the answer is "I have lots". I would have won if I'd played the Drain and gotten out of reach for the bolts. Hagelpump takes the shark with 2-1! Congratz!

When thinking about it now I didn't even look at his hand when I asked him about the bolts. The time was 03:30 and with my sleep record for the week didn't make me more intelligent. Proof of that is when I shuffle his deck in one of the rounds I cut it and place the same half on top again :) One more nice thing was when he Timetwisted in one of the games, and I took up the card to read it as I didn't recall what it did (a lot of laughter in the background ensued here; a player in the finals reading a power card). Then I put it down and just sat there while Hagelpump started shuffling before someone said "you should do it too, you know". Aha!

The deck I played
The deck performed well all day, with very few occasions for me to be disappointed in it. The inclusion of Underworld Dreams was just perfect. It was the MVP of the tourney. Sinkholes are so damned important to run four of. They together with the lone Strip Mine can make games just unfair when drawing multiple. They're also a big factor in the Mishra wars that frequently occurs when playing an opponent who stacks his own playset of factories. The factories are just awesome utility. As lands they're able to dodge a lot of removal and then activate, boost each other and swing. I would never cut the playset if it wasn't really necessary for my manabase, and even then I would think twice before cutting them completely.

Juzam and Hyppe are straight up unfair when landing t1, and being able to back that with Sinkhole and Strip can seal some games in an instant. Never thought I would choose Underworld Dreams over Hyppe, but against some decks (i.e UR) I think turn one Underworld off a Ritual is a tougher threat for them to handle than Hypnotic, which will usually just eat a bolt and set me back a card. Oubilette is there for black dudes that terror cant handle. And the disk is a must have, at least one main because there are some enchantments that just shuts down mono black if they land (e.g. Circles and Karma). It's also a nice Mox killer to backup the land destruction plan. Black Knight isn't that sexy, but when facing white weenie it's just a house and something to stand in the way for Lions and Wolves.

I've chosen to play some one-offs in main. With access to Demonic Tutor I think it's better to know that I have answers to most situations rather than just fold. The Tutor makes up as a second copy of many cards. Drain life can be a bit odd, but as the game proceeds it just gets better, and the ability to gain a few life should not be underestimated. With a Greed on the battlefield it'll give me some extra cards, and against UR it can nullify a Lightning Bolt or two.

Not so much exciting stuff. Most of it is removal of some sort. Second disk is in my opinion a must have, and I'd like to have room form a third. Pestilence is great against control and creature heavy decks. Good to have a mana sink against control that can put some extra damage through.

I'm glad that I got the time to sit down to finish this little report. It's my first attempt on this, and I hope you enjoyed the route I've taken with it. Not to go deep into each play or if I could made it better, bur rather I wanted to share my thought and feelings about my games. Now my thumbs feels numb after writing this report on my iPad (not to recommend), but in lack of a computer its better than the phone at least ;)

Over and out, and may the Schwartz be with you.


tisdag 11 november 2014

The BSK top8, part 1

In terms of mid-90s tournaments, 40 players are a bunch. Even by today's standards, it is larger than any sanctioned Scandinavian Vintage tournament in the last five years, and 2/3s of the size of last summers main Vintage tournament at GenCon. Quite impressive for a casual format where the first price is a $0.05 card. Winning or having "the best deck" are not the the main reasons why most people play 93/94, but I guess top8'ing a tournament in a format very close to the original version of the game still comes with some nerdy bragging rights ;) Today we'll look at the first half of the BSK top8.
Erik "Sehl" Larsson, Rano "Rafiki" Zangana, Joakim "Jocke" Almelund and Magnus "Mg" de Laval
Erik "Sehl" Larsson relapsed into the game, after a decade and a half, playing Erhnamgeddon at Kingvitational earlier this year. He then took a monoblack deck to a 2nd place at the Warcon tournament this summer, and have since been teching on a "Next Level WW". Rather than splashing red for Bolts, Sehl opted to go for a blue splash to get access to both direct damage with the PsiBlasts and his new blue Power. Like with his monoblack deck from last summer, this deck looks very solid and well built.
Double King Solomon in the sideboard is pretty wizard.
Rano "Rafiki" Zangana worked as the bartender on n00bcon 5, and have since gone deeper and deeper into the old school mire. He holds the distinction of being a pretty good Magic player in Standard and Modern, where many of us old fogeys rarely go past Legacy in terms of newer formats. When he is not studying for his master in physics, he works in a local game store, imports beer for a pub and judges local events. Most important for me though, he is a great friend and a guy I never mind having a beer with. Rafiki has borrowed decks in a couple of tournaments before, but this was the first time he showed up with his own deck. As a self-proclaimed "Spike even in casual formats", he went for the Electric Eel Aggro plan.
One of three different versions of UR Burn in the top8. Time to add Ivory Towers to the sideboard I guess.
Joakim "Jocke" Almelund is easily top3 93/94players never to have won a Giant Shark. He has 4 n00bcon top8s to his name, along with a Pimpvitational win and a pretty sweet 3-0 drop at BSK 2012. He rarely plays in tournaments outside n00bcon, but when he shows up he has something like a 70-80% win rate with The Deck. All in all, he is clearly a very lucky guy ;) His latest update on The Deck looks solid with some new interesting tech. E.g. sideboarding in Ali from Cairo against WW after they've boarded out their Swords to Plowshares seems like a great plan.
Maindeck Time Vault (with 4 Books) and sideboard Sage of Lat-Nam looks wizard as well.
And then there is me! This was actually my 8th time in the elimination rounds of a Shark tournament, so statistically speaking I should have won one by now ;) The deck I played is the same deck I've been building on and playing for over two years. I though I lacked two cards for the deck; alterations of an Underground Sea and a Volcanic Island. I opted to play with the full playset of unlimited Underground Seas rather than go for an all-black bordered deck, as I didn't considered it to be finished anyway. After playing with it this tournament though, I actually think that it is finally done. Not because it managed to win the swiss (5-1 with good tiebreakers), but mostly because I felt that the deck was the pinnacle of what 12-year old me wanted to achieve with a Magic deck in 1995, even with the wb duals. It has been a long journey.
Wouldn't mind a Giant Shark for the deck though ;)
Pretty different strategies here, but it's worth noting that there are 15/16 factories in the 4 decks; by far the most played non-basic card in the top8. This could be one of the reasons for monoblack's success in recent tournaments. With 4 Sinkholes to support your own factories, monoblack have a big edge in the Mishra war.

