142 skype matches, 40 decks and one winner!

Today we have another guest post, this time by the great Dave Firth Bard. You may recognize his name from Reddit where he almost single handedly publish all old school content from the web on the old school sub reddit. You may also recognize the name because he is one of the main figures when it comes to playing old school over Skype. Or maybe you just know his name because he is very active in all old school forums there is. He is one of the most active guys I know and a true supporter of the community and format so I'm glad to be able to publish his report from the latest Skype tournament, the 2018 winter Derby, here on the blog. 

I hope you enjoy his report as much as I do!

/Gordon


The 2018 Winter Derby

The 2018 Winter Derby is now in the books! The Winter Derby is an online Old School 93/94 Magic tournament, open to anyone with a webcam and the willingness to turn old cardboard sideways with fellow players on the other side of the ocean.

This year’s event saw 41 participants, representing ten countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States) spread across nine different time zones. Over the course of five weeks (late December through January), we played a total 142 matches, spanning seven rounds and Top 8. And the stakes? Mostly just glory and bragging rights, along with an invitation to n00bcon X for the victor.

This marks the second year that a n00bcon invitation has been allocated to our international community of 93/94 webcam players. (There is a good interview with Gregory Protic, last year’s Skype group delegate for n00bcon 9, available here on the Flippin’ Orbs podcast.) Playing Old School using a webcam on Skype or appear.in is an excellent way for players from small local playgroups -- or players with no local playgroups at all -- to find some opponents and start jamming games. And, through the Winter Derby, those players have a unique route to secure a n00bcon invite, especially if they are not associated with one of the established 93/94 communities that already receive invitations.

DESIGNING AN ONLINE TOURNAMENT

But how does it all work? How can we have a tournament when the players are scattered all over the globe, and all with jobs and kids and busy schedules? Organizing a webcam tournament on a single day or weekend seems like it should be possible, but in practice that would require each player to devote six or seven hours in a solid, uninterrupted block of time, with the Americans playing in the early morning, the Europeans playing in the afternoon through the evening, and players further east all but prohibited from the action without seriously sacrificing their sleep. And, bear in mind that many of us who play Old School on Skype have real-life obligations that make playing all day on a Saturday very unlikely, if not totally out of the question.

So, the structure of the event has to match the needs and habits of the group. When pairings are posted, the players have about 10 days (always including two weekends) to schedule their matches at a time that works for both their opponent and themselves. Less than 10 days would make it difficult for players to participate if they had to be away for a weekend, and more than 10-14 days would make the event much too long to reasonably commit to, and more difficult to keep player attention and momentum.

Unfortunately, this also means that having a tournament with true Swiss pairings is unworkable; if we waited for each match in a round to be scheduled and finished in a 10 day window, it would easily take 2-3 months to complete six or more rounds of Swiss. So instead, we assign multiple pairings for each player at the same time, and post them together in batches. This allows for three or four “rounds” to be completed within the same 10 day span, with fully flexible scheduling for the players. The results can then be compiled all at once, after which a new batch of pairings is posted.

We had experimented with different ways of doing batch pairings during previous instances of the tournament -- the 2017 Summer Derby and the first “Web Qualifier Derby” in 2016/17 -- and our tinkering continued this time: we introduced a “group stage” batch, in which players were assigned to self-contained round robin pods of four players each, according to geography and interest in competing for the n00bcon invitation. After the group stage, players were assigned four new opponents: two according to Swiss pairing rules (based on overall standings), and two completely randomized.

A few outcomes were worth noting. Players reported that the scheduling for the group stage batch was easier than other batches historically, which was to be expected because of the initial group arrangements by time zone. We also found that by the end of seven rounds, there was a much wider spread of OMW% than one would see in a typical Swiss tournament structure. For example, of the six players with 15 points (5-2 record), the OMW% ranged from 55.1% to 41.5%. Players generally saw more variance in their different paths through the event than they would with a Swiss pairing structure, in which players who continue to win are guaranteed to be paired against successively stronger opponents. In a straight Swiss tournament, after seven rounds, an event with 41 players would have a maximum of one player remaining at x-0, whereas we ended up with two players entering the Top 8 with unbeaten records.

While there is no “perfect” way of structuring an event like this, I’m excited to continue iterating and improving the design of our webcam tournaments in the future, and seeing what other knobs and levers I can use to find the sweet spot of making things as equitable and competitive as possible while also keeping the logistical friction as low as possible for all involved. But enough of that, then… let’s turn our attention to what you most likely came here to see:

THE DECKS! (40 OUT OF 41 PLAYERS)

We had quite the range of archetypes and approaches in the Winter Derby, reflecting the variety of communities and countries represented in the event. We had different flavors of Mono Black, a few assorted takes on RUG Zoo, UW Skies, UWR in aggressive, midrange, and control variants, format pillars UR Counterburn and The Deck, Tax Edge, Eureka, Power Monolith, Esper midrange lists, some Disco, Mono Green, and some pretty spicy and offbeat lists like Robot Reanimator, Jund Machine Head, and a control deck involving Control Magic, Diamond Valley, and Skull of Orm that’s been getting a lot of buzz. I received deck photos to share from almost all of the players, so here they are! Take a look, and enjoy:

(Click to enlarge and browse between the decks.)

