Sunday, August 14, 2022

The Camel Trophy 2022 (gentlemen's version) with Classic Erhnam on Ice

Every time I think about running a tournament of my own, I tend to have some doubts as to how necessary that is these days. When I started Oldschool-like tournaments late 2004 with Ancient and later on the Draconian Cylix cup, tournaments with only old cards allowed were rare. These days, we're fortunate enough to be able to play 5-6 of these tournaments a year in the Netherlands easily, if not more. If you're willing to travel abroad, you could play once a month or more. So organizing a tournament feels less necessary to keep old cardboard alive. But it feels good to organize something for the community, especially because I want to keep the "play like in the old days" feeling alive, meaning I like to play in a game shop. This both feels nostalgic and is also nice for our local game shop called  Spelkwartier. 

So when I noticed a small summer hiatus in the tournament calendar, I decided to fill it with a Camel Trophy tournament. To make it more fun, I decided to make it a gentlemen's rules tournament, meaning both Library of Alexandria and Mind Twist were going to be banned. I do like people to play more options so my tournaments are usually not Swedish Legal only old cards, in this tournament reprints would be allowed as usual. Just with the correct art and no foils. FBB cards were also very welcome. 

So, I photoshopped (well actually, I used Gimp..) a gentleman camel and put out some invitations. I had looked up when most people are on vacation in our country, and that would be July. So I decided to have the tournament in August, thinking most people would be back by then. I got back quite some reaction that people were still away then, so next time I do this in summer it will be later on in the year :) Still, 24 people from the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium wanted to come, and that is a nice number for an old fashioned tournament in a game store. There is an uncommented stream of the tournament by our famous youtuber Timmy the Sorcerer if you like to watch old cardboard being played. 

 As usual, I tried out a deck which I had not played before in the week before the tournament, but was crushed by Peter in our one evening of playtesting. Perhaps the Ley Druid/wild growth/force of nature  combination that Marten inspired me with was a bit weak in the version I built. Since I don't mind losing but do mind being totally annihilated, I decided to play something else. Since I love Argothian Pixies, Erhnam Djinn and Sylvan Library, I built a classic Erhnam on Ice deck. For those that don't know what that is, it's a deck with Erhnam Djinns, Ice Storms and Icy Manipulators, accompanied by Serra Angels and Pixies. In the original version by Joep Meddens there's also an Ifh-Biff efreet, but since everyone seems to be playing bolt/chain lightning/psi-blast these days, I didn't think that would do much so I added a Jayemdae Tome in stead. 

I got some goodies to do a raffle with, so I would be handing out AN stone-throwing devils (the nicest OS card the game store had in stock) and some other things like UL control magics, a The Dark goblin starter kit and a 2004 abacus life counter. Just before the tournament there were some cancellations, but fortunately we ended up with a round number to play, so no byes. I packed up my computer and everything and set up everything in the gamestore. Richard (the gamestore owner) suggested using a wizards reporter he often used, so I was fine with that. 

After everyone was put in the reporter software we started and we were off to round one. Because I went on to manual pairing later on (more on that later) I might have mixed up some names here and there, so sorry to my opponents if I did, because I don't have a program to look back into.  

Round 1 - Wouter with Artifact Red

In the first round I was up against Wouter with a version of the red artifact deck he also played to win the finals of Raging Bull last year. So, a pretty good deck there, even though Wouter mentioned it was not exactly the same version. I took al mulligan and Wouter put down a black vise on his first turn. 

I took some damage from the vise and started destroying some of his stuff (after the mulligan I had kept a hand with tome, ice storm and disenchant, which I thought were not going to be bad against a pretty aggressive artifact deck. I did not have any big creatures though, but since there were 4 djinns and 3 serra's in my deck, I figured one would show up sooner or later. I played ice storm on a factory (he played 2 more.. ) and tome after that. 

After taking some factory damage he played out a juggernaut after my playing a Serra Angel. I played disenchant on the Juggernaut and swords to plowshares on the Su-Chi that followed that up. 

Wouter, however, used an orb to get rid of my Serra Angel and started beating with the Mishra's factories. And although I did have a Sylvan Library and a working tome, I did not get anything to put in the way of the factories. Combined with the bolts in Wouter's deck, that did me in. 

So, I lost game one to the factories even though I think my draw was not that bad. The land draw was a bit out of proportion, but not by that much. I boarded in COP red and we were off to game 2. I was not off to a quick start, but fortunately no black vise this time. Then Wouter surprised me with a nice spice addition to his deck :)

Raging River! Cool!

