Knights of Thorn, organized by the fabulous Mari, is the first OS tournament I went to that put some sort of restriction on what cards you could use. It requires that you play mostly Swedish legal cards, but you can play up tot 10 revised, or chronicles cards that were in the original ABU+AN-AQ-LG-DK sets, as long as they are in the English language. I've visited the KOT since the 3rd edition, I think, so it is kind of a tradition for me to go there. Usually I feel exited when the time comes nearer, but not this time.
The week leading up to this gathering was not usual for me. I had been sleeping pretty poorly the whole week. The week before we came back from our honeymoon, only to discover our house had been robbed while we were away. We had some money in the house for the summer and to buy a bike for my wife and that was taken. Worse than that was that the silver coins I had inherited from my grandmother were also taken. Although the worth of these only went in the hundreds of euro's, the sentimental value was priceless and my mind just could not wrap itself around it that someone had taken them. What was especially frustrating is that I likely have the thief on camera, but up till now the police have not decided to do anything about the case.
So I had not given the tournament or deckbuilding much thought until friday evening, after work, I still needed to build a deck. With no energy or inspiration left, I just quickly put together my goodstuff deck I played in Gaea's Avengers and one online tournament with the two-headed giant in it. That card still has a special oldschool feeling about it for me and the deck felt pretty OK there, ending just out of the top 8 at 9th place. I made just a couple of quick changes to see if that would work (I put back in the tome I had taken out in the Avengers version and a couple of other minor switches) and called it a day.
Although I was not in my best mood, seeing all of the familiar and new faces of the OS community did lift my spirit a lot. Seeing everyone in real life was a real pleasure, like always. Perhaps I would be able to enjoy the day without that gloomy feeling I had had for the last week.
Round 1 Simon, with Robots
When I was paired against Simon, I figured this would be a hard match. He's a nice guy but he tends to play really spikey decks, so this would be a hard one for my Serra and two-headed giants. His opening did not make me feel much better about how this match would go:
|Oh sure, 6 mana and an orb on turn on. Anything else? :)|
After he dropped a turn 2 trike I looked at my hand and figured this would kill me before I could really get my deck going, I decided to play balance after taking damage from the Triskelion once, but Simon still only had one land and destroyed my remaining Tundra and he was still left with 6 mana to play basically everything he wanted.
|this is, ehm, not good?|
He played another artifact after that and just beat me into the ground before I could anything going. Good thing workshop is restricted in Swedish, formats in which you can play 4 still feel like a complete nightmare to me. Anyway, this is how OS goes, unbalanced stuff happens. So, I boarded in some artifact hate and went on to game to, in which Simon's opening was again, pretty good.
Fortunately, the universe granted me a library to keep up with the onslaught.
However, this did last only one turn. Simon played copy artifact to generate more mana and then mind twist on the turn after that.
This left me with no other options than just go on the assault before he would. Simon played his library so I was inviting him to either play card or be hammered by my Djinn. He choose to get rid of it after he had taken 8 damage.
I got a factory, so I did some damage with that, and he bolted that also, so I followed up with a Su-Chi, hoping he did not have a copy artifact on hand right away.
The Su-Chi was enough, so 1-1 it was. On to round 3. Although unbalanced shit happens all the time in OS, this was starting to become a bit annoying, I mean, look at this turn one! Wow..
I put some mana on the board to be able to counter stuff if necessary, but unfortunately I did not have one of my creatures to go along with the lotus.
I plowed his factory and then got psionic blasted. This seemed a bit of a strange move to me, since I have a lot of 4 toughness creatures, but I just took the damage, knowing I had plenty of life left.
Apparently, he was hoping I would counter it so he would be able to mind twist me, but fortunately I did not, so I could counter the mind twist.
A couple of turns later, I managed to get a tome out with the plenty of mana I had, which in turn produced a Su-Chi. This was quickly removed.
The Tome did good work, and a couple of turns later, another Su-Chi appeared, so I would be able to do some more damage.
