I’ve had Beta Fever since Dwarven Warriors 2019. I’ve upgraded most of my collection by now apart from power, some duals and a couple of random cards. Playing the original AB4k tournament is kind of a thing, therefor skipping 2020 really hurt. I was blindsided by my wife and another couple in planning a weekend away. I always arrange all trips myself, this time I didn’t. Suddenly they booked another week as agreed. Getting a divorce and playing Dwarven Warriors was 1 option, biting my tongue and hoping to be able to come next year was the other option.
So I was anticipating and brewing for this tournament for 2 years and while you think that’s just a matter of speaking, there’s more truth in it then I like myself. While we did play two online AB4K tournaments, it’s just not the same. Not even close. While I want to play the beautiful cards Beta contains, I want to play something good as well. Without power you have to try even harder, since Power in AB4K is even more powerful than in Swedish. I played Mono Black in 2019, so that was not an option. Splashing Black would mainly be about Tutor/Twist. While both are great and this would be something I definitely would do in Swedish, the Twist isn’t really the card I’m looking forward to play at something like DW. I own mainly white mana based duals, so that’s a good start. That leaves UW, GW, RW or a combination of 3 colors. While you can of course play 3 colors, it’s hard without all the duals. If you don’t own the power and all the duals you need a consistent deck, that means Mono or two colors at most. Green adds Elves, Giant Growth and Berserk mainly. Fun cards, but not a deck I really wanted to play. While blue seems a weird choice if you don’t own the power, it’s actually pretty good. Braingeyser, Control Magic (restricted) and counters seem obvious and Steal Artifact is good (and fun) in this format as well. Blue’s Flyers (Phantom Monster and Air Elemental) are good creatures but you can even go the direction of playing Lord of Atlantis and Merfolk of the Pearl Trident, although UU is hard on your mana base. Red was the other option. Bolt and Wheel are the obvious cards. I bought 1 Shivan, a must play. I got Gargoyle’s, Orcs, X spells and more.
Red seemed more viable, so White/Red it was. From there I started reading about building the perfect mana base. How much mana do you need to consistently cast a White Knight for example. How much do you need for a Serra and how much for a Shivan Dragon. This Article by Frank Karsten is great, although in Old School most people just build a mana base that sort of looks good. Going into this depth is kind of crazy, but I’m a big fan of numbers. While I was expecting Tome to be the card of the format and Icy to be everywhere, I choose the opposite route to not play any artifacts besides Sol Ring and Chaos Orb. It leaves your opponent’s Shatter, Disenchant & Steal Artifact useless in most games, which is a win of 2/3 cards. These kind of advantages are really important when you are behind pre-game against people player power. Since Icy, Juggernaut and Tome are 4 mana and White doesn’t really have proper 4 mana cards, I ended up with Dragon Whelp to curve out better. I didn’t own any, so I had to buy 2 in the week prior to Dwarven Warriors. 2 years of planning but in the end it comes down to receiving cards at that tournament itself. I paired them with a Northern Paladin in the SB, consider that my spice card. I would have loved to play my Two-Headed Giant, Serra is just so much better. I would even debate that Fire and especially Earth Elemental are better, although that depends on your mana base. While I figured that a White Knight actually didn’t fit my plan of creating a very consistent deck, I still hoped to go up against Mono Black a lot. Mono Black deck is one of the most played decks in AB4K, and my maindeck plus 5 SB cards were good against it. Karma is just such a killer. To top it off I added the Dwarven Warriors as the 61st card, Evert told me that that is how you win tournaments. After reading this you probably consider me nuts, taking such a serious approach to a tournament like Dwarven Warriors. But having a serious approach doesn’t mean you can’t have fun as well. There is nothing wrong with playing a Dwarven Warriors within a deck with a calculated mana base.
