Sunday, March 17, 2019

Camel Trophy I - a report by Carl

Another tournament at our northern neighbours of the Netherlands. Antoine and I
left at 8:30 for the two-hour drive to Arnhem to attend the first Camel Trophy,
organised by Bjorn. This location is a bit further for us than the one in
Eindhoven (where the Draconian Cylix events are held), more time to chat...
Twenty-five players showed up, a nice turnout. Swedish rules, but reprints
allowed. I took the same deck as two days before in Brugge: Good stuff played by
Kalle Nord at n00bcon X. With 20 restricted cards, this choice cannot be wrong.
Five Swiss rounds followed by top 8 single elimination.

Round 1: Edo Hoksbergen - R/W Atog
Edo keeps a somewhat ketchy hand, attacks turn two with a Factory that gets
Shattered, and is stuck at two lands, another Factory and a Mountain. I don't
help him with a Strip Mine on the second Factory after he has played an Atog. I
then plop an Erhnam and a Su-Chi. I counter his Balance (cast from a Lotus),
then Power Sink his Chaos Orb, and he is soon dead.
Game 2 is more interesting, as he plays turn 1 Mana Vault, turn 2 Su-Chi and
manages to hit me twice before I can Disenchant it (my only change from Kalle's
deck: replaced Tranquility from the sideboard; well, I also took out the two
Sharks for 2 extra Black Vise). Edo forces me to counter another thread, then
casts Wheel of Fortune and the dreaded Blood Moon hits. Luckily, I received a
sweet seven and cast Lotus, Erhnam Djinn, Su-Chi, Mox Sapphire, Time Walk. Hit
Edo for 8 down to 9 (he took some City of Brass damage). He plays a Juggernaut
to trade, then a second one. I have a Psionic Blast to finish him off.
2-0, 3 points.

Round 2: Peter Bondhuis - The Deck
Peter opens with Mishra's Factory, Mox Emerald, Mox Ruby, Ivory Tower. I Mana
Drain his Jayemdae Tome, use the mana to play Sylvan Library, and Regrowth on
the Mana Drain. He plows a Factory of mine, then I play Erhnam Djinn which goes
all the way.
Game 2, Peter plays a Tundra, then Ancestral in my upkeep. He Mind Twists my
hand away and plays a Tome, but I topdeck Chaos Orb to get rid of it.
Unfortunately, Peter has a Tome #2, then he plays The Hive and starts the
beating. I try to mount an offense with 2 Su-Chi and Wheel of Fortune, but it
doesn't save me. I die with Peter at 3 life.
These games have taken some time (backbiters would say I play slowly), so we
have no time to play the third game.
1-1, 4 points.

Round 3: Thomas Meddens - R/W Tron prison
I already had the occasion to play Thomas (with another Tron variation), I am
glad to play him again, he is a very friendly fellow. I open hand with Strip
Mine and Mishra's Factory (no coloured mana), but good spells (Walk, Regrowth),
so I keep it and have a slow start. Thomas cannot put pressure on either. I hit
him once with a Djinn before City in a Bottle hits. I am able to get rid of it
thanks to a timely Chaos Orb. I twister once, then a second time, taking some
extra turns in the process, then burn Thomas to death.
I am lucky to have Library of Alexandria in my opening hand of the next game,
Thomas has Howling Mine and Relic Barrier to make it even. I kill his Relic
Barrier so that Thomas would be kind enough to let me benefit from the Mine, but
he has another Barrier. I play an Erhnam, he drops a Su-Chi which soon becomes
forestwalk, so Thomas attacks with it, but I can block it since I don't have any
Forest in play. The blocking Djinn is sent farming. I play a second Djinn,
Thomas attacks, I block, the Su-Chi dies, then Thomas plays a Triskelion to kill
the Djinn, I Drain it, Thomas REBs it, but I have the BEB to make sure Erhnam
doesn't die. I hit him for 6 (Factory), then he plays a Su-Chi. I cast Hurkyl's
Recall on him, and hit him for 8 (a second Factory joined the team), then
Psionic Blast + Lightning Bolt to finish the job.
2-0, 7 points.

