Sunday, December 23, 2018

A little late: Knights of Thorn report

It's been two weeks already, and I've finally got some time to write this report after a couple of busy weeks at work and coming down with the flue. Fortunately I made some notes at the wonderful knights of thorn gathering, which made it easier for me to remember the games. Without the notes, I would have remembered mainly three things: I suck at shuffling, the atmosphere was amazing and I really suck at shuffling. 

The reason I think I must really suck at shuffling is I've had some really weird games in which I drew so badly it must be my shuffling technique. I think I hit a personal record when I drew 9 mana (8 lands and a mox) in a row. Anyway, you did't come here to get a rant about mana screws, so on with the report.  

I played a black/white deck with hippies, sengirs, juzams, underworlds dreams and disenchants and swords, with a splash of blue for ancestral and time walk. This deck hadn't done bad in some other tournaments so I figured it would do okay here as well. I mainly went for this deck because the other deck I meant to play (Land tax/Lands edge) had been so severely trashed by my fellow oldschooler Peter a couple of days before I didn't feel confident it was good enough. He beat it with three different decks about 80% of the time and while I don't mind losing in oldschool, I do like to feel that I'm actually participating in the games. This was the deck I was thinking about playing:

Looking back on my matches, I might have had a better chance with this deck :)

Because the Knights of Thorn is about mostly Swedish legal decks, I had to lend Peter some cards because he was playing one of my favorite decks, U/G agro. Because his Serendib efreets don't speak english and you can only play 10 English reprints, he had to use mine and I added some other cards to make it a bit more competitive.

Match 1

In the first game my opponent opened with Library of Alexandria. That's always bad, but I managed to get through an unspectacular mind twist for 3 to at least give myself some turns to get the pressure on before he would fill his hand again. I did had to draw one black mana though, but since there were plenty of those in the deck, I felt confident I would draw one within one or two turns. This turned out to be a misconception, as I proceeded to draw my plains and mox pearl within the next 3 turns, and then just didn't draw any black mana for 3 turns or so. I tried to get a hippy out, but my opponent countered it, then played braingeyser a couple of turns later, got the library running again and I just went under against overwhelming cards. 

Game 2 I faced another turn 1 library again, but I managed to get out a hippy quickly. This was fireballed after taking only one card, but hey, it was something. My opponent was stuck with only one blue mana, so I went for it, played sengir vampire with dark ritual and that managed to do him in before he drew something to get rid of it. 

Game 3, I had an opening hand with three hypnotic specters while my opponent opened with another Library of Alexandria. This is the first time this day I was seriously questioning my cutting skills :) I played the three hippies, but they were either countered or killed by fire. I stalled while the library was working it's magic, so that was that. 

I know there are a lot of people that don't like the library, some even advocating banning it. I don't think we should. It's just as much part of magic history as any other unbalanced card, so if you want to go that way, you either have to ban them all, or none of them and just take it as it comes. I've said it before and I've said it again: in this format you will lose to broken plays, so when that happens you just have to take it as it comes and smile. This game just wasn't that balanced back then :) I mean, take a look at this turn 2. How do you think this game ended? It's just part of the game.

Peter had beaten his opponent in round one in about 10 minutes, so that was going fine. Go U/G agro :)

Round 2: bye

In round two, I couldn't find my name in the pairings, and according to Mari I was the only one who asked, so I probably had the bye. This did gave an opportunity to take a look in the large box of unsorted cards Wijnand had brought, so I took the time looking throught that and bought a couple unlimited evil presences which I didn't have yet. I was also hoping to find a Hyperion Blacksmith in his box of low priced cards because I really want to try that card in my sideboard some time, but no such luck. Edo would have a couple of signed ones for me later on in the day though :) I also took the time to look around to see some nice decks, including a really cool eureka deck :)

I also ran into another Peter, who is also a regular in the Draconian Cylex Series:

Looking at the selfie now, the hall seems kind of deserted, but there were more than 50 players in the room.

