N00bcon 15: A ride to remember

So, here we are again. 2 years after my last tournament report, not a coincidence that was one about N00bcon 13. A weekend like N00bcon doesn’t start at the airport, it starts months before that. For me the anticipatory pleasure (we have a much better word for this in Dutch, “voorpret”) is at least 40% of the fun. Adding the fact that I decided already a long time ago that if I would ever get another invite, I also wanted to play the Wizards tournament and Ante40k, it only increased the “voorpret”. In this report, I’ll leave out any stuff on Ante40k, since I keep that for another report which you can find here: http://shufflecutante.com/anteante/2024/04/05/popping-my-cherry-at-n00bcon/

Brewing

Last year I was only able to play 3 live tournaments because I had other priorities. For Uthden Troll Cup in November, I choose to play a more Johnny type of deck called Beast Island. I like these kind of decks which still have a lot of good cards but try to do things slightly different. I did however forgot a lesson I’ve learned in previous tournaments: “Spice/Johnny at small tournaments, spike at bigger tournaments”. I’m fine playing 3/4 rounds and getting my ass whooped and I’ll make it to round 5. But Round 6/7 I’m really done playing the bottom tables and I rather head to the bar. Sure, sometimes these decks do good or even win, but the more rounds you go, the less chances that will happen.

So, the brewing had begun. I started with a Swedish variant on Orgg.dec. Who doesn’t want to win with Shivans? (shout-out to Audun who made NC T8 with 2 Shivans) I thought the Atogs would be good to create some early pressure and of course to eat the Mana Vaults. They worked, but most “good” players understood pretty fast that I wouldn’t sacrifice an early Mana Vault or Mox to my Atog, since I needed them for my 6 drops. While I made T8 in a 60+ player tournament, it didn’t feel good enough. 29 Mana Sources means you really need a D7 to follow-up since your top deck game is pretty weak. I wasn’t sure yet what 1 Mishra would do with the format, so I left out that consideration for now.

 

I lost the T8 against Triple S, which wasn’t a big big surprise since all those UWx decks always do well. It did inspire me a bit and I hadn’t played any classical UWx deck myself for over 2 years. The derby was around the corner and Evert brought to my attention a deck called: “Koos Cramer Aggro”. For those who don’t know Koos Cramer yet, Koos hardly ever plays creatures. Control & Combo are his kind of decks. Koos however had build a variant on Triple S, adding dibs, which he played to a 9th place at N00bfest. Maybe Quadruple S is the better name and you might wonder why anybody would ever call this deck an aggro deck? It’s never fun to explain the joke… But well, for Koos this is as aggro as it gets. The Derby went really well, going 7-1, making it to T16. Only to find out my next opponent was Koos Cramer himself. We had a good laugh about it and then he whooped my ass. I normally don’t like Counterspells at all, but Koos has an even weirder kink. He prefers Power Sink. I think they are great in a parfait or combo kind of build but would always prefer Counterspell in a creature type of deck. I changed the 2 Power Sinks for Counterspell and played the deck again at the Edge-Man championship in January. The deck is really solid and 1 Mishra would improve the ability to play Counterspell. Also, since it’s playing 14 creatures I felt it still had enough pressure without 3 Mishra’s. Perfect, this deck was ready to be played at N00bcon. There was only 1 but….. After 2 tournaments, it didn’t feel like “my” deck. I prefer a different style, I’m not a big fan of Counterspells and I really don’t like only 2 outs against LoA. People complaining about LoA games, often just don’t play enough cards that do something against it. These UWx type of decks are a classical example of that. I had some more time to brew, I could always just going back to this deck. However, the seed was planted…..

