The mills of the editor grind slowly, but here’s finally Jens Jaeger’s tournament report from the European Championships. If you want to catch up on that tournament, check out my organizer’s report and the commentated stream as well! Enjoy! / Martin
From the 18th to the 20th October there were the second European Premodern Championships in Madrid. After two German Nationals tournaments organized by Flippi and JK entertainment in Darmstadt, some of us were very motivated to go there.
Stefan Guttenberger, Lomir Felix Wintersturm and me chatted about it at a great Medieval Festival in Selb after having a lot of Snakebites, ciders and beers. Unfortunately, most players couldn’t make it due to family or other reasons. So only Stefan Guttenberger and me made it to represent the Germans in Spain.
We asked the master of zoo Kim Karl Pfeiffer if he wanted to join us, but sadly he couldn’t make it either. But the two of us chatted about a possible new variant of the Stifle-Nought archetype, i.e. the one revolving around Phyrexian Dreadnought and Stifle (and Vision Charm). I built this deck months ago as a hybrid with Landstill and manlands and tested it at our local store at some point, but I was not too happy with it. I posted the following deck pic of it in the Premodern Facebook group as well and did not get much reaction to it:
Just play eight Dreadnought and eight Stifle. Fair magic is bad magic. Consistency is key.
Karl had a similar list, however, including the mini combo of Peek and Meddling Mage. I don’t know why but I like the colours in the artwork of Mr. Pikula very much, so I fell in love instantly. If you play Meddling Mage it’s recommended that you know what your opponent is doing and what decks are played in the meta. Meh. Nothing of that is true for me… but with Peek I am able to shortcut this. 😀
This was Karl’s first take of the deck:
Karl’s list also had four Swords to Plowshares, but only two Impulse and a Misdirection main, and a different sideboard with Intervene (a really cool card). But some things did not feel right. After a lot of conversations and brainstorming we recognized that Swords to Plowshares did nothing for our gameplan—just put that fat badass on the table as soon as possible and protect it! This deck is the Turbo-Depths of Premodern. So we switched some Swords to Plowshares to the sideboard, added more draw, switched Misdirection and Divert from the main to the sideboard and finally back to the binder. Now I really missed some interaction against fast creatures out of decks like Reanimator, Psychatog, opposing Dreadnought builds etc… so my idea was to play some fetchable removal. Et voilà, Seal of Removal even had the right name for this job and it surely did a great job all the time.
Let us say some more words about Vision Charm. This is the really best card in the deck and all three modes are relevant. Of course, most of the time you just phase out your Phyrexian Dreadnought. Most of the time, though, if I can choose, I will Stifle the Dreadnought, so that it can be protected later on with Vision Charm. Vision Charm is also useful for phasing out your opponent’s problematic artifacts, like Defense Grid, Tangle Wire, Winter Orb and Ensnaring Bridge. Alternatively, you can Time Walk your opponent by changing basic land types in his upkeep. This works best against mono-coloured decks like Elves or Goblins with few instant spells. Finally, it’s sometimes relevant to use the mill mode as a wincon, or to prevent Volrath’s Shapeshifter from doing crazy things.
At some point we were also reminded that Mother of Runes exist. This is certainly a sexier sidekick for Phyrexian Dreadnought than Intervene. She also solves more problems, as she gives constant protection for both Meddling Mage and ‘Nought, also from Diabolic Edict effects (The Rock is a very bad matchup with Pernicious Deed and Edicts), and she can even beat players down if everything else goes wrong…
The sideboard also includes fetchable answers to problems like Phyrexian Devourer and Tinker (Null Rod) and red decks (Chill), more good cards like more Seal of Cleansing and three copies of Annul, which is stellar against everything unfair like Survival of the Fittest, Phyrexian Devourer, Standstill, Powder Keg, Pernicious Deed, Land Tax, Oath of Druids, Scroll Rack… the list is endless and you could easily play them main.
So here is our final list—Team N!’s “Kangaroo Karl” (sorry Karl for that 😀 ):
And here’s a pic of what my actual deck looks like:
After buying the pimped cards, Karl got my old unpimped versions of the cards, so now we both own this deck and can conquer the world.
The world conquering started with Stefan driving about two and a half hours from Nürnberg to my place near Frankfurt, where we did some more games (suprisingly Sligh felt underwhelming against turn one Akroma, Angel of Wrath or Phantom Nishoba), drank our first beer (Gude beer which means good beer in our slang in Hessen), went to the airport, drank our second beer (Oktorfest Bräu which means shitty beer in our language…) arrived in Madrid, went to Mad Brewing for the evening-before-the-tournament-dinner-and-meetup, and had some more really nice beers! You know what this is leading to—meeting all the guys personally was really great. We ended up playing and chatting about Premodern and Old School, and we had a lot of more beers and delicious food there. Balancing Tings is my next big deck, mark my words.