THE ACTION

Players reported back throughout the event on our community Facebook group, and lots of funny stories and interesting interactions were shared. Perhaps my favorite tale was of Paul using Ring of Ma'rûf to wish for a Celestial Prism from the sideboard, later using it to make blue mana to cast a Spell Blast. Old School really never ceases to amaze me, as even now, in The Year of Our Lord 2018, we are still seeing utterly novel combinations, board states, and lines of play that may very well have never occurred in the history of the game. And all of that using cardboard printed 25 years ago, and experienced face-to-face across thousands of miles via a virtual platform.

For my part, I piloted a UWR goodstuff pile mainly containing just “cards that I like,” including zero copies of Swords to Plowshares in my 75. Florian rightly called it “not really a deck,” but I was able to catch enough luck and Copy Artifact enough Orbs to crack the Top 8, along with my fellow New England Old School players Scott (Grixis Disco) and Xanadude (Esper Goodstuff). Hearing reports of friends from my local group squaring off against great players from Europe and elsewhere made me very happy indeed.

Manolakos vs Grudzina: “What does that Skull do?”

Manolakos vs Grudzina: “What does that Skull do?”

I ended up losing in the quarterfinals to Bryan Manolakos and his aforementioned Skull of Orm deck -- an undeniably sweet brew that makes good use of Diamond Valley, one of those lands that you don’t see as much in the States because of all of the Strip Mines flying around. Bryan went on to edge out Svante Landgraf (Power Monolith) in the semifinals, and John Grudzina (The Deck) bested Eliot (RUG Aggro) in the quarters and Joep (GWu Midrange) in the semis, setting up a final match between two Americans who had actually just played together in real life at the Top Deck Games 93/94 event in New Jersey that same week. The resulting “subway series” -- or, I suppose, New Jersey Turnpike series -- featured a thoroughly classic control list against an innovative upstart control list, and the action was streamed on Twitch with commentary provided by Christopher Cooper.

Grudzina on his way to sealing game 3 with an enormous Braingeyser.

Grudzina on his way to sealing game 3 with an enormous Braingeyser.

When the dust settled, John Grudzina emerged with a 3-0 victory, and quickly confirmed that he was both willing and able to represent the Old School webcam player community at n00bcon X in Gothenburg this year.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Easily the most fulfilling part of the Winter Derby experience for me was seeing players who I have known for several months (or even a couple years now) in the Skype group playing against each other for the first time, and Skype players I know from various parts of the U.S. or elsewhere playing against friends from my local community. I lost count of the number of times during the tournament that I said, “Wow! I can’t believe you two didn’t know each other before -- you really should know each other, I think you’d get along great and I’m glad that you were finally able to play Magic together.” I continuously got positive feedback and good vibes back from all of the players, which is really all you can ask for as a tournament organizer… truly the only goal is to make sure everyone is comfortable and having fun.

And in terms of the n00bcon X invitation, I also believe that our goals were met: this year’s “Web Qualifier” went to a player who wouldn’t otherwise have had a clear path to Sweden. While New York is one of the biggest cities on the planet, I think that in terms of Old School, it is still a rather small community (albeit gaining traction recently, through the efforts of Paul aka @8bit_mtg and others) and well-deserving of some representation at 93/94’s big dance. The “group stage” pairing method was designed in part to make certain that the winner of the n00bcon invite would have been matched against others in the tournament who were serious about competing for and using the bid if they received it, and that’s exactly how it shook out in the end. So congratulations again to John, and to all of the participants in this year’s Winter Derby, thank you for playing! I hope you had as much fun as I did.

 

And finally, if you are out there in Old School land and want to get in on the webcam game action with us, by all means join the Facebook group. And if Facebook really isn’t your thing, there’s a Discord channel you can check out as well to try and pick up some games.

Lucia Legends - a Tournament Report

Old school Legends

Pretty Lucia Legends 

Once again I will try to write a small tournament report, with both a couple of lines about what I played and also the tournament itself as I am one of the organizers. The tournament this time was named Lucia Legends because it happened the same week as “Lucia”. Lucia is a strange celebration that happens in Sweden and a couple of other countries. It includes a girl with candles in her hair and guys dressed all in white with long pointy hats (they could easily be mistaken for a group of very bad people). We had nothing of the sort, except for a poster with legends with candles in their hair.

In the prize pool we had one of the highly sought after invites to n00bcon X, but we were not going to give it to the winner. We had been pretty clear on that part since we announced the tournament as we don’t want too much of a competitive feel at our tournaments. Instead we just told all the players that everyone would have a chance to win the invite, that it would not me a lottery and they would get to know exactly how during the tournament.

Quiz Time!

Do you know the names and casting cost of these legends? Click to enlarge.

So how were we going to give out the invite you say? We decided to do a small side competition that were magic related, but didn’t include playing the game. Before the tournament started everyone got a paper with a quiz. The quiz was about legends of course as the tournaments name was Lucia Legends. We had six pictures of legends that hadn’t been reprinted in Chronicles and the players then needed to write down the legends name and also mana cost. The 4 players who got most names right then later got to compete for the invite.

It may have been so that we made it a bit hard as two people with only two correct answers got to be among the contestants. The best one though was Jesper Holm who was playing his first 93/94 tournament with his own deck. He got five rights and also got almost all of the mana costs correct, both CMC and what colors. That was a bit crazy.

