Twice a year the biggest online Old School tournament is organised by Dave Firth Bard. The Winter and Summer Derby always have over 100 people competing from all over the world for eternal fame in different formats. This year the Winter Derby was using Pacific rules and had 164 participants.
As most of you know, I’m a Swedish player by heart, so I had my doubts if I even wanted to compete in a 4 Strip Mine tournament. I however recently obtained my 4th Mishra’s Workshop, so it was time to sleeve up Robots. I looked at different lists on the internet and I fell in love with Koos Cramer’s list from the Summer Derby, with which he made Top 8. It played 2 maindeck Abyss and had White for sideboard Disenchants instead of the usual Red.
After some tweaking and tuning (I wanted to play 2 Swords to Plowshares for all the weenies and 2 City in a Bottle for all the Serendib Efreets), I settled on the following list:
I did not have any time to test the deck, so I just went for it and was hoping to have a good time!
The day after Christmas the first batch of pairings came up and I directly started planning with my opponents. After 24 hours my first 4 matches were planned and we were off to the races!
Match 1: Brett Attmore
Brett was playing The Deck. In the first game I made an error, where I could have kept him from using Jayemdae Tome for a few turns, but I opted to increase my own mana. I used a Copy Artifact on a Sol Ring instead of an Icy Manipulator. This gave him the opportunity to cast Divine Offering on my Icy Manipulator and the book came online. needless to say, the game was in his favor from that point onward and I lost game 1.
Game 2 came down to him Balancing away my land an using Strip Mine on my last land. After that I had 2 Moxen and never drew any mana again.
So my first match was in. A loss. The Deck. Being Stripped from my mana. Sigh…
Match 2: Paul Fiero
Paul is someone who usually plays a Living Plane combo deck, which I love very, very much. For the Derby however he brewed something very spicy using Juxtapose with Force of Nature! Such a cool way to kill someone.
Game 1 he started with a Birds of Paradise. I had a turn 1 The Abyss. I didn’t know what I was playing against, but this proved to be backbreaking for Paul, since he couldn’t use his combo, because I could just have The Abyss target the Force of Nature. Not much later a combination of Su-Chi, Triskelion and Mishra’s Factory killed him.
Game 2 he played some of his artifact creatures and I got to play The Abyss again. Triskelion took care of the creatures and I killed him in a short time again.
Match 3: William T Sanders
Will messaged me that he was playing “arguably one of the most interesting deck archetypes of Old School”, but it was very weak against 4 Strip Mine, so there was “not much point in playing” according to him.
Intrigued by these messages, I was glad that we did play our match. And his claim was absolutely true! He played Lich combo, which is indeed one of the most interesting deck archetypes.
Game 1 a Strip Mine and an Icy Manipulator did indeed stop him from ever doing anything. A Mind Twist after that sealed the deal.
Game 2 however was a different ballgame. I took away some of his life with a Mishra’s Factory and a Copy Artifact on that land. He played a Sylvan Library and took 2 or 3 extra cards and then played Eureka. He dumped his whole hand with 2 Mirror Universe and a Lich. I got to put a Triskelion into play. He had a total of 9 permanents.
Unfortunately for him, attacking with 2 Mishra’s Factory and a Triskelion made him sacrifice his board except for Lich. Removing a counter from Triskelion made him sacrifice that as well and thus losing the game.
Match 4: Jesse Compton
Jesse played a deck with all the good White and Blue cards; Savannah Lions, Serendib Efreet, Order of Leitbur, Serra Angel with Counterspells and the White removal cards.
Game 1 I just lost to all the creatures and Jesse had Counterspells and removal for each of my threats.
Game 2 started with me playing a Tundra. Jesse played a Library of Alexandria (oof), drew a card and played Black Lotus, so his Counterspells were live. I played a Workshop and passed turn. He then played a Tundra of his own and passed. I play another Workshop and bait his Counterspell with Tetravus, which worked. He still had a Blue mana floating, so I went to my second mainphase and tapped the Tundra to play and resolve Ancestral Recall. I drew into a Strip Mine and an Icy Manipulator. I could hamper his mana and Triskelion and Factory won me the game.
In the third game (my first game 3 of the tournament!) Jesse again had an active Library, but not enough mana to play any threats. He did however have all the answers to my own threats. He did have to use a Balance to get rid of my Tetravus. The next turn, I was able to empty my hand and play my own Balance. A Factory started eating away his life total. When I played a Tetravus, Jesse had an Energy Flux. Luckily, I saved a Disenchant and the 1/1 fliers, combined with and Icy Manipulator on his City of Brass ate away the rest of his life.
