Perhaps in tribute to our American cousins, the day began for the hardiest competitors with a BBQ feast at Grillstock, next door to the venue.
When I went in early to set up, I was pleased to reflect that we now had enough people confirmed to mean we could occupy the big room at the pub!
Sure enough we had an all-time high turnout of 14 players. This comprised me, Scott, Stebbo, Graeme, Richard B, Karl, Ben, Oli, Bev, Bryan, Markus, Shawn, Robert, and Steve, which meant we had three first-time entrants.
After a spot of technical difficulties with allocating the Swiss pairs (hat-tip to Markus and Bev for sorting that out), we got under way. True to our philosophy of playing for low stakes, we are all competed for the signed COP: Artifacts.
I came to the day with my current deck of choice, a red-white Troll Disko which is a joy to play, with nice little synergies popping up throughout the deck.
In particular, the deck gives me a great opportunity to show off my one-of-a-kind Amy Weber-produced Rukh tokens (a rather superb recent gift):
In the second game, early Glooms totally shut down my white and two Underworld Dreams on top of each other prove too much. The third begins brutally - five Factories lie in our graveyards after just a few turns, but at a crucial point I am able to Red Blast his Blue Blast and get over the line with an Uthden Troll.
My second opponent is Oli, who is also playing White, splashing Red. It's an unusual hybrid. No-one plays White more tightly than Oli and he rolls me over in short order - I only deal him 2 damage across both games!
Third up is Steve, my former teammate at the Old School World Championships. He is playing a modified version of the blue-green Living Lands which he took there. It's terrific fun to play against, partly because it's not really evident how he's going to take the win. It could be a Drop Of Honey eating your lands, it could be a sudden rush of animated Islands and Forests, or it could be a Prodigal Sorcerer pinging off your mana sources.
He takes the first game by getting ahead of me in mana and then deploying Living Lands - weirdly it's the fact that lands have summoning sickness which renders it so disruptive. The only solace I can take is having the pleasure of Bolting his Library of Alexandria.
On game two I have the play, which feels significant and I am able to Fork my single copy of Blood Lust when an Uthden Troll gets through his defences, which gives me a decisive advantage when Living Lands hits the table. The third goes to a very entertaining draw.
My fourth match-up of the day, Robert, has just got back into Magic and his deck is 'fresh from the loft'. He later goes on to win the coveted 'Spirit of COPcon' with his fantastically nostalgic Red-Green Zoo deck which includes forgotten favourites dripping with flavour, including Cat Warriors!
Unfortunately he faces mana problems in both games and my army of Uthen Trolls prove too hard to contain - although he does managed to land a couple of Disintegrates on them.
At just 2.5 wins out of 4, I know I am out of contention for the win, but looking forward to my final match against Karl, another former member of this year's UK n00bcon team. Again we have three entertaining games. Karl is playing a similar deck to mine, although he is playing green and comboing Diamond Valley off his Rukh Eggs. He hits me with a Ball Lightning and a Blood Moon in game one. Game two is tight - we both get down to one life and face a gunfighters' face-off which I win with a Bolt.
Third up, he borrows another trick out of my playbook by forking my Bolt onto his Rukh egg, and he cleans me up with the resulting dragon. Although I am tasting my own medicine (it tastes quite Lightning-y, with undertones of juvenile dragon musk) I've enjoyed the match.
Thus brings the end of my day's play. Meanwhile, the competitors at the top of the leaderboard have been tight. One of three could win it in the final round, but Oli and Ben require race leader Stebbo to slip up against Scott. He doesn't, and therefore the King of the North takes the COP!
With the "competition" out of the way we are free to get down to the real day's business which for me includes entertaining games against first-time entrants Bev and Shawn, and then some two-headed giants.
A few pints later and we are down to six attendees, so Ben suggests a game of Old School Emperor magic, with a rather special prize at stake:
With champion Stebbo flanked by me and Oli, facing up to Emperor Scott flanked by Bev and Ben, we are feeling confident. However, it's a one-sided contest and the Zone 6 contingent take the Brothers of Fire.
The hardcore continue to the Victoria for some impromptu cabaret performance, and reminiscing about a brilliant day of Old School. Sunday's hangover is certainly worth it.
Here follows Stebbo's winner's report! See the foot of the page for deck pics and some of the classic plays of the day.
I initially had the idea to play ErhnamGeddon after facing my friend Bryan Connolly on the deck at the summer King of the North tournament. Around this time Grant's enthusiasm for the deck was prominent on an episode of Flippin' Orbs. Plus the genies from Arabians are awfully sweet. So, I decided to build ErhnamGeddon over the summer.There are a few different ways you can take the deck, play straight GW, a light splash of U, playing four-colours for access to U and also B for Demonic Tutor and Mind Twist.
