Today we’re featuring Anton Glans’ report from this year’s edition of the Northen Swedish Championship in Premodern. For historical reference, last year’s report is here. Enjoy! / Martin
Some background. The annual gaming convention that hosts the Swedish Nationals in Legacy was cancelled earlier this year. Johan Domeij, a local friend of mine who loves Legacy got the idea to host the Legacy Nationals in our town Örnsköldsvik instead. This meant moving the event approximately 1 000 km north, and careful considerations and logistical challenges to adapt and tend to players’ and organizers’ safety.
So, for anyone not living in Sweden, our governmental restrictions allow for a maximum of 50 people in the same facility; keeping social distance, hygiene, hand sanitizers and so forth. You know the rest of the drill.
To make a trip worthwhile for contenders that would travel from the southern parts of Sweden, we offered a mix of eternal tournaments throughout Friday to Sunday at separate facilities but within vicinity. I was in charge of Oldschool and Premodern. Thus here we are. This will be a tournament report from this year’s Premodern Northern Sweden Championship (Norrlandsmästerskapen).
Because we held the Premodern event on the Sunday (i.e. hometravel day for most attendees), we decided it was necessary to host a straight Swiss with an extra round instead of top 8 playoffs. The community is awesome and 31 players showed up! This meant we got to play six rounds of Swiss.
Our prize support was Premodern booster packs, as well as a Northern Sweden Champion t-shirt* and a Powder Keg that’s been signed by all contestant, for the winner. Ninth place got a foiled Chinese Urza’s Rage to lick the wounds.
*It’s been a tradition in the Legacy Northern Sweden Championship to give out a t-shirt to the winner throughout the years, so we printed one for the Premodern winner as well.
Top row: 1st place
2nd row: 2nd place
3rd row: 3-4th place
4th row: 5-8th place
Urza’s Rage: 9th place
There were 31 players and 20 different types of decks—the diversity in Premodern is huge! The archetype breakdown was as follows:
4 UW Landstill
3 UW Stiflenought
2 Turbo Oath
2 Deadguy Ale
1 Pink Prison
1 The Rock
1 Welder Stax
1 RW Slide
1 The Solution (UWR Tempo)
1 UWG Oath
So here’s a shocker. I played Elves with Biorhythm! Yes, I do own other Premodern decks, but Elves is by far the most fun I’ve had in the format. So I keep trying out iterations. In the last months I’ve tried Tangle Wire and Winter Orb in the main deck, which makes the control matchups a lot better as opposed to the earlier, more combo-oriented, Collective Unconscious version. This is my recollection of the games, but, as always, I did not take notes, and some grindier games are quite blurry.
Match 1 vs Andreas Jansson (life.dec)
Andreas is a close friend and a local, and we’ve played this match-up several times before. It usually comes down to Biorhythm vs if he can buy back infinite life.
Game 1: Andreas wins the roll and starts off with a Plains go. I drop Forest + dork. He goes Windswept Heath, go. I go elf, Gaea’s Cradle and Tangle Wire. He plays Eladamri’s Call at the end step for a cleric. He taps his two lands to Tangle Wire and drops another land, go. I play Multani’s Acolyte and a Priest of Titania, attack for some minor damage. Jansson taps his lands, drops another one, and on my next turn I can play Biorhythm for the win.
Game 2: I keep a hand with Biorhythm, some mana dorks, Multani’s Acolyte and lands. He plays en-Kor creatures, I play dorks and Elvish Champion. On my turn 3, Jansson is on 16 life, but has assembled all combo pieces, and has an active Starlit Sanctum in play (and a Forest so my elves have forestwalk now—relevant). I have both Overrun and two Biorhythm in hand. So my move is to force him to gain infinite life now. I play Overrun (Gaea’s Cradle is good) and attack in for a potential of 16 damage. Before damage, Jansson does his thing: redirecting the next damage to his cleric infinite times and then sacs the cleric with Starlit Sanctum to gain infinite life. Next turn I can play Biorhythm to adjust his life total to a much smaller number: 1, and attack with forestwalk for the win.
Match 2 vs Joakim Almelund (Pink Prison)
Joakim wins the roll. That’s rough, ‘cause this match is a stretch. We both know what we’re facing since we had lunch the day before, talking about what sweet decks we were gonna bring.