My companion Peter had again won 2-0 with the UG deck. The deck seems to fit him :)

On round 3 my opponent was Hero, who I've played a lot against in Oldschool and Ancient tournaments. He was playing a deck similar to mine, so that promised to be an interesting match. On game one, we both opened with this:

Mine was first on my first turn, so if nothing else happened, I would win :) we traded off some creatures, then I got a second dreams before he did, and the first game was mine.The second game I was thinking I was doing okay, building up in the first turns to use both my tutor and my balance, but Hero got to me first, by balancing both of them out of my hand with the use of moxen. I never recovered from that, so that game was his. It would be up to the third game. I had sided in 2 COP black and a paralize. If I would get a COP out, I should be able to win this one. I was pretty pleased with my opening hand which had both a scrublands and a COP black next to some swamps and creatures, so was pretty confident I had a good chance when Hero opened with underground sea, dark ritual, sol ring, Juzam Djinn. I played a swamp, thinking he might sinkhole my first land and I would need the scrublands later. He then hit me with the Juzam Djinn, played time walk, than hit me again and played chaos orb. Nice :) I played my scrublands and tapped out for the COP black, as I did not have anything better to do. Hero hit me with the djinn again, so all I could hope for was that he would miss the orb flip on my COP, which he didn't. I played a blocker, which the Juzam Djinn ate, and one turn later that was it. 

When I asked Peter, he was smiling because the U/G deck was still performing just fine. Berserk for the win, he was 3-0 by now. 

On round 4, I played against a mono black deck with Jade statues and mishra's factories, combined with pestilence. He would activate the factories after using the pestilence, keeping it in play. Certainly an interesting deck and pestilence is quite bad against my smaller critters. He wiped two off them of the board because I didn't see the pestilence coming in game one. I did manage to get to my white mana and disenchants and swords to plowshares though, so I could get rid of the pestilence and statues that way. When we both were stalling, I drew my braingeyser. This was a last minute addition which was kind of a gamble with only six permanent blue mana sources in the deck next to the lotus, but I wanted to try it anyway, thinking late game I should have the mana available. In this case, this turned out to be true, I drew 6 cards and the advantage it gave me won me the game. The second game I sided in dust to dust, my 4th disenchant, divine offering and COP black, all of which was enought to win me the game. 

Peters luck had run out in round 4, he had gone for a quick double giant growth-berserk doing 16 damage with a pixie while his opponent was tapped out, but never got past his opponents swords to plowshares and counters after that.

On round 5, I played someone I had also played against in Hilversum in the Frost Giant Cup and we both played pretty much the same deck as then. I beat him then, so I was feeling good about my chances. I then proceeded to get two pretty bad mana screws in a row, the second of which was the most interesting. I drew the two cities of brass in my deck, and he played a city in a bottle. I then drew no lands at all for 5 turns, and I never got to my second land in play because I was already beaten. This was also one of those moments I really started questioning what's wrong with my shuffling :) I mean really, in 4 matches I had 3 mana screws and 2 mana flows, so I must be doing something wrong. I got some advice from Marten how he shuffled his deck, and decided to use his way of shuffling next time. 

I played some nice games while the top 8 was playing out and bought some more cards while Peter was making smug comments about me being a card addict :) I suppose I am, but I try to keep it in check. Some pictures of the top 8:

There were some really cool decks in the top 8, so we decided to stay until the final match to see it all happen. We went home after the last match, enjoying the decks and the plays greatly. I must say I was kind of disappointed with my deck's performance. I even briefly considered selling off my deck, because a black deck just did not seem to favor me this day. 

Fortunately I didn't, because I wouldn't want to miss the magic of these gatherings. There is something really cool about oldschool/ancient gatherings because it's all about the atmosphere, the old cards and the good natured players. After this glorious day, I decided to go ahead with an idea we've had for some time to add a Swedish style event to our tournament agenda, so we now support French oldschool, Ancient and Swedish oldschool. You can find it in the events section if you're interested.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Draconian Cylix IV with pictures by Bjorn

On november 4th we held the 4th edition of the Draconian Cylix Series, Oldschool magic using the French set of rules. It's always a bit of a surprise how many people show up, but we had a nice group of players, enough for four rounds of swiss, followed by a top 4.

