The Knights of Thorn and how it all started

Today our illustrious company is a true force in the Dutch 93/94 guilds. Mari Steinhage is one of the brains behind the honorable Gatherings of the Knights of Thorn, and a pillar in the explosive growth of bearded wizards in the Netherlands. These are some good people, and I hope to soon get the chance to visit the Netherlands to sling some spells. Enjoy! /Mg out

This report will cover the third Gathering of the Knights of Thorn. But I'll start from the beginning, how we even arrived at this point. At this moment we have already had three gatherings of the Knights of Thorn and our community grew over the last eight months from seven up to 39 people.

Over the years I collected numerous old cards. Whenever possible I put them in EDH decks. But this wasn't enough for me so one day, 5 years ago or so, I decided to build myself an old cards cube. This was my best idea ever. Because
the sets I put in the cube where the ones released in '93 and '94. I started with lots of Revised to get to the desired number of 360 cards, but during the following years I acquired power and black bordered staples until I stumbled over an old school blog. n00bcon 6 (or 7; I'm not sure) had just passed and I learned about a whole new world of people being fond of the same thing. So I started brewing with my cube and bought playsets of some crucial staples. Whenever I played magic I tried to shuffled one of my pet decks consisting of only old cards. Most of the time I was met with amusement and laughter. They weren't ready yet...

I tried to find people to play old school with but I was without luck until last February. I visited a guy to relieve him of a playset unlimited Plateaus and we chatted a bit about old cards and how I regretted that no one in the Netherlands played a format called Old school. In hindsight I think that the possibility of playing with Juzams pushed him over the edge. This chatting continued for several weeks and in the end Erwin and I decided to organize something ourselves. Via Mg I got hold of the e-mail address of Dyan and we held our first "Gathering of the Knights of Thorn" in April. A staggering number of 7 persons participated.
There can be only one first winner!
As Erwin wrote an article about the second gathering I'll fast forward to my preparations for the third gathering.

Preparations for the third gathering
The months prior to the tournament are half the fun in my opinion. The deckbuilding and searching for cards brings back memories of the old times. Since we had several months between the gatherings I had the possibility to really dive into brewing. After playing creatureless in the second gathering (and performing horrible) I decided to make a creature based deck once again. I wanted resilience and consistent creature removal. So I built a Fungusaur/ Whirling Dervish/ Pestilence deck and tried hard to get it running. But it wasn’t competitive enough so I decided to put the project on hold and go for a more proven concept; Erhnamgeddon. When reading about the Erhnamgeddon deck and the possibilities I got greedy and assembled this monster.
Erhnamgeddon with blue power and Serendib Efreets.
How did it perform? Not very well actually. The meta where I tried it was control heavy, resulting in me keeping the Efreets on the bench. Together with the Cities they made the deck a little bit to suicidal. So once more it was back to the drawing board. What I did learn from playing the Erhnamgeddon deck was its raw power. The combination of aggro and control due to the use of Armageddon. So I decided to go back to the more classical WG color combination. By staying at only two colors the Land Tax - Sylvan Library filtering engine was a possibility once again. So this was the first powerhouse I decided to incorporate. Secondly, after having played with the Efreets, I learned once more that evasion is not to be underestimated. So my sideboard would be tailored to exploit flying creatures to the max. If I would match up against a creature heavy deck they would be in for a nasty surprise.
The Erhnamgeddon deck I played at the tournament.
Besides building the deck there where several other things to organize. We had grown out of our previous location. So a location capable of hosting around 40 players (our most positive prediction) had to be found. Game stores are always an option but the requirements of drinking beer and being able to organize however we wanted it made us choose a local bar/ restaurant. In hindsight a great place because we now have a location at which we grow even up to maybe 64 participants (a little lobbying for the next one is allowed right?).

