Pictures of Genoa

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It started way too early, with the customary 6 am flight out of Linköping.
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Then some hours’ layover in Amsterdam, trying to get some final work done, before the weekend’s insanities began. Mostly chatted about the upcoming events though.
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Arriving in Genua, the weather was already a little bit worse than advertised, the sun already mostly gone for the day. It was about to get worse.
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Having checked into my hotel, I wander around in the old town for a while, meeting up with Gordon Andersson at the cathedral.
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I like the city, or at least the old part of it. The amounts of extremely narrow alleyways are approaching infinity. This kind of eclectic architecture, like putting a tower just like the one belonging to the neighboring church on a random residential building just because, is fantastic.
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After lunch, we go for gelato, of course.
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Eventually, we meet up with Jason Schwarz and Björn Jonnie Myrbacka and head for a bar Gordon had found, the Kamun Labs, a sweet brewpub. We have time to get in a few beers.
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Gordon even got to utilize the for-a-Swede strange and wonderful concept of the beer-to-go.
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The last part of that day, being Thursday, was a small dinner with about 30 players, organized by Megu and Lorenzo and the rest of the Fishliver crew. The Tiramisu finish was excellent.
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Friday started with a trek through narrow alleyways in search of a place to have coffee and brew and/or playtest. Eventually, we found Jalapeño, in what appeared to be the red light district, serving bad food and good beers. We also was joined by the excellent Martin Berlin, freshly flown in for the day.
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The main event of the day was the EC tournament at the Lighthouse of Genoa, the third oldest one in the world, built in 1543. Situated at the port, not far from the site of the main Fishliver Cup event hotel but farther from the old town, we split up, some of us (me, Charlie, Jonnie) walking there, others taking a cab.
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It began with a small reception with wine and focaccia, held at the garden at the base of the lighthouse. It hadn’t started raining yet. A great place to meed friends, old and new.

 

 

 

 

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A bit late (and who was surprised?), Lorenzo and Megu announced the structure of the tournament: 6 rounds of swiss, followed by a top 8 to be held at the hotel. Eventually, we got delayed enough that the last round had to be held at the hotel, too.
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This is the deck I played, called Troll Rack, based on the Spice Rack played by Bryan Manolakos at LobsterCon. As I cut the Copy Artifacts and Gwen, it’s not so spicy anymore. (Hit by glare are the 4 City of Brass, and in the upper right corner, it’s 1 Underground Sea and 3 basic Swamps, to battle Blood Moon mostly through my trolls.) The list is strong, but it has some glaring weaknesses. One is its low power level, eschewing Timetwister, Wheel of Fortune, Library of Alexandria, any kind of card draw besides Ancestral Recall, and more. Still, the synergy of its various parts make up for most of this. Worse is a certain weakness to creatures with more than 3 toughness. Serendib can usually be raced, and handled post-board with REB, CiaB and Terror, but a Serra Angel is a nightmare, as is large artifact creatures like Su-Chi, Triskelion, or Tetravus, especially pre-board. To solve this partly, I think the deck wants a few Psionic Blasts maindeck, although that means cutting the basic Swamps for Underground Sea once again. There’s also of course the option of just biting the bullet and running Swords to Plowshares, even if I hate that in chip damage decks like this. Well, I won’t play this anymore in the immediate future, as I play so few EC tournaments and there’s lots more for me to explore in that space (Power Goblins and Atog, especially). To sum up, I think this might be the best Hymn deck, but it isn’t tier 1, more like high tier 2.
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There’s a certain beauty to the symmetry of this game state, I think. I also believe I won this game, despite his start meaning he’s up 20 to 14, as I’m firmly under the Vises at this point. I just wish I had used my own Lotus playmat, identical to his.
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In the end, I managed to go 5-1 in the Swiss, hitting the top 8, before falling to Shark holder Martin Berlin’s Ub robots in the quarterfinals. Now, it was way past 1 am, and I was not unhappy to head back to the hotel for some sleep. Especially not since I had won a quite epic match against reigning 93/94 World Champion Alban Lauter, playing for the top 8 earlier. I did miss an orb flip against Martin, which hurts a bit, but I can live with it. I wished Martin the best of luck and moved on.
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Next morning, we woke up way too late even for the breakfast ending at 10.30, so we headed out for the main event, picking up a quite good Italian lunch along the way. And making the finishing touches on Jonnie’s UWb robots deck which he would eventually play to a 17th place, missing the top 16 on the tiniest amount of tiebreaker. It’s quite interesting, especially with the possibility to board out the Serendibs for The Abyss and City in a Bottle. Also Icy Manipulator/Copy Artifact seemed excellent all day. The picture above is a general view of parts of the venue, a series of linked conference rooms and lobby areas.
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This is what I played to a 4-2 finish with very bad tiebreakers, losing to a turn-1 erhnam and game 2 a fast serra out of some kind of UWG control deck, and once to Arabian Aggro where I couldn’t find a sb City in a Bottle. Again, big creatures is a problem. This deck is a bit too complicated for its own good, having to fight the tension of bottle/city/serendib as well as opposing blood moons. Moving forward, I think I’ll just cut the bottles as well as the white and green splash, being prepared to board out serendibs against bottles, but handling big guys with some combination of control magic and terror. I’m still searching for the optimal Swedish atog deck, and Dibatog like this is just one direction. I’ll test it out a bit more soon.
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I chose the deck partly so I could finish the rounds quickly and have some time to socialize, and in that regard I was successful. I even had time to get into the coverage booth with Gordon a few times which was awesome. In the future, I need to decide whether I want to play or comment the most. Should the internet work, that is. There were unfortunately recurring internet issues during the event. And that is not even mentioning the blackout caused bu the thunderstorm which I unfortunately didn’t catch on photo.
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The last day, the excellent weather continued. The tournament of the day was the European Championships in Premodern, a format I had never played before, but I borrowed a deck from Jocke Almelund which seemed sweet: four-color control with a UW base, splashing Gaea’s Blessing and Red Elemental Blast. I dropped at 2-2-1 but with some taste developed for the format. I just don’t have the need for more formats to think about, but I’ll very likely be back again.
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Then I was starved for some Old School games, so when we had gathered some good people (Jonnie, Gordon, Erwin, Alexander, Jason) and went to a pub (Kamun Labs once again), I started getting in a match with Gordon. I was playing Bryan Manolakos’s Field of Dreams control deck, which is probably the hardest deck to play in the entire format. Most games are decided by you doing a small mistake on turn 23 and then losing on turn 28 as a result of it.
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Of course, sometimes you can get power starts, too. I proceeded to draw Time Walk and Land Tax off of that Ancestral.
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Meanwhile, they were doing their own kind of broken things at the nearby table. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the part where they were throwing unsleeved alpha lotuses at eachother. Yes, for real.
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Also, this imperial stout panacotta was the best thing I’ve eaten in a long while. All in all, the evening was excellent. All this hanging out with people and having some casual games was really the best thing with the weekend for me, as much of a spike as I am.
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Uncharacteristically, I didn’t buy or sell a single card during the event, so this amazing flask was all the loot I got. I will make sure to put that to good use, though.
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The next day, I managed to get on the last plane out of Genoa before they closed the airport down due to the thunderstorm. Taking off after waiting for a gap in the clouds for 45 minutes was a big relief.
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And once I reached Schiphol, still a 1.5 hour flight from Linköping where I live, felt like coming home. It was over. Tired, but happy. (And I messed up the shot of Linköping being cold, pitch dark, and rainy, when I did land at 11 pm that night. You just have to imagine.)