I still lack one of the decks from the top8, and I might be getting a report from the 2nd place player to post here before I show his deck. If I don't have it by the end of the week I'll post the last three decks I have by Sunday.

fredag 7 november 2014

A Ringer's Report of BSK 2014

Today we have a guest report from one of the true legends of old school magic. A list of his achievements would probably be longer than the report itself, so I'll just quote a line from his Hall of Fame profile, and state that he was "the first consensus "world's best Magic player" in Pro Tour history". Or as he introduced himself in the report: "Pro Tour Player of the Year 1996, Pro Tour Hall of Famer, but still an apprentice in the format of formats, 93/94." Let's give the word to Olle Råde.

When you sit down at the table for the first old school tournament of your twenty or so years Magic career, what could be a more rude awakening than staring down at the classic opening of Plains, Mox Pearl and Two Savannah Lions?

The first time I went to BSK was, fittingly enough, in 1994. Back then I had dropped out of high school to spend my days selling Magic cards at the local gaming store Tradition. I had picked up Magic during the summer, and although I didn't think of myself as skilled enough to play Magic at the convention, I remember trading away newly opened Ball Lightnings from The Dark to complete my Revised set.

A lot of things have changed since then. But what hasn't changed is my passion for the old cards. So when I visited n00bcon earlier this year and saw the top 8 my mind was set. For next year I would build a deck. Since then I've been trading for Unlimited duals and moxes alike. Managing to almost complete my set in time for this weekends Halloween festivities.

Nikolai "Now" Weibull, Olle Råde and Jocke Almelund.
Oh well, back to the tournament itself. Like I mentioned I was up against the classic double Lion opener. And although I managed to win that game, thanks to a timely Serra Angel holding off my noble opponent Sehl's army, he did take the next two games. The highlight was Sehl's double Dust to Dust, being able to take out my Mirror Universe even though I had Mana Drain backup.

The deck I played, The Deck, was the Boogie Man of vintage already back in the 1990s. And it seems like the old school players have been building up their hate against it ever since. My second round challenger, JummJumm had brewed up a Red/Green/White deck with a bucket full of artifact removal, Blood Moons, Armageddons and Ernham Djinns. Although I put up a good fight to start with, his Strip Mine + Chaos Orb was able to keep me low on lands and a few spicy Tsunamis made sure I never reached the point of being able to cast spells for the remainder.

So here I was, a few months ago having made the claim that I had already started on my report as the winner from BSK, with the worst start possible at 0-2. Was I demoralized? On tilt? Ready to put up my Moxes on auction and give up this silly format? Of course not. When playing for the pure love of the game an 0-2 start isn't much worse than 2-0, and I couldn't be more fortunate than to be paired against former head of DCI in Sweden, Mällroth, and all around good guy and international professional, JhovalKing in the next two rounds.

The Mällroth match wasn't much of a sweat after he held a hand with only Mox Ruby for mana and a fistful of bolts. The JhovalKing match however earned me a new nickname, “Fusk-Olle”, as surely I must have tampered with my deck to get the dream start of Tundra, Sol Ring, Fellwar Stone, Black Lotus + Timetwister. Not quite Black Lotus + Channel + Fireball, but in a control deck, as close as possible. Good times were had, Juzam Djinns were cast, hands were Mind Twisted away and in the end I got the best of it and advanced to 2-2.

