Notes from the Scandinavian Championship

Arvika. My seventh time over at the most dense 93/94 scene in Sweden. Hell, probably in the world. 14,000 people live in the city, and you could presumably dig up around fifty old school players in the neighboring area if you were inclined. The FNMs at the local card shop are 93/94, and most of the players here stay abstinent from modern cardboard. Apart from the Magic, the city and the people have a certain feel I can't really put my finger on. This is a special place in the Swedish woods.

The Patron Wizard around these parts is KungMarkus. When he organized the first Arvika Festival tournament four years ago, we were 16 players. Hardy and myself were the strangers. A couple of years into the Festival the Arvika players also got responsibility for hosting the Scandinavian Championship. This gathering, the sixth tournament were the Arvika Crew invite the rest of the country to battle on their turf, saw somewhere around 85. This time we even had distinguished guests from the continent, with ViennaGeddon organizer Mitja Held and reigning world champion Alban Lauter from Germany joining the fight.

Last time I set foot in Arvika I brought The Deck. It was my virgin journey with the boogie man of the format, and I can't say I didn't enjoy it. I like drawing cards and playing the legendary artifacts that pile brings, and my initial plan was to sleeve it up for a second time. My competitive gene was in unusually high spirits for this gathering, and I'm yet to pick up a Giant Shark myself. But then I recalled last time at the championship, and how the length of the rounds and intense sound level made me unable to fully enjoy the experience between matches. So I decided to scrap my control plans and give UR Burn a try. Never played that one before, and it could be interesting to check out its power level from a pilot's perspective.

I sleeved it up and tried out a bunch of games against the goldfish and a few real decks. And my god, that pile is one horrible way to arrange Magic cards. It won, sure, but I can hardly image a deck I felt more bored playing. I would rather challenge my opponents to a game of Monopoly than play this deck for seven rounds. I am not saying that Olle Råde or Gordon Anderson are wrong to enjoy this deck, fun is clearly subjective, but piloting this deck for me was about as fun as eating a bag of salt.

I threw it away, and went back to more familiar grounds. It had been a few years since I last sleeved up Distress, and I had gotten my hands on a second The Abyss since then. The temporal spike in me made an easy upgrade by splashing the blue-pack, and I was off to the races.
Distress! Fun!
So I had somehow picked an even grindier deck than The Deck by virtue of discarding The Deck for being to slow to play. I am pretty fast at playing Distress though, and much more familiar with this than The Deck, so I figured I could use mental shortcuts more often and perhaps keep my energy up longer regardless. Seven rounds filled with beer, starting five in the evening, will necessarily be a test of endurance as well as Magic.
Haupsdeck Distress
Most choices here are fairly straight forward for people familiar with the brew. Hypnotics in the sideboard are against combo and some versions of control, Black Vise is an answer to Ivory Tower, Gloom is pretty much only to slow down Circle of Protection. The blue power is an insurance against Mind Twist, and Timetwister is a proper wincon. Blue could possibly be cut for red, the maindeck splash would then probably only be Wheel of Fortune, and the sideboard could have Shatter instead of Black Vise. Never let the the opponent draw cards of your Howling Mines if you can avoid it. Fun :)