 

First up was Groningen which put my mind into brewing some other stuff since we played Team Unified and Brothers Highlander there. Jeff was spamming me all the time that we had to do some brew sessions together for N00bcon. We are both into Deadguy Ale on Steroids type of decks and we both agreed that Underworld Dreams had to be really good in a 1 Mishra meta. While originally a lot of people thought or at least hoped that aggro would get better, most people around me expected the opposite to happen. More midrange, control & combo, so better Underworld Dreams. Those D7 type of 12 burn decks also are not very happy with an Underworld Dreams. What if we would add all the direct damage we could find to it? Would we have enough 3 damage spells to get there? 12 Bolts, Black Vise, X Spells, Ankhs & Tablets all have the ability to do 3 damage. Combine that and it feels you are close to a good deck, but are you really? Jeff let it go and focused on other brews, but I had to give it a try. I think most people call it Burning Dreams and after playing it my conclusion was that it was really weak against UWx. If your Dreams gets countered or disenchanted your game is basically over. Dreams is really the engine of the deck. Since there are hardly any other targets in most games to be removed, they are so vulnerable, it just didn’t work. I could win my far share of games, but with a very heavy UWx meta to be expected this wasn’t going to be it. It would have been so cool to give it a go with such a deck, only to find out that Aland actually did and made T8 in the fortress. Well done! Seeing Aland play with Juzams in the side only made it better, Henk and I told you they are good 😉

So, still no deck… Henk and I build BB-8 2 days prior to NC13 2 years ago, so still a lot of time to brew. Damn… Robots, I love robots. While I really like BB-8, I always loved Robogeddon a bit more. Armageddon can’t be a bad card if the meta shifts away from aggro so… Yes, that’s it! I wanted a more TheDeck/Control proof version of Robots. Sages are great, Geddon is fun and Disenchant, STP and even 1 additional Counterspell next to Mana Drain is always good. I wanted to stay a bit away from the UWx Robot version with the complete control package, but sure it still is a UWx Robots deck. Most play Serra, I wanted to go for something a bit faster. Meaning Dibs would be added, since 8 threats and 4 copies wasn’t enough for sure. Most 1 Mishra decks I played against got really threat light. Meaning you had more turns to top deck, making it more important to play a bit less mana sources and obviously more broken cards. At least for me the 1 Mishra “meta” got more clear, although I hadn’t actually played it in a proper tournament, besides 1 ODOL where everybody was still trying out stuff. I couldn’t decide which card to cut, so ended up with 61 cards. The tournament at the fortress would decide which card to eventually cut for N00bcon.

Getting warmed up

I never bring a razor when I’m on a short trip, so on the evening before flying out, I had to shave anyway. 2 weeks earlier, Reindeer asked for mustaches, so for the first time ever I kept a mustache. My wife hated it, so she was even happier I would be gone for the weekend. We flew with 7 out of 11 dutchies at 08:10 in the morning. Traditionally this means beer at 06:30, which tasted like the start of a perfect summer day. Unfortunately, I was the only 1 with a mustache.

Everybody was happy to start another weekend of joy and happiness. Jokes are thrown back and forward and we just hope everybody around us at Schiphol are foreigners as the language used is NSFW. The gathering had started and I sure wouldn’t go without it. I was really looking forward to meet everybody else as well, but it’s great to go with a fantastic crew yourself. We are all excited for the weekend to come. After we land we head out to the hotel but we can’t check-in, there’s not a lot of places open at 10:30 but if we walk a bit slow and we get a bit lucky, the sports bar is probably open. We order some pitchers before grabbing some food after we continue our way to the fortress.

The venue is great. The only small downside is the acoustic but you can’t have it all. 88 players from all over the world. A lot of familiar foes and plenty of new faces and I couldn’t wait for R1 to start. 2 years ago I didn’t even know there was an upstairs as well, but apparently there is. First round I’m paired against Raphael and we head upstairs. He opens with Fastbond, Sylvan and I recognize that I’m up against MirrorBall (Mirror Universe, swap life, FB for lethal). He killed me so fast, I didn’t stand a chance. We try again a second game and he combo’s me out again partly with an early Channel into Mirror Universe. There was literally nothing I could have done to prevent this, so shit happens. Since we are done in 10 minutes and both eager to play, we grab our Alpha decks to play some games. He gets to kill me with Channel/Fireball…. Insult over injury! I make him promise to now win the tournament, he makes the promise. At the end of the day, I was his only win 😉