Round 4: Robbie Van Bakel - G/W/u
Robbie has a strong start with Lotus, land, Erhnam Dijnn. I also play a Djinn.
Robbie hits me once, then I hit back, Time Walk, Regrowth the Time Walk. I play
a Sylvan Library. Robbie has 3 Elves into play, but he can't chump block as my
Djinn has Forestwalk. Robbie Disenchants the Sylvan Library, but I had the
occasion to put Fireball on the top, so the Djinn hits once more and a 4-point
Fireball does the trick.
Robbie has another good start with Tropical Island, Mox Sapphire, Sylvan
Library. I play land, Mox, Mox, Fellwar Stone, meaning I am able to counter his
second turn Ice Storm (Robbie took 8 to get two extra cards from the Library). I
play Erhnam Djinn in my second turn, then another one turn 3. Despite a Time
Walk, Robbie can't find removal and concedes.
2-0, 10 points.

Round 5: Antoine Rottiers - U/W/b Cermak attack
Antoine is the only one with 4-0, we should both reach the top 8, so this game
is rather laid-back.
He has a great start with turn 1 Ancestral, turn 2 LoA. Fortunately, I am able
to Mind Twist him for 3 (Timetwister, Serendib Efreet and Su-Chi), so his
Library is useless. He plays Savannah Lions and Mishra's Factory. I play a Djinn
but it meets Chaos Orb. Antoine plays a Su-Chi which is kind enough to come to
play on my side thanks to Control Magic. I play a Su-Chi on my own, Strip his
Maze of Ith and both Su-Chi go to town.
There is not much action in the early second game, I Shatter a Sol Ring. When I
hit 6 mana, I Time Walk, then Tutor for Mind Twist for 5, getting 3 Su-Chi,
Disenchant and Braingeyser, Antoine keeps two cards in hand. He then Mind Twists
me back for 4, I keep two cards. I Control Magic his Serra, hit him before he
Disenchants the CM. We trade his Serra vs my Su-Chi, but my 3 Factories to his
one are enough to kill him.
2-0, 13 pointes.

I am seeded first in the Top 8, Antoine is second.

Quarter finals: Jeff Nijs - B/W
It is the first time I meet Jeff, very kind person and good sport. There is not
much action in the first turns besides two Bolts on his Mishra's Factory and
Hypnotic Specter. Two of my Erhams get plowed. I play Time Walk and Timetwister
after a Library of Alexandria. I Tutor for Mind Twist and Jeff dumps his hand in
the graveyard, somewhat frustrated since he had his own Mind Twist. He concedes
when I Control Magic his Sengir Vampire.
Game 2, I Psi blast away his Vampire, then Jeff casts Balance with two cards in
hand (I keep Control Magic and Mishra's Factory). His second Vampire comes on my
side, soon joined by a Djinn. Jeff cannot cope with that.

Semi-finals: Bjorn Stemerdink - G/W/U
When I play a second turn Fellwar Stone, Bjorn Drains it, leaving me with only a
Volcanic Island untapped. He then casts Mind Twist for 5, the number of cards I
was holding... I rip Wheel of Fortune from the top of my library to attempt a
comeback, but Bjorn plays Armageddon (getting rid of my Strip Mine), then plays
his LoA. I cannot beat the card advantage despite a triple bolt (off a Lotus) on
his Erhnam and Lions.
Game 2 sees Bjorn on the offense with an aggressive Balance with two cards in
hand (I have to discard my Balance), followed by an Erhnam Djinn (answered by my
Su-Chi) and Serendib Efreet. I am holding a Demonic Tutor that I hold rather
than going for the obvious Ancestral Recall. After a second Dib hit, Bjorn casts
Braingeyser for 4. I finally get my sixth mana. I attack with Forestwalking
Su-Chi but since Bjorn has no Forest, he blocks it happily. I am then able to
Tutor for Regrowth to get Balance back, getting rid of his two creatures and his
hand in the process (we both have 3 lands, one of mine being a Factory). Bjorn
topdecks a Serendib Efreet, followed by Plowshares for my Factory. Both of us
don't draw much in the following turns, and I die to the Efreet. I am midly
disappointed after this devastating Balance, but this is Magic.

So I finish at the third place and watch Antoine beat Bjorn to take the first
Camel Trophy.
Congrats to Antoine, thanks to Bjorn for another successful tournament, and to
my opponents for an enjoyable day.



