Thursday, November 23, 2023

Uthden Troll cup 2023

The Uthden Troll cup by Ron Dijkstra has quickly become one of the largest international tournaments in oldschool. Although I think the sweet spot for an OS event is somewhere between 24-60 people and Ron his tournament goes well over a 100, Chris and I still decided to go together. Since there is a bit of a spikey vibe at the Troll cup but I did not want to play a standard tier 1 deck, I played a variant of a good stuff deck I once played in an online tournament and went top 8 with. I like that the deck has a lot of surprises because a lot of the cards are in there only once or twice. Some 3 times. It makes it a bit more fun to play than a standard hardcore deck without the probability of losing all matches being very high. 

Not all of the matches come with a opponent name, because I cannot see the real names in the results of the tournament. I do have the first one though, Wilco, who was playing a white green deck. There was not a lot of pressure in the first couple of turns, but I was able to land a tome pretty quickly after disenchanting his Mox pearl to slow him down and hoped not to get a disenchant. He played a plains after that, so not a good gamble from my side. 

He also had a lotus which he used to play a trike. 

I used StP to get rid of that, and we went back and forth with him playing creatures and me destroying them, but not drawing any threats from my side. 

That was fine by me, as I had the tome and was pretty convinced that would get me ahead. Card advantage was not all that because a Serra came to beat me, but fortunately I got some big hitters myself to get into the damage race (in which I was behind). 

After a couple of turns in which I first drew a divine offering (to buy me another turn by sacrificing my book) and then 2 creature elimination cards, the game was mine because I could get rid of the Serra and my creatures were bigger than his lions. 

I kept a pretty okay opening hand. This should be able to get some damage through. 

He opened with Library of Alexandria though, so that was not great. The only way to get him off that was to start hammering as quick as possible. He was a couple of cards ahead of me though. 

When he played Erhnam Djinn followed by Armageddon, I used my swords to plowshares, but that was unexpectedly countered by avoid fate. 

He also destroyed my Su-Chi, and I eventually lost to elves. (the orb was not enough to keep me alive). 

Interesting but risky opening hand, but I kept it anyway. I had a StP for early creatures and an Ancestral recall, which would give me 3 new cards anyway. I calculated that would probably be better than mulligan to 6. 

And that worked, I got one extra land from the Ancestral as expected, and could counter a djinn. 

Then I could play one of mine, and control magic one of his djinns.

When I got another Djinn, it was obvious that the game was mine. 2-1 in an exiting match, that felt like a good start. 

The second round was against Jor, (sorry, Melee does not give me any more info). My opening hand was not great, but since it tends to get worse and I had some playes with this hand, I decided to keep it anyway. 

My opponent hand a pretty great opening, better than mine. 

I played time walk as soon as I could, and then used the orb to get rid of a hypnotic specter. 

On turn 4 however, I was mind twisted, and from what I lost one can see that the game would have been very different I I had been able to keep the hand a couple of turns more. 

I had no hand left and a new specter was taking the cards I could not play right away, so this was not looking good. But I topdecked a balance a couple turns later. 

With my factory, that could have given me the game, but my opponent topdecked this.. 

So he kept hitting me with a much bigger creature. When I finally got a swords to plowshares, I again could not attack, because my opponent his deck was very good to him and gave him a new creature quickly. I did not draw any new creatures, so I lost game one. 

So, would you keep a hand with no land if it was this? I would. I figured I would get a land with the Ancestral Recall, then play a Serra on turn one. Even if my opponent would get a terror on turn 2, that would still net me 4 damage and I would still have enough options left because I had the cards from the ancestral. 

What I did not expect though, was to NOT draw a land. So I had to wait till turn 2, and my opponent played an Orb on turn 2 :( So, no damage for me there. 

The lands were not very eager to show up, only a factory and a turn later a mox jet. When I wanted to go tutor for a land, I was foiled by a spell blast. Wow. Did not see that one coming, well played!

My opponent got his Ancestral recall, and then proceeded to crush me with the cards he could play, I had no chance here. So 0-2, 1-1 in matches. Perhaps this would be the last time for a really bad mind twist, I was certainly hoping this. On to round 3, against Micke. He had a quick start with a lions. 

Micke went for a tutor on turn 2 after I StP'd his lions. 

And, my hope for not being mindtwisted was not coming true. The only difference was that I had played one of my creatures on the previous turn. But I lost a lot of really good cards, like a braingeyser. 

The advantage of the mind twist was a bit too much for me, because I had a creature, but he had a lot more cards than me. 

