tisdag 29 september 2015

Tuesday trivia

My project has hit a few roadblocks. I feel strongly passionate about it, so I'm sure I'll solve the kinks soon enough. It's a pretty interesting concept btw. The more I think about it, the more I realize that it will open me up for haters, and that I might alienate or upset some people. Hopefully it will end up a net positive though.

But until then, I won't keep you hanging. I looked through the binder and picked a few cards for a small trivia session. Here's some random facts you probably didn't know.
During the short Legends playtesting, there existed a Fog in each of the five colors. Development argued that Fog might be too big a stretch from the flavor of red and blue, and removed them from the set. The green version was considered redundant, and in the end only the white and black was left. Today the card Darkness is seen as a big leap away from the "damage prevention slice" of the color pie, but compared to a red version it still looks very reasonable.
Su-chi is not a reference to sushi or any type of fish (nor vinegared rice), the name is a reference to its stats. Arabian Nights used a lot of Arabic words to spice up the card names (e.g. Juzam is Arabic for 'evil'), and Antiquities followed up on this, maybe as an inside joke. 'Su' and 'Chi' are the Mandarin and Taiwanese words for 'four'; i.e. Su-Chi is a four-four.
Black Vise has a typo in ABU, where the card title is not capitalized in the rules text (compare with the 4th Edition version). It seems like this cards is shockingly more expensive today than a week ago btw, as it was just unbanned in the Legacy format. The playtest version of the card was pretty different from the printed one. The original version cost 4 mana, decreased the opponent's hand size to 6, and did one damage to the opponent if he or she drew a card when they already had five or more in hand.
Speaking of playtest versions, you only had to drop the playtest version of this one from a height of six inches, and it had no flipping requirements. It also had the less evocative name "Sphere of Annihilation". It was reportedly one of the least enjoyable cards to face of its day.

In other news, Mark "Twiedel" Langria wrote a sweet primer on Old School Magic at the MKM Series webpage. I recommend checking it out. Mark seems like a great guy with a big passion for the old school community. His take on Project M looks amazing btw. Quite a few duals and Alpha-pimp ahead of me, but I think my Fellwar Stones are cooler ;)

tisdag 22 september 2015

Hoarding in Oslo

So, I think I've got an idea. It has been occupying my mind for the last week. It might fail spectacularly, but it might actually work. I need a few more days to work out the last few kinks, but I aim to post it here by the weekend. It is not by any means anything political, but it might be a way for the mtgunderground to make an impact. But that's a few days from now.

Anyway, last Friday Hardy and I got banished from the Joy Pad to skulk the streets of Oslo. Our apartment was gleefully squatted by a ragtag team of women soccer players, and our welcome could quickly get overstayed. So we packed our bags with the beer we could carry, a bottle of gin for good measure, and threw a pile of 93/94 decks on top.

Some light skulking later we arrived at the home of Jørgen, a local Eternal Viking with a collection to put the average GP to shame. We're talking full Alpha P9 and more black-bordered Volcanic Islands than Hawaii after a BP oil spill. I never met him before, but I've slowly come to realize over the last six months that the Eternal Mtg underground in Oslo goes deep. For a moderately sized city with no regular Vintage tournaments, the power per capita feels close to that of a tank crew. We were eventually joined by Geir Magne, one of the Norwegians who played at Eternal weekend, and the four of us went down the roads of Vintage and 93/94.

So we played, had some beers and laughs. Hardy had been building on a GB land-destruction / making-friends-into-haters deck. Demonic Hordes with Instill Energy, Sylvan Library with Mirror Universe; those kind of things. He got to playtest it a lot during the evening. Instill Energy would have been a much more intuitive card if it had the Fifth Edition errata. The fact that the creature can attack the first turn but not tap for activated abilities is kinda odd.
Still a good combo.
Speaking of odd cards in The Gathering, did you know that in parts of Eastern Europe, the monday after Easter is called Dyngus Day? Traditional activities are egg-related; like egg rolling and egg painting. I do not really get the reference in the rule text of Dingus Egg, but I assume that it is stingy. 1993-1994 Magic did after all give us cards like Stone Throwing Devils (sometimes used as a derogatory term for Palestinian protesters in Israel), Golgothian Sylex (named after the hill where Jesus were crucified) and quoted Job 40:25 on Segovian Leviathan, when Job 40 in fact ends on verse 24.
And don't get me started on mixing up Ecclesiates 3:19 with Ecclesiasticus 3:19.
I'll keep it short today. You should go and read Shaman Ben's latest post The Existentialism of Floral Spuzzem if you haven't already. Provides great insight, and the dude is a wordsmith. Also, the Russians have uploaded a bunch of new sweet videos at Youtube. Sweet matches and rad music. Oh, and a far less important but perhaps amusing plan may also be in the works. Maybe you'll find yourself back here for a hint sometime in 2018.

