Monday, December 25, 2023

Knights of Thorn X

A quick Christmas gift for those who like to look at pictures of old cardboard before I go see my parents :) Merry Christmas everybody, hope to see you again in the next year!

The Knights of Thorn is a dutch classic when it comes to playing OS. It is sort of Swedish with only 10 reprints allowed. Mostly, it is just a great tournament to hang out with likeminded OS players. For a deck I followed up on the idea to, for a while, not change decks literally every tournament. So I made some changes to my deck with almost no playsets (only tundra is in there 4 times, other cards are in there 3,2 or 1 time) to see if I could improve on last tournament. I felt the deck was a bit to passive so I added an extra Jade statue (which is also a bit more immune to balance and wrath of god which were problems for me last time) and took out a mishra's factory and added a scrublands for a more solid manabase. I also took out a counterspell for a divine offering to make it a bit more active than passive. 

On the day of the tournament, I picked up fellow oldschoolers Remko and Thijs, and we went on our way to Deventer. We saw a lot of familiar faces, which for me is what OS is all about. Meeting nice people while flipping classic cardboard. 

After some announcements (like the new record of 54 contestants) we started the first round. I was paired against Wijnand, our local cardboard crack dealer who only joined to make an even number. That is a great way to add to the day Wijnand, thanks! No beyes today. Wijnand announced that losing just a single game against him would be a pretty look for me since he almost never plays OS. 

The first game, he started aggresively by attacking me with a factory. I also noticed a badlands and expected to see hypnotic specters soon. Since I had no elimination in my hand and I did not draw lands on my first 2 turns, I decided to icestorm the badlands, to give myself some more time. 

It turned out that was a pretty good decision. Though Wijnand had a maze, he stalled on lands as well, which gave me time to get two Djinns out. 

And a Su-Chi, and a Jade statue. Wijnand in the meantime cast a troll, but that was too late. 1-0. 

The second game Wijnand started strong with a sol ring and a disintegrate on my Djinn, followed up by a Sengir vampire. 

I was able to psionic blast the vampire, but he then played a Specter and a Troll. Followed up by... 

You guessed it, a mind twist. Wijnand might not play often, he played this agressive troll strategy well. 

That was pretty bad. It cost me Su-Chi, Erhnam Djinn, Jade statue, Jalum tome. Auch. It also cost me the game, since I had nothing more in hand to add to the game. 1-1.

The third game, I had a pretty strong start with turn 2 Su-Chi thanks to some moxen. 

Followed up by turn 3 braingeyser for 3, which is always good. 

I drew a factory with the braingeyser, but no more threats. But still, hammering for 6 is pretty good. Then Wijnand played a disk. 

The disk was pretty good, taking out 3 of my cards (Suchi and 2 moxen), but except for 2 factories, there were no damage dealers on his side. And I had just the awnser for his 2 factories :) 

And a tome, which had to wait for another turn to produce extra cards, because Serra joined in. 

Serra and the giant were enough to finish the game, so 2-1. That felt a lot closer than it should have, since Wijnand told me he does not play OS very well. I don't really think that is true. From the cards he drew and what I saw, it seemed pretty solid. But then again, who knows? Maybe if I play him again in the future I will notice some mistakes :) The match was over and we had a couple of minutes left. That gave me time to look around and take some quick pictures. 

There was not much time for taking pictures though, since the 3 games against Wijnand had taken most of the time. On to round 2, against Peter Monten, always a pleasure. He's a great guy to play against, and he had brought a somewhat unexpected brew. I always like it when I see an original deck that is not one of the usual suspects. 

After a phantom monster, which I took care of, an air elemental arrived to stop my factories from attacking. 

That was a bit of a problem, since I had no red or black mana available to play either my tutor, nor my fireball to get rid of it. 

To make things worse, an Icy and a factory arrived on the other side, while I was filtering card with my Jalum Tome. 

Peter played timetwister after that, which gave me the following interesting hand.. 