Simon also took out the second Su-Chi and then it was looking for a new threat to get things rolling, and then my favorite creature of the deck showed up.
I did damage with the giant the next turn, and in stead of waiting for something bad like an Abyss showing up, I decided to just finish it off with a fireball.
So, 2-1 against a really competitive deck that had pretty great openings, not bad! On to round 2.
Round 2. Nick, with The deck
If playing Robots in round one wasn't bad enough, I was paired against the Deck in round 2. The only good thing about it was that was played by the nicest the deck player there is, mr Cramer. The bad thing was that this is a pretty bad matchup for my deck. But you know, with a little luck, maybe? I did beat Robots in the first round, so, just go for it :) The first couple of turns were pretty uneventful.
I tried to attack with a factory, which was destroyed with divine offering. This was expected. Now, just wait for something bigger to show up.
That took a while, because I had kept a pretty defensive hand with 2 disenchants because I knew what was coming. So Nick played a tome, I destroyed it, he regrowthed it, played it again, and I destroyed it again. After this interlude, one of my djinns showed up, and was quickly sent farming.
My factory was also destroyed, so, no damage for my opponent so far.
When I played my giant I was hoping that would have a chance, and Nick quickly played an Abyss, which I tried to counter, but he also had a counter on hand.
The Abyss stayed in play, which not a good thing, but since I still had not done any damage and the Abyss made me think there would be no Serra's coming, I just fireballed him for 7, to have something to do and make coming threats count. Nick usually does not play mirror universe, so I was fairly confident this was a good move.
Nick played recall, got his book back with a counter, and I got a Su-Chi and started beating.
Nick must have felt a bit desparate, because he destroyed my Su-Chi and then played time twister.
The twister gave me something to do, although I no longer remember what, but I played some threats and won a couple turns later. Wow :) that was unexpected. On to game 2. Game 2 quickly gave me an advantage in the form of a Library of Alexandria.
This made the Ancestral Recall I had kept my opening hand with unnecessary. I just kept in my hand, along with the book and some pretty good cards against the deck. In the meantime Nick also drew his library after swords to plowsharing my Serra Angel. Fortunately, I was drawing new threats to keep the beating going.
Somehow I was really hoping to be able to play artifact blast on a Tome, but that was not needing to happen. The unfair advantage from the Library put me ahead in cards and since the cards I was drawing were also very good against the deck (see my hand here) I won this game as well. Or maybe I should say the library won the second game for me.
Nice! Robots and The deck on the first two rounds, and I was lucky enough to beat them both. Surely this meant I already had had the toughest opponents of the day right? I was joking after the round that the only thing that could make the matchup worse is if I was paired against Koos. And you guessed it :)
But before that, I had some time between the rounds to take some pictures of other great cardboard.
One game in particular stuck with me, as Joep showed how unfair OS can be. He just used a lotus to play braingeyser, only to be given both Ancestral Recall and Timewalk in the process :)
Round 3, Koos with Combo/control.
Playing Koos is always something of a mixed blessing. On the one hand he's a really nice guy to meet and play against, on the other hand, he is just a very skilled player that likes to play really good decks, so being paired against him is usually not a good sign for your chances to win :) So, how do you win against someone who might be playing The Deck, Lauter or some other very good deck? Well, like they say, better lucky than good. After several rifle shuffles and cuts, I was given a first turn Library.
It turned out Koos had plenty of restricted cards to play as well. He played an Island, black lotus, and then Timetwister.
Ater the Timetwister, he followed up with a mox and a Time Walk, and them played a land and a Black Lotus again. Not bad. Up until that point I had no idea what he was playing, from the cards its still could have been the deck, Lauter, or anything.
But after the display of powercards, it was my turn and I was able to draw my first extra card with the library. I was trying to wear down Koos quickly, but this was proving harder than I imagended because he did not draw that bad, with plenty of counterspells.
So, I went on the offensive with the mishra's factory.