The Camel Trophy I

After a long series of Ancient, French Oldschool and a couple of Swedish Oldschool events in Eindhoven, I really wanted to go back to our Oldschool Magic hometown, Arnhem. Our first larger Oldschool event was in may 2009 was held in Arnhem. We had some smaller events before that, but it was really just some friends who all came to the same game store. It was my first Oldschool kind tournament that was organised with a little bigger crowd in mind, as such it was announced in more places and quite a nice group of people showed up. I was still figuring out where the format was about to go. I was sure I wanted reprints to be allowed, it was all about the playing like the old days. As such, no one cared about the art, so some people used all kinds of basic lands. Even then, there were some guys who were already into the original art thing, so they played only basics with pictures from the original sets. We had great fun. There would be no repeating it there though, because the shop changed hands and the new owner wanted to focus more on events that would draw a bigger crowd or would be better for the shop's standing in Wizards eyes, so it was either larger groups or sanctioned events. Preferably both. So we moved our tournament series to Eindhoven, and we've been playing there ever since. The feeling of wanting to organize something in Arnhem never went away though, because of the good memories and because that's where it all started. 

Fast forward to 9 years later, to the Frost Giant Cup 2018 in Hilversum. This splendid event was hosted by the Vendetta game store there. It was there the Vendetta store in Arnhem was mentioned. I had heard there was another store in Arnhem, but I never really got around to going there. These days, if you want to play an Oldschool kind of game, you have a way better change of finding a player through a chat group than in a game store. But, since the idea of restarting Arnhem never went away, I decided to give it a try and contacted the owner of the store, Richard. He wasn't as much into the Oldschool scene as his colleague from Hilversum, but he was willing to give it a try. 

I wanted to draw as many people as I could for this first time, so I decided it would be a Swedish rules event because most Dutch players seem to enjoy that format the most. Because the Swedish events I've done so far had no name yet and the Draconian Cylix series was for French Oldschool, I had to come up with a new name with an old ring. Because most oldschool events are named after cards in our country, Arno came up with the brilliant name "Camel Trophy" after a couple of other names had been suggested. No new suggestions were needed, this was brilliant. I had to pick a date somewhere in between the other events and we decided on March 10th, because February 10th had already been taken by the Palladins of the North in Groningen. 

At first there weren't that many enthousiasts, so I was wondering if perhaps there were enough Oldschool Magic events in our country. But as time passed, more and more were added to the list, and in the end we had 26 players, which would pretty much take all the space in the store :) On the day of the event, one of the players had fallen ill, so we played with 25 players, some of whom had won other events. There were winners of the Knights of Thorn, Hill giant and Frost giant cups and winners of the Draconian Cylix. The competition would be fierce :)

As has become custom for these I events, I built a deck and playtested against Peter. Who crushed the deck I had built with UW Lions Agro. Not suprising, since this is probably the best possible Oldschool deck, but as people who've read some of my writings before, I don't mind losing, but I do want to feel like I'm actually participating. This was the deck I almost played, a homage to the Monkey May I deck.  

The deck I didn't play :)

So I built another deck on the evening of the event and played that. I've always been a fan of Argothian Pixies, so I started with 4 of those and kind of went from there, adding some of the usual suspects, but not in the amounts people would expect and called the deck pixie dust because of the Dust to dust. I changed it during the tournament to Pixie Tricks, because I didn't use the dust to dust one single time. 

There is something special about playing in a gamestore, isn't there?

I didn't note every round I played, as organizing an event like this keeps you running with snacks and talking to Richard, who was very helpful by doing all the input in the computer. But what I do remember from the games I've put in this post. There are also other posts from other players, I will put those up as well. 

In the first round, I played against a mono green deck. I love mono green. Do you ever have those moments when the broken stuff in your deck makes you feel kind of bad? Because I didn't know what would come, I mind twisted him early in the game with a Lotus, and that pretty much broke the game. I apologized when I played StP on his killer bees. It's also a card I love very much. I won 2-0. 

I was then paired against Joep, who's a really good player. He goes top 8 a lot and was the winner of the Frost Giant Cup. Hard match against a nice guy, but I managed to beat him none the less. 

