Guestblog: Winter derby 2024 report – learning from mistakes

Robbert is back again. Robbert likes to play the derby and has created another write-up of his 8 matches. Check out his Guestblog below:

This is my fifth derby. I was looking forward playing the winter derby this year as it was bound to be the Swedish Legal (SL) version. Although, I enjoy the other versions as well, I have more experience playing SL here in the Netherlands.

In the past derbies, I have played some different builds. In my first derby, I played a BUG Nether void deck going 2-2 in batch 1, ending 5-3 after batch 2. In the second derby (SL), I played an aggressive AnkhVise liondibatog deck losing only 2 games in the first batch against the ultimate nr. 1 and nr. 4 after batch 2, going 6-2 after batch 2, just barely missing top 16 due to tiebreakers. In the Atlantic derby, I played the orgg.deck, but with an earth elemental twist. Going 3-1 in batch 1, but completely failing in the second batch ending at 3-5, loosing against too many white decks with swords and disenchants… lastly, I played a greedy WUB Juzam/ hymn build in the boreal derby, starting again 3-1 after batch 1, ending at 4-4 after the second batch. Especially with the last build, I was quite unlucky playing against 4 blood moon decks, which just crushed me. One of the builds was mano with his orgg.deck (karma).

This time, I wanted to play UR Counter(light)burn. Hopefully, blood mooning others again
I have been playing this deck for quite a while now, since Olle Rade won a tournament with it last spring. In the beginning, I made no changes to the main deck, playing 2 flying men, 3 orcs and 1 Shivan next to the 3 dibs. But, as I do not have won any sharks, changes to the sideboard where needed. I liked the copper tablets against control / combo decks, so I added those.
Before the real Arvika tournament, an online Arvika preparation tournament was planned. I was, unfortunately, not going to Arvika but I wanted to help the others out to prepare for it. As that deck looked the deck to beat at the moment, I opted to play it. There were some strong players playing tier 1 decks like the deck, triple S, 12 burn, and some other strong decks. I won that tournament without any loss (7-0).

Hereafter, I played another online tournament with some changes. I removed the flying men for 2 Su-chi’s and removing the Shivan for a fourth dib. I won the group stage but unfortunately, lost the first match in the top 8 to a robot list (BB8). Robot’s is a tough match up for this deck.

Next, I played a live tournament in Leeuwarden – the Uthden troll cup with almost the same configuration. A large tournament with over 100 players. I lost the first match against a triple S deck due to a LoA game and mulligan issues, a draw against another triple S deck due to time and lost (again) against a quick robot deck. However, Henk went 8-0 with almost a similar deck, although playing 4 orcs and no su-chi’s.

I liked the deck thus far. It was a fun deck, in which it is important to know when to play aggressive or more controllish. For the derby, I wanted to make some changes.
This deck has a problem with quick Robot decks – and as it is SL – I expected that more Su-chi’s would be played. I added an extra shatter main. Also, due to triple S, more and more X/4 creatures were played. I almost always sided in my 4th psionic blast. So, I opted to play a 4th blast and removed 1 dib.
I have been toying around with electric eel. It has been used in the past, but it is outdated. But in playtesting, I experienced that 1 or 2 eels can be quite good, it can deal more damage than a flying men and becomes even better with a blood moon in play – I did not want to have too many due to his ping effect, so I included only 1. I also included again 1 flying men and removed the Su-chi’s. The Su-chi’s were good, but I thought that it would be better to have a lower mana curve. Nevertheless, I included back 1 Shivan as it had won me some games in the first tournament, and because it is a SHIVAN. I wanted to have 1 big flyer not influenced by ciab.

So, I settled on 1 Eel, 1 flying men, 3 Orcs, 3 dibs and 1 Shivan. A full 12 burn, the power/ restricted cards, draw7s, 3 shatter, only 1 counterspell and 1 mana drain.
For the side I included 3 su-chi’s and 2 copies, 2 BeB, 2 ReB, 2 copper tablets, 1 counter spell, 1 fireball, 1 falling star and 1 shatter.

In earlier builds, I played a couple of shatterstorms in the side – but it was just to slow against robot’s. A few times, I had 1 or more in hand, but could not play it yet and the damage had already been done.

This is the deck I played this derby:

We had about 10 Dutch and 1 Belgium players competing in the derby as well. We were all clustered in a Dutch group app helping each other out for deck choices and telling each other how the games went. It is just so much more fun if you can share your experience or frustration with others. Together we raised money to donate for the derby foundation Partners in Health.

Now, it was waiting on the announcement of the first batch.
Batch 1 was called and I saw that I was paired against 4 guys from the USA – all 5 hours time difference.

I tried to get in touch with my opponents via tolaria, messenger and discord. Within a few days (4) I had played all my matches. Although all my opponents were from the USA, due to the Christmas break it was quite easy to plan the matches.

Match 1:
My first match was against Matthew Cutbirth, he was playing a stasis – twiddlevault deck

I lost the coin flip (0-1) and he opted to start.

Game 1:
My hand was a bit slow with some burn, a DT without black sources, but with a time walk into a blood moon which could be quite good, so I kept.