Eventually, though it took longer than expected due to the large array of counterspells Koos was producing, the card advantage gave me game 1. Better lucky than good I suppose.
The second game, I riffled and cut many times as I normalle do, only to end up with another library of Alexandria. I apologized to Koos. We should have played gentlemen's rules.
Koos was undeterred though, because he dropped turn 3 blood moon, so it was not much of een issue anymore. He then started playing several basalt monoliths. I played a tome, which is always nice if you're in a bit of a colored mana problem. I was not worried though, with both a white and a blue mox, and blue elemental blast en disenchanted boarderd in.
Koos countered my first creature, a Su-Chi, after which I played a two headed giant again.
I was drawing some extra cards with my Jayemdae Tome, and I also let Koos believe I was stuck with the blood moon rather than get rid of it right away. He had fireballed me for 15 and I was hoping he would go for another fireball, which I could counter after disenchanting the blood moon. When he was low enough, I decided to get rid of the blood moon, do more damage with the 2 headed giant and then demonic tutor for a disintegrate to finish.
First game won on pure luck with a Lib, second game was much closer and more exiting but still a win. The switch back to Jayemdae Tome instead of Sylvan Library was proving a good decision during this day.
There was some time left in the round, so I went out spotting nice OS situations while the others were still playing. And I spotted some nice classics:
|One land against this? Seems unfair..|
|Nice, a second turn dib, second turn dib mirror.. good luck guys!|
|On the right, Marten has both Enchantress and Force of Nature in play, awesome!|
|Cuombaij Witches! |
|Oh, you can also use berserk while blocking for instance, Juzam Djinns :)|
|Cockatrice, Craw Giant and Wall of Ice! One of these is rare, but I don't think I've ever seen them together like this. |
|Errr, 3 dreams? That's aweful! But cool he has to block the Killer bees!|
Round 4, Louis with Red/Green burn
After running into Robots, the deck and combo control, Taiga - Kird Ape might not be the first thing you expect, but apparently a very relaxed Louis had managed to win 3 matches in a row with this classic R/G agro burn deck. He went for a quick start and put pressure on right away.
2 kird apes and a sprite were too much for me, so I used the balance I had in my opening hand to get rid of them.
From there I played my creatures and it was 1-0.
The second game I had a quick library on turn 2, and I thought I might me able to keep up with Louis there, who had a second turn Gargoyle.
I took some damage and played a Djinn.
Louis looked at the situation, bolted me on my turn, attacked, did some damage, than chain lightninged me, regrowthed the bolt and bolted me again, which was too much.
The third game I had hoped for a quick win, because I would be able to play a second turn Erhnam Djinn, something Louis his deck should have a hard time with. But, he had Chaos orb.
He played a blood moon (with me holding disenchant but no white mana..) and attacked with his Kird Ape, and I played another Djinn. He regrowthed his Chaos orb and destroyed that one also.
So, after destroying the second Djinn, I was stuck with this hand. But, instead of playing some sprites or gargoyle like he did before so I would at least be able to take these out with hurricane, he played a couple of walking creatures, while I was waiting for Su-Chu to show up, or a Djinn, or a 2 headed giant, or a Lotus or white mox or basic plains. Or a blue elemental blast.
I thought I would still have a chance considering the many options still left in my deck, but none showed up and I lost against a deck I figured I should have no trouble winning against. This was turning out a really weird day. Still 3-1 is not bad.
There were still a lot of people playing, so I used the time to take some pictures.
|Meanwhile on table 1|
|Chains of Mephistopheles! Cool!|
|So much mana and not much to do with it :)|
So, on to round 5, Michel, with Lauter Deck
Okay, so obviously, after Robots, The Deck and Countercontrol and Burn, there was something missing from the list and there it was.. this tournament turned out to be grueling in the matchups and very little surprises from my opponents. Anyway, a Lauter deck as said. At this time I was becoming a bit tired from the lack of sleep, so I have a bit less of information about this match.