This was announced after the swiss and the four contestants then got to continue to compete against each other. First Jesper got one point for winning the quiz and the others got to start on zero points. Then it was time for some Falling Star Flippin’! I had placed a bunch of creatures in a pattern on a table and all the contestants then got to flip the star and get one point for every creature they hit. Sorry to say I don’t remember the exact scores here, but Jesper was still in the lead before the last part of the competition. The last part was a quiz where the contestants needed to raise their hand first to answer the questions I asked them. A correct answer gave them one point, but if they answered wrong they got a penalty point. The contestants were Yann Franzén, Svante Landgraf, Jesper Holm and Johan Råberg.

Want to try the quiz and some bonus questions? Here it is!

(You can find the answers at the bottom of this post.)

  1. Which expansion in order is Legends?
  2. Tell me the names of the three different 0/1 Kobolds in Legends?
  3. What happens if you have Chains of Mephistopheles in play and play Winds of Change?
  4. Which sorcery in Legends have one time been erratad to an Enchantment?
  5. There was one big problem with all the booster boxes from Legends, what?
  6. Which of the Elder Dragons have the colors White, Green and Blue?
  7. How many creatures in Legends have the ability “Bands with others”?
  8. How many cards are in a Legends Booster?

The above were the questions the contestants got but I had some others lines up so here you can have a couple of more to test yourself with:

  1. Gray Ogre has a functional reprint in Legends, what is the name of that card?
  2. Name one mechanic except “Bands with others” that was introduced in Legends.
  3. Which color didn’t get an Enchant World?
  4. What is unique with all the non-basic lands from Legends?

After this we had a winner and the winners name was Svante Landgraf. He completely crushed in the quiz and it didn’t even seem fair, but hey, that’s just how it is sometimes. Congratulations Svante! You can by the way read his tournament report from Lucia Legends here.

wakwak-4823.jpg

The Decks

Back to the tournament now! We were a mere 17 people who battled it out and you can find all of their decks here below. Sorry to say I was a bit stressed out both playing, organizing and doing the quiz part (also a bit drunk) so I didn’t really get what everyone was playing so some of the decks miss their pilot and also what position they ended up in. If you recognize one of the decks and know who piloted it, please comment and we will fix it.

The Tournament

We played four rounds of swiss with a short pizza break before a top 8. Yes, almost half of the players got too play again, but more magic is always fun isn’t it? I was one of the lucky ones who got to play more and now I’m going to segway into a couple of words about what I played and how I did.

My Deck

(Picture above in the slider.)

I had really started to miss my favorite deck, my beloved UR Counterburn, but I really didn’t want to play it as it is. So the night before the tournament I decided to cut all the creatures and instead put in two main deck City in a Bottle. Overall I took some inspiration from across the pond and made it into a control deck instead of a tempo deck. I played more mana sources and more control oriented cards, I even went down to only 2 Chain Lightning so I could play more cards in instant speed.

wakwak-4884.jpg

A couple of the choices were not made because they were the best possible though. They were made because I also put together a deck for my friend Egil so he could play in his first 93/94 tournament ever. That’s why you don’t see the black splash in my deck. Last but not least I needed a wincon and it couldn’t be from Arabian Nights so I went with the ever powerful Mahamoti Djinn and Shivan Dragon. Not the best choices but as with Fork, very fun choices! The Earthquake and Orcish Artillery were there because a lot of players in Stockholm are playing Zoo, White Zoo and more small creatures.

It went fairly well (I did top 8 after all) and the deck played as it should most of the time. Except for when I met Yann Franzén on Eureka. This is where I realized I probably should have some more control elements or fast clocks in the sideboard. I don’t think I would have won anyway as Yann was on an amazing roll this day! He steamrolled me because even when I stopped him in the beginning I couldn’t finish the game until he got enough mana to cast every creature he drew. Yann only lost one match the whole day and that was against Egil in the semi final. That was a bit sad as it would have been cool to see Eureka take it down. But the story about the eventual winner was also a really fun story!

I also need to point out one of the stupidest things that happened to me during the tournament. I had an opponent on 11 life, played a Braingeyser for four and drew exactly four Lightning Bolts! Crazy.

By the  way, the top 8 consisted of the players Gordon Andersson, Svante Landgraf, Yann Franzén, Jesper Holm, Egil Salomonsson, Leo Saucedo, Micke Thai and Jocke Falk.

In the quarter final I met Jesper Holm who was on Blue Green Berserk and played it beautifully. He is a former Legacy player who just converted to 93/94 and the play style and expertise to play around removal and counters showed it. The problem was that my deck is probably not the best for him to meet and a slew of bolts and counterspells put Jesper down. The semi final was against the quiz master Svante who played a UWr fliers deck which I thought was built completely different than how it was so me and my drunkenness probably gave him the match. It was a fun and intricate match however. But at least two times I should have slammed one of my big monsters but didn’t as I thought he was playing a bunch of Swords to Plowshares, which he wasn’t. So I scrubbed out. I must however say that I did like the deck and maybe I will play it again, but with a couple of main deck Blood Moon for maximum hate.

