Today we have a report from a Premodern tournament played in Gothenburg recently, written by Anton Glans. It certainly made me want to try the Elves archetype again…. Enjoy! / Martin
Premodern at GothCon
So, one of the best annual weekends came up; Easter. My relationship with the Easter bunny has been on a break for a decade though. Instead of hunting eggs, sipping “påskmust” and devouring herring and ham with my wife and kids, I’ve been hanging out with buddies at Sweden’s oldest gaming convent: GothCon!
At GothCon 2017, we gathered a total of four people and played the first unofficial Easter Championship of Premodern. We had a blast!
Last year’s tournament grew to 18 players and an awesome price for the winner was introduced: Shoreline Raider signed by all contestants. Like the tradition with the Giant Shark in 93/94, you do have to play with the Shoreline Raider (in your 75 cards) in all subsequent Easter Championships, for gloat and punishment. So I got lucky and won that one in 2018 (playing GB Secret Force). With that win came the responsibility to make an unofficial Easter Championship next year (i.e. this year), coming up with a new trophy card to be signed by all players. Call me sentimental, I brought a Shoreline Raider for this year too.
This year we were 28 players—let’s hope for more than 40 players in 2020!
This year, the Magic organizers at GothCon recognized Premodern as a legit format and even offered two tournaments. So I kind of hijacked their first official Premodern tournament, called it the unofficial Easter Championship 2019 and got everyone to sign the Raider. And man, the Premodern community has grown. This time around we were 28 players! Sadly, the tournament was (without my knowledge) confined to be only four rounds of Swiss, without any top 8 playoffs. Well well. But if there would be more than one player going 4–0, we decided that there would be a final between them.
This is the deck I brought (and the one I’ve been falling in love with the last month):
Biorhythm Elves. Sideboard on top row.
I’ve been trying to make Biorhythm count in the format. I figured that you need a lot of guys and a lot of mana for that and Elves seem to be perfect for that. I got a hold of a fairly cheap playset of Gaea’s Cradle and started brewing. I tried Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary but the nonbo with Quirion Ranger is real, so Rofellos got cut. I tried the super strong Sylvan Messenger but it turned out that they just put your bombs at the bottom of your library. So I cut them for Deranged Hermit and added some Elvish Champions to have more resilience in the main deck for cards like Fire // Ice, Masticore and Mogg Fanatic. I tried Kamahl, Fist of Krosa. But you don’t want to pass the turn before you can use your bomb after playing it, and with that in mind, Overrun is basically a cheaper and faster Kamahl. Overrun makes turn wins on turn 3–4 much more prevalent, in the cases when Biorhythm doesn’t work out. And yeah, Collective Unconscious is nuts (squirrel pun intended) in this deck.
The following match reports are all from the top of my head, as I didn’t take any notes from my matches. Hence, the details should probably be taken with a grain salt.
Round 1: UG Miracle Grow
Round 2: UB Psychatog
Game 1: This should be a good match-up, as the removal of this Psychatog build consists of Diabolic Edict, which is not the best hoser in a world of small green men. I got the usual start with turn 1 mana dude, turn 2 Priest of Titania and some more elves. Thereafter, I resolve a Deranged Hermit with a Wirewood Symbiote in play on turn 3. Eight new squirrels each turn from that point on was too much for one Psychatog to handle.
Game 2: My opponent mulligans to five cards, plays Island and Opt. I play Fyndhorn Elves. Next turn, he just plays land go. On my second turn I can either play Quirion Ranger, Wirewood Symbiote and Multani’s Acolytee, or an Elvish Champion. I choose to play it safe with the Champion, since an Engineered Plague on the following turn would wreck my board. On my opponent’s turn 3 he lands a Psychatog and no Engineered Plague—sweet! I proceed to draw multiple cards and play some more elves on my turn 3. On turn 4, I manage to resolve Biorhythm and the small green men can bypass a hungry Psychatog for the win.
Round 3: Suicide Black
Game 1: I find all the mana elves in the world, along with all the Forests in the world. My opponent’s creatures are all bigger than mine though. Without any action spells, the black shadows, zombies and horrors win quite easily.
Game 2: He lands an early Hypnotic Specter but I get a good start with Priest of Titania and combo off with Multani’s Acolyte and Wirewood Symbiote to fill up my hand. On turn 3 I resolve a Masticore off a Gaea’s Cradle. My opponent follows up by playing another Hypnotic Specter. My next turn is bonkers, as I get to play some elves and a Collective Unconscious to draw five or more cards. I find another Gaea’s Cradle, play even more elves, and a second Collective Unconscious, whereafter I have more than eight mana left (using Wirewood Symbiote to reset Quirion Rangers and then untap Priest of Titania) for my Masticore to ping down his Hypnotic Specters. My opponent scoops.