1st round I’m paired against Ron. Ron’s a great player and a real Old School addict. Runner up in the most recent Summer Derby and because he still had to play the final a couple of days after Dwarven Warriors he told me a couple of days before that he would brew something simple. Now let’s not mistake simple for bad. What Ron means is a great deck with nothing fancy, but nevertheless a great deck. I’m always having great matches with Ron, we played 1 or 2 finals. I’m not sure, because I only remember the final I won against him 😉
We start with a beer. It’s 11:00 and the only right thing to do. I believe it was my second since a beer just before the start of the tournament sounded fine as well. Game 1 we both mull to 6. We both draw hardly any threats. After a while we both just have a bunch of mana and Ron plays Disintegrate/Fork. While he used to be an accountant, he comes 1 mana short for the kill. The Irony. I draw a threat, get him down low enough so he has 1 turn left to play. A Demonic Tutor seals the deal. Game 2 Ron keeps a tricky hand with just 1 land and 1 Mox. Luckily I have a disenchant in T2 for an easy victory but I only have 2 Serra Angels in hand so I need 5 turns before I can get the party started. Ron draws land, land. Plays Gloom, turn after Gloom again. Flashfires to destroy my plains and a Mind Twist for most of my hand. Uh, oh, okay.
Henk, a familiar face but I’m not sure where I know him from. Probably from the summer of 1995 when he and another friend taught me Magic. It could also be from the car ride towards 4K or any of the other tournaments we played together. Henk plays power/dual less Green/Red. An upgrade from his mono green of last year and a deck he can keep expanding to make it even better. I’m not saying he should buy even more cards but it wouldn’t hurt him either. Stay strong Henk, you already got the fever….
Game 1 I’m curving out just like Frank would have wanted me. Creature after creature, each time bigger, each time better. I’m proud after the beating I took last round. To top it off I’m casting a Dwarven Warriors which sends a Granite Gargoyle towards the win, while obviously any other creature could have done the job.
On to game 2. I know Henk’s deck pretty well. I’m a big G/R fan and love Berserk decks. So when he keeps cards in hand instead of casting them, I know what’s up. It isn’t that hard, I mean… Really it isn’t. So when he casts Juggernaut and makes the swing I was obviously expecting 16 damage. A burn spell later and I’m dead. Yup, letting Henk attack with a bunch of cards in hand isn’t the best idea. I promise myself to do better game 3. Henk plays an early Hurricane to get rid of a Gargoyle and inflict some damage on my life total. A Dragon Whelp later he does the same. I leave a Giant Spider unchecked and my spider senses go off… He swings, I look at his hand. He takes a sip, I declare no blockers. He casts Giant Growth, Giant Growth and I’m happy to be alive. I’ll make sure that I can block that spider, I got plenty creatures by now. Besides that, I got a COP: Red on the table. This basically means I have no ways to lose this game. Burn? I don’t think so? Green puny creatures? Nothing that my army of creatures can’t handle. Henk doesn’t waste time if he can drink at the same time. Henk just grabs his 3rd Hurricane from his deck and kills me. Uh, oh, okay.
We had some lunch before this round if I remember correctly. When eating you got to drink. When playing Magic with friends, you got to drink. When you are 0-2, there is even more reason to drink. The idea to write a tournament report about this tournament seemed good beforehand. Looking at my notes, this is where I started to lose it. David, that’s clear. He’s on mono Red, luckily he posted his deck beforehand so I already knew. Lots of 2 power creatures like Orcs, Gargoyle’s and Zwelgjes (Dragon Whelp), combine them with Dwarven Warriors and Firebreathing and you have some nasty shit. I think I lost the first game. A Firebreathing Granite Gargoyle that becomes unblockable is just too much. I think game 2 was a really close 1, but I managed to take it away and for the love of …. I have no clue about game 3. I won, that’s what I wrote down. And we grabbed another beer, I know that just from the smile on David’s face.