Game 1: He mulls to six, which makes me keep my seven. Although I don’t have a turn 1-drop, it has a Priest of Titania, lands and some disruption. I figured I have 18 one-drops in the deck, so me being on the draw seems likely to give me something to draw and play on turn 1. He starts with Undiscovered Paradise into Land Tax. I draw a Multani’s Acolyte, play Forest and go. He returns Undiscovered Paradise and activates Land Tax, plays a Mox Diamond and Undiscovered Paradise again. I draw Quirion Ranger. This takes some thinking. So, Pink Prison can play quite aggressive here with an early Devastating Dreams for extreme value. I choose to play Priest of Titania and Forest and pass the turn. Next turn, Joakim searches for basics, and plays Devastating Dreams. My lands and Priest of Titania dies, Dreams randomly discards a Scroll Rack and something other relevant. In other words, he should only have one unknown card in hand—the rest are basics. I can then play Quirion Ranger and Forest. He plays land go. I can deploy dork, Gaea’s Cradle and Multani’s Acolyte. He plays Scroll Rack. I think I play Wirewood Symbiote and start drawing cards, and can bounce back Forest to not let him Land Tax. I think he lands a Tangle Wire. I can bounce and replay Multani’s Acolyte but not adding too much pressure. This goes on for another turn or so, he then plays Gamble. Random God is with me, and Devastating Dreams is discarded by the Gamble. I have a window, but don’t find any Overrun or Biorhythm. Some turns go by, he has Rishadan Port for my Gaea’s Cradle. I can tick down some life points from Joakim, but another Devastating Dreams comes, followed by a Black Vise. From there, it looks bad. I watched the clock and figured I’ll have a hard time to return from here, so I decide to scoop.
Game 2: I board in Naturalize, Null Rod and Caller of the Claw. I start with the usual Forest + dork. Joakim has mulliganed to five, but can deploy a turn 1 Mox Diamond + Land Tax. My turn 2 lands a Null Rod. He then activates Land Tax. I don’t have too much pressure in my hand. I deploy a Quirion Ranger, and have a Caller of the Claw ready. He casts Devastating Dreams. I can bounce Forest with Quirion Ranger and produce three mana combined with dork. I Let the Dreams resolve and then play Caller of the Claw and get two bear tokens. Random God is on the good side today, and Joakim needs to randomly discard relevant non-basics cards (again). I can attack in for two turns and put Joakim’s life to 6 (think he fetched once as well). He then finds another Devastating Dreams and resets the board (I play Naturalize on one of his Land Taxes). I can play Forest and dork. Then the game goes on for 15 min… I land a dork, it gets plowed. I land a dork and can attack a few times. Another 1/1 and Joakim draws Pyroclasm and resets… After minor 1/1 attacks Joakim is on 2 life and has Rishadan Port for my land. We draw-go a lot. I have two Null Rods in play. A window opens up, and I can play a Quirion Ranger. Next turn, the Quirion Ranger attacks him down to 1 life. He lands two Tangle Wires. I tap everything, draw, bounce back Forest to untap my Quirion Rangerand attack in for lethal. We have now 3 min left until time. I figured that if I draw the nuts, I can actually win a quick one. So we shuffle again, I get a good hand and am able to play out Wirewood Symbiote, Null Rod and Tangle Wire. *Time*. I can Multani’s Acolyte + Wirewood Symbiote, but not have enough turns to assemble lethal. So we decided to draw. This match drew quite the audience and was a blast to play. Quite the grind fest!
Match 3 vs Björn Arnö (UW Stifle-Nought)
Game 1: He wins the roll (not good for me as I know what Björn plays). I keep a seven with Tangle Wire, three dorks, Overrun, Forest and Gaea’s Cradle. The nuts. He plays Adarkar Wastes, go. I play Forest + mana dork go. He plays Enlightened Tutor end step for Phyrexian Dreadnought. Turn 2, he plays Island + Phyrexian Dreadnought + Vision Charm. I drew another dork. I don’t want to play Tangle Wire into Daze, and figured I can take 12 damage instead. I chose to put out four elfs instead, enabled with Gaea’s Cradle + dork mana. On Björn’s turn 3, before combat, he plays Peek and sees Tangle Wire and Overrun. He sighs. He figures he can’t attack with Phyrexian Dreadnought, since I represent 20 damage next turn. I draw Multani’s Acolyte, and decide to play it and Tangle Wire. No need for me to rush into a Mana Leak with Overrun. I can pay for Mana Leakk if it targets Tangle Wire with dork mana. He has to tap his lands and Phyrexian Dreadnought, and I can play Overrun next turn for lethal.
