Sunday, February 26, 2023

Hill Giant cup 2023

We have to tournaments in our country that are organized in a game store. the Hill Giant Cup and the Camel Trophy. Playing in a game store adds something of the nostalgia of Oldschool magic for me and Joep, the organizer of the Hill Giant Cup is a great guy, so I sleeved up a deck with gold legends and birds of paradise, and went for it. The deck does not have the most efficient of win conditions if you look at it (like Rubinia Soulsinger and Gerrard of the closed fist) but it also has Sol'kanar the Swamp King and Bartel Runeaxe, which I think is a great card to play with. I think he should be played more. So the wincons are a bit clunky exept for the also legendary Serra Angel and Shivan Dragon, together with resticted stuff, it is quite okay, even without Library of Alexandria and mind twist, which I tend to play without these days. I've not played them for the last couple of tournaments, and so far this feels quite good. I did add a couple of disenchants because this deck does to blood moon rather instantly. So pretty okay, not tier 1 of course, but hey, one does not always have to go for first place or top 8. 

After entering the game store and seeing a lot of familiar faces, and of course the mandatory repairing after sitting down on round 1, I was paired against Wouter, and he was off to a pretty quick start!

He had 4 mana on turn one, then proceeded to play a Granite Gargoyle on turn 2 and played a mishra's factory while I tried to keep up with a mox emerald. A Sedge troll quickly followed and my Mox was disenchanted. I was trying to keep up, but since my creatures are all very expensive, I had to wait before I could play Jasmine Boreal. My deck helpfully gave me another city of brass, which is great when you're already fare behind on life total. It did give me an opportunity to play Shivan Dragon though. 

To make sure I would not lose either my life or my creatures due to a very big fireball, I played Armageddon as an emergency break. My Shivan Dragon was promptly swords to plowshared :(

That left poor Jasmine alone to defend me, and that was not enough. So I was down 1 game. The second game I was off to an okay start with a Birds of Paradise, and a Chaos orb. That game me time to build up and slow the other side of the table down. 

Even though my birds was killed, I later drew a mox that gave me the opportunity to play Serra Angel. And a turn later, Rubinia Soulsinger, which gave me the "what does that do again, you get to choose, right?" response :)

Wouter destroyed my Mox, but had no quick awnser for the Serra beating at him, and playing creatures with Rubina in play is also a bit difficult, so he decided to play greed to see if he could draw something to get rid of the Serra Angel. 

That was not enough, so I was back up to 1-1, things were looking brighter. My next game gave me a birds, a mox and a tutor, which let me search for my Ancestral Recall to get some more cards to see if I could play quick big legendary creature. 

Wouter was on to me though, and destroyed my birds and a land to slow me down :(

But you know, as long as there is life, there is hope, and couple of turns later I was able to play Sol'kanar the Swamp King. Which was great since the Sedge troll would not be able to slow it down. 

When Wouter played a Gargoyle to start beating back, I slowed it down with Icy Manipulator. 

The manipulator was destroyed, together with another Gargoyle showing up, but my Serra Angel could take care of that so I would be able to stay ahead in life. 

I was pretty confident Sol'kanar would be winning the game, but a topdecked fireball on the other side took care of that. That left my Serra to fend off two trolls and two Gargoyles, which was too much so I decided to try and go for the win by Swords to plowsharing one of the gargoyles and trying to break through with the angel, since there was not a lot or red mana on the opposing side. And fortunately for me, one of my sideboard cards showed up, which gave me greater realm of preservation. not great with cities of brass for while mana, but better than taking a big beating from trolls. 

A turn later, Rubina Soulsinger showed up. 

Rubina took care of the Gargoyle, whichl made it possible for the Serra Angel to finish the game. 2-1 in a pretty exiting game. This was a good start of the day!

Most games had stopped by then, but I was able to see Ron "Uthden Troll" Dijkstra playing a beautiful reanimator deck. 

There was not much time left in the round, so we were on to round 2. I met Edo, who was playing a variant of a LionDib deck with Land Tax. I had a bird and an Llanowar Elf to start quickly, Edo had a Savannah Lion and started hammering. 

I tried to stop the onslaught with my Prodigal Sorcerer, but that was quickly removed. Also, I felt obliged to play Armageddon, because Edo had a Library online very quickly. This did not feel like a good way to start the game, but an active Library on the other side makes me lose 9 out of 10 times it stays, I felt I had to. 

I also felt like having to block the lions, which was again, not a positive feeling. I tried keeping up and played a tome to get some extra cards, but it was too late. I was beaten by a factory (which showed up after I took out another one) and a Serendib Efreet. 