The Finals

So Svante who won the quiz also went on to the finals where he met Egil. This was probably the most amazing story of the day as Egil only has dipped his feet in the format before. He is however one of the better Legacy players in Stockholm and also a name you can see on net decking sites from online Vintage tournaments. He and I often have heated discussions about the format so I made him play this tournament with a Machine Head deck I put together and he tweeked after he was able to borrow two more Juzam and City of Brass. And as the cherry on top he won the whole tournament after a close match against Svante. I also think it was one of the best ending plays in a long time as Svante didn’t think he was dead and had lethal the turn after Egil won. The reason? Egil had a Berserk which Svante had no idea Egil even played. It really came out of nowhere and that’s always fun to see.

Player stories

Now for some extra spice! I got both the winner, Egil, and the Eureka player, Yann, to write a couple of sentences about their experience from the tournament so here are their words about it all:

Egil

This was my first 93/94-only tournament as I don't own any 93/94 cards. This time however, I was fortunate to be able to borrow a deck and attend the tournament. The people and the atmosphere was amazing and I had a lot of fun the whole day and evening. The deck I borrowed had a very straight forward game plan, I pretty much never had to care about what my opponent was doing (which is very good for me since I knew nothing about the other decks of the format). I presented a large threat by turn 2 or 3 and just continued to deploy them until my opponent was dead.

I had to read a lot of cards during the event and it baffled me that cards can have so much text and do so little against Juzams and Erhnamns. I had a game where my opponent played Eureka, which to a Legacy/Vintage player means that you lose to large Yawmgoth's Bargains on legs, but all they had was 5/5s and an 8/8 which did a lot of damage to themselves (thanks for that game, strip mine), just like me! I just had more of them.

I would like to thank Gordon and Daniel for this great event and I hope to attend more of these in the future!

Yann

A playset of Shivans was my fist thought when building this deck. Secondly, I wanted to have creatures with 7 power so that 3 hits would do at least 20 damage (even if Shivan is a 5/5 it can breath fire), that led me to adding the Elder dragons and one Lord of the Pit. Having this many flyers in the deck also turned my eyes to Moat. Because with so many fast creatures like Su-Chi, Mishra and Juazams in the meta I thought it would be a good answer to have in main deck. Since I wanted to have CoP: Red in the SB adding some extra white mana was already on my mind. 

I ended up going 4-2 in the tournament and here are some of the highlights. My best game was probably in the first match, when I could finish the game with Eureka on turn 3 against w/b prison. I Eurekad out a Concordant Crossroads 2 Shivans, 1 Elder Dragon and 1 Force of Nature which was a bit much for the opponent to handle. 

The 2 main deck Concordant Crossroads together with 1 in the sideboard seemed enough to be able to break any control deck. As soon as Concordant is out the opponent needs to handle every creature I put into play with instans. Of course, 2 Red Elemental Blast or Divine Offering/Disenchant also helps a bit against control, but what do you take out besides moat? Both of my two losses were actually against the same player, Egil, who also later went on to win the whole tournament. He simply played better than me and I was a bit over confident in one duel which I lost by taking 16 damage from my own Force of Nature after Egil top decked a strip mine to make it impossible for me to pay the GGGG upkeep, but I blame myself for giving him the opportunity to do so. His deck, with so many large creatures and lots of instants like Swords to Plowshares, my Concordants wasn't that effective. Not sure if I should have kept them and also add 2 Avoid Fate for his removal and hope to gather a swing for 20+ before he kills me. I decided to take them out and I lost every game by taking hits from hyppies and fast Djinns.

Not having full power yet I was fortunate to borrow a lotus for this day, and I would say that the lotus helped me to win at least 2 games. One game it helped me hard cast Shivan on turn 3, and another game it made it possible to play a Mindtwist after a Time Twister. Since then this has kept me from buying new cards, restraining myself not to buy anything before the crown jewel, Black Lotus.


The correct answers to the quiz:

  1. 3
  2. Crimson Kobolds, Crookshank Kobolds, Kobolds of Kher Keep.
  3. Both players shuffle their hand into their library and mill that many cards.
  4. All Hallows Eve
  5. The uncommons were divided in two sets and you could only get cards from one of the sets in one box
  6. Arcades Sabboth
  7. Zero, there are only cards that grant the ability or create tokens with the ability.
  8. 15

Part two:

  1. Raging Bull
  2. Rampage & Poison
  3. White
  4. They have a unique gold border that hasn't been used on any other cards.

 

Ivory Cup 2

1

Game on!

So, this is a report that I should have written many many moons ago but as we say here in Sweden, “den som väntar på något gott väntar aldrig för länge”. And for you international readers the literal translation reads “one who waits for something good never waits to long”. Therefore, I now give you a short report on organising and playing the Ivory Cup 2017 in Stockholm earlier this summer.

2

Let’s start with a short throwback and backstory. 93/94 may have originated in Sweden, but that was on the west coast, while Stockholm is on the east coast of the country. Historically Stockholm haven’t had as big of an old school community as the west of the country so last year’s Ivory Cup was actually the first dedicated 93/94 tournament being held in the capital. Then we had 29 players and considered it a big success, so of course we organised another Cup this year.

