I’m finally calming down and it’s 4 days after n00bcon. My head was everywhere during the lasts few days, so many things that were crossing my mind all day long. The 2 days after n00bcon I had insomnia, I guess my brain still needed to process everything that happened. I’ll make this a very long post, because n00bcon isn’t just a tournament, it’s a journey.
4 Tune Fairytales – My little fantasy
I can see all the stars just shine on me
When I dream my little fantasy
When I fly in the sky, with the birds so high
And it makes me feel like ecstasy
Feels like ecstasy
In my fantasy
Will this feeling last forever
When I dream my little fantasy
4 Tunes Fairytales – My Little Fantasy. For those who don’t know, it’s a Happy Hardcore classic from 1997. It was stuck in my head the days before flying to Gothenburg, I love the song, like many other Happy Hardcore songs from back in those days. I feel nostalgia when I hear one of those songs as it takes me back to my childhood. A childhood in which I started playing Magic when I was 12 years old. I guess “My Little Fantasy” isn’t the first song that would pop up in most people’s head when thinking back to those days but I’m damn sure many have the same with other songs, something new back then, something very Old School, probably a classic, by now. Back then Magic was an important part of my life. I’ve met a lot of new friends in those days, some with whom I’m still friends and/or still play Magic. Feeling part of a group is very important when you are young, but maybe it’s as important when you are getting older. Finding Old School, finding people who share the same nostalgia, are in the same stage of their lives and being part of a group of mostly like-minded people is awesome. I’ve been part of many communities during my life, but the Old School community is something special, very special.
Erwin Demmer invited me to n00bcon 12 which was supposed to happen April 2020. He invited me months ahead of the tournament and I was thrilled. Only moments later I found out I already had a commitment for that same weekend. How was that possible and couldn’t I move it? I committed to cycling Paris – Roubaix with a good friend of mine, I did that almost a year in advance as it requires at least some level of training. It’s riding a bike 145km over the cobblestones of Northern France. While n00bcon was on the top of my bucket list when it came to Old School, the same thing counts for Paris – Roubaix when it comes to cycling. How could these 2 events be on the same day? I told Erwin I would keep my promise and would hope to join him another year, feeling guilty turning down such an honour. N00bcon was cancelled, Paris – Roubaix was cancelled and the whole world was stuck at home for nearly 2 years. This wasn’t how I had foreseen my upcoming adventures in Magic (and cycling) and like many others I shifted my play to Online. Henk organised the monthly ODOL league (first Corona Cup) and I moved the Raging Bull Series from live to an online tournament. While the situation has been terrible for many people, within the Old School community not everything was bad. What happened during that time is that boundaries between countries and communities started to get (even) more vague. It was easy to join another communities its tournament or league, you didn’t need to travel, you could just do it sitting behind your computer. While we all missed “The Gathering”, all of a sudden, we knew more people than ever in the Old School scene, we just had never met them in real life. The group of people who would travel to others tournament was relatively small before corona, I had only visited Barcelona and London myself, but after Corona everybody wanted to join each other’s tournaments. Everybody seemed more hungry than ever for “The Gathering”. Magnus moved the World Championship from n00bcon to Winc0n. And n00bcon would be smaller post corona. Those who couldn’t make it the previous years certainly wanted to go this time. Paris – Roubaix was on the same date (it’s not always) as n00bcon again in 2022, my chances of going were slim. Maybe one day: “My Little Fantasy”. Erwin invited me again, I discussed this over with my buddy with whom I was supposed to finally ride Paris – Roubaix after 2 years, he was okay to do it another time. Chanches of going to n00bcon might never come up again, he understood. Two years of building this hunger was to much to turn down the invite again. So there it was, n00bcon 13 here I come!
