torsdag 27 juni 2013

Warcon 2012

In about 4 weeks we'll hopefully have a 93/94 tournament at Warcon in Varberg. I wrote this report after last year's tournament. The report was written in Swedish, as the blog's readers were pretty much only Swedes a year ago (that may also have something to do with the fact that the blog was in Swedish). Today only about 1 in 20 readers are Swedes, so I post a crude translation of my old tournament.

During the Thursday before the Warcon weekend I'd just moved in with my girlfriend, and there were a lot of moving dust on a lot of walls. Luckily the jigsaw fell together in acceptable time, and by half past ten Saturday morning I was waiting by Marklandsgatan to get picked up by the Mirth Mobile and cruise to Varberg. The Mirth Mobile consisted of Max, Honka, Kalle and me; and we had nothing in terms of plans for the weekend or how long we should stay at the convention. I'd chosen to hedge my bets by bringing a sleeping bag with me, but that only served as an incitement for the other members of the car to trash talk me about being overly prepared. Standing at Marklandsgatan, I ran into Nilsson, aka GaJol, who at the last moment had dodged his responsibilities as cat watcher to join the Mirth Mobile and play some black/white control-combo with Skull of Orm (combos well with Su-Chi, Animate Dead and Diamond Valley).

We met up with Honka and the rest of the gang, who had all bought some hip “energy drink” called Monster Rehab. It was green tea and no carbon, and tasted unhealthy in a healthy way. We washed it down with a few beer, rode some car, got to Varberg, found the site, and I got up to hang out with the old Heart Wolves while the rest of the Mirth Mobile found a place to buy alcohol (as a footnote, it's not that easy in Sweden, we have a government monopoly on alcoholic drinks and they can only be bought in certain stores at certain times). I grumble a little bit as I lend out some plains and random cards to people (as I usually don't get cards back when I let people borrow them at conventions), and then just sit and sweet talks (in a masculine way) with Åland who had arrived at the site insanely early. Viktor (Old School) and a crew of other rad dudes starts dropping in, and after some issues with DCI-reporter (some 93/94-players don't have DCI numbers) we're all ready to flip some Chaos Orbs and lose to Millstones.

Pre-game tech. Jhovalking can't find the Twiddles he needs for his deck, but 4-off Bird is the word.
Match 1, vs Eureka! (Michael, aka Johvalking)
An hour or so late the first game is afoot, and my opponent is a mise-monster who plays mise-monsters. We tell some anecdotes about Oslo (where Michael's currently living and I'm moving to in September), and snicker profusely.

My two main-deck Dust to Dust buys me a lot of time in the first duel, as they pick of an assortment of on-color moxen and a colossus that was cast of a Mana Drain. We're trading threats for removals a few turns, and suddenly I get the chance to combo out. I have double Land Tax and Land's Edge in play, and all I have to do is to hit one of my lands with Chaos Orb to activate the tax man. Rusty skills on the flipping combined with some beer makes me miss however, but when I one turn later resolves a Blood Moon, Michael scoops up his cards. His Lotus and green mox were gone, his birds were bolted, and his manabase didn't include any basics. Magic is an easy game. I sideboard out some random durdle and my Chaos Orb, as I clearly can't trust it, and board in Shahrazad and more Moons.

Michael holds the flag high in the beginning of the second duel, and I'm very aware of the fact that an Eureka can result in 25 damage on the spot. I play a Serra Angel which gets Mana Drained into a Colossus. I have the swords to exile it and put Michael at 29 life, but I can follow it with Shahrazad playing the subgame with a deck that contains all my bolts, taxes and edges. The subgame is over fairly quickly, and Shahrazad deals 14 damage for two white mana. Later in the main game I manage to resolve a couple of Thunder Spirits and bolt away a Clone, and my fliers goes all the way. Michaels hand after he lost was Nicol Bolas, Colossus of Sardia, Concordant Crossroads, Mana Drain and something else. An Eureka would have been pretty rough there, but the red-white heroes decided to win before he got to top-deck.

