This weekend a new Highlander series - Library of Slovakia - was to be held in Bratislava, Slovakia. I wanted to go but I had too much work to do and I wasn't sure if I could come. Fortunately for me I could. I bought a bus ticket, grabbed two decks hoping that out of them I would have 100 cards for a deck and left for Bratislava.
I arrived on Friday to Bratislava where two friends awaited me. We ate something that was supposed to be Chinese food in a bistro and then went to their place. I had to climb five flights of stairs! After that it was time to build our decks and write decklists. I started putting together Junk Midrange that I build for Chainsaw Massacre but I had to replace some cards because they are on the German Highlander banlist - Natural Order or Birthing Pod for example. Instead though I could play Demonic Tutor.
This was the original decklist that I played at the Chainsaw Massacre event. Actual decklist from the Library of Slovakia event is on the bottom of this article.When I was done with the deck I also checked if I have all cards needed for UWb combo-control. I was missing few cards - Mana Drain, Into the Roil, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar - nothing too important. While Ivan was building his crazy blue-red storm deck we played few games with Beata who was on White Weenie. The Junk deck came victorious always. Meanwhile another player arrived. He was on BUG combo-control (Doomsday). We had few funny games. I knew that winning with Helm of Obedience and Rest in Peace might not be ideal against this deck since it ran Counterspells and enchantment and artifact removal. I tried few times nonetheless. It worked out in most cases. We had one funny moment. My opponent destroyed my Rest in Peace but I could still keep my Helm. He than played Doomsday though. I milled him then and he realized his mistake. I think he'll never do this again. Junk was also capable of winning even against this deck. Last I played against Ivan's Izzet deck. He was unable to control the game in most cases but once he killed me with his Grapeshot. His deck was good for stalling but not for winning.
I tried writing my decklist then. Well, I have to say it was a challenge. I managed to fit it on one page but it was a mess.
We went to sleep then. At 9 we got up and later left for the site which was actually nearby. The store was full of people. I was amazed by the number of players. 67 players participated in the event but there were even more players that wanted to come. Some players from Austria also said they'd come if they knew about the event (those that came to play PPTQ). I submitted my decklist and awaited round 1. Meanwhile I talked to Marian, lent him a deck. We had quite some fun talking about our games from the day before (making fun of Beata who was the biggest troll of the day - not playing optimally she often put us in unreal situations that ended up in her favor)
We were seated a while later and we were supposed to fill in a questionnaire about banlist. Since I already did that on the German forum I answered only briefly. Then we could get up and go see pairings for round one.
I was paired against a player whose name I already saw somewhere. I was wondering if he participated in a German tournament I attended as well and tried to figure out what deck he played. I soon found out he was on UWb combo-control, the very same deck I usually play. He played well, fast and he knew what he was doing. I knew that I'm not favored but I still could try my best and try to win. I managed to get him down to 1 life but couldn't deal the last damage. Jace, Architect of Thought and Humility ruined my game. When Jace went ultimate I scooped. In the second game I simply went on beatdown plan and won. But game three, I once again showed that I could deal 19 damage but not 20. Everything seemed fine but my Aven Mindcensor that was keeping my opponent in check eventually died (or rather was bounced with Jace and then countered). Back to Basics prevented me in playing spells with cmc 3 and higher each turn since I had only two basics I managed to fetch. Occasionally I played a three drop but that was usually countered and I lost since I was rather mana screwed thanks to Back to Basics.
As usual I started a big tournament with round 1 loss, meaning I would have to go X-1 to end up in the top. With UWb Combo-Control I could imagine that happening but not with this Junk pile.
Round 2 - Reanimator (0-1)
Next round my opponent started with Underground Sea and I started to suspect that he was playing Reanimator. He was. I was ready though because I had Deathrite Shaman. It resolved, didn't die and bought me enough time to win the game with my creatures.
In game two my opponent discarded some creatures and later tutored a reanimation spell. Thus I tutored a discard spell to get rid of the reanimation spell. After I discarded his Exhume he top decked Reanimate. He brought Iona, Shield of Emeria into play. I was glad it was that card because I was more likely to get rid of it. The other creature in the graveyard was Inferno Titan which would be way worse for me. it was time for me to top deck. To my surprise I drew the worst looking Karakas ever (Eternal Masters one). I bounced Iona that named white earlier and swung with my creatures. I played more creatures while my opponent was tapped out and couldn't counter my spells. He drew Life/Death and reanimated Inferno Titan killing two of my creatures. I knew though that I just need to let all damage through and deal the remaining 4 damage with my creatures. Since my opponent didn't produce enough red sources to kill me I killed him back. I was very lucky to win this match.