A quick COP red and a couple of Erhnams followed up from my side, one being double bolted by Wouter but still I was quick enough to take game 2. On to game 3, which was unfortunately for me not much of a game. Wouters' turn one:

Eh, wow. That is a lot of mana on turn one, plus I take 3 damage. I put down a land, Wouter punt down a turn 2 Triskelion. I proceeded to take another 3 damage, putting me on 14, was then attacked by the Trike putting me on 11 and Wouter then played Su-Chi while I had only two lands in the meantime. 

I took 3 more damage from the vise, going to 8 and did not draw a blocker, or some elimination, so the game was over in 4 turns. Wow.. that was heavy. Fortunately, Wouter was very gentlemanly about it :)

Well, that was not a great start there :) But against that onslaught in game 3 I did not have much of a chance. 

It did game me some time to take some pictures of the others playing, so I took advantage of that possibility. 

SL mono green against budget mono green :)

Pink weenie up against Force of Nature

Monten RUG weenie against Deadguy Ale

Wormwood Treefolk! Now there's something you don't see every day!

Round 2: Roy with Pestilence/pro black creatures

Alex played a turn one plains, meekstone. At that point I was not sure what to expect, but I did know that main deck meekstone was not something my Djinns would like. 

The game was very slow to develop, because I did not draw a lot of big creatures, and my opponent had a lot of awnsers to stop my small creatures. 

Not going fast here.. 

After deciding that I would rather destroy the land tax then the meekstone, I built up some momentum and attacked, only to have my creatures go to church and sing hymns instead of doing damage :)

Oh, so apparently its a holy day.. :P

In the end, I did manage to get through with my pixies and Icy Manipulator, but it was a very long game and it felt like this took a lot longer than expected. 

The second game started with black vise again, with me taking 3 damage before I could do anything. Fortunately, I had an Llanowar Elf, so only 2 damage on the next turn. Doing damage myself was out of the question because of the first turn Mishra's factory. 

The game that followed was again not that speedy. I put down Serra's and Erhnam Djinns, all of which were either terrored of swords to plowshared, and I was also not drawing a lot of land, so the vise was a bit of a problem with doing damage here and there. 

Look at the amount of creatures removed and in the graveyard. I also took out some of his creatures, but it was not enough. And that Meekstone was there again. In the end, the vise damage + factories killed me in game 2 because none of my relevant creatures could stay on the board. 4 terrors and a swords to plowshares took care of that. So, on to game 3. 

I thought I was off to a nice start, with first turn Dervish. 

My opponent swords to plowshared it and later commented that he did not play 4 those, which somehow made the feeling I had worse :) I had sided in armageddon, hoping for the right moment to play it. And when I did go for it, all I needed was a creature to get through. And as then sometimes happens, I drew 4 lands and a black lotus in a row, instead of something useful like a swords to plowshares to get rid of the wall in the way, or something like a Serra Angel. After those turns, time was up, so we ended in a draw, which felt pretty unsatisfying. It felt like one of those "could have won this" matches but who knows. 4 terrors in a row might have taken care of my creatures again, so maybe that would not have done that much. 

well, at least you're not mana screwed.. 

Before round 3, someone noticed an error in the scores in the reporter program, even though I had doublechecked after entering the scores from paper. What was worse, was that the program did not allow fixing this score because a new round had already been made, and Richard said that at that point manually pairing people would probably would be better. After some trying with the program I decided he was probably right, and started pairing manually, involving checking every played match to see if players had been paired before and then pairing the highest scoring players against each other. Even though this would not be decided by pure swiss pairing (that would mean the tournament would be over too soon and you play oldschool to play, not to go home after 3 or 4 rounds) this would become increasingly labour intensive after each round :) Anyway, it worked and I had a pairing for round 3. 

Round 3: Roelf with mono Green

We both started with a quick mana ramp, both playing Mox Emerald. I had a Sylan Library to accompany it with. I was happy with my first turn factory, thinking I would be able to get the initiative. 

Unfortunately, this was not meant to be :) There was a turn one archer standing in my way. 

After I got a quick Erhnam Djinn, he put out more archers. And since he was also playing Sprites and I had no blockers or anything yet, I decided that if I had a giant growth, he would have it either way, and I would have to start getting rid of those because otherwise I would be pinged to death by the sprites. This was an acceptable risk considering the fact I had another Djinn in my hand, and a Serra Angel. Just no white mana, and that would not show up for a long time. The giant growth arrived as expected and since I had no swords to plowshares or something (that would not have helped by the way, considering there was no white mana anywhere to be seen) to play, the djinn was dead, and I played another one. 

