Some notes on NA Eternal Weekend 2017

The Old School tournament at last year’s NA Eternal Weekend sported a whooping 118 players, making it a great snapshot of the EC format metagame, as well as a vast source of interesting decks. Go check out the coverage on Eternal Central on which this article is heavily based. It’s great! All images are curtesy of Eternal Central. (I tried to contact them to get permission, but never got any response. If anyone reads this and want the images removed, I’ll replace them with links instead.)

The EC format and the metagame

I usually play by Swedish 93/94 rules, so the main differences in the EC rules are the inclusion of Fallen Empires, and the unrestrictions of Strip Mine and Mishra’s Workshop. The most important one of these should be Strip Mine by far. Going through the 113 decklists we have, I found 35 decks with fewer than 3 strip mines. That number is likely too high. I suspect that close to 90 % of the decks are better off with a full playset. The card is just busted. It doesn’t seem to have affected the rest of the metagame that much, though. There are a number of control decks in the top 16, and the mana bases aren’t any less greedy than we’re used to in 93/94.

Fallen Empires, however, affect the metagame in a big way. White Weenie-based decks, many splashing red, and some splashing both red and blue, are much more common than they are in Sweden, and Goblins has become an archetype. There’s even a merfolk deck floating around, as well as some reanimator brews. The number of Hymn to Tourach, though, are far lower than might be expected: not a single copy in the top 16. There might be a bit fewer combo decks than in 93/94, but not overwhelmingly so, which was something I feared would happen in a Hymn world.

There are a number of widely different Workshop decks, none of which seem overly powerful.

There’s a curious absence of The Deck: just seven copies in the whole tournament and only one in the top 16. One might think this is due to the hymns, but if that is the case, it’s because of fright, not actual oppressing taking place, as the hymns just aren’t out in place. I also refuse to believe strip mine does much if anything to hurt The Deck, a deck with a pretty solid mana base and lots of cheap answers. One reason for the lack of success might be that most The Deck lists are horrible, sporting 3 or just 2 copies of Jayemdae Tome and far too few mana sources in a 4-Strip Mine world, but even a suboptimal copy of The Deck is likely to be favored against a wide variety of decks. And this is in one of the more spikey tournaments around. I think we can firmly state that The Deck isn’t dominating the format anymore and that no further restrictions need to be aimed in its direction.

Interesting decks

There are lots of creative decks at this tournament. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.

 

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First up, there are two UWR shahrazad decks in the top 16! Basically shahrazad aggro burn. I have no idea how it works when time is called in a subgame, or how it affects the timing of the rounds, so I’m not the hugest fan of the logistical problems, but there’s no denying the card is sweet. And the two lists are almost identical so there’s something there when it comes to power as well.

 

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Of the three Stasis decks in the tournament, I think James Easteppe’s is my favorite. The inclusion of Time Vault and the sideboard Paralyzes are beautiful.

 

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Daniel Friedman’s Guardian Beast Control is not only a very beautiful deck, but a clean machine as well. The number of artifacts seems quite low, as is the exclusion of Transmute Artifact and running Spell Blast over the fourth copy of Swords to Plowshares. Also just 25 mana sources, and no Strip Mines! Alright, maybe this list isn’t so good after all. But I think there is something there, in running The Deck with multiple copies of Copy Artifact and Guardian Beast. I’d probably go for a Transmute based build though.

 

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Now here is something I can hardly begin to comprehend. Matt Dennis’ Living Plane-based prison, locking people out with Plane, Drop of Honey, Tabernacle and numerous other interactions. Is it good? I have no idea. But it certainly does something novel, and fairly evil. I like it.

 

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We’ve seen Martin Jordö having success with the MirrorBall archetype, but Chris Pepin’s take on the archetype is far more controlling, sporting full sets of Disenchant and Swords to Plowshares in the main deck, along with two copies of Wrath of God! To fit all of this in, Pepin runs no counterspells besides the single Mana Drain, as well as no Fastbonds and only one Dark Heart of the Wood. But there are Mishra’s Factories as additional win conditions. I love brewing more decks on the spectrum between control and combo, and while I think you need some more disruption than this, it’s got a bunch of interesting ideas. Also, there’s a Presence of the Master in the sideboard.