Matthew had one of the best openings I have seen. He played a tundra, an ancestral recall into a lotus, sol ring and recall (discarding an island) to get back his ancestral, while still floating U to cast the ancestral again. This in sharp contrast to my land go. A second turn LoA (!) and howling mine from his side meant that I could play time walk into a Bloodmoon, netting him only 1 card of LoA.
He played an island and a chaos orb which he did not use immediately. I drew a dib and a LoA, which I both played, unfortunately it was countered by a power sink.
Next turn, he flipped the moon from the table and he was drawing extra cards with his LoA again. He played a kismet. What was he playing – some kind of stasis variant with mines and vises? I had drawn into a black source, so I could cast my DT. I was in doubt what to get. Finally, I opted to go for a blood moon as he was tapped out. However, I forgot that to pay for it I had to play another land which got tapped in play… so after it tried to play it and take it back to hand, I had to pass the turn with 2 lands untapped, him knowing I had gotten a blood moon…. This was clearly a mistake. Moreover, as he played a second island. I had drawn quite a lot of burn, so I changed my plan in burning him out, so I put him quickly on 10. I still had 7 instant damage in my hand while I passed the turn. He apparently knew what was coming, so he played a time vault and a twiddle (damned twiddlevault….). I played a shatter, which got countered by a power sink, tapping me out. And he went off, killing me with a single factory in 10 consecutive turns.
0-1

Sideboard
Out: braingeyser, Shivan, 2 blood moon (good, but not good enough), 1 chain and a twister (I was in doubt whether this would be better for me or for him.
In: shatter, 2 ReB, 2 copper tablets, 1 counterspell

Game 2:
I have a nice hand with a few land, ReB, shatter, mox sapphire and a counterspell
I opened with island, mox sapphire and passed the turn. He played a tropical island go. I drew a dib and was in doubt whether to play it now or keep counter magic open. I went for it as I felt I needed early pressure…and of course he played an ancestral of his own. Next turn, he played a lotus, land, mox, sol ring and a howling mine. I shattered the mine in my turn after drawing an extra card, he played a power sink of the lotus which got ReBlasted. I attacked twice with my dib and then a stasis (which I expected in the first game but not anymore..), which kept the dib tapped for 1 turn. I did not tap out myself, keeping burn and shatter on hand. He boomeranged his own stasis and played a braingeyser for 3 in his turn, tapping out. He was on still on a ‘safe’ 14. But this gave me an opportunity to play bolt, psi blast in his turn, attack with my dib, play a bolt to put him on 1. For the last damage, I played a freshly drawn copper tablet, slowly but inevitable killing him in his next upkeep.
1-1

Going towards game 3 – I made no changes.
My hand: snap keep: 2 shatter, 1 counterspell, sol ring, bolt, only 1 island, but with an ancestral recall.
So many answers – and 4 chances on drawing more land.

Game 3:

He played land go. I was in doubt whether to play my ancestral or sol ring after drawing a land. I finally played the sol ring first. Next turn, he played a mine. I played my shatter after drawing an extra card and the ancestral in his upkeep drawing a land, mind twist and a ReB. He played an ivory tower with 3 cards in hand. But next turn, a mind twist ripped his hand apart. I was in total control with still a shatter, 2 counterspells and ReB in hand. However, he was still high on life, he had only taken some damage from city. I drew my eel. Which got bounced by a boomerang in his first attack. But soon it dealt 3 damage a turn. A copper tablet joined, which is a pain in the ass for a time vault deck. A flying men was countered, but that was not of my concern. I countered a wheel and an ancestral recall (after a demonic tutor found it). Hereafter, the eel, the copper tablet and some extra burn quickly sealed the deal.
Pfew… I do not remember winning from a twiddlevault deck before. A great start of the derby.
2-1
1-0 (2-1) in matches

Match 2:
I played Gregg immediately after my first game. I played him before last derby where he told me his love for green. So, I expected him to play something ‘green’ again. He now played a sweet Titania’s song – living plane – tabernacle deck.

I lost the coin flip (0-2) and he chose to go first.

Game 1:
I kept a hand with ancestral, bolt, psiblast, 1 mox, 2 lands and a twister. We both go land go, drawing a chain. I played my ancestral in his upkeep, netting me some more lands and a counter. He played a second turn howling mine and a relic barrier of a workshop. Keeping his mine tapped for me. I drew a Shivan and after I counter an icy in his turn, I decided to go for the burn plan, dealing him 10 damage with chain, bolt and psiblast. Next turn, I played the twister and a sol ring. I was lucky to get a time walk, which I played, leaving 1 mana for a bolt. I untapped with a psi blast, Shivan (again), wheel and 2 shatter in hand while he was on 7 life. I could play the Shivan but then I was tapped out, so I opted to wait instead. In his turn he played a winter orb and icy. I shattered his orb and played my psiblast putting him on 3. Next turn, I played my wheel (seeing him discard karakas, some lands, relic barrier and a balance), which rewarded me with 2 chains, sealing the deal. Dealing all 20 damage with burn.

So my sideboard plan – what does he play… some artifacts … not sure yet what his win plan would be. Titania’s song? Not yet thinking of living plane…

Sideboard:
Out: 1 dib, 1 moon (bad call), 1 chain, 1 Shivan and braingeyser
In: 1 ReB, 1 shatter, 2 copy artifact and 1 copper tablet (good call).

Game 2:
My hand was quite interesting and questionable whether to keep, 2 factories, and a lotus as only mana sources, mind twist, shatter, bolt and psiblast. I kept with the intention to play an early mind twist turn 1 or 2 and then pressuring with factories, hoping to stall him enough, so I would be drawing the lands I needed later on.

He opened with a tropical island go. In my upkeep he played an ancestral. I drew an island and due to the ancestral opted to wait 1 more turn to play mind twist. Also, I chose to sandbag the lotus and kept it in hand. Which was a good call as he played land, sol ring and relic barrier. I drew a mox ruby (now having red and blue sources available), which I played. Another factory, lotus and a mind twist for 5 – letting him keep 1 card in hand (discarding 2 mazes, relic barrier and some other cards). From here it was downhill for him. Shatter killed his barrier. Factories were attacking and a copper tablet was played. A tabernacle from his side was not relevant. Soon he was in burn range and it was all over.
2-0
Matches 2-0 (4-1)

After the match he showed me his deck. A sweet pile consisting of living plane with 4 tabernacles and karakas. Howling mines, relic barriers, icy’s, winter orb for the lock and some Titania’s song for the kill.

Match 3
Next was Scott Bradley, he was on a UB Juzam underworld dreams build.

