This year is nuts. The beauty of oldschool for me is meeting others with the same strange hobby, play some cards and laughing and having drinks together. I realized this more and more as I was playing online. I started writing an article about that, but haven't finished it yet because I could not find back the pictures I took while playing online. They will show up eventually :) I'm really happy I organized the Camel Trophy just before the whole corona thing broke out and we all got sort of locked down. Then when it seemed to go down, the rules were eased and we got to play in the deserted cup in the new location our local game store is now in. And these were the best oldschool tournaments I played in. Seeing people in real life, talking, joking, flopping cardboard together. Playing on a screen is an ok alternative, but it's just not the same. That said, i was looking forward to playing in the Uthden troll cup. When corona problems arose in march, I figured it would be over by the end oktober. It turned out it wasn't, so it was no surprise when Ron's mail arrived that we would not be able to play IRL. But there was an online alternative. Not as cool as IRL, but I decided to join to make Ron's number of players even. I also decided to play uthden trolls in an unpowered deck and went for a R/W build with blood moons. Looking back on the matches, that may not have been such a great idea. The trolls were much better than I expected though! Here's a quick recap of the matches:
Round 1 Joao with mono green.
I started off the tournament against Joao and it went pretty bad for me right from the start. The first game I was being hammered with sprites although there were 4 bolts, 3 chain lightnings and 4 swords to plowshares in my deck, of which I drew exactly none. Tot top that off, my Chaos orb bounced off my play mat to miss and I was down 1 game without drawing anything useful to fix the assault on me.
The second game went better, because I managed to get out a troll and one of my blood moons. The moon is not that good, but it at least stopped some extra damage from pendelhavens. Even though I had a black vise against me from turn one, that did "just" 5 damage. I then proceeded to bounce another orbflip off my playmat. I tried to see if I just could not flip anymore because I've never missed an orb more than once in match and proceeded to flip perfectly 5 times in a row. Unfortunately, that did not matter for the game anymore :).
Round 2 Gideon with robots
I went into game 2 thinking how much magic is dependent on luck. Losing just because you draw only land is not really something you can adjust your strategy to. Gideon is a very good player and playing Robots which is a good T1 deck. The first game he started off really, really quickly with some moxen, factories and removal. My deck did not really produce quick start and when I saw what was happening with Gideon copying his factories , I really, really wanted to draw a blood moon. Fortunately for Gideon, that did not happen so the game was over pretty quickly :)
Round 3 Clovis - stasis
I started off with a Mulligan because of no lands, so I was already down a card and the mulligan did not produce a great hand. It was reasonable enough though, so I kept it. My opponent was off to a pretty good and quick start though with first turn land, mox, fellwar stone.
After my opponent put down some more mana artifacts and lands, he removed my only creature from the game and then mind twisted me for every card I had left. Seeing the mana artifacts, the lands and the full hand and 18 life he had, I just conceded. I figured I would have to sit there for a long time while waiting for a control deck to kill me and that felt not like good alternative when you can also just play some actual games.
Game 2 I got off to a good start with savannah lions. My opponent played a COP red and I followed up with a black vise.
Game 3 too took forever but was a lot more interesting. I got an early lions out, which put on some pressure.
Eventually, a stasis showed up and that left me with just drawing cards, putting down land while I waited for the right moment to red elemental blast his stasis while he was low on untapped islands. The REB came through, so I took my turn, attacked and had my opponent down to 2. At this point I thought of my options. He would untap next turn and probably play another Stasis. So doing the math, I played a wheel of fortune with 3 vises, 3 bolts and 3 chain lightnings left in my deck of 32 cards. He was tapped out, I figured I had a good chance of winning the game there with the one land I had untapped. And as most of the time when I do math, it did not agree with me. I did not draw any of the vises or burn cards. On the next turn I red elemental blasted some power, but I did not have disenchant against the stasis that came next. Or the ivory tower that showed up. I had some time left though, because my opponent had only 1 life left, and 4 cards in his hand by then. All I had to do was draw some burn. Or a lions. I did draw the lions, but did not have any white mana untapped by then. I drew a mountain. My opponent played a kismet. Of course, the next turn I drew the plateau I needed, but it was too late. I had an untapped mountain, but no burn showed up and when it finally did, my opponent was back on 13 life, so there was no way I was going anymore, expect the possibility of my opponent running out of cards.
Which he almost did, but by the time that was close, time was up, so the last game ended in a draw. I hate math :P but this game was epic.
Round 4 Saul - mirror match
To start the game off well, I had to mulligan because I had no lands. I had no idea what Saul was playing at the time, so I kept the hand with the orb and the one and only thunder spirit in my deck. And that never left my hand because I never drew a second white mana source through the entire game. I bounced another orb flip, but I don't think that would have mattered. He was ahead and won the damage race easily because I did not produce any relevant blockers.
The second game I had some land in my opening hand. We exchanged some removal, but my opponent was ahead because he had drawn more damage sources. My deck then did me the incredible nice favour of producing 4 lands in a row, and then an Uthden troll which would have done great if it had not been disintegrated immediately. The following 2 turns I drew 2 more lands and the game was over. At that point I really felt my deck sucked, even though I had just lost to a similar deck. At least my opponent was a nice guy :) so we talked about the decks a bit and what he was thinking about how to play it the best way.
Round 5 Counter/burn
My opponent had I first turn library, but fortunately one of my vises had decided to show up, so there was some compensation for the extra cards he was drawing.
Unfortunately for my opponent, another vise and a blood moon showed up, which was followed up by another vise. Because I thought my opponent would have to draw some counters at some point in the game, I then decided to just attack with my orcs and cast nothing, to make sure his hand would fill up because there was nothing to respond to with the counters. It filled up rather slowly, but a well placed wheel of fortune did the trick. This was mainly because my opponent was stuck without blue mana because of the blood moon. Who can tell what would have happend if he had drawn a basic island or two in the meantime. Serendib efreets maybe? That would have been a whole different game. Even though this game was decided in my favour, I still feel like it was not because of what I played, but more about what my opponent (didn't) drew here.
The second game I kept my opening had with city in a bottle, because I had seen some AN cards and figured he was playing with serendib efreet and flying man. It was a good thing I did, because he opened with a library of alexandria again, and followed up with a second turn flying men. Then it was time for my second turn, and I could play the city. After that I got out a troll. This was another game the regenerating troll was doing really well. Bolts and chain lightning could not get rid of him, and my granite gargoyle was also hard to get rid of with burn.
I kept attacking, and eventually my gargoyle was blue elemental blasted. Which was something you also cannot kill a troll with :) To keep down the beating of the troll my opponent felt he had to do something. So he shattered my city in a bottle and then played Serendib Djinn when he was at 3 life and I was still on 18. He had to block with the Djinn to keep his life total at 3, but eventually the djinn would start eating his islands.
Eventually the djinn did start to eat islands and that was it. It turns out the trolls regeneration had won me the game. My opponent had a blue blast in his hand, but that could not get rid of the troll :) Had it been a gargoyle or an orc, the game would have swung the other way. Go troll! A suiting end to an Uthden troll cup I suppose :)
Thanks to Ron for organizing this event! And thanks to all of my opponents for playing. Hopefully we'll be able to see each other in real life in the next year! I certainly can't wait to play some IRL oldschool.