Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Gaea's Avengers 2023

Gaea's Avengers is one of the tournaments I love to visit because it is a good size (which for me is: not massive but plenty of players) and it is organized by great guys from the Belgian OS scene. Seeing them to play some cards is always a great experience. 

I must note I got pretty sick during the holidays, lying in bed with a fever and flue for days so I might get things a bit mixed up here. I noticed that looking at the pictures, I don't remember it as sharply as I would want. I'll do my best en leave the rest to the pictures :)

This would be the third version of the deck I wanted to play some tournaments to see if I could improve on it. I had made some more changes to try out which cards would work well together in this mix. I am not sure if I got everything right out of my hand since I spent most of the last days either in bed or on the couch with a pretty bad case of the flu. I think I played Yves on the first round. I kept the following hand. Mox into Ancestral is always good and I was confident some other lands would show up then. 

There was not an abundance of lands coming my way (only a scrublands including my next draws), so I decided to copy my factory (one of the changes, which I think was okay) to make some more mana and see if I could put down some pressure. Yves had put down a relic barrier. That had me worried a bit since that could mean parfait, against which my deck does not feel very powerful. It likes to tap a lot of mana. 

And indeed, a winter orb showed up after that. That slowed my down a lot. 

I got rid of the orb and played a tome, hoping the advantage would eventually get me what I needed. 

I did not get a lot of mana though, so it took quite a while to do enough damage. I used the psionic blasts on Yves and eventually got more cards which did the trick and let me play my creatures, but only after a really long and grinding game. I did some sideboarding, and was greeted with a first turn vise. I disenchanted it, and put down my tome, but that was quickly destroyed. 

I played some more lands and a tome, when my opponent decided to destroy me utterly with a balance since he had only 2 lands. 

That cost me several cards from my hand, 5 of my lands, a tim which I had in play because it is immune to being tapped by icies, it was brutal. 

After my tome was also destroyed I had to wait a little longer, but since I had lost most of my land and my deck helpfully provided handfull of moxen, I played Armageddon to return the favor of fucking up the other guys mana.  

The armageddon was unexpected, I played a Djinn and a factory, and the finished the game quickly. 2-0, first match won. That was a good start. 

The second game I was paired against Peter Monten, one of the organizers of the Avengers. We also played the week before on Knights of thorn, and he already said he would be playing something different this week. He also had a really cool 3d figure on his table with him:

Wow! a Gaea's avenger statue. One of my reaper life counters in front of it for size reference

I did not know what he was playing, but I always tend to want to try an opening hand with library even though the rest of the hand was not great for an opening hand. 

I drew into a mox from an extra draw with the library, and was thinking about drawing more cards when Peter decided to let my library live, but since I had not drawn more land cards and did not want to discard, I decided to play a Djinn. 

Peter played a Troll to keep my Djinn busy, but was not drawing a lot of lands as well. I used my copy artifact to copy my mox. The serra would have to wait though, not enough white mana. I still could play a Djinn though. 

One of the djinns was blocked and bolted, and replaced by a Su-Chi. 

Peter had Hypnotic specter in play now, but I was already too much ahead. 1-0. The second game Peter came in swinging with the worst card you can play against my deck, Blood moon. Even though my deck can handle it somewhat, a first turn blood moon is not what I was expecting, since that leaves more than half of my deck worthless. I had boarded in my plains of course, but this would take some work to get around. 

To make it worse, after I had played my 2 cities of brass, peter played city in a bottle. Which, in itself, is not terrible against my deck, but now it was. 

Fortunately, there was not a lot of pressure immediately, which gave me time to find some white mana with my black lotus. I disenchanted both the city and the blood moon, and played ancestral recall. 

Looking back, that was probably a mistake. I wanted to play a djinn as quickly as possible, but I should have saved the disenchant for another moon. Which Peter had. 2 turns later it was already there, with a Sengir Vampire to accompany it. 

I could not come back from that, my statue did less damage than a vampire does. 1-1. This was my next hand. There were several ways you can play this, but I wanted to get more cards as quickly as I could and start beating before another moon would hit the table. I could have also gone for first turn Djinn. I went for tutor/ancestral. Now that I look at this hand, I would have probably played that differently as well. 

My deck very helpfully supplied me with... more lands. 

Peter got rid of my mox and my tropical island, slowing me down. I got down a djinn, Peter played blood moon. 

The moon was followed up by city in a bottle, and Peter got rid of both my Su-Chi's, after that he could start beating because I stalled and could of course not play much with the moon in play. I had plenty of artifacts left in my deck, but they didn't show up. 

I knew my deck was bad against blood moon, but even with multiple BEB, a plains and plenty of artifacts in my deck, it is still not able to win if some sides in multiple moons against this deck. Well, good to know, I am still trying what it can and cannot do. I will think on how to remedy this if I have some time to stare at the cards some more. 

In the meantime, we made a deckpic of Johan's deck my Juzams in it, to have a pic available if it was needed. 

In round 3 I was paired against Malte, who was playing his weenie creation I very much admire. He's also just a great guy to play against. Competitive but nice, as it should be in OS. He started quickly with 2 creatures off a mox. Against my first turn factory, that seemed like a solid awnser. 

I swung with the factory to see if he wanted to trade. He didn't, played a factory and wheel of fortune. Wow, going fast there. 

I had wanted to keep my hand, so the wheel was not great for me. After a while I having the bigger creature and a tome, so that would have to be able to do something. I am not sure how the rest of the games went, from the looks of the pictures we played 3 games. I do remember Malte trying to get rid of my Djinn with a disk, but that was disenchanted and eventually I won the match. 

