Today we have another guest post by my good friend Sebastian “Seb Celia” Bladh. Enjoy! / Martin
Hi all! We had a local tournament in Stockholm last weekend. We were 17 players, which is great because they had to travel a bit to get there and we only announced it two weeks prior to the event. It was sweet to see such a great spread of different decks and archetypes. I’ll take this opportunity to give my thoughts on how the format seems to be evolving and try to show you some lists on the way before we get to the endgame (this is not referring to that movie that everyone seems to be talking about at the moment).
So, when I started playing Premodern, when we where a few guys just testing the waters, control was the cool kid on the block. Last year Sligh and Goblins put up great results in many different tournaments and this seems to be a usual swing historically in other formats as well. If aggro beats control, usually midrange decks pop in to smash aggro. If we look at this tournament, that could be the case for how we ended up with our winner. I’ll get to that and the top 4 deck lists in a bit, just bear with me. Regarding combo though, a few months back, some storm variants from Samuel Korsell kept popping up. He seemed really intent in breaking the hell out of the format. The deck that was real close had applied Illusions of Grandeur as a fuel for the Yawgmoth’s Bargain, basically making it a two-card monte deck (Samuel’s video deck tech can be found here).
Then, in June, last year, we saw Land Tax unbanned and that gave birth to more Prison-oriented combos. We’ll get to a Prison version with Tinker, but the coolest one, I think, was the Pink Prison deck invented by Erik Sundberg, and first seen at the Euro Champs 2018 in which Erik piloted it to a second place finish. That deck ended up winning the Online Open II tournament (see Ron’s organizer’s report part one and two), so it’s safe to say that it’s good. The deck’s real power lies in how easily it sets up everything using Enlightened Tutor and having four of every key piece. And don’t forget Gamble, through which the silver bullets are just a dice throw away (you can read more about the deck here).
The prize table, featuring Port Wine for the winner
As stated earlier, there was a great mix of archetypes to be found in our little tourney:
2 Rb Goblins (one with Patriarch’s Bidding)
2 4C Control
2 Rector-Rebirth-Ghoul combo
2 Pink Prison (one aggro version)
1 BG The Rock
1 UB Reanimator
1 Tinker Prison
1 Wildfire Stax
1 UR Stifle-Nought
1 UW Counter Rebels
1 Ub Trix
1 Turbo Land
I played UB Reanimator and it went real swell, but then I lost the last two matches to Jeff and Per, who both ended up in the finals of the tournament. I became overconfident playing against Jeff’s Stifle-Nought when I tried to bait him to crack his Tormod’s Crypt when I cast Reanimate, but he just let it resolve and ended up burning me for the last points. That spell can surely hurt. Last game in the swiss against Per, he mind gamed me bad. He pondered quite a while about whether to keep or mull, so I started to believe that my Cabal Therapy should find other targets than Tormod’s Crypt, since almost any starting hand with that card against reanimator is a snap keep. I named Cabal Therapy trying to get some value and he showed me a hand with two Tormod’s Crypt. So that’s that.
Yours truly with one of the random prizes
In the top 4 we found Martin Berlin (Tinker Prison), Mikael Magnusson (4C control), and, as I earlier mentioned Jeff Ecklund (UR Stifle-Nought) and Per Rönnkvist (BG rock). Per is a Goblins aficionado, but for this event he borrowed Berlin’s The Rock deck for a change (quite similar to Martin Stark’s build, which you can read about here). Here are the top 4 decks:
Berlin had made some minor changes to his Tinker list, previously posted in the decks section. He won in the swiss against Joel Larsson playing Goblin Bidding and against Joakim Falk on Sligh, so needless to say the deck seem to squeeze the oomph out of the red aggressive deck using 4 (!) Chill from the sideboard to slow them down. In these matchups Phyrexian Processor might not be the safest route to victory but Tinker lets you ramp or fetch Crumbling Sanctuary and when the time is right you slam Masticore or Karn, Silver Golem for the win. Martin lost the last swiss round to Jeff and went on to lose the rematch in the semi-finals so Stifle-Nought did get around most of the lock pieces in the deck.
Regarding the Stifle-Nought deck, we have here a great way of hitting from many angles. Jeff had a mix of counters, burn, manlands and Standstill to reload, so it was not only the main ingredients of Stifle or Vision Charm and Phyrexian Dreadnought that got him there.
Mikael Magnusson played his signature 4C control but with some tweaks. Maybe because Enchantress won Swedish Nationals last year he opted to add an Akroma’s Vengeance instead of the usual third Wrath of God. As I mentioned earlier, some racketeering goblins had been seen running amok lately and the addition of Humility in the deck seems good since you usually win with Decree of Justice anyhow. He won the mirror in the swiss rounds using some sweet Dust Bowl tech, denying the opponent all of his green sources. After the tournament Mikael mentioned that he would probably add another one to the sideboard.
Per won against Mikael in the semis. When I started playing this format, I thought that Fires would become the best Blastoderm deck. I was not really able to crack how the deck should get there, but Berlin’s version of The Rock seems to have found a place for the beasts. Using Recurring Nightmare as a pseudo-threat and value engine and clearing the way with Pernicious Deed, the deck seems to have found a sweet spot in the current meta. So as I speculated in the beginning of this article, this might be the time for midrange decks to shine. Both Jeff’s and Per’s decks have some combo elements in them. But they can also be very aggressive and having an unplowable 5/5 galloping against you can be a humbling experience (do beast gallop? Horses are beasts, right? Maybe Blastoderms lope or trot …).
The winner and his loot
I didn’t watch the finals because Berlin had his Premodern cube with him and I might have started to become too drunk at this point anyhow, so I haven’t any insights on how Per actually managed to beat Jeff, but he did. So, congrats to him and thank you all for reading!
As usual, you’re welcome to discuss this article in the Premodern social media channels.