Stebbo's 'Arcades Sabboth' ErhnamGeddon
My approach of a stronger blue element isn't one I've seen before. My love for U means I really wanted to run a full suite of Counterspells and a Mana Drain. I eschew early aggro (e.g. Savannah Lions or Argothian Pixies) for the privilege. The payoff comes as the deck can: (i) protect its key cards better, (ii) defend against the omnipresent back-breaking spells of the format (e.g. Mind Twist), and (iii) mix-it with the control decks better if the game goes super long.My other deck selection choice is Llanowar Elves over Birds of Paradise. Despite the obvious benefit of Birds (especially in a three-colour deck), the philosophy of ErhnamGeddon is basically to take away your opponent’s foundations and then crash in with the beats. The Elves add valuable pressure, and can get the job started early, chipping away against the slower decks in the early turns.Aside from a well-timed Armageddon, the other main strategy of the deck is continually throwing 'grenades' in the form of hyper-efficient beaters. I am running 10: 4x Serendib Efreets, 4x Erhnam Djinns and 2x Serra Angels. We are susceptible to the Abyss and City in a Bottle, but running 4x Disenchant and 2x Crumble in the board helps bolster our permission suite against these mass-removal threats. Like every good Old School deck, I am also running my vanity card of choice, the big Mahamoti Djinn in the sideboard to help fight against City in a Bottle.
After a middling run at an Old School meet in September, I felt like I learned a few of the limitations of the deck and understood better when to execute the deck's namesake play - Armageddon - and I was ready for COPcon! Contrary to some perceptions, I've played a different deck at each COPcon: (the Deck, UW Skies and Nicol Bolas Artifact Toolbox) and this run was set to continue, which pleased me greatly.
Match One (2-0 vs Ben)
Ben has the head of a UWx control player and the heart of a mono G player, is a stalwart of the community, and is someone I've had a fair few scraps with over the years. Most recently Ben ruthlessly dispatched me at COPcon II to end my promising run and grab the glory for himself!Today Ben was on a form of UWx control. Game one saw neither player take full control, however a Mind Twist from Ben for five, later followed be a Regrowth into Mind Twist, did much to slow me down!My white removal was able to keep his board in check however, and he wasn't able to put me under enough pressure, with meanwhile my threats slowly exhausting his Countermagic. As such, when the inevitable Armageddon cast darkness over the land, I was able to put the game away with an Erhnam Djinn.
Game two saw me mull to five…but my five included Library of Alexandria, Mox, Lotus and Serra Angel! Sadly Ben had a Swords to Plowshares, but a tone was nonetheless set: my Library warming up whilst Ben tried to edge ahead on board using the card advantage from his initial keep.However much like the first game, there again wasn't much pressure on me, so with my Library about to go online, Ben was forced to make the dubious play of casting Timetwister into my open Library. He didn't hit anything meaningful from his seven, and unfortunately for him I did, before then promptly crushing him…
Match Two (2-1 vs Karl)
No gimmes at COPcon as I then faced another community stalwart in Karl on RB aggro.Game one saw Karl set to face down the 'classic' Erhnam Djinn into Geddon, however he had the temerity to resolve a Blood Moon, the turn before the Geddon, breaking up the combo! Despite having a Sylvan Library down, I wasn't able to find the answers I needed (Moxen/Lotus) to utilise my Disenchant on the Blood Moon, and my Erhnam Djinn lost the race to his burn.Game two: my deck was able to make an aggressive start and put the game away before Karl could seriously threaten my life total.Game three was one of the games of the day. I was able to establish an Erhnam Djinn, sat behind a CoP Red, and things looked good. However Karl had other ideas in the form of a City in a Bottle, a Gloom and a Shivan Dragon!From then on I had to play a patient game of recovery, first removing the Gloom, then the City and then finally the Shivan to put the game away. I was racing the clock as much as Karl being able to draw into enough spells to 'alpha-strike' through my CoP Red, but I was able to get there with a Serendib Efreet as time expired on the round.
Match three (2-0 vs Shaun, a new player in our community, playing mono black)
Game one saw me able to deal with an early threat or two, before the tried and tested Erhnam Djinn into Geddon put the game away.Game two saw me draw into Time Walk, Ancestral and four Moxen in one my 'historic' keeps. Shaun was a very good sport, and I felt a little sick inside, as my broken draw immediately crashed through his defences...
Match four (2-0 vs Oli)
A grudge match against fellow CEGS member Oli, who is running WR aggro. Game one is incredibly close, as Oli is able to apply real pressure to my life total, before I am able to stabilise with some creatures and then a backbreaking Armageddon! Game two is played out along similar lines.
Match five (2-0 vs Scott)
Another community pillar is my last game of the day, playing COPcon I champ Scott on WB. Game one saw Scott mull into a keep that enables a turn one Underworld Dreams. However I was able to deal with his key threats (such as a follow-up Su-Chi) and put the game away quickly, with Scott slightly under the cosh of having mana problems. Game two saw Scott suffer with mana problems again, and being defeated by a ruthless assault from my Arabians beaters. And with that, I had run 10-1 in games for a perfect record (before preceding to lose several casual games that evening)! My prize was a signed COP: Artifacts! Thanks as always to Jonas, Ben, and BoF for organising the event.
Ben's second-place five-colour synergy deck (4 Tundra and 4 Swords are cropped out)
Scott's Dead Guy Ale (complete with shiny new Jet)
Markus's black plus UR splash
Shawn mono-black artifact
Robert's RG Zoo feat. Lure-Basilisk (WINNER of Spirit of COPcon IV)
Graeme UG Berserk
Richard B's BB Black with U splash
Pic: Oli facing down the barrel of a gun
Plateau Inception: I christen my Drew Tucker playmat (my absolute favourite Mtg artist) by playing out a full complement of Plateaux
Pic: Ben lays out a full set of jewellery