The weekend before Christmas it was finally time again for the annual NOSMTG Christmas tournament in Oslo. Last time I went was two years ago, when the format was Brothers' Highlander and the world was pre-pandemic. Almost weird to look back at now. The pub we played in back then was run (and recently acquired) by a fellow player, and the idea was to start using that place as a more permanent hang-out for the Olso oldschool crew. Recurring tournaments and game nights and such. But instead the Covid restrictions had our friend sell his bar and fall back to more reliable sources of means. It's been a strange couple of years.

Peace in our time.

It was actually scarily close to being no Christmas Magic this year as well. Oslo opened up a couple of months ago, and life had been close to normal during most of the late autumn. But then the omicron variant happened and turned everything on its head. Bars closed, face masks in the grocery store, limited opening hours on schools and kindergartens, full on home office, and all that jazz again. Still infinitely better than in March or so, when you basically weren't allowed to meet people at all and everything was closed, but not really a party either.

We have heroes in the community though, let's be clear on that. With a limited number of people allowed to meet, and pubs and most public spaces being closed, Audun flexed a bit with the structure and invites, and Trygve found and booked an excellent new location for us on short notice. Even got a cleaning crew booked for the new site. Hats off to that guy, wouldn't have worked without him.

Like previous years, Audun had something spicy in store. This year, the format of choice was Oldschool Brawl. In a nutshell, it is a best-of-three 60-card highlander format without sideboard, where a legendary creature acts as your "commander" and can be cast from outside the game. The other 59 cards must share color with said commander. You start with 20 life, and the banlist is as following:

3+3 banlist.

The top3 cards are "always banned", and the bottom three are "recommended bans". We used the full six-card banlist for the Christmas showdown as it appeared to make the format a bit more fun and balanced.

In addition to the 55 multicolored legends in Legends, Oldschool Brawl also have 10 monocolored creatures errataed to legends. These guys to be specific:

Pixie Queen should also be in that picture, but it would disrupt the layout. Also I don't own a Pixie Queen; partly because I haven't found one and partly because it's a $100 crap rare. But also also, why on earth would Pixie Queen be legal as a legend and not, like, Sorceress Queen? Or Pixie Queen but not Goblin King? This doesn't make any sense, Dave! Pixie Queen is not a unique character; it's not like the card tries to represent Titania or something. And if we're looking for unique characters, Old Man of the Sea is as much a singular character in Arabian Nights as Ali Baba or Aladdin. So add him, why don't you? Would be a cool alternative to the Rubinia Soulsinger decks if nothing else.

Anyway, there were a couple of monocolored decks at the tournament. The most prominent single-color commander was Aladdin, which two players sleeved up as their general (one of them ending up in the the top8). Aladdin is sweet. I also suspect that the pilgrims (El-Hajjaj) could be very good, as could Old Man of the Sea (if DFB decides to actually read Arabian Nights and see that he also is a legend and should be allowed as commander. Shots fired.)


So step one towards building a Brawl deck is to chose your Commander. And hey, maybe I should just play Lord Magnus. It kinda feels like my card. And I do have my Brother's Highlander Lord Magnus deck, which I could just cut 40 cards from to have a legal (and flavorful!) Brawl deck. But sometimes, I find that the most fun in exploring a new format in a tournament can lie in going broken. Maybe - as Sonny Shiba said - if I've got to fight, I should fight dirty.

Body Hammer.

I've argued that Tetsuo should be banned in Oldschool EDH since forever (or at least since Pimpvitational 2013/2014 when we first explored the format). In 100-card EDH Tetsuo is fully broken, as opposing decks are far less consistent and Tetsuo will almost surely win the game on his own. He's not as insane in 20-life-60-card formats, where the decks get a little faster and more effective, and in particular he should be at his worst when the three best blue/black highlander cards (Ancestral, Mind Twist, and Braingeyser) are all banned. So maybe I'm just bringing a sword to this knife fight, not a gun. And to make it a little more fair, even if ever so slightly, I opted to only play black bordered cards in my deck. That meant I was skipping out on hitters like Sedge Troll, Royal Assassin, Counterspell, and Disintegrate (which I only own in Unlimited). In particular X-spells like Disintegrate tend to be really good in formats like this.

Another reason I wanted to play Tetsuo was that I'd somewhat recently traded for him and I never actually played him before. No less than three fairly new Legends cards got their first run at the battlefield this tournament in fact:

Thanks for the Gwendlyn Jason! She's just as delightful as I hoped.

Imprison joined a handful of removal spells that are particularly good against Commanders:

Oubliette was suddenly errataed to exile rather than phase out this tournament, so the only card that could lock out Tetsuo himself is Tawnos's Coffin. The Coffin is wild btw, and an extra argument to play Tetravus (for the combo potential).