My opponent played a Sylvan Library, while I was looking at the 2 disenchants and the Serra in my hand. Fortunately, a city of brass showed up and I would be able to get rid of it. Still no second plains or savannah though, so no Serra. 

When the Serra Angel finally was able to enter the game, there was plenty of mana on the other side, which was (of course, why not :P) accompanied by a hurricane, so that was pretty bad as well. This put my opponent on a life total that was pretty low, and fortunately I was at the higher life total at the time. Eventually this meant I could attack and win the creature standoff. 

The second game was again, pretty long drawn out. I took a mulligan, he started with first turn Sylvan Library. I had drawn een early balance and was waiting for the right moment to play it. 

Early game development. I was low on mana and weirdly enough maze of ith really sucks against the deck I was playing, even though it has 4 ice storms. 

Later in the game, we were heading off into another creature standoff:

Lots of nice cardboard to look at, not a lot of action

I blocked his attacking Erhnam Djinns with smaller creatures, going for the balance and hoping my Icy manipulator would help me win, if only I would draw an Ice storm or the boarded Armageddon. 

These did not show up though, meaning the game would end in a draw eventually, because we ran out of time. 

After this round, I did a lot of manual labour again to come up with another pairing, with Thijs filling one of the top slots. This I found particularly nice because he was playing force of nature, and that card does not get enough top 8's if you ask me :)

Round 4: Edo with Serra Stasis

After my first mulligan (my opening hand had 2 Djinns, a Serra and just one city of brass and no elves) I ended up with just one mishra's factory, so I took a mulligan to 5, and ended up with this with again, only one city of brass. This was obviously one of those moments were you think I'll just take it because it will only get worse from here. 

mulligan to 5. Great... 

While I was obviously not doing great, Edo was doing much better, taking a turn 2 braingeyser for 3 with black lotus and mox Sapphire. 

I drew timetwister, played my Elf, which was swords to plowshared and then played another Elf. Which was boomeranged before I could use it to play Sylvan Library. Edo played a black vise. Jippy.. after boomerang on my Elf I took some more damage from the vise and the city of brass, while Edo played Serra Angel. 

Even though I had a words to plowshares, that did not do much to change the outcome of the game. Edo played another vise and I was still low on mana so stuck with cards in my hand. This was 3 out of 4 opponents to do a lot of damage to me with vises. 

In the end, I was behind one game. 

The second game was much better for me, with early psionic blasts and an Elf to do some damage. 

Both my Elf and Mishra's factory were removed to a farm, and I drew no new threats, just removal. Weird how that goes. The removal was not bad against Edo though. But I was kind of hoping for a creature sooner or later. 

When that creature showed up while I was having 2 energy fluxes in play, I was able to take game 2 and we had no more time for a third game. I had a feeling that the deck I was playing would be faster, but in the end it seemed to have some trouble to get damage through. 

Round 5: Christoph with mono black

As noted before, we could have stopped after 3 or 4 rounds, but I wanted people to have plenty of opportunity to flop cardboard, and adding round 5 gave an opportunity for surprising matches. I paired against Chris, who was playing a beautiful all FBB mono black deck. I love pet projects like that! Unfortunately, this also meant a nice FBB black vise against me early on, so that was 4 out of 5 opponents playing and damaging me with black vises. 

Fortunately for me, there were only 2 black knights against my Djinn, so I could keep beating and gaining the advantage. Because nothing much was happening on either side, I decided to play balance and try for a quick win with my Djinn against 1 knight. Chris then played Juggernaut, which I used my orb on to not lose the advantage. He then played a Sengir Vampire with dark ritual after I had played Serra Angel. At least it was a matchup of OS staple classics. 

Because I had 2 heavy hitters and Chris only one, the first game was decided in my favor. I boarded in Whirling Devishes, and we were off. There was a lot of heavy hitters on Chris his side, with multiple Juggernauts and a Sengir, while I had a Djinn and a Devish, combined with an Icy Manipulator. 

Chris followed up with a Royal Assasin, while I played maze of Ith. The Icy together with the Devish were my best option here. Chris paralized my Elf and later killed it with the Assassin, but he had no answer to the dervish that was getting bigger and bigger. 

 In a surprising turn of events, he animated my Djinn, but unfortunately for him, the dervish had gotten too big by then. 

In the end, the Dervish did the work that was necessary to finish game 2. 

