PastaCon 2022: A stream of conscious report

Reinvitational, yes. The Reindeer asked if I wanted to write something about last weekend, so write something I shall. For this was a weekend to write about.

Background. Happenstances during the last couple of years have somewhat altered my approach to international travels. I'm not sure if disinclination is a word, but if it is, I'd probably use it to describe my current stance on airports. When one's last three international Magic trips have been last-minute disrupted by the Delta variant, an Italian airport strike, and the Omikron variant in turn, it takes a toll on an old man's enthusiasm to displace himself. And just two weeks before this magical weekend in the Swiss alps, I spent four hours standing in a security check line at Schiphol with my pregnant wife, while the plane home to our young daughter mercilessly departed without us. Huff. Flying.

I had actually tried to visit the Reindeer less than a year earlier, to celebrate his 40th birthday in late October 2021. He shares his birthday with my older sister, who also was to turn 40 that same weekend. Still, I figured that I could go to Switzerland and hang with friends, but then a divorce followed by a quick move to a new place for my sister made me re-prioritize and focus on family in blood that weekend instead. Most all my attempts on international trips have been kinda cursed in the last year or two.

Anyway, what all this middle-age whining boils down to, is that if I was to expose myself to the likely heart break caused by yet another failed attempt to cross the skies, the potential upside would have to be something special. But oh boy did old Reindeer deliver hook, line, and sinker.

The uppest of sides.

Reinvitational, these days also known as PastaCon, was a three-day invitational gathering at the glorious Casa Reindeer in the heart of Switzerland. A sweet-spot sized gathering of 20-30 players from around the globe, with familiar faces from Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Chile, USA, Austria, UK, Spain, and, of course, Switzerland.

The whole experience was, in lack of a better word, magical. When self-proclaimed spike Svante Landgraf talks more vividly about going swimming than that he just top8'd, and when ol' champion Marc Lanigra drives from Germany just to hang out without even playing in the event, you know that you're in a good place. Gordon Anderson talked about coming here akin to "stepping out of reality".

I arrived at the site Friday around noon, after getting out of bed around 03:30 in the morning and jumping on a plane at 06:50. Most of the internationals had arrived the day before, hanging out on boats and stuff, but Friday was the day the scheduled events started.

Gentlemen on a boat.

As it was vacation, I'd decided to travel internet-less as much as possible, and so my active phone for the trip was a Matrix-style Nokia 8810. This led to some minor mishaps at Zurich airport, as all my (physical) notes on how to get to the Reindeer from the airport took starting point from the Geneva airport. I had a good while of confusion before realizing my folly, applying some old school technology to plot a new route, and arriving a bit late to the first event.

Got picked up by a wicked handsome Marc Lanigra at the train station. Dude had gained a beard but lost something like 40 kg since I saw him last. In this game he beat me using a blue Hurricane, which is a rad way to go.

Friday's main event was a spectacular surprise. Though anyone who spent time in middle-school circa 1996 playing Magic during recess should be familiar with the general concept. Participants first got to pair up with another player, and then choose their color of allegiance. Each player then got a box of cards, with strong focus on their main color of allegiance, along with some additional solid cards from their friendly colors, and some scraps from the enemy colors. We were going Shandalar, but IRL.

In addition to the real cards - and no mistake, these were real cards, including fancy stuff like Beta and Arabian Nights - every player got a set of Urborg cards. These were home-made cards representing known events or people in the 93/94 community, along with some additional fantasy cards and Ante-cards.

The rules (yeah, we all got a tiny 1995-style rulebook along with the starter cards) was that we were allowed to use unlimited copies of ourselves, along with a single copy of one other Urborg card. Trading was highly encouraged, but we had to use "schoolyard value" for any trades. So stuff like my Beta Dwarven Demolition Team was basically worthless and had no offers at all, while my Chronicles Xira Arien had piles of trade opportunities (and me opening a Mahamothi Djinn meant that I was a blue/black player). Additionally, all games would be played for ante.

Apart from possibly Project M, this is likely the sweetest deck I've played since '97.

I managed to trade for a couple of heavy hitters, including a Sengir Vampire, and eventually found myself with a wicked rad pile. And then everyone started playing.

It was a bit unclear how to actually win the tournament; it was more like everyone in the tournament was a winner and we were all back in middle-school together. Still there were incentives for good runs, e.g. the first team to get five wins got a new booster to add to their collection which was guaranteed to include a (proxied) power card. Second team to reach five wins would get another booster, as would teams that unlocked particular achievements. All in all, I had some of the best Magic of my life. Cast Krovikan Fetish on Black Knight and Rag Manned away an Air Elemental. Then the Reindeer grilled a pig, and we all ate meat and drank red wine to our heart's content.

Suddenly night was upon us, and the 40K decks hit the table. Jason, Svante, Tim, Gordon, The Reindeer, Slanfan, DFB, and myself made this a respectable gathering of 40K fools.

