A bit of history in between

I started playing Magic: The Gathering back in the sixth grade together with a couple of friends. It was actually pretty cool, because it spread like a wildfire: About eight weeks into the semester possibly half of all the guys in my year was playing magic during breaks.


And then it died. Come December people deserted magic in favour for this other new, cool card game called Pokémon. This was the fall when they released Marcadians Masques – so I was part of the Stop-Playing-Magic-At-The-Time-Of-Marcadian-Masques movement. Bet you didn’t know that about me!


On went the years and older grew I. In my first year at secondary school Wizards changed design on their cards with the release of Mirrodin. I was thrilled – it sounded awesome with a plane completely made of metal! I convinced/tricked/coerced a classmate of mine into buying a deck of cards so that we could play together. We had a lot of fun and it all worked fine until… until… until the day when it just wasn’t so fun anymore. We tried to revitalize it by doing the test “Which kind of Magic player are you? Timmy, Johnny or Spike?” I was a Johnny and he was a Spike. That was, sort of, the nail in the coffin for us.


Next year saw the release of Kamigawa. I was a lot into collecting cards at this time, and I also spent a lot of time on the Swedish mtg-forum svenskamagic.com. I didn’t play much, however. I listened to a lot of Rock music, though.


The year after that saw the release of Ravnica. This was the year I started going to pre-releases, and right from the start my sealed deck finishes were quite okey; I 4-2’d most of them (but as any of you know that result doesn’t reward you with a top8 spot, even though it’s good). Ravnica block was followed by Coldsnap and Grand Prix Malmö which I attended (I 5-3’d, I think). I then moved to Västerås at the release of Time Spiral (and even won the local Time Spiral pre-release, my only win so far!). This was when it started, for real.


One could say that Ravnica block was my ascendance and transcendence as a Magic-player. I went from being a complete newbie into being someone that had opinions on pretty much any card in any deck. I wasn’t that good, mind you, but at least people respected me and my opinions.


Coldsnap and Time Spiral was the height of my career. I played a lot and I discussed lot with friends both in Västerås and online. It all culminated with Grand Prix Stockholm in which I finished 6-3. 8-2 would have me qualified for day two, and I was so incredibly disappointed in myself.


(Sidenote: My biggest claim to fame during this era was probably not my 6-3 finish in GP Stockholm, but rather my total misevaluation of Tarmogoyf at the release of Future Sight: I claimed that it was totally unplayable, especially in limited. Worst rare in the set. Second worst rare was Bridge from Below. Boy, was I wrong…)


I practically stopped playing Msgic shortly after that, and stayed low for quite some time. I tried some Lorwyn, I tried some Shadowmoor. I gave Shards of Alara one chance (a pre-release) but I didn’t like it at all… I never gave Zendikar a chance, neither Rise of the Eldrazt.


When Wizards announced that they were returning to Mirrodin, however, I was thrilled. I mean: I really like the block last time, didn’t I? (note: no, I didn’t, but during Scars spoilers I actually believed that I liked Mirrodin and loved everything about it) The day before the Scars of Mirrodin pre-release I was sitting at home, practically ripping my hair while looking at the spoiler – did I look forward to playing with these cards, or were they just a big bunch of boring cards and mechanics?


I decided to not play. I then skipped the Mirrodin Besieged pre-release too, feeling no attachment to the plane, whatsoever. But then it came: New Phyrexia with phyrexian mana symbol. I felt that I could give it a try – the mechanic was quite interesting, after all. Said and done: I played the pre-release and went 4-2 (ever heard that one before?). I was content and Magic was a fun game again (even though Scars of Mirrodin block wasn’t).


M2012 was nothing for me – core sets rarely has. But then rumours of Innistrad started floating around the net. The setting was perfect: dark and horror-tuned with vampires, werewolves and zombies. I just played so perfectly in with the fact that I picked up Vampire: The Eternal Struggle just the year before.


So now here I am, sitting on a plane [red. anm: 24 hour delay writing --> publishing] bound for Milan where there this weekend is going to be held a Grand Prix in Innistrad sealed. I’m incredibly psyched. I’ve been saying for the last two months that this fall is going to be the fall where I take my gaming to the next level – not in a manner of high end finishes (even though those would be nice and welcome in their own way), but rather as a good way of seeing and experiencing the world.


First real step was last week when I went to Örebro, and now this. Please stay tuned if you’re curious for what’s up next.

The Fall of Tournaments, part 2

Today I attended the Swedish National Championships in Vampire: The Eternal Struggle in Örebro.

The tournament was three rounds followed by a final. I was playing Tryphosa Bleed&Block.

