Sunday, October 23, 2016

Guest Tournament Report: "Pink Disco Inferno"

I am pleased to host another guest tournament report from a voice new to my blog, Old School Magic burn extraordinaire, Nick Rohr.

Before I hand this post off to Nick, I wanted to announce that the Chicago Old School MTG crew now goes by "Lords of the Pit." If you happen to make it to Eternal Weekend 2016 Old School, you may just see us brutally representing:

So, watch out. Now, on to the report.

Pink Disko Inferno
Festival of the Pit 2016 Tournament Report
By Nick Rohr

At first glance, one could reasonably ascertain that Old School is a format strictly for the super rich and/or those effectively grandfathered in by owning cards before financing perverted the value of Reserve List cards. That it would be somewhat doomed to collapse in upon itself with such obnoxious deck building restrictions like only being allowed cards printed in the first two years of the game. While this encourages a certain aesthetic nostalgia, it also seals the vault door in behind itself and really stymies an expanding player base. Not to mention, it's very stale in terms of deck building because you are locked into a permanent standard with two very distinct levels of power: unplayable style cards and hilariously broken cards designed in a time before the game was established.

It may be disheartening to new players who can't afford to play, not just if they're short running Power Nine on a "just because" basis, but that the rules vary depending on region. Some allow Revised, some allow Unlimited and some are cruel enough to only allow black border (or so I hear). The banned list seems pretty concrete, but varying upon region is the restricted list (Swedish, Chicago, NorCal).

Lucky me, I play in Chicago where the following are accepted:

So bearing that in mind, the design of the deck I insist on playing is fairly straightforward: Play Fork.

Fork is a phenomenal card to the poor man. Can't afford an Ancestral Recall? Can't afford a Mana Drain? Can't afford a Time Walk? The list goes on, but what Fork does is open up a door to participating in the dizzying meta and even allows you to double relevant cards when you need it to. Fork allows one to hold up a mirror to a format with insane spells getting flung around.

Fork has usually hovered around the maindeck or sideboard among variations of whatever version of a Red deck I'll be playing in an Old School tournament. Someone wants to Demonic Tutor? So should you. Someone wants to Amnesia or Mind Twist you? They should also see how it feels.

Red has a distinct advantage in Old School because shroud almost entirely doesn't exist. Nothing with protection from Red is playable, so any problem creatures can be Bolted or Fireballed with ease, and these burn spells can easily be aimed at the opponent's face, if they're light on creatures or you're advancing the damage plan to victory. With all these damage spells, Fork is reinforced as your best friend.

The lifespan of creatures in Old School is very short and they are hard to depend on. With cards like Moat and The Abyss floating around, not to mention Swords to Plowshares*** just getting tossed about like candy, even mighty beasts aren't meant long for this world.

So that's what brings me to my current list. It's heavy on burn spells and in the event of creatures, the deck packs Triskelion and Ball Lightning, two monsters who mean immediate business and Rukh Egg, a wall who only elevates your position post board wipe.

And in terms of board wipes, this deck is in no short supply. Four maindeck Disks and three Earthquakes, make sure that your Eggs die and your Rukhs don't, all the while lowering life totals and swatting away problems that cling to the ground.

Previous iterations of the deck ran Swords to Plowshares and that really undid my burn progress and although being the premiere removal and in my colors, a blowout Disk just does the job when we have no real permanents that have to live in order for us to achieve victory.

White was still kept, however, for Balance, four Disenchants and a sideboard Armageddon because Disenchant is one of the absolute best cards in the format, even with four maindeck answers to all artifacts and enchantments and Geddon is a really solid slap in the face to control.

I do feel there is a reasonable budget list in my 75, if you wanted to eschew the Plateaus, City of Brasses, and maybe run some Shatters or Detonates or even some more burn like Pyrotechnics.

Lords gather...
The matches I had that day went as follows:

Round 1
Eric - Monoblack Rack
This was a great start to the day, it was Eric's first game in an old school tourney and he was a lot of fun to play with. The downside was that being his first tournament, I feel like he wasn't yet aware of the meta. Nevertheless, he was dropping dudes consistently and even played one of my favorite black denial cards: Evil Presence. I look forward to seeing that card get dropped more because eliminating a Library of Alexandria or Mishra's Factory.

Throughout both games, he saw repeated Chain Lightning and Lightning Bolts to the face because I'd hold back on a heavily disruptive Earthquake, wiping out his Black Knights and Mindstab Thrulls. He had some Racks out but they never got to do too much damage, if any at all.

Round 2
Danny - Armageddon
Let the record show that I genuinely enjoy playing against Danny, but the decks he concocts can really grind you into a realm of, at the very least, unsportsmanlike murder fantasies.

He's an incredibly tight player who has nothing but enthusiasm for playing correctly and can acknowledge his own mistakes and offer to you what he'd consider better plays you could've made in future matches. Frustrating as his prison style decks may be to play against, you will always learn the weakness of your decks and playing style going up against him and I've never had a game that wasn't better for my deck overall.

That being said, Danny is almost entirely responsible for every single Nevinyrral's Disk in my deck. I would be damned if I had to stare down a museum of Relic Barriers, Howling Mines, Icy Manipulators and Millstones with a solitary Disenchant in hand.

