Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Knights of Thorn VII

Best Mid-winter wishes to everyone! The Knights of Thorn was held previous weekend and as usual when there is an oldschool event in our country, I attended. I could use a bit of fun after a busy and stressful week at work. That week also left me with no time whatsoever to think about what kind of deck I wanted to play, it also left me with some limitations because Knights is a mostly Swedish event, in this case you can only play with original cards from Alpha until the Dark, with 10 reprints with the original border allowed in deck and sideboard total. Since I don't own a full set of UL duals and we would need two decks (one for me and one for Peter) choices were limited. I also had not finished my Wombat deck because there were still some cards missing and I expected to pick these up at Knights, but I would still need to try it out a bit more before I would try a tournament with it. So, with some limitations we went for a G/U deck for Peter and a The Deck variant for me. When I picked him up in the morning Peter had not slept because he had been gaming all night, so we decided to do some minor changes in his deck to fit his lack of sleep. Out went the control element and we added some aggro to make it easier to play. We also picked up Thijs and that meant 75% of the known active Oldschool players from Arnhem would be attending :)

The tournament started off with a record number of people cancelling. Unfortunately, that left us with an odd number of players and guess who got the bye in the first round? Yep..  it did give me plenty of opportunities to take some pictures to show some of the games and atmosphere, so I think this will be the first post in which there are over a 100 pictures. Hope you have the time and like old cardboard :) Also, if you have time, check out the Gaea's Avengers Blog from our Oldschool Colleagues from Belgium. It's in the menu on the right. I also tried adding the Timmy Talks YouTube channel which is really worth a look, but somehow YouTube won't let me link to it from here. Thanks, YouTube :(

Lots of familiar faces, also from Belgium :)

Rubinia! Rock! I played her at MOL only a week earlier. She should see more play :)

And Thijs had taken Jasmine with him again. I love gold legends :)

And then Rubinia got her favorite companion, diamond valley... this is brutal against a deck with little elimination.

And Marten was not the only one to play Rubinia, look, there! I fully expect a Rubinia buy-out as soon as people find out how good she really is.

I'll open with a library. Sure. I'll open with two moxen, a time walk, an Ancestral and an Ivory tower. Go.
And then it was time for round two. My first round of play. And this day would see a lot of weird games with lots of broken stuff. Really, people thinking about restricting Mishra's factory because it would make the game more balanced should take a good look at some of the games I played this day. There is nothing wrong with Mishra's factory in a format where you can do stuff like this. The whole fucking format is broken and that's okay because no one in his right mind will expect to win a game like this by just skill. There is a lot of luck involved. And you can certainly screw up a game by making a mistake, but more about that later. Let's start off with my opening for Round 2, game 1. Nuff said about the broken stuff, right?

Fortunately for him, the broken stuff is not just limited to me here, look at this start from Peter:

Note that we are on turn one here, and we both could be playing 5 or 6 mana stuff next turn.

I did not like the prospect of an Aggro deck with all that mana, so I took out his sol ring after I got stuck with no land draw. It did not stop him from playing a Su-Chi next turn.

I got an StP on the next turn, so I got rid of the Su-Chi, but the beatings happily continued. I played a book to try and keep ahead.

My volcanic Island was strip mined away while I was taking damage from a Serendib Efreet, which was then followed up by the Iconic Tim. Which is actually better than you might think in Oldschool! Give it a try some time.

After taking some damage from the efreet and an Icy showing up on the other side, my book brought me a couple of factories and I was really, really thankful for the Cities of Brass on the other side of the board, so I could use my fellwar stone to play an Abyss.

Because I was getting a bit low on life I decided not to take the damage of the efreet and deal with Su-Chi later if it would show up again.

By then, I figured I was ahead and would be winning soon. But did I mention broken stuff? Here it comes :)

After playing timetwister, a Library of Alexandria was played and here we were, back in business. Losing was real option again, because keeping up with a library against a book is kinda hard.

But... broken stuff helped me out. I got an Ancestral Recall on the draw after I already had drawn a Time Walk in the Timetwister. So I played a mox, a fellwar stone, played Ancestral and Time Walk and went on a beating with the factories. This was a bit too much and game one was mine. 

So, on to game 2. And the streak of broken stuff just continued while we were both laughing about how absurd this format really is. I had to mulligan while Peter had...

After Peter had drawn a couple of cards with his library, I thought I would be able to keep up because I had also drawn a library. It would be active after my next draw step so maybe I would not lose this match because of his card advantage.