There was some time left to take some pictures of the other players, so I did that :)

Fulco doing 7 damage to Peter-Christiaan with timetwister/dreams

Battle of enchantment decks

Rukh Valley against what looks like a mana denial deck

Peters' RUG weenie against Wouters artifact agro red deck

After doing the match and making a ranking in which Rob very graciously pointed out that I should rank above him because of the match result, I found myself in a very surprising 8th position. That's what happens if there is an extra option to win and lose in an extra round. So I made top 8, but barely. In a much bigger swiss tournament this would not have happened, but hey, count your blessings. Koen, Peter, Ivo, Chris, Thijs Wouter, and Eric made up the other top 8 spots.There were some decks that would be expected there, like Deadguy Ale, Peter Montens RUG weenie has also performed well in other tournaments, just like Wouters' Artifact Red. Chris playing Troll Disco ending in the top 8 was also not a surprise since this is a really good deck. This deck did contain a surprise though, that not many people would see coming. An Ali from Cairo :) That must have been quite the surprise for some of the decks. There were also nice surprises like Eric his Rukh Vally with blazing Effigy's and Thijs his deck with Force of Nature. Ivo's deck with vise/ankh/nether void was also a decklist that you don't see often, so it was going to be an interesting top 8 to say the least :)

Top 8, quarterfinals: Koen with Deadguy Ale

Being paired against Koen (who at the time I had no idea of what he was playing) I expected to be kicked out of the top 8 right away, but my luck seemed to return then I looked at my opening hand. 

First turn Djinn is tempting, but if he takes it out with swords to plowshares or terror I won't be doing much with this hand, so I decided to play it a bit slower. As it turned out, there was white in there and my first Djinn was plowed and my factory disenchanted. He played underworld dreams and I destroyed some of his land and got another Djinn. 

This was looking pretty good!

If he would not draw into another swords to plowshares or something, I would be able to win this race easily. But then again, there was black and white there, so both terrors and swords were an option. The swords to plowshares came too late and that gave me game 1. Not bad! In the meantime, Thijs was doing good business against the troll disco: 

Force on the table, disenchant en regrowth ready. Seems good!

I sided in the dervishes and mazes and hoped for the best. The first dervish was quickly plowed away. 

I used my swords to plowshares on his factory, figuring I could use the maze if a creature showed up on his side. There were not a lot of mana producing lands coming in my deck, but I did have the disenchant for the orb Koen tried to drop on my Dervish. 

The dervish did some damage, but was then unfortunately met with balance. 

This also cost me my mazes, because I could not affort to not be able to play a Djinn if that would come. After the balance, he played Hypnotic specter and then, another hypnotic specter. And then a Su-Chi. I played a Djinn, and a book, which he quickly disenchanted before I could get an extra cards. A turn later he took out my Djinn with a swords to plowshares. but A couple of turns later, I was able to return the balance favour, which cost him his specter, but I could still not do much with the su-chi in the way. I later got a Djinn, but he topdecked another Su-Chi.. 

He chose the Su-Chi, which was probably the best option in this scenario. What followed was a game of topdecking that would flip the advantage back and forth to both sides. What was the problem in the end is that Su-Chi's have disadvantage over the Djinns, the Djinns can survive a confrontation and that would be a problem. Or it least it seemed that way before another Su-Chi showed up. The glare card is an underworld dreams, so I was on a clock. He is at 2 here though. I topdecked an Icy, which was pretty good here. I tapped one of the Su-Chi's and attacked, putting him at one. 

I was waiting what would happen next, but there was only a specter, and that would not help against the Icy and my 2 creatures. So amazingly, I went on to the semi-finals. 

In the meantime, Wouter was doing a number on one of his opponents even worse than he did on me:

Eh, what? This is turn 1.. 

Numerically surprisingl, Eric beat Peter Monten in the 7th - 2nd place matchup. 

Blazing effigy destroying a Sprites here

Semifinals: Thijs, with Nature's Wrath (not his name for the deck, but I thought it suiting)

Thijs had beaten his opponent in the quarterfinals, and this promised to be an interesting matchup. Thijs started with a mox as acceleration, but no extra Elf. Phew. No turn 3 force of nature risk yet. 

Thijs took out my Mishra's factory with disenchant, Argothin Pixies and a Djinn with swords to plowshares. I took out his mox so it would take longer for him to reach 5 or 6 mana for his treefolk or force of Nature, and got a Serra Angel. 