So that was the first Batch. A 3-1 record, 6-3 in games.
In the standings I was at the 28th place.
In the second Batch, even my random pairing was against another 3-1 player, so this time, things got even more real.
Within a day my matches were planned again and my first opponent was Hugo from Brazil.
Match 5: Hugo Borges
Hugo played an Atog deck, so it was going to be a race.
The first game I needed one more attack to kill him, but he had also burned me down to 4. A Psionic Blast made sure I never got that last attack.
Game 2 I had a turn 1 The Abyss with help from Mana Vault. I Copy Artifacted some Mishra’s Factory and since he couldn’t play his Atog and didn’t draw enough burn spells, I won this game.
Game number three started with Hugo playing out his entire hand with a Strip Mine, 2 Black Vise and an Atog. What an awesome start. I responded by playing Strip Mine, Black Lotus, The Abyss. This meant I had 5 cards in hand left and he lost his Atog. He drew some cards and Stripped away a Workshop. I played land after land and resolved a Mind Twist. With 1 Strip Mine uncracked and an Icy Manipulator I was able to hamper his mana, but I had not drawn any threat. He managed to play another Black Vise (3 in play) and resolve a Timetwister, while I was on 16 life. His Timetwister gave him Tundra, so he had mana again. I however still had the Strip Mine and drew a Disenchant and a Mind Twist. I destroyed one of the Black Vises at the end of his turn and then Mind Twisted for 6 (his whole hand). After that a Tetravus, Copy Artifact and Time Walk into a Triskelion killed him in 2 turns.
Match 6: Masayuki Higashi
My Japanese opponent was on UW Skies. A tough matchup for me, since I have few fliers.
Game 1 was brutal, as I started with Underground Sea, Mox Ruby, Demonic Tutor, Mox Sapphire, Ancestral Recall. Turn 2 I played another Mox and a Mind Twist for 4. After that Triskelion, Triskelion, Copy Artifact and Masa scooped.
The second game was very intense. we both played threats and we both had the right answers ready. I did manage to get him down to 5 life, since I was able to use Icy Manipulator on his Serendib Efreet. He then Dust to Dusted my last Mox and the Icy and Armageddon took care of my lands. His Serendib finally started beating me. I was able to Animate Dead a Triskelion and bring him down to 1, but I was on 3 life myself. I then played Time Walk, hoping the topdeckgods would bring me another Triskelion or Animate Dead, but alas.
So we got to play a third game. We both started with a turn 1 Library of Alexandria, but this time the topdeckgods were in my favor and gave me a Strip Mine. Masa however was able to play Chaos Orb, but didn’t have the mana to activate it. In my turn I Copy Artifacted it, but missed my flip. He then took care of my Library. My hand however was full of creatures and the fact that he was stuck on 2 land and a Mox sealed the deal.
Match 7: Jordan Boyle
Jordan was playing his own Boyle.dec; a fast UW deck with all the good cards.
Jordan started game 1 with a Library, but I had the Strip Mine. He plays a Savannah Lions and I manage to resolve a Triskelion. He responds with a Swords to Plowshares, so I killed his Lions. He followed up with 3 Serendib Efreet, while I got to play 2 Icy Manipulator. I manage to destroy another Lions with a Triskelion, a Factory with a Strip Mine, but Jordan found a Swords to Plowshares for his own Serendib Efreet, which gave him enough life to Psionic blast me.
Game 2 I mulligan into an iffy hand of 2 Underground Sea, Strip Mine, Icy Manipulator, Balance and Triskelion. Jordan start the beatdown with a Factory and a Lions. After that he played a Flying Men to get some more beating in. Luckily, I drew the much-needed Tundra and got to resolve Balance.
We get into a stalemate, where we both play threats and have the answers as well. Jordan has an Energy Flux and keep my mana low. I get to play a Tetravus and keep paying for it. He plays a Serra Angel and I have The Abyss in hand, but decide not to play it and keep using my mana for the Tetravus. He then plays a second Serra Angel. Now I have to play The Abyss. This meant that 1 Serra got to attack and bring me to 4. Jordan wants to Demonic Tutor for Psionic Blast, but he boarded them out. A Disenchant on The Abyss works just as good and he also won game 2.