This year the tournament was held in the suburbs of Gubbängen in Stockholm as I was able to get an empty venue for free there. The “for free” part gave us an opportunity to give away some more expensive prices than we otherwise could have which was really nice. Other than that, we did as we usually do, buy a lot of nice beer and set up our own bar where they players could get anything from a simple lager to oak aged sour beer. One new thing was that we also invited the store Mindstage to come and set up a popup store with only old school cards.

The tournament got 35 players from all around the country and some special guests from Norway. That meant that we played six rounds of magic and then cut to top 8. As we are not much for giving out expensive prices to the winners we had a special price structure set up for giving away all the cool stuff we had. First of all, every player that had pre-paid the tournament got to pick a random card from a Legends lottery with only playable cards. The big prices where a Mirror Universe, Land’s Edge and a Sol’kanar the Swamp King. The fixed prices were an altered Alpha Ivory Cup for the winner and a green Duelist Abacus Life Counter still in the blister for second place. We also awarded 9th place with a signed Abomination on which Mark Tedin has written “9th place isn’t that bad”.

Then we did two different lotteries, one for all the players who didn’t top 8 and one for the ones who did. Kalle Nord donated the price for those who didn’t top 8 and that was a one of a kind test print of this year’s n00bcon playmat. The price in the top 8 lottery was a rare Black Lotus playmat with the original Black Lotus art.

And now to the top 8!

First of all, here are the decks and players who made it through the swiss:

 

When the dust settled after the though quarterfinals Jonas Lefvert, Paddan, Micke Thai and Kalle Nord where the ones left standing. I’m sorry that I didn’t have the time to keep track of the matches very well so I can’t give you any details of how they played out. But I can at least tell you the ones who made it to the finals which was Kalle Nord on “restricted cards+four drops” against Paddan with his 4c Deadguy Ale, two strange, but amazing brews. It really was the battle of the four drops but after quite a quick final Kalle Nord stood as this year’s champion. He was actually so happy that he took a bite of his own Black Lotus(!). Ok, maybe not a bite, but almost! He is one crazy dude.

This isn’t the most comprehensive of tournament reports but it was mostly written to have a reason to show you guys the nice decks people brought to this tournament. So, I hope you can forgive me for that.

3

But at least I have one more thing to say about the tournament and that is the amazing match for last place! We always give out a price (a Rag Man) to the player who comes in last but as we had two people with the same points we let them battle it out. In the pot was the Rag Man for the looser and an invite to next year’s World Championship of 93/94, n00bcon. Now that is a match with high stakes! The match was between the Norton Fantenberg and Joakim Askenbäck and we are happy to say that Norton now is one of the amazing Stockholm Rag Men and Joakim Askenbäck will be able to compete with players from all around the world next year.

Here the plan was to have a small report on how I did and some words about my deck but I'll leave that deck tech for later.

Here are some more pictures from the event:

/Gordon

White Weenie Weekend

Below is Grant Casleton's story about going to Eternal Weekend with the Lords of the Pit to play Old School with 117 other players. If you want to read more about the tournament and check out all the other decks you can find Eternal Central's Report here. /Gordon

Let me preface by saying my expectations for Eternal Weekend were non-existent. I have never been to Eternal Weekend, nor have I ever been to Pittsburgh. I am someone who doesn’t get excited for things until I have arrived at my destination. Even more so when there is a 7 ½ hour drive through cornfields and cow crap. Only until I saw “Welcome to Pittsburgh” is when I started to realized this was going to be a great weekend. 

The trip and preparations

The drive was long but good conversation was had. The Burger King we stopped at in rural Ohio was a sight to be seen and we were only asked for change once. Luckily for us, they only lost one of our orders so it was a quick stop and then back on the highway. Driving through the hills of Western Pennsylvania while it’s dark was a little intimidating, but we eventually got there in one piece.

We checked into our AirBnB around 11pm and cracked a cold one. Once we figured out where the rest of the crew was, we hit the road. We pull up to the bar and it was a dingy little dive bar with neons in the windows and graffiti all over the doors. This was my kind of bar. One thing I didn’t know about Pittsburgh was that smoking inside was OK. A friend of mine lit up a smoke in the bar and I about smacked it out of his mouth.

Before I knew it we had pitchers of Yuengling and shots of Jameson were being given out like candy. After great conversation and a few sloppy games of Ping-Pong, we called it a night. I contemplated making my final deck check that night but realized I may have drank a little too much.

Thursday Morning was a little hazy and worse than expected. Luckily I had a Pedialyte in the fridge ready for me, which was probably the best play of my weekend. Carter was kind enough to buy some groceries for breakfast and cooked up some fantastic eggs and potatoes. We all agreed a good breakfast was needed with an anticipated long day of drinking. 

After breakfast we prepared our final deck lists and headed over to the Omni William Penn Hotel. Although, our first Uber driver we called sideswiped a parked car, drove off and cancelled the ride, which got a chuckle from us standing in disbelief with what we just saw. Luckily the second Uber driver arrived in one piece and we loaded in.

Getting into the hall was a scene I will never forget. The drinking had already started and everyone was chatting and getting to know each other. After checking in it was time for Malort to be passed around to those who wanted to try the liqueur. The bottle I brought was finished before the second round even started and the fancy Swedish malort was finished shortly after.

I was playing a straightforward White Weenie deck. I figured I’d rather play something easy for 8 rounds than a deck that would make me think and make hard decisions. With Eternal Central rules, 4 Strip Mines are a must and I get access to the hottest tech from Fallen Empires. Order of Leitbur and Icatian Javelineers are two of the best cars in the deck.