First round I played second but got a bad crypt draw. My prey was a finnish player playing Potence-combat and the rest of the table was big-cap / Inner Circle decks. I managed to oust my prey but then fell victim to all the big-caps.

What I learned: Maris is significantly worse as a star vampire in my deck than Tryphosa. 0 GP 1 VP.

Second round my grandpredator was a Weenie-dementation and my predator was a Malk-94. I get Dreams on my opening hand (and play fourth) so I manage to get Tryphosa out on turn 2. My preys first vampire gets Pentexed the turn it enters play and my predator plays Madness Network --> I get to bleed with Tryphosa even on the turn I get her into play. Two turns later my prey and predator are both low on pool while me and both my grandprey and grandpredator are more safe. During my grandpredators minion phase my predator bounces a bleed and takes the rest, declining to even try to block, at the end of the minion phase he then bleeds me with both his minions. I bounce both and then it's my turn to act. Both my prey and predator are on two pool. I oust my prey with one bleed and then oust my predator with another! By doing this I gave a VP to my grandpredator, the most aggressive deck at the table, but at the same I saved myself from another two heavy bleeds from him during his minion phase. I really feeled like a jerk backousting, but at the same time it was a little bit revitalizing... Talk about playing the table! My new prey was ousted a short while later (too much preasure, basically). In the heads up I Pentexed one of the Weenie-dementations vampires, leaving him with two and me with three that were almost empty (due to Tryphosas ability). He also played a Dreams of the Sphinx and contested me for a turn, but I kept my contest while he yielded the following turn (one of the key moments according to Ivan). Up until this point I'd drawn mostly aggressive cards (Kindred Spirit, Confusion and Deflection), but now the deck changed and I only drew Second Tradition and Obedience... A typical turn looked like this: I Kindred Spirits bleed with one vampire, hunt with another, hunt with Tryphosa. He tries to remove Pentex with his first vampire, I play Second Tradition on Tryphosa (she then has no blood) and play Obedience, he tries to remove Pentex with his second vampire, and again I play Second Tradition and Obediance. I did this two or three times. It was awesome. He was kind of frustrated. The game ends soon after when I start drawing bleed cards again. 4-1 and a game win in a game where I ousted all the other players - this is how Vtes should be played! I spoke with Andreas afterwards (the guy who played Weenie-dem) and he said that he was fooled by all the cards in my ash heap: When our heads up begun I'd played 1 Second Tradition so he figured that I was playing about 4 - I don't play 4, I play 10, together with 8 Obedience. Also, he was saving up Deny's in his hand to be able to torporize my vampires once we'd enter combat with each other (he figured it would happen eventually...), once again he wasn't really expecting the 8 Obedience...

The game was one of the best I've ever played: Good moods, good tabletalking, hard choices and a lot of good plays (some more planned than others: keeping contest on Dreams, Pentex on Weenie-dems third vampire, Second Tradition + Obedience, back-ousting in my grandpredators minion phase... Awesome!) 1 GP 5 VP

The third game my seating was really bad: I played first and had 1 transfer and my predator was playing Weenie-dementation and had 4 transfers, transfering up Jackie in the first turn, and then transfering up Apache Jones in turn two. I had a really aggressive hand but knew that I needed to draw into my defensive cards in order to stay alive, so I started by transfering up Persia and equipping her with a Heart of Nizchetus. I then transferred up Tryphosa with only 3 pool left. With help of the Heart I managed to draw into my defensive card (they started coming after I'd filtered through like a third of my deck), and from that point I turteled up like never before. One hour (and an incredible amount of Second Tradition, Obedience and Deflection, and 1 Parity Shift in my favor stolen from my predator) later I'd managed to transfer up Quentin King III and saw my chance to launch: Pentex on my preys star vampire (he was playing a Tzimiche wall, his star vamp having 2 permacept an a sniper rifle) and bleeding for 6 putting my prey on 2. I was now standing with Tryphosa with 1 blood untapped with a Kindred Spirits and Faceless Night in hand. My grandprey was on 2 pool as well, however, so I was rather (read: insanely) afraid of bleed-bounce. I also had 2 Obedience and 2 Deflection in hand, so I decided to wait another turn (it would feel so horrible to give a VP to my prey!). My prey tapped on of his small vampire to try to remove Pentex. I blocked with Tryphosa and played Obedience - and my predator plays Touch of Clarity on my Obedience forcing me block and lose my only blood on Tryphosa! This left me in a loss position as well as I was left with no wakes in hand. Said and done, I was ousted the next turn. Well played Touch of Clarity!

I was feeling rather miserable throughout this whole game (it's not healthy to be stuck on 3-5 pool for more than an hour...), but I still feel that I was putting up quite the fight considering my position! Being ousted first rendered me of all my chances of getting to the finals, however, but at 1 GP 5 VP I managed to finish 10th out of 49, which I'm quite proud of for a first attendance!