Well, at least I have a lot of card for my Jalum Tome to discard.. 

Peter crumbled both my factories after I tried to attack. The boatload of lands I got from the twister, together with 1 STP made sure I could get to some more useful stuff and pretty soon I was attacking Peter with a Giant and a Djinn. 

That proved too much too handle, so I won this game. We got talking a lot during the very interesting second game, and I forgot to take pictures. Eventually I won the match with Su-Chi and Djinns. 

The big chief Mari standing on a chair

After lunch, we continued against Alex, who was playing a aggresive counterburn deck. I got the following quite interesting hand. I could play braingeyser for 3 on turn one, and go from there with the possibility of regrowth on the Black Lotus if I needed it. Or mulligan. I decided to go for the first option.  

Alex started with turn one flying men, I started with the braingeyser. Interestingly, I did not draw land in either my draw or the braingeyser together. I did get a mox though. 

Fortunately, I got a volcanic island after that, but decided to get the lotus back anyway, to cast Serra Angel. 

That did not do much though because she was quickly removed on the spot. 

After that, a stripmine took care of my island, I with no landdraws from my side, I had to start filtering with the tome, and I had to do it quickly because there was a Serendib on the other side as well now. 

I tried to psionic blast the serendib, but that was countered. Than I tried a balance, and that worked. 

Not for long though, because Alex had Ancestral Recall and got back pretty quickly. 

Doing more damage was now key, but my deck was not really up to the task. Alex played another Serendib Efreet, I played Su-Chi but I was too far behind and a lot of burncards on the side of Alex made sure I was not able to race him. 

So, on to game 2. Alex had first turn library of alexandria. I decided to get rid of that aggressively with armageddon, which I could because of a sol ring. 

My deck had no follow up right away, with lots of mana but no threats yet. Fortunately I got to braingeyser with my Black lotus. 

That worked. I got to play Serra and Jayemdae tome, and this was only turn 4. OS can ben pretty insande. 

Alex played Serendib Efreet, and then tried psionic blasting my Serra, which I countered with red elemental blast. 

I blocked his Efreet, knowing there would be a bolt following, but I had 2 factories and a tome, so I figured I would be able to pull this off. 

And I did with the factories and the extra cards, so 1-1 for this match. On game 3 I kept a reasonable hand with time walk and strip mine, figuring I would be able to slow Alex down a bit, and with control magic and potentially Serra and 2headed giant which are bigger than most of his burn spells can handle, I went for it. 

Alex, however, started a bit more blazingly, with both sol ring and black lotus

Which he used for a big braingeyser, while keeping his stripmine untapped. 

The strip mine slowed me down, and after I got my Serra in played, she was promptly hit with an orb. 

Then I got a Serendib staring at me, but the gods of magic looked favorable on me and gave me 3 extra cards to keep up with the onslaught. 

This gave me the option to play a small braingeyser after that with a black lotus, and then control magic. 

Though I think I could have pulled it off to win, time was up and we could not finish the match, so 1-1-1 in games in this match. Even though a draw is not ideal, I was still pretty happy with the decks performance. 

I was then paired against Marten in round 4. Always a pleasure, since he tends to play his own creations which are surprisingly well built decks. This was a match however, I knew I had a good chance of winning game 1 with this hand. 

uh yeah, I'll keep. 

Marten started off with a first turn Atog. Not bad!

I took care of the Atog right away since I did not want to lose either my Suchi or Djinn to it. Marten played granite gargoyle, I played the Djinn, which he destroyed right away with a bolt after blocking with the gargoyle. 

After the Djinn was taken care of, I could play Su-Chi, which was pretty big. That gave me a too much advantage, together with the Ancestral Recall. 1-0

Marten turned the second game into a blazing start however, with turn one Dragon Whelp. With 2 red in play, this would be able to do some serious damage. 

So I played a land, Marten attacked for 4, then for 5, and while I was trying to get in the game, it was already over with that much damage. It did 14 damage before I could get rid of it, and that was too much to come back from. 1-1.

