Saturday, October 26, 2019

Brugian Brew Challenge

I always like to try weird things in oldschool, and when Rob pointed out the Brugian Brewfest in our oldschool chat group, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try some weird brews. The rules for the event stated that a player would receive extra points for each of the following:

Playing only three power9 cards or less
Playing no power9 cards
Playing no library or mindtwist
Playing 12 or more creatures
Playing 8 cards from legends
Playing 8 cards from the dark

Although at first sight it seems simple to make a deck that follows all of these rules, it's actually a bit harder than I thought to make a deck that actually not loses all of the time.

When I first heard of this event, Rob told me he wanted to go and we could travel together. On my way there I would come close to where his parents live, and he could go there the morning of the event so I could pick him up. I also asked Peter, and he thought it was a fun idea, so he wanted to go as well. It was time to start brewing.The brewing actually led to several ideas pretty quickly, and within a couple of hours I already had 5 ideas of what looked like pretty decent decks within the rules of the format. My favorite idea was a deck based around tetravus/triskelion/sage of lat-nam/hell's caretaker/Su-Chi but even though the deck seemed pretty decent and at times it performed quite well, it just lost most of it's matches to Peter his dance of many deck. That deck was also built to follow all of the rules for the extra points and even though it was a pretty decent deck, I figured I would run into decks that would be a lot quicker. Especially mono white and mono black. I also had an idea with mono red, but even though that looked pretty good (with ball lightning, brothers of fire, blood moon and chain lightning and mountain yeti) I felt it was not going to be a lot of fun to play with. I briefly considered playing a deck with azure drakes and Arcades Sabboth and moats which I felt would be really good, but since the tournament organizers had specifically asked not to play the deck, I figured it would not be in the spirit of the format to play something that seemed pretty heavy control with flyers. So I had to go for something else but I just could not make up my mind. On the evening before the tournament as I was scrapping the hell's caretaker deck and taking it out of it's sleeves, I had a flash of insight that one of the decks I had played earlier (the Tim/living plane deck) probably could be converted to fit all the rules without destroying the essence of the deck. I went for it, and I ended up with something with tracker, brothers of fire, sylvan library and living plane, and kept in the Sindbad because I like it and it added to the minimum of 12 creatures. So, like many times before, I had a deck that was totally untested but looked ok enough. So I sleeved it up and went to bed way after midnight, hoping I would not be to groggy to actually play well the next day.

The next day I picked up Peter, we drove about an hour to Eindhoven, picked up Rob and then drove two more hours to Belgium. We would be playing on the first floor over a sandwich bar, so it was obvious what we would be eating for lunch today. We registered, made a couple of deck pics in case they would be needed and it was time to start. I was really wondering what the other players had came up with. I was in for a couple of surprises, but the mono black and mono white I had expected to see were also there.

Round 1 vs RG control

My first opponent was playing a quick Green/Red deck and was off to a blazing start, playing sol ring on turn one, gaea's touch on turn 2 and dropping an extra forest, while all I had was a single birds of paradise against that. 

Not looking good..
Fortunately, I had added some counters just in case, and I was able to counter his turn 2 triskelion with a mana drain and then drop an Icy manipulator. I had not expected triskelion in a RG deck, but that just shows how good that card is in pretty much any oldschool deck. Triskelion is really bad for my deck, since it consists mostly out of 1/1 creatures and it doesn't help with a living plane either.. But for now I had an icy and a sylvan library out of the mana drain and I thought I was looking pretty good.

the game developed further, with my opponent playing mishra's factories which I was trying to control with my icy and scavenger folk. He also seemed to go for drawing extra cards with sylvan library and then switching his life total with me, but fortunately I also had a sylvan library in play, so I could make sure that would not be an interesting option.

things were looking bad when he destroyed my Icy with crumble, but at least I had a Tim in play, so now all I needed was a living plane. And it showed up finally, after what seemed like ages.

I had added mana short to the deck because I thought it would help me against control decks. It also helps to make sure I get to attack with my lands without them getting blocked to much, and start pinging away with tim. The Rukh eggs were a bit of hassle, but I managed to pull out a win in this game. On to the next..  The next game would be real different one though. While I had just played one land, my opponent played channel on turn 2, and dropped a triskelion.

The beating started quickly, I missed a land drop and was never able to stop the onslaught and was down in 3 more turns, so it would have to be game three to decide.

Game three would become one of those 'if only' moments. I had an opening hand with sol ring, fellwar stone, volcanic island, prodigal sorcerer, living plane, demonic tutor, balance. My opponent was playing red/green, I figured I would be able to play tim on turn 2, draw a green mana (most of the lands of my deck produce green mana, with multiple forests, 4 taiga, 4 tropical island), play living plane and I would win quickly.

That never happened though. I did not draw a green mana for the next 4 turns, and my opponent was developing pretty well without playing any lands that provide green mana for my fellwar stone.

The green mana never materialized while my opponent played several burn spells, than triskelion and I just plain lost due to colorscrew. That really sucked because I really thought to pull out a quick win, but that's magic for you. So there I was 1-2. On to the next game, hopefully that would be better. 

Round 2: B/W Dreams, disenchants and Su-Chi's

My opponent opened with a first turn underworld dreams. My Sindbads and Sylvan libraries were making unhappy noises somewhere.

After playing an Icy my opponent still had no clue as to what kind of deck I was playing, so I was hoping to catch him by surprise before dying of the dreams. He stripped my city of brass to prevent me from playing other colors, but demonic tutor and the balance are the only offcolor cards in this deck, so that wasn't much of a bother.

