Update on Scryings and Others

Hello. It’s been a while.

After Arvika, I had planned to travel a bit less, starting to feel slightly burned out. N00bcon, Magic Island Tour+Ivory Cup, and then probably nothing else until Winc0n/Fishliver in late September. I needed a break.

And then the pandemic hit. So no IRL games at all, halting my desire to playtest Scryings with my friends, but, with no tournaments to look forward to, prompting me to get into some online tournaments. N00bcoM, some ALICE events (which I might write about in a separate post at some point), a Dutch monthly, a Danish monthly, a Scryings tournament — and suddenly I was playing more than I really cared about. You see, I have come to realize I enjoy online tournaments way less than IRL ones. Partly, this is because a loss tends to stick with me, simply because there’s a significant delay before the next match to take the edge off the loss. Partly because the scheduling introduces a stressful element that I could do without. And mostly because the feeling just isn’t there. The traveling and the social environment is just too important.

Therefore, I have been cutting out on those tournaments as well, recently. I’m still in the late stages of a Scryings event and an ALICE one, but after that, it’s time for a break, over a month or two. And all of this has also meant I neither have had any desire to write, nor much in the way of urgent topics.

But I’m still here, and wanted you to know that. So let’s share some words on Scryings. Last time, I had played Twiddlevault to 4-2 and 9th place in Arvika. I stopped testing because of no real N00bCon, so I never got around to finding any decent URx list, so my options for N00bCoM were either Twiddlevault or a RUG aggro deck I based on what I played at Ivory Cup. Because I wanted to not go to time, preferring some time off between rounds, and a bit scared of the disruptive small creatures I detailed before, I went with RUG. This was the list:

Then I proceeded to lose round 1 against Christian Reinhart, due to me mislabeling his Snake Disco, believing he was a much more aggressive RUG list and bringing in REBs vs his non-existant Serendibs instead of overloading on burn in which case I’d have definitely won. And then losing to Atog and I don’t even remember why anymore. Then I dropped. Sorry, I would never have done so at an IRL event, but I just hate playing games that don’t matter, and it’s not that fun to sit in front of my computer all day. I also needed to be up quite early the next day, clearly some bad Easter planning on my part. Looking at the top 8 decks, with everybody thinking the Reanimator deck and Jeff White’s sweet Sacred Mesa control deck were the best decks in the format, I just knew how Twiddlevault would have cut through that like a lightsaber through counter butter. Danny put up a good fight with a list we’d been working on together but hit some bad variance in the top 8. I was a bit bummed.

It seems like my prediction of the format being dominated by Uktabi Orangutan, Dwarven Miner and Goblin Vandal was not at all true. Those small guys seem to play a very small role in the format, at least yet. And most people were surprised about Mark Evaldi’s Reanimator list, even though I viewed it as completely stock after having seen the OS’95 lists.

This meant I itched to run Twiddlevault again, so I joined Christian’s May Rumble Scryings event, playing the same list as in Arvika, basically. Here, things went better. I lost to Atog, which I probably should have won since he was unusually light on disruption (as I learned when I won the rematch — it’s a double elimination tournament), and some random games to variance here and there, finishing 7-2 after losing the “semifinals” to B/u/w midrange, but I do believe my list is very good and Twiddlevault being one of the best decks in the format. And also, still, incredibly fun to play. I don’t have a detailed report, since the matches have been spread out over a month and I didn’t take any notes, but I can say something about the Atog match I played yesterday.

Game 1, I have a hand of Library, Ancestral, lands, and no moxen, on the draw. Do I mulligan? Is this the first time ever I mulligan library + ancestral + blue mana ever? I think the hand is too weak vs Vise to keep, but when he mulligans to 6, I do decide to keep, and then it’s probably correct, but I’m not sure. It turns out he gets two moxes and a Timetwister, drawing me into a bad hand where I go land, Mana Vault, go, with a hand of Howling, Braingeyser, and 4 lands. But then he plays some bolts and Wheels, plays a Vise, but I get a much better hand and win from there.

Game 2, he mulligans again, and so does he (to 5, it turns out). I get this 6 which I keep: Library, Island, Sol Ring, Mox Pearl, Fellwar Stone, Demonic Tutor, Recall. I bottom the Recall. He goes Volcanic, Ruby, Lotus, Serendib, Time Walk, hits me to 17 and bolts me to 14. I play library, go. He hits me to 11 and bolts me to 8. I draw with Library and play Island, Sol Ring. He hits me to 5, passes with one card in hand. I draw, count my mana, draw with Library.

Then this is my hand and board state:

What do I do?

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I’m scared of REB or Shatter (of which I haven’t seen a single copy over 5 duels now) but as I’m still not dead if he has it, I feel like I have to go for it, as I could still draw into a black mana to have a chance next turn. Play Island, Mox, Fellwar, Time Vault, Transmute, exchange the Mox for Black Lotus, crack Lotus for green, Emerald Charm, Regrowth Lotus. On my next turn, crack Lotus for black, Demonic for Wheel and go from there. And I did.

We will see how the format evolves from here. When people start respecting control and combo again, like Bryan Manolakos adding Counterspells to Jeff White’s list, or people playing enough Tormod’s Crypts to beat Reanimator and also hurt Twiddlevault a lot, things change.

But what can we say about the format now? I still believe in my statements about what’s good, but the metagame is different. Not defined by the small disruptive creatures I was expecting. River Boas are everywhere, either in RUG aggro or in various Snake Disco builds, so maybe you should play more Funeral Charms. White-based control is strong. Reanimator shouldn’t be ignored. Nobody seems to be playing Tax/Tower yet, which might be a good choice against aggro. It’s probably not a bad time to brew some weirder stuff. In particular, I’m fond of Björn Jonnie Myrbacka’s Grinning Totem control deck, and I could see some Chains lists being fine here. Lots of things to do if you want to brew, or even tune. Maybe time for Miner, maybe Atog again. The format is far from solved.

Other than that … well, I will probably be back with an article on ALICE at some point. That format is open for brewing in a way no classic Old School format is, and it’s a lot of fun. But we’ll see. Stay safe out there.

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