August had one of the Cardmarket Series Event stops near Frankfurt, right next door of my hometown. At Alpha Castle 2019 and JK Series stops, because it was very busy I couldn’t play myself. This time, I had no on-site work to do with the event, so had a free Sunday to jam some Old School.
The Cardmarket Series is a huge event with many many players. This time, it even has more than 200 players in Legacy, more in Modern and Standard. The Oldschool Event is one of the events with a competitive prize pool, so for some the “draconian entry fee” of 30€ meant this tournament isn’t for them. In the end, we have ten players with a prize pool of 240€ in Cardmarket coupons, and will play five rounds plus Top4! The CMS OS ruleset is similar to the locally used JK rules with 4 Strip Mines, CE/IE and Fallen Empires allowed, but current Magic in-game rules (no manaburn).
My Oldschool cardpool consists of basically blue and red cards only, but in that frame I can build ‘some’ Aggro or Control. For the Cardmarket Series Oldschool event, I try out Urza Tron for huge Fireballs. Who doesn’t love casting a Fireball for 15 ? With only eight colored lands, I count on Fellwar Stones to provide me with the second blue mana..
The idea isn’t new or overly creative. One of the local players is brewing with Tron since the very beginning of his Old School career. Sindbad Cup in September may be the breakout event for him!
On the evening before, I give my cardpool to a friend who has zero contact with the Oldschool “meta” with the task to build a Sideboard for me. This is what he comes up with, and I manage to find excuses to sideboard in every card at least once but Feldon’s Cane.
Spoiler: I won’t face a Milldeck.
Round 1: Stefan R. with Su-Chi Atog Flare
In my first game of the tournament, Stefan summons Su-Chi and beats me down to 2 with it and the help of Mishra’s Factories and Lighting Bolts. He tries to finish me off with an Earthquake for 2, while still at 13 lifepoints himself. I use the last card of my hand, a Mana Drain and pray for a Topdeck that can handle his freshly played Mishra’s Factory.
At this point I already assemled Urza’s Tower, Urza’s Mine and Urza’s Power Plant, but I don’t draw a deadly Fireball. Instead I draw an Earthquake and count my lands. Urza’s Tower (3), Urza’s Mine (2), Urza’s Power Plant (2), City of Brass (R), Fellwar Stone (1), Strip Mine (1) and a Volcanic Island (1). I count the mana again and again, but it won’t become more than an Earthquake for 10. I consider a concession, maybe I should pass the turn and bluff a Lightning Bolt? As I’m about to forfeit, I see the Mana Drain in my graveyard. It had countered Earthquake, so will grant me 3 mana. I do the math again and cast my Earthquake for 13, drawing our first game!
In the second game, I can Lightning Bolt his Mishra’s Factories and a Strip Mine of mine later he’s down to Candelabra of Tawnos and one or wo Duallands. I have an Icy Manipulator that can shut down the land, but Candelabra disables that one. In his upkeep as I tap one of his lands, he can tap it for mana, and then use that mana with Candelabra to untap the land I just tap. I Shatter his Candelabra to stall him out more, but my deck lacks a threat at this point. Despite the little mana available, he can cast Lightning Bolts and Chain Lighting he draws and eventually kill me with it.
In the third game, I have a relatively early Urza Tron complete (Tron = Tower+Mine+Power Plant) and start to bust out Fireballs and Earthquakes. He find a Strip Mine which reduces my plans by 4 damage each and I can’t find myself a natural missing Tron piece to execute said plan.
Grixis Tron 0 – 1.
Round 2: Simon H with Troll Disco
In the first game, I have hand that’s “quite good”. With Sol Ring, Fellwar Stone, Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, Jayemdae Tome (Keto’s Zauberbuch!) and Strip Mine I have the nice opening. With the Jayemdae Tome I can draw three Urza’s Tower, but they don’t combo really well with each other. Simon has Sedge Troll and Mishra’s Factories to bring me down to dangerzone and finished with Bolt Bolt Chain Lightning Fork.
For the second game, he has an early Blood Moon with one Basic Swamp. I feel this hinders him more than it does my workup, so I postpone the Blue Elemental Blast on it until very late. Mirror Universe serves as additional security door. Once I have enough Counterspells and potentially blue sources in my hand, I destroy the Blood Moon in his End Phase to untap and use Mirror Universe and then Fireball him for “a lot” with the Urza Tron lands that were just released to freedom.
In the third game, my plan to cast Mana Vault and activate The Hive (The Wasp Nest!) from that point on is preemptively stopped with Strip Mine. I wouldn’t be able to untap Mana Vault for a while, so don’t dare to tap out for a Wasp Nest. The game takes a while longer and Diabolic Engine starts to assert control. It’s bigger than all the Trolls, resistant to Lightning Bolts and save from anything Simon has as long as I keep 3 mana open. I fail to do so when I greedily use a Fireball to destroy a big creature AND deal 4 damage to the player. Diabolic Engine is promptly destroyed, so I’m left with the aforementioned Wasp Nest. It still becomes a close race against a Sedge Troll, but I don’t get the lucky Bolt or Fireball Topdeck when desperately needed in that race.
Oh, and somewhere in there is a Forked Mind Twist .
Grixis Tron 0 – 2.
