These days there are so many nice oldschool toernaments in our country, hardly a month had passed since the last one I was in. In this first weekend of april it was time for the Hill Giant cup, which is hosted by Joep in the Vendetta game store in Hilversum. I have been to 2 giant cups last year, and they were great, so I was looking forward to it. For those of you that want to see deck lists, there are some scattered around this article.
Like always, I playtested some decks with Peter, then thought about what I would play for a couple of days, and then decide to play something pretty much untested. I just couldn't make up my mind though. Would I play a titania's song deck, or would I play a deck with the UL personal incarnation which has been staring me in the face ever since I won it, ehhh… two years ago I think. In the end, I just could not decide, so I modified the deck I played in the Camel Trophy. It had gotten me to the finals there and it was still sleeved in it's box, so it wouldn't take long. And I do like playing with my pixies. They're old and worn, but they've been with me for a long time and they always bring back memories of 25 years of playing magic. Plus, since the deck had performed so well in the Camel Trophy, I thought a Top 8 place would be a real possibility. If I could make that, it would be 3 in a row after Top 8 in the Palladins of the North and finals in the Camel Trophy. Spoiler alert: even though the deck worked just fine, a top 8 was not meant to be this day.
I picked something oldschool to wear that day, my Vampire shirt with an illustration by Tim Bradstreet for the Vampire card game. Although it's much less known than MTG, it has been alround for a long time (since 1994) and it still has a following to this day. I started playing in januari 1995 and still play it with friends a couple of time a year. I think I read a blogpost by Magnus on oldschoolmtg.com where some guys pull out a box of Jyhad (as the game was called before it was renamed to Vampire: the Eternal Struggle later) but they can't really figure out how to play the game because there are too many rules. So Magnus, if you're looking for some guys who can explain to you how it works: there's plenty of decks waiting for you over here and we would love to teach how it works :) If you take me up on the offer, I'll buy you some Dutch beers. I hear they're really good.
Anyway, I'm degressing. Tim Bradstreet has done some of the artwork for Vampire cards and books (there's also a tabletop roleplaying game with the same theme) and if you've never seen them, check out some of his illustrations: Tim Brandstreet images. Love them or hate them, you've got to admit they're a lot better than the generic artwork we see on cardboard these days. I fall in the love them category, but it could be that's because I've been looking at them for 25 years now. The shirt I have is from '95 I think and I only wear it on special gaming occasions. The Hill Giant Cup counts as such a special occasion. I would run into more oldschool gaming accessories during the day, but I'll get back to that later.
I picked up Thijs and Peter in Arnhem and we were off to Hilversum. It's only an hour's drive and since we were talking all the way, we were there before we knew it. I parked at a place that is supposed to be free parking on a sunday, so I'm hoping I won't get a ticket sent after me. We arrived at the gaming store about 20 minutes before the tournament would start. The weather was good, so there were some guys at the table in front of the store enjoying the sun. Or the binders of old cards on the table. On second thought, I think they were paying more attention to the binders full of cards than the sun. After we registered I greeted a lot of familiar faces who were all happy to be here to flop some old cardboard. I picked up some cards we had ordered from Robbie so Peter could play his 4th Su-Chi without having to borrow it, we finished the decks and by them it was time to play!
I scribbled down some short notes between the rounds, I will try to make sense of them here:
Round 1 (damn, I forgot to put down a name)
He was playing UWR and it was a close match. What I remember is him destroying some of my efreets and cities with City in a Bottle (damn, that card is good) and he disintegrated my Preacher. The preacher was not very lucky the entire day by the way, he did not get to convert even one creature to my side. I got the advantage in both games with early speedy creatures, and won the match 2-0.