 

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Continuing the Mirror Universe route, there’s Shane Semmen’s 4C Mirror Control, a bizzarre Workshop-powered monstrosity, again sporting removal (Lightning Bolts and two maindeck Shatters) over counterspells, and a couple of Transmutes along with sweet bullets like Forcefield and Candelabra. I don’t know how the deck wins through removal, and I don’t get the sideboard Clone at all, but it certainly ticks off a number of things I like about the format.

 

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Finally, there’s Charles Rolko’s Reanimator deck, another deck made viable by the inclusion of Fallen Empires, as Deep Spawn is one of the better things to reanimate. I love seeing those Tetravuses here, and obviously the same goes for the actual Nicol Bolas back when he was more about reading books than killing The Avengers. Is it good? I have no idea. Is it optimally built? I can’t even begin to guess. But it’s certainly sweet.

Concluding thoughts

None of the decks above are present in the Top 16, though, with the exception of the Shahrazad decks. Why not? Hard to tell, but none of these lists benefit greatly from Strip Mine, whereas many of them can be hurt by aggression or heavy control backed up by a buch of selective land destruction. I’d argue that midrange and combo are hurt the most by the 4-strip metagame, and that is sad. With Strip Mine restricted, the format gets opened up wider.

So what should be done about the format, then, in my opinion? I think Workshop definitely should be unrestricted, as it just breeds more creativity (and, while being an occasional Vintage player, I’m not playing that format competitively enough to justify playing non-blue decks, thus owning zero copies of the card). Strip Mine should definitely stay restricted; it does little good for the format and just leads to more non-games of Magic. Other than that, Recall could easily be unrestricted, in the way of Fork. It wouldn’t be broken in any existing deck, just opening up more semi-viable strategies. From a pure gameplay scenario, I also like the introduction of Fallen Empires. People love their WW and goblin decks, two archetypes which are horribly underpowered in 93/94. From an aesthetic standpoint, however, the expansion just doesn’t fit, so I’m leaning towards it not being worth the trade-off.

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BSK 2017: Organizer’s report

This year, I somehow ended up helping organizing the 93/94 event at BSK (Borås Spelkonvent) in Borås, Sweden, this past weekend. In the past, this tournament has had a Shark as the trophy, being what I have understood is the oldest still running 93/94 tournament, but this year, that trophy has moved to Arvika. Still, there was a tradition to uphold and old pieces of cardboard to tap. We ended up being 38 players, although a handful being delayed due to a late flight, and we settled for 5 rounds of Swiss followed by top 8. Which was just as well, considering the finals was finished shortly past 3 a.m. anyway.

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About to start. I believe. Might be later.

The tournament went well, despite a small computer error delaying the start of the top 8. I suggested we ran sudden death chaos orb flips instead of rolling a die to decide between the 8th and 9th place when the tiebreakers appeared to be unavailable, but it got sorted out when the computer restart worked. Maybe unfortunately. There’s a lot of potential there, including gradually increasing heights of the flips and more.

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The standings after the full five rounds of Swiss

I unfortunately did not take nearly as many photos as I had intented (it being one of the duties I got assigned by Mg when I took over as organizer as he was unable to attend), but at least there are some random snapshots of matches in progress:

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I can’t figure out why Morgan looks almost happy, facing down what appears to be an active Library.
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There’s just something about Sylvan Library that makes me happy. All those books inside, maybe.
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Waiting for some matches to finish
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Quarterfinals: Olle Råde vs Felipe Garcia
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Martin Jordö vs myself (Svante Landgraf) in the quarterfinals
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Semifinals between Mikael Lindén and Martin Jordö.

 

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Finals: Martin Jordö vs Olle Råde, not captured at a particularly exciting point. If any of these fine gentlemen would write a report, I’d happily publish it.
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In the end, it was Olle Råde who got to take down the The Fallen and the championship!

Then, it’s time for the decklists.