As every time before I've joined a tournament in Arvika, my partner at the train would be Hardy. Hardy is currently on parental leave, and his fiancee was away for the weekend, so he brought along the six-month old for the ride. Dadgic: The Fathering.
Train people.
I before we go further into the city of Arvika, I just want to throw out an extra shout to KungMarkus and the Arvika Crew. Fantastic hosting! It is a supreme pleasure to be able to go to a tournament of this caliber without doing anything except enjoying the gathering. You guys truly embody the spirit of the format.
Carro and KungMarkus keeping the fort.
Or, I did do one thing for the gathering, as have become custom. I designed and ordered the pins. This time I thought it could be funny to use the warrior from Holy Day in Legends on the backdrop of a Swedish/Norwegian union flag. It was a holy day as tournaments go, and the contenders on the Scandinavian Championship were mostly Swedes and Norwegians. It took until the Sunday hangover before I realized that the pins looked kinda odd if you remove our MtG-tinted glasses. This could possibly be mistaken for the logo of some unsavory power band.
Now I can't unsee it.
Back to the train.
Sideboard teching.
Fellow Oslo Magician Michael Kjebekk.
Upon arrival in Arvika, we were greeted Ruaro and The Beef from Team Lisch in Lidköping. Catching me completely off-guard, they had the most amazing surprise in store.
What the actual balls. All the whiskey in the world, branded glass and bottles, and sweet stuff.
Ruaro and The Beef. Note the Juzam tattoo btw :)
They had arrived a day earlier for an Alpha-only tournament at the site. Don't have much details about that one, as details for those kind of gatherings tend to be scarce as a part of the experience, but as I understood it JhovalKing had picked up the victory with a fully broken Time Vault deck, facing Kalle Nord in the finals.
Shenanigans in the makings.
As for a tournament report, I can note that I had a great time, went a respectable 5-2, and got in some sweet trading and Alpha games as the Top8 unfolded. I'm expecting a report from the winner in the next few days, so lets just look at a few pictures from the gathering for now.
The main room, hosting a little north of 50 players. This was the first time in Arvika we needed to open up more rooms to fit everybody.
Room B, with the top tables. Lots of familar faces all around.
Hardy got his own table to accompany the stroller and kid. Also note the sweet Norway Oldschool Mtg t-shirt. Rad stuff.
William's trading table has become a fixture at the major Swedish gatherings.
Facing off against 2017 Rookie of the Year Erik Sjödin from the Ö-vik community. Started the match with a decisive Timetwister for 21 damage, but in the end lost a close match against his WR Midrange.
Managed to beat Kenneth from the Olso community, a notoriously hard opponent for me. His Troll Disco is a though matchup for Distress, but I somehow managed to seal the deal on the back of The Abyss and Drain Lifes. Next to us we have international guest and current World Champion Alban Lauter.
Facing off against Kalle in round five. Hide your children.
We did get some cheering from the bar though :)
And I got some swag! Thanks Kalle!
Alban's trade binder. Not a shabby set of lands. Alban and Mitja help fund their trips and spread some more powerful cards to the Nordic countries by doing some trading and selling. Win-win. They also swung by Oslo to hang out at a local meetup this Monday before they returning to the continent.
Erland's binder. Somewhat HP Beta Ancestral right there.
Mitja managed to reach the top8, despite a truly impressive intoxication level. He won his quarterfinal, but the alcohol prompted him to drop in the semis. Fairly rare occurrence in most 80+ player Mtg tournaments. Welcome to Arvika.
Meanwhile, I'm off playing one of the stranger mirror matches in my years of Magic. As August-93 (or Wizards' Tournament Magic, or Alpha 40) is mostly brewed on the sidelines of social media and the web, decklists are fairly rare, and I had no idea that I could face another guy with the same gameplan. Hell, neither of us had a clue there existed another Psychic Venom deck in the world before we met up at Arvika.
Tap your Island, you take 10. As Garfield intended.
Surprisingly I don't think we managed to steal any of each others Psychic Venoms, but I did find an extra Braingeyser in my deck when I got home and unpacked. Sorry about that, it is coming in the mail.
Loff vs Audun in more Alpha shenanigans.
The Alpha tables are filling up.
JohavalKing vs Kalle playing a couple of properly broken decks. It surprises me in so many ways that the Wizards' Tournament format became a thing. I mean, it is in fact a joke that we're all just taking way too far. We're somehow like 100 players from fifteen countries signed up for the next one. So I will from here on start subtitling Wizards' Tournament as The Magic World Championship. Hah.
Some old school trading with Kalle. Downgrading my Alpha Sapphire to a more beat up Beta one, and getting some sweet, sweet filler. Never thought I'd actually get a Tabernacle as I'm unwilling to buy it, but trading surely works. It will find a good home in the Distress sideboard for sure.
Friendship is Magic.
Back at the tournament at hand, it is  time for the game for all the marbles and the coveted Shark. Some proper Elder Dragons in the format facing off, neither of which are unaccustomed to previous Shark finals. A proper report from the winner is coming soon, so I'll keep my spoilers at a minimum.
Sometime after five in the morning, a ragtag gang is back in the room I'm proud I get to call a second home at Markus's place. Hardy is sleeping downstairs with the kid this time, but Honka and Kalle doesn't disappoint as bedfellows go. Situations made me laugh so hard I got tears in my eyes.
Back to life. The sun shines over Arvika.
The traditional post-tournament pizza.
Swinging by one of the hotels, spellslingers keep spellslinging in the lobby.
Lobby Mtg.
Honka getting back into the game.
Hardy contemplating his tech.
The final treasure. Thank you so much, this was fantastic.
With that I bid Arvika adieu for this time. Next time on that turf will probably be in February, when the annual Festival returns for its fifth iteration. Thank you all for a magical weekend!


  1. So what your saying is that No one under 30 plays in sweden? And the play group strarted in 2016?... i give you guys 2 more years (3 mo. If you were americans) before its as stale as (93/94)was in 98

    1. I'm not saying that. Our first play group started in 2007, the Arvika group started around 2013. We've had a continuous growth with new players for the last 11 years. The younger players here are younger than the game itself.

      I guess I'm feeding a troll here, but whatever.

  2. May I ask how you sideboard with your Distress deck against The Deck?

    1. You may :)

      It depends on the player and whether you're on the play or draw; but the baseline expectation would be that the The Deck player will cut 2-4 Swords to Plowshares and add some combination of Divine Offering and Dust to Dust, and possibly Serra Angel or Tranquility. If I expect that at bunch of swords will go, I'll add four Hypnotics by cutting 2 The Abyss, Tabernacle and Maze. If I suspect they'll keep all Swords and go for Angels, it is very player dependent, but it is not uncommon to cut the Abysses and Tabernacle for e.g. Gloom, City in a Bottle and an extra Drain Life or Disk (a little dependent on if I suspect Mirror Universe or not; Disk goes in first if Mirror is a big concern).

      If I expect a The Deck heavy meta, I would however cut Black Vise in the sideboard for Warp Artifacts. Warp Artifact is an easy add against The Deck, and hard for them to remove as there are so many other things for them to waste their Disenchants on.

      Distress has a pretty good matchup against an average The Deck player I would say. Though there are a lot of mindgames both in terms of sideboarding and in terms of resource denial and baiting during the game. It is a fun matchup :)

    2. Thanks, very nice:-)

      I love to play the Distress deck (both the Mono black version and with the blue splash), and it's a fun deck to "tweak and tune" as well.

      I don't own a Tabernacle at the moment, but it would be a nice addition to the collection for sure. Haven't played with Warp Artifacts. I often go for the full set of Glooms in the SB against The Deck:-).


Skicka en kommentar