torsdag 17 september 2015

Sharp dressed man, part 2

Johan "FreeSpace" Andersson is back with the second part of his pimpvitational story. It is awesome. Enjoy! /Mg out 

Thanks for all the nice comments for part one, I hope I can live up to the same standards with part two. If for nothing else, then for the mtg underground! 
Pick-draft? Oh wait…
The rest of the ruffians arrived one by one. A couple of casual beers, a photo shoot and some discussions about deck construction for the format later we were close to the start of the tournament. First however, we had to take a look at the restricted cards of all the decks and compare the choices but more about that in a coming deck analysis. Let's get to the interesting part!
What time is it? It's time for the fucking Pimpvitational!
Strengthened by the smorgasbord of different breakfasts I had and the fact that my deck was so awesome I expected swingy and chaotic games. Deck building for the format is different, at least for me who never played any of the other highlander-formats before. Early on my plan was to play with as many of my favorite cards as possible but the limitation for the restricted cards made me skip the moxes among other fantastic cards. I ended up playing a five-colored good stuff deck with all my favorite creatures and broken spells. Kind of like a highlander version of my old pet deck Juzam Smash.

First round I get paired against Jenny, the matchup that I've been practicing for weeks before. The bad news is that she also has the same advantage. In the first game Cyclopean Tombs lands on both sides early, fucking up mana production big time. How can you play magic without green mana? Can't cast Beards of Paradise, that's for sure! Luckily I draw a Fellwar Stone while Jenny has several duals in play giving me an edge and together with a land-drop the ability to summon Sol'Kanar, the Swamp King who swamp-walked my way to victory. In the next game I keep a shaky hand comparable to entering a revolver duel with only one bullet in the chamber. When that bullet is first turn Land + Lotus + Juzam you kinda have to keep anyway. Jenny struggled to keep the Juzam threat at bay only delaying his merciless beating a couple of turns. Hard removal is scarce in the format and I finished it up when my Demonic Tutor gave Juzam the ability to go Berserk on Hell's Caretaker.
Stalin and the Moxen, but why the blue ones? That, we may never know! –David Attenborough
At the table next to our there was a battle between two former world champions commencing. One of them was the legendary 2014 winner of noobcon and world champion Stalin! Known as Christoffer "cjva" Andersson to the regular crowd you'd still expect him to pick up the red Mox instead of the blue ones but that's one of the things I love about him, he never ceases to surprise! Stalin also has an amazing collection of tattoos where you probably will be offended by at least one!

He's been playing magic for ages and I remember playing with him as far back as the early 2000's when Vintage was on the uprising. His decks are always interesting and while he plays lots of combo and prison in Vintage, the old school decks are of a broader variety. Anything from annoying his opponents with Stasis and going to time every match to the blitzkrieg that was the Electric Eel Aggro. The famous Electric Eel Aggro. Stalin actually held the ninth place in the standings when the dust settled after the swiss in the world championship 2014. By luck beyond this world he managed to sneak his way into the top 8 since the now reigning champion Kalle Nord had to step down due to other obligations that evening. Given this amazing opportunity Stalin stopped at nothing and pulverized the opposition while making at least one player cry.
In the first battle of the Pimpvitational Stalin dropped his treasured world champion trophy Giant Shark on the second turn with the help of Black Lotus and a Mox. While that seems like a strong play against a former world champion playing blue the tide can quickly turn. Especially if said opponent accelerates out his own trophy Giant Shark! I cannot recall who won this amazing duel but you can be damned sure that stuff like this only happens at the Pimpvitational.
Respect! Time Walk! Are you talking to me?
Another rad dude is Erik "sehl" Larsson. You can pretty much see that in the picture. Erik is no stranger to the game, he's been involved since the 90's but since last year Erik has continuously been putting up impressive results in tournaments and you can no longer mock him for playing like crap. Which bothers me because Erik is one of the funniest guys in the scene when it comes to friendly mocking and bashing.