With the challenge of finding a suitable location out of the way I focused on the remaining tasks; getting a reliable score/ pairing program, designing buttons with a picture of the Knights of Thorn on it and (most important) ordering custom playmats.
The spoils before the war.
Day of the tournament
My day started real early (7:00 am) with a WhatsApp from Florian. One of our two German contenders in the tournament. He had woken early and was wondering if I needed a hand with the last preparations for the tournament. Because everything was taken care of already I proposed to join him at the hotel. Nothing beads a few games of early morning old school. I shouldn't have pushed my luck. My opening hand was flawless and the deck was running like hell. He never stood a chance and I was boosting with self-confidence that this deck would earn me my second Knights of Thorn. Probably the best moment of the day result-wise.
Board state somewhere at the beginning of game one.
Unfortunate from there on it all went downhill. We played a second game which I lost. I blamed it on a bad draw from my side and because Florian admitted that his opening was near perfect I didn’t see any problems. After two games time was running out so I left the hotel to go to the side. On my way to the tournament side I picked up Wessel, one of the initial seven, who would help me organize the tournament. At the location we made the last preparations and started signing everyone in. Out of the 41 interested persons 39 turned up.

Round 1My first opponent was Robbie who played a WGU deck. His deck of choice had some overlap with my deck and the previous version of it. But he had chosen control; Efreets and blue power over Armageddon if I recall correctly. His deck was fast enough to withstand the power of my Armageddons and after a miss-timed Balance from my side, which he countered, it was a done deal at 0-2. I shouldn’t have wasted my perfect opening hand on some early morning playtesting :)

Round 2My second opponent was our other German contender, Thilo. The first game was running smooth when he suddenly played a Stasis. This was my first encounter with an old school Stasis deck and with the limited answers I had it looked grim. Luckily I drew into power and with the filtering ability of the library I was able to generate enough mana to land a Serra Angel. From there on the future looked bright again and I secured my first win of the tournament. After sideboarding in my remaining Serra we started our second game. I think he boarded in some more Counterspells because he was able to stall the game long enough to get a Stasis live. From that moment on the game dragged on. Eventually time was called and I hoped to sit out another 5 turns to steal a win but luck had left me. With no time left to start a third game it was Chaos Orb penalty shootout. I missed, 2-1.

Round 3This round I played against Nick who played a really solid mono black deck. He must have had some nasty match-ups otherwise he shouldn’t be playing me in the all-is-lost regions. The first game I had a slow start, he removed my Ernhams and against his Black Knights my swords were useless. I think he eventually grinded me down with a combination of Underworld Dreams and the Knights in the first game. However I felt confident. Because this was the moment to open all registers. I boarded in the pair of Whirling Dervish and went flat out with my flying creatures. Knights don’t fly right? Unfortunately Nick also had answers against white, being Gloom. I used my Disenchants on the Dreams leaving his Glooms untouched. When they became multiple the weight of the additional mana was dragging me under and sealing my fate, 0-2.

The remaining 2 rounds of the tournament I didn’t take any notes. So I’ll fast forward to the top eight elimination rounds. Initially we had intended a top 4 but because of the tournament seize a top 8 was better suited.
Top eight playing round one
We had a healthy mix of deck types contesting for the big price. Wessel and Dyan, both three time Knights of Thorn veterans, made it by playing aggro. Jimmy, the first player ever in our tournament playing “The Deck” had also made it. The remaining five where all newcomers to our playgroup. In the first round, out of the three “experienced” players, only Dyan didn’t get slaughtered. Also my first opponent of the day, Florian, found his Waterloo. Upside of that is the certainty that the big price remained in the Netherlands. There would be no foreign winner of the Gathering of the Knights of Thorn. For now...

The Final was between Roy and Joep. Joep played Erhnamgeddon with blue. His deck only "lacks" the Armageddons but if he wants he can borrow them from me next time we have a tournament. Roy played a powerless control version of mono black choosing Su-Chi over Juzam. Being familiar with a more aggro version of mono black, back then, I didn’t see the upside of his choices. But now, after he has won the tournament, I can only say that I’ve learned new things about mono black. Respect for trying this new approach and congratulations again.
The winning deck
The new Knight of Thorn


  1. I'm sorry to hear that about the Fungusaur deck. I remember seeing that deck or one like it on a previous post. It looked like a blast to play with Fungusaur even if it isn't competitive.

    1. Yeah, Fungusaur is awesome. It feels like it is just a card or two from being competitive. I believe there's something to be had with the Greed+Ivory Tower engine in Fungusar, but I'm not sure how to make it work best yet. I'll keep tweaking my Fungi pile for sure :)

    2. I wonder how efficient Desert would be with good ol' Fungy

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