Peter did not agree with me drawing extra cards though:

Fortunately I could keep Peter from taking back his library, or the whole thing with the card advantage would have restarted right there.

About 5 turns later I was able to negate the earlier card advantage with another completely broken card. I thought this would be game, even though I still would have to draw something to win with.

I played a tome after that, but Peter drew a disenchant from the top of his deck to take that off the board.

Then I drew one of my favorite sideboard cards of the day. It was a last minute decision to put this in my SB instead of a second Serra Angel and I was happy with it because it cannot be taken of the board with a psionic blast which is a card often boarded in against the deck. Peter had not expected that so there was no stopping it for him and that was game.

While walking around after my match I could not resist looking up Marten to see if his Rubinia was still in business. She seems to have just left here.

After round 2 it was time for lunch and the usual health food that Magic players seem to have as their main diet on these events :)

We were talking Oldschool Magic with Timmy the sorcerer while having our lunch and laughing about all the weird stuff that happens in Oldschool MTG. Look at the guy in the back on the right in the picture, you can almost see him thinking: "what the hell are these weird guys talking about??"

Then it was time for the Scryings Spoiler for the tournament. Even though several people made references to Thrulls it was a homelands card: Ihsan Shade.

After that unveiling it was time for round 3: I was up against black and thought I would have a good start with a first turn Library of Alexandria, but as seems to happen many times (see my earlier reports, this happens quite often) it was met with a strip mine.

I played regrowth a couple of turns later to try and keep up with the beatings I was taking from the factories on the other side.

That was taken away with a sinkhole a couple of turns later, but I did get a couple of cards advantage which I had to use to get rid of the factories. By then I was pretty low on life.

The game drew out a long time and I had to be careful since I was low on life and had used a couple of disenchants and counterspells to keep threats away and I was not drawing any new ones. You would think I would win comfortably with this boardstate and I did not really doubt I would win, but I had to be really careful because a underworld dreams or hypnotic specter would pose a problem. The orb was there, but I don't hit every time I play it, so I was careful.

Eventually I had four tomes in play, but I still had to win before I would deck myself.

My opponent played a Su-Chi after I had played an Abyss so I copied it, played time walk and then timetwister. That was enough to win in a couple of turns, but it still felt like I had to work way too hard for it.With a couple of tomes this should have felt like a walk in the park, but somehow it didn't, mainly because of the lack of control spells I was drawing in critical moments. 

Anyway, on to game 2. My opponent opened with a Library of Alexandria and I did not have a strip mine. This also happens quite often :)

The card advantage of the library was big problem. I could not keep up with the number of cards my opponent was playing and even though I tried keeping up with the library with a Jayemdae Tome, that was no use. The card avantage was already to big and just when I had disenchanted a Underworld dreams, by opponent played a chaos orb, destroyed my book and I just went down to the library advantage.

So I was at 1-1. We started a third game in which I tried to play quickly enough to win a 2-1 in the limited time I had left. I would have won had I had 2 turns more, but unfortunately I did not have the time. I could do only 12 damage in the last 5 turns we had after time was called, and that simply was not enough. So a draw it was. The first game was nice though, in the end I like games where there is a real match instead of a walkover (like game 2 of this match was). Weirdly, I was then downpaired to play Erwin (who had lost his previous match) in a field of over 40. I went over to ask if this match-up was some kind of mistake, but apparently pairing software just does that sometimes, even though there is no logical reason. This would be a tough match, Erwin is a frequent top 8 player who beat me in the top 8 of the Uthden Troll cup. Anyway, on to game 1. We shuffled and I got this opening hand. Really, is this format insane or what? But wait, it was about to get worse :) After the match, Erwin and I agreed it was a shame this match wasn't filmed. There were quite a lot of insane plays here.

I opened with my library, hoping for some card advantage. But no. Did I mention this happens quite often? Just in case I did not point this out enough: The first turn stripmine on my library happens quite often. A lot more than me stripping my opponents first turn library :P

After taking out my library, I played time walk, played a mox emerald and played Timetwister to try to get a better hand from there. Had I drawn a black mana source I would have played mind twist, but since that did not happen this seemed like a nice play. After the timetwister, Erwin did this:

Yes, he just dropped a Tundra, two moxes, a Serendib Efreet, a Black lotus and then played a Timetwister :) Did I mention this is only turn two here? I mean really, who wants to talk about game balance when you can do this kind of shit. We were laughing about the insanity of oldschool. And then the insanity continued. I was kind of bummed by the timetwister because I had Ancestral recall in my hand after my timetwister, but Erwin's Timetwister gave me this:

I had my library back. Yes! And a lotus. Nothing to do with it, but it was there none the less :) I plowed away Erwin's Efreet and happily attacked with my Mishra's factory after that. The next turn Erwin played a Sage of Lat-nam and when I attacked with my factory, he was also happy to show me this from his side:) You can say what you want, but boring was something this game was not.

