Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Frost Giant Cup 2019

On the first of september, it was time for the frost giant cup. As always, in the week leading up to the event, I wonder what deck I want to play. Although I don't have all the cards I need for a completely Swedish deck, fortunately the Frost Giant uses the Ravenna rules in which reprints are allowed, which gives me more opportunities to build something different. I would also have to make 2 Ice Age/ Alliances decks for the side event so I had some brewing to do. I had been playing with the idea of an Eureka deck for some time now. My playset had been in my trading binder for 10 years now, but I never seem to find someone who has something interesting enough for me to want to trade them away. So in the end I just decided to keep them. Funny enough, just when I had decided to keep them, someone asked me if I wanted to trade them for something. Weird how those things go. Anyway, I had decided to keep them and give Eureka a try. I had played a competitive deck last time in Belgium which I piloted to a first place in the swiss rounds, so enough with the serious stuff, this time I was going for something more fun.

I could of course make this deck with actual good, efficient creatures, but where would be the fun in that? If I play eureka, I don't expect to win, I expect to have weird stuff on the table and laugh about it. So I took my binder with gold legends (one of the few things I collected when I still was an active player in the 90's) and drew out some of them that would be fun to play with, mainly because they have great art and you never see them played. Playing with gold legends instead of good creatures would come back to me in the tournament though :) As usual, I played a couple of games to see how the deck would do against Peter. Not as much as I normally do though, since I was not planning on winning anyway. I did make one change after the 3 testruns. Lady Orca, though she's cool, was changed for something else. In the couple of games I played, she was constantly blocked to death by su-chi's and the like. I decided that my legends would have to be a bit more durable if I was to have any chance at all of winning a game. I would not make the top 8 for sure, but I do want to win a couple of games when I'm there. So she was exchanged for something in the same set of colours and that was that.

The day before the tournament, I was at our local gamestore in the Steenstraat in Arnhem which was celebrating another year of game selling. I bought some obscure little board game and was then recognized as "that guy playing oldschool". Someone actually asked me to play a game. Fortunately, I had brought my eureka deck just in case and we played one game in the crowded game area. I barely won, but I did win in a cool way with gold legends. This was a good sign for the day after :) Also something really weird happened. Some guys passing by the table just did not believe my cards were real. They found it unbelievable that there would be someone in the store playing with actual moxen and a lotus, stating they were probably bought from some chinese webstore somewhere. I found this really weird. People have commented on my decks in the past with remarks about me being insane to play with that expensive stuff, but never before I've had people disbelieving my cards were actually real. I guess this is something we're going to have to live with as fakes get more common than the real thing, and that thought made me a bit sad. Anyway, on to the tournament!

On the day of the tournament, I picked up the usual Arnhem Oldschool crew, Peter and Thijs. There are just not that many of us around here, so we fit nicely into one car. Coming up to the store, we spotted the familiar faces of the Dutch Oldschool Guild. The group of players in our country is not that big. I think it's about 60 people, so you do tend to see the same guys over and over again. Fortunately, they're al nice, so that's not a problem. The rounds were called out and I completely forgot to note who I played against :( If someone remembers playing me, please let me know and I will add your name to report if you like. Timmy from the Timmy Talks youtube channel was also there and asked of someone had a fun deck to play on his stream, so naturally, I volunteered. He recorded the game, so you can look it back, I will link to it here when it's up.

Round 1: Counter/burn

I had an opening hand with a timetwister and a mox and a big creature. Not much, but I figured I would see what I would draw and then decide if I would timetwister quickly or not. Then my opponent was nice enough to do this:

Yes, he dropped a quick Serra Angel into play and followed it up with ancestral recall on turn 2. Argh! On the upside, this was sort of my gameplan. Lose in round 1 and 2, then win one or two matches after that against decks that had not performed that well. At least then I would have a chance with my janky creatures :) I did thought I had a small chance when I was able to play a Mahamoti Djinn (yes, not all the creatures in my deck were just plain bad), but he quickly removed it from the game with stp, played a library of Alexandria, another Serra Angel, and to top things off I met with a boatload of cheese a couple of turns later:

I really had no chance here!
Well, at least it was over quickly :) I did want to fight back to see if I could at least make it a bit difficult for my opponent. And I did manage to squeeze through an early Eureka. Even though I wasn't sure if that would bring me anything, at least it was cool thing to do. It made me smile and I was certain I would play eureka again some day. 

