The first guest blog on RagingBull Series is from a great member of the Dutch Old School scene. I’ve only met him a couple of months ago but since we are so passionate about the same thing it kind of feels like forever. When I mentioned to him I would organize a tournament in his hometown Amsterdam, he immediately moved a weekend trip he had already planned. I guess we are all a little addicted to this great game. Without further ado, here is Evert’s Hill Giant Cup II Tournament Report:
On April 7th the second edition of the Hill Giant Cup was held in Vendetta, a great little Gamestore in the center of Hilversum. I had a good run and it seems that this somewhat comes with the task to pen down a tournament report. In The Netherlands we are fortunate to have a very active, skilled and welcoming OS community, which currently organizes tournaments roughly every 1 to 2 months. Brewing is encouraged, but some level of “spikiness” is not frowned upon, which makes tournaments a great experience for all types of players, be it a Timmy, a Johnny or a Spike. (https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/making-magic/timmy-johnny-and-spike-2013-12-03)
As I consider myself still to be fairly new to the Old School scene, please allow me to first say a few words about myself, though my story with the game probably sounds familiar to most of you. I think of myself, as I believe a lot of OS players, as a Johnny player, I like to win, but hope to do so with style and with something I can somewhat call my own. I’ve been playing Magic for the past twenty-something years, starting when packs of Revised were still for sale (though I bought lots of fourth edition at the time because it was the “new thing” and the pictures looked sharper, damn you young me…). Though I had some short breaks from the game throughout the years my fondness of the game never waned. I played casual kitchen table Magic with my High School friends for the longest time but became an avid Legacy (tournament) player around 2013. I got bitten by the Old School bug in 2017, after Anies could not shut up about it (thanks again my friend!). Ever since I have gradually become more and more infatuated by it.
After trying some archetypes in the format I settled on Troll Disco and have been playing it for a while now. Guardian Beast is sort of my Juzam Djinn, my “Old School spirit animal”, so I sleeved up the following 75 to battle for the Hill Giant:
Troll Disco feat. MCA, Ad-Rock and Mike D (The Beastie Boys)..
Every heroic story needs a good soundtrack, so I’ve accompanied my tournament report with a theme song per round (plus some bones tracks!) in which The Beastie Boys describe my tournament in song.
On to the tournament!
Two absolute cornerstones of the Dutch community are the brothers Joep & Thomas. Joep as tournament organizer (and for winning his own tournaments) and Thomas for his love for Tron, awesome YouTube channel and streaming the Dutch OS events. Joep and Thomas invited me to play Round 1 on stream. And while this excitement should have gotten me to wake up and be sharp, it unfortunately did not… Let’s just say the combination of an early Sunday morning, my first games of OS in months and little to no sleep due to a wedding the night before made some entertaining footage…. See Timmy The Sorcerer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KSXV6QyaPg
Round 1: Bas on UWr Skies, 2-0 Win
Bas is a mainstay in the Dutch OS scene. It is always a surprise what he is on, but 1 thing you can count on, his deck is always beautiful. Turns out he was on UWr Skies this time around.
Game 1 I win the die-roll and have turn 1 Library which Bas cannot answer. After baiting some removal spells the card advantage becomes too much to overcome. Game 2 I turn 1 Mind Twist for 3 with a Black Lotus which buys me enough time to get to the midgame. But this still turned into a very grindy game. I had to “plow” through 4 plows and was running low on wincons, but eventually managed to take the game and match with my last Troll and Bolt.
I played really poorly but still won 2-0, normally Bas would punish this, but let’s just say sometimes it is better to be lucky than good…
Round 2: David on BW Dreams Control, 2-1 Win
I’ve known David for quite some time now and for such a lover of the game David plays the most hateful decks (cross-format). David is a fun guy, he just likes to have most, if not all, the fun for himself. (And who can blame him..) After an epic draw in the last swiss round of the previous Knights of Thorn event, which left us both 3-1-1 and just out of top 8, David and I had a score to settle.
Game 1 had me countering most of his relevant spells to early on in the game, eventually cleaning up a troublesome The Abyss with a Disk and close out the game soon after. Game 2 I get Balanced out of the game (discarding 7 cards, ouch!) and with active Howling Mine/Relic Barrier there was no coming back. Game 3 I do not remember much other than it being another close game, which I was fortunate enough to end up winning.