In the last tournament I was in (Frost Giant Cup) several people were playing a Land's edge deck inspired by Randy's deck, and since this deck is different from previous Lands Edge decks I've played (mainly because there is only one kill, a single Land's edge, something I've never tried, minimum I always stuck to so far was two) I decided to give it a try because I wanted to know how it plays. I was also looking forward to using the rainbow vale gimmick and see if that would work (spoiler alert: it didn't, because I either ended up getting them back or them not having a positive impact at all). I tried the deck a couple of times against Peter and it seemed consistent enough even without any counters of it's own. Because it was late and I couldn't decided which cards to cut for power sink, I played the deck without. In retrospect, I think the deck would have performed better with power sinks, but I'm getting ahead of myself here.

On the day of the tournament, Arno ran into the fact that the trains weren't going as normal due to maintenance and he had to travel longer. Fortunately, he did get there just in time though. While we were entering player names in our pairing system, one of the players sent us an e-mail telling us he was coming, but would be a little late. Since this is a format that is only about the atmosphere and the cards, we waited and were happy to see he came with a friend, which meant we would be playing an even number of players.

I was first paired against Carl from Belgium. He was playing Cermak-like deck with Serendib Efreets, savannah lions, orders, bolts, counters and power. This is the deck I sometimes think is the most powerful deck in the format, and I know Carl is a good player since I've played him before and know he's very precise and thinks his moves through very well. This would be a tough match, and it was. He opened the first two games with a Library of Alexandria. During the game I noticed several times that rainbow vale would not really do much and chose to play other lands. This was somewhat of a theme during the day, later on I would also regret having them instead of city of brass. The first game was mine after a ivory tower stuck and I ended up drawing extra cards from a Sylvan Library. The second game was Carls after I messed up with my sideboard, I should have added an extra moat in retrospect, because the one abyss and one moat weren't enough, even backed up with the wrath of god from my sideboard. It would be up to the third game, but we ended up 1-1 when time was up and neither of us could finish it within the 5 remaining turns.

Second round I was paired against Hero. He's a long time player of both Oldschool and the Ancient format and according to me, has the right way of looking at this format. He plays it only for fun, and pretty much a different deck every time. That doesn't mean this is going to be easy though, he's a good player. The first game started off with some creatures, some burn and then channel/fireball pretty quickly. I don't known on which turn, but it was somewhere around turn 5 or 6 I think. So the first game was over in less than 5 minutes and had me remembering I had no power sinks. The second game took a while longer. I got my deck running with land tax and ivory towers and ended up with a life total over 50, even after a shatterstorm and a tranquility. We would have to see who would win this round by playing the third game. In the third game, Hero's deck produced both black lotus and channel, combined with one of his fireballs and that was that. Just before that, he pulled off a really neat trick to both do more damage and and keep me from taxing:

Bang! you're dead. Or in this case, I was dead.

Channel fireball twice over in one match, both with black lotus. Wow. It's been quite a while since that happened to me. 1-2 result. At least it was over quite quickly, which gave me time to take some pictures:

This is really awful. But also kind of cool :)

Winter orb with guardian beast. That's just unfair. Later on someone would pull a stunt on Marco that would even it out for this tournament, but that's a later match. Anyway, on to the third round.

In the third round, I was playing another land tax/edge deck, but without a lot of power so it was quite an uneven match. He was very careful to make sure I didn't tax that often and he had burn cards, so in theory he would be able to get me with bolts and a feldon's cane, but that would take a very long time. He had to play a land sooner or later while I was getting life from an ivory tower. When he started to throw some fire at me, I played armageddon and after a while we ended up with this boardstate:

Nice set of artifacts and enchantments :)

In the end he had to play a land to try something, but that gave me plenty of opportunity to land tax and finish the game with lots of lands. It was quite a drawn out game which made sure we would not get to finish another game. If I play this deck again, I'm going to try some more finishers, it takes quite a long time this way. 1-0

On to the fourth round, I was paired against a zoo deck, which I should be able to win with moats, abyss and ivory towers. It was not easy though, and my opponent just kept playing creatures. One of the key moments of the match was when I played a chaos orb, and he played his while I had no mana to activate mine, and he just barely hit mine on the sleeve.