Erwin attacked with the Sage and then played two Serendib efreets in a row, one of which I countered. But the beatings were pretty bad with two factories and an afreet and soon I was pretty low on life, even though I was drawing more cards. I disenchanted one of his factories, and Erwin used the sage to make up for that. He would do that some more times during this game so my card advantage was not as good as it could have been.

To keep myself from dying I had to play more cards from my hand and my library then stopped working. I could play a tome and try too keep up. I figured eventually the card advantage would win me the game, but it did not. Even though I drew some extra cards, I lost none the less. What a game! Just look back at those first couple of turns.

Erwin opened game two with a sage while I had a slow start. And started beating with it.

He then quickly followed up with an early mind twist. Does anyone notice these games are always decided by broken cards? I noticed quite a lot this day :)

Especially when Erwin managed to draw the 3 best cards in my hand with that twist. I mean really, after this I had pretty much nothing except lands in my hand here. 

To make things worse after that devastating mind twist, Erwin gave himself some more advantage by playing an Ancestral Recall. Sure. Why not make it even worse :P

After the mind twist and the Ancestral from Erwin I figured there was very little chance I would win, but I just kept playing and got a tome working before I was crushed. A maze of ith helped slowing things down and eventually I stabilized on a very low life total, but I was still alive. The library is back here, but it's not working yet.

The card advantage got me to a working library of Alexandria and for the second time that day, my Mahamoti sideboard paid off because Erwin had not expected that to show up.

To finish it off with even more broken stuff, I attacked with the mahamoti and then played regrowth on a time walk, finishing the game off. We ended up 1-1 because of these long and drawn out games, but wat a match! This is what oldschool is for, playing old, broken cardboard and laughing about it together :) Thanks for the match Erwin, it was awesome, too bad this was not caught on camera for a feature match.

The next round, with a bye, a win and two draws, I was paired against Koos playing a twiddle vault combo deck. He opened with a first turn library of Alexandria, because of course he did. I'm just going to stop talking about how often this happens now, I think :) He also had a Sylvan library for extra card advantage, which was also killing.

I tried to keep up with the early card advantage by countering a timewalk while he had a howling mine in play and then played a tome to keep up.

It was not enough though. Koos got a vault and a twiddle next turn. And then he just kept going, getting the twiddle he needed for the next turn, and I never got another turn after that. I seemed like it took about 20 minutes from there, but there was nothing I could do.

So, on to game two it was. I thought I had a nice opening with Ancestral, mox, sol ring, fellwar stone. Meanwhile, Koos also started off quickly. 

I had hoped I would draw some countermagic, a disenchant or one of the dust to dusts I had boarded in. But since I drew none of those, I went for a turn two braingeyser for 4 because I figured I would have one more turn before stuff would get dangerous. And I would not have been able to stop Koos anyway with what I had in my hand there. 

But, Koos had also drawn a mox and went for an extra turn immediately after my braingeyser with vault and twiddle. And then he recalled his ancestral recall and gave me a turn.

Fortunately for him, I had NOT drawn any disenchant or dust to dust in the meantime, or something else that would have helped, like a tutor or a mind twist after 17 cards drawn. I did get a mishra's factory. Jippy. So I had to let Koos go, and he went for another ancestral and regrowth on that. And got two or three extra turns before he had to pass the turn again.

Amazingly enough, after drawing another 3 extra cards from howling mines, still no disenchants or anything like that materialized. All I had was an extra factory. So all I could do is attack while drawing nothing useful. Well, a red elemental blast, but that did not do much since Koos had pretty much everything he needed by then. Koos pointed out that playing the deck is an advantage for him, because he can get more cards with sylvan library and has more time, but somehow I felt a bit dissatisfied with drawing absolutely no artifact destruction after drawing so many cards in the first turns. 

Maybe it was from being a bit frustrated or because I was still recovering from a concussion but I then made a pretty bad mistake. Koos was at one life just before he went off with his combo, and I just kept looking at the recall I had drawn and thought I could play it, get a fireball and play a counterspell. No matter how I looked at it, I could not play the recall, the fireball and two counterspells because I would not have the mana for it. Somehow, even though I looked at the boardstate for about a minute, I overlooked I could have played a red elemental blast with the fellwar stone. And when Koos did have two counterspells while I was trying to go for the fireball with just one counter as backup, I suddenly noticed but it was too late. I should have tapped differently and I would have won game 2 :( Crap! This definitely put me out of top 8 potential.