I lost the coinflip (0-3) and he opted to start

Game 1:
My hand was great: 2 moxes, volcanic, dib, twister and 2 bolts.

He opened with a land and a mox. I played my dib in my turn, drawing and playing another volcanic. He missed his land drop, but played a sol ring and he had a psiblast ready for my dib. I drew a Shivan and passed the turn after playing a second volcanic. He sinkholed my volcanic. I played my 2 bolts with the idea to twister next turn. I drew another bolt but could not cast it together with the twister. My new 7 consisted of 2 shatters, mind twist, lotus, time walk, factory and blood moon (he had a swamp and a mox sapphire in play as ‘basics’). I played a factory, lotus and time walk of the lotus, drew a DT and played a MT for 3 (getting a Juzam, land and another card). In his turn he played a MT for my hand (karma), tapping a city putting him on 11. 2 turns later I drew an orc and played it. He played a dreams and a DT for an ancestral. My orc attacked him twice to 7. I drew my Shivan again … now with 4 mana sources in play. He played a vampire. I drew a bolt, my orc stayed back and I passed the turn. He played a factory and started to attack with the vampire. I drew a land. I was in doubt whether to attack with my orc and bolt his factory or to keep it to burn him to the face. Ultimately, I attacked with the orc and bolted his factory, putting him down to 5 life. Next turn he kept his vampire at bay and sinkholed a land… the Shivan was bound to get stuck in my hand. The card I drew next: a psiblast …. Damned I had made the wrong choice… I should have gone for the burn plan. As I was on still 11 life I opted to wait for another bolt. In his next turn a second dreams entered play. I played another land. He played a hyppie and turned his vampire sideways putting me on 5 life – 3 life after the two dreams. I drew a chain. Enough to kill him. So, I played my psiblast and in respond he played his only card in hand… a psiblast…. Another mistake, I needed to chain him first….
0-1

Sideboard
Out: wheel, shatter, chain
In: fireball, 2 ReB
He played a lot of swamps but I did not see any islands so I kept the moons in.

Game 2:
I drew a slow hand which I kept. An Island, badlands, strip, DT, 2 bolts and a psiblast.

I played badlands go, he had a turn 1 swamp + mox jet, but luckily no sinkhole yet. I played an island and my DT for ancestral. He sinkholed my island of course…. But I got lucky and drew an island which I played to cast the ancestral in his upkeep going to 8 cards (Drawing 2 ReB and a mox jet). He played a Juzam. I drew a mind twist. I was in doubt whether to kill his Juzam (psiblast + bolt) or to mind twist all but 1 card in his hand. I chose the latter and got a swamp, underground sea and a factory. His remaining card, apparently, was a useless terror. He drew a sinkhole and stripped my only red source. His Juzam put me on 15. I drew a chaos orb, I flipped and it bounced of the targeted card… I am going to 10, to 5 and I am done….not drawing the red source I needed to combine to burn spells
0-2
2-1 (4-3)

I had lost from great play by Scott, he played tight and made the correct choices. On the contrary, I played a weak game with a couple of misplays from my hand.
In game 1, I needed to have more patience. It was not yet needed to attack with my orc as I was still high on life (13), while I had a bolt in hand and he was on 7, I could have waited using my bolt for 1-2 more turns. I needed at least 2 attacks with the orc to get him in bolt range, but that was not going to happen with a sengir in play. When I drew the psiblast, I was certain I made a mistake, so I was now stuck on playing the burn plan instead of the orc plan. However, had I psiblasted his sengir, than my orc would have put him on 3 life – in bolt range as well, with the possibility to go all the way.
Later on, not playing the chain first was another mistake. He could have responded with a psiblast – but my psiblast in response to his would have made it a draw.
In game 2, I took quite a lot of risk playing my lands as I did. Maybe it was better to first play strip mine, badlands second and island as third land….not killing his Juzam when the opportunity was there, was another mistake which costed me the game. Destroy what kills you first …(keep this in mind) the game would have been quite different if I would have done that… or just hit the orb flip… any other threat after the juzams could also be killed as I had 2 psiblasts and 2 bolts in hand… O well. Shit happens and mistakes were made. Still 1 game to play in the first batch.

Match 4:
Jared Susney playing UBG big creatures (erhnam, sengir, su-chi, dib without any factories to have more basics.

Coin flip: Loss (0-4)

Game 1:
Hand: lotus blood moon, strip mine, 2 psiblast, bolt, shatter. An option to go lotus + moon, giving me mountain instead of strip… but as I do not yet know whether the moon is good against my opponent I decide to – Mulligan
Next hand: badlands, Loa, chain, chain, orc, time walk – keep.

Hij opened with an island, mox sapphire and a mox jet (a blood moon does not look like a great opening against him). I played my LoA hoping to draw extra cards next turn. He unfortunately, had an ancestral, underground sea and a sinkhole for my LoA. I played my badlands. He stayed at 4 mana sources and passed the turn. I drew a badlands and played an orc, which got mana drained.
He now had enough mana for a sengir, which got 2 chains in my turn. Next, he sinkholed a badlands. As I had not drawn more mana sources, I was back at 1 land. I got an island and played my time walk to get some momentum back. But unfortunately, I had no follow up. He drew and played another sengir. I got a factory, giving me the needed third land for a psiblast on his sengir. He finally, got a green source in a tropical island to play an erhnam – yikes. I had no answers yet and I went to 14 next turn. He had a regrowth for his sengir and played it. I was lacking answers, so I played a twister leaving 1 land untapped. With my new hand (DT, mox jet, LoA, shatter, psi blast, chain, counterspell), I played a DT to get a lotus to play a psiblast on his sengir (12). His erhnam attacked me to 8. He played another sengir and an orb which he activated in my turn – thus it was shattered. But, I had no answers against both critters. The erhnam got killed by a factory blocking it combined with a bolt, but the sengir road to victory the following turn
0-1

Sideboard: he played sinkholes and ice storms… I did not see any artifacts besides the orb.
Out: braingeyser, Shivan, shatter
In: ReB, FB, counterspell

Game 2:
Hand: city, sol ring, ancestral, orc, chain, island, psiblast. I keep.