This was a typical 'mine are bigger' scenario, and I managed to win that game with my first legend of the day doing damage, Bartel Runeaxe. This was not a first in oldschool though, I'd played him before in another deck, just because he's actually pretty good. Probably the best legend in my deck this day. At least I had won one game :)

On to the next game, in which I had sideboarded some control magic because they I thought they would do nicely with eureka, That worked out pretty well. And after losing one of the control magic's I did what I also kept in mind while selecting my legends for the day: I just casted one without eureka, to the wonder of my opponent :)

Yes, he's not as good as Mahamoti Djinn, but boy was it cool doing damage with him!
While I was doing some damage with Torsten, I also tried to cast another legend, which would have been cool had it come through. Unfortunately, this happened:

no chance for me to boast I had hard casted a Nicol Bolas here :( To bad :)

I thought it was pretty uncool to stop me from actually casting Nicol Bolas, but hey, I understand why you would not want me to attack with him. I feared my opponent would topdeck something like a fireball after that, which would have finished me off. Fortunately he didn't, so I went beating and won. Unbelievable, I had actually won a match :) My day was already looking good. This did mean I would have to face another winner the next round, and I figured I would have some trouble winning that. But hey, who cares, I had done damage with gold legends!

Speaking of cool decks, between round one and two I spotted Robbie playing a deck trying to keep creatures in check with a card you don't see very often:

Did you spot the card I'm talking about? It's a cyclone from Arabian Nights. Cool! Kudo's to people who play with cards you don't see every day. 

Round 2: mono black

My next opponent was playing mono black. He was also playing with the disk to get rid of permanents and it came pretty quickly in game one, so I would have to get rid of that first. I ended up just casting one of my legends to force the issue. 

Unfortunately, he was also playing drain life and terror, so that did not do much. I would have to try and win this match 2-1. The next game I was doing a little better, but another card I had not seen in the first game popped up, underworld dreams. I cast Shivan Dragon and the swamp king later on in the game and I figured I would just be able to make it. 


Then he tapped out,  played drain life and put me at two. I had kept my Eureka in my hand to make the impact as big as possible with the concordant crossroads I had drawn earlier, but the big drain life put me at two, and in my drawfase I went to one. Waiting had its merits, as I drew one more big creature in my draw fase and went for it. My opponent had not seen Eureka that often, so this was one of those "what does that card do again?" moments.

Eh, what's that? :)
 After Eureka this was what I had on the table:

I am not at 16 here, by the way. I was using my own life counter on the red box.
Which was more than enough to take him from 20 to 0 in one swing while I was at one life :)  There was still a chance I would win this in game 3. Nice!

I had boarded out some of my creatures that are not black in game 3 in favour of control magics, figuring that would give me more chances of him having dead cards in his hand, and me not losing my cards due to Hypnotic specters. To make a long story short, this worked perfectly: 

Then another card I had not seen in the previous games showed up, an Icy. I decided to just cast one of my legends again, to make sure I would stay ahead in damage. My opponent blocked the black knight with another knight, so keeping ahead with multiple creatures was key to winning. The Icy also made for a rare sight, a tapped Bartel Runeaxe :)


So in the end, I won this one 2-1, just like my first match. This came as somewhat of a suprise to me, because I had not expected to win my first two matches. I had figured I would lose my first matches, and then be paired against people with less strong decks. The way this was going now, it meant I would play against stronger opponents who probably would walk over me pretty quickly. But then again, my day was great already. I had done damage with Torsten von Ursus, Bartel Runeaxe, Gerrard of the closed fist, the lady of the mountain, sol'kanar the swamp king and with Riven Turnbull. That last one would also make a great appearance in one of the games still to come. 

Round 3: Antoine, with Triskelion control

As I had feared, I would now have to play someone with a really good deck. Not only that, I had to play Antoine, one of the best players in our region. I had faced Antoine in the last round of swiss in Belgium and managed to win that match, but I had no doubts about the outcome here. But as always, I would try to make it a bit difficult for him.To make matters worse for me, Antoine was off to a great start:

Damn! Dropping a first turn Triskelion, and following that up with Mishra's factory and time walk. I think that was pretty much the best opening his deck could play, I think. Only an Ancestral recall would have made it better. He drew another factory after that, and kept on beating. I was already low on life when I pulled some big creatures out of my hat with Eureka. 