Game 2: I’m not sure if he’s playing UW or Esper (Dromar), so I have to keep some Elvish Champions in the deck in case of Engineered Plague. I keep a good seven (mostly aggressive). He lands a turn 2 Cursed Totem. Damn, that’s bad! I play dorks. On turn 3 he plays Meddling Mage and names Naturalize—really well sequenced by Björn here, practically making it impossible for me to win. As it goes, the next turn I draw Naturalize, and can’t attack with my 1/1 dorks into his 2/2 Pikula. So I chose to play my left in one-off Winter Orb. We draw-go for some time. Both have little mana, and Winter Orb is quite fair when I can’t tap elves for mana because of Cursed Totem. He cantrips, I try to land an Elvish Champion but it gets countered by Mana Leak. After much staring contest, he lands a Phyrexian Dreadnought. Meddling Mage + Cursed Totem are MVP, and I can’t race the ‘Nought. Fun game nonetheless!
Game 3: I decide to add one Masticore just in case the game goes long and I need to have an out to Meddling Mage or Mother of Runes; boarding out Elvish Champion, as I’m now certain that he plays UW and therefore can rule out Engineered Plague. I mull to 6, keep Naturalize and some mana, Wirewood Symbiote and Multani’s Acolyte. I play Forest + Wirewood Symbiote, which gets plowed immediately. He lands Meddling Mage on Naturalize. I think I play a Priest of Titania. He plays cantrips and plows the priest. I play Multani’s Acolyte and have Overrun, Naturalize and Biorhythm in hand. I think it goes another turn where I only get to play a dork or something, and then he plays the Phyrexian Dreadnought. I draw another Naturalize. He attacks me down to 10. I have to play Overrun, hoping he blocks with Meddling Mage (which seems unrealistically, but one could hope, right?). He doesn’t block. I die next turn. Also a very fun match!
Match 4 vs Lucas Gustafsson (UW Landstill)
Game 1: I win the roll and keep a really aggressive hand. I play Forest + dork. He plays Island. I can play Quirion Ranger, dork, Gaea’s Cradle and Elvish Champion, untap dork #1 with Quirion Ranger and attack for 2. He plays Adarkar Wastes. I can play another Elvish Champion and Birchlore Rangers. He plows one Champion using pain mana, but I get to put him down to 13. He never reaches four lands to play Wrath of God, as he’s dead within my next two turns (I don’t remember if he missed a land drop or if I drew another Champion or Overrun). It is quite relevant to be on the play in this matchup, unless I have Tangle Wire and/or Winter Orb.
Game 2: I keep a nice seven with Tangle Wire, Acolyte, arbitrary elves and two lands. He plays Island go. I play Forest + dork. He plays Mishra’s Factory – go. This is good. No white mana and no Counterspell mana. I only have to play around Mana Leak. I draw Naturalize. Okay, I can play creature and Gaea’s Cradle to land a Tangle Wire, but need to play around Mana Leak. I chose to play land + Multani’s Acolyte instead. He plays another Mishra’s Factory – go. Still only Mana Leak that I need to account for. I decide to pay Multani’s Acolyte’s echo, draw, and take some time to think. I attack with Acolyte, hoping he takes the bait. He activates Mishra’s Factory, pumps it, and I play Naturalize on it. I think I play a Wirewood Symbiote post combat. The next turn, he plays Dust Bowl go. I can land Gaea’s Cradle, play Tangle Wire to have three mana up. It resolves. I’m in a good spot now. He plays Impulse. On his turn, he plays Adarkar Wastes and plows my Wirewood Symbiote. I draw another Multani’s Acolyte, which draws into a Symbiote—BFFs assembled— let’s go to value town! He plays Fact or Fiction on his upkeep in response to the Tangle Wire trigger. It reveals Standstill, Flooded Strand, Island, Absorb and Powder Keg. After some thinking, my only fear is Powder Keg. Standstill and Absorb are too slow from this spot. I don’t fear lands right now, given I get to play green Ancestral Recall (Multani’s Acolyte + Wirewood Symbiote) every turn. I choose to pile Powder Keg alone. Lucas keeps the pile with four cards and plays Flooded Strand and says go. I bounce Acolyte end step. I draw, play Acolyte, bounce Acolyte and re-play Acolyte. I have a Caller of the Claw now. On his turn, he only needs to tap two lands. He plays another land and casts Wrath of God. I can float four mana, whereafter my four creatures on the battlefield die. I play Caller of the Claw and get four bears. On my turn, I play another Tangle Wire and attack him down to 6 life. His turn, he cycles a Decree of Justice in response to Tangle Wire triggers, and creates a lot of chumpers. This game is so intense! He’s about to come back now. He’s tapped out of mana. My turn, I draw Multani’s Acolyte into Winter Orb! Attack him down to 2 life as he can chumb block some of my bears with soldiers. I play Winter Orb and the match is over. Puuuh, what a game.