I opened with island, sol ring, he unfortunately had a mox jet, swamp and a sinkhole. I played my city and ancestral. With my card for the turn, I drew into a DT, city, factory and LoA. He went for the mana denial plan and sinkholed my city. I played my active LoA – to draw into more cards. He played a Su-Chi. I got a lotus and a Mind twist. I had to decide whether to go for his hand or to kill his Su-chi. Still, having the memory fresh in my mind loosing against a Juzam due to go for the hand first. However, I decided to play the mind twist first (again). He lost a sengir, braingeyser and a counter! His su-chi got me on 16 and he played a fellwar stone. As he was lacking green mana, I decided to not play my city for as long as possible to deny him any opportunity to play an erhnam. I got a second factory which holds his Su-chi off. Now, the LoA drew me further ahead and into control. I psiblasted his Su-chi, played an orc and later a third factory. The orc and three factories went all the way in a few turns.
1-1

Game 3:
Out: eel, orc, chain
In: 3 su-chi (I wanted to have more beef against him), maybe some copy artifact were good as well, as he apparently was playing su-chi’s as well…

Hand: city, mox sapphire, timetwister, bolt, bolt, psiblast and shatter.

Only 2 mana sources but lots of answer and a draw7, so I kept.

He had a slow start with only a swamp. I drew a dib, played my city and mox. He played a second land and an orb which I shattered as he had no mana left (19). I got a mox jet, so I was able to play my dib (18). He surprisingly had a dib of his own. I drew no mana sources so I was still stuck on my 2 moxes (U/B) and a city, I went to 17 life and attacked my dib into his dib, which went to the grave after being bolted, tapping the city in process (16). He got to 5 mana sources and played a sengir. I luckily, drew a volcanic island while going to 15, and played a psiblast on his sengir (13). My dib attacked him to 17. He played a Su-chi, I went to 12, got another city (!) and played an orc. Still having a twister and bolt in hand. I decided to keep attacking, thinking (or feeling) that I could outrun him, so my dib got him to 14. If I had calculated how the next few turns would work out, then I would have known that I at least needed an extra burn spell to win this race. Maybe, I would have played it differently and chosen not to attack until I had more burn, or play the bolt and going for a draw 7. However, that would have led to more Dib chip damage. The Su-chi attacked me to 8, going to 7 in my upkeep. The dib and orc got him to 9. I drew a Su-chi which I played (6, city), but he had a mana drain for it. He attacked me to 2, to 1 life in my upkeep. I drew a chain. This should be just enough. I attacked him to 4. I played a chain by tapping my volcanic putting him on 1. Then, I tapped my city to pay for my bolt (damage going on the stack and then the bolt) killing him! Or not? He tapped a green source for a crumble on his Su-Chi – going to a safe 5 life….

Apparently, we missed 1 damage trigger as in the game I was still on 1 life, but it did not matter as I was not able to play my twister in hand and in my upkeep I would be dead due to my own dib. I am not sure whether my recollection of the game or the real-life game was incorrect. But it is important to keep track of the life totals… sometimes 1 damage can make all the difference.

My opponent only did 8 damage to me – I was killed by my own city triggers (5), psi blast (2) and dib triggers (5). Just bad luck drawing into both my cities…

I do not know whether playing it differently would have helped. Keeping the dib back to block his Su-chi, killing it with a bolt and paying the twister was an alternative possibility. But then he needed to attack into the dib instead of letting the dib kill me slowly. The orc then needed to do 8-10 damage.
The crumble got me totally off guard. I really did not expect to see it. It was not played main but sided in. Maybe, due to the factory loss last game, without seeing any other artifacts.
1-2
2-2 (5-5)

I hoped to go at least 3-1 with this deck, but with 2-2 I was out of competition. My OMW was so bad that even at 6-2 there was no hope for me. I doubted whether to drop due to having a tight agenda, mostly not be able to play in the second week due to a planned ski-trip and some shifts. But in the end, I just wanted to play and hoped that I could schedule the games as early as possible again.

After the second batch was posted, I contacted my opponents as soon as possible again via messenger, tolaria and discord. Within a few days contact was made and the games were planned all within 1 week.

Match 5:
Karl Akbari from UK.
He was playing a triple S deck. A tough match up in which blood moon can be key

Coin flip: I lost again (0-5)

Game 1:
My hand: island, volcanic, Mishra, mox ruby, time walk, orc, bolt. Good enough.

He played a tundra, mox U, mox G, lotus, demonic – he could get a MT for 3 here, but he does not and played a Su-chi. What a start….I drew a chaos orb, I opened with volcanic, mox and orc. He played an ancestral (of the DT) in his turn. He attacked (16), played an island and kept his mana open.. I drew a chain, played a factory, attacked for 2 and played my time walk to get some tempo back. I drew an ancestral. I attacked him (16), played a land. Now, I wanted to play my ancestral but I was afraid of a counterspell. I first played the chaos orb and activate it. He disenchanted it in response, tapping out. I could now play my ancestral. Drawing 3 cards – Shivan, shatter and psiblast. In his turn, he played a factory, a book and attacked me to 12. I got stuck on 4 mana sources – I could not play psi blast and shatter together, unfortunately. So, I chose to kill the su-chi first – putting me on 10. I forgot about the 4cc gain of the su-chi, which gave him a free card with the book….I attacked him with an orc to 14. He drew and played a serra. Yikes. Luckily, I still had a full grip (5) cards. I was in doubt whether to play a bolt and chain or to attack with both the orc and factory and if he blocked to only use 1 bolt on the serra. In the end, I only attacked with the orc – he did not block (12). I played my chain and bolt on his serra. He played a su-chi and attacked with his factory. I reacted with a shatter on his su-chi. I attacked him with both factory and the orc to 8. He played draw go and kept his factory to block. I could not attack favorable, so I played my dib. He played another land go. I went to 7. I doubted whether to attack with the orc and factory into his sole factory – dealing 2 more damage or playing my DT – but what to get and play for 2 mana…. I finally decided not to attack and to play my DT for a mana drain keeping UU open and attacked him to 5. He played a lion, I was not sure whether this needed to be countered, but if he would be able to attack once I would be in a psiblast range – so I countered. As I drew my 5th mana source, I could now play my Shivan (finally) and put him on 2 life with my dib (while I was on 6). He drew nothing of interest and it was game.

