Reign of Fire

Editor’s note: Today I have the honor to present a tournament report by the winner of the Summer Derby, Simon Christie. Enjoy!

Reign of Fire – a LDB, Fantasy Zoo, 12 Bolt Tournament Report

I am not sure what my magic writing voice would, could or should be so I took the easy route and went on a podcast (Monster of the Week) to talk about the summer derby. Well the podcast happened but there were a couple of people who asked me about my match-ups and my path to the top 16, which we didn’t cover on the pod. This is for those 2.5 people. How is there 0.5 of a person you ask? I am sure they were only asking to be nice. For the two people who wanted to know, here you go.

To dib, or not to dib, that is the question.
– Old Man of the Shakespeare Sea (probably)

First things first, why are there two Serendib Efreet? There are two main takes on Serendib Efreet in Old School they range from the “Tri-Force school” with Serendib being one of the worst creatures in Old School through to Serendib being one of if not the best creature in Old School (honestly most of the rest of the OS world but for my more common interactions Wheel and Svante are in this camp). I have been very pro Serendib for a long time and while I think Serendib is great, it undoubtedly can be a liability when there are many 12 Bolt lists, an increasing number of Maze of Ith, upsurge in City in a Bottle, uptick in Serra Angels and the ever-present Blood Moons. Blood Moon might be the only unintuitive one on the above list but against the blood moon decks tapping out on turn 2 or turn 3 for Serendib can often be a death sentence, it’s kind of a weird corner case that might not make most peoples list but it comes up surprisingly often. The problem is that if you drop Serendib from your deck then what do you play in its place? The short list in Swedish is – Atog, White Knight, Ironclaw Orcs, Flying Men, Serra Angel, Su-Chi, etc. There are pluses and minuses of all these but they all come with tension in your deck building – Atog (need more artifacts), White Knight (need early WW), Ironclaw Orcs (pressure to play more moxen and doesn’t block in races), Flying Men (anaemic in attack and susceptible to bottle), Serra Angel (Clunky with the draw 7’s ) and Su-Chi (opens you up to md artifact removal). I went through a variety of the above and even some other creatures I’m too embarrassed to mention.  Atog was probably the closest but I don’t like running Mox Emerald and running 1 Atog still doesn’t get you quite enough threats. I had 1 Atog and 1 Serendib for a while and it was fine but eventually the pressure to make my MD better against the deck made me lean into Serendib a little more. The above list of creatures also have positives and while I won’t mention them all having Atog does make you slightly better against Blood Moon. A couple months ago I also played a 4 Strip Tournament with 1 Serendib Efreet MD and was pretty happy with it for rounding out my creature suite and my curve, additionally when your opponent sees Serendib they put you on having a playset and you can often make that an advantage in the sideboard games. There are many sacred cows in magic and old school is no exception but play what you want, lean into your play style and sometimes you might find something there that works.

To batch one.

Batch 1

R1 – Esben (My lifepad says – BRU w/ Sedge Troll, Moon?)

I had taken some notes during the tournament but I unfortunately plopped them in the recycling after recording the MOTW podcast, thankfully I still had my lifepad but I’m missing some key comments and notes that would have helped jog my memory of the individual games a little better.

This was the first match and hence the furthest back in my mind. I lost G1 but it looks like I battled back G2 and G3.

Artist/Song – Cardigans – My Favourite Game

Drink – Twinnings Irish Breakfast Tea with a splash of milk (this usually means I played at Lunch Time)

1-0

R2 – Craw (My lifepad says – Mountains + Moon)

All I know is that I was facing off against moon. I managed to STP him in G1 and that let me take tempo advantage and take over the game. I lost G2 and it looked like a complete blow out, perhaps he mooned me early and played a Shivan. In G3, it looks like we were in an all-out race and the ending life totals were 4-2 before I sneaked in the win. Su-chi did a lot of heavy lifting in this match and particularly the last game where his life total is slowly eroded in 4-point chunks despite him having a blood moon in play.

Artist/Song – T.Rex – Bang a Gong

Drink – Bombshell Blonde – Southern Star Lager

2-0

R3 – Julien (My lifepad says – Rgw Aggro/ Moon?)

His deck never really gets going and despite him having STP and burn for my creatures I manage to out tempo him, pull ahead using power, and my removal in both G1 and G2.