Max attempts to make himself Japanese pimp. The result speaks for itself.
Match 2, vs MonoBlue (Max, aka Balderuse)
Max is the driver of the Mirth Mobile, as well as my new neighbor after the weeks move, so in order to avoid having to walk home I feel the need to keep my trash talk on a timid level. The plan fails miserably, and around the time of pre-game pile shuffling we've questioned each other's decks, reasons for existence, sexual preferences, and how our game one opponents could have been so unlucky that they lost against a n00b. It's not easy to be constantly polite when you're used to the trash talk meta of Gothenburg.

Max is playing MonoBlue, with a steady supply of Time Elementals and Old Men of the Sea that will control the late game if his Serendibs would fail to take down the early game. His Flood only affects my White Knights, but I suspect a large number of Control Magics and Clones. During game one I'm never able to play Serra Angel with a clear conscience, as a Control Magic would run me over completely. I take game one on the back of a pair of Armageddons, and post-board I can fill up on Blasts. Max doesn't appear to play Power Sink, so I can force through some relevant spells after baiting his counters. Geddon, Dust to Dust, and Blasts are houses, and the whole ordeal is fairly painless, even though it's not an entirely obvious matchup.

Looks like Honka plays monoblack. Nerd Thugz!
Match 3, vs The Deck (Åland, aka Aginamist)
Åland made his debut in the format about a month earlier during Gråberget Champs, and have since then dug up about $5k winner-cards in order to build a truly strong control deck. I heard after the game that he lacked the 4th Mana Drain and a Time Walk, but 8 power cards and the library were cheating around in his 75 nonetheless. I've played around inf games against The Deck with Tax Edge, and with maindeck sideboard cards like Blood Moon and Dust to Dust, as well as an additional 7-8 slots in the sideboard against it, I'd give myself an almost 60% matchup (at least as long as I won't have to face Kalle). Activated Mirror Universe is almost always game, but I have at least 8 answers to it post board.

Game one was not a sight for sore eyes, as Åland casts multiple Fellwar Stones and easily plays around both Moons and Geddon. He manages to resolve both Mind Twist and Mirror Universe (as I for some reason assumed that he didn't play black, and didn't remove his Mox Jet). During game two we both take mulligans to 5, and as my deck mulls generously with Land Tax and Winds of Change, while Åland's deck won't find Ancestral before I find a Blast. Last game handed out some cheaty plays from both sides of the table, until Åland decides to play a match deciding Mind Twist. Åland was at 12, took two damage from his Cities when playing the Twist for my entire hand of 4 cards. I respond by throwing three lands in his head with Land's Edge (my last card was a REB), and during my next turn I'm able to topdeck a Lightning Bolt and attack for the last point with my lonely White Knight. Very fair, and I place myself at a reasonable 3-0.

Kalle loses in match 4 by sucking at Magic. Not seeing him in the single elimination rounds is highly unusual.
Match 4, vs The Burn Deck (Elof)
Elof is a rough opponent who just missed top8 at n00bcon 4, ending up at a respectable 9th place there. As the only two players at 3-0 we won't have to worry about a rough game here though; we ID into top4 with a lark, and walk out in the sun to spend an hour drinking beer. Magic is an easy game.

Semi finals, vs The Deck (Åland again)
Åland wins the flip, and game one appears to be in my favour, as Åland mulls to five while I have a very sweet keep with Mox Pearl, Land Tax, Library of Alexandria. Looks like a hard hand to lose with, even if Åland would have mulled into Ancestral. It turns out that Åland is a slightly better player than me after all though, as his turn one play is City of Brass, Black Lotus, Time Twister. Åland effectively mulls to 8, and my new hand is comparably useless. It ends with Åland burning me out with two Fireballs in lategame. Game two I beat him down to 7 before he gets to exchange that for my 26 with the Mirror (he sworded a Thunder Spirit and a Serra earlier). I manage to beat him down to five before he topdecks a Fireball and finish me off. It's kind of annoying to attack someone for 34 without them dying. An interesting scenario during one of our games was when Åland's board, sometime during lategame, only consisted of five moxen and a Black Lotus. Sometimes Geddon won't walk the extra mile. During this game I cemented the opinion that Fellwar Stone is amazing against Tax Edge; it walks around Geddon and Blood Moon, and supplies white mana to both Swords and Disenchans to get out of soft locks.

