Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Gaea's Avengers

August 3rd, and already it's time for another oldschool event. This time it's in Hasselt, Belgium for the first Gaea's avengers tournament. In my last tournament I played a fun deck and had a lot of fun, but I also wanted to try a bit of competitive play again. I had no time or inspiration to build something really original (not to mention no time to playtest it beforehand) so I decided to just go in full Spike mode, build a deck that could win and go for a top 8 finish.

I made a plain old "the deck" variant with some surprises in the sideboard. Looking back I was happy with the decks performance, but I probably would make some changes for a next time. On the day of the tournament I picked up Thijs from Arnhem. I'd asked him if he wanted to go and needed a ride since he has no whatsapp, so he missed the fact there was a tournament at all. He wanted to go so I picked him up in the morning and after a little over two hours we were in Hasselt. Which was bigger than we expected, we actually had to look for an affordable parking place. Hasselt is apparently growing in population quickly. We parked somewhere on the edge of the center and passed several apartment blocks that were still under construction but had signs on most of the apartments that they were already sold. There must be something really nice about living in Hasselt besides an opportunity to play oldschool and good Belgian fries.

The playing area was upstairs from a bar and there were plenty of tables and space to play. It was a bit hot so all the windows were open. As far as I know, no cards flew out the window due to a draft since there was virtually no wind at all. Which also meant it was quite hot in there, so I would not only be sweating because of the tense games :) There were some of the people I know but also some faces that were new to me, so there would be a chance to play some guys I had not played before. Wouter was also there, and he had brought my Angel that had accidentally stayed over in his deck after the last Knights of Thorn tournament after he took it from Peter. Thanks Wouter, for taking good care of her :)  After the first pairings were called, I was to play against someone I had not seen before, but he had a lot of old cards and told me he didn't know a lot of people who played oldschool. So he was happy there was an occasion to do so. 

Round 1 - Nicolas

For my first game, I had a pretty nice opening hand with 2 moxen and a lotus, but nothing to do with it, so decided to go for first turn demonic tutor and then second turn braingeyser 4 to get the game started. My opponent would only have one bayou and a sol ring by then, so I was not to worried that something really bad would happen.He surprised me with this on turn 2 :)

Eureka! Awesome!
He played a couple of basilisk and cockatrice with that eureka. I put down a tome. I quickly started drawing cards as fast as I could to prevent me from being overrun. I managed to get rid of the creatures one by one and then stabilize and start beating back with factories. On the second game, I sideboarded in something he probably did not expect, and with concordant crossroads in play, I got to do this (I had gotten rid of his creatures by then). 

He also played a couple of other classics that don't see enough play:

Fortunately for me, the creatures in his deck weren't the biggest ones available, or I would have been in trouble. I sideboarded in both Djinns and Abyss to have a good chance of playing either of those if an early eureka would come. In the end, the djinn, factories and fireball won me the match.

Round 2 - Stan 

Stan played a deck he normally plays with fallen empires (probably French Oldschool then). I think this deck is called something like Temple of Sped, I've seen Carl or Antoine play it a while back in the Draconian Cylix Series in Eindhoven. This was a version where orders had been replaced with Thunder Spirits since FE is not allowed under Swedish rules. 

It was a pretty long match, with the first match going to me after I got a tome working, the second game he ran over me with Lions, Serendib, Spirit with counter backup and direct damage before I could stabilize. The third game I won after I could stall him a bit and then kill him with some factory damage and a fireball. It was an intense match so I did not have a lot of time to take pictures. It was hard work, but I managed to squeeze out a 2-1 win.

Round 3 - Wouter

Wouter was playing a red kind of Tron deck and he told me he was actually quite surprised he had won 2 matches with it. There were some surprises in it with which he had managed to overcome his previous two opponents. 

Shivan Dragon! Rock!
Other things were less surprising :) but of course an excellent choice

I managed to get some control with extra card draw from the book, but the game was really over after this (isn't it always)

Fortunately Wouter told me he was all for the card in the format so I didn't have to feel guilty. To be honest, I probably would have won without the mind twist. Another thing that I almost never have in play all at once is this playset, but when I do, it usually means I'm winning :)

The second game he had an early tron complete:

and started playing bigger spells fast. In the meantime I was trying to get ahead by drawing extra cards with the tome. That worked and eventually the game was decided in a nice good old counter battle:

I won this one 2-0 and with a 3-0 showing I was pretty confident I would make it to the top 8. After the game, I put all my stuff in my bag and chatted with Frenk. And took some pictures of others playing:





When the new pairings were called out, it turned out I was to play Frenk on table 2 :) I could have just stayed there and not put away my playmat, lifecounter and deck :) 

Round 4: Frenk
Frenk getting out his stuff
The first game was not much of a challenge for Frenk. I did not draw counters or swords to plowshares to take care of his fast weenie horde. There are just those games when you don't seem to be able to draw anything useful. To be honest, I did have one counterspell in hand when Frank disenchanted my Mox Sapphire, but it would not have a lot of difference, since he then would have played the Djinn and killed me anyway:

The second and third game were a little bit better, though I was not really pleased with drawing three early game cities of brass, than one other land, and than another city of brass. That's not the best land draw against a pretty aggressive deck.

I managed to pull out a 2-1 win with the factories and a fireball in the end so I was at 4-0 by then. Top 8 would be not problem now. This meant I had to play against Antoine in round 5. He has shown to be one of the most competitive players of Oldschool in this area and has won several tournaments. He's a very frequent top 8 player. I've played him in a couple of top 8's before and these were always tense but great games so this would be an interesting match, even though Antoine told me he felt no pressure as we would both be in top 8 anyway. This did not mean he would not play his best though. Another interesting remark he made was that guys that win every game in Swiss usually don't win the tournament. He himself had never managed to do that.

