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.