After Mad Brewing threw us out because of closing time, some of us went to an Irish pub and the drinking crew was born (Stefan, Gordon, Arvid, the two famous Italian guys Giulio and Gian Marco). Gordon had to pick his champion. The guy who will beat the Gothenburg guys will get a free beer for everyone slayed. After a skillful best of five ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS against Gian Marco, which I won 3–0–1 by playing ROCK all the time I was crowned the champion. I went to bed at three ‘o clock, looking promising for the next days…
Ok, back to Magic. Nobody wants to read about drinking, it only makes me jealous everytime I’ve had to read old school reports like this. 😀
We arrived at the venue totally tired and with a nice hangover and headaches. In fact the first two rounds I played badly and believed that the tournament was over for me.
He started with turn 1 Careful Study into two Basking Rootwallas which is his god draw. I made a turn 2 Phyrexian Dreadnought, he scoops. In the second game I lost to Powder Keg—a card I did not expect. So in game 3 I boarded in three Annul, which gave me some safety, and I went on to win that game.
In game 2, he starts with Ancient Tomb, Mox Diamond, Fellwar Stone, and wants to play Defense Grid. I reminded him that I have no lands in play to use Fellwar Stone. It was Japanese and he said that he doesn’t know his cards. Since I’m a nice guy I let him reverse his decision, allowing him to play Mind Stone instead, and then the Defense Grid. On my turn I tutor for Seal of Cleansing, with Null Rod in my hand, whereafter he plays another Defense Grid. On turn 2 I play my Null Rod, which leads Roberto to scoop, since he has no bounce spells in his deck. So our match is over in five minutes
Nice. Every card in his deck is good against me? Swords to Plowshares, Wrath of God, counterspells, Seal of Cleansing, card draw, Humility, Disenchant, Serenity, Aura of Silence, Powder Keg? Thanks, next.
Gonzalo is a very skilled and nice player, and we had three very close and amazing back-and-forth games. My Annul‘s were key, and I managed to take it down 2–1. Note that I didn’t play any of my Meddling Mages in these games, which will be relevant later on.
Fact 1: A turn 2 Phyrexian Dreadnought is unbeatable. Fact 2: If I am severely mana screwed like in game 2, I’m screwed. So we split the first two games. The third game was a slaughterfest. He mulls to five, I Vision Charm him in his upkeep, he can’t plays anything, and then I had turn 3 Chill. At some point later he tried to Crash my Phyrexian Dreadnought with Mother of Runes on the board. But big thanks to him, his foiled out Goblins deck looked amazing and he was smiling all the time. Thanks, bro!
In the sixth and last round I was paired against Juan Delgado who was 5-0 with Replenish. We ID and I’m in the top 8, yeah! What’s the best thing about this top 8? Stefan, who beat me in the last two Premodern top 8’s we played, did not make it! He ended up 3–3 with GW Terra-Geddon—sorry Stefan. 🙂
But wait! Am I not Gordon’s chosen one? Where are all the Swedish players from Gothenburg I have to defeat for beer and honour? Just one of them made it into the top 8, and guess who was my opponent in the quarterfinals?
Here we go. Classic. The good guy (I play white) against the bad guy (Arvid plays black). Usually I am on the dark side, but I have to get my beer. Arvid said he will me buy a beer if he wins. I misdirected Gordon’s promised beer to him. Arvid, if we meet again, remind me of this beer. 😉
I’m a very modest person, really. Hopefully you’ll say this too if you know me. But in these games I played my best Magic in years. Ok, the matchup is just horrible for him. I started with turn 2 Meddling Mage on the play, naming Phyrexian Dreadnought. Brilliant, isn’t it? What can he do, find his singleton Boomerang? Or kill me with Mesmeric Fiend? Meddling Mage naming my own keycard never felt that right, and it ended up swinging for 20 damage.
So the quest is fulfilled, I got my beer. Now everything was ok.
And here every pretty tale ends. This match was featured on the stream. I am very tired now (not more drunk) and didn’t play as well maybe I could or should, even if my decisions seem ok. I Daze‘d his second turn Wall of Blossoms just as he seemed to be screwed and to prevent him to have fodder for his Cabal Therapy. But he next leveled me and had the land still in hand. After some back and forth I’m ashes.
The second game goes to me, but I can’t remember much.
