Getting back into Magic:
After playing MtG from 1995 till the summer of 2000 I sold all my cards and played a Boosterdraft or Proto with friends once every couple of years. I loved MtG when I started just after Ice Age was released but when the popularity of MtG shifted from “Type 1” to “Type 2”, for me most of the fun was over. I never regretted selling all my cards but I did miss the Type 1 tournaments I used to play, those were some sweet memories.
A couple of years back my buddy, with whom I used to collect, play & sell MtG, started buying old MtG cards again. I wasn’t interested because there wasn’t really a format in which you could play them, why buy a Mox if it’s only sitting in your binder? Until this year my buddy found out that there apparently was a format called 93/94 and it was gaining popularity fast!
It immediately peaked my interest and after trying to restrain myself from starting to play again due to the expensiveness of the cards nowadays, I bought my first cards in June 2017. I should never have done that…. Without further extending this intro, I bought way too many cards, played as often as I could and couldn’t wait for my first tournaments: The Gathering of the Knights of Thorn III.
In 1995 I always played Erhnam Burn’em and the first cards I bought this year were for this deck. Obviously I tweaked it after 22 years, since Incinerate isn’t 93/94 legal, Berserk isn’t restricted anymore, Chaos Orb is legal (and fun) and Mishra Factory got a great upgrade compared to back in the day.
Match 1 – Thomas Meddens: Orbatron
Outside my very small playgroup I hardly played against other people before, but I had played against Thomas in a small table kitchen gathering in Amsterdam. Back then he played a black weenie deck but today he came in and was happy to tell me he had a new deck: Orbatron!! (Uhm, what?)
He won the dice roll, played an Urza’s land and it was my turn. Mishra, Black Lotus, Erhnam Djinn and we had a laugh. Mishra’s Workshop, Su-Chi. Okay, this is going fine! I attack, he takes his 3rd turn and plays Maze of Ith and a Winter Orb, aha now I get the Orbatron, argh! My Djinn gets untapped each time he attacks, Icy Manipulator tables in Turn 4 and I’m not recovering from this old fashioned Icy/Orb combo, damn!
Mulligan to 6, Mox Emerald, lot’s of green stuff but no other land but I refuse to Mulligan to 5. Scry, no land, damn! I get a Taiga in turn 3, table a Kird Ape which attacks in turn 4. Mishra’s Factory blocks, I play 2 Giant Growths and 1 Berserk for 13 trample damage which puts him on 6 due to a City of Brass, I love my pump spells! He then has a Sylvan Library with Sindbad (Draw a card, put it in your hand if it’s a land, otherwise discard it) so can start looting his Library. My Scryb Sprites gets a Fireball for 6 (you can never be too sure), I table an Erhnam, he misses an orb flip, I hit an Orb Flip, I strip his Mishra, he blocks the Erhnam on his Triskelion and tables an Icy again to hold back my Erhnam. Unfortunately I still don’t have red mana to kill him with a Fireball so I lose, 0-2, damn!
Match 2 – Bye
39 players, so somebody needs to get a bye. I didn’t bring any cards for trade since I only wanted to focus on playing. I look around, 39 players, awesome! This really feels like back in the day, only 3 more matches to go after this one, let’s have some fun!
Match 3 – Wikke Westra: BR Ponza
I need to mulligan again and explain him I am allowed to scry after taking 6. It was new to him, just like it was new to me a couple of months ago. He doesn’t really get anything going, although I have to play against another Maze of Ith, a very good card against my deck. I got various small creatures in play and nibble away his life until he’s dead.
Whatever I table he burns it and he destroys my land at the same time as well. Unfortunately for him I have just enough lands and draw a creature each time 1 gets killed. I can use my Scavenger Folk against his first Juggernaut, Bolt the 2nd Juggernaut and again I nibble away his life points. He plays a Wheel of Fortune which gives me an Erhnam, Berserk and Lightning Bolt to finish the game, 2-0!
Match 4 – Thomas Posthuma: URG Zoo
Thomas had won all his matches so far and had won the last Gathering of the Knights of Thorn. We play the same style deck but with the extra (blue) power it’s a tough match-up. To be honest, I love racing, so let’s start!
He takes a mulligan, we race hard! Within a couple of minutes I decide the game in my favour, it was so fast and I was so focussed that I hardly recall any plays.
I doubt what to sideboard: Red Elemental Blasts? He will probably board Blue Elemental Blasts, hmm. 3 Cards I’m 100% certain about and is one of biggest upsides of not splashing blue, Blood Moon! This card is great against Control Decks but also against URG Zoo and it doesn’t hurt my deck that much.
I just draw enough to kill his first couple of creatures. Due to playing against a lot of City in a Bottles last time (hardly any White Weenie’s today actually), he prefers Juggernaut above Erhnam Djinn, my Lightning Bolts agree with that! I table a Blood Moon which leaves him in a pickle, he draws a Blue Elemental Blast which destroys my Blood Moon but his strip mine got tapped by playing something else before that. We both have a Mishra, he is a little ahead and I decide to use my strip mine to strip his. My Mishra hold back his Mishra and I’m able to come back. After he desperately plays a Wheel of Fortune I can finish him off, 2-0 again!
Match 5 – Ruben Kiewiet: BUW
If I win this one I might play the final Top 4! Eventually due to the high turn-out it was decided to play a final Top 8 but I still needed to win to get there.
I start with Mountain, Kird Ape. I have a Taiga as well but most of the time table it the 2nd turn to prevent it from being stripped, sinkhole etc. He plays a Mind Twist and my hand is gone, including my Taiga. Mind Twist is such a great card, how the hell can I recover from this? Lucky for me he doesn’t draw any blue mana sources, is not able to play any threats and magically I’m able to win the game!
I had hardly seen any cards (only Black & White cards) so wasn’t sure what to sideboard, every advantage has its disadvantage. He starts this time with a Mox Sapphire, 2 Mishra’s but no Black & White mana. I went all-in fast, had three 1/1 creatures and although I already had the game in the pocket with a Giant Growth and Berserk in my hand, to make it even worse he misses his orb flip so it just wasn’t his match. 2-0 again and I have reached the final Top 8!
Quarter Finals: Florian von Bredow: Sort of Machine Head?
Florian is one of 2 German players who came over to the Netherlands. Since the German border is only 35 minutes away this tournament is a great opportunity for German players to come as well!
He needs to take a mulligan while my hand is pretty strong. He gets mana screwed and I’m able to take down the game easily but again had no clue what to sideboard the next game since I didn’t see a lot of cards. Since he was sitting next to me the previous game a lesson learned: pay attention to the players around you!
I think he played a 1st turn Juzam Djinn and an Erhnam shortly after but even if he didn’t, I lost without putting up a fight, easy win for him!
I take 2 Whirling Dervish from my sideboard and I’m able to cast it turn 2 already. It grows bigger each turn and I can smell victory having 3 creatures in play. His Bird of Paradise is useful to cast a variety of cards, one of them a Balance. Luckily since he had a living Bird, I could keep my Whirling Dervish which had 3 or 4 counters already at that time. He needs to discard cards since I’m only holding 1, with a Underworld Dreams in play he plays a Timetwister but is out tapped and doesn’t draw a Black Lotus or something to go crazy. I only need a burn card, Giant Growth or Berserk to win it, with 7 cards to draw, I was bound to get something useful! 2-1, ready for the semi-finals!
Semi-Finals: Joep Meddens: Geddonless Erhnamgeddon
I had played Joep’s brother in the 1st round and know him a little from the same small gathering in Amsterdam. I know what deck he plays and I’m looking forward to the match. Top 8 was already great in my 1st tournament but Top 4 somehow felt really special. Let’s get ready to rumble!
Joep starts with a Library of Alexandria and is able to draw cards, more cards and after he plays a Ley Druid (Untap Target Land), many more cards. Since he didn’t draw any non-white mana for some time I was able to hold on for a while but since he was drawing 3 times as many cards as I did, this game was doomed!
Time for my Blood Moons! Lot’s of non-basic lands and that damned Library so again I was happy with my choice not to splash blue 😉I tried to do as much early damage as possible which worked out pretty well with my Erhnam. When he tabled an Erhnam as well, at 8 life points, I had to make a crucial choice: continue to attack and use my giant growth to kill his creature(s) or make use of his Erhnam as it gives forest walk which lets me can nibble away slowly again. I choose the second and it worked out great, 1-1 and everything to play for!
Mox Emerald, Forest, Pendelhaven, Mishra, 2 Llanowar Elves and 1 Scavenger Folk to start with. Just with my Kird Ape/Mountain/Taiga start, without really thinking I start with Mox, Forest and 2 Elves. I know he plays Ice Storms, but think Pendelhaven is the better play. Turn 2 I play my Pendelhaven and not my Mishra, this small error I realise as soon as I table it but not a bad start nevertheless.
Joep has a Sylvan which lets him draw the cards he needs but he can’t afford 4 life to draw an extra life. I table a Blood Moon and can smell the victory since it leaves him with only red mana for the moment. He can pick a Mox Pearl with his Sylvan to play Disenchant, plan failed….
He tables a Serra Angel, which I try to kill with a Giant Growth on my creature when attacking, but a Swords to Plowshares saves the day, another plan failed. He plays Erhnam Djinn just like last game and all I think about is Forest walk, this could win me the game as well. I sit back and in his upkeep I ask, which creature gets Forest Walk? After he points at my Scavenger Folk I look at the board and notice that he doesn’t have any Forest! I played professional poker for 5 years so this shouldn’t be a problem, in my turn I attack bravely with my Forest walking creature….
With a Serra Angel and Erhnam chopping away at my life points I have only 1 turn left to life. Joep has 4 life points left, I need a pump spell or a burn card for the kill, or at least that’s what Joep thinks does the trick. I draw a Forest, congratulate Joep and tell him my little secret 😉
Joep plays Roy Neijland in the final. Roy plays Black Weenie with no power 9 and wasn’t only able to make it to the final table, he won against Joep and is the 3rd winner of the Gathering of the Knights of Thorn! What a blast, what a fantastic turn-out and what a fun bunch of Old School Players. It literally felt like I was back in 1995 and can’t wait to play again!
I want to specifically thank Mari Steinhage for organising this tournament and would like to invite everybody who’s reading this to join the 4th Gathering of the Knights of Torn!
Winner: Roy Neijland