He got to his Ancestral Recall first, it took a while before something would really happen.
I tried to take his Su-Chi with my main deck countrol magic, that was not allowed so I plowed it. And got a book.
He dumped 2 serendibs on the board, I thanked him for tapping out by Mindtwisting him. Aweful, I know. But I someone if going to crush you with Dibs you have to try something.
My book did it's best but the damage was a bit too much here with Serendibs and factories. Damn, but one knows how good the Lauter deck is.
The second Game I opened with the long library game, while my opponent went for the quick win option with 2 moxen.
His deck stalled a bit while I could play Erhnam Djinn.
When he got to 4 mana though, he obviously was holding a lot of control magics, which can be 2 for 1 in the right situation, so the were sort of cancelling out my card advantage a bit.
It took quite long but in the end I was able to get my disenchant to fix the situation and draw the game to my side. 1-1.
The third game he opened with 2 moxes again, I was mox and Ancestral recall, which he took out right away.
He then went on to orb my land and after I had finally gotten out my Djinn, control magiced it.
He followed up the control magic with Ancestral recall, I played some more big creatures.
This was the first time during the day where Serra Angel was able to shine.
In the end, the flying Serra did my opponent with lots of control magics in so I won 2-1.
So, I won from Robots, The Deck, Countercombo, Lauter but somehow lost to RG Agro burn. This was an unexpected result and to be fair, also had a lot to do with luck. There was some time left so I could catch El Presidente Mari playing a beautiful Eureka deck:
On table 3, I spotted Nick having his share of broken openings:
|In one turn? Yes. |
Round 6, Gwenn, with Lauter.
By this time, I really could have used an opponent who would surprise me, but unfortunately this was not the case. Not only was Gwenn playing Lauter, he was also more competitive in his style and communication than I am used to in OS. But so be it, this was the day I would meet mostly meet Tier1 decks apparently. Maybe the next time I'n out of inspiration I should bring The Deck instead :P
Gwenn got to start, and was off to a really agressive start, first turn Lion, second turn dib with factory.
I played a second turn Ice Storm to slow down the onslaught from becoming worse, like a turn 3 Su-Chi. He played another Serendib. Pfff, not a bad draw there.
The next turn I took out both Dibs with blast and plow, but I was still behind in life.
My Su-Chi was then itself swords to plowshared and Gwenn went for Tutor - Ancestral after that.
I played Erhnam Djinn and wanted to go for balance to even out his handsize a bit.
This worked pretty much okay.
After my Djinn was taken out I took out another of his factories. He was on 3 so I figured I should just go for it and use the braingeyser I had in my hand for a long time now. I was also very low on life
The braingeyser produced this:
|Well, great.. |
Gwenn played creature but I can't remember which one. I drew a Black Lotus.
|Swell, just swell. Looks like luck ran out. |
And it dead, because next turn I was dead. I really figured chance would have given me something, but alas, not so. On to game 2. I decided to take a bit of a risk and keep this hand.
I Figured drawing the extra cards would net me 1 or 2 lands, so better than mulligan.
I had an "of couse" feeling as Gwenn played Serendib and Lions on turn 1.
Fortunately, I could plow the dib a turn later, and play factory to keep the onslaught a bit under control.
I then played regrowth on the Ancestral recall, and Fireballed his lions and strip mined his factory.
I went for it and used the orb to destroy his land, then played a Djinn and went for it.
To finish off quickly I took a risk on balanc and played a second Djinn. I knew I had a tome so I would have a chance to draw one or 2 extra cards in search of a counterspell.
So, 2 Djinns for the win. 1-1. On to game 3.