That was not enough to save me though. Antoine tutored for a Psionic Blast and I wasn't paying attention, because I could have countered it with mana drain. I have no idea why I didn't. By then I was already so low on life I figured I would lose anyway so my brain thought just get it over with and did nothing. I just made a mistake and lost the first game. Pretty bad, looking back. Perhaps it was I was also talking to Jimmy during this game, who told me he had played in the game store I have owned many, many years ago. This was of course a great opportunity to dwell on the past, so that probably did not help me play my best. Completely my own fault of course, but since I came this day to have fun anyway, I don't look back on it as a bad thing. 

The next game was a bit better for me, even though Antoine started off with another great start:

Yes, another first turn big creature. Yikes! I had an early library though, so I was going to try and keep up. This was not easy though, my first attempt to stop Antoine met with a counter. 

After that Antoine destroyed my library with Chaos Orb, and I had to act quickly to stay in the game. One of the things about Eureka is that you have to have enough creatures to make it worth while, so I had to wait a couple of turns to make it work. But work it did. Just in case you're wondering, I had to transmute artifact to get a lotus to actually play this eureka. But it was worth the effort :)

And then things were quickly different. The Elder Dragon and Bartel were there to attack while the lady of the mountain was standing in the way of the Su-Chi. Since the dragon is really big and there was no quick answer for it, this game was over quickly, even though Antoine drew a Triskelion to finish off Bartel Runeaxe together with Su-Chi. 1-1. What I wanted is to make it at least a bit difficult for Antoine. Check :) 

I had sideboarded in 4 steal artifacts and 3 control magic against Antoine, but they never really came up in the second game. This would also be the theme of the third game, where Antoine put out an early Abyss against my two gold legends, so even though they had done some damage, it was not enough. The concordant crossroads and steal artifacts/control magics never showed up and that was really a shame, since Antoine later told me he had sideboarded out his disenchants. I tried to fight back with a mind twist, but literally the turn after I had played that, Antoine came back with a nice braingeyser. 


I managed to draw one control magic after that when I was at about 8 life, but Antoine then proceeded to draw not one, but two Su-Chi's in a row. So I traded off one to another, which left Antoine in the same situation as before the control magic, with him pounding me for 4 every turn. 

I just did not drew any answer to the Su-Chi, and it finished me off. 1-2. Well, at least it was an exiting game. As Antoine put it: this was definitely not a walk-over. My gold legends will take it as a compliment :) Thanks for a great game, Antoine!

I took some pictures to catch some of the atmosphere of the event:

Usual top 8 player Carl on the left, playing the deck
4th edition elves and pixies beatdown :)

Cobolds/Gauntlet of might deck. Yeah!
Masters of "the deck" facing off
Round 4: Mari, with something resembling the deck. Did not see any tomes though.. 

Next up for round 4 was Mari. We decided to play in the coffee bar across the street because the store we were in was kind of crowded since 42 players had showed up for this event. There was a great way of ordering there. We would sit on the first floor where there were plastic balls. You could write down your order, stuff it in one of the plastic balls and then put the ball down a pipe like an old fashioned messaging system. And our order came about 10 minutes later, so it worked well. By then we'd already started our game, in which it would become abundantly clear why my choice of creatures should have been better if I wanted to win. But I didn't came here to win, so I just enjoyed to game. It had some great moments. 

In game 1, I was off to a good start with a first turn Libary of Alexandria. Mari was however also off to a good start, with a fast mishra's factory which was quickly copied with the help of a mox and then followed up with another one, all of which quickly took bites out of my life total. 


I wanted to produce some blockers quickly, but Mari did not agree. 


 I then tried the same trick I had pulled earlier, drawing a card with the library first, played regrowth on the eureka, transmuted for a lotus and cast Eureka again.

Unfortunately, that was met by another no from Mari and the beating from the factories continued. 