"Hi, nice to meet you. Shall we wait for your personal assistant before we roll the die?"

He played lots of mono black before acquiring more pieces of power but when he switched to White Weenie and splashed blue for power he started to put up impressive finishes, the top 8 at last years BSK among others. He also played WW with a blue and red splash for burn spells to several playoffs during last season. Among the more impressive victories for Erik is Mysturneringen at Mindstage where he stopped the runaway train Atog Smash in the finals played by none other than the anti-hero and narrator of this story. Well played.
Johan's Juzam Horror Smash
In the start of the new season Erik finally caved and started playing The Deck. Being Erik he naturally added more burn spells. A strategy brought to light recently by Kalle Nord at Frippan Open where Kalle reached the semi finals. Kalle used the same strategy to take down the world championships this spring and Erik also showing an impressive result reaching the semifinals. The Pimpvitational game between us was loads of fun! Not so much for Erik though. I had ridiculous draws with lots of restricted cards and some of the best beats available in Juzam Djinn and Sol'Kanar. Game two became a slaughter when I accelerated out several big threats like Juzam and Johan(!). The monumental defeat was immortalized when I played my easter egg-card from noobcon, Cosmic Horror, and attacked for lethal damage. Probably the card I saw the most the whole day finally did something except discarding to Jaluum Tome. Maybe time to build Lovecraft.dec.
Mg, 93/94 and Europes own Stephen Menendian.
The number of persons who could be next up is starting to get quite low and since I refuse to let you bask in the glory of me writing about me and I'll save the arguably best for last. Next person up is of course Magnus. Magnus "mg" de Laval is, as you all probably know the author of this blog and one of the creators of the format that we all have come to love. We all have Magnus to thank for all the time and effort he put into producing high quality content spreading the word of true Swedish old school magic. Now it's a worldwide phenomena and the interest for the games roots have never been higher. Please draw a ball sack on a Fellwar Stone and send to Magnus as a thank you. There is no point in writing about Magnus decks and finishes because you already know it from his excellent reports. If this sounds unknown to you then it's not my story you should begin by reading, I'm a mere layman. Go back and read an old Magnus post. They're still good!

I've known Magnus for over ten years now and he's a great guy outside the magic world too. Few guys match his knowledge about and ability to drink beer, working as a bartender at the bar where the annual world championships of old school magic are held during his studies. He's one of the funniest friends to take a road trip with, especially if you're going to a magic convention and just play the fringe formats like old school and vintage. And he's a secret ninja.
Classic Loffe, sporting the old Team 0-2 Drop shirt and his regular hands.
So I promised the best for last. How else can you describe him? Until the Pimpvitational he has won every worthwhile title you can win in Swedish old school magic except the Pimpvitational. Olof Gottfridsson. Elof the Mighty. The Shark. The Best. Stalin's opponent in earlier mentioned world champion duel. His names are many. To me, he will always be Loffe. I've known him for some thirteen years or something now. In the early 2000's when we were playing Vintage, you could afford power cards as a student and drinking booze out of yogurt bottles at tournaments was standard for us rascals below the legal drinking age. At that time we made appearances in the playoffs every now and then. I pretty much took a long break in 2005 but Loffe continued to play eventually rising to becoming arguably the best Legacy-player in Sweden for many years. Really fun fact about Loffe, he bought a Black Lotus to his son when he was born. That's awesome.