 

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Olle Råde, 1st place, UR Burn: a refined version of the deck he’s played with great success many times before, among those winning the exact same tournament two years ago!
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Martin Jordö, 2nd place, MirrorBall: especially intriguing is the use of a full four maindeck mirrors.
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Emil Klintbäck, 3/4th place, The Deck. I think I might have finally convinced Emil to cut that maindeck Lightning Bolt he used to run. :)
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Mikael Lindén, 3/4th place, URb troll burn. The sideboard is missing, but at least it involved some number of Nevinyrral’s Disk, as well as the usual red and blue blasts.
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Åland, 5-8th place, Fantasy Zoo
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Felipe Garcia, 5-8th place, TwiddleVault. A beautiful and interesting deck. I don’t understand how it can win but apparently it does, and that makes me happy. Abusing the restricted list is a viable concept, as Martin Jordö’s 2nd place deck is another example of. The Channel feels a bit sketchy with just one copy of Fireball but I might be missing something here.
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Micke Thai, 5-8th place, The Deck. If you want to go the maindeck Serra route, I think this is a very well-tuned list. I wouldn’t recommend it in an environment with a lot of Swords to Plowshares, though, and I would like a maindeck Moat over one of the Lightning Bolts.
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Svante Landgraf, 5-8th place, Power Monolith hybrid: The approach I chose seemed to be quite solid. I got to do a lot of broken things, including a 3rd turn kill, and despite the only 4-ofs in the 75 being Tundra and City of Brass, it felt remarkably consistent. Not the best against The Deck or UR Burn, though.

I want to thank everybody who attended, especially Micke Thai who provided some of the photographs as well as made the top 8 after starting out with a loss due to the late flight, Gordon Andersson for the generally good times, and everybody in the top 8 who managed to provide decklists even though I didn’t grab them all during the night. Maybe I’ll even do more of this organizing thing in the future. Who knows.

 

 

 

 

Ivory Cup 2

Nobody writes tournament reports anymore. Not in the old style, with tales of travelling, mishaps, playtesting, anecdotes, props and slops. And especially not of old school tournaments. I can’t guarantee all of the above, but I’ll take a stab at most. I’ll probably fail.

However, when this tournament started, I still had no plans to write a report, no matter how I finished. I hadn’t got the idea of starting this blog, besides some vague plans for writing more about Magic that I’ve entertained for the last several years. Thus, I took no notes at all, and very few photos, and as I’m old as fuck and my memory is growing bad, lots of details are lost. I won’t let that stop me, but keep in mind that some events (especially when it comes to details of gameplay, or names) might not be quite accurately described.

Anyway. Let’s go.

I play far too little old school magic. In the city of Linköping, where I live, nobody but me is even remotely interested in the format. Almost nobody plays Vintage, and what’s worse, there’s hardly more than one magic player in town I ever have a beer with. So when I heard about Ivory Cup 2, the second installment of a yearly tournament in Stockholm, being held in early June, I know I had to try to go. Stockholm is a bit less than two hours away by train; too much for regular pub play, but easy enough for a larger tournament, also certainly the closest of any serious accessible games. The event was also run by the excellent Gordon Andersson, of Wak-Wak fame, and was bound to attract most of the Stockholm crew along with some notable out-of-towners like Mg, Kalle and a small Arvika contingent.

My first thought was trying to stay at my good friend Olle’s place, maybe hanging out with him and his wife the day before and/or the day after the tournament. He used to live in Linköping and we get to see each other far too rarely these days. However, it turned out that he was bound to be at some kind of family gathering at Linköping that day, but I could borrow his flat anyway. I had done likewise last summer, during Grand Prix Stockholm. So I meet him at the train station in Linköping on Friday night and get the key, and all is set. The flat is even just a couple of stops on the subway away from the site.

Then there’s the question of what to play. Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I’m playing The Deck. This pile, to be more specific:

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The Deck, Ivory Cup 2

After N00bCon, I figured I wanted something more against all the midrange decks there, stuff like Serras, Serendibs, and Juzams. I wanted Abyss again; I had a Moat then, but I rarely wanted to bring it in. I also figured that a maindeck Amnesia could be quite strong; it’s only really bad against REB and fast decks, and with no more basic Plains in the deck, I could probably get the UUU cost to work. The Sylvan was for some extra cheap threat in the mirror. Did it work? Read and find out!