Match 5 vs Robin Runesson (RW Astral Slide).
I have no idea what I’m facing. Robin is a friend and he has not had the most fun experience so far, as he’s supposedly played against four Landstill decks today. But he knows I’m on Elves, so he’s quite happy to not get to play against another control deck.
Game 1: He wins the die roll. I keep a hand of seven with a mana dork, Forest, Quirion Ranger, Priest of Titania, Elvish Champion and some bigger CMC spells. He plays mountain go. I draw Tangle Wire and play Forest + dork. He lands a Turn 2 Lightning Rift. F*ck. I only have one Forest. I don’t know how to go on from here. I decide to play Quirion Ranger, tap dork, bounce Forest to untap dork, replay forest and play Tangle Wire to hopefully buy some time. Robin taps lands in his upkeep then plays another land. I really need to draw a Gaea’s Cradle to have a chance, but I drew Overrun. I have to play Priest of Titania and hope he doesn’t have a cycle card in upkeep. From here, it goes south. He can cycle an Eternal Dragon in response to Tangle Wire, Rifting my Priest of Titania. He plays another land – go. I need to put some pressure, therefore I play land, a dork and Elvish Champion. He rifts my Elvish Champion. I draw Multani’s Acolyte, play it and find Wirewood Symbioteto cast. He can Rift twice, but at least I get to bounce the non-Symbiote in response. I REALLY NEED WINTER ORB. I don’t concede just yet, I still manage to draw cheap 1/1 elves, and he can’t ping them all down. But I don’t find enough lands, and I have like two Overrun and a Biorhythm in hand. Two turns later, Robin has a morph creature (Exalted Angel most probably), pinging my creatures with Lightning Rift and I have not drawn Winter Orb. The clock is ticking, and I decide to scoop. Hopefully getting the chance to win the next two.
Game 2: I keep a fine seven with Naturalize. I play Forest + Wirewood Symbiote. He plays land – go. I play Priest of Titania and land. He plays land + Lightning Rift. On my turn, I Naturalize it, play Multani’s Acolyte and go to value town. He plays Burning Wish for Wrath of God. I have Caller of the Claw in hand. I play Ancestral Recall and pass the turn. He gets to play Wrath of God his turn 4, whereafter I can play Caller of the Claw. Gaea’s Cradle is good. A turn or so later, I play Biorhythm when Robin has a creature-empty board (think I kept two Biorhythm and one Overrun post board). But I’m quite frustrated that I don’t find my Winter Orbs. However, it’s somewhat good that Robin doesn’t know I play them.
