I went for a tournament. No, not an online one. An actual real-life, physical, get-together-with-old-friends-and-new-and-play-some-cardboard-on-a-real-table kind of tournament. It was great! If not for the constant fear of the plague. No, it was actually just great.
It was the aptly named At the Mountains of Madness 2 on the Jutland Ridge – Dollerup Bakker (if you have not been there, I strongly advise you to. It is the most beautiful place in Denmark).
Anyway. This was a tournament where some brewing and spicy craziness was encouraged. Actually the organizer had announced that there would be a specific top8 for the top8 most spicy decks. Nice. The price for the spice-top? A bottle of fine, spiced rum. That is – in my opinion – a lot better than the two very nice Alpha Mountain and the bottle of champagne that the winner of the other top8 would receive. But I am getting ahead of myself. This is a classical tournament report, so brace yourself for a long read of misplays and great-plays. I also should apologize for the horrible picture quality. I love reading reports with pictures, so I have added a lot of pictures. They are just very bad. I hope you get the gist of it…
Before we venture on to my weapon of choice for the day, I have to say, that to get to the tournament I had to get out of bed at around 6-o-clock and then go for a two-hour drive. I was listening to my new Old School Spotify playlist featuring only tracks with the same names as old school cards (it is actually surprisingly okay).
First off, the deck!
Well, of course not The Deck. I would never play that. Primarily because I lack the skills to pilot it sufficiently well, and I always feel it’s a bit embarrassing to end up in the lower brackets (where I am often found), if I play the best deck in the format.
So, I had sleeved up two decks for the event. The first one is one that I have played a couple of times before. It’s a proven, very powerful deck (even though I play some darlings in the list, and it is therefore not completely optimized). It is TwiddleVault:
So.Much.Power! It is a nice deck, which I can play somewhat okay. And it’s a deck that will almost certainly win me a couple of games.
The other deck, I had sleeved up, was this beautiful atrocity, where there was no certainty of winning anything, except for maybe a couple of raised eyebrows and a single high-five (with distance) for the spicyness:
So this deck showed to be a fierce contender in my testing. In all the games I goldfished, I ended up winning. It was glorious! So who am I kidding? Of course the tier1 combo deck on top, stayed in the box.
As for the sideboard, a contemplated something along the lines of Energy Flux, Shatter, Red Elemental Blast and the likes. No surprise, I ended up with these 15:
Yep, that’s right. It’s a transformational sideboard. If you are up against someone not playing too many creatures, swap out 7 walls, 6 non-mana-producing lands and 2 Pestilence. Throw these in, and you basically have a stock Dreams Combo deck. Which is somewhat different from the main deck…
I would like to use just a few lines of trying to explain some of the reasoning behind the deck. It is of course a collection of some very powerful cards. And then some walls. But these days, I would actually say, that depending on your game plan, walls may not be the worst choice. You see A LOT of Su-Chis, Savannah Lions and Serendib Efreets (at least in Denmark), and a big wall is simply that; a wall. So the plan was to stop the opponent’s attack, while chipping away at his life totals with Dreams, ending the game either with a draw7, a big Braingeyser or by administering the Pest to your foe.
The other thing I was trying to do was to make sure that none of the cards in the deck would become dead. The walls can be exchanged for life. The Dark Rituals can be Lightning Bolts through Pestilence.
Enough of this. On to the games, where we will see, if my theorizing was any good. We were told that there would be 6 rounds of swiss and then the aforementioned double top8.
On to the games
Is against Thomas (I don’t have any teasing pictures of this match, and I don’t have many notes either, as this was a fast one)
I start game one and land a turn 2 dreams.
He looks for lands. Can’t really seem to find any. Throws a Land Tax on the board in turn 6 or so, but it is too late. He dies to my Wheel of Fortune.
I do the full board switcheroo, as he does not play creatures…
In game 2 I land a turn 1 Howling Mine into turn 2 Black Vise.
Thomas lands a turn 1 Land Tax, but I can play around it, as I don’t need to play more lands than 2.
Exactly when Thomas gets out of the Black Vise shoot-out, I land an Evil Eye, who does him in.
2-0 – 1-0
Is against Christian Arendt who has been seeing a decent amount of success lately, having won one of the recent online DOOM tournaments.
I go first again. Turn 1 Wall of Earth
Turn 3 Dreams. How can he ever recover?!
Well apparently he plays Orb Tribal. He casts a Chaos Orb and the copies it. And then copies it again. That is really not very nice. But is was rather nice of him to miss one of the flips, which held me in the game a couple of extra turns. At one point I am 8 life and he has a Trisk on the board. I have a wall and a Pestilence that has previously killed his Guardian Beast (he WAS really playing Orb Tribal…). I have the choice between playing a Maze of Ith or a Diamond Valley. I choose the Maze, but Christian soon shows me, that that was a giant mistake. In his round he manages to shoot me for 2, shoot the trisk, animate it, shoot me for 3 play another trisk, and that is that. Had I played my Valley, I would have survived.