1-0

Sideboard:
In: 3 su-chi, 2 copy artifact, 1 FB, 2 ReB
Out: 3 orc, 1 eel, 1 timetwister (he has swords and most likely more counters which I do not want to give back), 1 Shivan, 2 chain
I was in doubt whether to remove the orcs or dibs in favor of the su-chi plan. As he had seen some orcs and the Shivan as well I expected that he would board in many cards against red. I was not sure whether he would play a CiaB. As of such I kept the flying men (could block a serra + bolt for a kill) and dib in.

Game 2:
Hand: island, factory, ancestral, dib, chain, chain, MT – not great but on the play with an ancestral, so keep.

He played tundra + mox jet. I opened with island go and in his upkeep I played my ancestral. He played DT for an ancestral as well and played it. I played a volcanic, chain and discarded my MT end of turn as I did not have any black sources yet and no form of acceleration. He played a land, I a factory. He played a maze. I played a su-chi, he a disenchant. He played a land – I opted to attack with 2 factories, but opted to keep UU open. He played a serra, I could fortunately counter. I played a chain (14). Next turn, I had another su-chi. He played a serra off a city. I got my third factory and attacked with both my su- chi and a single factory. The su-Chi was mazed but the factory did 4 damage (9). He attacked once with his serra but next turn he blocked my 4/4 factory and mazed my su-chi. I bolted him, and he Bebed it (city 8). Next turn he played a wrath of god (city 7). Going back to 2 factories. I was holding a dib for quite a time and now I could play it. He played a balance. He needed to discard from 4 to 2 cards. (I had a shatter and DT in hand, still without black sources). He discarded 2 counter spells. I attacked with a factory which got mazed and played my freshly drawn time walk into his remaining counterspell. Next turn, I attacked with 2 factories – 1 was mazed, so I tapped it to make the other 3/3 (4). He played a factory. I attacked into it. Shattered it, but it got BeBed. We traded a factory, but the other was not mazed for obvious reasons. He was already now on 2 life and any burn would be lethal. Next turn, I drew my psiblast and it was all over

After the game we discussed the sideboarding. He had brought in 3 BeB, 1 WoG, 1 cop red, 1 spirit link and boarded out his lions. Boarding out the orcs and Shivan instead of the dibs was probably a good call. Most triple S players tend to board out the lions, but the question is whether that’s good. You’re missing some early pressure and those lions are good bolt targets. If the lions are boarded out than all the burn goes to the face…. maybe multiple cop red can prevent that better, but those cards do not give any pressure. Nevertheless, I boarded my early pressure out as well, because I expected that he would have more answers to my orcs than for the Su-chi’s.

2-0
3-2 (7-5)

Match 6:
Against Tim Atwood. I played him in the previous SL derby as well. Just barely beating his white weenie deck with an ankh/vise dibatog deck. Now, he was playing white weenie again

 

Coinflip: finally, a win! (1-5) I could start!

Game 1:
My opening hand: island, badlands, factory, sol ring, dib, dib, blood moon. Keep.

I opened with factory, sol ring. Trying to not giving him information on the colors I played. He opened with plains, lotus, disenchant on the sol ring and a Pegasus. I realized that I should have played my sol ring in my second turn instead. Then, I would have had a second turn dib as well without the possibility to lose my sol ring before that… I played a badlands and a freshly drawn orc. He stripped my factory and attacked with the Pegasus (19). He then plowed my orc (21). I drew a counterspell and played volcanic – go. He attacked me (20) and played another Pegasus. I got an ancestral, played an island and drew city, psiblast and something else. He attacked me to 18 and played a pikemen. I played a city and a dib in my turn. He had an orb for my dib, attacked me to 15 and played a lion. I drew a bolt and played my next dib. He attacked with his 4 creatures. I blocked his Pegasus and shot his lion. Dropping to 13 and 12 in my turn. I could not stay passive, as I would be killed by my own dib. I had drawn into 2 psiblast and I calculated that it was possible to go for a draw, just barely. I attacked him to 17 – I went to 9, he to 14, I to 6, he to 11, I to 4 – to 2 from a psiblast (he to 7), to 1 from my dib. I attacked him to 4 and played my last psiblast killing us both… a draw. Luckily, he had not drawn into a sword or kept 1 Pegasus back to defend.
We went for sideboarding for 2 or 3 more interesting games….