The next game, Edo kicked off with a first turn land taks. Fortunately, I had plenty of mana to work with. 

Thinking I would play another land next turn, I used the lotus for Ancestral Recall and played a tome, but that was quickly taken care of before I could draw any cards, and Edo also played is own Ancestral Recall soon after that. 

Edo had a sol ring, I had an Elf, and since I had the correct amount of cities of brass (one), I could play Serra Angel, and also play the preacher. 

Edo put up the pressure with another Su-Chi, and then my favourite legend of this deck hit the board: Bartel Runeaxe. 

Bartel and the preacher took care of the Su-Chis and together with the Angel the game was over pretty quickly. Although I expected to lose 2-0, I was now at 1-1 :)
In the third game, Edo was off to a pretty quick start again, with another land tax and Savannah Lions. I had lots of mana, but not a lot to cast with. I did had an orb though, which I used to stop the Lions from killing me way to quickly. 

Edo had another one though. 

Since I was not drawing any of my big creatures, I had to go for a block on the birds and then play balance strategy. So I used regrowth on my orb, and played the balance. 

Edo came back with a Serendib Efreet, still no big creatures from my side, but I did get my Icy manipulator. That was a good way to keep the Efreet busy for a while. 

Things really started to get interesting on my side when Rubina hit the board and was not countered or removed. Removal would have been hard though, since I had waited for an untapped Karakas to protect her before casting :)

This gave me a way to take the Efreet. When Jasmine Boreal showed up, there really was progress to be made. 

Edo slowed everything down though, using Ivory Tower, Savannah Lions and Mishra's factory to keep his life total up, and also disenchanted my Icy manipulator. I was ahead, but victory was far from sure in this context. 

Thins were really worrying when Edo played a braingeyser, filling up his hand for the tower and leaving 1 mana open for a swords to plowshares. I figured that would be slowing me down, but not that bad. If he took the efreet, that was fine by my since my life was not that high, and both of the legends were protected at least once by Karakas. 

In the end, it proved to be enough for me to take the game 2-1. I really had not expected that. Edo's deck seemed thoroughly tier 1 and though my deck was ok, I think it is tier 2 at best. Also, Edo is a solid player who does not make mistakes. I did not notice any mistakes on his side during the game, I suppose I was lucky to have the Karakas on the board. It could have ended a lot differently if I had not had that.  

Round 3 
Both of us were off to a pretty quick start, so this also looked like it would be a pretty quick game. 

Fortunately, The turn 2 serendib I could take care of with swords to plowshares pretty quickly, and although this is usually not a good gamble against a deck with white that seems to be a Lion-dib variant, I cast Bartel Runeaxe with my Black lotus. Hoping very much not to run in to swords to plowshares. But since I also had a tome on hand which I could play, I figured the chances of him having both swords and a disenchant would be small, so I just went for it. 

Bartel stayed in play, but a library of Alexandria showed up on the other side, followed by a timetwister. This was Definitely not good.   

Although I did not really feel like it, I played Armageddon to get rid of it. Bartel was still in play, miraculously enough. This meant I could do some more damage with my big bruiser and thanks to my birds and moxen, draw a card with the book. This turned out to be Ancestral Recall, which I cast the next turn. 

Chaos orb was used on Bartel to get him out of the way. Beter than swords to plowshares, I suppose, because I could regrowth him if I got that option. 

But it was not really necessary, I could also finish off with a fireball. 1-0.  

The second game I was off to a pretty normal start with a birds of paradise, while on the other side of the table, things were moving a lot quicker. 

A circle of protection: red pretty bad news for my deck, because that does not allow most of my big hitters to actually do something. But fortunately, I have a couple of disenchants, so not all was lost at this moment. 

I was happy to play Rubina Soulsinger, which I was able to rescue from removal with a Karakas. achievement unlocked :) 

My Sol'kanar the swamp king could not do much, but at least is was there if my disenchant showed up. 

But it did not show up any time soon though. I drew 3 lands in a row after that, all the while attacking with my Rubinia because my opponent could not play any creatures as long as she was there. 

Correction, 4 lands in a row. By this time a savanna Lions had shown up, to slow me down at least one turn, but Rubina took them and I started attacking with them. 

Things were going pretty good, until all I had was wiped by a balance. That was not good. Not at all.. 

I don't know how exactly I got Rubinia back on the board (regrowth, I suppose) but I did, and went back to attacking with her, protecting her from harm with the Karakas. 

Pretty soon, Rubina was joined by Jasmine, and that took care of the game. 2-0. 

In the meantime, Ron was trying to battle off a Robots build with a lot of icy manipulators with the reanimator deck. 