Olle shows the Power of The Deck against JhovalKing's 5c Berserk deck.
One of the decks that popped up at n00bcon earlier this year was the Red/Blue Electric Eel aggro. With a ton of burn and cards like Energy Flux and Blood Moon it suits up well against control and is faster and more focused than most of the other decks in the format. After losing to it in the semifinals last year, my good friend, Nesid, came up with an idea to sideboard four Ivory Tower. Which I had the opportunity to test in the penultimate round at BSK.

My opponent, 1997 Swedish National Champion, “Now”, was piloting the Eel-aggro and he came to battle. I stole the first game with a Serra Angel after his Wheel of Fortune spun in my favor. In the second game I had one of the Ivory Towers, backed up with Ancestral Recall to guarantee a few turns of life gain. But Now proved that although he is as old in the game as I am, we are both rookies in the old school format. He did so with a first turn play of Black Lotus, Electric Eel, Dandan, Mishra's Factory. And none of us realized that Dandan actually has Islandhome, which an observant Åland pointed out with a grin and sent it to the Graveyard. The game was closer than it should have been. Since I went to Demonic Tutor for Regrowth (for the Ancestral), but suddenly remembered side-boarding it out. This put me out of Ivory Towers life gain and instead I went for a Serra Angel, which bought enough time to build up my hand and even cast a second Ivory Tower.

In the very last round I was paired against Munchhausen, who apparently had not only built a new deck, but also had forgotten to add enough lands to it. He learned his lesson quickly though and admitted that he would rebuild his mana base in time for the prestigious n00bcon next April. From the small glimpse I saw of his deck he was on Red/Green/Blue, Ernham Djinns, Ice Storms and Fireballs. But mostly he discarded to hand size in game one and in the second Library of Alexandria did what it does best, and tutored my way to victory.

Olle Råde's The Deck. The sideboard contains an additional 4 Ivory Towers.
My 4-2 finish sadly wasn't enough to make the top 8, since my tie-breakers weren't exactly stellar. But in the end I can't be disappointed and BSK only served to whet my appetite for the format. And I'm sure to try and sharpen my skills in time for n00bcon next year.

Finally, I'd like to thank mg for a great event, as well as all my opponents and other participants for the good times last weekend. It's not every day I enjoy playing Magic with nothing at stake other than your reputation, and I hope my 4-2 finish was decent enough to not be considered a complete fish in the format.

I hope to see all of you again in Gothenburg this spring!

måndag 3 november 2014

Pictures from BSK

A weekend with good Magic and great people has passed in Borås. This was one of the largest old school tournament thus far, and we saw a lot of new faces and creative decks among the 40 players.

I'll be posting player profiles and deck techs during the coming weeks, and hopefully we'll also get a tournament report written by one of the participants in the near future. For now, lets look at some pictures from the event.

Viktor "Oldschool" Peterson giving a peek of his new tech; Glasses of Urza and Killer Bees.
Felipe Garcia studying Mastering Magic Cards to get some last minute hints on how to win.
Long time collector and first time 93/94 player Mällroth shows up to battle in a kilt and Serra Angel t-shirt.
The Arvika crew looks ready to battle. Rad dudes with cool decks.
Three-time Shark winner Elof, and behind him the Swedish national Legacy champion Vigo (who btw defeated Elof in the finals for the title.)
Sveby, one of the formats first players, came to pick up his new Eureka-playmat made by Felipe.
Elof also got a new mat from Felipe, a Leviathan eating a Giant Shark. Subtle ;)
The players have gathered.
Facing off against Nikolai Weibull in game 1. Nikolai won Nationals 1997 and helped taking the Swedish team to a 2nd place in the World team championships that year. He also uses the Spellground Elite design on his playmat :)
Fireball for the overkill. With double Candelabra and Mana Flare, each land will generate up to 7 mana.
Munchausen goes for the Su-Chi beatdown.
Mana Draining an Unstable Mutation for the win.
Felipe having a hard time against Jenny's Hypnotics and Underworld Dreams.
No pain, no gain. Roland with double Juzam and Serendib vs two Underworld Dreams.
Tapping out for Moss Monster against double Rock of Kher Ridges. Keeping the damage at bay with Spirit Link and CoP:Red. Clearly top5 best board states ever.
Erhnamgeddon vs The Deck.
Jocke responds to Rafiki's turn 1 Library with turn 1 Library. Fairly unfair.
Elof swapping stories with n00bcon winner Stalin and pimpvitational winner Jocke Almelund.
A rare moment of a lonely looking Juzam at the opposite side of the table.
Kird Apes and Candelabras.
LeatherJacket mirror.
Goblins vs some kind of Bazaar combo.
The Deck faces an onslaught of big creatures.
Semifinals. Electric Eel Aggro seems to have won "The Mishra Lottery" against monoblack.
Finals. Myfz's MonoBlack vs Hagelpump's UR Burn.

MonoBlack explodes with turn one Juzam.

After three very tight games, a still happy Myfz has to admit defeat to the Serendibs and Shivan Dragon. Very well played!
Hagelpump is as happy as I've ever seen a Magic player. Well played, well deserved, and big congratulations!
Hagelpumps winning deck from BSK 2014.
Thanks for a sweet tournament, looking forward to the next time!