Warcons convention Shark, and a lucky someone's future sideboard card.
Loss that is, and no Shark for me today neither. The second semi finals was between Elof and Honka's MonoBlack. Honka was one of four players at 2-1-1 (the other three were Kalle, Viktor and GaJol), but as his only loss was against Elof, he pulled the longest straw. Honka's deck have a lot of things going on against The Deck, not the least in his full sets of both Underworld Dreams and Sinkhole maindeck. Elof decided he mise well win again in the semi-finals though, and he was on to face Åland in the finals. 

Intense control mirror in the finals.
The finals between the two control-heroes were surprisingly intense (more so than the 2.5 hour long semi-finals between Dan and Rober Schram at BSK 2011 at least). As far as I remember, it was decided in the third and final game of tournament, when both Elof and Åland had about 10 life and active Disrupting Scepters, and were in some kind of strange topdecking mode. During a deciding moment, Åland decided not to activate his Scepter, which made elof able to keep a card in hand after each Scepter activation for the rest of the game. That in turn let him have a counter for Ålands lethal Fireball (which in turn made Åland unable to active the Scepter that round as well). Elof could then during his next turn activate his own Scepter to take Ålands last card (a Counterspell), cast Recall for Time Walk and Fireball, take an extra turn, and then cast a lethal Fireball. Well played, good game, and congratulations to Elof!

So! Damn! LUCKEEEEEEEEEEEE!
I and Elof followed up the 93/94 tournament by playing the Eternal King qualification tournament where I managed to beat him in the semi-finals, just before I was crushed myself in the finals by some innovative combo deck. I and Elof split the few hundred crowns we won, drank more beer, and Elof then volunteered to let the entire Mirth Mobile stay over at his place.
Nerd Thugz! Fuck tha Police!
About a cube draft later; I, Kalle and Honka was lost in the woods of Varberg as the rest of the Mirth Mobile had driven home to Elof. The Varberg night treated us well, and an hour later we all slept at mattresses and floors in the home of the new Shark. The next morning was broken around 1 pm, and after some hangover stories and tech we were on our way back to Gotheburg. The road trip home included, besides the obligatory trash talk and burger king pit stop, a nightmarish story told by GaJol about when a friend of his accidentally sat down on a sharp stick. I won't be able to make it unheard myself, but I will spare you the horrible details. 

GaJol doing some morning-after tech.
In conclusion, it was a sweet convention with a sweet tournament, and I'm as always looking forward to the next opportunity to meet all the rad guys. An extra shout out to Viktor “Oldschool” Peterson who took the time to make it all happen, and fixed the trophy and the shark.

Thumbs up to you, Bro!

torsdag 20 juni 2013

A weenie tech

Arabian Nights had a lot of new and innovative design. It's easy to forget exactly just how many new things were introduced in this set; lands with other abilities than just tapping for coloured mana, spirit link abilitys (El-Hajjaj), cantrips (Jewled Bird), coin flipping (Bottle of Suleiman) and minus-counters (Unstable Mutation) were all introduced here, just to name a few. One thing that I found particularly sweet were the cycles of powerful creatures.

Of course Alpha had introduced a cycle before this; the 'boons' that gave you three of something for one coloured mana (Ritual, Salve, Ancestral, etc). Arabian Night took it one step further with the introduction of Djinns and Efreets. Four of the colours originally had one Djinn and one Efreet each, and these creatures proved to be some of the most powerful creatures printed for years to come. Cards like Juzam Djinn, Serendib Efreet and Ehrnam Djinn are reasons why City in a Bottle is powerful card.

White didn't get any Djinns or Efreets at this point (there actually only exists one white Djinn/Efreet; Ruham Djinn from Invasion 7 years later). Instead white got the super-hoser King Solomon:

6 months before the legendary rule. Bo-yah!
City in a Bottle is well played in White Weenie, but it's not really useful in terms of the main strategy (i.e. it doesn't deal any damage). King Solomon can kill 10 of the most important creatures in the format; the 8 classic Djinns/Efreets from Arabian Nights, Mahamothi Djinn, and Old Man of the Sea (errated to Djinn).  He is also a beatstick, and let's your weenie deck support cards like Army of Allah and Shahrazad more easily. It's a far worse solution to City of Brass and Library, but I could see the King make some noise in a white-red weenie deck with Blood Moons and bolts. Also, it's about as awesome as a solution gets to destroy Juzam.