Artist/Song – Adam & the Ants – Stand and Deliver

Drink – Twinnings English Breakfast Tea with a splash of milk

3-0

R4 – Ron Dijkstra (My lifepad says – UW The Deck – 3 Serra? + 1 Moti?)

G1 is interesting…I play Savannah lions he plays STP, I play factory he plays disenchant, I play another factory he plays STP. In spite of never managing to push damage through with a creature, I manage to assemble enough burn spells to kill him from 20 life with only burn. G2 is similar except I also have to shoot down a Serra from him with a Psionic Blast and I manage to sneak in a couple factory hits as well.

Artist/Song – Sister Nancy – Bang Bang

Drink – Twinnings English Breakfast Tea with a splash of milk

4-0

Well batch one went as well as possible so that was a pleasant surprise! Additionally, I was 2nd seed after the first batch, which would be beneficial later, but this also meant I would be facing a host of good decks and players in batch 2.

Batch 2

R5 – Pat Burt (My lifepad says – LDBVise + Counterspell?)

Wow, this match was one that I would love to go back and re-play, we had 3 very close games and a match I end up losing largely because of my city of brass and him keeping in vise in a matchup where I don’t think vise is very good. G1 I end up winning the race with my creatures after we battle for trying to stick a creature. G2 I get blown out by turn 1 vise and turn 2 counterspell on a key spell of mine. This comes as quite a surprise to me and my plan sort of falls apart, all the while I’m choked on mana and being hit by vise damage. He then easily finishes me with Burn. G3 is an even closer race but his plethora of BEB/REB really give him a huge advantage this game as we battle for the deck resolving the most burn spells at the opposing player. If I hadn’t drawn my 2nd City of Brass as a mana source then I may have been able to win this match. These were super tight games.

Artist/Song – The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry

Drink – Dark n’ Stormy

4-1

R6 – FloVo (The Deck – Serra)

G1 I stick to the plan of jamming dudes and burning my opponent out. Thankfully, this plan is good enough. G2 he goes – Land, Mox, Lotus, Serra, I have the Psionic Blast but cannot play it until t2. On t2 he has counterspell up and rides Serra to victory. I win this game on the play but not on the draw, such is the magic wheel of fortune! And another super fun game. G3 I am back on the play and have a LoA hand, I start aiming burn at his head and have him at 13 when he taps out to play a Mirror Universe and going to 12. I have exactly enough mana to deal him 13 damage! I didn’t have a disenchant so the mirror would have prolonged the game for quite a bit more time if I hadn’t been able to kill him but I could have also stayed on library.  

Artist/Song – Mos Def – Mathematics

Drink – Twinnings English Breakfast Tea with a splash of milk

5-1

R7 – Owen (Moon BWR)

G1 – I win the die roll and go land, lion, he plays mountain, chain your lion and lotus into blood moon. I play a t2 Serra but he has mountain and 2 more bolts in hand to kill my Serra…wow this game could easily have swung my way if he didn’t have the second bolt! G2- Hey look here comes Su-chi to ignore the t2 Blood Moon and take 4 points of life a turn of his life total. G3 – this game was another super close one, I manage to deal with his first moon with a disenchant, then manage to wheel away his second moon which he had in hand, unfortunately we are trading removal spells on creatures and I’m struggling to get a threat to stick when he lands the 3rd moon after shattering my Pearl. I am slowly fighting through but his Shivan Dragon lands and kills me in 2 turns because he has a pile of mountains.

Song –Johnny Cash – Hurt

Drink – I ‘m not sure…

5-2

R8 – Mano (RUG)

G1 – Balance and Serra are amazing magic cards.

G2 – Balance and Serra are amazing magic cards, though g2 turns into a really interesting race where I have a bolt and he is at 6 and I am at 11 but start taking 2 from his factory all the way down to 5 when I end up having to bolt his factory so I don’t die to factory + bolt. Thankfully I end up drawing the Psionic Blast and a burn spell for the win 1-2 turns later while we are both still in top deck mode. One of the reasons I was willing to take the damage from his factory was also because I was sandbagging a REB, so I only had to play around his Bolt and Chains and not around Psionic Blast.

