Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ancient on december the 16th

We had to reschedule our latest Ancient event of the year, due to the gathering of the knights of the thorn, which was planned on the same day we had originally planned our ancient gathering and some of our players would like to attend the other event as well. To not make them choose, we rescheduled to the 16th. That was a bit too close to Christmas for some, so the gathering was a little smaller than intended, but it was fun none the less. 

Because this was the last time we could play mirage (we decided to end the mirage experiment by the end of the year because most in the core player group think it does not add that much to the gameplay), I decided to go pretty much all in on mirage, making the core of my deck out of mirage cards. When you think about it, you probably don't think there are that many interesting cards in mirage. The 93/94 players all shouted: "fetch lands!!" so I decided to give that a try at first, even though I haven't been a real fan of the mirage fetches in anything resembling a serious deck. I went with a UWG deck with some brainstorms to make the fetchlands worthwhile. After being utterly crushed (I think it was about 10-2 in playtesting) by Peters deck with blood moons in it, I was even less convinced. Back to the drawing board. 

So, fetch simply to slow for this format. Even when I didn't get crushed by the blood moon, most of the time the fact they end up in play tapped makes them pretty bad in this format. There are some pretty fast decks out there, and winter orb is also played pretty regularly. So what would I play that is very mirage?

I made a list of cards I had played in serious decks long, long ago and had some fond feelings about:

Dwarven miner
Frenetic Efreet
Foratog (okay, this was not in a serious deck, but I tried :))
Forsaken wastes
Forbidden Crypt
Goblin tinkerer
Granger Guildmage
Hall of Gemstone
Hammer of Bogardan
Infernal Contract
Jolraels centaur
Mist Dragon
Phyrexian Dreadnaught
Political Trickery
Preferred selection
Rampant growth
Sacred mesa
Savage twister
Shallow grave
Skulking ghost
Spirit of the night
Suqata firewalker
Tombstone stairwell
Waiting in the weeds
Wall of roots
Wildfire emissary

I decided I wanted to play frenetic efreet, because I still have some good feelings about a nationals qualifier I ended up winning because of the efreet. It has a 50% chance of surviving a creature elimination spell and boy, did it defy statistics that day. I remember one game in which my opponent wasted 3 terrors on the efreet, and it still lived. My opponent was going almost insane when he didn't kill it with the 3rd one :) I ended up winning that game. So, the efreet it was. What else? Not wanting to be crushed by a blood moon again, I decided to go 2 color this time. So, blue and red it was. I added Wildfire emissary, which cannot be killed by bolt or swords to plowshares  and went from there. A couple of dwarven minders, some incinerates (technically bolts would be better most of the time, but I wanted to play mirage, so maybe I would get lucky and play a troll disco. I didn't, by the way, but who cares :)) a tutor, a political trickery (would be great if I got to take a library with that, which I didn't. But i did get a kjeldoran outpost, which was also nice) and a hammer of bogarden. And a mist dragon and a dream cache. Not the best of cards, but not so bad I did not want to add them to this mirage nostalgia. The dragon and the efreets would do well with disks, so I added those and ended up with this:

with mirage mountains and islands, of course. And no moxen, as they would not combine well with the disks. A nice core of mirage cards, and hopefully not so bad that it would fail miserably. Yes, I could have made a better deck in the format, but saying goodbye to mirage in a good way was worth something.

So how did it play out? Well, I got to destroy somem non-basic lands with my miners, phasing out my efreets when some of my opponents wanted to kill them and played some dream caches, which weren't too bad for the games I was in. I never played the mist dragon (the format is a bit too fast for that) or got to get my hammer from the graveyard. But I did tutor for a anarchy and made some problems for Arno's mono white deck with the wildfire efreets, so all in all it was a worthwhile goodbye to mirage. Oh, I didn't win, of course. The deck does seem to have a knack for drawing (a lot) more mountains than islands, even though there are 4 islands more in the deck. One game, I had all of my mountains, but none of my islands :) And it does not do well against first turn big creatures, as it turnes out. Marco's first turn Serendib efreet ended up killing me because he put an unstable mutation on it before I could get to enough lands to fireball it, so I ended up just above average. Not a bad performance for a deck like this, I think. As always, the games where in good spirits with nice people. Thanks for all who came!

Here's some pictures of the day:

 something my deck also was not very good against: fairies with protection from red.. :)

When it's not so bad ifhyppies attack you :)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Ancient Constructed on october 2nd

After our sidestep with 93/94, it was time for a normal ancient constructed event, which we played a couple of weeks ago. As always, I play a different deck every time and I love the inspiration on the internet now that oldschool has become more popular. I went with an Arboria/Millstone deck. This had worked somewhat during a couple of playtest rounds. It wasn´t very good, but it was better than the Enchantress I had tried a couple of months back, and anyway, I don´t play Ancient to win anyway. I just like to feel of gameplay and the people we play with. 