Mikael Borg’s Suicide Black deck
Game 3: He aggressively casts Snuff Out on my first turn mana dude, following it up by a shadow creature or zombie and a Phyrexian Negator. I only have small dudes to potentially block and make him sacrifice permanents. It turns out that he has two more Snuff Out, which he uses so as to make my blocking creatures not killing his Phyrexian Negator. He takes a chance by letting his only permanent left in play be the Negator when I have three or four lands in play, but no creatures. I draw a Priest of Titania, but my life total is 4 so it doesn’t help if block the Phyrexian Negator, cince it has Trample. I die.
Round 4: Reap Combo (sweetest deck ever!)
Game 2: I have no idea what I’m up against—some cool combo deck, I figured. I play some elves, to which he has some answers. On turn 5 he uses Cunning Wish to get a Simoon, whereafter he wipes my board. I have two elves left in hand. It doesn’t help. He gets his loop going a turn or two later, with a second Distorting Lens, making two of my lands black and presents the card Reap. Okay, stay with me. He has played an Accumulated Knowledge, Turnabout and another Reap. He gets this inf mana loop by tapping out lands, Reap, Turnabout and Reap, netting 1 mana every time. When he has inf mana, he draws his whole library with Accumulated Knowledge and Reap reaping Reap. He then plays a Lightning Bolt. Reaping Reap and Lightning Bolt inf times. I die.
Game 3: I get the bonkers start. Turn 1 mana dork, turn 2 Birchlore Rangers, Priest of Titania, Gaea’s Cradle, Wirewood Symbiote, Multani’s Acolyte. On turn 3 I play Biorhythm. My opponent: “but I don’t have any creatures…”
So 3–1 total in matches, enough for a fourth place on tie breakers. Nevermind that. Who won, then, you ask?! Well, it turns out that two Suicide Black players at 3–0 were facing each other at the top table in the final round of the Swiss. The guy who wrecked me in round 3, Mikael Borg, also won the mirror and all in all came out the only player going 4–0… making him the 2019 Premodern Easter Champion! Congratulations man, really cool deck!
Here’s Mikael Borg’s winning deck; now with a sweet Kavu protected blue card! With that, Mikael gets to organize next year’s Easter Championship!
Since this was an unofficial tournament I didn’t ask for deck lists. I kind of regret that in retrospect. It would’ve been sweet to present the field of archetypes. What I can say, though, is that there was a whole lot of different brews! I saw everything from Enchantress, Full English Breakfast, Hermit Druid combo, 4C Control, Reap, Terravore Geddon, GB Rock, Dreadnought, Psychatog, Mono Black Suicide, Life.dec, Aluren, Astral Slide, Tinker, UG Growth, Turbolands, Madness and off course Elves (but I didn’t see any Sligh or Goblins).
Last words on Combo Elves
There is clearly some design space here. I do think Birchlore Rangers is necessary for more consistent turn 3 wins. Overrun is good, but Elvish Champion needs to be a four-off in the main deck, since there are a lot of times you can’t swing just because your opponent has larger dudes. I had the luck to not face any Fire // Ice, but that card is a bomb against me. Biorhythm is awesome. I think this deck needs more answers for graveyard based combo decks. Null Rod is sweet against combo decks and obviously huge against Tinker and Wildfire decks. Also, if the opponent plays Nevinyrral’s Disk or Nevinyrral’s Disk, it’s a catch ‘em all. Seedtime is cute, but didn’t need to cast it as I resolved a Biorhythm instead.
Tournament pictures and decklists
Here’s are some sweet snapshots from the tournament.
Full English Breakfast battling Combo Enchantress. Who has more permanents?
Life.dec makes infinite lives against Tinker. Left pic shows how happy one gets with 10000000000000 life points. Tinker player got Crumbling Sanctuary online a few rounds later… decking opponent is also a thing! Right pic shows that.
What Aluren looping looks like = happy Fluffy (Martin Lindström)
Hermit Druid Recurring Nightmare Pile vs Astral Slide
And finally, here is my deck list and the winner’s.
Thanks for reading!
– Anton Glans
As usual you’re welcome to discuss the article in the Premodern social media channels.