I didn’t see a single Birds of Paradise through the whole day though, which was a bit surprising. Regardless, Icatian Javelineers still did work on some Savannah Lions throughout the day. Nothing feels better to T1 Javelineer with your opponent playing anything with 1 toughness and knowing it was about to get REKT.

White Weenie is straightforward enough where all you want to do is play your dudes and smash face. My deck is unpowered, although a Chaos Orb is always ready to flip in dire need. Playing this deck is nice because the only dead draw is going to be a basic Plains. Strip Mine will get your opponent off colored mana, Factory is a creature but also can cast your Serra Angel, and a creature or spell will make the game move forward.

I wish I had more Preachers to main deck but unfortunately only have 1 at the moment. Playing Thunder Spirit felt fine though because the damage I got over the top in a few games got me closer to victory. It felt like Thunder Spirit can be the backbreaker in mirror matches and having a Swords to Plowshares in hand to plow their fliers ended up the correct play.

I’ve done my best to recollect my 8 matches and the games that were played. I made it a point to get the names spelled correctly, but that’s as good as it gets. I’ve been drinking since 9am, Keg and Eggs was a necessity to starting Thursday off right.

Tournament time!

Rd 1 - Jonathan Sparks Loss

Jon was on Grixis Control, a deck I’d love to build in the future. Game 1 was mine at hand with Strip Mines and Jon not able to find any land. Game 2 was a little more back and forth but Serendib Efreets + me not finding removal = me catching the beats. Game 3 was just as quick with Jon finding two Glooms and putting me way out of reach to casting my one drops.

Rd 2 - Phil Jankiewicz Win

This was probably my favorite round of the day. Phil was on R/W Weenie and all three games were grindy. A lot of back and forth with Crusade helping both parties make their dudes bigger. We had a lot of fun trading creatures, but in the end Thunder Spirit was the creature that put me over the edge. I got there in 3 games.

Rd 3 - Dair Grant Loss

Dair was on Turbo Stasis that I needed to be quick to beat. Unfortunately I was not and had my shit pushed in. I’ll be the first to admit I did not have a fun time playing against this deck. But I had a blast talking with Dair and getting to know him. We went to 3 games in this round but only because Strip Mine was the All-Star for me game 2.

Rd 4 - Winston Wood Win

This is the part of the day where my notes start dwindling as the beer kept flowing. This was another prison deck and I wasn’t very happy to see that again after the last round. G1 I was able to get in fast damage and get there before the lock actually happened. I remember Land Tax filling my hand G2 and getting annihilated. (photo of the lands) G3 was a bit more grindy but I was able to overwhelm with creatures and finish Winston off.

Rd 5 - Jimmy McCarthy Loss

Jimmy and I talked more shit to each other than actually played Magic. I would have prefered to just talk and share a beer instead of lose to this man. The deck I have him on is “Green White Bullshit” and I lost in 2. So Jimmy if you’re reading this, go screw yourself.

Rd 6 - Nam Trann Loss

This was probably the quickest round of the day for me. Nam was on “The Deck” and we didn’t play much Magic. The Abyss was brutal and I couldn’t find a Disenchant. After a T2 Abyss game 2, I scooped em up and went to go have another beer. And Nam I want to apologize again if I came off salty, because I was. But, nonetheless, you beat me fair and square and it was still good to meet a new face and I hope your weekend was a good one.

Rd 7 - Matt Haan Win

I’ve played Matt at the last three events I’ve attended. He’s soft spoken, a great player, and an even nicer person. He was playing, at least what I called, B/R Orgg. It was a spicy brew that seemed like a blast to play. If I remember correctly we went to 3 games and I eventually got there. Next time we play I want you to raise your voice and yell at me. You’re too nice.

RD 8 - Ryan Crouch Win

Ryan was playing Mono-Red Goblins and that deck has been becoming super popular. Goblin Grenade has always been a favorite of mine since I last played it in standard (Scars of Mirrodin.) Although only playing 2 games they were a bunch of fun. Game 2 I boarded in a Wall of Swords because who can actually beat that card. After the game ended, he told me he maindecks Goblin Digging Team and it was the next card up. I wish I would have known because I would have allowed him to make that play.

I was 68th place which I believe means 4-4 but a lot of alcohol was consumed so who knows. All that matter is that I had a good time meeting new people and slinging some cards. I want to thank everyone I met that weekend because I couldn’t imagined it been any better of a party.

Meatballs!

After the hectic exit of the hotel, a few LotP and I headed back home to drop our stuff. The crew were all pretty hungry and we ended up at Emporio at Sienna Mercato. The whole premiss of this place was meatballs and the sauce they put on them. I walked in and Dom was drinking scotch with about $300 worth of meatballs at the table. After dinner we headed to Sharp Edge for a nightcap and then hit the hay.

Pamela’s was on the menu for breakfast that Friday morning. It was down in the Strip District where Tyler and I met Dom for a little breakfast. I got the Hash and Eggs and it was everything I needed that morning to soak up the day before. 

After breakfast we headed to the convention center and I got a whole bunch of cards signed, sold my Legacy deck and picked up an UNL Ruby. It was a long few hours of cutting deals and even getting in a game or two on the hallway floor. 