Match 8: Mike Franz
By this time I’m 5-2 and about to play my ‘win-and-maybe-in’. 6-2 might just be enough for Top 16, but with 164 players, it’s a long shot.
Mike has an amazing playmat of Vesuvan Doppleganger. Since I own one too, we have the ladies facing each other. In the pregame chitchat I found out that Mike was about to organise a tournament with Gentlemen’s Rules. We quickly decide that this game should also include them and we start without Library of Alexandria and Mind Twist.
Mike was playing Atog.
Game 1 I quickly had the upper hand with a fast Su-Chi and an Icy Manipulator. He burns away my lifetotal and in his last upkeep he was on 1 and I was on 3 life. He tapped his City of Brass, put the damage-trigger on the stack and Lightning Bolt killed me!
In the second game I was able to Chaos Orb his Atog (I missed the flip, but Mike promptly said that this was a Gentlemen’s game an therefor I got a reflip, which hit). An Animate Dead gave me his Atog. He had a Black Vise in play and played a Timetwister. He Hurkyl’s Recalled my artifacts to my hand and played Ancestral Recall targeting me. The Timetwister however had given me Disenchant, so end of turn, I Disenchanted the Black Vise and shortly after, his own Atog killed him.
Game three Mike has an aggressive start, but I manage to take over the game with 2 Icy Manipulator and later The Abyss. A Triskelion rode me to victory.
6-2, 12-8 in games! My last match with Mike was on January 10th. The second Batch was to be played up until the 22nd and the Top 16 announcement was due on the 23rd, so this was going to be a long wait. I had such a blast playing all the amazing opponents in the 2 Batches! I was surprisingly positive on the 4 Strip Mine games. My assumptions of it being a game of mana denial after mana denial was wrong. These were some of the most interactive games I’ve played in a long time. The Robots grew on me as well. I’m usually playing more midrange decks, but the sheer power of Mishra’s Workshop felt awesome. On the other hand I wanted to brew some more Swedish decks and play more within my own comfort space.
The morning of January 22nd I woke up, just like any normal day, but by the time I got to check my phone, I saw that I was tagged by DFB. I immediately clicked and to my surprise I had made it to the Top 16 at place 16! Not only that, I was paired against one of my best friends in the community, the awesome Gerard Siatkowski!
Top 16: Gerard Siatkowski
Right. The Deck. Again. With a player who went 8-0 in the “swiss”. Oof.
Game 1 The Deck did what it’s supposed to do; have all the answers. But my deck did exactly what is needed to counter that; produce threat after threat. Su-Chi; Disenchant. Triskelion; Swords to Plowshares. Factory; Strip Mine. Another Su-Chi; Swords to Plowshares. Icy Manipulator; Counterspell. Animate Dead; Disenchant. But all this answering came with a price. Gerard was out of spells when a Triskelion resolved. And when I broke it up into it’s parts, the 1/1’s got there eventually.
Allright! Game 1 for me. Wow!
Game 2 I had mulliganed to 5. To add insult to injury, Gerard played a Hypnotic Specter. I had never thought he would bring those in, so I had boarded out my The Abysses. The Specter went all the way, and we were off to a third and final game.
Game 3 was the best game of Magic I had in a long time. We both have answers for eachother’s threats; Disenchant for the book, Swords for the creatures, etcetera. A funny thing happened when I killed his Hypnotic Specter and got to Animate Dead it. Gerard was able to play and activate Chaos Orb. This meant that he was flipping on the actual target in an online game! Gerard later played a Balance and got me good, but just like in the game with Jesse, I was able to empty my hand and resolve my own Balance, which hurt Gerard enormously. A few turns later, Tetravus came down and survived the turn, so the little 1/1’s got there again.
Top 8: Mathias Helmbold
The mirror match! This could be very fast, and game 1 certainly was! He started with Library of Alexandria, which I got to Strip Mine. A quick Triskelion and Copy Artifact took the game down for me.
Then we were off to a very, very different game 2. This was some intense Magic again. Mathias was able to keep me off my Blue mana with Blood Moon, until I drew Black Lotus, which made me able to play my Copy Artifacts. We came into a standoff where he had Icy Manipulator, Su-Chi and Triskelion, and I had 2 Icy Manipulator and 2 Triskelion. I however was on defence, since I was on 6 life. Then Mathias drew Tetravus. Then the following happened:
His Icy was tapped. His Tetravus was tapped. Su-Chi and Triskelion attacked me.
Both my Icys were tapped as was 1 Triskelion.