On to game 2. Full board switcheroo.
My notes go like this:
T1 Black vise
T2 Howling Mine
T3 Black Vise and Howling Mine
He disenchants both the vises, but ends up dying to a fireball x=5.
Game 3 I have boarded in the walls plan again, as I am on the draw. I have boarded out 2 Wall of Air for 2 Fireball, though.
This was a nailbiter, and as I should be famed for already, I make several horrible play mistakes. I play cards like Underworld Dreams and Evil Eye. He plays cards like Disenchant and Trisk.
At one point he attacks with a Trisk and a Guardian Beast (the picture above). I use my walls for blocking. As they should. Christian then plays Balance and kills his own Trisk in response. Apparently I get a minor brain hemorrhage! I decide – in response to bolt the Guardian beast. IN RESPONSE TO BALANCE!?! This makes the said Balance go from “okay” to “game-breakingly awesome” for Christian. And once I have cleared my board, my only verbal response was: “Did that really happen.” I have no idea how I could do such a completely idiotic thing.
Anyway, the game wasn’t over. I managed to draw into and play dreams when Christian is on 5.
He goes to 4. I draw Ancestral. Thinks about it, and shoots him with it. It was a very risky move, because he could have drawn a disenchant (would have been his third of the match, I believe), but I just love playing Ancestral on my opponents. I am a nice guy like that. And Christian was unlucky, and dies in his draw step.
4-1 – 2-0
Was against Kåre Ettrup Schmidt. Another one of the experienced players, playing some REALLY beautiful cards. He plays a very aggressive Eureka deck. He was sitting next to me in round 2, so I know.
Game 1 is rather long. I Geyser myself for 4. He Walks a couple of times. Finally finds Eureka and plays Trisk and double Clone.
I land some lands and some walls. Enough to keep me alive. I have 2 dreams on the board, and eventually Kåre succumbs. Valley granted me 12 life in this game.
Game 2 is defined by Kåres turn 2 Blood Moon! I have some fighting power through some moxes. I manage to Mind Twist him, but only for 2. I have only boarded in 2 Fireballs instead of the Pests. But it is not enough. I can’t read my notes, but I die to several Cloned something. Maybe Tokens? I die. End of story. On to game three – full Sideboard Switcheroo is on again.
I play turn 1 Black Vise AND Underworld Dreams, because I am a gentleman.
Kåre also has quite the hand, landing a turn 1 Su-Chi, with a Copy Artifact in hand. My turn 2 is like this:
So, it went like this: Rit-Rit-Wheel-Dreams(#2)-Ancestral on him-Ruby-Lotus-Fireball for exacsies. That was the most broken thing, I have ever done or experienced in Old School. Kåre didn’t really know what happened (remember both our previous games was with the walls setup…). I immediately offered him a beer. He forgot to collect it, so I still owe him one.
6-2 in games. 3-0 I rounds! I am almost locked in the top8. How could this happen?
Is against Peter Berthel Jensen. First time tournament player, but quite the player, it seems, as he was also 3-0 at this point! Peter was playing unpowered UGW ErhnamGeddon.
These were some strange games.
The first one I am quite lucky and play almost all my restricted stuff the first couple of rounds. Peter never really recovers. Pestilence simply kills him.
I didn’t board anything, as my main is really strong against someone trying to win with Savannah Lions and Serendib Efreets. He does have Armageddon, but being privileged enough to both own and draw Power, it is possible to play around.
Game 2 was really boring. Neither of our decks really wanted to play any magic.
Peter destroys my Dreams (twice), but can’t seem to find any pressure, that sticks. I keep killing his minor threats with Bolt, and when I manage to land a couple of walls and a Pestilence, he simply shuffles it up.
So there we have it!
8-2 – 4-0 and locked for top8.
On to round 5,
where I know who and what is waiting. Of course Simon “I Sleep to Dubsteb” Gauti Rokkjær is also 4-0 with his crazy The Deck. (When I told him of my Old School Spotify playlist, and how I almost jumped out of the car in the middle of the freeway because of some crazy dubsteb track named Earthquake, he simply replied: “Dubsteb? I love Dubsteb! I sleep to Dubsteb.” So that will be my nickname for him now. Feel free to use it, if you meet him)
I was not looking forward to playing this round. My deck is basically chanceless against The Deck. Especially when piloted by someone as experienced and skilled as Simon. But it is always a massive pleasure to be around him, so that part, I was looking forward to.
Game 1 is long, but very uneventful. Simon doesn’t really know what to do, because he never really sees any threats. Walls are not that great against him. At one point I am at 42 life because I keep drawing walls but have to send them to the Valley, to rescue them from The Abyss. Rescue…
Well a couple of Su-Chis finish me off.