My deckbuilding process was basically to take my Project M deck, remove all banned cards and duplicates, up the mana count to 50%, and then add some sweet black bordered cards to fill the holes. It ended up a pretty sweet pile if I can say so myself:

Tetsuo Brawl.

If I'd redo it, keeping the spike mindset, I'd probably increase my mana+land count from 30 to 31-32 (including the Maze), as one of the very few ways to lose is to fail on land drops.

I'd also buy a beta Disintegrate and add that one along with a Lightning Bolt. Cuts would probably be some combination of Hypnotic Specter, Oubliette, Steal Artifact, and Imprison. 

Nuff teching, let's look at some pics from the tournament!

Lasse (playing Jaques Le Vert) looks happy as always, while my opening seven is the stone cold nuts. Turn 2 Tetsuo followed by Control Magic should break any spirit.

Jaques Le Vert deserts to the winning team.

Social, yet distancing.

Everybody gets their own table! 20 players, infinite arm room.

Familiar faces of the Norwegian oldschool scene hanging out in the sofas. Odd Anders, Erland, and Audun are organizers of e.g. Farmstead, Nordic Warrior, and this tournament respectively. And apart from organizing tournaments and communities, they make some sweet content.

First real challenge of the day; a Tetsuo mirror ;) I had a great match with Steinar online during n00bcoM 2, but this was the first time we faced each other IRL. Very entertaining and interesting matchup; high-powered mirror matches with lots of decisions are certainly one of the most exciting ways to play Magic.

Odd Anders (Ramirez DiPietro!) vs Trygve (Sunastian Falconer). Odd Anders brought the stream setup seen behind him, check out his Farmstead YouTube channel for some match videos from the tournament.

Mitja (Tetsuo Umezawa) flew up from the continent to sling cards. Here he's demonstrating a way to lose with Tetsuo, as the Aladdin player has resolved a Meekstone.

Ramirez DiPietro in action against Jaques Le Vert.

Another snap keep against Victor (Xira Arien).

Xira Arien is almost surely a Top5 commander, but I'd still argue that the distance in brokeness between it and Tetsuo is miles.

Took the opportunity to do some trading before final standings were posted. Mitja had returned down the Alpha40 rabbit hole again with White Weenie, so I traded away an Alpha Armageddon to him for the stuff to the left of it. The duals are revised btw, I'm looking to pick up one of each revised dual for a non-oldschool project. Also some more elves for my eventual premodern deck and some more Thrull Champions for value.

But how broken was Tetsuo? Well.

Even with 60-card decks, and the three most powerful blue/black cards banned, this was indeed a bit like bringing a sword to a knife fight. I think this is the first time I've had a 100% game win percentage after a swiss. Things didn't really feel that close apart from the mirrors. Now let's all ban Tetsuo as a Commander in oldschool EDH.

So the deck was kinda stupid, but the tournament was awesome. Even more awesome was the idea for the top8.

1st seed: AudunMagnus. Sunastian Falconer + Tetsuo Umezawa.

2nd seed: MitjaDavid. Tetsuo Umezawa + Xira Arien.

3rd seed: ErlandSteinar. Sol'Kanar the Swamp King + Tetsuo Umezawa.

4th seed: ThomasVictor. Aladdin + Xira Arien.

Yeah mofos, the top8 was a surprise Two-Headed Giant showdown. 2-vs-2 simultaneously, 30 life as a team, best of one. Now that is a spicy and unexpected way to end a tournament.

Newer played Oldschool Two-Headed Giant Brawl before, but now I will highly recommend it.

Audun and I won our first game against Aladdin + Xira (after some memorable Disharmony shenanigans), and faced Tetsuo + Xira in the finals. Thanks to a turn one Detonate on a Mox of mine followed by some very subpar drawsteps, I suffered my first mana fizzle of the tournament. But Audun kept the fort until we could somewhat build up, and the last turn Audun and I both cast Shivan Dragon. I had Control Magic, Imprison, and Oubliette in hand to handle any potential blocker, and Audun had a Mana Flare to drop next turn to make our firebreathing Dragons a one-punch kill. Mitja and David drew for their turn, looked at each other, and then proceeded to both cast Fireballs for nine in our heads. Oh well, best of one it was. And we certainly can't deny MitjaDavid is a highly deserving and handsome champion. Congrats dudes!

Here are their winning 2HG decks:

Mitja's Tetsuo.

David's Xira.


This post got really late due to Christmas and all that, and now we're almost at the New Year. So lets end this with wishing you all a happy new year! I hope to see a bunch more of you face-to-face in 2022.

Happy New Year!


  1. Happy New Year to you Mg!

    I wish you and your family all the best for 2022.

    I like playing singleton and also two-headed. It must have been a great tournament.

  2. Happy new year, looks like a great time. and glad to see Gwenny made it safe to her new home. <3


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