Alpha, Heroes, Vault

Edit: I’ve re-edited this to be as it originally was. Fuck it.

I haven’t played a tournament for a month but have a bunch of upcoming events: Mobstercon, Danish Old School 3.5, Magic Island Tour 4, Ivory Cup 4 within the next 6 weeks or so. Also Premodern nationals, which I might write about too. But there are some random bits and pieces I could address now, most of them spilling over from N00bCon. There were things I didn’t put into my report. Like some assorted photos.

I did play the alpha tournament, going with this deck. Play what you own, right? Bought some fliers cheaply last fall, and that’s it. I did have to borrow 2 plains and a mountain but I hope that’s alright. Basically a limited deck with a decent plan.

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I finished the tournament 1-5. Highlights:

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losing to Mats’ fastbond/time vault deck with 3 wheels and some assorted power cards, winning a match against Charlie’s 4-color lich deck, seeing somebody with a 4-1 record play against somebody who was 3-1 (time enforcement was a bit lax as the day went on),

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and playing round 5 in multiplayer against MG, Will Magrann and Guillaume Denoix. Me and Will were 1-3, the others 3-1, but they asked if we just should play multiplayer free-for-all, sitting in the sofas with MG’s new 6-player Khalsa-Brain playmat on the table in front of us. Why not. Then MG and Will decided to kill me first, by playing some psychic venoms on my lands and both of them playing Icys. I had a limited deck. They had real decks. But as I’m MG’s old nemesis, I guess it just made sense.

Basically, the whole event is a big joke. There’s nothing wrong about trying to win; I do like Mats’ Fastbond deck, and Paul deSilva’s UR power bolt deck was beautiful; there’s something beautiful with multiple pieces of the same power card in a deck. But fucking Chang’s Vise deck, consisting of nothing but power, is an abomination. Interesting in theory, and sure, I get that Menendian enjoys saying that he has played the most broken deck ever played in a tournament. I might have liked that too, for a round or two. If not for the dirty feeling of associating with Chang (seriously, it disgusted me to be in the same room as him). But the whole idea of a format is stupid. There is no alpha 40 format, there never has been, there’s only the August93 joke. About playing more than 4-ofs, about having no restricted list, about quirky old interactions and spreading your cards out to avoid chaos orb. Optimizing for a format is stupid, writing about the metagame is pointless. Game play is atrocious, highlighted by the lack of mulligans. Keeping 5 islands, 1 plains, 1 air elemental and opponent leads with black vise is real fun, I promise you. Likely these were the worst games of Magic I’ve ever had since stopped playing multiplayer 3-hour matches in early 1995.

Building a deck from the inventory of a store is not getting the joke. Building revised 40 with the same rules is not getting the joke. Playing with modern rules is not getting the joke. It’s not a format. It’s a joke. God. We’re all smart people here. It’s not that hard to understand.

… Well, I of course understand that it’s a matter of taste, too. I don’t enjoy the game play but I know other fine individuals who do. All the better for them. What I do stress, however, is that it’s pointless to treat it as a real format. It’s balanced only by financial concerns, and that is not a great start. In my opinion, there should have been a Wizard’s Tournament exactly once. A great occasion, captured in the excellent Prodigal Sorcerer fanzine, and that’s it. Next (this) year, a different format.

Anyway. I know I should let other people have their fun, I just needed to vent a bit. Sorry. On to more positive things. Namely, the hero cards David Montag made for n00bcon. Just take a look at these:

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He put up a survey on some Facebook groups to try to figure out what the Old School players want. Then he made the answers into scores and put them up on a kind of Hero Quest-character card, along with some random personal details from another survey. Brilliant stuff, really. Even printed at Carta Mundi! Many people were running around the room trying to get their cards signed by the right player, and I think Gordon and Florian von Bredow got really close to completing the set. If you’re interested in procuring a set, you can mail David Montag at david at montag dot se .

On a more serious note, what can we say about the metagame at N00bCon? No survey has been had about all the decks, like last year, and Magnus hasn’t even put up the top 16 decks yet (at least not if I finish this when I intend to). But I was there, and I can try to stake out some random trends. First of all, there were very few UR decks compared to last year. Probably because some of the more prominent UR players had mitigated to Dibatog builds instead. Generally, there were a lot of Atogs, including three of the top 4 and at least one more deck in the top 16. Also probably as much The Deck as usual, even if there was only one in the top 8. A bunch of robots, a bunch of UWx aggressive decks. Pretty much what we had expected, I think, although the Atog numbers might have surprised some. Also generally quite healthy. Nothing dominating, lots of interesting decks doing well (mono-blue Merfolk, Underworld Dreams control, Twiddlevault). It’s a good thing nothing was restricted this year, because I think the format is currently in a great place.

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There was an unrestriction, however: Time Vault. And I wholeheartedly agree with that. Twiddlevault and Stasis are two fun decks (for the pilot, at least) which won’t be close to dominating even with unrestricted Time Vault but could take a small boost. I’m looking forward to trying out some Twiddlevault in the future. Don’t have a list I believe in yet, but you can count on me covering that going forward.

Now I’m on the train towards Copenhagen airport, catching a flight for NYC and Mobstercon the upcoming weekend. See you all there, I suppose.

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