Decks from Fishliver Oil Cup and ranting

The tech at The Camaiore Fishliver Oil cup was plentiful to say the least. The first time since the mid 90s I stared down at a Stone Giant on the other side of the table.
 And at decks like Matteo's MonoGreen at the table next to me. Damn!
The top8 was home to eight distinctly different strategies, though with some preferred card choices among them. Seven decks played blue, and seven decks played red. Six decks had maindeck Lightning Bolts, five decks played Fireball, and five decks played Mishra's Factory. But in the eyes of most, this is what we would call a very diverse top8.

In other places in Europe though, there has been some voices raised about the perceived dominance of The Deck in the last couple of weeks. The Deck took five spots in the top8 at the European Eternal Weekend, as well as five spots in the top8 at Ovino XI. This has in turn led to some resentment towards The Deck, and new rallies for restrictions. And in some cases animosity towards The Deck players. In a few of the discussions, it kinda resembles the rallying against aggro players in the mid 90s, when beatdown players were often considered less skilled or "too stupid" to play control decks. Here, it is more like The Deck players are lacking creativity, or have a negative impact on the ambience at tournaments by playing a deck that is against the casual spirit of the format. So I'll use my soap box here to state my opinions on the matter.

It could be interesting to note I've played this format for almost 10 years and own all the cards needed to play The Deck, but I've never sleeved it up myself. So this is from a pure "player who plays against The Deck"-perspective.

Some people say that The Deck should be nerfed as it isn't "fun". That's an odd statement. Who are we to judge what other people think is fun? Would it be more fun if Nether Void Ponza or Stasis were the most played decks? Sean O'Brien might argue that. What if Sligh were tier1? Maybe David Price would love it, but most people would hate getting burned out by 3-4 Sligh decks in a row. Distress or Parfait? Creatureless TaxEdge? I guess that we just dislike tier1, regardless of what that might be.
Michi Doná's sweet Parfait from Fishliver Oil Cup.
The Deck mirrors are noted to be among the most skill testing and intricate matches in the history of Magic. And playing against The Deck is one of the more interesting uphill battles you can face. Sure, every now and then you just lose to a Mana Drain-fueled Mind Twist, but most of the time the games are long and have decision trees that go on for days.
Hardy's The Machine from Fishliver Oil Cup.
I remember playing Thunder TaxEdge back at Warcon 1 in 2011. I had calculated most of my matchups against The Deck at around 70% in my favor, having won 10 out of 14 of my last games. But that was if I didn't include the games I played against Kalle Nord. I played with Kalle a lot back then, and had something like a 30-40% matchup against him. I eventually even had different sideboard plans against him and the other The Deck players, as he played The Deck on a different level than the other players at that time. Today, there are a few other masters of The Deck, like Jocke, Berlin and Elof, but it's abundantly clear that The Deck is a matchup where you play your opponent as much as the cards. There are very few instances of "oops, I win" with The Deck.
"The absolute best way to play Magic." -Åland at n00bcon 6
If we're thinking about the community at large, it is also important to not get too wound up on personal feelings towards The Deck's perceived dominance and actually look at the data. If we study the elimination rounds of the larger tournaments in Sweden and Norway in the last year, the average number of The Decks in the top8s is one. No tournament has had more than three, and many have had zero. Saying that it dominates the format is far fetched.

That said, here's my guide on how to play against The Deck. We basically have three options:
1. Play cards that beat it, practice, and get a favorable matchup.
2. Accept that you will lose most of the time but try to have fun anyway.
3. Do not play against it.

Number one is fairly easy as deck building goes, but might not go hand in hand with a pet deck strategy. You might have to shift decks for this to work well. (E.g. The Aisling Leprechaun deck will probably never beat The Deck).

Number two is a little harder, as that one requires a more casual mindset. Still doable.

Number three is super easy. If you really get upset playing against The Decks in tournaments,  you don't have to do it. You could just scoop. If two people does that, you two could spend the round playing against each other for fun, and the control players could play The Deck mirror for fun. All it will cost you is a match loss.