While n00bcon was in my head almost daily, Magic wasn’t so much. I played Dwarven Warriors in August last year, Uthden Troll Cup in November and organised an Ice Age Draft myself in January. These tournaments all had 1 thing in common, The Gathering mattered more than Magic. I didn’t have the time, nor did I feel the need to play online. But when coming to n00bcon I was sure giving it my best shot. If Titania’s Song would have been a faster deck it would have been an option, as this semi-spice deck had won me Hill Giant cup and I love to play it. However playing 60 minutes of almost every round is not something you want to do if you want to talk to people, so it was definitely going to be a fast deck. Ernham Burn’em was my first love back in 1995 and the first deck I build and played at the Gathering of Knights of Thorn when I came back to Magic in 2017. With all these good players around, that deck wouldn’t be good enough. Changing it to ARN Aggro, Fantasy Zoo or just adding some blue cards just wasn’t the same. This left me with 2 other archetypes: Deadguy Ale on Steroids and Robogeddon. I had taken DGaoS to a win in Barcelona and a T8 in every other tournament I had played it. I love the deck, partly because it’s very good against The Deck. Playing Juzam’s at n00bcon sounded very appealing to me. However it gets wrecked by 12 bolt decks, a popular archetype just prior to n00bcon. Robogeddon did very well during corona. I played it in the ODOL of August 2020 and it crushed. Armageddon was already catching on just before that, but not many people had tried it in a Robots deck. It performed well in the Winter Derby and Henk had took it for a couple of spins at various tournaments with very good results as well.
I couldn’t decide and the days flew by. I discussed it many times with Evert, Anne and Henk. Two weeks prior to n00bcon I build an ARN aggro deck, because I knew how to build the other two anyway. I played a couple of games against Reindeer and it performed okish, but didn’t feel great. Henk and I discussed a couple of times to both play Robogeddon and play the same 75. He wasn’t sure what to play either. A week before n00bcon, we agreed to see if we could come up with a shared view on Robogeddon the Monday before n00bcon and so the brewing started. After agreeing that the surprise effect of Geddon was long gone and it wouldn’t be great in 12 Bolt games, we reduced the amount of Geddons to 1. That’s not a Robogeddon deck anymore…. Juggernauts have always been fairly weak but seemed even weaker nowadays but we couldn’t really come up with what else to add. We had most of the deck sort of ready when Henk mentioned: “Why not ditch White for Red?”. The obvious response from me was: “Because Disenchants and Divine Offerings are kind of good right now”.
We still decided to give it a go. Juggernauts could be replaced by Bolts. Disenchants for Shatters and we were doubting to play Balance maindeck anyway. If 12 bolts is a thing, why not 8 bolts in this config? Settle for 8 Robots or more? 8 seemed fine. I love to play 1 X burn spell, Henk didn’t think it was good enough. Henk most, if not always, plays 4 Copy Artifact, I didn’t like it when going down to just 8 bots. Yes, Copy always has a target but it’s not about having a target, it needs to have impact when playing this deck. Hence, I don’t like 4. Let’s admit right now I was wrong, maybe for many reasons but clearly 1 very important 1, the mirror (which we both played a lot). We wanted City in a Bottle main, 2 Abyss wreck many (weenie) decks and probably the 1 other thing which we discussed was Twister, Wheel or both. We ditched the Twister as we didn’t want our opponent to get back all his Artifact hate while we love to ditch our own hand asap and Wheel right after while our opponent is holding more cards still. The mana base was evolving around 2 Fellwar, 1 Mana Vault or vice versa and the amount of City of Brass. I would guess most people would add 2/3 for sure and at least 1, we opted to go for none at all. We wanted to hurt every opponent harder with City in a Bottle then it would hurt us. We wanted to prevent losing against the mirror and 12 bolt decks, by taking 1/2/3 damage from City or Brass less then our opponents. We calculated the mana base, it would be good enough without City of Brass. We asked Anne, the Dutch brewking, to look at our brew with an extra pair of eyes. As always he did, spending valuable time he promised his wife chatting with us about our bew. We re-discussed most of the above and some additional stuff. Most vividly 2 vs 1 main deck Islands. These were needed against Blood Moon (which we played ourselves in the side) to cast our Power and Copy Artifacts, the most efficient spells. The combination of 8 Bots and 8 Bolts wasn’t probably new, as almost nothing is new in Old School. However we didn’t see it before and hence we felt it was good to give the deck a name. 8 Bots, 8 Bolts… BB8 was born. For those who missed the second reference of the name, it’s the White/Orange android from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
SiaB00rg Warm Up to n00bcon
My intention was to play Robogeddon at the SiaB00rg tournament and DGaoS at n00bcon or vise versa. However BB8 was a new deck which we couldn’t playtest before n00bcon, so we both wanted to see if it would be good enough to play at n00bcon. Tuning it after SiaB00rg would be fine, if it felt good enough we would take it to n00bcon, besides the results at SiaB00rg, although we all know that’s not how our brain works most of the time. My expectations were that because 12 bolt decks were so popular and often mentioned in the lead-up to n00bcon, that midrange would actually be the most played deck, as it counters the 12 bolt meta. DGaoS is good against midrange decks, I was still having doubts.