 

 

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Consider The Deck

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I think I will try to write something on the blog about my complicated relationship with The Deck

It takes me into weird territories on the spike/fun scale

It’s not even a scale really, it’s a map of a roadless country, with weird places to disappear into

(I played it at the Scandinavian Championships in Arvika a week ago, trying to win that Giant Shark, finishing in 10th place, at 5-2. And not having the best of times really)

Is the deck fun to play? Do I have fun while playing it? Do I care enough or too much? Do I want to drink? These questions are so hard now.

They used to be easy.

I basically want to maximize my fun in any tournament. That’s the great goal. But so many different things are fun, and some are conflicting

If I feel like I have to win, and I don’t win, I’m not having fun. But winning is fun, so it’s not fun to lose. Etc.

The answer might be that I should continue to play The Deck a bit more, and lower my expectations a bit, so I can be totally satisfied by going 5-2.

I mean, there were several great players playing The Deck at 4-3 at n00bcon.

(I’m never fully satisfied when I miss top 8 in any tournament, but still. A bit more than I was.)

Just that those things happen

I think the problem is my attitude to the deck. If I think it’s tier 0 and I ought to win the whole thing when I play it, I’m setting up for disappointment

So maybe I should not just save it for the tournaments I really want to spike, but just randomly play it sometimes. If I win, cool. If I don’t, I’m not more of a failure than usual

Sure, it’s better than Lich, but not that much better than Powerball or Atog

Almost all of this is just about my attitudes, I believe

If I take The Deck a little bit less serious, and play it and drink a bit and see what happens, I might be happier

Might not be that I should play the deck less, at all

Heh. Might skip writing that blog post altogether. I might have solved it here, instead

Just ranting is good sometimes

Solving it by caring less. I like the sound of that

Also maybe that The Deck is a bit worse than we thought as of late

Lots of things can go wrong. Especially the mana base isn’t so good. Playing the epic 9-game set against ErhnamGeddon at the post-Arvika lobby games and going 4-5 proved that a lot. The Ice Storms did a lot of work

(Also his Library)

But I felt that during the tournament as well. It’s easy to miss UU, or WW, or something like UUR postboard

Somebody raised the point: that The Deck might not just be quite as good as we make it out to be

It has the results, sure. Even here. But in general.

I’m not so sure it’s the consistency. Lots of hands don’t do anything as you draw the wrong reactive cards against the wrong threat, or too much or too little mana. It’s the combination of all the power and all the acceleration and an almost unbeatable late game.

There’s a midgame point around turn 3-5 where The Deck isn’t very consistent at all, I’d argue

before the books are really online, and after the first answer has dealt with the first threat

A deck like UR or Arabian Aggro is more consistent

maybe not Atog, as it’s so dependent on vises and power for the good starts. but those other Rx aggro decks

hmm

maybe I should just copy this conversation, remove the names and some lines by other people, and post it as a blog post on The Deck

edit into a true monologue

might even be fun, if just a little bit demented