My deck wanted to give me something to get back though, and gave me this after a timetwister from my opponent. 

So, I went for it to get ahead. and I did. The card advantage I had lost was quickly regained and I won the game. 

My hand for game 2 was less spectacular though. But I decided to keep it anyway, because my opponent played a lot of blue, I had REB and balance, so that should be good for something. I know this is a bit risky, but since I was one game ahead I wanted to try it anyway. 

My opponent went for full mana denial by orbing my city and disenchanting my mox, but I was vindicated by drawing a library of Alexandria. 

The library brough me more cards, but... not any lands. So that was a problem. 

Meanwhile, my opponent was bolting me after I destroyed his one Serra Angel. I used my disenchants on his moxen just in case I would need to play a balance. 

My opponent went for Mind twist again but fortunately for 2 only this time. 

Since I was ahead in cards and had some lands and moxen in my hand, I went for it and played Armageddon

I could play a Djinn after the Armageddon and felt this should do it. 

My opponent took my Djinn with Swords to plowshares, and then my Serra Angel after that. 

When I played Su-Chi, he had disenchant. He just had everything he needed. I took his lions with contraol magic, but he had a disenchant for that. 

Eventually he had a serendib and I had a factory. That should work out for me, since I was ahead in life. I wanted to push him further with a Su-Chi, which was countered. 

Eventually I drew a psionic blast, which finished the game because of his Serendib Efreet. This was a really exiting and interesting match with lots of interaction. OS at its best. So 2-0 for me, 2-1 in matches. 

Up for my next match, I got to start. With this hand. I thought about this, if I play first turn Serra, it is just plain cool, with a risk of 2 for 1 if he has a Stp. Or 2 moxen and a Psi blast. If he does not, the Serra will gave me a good advantage and I can start hammering with the factory as well. If the Serra is killed, a timely balance will straighten things out. This should work, right? It is risky, but hey, you play OS or you don't and if you have the lotus, you just have to go for it I think. So I kept the hand and my opponent got to start. 

And pressure was needed because a first turn LOA came. So I played turn 1 Serra and started hitting. 

Until Serra was psionic blasted on his 3rd turn. But still, quite a lot of damage because he had to take damage from the Psionic blast as well.  

No lands from my side though, but I could do some more damage with a factory. 

A savannah or city of brass would be nice.. 

The turns following, my opponent got into full swing mode. Playing factory Su-Chi and cope artifact after that. Meanwhile, I only had a tome. But he was only at then, so I should be able to do this. Right?

When I could play the Djinn, I blocked a Su-Chi, after which my opponent played trike and shot the Djinn for one. 

Meanwhile, my deck proceeded to not produce white mana, although there is quite a lot of sources in there. More than white cards, in fact. It I would get it, it would okay. If not.. 

I got a tundra courtesy of the tome, and used that to play balance before I would be dead. I used the red mox to disintegrate my opponent and cast balance. he followed up with a Tetravus. 

I followed up with one of my creatures and had the tome for some advantage, so I won game one. That was tight but a nice exiting game. Game 2 had my opponent go for something spectacular. A first turn library (again!) and than a mana vault, fellwar stone, volcanic island and he went for timetwister Although I am not entirely sure here how that went. I think the fellwar stone should have been tapped was well here. 

I went from this hand, with which I was very happy.. 

To this hand. Which was also not bad, but not as good the other one. Especially with an active library on the other side. So I needed to start working quickly and put a lot of pressure. Not easy with this hand. 

Divine offering was used on his Su-Chi, and I used time walk to get my pressure on the board earlier. After he played another Su-Chi, I was able to control magic it. 

The high point of the game for me was when he played Tetravus and I was able to artifact blast it, so my Su-Chi's could keep hammering. 

And hammering the did, followed up with a 3rd one, to keep the pressure on my opponent, who was drawing 2 cards each turn while I had only one. 

He used chaos orb on my control magic.

I just kept attacking, exchanging my Su-Chi for his, keeping in my one Su-Chi to keep doing damage before the card advantage would take over and disintegrated him as soon as I could. So 2-0 on 2 games with card advantage from Library of Alexandria both times, I was happy with my decks performance here. 

So, 3-1 in matches and wins against Robots and Liondib, I was happy so far. The next game my opening hand was not great, but not bad either. I figured I could Ice storm, stripmine, regrowth the strip mine and get the advantage on mana, then hit with the Su-Chi and the 2-headed giant. 

So I went for that, but my opponent got ancestral recall out of the blue land I stripped, and then kept drawing a lot more mana. And library of Alexandria. Damn. 

