Sunday, February 18, 2018

Draconian Cylix I: Oldschool in Eindhoven

We had been talking about having another oldschool/ancient event for some time, and decided to go for an Oldschool event to see if other oldschool players would join. Ever since we first played oldschool with the ancient group, we've been using the French rules, so the event would be run by those rules. I myself have always cared more for playing with the feel of an early magic game than from what set the cards are actually from, so I don't really care if your Serra Angel is from Alpha or revised, as long as it looks like the original thing. 

In my chats with others about the event, I've found that the other oldschool players I've met either fall into one of two categories. One really wants to stick to the old cards, so they only want to play with and against cards that are old, so no revised cards for them. Some seem to have very strong feelings about this :) The other group just wants to play the game like in the old days and don't really mind if someone plays newer cards. I have played with people who have a "Swedisch" legal deck who told me that they really didn't mind playing against newer cards because it was all about the game for them. Anyway, I would like as many people as possible having access to the format and Arno, who organizes these events with me, feels the same way, so the French rules it was. We posted the event in some fora and a chatgroup, and then I needed to make a deck. I wanted to test a deck beforehand to see if would not get completely crushed, but in the end there was not a lot of testing. A played a couple games against my friend Peter, got annihilated about half of the time by his R/G/U Agro deck, changed two cards in my deck, and that was it. So I didn't have that much confidence I would but up a decent fight, but decided to try it anyway. 

I usually don't play decks with a lot of black, but I wanted to play with the 3 Juzam Djinns I have who rarely got out of the binder (though they had seen some action when I lent them out to someone for the last Knights of Thorn event and he won with them), so I went for it. Because black is  horrible against enchantments and artifacts and I hate the feeling of not being able to do anything, I mixed in some white for disenchants and swords to playshares, and decided to play Serra Angel because I felt it would give me some defence against pro-black creatures or a COP black, should it stay in play. I added armageddon to get rid of libraries, islands of wakwak and mazes. And because I figured people would not expect it so armageddon might win me a game or two. That did not happen, by the way. Because I had some cities of Brass in the deck I felt 2 blue cards should work, so I finished off the decklist with time walk and ancestral recall and added two underground seas. Not 4, because of blood moon. I wanted enough basic lands in the deck. And then played the before mentioned games against Peter and felt the deck was reasonably good, but not top score material. Since I don't really mind losing as long as I put up a fight, I went for it. 

We had about 20 interested people, 15 would come, and 13 showed up in the end. I usually wake up Peter by calling him before picking him up, but somehow could not reach him the morning of the tournament, so I went without him.  I heard afterwards he had accidentally left his phone while visiting his parents the day before, so he overslept because I couldn't wake him. 

The night before I had tried to enter the people that had mailed me with their entry into Wizards Event reporter, but the latest update of that horrible piece of crap software had made that impossible. I actually couldn't enter any new players. I mean, really, did no one test that software before releasing it? Anyway, I found a lot of rants about Event Reporter on the internet, and one guy on Reddit said he used a web app to replace WER. I decided to give it a go and it worked really well. It is very simple and there are no undo options so you have to be careful while using it, but it performed nicely. You can find it at in case you're interested. 

After filling in the players, I made the first round of pairings and found the program had very helpfully given me a bye, which gave me some time to buy some cards to give away for the top 4 and talk to the store owner about future oldschool events. After the first round had ended and I had spotted a "the deck" player from Belgium who seemed to play it very well, I figured he would probably win the day. I've played the deck once (the original decklist from '94) on the Ancient series and it won all it's matches. It is just so good in the hands of a played who knows how to play it well. 

In the second round I got paired against a mono black deck that had won it's previous match 2-0. It turned out that me having Swords to plowshares as creature elimination against his mostly unusable terrors was key to winning the game. I won this one 2-0.

In round 3 I played against a Zoo, which is usually bad news because my hippies, orders (French rules allow playing FE) and mishra's factories are not that happy with the bolts and chain lightnings. I expected to have a hard time with this deck. As expected, my hippie and order were blasted off the table. Fortunately I got out a Djinn in one game and a Vampire in another and the both managed to stay in play. In one of the games I stripmined an early taiga to keep his kird apes small, after which he did not draw another forest for a couple of turns. I think it would not have mattered in the end, but the result would have been a lot closer. Also, me sideboarding in a COP red did not help him very much, so I managed to pull of another 2-0. 

By now, I was feeling pretty good about my black/white creation, it had done better than I expected after the couple of games against Peter's two decks. But, as I had expected, I was then paired against Johan, who had come from Belgium with a very solid the deck and I pretty much expected to lose that game, or at least have a very hard time winning. To my advantage, I have played the deck and the keeper in 1995-1996 a lot in vintage tournaments, so though it was a long time ago, I still understand how the deck works pretty well.  Maybe that would give me some advantage during play. That did not matter the first game though.

The first game there was some pretty  broken opening from his side, playing Tundra, Mox emerald, time walk, ancestral recall, black lotus and mind twisting me in the first two turns. I managed to get out an order, which started to eat away at his life. Then I managed to keep a hypnotic specter for a couple of turns before it got swords to plowshared. Then he drew braingeyser, and it went downhill from there. He got 7 new cards, activated library of Alexandria and then bolted my order. He was at 4 life, so decided not to scoop and keep trying, even though in the next couple of turns I got mind twisted again, and Johan played braingeyser again. I got in a couple of creatures, but they were destroyed. I tried eating away at his life with a mishra's factory, but that did not work either. I just could not keep up against the massive card advantage. 0-1. 

