Sunday, March 17, 2019

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!!