The blog is rolling a bit slow in these vacation times but here we have a sweet long read perfect for a lazy summer day. Enjoy! / Martin
Greetings, dear reader! Yours faithfully today are Ville “Kake” Kaukoranta and Erkka “Prote” Jouste, and today’s subject is the well-celebrated tournament known as the Swedish Premodern Nationals 2019. Before we delve into our trip and the tournament itself, we would like to use a few passages to tell you about our Premodern environment.
Premodern broke into the consciousness of our home town, Tampere, Finland, in the beginning of 2019. The visual appeal, nostalgia (both vicarious and self-experienced) and the idea of a fresh format appealed to approximately ten players in a manner that prompted us to both look up ideas for decks and actually get the missing pieces—before having played a single game of the format. The material available on this blog as well as frequent conversation between the interested players played crucial roles in getting hooked.
Since February, we have ran proxies-allowed tournaments once a month to introduce the format to new players (as well as this slightly larger tournament in May), in addition to the more casual games outside structured events. Our metagame has been mainly control and combo-oriented, with aggressive decks such as Sligh and Suicide playing less visible roles.
Put together, it’s reasonable to say that the format received (and continues to enjoy) positive vibes in our town. It was not exceedingly surprising for us to find out that we had a few people ready and willing to attend the Swedish Nationals almost immediately once Martin announced the event—not to mention the folks coming from the capital region.
These things being said, we welcome you to the actual report itself, in which you will find 1) our decklists and some remarks about them; 2) a short narrative on the events outside the actual tournament and 3) descriptions about the tournament and the games.
I (Kake) chose to field Full English Breakfast for this tournament due to a few reasons:
- Most of my Premodern experience is based on playing and tuning the deck against a wide variety of other decks;
- The deck has a neutral or positive matchup against fair decks and some tools to combat fast combos (I was really expecting to see fair, slow decks mostly); and
- The deck is a real blast to play once you get the hang of how and when you can drop your variety of singleton creatures into the graveyard.
I (Erkka) chose UW Standstill as my weapon for the tournament as I genuinely enjoy playing it a lot and it clearly is one of the “top dogs” of the format. It was my first deck to build alongside Sligh, but as more of a control player I’ve frequently been playing UW Standstill in the local tournaments.
The main deck is fairly stock and since I found all of the singleton cards to be useful against a variety of decks, I decided not to change it around too much. In the beginning I had 3–3–3 split between Absorb, Counterspell and Mana Leak, but I found Absorb’s mana cost of three to be a bit heavy on some occasions, so I switched one of them for a fourth Counterspell, whereafter the deck has been working better.
With the sideboard I was prepared to play against combo, graveyard synergy and red decks. I faced three GWx Threshold decks so Phyrexian Furnace did come in handy, but Tormod’s Crypt felt underwhelming. I didn’t face combo or red decks at all which made most of the sideboard somewhat redundant.
Our team (Janne, Simo, Erkka, Kake) grabs some lunch at the local railway station restaurant and get some beer. Thereafter we board the Helsinki-bound train, move to the restaurant car and some beer and play Vintage. Erkka (Xerox) mostly wins againt Kake (Landstill).
Once in Helsinki, we take the tram (an exotic experience for us rural Finns), board our ship and get some beer on the deck. We try to contact the other group of Finns repeatedly, with no success. The deck gets quite windy (and somewhat rainy too), and so we move inside to get some beer and play Vintage (Erkka mostly wins).
Hunger creeps on us, and so we proceed to dinner. Due to the restaurant being temporarily full, we are instructed to wait at the wine bar and come back in about 20 minutes. While doing this, we get some sparkling wine (!!!). We eventually get a table, and an arrogantly sized seafood dish. We are joined by the second group of Finns who happen to be on the same ship.
We decide to skip desserts and instead enter the wine bar, and everyone in our team gets their asses handed to them by Tomi and his Stasis. Kake coincidentally gets a massive headache. Instead of seeing the local nightlife, our team calls it a night before 1 am.
Feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep, we accidentally get up one hour early. Following Standstill’s advice, we take our time and consequently proceed to the breakfast buffet. We don’t get any beer.
After making landfall, we load ourselves in a single taxi and make our way to the venue. Our arrival is so timely that we manage to mess around with the local ATM and the monopoly money it produces. We enjoy some refreshments in front of the tournament site. Not before long, the tournament commences.
We are welcomed on-site by Martin Berlin, the face of the format. We are excited to hear that the tournament consists of 13 Finns and 33 Swedes. During the initial statements and info Martin announces that players can collect “Trophy wins” when they defeat an opponent of the other nationality. Due to the imbalance of players, this system suits us Finns more than well.
Being born in the Åland Islands (an autonomous part belonging to Finland), Mikael “Åland” Johansson declares himself swiftly as a Finn from the point of view of this tournament. Talk about a meta call!
Round 1, Kake
Game 1: If turn 1:s would be Hockey World Championship Finals, then my “Llanowar Wastes go” was totally Canada while Jonas’ “Wasteland you, Mox Diamond, Fyndhorn Elves go” was Finland. Following the example set by Llanowar Wastes, my turn 3 Survival of the Fittest got lost in an encounter with a Seal of Cleansing. Much to my fortune, Jonas had some mana issues and chose not to block my Shapeshifter-as-Psychatog, which shortly thereafter became Phage the Untouchable.
Game 2: Jonas leads with Undiscovered Paradise into Light of Day. I point out that the card actually costs four mana and inquire whether he mixed up the cards (with the intention to play Land Tax?). Jonas picks up the card and states with genuine surprise that up until now, he had believed the card to cost one mana. And you thought Yawgmoth drove a hard bargain!
Some moments later Jonas’ board consists of Wasteland, Mox Diamond and Werebear, while I am staring back with a mish-mash of lands and Mesmeric Fiend (holding onto a Masticore). Knowing Jonas is not holding onto any more lands, a devilish plan forms. I attack with the fiend, inciting a trade with the bear. I break the Mox Diamond with a post-combat Uktabi Orangutan, leaving Jonas nigh stranded on mana. Some “draw-go, draw-attack-go” -turns later I find a Survival of the Fittest and secure the victory.
- Play basics before nonbasics to avoid getting screwed by Wasteland
- Play Fyndhorn Elves before Birds of Paradise to avoid getting screwed by Swords to Plowshares
- Deploy no more than five mana sources to avoid getting screwed by Armageddon or Cataclysm
- Terraclysm contains a lot of good Naturalize-targets, so you need to pay attention to evaluating which one is worthy of your limited answers—usually Masticore is a “must-answer”.
Round 1, Erkka
I don’t really have much to sideboard in besides Phyrexian Furnace, Tormod’s Crypt and Humility, while taking out Powder Keg and two Standstill. My opponent takes quite a long to sideboard but as I’m about to mention it he is done.
Game 2 is mostly my show. I find basically all my removals and counters instilling a mexican stand-off with my Mishra’s Factorys and soldier tokens defending me from a pair of Nantuko Monastery. Eventually I find my Wastelands and rest of the decrees and win the game.
I don’t sideboard and we have only about 15 minutes left for game 3. We end up in a board state similar to game 2 when time in the round is called. I cycle two decently sized Decree of Justice for soldiers and after fifth turn I ask politely my opponent if he wants to scoop as I have a commanding position with a hand full of counterspells and lethal board and he has only two cards.
He doesn’t want to scoop “because of the trophy beer thing” and the match is a tie. I probably should’ve mentioned that two Finnish Stasis players Tomi and Matias were paired against each other and they took an ID.
Round 2, Kake
Game 2: I keep a relatively sloppy seven (four lands, only creatures; access to all the mana I need, however). Magnus puts me ahead by whiffing with Duress on turn 1 and turn 2. I resolve some creatures and cast two Survival of the Fittest. The second one sticks and the game ends in somewhat short order.