For game 3, my deck gave me a pretty good hand, with a Lotus, sol ring braingeyser, which I used right on turn one, before Marten might be able to shatter it. This brought me a Djinn quickly, which was taken care of, but followed up with another Djinn, then a Su-Chi, and time walk right away. 

That was insane, so too hard for Marten to come back from. 2-1. So 3-0-1 after 4 rounds, not bad! Better than expected, actually. This brought me to this spot, which I was happy with with this deck. 

What also happens when you go up in the swiss, it that you meet more and more people who play pretty hardcore tier 1 decks, usually played by very good players. This also happened to me now, having to play Gwen, playing TripleS deck, which is extremely solid. I had to decide to keep this hand or not before I knew that, and decided to keep. It was not very good, but there was some acceleration with the mox, some pressure and a swords to keep early threats at bay. 

Gwen kicked off with something a lot better though. 

This meant he had a pretty good advantage from the start. Disenchants and counterspells flew around while I was trying to get a foothold, all the while Gwen was hitting me with a Savannah Lions. He got rid of most of what I had , even though I did manage to destroy one of his Su-Chi's. 

When I tried to get back in the game with my own ancestral recall, it was promptly countered. 

When I tried to get rid of one of the threats in the form of a lions, it again was met with another counterspell, and that was it. 

It was evident I would need to pull out a lot to have a chance of winning this. Fortunately, my deck gave me right what I needed with a tutor and an Ancestrall recall in my opening hand, with some moxen. When I got a Time Walk as well from my first draw, I went for it. 

I knew Gwen would have no doubts to do the same to me, so I played a big mind twist to see where that would lead is. Even then, his deck would have a chance to come back, but at least I would have time and a good chance of winning. 

Su-Chi's and a a factory finished the game. 1-1. 

After some more sideboarding, we both had a first turn Sol Ring on game 3 and to take out the speed I decided to kill that instead of the factory. 

After that, I played 2 Erhnam Djinns. Gwen was visibly surprised and said he had not expected those. That was exactly what I was hoping for when I built this deck, to make it hard for my opponent to know what to expect. Gwen had sided out his city in a bottle, and that cost him the third game. 2-1, so I would probably stay on table one for the next match. Since Carl had just beat Evert on table 2 next to us, I had a feeling who I would be playing next. But There was still some time left, so I could take some more pictures. 

And when pairings were up, I was indeed playing Carl. Carl and I have played each other in several swiss and Top 8's, and next to a very nice opponent  he is a very good player. This would be hard, but I had gotten this far, so I should have a chance. I was looking forward to some exiting games. 

Carl opened with a chains of Mephistopheles. When a player that good plays something like that, you know you need to take care of it right away, so I took no time and disenchanted it. Carl followed up with a Chaos Orb and a factory. Still, I felt like it was the right decision. He would have probably played winds of change right after putting down the factory otherwise, and it would have been a really hard game to win after that. 

This was one of those moments I was happy to have divine offering in my deck as a one-off main. The orb would not be doing much. 

Next up, Control Magic took care of the first Su-Chi that showed up. Carl took it out with a fireball. 

After another chains by Carl, I put down a Djinn. 

The Djinn was followed up by a trike, which would be making some problems for Carls factories once they would try to get rid of the Djinn. 

Carl still took care of the djinn after blocking with a bolt, but that is 2 for 1, and always okay from my side. Now I could attack with my factory, and with enough mana, play pretty much everything that would show up. Carl had played a rack in the meantime which was doing me some damage, but not as much as I was doing with the Su-Chi and the factory. 1-0

The next game, Carl looked at his hand, and had to mulligan. 3 times :( Though this is good news for me in the competition, it is never nice, you would not wish that upon anyone. You want exiting games from both sides and a mulligan is just not adding to that feeling. 