The next 3 rounds I’m on a roll. I remember doing a lot of broken stuff, especially against Martin Skovgaard. Ancestral, LoA, early threats into copy artifact. It didn’t matter, I had all the cards I needed at the right time. It feels great to be steamrolling and all of a sudden you think you have the best deck and/or are the greatest pilot. 3 Danish players in a row, keep ’em coming. The 4th is Jeppe, who’s on TwiddleVault. 2 Disenchant and 2 Counterspell main to stop him, a chaos orb can help out as well. Game 1, turn 2… Boom, dead… Okay, try again. I add some artifact removal and Blue Elemental Blasts. Not the best card against TV, but it stops the fireball for lethal if I’m lucky. I start with a disenchant in my hand, tap-out in turn 2…. Boom, dead. I understand that tapping out is what I should prevent, but normally you don’t need to worry about that in T2. It happens, combo’d out again. I tell Jeppe he now needs to win the tournament! And so he does 😉 The final round is against Gordon. It feels a bit like a cooling down and we chat a little. I take the win for a 4-2 finish. Couldn’t have done anything different during my losses and to be fair, was extremely lucky with most of my wins.

During round 3/4 I was told that the Ante40k would not be on the Friday but today. Since I had been drinking since 06:30 in the morning, expecting that today I could go all out, that wasn’t the best timing. I decide to take it a bit easy so that I at least can play the Ante tournament. The fact that it was played in the rotary made it even more special, but you can read all about that in the Ante40k blog. Mari makes it to T8 to defend the Dutch honor. Since we haven’t check-in yet, I head over to the hotel to drop my stuff so I can head over to the Ante tournament as soon as possible. I ponder what changes I want to make to my deck for the main event. I quickly decide to go -1 Dib, to get to 60 cards. Since I was completely wiped out by combo, I feel I want a 3rd disenchant main. Against Leo’s recommendations I remove my 3rd sage. It was a decision made for a big part based on outcome bias, which sometimes is fine. The thing is that if I get combo’d out again the next day and wouldn’t have changed a thing, I probably felt more miserable.

The main event!

I got home around 02:30 and feel surprisingly good when waking up. Henk (my roomy) and I even make it to breakfast. Since the venue had to be changed pretty last minute, we have to go to an unknown place which nobody really knows anything about. The place wasn’t as terrible as some people made it sound beforehand, or even after. It fitted 130 people without getting to hot inside (important for me) and the picknick tables had enough space even for a big guy like me.

R1 I get paired against David Strandberg. This match was for sure the best one I’ve played during the whole weekend. In G1 we battle it out for what feels like forever. If I remember correctly we Timetwister both, play every broken card in the format and keep going back and forward. Eventually I won the game, which at the moment I was pretty happy about. G2 was over pretty fast and while shuffling all I could think about was that I didn’t want to finish my first match in a draw. For sure I want to win, but I rather have David win then settling for a draw so I’m playing fast and David wasn’t planning to draw either. I get behind in the match and at a certain moment if feels like it’s all over, but somehow I make a comeback and get an opportunity to actually win the game. We end up in a situation in which I play a Timetwister while I’m on 7. David has a Serendib (I believe control magicked from me) in play, so virtually I’m on 4. David is on 2, with a Dib as a 2 turn clock. I draw 7 hands, have 6 outs(4 Triskelion and 2 Psionic Blast) and draw nothing. I fetch card #8 with LoA, which is an Ancestral Recall, fetch 3 more and still nothing. 11 cards, and no lethal. All I can do is pass the turn, while David has a full hand and I have no counter magic or whatsoever. David draws for turn, plays a strip mine. Strips my LoA. Take another card with his LoA, plays Ancestral Recall and also nothing. 12 cards, no wincon. He can attack for 3, but that’s it. He then realizes that he should not have played the Stripmine, because he has a Balance, which he could have played to remove the Dib and buy another turn. However the only white mana he has comes from 2 City of Brasses, which he can’t tap, since he’s on 1 by now after taking 1 dmg from the Dib. Pretty insane way to win match #1 and I feel good!