So I boarded a train at 8:39 the morning of June 11th. It appears to be summer. Consequently, I had to batter through a light rain to get to the station. Once in Stockholm, I checked out the used book store next door to where August Strindberg spent his last years in life, which turned out to be very bad, before catching a metro train to the site. I got there just before noon, the tournament starting at 13, so first I grabbed lunch at the combined pizza and Indian food place nearby. I was the only customer but their channa masala was fine (and to be fair, they had opened ten minutes earlier, and it was Saturday, so it could hardly be expected to be busy). While eating outside, the rain having stopped long ago and the day turning out to be quite pleasantly warm, I saw a guy wearing a white shirt with a tie crossing the road a few blocks down, heading in what I figured was the direction of the site. It certainly looked a lot like Gordon.

Shortly thereafter, I went that way myself. And lo and behold, outside a building, I saw a number of familiar faces, some smoking, some holding cans of beer, sitting or standing around a bench: Mg, his girlfriend Øyann, Kalle, and some other people. I stop and chat for a while. Magnus says he enjoys an article I wrote for his blog, submitted just the day before, which makes me happy. We talk about the old rumors of an alpha volcanic and other oddities a bit. Then I head inside. There, after climbing half a flight of stairs, I find a bit of a crowd. The tournament would start soon, mostly everybody is here already. I register and get my complimentary beer for having paid in advance (a Brewdog Punk IPA, a pretty good run-of-the-mill IPA as far as I’m concerned). I find some people I should lend cards to, relieving myself of three moxes, a sylvan and a timetwister. I’ve been borrowing cards so many times before in my career, it feels good to be able to give something back, working on that karma for a bit.

 

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Gordon in charge

 

 

Then Gordon gathers everyone, announcing the structure of the tournament (6 rounds of swiss followed by a top 8, no IDs), of the beer system (buying tickets with 10 stamps for 100 kr, then different beers costing different amounts of stamps, leading to myself having a couple of unused stamps at the end of the night; but sponsoring the tournament felt fine at that point, as we shall see), that we’re ordering pizza before the t8, and that there’s a legends single lottery for which everybody got one slot. A few happy people got a Sol’kanar, a Mirror Universe or some other rare I don’t remember. Me, I got an Untamed Wilds, preferring to save my luck for later; it was also oddly fitting as my just-submitted article to Mg’s blog concerned among other things the use of said card in The Deck, and I didn’t even own a single copy of it before.

And we’re off. Cramped seats, hard-to-read pairings, and an ocean of N00bCon playmats. It felt like home. Here, though, things start getting a bit murky. A month has passed, almost, and I did not take any notes at the tournament, just some brief sketches a week later. Details of gameplay are a bit fuzzy.

Nevertheless, the first round I’m paired against UR burn, a matchup I haven’t really faced enough. Probably the hardest matchup for the deck as well, possibly (as Randy Buehler claims) excluding the mirror. I faced it only once at N00bCon this year, and then we didn’t even play it out because Olle needed to go home and get some sleep before doing coverage for fake Nationals the next day. The first game, I take a bunch of damage, keeping the creatures mostly at bay, then narrowly stabilizing after drawing a huge amount of cards with a tome. Possibly involving plowing my own mishra, which for some reason always makes me feel good. The second game, he plays first turn volcanic, sapphire, jet, blood moon. My hand is something like a counterspell, a disenchant, an off-color mox and lands, so I can’t cast anything. I proceed never to do anything at all, flooding badly, not even losing to the blood moon, as my draw just did nothing. Still, I’m prepared to lose to that start; that’s a gamble I gladly take. For the third game, my opponent keeps, reluctantly; I think I mulligan. He shows his hand to his neighbor, not looking very happy. The other guy does something to the extent of rolling his eyes. I’m prepared for first turn wheel or something equally high variance. Instead, he plays lotus, serendib, go. A risky keep against The Deck postboard if I ever saw one. My only piece of removal is a Chaos Orb that I’d love to use once he draws a land, though, but I can just kill that serendib and take the game, right? Wrong. It turns out I miss the flip, the first missed flip in my five 93/94 tournaments. I blame a combination of the beer and it being the first round of the day. Okay … but he still doesn’t draw any lands. And I have two mishras. Let’s see what happens here! It’s a very tight race. He eventually get some islands, but doesn’t cast much; I counterspell a flying men. He attacks, so I attack; in the end, he dies exactly on the point, including me plowing one of my mishras to stay alive. Punishing that keep felt good, but I was still kind of mad at myself for failing the flip, breaking my previously perfect flipping record. Oh well. Just moving on.