Juuuuust made it :)

Had he missed, it would have been much more probable I would have won that game in stead of going to 1-1. Although one of the other key moments was quite nice:

I wanted to make sure I would not get beaten too much and wanted to speed up the process already started with the abyss with a swords, but that wasn't meant to be. I when he tapped one green mana, I already knew what was going to happen and it always makes me smile when someone avoid fates :) We were in the third game when I had to call time (as the organizer you don't get to bend the rules, at least I think so) so we ended up in a draw. We played out the game and it turns out I would have won 5 turns later, but when time's up, time is up. So this one ended in 1-1 as well, which meant I would not be in the final 4. It might have happend had I won this one, but now I was definitely out.

In the meantime, someone made sure Marco was not destroying their land with a demonic hordes. A strip mine made the difference between this:

and this one turn later, which finished the game pretty quickly:

Although I like the land tax deck and the fairly obscene things it can do, I think it may need some more finishers to make sure you don't draw this often. Either that or I just did not draw the cards that well. I'll work on that and try this deck another time and see what happens.

It did give me plenty of time to watch the final 4, which had one totally unpowered deck! Always nice to see that it's possible to do well without power. In this case it was a variant on a stasis deck which also contained winter orbs.

Top 4 with an unpowered deck! Awesome!

Unfortunately he didn't make it to the finals, it would have been awesome if a unpowered deck would have won one of these tournaments. I remember it happening once (a Erhnamgeddon deck without power once won an Ancient tournament) but I would like to see it done more often. The finals were down to Carl and Marten, playing a speed deck vs Erhnamgeddon without armageddon. The match was very cool to watch, with balance swings from one to the other.

Quite a turn one in the finals..

At one point, I thought Marten was going to win, but then Carl drew not one but two control magics in short order:

Just after this, Marten drew his diamond valley. What a difference that would have made. it was on the third game, which was off to this start:

So it was close from the start, but in the end, Carl's deck was just too fast and and he won the cup, ehh, cylix, fair and square:

The winnner!

Congrats to the winner! As shown in his report, this is obviously a very strong deck and with a strong player like Carl behind it, it proved unstoppable this day. Well played!

As for the rest, some of the other oldschool moments of the day:

How do you make 3 juggernauts in one turn? Well, like this..

Twiddle to prevent damage :)

Yeah! Gaea's liege cast with gaea's touch! Cool!

When you think you're off to a quick start..

Big green vs green

So far, I've never seen anyone use a reset to untap his maze to prevent damage :)

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Draconian Cylix IV report by Carl

Last Sunday was a big day for the Old school community with the Old school tournament at Eternal Weekend, but there also was a Dutch tournament: Draconian Cylix IV. Having enjoyed the previous installment, I brought Antoine with me this time. After an uneventful ride from Brussels (Belgium) to Eindhoven, we registered the same 75 cards: Temple of Sped, with a modified sideboard:

4 Disenchant
4 Order of Leitbur
4 Savannah Lions
2 Serra Angel
3 Swords to Plowshares

1 Fireball
4 Lightning Bolt

1 Demonic Tutor
1 Mind Twist

1 Ancestral Recall
1 Braingeyser
3 Power Sink
3 Serendib Efreet
1 Time Walk

1 Chaos Orb

1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring

4 City of Brass
1 Library of Alexandria
3 Mishra's Factory
2 Plains
4 Plateau
1 Strip Mine
4 Tundra
1 Underground Sea

2 Armageddon
2 Circle of Protection: Red
2 Control Magic
2 Earthquake
3 Energy Flux
3 Red Elemental Blast
1 Swords to Plowshares

As you can see, only 1 Strip Mine is allowed, we play with the Bazaar of Moxen rules, meaning mana burn is alive, life total checked at the end of the phase (aka Mirror Universe kill, can also be useful when playing Lich) and tapped blocking creatures don't deal damage (i.e. Mishra's Factory).

The 3 Strip Mine from the original (EC) deck have been replaced by 2 Plains (vs Blood Moon) and a Serra Angel (best creature ever).

We are 14 players fighting for the Cylix today. On to the report.