Looks like there will be a tournament at Warcon (Varberg) in five weeks btw, it will certainly be good times! Join if you have the opportunity :)

torsdag 13 juni 2013

Tax Edge

Tax Edge is probably the deck I've played the most with in 93/94. It's a fairly cheap and competitive deck that relies on the interaction between Land Tax and Land's Edge. My older versions of the deck were mostly an upgrade of white weenie; cutting the weeniest of the cards, but playing 10 or more creatures to support the combo. This list (with a minor change) placed top4 at last years Warcon:

Sideboard is Moons, Blasts, Circles, Karmas, Cities and an Angel
This is a very fun list to play, but it's far from an optimal one. It lacks e.g. Shahrazad and Wheel of Fortune, the Swords are far worse than Chain Lightnings here, and it is kind of unfocused when trying to support both combo, aggro and and hate in a single deck.

"What is this strange card type? Cre-a-ture?". Stalin is confused during Gråberget Champs 2012.
A creatureless version of the deck was first shown off by Gustav "Tysken" Schmidt at n00bcon 4. This deck supported Howling Mines and Ivory Towers, and used Feldon's Cane to avoid running out of cards to throw at the opponent. Gustav took the deck to the top8, and the story goes that he only lost games where his opponents managed to activate Mirror Universe.

The creatureless version has evolved more since then. Hjalmar "Honka" Backlund played a creatureless hate version of deck at n00bcon 5. This is probably the coolest versions of the deck yet:

When he can't play Juzam himself, at least he got his Sol Ring altered to a Juzam.
I'm fairly certain that it's correct to play Howling Mines in the deck regardless if you want to support a few creatures or not. Honka's choice of playing no creatures maindeck but having access to 4 Ball Lightning in the sideboard is very nice and techy. I personally like to have a few panic buttons like Serra Angel in the deck, but it's probably a smarter move to make all the opponent's creature removal dead.

It looks like there will be a 93/94 tournament at Warcon this year as well btw! Varberg is the hometown of players like Viktor "Oldschool" Peterson and Elof Gottfridsson so I'm sure that it will be a sweet gathering in six weeks!

fredag 7 juni 2013

More tech from n00bcon 5

We'll step right in.

If the 93/94 format would have a hall of fame, Pefken would be an auto-include. Apart from winning n00bcon twice, he also looks one step beyond the meta, and finds non-traditional powerful decks that can beat the field. At n00bcon 2 he won with a zoo deck, and at n00bcon 4 he reinvented Parfait to take him to the top. Last n00bcon he lost in the top4 against Elof (the Varberg Juggernaut) with a creature heavy deck I henceforth will refer to as Moon Midrange. Moon Midrange relies on under-costed and powerful creatures combined with unfair spells. It has some relation to the Ehrnam Deck, but supports cards like Blood Moon and Detonate, as well as playing a double digit amount of creatures.
Note the sideboard shark :)
Next up is the Power Monolith combo deck, courtesy of Kingen (the guy who took time to take pictures of all the decks shown here). Power Artifact combined with Basalt Monolith will generate an arbitrary large amount of mana, and Transmute Artifact can find both the Monolith and wincons like Rocket Launcher. This deck also supports the Howling Mine/Relic Barrier combo, and most of the power cards. With Power Artifact restricted, and only Demonic Tutor to find it, the deck may have issues with assembling the combo; but with a decent opening hand it's still a force to reckoned with.