- A resolved Survival of the Fittest steals the win in game 1, and is usually enough in game 2
- “bin Squee, Goblin Nabob, play Mesmeric Fiend, repeat until opponent runs dry” is an easy algorithm to remember
- Hypnox is probably ok to sideboard out, since setting it up is relatively tricky and not so powerful in the endgame
Round 2, Erkka
Not much to say here, in game 1 and 2 my opponent makes some mistakes when I’m already ahead and I win. Not much sideboarding here either.
After round 2, we head up to the pizzeria nearby to get some nourishment. I run into my round 1 opponent who says he regrets his decision not to scoop as he got to enjoy some Stasis action (or inaction?) with Tomi Leung.
In the pizzeria we briefly ponder on what to eat. Not being that hungry after the breakfast buffet, we split a pizza with Kake. Simo and Janne decide to eat whole pizzas and a bit later end up noting that they are not feeling too well after that much cheese.
Breakfast on a pizza. What more could you wish for?
Round 3, Kake(this match was featured on the stream)
Game 1: I am aware of Erik’s hand pretty much throughout the game, which allows me to shape the game to my liking. Life totals change only once before the terminal combat, during which I form an Akroma-Phage-Slime killing machine successfully.
Game 2: An early Mesmeric Fiend reveals that Erik is holding onto a far better selection and curve of cards than in game 1. I resolve a Survival of the Fittest and pay close attention to Erik’s Vendetta while taking some hits from Mishra’s Factory. Noting that I have binned Phage the Untouchable, Erik presumably believes himself safe and taps out for Ravenous Baloth. I jump this hurdle by assembling a Shapeshifter-as-Akroma which, having attacked and not being blocked, becomes a Psychatog, which in turn eats away everything that’s covering Otaria’s favorite poster girl (sorry, Visara).
At this point I have managed to fill up a “trophy slip”, and I am rewarded with a free beer. My taste buds frolick with the intermediate acidity and gentle, but firm hoppiness of the redeemed IPA.
- A fair, relatively slow matchup, where you usually have the time to do your Survival-stuff
- Bear in mind that there are answers to your Survival of the Fittest (both on-board and from your hand)
- The amount of interaction is not overwhelming, so look out for windows to close the game “out of nowhere”
Round 3, Erkka
Well, you know that when you have some Stasis decks in the tournament and you are in the draw bracket, you are going to face at least one at some point. And indeed, my first round draw comes back and bites me. I face off with my good friend Matias “hiski” Hirsilä and we play two almost non-games of Magic in the matchup we already resolved on the cruise ship.
Luckily the bar is going to open…
Round 4, Kake
Game 1: My “Therapy sense” is starting to wake up at this stage, but it remains dormant. Therefore I choose to play turn 1 Birds of Paradise instead of blind Cabal Therapy for Tangle Wire. Much to my dismay, Jonas holds two copies of Tangle Wire, which happen to tap, among other things, my City of Brass. Jonas is unable to land any significant pressure to capitalize on the bog we are in, however, and shortly after I have four Birds of Paradise, a Survival of the Fittest and enough active brain cells to gather a win.
Game 3: My Survival of the Fittest is met by Annul (!!!), but luckily Jonas doesn’t do anything significant for some time. Karn, Silver Golem (the only threat I’ve seen in Jonas’ hand) is met by Uktabi Orangutan and it’s tremendous NSFW-value. Calm but decisive beats by Uktabi Orangutan and Psychatog beats are stopped once Jonas casts and resolves a Masticore. The Masticore‘s fortune is reversed, once Jonas effectively taps out to kill my Birds of Paradise and the monkey. This act of faunafobia is revenged by exiling stuff to Psychatog to reveal Uktabi Orangutan at the top of the grave, followed by a Volrath’s Shapeshifter. We play for a couple of turns and then Jonas concedes.
- Masticore or a Tinker-for-Masticore is really tough
- With access to mana dorks, it’s possible to deal with all annoying lock pieces and threats, except for Masticore
At this stage Jakob, our judge, remembers my name without me stating it out.