Round 1: Bjorn - Randy's 5C Tax-Edge
Last time I played Bjorn already, he was with Deadguy Ale. This time it is another great deck: Randy Buelher's Land Tax-Land's Edge.
I open with a Library of Alexandria, always a great start. Bjorn has to be proactive, and he is: Mox Emerald, Mountain, Winds of Change (so I initially think he is on Underworld Dreams), Mox Jet and Sylvan Library. I play Plateau and Savannah Lions. Bjorn plays Mox Pearl and Land Tax, meaning he will be able to tax next turn. I disenchant the Land Tax, but he has another one. He plows my first Serendib Efreet, balances away the second one. He gets Ivory Tower in play, and after I manage to get him to 4, he gets back to 22, starts drawing extra cards, assembles the combo and kills me in one turn by discarding 10 lands to Land's Edge.
Game 2 I get Library turn one again and put some pressure, he plays a Blood Moon that I disenchant after some time, then I play Energy Flux. Bjorn answers with a second Blood Moon, which I disenchant again. I mind twist his hand away, but he manages to play The Abyss, getting rid of Savannah Lions. Fortunately, Orders are abyss-proof and the pounding starts. Bjorn plays a Wrath of God, I play a second Order. Bjorn attempts a second Wrath of God at one life, and I kill him with a Power Sink (tapped his City of Brass).
We have no time to complete the third game.
1-1, 1 point.

Round 2: Wouter Jansen - R/W/g Tax-Edge
Well, there seems to be a pattern. Wouter's deck is unpowered, so he cannot do broken things like Bjorn. Except for Balance, he also doesn't play mass removal (no Wrath of God, Earthquake, Moat).
I start game 1 with an Ancestral Recall at the end of his first turn, then play an Order that he bolts. Wouter plays Wheel of Fortune, I get out some creatures while he manages to deals with some of them (REB on a Serendib Efreet, bolt on Lions). Still, his life is dwlindling and I take the game.
2-0, 4 points.

Round 3: Wouter - Monoblue Stasis
Another Wouter, another deck without Power nine.
Wouter starts with Black Vise, I play Land, Mox, Lions. He plays a turn 2 Howling Mine, I play an Order. He gets a second Vise out, I disenchant the Howling Mine. He plays Stasis with one untapped Island which meets my Strip Mine. I then tutor for a Time Walk to hit him again and finish him off with a Fireball.
I have a hand with Serra Angel, Mox, and Demonic Tutor. I get a turn 1 Lotus to play a second turn Serra Angel, while Wouter plays a Black Vise, a Howling Mine and a couple of Fellwar Stones. He tries to Boomerang the Angel, but I have a REB for it. He plays Maze of Ith, but Strip Mine takes care of the bugger. Wouter cannot stop the best creature of Magic.
2-0, 7 points.

Round 4: Antoine - Temple of Sped
I get a good hand with Library and a Mox, but no other mana source. Antoine has a turn one Sol Ring, turn 2 Demonic Tutor. I think he took Mind Twist, so I disenchant his Sol Ring but he strips my Library away. I don't draw enough lands to empty my hand, Antoine pounds me with a Serendib Efreet and 2 Mishra's Factories while playing Ancestral Recall and Time Walk, followed by a Geyser for 6 cards...
I keep a one-land hand (with Sol Ring) and play a second turn Efreet which is blasted away. Antoine plays an Order and 2 factories, I mind twist a Serra Angel and a Control Magic, miss my Chaos Orb flip of a Factory. I control magic his Order, he REBs, I cast Earthquake for one to stabilize at one life, but Antoine has an Earthquake of his own to take the match.
0-2, 7 points.

Antoine is first of the swiss rounds with a perfect 4-0 score, I squeeze in as 4th seed as we were only 14 players. This means that there is a rematch.

Semi-finals: Antoine - Temple of Sped
In the first game, Antoine destroys my Efreet with Chaos Orb, then he plows my Factory (holding a Disenchant, this was probably a mistake). Since he has no red mana open, I play a Order and Time Walk, hitting him for 3 in the extra turn. He bots the Order, we both drop a Serendib Efreet that chip at our life total. I have direct damage to take the game.
Game 2, I play a Serendib Efreet that Antoine plows, I manage to get a Serra Angel out and Power Sink his.