Artist/Song – Cake – Distance

Drink – Twinnings English Breakfast Tea with a splash of milk

6-2

A respectable finish with an outside chance of top 16. It turns out my 2nd place finish in batch 1 and my strong opponents from batch 2 (2 of whom made t16) let me stay in contention for top 16 and I was the first 6-2 into the top 16 at lucky 13th place!

ASHES denote that fire was;
Respect the grayest pile
For the departed creature’s sakes
That hovered there awhile.

– Emily Dickinson

TOP 16

I am lucky number 13, which also means that I will be playing all of my matches on the draw. These matches were streamed so I won’t go into too much detail unless there is something about my hand or cards that I remember that would make an interesting addition to the info you can see on stream.

Laurence (UW Maze + Mill)

Nothing too much to add here, 4 maze is obviously a bit scary but having 12 burn spells main and then getting a Armageddon and a fireball post sideboard means that I have a solid plan against it.

Artist/Song – Frightened Rabbit – Modern Leper

Drink – Twinnings English Breakfast Tea with a splash of milk

7-2

Phil (UW Lauter) (Stream link)

If he can get his mana online this deck can be somewhat problematic for me, but thankfully, the manabase is insanely greedy and I was able to pressure him and close out the games before he could cast most of his spells. He particularly struggled to get white mana in both of our games and I managed to leverage my burn spells to make his Serendibs punishing.  

Artist/Song – The Runaways – Cherry Bomb

Drink – English Breakfast Tea with a splash of milk

8-2

Mark Heider (Robots w/ sb Moon) (Stream link)

Not much to add here other than I deviated slightly from my sb plan and it almost cost me a game, which could have easily cost me the match. I thought he would react more to my side-boarding plan but since he didn’t my zig didn’t really work as he didn’t zag. Sometimes you just need to keep it simple stupid. I had decided to try and show him Serra some games, so we could play the Abyss or not to Abyss game but he maybe felt like he needed the Abyss against the Lions which I was never cutting so I got a little clogged up with Serra Angels one match where I should have been slamming Su-Chis and would have likely easily taken over the game.

Song – Good Fortune – PJ Harvey

Drink – Dark n’ Stormy

9-2

Rich (UW Moti Summer The Deck) (Stream link)

Wow, the pace of these games was great, quick plays and lots of clean decisions on both sides. G1 I probably played the wrong land and was almost punished for it, I chose to play Volcanic to play around twist but wasn’t playing around balance, this meant that I couldn’t cast the Serendib in my hand. If I had played Plateau instead of Volcanic I could have followed up from his balance with Dib which would have made the game 2-3 turns quicker and greatly increased my chances of winning. I won anyway but this reminded me I needed to be a little tighter. G2 – back on my plan and I had an efficient start to give him some trouble. G3 – this is one of my favourite games of the derby and one that I ended up losing! I felt that I navigated this game very well and set my balance and drain up very well, unfortunately, he played mind twist the turn before I could play my mind twist and blew me out instead. Also worth noting is that we messed up Balance in this game and I probably can setup my twist earlier if I have one extra land, huge punt/misplay and against the rules so bad on both Rich and I’s part. G4 – I get to be on the play and do my thing but get into a very awkward position where we are both top decking haymakers, thankfully variance sees me good for Rich to not draw a STP to go along with his giant fatty and I am able to sneak through the last bit of burn to finish him off. A real nail biter of a game.

Song – Talking Heads – Burning Down the House, Psycho Killer, Once in a Lifetime

Drink – Cubra Libre

10-2

A quick discussion on the sideboard since that’s one place that has a fair bit of tension in the deck. There are lots of ways to approach the sideboard and you really need to align against what your opponent is doing/trying to do and make sure you have a good pivot to try and give yourself additional edge there.

Sideboard

1 Serra – Sometimes you need another creature that doesn’t die to Disenchant/Shatter but also doesn’t make you lose life like Serendib. Serra’s value also went up since a bunch of the Deck players are playing some number of Serras in their 75. Sometimes you simply trade your Serra for theirs, which is totally fine.

4 Su-Chi – As mentioned already this is blood moon protection, it also lets you up the creature count if you want to turn into a more mid-range deck or just present more threats. At this point, I think you have to expect every deck in Swedish to have access to 4 Su-Chi in the sideboard but it does cause a lot of levelling in your opponents’ sideboard decisions which is a really fun sub-game.