He also got a maze of ith, and kept drawing more and more cards. He used his orb on my 2 headed giant (of which he had no idea what it did when I played it.. I guess some OS players are only interested in the powercards of the time). 

To make things worse, I was mind twisted for the rest of my hand. By this time, one does not really feel like playing any more, but I kept going for it. When the hive hit the table, I knew I was playing some kind of the deck variant. 

I kept building pressure, just to get him to zero but it is hard when your opponent draws twice as many cards and took all of yours with mind twist. 

If you draw a lot of cards, swords to plowshares shows of at some time. 

I felt I had a chance, but then the next 3 cards I drew were... 

yeah, well, not great. 

And then the 4th card was.. 

While my opponent was drawing into more and more cards, including wrath of god, which I had not expected. 

Meanwhile, my deck decided that a Djinn and more mana was what I needed, so I lost to 2 Serra Angels. Not weird if your opponent draws 3 times as much cards and if you draw only lands and moxen yourself, I suppose. 

The second game I was off to a quick start. 

I stalled a bit because of lack of mana

but I managed to squeeze out game 2 when I did get some mana. 1-1 against The Deck. By that time, I was getting a bit distracted. The hotel where we play was beautiful, but the upper room where I was playing now was high ceiling, all hard floors and walls, and somewhat of a big echo chamber because of that. And since my accident a couple of years back, my head seems less equipped to handle that. So I am not really sure how the 3rd game went.  

First turn tutor into Ancestral recall was red elemental blasted, fortunately. My factory was destroyed with strip mine, I killed this with my disenchant. 

But then, no threats from my side :( a land, a mox, and another land. 3 wasted turns. 

Oh, make that 4.. 

After drawing another mox and armageddon, I wondered where all my threats had gone. 

So I waited, so I could armageddon to cripple him and build up quickly myself, so I would be ready for one of my creatures when they came. 

But the did not come. Only one lame factory, which was destroyed. 

The game ended in a draw, because there was no pressure. I had a Su-Chi, and Serra Angel in the last couple of turns, and that was way too late. It would have been more interesting had I drawn something to do damage with earlier. I really felt like I had a chance with that armageddon,so I was a bit dissapointed with that. But a draw against the deck is not bad, I suppose. 

By this time I had a pretty bad headache from the noise, but went on to the next round. I'm not really sure how the game went. My opponent had a first turn sol ring, and I was trying to keep up. I did some damage with factories. 

The was a balance, then some discussion about whether I had said I played forests or not when I had Erhnam Djinn in play (i did not, I said I did not have them at the time, so forestwalk was not really an issue) and after the match the guy on the next table commented that my opponent was being a bit of a dick. I had a distinct pro-tour cutthroat vibe from the guy so my neighbor probably was right. 

look ma, no forests.. 

it was 1-1 with just a couple of minutes to go, and my opponent was really pressuring to go faster, again, that hardcore vibe where my neighbor thought it was not really fitting. I was having a splitting headache due to the noise, so I did not really notice, except that he said not to take a lot of pictures because of the time. He won mainly because I did not have my second white mana for the Serra Angel. Good for him, as he seemed in a hurry to get away from the table after the match. Perhaps he needed to take a leak really badly, that can make one a bit stressed.   

the venue, which looks really great. 

The last match was against Evert, always a great pleasure to meet and a very welcome last opponent of the day. 

Evert was playing a hardcore, tier one lions deck. 

Since Evert had destroyed my sol ring, I was slow to respond. This forced me to balance, but that did not feel good. 

Evert was ahead in damage, so his getting a Su-Chi and me a Djinn would need something from my side to win. I did not get it, he was just faster. 

The second game, Evert had everything he needed. Quick lions. Disenchant for my Su-Chi, follwed by a Serra Angel and I could not get back because I had no mana because Evert had disenchanted one of my moxen also. 

In short, he crushed me, as one would expect from a deck like that in the hands of such a capable player. It was a really good deck really well played, so a well deserved win for him. 

I went on to ask Jeff Menges to add something to my playmat of original art by 2 of the other original artists, to fit the opening that was left on my playmat. This felt really special. He went for a war mammoth. 

Really happy with that addition to the playmat. 

I went to greet Ron, some other guys and the great streaming crew with Timmy and Richard and then we went home. 

On the way to our parking space, we saw this weird spectacle. Don't know what it was, but it looked really nice in the dark. Thanks to everyone who came, Ron and the troll crew for organizing and Timmy and Richard for the streaming. Till next time!