Schram's Magic Fest 2019

"MtgUnderground"? Heh. What does that even mean? Is n00bcon - possibly Sweden's largest constructed tournament regardless of format - still something that can even remotely be referred to as "underground"? Is Eternal Weekend, or Fishliver Oil Cup, with their triple digit number of players and vast number of reports, reviews, deck list dissections and threads something that we still consider hidden or rebellious?

You are not your DCI number. You are not your highest Grand Prix finish. You are not your standard deck. You are not the contents of your trade binder.”
Ali from Cairo

We are, after all, not really a niche format anymore in the grand community. These days we represent a notable slice of the cake that is Magic. We are not obscure, but we are certainly not our DCI numbers either. We are casual. We are unsanctioned. We make our own gatherings the way we want to play them - some large and some small - and play in good company.

That Ali quote - transliterated by the good Shaman Ben back in 2015, before he was known as the Librarian - still rings true. Every now and then I just think that we're shuffling the words away.  MtgUnderground was never really about being sub-cultural, secretive or rebellious as goals in itself. The goal was always good company, good beer, and great Magic. Being casual and unsanctioned could open doors we may otherwise have missed. Magic can be a party game.

The first guest post I wrote for the MtgUnderground blog was about a 10-player 93/94 tournament in a hotel room in Borås. It had good company, good beer and great Magic. The second post I wrote there was about my defenses towards shame and vulnerability. In between those were GP reports, MonoGreen tech, and coming-of-age stories, all written in a shamanic gonzo style by the good Doctor Superstition. The underground as he saw it, and I assume still sees it, didn't really care about formats or the structure at hand. It was a mindset.

I guess I'm rambling. I also guess I should write something about the aftermath of the Vegas tournament, but I don't really know what. So I'll just say this. In this community, give people the benefit of the doubt and don't be a douche online.

And we ain't need no mega-church to praise the MtgUnderground. "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Well said, Matthew 18:20. If that is in fact your real name.

Some weeks ago I had the chance to join a Magic Festival that truly embodied the great company, great spirits and great Magic that is so near and dear to my heart. A gathering across kitchen tables that fully checked the boxes of everything the game can be. Schram's Magic Fest.

Even with swag this year. Not a shabby move when there are only eight people in attendance.

The lovable host.

Schram is one of the old guard. He's had his Shark for eight years now. He's the arrowhead of the spear that is Team Lisch in Lidköping, Sweden. And he is a god-damned one-man party. Schram's Magic Fest is not unlike BenCon in the setup, though less board games and more hard liquor. The Fest was inaugurated last year, when I sadly missed it, and I was  ready to make up for lost time. Let's have the pictures do the talking.

Traveling from Oslo to Lidköping is a slight ordeal without a car. But I was kindly offered a ride from Gothenburg with Morgan "Farsan" Karlsson, Kalle Nord, Sveby and GaJol if I could meet them up in the morning. Oslo -> Gothenburg is less than four hours with train or bus, so road trip from the Cradle City it was. We met up with Schram (in the middle) and started out at the local pizzeria.

Looking into a random closet. Schram's home was a treasure trove of secret nerd caves if I'd ever seen one. His wife and kids were away for the weekend, so we were free to roam the house pretty much as we wished.

Another sweet door to open.

The first challenge of the day would be Unified Emperor with expansions up to Ice Age (and a kinda debated B&R). I was teaming up with Farsan and Kalle, but we were way late on the deck tweaking. We ended up on Mystic Remora Control / Mirror Ball for the Emperor (Farsan), flanked by Goblin Sligh (Kalle) and DeadGuy (me). Blazing hot sun btw, some cards actually started to transmute in the heat outside.

When things look bright at a Magic gathering, you can count on Michell Ruaro to turn up and make it even brighter. 

Ruaro recently started up a micro-distillery and brought samples of truly amazing gin.

Probably the best gin & tonic I've had in my life.

Schram throws his hat in the spirit competition by forcing everyone to drink a glass of truly horrible tequila. Can't have only pleasure and no pain.

Secret tech in my Emperor deck. If we can't win, no one should. Divine Intervention FTD.

Getting ready to rumble. To battle Emperor in style, our slinging takes place on the Khalsa-Brain six-player mat. Intended use.

Emperor Sveby and Schram scheming against my Juzams. GaJol protecting his flank against Kalle.

Trying our best to scheme back. But to no avail. We even demanded a re-match and got crushed once again. Sveby-Schram-Gajol had properly taken advantage of the format's peculiarities. Our strategy had been along the lines of having  the generals protect the emperor until he could go off. Sveby, on the other hand, was an emperor for the people; taking full advantage of cards like Candelabra of Tawnos and Mana Flare to super-charge his generals' game plans. Our Machiavellian strategies were easily foiled by his benevolent approach.

Yeah, getting all your lands untapped twice or more each turn gets kinda ridicolous quickly. But we will be back next year, with battle scars.

Next up was a standard 93/94 tournament, but with Fallen Empires and Homelands legal to spicy things up. MonoGreen control it is.

Clearly an unbeatable hand against The Beef.

Managed to give Sveby some payback for the earlier beatings.

The old guard trading stories of good and bad beats.

I will make some tweaks if (when) I run this deck again, but this was a fantastically amusing pile to pilot. It's almost like a green Distress deck. The Aeolipiles are Serrated Arrows btw, but I didn't have them at hand during picture time. 4-3 in matches.

Kalle flippin' burgers.

Come for the Magic, stay for the Gathering.

The evening escalated sharply from here, but I guess that some things that happen at the Magic Fest best stay at the Magic Fest.

Hangover Tribelander with Gajol, who had brought around ten decks with him to sling. Here we have monored Mecha Goblins vs RW Dwarves. Managed to get the good ol' Krenko, Mob Boss + Mycrosynth Lattice + Goblin Trashmaster combo going after some serious Welder shenanigans. That is pretty unbeatable.

And I got this from Kalle! Not the final print schablone (as that one has wound up with good people in the Netherlands), but this is the sketch for my favorite single-player mat.

While I may not technically have won the Magic Fest (that honor and glory went to Schram), I believe that everyone who joined this party felt like a winner. I sincerely hope there will be a third time. Then, perhaps, it will be time to raise our glasses to a new Emperor.