He attacked with both Elves, I thought about it and figured there was little chance of giant growth, so I called his bluff and one of the Elves died. He played an angry treefolk after that. Since I was ahead in damage, I was not troubled by this yet, so I did not use my orb. 

I used the orb, swords to plowshares and time walk to maximum effect and won game one after this. 

Game 2, it took a risk but thought it worth it. I had Black Lotus, Djinn, Factory and pixies in hand, so if he would swords to plowshare the Djinn, I could still go on the offensive quickly. 

Turn 2, fortunately, no swords yet

Thijs got rid of my Djinn somehow (terror, I think) and disenchanted the Icy manipulator I got in the meantime. 

Eventually, another Serra Angel showed up. Which Thijs handily got rid off with Spirit link :) 

Another Djinn arrived against Thijs his treefolk, and that would eventually be enough. If he were to block with both treefolk and the Llanowar Elf, I would try and flip the orb on either one. I missed two flips against Thijs though (they bounced off the mat.. did I mention Orb is a stupid card? I'm still convinced it should be banned only for being that stupid. That, and people triple sleeving it so it feels live they're tossing a brick on your cards :)) and the game went on a bit longer, but I managed to pull out a win in the end. Wow. That was unexpected after the first rounds.. 

Finals: Eric with Rukh-Effigy Valley

So, the finals would be number 7 and 8 in the ranking. Weird how this goes. Eric has been working on a deck with blazing Effigy for quite some time now, so his persistence in getting it to work finally seems to have paid off here. So no surprise for his turn 2 play :)

Commenting on the fact that I had been in top 8's and finals a lot of times before and then always lose, Wouter suggested I only play The Deck until I win an event if I did not win this final. That was not a good prospect, so I decided to play my best to not have that happen :)

Even though this does not seem like a strong card, it is actually pretty good in a meta with Lions, Elves and factories and the like, so I can see how this would not be a bad card. I took out his red mana with my first ice storm and started off with a Djinn, which was quickly removed. 

Going after his read mana and keeping my strip mine for the red lands would pay off, since that meant Eric was a bit stuck, while I could play more creatures. He got rid of my sol ring and tome, but could not get rid of my Serra Angel or Djinn with no red mana. One swords to plowshares would slow me down, but not stop me in this game, so I was 1-0 in the lead quickly after playing this Djinn. 

I sideboarded in COP red, psionic blast and armageddon, figuring that a well timed armageddon would leave him without the burnspells to win the game. The second game was a lot less good a start for me. I had to get rid of preacher quickly with psionic blast and I had not expected that to happen. Eric quickly followed up with some heavy hitting. 

By this time, I was pretty tired and needed something to eat, so I was carefully playing to avoid any mistakes, and this was not looking good. 

I blocked his Serra Angel with mine, and then played braingeyser after he had disenchanted my COP: red. This is the only time I played the braingeyser during the day and I was feeling that it had been a bad call to put it in the deck. But, doing the math as the only thing you can do in these situations, I figured I would braingeyser for 4 and get either a swords to plowshares, or lose this game. 

I got the swords to plowshares and took out the Shivan with Swords to plowshares.  Thinking about the time I got left with the Rukh attacking me, I put into play 2 elves after thinking and counting like I think I've never done before. Usually I count just once and play, but this time I felt like I could be making mistakes because I was tired. But it seemed to fit and I took another hit. The elves gave me the possibility to unexpectedly play both Serra Angel and Time walk in one turn, then swords to plowshares and Armageddon. With the Djinn and Serra in play, blocking me with a Rukh Egg would be fine because I would still come out ahead. Eric made a last ditch effort to play a wheel of fortune to see if that would give him a land, a mox and a balance, but that did not happen for me fortunately. This meant I won the finals 2-0. What a bizarre turn of events after the mediocre showing in the rounds. 

concentrated playing in the finals here

To get rid of the awkward thing of having to hand myself a first prize, Wouter immediately volunteered to fill that role and handed it to me instead :) So, no playing only The Deck until I win a final :)

 After this ending of the tournament, I did the second round of the raffle and handed out prizes to the people who were still here (thanks for that idea, Mari!) 

After cleaning up the shop a bit I went out for dinner with some fellow OS-players, getting to show them my favorite restaurant in Arnhem, the Ark of Noah. It's been my favorite place to eat after playing in a game store for 25 years now, and I'm happy it is still there to take friends to eat. 

playing cards all day, and then dinner with friends. This is what a great day looks like :)

Thanks to the OS community, to all who came to play, and really big thanks to Richard for providing the space in the Spelkwartier game store, hope to see you all the next time!