Finals: Marten Buehler - G/W/U midrange
Marten plays a deck that looks a lot like the one played by Joep Meddens won Giant Frost 2 with a few weeks ago: Erhnam Djinn, Serra Angel, Elves, Pixies, Icy Manipulator and white removal. I didn't see any Armageddon, but I suppose he played them.
Marten has a Swords to Plowshares for my Serendib Efreet after I hit him once. We trade some blows, then he plays a Serra Angel that I have to double bolt. A second Angel goes all the way, as I don't draw any Swords to Plowshares.
Game 2 doesn't look good as Marten plays a turn 1 Library of Alexandria and has a Swords to Plowshares for my turn 1 Serendib Efreet. He regrowths the plow to get rid of an Order I played turn 3, his Strip Mine hits my Factory. I get rid of his Library after he has drawn 5 or 6 extra cards. I manage a Geyser for 5 to even things out. But Marten plays 2 Maze of Ith, an Erhnam Djinn and a Serra Angel. Fortunately, I am able to control magic both of them (and Marten has sideboarded out all his Disenchant). An Order joins the team and I can finally hit him. He doesn't manage to mount a defense, and I take this gruelling game.
Game 3, I play a second turn Serendib Efreet, but Marten has a Plowshares. I play a second Serendib Efreet, play Power Sink on his Serra Angel, attack and Time Walk, then Armageddon to seal the game.

I am happy to finally beat Marten and can hold the cup (well... the cylix :-)
Temple of Sped is as great as Bryan Manolakos claims in his Eternal weekend 2017 report: not counting mirror matches, Antoine and I didn't lose a match. Moreover, I think that one Strip Mine benefits the deck compared to four. The modified sideboard to fight The Deck worked well against other decks (nobody played The Deck at the tournament). Thanks to Bjorn and Arno for another great event, and to Antoine for the ride and chat over the deck.



Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Draconian Cylix IV tournamentreport by Antoine

One of our players sent me a nice tournament report of the last Draconian Cylix of the year, here it is! Cheers, Bjorn