After round 2 Joep had arranged a lunch break with the group at nearby “food court” Mout, a few minute walk from Vendetta. Good food and great company to talk OS Magic with is always awesome. We discussed the format, football and our plans for n00bcon and with a belly full of food and a smile on my face I returned for round 3.
Round 3: Nick on The Deck, 2-1 Win
The Deck is often a daunting challenge, especially in the hands of a skilled pilot. And Nick is definitely that. After losing the semi-finals of the Frost Giant Cup to Nick in 3 epic games I hoped for a better outcome this time around.
Game 1 Nick was stuck on mana. Game 2 it was the other way around (Mind Twist for 6 hurts), so these were not the most interesting games. But this left us ample time for a long and very interactive game 3. So much happened in this game that it is a bit of a blur, we were jockeying for position the entire time. Me keeping his tomes off the table and Nick answering my Disks before I could use them and lots of draw-go in between. Eventually I manage to win just before time is called.
Round 4: Antoine on UWb Skies (Lauter’s n00bcon X list), 1-1-1 Draw
I had not yet met Antoine prior to the tournament but had read some of his tournament reports. He came fresh of a victory at the Camel cup last month so I knew I had my work cut out for me. He indeed turned out to be a very skilled player. We play 3 very grindy games with lots of interaction. Time is called and things look bleak, there is no way I can win from my current position, but, neither can Antoine. We both progress 3-0-1. My main take-away from these games is that Balance can be the most backbreaking card in OS MTG. I struggle to think of a card which is more unjustly named.
Round 5: Bjorn on UWG midrange (Pixie Tricks), 2-0 Win
Bjorn was the other Camel Trophy finalist (and organizer), and again is piloting his deck to a good result in this tournament. Bjorn has a broad range and as I did not play in the Camel Trophy, I did not know what to expect. It turned out this was the fifth time in 5 rounds that my Trolls & Disks had to faced Swords to Plowshares, Disenchants and Balance.
Game 1 Bjorn plays the namesake Pixie and puts on some early pressure. I manage to resolve a Disk and protect it with Counterspell, which I can follow-up with Mind Twist and a Guardian Beast, which quickly ends the game. Game 2 Bjorn keeps what turns out to be land heavy hand and does not draw a lot of action. I have the good fortune of a turn 1 Library and with no early pressure from his side I can play “the beatdown” and press my advantage.
That left Antoine and myself as the only remaining undefeated players after Swiss, both on 13 points. The rest of the top8 is made up of:
- David on BW Dreams Control 12 points
- Jeff on Deadguy Ale 12 points
- Nick on The Deck 10 points
- Koos on TaxEdge 10 points
- Mari on UWb Skies 10 points
- Jimmy on The Deck 10 points
Quarter-finals: Nick on the Deck, 2-1 Win
We get a rematch in the quarter finals, despite the challenge that is The Deck it is always fun to play against Nick, a guy who knows his cards and his football. Again we play 3 games with lots of back and forth. We split the first two games and game 3 I find myself in an advantageous position with Nick empty handed after a Mind Twist and me in firm control of the board. However, when time is called in the round I need to capitalize on the advantage gained. Nick gets turn 1 which leaves me only 2 active turns to close out the game and Nick is still at a high life total. I play my Time Walk to “steal” one of the extra turns, giving me 3 instead of 2 turns. ! attack for some damage and pass. Nick draws a Serra Angel from the top which offers a significant roadblock. I have a Troll and Factory and have ample life so I am not losing this game any time soon, but can I close out the game in time? It would feel really bad to have to Orb flip for the win from such an advantageous position. Final turn, Nick tries to Blue Blast my Troll on upkeep to prevent it from attacking, but I have the Red Blast to counter. This leaves me with 2 attackers vs 1 Serra and 2 life so I end up just getting there!
Semi-finals: Jeff on powered Deadguy Ale, 2-0 Win
The semi-finals have me back on camera at the feature match table, hopefully with some better Magic than I demonstrated in round 1. Always friendly Jeff offers me a beer and we joke around a bit before the battle commences. Jeff has been on an impressive run lately, stringing another good result to his repertoire at this event. He tutors for Library early game 1 and I manage to get some damage in with a Factory. I can get rid of the Library before things really get out of hand with a timely Orb flip. I have the Power Sink to answer a huge Mind Twist (which would have been backbreaking) and pull ahead from there. Jeff comes back in the game with a Su-Chi and Factory and gets me down to 4, but is at 4 life himself which allows me to finish the game with a lethal Fireball.
