Some old rugs

Hello. It’s been a while.

Why has it been so long?

This is a quick recap of the larger tournaments I’ve been playing. I’ve mostly stayed out of any leagues, only playing the occasional private 1-day online tournament really, so these are the more major ones.

I don’t do this for “the community”. The community doesn’t exist. There are a number of different, small communities, overlapping, interacting, but all just consisting of people. There is no community that has to be built up, no need to define a group against some kind of Other. I also don’t do this for the game, or for the Old School format. I certainly don’t do it to build my “brand”. I don’t even do it for myself; I did, once, when I felt a rush from just writing old-style tournament reports. But then, especially as travel winded down during the pandemic, and since I have numerous other writing outlets (and I actually mostly do enjoy the act of putting words into the screen), that started to matter much less. No, I do this because there are friends out there who would enjoy reading this, and that feels good. It’s all going to be brief, and I can’t say how often I will post in the future, but I have been feeling vaguely bothered by not sharing what I’ve been up to the past 10 months and it’s time to make that right.

So, first the Summer Derby 2021. Format is 4-strip of some kind, I don’t think I even bothered looking up the details. Boreal? I played this:

I went 8-0 in the group stages, won in the t16 and then lost to eventual winner Jeff White on a weird burn troll disco list in the t8 because I kept really weak hands. Sucks to suck.

The deck did mostly what I wanted it to, which was to abuse strip mine with vises and a low, agressive curve and having a good matchup against shops due to the pixies among other things. I had a list of achievements I’ve mostly forgotten now, but it involved winning one game with the maindeck ankh, one with the single psiblast, and one very memorable game with berserk where no other card could have done it. It felt so good that I’ve been wanting to play a pure Berserk Atog list at some point. In this deck, it’s likely just worse than a chain lightning, but it was fun.

I still like Atog a lot, but as people have adapted to it in 1-strip, where low-curve bolt decks are so popular, I enjoy the chance to run it in 4-strip once in a while.

Then I got around to updating RUG for Swedish. Building on the UWRb midrange deck me and Will Magrann ran at the N00bcoM 2, I realized Counterspell could be supported with just 11-12 blue sources if you’re prepared to not always have it available on turn 2, which opens up some possibilities here too, solving some of the problems the deck could face. I started out with my list from Ivory Cup 4 where I first created the successful low-curve RUG approach without Erhnams or birds, I arrived at this:

I ran it to 3-2, sneaking into the t8 but then taking it all down at a smaller private event in the woods somewhere in Europe. It felt really good. But can it actually be correct to not run the black cards? I had been dismissing that from RUG before, on the grounds that it makes Kird Ape too weak, but now, not needing upwards of 16 creatures anymore, I saw other possible shells. The only way to find out was to test, and since I don’t really test in general, I’d just thought I would run it at the venerable BSK tournament in Borås, Sweden, a couple of weeks later.

For the full coverage, see Åland’s blog. He also took over organizing the events from me, for which I am grateful. It was only really a temporal solution where I stepped in for MG one year when he got prevented from attending. It was an awesome event, seeing many old friends in person for the first time in ages. The list I arrived at was this:

And with that, I went 8-0 (16-2). Still, I think the straight RUG version is better. The mana is so much smoother and it’s really addictive not taking so much damage from your lands as you do when on 4 cities. Hard to tell, though, and it’s so close it could be just a matter of personal taste.

As I never take any notes and this was many months ago, I don’t remember many details, but there was one game which stuck in my mind. I’m playing against Hannes/Halo00/Beyonce, who’s on Bu Disaster. I’m on the play. My starting hand is City, Sol Ring, Serendib, Pixies, Demonic Tutor and something like a bolt. I figure it’s fine. He plays 4 sinkholes in his list, but if I draw a land I can tutor for ancestral t2 and get ahead, and if I don’t, at least I can tutor for a land and play the pixies. Dib is also really good against him. So I lead on city, sol ring. He then starts land, ritual, lotus, sink hole, juzam. I don’t draw a land, and pass. He plays a factory and attacks me down to 14. Not looking so good, having a lone sol ring in play with him on juzam. I emerald and play pixies. He attacks me to 9, plays another factory. I draw jet, tutor for volcanic, play a dib. He doesn’t attack, not wanting to trade his two factories for 5 damage or his juzam for my guys, I suppose planning to wait while I die to the dib. He sinkholes my volcanic, so I’m back to sol ring, emerald, jet, which doesn’t cast so many cards in my deck. I go to 8, play another pixies, still no land. He plays nothing and is now on 16. I go to 7 from the dib, attack with all three of my creatures. He doesn’t want to block the pixies with juzam in case I have a bolt and takes it, goes to 9. I then play a land and a scryb sprite. He attacks in, but I can chump the juzam and then just kill him with guys and a bolt. Couldn’t believe I won the game where I passed with no play and a sol ring, facing down a juzam that I never managed to kill. Shows how good Pixies is, I suppose.

Then, totally unconnected, I also played this to a 4-2 finish (dropped before the last round) of Havenwood 3:

I have a soft spot for The Rack and wanted to give this idea a try, using Pixies in addition to Atogs as the way to fix the mana curve, giving you something to do with a mox before you have BB available. But the deck is still kind of weak and vulnerable to a lot of things. I won’t be racking or hymning again any time soon, now that I’ve gotten that one out of my system, I think.

Now, it’s time for the N00bCon week in a few days. So maybe I will write about that in six months or so. See you there!


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