Dwarven Warriors 3


Frog says to fish, "How's the water?"
Fish replies, "What's water?"

That story has repeated itself in my head a lot this year. A realization that I get blind to what I'm familiar with. Ask me 15 years ago about international Magic tournaments with casual competition, jovial players, flowing beer and glorious old decks - tournaments that are a party as much as a competition - and I'd thought of it a pipe dream. Then, imperceptibly over years, it becomes a natural and expected part of life. Weekly meet-ups at pubs, traveling around the continent slinging cards, limited only by the time I can spend on it in good conscious rather than any lack of opportunity to play. It turns to familiar ground, so I don't really reflect over how great and important it is. Not until it is removed, and I'm a fish out of water.

Six months is a pretty long time on dry land. I got some fix to survive the Easter with n00bcoM, but I also found that online playing doesn't really do it for me the same way. I crave the steam and noise and clank of The Gathering. So I bide my time, wait, sit on the sidelines until any gathering I would have perceived as "normal" in 2019 rears its head somewhere.

May 25th. Find an email from Erwin Demmer waiting in my mailbox. Those who have experienced his gatherings are a lucky few. Erwin's tournaments are peak awesome in a way it is hard to describe. I noted during my Fishliver Oil Cup report last year that I can't really compare large and small gatherings as they scratch different itches, and mentioned Dwarven Warriors in particular as one sweet gathering that Fishliver Oil (or n00bcon, or whatever major event) didn't fight in the same weight class as. The heavy weight contenders are awesome in their own right, but if we're talking welterweight, this is probably the world champion.

Everything else in the world is cancelled. But this gathering of 22 takes place at Erwin's home, and as such could work, if I'm allowed to travel. It even takes place on my birthday. That must be a good omen.

Two months pass, and Norway open the borders to Holland. Both countries have handled the pandemic comparably well during the summer, and given some precaution, traveling should be OK. It's the middle of July, and I buy my tickets. We'll sorely miss Jason and Charlie from the US this year, and the prospects for friends in Belgium and Sweden look bleak, but all things considered, this might actually work.

I build my deck, I watch the news. I'm feeling hopeful.

Friday. Travel day. On my way to the airport I hear that France, Switzerland, Monaco and Czech Republic just became "red zones". Holland looks borderline if I ever saw it, but it is still judged as green. The planes will go as planned, and there's no recommendations that I stay home. It's on.

The format for Dwarven Warriors is Alpha/Beta only, aka Limited Constructed. It follows standard 93/94 deck construction rules and B&R - with the caveat that the only legal sets are Alpha and Beta. The swiss is divided into a powered and an un-powered group, with four players from each group moving on to the top8. So card availability is a huge thing, and there will be a lot of strange brews. The format has gotten a dedicated following, and I heard the amount of Beta cards flowing into the hands of dutch players had been pretty wild in the last year.

Decades of dabbling have luckily given me a pretty deep card pool in A/B, particularly in black and white.

This is a potent deck, and I'll recommend it for anyone looking to sell both kidneys for the chance to spike a casual tournament. I would have played three maindeck books had I owned them (cutting the one-off Scepter), and the sideboard should probably have been 4 Terror, 4 CoP: Black, 2 CoP: Red, 3 Juggernaut, 1 Demonic Hordes, 1 Armageddon. That said, the deck can get a little repetitive (for my taste) as the game plan is linear and there are no real synergies going on; every spell in the deck pretty much stands on its own. Given an infinite card pool, I might have gone a different route and opted for some more shenanigans. In particular I was utterly impressed by Marten Buhler's sweet Enchantress deck (which I also believe won the swiss).

I feel like I have a million things to say about the awesomeness that was Dwarven Warriors 3, but also realize that the event took place two weeks ago already and if I try to cover everything I'll never finish this post. So let's just let some pictures do the talking.

After a warm welcome at the airport by Erwin and his daughter, I get a ride to Erwin's home to meet up with a couple of travelers preparing for tomorrow. Here's Juan López Buzón from Spain enjoying the heat with Erwin.