Because we´ve been contemplating removing Mirage from the sets you can play to get back to the original idea of Ancient, Arno decided to grasp this last chance to play with his elephant graveyards. 

In the game above I managed to get out a moat, but most of the games that was disenchanted along with the Arboria. Or tranquility took care of them both, and that happened multiple times. Maybe I should run counterspells next time. 

Peter played a horrible U/B deck running main deck glooms and dystopia´s with sleight of mind. And it was horrible against most of the decks played, but not against the mono black deck Roy had brought. Roy is building this deck to play other oldschool formats, and it worked very well. He ended up winning this day. 

One of the times I actually managed to keep an enchantment in play against a W/G deck, which is quite hard. And there is always something really satisfying about playing an avoid fate. I lost the match anyway, but I had this nice moment :)

And there you thought playing dark ritual, hippy was a powerful play. And then your opponent does this :)

Banding was used several times, but unfortunately it did not do much against the black decks. 

The hippies that were played this day were not very lucky. Here an island of wakwak is played immediately after the hippie. 

Racks! sure, why not? We just don´t see them that often. 

Here I actually have the combo in play as it was intended. I did wonder why I had bought 2 AQ millstones for this deck though, because the only one I kept getting was the revised one.. 

I noticed that the arboria deck is really vulnerable, because I lost every match. If it wasn´t against disenchants or tranquilities, it was against disks, glooms, dystopias or something else. Anyway, the matches were in a good atmosphere as always, and we had a lot of fun. I must admit it would have been nice to win one match, but it was not meant to be. Which I figured when I faced two glooms and a dystopia by turn 6 against Peter :) Oh well, maybe I´ll try to improve on this idea. It did not seem that bad to begin with and I like the idea. 

Trying the Enchantress in Ancient

I wrote this article somewhere during the summer, but I never got around to writing the last paragraph. Now that the weather is not nice enough to go outside, I´ve finished it so here goes:

I've always been a fan of the Enchantress. Right up to this day, It's been one of my pet decks, along with a mostly black landdestruction deck that I've been playing since 1994. So when we started to play Ancient, I wanted to play an Enchantress deck as well. But I've never been able to make it work sort of effectively of with a moderate win rate. It mostly loses, but I never lost the love for it. 

When I was browsing some idea's I ran into the fastbond/mirror deck some people play in 93/94 and I decided to give this a try in Ancient. Unfortunately for this deck, we use the banned and restricted list just like then, so I can't play four fastbonds in Ancient. We could of course change the list, but we want to make the gameplay feel like then, with the good and the bad on the banned and restricted list just like it was back then, so we´re keeping it mostly the same and have not changed it since 2011. 

Considering the Enchantress deck does not seem to be that good in 93/94 I should have seen it coming it would be even worse in Ancient, but I decided to try it anyway. 

I tried compensating for that loss with the use of enlightened tutors but that did not work out so well. I tried mostly against Peter's Ernham/Geddon deck which has been quite succesfull in Ancient. 

The picture above is one of the rare occasions during playing when there are actually two or more enchantresses in play. The opposing deck does run 4 swords to plowshares maindeck, and there are not that many targets in the enchantress deck I built.. 

Here it does seem to work, but that was just one in many games. I ended up winning this one because somehow the deck managed to keep the enchantresses in play while not being killed by the onslaught on the other side. The winning was different than planned though. 

I held out for some turns with the dark heart of the wood to prevent myself from dying. That seemed to be a recurring theme during the many games we played. I usually ended up with no land and no creatures and no life. Not in this game though. But in the end, it wasn't the intended channel fireball that did Peter in, it was just a plain old fireball with lots of mana. He had disenchanted my dark heart of the wood by then, so a channel wouldn't have been much good anyway. Decks with 4 swords to plowshares and 3 disenchants are not that uncommon in Ancient, so if I decided to play it, the situation would likely repeat over and over again. 

In the end, I won a few games and I still feel I really like the deck. I like playing the enchantresses just as much as I did 20 years ago. Though I never tried this build way back when, the experience was much the same as in 1994-1996. It is really cute when it does work and do it´s tricks, but it just does not work consistently without plenty of cheap enchantments. I tried different variations and numbers, but the tutors (no matter how many or how few) cannot compensate for that. I also tried playing it against a mono red deck and there it also lost most of the games, even with COP red. The COP did not protect the enchantresses from dying, and they died a lot against the many bolts and chain lightnings. 