But do you remember? No Meddling Mages in the first five games against him, as I mentioned earlier. I had two shitty one-lander hands, unkeepable. My final five cards gave me two Meddling Mage and a Mana Leak, but I was one turn too slow for each of his steps and only drew lands after this. He even boarded in the Bone Shredder, which is crazy because he didn’t see mages in our games if I remember correctly and he can’t use it to kill Phyrexian Dreadnought. So my mages having named Survival of the Fittest and Volrath’s Shapeshifter get their bones shredded, whereafter the combo Volrath’s Shapeshifter + Phyrexian Devourer + Triskelion is impossible to interact with, even with a pair of Stifle. This combo is an instant win with Survival of the Fittest and Volrath’s Shapeshifter on the board and enough mana, and there is nearly nothing you can do about it. I thought Phyrexian Devourer was fair enough in the UR Devourer Combo deck, but as a splash damage of this Swedish deck idea Survival got this kill? Crazy. You don’t want Null Rod against Survival. Cursed Totem seems better. This may be a switch in the sideboard. Or Martin, ban Devourer. Just Because of Survival, please. 😀
But ok. This is Magic.
It was a wonderful day, I got a lot of positive words for the deck, I faced very nice opponents only, and I got some wonderful foil prize caeds. Thanks Tempest Store for this!
Story over? Not yet! Still with me? The Swedish-Italian-German drinking crew had more targets—but first Gordon “successfully” opened a wine bottle with a screw and a screwdriver, hurting himself in the process. We took a taxi to Madrid city center, where it rained cats and dogs and every bar was full. We switched and grabbed a beer here, and a beer and some food there. The search was on and we found a great looking restaurant where you—according to one of the great internet reviews—could order “Potatoes. Just potatoes. Without salt. The meal was just potatoes.”. But this place was out of space too. We managed to find some better food, whereafter we lost our Italians to tiredness, and ended up with Martin and Gordon in a small takeaway and there we took our last litre of beer in a plastic cups for 9 €. It tasted as mangy as it sounds. We had some more good chats about Prosperity Bloom and Megrim Jar decks, deck building in general and random quizzes about unplayable Legend cards.
We came back to our hotel at four o’ clock, slept for about four hours and got ourselves ready to play again in the smaller tournament on Sunday.
The Sunday tournament was four rounds of Swiss without a playoff. This time Martin and Gordon were not doing stream commentary so they were able to play too,
In the first round I beat The Rock (a bad matchup) too easily, as he mulled a lot and I Daze’d stuff.
The second round was against mister Berlin himself with Biorhythm Elves. We played three very tough and close. I was able to Time Walk him by making Forests into Swamps in his upkeep, after he killed me with Biorhythm in the second game.
The third round was against RW Astral Slide, another unwinnable matchup. Astral Slide, Wrath of God, Swords to Plowshares, Burning Wish for more Wraths, Red Blasts… I won one game by Stifle‘ing Astral Slide triggers. In the other game I double Meddling Mage his Swords to Plowshares and Wrath of God, and beat him down to 2 life with Meddling Mage. Then I’m tired and don’t make his Plains to Swamps in upkeep, so he draws and can play an Exalted Angel. Luckily for me, it doesn’t have the keyword ability Lifelink (a static ability), but it’s a triggered ability which uses the stack (like Spirit Link), so one of my two Meddling Mages could kill him just in time before he got the life.
And here comes my personal nemesis, in the fourth and final game against Stefan Guttenberger, who had more success on this day with Reanimator.
In game one I was afraid of discard, so I played Meddling Mage naming Exhume, instead of keeping mana up for Mana Leak. This cost me the game as he followed up with Reanimate. The second game was quite endless, he used two Powder Kegs to kill my Phyrexian Dreadnoughts, but it wasn’t enough, as I followed up with more of them.
The third game was pretty amazing as well. He had to Animate Dead his freshly threshholded Putrid Imp to discard his Rorix Bladewing (that I had bounced with Seal of Removal), so that he could Exhume it. This Exhume brought me a Phyrexian Dreadnought back, and I could save it with the Vision Charm in my hand. I was at 14 life and went down to 8 from the Rorix Bladewing attack. I attacked him back, and on the next turn he could only do 7 damage to me because of -1/-0 of Animate Dead on the Putrid Imp. Crazy close.
So I ended up 4–0 in matches, and won even more nice cards from the prize wall. My total match score in both tournametns was 9–2–1 and my game score 19–9. I’m totally in love with this deck.
My wife picked us up at the airport. Our flight was delayed so we came home about half past 11. Poor Stefan had to drive some hours more after this.
Thanks to everyone making this weekend as fantastic as it was. The Italian drinking crew. It’s hard when you are the oldest in the group, regeneration costs me more than one green mana. Gordon for being a worthy drinking partner in crime. Martin for being that nice guy that makes me able to play something like old Extended again. Tempest Store for being such a cool place. Karl for building the deck. Francisco for everything. Everyone else I forgot. And my sidekick Stefan for not making top 8 so I could shine. Thanks. You are my Robin if I’m Batman. I could not survive it without you.
Thanks for reading.
And remember: Platypus are best. Be like them.
As usual, you’re welcome to discuss the article in the Premodern social media channels.