Wednesday, 26 September 2018

"Wanderlust" Part 1: inc. King of the North 2 Event Report - by Brother Stebbo

Editor’s preamble – this summer our roving envoy Brother Stebbo left London to discover Old School communities to the north and (very far) west.

This is part one of his journey…

Community /kəˈmjuːnɪti/

  • Noun
  • ~ A group of people living in the same place and/or having a particular characteristic in common ~
  • For example: (i) a group of people could be "Insane Magicians" (ii) the same place could be "planet Earth" and (iii) the particular characteristic could be "Old School Mtg".
Refreshed after our successful raid in Stockholm, it was now in the spirit of the UK Old School community that Brothers Stebbo and Karl made the trip North to Edinburgh, to the far-flung icy wastes of UK Old School. Where an Island might just still tap for Blue mana, as long as it hasn't frozen solid.

Edinburgh has always been good to me. I earned a place at Noobcon last year by winning the inaugural King of the North and had some great games along the way. It would only be right and proper to return as reigning King and attempt to defend my crown.

~~ the Horn of Deafening sounded!! ~~ Time for the Brothers to depart to the North. 
Brother Stebbo: So you're on the 7.30 from Euston right?

Brother Karl: Yeah.

It's profound chat, but it's also 6:38am. But this is what you do in the spirit of community. Nevermind the fact that you had a work party the night before and barely got 5 hours' sleep. But my Old School and Brothers' Highlander decks were packed long before. We are prepared.
~~ We're now aboard the train ~~
Brother Karl has enterprisingly reserved the seat next to mine. Lucky he like aisle seats!

Brother Stebbo’s URb aggro-control
My usual train diet of a Pret sandwich and a nap takes us through the Midlands. Just enough time for a quick chat about sideboard strategy. I'm set on running URb, but through my Celestial Prism I've been seeing concerning images of decks focused on creating towers made of ivory, meanwhile creating the unwelcome bureaucratic levy, or 'tax’ if you will, for making your land drops. These monstrous decks appear to win through excessive lifegain and cruel inevitability in a manner that makes the Deck look like a zaney combo deck!

My biggest concern heading into King of the North II

I muse adding a further Shatter to the maindeck and/or a Shatterstorm to the sideboard to combat this menace. But then what to take out? The choices before this humble mage are never simple.

We also consider who we might see in Scotland. One name crops up who Karl remembers from his past as a PTQ grinder. A former Scottish Nationals Champion no less. It's almost like one of the ancient Scottish kings has returned to attempt to seize the crown from this upstart Southern baron and reigning king (me). Well, they never said this was going to be easy…

~~ Arrival ~~

We arrive in Edinburgh and are greeted by the fringe festival. Brother Karl leads the way as we fight through the revellers. We resolve to take in some of the entertainment later, but first more pressing matters are at hand.
Brother Karl, rocking the denim as we make our way through the crowds that had seemingly gathered to greet our arrival…
Upon making it to the games store – shoutout to Mox in the Hole and Gabor – we are greeted by none other than Brother Scott and Sister Bev! They too have ventured north in search of fame, glory (or seeing their pal in a fringe festival show)…

~~ The tournament ~~


Round 1 - one of the joys of travelling to play in an event is not being drawn against your buddy who you play every week. So imagine my satisfaction when I got to play Rod Smith first up, organiser and Global Old School phenom.

Rod has always had an eye for creative and punishing brews, and since our last encounter clearly the icecaps of the north have thawed, as he has added some blue to his deck, which we'll call "Good Stuff Control".

Alas even his Ivory Towers are not enough, and he is dispatched 2-0.

Credit to Rod for this action shot.

Round 2 is against another seasoned Scottish Old School player, Seb, who is running UB midrange.

We play some tight games, with the most memorable play being Seb casting a Timetwister with Underworld Dreams down. Game over? Not so fast! I am able to Boomerang the Underworld Dreams and avoid taking 7. I squeak over the line 2-1.

Round 3
is against Ed Ross – a relatively new player on the Old School scene. But you remember that ancient Scottish king I was talking about? Well…

Ed is playing The Deck and we shared two warped games and one fantastic one. Game 1 sees me lead off with Land, Mox, Lotus, Mind Twist. Some introduction. Ed is almost able to claw his way back, but I'm able to take the win. Game 2 sees Ed lead with a LoA. He wins that one.

Game 3 saw some brilliant back and forth. He has the Abyss and COP Red. I have Energy Flux and Blood Moon. We go to time, but I'm able to find a way through to take the match 2-1.

Round 4 sees me playing Brother Karl on his traditional UR. He had been considering playing a more unconventional brew on the train, before being talked out of it by me.

These games are played in good spirits, but we know each other's games very well, so control battles ensue. I take game 1 and Karl takes game 2, before we go to time in game 3. 1-1-1

Round 5 sees me face off against Brother Scott. He's playing a BR Artifact control/midrange deck.

Despite an encouraging start, Scott is able to take down game 1, with his volume of Trikes and Su-Chis proving too strong for my defences. However games 2 and 3 go my way. 2-1.

Top 4

Semi Final.

I'm drawn against Brother Karl in the top 4. Game 1 goes to me as I'm able to exert 'Efreet Dominance' on the board. Game 2 is a real squeaker and comes down to me having to Timetwister whilst on 3 life, with Karl on a similarly low score. Both of us need one bit of direct damage to connect… I draw Mana Drain and a Bolt. Karl has drawn two Psionic Blasts. Unfortunately he blinks first and loses with his lethal Psi Blast on the stack. 2-0.


Predictably I have a rematch with Ed on the Deck for the marbles.

Unfortunately for Ed, I used to play the Deck extensively so know the match-up well.

Unfortunately for me, only one of us is a former PT player/champion (him) and he's visibly becoming a more powerful Old School mage with every draw step.

I take game 1, with my arsenal of direct damage proving too much for the Deck pre-board. 1-0.

Game 2 sees me board in 14 cards. A grindfest is forecast. Rod managed to snap this shot of my opening hand. I've drawn my LoA…

We have an interactive game, with a highlight being a battle for control of Ed's Serra Angel by way of a Control Magic/Disenchant etc. However the card draw of Library is too great and Ed is gamely defeated. 2-0.

And stilllllll, King of the North!

~~ Epilogue ~~

After a year of peace over the plane, the Brothers noticed a disturbance in the northern lands. So they dispatched a regal, powerful mage to restore order.

A great tournament, where I was able to meet new players and re-connect with old. Scotland has a fantastic Old School community.

Brother Karl and I went on to enjoy a curry with Rod and Sam (our gracious host), before enjoying some of the sights of the fringe.

In hindsight it was a journey which inspired me to go even further in search of Old School goodness.

As some of you have read, Rod recently injured himself practicing some of this new-fangled 'blue magic'. So we awarded him this community prize to wish him a speedy recovery. 

Stay tuned for Wanderlust, part 2, coming soon…where Brother Stebbo packs his Strip Mines in search of Old School adventure!

1 comment:

  1. Great read, and congrats on defending the crown! Should have read this a couple of days ago to get some more juice about this from you in person ;) Thanks for a sweet weekend at BenCon.