Round 4, Erkka
Niko Korhonen, who is another friend of mine, is 2–1, so when the pairings come up for round 4 and I know he’s also playing Stasis, I scoop to him. At least we get more time to enjoy some beverages available at the bar.
Current record 1-2-1. At this point I can’t face Stasis anymore as I’m out of the contest for top 8. I’m feeling a bit sad about having such a bad luck with pairings in a large tournament and facing two friends playing the worst deck I could face. Luckily there’s beer available.
Round 5, Kake
We are both 4–0, and decide to have an intentional draw. On one hand, the matchup is indeed very winnable, but then again even slight stumbling in my curve can turn it into a trainwreck. We decide to skip conversation what it comes to this matchup, and instead talk about other stuff and enjoy our break.
Result: intentional draw
The break takes an hour-ish due to the pairings software in use crashing. After crashing, it presumably crashes again. During this impromptu second lunch break, the Finnish crew squats in the front yard, enjoys the refreshments at hand and shares stories, which are related to Sindbad, buying Power nine, vacuum-sealed sausages and/or planning how to treat the trophy, if a Finn should become the next Swedish Champion.
Round 5, Erkka
I’m starting to get a nice warm feeling from drinking three or four beers. I notice I’m playing against Anton Glans who wrote the deck tech about Elves and I saw him earlier playing Elves on table 1.
I have never played against Premodern Elves but I have quite a bit of experience facing Elves in legacy, thanks to Kake. In game 1, Anton mulligans to five and after the first Wrath of God the game is basically over. I sideboard in Humility and Arcane Laboratory, take out Dismantling Blow and one Standstill (I think).
We both keep seven cards and I have a good hand with two Swords to Plowshares, some lands and counterspells. I slow the game with the Swords, find the crucial Wrath of God for turn 4 and Humility on turn 5. Anton continues the beatdown for two or three more turns but when I cycle Decree of Justice for five soldiers with having a couple of creature lands also in my disposal, he’s seen enough. After two fast games, there’s more time for beer!
I play against Anton more on Sunday at Biljardpalatset and got to say that he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever played with! (Agreed! /Kake)
Round 6, Kake
Kake and Slanfan shake hands over another intentional draw. As Kake is making his way out of the table, Slanfan points out that they could play a trophy game despite having ID’ed. Martin Berlin, the protective spirit of the tournament hums approvingly in the background, and so the bitter rivals engage in a bloody duel.
Game 1: We both hold on to painfully slow hands. I remember naming Oath of Druids with Cabal Therapy (whiffing) and resolving a turn 3 Withered Wretch (not so much whiffing). My Wretch is, unfortunately stolen with an Abduction. The awkward aura meets its maker at the hands of Monk Realist, and the rest of the game is just pretty much unnecessary durdling (= the best kind).
Game 2: The details and sequence of events have melded into a continuous, barely game-shaped mass resembling a Rathian shapeshifter. I am certain, however, of the following comings and goings:
- Withered Wretch came out early
- Squee, Goblin Nabob went out by Coffin Purge
- Phage the Untouchable went out by Coffin Purge
- Akroma, Angel of Wrath went out by Coffin Purge
- Genesis went out by Coffin Purge
- Oath of Druids went out by Naturalize
- Gamekeeper went out (from the grave) by Withered Wretch
- Slanfan went out of the game
As a result, I received my fifth Swede-trophy (the second one on my second slip), while Slanfan had to make do with his two trophies so far.
Result: 2–0 (after intentional draw)
I end up as the top seed after the Swiss—not so bad for winning four matches!
Round 6, Erkka
In the last round I play against Jonas who played against Kake on the first round. In game 1 I have a great start while Jonas stumbles a bit and doesn’t find his Land Tax. I remove his creatures and other threats, deploy my own and win.
I sideboard a bit graveyard hate, disenchant effects and Humility taking out some standstills and shaving from 4-ofs.
Game 2 drags really long as Jonas gets all his basics out of the deck and I can’t find my threats. I scoop when I have about 10-15 cards left in my library including three Decree of Justice and my last Mishra’s Factory and Jonas has Scroll Rack in play. There’s still time for game 3.