Sideboard:
In: 3 su-chi, FB, falling star, counterspell
Out: Shivan, 2 blood moons, 1 shatter, flying men, eel

Game 2:
So, I could start again!
Hand: island, 2 volcanic, falling star, shatter, chain, psi blast – keep

I played land go. He played a first turn hero. I played land go – hoping to get more creatures into play for the falling star. He played a lion and another hero. Great! I flipped the star and it hit a hero and lion… leaving 1 hero in play. He attacked me again (18). I drew an orc and played it. He sworded it (20). He played a Pegasus, which I bolted and the hero did 1 more damage (19). I played a factory. He attacked into it, signaling removal. I decided just to let him get it with a disenchant – which happened (18). We had draw-go (and attacks from him) for some turns, while I drew shatter, counterspell, shatter and a fireball. I let him attack for 1 more turn after drawing fireball hoping to get more advantage of it and then he played another 1/1 which both got Fballed. I had a full grip (2 shatters, chain, 2 psiblast, counter) but he was at 20 life with a crusade (after FB) and an orb in play. We played draw-go for a couple of turns, apparently drawing reactive spells and mana sources. He played a preacher, which got burned. Finally, I was drawing creatures – an orc. He had a maze. I had another orc – he had a sword. I had a su-chi, he had a disenchant, I had another su-chi, he had a divine offering (I doubted whether to counter it, but then I could not shatter the orb in response). He had a white knight. I psi-blasted it. I played my third su-chi in a row and kept a city and volcanic open for counter or shatter. He played a ciab (killing my only untapped city), so I now only had 1 untapped land and was not able to counter / shatter. He played a preacher but did not use his orb, which was a mistake. I blasted his preacher and attacked him to 22. He tried to orb my su-chi, but I could now shatter it in response. He played land-go for a few turns and I could attack him a few times with the orc until he got a second maze. He was at 16 and I was on 11. We both played a factory – I attacked with factory/ orc / su-chi and he inclined to block with his summoning sickness factory putting him on 14. he played a second factory. I drew a time walk and attacked into his factories with my 3 creatures. He only blocked a factory with his factory – which I shattered. I played a time walk and attacked again. Putting him on 8, both factories were killed in the progress. I had a twister, dib (ciab in play though without any shatters left) and wheel in hand. I played 1-2 turns draw-go due to the 2 mazes. The question was what to do. As I played 13 burn spells (+DT/ wheel/ ancestral as good targets), I opted to go for twister with 6 mana up and get my burn etc. back, shuffling 46 cards. Wow, did that backfire: 4 land, 2 Arabian cards (LoA + dib) and a shatter (luckily I could shatter the ciab). Maybe, I could go for the LoA plan. But unfortunately, He played land, mox, balance, killing my 2 creatures – I shattered his ciab and dropped a land. He then played 2 hero’s and a crusade. I played my dib which could block his hero. My next draws were ruby, lotus, counterspell – so I was dead within a few turns.

So perhaps playing the twister was a mistake. I had the feeling I was losing the momentum and wanted to get it back. On average I should get 3 burn spells on 10 cards … but that is not a given, off course. I was not under any threat before playing twister and he was still on 8 – so I needed 3 burn spells / 2 psiblast / 1 FB. It was totally fine to draw into more burn (hopefully) and play the twister later on…be more patient…
0-1-1
Up to the next (1 or 2) games

Back in: 1 Shivan – 1 blood moon (against the mazes)
Out: 1 dib

Game 3:
Hand: 3 lands, lotus, DT, timetwister, counter keep.

I played land, lotus and DT for sol ring, putting it in play, tapping it for the timetwister for a new hand. My next hand: Badlands, island, DT (again), chain, dib, orc and FB – great. He played plains and a land tax. I drew and played black mox, played an orc, no lands due to land tax and DT for Mind twist. I was not inclined to give him any free lands of his land tax. He already thought that I would go for MT, so he played a factory and a disenchant on the sol ring. I drew an ancestral and drew 3 more cards. Now hoping that he would think that I searched for the ancestral instead. Getting counterspell, psiblast and a mox. I played a second land, mox and a dib, putting even more pressure on him. My orc attacked him to 18. He played a maze, so I could play another land and a MT for his hand – containing 3 lands and a swords which he used on my orc instead of my dib. Next turn, I was lucky as I drew and played my blood moon so that my dib could attack. The dib and burn went quickly all the way – Blood moon is so good against those mazes…
1-1-1 onto the final game

No changes now

Game 3:
He finally was able to start the game
My hand: volcanic, factory, ancestral, lotus, 2 psi blast and shatter. Keep

He played plains go – I played a volcanic, lotus – and an ancestral in my turn, gaining 2 lands and a bolt. Ditching 1 land. He played a pikemen and a factory. I played a factory as well. He played a crusade and attacked me. I bolted his men. I drew a braingeyser – I thought about playing it to draw 3, saccing my lotus but opted to wait. We both played draw go- I drew a mana drain – great for the geyser, so I just waited for a good counter opportunity. It came – a preacher. I could play a braingeyser for 8, still leaving 2 blue sources open for a possible counter, which I did not get. I needed to discard if I wanted to sign a counterspell – instead I just play sol ring – chaos orb and a chain. Leaving a window for a disenchant on my orb… I did not care as that meant that he would have 1 disenchant less for my factories which I deemed more important. I had still 3 psiblast, wheel, shatter, factory in hand and drew a counterspell.. I played another factory and attacked into his factory which I shattered. The maze could only do a bit against 2 factories – dealing 3 damage a turn. I countered another crusade. My plan was to burn him out – I had a wheel in hand – so possibly I could just get the last few burn spells later on (but I was a bit afraid due to the second game). I just played the psiblast on him and attacked with my factory. I drew a blood moon which was not yet useful. He had a black knight (3/3 due to the crusade) which stopped my assault. I drew and played a dib to block his knight (does less damage). He was on 9 and I on 14. I played a blood moon to stop his maze so that I could attack, putting him on 6. I did not play my freshly drawn Su-chi, because I thought that my board state was good enough to win and was afraid for a DO. He then played a DO on my sol ring at end of turn to get back to 7. I psi blasted him to 3. In my turn, he had a swords for my dib. Then, (still holding a wheel) I top decked a bolt for the win. He could only play another divine offering on my mox…
Pfew, good call not playing my su-chi.

These were some intense and long games. Both playing quite aggressive decks, but it looked more controlling now. We played for about 2.5 hrs. Longer than expected. Even after this battle we chatted a bit about the sideboard options. He had boarded out some critters and such and maybe losing the aggressive part of his deck gave me just enough space to get control of the match.
2-1-1

4-2 (9-6-1)

Match 7:

Dane Knudsen
I played him last derby as well. He played a sweet psychic venom deck last time. I knew from the Dutch derby app that he was playing a Mono black list now.