Next up, Patric Hiness. A beautiful black bordered, mono black deck. His playmat was a Juzam, which he kept in the SB after he sided them out all the time, the day before in the fortress. I have a greedy hand, decide to keep and quickly get faced with a Sinkhole, some threats and die without really putting up a fight. G2, he just tramples over me again. The games itself couldn’t really have been played different, apart from maybe mulligan into a better starting hand. Damn, that’s a first loss.

Match 3 and I’m paired against Wouter. Wouter is my buddy who lives 100m away from my house. I know his deck, since I always help him out brewing and in this instance even borrowed him a couple of cards. Juzam’s do quite well against me, since my creatures are all x/4s. However I play power while Wouter doesn’t. I remember vaguely he has a T1 LoA in G1 or G2, but my hand was so strong that I wasn’t even worried. I’m back to drawing broken stuff like the day before. Unfortunately it’s Wouter and not another Danish player 😉

Match 4 I’m playing Albert. Albert tells me 4 times before the start of the match that he isn’t as drunk as people tell he is. Nobody told me anything but telling this 4 times is kind of a give-away 😉 It’s not that this never has happened to me. Or well, actually, a couple of hours later I’m on repeat when we grab some late night burgers after playing for Ante all evening. I’m so drunk that my short-term memory isn’t functioning anymore. Albert is on Burning Dreams. He tries to go fast and deal 20dmg throwing everything to the face. Luckily I draw enough threats to be a bit faster, so that’s Game 1. From what I remember he didn’t do a lot G2, probably unlucky hand/draws. That’s another 3-1 like yesterday and still everything to play for.

Jens-Ole in Match #5. I’m doing pretty well against the Danish, just not in R5. He opens with Land, Sol Ring, double Vise. I take 6 damage but magically still win the game against all the burn & Ankhs. I side out my Armageddons, try to make my deck a bit faster and I’m ready for G2. I have a slow but okay hand, pass turn and he plays another Black Vise. I’m not worried, take a bit of dmg and will come online in turn #3. He plays Armageddon…. Jikes, that’s what I normally do. I can’t recover and we go to game #3. I start with City of Brass, Mox, Mox, 2 Disenchant and 1 STP. That means I can manage to remove all his early pressure and when I make it to mid-game, I’m not worried. I play Land, Mox, Mox and pass the turn with 4 cards. He opens with Land, Vise and passes turn. No damage, I cast something and pass turn (pretty sure I’m on 4 cards) and he plays Strip Mine on my City of Brass. This was my only white mana and I never draw a white again. The Vise starts to hurt, a Lion can’t be removed with Swords and I’m pretty baffled. I really thought I would have this game in the pocket, but shit happens. Since I lost, I probably asked him to win the tournament. Which he did… My Round 5 opponents are just so good 😉

Round 6 I’m paired against Daniel Peterson. A player from Stockholm which is fairly new into Old School. Things are starting to get really vague from here onwards. There’s nothing at stake anymore, the beer tastes good and we chat-chit a little while playing our matches. I win the match to at least have a positive result for the day, I take it, and another beer.

