Some light reading

This is out of order a bit, as I haven’t written about the Winter Derby yet, but first, time doesn’t really flow as it should anymore anyway, and second, this one is short and simple and the other one isn’t.

First, the facts. Arvika Festivalen 2023, this year’s Shark tournament in Sweden, 120 people at a hotel in Arvika. Incredibly well organized by David Sandberg (and crew?): on time, good announcements, good seating, spacious, clean, dinner buffet included. The Tolaria fuckup wasn’t their fault at all. Huge props.

Now, the deck, or rather, The Deck. I’ve said that there’s nothing worse than playing The Deck if you don’t win. To make matters worse, the day of the tournament and the days before, my heart wasn’t really in it, I didn’t really feel like reading so much; I was much more into drawing cards 7 at a time. Still, I chose not to audible to some kind of Atog brew and stuck to my guns I had decided on several weeks back. This list, to be precise:

Nothing is revolutionary as it’s The Deck after all. I wanted to be prepared for the mirror, thus no maindeck Angels, no Abyss or Mirror or anything. I still like Timetwister, but it’s pretty bad in exactly the two matchups I feared: the mirror and the 12-bolt decks. To be better at sealing the game against the latter, I added a second Recall, working well with my 4-book plan. REB is also one of the few cards which are good against both those matchups. And I always run Stone Rain as an opposing Library is one of the principal ways to lose. Finally, I went with a 2/2 Disenchant/DO split, to get in some further emergency lifegain against bolts and because the odd Blood Moon is really the only maindeck enchantment you care about that’s frequently played. For the sideboard, I just got the fourth beta Angel and it should have been the full set all along. Fountain of Youth turned out to be unnecessary, in the end not even worth bringing in against the burn decks as they are muchg less of pure burn postboard, especially in the face of all the Angels. It could have been something like that old Tranquility in case I would face the B/u hate deck (which postboard has a ton of Underworld Dreams, Energy Flux and Gloom).

The field was full of budget decks, due to a combination of the Swedish reprint policy, a lot of international guests and a Legends booster awarded as the prize for best unpowered deck, and not a ton of The Deck, despite a very high turnout of strong players. In the swiss, I played against multiple green decks, mono red, non-blue Tax decks and more. I picked up a loss against Fredric Düring’s Chambers-style Big Blue due to some misplaying (and Libraries) but beat most things easily after bringing in Angels almost every time. In the last round, being 5-1 and having to win to advance, I face Odd Anders Kjøstvedt on the UR Orc list I played last year. The match was recorded and will be up on his YouTube channel later, and I might update this post with a link if I remember. It was interesting and a very tight race where my Serra Angel narrowly outpaced two Copper Tablets and the bolts in the end.

The top 8 is stacked. One of the best ones ever in an Old School tournament, I think. There’s Olle on Orc UR (and my actual cards), Vigo on the same, Felipe on some UW midrange deck, Thomas Nilsen on an insane Chains of Mephistopheles combo/Robots hybrid, Danny on twiddlevault, Will on The Deck and David Lilleøren on Wb tax abyss midrange. (Edit: I mistakenly listed Johan Gullbrandsson here earlier, but he lost his win and in against Danny. Apologies.) I unfortunately have to play against Danny, and while he might think the matchup is worse for him than I do (or he was just trying to get me into a feeling of safety), it’s definitely not something I like, especially not against him. In game 1, he goes off from a very weak position, starting with just a Howling Mine being at 14 or so but eventually getting there, even fading me drawing my REB with R up by playing Wheel that turn. But in the end, he bricked, going from probably 99 % when it looked the best to having to go for a ~85% Timetwister and missing totally. Insane to watch. I blew all my good luck budget on that. And in game 2, I have a ton of disruption, stopping his early attempts at doing anything and using Strip Mine, Stone Rain, Chaos Orb and DO to take out most of his mana while beating down with a factory and keeping counterspells up.

In the semis I play against Olle, and true to form, he demolishes me with my own cards. It’s on stream, but I don’t feel like rewatching now, so no detailed commentary from me. I have a decision game 2, a very complicated game where we both start on Library, I’m missing black for Tutor for an answer, and midgame choose not to play Fellwar down to 6 cards to have UU up, preferring staying at 7 with REB only; the difference is basically blue spells I want to counter vs Tutor and Twist. But I think it’s a mistake albeit not a clear one. He has the twist and that’s it. In game 3, I mulligan, keep Library and no other mana, he has the Strip Mine and that’s it. Feels familiar somehow.

The finals is Olle against Will and it’s hard to know who to root for. They are both very deserving winners. I know how much Will wants that shark, but I also love seeing Olle go 10-0 with my cards, and it’s always a pleasure watching him play burn decks in general. I can’t say I regret playing The Deck now, not really; I don’t care as much about winning as I once did, and if I’d have played something else and not won, I’d have regretted not going the way of the books far more.

I am then gifted with these fantastic cards from MG and Kalle which makes me very happy. The plains in particular will be one of my favorite possessions forever. Love you guys.

In general I had a fantastic time. I just wish it wouldn’t have ended so quickly. I would have liked to play more ante, drink more beers, commission something from Drew Tucker and bought some of his art, play some cube, talk more with my American friends, commentate better, do some trading including with the dealers, and so on, and so on. I guess I will just have to travel more. Thank you all, this was fun. Next time.


3 thoughts on “Some light reading

  1. Thanks for your reports, Svante. I keep reading your thoughts :) I don’t find the match you link to youtube in the channel… could you link the stream or some of the matches? And some questions:

    which is your sideboard plan against mirror and aggro (let’s say RG or Quicksilver)?

    Finally: lately i feel like going 5-6 antiartifact main deck (3-2, 3-3 combination) is pretty much necessary, don’t know if it’s just a metagame thing or what do you think about it.

    Hope to meet you in Genova


    1. Thanks for reading! :) I don’t think the match is up on youtube yet.

      I would like another disenchant maindeck but I don’t want to cut anything for it. It’s also not great against aggro.

      In general, in the mirror, it’s hard to say how to sideboard. It depends on if you want angels or not, if you think they are going to keep swords or have their own angels. If on angels, I don’t want all books. Cutting balance, bolt and probably fireball is a given.

      Against aggro, I cut stone rain, a recall, maybe a city and regrowth, some books, maybe shave some counterspells, shave disenchants unless against UR with moons.

      I hope that’s enough to give you some ideas.


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