While playing casually at home for a while, I finally got to play a real Old School tournament after a side event at GP Brussels earlier this year where I played UR counterburn to a 2-1 record, but it really felt too short. So on this Sunday morning, Carl,my friend and teammate since 1995, came early to my house so we could hit the road and head to Eindhoven to cast a few spells in the Draconian Cylix IV tournament, Carl played the third one and had a very good time so I had great hopes.
With no time to playtest together this week, we both opted to play the same deck, Temple of Sped, slightly modified to comply with the French restricted list. It meant only one strip mine:
Carl already played this list in Paris to finish 9th (ouch) of the EU championship.
14 people showed up and it was decided to have 4 rounds with cut to top 4, so 3-1 might not be enough in theory.Sorry if names are misspelled or missing.
R1 Hero playing RG with bop, ball lightning, dragon whelp, berserk (I know he won another round on the back of Channel fireball combo twice vs the Land Tax Land's Edge deck, but I didn't see any of those)...
Won the die roll
G1 I bolted 2 Dragon Whelps and power sinked one Erhnam Djinn and he was out of gas, a large Braingeyser refuelled me and critters killed him.
G2 My opponent mulled to 5, I opened with a land and a lotus which I cracked to power sink his blood moon, then he flooded and the game was pretty uneventful.
1-0, 2-0
R2 Peter playing UW with Su-Chi, Juggernaut, Serra Angel, Dance of many...
Won the die roll
G1 I mulled to 6 and my opponent plays a 1st turn Library of Alexandria. I get 2 lions out and push some damage to drop him to 14 while he's getting some Library of Alexandria action but then he proceeds to pop Juggernaut after Juggernaut, a Dancy of many make it three 3 and my lions are harmless kittens in front of them and I succumb.
G2 I get a quick start with a turn 2 Serendib Efreet followed by a turn 3 mind twist for half his hand (3 cards), he tries to stabilize with a Serra but a control magic is the nail in his coffin.
G3 was an epic game, probably the best of the day, with each player seeming to take the lead in turn. Energy flux wipes his board and especially his freshly cast Jayemdae Tome, then Braingeyser for 8 turns the tide for me as from there I can answer each of his treat while dropping his life total closer and closer to zero, then on his last possible draw, from the top of his library, he managed to pull a card that didn't help him and died (sorry I wanted to include some drama in my report).
2-0, 4-1
R3 Arno playing GW around Ifh-Biff Efreet, full support from main deck Circle of Protection: Green, green Ward, backed with all special lands: Karakas, Maze of Ith, Island of Wak-Wak...
Lost the die roll
G1 He opens with a Library of Alexandria on the play, so I play a land, my Black Lotus and mind twist him for 3 making sure his Library remains ineffective, he skips a land drop, actually keeping it in hand faking the mana death and trying to go back to 7, but I get some aggression going so the plan is off the table, he plays regrowth on the balance I twisted and we start a new game with 4 lands and 1 card in hand, but the card I kept is a Braingeyser and it allows me to refill shortly after, my lions come after his life total, he plays a pair of Ifh-Biff Efreets to try and stabilize but they're too late, I was too far ahead. I even get to activate on to kill the Efreet who blocked a lion off a City of Brass after disenchanting his Circle of Protection: Green, sweet.
G2 He gets a slow hand, I patiently lay lands as his special lands prevent me from damaging him and I am afraid of his wraths (he played 2) until I can mind twist him of all his cards, then proceed to draw 7 or 8 and win easily from there.
3-0, 6-1
I'm the only 3-0 left so top 4 seems in the bag.
R4 Carl so an exact 75 mirror
Won the die roll
G1 I go land sol ring Carl has Library, I DT for strip mine, he thought I'd go for mind twist so he disenchanted my Sol Ring, I get critters out while he's mana screwed, easy win.
We do the sideboard dance
G2 he short on mana once again, an early ferret from him is met by a red blast, I have a knight attacking and I even let my factories die in combat (and he failed a chaos orb flip) pushing as much damage as possible, he mind twists my Serra and control magic, we trade knights, I too deck one, he earthquakes for 1 leaving him at one and I find an earthquake of my own to win 2-0.
We sideboarded a bit differently, so we discussed our choices, he left only one power sink optint to keep 2 disenchants, while I kept mine.
4-0, 8-1, 1st seed to the semis, #feelsgood, too bad it is at the expense of a friend.
Semi final
While we thought that Carl was eliminated, it turned out that because of the number of unintentional draws he got to squeeze in 4th with his 2-1-1 record and the best tiebreakers, cool! But we are 1st and 4th seed, this means we have to play together once again in the semis, bummer.
Unfortunately this time Carl wins the die roll and it goes downhill from there as it is my turn to be on the receiving end of the beating in this mirror match to lose 0-2. After mulliganing into a weak hand, I made a small mistake game one using a swords on a mishra eot instead of waiting with a disenchant, as a consequence he got to attack a few times with a pump knight before I could answer it, putting him in the driver's seat. He did the job consciensiously and won the first easily.
He changed his sideboard approach and left 2 power sinks which he drew and used well to make sure I wouldn't make a comeback in game 2.
4-1, 8-3
Lesson: never go undefeated in the swiss, you'll always lose your 1st elimination round. #feelsbadman
Match for 3rd place vs a turbo stasis deck Someone won the die roll and I think he did.
G1 He mulls to 5, I play a turn one Serendib Efreet and disenchant his first howling mine. Sorry if the report for this game is short.
G2 I keep a hand with lotus a Tundra as my only land but a pair of pump knights look confident that they can do the job in time for me, so I keep and play them both on turn one, I get to draw a mox of his howling mine and disenchant it, I draw another mox and play energy flux to ruin his board of howling mine and winter orb while the knights keep putting a lot of pressure, he tried a stasis with two mana open but a power sink for 2 foiled his plan, he play a boomerand on a knight in response to buy some time, the rest was pretty academic.
5-1, 10-3
3rd place it is. #feelsgood
Carl went on to win the finals after losing game one and being in a really bad position game 2 with his opponent abusing his LoA, great job!
We took 1st and 3rd, deece :)
Props and slops (a tribute to old tournament reports) Props
+ The Temple of Sped deck is pure gas, So 5-1 for me 4-1-1 for Carl, if we don't count our mirror matches we went undefeated for a combined 7-0-1 record.
+ The organisation and the venue, bought myself some treats: a beta fireball and power sink and a second unlimited control magic for the tournaments with Swedish restrictions.
+ Carl for bringing me to Old School format, feels so good to play magic as we did in the beginning and slinging those beautiful cards.
+ No "The Deck" player
+ Me for being 100% in chaos orb flips on the day Got to play 6 rounds
+ of old school
-Bad timing to get my only loss of the day, should have lost in the swiss -Traffic jams in Antwerp area on a late Sunday afternoon
Until next time, can't wait to play in a third one!
PS: I know a link to MTG goldfish isn't exactly Old School (especially with the wrong Lightning Bolt illustration) but I have no pictures yet and I thought people might find it handy.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