I also took some more pictures of the games that were still going on. 

An then it was time for round 4, against Evert. Evert is a very good player and frequently in the top 8. He's won his share of tournaments as well, and although his decks are not always standard builds, usually they are very competitive, so I was bracing myself to see what would happen to my poor legends in this matchup. My opening hand was weird. But not so weird I would not keep it. I figured if I could destroy some of his lands, I would slow Evert down and than might be able to land a legend on the board before I would die. 

The strategy worked pretty ok, with me exchanging a couple of extra lands for the strip mine and the orb again. I decided to keep the land giving black mana, because both Bartel and Sol'kanar require black, and both of those would be able to finish the game pretty quickly of I drew them. 

Unfortunately, I drew Jasmine Boreal first and was not able to cast her. And Evert Mind twisted my right after that. I sort of lost interest in the game completely after that, but decided to keep on playing anyway. Evert is a tough opponent and I decided to see if I could get something out of this. 

I was able to play a timetwister to get back my lost cards, and got Rubinia and the also legendary Tim on the table. 

Rubinia was destroyed by a Chaos orb, and I was trying to stay alive while being beaten by factories. 

Evert played Serra Angel. This was definitely not good. But then Jasmine showed up, and I felt a bit better about my chances. 

I got a swords to plowshares to get the Angel of the way, and things were looking better until Evert drew a demonic tutor, and used that..

For a very, very badly hitting balance. 

After that I played a couple tomes, which were taken care of, an Elf which was taken care of, all the while being hit by factories. I was able to get some advantage back with an Ancestral Recall, but that was not getting me any relief quickly. 

I played Serra Angel, which was chaos orbed. 

Then Jerrard of the closed fist, who was sent farming with Swords to plowshares. 

To make things worse, Evert got a braingeyser, refilling his hand while I did not have too much in hand. Except for a balance, but of course Evert did not know that. 

I topdecked timewalk, which I played, followed by the balance. 

Rubinia Soulsinger showed up, but she was not protected at this time, so she also went farming. It felt like Evert was drawing just the right cards at the right time this game. Every time I got to play something, he had an awnser. Fortunately, I had the balance the previous turn or it would have gone pretty badly from there. By this time, I was really sorry I had chosen to keep the black land in the beginning. If I would have been able to play Jasmine before Evert his mind twisting me, the game would have been over so much more quickly. Now I felt there was not much more I could do to win. But I played on, knowing there was more in my deck. 

You know, like Sol'kanar the Swamp king. 

But Evert had another swords to plowshares :( My spirits were pretty low at this point. 

So when I drew a tome, I was happy because that would give me options. But no. I got to draw one card while Evert disenchanted it. 

Then after that, my Shivan Dragon was countered. And Evert played a library of Alexandria. Sigh. 

I tried to stop Evert by playing Armageddon to get rid of his library, but there was too much moxen on the other side to stop him really badly. 

Oh, and fellwar stones. 

Meanwhile, I had a full set of moxen in play, but nothing to cast with it. I could only hope Evert would not have a counterspell ready when I drew my braingeyser, because he had taken care of pretty much everything else. 

I used an icy manipulator to hold off the factory he played, but that lasted only for a short time as well. 

The Icy was taken away as well, just like everything else I had played so, after a grueling 45 minute game, it was 1-0 for Evert. But, it was pretty tense and less easy for Evert than it probably should have been. 

With like 5 minutes to go and me wanting to use the bathroom, I sort wanted to hand the game to Evert, but he said, let's just play it out. Figuring I could wait five more minutes, we boarded and went for it. I was able to land Bartel Runeaxe pretty quickly and I did not want to wait much longer for an extra land, so I played him without the protection of Karakas. That was not working, unfortunately. 

Evert played a tome, and I strip mined his extra mana so he would not be able to draw extra cards. I then played Shivan Dragon. 

And an Llanowar elf after attacking for 8 with the dragon. 

I got another Elf after that, but every damage helps, so I played that also, because the time in the round was over and attacked for 9 with the Shivan Dragon and 1 of the Elf, 10 damage in total. 

Looking back, I should have kept the extra elf in my hand in case of a balance. But I just wanted it to be over with and since Evert was not drawing the solution he needed for my dragon, the game was over the next turn. Wow. 1-1. After a 45 minute game, we finished the next one in about 6 minutes. 

Round 5 I played against Tristan, who has made it known he has no problem with mind twisting people, and actually seems to enjoy it. This was also going to be a pretty hard match-up as he tends to play pretty original but competitive decks and he will have the library and mind twist available, while I have not. 