Fortunately, Wouter called me over because he knows I like to take pictures of absurd oldschool situations, and he showed me this boardstate. He had three black vises in play, but nothing else because his opponent had played four (!) sinkholes in a row AND a mind twist. So he could just sit there with no lands, no cards in his hand and hope his opponent would die from the vises. Not that there was a chance of that happening of course. Especially not with that Juzam Djinn beating on him there.

I asked him how he felt about the situation, and he showed me :)

Between the rounds, there was some time which I used to get some extra cards for my Wombat deck (the spirit links and the mana short) and get my fourth UL tundra :) I also figured I could use some UL Savannah Lions so I got a couple of those too. Maybe I'll play with them together with that UL Personal Incarnation I won a couple of years ago, but which has still done nothing so far. 

So, on to round 6. I played an opponent playing W/B deck with dreams, specters and some good white stuff like disenchants and balance. Out came an early underworld dreams. All you can do is just get a disenchant before it gets worse, so I just played braingeyser to fill up my hand which was pretty empty after disenchanting a factory and bolting a creature.

I got an Ancestral recall to draw some extra cards. My opponent was nice enough to take away the advantage right away, by playing balance while I was not holding any counters. Jippy. I could just beat him a bit with my factory after I had lost all my other cards there.

A bit later I had drawn some extra artifacts and a disenchant. I was finally able to get rid of the underworld dreams and play an Abyss, followed up by a Jayemdae tome. I thought I was getting on top when a library of Alexandria showed up, but I was then mind twisted, leaving me with only two lands in my hand. My opponent had two factories, so he just kept beating at me.

I thought I could trade off one of the factories against mine, but it was swords to plowshared. I took care of one of his factories with a disenchant, but the other one just kept beating on me. I would lose pretty quickly if nothing happened so I played timetwister to get, you know, something to not lose.

The factory I played to keep off the beating was StP'd but I got a disenchant to get rid of his factory. He then played underworld dreams. I got rid of his hand with mind twist, but now I only needed something to get rid of that dreams because I was low on life.

Fortunately, I could get a demonic tutor to get the disenchant I needed and I was able to win the game while I was on one life. It just shows you have to keep playing until it's over. Game two was quickly opened with a first turn Gloom so I would not be able to get rid of specters or dreams quickly.

When I played my tome, I was promptly mindtwisted afterwards, So I thought I would be in trouble.

But fortunately, this was not the case. I got an Abyss and 3 mishra's factories in quick succession and my opponent had boarded out his swords to plowshares so they made pretty quick win possible. I finished of with an attack with factories, followed by time walk, and another attack with 3 factories. Even though I had won the match, game one felt way to close. I really felt that because I was playing the deck, it should have been more convincing.

Anyway, I ended the day 3-2-1 and that could have been a lot better with a bit more time in one of the rounds and not making that horrible mistake against Koos. I probably would have played a bit better without the concussion, but then again, I don't play this format just to win. There were a lot of nice broken moments, a lot of old cardboard and really nice opponents! After my last match I had some time to do some walking around and I spotted Timmy finishing off a game with his tron deck with a massive fireball. Nice!

We stuck around to watch some of the top 8 games. It felt really good to see someone playing Mono Green in the top 8 and I really wanted him to win.

Another top 8 game, with some more broken openings :)

The skies deck vs a UWB deck in the top 8.

As usual, the game is decided by broken cards (mind twist in this case)

It's not nice when someone copies your Su-Chi twice and then destroys yours.

Mono green was still going strong!

And mono G made it to the top 4! Yeah!

While we were waiting how mono G would do, I was shown a reaper life counter I had not seen before. Apparently, there's more different ones than I knew.

Mono Green unfortunately lost against a twiddle/vault/stasis deck. Bummer. But nice to see it get so far!

I got some extra card to put on wombats and then it was time to go home.

Peter went 3-3 with this G/Udeck, not bad for someone who had no sleep :)

After eating a veggie-burger across the street, we went home. Another fun day wasted on old cardboard and great people. Thanks to Mari for organizing this great event, thanks to all my opponents for the great games and thanks to all who play oldschool. I can't get enough of this hobby! Have a great mid-winter season and an awesome new year! See you all then.