Next up was Maarten, also winner of multiple tournaments who goes top 8 pretty much every tournament he plays. He had some surprising tricks up his sleeve. Some stuff I really did not expect. As he is testing the deck to compete in other tournaments I won't go into all the details, but I will share one awesome moment:

Well, I didn't see that one coming :) It took care of my creatures though! Note the playmat I borrowed from Richard as I had forgotten to take mine when I packed up my cards and the snacks for the tournament. I love cats. So I bought the mat from him at the end of the day. Maarten had some other nice stuff up his sleeve. Also note the two classic life counters Maarten and I use from Scrye and the Duelist :)

There was a lot of fire in Maarten's deck

I played cautiously because I was expecting other tricks, and I won the first game. The second game was much harder. We both agreed to side out Library of Alexandria and Mind Twist. I'm so much happier knowing I won't be mind twisted. I don't mind the libary as much, but I do agree it's very broken. Maarten would have won that game by all probability, but time had run out a couple of turns before he could so I won 1-0. 

Round 4 was against Antoine, a self proclaimed Spike-player, so I knew he would be playing a very good deck for all he's worth. This would be a hard match. I had pretty good opening hand where I would have dropped two creatures on turn one, had Antoine not gone into land-mox-timewalk, take second turn, timetwister. I was at two mana sources when he was already at 5, and a mind twist that followed pretty quickly sealed game one. I was not a happy bunny and sideboarded in some of my anti-creature stuff and REBs which I thought he wouldn't expect as I didn't play any red main deck. It was not enough though, he kept pushing while I just didn't draw enough to counter the onslaught of his U/W agro deck. So I was 3-1 after this match. 

Round 5 was against Robbie, the winner of the last Knights of Thorn, so I would have played tournament winners and frequent top 8 players 4 out of my 5 matches. I was confident my deck was pretty good though and I had gotten used to how it played through my games this day, so I sat down knowing it would be hard, but possible to beat his deck. Which I did :) The games weren't easy, but I won the match, so I was 4-1, enough to put me in the top 8. My second top 8 this year, I had landed a top 8 spot in the Palladins of the North last month as well, so I'm pretty satisfied with my last 2 decks performance. 

In quarterfinales I played Bastiaan. We got into a damage race which I thought I might win because although he had 1 creature more than me, I still had 3 more creatures in my hand (2 serendibs and an Erhnam) so I thought I might win that one. After his attack, he played a timetwister though, which cost me my creatures, but also gained me a time walk and a control magic. So I took one of his creatures and timewalked into victory. 

In the semi-finals I met Carl, also a fierce player who's a frequent top 8 player from Belgium. I managed to pull of an early mana drain and mind twist him, which I thought would be the winning play, but he topdecked a wheel of fortune right the next turn. An exiting match followed after that,but in the end I managed to pull of a win after I blocked his su-chi with my Erhnam because Carl hadn't noticed I had kept all of my forest dual lands in my hand ( played the djinn with a city of brass) so the su-chi forest walking did not do much. His decklist (no picture) can be found here.

The Semifinals

So, up to the finals! At one point I had Antoine down to no permanents and at one life, but I just did not follow up with any threats. My Ancestral Recall gained me three lands, and my one lion met with a maze of ith. Antoine balanced away my Serra and Serendib, braingeysered for 4, played a Ancestral recall which made his library running, quickly followed by a timewalk. I lost the finals in good Oldschool fashion to an array of broken stuff from someone who's already a good player :) All in all, the atmosphere was great, I gave away some cards for most vague deck, the guy who showed up after not having played any magic for years, and to the deck who had not one a single match. It's so much more fun to just give out some prizes to people for other things than winning if you ask me. But, in the end, Antoine won the first Camel Trophy fair and square! 

If you want to relive the finals, it was streamed and then put on youtube by Timmy:

Richard also made an impression of the tournament which ends with a picture of the winner:

I would also like to give some tips to people complaining about Library of Alexandria. I've seen more libraries destroyed this day than libraries actually breaking games:

I also had a couple of orb flips which destroyed libraries, but they were to blurry to actually put up here. My library worked in 2 games, but was quickly destroyed in both of these games and it never really got out of hand. Oldschool is broken. Library is broken. Just like a lot of other cards, and you play this format for fun. If you hate it that much, just put some form of destruction in your deck :)

Some of the other old school moments of the day and some decklists:

I would like, no you don't, yes I do, no, you don't!

Peter's deck working at top speed

Some of the decklists:

Robbie, Top 8

Carl, Top 8

Roy, Top 8

The Force

Thanks to all who attended! And thanks especially to Richard from Vendetta Arnhem! We could not have done it without you. Till next year!!