I played Loffe last of all the competitors at the Pimpvitational. Quickly recognized a classic Loffe-deck, blue and white control elements backed up with solid card drawing. He utilized the small creatures with limited card drawing abilities to sift through his deck to find the best threats and answers. Loffe defeated me in two straight duels. Loffe was the only one at 6-1 for the day. Me among others at 4-3 and best game win ratio for me. We still played a final and it was pretty much a repetition of our earlier match. I have to bow down to Loffes magic superiority and give him a huge congratulation to finally earning the last of his well-deserved titles, Pimpvitational 2015 Champion! And a fucking awesome playmat with a reimagined Time Walk from Amy Weber!
Only the Pimpvitational 2015 champion gets to be in focus!
Long hours of intoxicated magic warranted food for everyone and we went to Stalins vegan-serving pizza place having a nice ending to a really nice event. Loffe and Eriks last train were closing in and we decided to call it a night. We went home and Felipe joined up for some Mortal Kombat and of course Sleep on the turntable. A relaxing end of the day.

Frippans Magic Music Tips:
Easy Listening: 13th Floor Elevators - Earthquake
Evening enjoyment: Shrinebuilder – Solar Benediction
Doom-induced trance: Bongripper – Reefer Sutherland

If you made it this far, thanks. I hope I can provide you with an analysis of the decks further down the path. I hope you all enjoyed it; I had a really good time both living it and writing about it. Until we meet again.

//Frippan, Shaman of the mtg underground

måndag 7 september 2015

Sharp dressed man at Pimpvitational, part 1

Without further ado, I'll leave the word to swinger of fine cards and wearer of fine beards Johan "FreeSpace" Andersson. Enjoy! /Mg

"If we’re not supposed to dress up then why the fuck is it called the pimpvitational? (Profiling and shit)"

With the contestants arriving this is exactly what went through my head. There were lots of casual clothing and me. Me, who looked like the fourth lost member of the ZZ Top. I held out for three hours before succumbing to the incredible warmth provided by my awesome outfit.
Sharp dressed man with a solid hand!
This is my first attempt at writing about old school magic and I hope I can live up to the standards of ‘mg’ and Shaman Ben, my two favorite writers. For long time readers of the blog I’m probably not unknown as my 17 year old l33t-name FreeSpace. And I kinda enjoy the books of H.S. Thompson.
But enough about that, let’s get down to brass tacks. My Pimpvitational started Friday evening when Felipe Garcia’s flight arrived in Gothenburg. I came to know Felipe about a year ago when he still was fairly new in Sweden. He moved here with his wife and children from Seville in Spain and we came in contact with him when he was looking for other magic-players. I invited him over for some beers and magic with me, ‘mg’ and Kalle, the latest noobcon winner. We didn’t know what to expect but other than being an awesome dude Felipe showed up with a complete collection of Beta, AN, AQ, Legends and so on.
Felipe, a true Atog bro!
He came up with several impressive strategies and the first tournament we went to together in Malmö I played my latest creation, the Atog Smash, a deck that I kept under wraps until the tournament. Felipe actually played Atog too, but with a different approach and focusing on control and silver bullets. Fate is a cruel mistress and I ended up playing Felipe in the finals and losing. The next weekend I played an updated version of Atog Smash at the Mindstage tournament. Another final, another opponent, another second place. Atog’ll be back!
After the tournament we ended up creating a new team called the Atog Bros and ‘mg’ and Kalle was included. Since then the Atog Bros has been constantly putting up impressive results in both the old school scene and the Vintage scene in Sweden.

Back to the evening before the pimpvitational. Since Felipe has an awesome collection and he’s been playing Highlander-style decks already I expected an awesome list. We cracked open a couple of beers and put some Sleep on the turntable. I am a firm believer that magic should be played accompanied by the tones of sludge and doom metal. Early Sabbath through Sleep to fantastic new acts like our local heroes Monolord and Yuri Gagarin.
Atog against Atog. Huge pile of artifacts in the bin and a Berserk to seal the deal.
The format 93/94 Highlander yields pretty insane games and huge swings in the gamestates and loads of fun were had. Riven Turnbull, a key card in many internal jokes and who happen to look like ‘mg’ were assaulted by Control Magic. Tawnos Coffin. Clone. Everything involving Riven Turnbull must be awesome. Green mana and crazy boardstates were abundant. Felipes deck was amazing. Until that day I never thought I’d see Goblin Artisans see play but I’ll be damned if I say that I wasn’t happy to see it!

Rookie of the Year, Jenny / Moxin naturally joined our magic night since she’s so sweet living with me.  When I taught Jenny to play magic 18 months ago I would never have expected that she would buy her own power cards in the future. She started out at noobcon last year with a classic zoo deck. Berserked Kird Apes and shit. After that she moved on to play monoblack achieving a striking performance taking the deck to the semifinals of the third biggest tournament of the last season, Frippan Open, with 27 players. Of course this deck contained her first purchased card, an unlimited Black Lotus.
Jenny / Moxin quickly picked up all the Sol Rings for the photoshoot. Arguably the best card in the format and she knew it!
She continued to evolve the monoblack deck with different splashes but since she acquired the complete ‘power 9’ blue is a preferred color of choice. Her magic skills are evolving every day and there is no doubt that the Korean gaming gene truly exists. It’s only a matter of time before she beats me every game.

Jennys deck was a blue and black deck with lots of strong cards and powerful artifacts. Riven Turnbull made many appearances. Keep an eye out for Hell’s Caretaker when the big artifacts hits the bin, without removal you’ll soon be done. Lots of synergy between cards and playing only two colors, mana screw is of lesser concern.

Excellent preparation is the key to success as taught by the great Shaman Ben. The night went on and much magic was played until the small hours. Saturday morning came and we had well needed breakfast at a local American style brunch place. Some quick magic games before we headed to the venue of the great battalion. Forest, BoP, go! Second breakfast consisted of a bottle of 8 year old Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast. Fantastic brew that aged well.

Magic, old brew and the next person of interest, Hagelpump!
Other than the first three of us, the first one to show up was last seasons BSK Shark-winner and top 8 at noobcon the same season, none other than Robin ‘Hagelpump’ Lundberg. Robin is usually playing his fantastic UR Burn and was probably the reason for popularizing the archetype a year ago with his strong finishes. Robin hadn’t had any practice with the 93/94 Highlander format so we played some games while waiting for the others to arrive.
Hagelpump picked up the last remaining cards from the analysis of the restricted choices. Still a fucking powerful hand!
Beautiful cards were covering the table and then time slowed down for a couple of seconds. Robin played a Giant Shark, his trophy for conquering the grand 40 player tournament of BSK. We then knew that it was gonna be an awesome tournament. I don’t know Robin that well but he’s a good guy and I’m looking forward to playing more magic with him! Also, Robin smacked me out of the quarter finals at noobcon last season being the only one other than Mikael Magnusson to beat my Juzam Smash deck that day. Robin fought his way to the finals but was cast down by the aggressive mirror played but none other than the legendary Stalin. But more about him next week!

And last but not least, since you need a decent soundtrack to your old school magic evenings, here’s something for everybody!

Frippans Magic Music Tips
For the beginner: Black Sabbath – Electric Funeral
For the metal dude: Sleep – The Clarity
Preaching to the choir: Sunn O))) – Aghartha

If you made it this far, thanks! Please leave a comment if you enjoyed it :)

Stay tuned for next part…

tisdag 1 september 2015

Pimpvitational 14/15

Elitist? Yeah, I guess. You're not entitled to play with any card you want. Some people will have more expensive cards than you. Though it's like saying that the roads are exclusive and only for the rich just because some people drive a Tesla while others have a Ford. It's not the roads' fault. You are not entitled to a Tesla just because someone else saved up for one. 93/94 were never meant to be something like the next EDH, or to be mainstream. If you feel that you must get first to the destination and drive the best car, this is not the road for you. It was never meant for you. If you're driving for the leisure, enjoy the view and like the company of the other drivers, come join! Some players may have spent years and thousands of dollars on their equipment. If you want to, you can do that to. If you don't want to, accept that some cars will probably run faster than yours. If you're a skillful driver, you might get ahead anyway.

Exclusive? Hm. Anyone who wants gets to play. We don't event promote winning with valuable prices for the higher finishers. The tournament fee is never more than to cover the expenses for the organizer. The cards you have in your deck will never rotate nor become obsolete here. You can build a deck for peanuts and come to play and have a beer in our tournaments. If you want to build the first deck I played in the format, and use Unlimited cards, you can buy the whole 60-card pile from CardKingdom right now for $48.68. People who rather spend $80 on a set of Deathmist Raptors for Standard and still feel they should get to play an optimized deck with Power and duals without commitment and time, this is simply not their format. People who enjoy the game for the game and the beauty of old cards are always welcome.

That is mostly the truth. But among all the public roads, there is a private one. The tournament where only a handful people are invited, where the top old school players battle for glory and bragging rights. Eight players, all of whom with the skills to spike a tournament. Eight decks, each with a simply ridiculous price tag. This is the tournament for haters to hate, where elitism meets exclusivity, and where all the complaints are justifed. This is Pimpvitational.
Got nine problems but Power ain't one.
Following the tradition of the old DCI Invitational tournaments, the Pimpvitational uses slightly different formats than usual. Last time, we played with Fallen Empires. This year, the format was 93/94 Highlander, with Library of Alexandria banned and no more than nine cards from the restricted list allowed in each deck. 60-card decks, no sideboard. When I arrived at the site, I compared my restricted cards with those of last year's BSK winner and nn00bcon finalist Robin "Hagelpump" Lundberg.
No surprise that Robin would go for Shivan rather than Serra.
Very similar cards. We only changed color of one mox, and Robin opted for Braingeyser over Black Lotus. The reason might be that Robin's Beta Lotus is incased in a plastic prison, and he hasn't opted to free it yet. Though I must say, the Lotus was by no means an autoinclude for me. It is obviously great, yes, but it's uncertain if it's better than the Geyser in the format. At least for me, four out of five times I drew my Lotus in the tournament I'd rather have had the Braingeyser. The nine cards chosen by the field looked pretty similar, though with a few surprises:
Just add three Mahamothi Djinn and you can build a rad 75-card casual deck. Unless you'd rather build a house.
The only card used by all eight players was Ancestral Recall, which was the MVP of the tournament. Seven players opted for Sol Ring and Mox Sapphire. Six each went for Black Lotus and Time Walk. Five players took the Braingeyser, and four each went for Demonic Tutor and Mind Twist. Then there was a handful of non-blue Moxen, Chaos Orbs, Mana Drains and Balances. Among the more unconventional choices we have cards like Regrowth, Mishra's Workshop, Recall, Wheel of Fortune and Black Vise. The only P9 card not represented in any list was Mox Emerald. Ain't easy being green.

This was my list:
Turn 3 Phantom Monster of a mox is crazy sweet. Also, Moat!
The Prodigal Sorcerer might not be the best creature in the format, but it kills Preachers and Archaeologists while providing a solid intimidation factor showing that I won the WSK tournament. Not as imtimidating as the Sharks played by Elof, Stalin and Robin though.
Stalin vs Elof. Stalin managed to kill Elof's Shark and then attack him for 16 with his own :)
As for deck design, I figured that the format would be kind of random with all the one-ofs, and that players would generally have to win with creatures. So I simply took all the solid flyers in the format alongside Clone and the Doppelganger, added a bunch of creature removal (Terror, Swords, Paralyze, Preacher, King Suleiman, Control Magic, Moat, etc), and 29 mana sources. UWB Skies. If I would get to drop a four-power flier on turn 3, 4 and 5, it would be hard to have an answer to all of them. Hence my focus on the restricted cards were fast mana; five Solomoxen, two blue Power cards, Mind Twist and Demonic Tutor (awesome in highlander). It worked pretty well. In retrospect, I should probably have cut either Lotus or Mind Twist for Braingeyser though. Card draw was even better than usual in this format, and the card I lost to the most was by far Ancestral Recall.
Pimpvitional players. Standing: Hagelpum, Mg, Felipe, Elof, Freespace and Sehl. Sitting: Stalin and Jenny.
In the end I went 4-3 for a quadruple tie on second most match wins, had a few double IPAs and a couple of Imperial Porters, and eventually bowed down to Elof Gottfridson who only lost a single match during the day. Elof has now won pretty much everything there is to win in the format; n00bcon, BSK, Pimpvitational and Huvudturneringen (alongside a bunch of other smaller tournaments). Looking forward to a tournament report. He's clearly a very lucky guy.
Our local Mark Justice.
Freespace took pictures of all the decks and will hopefully provide player profiles and deck techs in the near future. Until then, here's a video of a Norwegian doing good deeds (or blasphemous, depending on who you ask):