Round 2 (Bob, with a deck I would call Trolls & Trikes :))
Bob had two very good openings. This was his first turn play:
He put on the pressure quickly and destroyed one of my lands, and since I wasn't drawing that many lands I could not keep up. This left me with the option I went for: to tutor for a balance and cast it a turn later. I could not even play it the same turn. By then I was down to so few life I figures the game would be over. He had a lot more mana, and I had much less life. And he was playing red. But somehow, his luck had run out by then. I cast a Serra Angel, pretty much expecting to be bolted out of existence, but somehow he didn't draw a burn card for 5 turns and Serra went all the way to win me the game! It was amazing how that went.
The second game I had sideboarded in COP read and greater realm of preservation. I got the greater realm early on in the game and kept stalling him with the Icy Manipulator I had also boarded in. He had a Rukh Egg and a diamond vally which made a tough blocker for my Serendib Efreets, so I kept both of the ones I had drawn in my hand, waiting for something to happen. Than Library of Alexandria happened, and I figured I would draw something to win with quickly. That took quite a long time though, and he kept attacking me, forcing me to keep mana free for the greater realm. And since I needed a city of brass for white mana (I had not drawn tundras and just one savannah), that still took some of my life. After a long time, an Erhnam Djinn showed up, but I needed to make sure he would not block it to death or block it with his Mishra's factory and then bolt it. So I waited for a disenchant for the factory he did not attack with, attacked, disenchanted the factory and played regrowth on my time walk which I had cast really early in the game. That sealed the deal. 2-0. Wow. After him opening twice with moxen and sol ring. This just goes to show you just have to keep playing till the end, something good might happen along the way.
In the meantime: Peters deck was doing what it was good at. Copying stuff. His opponent played a Su-Chi, and this was Peters awnser next turn:
In the meantime: Peters deck was doing what it was good at. Copying stuff. His opponent played a Su-Chi, and this was Peters awnser next turn:
Turns out he had been waiting for something to copy for quite some turns then, and he took full advantage of it :) He won this game.
Match 3 (Jimmy, the deck)
Jimmy is a frequent top 8/top 4 player and probably the best "the deck" player in the Dutch oldschool community. I expected a very hard match.
In game 1, I was happy with the decision to keep playing a lot of disenchants main deck. I disenchanted early, drawing out counters and then played Erhnam Djinn, Serra Angel and then armageddon. As I had expected, he plowshared one of my two creatures (the Serra) but I was able to keep the Djinn in play. 1-0.
In game 2 I sided my 4th disechant, dust to dust en red elemental blast. That last one usually comes unexpected as I don't play any red cards main deck. I played an early Serra Angel again, which Jimmy countered using up his Black Lotus. We exchanged blows with mishra's factories while I was waiting for him to play something bigger. I think this was somewhere around turn 9 or 10. I had drawn my power sink on turn 3 and wanted to use it for all it was worth. Jimmy cast recall for 2 (with one of the cards he took back being an ancestral recall), which I power sinked. He countered my power sink, but was out of mana after that. I would have decide the game now, but I was confident that would work out since I had a time walk and fireball in my hand. I attacked, cast time walk, attacked again and played fireball for the win. 2-0. I was really happy with this win. It took agressive but cautious play to win and before the match I expected Jimmy to have the advantage. But I made it!
Match 4 (Jeff BWU with landdestruction, dreams, disenchants and power. Oh, and Cuombajj witches)
In game 1 I kept an opening hand with Mishra's factory, sol ring, ancestral recall, time walk, 2 Erhnam Djinn and 1 Argothian Pixies. I figured I would either draw blue mana of green mana within a couple of turns since more than 1 in 3 cards left in my deck was a blue or green mana source. This was not meant to be though. After 3 turns, I still had not drawn any mana at all, and on turn 4 Jeff disenchanted my sol ring. I lost the game without having drawn any blue mana and only one green. Shit happens, I suppose. The fact I kept this hand kept bugging me the rest of the day, even though some of the other players I asked about it told me they would have kept it too.