We have about eight minutes left so I don’t change my sideboarding. We both keep seven and start doing our stuff. There just isn’t enough time as every time I play out a Mishra’s Factory, Jonas has a Wasteland for it. We end up with a draw with neither of us ahead.
After the last round we listen to the top 8 announcement and I head with Simo to our accommodation at Quality Hotel Globe to drop our team’s bags and get a quick shower. We get reports about Kake’s games in the playoffs on our way to the hotel and back to the venue.
Game 1: I pay a heavy price for a Cabal Therapy gone wrong—pretty much everything nonland blows up at the hands of Pernicious Deed. As my psyche at this point was not that coherent at all, there is no possibility to seek compensation for damages. I am able to stabilize at around six life points, and am able to gather up an Akroma-Phage-Apache Assault Helicopter-slime.
Game 2: I hit a few lands too many and put up the fight I can with the tools given (including a Cephalid Inkshrouder, which I failed to sideboard out). I die.
My second trophy slip is full at this point, which results in me enjoying a second free-of-charge beverage.
We are at the awkward position where one of the two Finns in the top 8 has to lose before the finals. Before the match I was somewhat sure I would be the loser, but history proved otherwise.
Game 1: The game proceeds at a peaceful pace with me building some kind of a board state and emptying my hand to avoid Black Vise damage. Tomi gets his Stasis out at around turn 5 or 6 (after a resolved Gush). Some turns later I draw into Cabal Therapy and Monk Realist, and decide to take action. At four mana, I play the Cabal Therapy and get to name Counterspell. I hit and see that Tomi is left with two Island and two Stasis. A brief consideration later Tomi is left with zero Stasis in his hand and battlefield, and he concedes.
Game 2: I take some hits from a turn 1 Black Vise, but I manage to hit my lands and 1-drops. I slap Tomi around with a few manadorks-become-dorks (due to Cursed Totem) for some turns, before he plays out his first Stasis. Tomi saves the trifling enchantment from being Naturalized by using Chain of Vapor. After he replays Stasis, he saves it again—this time with a Counterspell on my Monk Realist. Thereafter, I Cabal Therapy Tomi, forcing him into Thwart (which I would have blind-named.) The flashback resolves, and I name Foil—hitting blind, and seeing nothing else of value. Psychatog eats stuff to reveal Monk Realist at the top of the grave, and Shifter-as-Monk cracks Tomi’s Stasis. A few uneventful turns later I (blind) Cabal Therapy, naming Arcane Denial. Getting my third blind hit is enough for Tomi, who concedes.
- All in all, the control-version of Stasis is a tricky matchup, since the opponent gains more from waiting but can also punish their opponents’ impetuous actions
Game 1: I hold on to a mediocre five-card hand without a Survival of the Fittest. I resolve a Cabal Therapy, whose first half whiffs, and the flashback grabs a Fling. I pretty much do nothing, and Mikael is able to gather Altar of Dementia and a Phyrexian Devourer.
Game 2: My hand contains all the lands I need, Birds of Paradise, Duress and Naturalize. I keep it, although one could argue for a mulligan. I Duress an Impulse, bait out the Pyroclasm at the Bird (I think I feigned a missed land drop on turn 3, not sure about this one) and draw lands for the rest of the game. Mikael plays it out carefully, and doesn’t play Phyrexian Devourer before he can Fling it at me on the same turn.
- Breakfast probably has to assume the beatdown role, so all the slow stuff must go out
- Typically there should be no blockers or spot removal, so both Cephalid Inkshrouder and Iridescent Angel seem like safe cuts
My tournament ends with a stinging defeat in the finals. The topmost feeling in my mind (and graveyard) is, however, satisfaction for making an unexpectedly good run and getting to enjoy the atmosphere of a very different tournament. One part of this was, in my opinion that players were able to enjoy both their own victories as well as those that their opponents got!