Now all I have to do is make some rebuilds in preparation for European Championships in Warsaw in November, but first I'm off to Milan next weekend for some Magic: The Gathering Innistrad Sealed Grand Prix magic. Stay tuned!

The Fall of Tournaments, part 1

This is written as of a two-week delay, because I never really got the chance to write it back when it took place.


I attended the Innistrad pre-release and Dragons Lair in Stockholm. Most of my close magic-friends were there and overall we had a really good time. On top of this Sandra was away visiting her parents in Sandviken so I had no problem preparing and playing as much magic as I wanted (not that I do otherwise either, but this was one of those once-in-a-lifetime chances of saying this, so I took the bait).


The pool I got was quite horrible. No bomb-rare, and not much variety on my colours: neither blue, green nor black had more than 2-3 playables so I was left with a bunch of red aggressive cards and bunch of white controlling cards including quite a lot of removal. Aggro it was then. 15 land and 2 land-fetching artifacts was my mana base including an island for a splash for a flashback-effect. It wasn’t really something I liked that much.


First round I played against an blue-white Italian guy. I won the first game after a lot of struggle and a couple of good plays on my part. I lost the second due to 2 lands drawn my first 12 cards (starthand + 5 draws). Third I lost due to 12 lands drawn in my first 16 cards. Life wasn’t fair.


Second round I played against a white-black deck with a lot of token making creatures. A plethora  of cheap blockers wasn’t really good for my deck. I won the first however but lost the second to mana fizzling (something like 2 lands in 11 cards) and I lost the third to mana flooding (something like 9 lands in 12 cards). Life wasn’t fair. At all.


Also, at this point all my friends were 2-0.


I felt quite miserable. But then I had them all look at my pile of cards and everybody agreed that I had (basically) built the best deck out of the available cards (giver or take 1 or 2 cards), so we all agreed that I just had to pull better draws. Basic as that.


Round three I sat down against a green-white deck. My opponent proudly announced that he’d been playing for little more than a month and we had a jolly good time even though my deck kept 2-for-1-ing his deck and even though I lured him into one combat trick after another. As I said; he was a nice guy though. I won 2-0.


Fourth round I played against a red-black deck. Apart from making a couple of stupid plays and walking into a reeeally stupid combat trick (‘oh, you have your 4/3 vampire standing on defense and two mana open, guess I won’t play my ‘you can’t block’ creature and attack with my 7/6 trampler – whaaat, did you play +2/+0 to and first strike to all your vampires?! Bummer.’-kind of thing) I don’t think my deck was better than his, but I believe it was more consistent and streamlined (less cards that were only situationally good, mostly). I 2-0’d. It felt good, considering my misplays.


Round five I played against a green-white (red splash) deck. I won 2-0, and the games were quite brutal: One game it was turn two Elite Inquisitor and turn three Furor of the Bitten. He played werewolves. As I said: It was brutal. That I finished off both games with a top-decked Brimstone Volley didn’t make him less discontent.


I was not 3-2. Round six I squared of against a red-black-splash-white deck with a total of 7 first strikers. One game I held a hand of only removal spells and no aggro. Took me quite some time to draw into my good creatures, and all the while I could only put on the show of drawing the right removal at the right time, over and over again. Our decks were much the same, yet different in some crucial ways. I drew better than he did, twice. 2-0.


At 4-2 I knew I had a chance on top8. To be fair, this chance was something like ‘well, yeah, if all other people on 4-2 lose, or draw, and the guy you met in round 1 wins (he was 6-0 at the time, hooray for my tie-breakers!), and two other people decide to randomly drop out of the tournament…’ and it went on for another two minutes, sorta’. Still, it was worth playing for! (and don’t forget the Planeswalker Points that were on the line, as well!)


Last round commenced and it was against a green-black-red deck (first triple coloured opponent of the day, yay!) packing (most notably) Olivia Voldaren and Cellar Door (which didn’t net him close to as many zombies as he deserved). First game I won by aggroing him down (I think), but it’s the second that’s of interest: It was (by far) my longest game of the day in which we both got the chance to play the majority of our business spells. It was a really fun game (Killing ms. Voldaren is fun. Attacking into an untapped cellar door is… scary =/ ). I did, however, in the end, draw the longest straw and finished 2-0.


5-2 finish and 18th place out of 105 participants. Not bad for my official comeback, and it even binned me 3 Innistrad boosters, to boot!


So there you have it: A 5-2 comeback in Sealed, and soon, soon I’ll try do redo the feat (even improve it!) at Grand Prix Milano. Wish me luck!

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