One of the builds I tried playing during the days of trying to make it work. In the end, I decided not to take one of the builds to a tournament because I don´t mind losing, as long as I have a feeling I´m not being completely and utterly slaughtered during the games. Playtesting left me with a quite bad 10% win rate, and about half of the 90% I did lose, I never had the feeling I even stood a chance. I´ll give it a go in a 93/94 somewhere. I´ll probably still lose a lot, but not as much as with this deck :)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Oldschool 93/94 for a difference

To try how much gameplay differed from 93/94, we decided to play a couple of rounds in the first weekend of september. This was a good time for me to try to make an Enchantress deck work. Something I've been doing since early '95, but has never worked out good enough to try in any tournament. Inspired by some of the oldschool players that had played Enchantress, i decided to give it a go. As it seems, it's not a great deck, but I did not perform as badly as I thought. I mean, I did lose to a deck with Ghazban ogres in the first round. But, in defence of the enchantress deck, the deck with the ogres somehow ended up winning, so I guess my enchantress losing to that was to be expected.

Charles played a blue/red deck containing both the power artifact/basalt monolith combination and some fast creatures. I expected him to win the tournament, but somehow that did not happen. Here he is playing a mono black discard/reanimate deck. 

U/G Zoo vs mono green. The efreets are always less effective against an opponent who also plays a lot of green. 

I played the Enchantress because I really wanted to try it, and managed to pull off a win in the match against the U/G zoo deck. Here it is running at full speed. 

The mono black deck somehow lost against the R/G deck with the Ogres, even with this in play. Magic is a strange game. 

My second game against the U/G zoo, with counterspells. And I won! I was so happy I would not lose all the matches this day. 

Speaking of broken openings... 

The U/G zoo which eventually lost against the R/G deck with Ogres and giant strenghts. I still can´t believe that deck actually won :)

Arno´s mono green deck having it´s moment of glory against my enchantress. With an avoid fate to back the bees up. 

U/G flying zoo against mono black. 

U/R against R/G

And U/R lost, even after this.. 

I managed to pull off one game against Arno, who had maindeck tranquility. Almost a miracle there..

Anyway, I won 1 match and some games, so I was happy the enchantress did not suck all the time :) And a deck with Ogres and giant strengths won! Who would have thought. As always, the players and the games were very nice, and we had a lot of fun and drinks together! Till next time!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Ancient Single Set (Unlimited)

The pictures of Ancient Single Set (Unlimited) 

To keep up the variation, we played a (very small) toernament of Single Set Unlimited Ancient, meaning you could only play cards originally printed in unlimited. We hadn't done that for years now, so it seemed time for it. As always, we had lots of fun playing cards you almost don't see anymore. This definitely had the feel of the early days to me. Here are some of the pictures of classic scenes of magic: 

White Knight vs. hypnotic spectre

A deck with lots of flying creatures, with phantom monsters agains a power surge deck

What better use to copy your sol ring, then use it next turn to cast Mahamoti Djinn with UU to spare for a counterspell :)

Nasty troll.. regenerate this

I actually used a black lotus twice to cast Shivan Dragon in these games, but this time it was because I couldn't seem to find a second land that produced red mana.. so this was not my finest use of a lotus so far.. 

White weenie.. check... crusade... check... Go Armageddon

The owner of this unlimited giant spider admitted it probably had not been used ever since it came out of a booster :)

It was quickly removed by an unlimited swords to plowshares though.. 

Classic magic situations all day: Giant growth on a scryb sprites just after it was bolted!

This was a better use of my lotus, third turn Shivan Dragon to keep the sprites away.

There are situations when your crusade turns against you.. 

Of course, there was also plenty of broken stuff going on, like this first turn ancestral, time walk. The great thing is, no-one playing this format seems to mind, that's just very oldschool magic for you. 

The deck with giant spiders also had Mammoths in it. Kudo's!

When a mesa pegasus is beating you over and over, this is probably the best thing to do with your control magic. 

Why Peter was splashing blue in his white weenie deck.. clone helped out more than once. 

About that giant spider.. it came back with a vengence: giant growth + berserk for the win!

You only need one creature when you've got that many crusades. 

First turn lotus, sprites and elvish archers. 

Serra Angel is terrified. 

Just a reminder of how terrible some anti color cards in de core set were.. 

Oh, and he has two. Great... 

Eight casting cost balance, but worth it :)

Volcanic eruption maindeck, why not with all these dual lands in play.

Black, red, green in Ancient, including sedge trolls and two headed giant. 

Arno refused to be beat by a Shivan Dragon despite having COP: red in his main deck, so he decided to finish it with a massive earthquake. 

The deck with Shivan Dragon and hypnotic specters won out in the end..