While the rest of the Finns go get some well earned sleep, the Tampere-party remains to help pick up the chairs, tables, trash – and the remaining beers. Furthermore, we discover a bit-less-than-half a bottle of Finlandia Vodka (coincidence?? editors note: nope). In order not to let the drink spoil, we grimly finish the bottle with Slanfan and Gordon. We exchange war stories, but the rest of us fall short of Gordon’s “One of Sweden’s finest Legacy players” by Rich Hagon legend. (Go ahead, ask him yourselves!)
After some discussion with the missus, Gordon invites us over to their place for some “after-ski”. We take our time gathering the rest of the trash and bottle bags, and haul them out as there are some larger bins nearby. After dropping the bags we head for Gordon’s place and he is adamant to mention that we have to be quiet so the missus doesn’t wake up. This occurs about a few dozen times during the evening.
As there were some talk about alcoholic beverages back at the venue, Gordon decides to show us his personal beer cellar. The beer collection is really impressive and after selecting a few bottles to open for this special occasion, we head upstairs to enjoy them and some really good Scottish single malt.
While enjoying the drinks, Slanfan decides it’s time to draft. He pulls out his home built “Slanfan’s crap” draft set and distributes the packs for everyone. Being quite drunk adds some difficulty into drafting as the draft includes a lot of cards that most of us probably have never seen before (not to mention that at least I was so drunk that I had to look with one eye to see anything /Erkka). We have to motivate Gordon quite a bit so we can get to the end of the draft.
[T]: Read target card.
After the draft, we decide that it’s probably better for everyone to head home, or in our case the hotel, so Gordon and the missus can get some real rest. Luckily the subway station isn’t too far away and the trains seemed to go through the night, so we arrive to Gullmarsplan station around 4:00 AM. Everyone’s craving for a nightly snack but there are not that many options available. However, we find a 7-11 store that’s open, so Kake and Simo get one their specialties while Erkka and Janne continue to the hotel deciding not to partake the 7-11 feast.
“The ready-made deep-freezed pizza bought from Seven Eleven at ~4.00 AM: this morsel was simultaneously a perfect answer for my cravings and almost utterly devoid of flavor” -Kake
… and back again
We rise at 8:30 in the morning so we don’t miss the breakfast. For some unimaginable reason none of us feel too fresh and Simo decides to skip the hotel breakfast buffet. The rest of the team braves the rush hour at the hotel’s restaurant and get ready to head for the pub and game hall Biljardpalatset at Kungsholmen.
A few brave Swedish Premodern enthusiasts—including Mr. Berlin, Åland and a few others—have arrived to enjoy games along with us, but there’s no sign of the other Finns, which is disappointing.
Bonus games at Biljardpalatset.
Enjoying (non-alcoholic and alcoholic) drinks, tasty food, interesting games and great conversation, time really flies. Our ship is leaving at 8 PM so around 6 PM we start heading to Tegelvikshamnen where the Viking Lines terminal is located. We decide to take the subway to Slussen and walk from there to the harbour as the route looks quite straightforward—how wrong we were.
After arriving to Slussen, we probably first took a wrong turn heading up the hill and then something like 100 steps down in a maze-like stairway to get down to the waterfront. All the renovation and road work going on at the waterfront bus station area didn’t help to figure out where we should go but eventually we find our way. Having slept only three and a half hours, walking 1.5 kilometers in the sun while the hungover is starting to creep in is starting to feel like the Via Dolorosa.
In the terminal, for some reason we have to wait quite a while to get on board the ship. At last we get to the ship, find our way to our cabin and it’s pretty much lights out for everyone and nap for about a half an hour. Kake, Erkka and Janne decide to brave the ship and head for some snacks and tax free while Simo decides to stay in bed.
On Monday morning we have a wake up call an hour before landing at 6:30 AM. We really didn’t plan on getting any breakfast so we rest a bit more in the cabin, pack up our stuff and aim for the exit while trying to figure out if we can make it to the first bus to Tampere or if have to wait for the next train. Luckily we make it to the bus, arrive Tampere a bit after 10 AM and bid our farewells to each other, not forgetting the possibility of the group coming together for European Championships in October!
– Erkka and Ville