September 2nd: Ancient MTG - Highlander (HCH)

At the last draconian Cylix tournament, a couple of guys asked me if we could organize a highlander event, since it had been a long time ago. We played this format a couple times since 2012 and it had been a while, so Arno and I were like "why not?" and announced the next Ancient would be highlander. For me, Ancient and oldschool are not about owning cards, but mostly about playing and deckbuilding. I kinda like staring at cards, looking to see which ones  I expect to do best in the context of the deck I'm playing and then playing them to see if the build works out in the way I expected. So I put up the announcement and started building my deck. 

Then I got messages from guys who had played before they did not like the format, because it was even more random luck than Ancient constructed. I think the idea was that drawing a really good card out of a pile of 100 would give you the game. To which I replied that the most unbalanced cards are banned in HCH, so it's not like you can draw a mind twist or an ancestral. They're simply not going to be in your deck. Which makes it actually a lot less random than Ancient or Oldschool. Anyway, they messaged me they were not going to play, and I was fine with that. After all, it's about enjoyable gameplay, it's not like you're winning anything when you make it to first place :). 

I decided to play a 5 color pile, ignoring the fact that I would probably have mana problems while playing. I tried to factor this in while building the deck, so I played mostly cards which did not have double colored mana costs. So Bog Wraith was in my deck, as were Azure Drake and Roc of Kher Ridges. But I could not resist playing Xira Arien, Solkanar the Swamp King and Tetsuo Umezawa. And Gwendlyn di Corci. I did add some mana fixing like fellwar stone and nature's lore, all the duals, thawing glaciers and Sol grail. And then I juist started putting in cards I liked. After that I looked at the deck and it was way too much cards, over a 160. And thus the fun part about deckbuilding starts, looking for which cards would do better than others. 

In this process, I eliminated Magus of Unseen, which probably was a mistake. Peter played it against me in the tournament and it was awful having him use my own distrupting scepter against me. But hey, it also made me smile. When does a magus have a significant effect on a match in a tournament setting anymore? The same goes for a lot of cards in this format. It's an amazing lot of fun. 

After a process of elimination I asked Peter if he would play a couple of test games against my deck (he won one of the other HCH tournaments we played) and my deck seemed to work ok. A couple of games turned into a lot of games into the night. This is what this format is all about for me: playing! After some games I made some minor changes (Peter insisted I should add the magus, which I didn't and was sorry for :P) and I thought I was ready to go. 

On the day of the tournament, the guys who actually asked for this format also hadn't shown up, but looking back, that didn't really matter. We played 3 rounds of long, drawn out but interesting games which showed most of the decks were actually pretty well matched, with cards having an impact on the games you normally don't see that much. Or never, actually. I won, but I would have had a great time even if I had lost every match because of the fun gameplay. I'm sure I'll organize one of these again in the future. 

Here are some of the pictures of gameplay during the day:

Third turn Magus. This actually a lot worse than it might seem.. 

Oh look, a pikemen. Which has banding.. which is nice when played with creatures with protection. 

One of those situations where the magus was a real pain.. 

So what do you do with an Ali from Cairo? Pitch it, of course, and then fork the pyrokenisis :)

Ha, my Orgg will teach your stupid regeneration creature!

Oh, really? Did you have to do that... :(

Dead beta shivan.. but it would have no rest.. 

Because it was then animated, and then snatched away after that :)

Sol'kanar running into a reprisal.. that would not be the card with the most impact however. See the Royal Herbalist there? It gained my opponent more than 20 life during this game!

Sorceress queen/ Aeolipile combo!

Baron Sengir! How awesome is that? :)

My winning pile of cards. Phantom monster and Roc of Kher Ridges are actually better than you might think!

After we had dinner in town, we walked back to Arno's place.  We met this cute cat on the way. Since I'm a real cat person, I decided to add it's picture to this report as well.  Thank you cat, for making a good day even better!