 

Dice roll: I lost (1-6)

Game 1:
Hand: island and a bunch of nice cards – mulligan
New hand: badlands, volcanic, sol ring, ancestral, 2 psiblast and a blood moon which was put back under the deck as it is not a good card against black besides any possible mazes.

He played a swamp go.
I drew an island, played a volcanic and in his turn an ancestral gaining a mox jet, eel and a twister. He played swamp go. I drew a strip mine and after shortly thinking about it I stripped a swamp. I thought that the tempo gain, as I assumed that he needed at least 3 or 4 mana to do something, would be more beneficial instead of waiting for maze/ LoA/ factory. I Played a mox and eel (19). He played another swamp go. I drew and played a factory, and attacked with my eel for 1. He played a third swamp and a hyppie. I opted between psi blasting it or attacking with my eel/ factory to see whether he would block and keep the burn for bigger creatures or his face. In the end, I attacked with the factory and eel after playing a badlands, I did not mind losing 1 of those and wanted to keep my options open. He blocked the factory and went to 16 due to a 3/1 eel. He did not have more lands and needed to play a ritual to cast a sengir, which got psiblasted in my next turn. The eel put him on 15. Next turn, he drained the eel (16), seeing the danger of a possible 3/1 or bigger each turn. I drew more gas and played a dib. He was still on 3 lands, played an orb and flipped it straight on my dib. Next turn, I asked how many cards he had in hand.. than you know what’s going on. I played a MT for a dreams, Royal, Juzam and a drain life (damned, some pretty good cards). Now, he was drawing his land again. I had already drawn a braingeyser and got 4 more cards next turn. I had a factory which put him on 14 as he declined to block with his factory which he just played (I had a shatter in hand though). I drew a DT, I wanted to quickly close it out, so I got a Shivan and played it. Next turn it did 7 damage, which was enough with all the burn still left in my hand. Finally, the Shivan had its moment!
1-0

Sideboard:
Out: 3 orc (they are not as good against juzams), wheel, twister, 1 blood moon
In: 3 su-chi, 1 copy artifact, FB, counterspell

Game 2:
Hand: LoA(!), but the hand was not really ritual hyppie proof. 3 island, volcanic, factory, lotus, counterspell. I could play a lotus in a possible counterspell. But it did not feel right.
New hand: island, volcanic, factory, mox jet, chaos orb, psiblast and a dib. I put the island back. This had an answer for a turn 1 hyppie, although with chaos orb not a perfect one.

He started with a swamp and sol ring. I drew a LoA and played it. He played a swamp, ritual, sinkhole and a jalum tome. I played a factory, mox and chaos orb. He played an underworlds dreams (19), I played my dib of a volcanic. He stayed on 2 swamps and a sol ring and passed the turn. I went to 17, drew another factory, which I played and attacked with my dib and factory (3/3) putting him on 14. He went searching for cards with his tome in my and in his turn, discarding a disk and a swamp. He played a maze and passed the turn. I orbed the maze. Went to 15, Drew some burn (had 2 psiblast and 2 chains in hand. Attacked him to 8 and chained him to 5. Next turn he played a sengir – but that was not enough. I was on 13 life. I Played a drawn island, Attacked with dib and 2 factories into his sengir and chained him for the last damage.
2-0
5-2 (11-6-1)

This is going well – let’s see if I get to go 4-0 in the second batch

Match 8
Last derby match against Jeffrey Kolowith. I expected him to play mono green with ciab main as he played that deck in prior derby’s.

Coin flip: I lost again (1-7)

Game 1:
Hand: 2 volcanic, factory, time walk, orc, psiblast, bolt. Keep – it has some removal, some creatures and a way to get some tempo.

He started with a forest and a sol ring. I drew a counterspell. Played factory go. I did not yet want to play my colored mana sources into a possible land destruction. He played a pendelhaven and whirling dervish. In my turn I played my time walk into an orc and bolt for his dervish. Drawing a flying men and mana drain. He played a factory, ice storm on my volcanic and an archer. I drew a psionic blast, but was stuck on 2 lands. He attacked me with the archer and factory putting me on 16, and yet he had an ice storm for my volcanic leaving me with only 1 factory. I drew a strip mine and attacked with my orc and flying men (17). He drew another factory and attacked me for 5, I animated my factory, but unfortunately, he had a crumble for it (11). Back to 1 land (strip). I drew a shatter, which went in my hand next to 2 psiblast, counterspell and mana drain. Shatter did me wonder whether I needed to wait for a red mana to shatter his factory or just go ahead and strip his factory. I opted to wait for the mana source and kept my strip. I attacked with my orc (15). He attacked with 2 factories and an archer. Blocking 1 with my flying men. Going to 7…. He played an elf and passed the turn. I drew a factory which was not what I needed. And next turn he attacked for lethal including a giant growth…
0-1

 

Sideboard
In: 3 su-chi, 2 copy artifact (possibly more mana artifacts or factories), 1 falling star, FB
Out: 1 flying men, 1 dib (keeping 2), braingeyser, 1 shatter, 1 blood moon (keeping 1 for pendelhavens shenigans), 1 psiblast, 1 counterspell (not enough time to be reactive / chance on UU)
Maybe, I could have sided another Cob out for a shatter. But I opted against.

