19 October, Madrid, Spain, was the time and place for the second edition of the European Championships in Premodern. The first edition took place in Genoa, Italy (see my report here), as part of the Fishliver Oil Cup. This time around, however, was the first time ever for an international event where Premodern was the main tournament. To make a weekend out of it, we offered throwback drafts on Friday followed by a social dinner, and on Sunday there was a casual Premodern tournament as well as some 93/94 dueling.
But let me start off by by thanking co-arrangers Francisco José Complidu Rica, founder of Madrid Premodern, and Fernando CL, co-owner of Tempest Store, which hosted the event. The monthly Madrid Premodern League run by Francisco typically gathers 20-something players, and Francisco’s enthusiasm and the awesome local community were of course important factors for choosing Madrid as the location for the tournament. On top of that there was the great venue Tempest Store, which is not just any local game store, but one dedicated entirely to Magic. Besides a nice brick-and-mortar store (complete with banners of Premodern sets), Tempest Store is a major vendor on Magic Card Market, which I can really recommend for Premodern singles, since they have a huge stock (I’ve ordered from them many times).
Eight Premodern enthusiasts showed up for Odyssey-Torment-Judgment draft on Friday afternoon. I quit Magic (or took a really long break, rather) somewhere in the midst of this block, so it’s definitely not a limited format that I know or knew. It was quite interesting to experience, from a limited perspective, how Magic design has changed since then. We all know about “power creep”, but a lot of the cards back then were outright unplayable even in draft. At some point we were all kind of laughing at boosters mostly filled with stuff like Enslaved Dwarf. It was challenging in an interesting way, though, as you really struggled to get enough playables, making it even more important to commit to a certain strategy and colour combination early on in the draft. Here are some pics:
I first-picked Beast Attack and ended up with a pretty decent green-black aggro deck (pic 3 above), trying to ride heavy hitters such as Filthy Cur all the way, on the back of removal and pump spells, topping off the curve with some reach in the form of Laquatus’s Champion and Morbid Hunger. I won the Putrid Imp mirror vs Joakim Almelund (pic 4 above), whereafter I was stopped by the Swedish Premodern champion Mikael Linden and his green-white deck.
After the draft, we gathered some more people and went for dinner at Mad Brewing, a micro-brewery and restaurant in central Madrid. I’m still not trying to turn this into a food-blog, but I must say that they had not only good beer, but also probably the best barbeque food I’ve ever had, so give it a try when in Madrid.
I also got in some games versus the Germans, Jens Jaeger (pic 2 above) and Stefan Guttenberger (pic 3 above).
28 players of seven nationalities showed up to battle in the main tournament on Saturday. The field of decks was as follows:
- 10 Combo (3 Devourer, 2 FEB, 2 Stifle-Nought, 1 Reanimator, 1 Squee-Plenish, 1 Turbo-Land)
- 7 Aggro (4 Sligh, 1 Goblins, 1 Suicide Black, 1 UG Madness)
- 5 Control (4 UW Standstill, 1 Psychatog)
- 4 Midrange (2 Terra-Geddon, 2 The Rock)
- 2 Prison (1 Stasis, 1 Squirrel Prison)
The archetype categorization follows the criteria outlined in this article. And just hang on, we’ll get to the Squee-Plenish deck. Or if you can’t wait, I’ve included all deck lists at the end of this post. What stands out most about the field is the large reprentation of combo decks, and as usual they come in many different shapes. The single decks that were played the most were UW Standstill and Sligh, followed by Devourer combo, which was the breakout deck from the Swedish Nationals in June.
Although we had some technical hiccups (including Gordon failing to open a wine bottle with a screwdriver), me and Gordon streamed the whole thing with commentary, and the videos are now available on Wak-Wak’s Youtube channel. We did six rounds of Swiss (i.e. one extra), followed by a top 8. Here are some pics from the day (click to enlarge), including the amazing prize wall (pic 4):
And for those of you who missed the live stream and want to catch up, here are the videos:
Part 1 (round 2)
Part 2 (round 3–5)
Part 3 (round 5 after-talk, round 6 and quarterfinals)
Part 4 (semifinals and finals and after-talk)
The final standings after the Swiss were as follows:
I should also mention Luis Alberto Núñez, the Spanish national champion in Premodern, who missed the top 8 on tie-breakers. As is now becoming a tradition, he was given a Cursed Scroll as prize (“that feeling when you look at the standings and miss on tie-breakers”).