The next round, I face Mällroth for the first time ever. The man was the head DCI rep in Sweden for a long time, but those were the years I didn’t play many tournaments, so we never got to interact then. Now I mostly know he wears a kilt, plays the flute and organizes 93/94 in Karlstad. It turns out he’s also very good at trouncing The Deck players with his Lestree Zoo list. I start with a Library on the play; he has a first-turn Sylvan, as well as a Library of his own soon enough. He plays an Argothian Pixies that starts dealing some damage while I first get rid of his Library, then much later the Sylvan, but the damage had been done. My removal lines up poorly with his threats, forcing me to plow his mishras, then drawing dead disenchants against his pixies and apes. The second game, I stabilize on 5 life to his 3 lands, no creatures, 2 cards. Those cards are both bolts. At some point, I get my Lotus shattered, not having any expensive spells in hand but then later drawing into an Abyss I can’t cast on time. Still think it was right to play it, though, against a potential Timetwister or Wheel. The matchup could really use a City in a Bottle, a card I cut from the list I used at N00bCon. As well as more lifegain, possibly even in the main deck. Preparing for The Deck mirrors with two maindeck Stone Rains might have been a bad idea.

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Top tables, round 2

Oh well. My beer is done at this point so I get another one. Nothing too heavy, though. The plan here is to win, not primarily to drink. At least not yet. I settled for another Punk IPA as the session IPA they used to have was already sold out. Not alone in craving lighter beers, obviously. Much later, I believe I get a third one, but I don’t recall what kind, unfortunately.

I was distinctly disappointed in my lack of brokenness so far. At N00bCon, I had had several turn 1 mind twists or balances. Here, I had had a Mind Twist in hand against Mällroth, never getting the time to cast it. That was about to change. The next round, I face another URG aggro deck, but this time with Giant Growths and Berserks. That is obviously a much better matchup for me. It helps that I start with a couple of moxes and a Fellwar Stone, leading into a turn 3 Amnesia for four or five cards. None of the games are close. I move on to 2-1, a somewhat respectable record.

Between rounds, people tend to gather outside, smoking, drinking, enjoying the weather, usually occupying some chairs which turn out to belong to some kind of social enterprise next door. I don’t smoke but I always prefer catching some non-magic tournament air. At one of these times, I meet Micke Thai. We share records, both being either 1-1 or 2-1 at that point, I think. What are you running, I ask. I’m playing your deck, he says. Really? Yeah. It turns out he’s on the exact The Deck list I played to the quarterfinals at N00bCon this year, having only changed a few cards in the sideboard. I think my current list is superior, but the old version has some merit, and it’s certainly a lot better against Blood Moon, sporting a total of three basic lands to my none. It always makes me happy to have another horse in the race, so to speak, and discussing The Deck is always good times. Micke is also a fun guy to hang out with.

Next round, I have the somewhat mixed pleasure of playing against Mg, Magnus De Laval, the man, the myth, the legend. It’s great because Mg is a great guy, one of my all-time favorite magic players, which I get to interact with far too seldom. It’s good because I have never lost to him (having played twice in the unofficial Swedish Vintage nationals 2015, including in the finals, as well as in last year’s N00bCon, my decks tending to have an advantage against the midrange builds he usually prefers). But it’s bad because it would suck to knock a good guy out of contention, and one of us will leave this round at a less than stellar 2-2 record. Magnus is also a very good player, so even if I’ve won in the past and might have a decklist advantage, any match will be hard fought.