Most of the Dutch Crew would take a flight early Thursday morning. We gathered around 07:00 in front of the gate and downed our first beer of the day. We got into our hotel around 11:00, meeting most of the other Dutchies that had flew in the day before. A total of 13 Dutchies would play at n00bcon, Thomas aka Timmy would do live commentary and Peter would represent the honours of Belgium, which in case needed we could always invade to claim a Dutch victory. Juan and Jordi feel part of the crew as well, although it’s much harder to invade Spain. At 12:00 we were drinking pints in a bar close to our hotel. I played some games, enjoyed the great crew and after lunch we head down to Skansen Kronan. Thrilled to finally start we walked up the mountain (for us Dutchies it was a proper mountain) and we entered the venue. It was brilliant! Probably others can describe it much better but we couldn’t start the tournament in a much better location. Reindeer welcomed us, I said hi to the first familiar and unfamiliar people and the tournament was about to begin!
Round 1 – Erland Petersen
Bots against Bots and I had pretty good opening hands in all 3 games. Erland had to mulligan to 5 the first game, 6 the other games. I won 1 game on LoA and in game 3 I started with Mox, Land, Time Walk, Tutor into Ancestral Recall. I played su-chi quickly after, and Erland dropped Control Magic right after. I lost 1-2, missed my Disenchants and knew that adding that 4th Copy Artifact was a mistake as mentioned above. When your opponent has to mulligan and you have a good hand you feel you have the upperhand. Losing didn’t feel good but the deck felt okay. Erland is a pretty good player, so nothing to worry.
Round 2 – Megu
My good Italian friend. We played together in Barcelona and Megu won the first edition of Raging Bull in 2019. Great to play him in Sweden and of course he is on Deadguy Ale on Steroids. After he dropped a Juzam I missed my big boys and he took the first game in a great manner. I was ahead on the board and had card advantage. Megu was looking at me like he wasn’t able to win this game ever, but was having fun nevertheless. With a Mind Twist in my hand, I opted to wait 1 more turn….. So that he could Mind Twist me and win the game. Game #3 he played Dreams, Dreams, Energy Flux… Yes, not having Disenchants mattered 😉
Round 3 – Florian
Another player I already knew before the weekend. Florian pretty often joins the Dutch tournaments so we had played before. Those 2,5 years felt like forever when finally sitting face 2 face again. He’s on Robots, I take down game 1. He starts with Ancestral game 2, I’m okay with that since I have 1 myself but he counters it as I played it during his upkeep…. Unforeseen and probably a mistake on my end. Game 3 I blast his Ancestral but I’m missing 1 mana all the time, so I can’t keep a REB open to respond to a copy. When it’s in play, it’s no longer blue, a mistake often made, but luckily I knew. Saving me the dissapointment. Another 1-2 defeat and I’m 0-3. Meanwhile Henk is 3-0.
Round 4 – Gordon
We never met, but who doesn’t know Gordon? We’ve been in the same whereby room before, also just days prior to n00bcon. We have a chat and the games can begin. The first game was fast, the second game I go: LoA, Lotus, Time Walk, Ancestral. Gordon actually called it when I broke my Lotus for blue…. None games, but meeting a familiar face for the first time in real life nevertheless. I ask if he wants another game or another drink…. I don’t think I need to tell you the answer.
Round 5 – Thomas Nilsen
15minutes prior to playing Thomas I only saw he was in the building. I’ve never seen him before but he’s coming to Raging Bull Series so I know who he is. This line-up can’t get any better. He’s on Ifh Biff / Spirit Link, do I need to say more? We go 1-1-1 and I’m just smiling all the time. What a great tournament.