Round 3: Philipp E with Spooky All Hallow’s Eve Reanimator
Philipp plays Reanimator with Hypnotic Specters. I draw all the Power Sinks, Counterspell and Mana Drain I have to counter his key cards Animate Dead and All Hallow’s Eve. Thus, the game takes a while. Countering All Hallow’s Eve is interesting, because if you can’t counter it when it’s cast, nothing in Oldschool will stop it from happening two turns later. This is different to, for example, the Modern “Suspend” variant where you have to use your Counterspell the turn “it happens”. Unless Reanimator has an unanswered Hypnotic Specter, I can durdle around, draw some cards. I win the first game by putting my own life downward with City of Brass to be able to swap lifetotals with the Mirror Universe and follow with a mere Lightning Bolt. For the Mirror Universe I have to tap out while he has Hypnotic Specter, but another All Hallow’s Eve would resolve next turn. If I don’t cast Mirror Universe now, I can Bolt the Hypnotic Specter and have to find a solution to Sol’Kanar the Swamp King from the grave. If I cast Mirror Universe now, Hypnotic Specter has a 1:3 chance to take away my lethal Lightning Bolt. I take my chance, as I probably lose if I cast the Bolt on Hypnotic, too.
In the second game I stunt him with 2 Strip Mines and bring a Mahamoti Djinn with Tron. I have a third Strip Mine in my hand and wonder if I should use it. If I play it right now and destroy yet another land, that’ll be a very dismal or salty play experience. I can also justify not playing the third Strip Mine as good play. Whatever my opponent casts with two mana won’t defeat Mahamoti Djinn. The most likely threat for Djinn is Maze of Ith and Bazaar of Bagdad, that can find answers. Anyways, Mahamoti Djinn can attack twice and an Earthquake for 10 finishes the deal.
Grixis Tron 1 – 2.
Round 4: Max G. with Tax Edge
After a start of Volcanic Island and Mana Vault, Max gives me a Rainbow Vale as he opens with Land Tax. This means I have 6 mana on my second turn to cast a Tetravus. He has a Moat and plenty of Land Tax triggers, but the 4/4 Flying Construct isn’t impressed. Together with 3 Lightning Bolts it is too fast for him to find a Disenchant.
The second game is more back and forth. Again there’s an early Land Tax, but this time I have no threat as early. Also, after Sideboarding I expect Red Elemental Blasts so I want to secure my Mahamoti Djinn better. My Icy Manipulator fetches a Disenchant. The Braingeyser for 5 the turn I complete Urza Tron fetches his Red Elemental Blast. Only after clearing
the his board with Flashfires, with Counterspell and a Blue Elemental Blast with the necessary blue mana available dare I cast the Mahamoti Djinn. The protection through blue Magic is necessary as Djinn draws attention of another removal. It attacks four times and with that Grixis Tron clawed back in the ranks.
Grixis Tron 2 – 2.
Round 5: Max H with Mono Green Revised Stompy
Max ‘Tiebroken’ H plays a deck on a very tight budget. He got started with Oldschool for the Alpha Castle event and thus far has put 120€ into the entire deck. Including Shipping:
My deck has 4 Lightning Bolts, 3 Earthquake, 2 Shatter and 3 Fireballs, that’s 12 removal spells.
He has 33 potential creatures, counting the Mishra’s Factories. That’s way too many creatures for me handle. How can I ever win?
I am dead before I can cast any relevant spells, and he advances to the Top4, later to the Finals!
Grixis Tron 2 – 3.
I didn’t get to play Oldschool for almost 4 months. Today was a very fun event, although the 30€ entry fee were quite unusual for Oldschool. However, the prizes attached with that entry fee didn’t make it less comfortable or Casual. I didn’t notice any “uncool” behavior and everyone was enjoying the event as far as I can tell. Everyone played a somewhat cool deck with many cardchoices in favor of awesome cards rather than staple meta cards. I unsurprisingly didn’t win a prize, but consider the day absolutely well spent.
For Grixis Tron, I am glad I didn’t draw the Rod of Ruin at all. I boarded it out every game. This deck needs a second Jayemdae Tome and has too many Earthquakes. Instead of 1-2 Earthquakes I’ll probably try out Triskelions. Once I own a Chaos Orb, a Timetwister or a Wheel of Fortune, I’m sure there’s a place for them as well.
The next weeks are packs with Oldschool events in the area. August 18th has the Kobold Cup (0.5 € buy-in, winner wins a Kobold of choice, ~10 players), August 24th has the JK Summerfest Rohgahh Cup (winner wins Rohgahh!, ~15 players) before the local peak of Oldschool at Sindbad Cup (many winners win different things, including a rug and Arabian Nights cards, ~50 players) in September, one week before Fishliver Oil Cup. Fishliver Oil Cup then is on the same date as an important Prerelease at the Local Store I run, so I can’t attend that this year.
Bonus: Impressions from the Top4 including missing Top4 Decklists
Semifinalist Mario M with RG Aggro
Semifinalist Jan S’ with White Weenie
Max H on Mono Green winning against Mario M on RG Beats in Semifinals
Florian S on Tax Edge devastating Jan S White Weenie in Semifinals with unarguably broken draws.
Finals: Max H on Mono Green against Florian S on Tax Edge
Florian S holding the medal for winning Cardmarket Series Frankfurt Oldschool event.
Florian S winning deck Tax Edge