We had a scheduled Contract from Below meetup that night and we needed a little time to relax. After “relaxing” and putting back a few, we packed up our Contract decks and headed to Peppis sub shop. This was your classic Italian Sub shop and it hit the spot for an early dinner. 

The meetup ended up taking place at the Southern Tier Brew Pub with a great outdoor seating area. The weather was perfect and with no breeze, we played outside.

And for those of you who haven’t been explained how we play Contract From Below in Chicago, let me explain. When casting Contract, instead of the Ante card, the caster must buy a beer or shot for their opponent. The card is powerful when it comes to playing it, but also when it comes to drinking. Matt was able to Fork a Contract right before I arrived, but luckily this photo exists.

Prizes were given out to every participant and if you and anyone else wanted the same prize, you flipped for it. I’ve come to realize Chaos Orb flipping should become a national sport and is the best way to settle any grievances you may have with someone. If I remember correctly we were flipping at 2 feet heights as well.

After drinking way too much our Saturday got crazier and the night went on. Those details I’m leaving out but it was a night that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It seemed like everyone was in rare form. And if someone gives you money, you put it in your damn mouth!

At the end of this weekend I want to give a huge shoutout to all the Lords and friendly new faces I met. I wouldn’t be playing this game if it weren’t for the crew we have in Chicago. Please see below for some more photos and thanks for reading.

All in all, it was a weekend that I will never forget. I have never had this much fun playing MtG and I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t get into this format. Below are some other photos that I and others took of the weekend, This will be my yearly trip to sling cards, drink booze and have a good time.

FOR THE LORDS

/Grant Casleton

PS. I also want to give a big thank you to Jaco for putting this together. This wouldn’t have been possible without him putting in the work to find a venue and run in the event. This was the biggest tournament I’ve ever participated in and Jaco made it a breeze with how well he ran it.

 

 

Here are some more pictures from the trip:

Starting up the CandleFactory

Old School Eureka deck

Eureka!

How about an Elder Dragon in your face?

Last Sunday we had a small tournament here in Stockholm with 12 participants and I decided to write a small tournament report about it. Mostly because of the deck I chose to play, a new brew I call CandleFactory. I got the idea for the deck just a week before the tournament just before my friend Johan Råberg was about to come over for some play testing. The plan was to play test a new build of my Field of Dreams deck to have it ready for the next big tournament I’m going to go to but I just needed to try out this idea first so we played a couple of games with me on this deck first.

Choosing the deck

CandleFactory v.0.3b

The day before the tournament we played again and I decided to give it a shot as I didn’t have the energy to build my Field of Dreams deck. I actually didn’t even build a sideboard for Candle Factory as it was only an idea and not meant to be played yet. The morning after I took 15 cards in 15 min to make a sideboard so please don’t judge me for the stupid choices there. I was just too tired to do anything else.

I’ll write a couple of words about the deck now but I will post a “deck tech” or more of a brewing post later on describing my thought process, card choices and also publish 2 - 3 more iterations of the deck. And all except one of them are probably a lot better.

The main plan of the deck is to use the interaction between Candelabra of Tawnos and Mishra’s Factory to make your Mishra’s BIG. It is not uncommon to be able to have a 6/6 Factory. 4 Copy Artifact is mandatory because they essentially let you play with 8 factories or get another Candelabra if needed. That was the foundation that got me brewing and this time it ended up with also playing Maze of Ith (super with Candelabra), Guardian Beast combo with two Transmute Artifacts and also a couple of artifact threats that are good to copy with Copy Artifact. But I’ll leave it at that for now and get back to you with a more in depth post about a couple of ideas and how it actually works but I’ll give you a short tournament report so you can read a little bit about how it worked this time at least.

And now to the tournament

It will actually be my first “real” tournament report as I seldom have time after a tournament to get my thoughts down or I was to drunk to really remember anything. But this time no alcohol was allowed and I’m home sick because of my chronic tiredness (yes, it’s actually a thing but a little more complicated than that) so here goes.

Decklists for all of my opponents and the other players at the tournament can be found here.

Round 1 - Böte on a Trick Deck - 2-0

My first round was against the newbie Böte who had put together a Trick Deck. The first game he lands two Howling Mines quite quickly but he can’t find a Underworld Dreams after I Mind Twist one out of his hand. After that I’m well ahead of cards and have a better board so I drop a Icy, copy it and start to tap his Howling Mines so we just draw one card each. My Factories then finishes the job with the help of a Candelabra to make the two of them hit for 6.

Game two I play and early Ivory Tower that works wonders against his Underworld Dreams. After that he tries to destroy my board with a Energy Flux but I can pay for everything except a tapped Mana Vault and then after it destroys his own Fellwar Stone I disenchant it. After that I copy my Icy a couple of times and tap down all his lands until a 7/7 Mishra runs through his Maze of Ith. I attacked with two, he mazes one, it pumps the second one to a 3/3 then I untap them both two times with two Candelabra to make it a 7/7

In one of the matches I also get to use Candle on my Library of Alexandria before he Sinkholes it. That was fun and exactly what the deck wants to do.