Round 4 and I’m all victorious! Not because I won a round but because I’m still playing Magic with a great bunch of people. I’m playing Lluis from Barcelona. How do I still remember this? His shirt is 1 giveaway but I’ve been to Barcelona and played with the LCOS crew there. We didn’t play during that tournament but when I arrived at Dwarven Warriors, Juan introduced us to each other. LCOS, what a fantastic bunch of people. Go visit if you can!
I’ve seen what Lluis is playing, it’s Mono Black. I eat Mono Black for breakfast. Game 1, I’m not sure. It probably involved 1 or 2 hippies, a tear in my eyes and a couple of sips of beer. Yes, I lost. Game 2, I’m always better when I’m warmed-up. Lluis is on a roll again, luckily no Hippies this time and I got a little surprise. Lluis keeps rolling and rolling and just when he thinks there is no possibility to ever lose this game, BALANCE! Sorry Lluis, I kept it a secret for 3 turns. I take over the game and booooooom, victory. It’s crazy how much better you remember your wins… Game 3, a dirty COP: Black. Not fair. And a Karma to seal the deal, sorry Lluis.
1 more round. Really? Yeah really. I asked Erwin to make it 7 rounds, because I was on a roll. He didn’t oblige. Maybe 6, nope. Last round and while with 24 players you can make T8 with a 3-2 finish. You can’t if you go LLWWW due to your lousy resistance. I’m disappointed in myself and I’m not sure what to do. I’ll take another beer, that helps. Mari announces pairings and I’m back into the groove. Purple! Yes, Purple. That’s not just the color of his shirt, although it helped me remember. Purple joined the Raging Bull Series Online this year and he’s from Barcelona as well. How can I tell? Look at his shirt, the 1st flag is from 4K the second flag from Catalunya. And what’s the capital of Catalunya? Barcelona. See, it isn’t that hard to remember stuff from a tournament as long as you got some pictures to help you
Game 1. Purple plays Mono Black. It got me confused for some time as well, but it’s true. I eat Mono Black for breakfast. Yes I realize I’ve mentioned that before. I’ve made 0 notes of our games. I don’t have a picture which shows any cards. His thumb up could normally be a give-away but looking at the final results the picture is taken pre-game. All I remember is that I had fun and won. I’ve put those 2 words in order of importance although winning contributes to fun as well.
While the tournament continued with a Top 8 without me, I wasn’t done playing. 3 wins in a row proved that I was just a bit unlucky at the start. Talking with some people is fine but I wasn’t planning to leave early so I had all evening. Besides that, playing Magic makes sure I’m not venturing into other stuff, something I’ll come back to later. Demmer is the founder of AB4k and host of the Dwarven Warriors tournament. What better opponent to prove I’m worthy then to play against him. Sure he didn’t make T8 either, but we are both champions. While a CGC Graded Dwarven Warriors was serving as my cup holder all day before I would pass it on to Erwin, we played as if it was at stake during this match.
Game 1…. I wish I knew. Game 2…. I wish I knew. Game 3…. I only know I lost all 3. So what does this picture say? Looking at Erwin’s board it says he’s winning. Looking at his glass, that we were drinking and looking at his smile that we had fun. And for those with an eye for detail: I’m at 13, he’s at 16. And there’s at least 1 guy who was drinking water, since there’s a water bottle in the back. Now that’s a smart guy!
Juan made T4 and lost against Evert if I recall correctly. Red/Green without power or duals, a little bit the same as Henk. Since that can’t ever be that good, I decided to give it a try. The loss against Demmer was unexpected and I needed to end things better. His weak deck wasn’t the only reason why I wanted to play him, it’s Juan! If you have never enjoyed the company of Juan then you are definitely not done in Old School. Juan is from Barcelona, you can tell because he wears the same shirt as Purple 😉 When Henk & I visited the LCOS crew Juan showed us that Barcelona is more than a beautiful place for tourists. We visited some amazing local restaurants, an ice-cream shop and got to meet most of the LCOS crew. It was one of the friendliest and heartwarming meetups I’ve ever been at. The songs you hear as background in the LCOS YouTube videos are created by the band he played in. And now that he moved to the Netherlands I’m happy to probably see him at most Dutch tournaments.