Round 7 I’m paired against Nick. Another Dutch battle and since there’s nothing at stake for both of us and we are in the last round, it’s actually fun to play each other. I know Nick is on The Deck and I’ve play tested a lot with his brother Koos who’s also on The Deck, on the Monday before N00bcon. I did really well and got the best of Koos, although I wouldn’t say I’m the favorite. My UWx Robot deck was tweaked to be better against The Deck, so I was actually looking forward to the games. Game 1 Nick plays a pretty fast Serra which I wasn’t expecting. Before or after the Serra was played, I draw an Abyss. Which is weird, because I don’t play Abyss main. I count my sideboard and it has 14 cards, so it’s just an additional Abyss in my deck. Nick is okay to take it out, as taking it out doesn’t change anything and there’s nothing at stake. Anyway, a fast dead and easy win for Nick. I don’t think G2 was any different and I end the day on a 4-3 score, decent, but not great.

While in the Fortress at least 1 Dutch player made it to T8, today we all flunked. Henk on spot #22 has the best finish, but never played for the marbles, which is a pity. I’m always competitive myself and in these tournaments there’s nothing better to be able to cheer for a fellow countrymen. Luckily there are plenty of likeable guys in the T8, so I get to cheer for someone else this time. I still had some Ante40k opponents that I didn’t get to play the day before and Koos wanted to play a game for fixed ante. We each ante’d a Maze of Ith and agreed to a best of 5. Again UWx Robots against The Deck and I’m looking for revenge after losing against Nick. Well, lose, lose, lose and Koos again shatters my dreams.

The Cooling Down

Saturday and luckily we don’t have to set an alarm clock. Henk again got home after 05:00 and I’m a bit hungover from the day before. The Wizards Tournament starts at 14:00 and Henk is going to Mellanmjölk and is not in a rush either. I grab a burger as breakfast on my way to the venue and I’m actually looking forward to play some more magic. I’m pretty certain that another day of Swedish would not have interested me at all, but this is Alpha. As said, after last N00bcon I knew for sure I wanted to go all-in and play every format offered. I started buying into Alpha a little after N00bcon and settled on a very sweet Red/White singleton deck. From all the decks I’ve played, this is by far my favorite. Since it’s singleton, I see a wide variety of cards. I love the original set, the cards are black bordered and most art is awesome. Really, what’s not to love. Just before I left to N00bcon I received my latest addition, a Granite Gargoyle. Resurrection, Reverse Damage, Fork and Roc of Kher Ridges are my favorites. Besides Fork, the others you hardly ever see played, but in this deck they are actually quite decent and always fun to cast.

Wizards Tournament is called a tournament but isn’t played as a tournament. You can play whoever you want, do whatever you want and just play casual magic as Richard Garfield intended. After some regular Alpha games, I sit down against Karl and we start talking about all kinds of self-made magic variants. Quickly we agree to invent a new format on the spot, in which we separate our lands from spells and creatures. We both have a land pile and we put both our pile of spells and creatures in a combined pile of cards. Each turn you get the draw from 1 of the 3 piles. So either Karl’s land pile, my land pile or the combined pile of spells and creatures. This makes up for some great games of magic, although we pretty quickly brake the format as well. It doesn’t matter, it’s just relaxing and having fun. At the end of the evening I suggest to Karl to play some 2 Headed Giant Alpha. We ask Leo and Alexander to join us and I get teamed up with Leo. We play some super boring games of magic where Ankh, Vise and Winter Orb do most of the work. While at the same time we have tons of fun, discussing what to do together and trying to make the ride as painful as possible for our opponents.

This was the only kind of magic I wanted to play on day 3. A perfect ending of a great weekend. The tournament organizers all did a fantastic job and the crowd was fantastic. You are never able to talk to everybody but you can decide yourself how you get to experience the weekend. There are always friendly people who are up for a chat, a game, a drink or even a club. If you put yourself out there, you get to meet some fantastic people and the community again showed that The Gathering is the most important part of Magic. Thanks to everybody and I hope to see many of you soon, at a different tournament or a N00bcon in the future.

Photo taken by Dy

 

Author: TaGMoM

Started playing in 1995 when Ice Age was launched and quit playing in 1999 since I didn't like the fast rotation of cards. When I heard about Old School Magic in 2017 I returned to the scene and now I'm spending way to much time on Magic, loving it all the way!

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