I had to keep pushing to prevent me from being beaten to death by factories, and fortunately another eureka arrived to keep me from dying. This one came through and I was thinking, yes! This might be my comeback. It would turn out to be a big reminder about how bad my creatures were. When I started dropping my big creatures, Mari was playing some lands, and then as his last permanent: Moat. Being the gentleman that he is, Mari was not smug about this at all :)

Okay.... I did not see that one coming from a deck that wanted to beat me to death with factories. Had my creatures been better, I would have made it a victory quickly. Now I was going to have to try and beat Mari with my one elder dragon, Vaevictis Asmadi who could fly over his moat. Mari thought of something during my next upkeep when I paid for the dragon's upkeep cost. He looked at my mana and disenchanted the fellwar stone to deprive me of black mana for my next upkeep. I sighed, attacked for 8 and passed the turn.

Mari was in for a suprise though, when I came to my next upkeep:

Riven's moment of glory on this day
I tapped Riven Turnbull and his ability nearly won me this game :) I swung for 8 again and Mari was at 1 life. For those of you who would like to point out I could have tapped Riven the turn before: you're absolutely right, but it was a conscious decision. I was trying not to draw attention to the fact I would be able to do so. It turns out it was a good decision, because as soon as Mari saw what I could do with Riven, he killed him right away:

He was playing main deck REB, and that would have cost me a chance of winning. Had I drawn a land that turn, I would have won because of the element of surprise. Mari then went on to a spectacular finish with disenchant on his moat, followed up by balance, depriving me of my nice set of legends and killing me off in the same turn. 

He killed me with his complete playset of Factories, all five of them :)

It was a really close game, so I had a feeling I would be able to win one game in this match. I did win the next game with some quick big creatures and then we were on to the third game. Mari had control quickly there, using counterspell and balance to get rid of my stuff and then walked over me with a bunch of factories. 

Again, a 1-2 match. A loss, but not one that was completely hopeless and exiting games going back and forth. Not bad at all for a deck with crappy creatures like mine. 

Round 5: Joep, mono red

On round 5, I was up against Joep, also the organizer of the Giant tournaments. He was playing mono red, and he was playing some pretty obscure creatues himself. On the first game, I kept a had with a Mox Sapphire and an Ancestral recall. I think this was an ok decision, but it turned out to be pretty bad. I got one land, but this was quickly destroyed by Joep with stone rain, and I was left with only one mox, while Joep was beating me with a Granite Gargoyle. He played some lightning on me, time walked and beat me some more, then finished me off while I was still looking for more land to play:

Well, that was bad. But since this was the first time this day it was really this bad, I was ok with it and figured I would have a chance against mono red. I had forgotten something though, and this would come back to me in game three. The second game was better, with me mana draining Joeps Gargoyle and then going for a quick eureka. 

Joep reading the eureka after I dropped my first permanent

This paid off, and the game was over quickly. The third game would be a turn for the worse for me though, when Joep played this early on in the game:

A blood moon. He followed up with a Rock Hydra. I figured I still had a very small chance. I had boarded in blue elemental blast and with a lotus I could still pull out a Eureka. But it wasn't meant to be. I did not draw anything usefull and this match also ended in 1-2.

Joeps crappy creatures vs my crappy creatures.
Looking back, I'm pretty happy with the decks performance, knowing how suboptimal it's creatures were. The matches I lost were all 1-2, so even though I lost 3 matches, there was a chance of winning. The matches were close and fun. And, I enjoyed playing the legends. I did damage with almost all my gold legends during the day. Of the gold legends, only Nicol Bolas did not make it to doing damage. So all in all a great tournament. And, there would still be a side event to play as well :)

Before the top 8 there were some random prizes and I won an Ivory Tower. The day was getting better and better :) 

My prize for the day :)
The finals of the main event would be two very familiar faces:

Carl vs Marten, Antoine (also top 8) looking from the left.

In the end, Carl would win the day. While the top 8 was playing out, Peter and I would be in the Ice Age / Alliances side event, trying our luck against some of the other guys. Since Peter and I played a lot of Ancient MTG, we figured we would have an edge. Perhaps this is true, but there would be more guys who had also played that format competing, so it was going to be interesting to see what everyone had come up with. I'll cover the side event in a different post, since this one is already very long. Thanks to Joep for organizing, Vendetta game store in Hilversum for hosting the event, all my opponents for the laughs we had during the day and all the guys and girl who showed up for the event. Thanks!! Hope to see you all in good health during the next one.