Lost a blind Chain Lightning to Svante; skillfully blinding the actual cheapest card in my deck (all my basics are A/B).

Giving the bird to Christian after losing a Ball Lightning to DFB.

Tim flips a good Bird in our game. Damn, really wanted that Chaos Orb.

In the end my trades on the ante tables was a bird, a Chain Lightning, and a Ball Lightning for three birds. One of the birds was really cool though, a full-art Ken Meyer Jr. alter that I won of blind ante with Jason. Win of the evening likely goes to Gordon Anderson, who managed to pick up a Mind Twist and a Sol Ring in the same game against Jason.

And this is a bird that I'll eventually have to try to rescue from across the ocean. Gordon altered one of his losses with my coat of arms and named the bird Magnus.

Into the night.

Saturday started with me sleeping in and casually missing out on the weisswurst  and pretzel breakfast. The breakfast was reportedly great, but I hadn't slept for two years or so, so that option was too enticing to skip.

The main event was Gentlemen's Swedish 93/94; i.e. the traditional restricted list but with Library of Alexandria and Mind Twist banned. I sleeved up Project M (as is tradition), cutting the Library for Badlands and Mind Twist for Juzam Djinn.

There was some undeniably great Magic going on. A few person highlights:

  • Opponent plays Blood Moon to lock me out; I top Shivan Dragon to kill him in two hits due to all the lands being Mountains.
  • Opponent mulls to six, starts by land, mox, mox, Sol Ring, Black Lotus, Timetwister; finds another mox and Wheel on the Twister, and eventually plays like ten permanents and draws 20 cards before my turn one.
  • I Demonic Tutor for Prodigal Sorcerer which seems almost impossible for my opponent to beat, but he has his one out in Chaos Orb and manages to kill Tim on sight.
  • I'm killed by a combination of Storm Seeker and Titania's Song.
  • Juzam Djinn smashes face, as always.

In the end I got about as many wins as losses, probably a few more losses than wins (great tournament report, this one). But somehow I found myself very happy to not top8. Because while I love playing oldschool in general - and Project M against great friends in particular - what I really wanted to play during the rest of the evening was the Urborg schoolyard deck from yesterday. Those piles of random were arguably even better Magic than our fancy tuned pet decks.

Maindeck Megu ftw. Miss you man!

As the swiss unfolded, some Italian heroes went in to occupy the kitchen. And in the same vein n00bcon 13 became s0upcon, this is how Reinvitational became PastaCon.

If you never had a small group of Italians seize your kitchen to cook pasta, I now believe you haven't really eaten pasta. What followed was some spectacular food, which the Italians of course argued wasn't anything compared to what they could fix at home.

Come for the Magic, stay for the Pasta.

After having eaten infinite pasta, a few of us decided it was high time to go for a swim. The top8 was unfolding, but the crystal clear water between the alps next to Casa Reindeer held a special allure.

Classic Magic tournament location.

Mitja mentioned that it would probably be possible to swim the entire way back to the tournament site, as the rivers flowed by the Reindeer's house. I found the idea brilliant, and the two of us decided to try it, with DFB and Gordon following from the shore to make sure we didn't super-drown in the current or hit too many sharp rocks.

Mitja and I, executing one of our most tactical moves of the weekend.

The funny (funny like Joe Pesci) part was that the sun was setting as we started swimming, and a few places along the river things got proper weird. Like, I'm convinced there lived trolls under one of the dark bridges we swam under. There are a few stories here, which I'm sure I'll regale while drunk on upcoming tournaments. But regardless, bleeding and happy, Mitja and I bested the dark waters.

Two beautiful water nymphs unlocks their strategic achievement.

As we came back, The Reindeer proceeded to show his guests who the actual Alpha was and ended up winning his own tournament.

PastaCon finals. The Maître d' vs The Chef.

And that marked the dusk of PastaCon. We hung out a bit more, played some games, and shared stories. Drank wine.

Sunday was homecoming day. So not much Magic, but I'll happily offer a few tourist pictures of nerds around Lutzern.

Mg, Slanfan, Jason, Tim, and Björn boyband posing in front of a Lion carved in a rock.

Svante Landgraf and DFB. Bridge people.

Horse country.

Quintessential Switzerland.

There's a proper old-school castle on the hill in the horizon.

Train Magic.
Guru Switzerland.

There are more stories from PastaCon, of course. This was after all the first tournament I've been to where the organizer had rented their own cooling van, and where there was unlimited free draft beer, to name two. And I could tell you about eating salty peanuts in an airport lounge while having the fingertips cut up by sharp rocks in some river from the day before. Maybe about RiceCon, being Sponsored by Björn, "No Porobolem", or how Svante Landgraf obviously is a secret climber. But some of these stories are for the travelers, and some are for late nights at our next gathering. As for now, I must return to fight the robots.

Thanks Marc <3


  1. Such an epic adventure. Beautiful location. Thanks for sharing the stories. - Alex

    1. Is n00bcon now considered SoupCon btw?


Skicka en kommentar