Plan is to board in one Ehrnam and one Fat Mothi against good decks.
Next we have white weenie. White weenie is a fairly competitive deck, even though it's very cheap to assemble (by the format's standard at least). WW uses cheap creatures, land tax, city in a bottle, and a handful of disenchants/dust to dusts to overwhelm the opponent and gain tempo. This is one deck that was played last n00bcon:

Land Tax is too obvious
I also feel the need to show off my old WW (top4'd lots of tournaments with this one, including 2 n00bcons and 1 BSK). As I couldn't afford to buy the deck all black bordered, I decided to pimp it out by whiteboarding the entire deck instead (yes all cards are 93/94 legal, they just look like 4th because of acetone):

I don't care. I love it.
Lastly we have Kalle Nord's insanely impressive and unfair Prison deck. Kalle ended up at 9th place in the World Championships at n00bcon, and then second place in HUVUDTURNERINGEN that same evening, to make him miss glory by an inch in both tournaments. This deck is solid lockdown control, and is a pleasure to look at as well as horrible to face.
Again a Shark in the sideboard means a though matchup.

onsdag 5 juni 2013

n00bcon tech and GP shoutout

It's been a hectic week and a half. I just started a new assignment in Oslo, and the weekend included both a birthday for a two-year old and a bachelor party in Gothenburg. It's quite a bit easier to travel to Gothenburg from Oslo than from Munich btw. Speaking of Munich; Alex, one of the Bavarian heroes that I played 93/94 with in Regensburg, asked me about additional lists from n00bcon. On that same note, a Philadelphia (Philadelphian?) old school player named Brian had that same request today, so I figure that it's high time for some more lists. I'll post four sweet decks today, and try to update with four more before the end of the week. I apologize that some of the pictures may look a little blurry, it is possible that the photographer had a beer or two during the event.

We'll start out with Glenn's RG burn list. This deck had the distinction of being the highest placed non-blue deck in the tournament (yeah, restricting Mana Drain was probably a good idea). The deck is incredibly fast, and relies much more on the early game than other traditional RG beats (which pretty much always supports Ehrnam). It lacks the power needed for first turn kills, but it can reliably win on turn 3-4. The deck handles lategame fairly well with bolts, and the fact that you never want to let a creature trough as long as Glenn has a few cards in hand a few mana up.

Turn three Channel Fireball is still Channel Fireball.
After the tiny dudes and small spells, we go big. The Eureka deck is kind of funny in this format, as there aren't any particularly awesome creatures (at least by the last 15 years' standard). Resolving an Eureka is still a very strong play, but it's not like the deck's pilot JhovalKing can win with Eureka and a single other card. Here it's more a strategy of overwhelming with multiple fatties than casting a single unbeatable monster. The deck is awesome regardless; what else could it be with cards like Sword of the Ages and Concordant Crossroads alongside Nicol Bolas and Colossi?

And Juzam. Good decks play Juzam.
Up next is one of my favourite strategies, the Deck-hater known as Electric Eel Aggro. The main idea is that Electric Eel is clearly an underplayed card, and the unfair decks will have real problems beating Energy Flux and Blood Moon. Add burn, serendibs and access to blasts of both colours, and you'll end up with a hate deck that can stand on it's own. A sweet thing with the deck is that it works well with few (or no) power (unlike e.g. the Deck, that relies on power). It can hence be a good budget alternative to start building on, and is easy to improve whenever opportunity to get expensive cards comes up.

Ancestral and Time Walk would probably be better than the moxes, but you play what you own. Don't miss the super-techy Inferno in the SB.

Lastly today we have the Dingus Egg Ponza. As some of you may know, Dingus Egg was on magic's first ever restricted list due to it's interaction with Armageddon, and this brewer combines it not only with Geddon, but with Kudzu as well. The deck eventually wins with the mox-killer Titania's Song, or with Underworld Dreams (or just with Dingus Egg, harsh stuff).

Land destruction from turn two, combined with both Swords and Terror. Everyone except Black Knight is in for a rough time.
In my next post I aim to show white weenie, power monolith, prison and Pefken's top4 ugr midrange, all from last n00bcon. I'm also looking forward to post some history and evolution of the Tax Edge deck in the near future.

Finally, there's a GP in Gothenburg this weekend! I wont have time to participate myself, but I will be in the city during the weekend. If anyone is going to the GP and want to play some old school at Saturday night, send me a mail and we'll sort something out :)