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!