Game 3: I mull to 6, keeping a hand with Forest, mana dork, Quirion Ranger, Winter Orb and Naturalize and something I can’t remember (Cradle or Acolyte I think?). As most times, I play land + dork turn 1. He plays a Lightning Rift turn 2. I play Ranger and Naturalize on his Rift. Turn 3 he plays another Lightning Rift. I land Winter Orb, Cradle and Acolyte. I have a Tangle Wire ready in hand. On my turn 4 I only get to untap Gaea’s Cradle. I figured I only need three creatures in play to cast Tangle Wire from Gaea’s Cradle. Therefore, I’ll pay for Multani’s Acolyte’s echo. As I’m trying to pay the echo, tapping Llanowar Elves, bounce my non-untapped Forest (Winter Orb) with Quirion Ranger to untap Llanowar Elves, Robin cycles a land in response to the Ranger’s untap trigger, and tries to Rift my Llanowar Elves. Crap! Let’s re-evaluate the plan. I will not be able to play Tangle Wire unless I draw another Gaea’s Cradle in this case, as I’ll lose my Llanowar Elves and have to tap Gaea’s Cradle for Acolyte’s echo in such case. If not paying echo, Gaea’s Cradle will only tap for 1 mana in my first main phase (Ranger will be the only creature left on the battlefield). So… let’s adapt to the shitty situation. Before the Lightning Rift trigger resolves, I float three mana with Cradle. I let the Lightning Rift trigger resolve and choose to not pay for Multani’s Acolyte’s echo and it also dies. Still in the upkeep, I flash in Caller of the Claw, giving me two bears. Hopefully, no land + Pyroclasm will happen on Robin’s next turn. It doesn’t (puh!). Next turn, I can land the Tangle Wire, and the lock is in. Winter Orb and Tangle Wire is a hell of a drug. Bear beatdown from there and Robin scoops it up.
Match 6 vs Mikael Strålberg (UWG OathStill a.k.a. MikeBike Oath)
Game 1: Mike wins the roll. We’ve had some quick chats throughout the tournament, and from the games that I’ve seen earlier, I put him on 4C Control. I keep an insane seven (Forest, Gaea’s Cradle, dork, Priest, Ranger, Biorhythm, Overrun), and he starts by playing Grand Coliseum. I draw dork and play the usual Forest + dork go. He plays Reflecting Pool and an Oath of Druids (!). F*ck, this is bad. I draw Wirewood Symbiote and play Quirion Ranger, tap dork for mana, bounce Forest to untap dork, play Priest of Titania, Gaea’s Cradle, another dork and Wirewood Symbiote. On his turn, Oath of Druids puts a Phantom Nishoba into play. He plays land—go. I have five creatures and practically infinite mana. I opt to play Overrun first, tapping Cradle for GGGGG, hoping it will bait a counterspell. It does and I let Overrun get countered. With Priest of Titania tapping for four, Quirion Ranger, Wirewood Symbiote and Gaea’s Cradle, it is not hard to produce 13+ mana on turn 3. I can keep two 1/1s untapped, and resolve a Biorhythm, putting me down to 5 and Mikael to 1. I attack with two 1/1s. He blocks with his Phantom Nishoba, and I wonder what the hell I’m doing. Remember, Lifelink is post Premodern (Modern?) and superior to a triggered lifegain ability. So damage happens, triggering Phantom Nishoba’s lifegain ability. However, he does take the one from my unblocked creature, putting him down to 0 before his lifegain trigger resolves. Yes, Biorhythm is the shit in this deck. It solves so many awkward game states.
Game 2: This is a hard match-up. Really hard. I board in Naturalize and Caller of the Claw.
I keep a six or seven with a Biorhythm in it. Mikael mulls to six. He goes Grand Coliseum, go. I play Forest + dork, go. He plays Oath of Druids. I play land, Multani’s Acolyte and Wirewood Symbiote, bounce Acolyte with Symbiote to untap dork. I find Naturalize. But too late, as I only have one mana left, which I can play another elf with. He gets to Oath, revealing a Phantom Nishoba. He plays land and Standstill. This is a rough spot. At least I have a response to Oath. On my turn. I play Gaea’s Cradle, elf, cracking his Standstill, Naturalize his Oath, and replay Acolyte. His turn, he swings in for seven damage. Mikael plays a cantrip (I think) and another Oath of Druids. On my turn, I think I took mana from the first Cradle and jammed another one, played Biorhythm and swung in (don’t remember if I had two Gaea’s Cradle to enable it or if it was a Priest of Titania that came down prior turn).
Mikael discussed after the game if perhaps playing his new Oath there was a bit greedy, as he had Counterspell in hand. But his other creature in the deck was Crater Hellion, so he wanted to end my board fast. All random factors today have been on my side. Both against Oath and Pink Prison. Well, luck is a large part of what you need in order to survive in Magic.