Carl blocked my factory on his factory, which was okay and what I was hoping for, I quickly regrowthed mine and hoped to get ahead in damage as Carl played the Rack. When I played my Su-Chi Carl used Chaos orb on that, and played his own strip mine, while mine was tapped. Seeing what I had in hand, I hoped he would not use it. 

Carl did not (understandably since he needs 4 mana to cast Su-Chi, and that gave me the opportunity and pleasure to play two headed giant again. 

From that point on, I had the 5 mana with which my deck is comfortably happy, and I could play fireball on his Su-Chi, following up by Erhnam Djinn. 

Carl played city in a bottle to destroy my Djinn (never nice for my deck, but less of a problem since I had sided out one Djinn, leaving only 2 in my deck) and my giant still had to be taken care of. That did not work out for Carl, unfortunately. He had not drawn any lands that gave colored mana, so maybe if he had, something like an Abyss or so would have come and the game would have been a lot different. The games could have been a lot more exiting, but that is magic for you. Sometimes one just gets lucky or unlucky, and that decides who wins. Carl would still be in the top 8 though. 

After I was walking around, I noticed some cool oldschool classics

howl from beyond for the win! Cool!

Serra with Spirit link, also a classic. 

When top 8 was announced, I was first. Though I had some pretty lucky games, I was still happy with the decks performance. I was paired against Evert, who was 8th in the top 8. Evert was also playing a very focused deck, so this was going to be pretty hard. Though my hand was not great, it was also not very bad, so I kept it. Evert was off to a really blazing start. The vise was a problem I had kept my moxen in my hand to make sure I could do something with them before Evert would destroy them. 

Next turn, I emptied my hand to get rid of the vise damage. 

Evert Stripped my Tundra, but I had a savanna to play Jade statue. That would keep the lions away for a while. 

Since Evert was not playing a new land, I decided to destroy his mox after he had copied it. 

Evert went for something drastic, and attacked with the lions and played psionic blast after I had blocked. 

That left me with a bit of a mana problem to get back into the game, always a risk when playing a multicolor deck. It seemed like my luck had ran out. 

And it did run out, since I had no way to play the colored cards I had, Evert won the first game. 0-1. The next game was a bit of an interesting opening hand. If Evert had something to deal with the Su-Chi on turn one, this hand is mediocre at best. If he only has a psionic blast or disenchant in hand, I would be doing 12 damage before he could get rid of it. If he had neither, I would win within minutes. Since OS is all about the broken stuff, I decided to keep. I had managed to get to top 8, I was happy either way. 

So, I went for it. Evert looked worried. That made me hopeful. 

But, luck would change the game. Evert topdecked black lotus! And that gave him the resources to get rid of the Su-Chi. Damn :)

To top things off, I also played Ancestral recall then... and was not even finished!

So, and a lions for good measure.. wow, what a turn 1 here!

That made my hand a lot less attractive, but I had made my choice, so I kept playing. I played time walk, got another Su-Chi, and while Evert was playing factories, I decided I needed to regrowth the lotus to prevent myself from dying.  

So, the Su-Chi was on the table, together with the orb I drew the turn after that. 

Unfortunately for me, Evert had the answer ready. 

That left me in this situation. Not good. 3 factories staring me in the face. 

Evert had decided to copy the Ankh. I would have probably gone for another factory. I played a djinn the turn after that with a mox. 

Evert quickly disenchanted it, and that made me very unhappy, since with what I had in hand, things would look a lot differently. 

After getting an Ancestral recall (taking a lot of damage from the cities here) I was able to divine offer one of the Ankhs for 2 life, to stall a bit. After that I got a sol ring. 

That was already a bit late though. Since I had taken a lot of damage from the cities and was slower than Evert, he played direct damage on my to finish off this game. Well played! It did leave me wondering how the game would have went if I had drawn an extra land earlier on, but we will never know!

I got something to eat with fellow Arnhem Oldschoolers Thijs and Remko, and after that we drove home together. Another great OS day! Thanks to Mari for organizing the Knights of Thorn, and to all who came. You guys are the best! Untill next time!