Magnus is on his signature deck, Project M, built around a bunch of midrange blue and black cards, like Guardian Beast and Vesuvan Doppleganger, power cards, artifacts, and a small red splash. It’s a sweet pile with a number of different interactions and angles of attack. It’s also quite weak against The Deck which can use its removal to get ahead on mana, trading swords for guardian beasts and disenchants for disks or icys (especially if they’re transmuted out), all the while getting ahead on books as UB isn’t the best color combination for removing artifacts. However, what the games were really about was me getting ahead in the power card war. Things like time twistering into lotus + mind twist, just mind twisting and amnesiaing entire hands, and so on. It was not the most fun I’d ever had. Especially not after the last exchange the second game, when Mg has sweet tech like Steal Artifact but I have red blasts, and one mind twist too much leaves him just fed up so he concedes. I felt kind of bad. Casual play is not really my thing, to say the least; if it’s not about winning, I have a hard time caring. Which is a bit odd, considering I’m a huge fan of RPGs where nobody really wins. But anyway. I never ever feel bad about winning. I’ve beaten small children, disabled people, unlucky people, people being far better players than me. But here, I came close. Magnus leaves, telling me he can’t take anymore, going outside for some fresh air. I go get another beer.

Mg returns later, having cooled off, no longer feeling as bad. That helps a bit. We chat a bit about pre-alpha playtest cards and things feel okay. Looking at the store’s inventory, I see some Power Artifacts for about 50 euros. Damn. I sold three copies for 22 a year ago, and I miss them. Some day now, it’s time to start getting the cards for some other deck, and Power Monolith combo is on the short list.

The next round, however, brings another disappointment: I face Micke Thai, probably the only other player running The Deck at the tournament. His only loss is also against Mällroth. And we finish our match in 14 minutes total. That must be some kind of record. In the first game, I believe he stone rains me down to 1 mana source, ancestrals and develops a tome, to which I concede. In the second game, he has two mishras where I draw nothing but counterspells. I die with a hand of 3 counterspells and a mana drain and at least 5 mana, but no removal for the mishras. Oh well. The mirror is what it is, possibly the worst matchup (depending on how confident you really are that The Deck is the best deck in the format by far), and sometimes it can be quite one-sided. 3-2 now, though, which should mean game over. Still one match to go, which I will obviously play out, but it looks grim.

The last round, I face a BRu aggro deck, with erg raiders, underworld dreams, I belive sedge trolls, bolts and blue power cards. The interesting game is I think the second one (I probably win the first one with removal into a book). He plays a midgame blood moon, to which I draw a card with a book. I was considering letting it resolve, having a counterspell, but him hitting me with a mishra I had no answer for. The only problem is me having an Abyss in hand with no black mana once the bloon moon resolves. So when I draw the Mox Jet on the book, I let the moon resolve. I play the abyss, then later I draw into Mox Pearl. In the meantime, he has played another Blood Moon, but he’s not dealing any real damage to me, me getting a CoP: Black out at some point, counteracting his Underworld Dreams. The books do their thing, and I eventually disenchant one copy of the enchantment, then orb or blast the second one, winning on the back of the tome and a bunch of counterspells.

 

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Top 8 announcment

 

 

Pizzas are delivered, and then it’s time for the top 8 annoncement. Gordon does it in style, first calling out some prizes for 9th place. And the rag man for last place. Interestingly enough, there’s a tie for that. It turns into a battle for last place, getting a bit more spicy as a N00bCon slot is awarded to the winner! A somewhat excellent idea, even though I’m a bit jealous, lacking a slot for next year and very likely not getting one, missing even a real community to play in unless I start travelling more to the Stockholm events (there’s not even any more sharks awarded before next spring). Anyway. Micke Thai is 5-1, I believe, and thus locked. I tried to do some math, something I should be okay at, meaning something like 2 or 3 out of 6 4-2’s could make top 8. When I’m not in 9th place, or even in 10th (as the 9th place prize got knocked down to 10th, because the 9th place finisher was Gordon’s co-organizer, Paddan), I get my hopes up a bit. Then Gordon announces that there’s a special prize for the top 8, besides the winner getting an Ivory Cup and the runner-up getting if I remember correctly a bagged Duelist life counter: it’s a Black Lotus playmat randomly awarded to someone in the t8, in order to not to make it too much about winning. It’s worth about $200 or so, he tells us, for some reason I fail to comprehend. Gordon is rolling a die. The playmat is awarded to … Svante Landgraf. Wow. Not only do I know I got into the top 8, I even got the best price without having played another game. It turns out Per, who got 7th or 6th place, had already left, needing to get home to Uppsala in time, so one other player was awarded a top 8 spot, meaning I really got 7th and not 8th, giving me a bit of breathing room. Still, it felt great. I even needed some old school playmat, only having this year’s N00bcon playmat when it comes to that.