Final match result: 4–1–1
Man, I’ve missed paper magic IRL. I really enjoyed playing this tournament. Also a great experience in playing six different decks, where a lot of them are hard match-ups! I’ll keep stating that the adding of Tangle Wire and Winter Orb is what makes Elves playable against control. Biorhythm is huge and solves stuff where a simple mass of creature attacks does not, and of course quite effective when your opponent just so happens to get infinite life. Lastly, Multani’s Acolyte + Wirewood Symbiote are best friends forever.
Enough about Elves, man. Who won?! Top 8?!
Masterfully piloting Pink Prison, this year’s winner was none less than Gothenburg’s Joakim Almelund! Hat’s off and well played sir!
Northern Sweden Champion is not something you become –
you’re born to be.
1st Joakim Almelund (Pink Prison)
2nd Joel Larsson (Ancient Tomb Goblins)
3rd Vidar Hesselman (UW Landstill)
4th Anton Glans (Elves)
5th Thomas Pettersson (The Solution, UWR Tempo)
6th Fredrick Löf (Deadguy Ale)
7th Mikael Strålberg (UWG Oath)
8th Mikael Lindén (UW Stiflenought)
Notably, white is the most represented color here. I guess Swords to Plowshares is doing its thing. What’s even more noteworthy is that we have eight different decks and all major archetypes represented here; prison, aggro, midrange, control and combo. Call me biased, but heck, Premodern is by far the best format!
Lastly, I want to thank everyone involved in the planning and execution of this event: judges, scorekeepers and so many friendly persons who helped us setting up, cleaning etc. Also, a huge thanks to all players—you made this weekend magical!
Until next time!
Yeah, this article is not done yet. Here’s a short interview with the winner!
Interview with Joakim Almelund
Big congratulations for today’s win, Joakim! Tell us about your Magic background, how come you play Premodern?
– Thanks! I started playing MTG as a kid, around 1998, and I have never stopped playing since. In recent years I’ve been more into Oldschool and Vintage, and now later on, I’ve found Premodern where I get to play with a lot of cards from my childhood. I really enjoy Premodern, both because of the joy in playing with old cards but also in brewing new decks. And there is so much to explore in this format! Also, what better feeling than finding your old gems getting played?
Why did you choose Pink Prison for today’s tournament?
– I was involved in building the Pink Prison deck with Erik Sundberg but I’ve actually never played it myself before. So I felt that I should try it out sometime, and since we didn’t find another brew we were happy with for now, to bring to this tournament, I went with Pink Prison.
Which card was MVP during the day?
– Land Tax was MVP for sure! That card is so broken. You can mulligan to 3–5 and still be ahead on round 2 and forward.
Any changes to be made?
– Maybe the wincons in the deck, and what to do if you lose game 1. But since that didn’t happen today I don’t have much to add :).
Best and worst play of the day?
– The best, I think, was the feeling when you’ve won game 1 and can board out your wincons and replace them with Ivory Tower. The worst was when I played Gamble and missed. That happened versus you on Elves where I didn’t get my Devastating Dreams when I needed it. That match ended up with a draw instead.
Best and worst match-up?
– I think the best match-ups are slow blue decks and creature decks like Goblins. You have really strong plays versus both these kind of decks, and they don’t have that much of disruption. My worst match-ups should be aggressive decks that can either pressure you with fast mana or big creatures. So decks like Elves, The Rock and Dreadnought can become problematic.
So, can we expect any new brews coming from you and the rest of the Gothenburg crew in the near future?
– We are working on some brews! However, we didn’t feel like they’re fully solved yet and not ready to play in today’s tournament. But we will show you some new cool decks in the future! For example, we’re working on some new ways to use Standstill and also a new deck with Sphere of Resistance. I hope I’ll get to show off both decks one day :).
That sounds awesome! Lastly, is there anything else you want to add?
– I’d like to end by thanking the Premodern community for keeping the format active and evolving even during a year like this.
Top 8 decks
Here are pics of the top 8 decks, minus my own Elves deck posted above, and Vidar’s, which was nowhere to be found…