Round 6 – Christoffer Modig
It’s getting blurry now. I remember where we were sitting but that’s about it. Starting at 07:00 and drinking pints is getting hard. I do remember that I won, so 2-3-1 it is. I had a blast all tournament against every opponent. In between rounds I tried to catch as many people as possible and the atmosphere was top notch! Erwin seemed to agree with me 😉
This evening is certainly not over yet. Henk, Evert and Alex all 3 made it to T8. The tournament was obviously packed with well known names, but supporting your fellow countrymen always feels extra special. I opted to take a chair and watch Henk’s quarterfinal against Svante to whom he lost in Round 4. Svante needs no introduction and is one of the toughest opponents you can face. The fact that he’s on water doesn’t help either 😉 I didn’t want to anxiously look over the shoulder of Henk all the time so just watched it from the side, I wanted Henk to win but that way I would be a little bit more relax as I didn’t know what anybody was holding anyway. From memory Svante won the first, Henk won the 2 games after. Semi-Finals and I’m already damn proud off my BB8 brother and roomy.
Evert wins to get into T4, Alex loses to Morgan Karlsson which can battle it out against Evert. Henk plays Jason Schwartz. Well, he doesn’t need introduction either and is the most likeable person in the whole Old School scene. It’s impossible to root against Henk here but it feels like a win-win. 2-0 for Henk, 0-2 for Evert so we just miss out on an epic Dutch Final… Finals then. Hard to remember anything other than the moment Henk won…. Damn! Proud… We used the word a lot during the weekend but I was damn proud. What a start of the weekend and while it’s all about the Gathering, it’s still a game where winning adds to the joy we have.
After the venue closes we walk back to the hotel with most of the Dutch crew. Each with their own stories to tell, all sharing a connection that was only getting stronger during this weekend. Henk and I see a bar just across the street from our hotel. We go in, music is blasting through the speakers. We drink some more, meet the Swedish version of Mick Jagger and walk out when the bar closes around 03:00. Wilfred and Erwin head to bed while Henk and I follow 15 minutes later since we were still chatting to Mick and his female entourage. We buy some beer in the hotel lobby, knock on the door of Erwin and Wilfred who were sleeping the door next to us. They turn on the speakers for some music and like myself, Erwin and Wilfred are big fans of Happy Hardcore. I ask them to play 4 Tune Fairytales – My Little Fantasy, what a perfect ending of a fantastic day! And this is just the warm-up to n00bcon….
Even though Henk won, we already talked about making changes during the tournament. Adding the 4th Copy Artifact was a no-brainer in this meta and while we first discussed which card to take out, we agreed pretty quickly that we would go the Evert route of playing 61 cards. It’s something Evert does every tournament and he always puts up great results. This is obviously not because of that 61th card but we are both more than okay with it. If I have to choose now, 1 The Abyss would go to the side, simply because of the number of Robots in the meta. We both didn’t like the Glooms as they postpone the inevitable, your artifacts getting destroyed. Yes, it buys time. But often not enough. Earthquake comes in to hit Lions and Mono Green. Control Magic comes in, because it was so good in the game against Erland and 2 Serendib’s come in for some more firepower. They are useful when you want 1 creature to stick and because at least some people will think we are both not playing them, they could even surprise an opponent here and there. The Blood Moon stayed in, although they weren’t that useful for me. We stick with playing the same 75, BB8 V2 it is for n00bcon 13!
The Rotary Pub, a legendary venue. Still a bit hungover but ready to play nevertheless. The expectation was a very crowded place with expensive beer. The beer was cheap and the difference between 120 and 90 players huge. 1 playing area, 1 bar/hangout/live commentary area, although I hardly ever left the second 1. There’s a buzz, there’s new people who didn’t play SiaB00rg and there’s already a lot of chatter and drinking. Magnus announces that the games can begin, it feels the same when I heard my first “Shuffle up and Deal” during the World Series of Poker Main Event back in 2009. Timmy is in the booth, Magnus is ready to do live commentary with him. N00bcon 13 has finally started.