The second game I did better, getting a second turn hymn to tourach, and a hypnotic specter, followed up by an order. He destroyed some of my creatures, but new ones just kept coming. 1-1. 

In the last game, I got an early ancestral recall and I kept pulling cards with hymn and specter. He put up a serra as defence, but I managed to swords to plowshare that with my second Stp. Without blockers and an order who did 2 or 3 damage every turn, it ended in 2-1. 

So, time for a top 4! In the top 4 there were 2 the deck variants, played by Simon and Johan. Marco had earned his spot with a U/R infinite monolith deck with extra mana vaults. And me, playing the only black deck in the top4, even though there were 4 more mostly black decks around. 

The top 4 showdown
The software paired me against Marco first, so Johan and Simon would be fighting over who had the best "the deck" variant of the day. Marco opened with Mishra's workshop, basalt monolith. I had to beat this fast, or lose quickly. Fortune had brought me a mox Jet and a Dark ritual, so I opened with land, mox, ritual, Juzam Djinn. Marco played another basalt monolith and a volcanic island. The Juzam did 5 damage to Marco and one to me, after which I played an order of Leitbur and passed the turn. Marco played a mountain and a sol ring. I attacked a with the Juzam and the order for 8, and played mishra's factory. Marco played wheel of fortune, two extra mana vaults and could not get to 17 damage, although it was close. The next turn I attacked again. 1-0.

The next game opened with a broken opening from my side. I played underground sea, black lotus, dark ritual, sacked to lotus for blue and played ancestral recall and mind twisted Marco for 4. After that I played a mishra's factory and started beating. I had sideboarded in an extra disenchant and 2 drain life, and after two turns a drew the disenchant. Not a lot of creatures though, but I did have a mishra's factory and had drawn chaos orb in the meantime. Which I had to use quickly because Marco had gotten a blood moon out and I had no basic lands. My orb flipping is pretty bad because I never practise it and I had missed a full flip against Johan earlier. 

Orb flipping action pic! Thanks to Arno.

But I did manage to hit the blood moon and it went away quickly. When Marco finally got his combo, I had drawn a scrublands and disenchanted the monolith before the power artifact could land. 2-0. 

the deck vs the deck showdown
  So, it would all come down to my W/B against The deck in the finals. Johan had won the match-up of the decks, and I would play the toughest of my match-ups of the day again. 

The Finals

Johan got an early library and timewalk, and bolted away  my order. This was not looking good. I got out a Sengir Vampire with dark ritual, figuring out I would play my Juzam djinn the turn after that. Johan then mind twisted me, and swords to plowshared the Vampire after that. He got out a Sylvan Library, and drew some extra cards. I had not drawn a lot or threats, but figured I would play the armageddon i had drawn, which would shut down his library of Alexandria and maybe cripple him long enough for me to get out another cheap creature and win. I played armageddon, it got through and played the scrublands I had kept. Johan proceded to play lots of mana artifacts and lands, while I drew mostly expensive creatures. And then Johan strip mined my land, the turn before I drew my second land. That pretty much sealed game 1. 

The next games I sided in underworld dreams and an extra disenchant.

The second game I did better, with an early hymn, followed up by and order and an hypnotic specter. There were bolts and swords to plowshares, but not enough to keep up. 1-1.  

So, it would come down to the third game. I our previous  match in the swiss, Johan had strip mined my first land, gambling that maybe would end up in me being mana screwed. That did not do much then, but I still had that situation in my head when I looked at my opening hand in game 3. I played my basic swamp first, in stead of my scrublands or library of Alexandria, to see what would happen. He strip mined it. The gamble had worked, I then continued with the library, got up to 7 and got it working. Two turns after that I had my 2 black mana, and played hymn after he had played a mishra's factory. Best hymn of the day:

maybe the best hymn ever..

Turns out he had kept a hand with two colorless lands, figuring he would draw a U land quickly enough before my deck got out of hand. My deck got to the hymn quicker. After that I played several turns without drawing any creatures. He figured he could get me without my creatures, but I swords to plowshared his Serra Angel and finally drew some of my big hitters.

That, with the extra 5 (or 6) cards I drew with the library, finished it in my favor. 2-1. I managed to end first after two matches against a good version of the deck with a good player behind it. It was a tough match, but my deck followed trough after my gamble with the first turn swamp had worked out. I'm not sure how it would have ended without that. I won the Urza's chalice we had picked for the winners cup (after we came to the conclusion that none of us, including the Gameforce shop we were in, had the Draconian Cylix we had wanted to use for first prize) and the UL serra Angel. 

The winning deck:

We always like to take some pictures during the day, so here they are. I would like to start with some of the more momentous situations.

First off, kudo's to Steven, who showed up with a really cool reanimator deck:

He managed to get Nicol Bolas into play several times that way. I enjoyed watching it being played very much, although some of his opponents where less enthousiastic when I enthusiastically called out Nicol Bolas would come into play :P

 Just kidding, everything went in good spirits, the entire day. Next off, kudo's to some guys who played card you don't see every day. 

Marco, who slowed my hippy down:

 And Arno, who offed Johan's Serra Angel in a way I had not seen before:

And oh, by the way, he also played this:

Other oldschool moments during the day:

Thanks to everyone who showed up to play! Everyone I played was really nice and the entire tournament was in good spirits. Most people left before the finals were over, but did let us know that they had enjoyed themselves so we'll be doing this again in the near future. Maybe the next time, I will actually show up with a deck that has been tested. Well, maybe not. It worked out fine this time :)