Round 5: Antoine

The opening was interesting from both sides. I had kept the hand to play this on turn one. 

and Antoine played this on turn one:

I had to act quickly or it would get out of hand fast. I followed up destroying the libary with my orb, and I drew this a couple of turns after that. 

That left my had pretty much without anything, so we would go into topdeck mode from there. It was a pretty insane match where a lot of crazy plays followed each other.

I don't exactly what I thought, but wanted to push for a win in game 2, so I drew five cards, but then Antoine literally did this next turn

He had drawn the tutor from the top of his deck, searched for mind twist and then took my entire hand from there. And then this happened while all I was drawing were moxen. That was over quickly. 

The next match was also tense with both of us drawing on lots of cards. I was trying hard to  keep up with the working library Antoine had dropped shortly after playing an ancestral.

My library was not working yet, so spending a lot of mana to keep up.

It was a tough match, with lots of power going back and forth, but in the end I managed to squeeze out a 2-1 win for a 5-0 perfect swiss record. Achievement unlocked :) So this was the top 8. Special mention for Roy, who reached top 8 in spot 5 with a Land tax/Land's edge deck with almost no power, just one mox!

Now I had to try to get as far as I could from here.

My quarterfinal game was against a mono black dreams deck with howling mines. I do like to draw a lot of cards, so that's not really the best of matchups for me. But since drawing cards is what the deck has to do, I just went for it even though my opponent had played dark ritual/dreams on turn one. I cast a tome, copied it and just kept drawing cards in spite of the damage that was eating at my life. Eventually I found a disenchant and from there I was able to take control of the game.

The second game, I was not so lucky though. I started with a library and a city of brass, expecting to draw more lands. The library was quickly destroyed though, and this was what I ended up with:

I was losing life fast, but not fast enough that I couldn't make it back and eventually we ended up here

He did kill one of my moxen with that poltergeist. Cool :) That's a first in Swedish Oldschool  for me I think.

The COP black was protecting me and I counted on him sideboarding out all of his creature elimination, so I had sided in my djinns as a quick win, and it worked. As soon as the djinn was there, the match was over in a couple of turns. 

In the semi-finales I met Alban Lauter, and there my luck ran out. I got ahead with a 1-0 win after he scooped when I got a tome working, but the next two games were not much of a competition. Alban mindtwisted me early on game two and had an active library of Alexandria. Game 3 I was trying to get some cards out of my hand to play balance since Alban was drawing cards with a library again, but I did not drew enough lands to actually cast the cards with. I think I was at two lands (he had destroyed my factory) while he was at five lands and had just more opportunities. I couldn't play my balance quick enough with any impact, and by the time I had managed to get some cards out of my hand (one per turn) he countered it easily and that was game. So I ended up Top 4, not bad.  It would have been nice to see what would have happened in that third game I had had drawn 2 more lands, but it was not meant to be.

In the meantime Antoine was winning his semi-final with the Serra Angel he had animated from his opponent:

So the finals would be Rottiers against Lauter from there. The finales were a set of insane plays. 

Game 1, turn 1
Turn 2

That's a balance right there on Albans side.

Suffice to say, Antoine won game 1. Then it was time for Alban to do broken stuff:
Look at the graveyard. And yes, he has just played regrowth on the ancestral he's playing
Antoine was also a bit low on land, so Alban won the second game. It would be up to the third game now. In game 3, it was a bit of a repeat of game 2. Antoine was a bit low on land, and in the meantime Alban was drawing major broken stuff he played in quick order. 

I mean, you only have to look at the graveyard to see what Antoine is up against here:
and this was like, turn 5... 
With a card advantage that big (I think it was more than 10 cards with the mind twist, ancestral and braingeyser) it was impossible for Alban to lose, and so he didn't. He won 2-1 and the first Gaea's avengers had it's first winner!

While all that was happening, I actually did some trading. I think I haven't traded for over a year now, and last time it was with professional trader Robbie, so I didn't trade a lot of cards with other players. And I was happy my second Ramirez which has been in my binder for over 15 years found a new owner in Roy, who I know will take good care of him :)

I also traded a couple of weakstones which I plan to use in my multiplayer deck (yes, I still play old fashioned multiplayer decks with my best friends, with none of that commander/highlander stuff.) It's the small trades like these that make you feel good :)

After the tournament I was kinda hungry, (it was also around 8PM) so we wanted to have some food quickly. Fortunately, Belgium is famous for it's fries and Peter Monten pointed us in the right direction, so went with Fries and burgers. 
waiting for the fries to arrive :)
After our dinner we walked back to the car and drove back home for 2 hours, only to find out the last part of the road to Arnhem had been closed due to maintenance. Usually I check that kind of stuff first, but this time I'd forgotten it, and there we were, driving back around the city to actually get in from the other side. It was around midnight when I got home, and I could look back upon another amazing oldschool journey. Thanks to Peter and Simon for organizing this event, thanks to everyone I played, traded with or just chatted with. This great community makes me really happy I never sold my cards after I stopped. In about 3 weeks I'll have another go at oldschool cardboard in Hilversum, were Joep Meddens has organized one of his Giant tournaments again. You can still join, so send him a message if you want to. You can mail him from the upcoming events section of this site. Thanks to all and till next time!