The Deck haters vs. The Deck players is a weird divide. I know that most of you guys reading this blog haven't been a part of the discussions on Facebook or elsewhere, but I want to state that I think that The Deck is an important pile of cards. Most players play it because they think it's fun and nostalgic. It is and always will be an important part of old school Magic. There will always be tier one decks, and I think that we should be happy that one of the best decks in the format is an interactive one that gives both players a lot of options (even though it plays a lot of broken cards).
Michelle Maggi's ControlMonolith from Fishliver Oil Cup. Easily top3 most awe-inspiring bling decks I've ever seen.
Ok, enough ranting. Let's look at the decks that ended up on top at the Fishliver Oil Cup.
Luca Giannecchini's UR CounterBurn. 1st place.
Liam Bertz's UWrb Control/Skies. 2nd place.
Marco Isidori's Lestree Zoo. 3-4th place.
Francesco Delfino's Nether Void Ponza. 3-4th place.
Mario Delucis's BRu Troll Disco. 5-8th place.
Mg's Gonzo. 5-8th place.
Berlin's TwiddleVault. 5-8th place.
Andrea Braida's UBRW Sweetstuff. 5-8th place.
Some sweet tech right there! Francesco's Nether Void deck is one of my favorites in the top8, running underplayed cards like Imprison and being the only deck to run without Library of Alexandria. I guess that opposing libraries gets a little less threatening when you have 10 removal spells gunning for the card (#UnrestrictBlackVise). Berlin's interpretation of TwiddleVault is also sick. Not only that the Channel seems like a great inclusion, but his transmutable sideboard is next level tech. And Andrea Braida's deck is one of the reasons I wanted to start up this format in the first place, it's simply drenching in awesome sweetness. Well played ragazzi!

Other news around the world:
For all you guys going to the US Eternal Weekend this weekend, I wish you the best of times! You are playing in the largest old school tournament the world have seen yet. I am confident that Jaco will provide a good ambience so make sure to make the most of it. Enjoy yourselves and don't hate too much on the Stasis players ;)


  1. It was a great tournament and we're already at work for the next edition!
    The eternal weekend in Paris wss comparable in size, but the top 8 looked very different; this strengthens our belief that casual atmosphere is what defines a good tournament. I think that we should start complaining about netdecking and praise originality (like we did back in the day) instead of whining about tier1s.

    Just a note: the winner's name is Luca Giannecchini

    Good read as usual, thank you for this blog MG

    1. Thanks Lorenzo, somehow mixed it up last night. And thanks again for a great tournament!

  2. Really good reads
    I'm fed up with legacy and all and I plan to go back to basics !!
    I literally read all pages of your blog when I have time.
    Thanks a lot for all the work
    In Berlin's twiddle vault what does he have in side ? 3 beast 4 erhnam 3 reb 3 beb 1 hurkyl's recall and what is the last card ?


  3. never mind i find it ^^
    tranquility and giant shark and only 2 beast

  4. " We basically have three options:
    1. Play cards that beat it, practice, and get a favorable matchup.
    2. Accept that you will lose most of the time but try to have fun anyway.
    3. Do not play against it."

    Here's a theoretical fourth option-- Tripod Tournaments.

    A Tripod Tournament is the same as a normal tournament except instead of matching people in pairs you match them in pods of three.

    Each player gets points depending on the order they are eliminated from their pod. Each round players change pods. The player with the most points at the end of the tournament wins.

    Why do this?

    Multiplayer magic does an elegant job of balancing decks. If one player is going to do broken things he will pay the price of painting a target on his head.

    This type of tournament structure would allow people to play their own pet decks without getting crushed.

    This would increase the diversity of competitive decks, eliminate or reduce griefing, expand the pool of playable cards and combos, and allow people with less expensive decks to compete.

    just a thought.

  5. So the top8 was 6 decks with Lightning Bolts and 2 swedes :)


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