Juan was accompanied on the long road trip by the glorious Jordi Gálvez. Jordi is on mono-black and had some insane Frozen Shade beats going on. Beer and good games are flowing.

Juan and Jordi brought a crazy good piece of original watercolor from an artist in Spain. The LCOS crew really have some artistry going on.

It is fully impossible to not feel sparks of joy playing this format in this setting.

On the note of sparks of joy, when the hour turned midnight Erwin and Marijke set off fireworks and catch me off guard with a sparkling birthday cake and a personalized Dwarven Warriors. I had no idea they'd registered that it would be my birthday, and this was insane in so many ways.

That's a picture of me and Erwin on the cake!

The night is long and full of wonders, but eventually we turn to rest before tomorrow's fight. I'm offered splendid quarter in Erwin's daughter's room (where an elf lives in the wall) and catch ten hours of sleep. Undisturbed long sleep is a rare and golden luxury these days, and I am greeted with Dwarven Warriors pastries, beer and happy faces when I exhume myself. Birthday Magic is on!

Some history. Dwarven Warriors takes place at Erwin's home in the village Voorthuizen around the center of the Netherlands. Last year he had 30 invites, though Covid made him scale down to around 20 this year. Everything is provided for free; lunch and fancy dinner, fancy snacks, pastries and meats between that, and everything one could want to drink. Around 240 beers were consumed during the tournament, which is kinda braggable considering that a decent number of the 22 attending were driving and stayed sober. Reporting is mostly done via yelling, but everything runs surprisingly smooth. The tournament doesn't have any entry fee, though participants are welcome to anonymously donate what they see fit in a ceramic bucket to support the event. Tables are set up both indoors and outdoors, and the spirits are as jovial as they get.

Part of the outdoor area. It was 35 degrees outside (95F), which made the party tents something of a necessity.

Garage and feature match area (behind the towel). The event was streamed by TimmyTalks on Twitch, though I do not believe it will be uploaded to his YouTube channel. The stream was, putting it mildly, kinda intense, and as such may not be suitable content. Regardless, it was a pleasure to get some proper chatting with T Meddens in person. Hilarious dude, and a stone-cold professional at that.

Above the TV in the garage we spot the printing plate for the original n00bcon playmat. I believe a part of the deal for acquiring the plate from Kalle Nord included an offer to shine Kalle's shoes. Kalle unfortunately couldn't make it to Dwarven Warriors this year, but I hope that his invite stands for 2021 and we'll see some proper polishing in the not too distant future.

The birthday miracles keeps on delivering, and I'm treated to celebratory song in multiple different languages at once as I receive a glorious Dwarven Warriors t-shirt. Next to me is Wilfred, perhaps the wildest card in the deck. Marijke (next to Erwin) is credited as the actual tournament organizer by those in the know.

The glorious shirt. The "4,000" on the right sleeve is a reference to a bad English pronunciation of "Voorthuizen" originating at DW1.

Using the original 1993 white mana symbol for the color wheel on the back is proper attention to detail.

Familiar faces mixed in with a couple of new friends. 

The game is afoot! There wasn't enough players in the Power group to make it an even split, so a couple of non-powered players got into the ring with the broken decks. This was a solid mono-green deck, and Hurricane is really good against me, so it turned out to be an interesting game. Though in the end, I played broken cards and my opponent didn't.

Next up was Powered Troll Disco. Sweet matchup, and Terror from the sideboard get to shine.

Erwin vs last year's champion Dyan. He's sporting mono-black and looks to be on a roll this year again.

Fending off Florian von Bredow and his even more powered up Disks in round 3. Always a pleasure to play him, and sweet to hear more stories about his online exploits. The only online games I've played were at his splendidly organized n00bcoM tournament this Easter, and he keeps shining oldschool on the interwebs. Perhaps expected, perhaps not, a majority of the people I talked to during Dwarven Warriors pretty much hadn't played since February. Many of us aren't able get our fix the right way without meeting in person, and as such we spend our months in the pandemic waiting rather than Skyping. But for those of us able to participate and get their rocks rolling online, organisers like Florian are light in dark waters.