The top 8 played out as follows. In the quarterfinals, Juan Manuel D (Squee-Plenish) beat Poza A (Psychatog), Jens J (UW Stifle-Nought) beat Arvid H (UB Stifle-Nought), Gonzalo Y (Full English Breakfast) beat Jaime G (The Rock) and Jorge L (UW Standstill) beat Roberto M M (Devourer).
In the semifinals, Gonzalo beat Jens and Jorge beat Juan Manuel. And in the finals, Jorge and his UW Standstill beat Gonzalo’s Full English Breakfast deck. Congratulations to Jorge Larrumbide from Madrid, Spain, the 2019 European Champion in Premodern!
A closer look at two break-out decks
Let’s take a closer look at two interesting new decks in the top 8. Madrid local Juan Manuel Delgado went undefeated in the Swiss with this Squee-Plenish deck:
At first glance, this is a classical UW Replenish deck, disrupting the opponent with Parallax Wave and Parallax Tide, and using Opalescence as a wincon. These cards have some very powerful interactions between them, by the way. With Opalescence in play, you can e.g. use Parallax Wave to exile itself, which, according to how the rulings work, makes it come back with five fresh counters. I was told that Juan won a game exploiting this interaction, flickering his opponent’s Wall of Blossoms repeatedly until he was decked.
You could either play the enchantments from your hand or bin them with the recently unbanned Frantic Search, Careful Study, Attunement and Intuition, whereafter you can get them all back with Replenish.
The deck also includes three copies each of Squee, Goblin Nabob and Solitary Confinement, however. Together, these form a hard lock (at least pre-sideboard) and allow you to win by decking versus mono-red aggro decks, and Solitary Confinement should buy some extra time in other matchups as well. If that’s not enough, Squee, Goblin Nabob can be used as a crazy card-advantage engine with the above-mentioned digging cards, in particular Attunement.
The runner-up in the Swiss, Jens Jaeger from Germany, also brought a very interesting deck originally built by Karl Pfeiffer, UW Stifle-Nought:
The combo between Phyrexian Dreadnought + Stifle or Vision Charm, has previously seen quite a lot of play in UB and UR shells. The novelty of an UW shell is mainly motivated by Enlightened Tutor, which function as Dreadnought 5–8 as well as adding leverage to some silver bullets in the sideboard. An innovation is also to run the mini-combo Meddling Mage + Peek. Meddling Mage can be used to deal with Swords to Plowshares and other removal threatening Phyrexian Dreadnought. Peek can also be used just to check if the coast is clear, so together with the mage it kind of works like a substitute to Duress, used in the UB builds.
The rest of the deck is essentially disruption and protection for your combo, e.g. Daze and Wasteland. The deck is extremely streamlined and doesn’t include a single card with mana cost higher than two! As such it reminds a bit about Delver of Secrets decks, for those of you familiar with more recently printed cards. The deck looks very simple when you look at it, but sometimes the simple things are the hardest ones to come up with. Also, stay tuned for Jens’s tournament report, coming up on the blog soon.
On Sunday, we ran a small Premodern tournament, in which I had some fun and went 3–1 with Biorhytm Elves, here in the midst of some squirrel and Overrun action versus Giulio Bedeschi from Italy:
Overall, I’m really happy with how the whole event went down, and I had great weekend in Madrid, meeting a lot of Premodern people for the first time, at least IRL. I only wish there was some more time to just chat with people, but it’s hard to find time when organizing things and streaming.
As for meta-game reflections, as usual I don’t think one should over-interpret the results from a single tournament, given the randomness in what decks show up and how they perform, but it was nice to see a mix of established decks and a few new ones. It’s also interesting to note that there is some evolution of the established archetypes. The coolest example is Gonzalo Yunge’s Full English Breakfast deck, to which he added Phyrexian Devourer and Triskelion, making it possible to win with Volrath’s Shapeshifter without attacking and at instant speed (this came up in one of the streamed matches). It’s also interesting to note that Jorge Larrumbide’s winning UW Standstill deck continued Erik Sundberg’s trend of running Stifle maindeck.
I still think that the red aggro decks Sligh and Goblins are a force to count with going forward, despite none of them making top 8. It seems that people have started to prepare properly for these decks, however, which perhaps makes it hard to go all the way in a tournament with red, despite having a very good win percentage. With all sorts of combo decks flourishing at the moment, perhaps there is a meta-game niche for aggro decks that include some amount of disruption, e.g. Zoo style decks (see Karl’s article for inspiration) with Disenchant effects or black Suicide builds with discard.
Finally, thanks to everyone who participated, to Slanfan for web wizardry, to Gordon for the stream and to Ariel for poster design. See you at the next Premodern event, or on social media!