 

Game 2:
Hand: badlands, island, cob, sol ring, bolt and 2 chains. Appears to have enough mana sources to start and some way to kill creature – keep

I start with badlands go – sandbagging my sol ring. He played a forest and an elf which got bolted. I drew a psiblast, I played an island and sol ring. He had a strip mine for my badlands and played another elf. I drew a red mox and played a cob. I chained his elf. He played a ciab destroying my cob. I got a strip mine, which I played. He played a crumble on my red mox and played an archer, which I psiblasted (18). I drew a second chain without red sources. He played a whirling dervish and a crumble on my sol ring (19) (they kept coming). I drew a useless dib. He attacked me to 18 and played an Ice storm on my island (going back to only 1 strip)… I drew a falling star and passed the turn. He attacked me to 16 and then to 13. Then, I drew a volcanic but, unfortunately, his dervish was already a 4/4, I needed more mountains. He played a dark elves and attacked me to 9. I drew another volcanic and played 2 chains on the dervish- luckily he did not have a giant growth to save it. He attacked me for 1 with his elf and played a sprite. I drew a wheel and played the star flipping on both critters. Making the board empty again – hoping that I could turn things around…he had another dervish. As I had no answers in hand (blood moon / Shivan/ dib) I wheeled hoping for the better. I drew a cob, LoA, ancestral, island, mana drain, FB, twister, orc, badlands, MT… I could only play an island and ancestral which I did. He attacked with the dervish (7) and played an ice storm on my island, an archer and scavenger folk. I drew a lotus, which made be able to FB his dervish and archer for 2. But his folk outlived it. He attacked me with his folk (Pumped by pendelhaven and giants growth) and factory, which got stripped, putting me on 2. He played another sprites… I had no outs – I did play a twister just to see what I would get. But with only 3 lands in play and thus outtapped it was all for nothing. I was crushed again – not even dealing any damage to him this game.

During the game, I think that I could not do that much different, or playing differently would not have changed the outcome in any way. In the second game you can argue that maybe I needed to mulligan to a more power hand. The hand was fine but just too fair. Just 1 for 1 removal, what will work if I have more removal than he has threats… but that was not the case. I burnt a total of 20 damage during the second game, but if I had directed it to his face instead of his critters than I would have been dead long before casting the last burn spell. The Sol ring in the opening hand is normally great, but without cards needing it, it was not quite as useful…maybe if I would have drawn a draw7 or Su-chi…
After the game we had some discussion on the archers versus pixies. Now, the archers were most likely better against me as my 1/1s were not able to block it favorable. But against this field filled with factories and Su-chi’s I would still go for pixies.
0-2
Matches 5-3 (11-8-1)

 

 

So I ended 5-3, which was fine. I hoped, like many, for more. But it was not meant to be. I had some very interesting games. I Liked the games against twiddle vault, triple S and mono white the most, those games were nail-biting with lots of interesting choices.
I lost 1 game due to too many errors on my side while my opponent just played correctly, I lost 1 game due to a bit of bad luck and I was crushed without any chance in one match. In all the lost matches, I had mana issues due to land destruction. Besides these games I had (almost) no mana issues. Although this deck has more than enough mana sources (it has 26 sources and based on the average casting cost 24 will do), it is however a bit light on colored mana sources (12 blue and 10 red sources). Targeting the right lands to destroy can give mana issues, apparently. I am not sure how to handle this beside playing more cities instead of a badlands/ island.

Unfortunately, the blood moon did not win me any ‘free’ games. Most opponents had lots of basics or were playing mono and when my opponents were relying on duals I did not draw them. However, blood moon worked wonders in removing opposing mazes, making the way free for my dibs. As of such, at least 1 main is a necessity while playing dibs. The moon works better against tier 1 greedy decks like triple S, the deck and WRU or GRU 12 burn lions pixies/dib builds.

 

I am not sure what the best creature base must be. I had 1 eel, 1 flying men, 3 orc, 3 dibs and 1 Shivan.
The single Eel which worked quite fine. It delt some damage, but as compared to orcs it can easier kill a factory, can be a faster clock especially with a blood moon out. And it can block larger creatures making it destroyable with burn. I would consider playing 1 main – but not more due to the self-pinging. I was happier with the eel than with the single flying men. It just does not do enough. The orcs are a fine 2 drop, but so much worse than lions. The fact that you cannot block makes it a lot worse against Aggro weenie decks, where attacking won’t help you out . The Shivan won me some games at an earlier Arvika preparation tournament, but now I was mostly unhappy drawing it. Perhaps a fireball instead would be better.

I now played 3 dibs instead of 4 due to playing 4 psiblast main due to the meta with all 4 toughness creatures. The problem with dibs/ psiblast is two folded- at one hand there is the damage issue which could result in losing a game (see my second loss), but the deck is also quite heavy in the 3-slot. 4 psiblast, 4 dibs, 2 moons, twister and wheel makes 12 3-drops, which is quite a lot. But still dib is the best creature for this deck…
Another option would be to play a 2 or 3 su-chi’s main. You would lose some tempo, but on the other hand 1 hit equals four times a flying men hit.

Most likely I would now opt to play 1 eel, 2-3 orcs, 4 dibs and 2 or 3 su-chi’s main.

 

One of the weaknesses of this deck is the robot deck – those decks can be quite explosive. For that reason, I played a third shatter main. I think in Swedish, especially with all triple S decks running around a third shatter is a necessity. The standard counterburn deck plays less and less counterspells. I only played 2 – I would want to go back to 3. I am still not sure whether the third needs to be a counterspell or a power sink. I single power sink can be a nice surprise to play off a single U…
I am almost happy with my sideboard. It needs an extra card (falling star) against weenie. As fireball goes main, it can take its place.

 

I have enjoyed playing the derby again. It was a blast sharing all experience within our Dutch group and hearing their stories as well. 3 Dutch guys reached to the top 16, one playing with a stricter UR counterburn list. Showing it’s potential.

 

I met some nice other players, had some interesting games and discussions. It was again a great experience. I want to thank Dave Firth Bard for organizing a great tournament yet again.

Cheers and good luck.

 

Author: Robbert

I started playing magic in 1994 and never stopped. Never really competitive, but mostly kitchen table magic and sealed events. Since 2017, I have found the OS scene and I am enjoying every moment of it.

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