Round 1 – Enforcer “Bonnie” M
I walk to my table number and I’m lucky. Besides Brother Ben I’m probably the tallest guy in the room and the tables aren’t that big. I’m sitting next to Leo Bruder, definitely 1 of the smallest guys in the room. I’m a bit anxious with all the beer, as my legs are pretty close to every side of the table. Having back my hernia for the last 5 weeks doesn’t help either so I’m pretty happy Bonnie suggests to play in the bar area. While his name is very familiar, we don’t know each other at all. Robots against Robots. Game 1 we both have Ancestral. Game 2 we both have LoA, but I draw the stripmine before he does. 1-1 and I get to keep a good hand, depending on my opponents Copy Artifacts in game 3. I have 2 or 3 land, Mana Vault, 2 Su-Chi and 1 Trike. I draw a second Mana Vault turn 2 and instead of doing the right thing, casting 1 Su-Chi, I’m doing the fun thing, casting 1 Trike. Both Mana Vaults tapped and I need land…. Bonnie plays Geddon. I draw some more lands, Bonnie plays Balance with only Moxen in play. Dead by my own Mana Vaults, that’s not a great start.
Round 2 – Daniel Sunhede
A new name again. Underworld Dreams and Warp Artifact, that hurts if you don’t have enchantment removal. My deck however does to much damage and Daniel lacks artifact removal. I take the 2-0 win and Daniel asks me to pick one of the cards he brought for his opponents to choose from. I ask him to sign it, so that it never leaves my binder again. What a nice gesture, this community never stops to give.
Round 3 – Danny Friedman
We have never met, but he doesn’t need an introduction. He just played 2 Dutchies in the previous rounds so I know he’s playing TwiddleVault. If he wins n00bcon I don’t think anybody would be surprised and TwiddleVault is a real dangerous deck, piloted by 1 of the best. I win game 1 as he can’t get a Twiddle and he’s about to go off in game 2. I don’t want to scoop, not knowing for certain that he already has it but I also don’t want to spent 30 minutes waiting if I’m dead or not. I ask if he can tell me what his chances are to get there. He tells me he’s definitely not there yet, it depends on the 1st Timetwister. His draw is good and I scoop. On to game #3. I start and go: Mishra, Sapphire, Lotus, Time Walk. Take the Walk: Mishra, Mana Vault, crack Lotus for Blue, Trike, Copy Artifact pass turn. With a land drop on the next turn I’m able to deal 18 damage attacking with 2 Mishra’s and 2 Trike, shooting 6 damage with the Trike counters. He scoops before that, we joke about who’s playing combo.
Round 4 – Steffen Sveegaard
I’ve played every game so far in the bar area. That’s much more spacious but there is 1 problem, it’s next to the bar. If you play at the other room your beer might be empty after 10 minutes and you only refill when you are done with your match. Whenever my glass is empty I can refill it myself but often when others are done playing they come over to the bar area and buy me a beer. I’ve been drinking pints non-stop and sitting at the same place for all that time. It’s already getting blurry against Steffan. I can’t remember what he played, nor how I won. We never played each other before but I hope we meet again somewhere so I remember more of our interactions.
Round 5 – Mikael Johansson (Åland)
We’ve interacted before going to n00bcon but unfortunately missed each other in Groningen because I skipped it to earn some credits at home. We did already chat face 2 face the day before and he had already played Henk so he knew what he was up to. It didn’t matter a lot. I know more about this match because we discussed it briefly the next day. While my memory is a black hole for most part starting Round 4, I just need a small hint and stuff comes back. The games against Aland are unfortunately non-games, but I’m certain we will meet again and he can get his revenge!
Round 6 – Olof Ekstrand
Of all the Dutchies, Jeff was 5-0 so far and since I was 4-1 I still had a shot for T8 but I had to win both of my matches. Another unfamiliar foe, which is the opposite from the day before but one of the reasons to come to n00bcon. I’m pretty sure I would remember something but I don’t have any pictures or hints. Another wasted opportunity to remember a pleasant conversation. The vibe or at least my own mental state is what I do remember. I was enjoying myself and I can only hope Olof did as well. Nevertheless I beat him 2-0 and was about to play my win and in for a spot at T8 at my first n00bcon.
Round 7 – Simon Adolfsson
As said, 1 hint is enough to get back some of my memory. This game was tense as the Copper Tablet was the clock I’m so used to play myself when playing Underworld Dreams. The Mind Twist in my graveyard most likely helped a lot and because of my 2-1 victory against Simon I was sure of my first T8 at n00bcon. An awesome feeling after an awesome day. Jeff magically didn’t make it after getting down paired and losing in the last round. The T8 was about to start and I had to defend the Dutch honours alone!