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The Christopher Rush Black Lotus playmat

 

Maybe that makes me not want to win my quarterfinals enough. I don’t know. If Per’s absence had bumped me up to 7th place, I would have faced the #2 ranked player, Andreas Cermak, who is on some kind of insane streak and whom I had never played. Instead, I stay at 8th, Paddan, who took Per’s place, got 7th, and I’m facing Jonas Lefvert. Now, after having all our decks photographed and the top 8 starting, being bad at both names and faces, I ask Jonas if he’s played a long time, somewhat recognizing his name. He tells me we played in the top 8 of an Odyssey block PTQ in Uppsala back in the days. I remember that tournament; I played UG threshold/madness with Grizzly Fate and Catalyst Stone, losing to Johan Sadeghpour on madness (I think) in the semis, and apparently I demolished Jonas in the quarterfinals. Let’s hope for a repeat here, just fifteen years later. Sadly, that was not to come. Jonas is on Atog Aggro, red with bolts and Su-Chi, I believe splashing blue and black just for power cards, not at all the usual UR aggro style. The first game I don’t remember much of, but I lose somehow. The second one, I keep strip mine, tundra, 2 fellwars. I play a land. He plays land, mox, sol ring, chaos orb, orb my land. I never draw another mana source.

That happens, I suppose.

The rest of the top 8 is Micke Thai on The Deck, Cermak on his signature white zoo, Lefvert with the abovementioned Atog Aggro, Kalle on big URg aggro/midrange, Paddan on a WB deck splashing Erhnams and some red cards, Mällroth on Lestree zoo, and probably a straight deadguy (WB) deck (this will get clarified once the top 8 decks are posted on www.wak-wak.se). I play a casual match against Cermak, who also lost his quarterfinals, me losing 0-2 after having declined his offer for ante, explaining that I’m not really a gambler; for me, ante is -EV, as losing would hurt more than winning would help. Argothian Pixies is a hell of a card, that’s for sure.

I round up my things, get to cheer a bit for Micke in the semis but he loses to Paddan playing the BWrg deck. I don’t understand anything. (It turns out Kalle managed to defeat that deck in the finals later. Congrats!) Then I follow Seb, Micke and some other good guys from the Stockholm crowd out in the light summer night drizzle, catching the metro for just a few short stops before getting off, heading towards my friend’s apartment and some much-needed sleep. The next day I spend buying books, among those Titus Chalk’s excellent Generation Decks about the history of Magic, visiting an art exhibition, grabbing some food and a beer before hitting the train back home. Summer had just begun. Life was good.

So what about the deck I played? Amnesia wasn’t really good enough. UUU is restrictive, and as planned, you need to board it out against anything with red blasts. Life gain would be good. It’s probably time to listen to the Stockholm guys (Berlin and Seb) and add some Ivory Towers back in. I like Abyss over Moat and extra Serras, though, and basic lands aren’t very important. If you play in a casual environment (one where you don’t really need to beat the mirror), one Stone Rain main is enough. So, I’d cut the Amnesia for a maindeck Mirror, in the board cutting the mirror, the cop:red and the sylvan for two Ivory Towers and a City in a Bottle. You don’t need too much sideboard cards for the mirror anyway. Getting early green for the Sylvan is too hard, and you pretty much board out good cards anyway, at least as long as you’re not positive they don’t have Serras, and even then you have enough cards to take out, you just have to keep in some more big blue stuff, or board in a blue blast or two. Beating URx is more important by far.

That’s it. Thanks for reading. Please comment, share, like, scream random profanities at the world, buy me a beer, or just drink a good one yourself. Take care, see you around.

Props:

Gordon, for arranging an awesome tournament, and for that Rag Man match.
The Deck, for being love and life. You know, end of turn, draw a card.
Mg, for confirming my status as his nemesis (and of course creating the format), giving me another reason to carry on.

Slops:

Brewdog Bar, for being all out of Omnipollo Tjockis IIPA when I got there on Sunday afternoon just before catching my train.
Myself, for failing to take notes and pictures, making this report a bit more fictional in places that it really ought to have been.
Myself, for needing a month to write a tournament report. Boy, get your shit together.
Myself, for failing that orb flip. Just unacceptable.