Three MC’s and One DJ, As much fun as one can have in OS Magic.
Game 2 things really lined up for me. Jeff took a mulligan to 6 and I kept a decent 7. I have the Strip Mine for his Library, which did not draw him any cards because of the mulligan. Jeff stumbles on mana and ! get to build my board and Mind Twist away his hand. I get Guardian Beast and Chaos Orb going and start shooting his permanents.
Though, apparently not everyone is a fan.. In my defense, I apologized to his girlfriend on camera.
In all my excitement I missed some Factory damage by pumping the with the Factory which got Mazed. But this was a lob-sided event. Being the good guy he is he allowed me to play out the game and have some fun. But eventually committed hara kiri by killing himself in response to a lethal bolt with his City of Brass! Going out the way of the Samurai.. Off to the finals!
Finals: Antoine on UWb Skies (Lauter’s n00bcon X deck), 2-0 Win
It was cool to have the only 2 undefeated players in the Swiss rounds make it to the finals. Antoine beat Koos and David in the Top8 and was on an insane run since the Camel Trophy. From winner there to the finals here is really impressive. So I had my work cut out for me.
Antoine gets to go first. But I get a lucky break with a Library from the top! Antoine has an aggressive start however and I have limited time to capitalize on my Library. Antoine finds the answer to Library and has the Disenchant for the Disk that was supposed to help me stabilize. I’m getting into a tough spot, facing 2 factories, a Lion and a Serendib Efreet with only 8 life left. Antoine has taken quite some damage from his City and Serendib however, so I’m going into the tank.. I have a Bolt and Fireball, I have to Bolt a Factory to stay alive, but realize I lose to a Swords to Plowshares on his own Efreet. I try to bait a potential Swords with a Factory attack. No response, I try my lethal Fireball and it is good enough! Off to game 2!
I have a strong opening and get to Lotus + Mind Twist early in the game. I hit the dream: Balance, Swords and Serra. The Balance would have been back-breaking (again). Antoine stumbles on mana, I get to Stone Rain his Tundra to further pull ahead. There is still a Chaos Orb to deal with. I offer up my first Troll and hope to stick a Disk. The Disk gets answered by Disenchant however. I land my second Troll a bit later which, along with a Fireball (again) I ride to victory!
The Spoils! An amazing altered Alpha Hill Giant
About the Deck:
Obviously the deck performed very well for me despite facing some challenging matchups. Traditionally white decks with their core of 4 Swords to Plowshares, 4 Disenchant and a Balance and with even more haymakers from the sideboard are tough to beat. Facing it 8 out of 8 matches and coming out on top shows the power of the deck, but also required some good fortune or outright luck. While I’ve heard some players say Troll Disco is a Tier 1 strategy, I personally do not view it on the same level as The Deck, Counterburn or UWb Aggro/Lauter. I would rank Troll Disco as a solid 1.5 strategy, on a similar power-level to GWu (Geddonless) ErhnamGeddon, Atog, Mono Black or Dreams Combo. It is however an absolute blast to pilot, with a lot of room for personalization and brewing.
Disks can solve pretty much any problem you can face in the format. Trolls are great for both their defensive as offensive utility. My beloved Guardian Beasts are a bit underappreciated in the format in my (be it somewhat biased) view. The 4 toughness is very relevant when facing Lions, Factories or opposing Trolls and the only widely played removal spells it dies to are StP (which kills everything except for Black Knight) and Psionic Blast (which does not see much play honestly). Meaning I have 7 threats that demand a StP. Getting multiple uses out of your Orb or Disk can be backbreaking for any deck. Of course another good and more commonly played option for this slot is a Shivan Dragon, and you can’t really blame someone for playing that. A card which really shined and overperformed was Maze of Ith, which I believe is slowly gaining popularity for good reason.
This again was an amazing tournament by Joep so a big shout-out to him and store owner Robbert for allowing thirty-something old guys to take over his shop for the day. It was an absolute joy to spend the day with so many awesome people who share the same enthusiasm for this game. It keeps on amazing me how great, skilled and friendly the community in our small country is. Now off to n00bcon to represent The Dutch Old School Guild!
Thanks for reading,