The start with a sol ring was also not encouraging, but I thought I might keep up with Sylvan Library. That was quickly removed though. 

While I was struggling a bit to draw mana, which is kinda strange with 30 mana sources in your deck (including the birds), Tristan had plenty. 

Even an extra turn with time walk did not net me any cards, so while Tristan was having no trouble drawing cards with his tome, I could just play one and hope to draw into more land. I did not though. The only good thing about this was that I was not being smashed by a creature, but since Tristan had the advantage of drawing more cards and having more mana, this was not going to be a win unless something good happened. 

I was stuck on 4 mana though, with 2 6cc creatures in my hand. And a tutor I could not play. 

Tristan meanwhile was enjoying his book and an Ancestral recall and a Mishra's factory. Ohoh.. 

Because he had a working library, I was kind of forced into playing balance, which I did a couple of turns later. 

After I played balance I followed up with Sol'kanar the swamp king, but Tristan showed my there really was no point with an Abyss. 

When I played a Bartel Runeaxe and an Elf to keep the damage coming, he played maze of ith. This game would have been possible to win had I drawn a disenchant, but unfortunately I did not, so all my creatures were gone and I could do nothing but lose to the factory. Losing was the most like scenario with the disadvantage of no library and much less mana, but it felt bad none the less. It was just like every time I thought I could do something, just the right card showed up on the other side. Oh well, next game then. 

The next game showed me a first turn library of Alexandria. Great. Now I really did not feel like playing anymore, but let's just continue shall we?

I played Armageddon, followed by an Icy and Jasmine Boreal. 

Jasmine did nothing because she was removed to a farm, away from the game. 

I dream some removal to keep away Tristan's creatures, but when it mattered most against a Lions that was beating me, I would not work. 

Because I had the solution, just not the mana to cast it. 

Soon after that Tristan got the incredible good but not so nice Chaos orb / Guardian beast running, and I still had no mana to take it. He then started to flip the orb on my mana, so there was basically no chance unless I drew something to get rid of the beast. Which I did not, so I just died. Both of these games felt like stalling against a deck that was superior in the first place, so not unexpected, but I would rather have had an actual match, but that is magic for you. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, mostly because of mana problems. 

Surprisingly though, I managed to get into the top 8 with my 3-1-1 record where I went on to play Anies, who was off to a pretty quick start there: 

The quick start was not enough for him though, so, on turn 2, it was followed by Ancestral Recall. On a roll there!

I tried to keep up with a braingeyser with the help of my Black Lotus, but it felt a lot less efficient than what Anies was doing :)

Anies went  further with a Mishra's factory and a Su-Chi, and had mana left to counter my Serra Angel with mana drain... 

... which he used to cast braingeyser. OK, OK, the universe was telling me something here. 

Anies followed up with a Tome. I got my own Tome, so I was trying to keep up, which worked when I got a disenchant for his tome, which was followed up by another Tome immediately. Again, the message was clear :) this was not going to work. 

I had a little sparkle of hope when I played Sol'kanar the swamp king, but Anies dropped a chaos orb and gone it was. 

Happily for me, my tome was still there, so I was not swamped in card disadvantage, but I also had no pressure on the board, and Anies was ahead. 

I tried to get back with a Shivan Dragon and Ancestral recall, which he both countered. And kept beating at me with the factories, which was enough to take the game. 

The second game I was facing another active library. This got Anies ahead a couple of cards, before I drew my chaos orb to get rid of it. 

I followed this up by playing tsunami after he has played another island next to his Tundra. I thought this should be enough go get something done here, but although I had a tome, nothing showed up to actually do any damage. 

And in the meantime, Anies was just playing more artifact mana. I was drawing cards with the tome, but still, nothing. And then, when my Shivan Dragon showed up, it was quickly plowed away. 

Eventually, Anies got another land and an Ancestral Recall, while I still had no pressure. 

Anies followed this up again with a braingeyser. 

This meant that when I finally got Bartel Runeaxe out and got the pleasurable feeling you get from saying flat-out "no" to someone who is trying to control magic him, this still was not enough. Bartel also was removed and then Anies took over the game with the advantage from the braingeyser and Ancestral recall. 

In the end, it was just not enough. The legends were too slow and took too long to show up, and Anies could draw more and more cards in quick succession, so that meant the quarterfinal was the final game for my Legends of magic deck. Still, not a bad run :) This left me with some time to look at the revised only games that were going on. 

And with a final shot of the top 4, I went with Fulco to get something to eat and then went home. Edo eventually took the title with his Lion/dib/su-chi UW deck. 

Thanks to all that showed up, and thanks to especially to Joep for organizing this great experience of playing in a game store! Till next time!