So, 2-1 in matches. 

The 4th round I was paired against Lluis, who I started against having to take a Mulligan. That was okay though, since that gave me these 6 cards. 

could be a lot worse.. 

I used to 6 to the fullest, played turn one timewalk, then tutor into Ancestral and played factory. Then I would be able to play Su-Chi on the next turn, and I should be good from there. Well, plenty of options for him to take care of it, but still. A good start.  

I had not tutored for mind twist, as some might do, but ancestral recall. The universe wanted to make a point and had me topdeck mindtwist. So I cast it for 4. I mean, what are you going to do, keep in hand? Very understandibly, my opponent went for balance from his demonic tutor.  

That cost me some cards, but I could keep the one Su-Chi and went with that. 

Even though I thought it would be a breeze from there, it was not. My Su-Chi was taken care of, and I played a Djinn to get going. My opponent played Su-Chi while I had this on hand. 

I copied the Su-Chi, and wanted to flip the orb on the Su-Chi after that, but crucially, I missed. 

We exchanged creatures and then went into topdeck mode. After a while we were here, which was not looking good for me. 

Eventually, I managed to pull off a win, but it was much closer than I had expected. The second game took off really quick on the opposite side. The game was over so quick with the factories and damage from the mega quick Su-Chi that it was over in minutes. 

So, on to game 3 then. 

My start was a bit slow but I got a Ancestrall recall. Since there was not much happening in getting more lands, I decided to discard the braingeyser after that, hoping for a quicker gameplan. 

Not a lot was happening from both sides, which led me to just psionic blast my opponent. 

Then I managed to get this in play. Which regenerates. Which is really good against opposing factories. 

A little after that the other statue joined in. I kept 2 mana open at all times so my Clay statue would not be destroyed. 

In the end, the clay statue managed to go all the way and win game 3. 2-1. I was then paired against Koen. And Koens deck is brutal. My opening hand was sort of okay, with a a sol ring and a tome and clay statue. I decided to keep because of the swords to plowshares also, which is good against first turn hippies. 

We both started with first turn sol ring. 

I topdecked Su-Chi after that and played it. Koen disenchanted both the Su-Chi and the sol ring. 

That took the tempo out of my game, and I had to use the swords to plowshares against a Juzam Djinn. I was slow to draw lands, but an Ancestral recall gave me some lands and a tome, which I played. Koen was also slow on lands. 

And he put that to great effect with a balance. 

I somehow managed to win the first game with drawing more cards than Koen and then got into one of my bigger creatures. Then Koens deck did what it does. He destroyed my second land right away. 

Then, after that, he destroyed my first land as well. 

He then tutored. Guess what he tutored for.. 

Yes... A mind twist. Which he cast with black lotus to top it off. I had no lands and no cards in hand. 

This was followed up by underworld dreams and a Sengir vampire, while I had basically nothing. 

I tried stopping the onslaught with the balance I had drawn, (together with helpfully, a lot of lands)

But is was too late, since Koen topdecked a new one right after that. 1-1. 

The third game I had a Library of Alexandria in opening hand. Other than that, it was not great. But I decided to keep it. Koen started right off with Ancestral recall. 

And, of course, destroyed my library right away. 

He followed up with another mind twist. 

Which coast my my Hurricane,  Maze of Ith and armageddon. All of these could have been crucial in the game, most of all the maze. 

I tried playing preacher, but it was swords to plowshared. Koen then proceeded to just crush me with creatures. 1-2. The 2 mind twists really did their work. Alas. Unfortunately, I was then paired against Johan, who I game with together with Fulco. I still had a chance of going 4-2 if I won, and that might barely get me into top 8. Maybe. My deck was ging me a good start though with this opening hand. It was completely broken. 

I played a first turn Erhnam Djinn with time walk. 

That was followed up with Jade statue, and I continued the beating I had started from turn 1. Johan scooped . The second game was a little less convincing, but the opening hand was good for me. 

I had first turn library, Johand had first turn Hypnotic specter. Fair, I guess. 

The Library gave me a maze, however, So I could keep my card advantage. Johan stripped the library after that, but that meant the maze was a problem for him, and I could start playing bigger creatures. 

Eventually, John got rid of my Su-Chi. I tried to replace that with Jasmine Boreal, which he mana drained. 

With the best follow-up ever, namely a Braingeyser. Okay, this might get hard after all. 

Following that was Ancestral recall and a Sengir vampire. Followed by a time walk. Johan was not going down easy here. In the meantime, I played both my tomes and a chaos orb. 

This gave me more options, and Su-Chi and a Ernham Djinn followed up. 

I then got a control magic for the vampire and played a preacher. All in all, that proved too much. So I ended up 4-2, and as it turns out, 9th... just out of the top 8. Damn :( but that also meant I could get something to eat now with Fulco and Johan. 

The top 8 was off to a promising start. 

Turns out the best in the swiss was a red/black deck with lots of blood moons main deck. Though I get that might give you an advantage against a lot of decks, I am doubtful it would work against every deck I saw today. 

Turns out the other decks were Robots, lion/dib/burn, Koen his deadguy on steroids, and a Rukh Egg/valley deck and a deck with Serendib Djinns. 

Since we wanted to go look for something to eat, we did not wait. Outside, a light festival was going on, with a ballet dancer doing a cool dance while suspended in the air by strings. It was a very cool show. 

Turns out finding something vegan for Johan was a bit of a hassle in the town, so we took a quick snack and went home. Thanks to Simon and Peter for organizing, and thanks for all that showed up to play! Thanks for a great day and see you all next time!