I used living plane combined with manashort to get ahead in life, but than my opponent unexpectedly played an Abyss to get rid of my Living plane. I had to change my plans to try to force a win.

To beat the Abyss, I played a lot of creatures and just started beating. That worked well enough to win the end.

How does one beat an abyss? Just drop every creature you have and go for it!

So I won with just these left. I buried sindbad after trying to draw another card, and pinged with tim, and then again before I had to bury tim and that was enough. On to the second game, which started with my opponent disenchanting my Sylvan Library, dropping an Abyss and Su-Chi. Fortunately I had sideboarded in Whirling Dervishes to stall things a bit.

After stalling a bit to wait for a pyrotechnics or trackers+tims I got the Pyrotechnics to get rid of the Su-Chi and won with Tims and Dervish.

Round 3: mono black weenie with hymns

The third round started with a lot of mana in my starting hand, with a strip mine and birds of paradise. I kept it, thinking I would stall my opponent and then get to the more useful cards in my deck.

Stripping my opponents land was a good start, as he missed a land drop on his third turn. That gave me time to play my brothers of fire, which would really rock this game. I was ahead in life, so I just attacked and activated the brothers every turn to either kill a weenie, or to damage my opponent.

He Hymned me to take some of the extra land off my hands, but the brothers had made a big dent in his life total by then and were then joined by tracker.

Tracker and the brothers were enough to keep the small creatures from the board and made sure I could attack with either one or both and win the first game. Meanwhile, next to me a 'friendly' game had started with both players playing cards you just love to see against you on turn one.. 

Anyway, on to the next game. I sided in the dervishes again and because I sometimes play to controlling, I decided to go for a more aggressive approach. I tutored for my second dervish and started beating. And then I got a big reminder of why I always play more careful when my opponent played a disk..

The disk took all of my permanents, and he then followed up with 3!! dark rituals and a drain life. This was not looking good..

I got a sindbad on the next turn and used it to draw an extra card after I had drawn tracker. It was a city of brass. Moments like these make me remember why I like Sindbad so much.

The tracker got rid of the hypnotic specter which would have destroyed my hand over and over, and after that I was just beating at my opponent with 2 Sindbads, hoping I would be able to do some damage while we were both in topdeck mode.

The game quickly changed when my opponent played a Sengir vampire, and I played the control magic (one of the cards I boarded in) I had been holding for several turns.

The Sengir was doing damage while I was drawing cards with both Sindbads and eventually the Brothers of fire and a Tim showed up, which would be able to take care of pretty much everything my opponent could put in play and that was game. Another win, but in a very different way than the previous games :)

Which took me to Round 4: white weenie

My opponent started with a first turn land tax. And I was not willing to give him the advantage yet, so we were both stuck at one land for a while. Unfortunately, my opponent was playing the very usuable Ication Javelineers and he killed of my birds with that, and then started beating me one point at a time. 

Fortunately, I had some mana artifacts in my deck an another birds of paradise showed up, so I would not be having any mana problems soon. That is, until the next Javelineer would show up, but fortunately that took a while.

Eventually another land was played across the table, which let me play another land without fear of the tax collector, and I putan Icy and a Sindbad in play .

I also played a tim, but the fun was shortlived, because my opponent played a crusade pretty quickly after that. But not before Tim took a shot at an Order of Leitbur and the empty Javelineers so things were looking good. So far.

I was being beaten by two 3/3 white knights when living plane showed up and I could start pinging away at my opponents lands to make sure no new knights or orders would show up, but that still did not take care of my main problem, being beaten to death by knights. I could of course start blocking with my lands, but really did not like that idea. A maze of ith solved that problem when it joined the icy, but I knew more weenies would be coming. 

After a wheel of fortune I finally reached one of the 2 meekstones I had main deck, which shut down the knights and it all was getting better from there. 

A second Tim showed up and that was pretty much it. There was no way he would ever get any mana from there because lands become summoning sick if a living plane is in play. 

Which gave me the perfect opportunity to do one of the nerdiest things this deck can do, which is to kill your opponent with maze of ith.

Yeah! Another win for my weird deck, and again with different key cards. The main deck meekstones were definity key cards in this game. On to game 2 of this round. 

Next to me, Rob, who would win the tournament eventually played a...

cool! one of the underplayed cards in FE. Rob commented it's actually pretty good. I know :)
The second game of this round my opponent stripped an early land, hoping to overrun me with savannah lions. I had kept my starting hand with a maze of ith, which slowed things down enough for a tim to show up. 

Tim started eating at the lions, which had been joined with a thunder spirit. My mazes kept these from running over me. Which was good, as my opponent played a card I had nog expected to see. Actually, this was the first time in 20+ years someone played that card against me:

The sword was put to good use when I played my living plane, with my opponent trying to get trough as much damage as he could while the tim was taking his lands one at a time. 

I countered his armageddon, and when a pyrotechnics showed up it was game. 

After the pyrotechnics, the sword was the only permanent left on his side of the board, which again game me an opportunity to kill someone with 2 mazes of ith this time. 

So, a 3-1 finish, actually better than I had expected. In the end, mono black won, with them mighty Murk Dwellers/Zombie Master/Evil presence combo. 

Rob with his altered Prodigal Sorcerer, Tim the tournament Winner. 

Thanks to the tournament organizers for this awesome idea! I love wacky formats where you get to see old cards that are not played that much, and the absence of powercards is certainly a nice twist. Although, speaking of twists, I was mind twisted at a time I did not expect it, but then again, you were awared points for not playing with it. It was not completely forbidden. Anyway, this was certainly worth the drive. Thanks again to the organizers and for Rob and Peter for joining me on this trip down to Belgium. Till next time!