Round 2 - Magnus Engdal on Erhnam Burnem - 2-0

Sorry to say that this became a feature match as Magnus doesn’t do much for both of our games. The first game I play an early Su-Chi and he got stuck on mana. Later I end the game by playing a Triskelion and copying it.The second game he plays a couple of small creatures but I have a couple of Maze of Ith and Candelabras so I’m not that afraid. I play three(!) Copy Artifacts on my single Factory to make it a playset instead and with the help of Icy Manipulator and a copy of that I get past his Argothian Pixies to get the kill. One time he triple block my Factory but got the math wrong as I could pump it to a 6/6 and kill all three creatures.

Round 3 - Christofer Lindholm on BRG Aggro - 0-2

This is where I started to become too tired to play as I hadn’t slept well for a weeks or so because of reasons. But I don’t think my misplays actually mattered and the match would have ended in the same way anyway, at least that’s something. The first game I keep a hand with almost all mana and hope to draw good things. I also draw quite good but he has all the answers he needs and Crumbles my Icy and everything else I try to muster. I stabilize but it’s too late and he just need to wait for a burn spell.

Game two I get stuck on four mana after being one turn late with my Guardian Beast and he gets a Fellwar and Mox with a Shatterstorm. I never draw more mana and died with cards in hand without ever drawing a Maze of Ith.

Round 4 - Andreas Cermak on UW Midrange - 1-2

Don’t remember much of this as I mostly wanted to go home. Game one I know he rides a turn one Serra to victory after also hitting his Chaos Orb so he can destroy my Maze. Game two I get to copy my Triskelion two times but they don’t do much against his Personal Incarnation. I trade a little, get in some damage and it looks good but I need something more for the last push. I draw my Reconstruction, pick up an Icy and it’s over.

Game three is the game where I really doze off and don’t remember. I think he just had all the answers to what I did and my Mazes kept on hiding in the library.

On to the top 4

That concluded the  swiss portion of the tournament and as I was 2-2 I was expecting to be able to at least take it a little easy, even though I needed to stay because I ran the stream. But, it happened to be so that I had the best tie breakers and made it to top 4 anyway. Always fun to top a tournament but this time I would have rather been able to stop playing for the day. I may seem a bit negative here but I was not feeling to well this day. In the top 4 I got to play against my two losses from the swiss once again.

Semi Final - Christofer Lindholm BRG Aggro 2-1

So, let’s see if I can draw a little bit better this time as I think a creature deck like his is a good matchup for me. This match was on stream so I can tell you what happened as I watched it afterwards.

First game I mulligan to 5 and want to give up, I don’t have the energy for that. He starts by Strip Mining my land and Crumble my Mox and Fellwar. Fun times after a mull to five. I’m still able to put up a fight by starting to copy his Su-Chi with my only two lands. It trades for his Factory+Bolt and I get to play a Triskelion the turn after thanks to a Mana Vault. It trades for his Su-Chi and then he’s down to just a Factory. After some back and forth he deploys a bunch of threats which I'm able to fend of with my Candlestick and two Maze of Ith. Then I topdeck a Demonic to get Balance and kill all of his creatures. Maybe I can get this to work anyway? Sadly no, he topdecks Wheel the turn after and gets three rituals and a Fireball to close the game.

After that I take down the next two games by assembling the Guardian Beast and Chaos Orb combo quickly. It all went fairly quickly and I was so happy for that but I still got one more match. I should also add that I board in the third beast and board out a couple of expensive artifacts as his answers are so cheap for the artifacts but he has problems removing the beast. So this was the plan. 

CandleFactory

Now I just need a Candelabra

...and why not a Chaos Orb as well

Final - Andreas Cermak on UW midrange - 1-2

Before the game starts everybody except us leaves which makes it a little boring and as I mostly want to sleep I’m about to scoop. I ask Andreas if we can play the match at another time as no one is left but we decided to play anyway. Something I regret hehe. But that’s part of playing a tournament, you need to be able to focus all the way through.

In the first game here I get a Mana Vault and Mind Twist away his hand turn two, such a fun card, not. He still is able to almost win with a Factory as I draw nothing. But I stabilize with a Book and a Guardian Beast to block with.Then I end the game with a Triskelion and Copy Artifact. Oh, how I love that card!

Game two he get’s a crazy start with Time Walk and Timetwister and I draw no fast mana at all. I still am able to catch up and later assemble the combo for the win. But I need to hit one important flip to do it. I miss because of my sleep deprivation and he takes the game. In this game I also decide to board in the 3rd Beast tro try to win that way. I do however keep my other creatures in hope of overloading his plows.

Game three he draws perfectly by playing two Lions and then an Armageddon against my land centric deck. I still have a chance as I’m on 5 mana with a Mox and two Sol Ring (thanks to Copy Artifact) and have a Triskelion in hand. One land and his Lions will die and it will look good again. He follows it up with a Dust to Dust and I pack it up because I just want to go home.

Some last words

So that’s how the deck plays. It’s a pretty bad deck but it was tons of fun as it plays out so differently all the time. A big part of this is the Transmute Artifacts and Copy Artifacts which can be uses as many different things depending on how the board state. Either you make a bunch of Factories and Candles and win that way, or you copy Icy to control the game hard, or you go aggro by copying Su-Chi and Triskelion or you just assemble the Beast combo for the win.

Photos by Magnus Engdal.