My first hand was just way too bad to keep, so I took a mulligan. I think this was my 5th one during the day, but I can't remember all of them. I did take one against one of the Cramers, I think. Anyway, these were my 6 new cards.
|Doable, if I draw green mana. |
|Oh Shit, turn one lib in a deciding game. |
I knew I had balance, but unlike the previous games, there was not a mox in sight to get rid of the disenchants I had drawn. Gwenn had destroyed my Sol Ring, by the way
So I just played the Su-Chi, and that was destroyed as well. Since this was getting out of hand, I played balance with still no way to get rid of the disenchants in my hand.
Gwenn just assembled back up to 7 while I was doing, well, nothing much. He then played recall on factory and mana drain. Not good.
So, after finally getting rid of one disenchant by destroying a mox, I went to regrowth, took balance and waited for the counter, which I had red blast for. Not enough to also psi blast him, but a working library is just not acceptable..
I was fortunately able to mind twist Gwenn one turn before he took me with his.
After that I got to some creatures and could finally go on the offensive.
And in the end, Djinns and Su-Chi's won the game.
Pffff, this was a really intense game, but ended up 2-1. So, 6 rounds against 5 Tier 1 decks and only lost against the not-so tier 1 burn deck. What a weird outcome, but it felt good.
I was second in the swiss, just after Joep playing his Erhnam on Ice deck. I would not have minded playing that, I think those would have been close and exiting games. In the swiss were also Nick and Koos, and Louis of my opponents of the day. Looking at the top 8, there was RG Burn, my goodstuff, and control decks in the Lauter or the deck, or combocontrol fashion.
I was paired against Koos with combocontrol.
The first game I was the lucky one, with a bunch of power in my opening hand.
|Not bad. This should work. |
And it did work, I could play ancestral, Time walk, ice storm, and chaos orb.
Nick decided to play Timetwister. That gave me an insane hand with black lotus, tutor and a lot of lands in play. So, I returned everything to the state before the twister taking out Koos his hand.
After that, there was no way he could win with my drawing extra cards with the book. 1-0.
The second game I took a mulligan and ended up with this as the next 6. Hmmm. I kept it hoping to do some early damage and than maybe take out some artifacts if Koos saw the need to hurry after the damage from the factories.
Koos had an early library. I did some damage with a factory, but then had drawn a lotus and giant, so wanted to speed things up. The giant was countered unfortunately.
Koos went for wheel of fortune, drew some extra cards, timewalked and then braingeysered me for a 1000 before I could do more damage. 1-1.
I took a mulligan again, and this was my second hand. I decided to not mulligan to 5 and put away the balance, I think.
I went for an early Serra, which was countered.
I played regrowth on the lotus and tried to dust to dust his mox and stone, but that was countered also.
As was my book.
I drew into factories and started putting on the pressure with disenchant, artifact blast and divine offering in my hand. If only I had one more white mana, but I had only one.
One turn before I could have finished it, Koos played the combo of the power monolith and fireball. As planned I tried to counter and destroy, but was one white mana short. Had I only been able to play the second disenchant, Koos would have had to counter that as well and would only be able to kill me the turn after I would have taken him. But it was not meant to be, and Koos won fair and square.
In the end, after a grueling long final, with some twists and turns and despair here and there, Ron took the title! Funny how these things go, Joep and I placed first and second in swiss, then neither of us goes on to the final :) Ron took the price well deserved after a tough match, with Serra Angel for the win. It does not get more OS than that!
|Mari hands Ron the prize|
After the final, there was a raffle draw with some nice prizes for those who stayed. I'm not entirely sure if it was the universe trying to lift my spirits from the theft in the back of my mind, or that Mari maybe had something to do with it, but I ended up with a lovely red reaper life counter. Since I am a big fan of these, it felt really great to add one to the collection.
|This will definitely see a lot of play :)|
It was a long and tiring day, but like always I did meet a lot cool people, saw some really cool decks, won some matches I thought were very unlikely and to top it off I took a nice life counter home. Cool! This was a great day and it definitely took my mind of the theft out of my house. Thanks to all for coming but especially for Mari for organizing this great event! And for Marten for playing both Enchantress and Force of Nature in one deck :) That really made me smile. See you all next time!!