I made the mistake of trying to be smart and kill his Triskelion. I did this before blocks however and he just killed the Triskelion that could block (which had no counters left) and kill me on the spot. Had I played differently, I could have survived another turn on 3 life. Magic is hard!
Mathias had looked at my deck picture and had seen the White removal cards in my sideboard, so he off course had brought in his Glooms. He kept a hand of Strip Mine, Black Lotus, Gloom and 4 other cards. What Mathias didn’t know, was that I had not brought in any of the white cards, making Gloom a dead card. This proved to be crucial in this third game, where I went turn 1 Shop, Mox, Su-Chi, turn 2 Shop, Mox, Tutor, Tetravus. And he had a Gloom. He could Copy Artifact my Tetravus, but Hurkyl’s Recall on his creatures meant it was off to the semis for me.
Semi-finals: Galen Lemei
This game was streamed live by Andrew Walker (OS_Kirdape on Twitch) and can be seen on Youtube here.
Game 1 I had the fastest start in the whole Derby, with a turn 1 Triskelion thanks to Mana Vault. 2 Copy Artifact later meant it was a very quick game.
Game 2 Galen had a very fast Sol’Kanar, which I couldn’t answer at first. His Mishra’s Factory got there in a few turns.
Game 3 I won due to an unanswered turn 1 Library of Alexandria. I managed to Blue Elemental Blast his Sol’Kanar and Galen was left with a Mox Ruby, whilst I had Icy Manipulator.
In the fourth game I again opened with turn 1 Library of Alexandria, which stuck for a long time. The Abyss prevented him from playing his creatures and my Icy Manipulator kept pinging away his life total by tapping City of Brass. He was able to come back in the game with Demonic Tutor for Shatterstorm, but I drew another Icy and chipped away his life total. In the end he was on 2 life and I had Time Walk and Triskelion, while he only had the mana to counter one of them.
So there I found myself in the finals! I already knew I was up against Quinn Maurmann on The Deck.
The Deck. Again.
Finals: Quinn Maurmann
This game was also put on a live stream and DFB managed to even get Mike van Dyke and Will Magrann to do commentary. The video can be seen here.
Game 1 I had to mulligan a hand of 2 The Abyss. My next hand had 2 Icy Manipulator and the mana to cast 1. Quinn opened with Counterspell mana up. I did manage to draw a Sol Ring, which gave enough mana to cast both Icys. I was out of gas after that and Quinn did counter the second Icy. So this game was done, before it had even started.
Game number 2 went better, but I made a big mistake. I played a Demonic Tutor when Quinn was out tapped. I was in doubt to get Ancestral Recall or Copy Artifact. I went for the last one, to really put on the pressure to Quinn. I had never looked at the fact that he still had 2 Mishra’s Factory and decided to attack instead of playing the Copy Artifact first. When Quinn blocked I made another mistake by not killing his Factory in response to him making it a 4/4. This meant I had not only lost my Triskelion, but also my target for Copy Artifact. I did draw the Ancestral Recall later and managed to resolve it when Quinn tapped out of Counterspell mana, but alas, it didn’t do anything anymore.
The third game I drew the one Hurkyl’s Recall I had boarded in. As you can see in the video (at 1hr30), Quinn played a Balance, where he had 3 cards and I had 6. My hand was City of Brass, Time Walk, Animate Dead, Hurkyl’s Recall, Balance and Tetravus. I discarded 3 and drew Divine Offering. This meant I could bait his Counterspell and hopefully resolve Hurkyl’s and Balance, which worked! But after that, you can see the power of the book. Quinn got back into the game, and began beating me down with Factories.
Now, I’ve played The Deck myself once. And I’ve played against it often enough to know that when it has a full hand, all the mana in the world AND 2 active books, it’s time to get yourself a beer and wait to be killed. Which I did.
And that was that! I had played the finals of the Winter Derby! With a deck I didn’t test, and at a time where I was surprised to even make it to the Top 16. What a great run it has been.
Thanks to everyone from the Dutch Old School Guild for the support! Many thanks to Henk, Koos and Evert for helping me make sideboardplans for the Top 16. Thanks to Dave Firth Bard for organising yet another wonderful Derby! And many thanks to all my opponents. I had a blast playing everyone and loved every second of it. Arranging the matches were very smooth, even when the time zones were up to 9hrs apart.
Last but not least congratulations to Quinn Maurmann for being the winner of the event!
If you want to see all the deck photos of the Derby, visit The Sentinel.