Quarterfinals – Svante Landgraf
Svante, again. Only this time he wasn’t playing Henk in the quarters but me. He knew we were on the same 75, likely not about the changes we made which didn’t matter in the match itself after all. Henk both lost and won against Svante and if Henk can do it, so can I. Playing against such a good player, which makes T8 2 days in a row (Morgan Karlsson did as well), gets me going. I already was in the zone all day and the games against Svante I was really in my focus, while being stupidly drunk at the same time. Asking your opponent to help you shuffle and his lifecount multiple times isn’t the most proud moments in my life and I can only thank Svante for being the respectful opponent he was against me. He obviously wanted to win this badly but unfortunately I still had some energy left in the tank. After losing my first game, we went to sideboard. A repeat of the games against Henk the day before. We fought like what felt an endless battle, with a lot of people watching (parts of) our game. I was able to keep my wits and beat Svante 2-1.
Semi-Finals – Joel Larsson
I wasn’t into Magic for a long time and Joel isn’t a regular guy in the Old School scene. It was actually his first Old School tournament so I didn’t know who I was up against. I remember somebody already told me he was an Pro Tour champion so definitely someone who knows how to play the game. The games against Svante drained everything I had in me. Dyan (who shot a lot of the beautiful photo’s included in this blog) exchanged my beer for a glass of water but it was already too late. I was up against a Tome in G1 and a Serra got the better off me, but I was unable to recognize I was playing against The Deck. I know exactly why, it was because I haven’t seen The Deck for 2 days and haven’t heard anybody talk about it for 2 days. It just wasn’t top of mind and I couldn’t dig any deeper. Obviously a Tome and Serra with a lot of counters and answers should tell me more then I need to know but this was Round 9 and I hadn’t eaten a single thing apart from a slice of bread (I skipped the soup). I boarded in The Abyss and 1 Control Magic, great cards against creatures but not so good against The Deck. An early Blood Moon or well timed REBs would have helped but winning 2 games against The Deck, against a very skilled opponent like Joel would have been a very hard task anyway. 0-2 and my tournament was over.
This journey has been insane. With that I mean my 4+ years of Old School in general and these 4 days in Gothenburg specific. It’s hard to describe, although I made an effort in this blog. There was just so much happiness in 2 days of Magic, 2 days of the Gathering, I would go back any moment. Do I regret not remembering every moment? Partly I do. It would have given me a slightly better shot in the semi’s, an opportunity I most likely never get again. However what I mostly regret is not remembering some of the conversations I’ve had and wasting the opportunity to remember the encounters I had with some fantastic people. It’s not that I don’t remember anything, I vividly remember the vibe, it’s the details that are lost on me. This however is what it is and is likely the only “bad” party about my n00bcon experience, which I can only thank myself for. Looking back at the photo’s I was smiling most of the time and still signing during the semi-finals. That’s what I do when I’m happy and that feeling is what I remember most from the day.
Since Henk and I don’t play Alpha (yet), we had setup a small gathering on Saturday together with Seb. Mellanmjolk for those who stuck around for another day. Aland, Joel, Oyvind, Juan, Purple, Thomas, Alex, Wander, Jeff & Peter joined and some dropped by for a little chat. It was nice to share stories right after the tournament and it helped me to remember some stuff I had forgotten. We organised a small Swedish tournament which Alex won. I didn’t join as I wasn’t feeling like playing multiple rounds and it gave Joel the opportunity to play with my deck in the tournament. I went home around midnight and couldn’t sleep until 07:00, processing all that had happened.
I cannot thank everybody enough for this amazing experience. There’s definitely to many people to mention but I’m not going to end without it. First of all Magnus for the opportunity to be at n00bcon in the first place and Reindeer for organising a warm-up which was epic on its own. Erwin for the NC invite! Evert, Dyan, Jeff, Mari, Nick, Ron, Wander, Alex, Thomas & Wilfred from the Dutch Crew. Peter, Juan & Purple from the extended Dutch crew, it’s time to get some new passports! It wouldn’t have been the same without you guys. Last but not least, my roomy, brewbro and longtime friend Henk! A win and a semi-finals on the same 75 for 2 days was an amazing experience and something I’ll never forget. Proud! Damn proud, what a ride.