1 REB – Never leave home without one of these in your sideboard if you are playing a Volcanic Island.

1 BEB – Never leave home without one of these in your sideboard if you are playing a Volcanic Island. Added upside is that this gives you another answer to Blood Moon and gives you a different mox to draw other than pearl in order to cast it.

1 Braingeyser – Sometimes the draw-7s aren’t good and this guy comes in, sometimes the draw-7s are good and this guy also comes in. I got a lot of flak for this not being in my starting 60 and I can see people wanting to jam this in, good luck trying to make it fit!

1 Fireball – Sometimes your opponent casts Llanowar Elves and Scryb Sprites, in those moments you have to play fireball. This is also additional reach against control and another card that comes in against blood moon.

1 Armageddon – Factory, Maze, Library of Alexandria, Mid-range decks, budget deck and decks running too few coloured sources: Geddon shines in all those spots.

3 Divine Offering – I think the BB8 deck is a fun breakout deck of 2022 and I assumed that there would be lots of people jamming that deck. I think there was, though I only played against it once. One of these should probably be a Disenchant to blow up those pesky Blood Moons.

2 Swords to Plowshares – sometimes you have to kill a big ole creature. Yes, they are slightly awkward with the burn plan but as long as you are pressuring with creatures the lifegain doesn’t matter than much and sometimes they are only gaining two when you STP their factory and that’s not a big deal. They also sometimes switch in for Chain Lightning when you become a little more mid-range or want to operate at instant speed more.

Other possible cards

Cards already in the sideboard you could play more of:

Armageddon – a second Geddon was on the short list until the 11th hour, there are so many good lands in OS and in Swedish and you only have one strip mine.

REB – If one is good two is better right? I think there was a while where I played way too many REBs in my sideboard (like my EW list from 2019 where I ran 1 REB main and 3 REB SB) I am not quite as hot on REB these days though I still quite like a MD REB.

BEB – Similar to the above but here we also have another answer to blood moon, which is super important.

Cards not in the sideboard that you could play:

Control Magic – This and Geddon were two of the hardest trims/cut from the sideboard. I really like Control Magic but it does cost UU and dies to REB and Chant which are often in your opponent’s deck after sideboard. Having one in your sideboard does help to keep your opponent honest though.

Jade Statute – This was on the short list but I generally like Su-Chi better when there is no mana burn (like in SWE) and attacking for 4 damage is so much more than attacking for 3.

Shivan Dragon – I almost ran a Shivan Dragon at n00bcon over one of my Su-Chis but decided I wanted the consistency of Su-Chi last minute. I still don’t hate a 3-1 split though.

Triskelion – Another option in the things I can play under blood moon space that also works in some other matchups where your opponents don’t have copy artifact.

Copy Artifact – I know this looks odd here but sideboard copy artifact is a pet card of mine and can come in against lots of decks. It’s particularly good when everyone is on Su-Chi, it also helps copy Jayemdae Tome against The Deck, can copy your own factory and it even sometimes helps you play around Blood Moon a little by copying your own moxen/lotus or copying theirs.

Jayemdae Tome/Jalum Tome – More cards that do stuff under Blood Moon, I think Su-Chi plan is still the best plan but I don’t hate mixing it up every now and then. These get better/more reasonable if you are jamming Atog.

Earthquake – Another way to interact with the low to the ground decks that also works under Moon.

Disintegrate– Another card that works under Moon but also deals with Sedge Troll.

Dust to Dust – I ran one at n00bcon and it cost me a match so I am off it for now but the card is very powerful and if I could have cast it in the game I lost, I would likely have made t8.

Counterspell – Another card that I really wanted in the 75 but space is so tight. Having more ways to say no to your opponent is great in a world where everyone is casting powerful spells.

Closing thoughts.

The deck ran great. I played reasonably well and got a few lucky breaks. I ran the deck at two Swedish events this year and would not hesitate to run it again. However, id likely tweak the MD and SB a few cards to attempt to match the metagame and so I don’t get bored.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve taste of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.

– Robert Frost

Cheers for reading!

 – mtgmisprint

One thought on “Reign of Fire

  1. I though Phil played some wierd life gain shenanigans (Stream of life + Spirit Link) in his Lauter deck but it turned out to be the links to the stream…. :)

    Like

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