FULL BOARD. I have to play something just somewhat optimized if I want any chance to win. When boarding Simon is like “I guess you’re going to board into Dreams Combo or something…” Talk about mind games! And skill.
Game 2 I go T1 Underworld Dreams into an aggressive Strip Mine. At some point he taps out for a su-chi, and I can go Winds of Change into Winds of Change into Lightning bolt, to release him of his remaing 13 life. Nice. Did not see that coming. Actually winning against Simon!
Game 3. Same game plan as above. Wait to see if there is an opening, try to explode. The first couple of rounds a relatively boring. I play an aggressive Mind Twist x=2 in my turn 1, but otherwise nothing really interesting happens, until Simon taps out to play a Braingeyser x=4 to take control of the game.
After that, I do this:
From an empty board (aside mana producers) I go Ritual-Dreams-Wheel-Winds-Fork. That is 21 damage, and I have the exact mana I need. That was very, very satisfying, I must admit! My deck was very friendly to me the whole day.
After this round the organizer acknowledged that time was running. And the event reporter died, so we decided to skip the last round. That means my DreamyDiamondWalls deck is undefeated in the Swiss!
10-3 – 5-0
That was very surprising.
Into the top8 I go. But which top8. Remember a week ago, when you read the intro of this humongous report, I told you there where 2 top8’s: The regular, for the best placed decks in the tournament. And the spice one. And of course, I went with the spices.
It turned out, that half the decks there played Blood Moon. Oh well…
In the quarterfinals I meet Lasse with a sweet Enchantress build. I haven’t really seen him play all day, and thus doesn’t really know, what to expect. I know he is playing Enchantress, and I know he finishes with a ginourmous Fireball off of Mana Flare. It sounds rather slow. Let’s see, if we can win.
Game one, I go first. And it IS slow. T4 Wall of Air, T5 Eye. Lasse can’t really find his mana. He plays double Wild Growth on his Library of Alexandria (yep… L), I Bolt an Enchantress. I win with Pestilence and Dreams.
I go full board – I reckon he plays no other creatures than Enchantress. And he is slow. And he plays Howling Mine himself. How can this go wrong?
In my opening hand I can decide between turn 1 Black Vise or Dreams. I go with Black Vise. That was a mistake, as I never get another turn. Lasse simply plays his entire deck twice and Fireballs to smithereens in his second turn! Damn! That was really crazy. His turn involved Wheel, Fastbond, Enchantresses, Howling Mines and so on. It was SO cool, even though, it was boring to die to. Glad I didn’t play my Twiddlevault…
On to game 3.
I go turn 1 wheel. He goes turn 1 Fastbond, Wheel. I go turn 2 Black Vise and Underworld Dreams. This stops him. He doesn’t have any real good answers for the dreams, aside Dark Heart of the Wood, and when I am able to land my second dreams, the game is over. Phew. I was getting very nervous there… Lasses deck was SO cool. But if I were to play it, I would add white (5c) for Disenchant. Solely for killing Underworld Dreams.
In the Semis I meet Jacob Dahlerup with a Tetravus deck with a spicy adding of Angelic Voices.
Now my deck started to behave, as I had imagined, it would. I don’t draw anything relevant. When I play double Maze of Ith, Jacobs Tetravus show their true strength. He plays a pair. Then plays an Angelic Voices, and that was that.
I go Full Board, because I am on the play, and I figure that I may have a chance to simply blow him up, before he establishes control. I lead with turn 1 Black Vise into turn 2 Black Vise. Turn 3 Winds Black Vise, Turn 4 Dreams. He uses a lot of Disenchants, and get below 5 cards in hand. He is in control at 7 life points, and I die to his beats.
Alas. That was that. I was really hoping for that Rum. But Jacob ended up winning it, and drinking it with the tournament organizer after the tournament. I had to go home (the two-hour drive), so I wasn’t able to share it, and therefore it is more than fair, that Jacob took it home.
Few finishing thoughts
There is no reason denying it; I was surprised, that I did so well in the tournament. I was lucky, but I reckon you always have to have some amount of luck to 5-0 a swiss. But the deck was actually also rather powerful. I know it is jank, and it will never be Tier1, but try it out, it is lots of fun.
Also, I would like to mention one card: Dark Ritual. I know it is a powerful card, and I have played it on off since 1996. But after I have started playing Old School I really haven’t been liking it that much. It is almost always a two-for-one in your opponents’ favour, you simply can’t afford that, in the fierce fight for resources that Old School magic is. But here, it really shines. I surprised people with more damage from Pestilence, than they thought possible several times throughout the day. And casting dreams turn 1, is just, well, the dream.
Many thanks to the tournament organizer Jonas Brincher. To my opponents and to you, my dear reader.
When I was finally home again at 1-o-clock in the morning, I looked at my winnings from the day, and without a doubt, my most priced win of the day was the ante card I won from Simon, and had him sign – a nice Revised Raise Dead.