Round four, facing Marten Beuhler at the X-and-0 table. Marten plays Enchantress. I knew there had to be a format where Verduran Enchantress was good. Though I did not expect it to be this one. Game one, we sit outside and our sleeves start to melt in the heat. After he has finished me off with an eventual Mahamothi Djinn, we move the fight indoors.

How is this deck so good and so glorious at the same time? Sure, Control Magic is one of the best cards in the format, but still, it is the actual Enchantresses and their card advantage that get me.

The Kramer brothers and Marijke witness the slaughter with terror in their eyes.

Chilling with the Kramers, swapping stories.

Powerful cards changing hands in the heat.

I kinda got lost into the game and atmosphere around round four, so I don't have much in terms of pictures after that. But I somehow managed to top8, where I was paired against green/black from the powerless pod in the quarters. That was my least fair game of the day by a decent margin. In the semis I faced last year's champion Dyan who convincing defeated me with his mono black. I'd argue that it is a pretty close matchup, but there is no denying that mono black is a very strong deck and that Dyan is an exceptional player. Dyan then bested the black mirror in the finals to become the champion of Dwarven Warriors for the second year running, winning the coveted Alpha Dwarven Warriors. Ron Dijkstra at second place was bequeathed a Beta version of the same card, and I managed to win the third place match for an Unlimited copy (and a proud place at the beer podium).

The grand challenge prize of the tournament - a "decorative" wooden Dwarf to be displayed prominently in the winner's home for the next year - was expertly claimed by Juan. This is the real winner.

Blurry post-tournament group photo.

Swag, glorious swag! Clockwise from the top left: Knights of Thorn patches, LCOS Patch, LCOS key chain, Uthen Troll Cup pin, Dwarven Warriors card with birthday wishes, Force of Nature beer coaster, Force of Nature pin, Timmy Talks pin, Dutch Guild stickers, 3rd place Dwarven Warriors card, Mountain with Chaos Orb alter by Mari. All the sweetness displayed on a spectacular Dutch Guild playmat.

Erwin and the Dutch crew really outdid themselves. This was a fantastic event, one I sorely hope I get to return to in 2021. And the timing was fortunate, finding one of the few windows this year when this was possible. Three days after I came home, there was no "green zone" left in the world according to Norwegian travel guidelines. The best you can find on a map today is yellow, and Holland has turned red. An oasis like Dwarven Warriors amid the drought and chaos was priceless, and I will cherish and draw on these memories in the months to come. I hope it wont be too long until next time.


  1. Hi MG, it was great seeing you again after we played at knights of thorn 2 years ago. Reading your report made me relive the day a bit, Erwin (or actually Marijke) did a great job organizing and we are blessed with a great local community. Me and Mari indeed had some fun with Timmy on the stream but I believe it will get censored and published. I hope we all get to play live soon, until that time I will get my “shot” online.

    Cheers! HW-MTG

    1. Thanks a lot Henk, was a pleasure seeing you again! I just got a link to the raw stream from Timmy, looking forward to watch it and hear some unfiltered comments from you guys in the top8 ;) I hope the next time will be soon!

  2. Man, first time paired against you, and it has to be an unpowered, on-camera T8 match. It was a blast though! Next time we’ll take our time, and drink a beer or two, while chatting away lol

    1. Haha, yeah, and you even had to mulligan to five if I recall correctly. It was fun to use Disenchant on Weakness for the first time in 25 years or so though ;) Here's to a longer and more chatty next time, looking forward to it! Cheers!

  3. It was a pleasure having all of you Guys over!! Looking back on a magical weekend, even though I still dont know shit about the game :)

    With the countries closing up again it was a true oasis indeed...

    See you next year, the elf will be waiting!!

    Erwin and Marijke!

    1. You guys are the best! And give my thanks to Tess for showing up with a balloon and letting me hang out with her elf :)

  4. It was fun meeting you Magnus! And thanks for letting my Royal Assassin live up to his reputation and kill so many big flyers. Awesome games!

    1. Yeah, that guy was a murderer! Serra, Sengir and Hyppie all in the same game. And congrats on the great finish with the sweet deck!


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