Each match was a close one, but knowing that Armageddon was right around the corner and that's what he was ramping up into, I had to make sure that the stars didn't line up for him to survive it with artifact mana  and options, I had to constantly obliterate everything that stuck to the table.

Round 3
Brandon - B/w
Brandon is always really fun to play against because style is important to him, but not at the expense of delivering firm beatings. I genuinely fear when his decks would lift off the ground because they never hold back punches.

In this round against a black heavy deck, the race felt much more neck and neck. I luck sacked into Chain Lightnings and Lightning Bolts whenever he'd stick a Hypnotic Specter, which really could've swung the game back in his favor.

Surprise Ball Lightnings made appearances here and they caught him off guard for some sucker punches. Keeping the board clean of Stone-Throwing Devils and Black Knights with Earthquake, my Factory beats kept a steady clock on him in both games.

Luck was on my side that I never had to stare down the gruesome Lord of the Pit he had packed away in there.

Round 4
Shane - Rasputin Control
Luckily, Shane and I both seemed fairly tipsy in this one because these just did not feel like games of Magic. It's always great to see him, so we got some laughs in, but game one saw him stuck on one or two lands and my deck running like clockwork. Game two, I flood out on lands and he brings out Rasputin and Triskelions before I can get a word in edgewise.

Game three was probably our first game, but I get ahead even slightly and an early Disk keeps him off playing into it, the board is held down and when my Triskelion can resolve, enough punches get in before I have him in burn range.

Anecdotally, we have our inevitable discussion on unrestricted Strip Mine during game 1. He is on the play and drops a Library of Alexandria. I follow with a Strip Mine. He suggests how right he is that unrestricted Strip Mines keep stuff like that in check, which I can't really argue with. However, I did have another Strip Mine in hand and remove his next turn Tundra and I proceed to top deck a third Strip Mine and he had been seriously stifled by that series of Mines.

While three sequential Strip Mines doesn't prove that they tilt games, it was certainly a massive strike to his resources and wasn't exactly a tactical move on my part, just a way to disrupt his advance in board position.

Round 5
Matt - 5c w/ Shivan Dragon
Overall, mana was not my friend in these matches and Matt played incredibly tight so there was no way to catch up to him. He had counters for every threat I could muster and Disenchants for every Mana Vault that could help me ramp out of my situation. If you've ever seen Deliverance, it was like that except  I had a lot of fun. Matt made a brutal spanking somehow quite enjoyable.

It was close in the end, but I came out in first overall. I don't own any Power, I just built the best deck I could along cards I had, assessing what I could of the meta. I hope there are people who will attempt the same out there, who can exploit the weaknesses of decks relying on proven strategies and lead to a larger, more diverse format.

Custom Chicago skyline Festival of the Pit COB by Matt's wife!
If you are on the fence about participating in what appears to be a wretched, unforgiving format that demands you spend thousands of dollars to participate in, just remember that there are cost effective ways to way thwart tier 1 strategies and if you're worried about the ever inflating prices of dual lands, there are plenty of viable mono colored decks that are therefore even more resilient to Strip Mines.

This is my plea to fellow broke Magic players: help me ruin this format and introduce more Fallen Empires, more white border cards and far less Blue (unless we're talking Energy Flux. From Revised.)

* - It doesn't offer much beyond Hymn which some places even restrict in the event they allow Fallen Empires at all.

** - My heated opinions on this could be another article entirely.

*** - Or that sweet Chicago tech Spirit Link.

Final Standings
Nick Rohr's Pink Disco (unpowered) – 1st Place – 4-1
Shane Semmen's Dreamweaver Control – 2nd place4-1
Matt Slack's 5C + Shivan Dragon – 3rd place – 4-1
Bob Agra's Power Monolith – 4th place – 3-2
Danny Friedman's Mono White Prison – 5th place – 3-2
Ben Wagnon's ErhnamGeddon – 6th place – (unknown stats)
Brandon Sander's Mono Black Minions – 7th place – 2-3
Dan Piquard's Mono Black – 8th place – (unknown stats)
Grant Casleton's 4C Beats – 9th palace – 1-4

Erik's Mono Black – 10th place – (unknown stats)

Prize Pictures
Erik and Dan (left to right)

Additional Pictures
Danny vs. Ben
Danny vs. Ben
Danny vs. Ben
Danny vs. Brandon
Danny vs. Brandon
Danny vs. Brandon
Danny vs. Grant
Grant vs. Dan
Grant vs. Dan
Matt vs. Dan
Matt vs. Dan
Shane and Matt vs. pizza
Shane's hand vs. Bob
Shane vs. Bob
Shane vs. Danny
Shane vs. Nick


  1. What are those in the 9th place deck between the Strip Mines and the StP's? I don't recognize them.

  2. Hey Nick, Fallen Empires go far beyond HtT :) Sure, oldschool is a very tough environment to survive in, but the Orders, Orgg, Goblin Grenade at the very least are candidate to the appropriate deck. Anyway it's not all bad as it inspired me to try to exploit an apparently unexploitable FE card and got my juices flowing : https://timewalking.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/mission-impossible-ring-of-renewal/
    It's for another format, but shows some of the depth that the set can offer.

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