Game 2 I opened with no land, two moxen, black lotus and Serra Angel. And an Erhnam. Again, not the best hand, but although maybe a gamble, I decided to go for it and dropped the Serra on the table on turn one. Jeff opened with a Library of Alexandria and went frantically looking for something to take care of the angel. And he got it just in time, when he was at 4 life :( He took out my Serra and took full advantage of the Library. In the meantime, I had drawn an Whirling Dervish, but he destroyed my green mana source one turn before I got my second, so the Dervish stayed in my hand. The card advantage was just too much. I could not keep op, so he won 2-0.
Since this match had not taken long, I had some time looking around and spotted Martens awesome lifecounter:
This is a modified 1995 reaper life counter. Apparently, somewhere around that time, a Magic chess set was also made, and Maarten got these parts from the inventory of a game store gone bust some years ago. It looks awesome, and feels very heavy as it's all metal. Then Marten pulled out some more original 1994 life counters, still in their packaging:
Wow. I was impressed. He had kept them a long time, but figured oldschool players might enjoy these, so he was selling them off. And then.. he had a surprise for me. Because he appreciates the tournaments I have been organizing and this website so much, he gifted me one! I didn't know what to say :) I always hope people enjoy the tournaments and this site, but I never figured someone liked it that much. So I picked the one with the female (I think Elf) warrior on it because it fits the theme of the deck I was playing. Thanks so much Marten! I really, really appreciate it! The life counter is now in my home where it is displayed together with the other two classic life counters I have.
Again, thanks! I enjoy looking at it every day and look forward to using it in future events.
And then it was time for Match 5 (Evert, troll disco/beast).
This was not much of a match-up for me. In game one, I felt good about my hand since I had disenchant and 1 small and 2 big creatures in my hand, but I never got to playing most of that since an early Mind twist took them away and the advantage was too much to overcome. In game 2 he opened with a Library of Alexandria, and it was pretty much the same story :) And it did not help that this was my opening hand in game two:
So I just missed the top 8. Had I managed to pull out a win or a draw in one of the two last games, I would have been in, now I was out. But not to worry, there was still the Revised only side event, and I had brought a deck to play in that as well. But there were still people playing, and Roy and Marten were in an intense game in the final turns. The time has been called, Marten is in his supposedly last turn, after which Roy will get the last turn of the 5. Roy has just played wheel of fortune and Su-Chi t keep Marten off his back in the last turn. This is Martens hand after the wheel:
This is one of those magic puzzles. You have one turn left, no go and win even though your opponent is at over 10 life.
After Marten won with this puzzle, the Revised only event started. My first match-up was against white weenie. After game one, we both were amazed about how statistics work. I mean, really, what are the odds of him drawing 4 savannah lions and me 4 dark rituals. These are literally all the cards we drew during the game:
In case you were wondering, the earthquake was the game winner together with the Sengir Vampire. In the second game I even managed a rare sight:
I managed to get a counter on my vampire without it being destroyed or removed from the game. I got to attack for 5! That almost never happens, at least not to me.
My deck was working pretty good in this match-up, but I got crushed by Joep with his white deck with main deck meekstones and a lot of disenchants, so I did not get to disk away his meekstones. Oh, and the balance that took 3 of my creatures out also wasn't helping :)
This gave me some time to watch the last parts of the tournament. Here Evert has his Guardian Beast/Chaos Orb combo working, which is just brutal. Jeff is not amused:
After taking out several of Jeffs lands (starting with the maze) Evert easily won that game and was on to the finals. The finals were between Everts Troll Disco and our Belgian regular Antoine who was playing the Savannah Lions/Serra/counter deck which has been very successful at a lot of tournaments around the world. In the end, Evert won out, proving that Troll Disco with beast really is a T1 deck in old school mtg.
Thanks to Joep for organizing this event, thanks to Vendetta for hosting this day, thanks again to Marten for giving me that awesome lifecounter and of course, thanks to all of you for showing up. I've loved playing with old magic cardboard for almost 15 years now, and it warms my heart to see so may enthusiasts of old school/ancient magic. May we play this format in good spirits for a long time to come!
And for those of you that like decklists, here are some that were published: