A couple of months ago the Paladins of the North Cup was announced and I knew I had to play there. But wasn’t there already a Northern Paladin community somewhere? Well, the Northern Paladins are an Old School MtG community in Minneapolis and regular host tournaments and who would have guessed, on the exact same day they hosted the Northern Paladins Old School Winter Blast 2019! I just hope nobody got these 2 mixed up 😉
So far I’ve been trying to mix up what I play at tournaments and have played Erhnam Burn’em twice, 5C Dreams Combo twice and 1 time Titania’s Song. I considered exploring Titania’s Song a little bit more but that’s probably something for another time. Atog was definitely an option and is played a lot lately (just like Troll Disco) but I was inspired by the deck which seems to be doing very great at Dutch tournaments: “Geddonless Erhnamgeddon”. Joep made it big in The Netherlands and made the final of GoTKoT III (Tournament Report) where I lost against him in the semi-finals. He then won his own Frost Giant Cup (Tournament Report) after which Robbie van Bakel piloted this deck to a victory at GoTKoT V (Tournament Report).
Joep Meddens: GoTKoT III
Joep Meddens: Frost Giant Cup
Robbie van Bakel: GoTKoT V
While I love Green, typically it’s considered as the weakest color in Old School. So which Green cards are mainly used in this deck? Erhnam, Elves & Ice Storm. I kept thinking, Juzam beats Erhnam, Sinkhole beats Ice Storm so why would black not be better than green? The Elves do make a big difference since they help you to ramp, Dark Ritual really isn’t the same kind of card. I’m certainly not really going to miss Regrowth since in Black I have access to Tutor and Mind Twist, the only green card left is Sylvan Library and for that there isn’t any good substitute. Sure I can try to draw cards with other draw engines but those function very different. What I can however do is punish my opponent for drawing cards with Underworld Dreams and with plenty of control/combo decks around in the Swedish meta this seemed like a perfect plan.
Now that I figured out that Black might be a good substitute for green, I did had to look at all the black mana it required to operate. Can I keep Serra in this deck? Sengir Vampire just isn’t as good as a Serra but well, I do prefer plenty of black mana and I figured I could rather go all the way! So what’s left? Well, just a standard Deadguy Ale deck with Blue, which seems to go by the name of: “Next Level Disaster”. I love brewing (already existing) decks!
Round 1 – Wouter Maas – Mono Black Land Destruction
So after 2 hours in a car together I start the tournament against Wouter. I know exactly what he’s playing since I’ve been brewing till 00:30 with him on What’s App the night before. He even borrowed a couple of cards which he can now throw at me 🙁
I start with T1 Juzam Djinn, that’s not bad in the first game of the tournament. It deals some damage, get’s killed by a Su-Chi and Mishra’s Factory a little later after which I table my Sengir to seal a very quick first victory.
I know what’s he’s playing but I still keep a hand with only a Library. I really don’t like taking a mulligan and hoped to fix it with a Dark Ritual or 2. My library gets killed in T2, I have to wait for my Swamp to cast a Juzam, only to see Paralyze which taps my Juzam which means a very slow and painful dead. Tabling a second Juzam only helps speeding up the process a little.
We both take a mulligan, I did learn something. 6 cards give me a Swamp, Dark Ritual, Tutor, Hippie and 2 other non-land cards. I see 3 options, but taking a mulligan to 5 I actually rule out because….. So, do I play it safe and Tutor for a Mox which he can’t destroy? Or cast the hippie, pray for a land and hope he never recovers from that. I keep my hand, scry (no land) and decide to go for the hippie knowing that only a paralyze kills my plan. Stupid decision regardless of the outcome so he indeed plays a T1 paralyze, I don’t draw any lands and I’ve lost my first match, not what I hoped for obviously!
Round 2 – Eric Versteeg – Black/Red Burn
Eric is fairly new to the game only playing his second tournament. He has a sweet collection of revised cards of which he is the first owner, I love how still people fall in love with the game after owning cards for 25 years. He assembled a Black/Red deck with a lot of good cards but it needs a little tweaking, it’s hard to play Dragon Whelp and Underworld Dreams in 1 deck.
He takes a mulligan to 6 and I have a Land, Mox, Dark Ritual, Dark Ritual, Mind Twist for 5. This ain’t a real fun start for him and I have the advantage. I have another land and an Underworld Dreams left, table it, draw another Dreams and then another….. So he receives 3 damage a turn from which he can never recover (also because he doesn’t play any enchantment removal).
I sideboard a CoP: Red, receive some early damage and table a Juzam which is really hard to kill for him. The CoP: Red means that I’m basically safe other then my own Juzam killing me but the bad guy finishes the job. What a boss!
Round 3 – Auke Koopman – Mono Red Sligh
I’ve played Auke at GoTKoT V where he won with his Mono Red Sligh vs my Erhnam Burn’em. The games were close but he was just a little faster and is able to finish games often with some kind of burn spell. I’m a little worried because Juzam’s killed me in the 1st match and I can’t go to low on life against his deck.
I’m on the play which is lucky because he tables a first turn Black Vise which only deals 1 damage because I played a land and Mox. I do take the risk to get additional damage when playing an Ancestral Recall the next turn which means I’m getting 3 damage from the Black Vise but the card advantage is required to come out on top. A 2nd Black Vise even hits the table which does another 4 damage but by now I have enough mana to start playing threats. Juzam comes into play again and knocks down 10 life points in 2 Turns. I’ve tabled 2 Underworld Dreams, he needs to fork/chain my Juzam but my Hippie and Mishra help to seal the deal.
I sideboard CoP: Red again. He starts, I play T1, Land, Mox, CoP: Red and he doesn’t look happy. T2 I play a Mind Twist for 3 after which Juzam hits the table in T3. A very fast game in which I had all the cards I needed.
Round 4 – Sander Jagersma – Mono Red
I’ve seen Sander at almost every tournament I’ve played and most of the time he plays Black/Red Troll. Since some of his cards were stolen (yes this unfortunately happens), he’s waiting on some cards to arrive (again) among which are Badlands. Therefor today he’s on Mono Red.
I start with a library, he smiles and starts with a library as well. I draw a card, draw another with my library and play Mox, Lotus, Land, Sinkhole (on his Lib), Timetwister. Now we are both back at 7 cards but I have a library and some more mana in play. Again the game is won pretty quick, these match-ups against Red are really good for me.
My hand isn’t brilliant but it contains 2 Rituals and a Juzam which is a very decent start against Red (never keep it against white). Things go very fast from here, a Su-Chi only helps to get 4 life from my Swords to Plowshares. Did I already mention Juzam is a real boss?
Round 5 – Joep Meddens – BGu Land Destruction
Joep is the organiser (and previous winner) of the Hill/Frost Giant Cup, the brother of the famous Dutch Old School YouTuber: Timmy the Sorcerer and inspirator of my “Next Level Disaster” deck. After playing zombies at his last tournament, this time he’s on BGu Land Destruction.
He’s on the play and tables a 2nd turn Sylvan Library which helps him drawing the cards he wants. I’m however able to table a Juzam and that’s a hard creature for him to remove. When he tables an Erhnam Djinn I do decide to STP it asap, knowing these are his biggest threats. In order to catch up he draws another card from his sylvan, he does manage to table a second Erhnam and although he was already pushed into a corner, I draw an Orb to kill his 2nd Erhnam and win the 1st game. This went smoother then I hoped.
He’s on the play again, starts with an Elvish of the Deep Shadow so I know turn 2 the likelihood of having a land destroyed is huge. Luckily I started with 3 lands and play my “worst” land knowing it will get destroyed. He plays Strip Mine, destroys my land and hands me the turn. I play another land knowing it will get destroyed by his strip mine but I manage to keep playing lands and Sinkhole twice after. He then again destroys a land so I’m back to 1 mana, but I’m able to cast a Hippie with a Dark Ritual. On his turn he casts a hippie but I’m lucky again and draw a Black Lotus. He has 2 creatures, I only have 1 so decide to first play Balance (he picks his Elf) and then STP his hippie. My hippie can now attack, he needs to discard a card and with only 2 mana in play he has to fight an uphill battle. He is able to cast a Whirling Dervish which becomes fairly big but I’m able to attack twice in which he has to discard a Hippie, only because he’s still missing his 3rd mana. My Juzam gives his Dervish defense duty and after casting a 2nd Hippie they do the rest.
Mari wins the 5 rounds of Swiss, Jimmy, Erwin and I manage to go 4-1 and 7 people finish 3-2 of which Joep, Koos, Jeff & Bjorn make it into the top 8. Out of the 20 people who showed up, 4 people played the deck! Bjorn and Jimmy made the cut with the Deck, Nick and Peter didn’t. The Deck is always the favorite but with 4 Underworld Dreams and 4 Energy Flux in the sideboard I did come prepared!
Quarter Finals – Joep Meddens – BGu Land Destruction
Joep again? Yes, Joep again! While it might sounds great to play against somebody from who you just won 2-0, I was actually really relieved I had already played Joep and didn’t hope to meet him again. The fact he plays more land destruction then I do, has better side-board options and is a really great pilot, always make games against Joep very tough.
By now it was serious business and looking at my notes I have hardly anything written down mostly because the intensity of the matches. I’m starting with Land, 2* Ritual, Mind Twist and he’s not happy. He’s able to cast a Sylvan Library which helps him recover some cards (2 in total) and we have a Djinn face-off (Erhnam vs Juzam). I have a Hippie (with Forestwalk) on the side which is able to damage him which means discarding cards. Together with the damage from his own Sylvan the Hippie is actually enough to win the 1st game.
Joep on the play means that he’s likely to destroy my land on his 2nd turn and after playing a Llanowar Elves this is almost a certainty. I do however have a Mox Jet and I’m able to play a sinkhole on his land. He plays a Tropical Island on Turn 2 and I know I really don’t want him to start destroying my lands. In my turn I play balance just to remove his Elf from play, no lands destroyed and no cards need to be discarded but I can still play a land knowing that only a Whirling Dervish can ruin my plans big time. On T3 I’m able to cast a Juzam and T4 another Juzam, that’s enough to win 2-0 again but it really was much closer then it looked. While he did start, I again had all the right cards which never gave him the opportunity to start getting ahead by removing my lands.
Semi Finals – Mari Steinhage – UWx Skies
Mari is the organiser of the Gathering of The Knights of Thorn and previous winner of his own tournament as well. He plays UWx Skies which means creatures but it also is in some way similar to The Deck with Counterspells and answers to everything else what does make it into play via Disenchant and Swords to Plowshares. These were 3 of my most intense matches of Old School ever!
I have to take a mulligan to 6 which is never a great start and decide to keep my hand. I’m not sure how to play my hand as I can try and go for an early balance but I end up in T2 casting a Disenchant on his Mox Ruby and table a Juzam Djinn, knowing that in case he doesn’t have an answer this can be decisive and in case he can, I have a balance to start from scratch. He STPs my Juzam after which I play a balance on my next turn which means his Savannah Lions and Serendib are destroyed and we both have 0 cards at hand. That means topdeck mode! I’m able to find an Underworld Dreams which is slowly ticking away and with some help left and right it’s eventually enough to win the game. Not bad after a mulligan.
I sideboard in my Royal Assassin and 2 Icy Manipulator and I’m a bit uncertain on what to remove. I opt for 1 sinkhole, an Underworld Dreams and something else. Juzam comes fast again but Mari had sideboarded a Maze of Ith, which can be really killing as a Juzam becomes a ticking time bomb. The game goes back and forward, some stuff I cast gets countered, other stuff gets destroyed. I’m able to get him to 9 (which feels like getting close) after a Time Walk since he can only use Maze of Ith once but don’t draw anything good so I have to wait for another opportunity. My life total is however ticking away 1 by 1 and after finding an Icy Manipulator I hope that I’m able to start tapping his Maze. He however has an answers again by means of a Disenchant and he starts playing threats which I have to remove with my own disenchant and STPs(*3). 9 becomes 13, 13 becomes 16 and eventually he ends up at 20 again. My time bomb keeps ticking and eventually becomes my death.
I tinker for some time and decide to put my sinkhole’s back in play (never going to board them out again!) but to remove my Juzam’s to catch him by surprise. This means that my deck all of a sudden becomes a little bit more control and I hope to be able to win by destroying all his creatures with 4 STP, Orb, 2 Terror and 1 Royal Assassin and if I can’t kill it, tap it with an Icy (preferable a Serendib). Underworld Dreams should do the rest, although I’m fine if a Mishra or Hippie do the killing as well. This game was even more back and forward then the previous game. Things either never hit the board (Countered), got destroyed right away (STP, Disenchant) or maybe survived the board for just 1 round after something was found again to remove it from play. I had however suffered the most damage so far so I was a little behind. With an empty hand I find a Library and I start saving up cards (mainly lands). I find a dreams which is ticking away but he finds a disenchant a little later. He tables a Savannah Lion to which I really have to find an answer since I’m at 6 and in semi panic I play a land and Mox to anticipate something for which I need mana to survive the day. I do however catch a STP so we are both waiting again for a threat and somehow we go back and forward again and I get up to 7 cards! Finally the card advantage can start, his turn, Psionic Blast, I’m dead 🙁
This was some real intense Magic! My little mistake of dropping the 2 cards for no real reason a little earlier could have made the difference on the other hand I was really lucky he didn’t catch a Psionic Blast anytime sooner.
Unfortunately no finals for me and I never got to play against The Deck. Mari gets to play Jimmy with whom I’m organising the Raging Bull Series. It would have been really nice to play each other and have a Bull win the first Paladin of the North Cup. Jimmy also won the 1st game but eventually lost 2-1 which means that Mari went 8-0 for the day and became the, well deserved, proud owner of a signed Northern Paladin!
While most people were piloting pretty standard decks (myself included), 2 people really came up with some spicy decks. If there would have been a prize for original deck builds these guys would have certainly finished on top. Both went 3-2, showing that you can do pretty good with spicy decks as well. Look at these 2 beauties!
I was really happy with my deck (although there is always room for improvement), was really happy with reaching the semi’s after losing my first match and had a blast playing both real casual matches and some very intense matches! The 5+ hours car drive was definitely worth it, Jasper, Nick and Koos did great hosting the tournament, the location was really relaxed and accommodating and the beer (I was driving) was flowing pretty good for others. We drove home with Joep, Thomas, Wouter and Henk in my car and without mentioning any names, the two people who always play prison decks had enough alcohol to entertain us for the whole ride. Since we all love playing Old School Magic, many different idea’s for new casual formats were discussed and I’m certain you will be hearing from us!
There are plenty of Old School tournaments in the Netherlands in the upcoming months:
Sunday 10th of March – Camel Trophy in Arhnem
Sunday 7th of April – Hill Giant Cup II in Hilversum
Saturday 25th of May – Raging Bull Series in Amsterdam
Saturday 22nd of June – Gathering of The Knights of Thorn VI in Deventer
Sunday 23rd of June – Dwarven Warriors in Voorthuizen
Hope to see you there!