So round 1… Juan doesn’t play the Giant Growth, Berserk strategy that Henk plays. He plays a lot more creatures. Did you know that Earth Elemental is actually really good? I knew most Elementals were better then you remember them to be. I like Fire Elemental a lot, partly due to the art. I’ve played with Earth Elemental, but as 1 off. Juan simply explained why he plays with Earth and not with Fire Elemental. An Earth Elemental outlives an encounter with Serra, Sengir, Two Headed Giant and two 2/2 (Knights i.e.) double block. While a Fire Elemental might kill a Shivan where Earth Elemental isn’t, it gets killed in most encounters. Well, that was definitely a thing in our match-up. While I might have had a Serra, his Earth Elemental was as good, if not better. Sure he can’t block the Serra, but I certainly can’t block his Earth Elemental either. So he won game 1,2&3 and because I wasn’t giving up, we ended 3-1. At that moment I was happy with taking 1 game. Maybe his deck wasn’t that weak and making T4 was a tell I should have respected a little more 😉
By now it’s around 22:30. I know roughly, because I checked what time I made the picture of Juan. I’m a lot of beers deep by but still feeling great. The tournament is coming to an end on the table next to us. Evert is playing Dyan in the finals and while they fought hard and heavy during the normal rounds, Dyan wins this 1 pretty easy. That’s the 3rd time he won Dwarven Warriors, out of 4. That’s pretty sick but with his skills and card collection you can come a long way. While Dyan drove back with us for most of his travel, I forgot to ask if his mana base was Frank Karsten proof. Some people obviously already left, as they had to get home and had nothing to play for anymore. Some people are about to leave and then there are the die-hards. The mistake of not having a place to stay wasn’t made this time as I had booked a room close to Demmer’s place months ago. Walking distance and the only thing we had to remember was: “Go right at the Promised Land”, a camping site for religious people, I kid you not. Since we were drinking from the tap, we had plenty of cold beer. So what are 35-45 year old males doing after a day of Magic the Gathering? Well, the music was playing so why not listen to some more? I know Demmer’s taste is similar to mine if we are talking old school: Happy Hardcore. So we definitely played a bit of Scooooteeerrrrrr. Critical Mass, Charly Lownoise & Mental Theo, not only the regular picks but songs like “Live at London”. What’s the word?????? But we weren’t the only guys still around. I’m 100% sure not remembering everybody who made it till the end but David, Dyan, Micheal, Evert, Wilfred, Henk, Demmer and I were not ready to go to bed. Happy Hardcore was mixed with Rock, Rap, Punk, Funk, Pop and what not. Never forget Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys at evenings like this! It’s all great music, especially with great people. Eventually I spent more time chatting to people and playing music then playing Magic. And while everybody enjoys a gathering like this in its own way – Spike or Spice, with or without alcohol, Happy Hardcore or Rock – it was a gathering to never forget.
We walked home around 05:00. Calling it walking is a little misplaced. It was raining and we had to share 1 umbrella. We are not really small guys and don’t forget the 2 bags of Magic cards which were holding enough value for an unlimited amount of taxi rides, if any taxi would have been available at this time at night. The next morning I woke up at 09:30 only to find out that Henk had stolen my blanket again. After hinting that we had 2 separate beds, so why just 1 blanket? I found out I fell asleep above mine. Henk took 2 coffee, I slept till 10:58 to escape my hangover which didn’t really work out. Life ain’t fair. We drove to Demmer’s place to thank him and his wife Marijke for the fantastic tournament and hospitality. As a bonus we picked-up Dyan which made for a pleasant ride back home. When I got home I went to bed straight away and when I woke up all I could think off was: What deck will I play next time and what would be the optimal mana base for it?