Round 3 - Esper Control (1-1)
I kept an ok hand, nothing explosives nor disruptive. My opponent played an Island turn 1 followed by another one on turn 2. I was playing against another Control deck and I hoped it would go a bit more smoothly than last time. I hoped to draw some disruption, a manland or a Planeswaker that could stick. I managed that - I drew Gideon, Ally of Zendikar - and played it when it was likely to resolve (only Force of Will or Pact of Negation could counter that, I did not expect the latter). It did. The game was soon over. In the following game I had enough low CMC creatures and Demonic Tutor. The plan was to keep my opponent off two white sources so he couldn't play a Wrath effect. I played Vindicate on one of his white sources and Wastelanded another one. Meanwhile I was attacking through Spellskite and Maze of Ith. Fortunately for me it was enough. Tidehollow Sculler removed Supreme Verdict temporarily giving me one more additional turn before my creatures would die. I won the game in time even though I started to doubt it since two creatures couldn't go through each turn.
Round 4 - Reanimator (2-1)
This was the most funny game of the weekend. I kept the hand because I had Deathrite Shaman in it that could eat creatures my opponent would discard. My opponent kept a hand with two lands, Show and Tell and Ashen Rider. Neither of us could draw a land for quite a while. I knew I was the one in disadvantage since I had 37 lands in my deck and Reanimator usually plays around 40 (I used to play 41). My opponent drew the lands first and played Show and Tell. I was wondering what could possibly await me - Ashen Rider, Griselbrand, Angel of Despair? Well, it could have been relatively anything but many of the cards that came to my mind were black, so I put Mirran Crusader in play. My opponent revealed Ashen Rider destroying my poor Deathrite Shaman (that did a great job though already). Then it was time to race the Rider. After some difficulties I managed to win (difficulty being Maze of Ith). I had to deal with Ashen Rider or Maze. I dealt with the creature and played another creature thanks to which I won the game later.
Game two wasn't good and I even messed up. I could have had Scavenging Ooze in play that would most likely eat one creature but another one would wreck my game. I rather scooped. Knowing that this error and lack of one green source most probably just meant a lost match for me.
The deciding game wasn't any better. Faithless Looting discarding Inferno Titan wasn't a good sign. I couldn't deal with the card in my opponent's graveyard nor in play and lost the match as I expected. A pity after I miraculously won game 1. This also meant that top16 was most unlikely. And when I saw where I was sent next round my tiebreakers suggested that I would not be anywhere near the top.
Round 5 - Doomsday (2-2)
I played against The player from the day before so I knew what to expect and since this was no Vintage I knew my chances to win were relatively high. I also knew the deck could do crazy stuff so I had to be as disruptive as I could. I simply played creatures that could attack well keeping some in my hand after my board would be wiped with Damnation, Toxic Deluge or Pernicious Deed. The first game was rather uneventful. My plan of being vigilant worked out. In game two it wasn't that good. I got mana screwed and my opponent was well ahead with his mana sources and he also saw more cads than me. In a game of Vintage this would be a lost game for me already. But it was me with creature on the board and dealing damage. My opponent was forced to tutor Toxic Deluge and pay few life which put him down to 4 life. That did not seem to unlikely. He played Courser of Kruphix and few lands which helped him gain some life. Meaning I couldn't kill him with Elspeth that I saved for a final attack. I went for the plan though knowing my opponent would get down to 1. He played Titania, Protector of Argoth and his board actually looked pretty bad for me at that moment. But due to having 1 life and a fetchland in play he couldn't crack and thus couldn't create an Elemental that would deal with my Elspeth I won. He tried to look for something that could deal with my Planeswalker but did not find anything so he extended his hand. With 3-2 record I hoped to win the last round but I felt it might be a bit of a challenge because I started feeling very badly due to low blood pressure.
Round 6 - Red Deck Wins (3-2)
The weather was changing fast and I felt it would start raining soon. That meant that I would not be able to concentrate much. I tried drinking coffee while waiting for the following round so my blood pressure wouldn't get to low but it didn't help much. Game 1 was a fiasco.
My opponent took few mulligans. Meanwhile I was trying to figure out what he was playing. If I could think straight I would have expected RDW because the tables next me were full of those and this player played in my vicinity at the higher tables (which were very red). I didn't figure that out though even after he played Mutavault turn 1 and Mishra's Factory turn 2 and on turn 3 it was already too late - Blood Moon hit the table and I was doomed. I could swing with my creatures and hope but I did not even manage that. My mana dork was producing mana of a wrong color. I died few turns later and I certainly deserved that.
In the following game I tried to concentrate. I kept a good hand that even included Timely Reinforcements. The player next to me said that I presideboarded for the tournament. My opponent's hand contained Skullcrack though so I had to be vary of that and play it when I could actually gain 6 life. While my opponent was attacking with creatures I managed to draw Sorin, Solemn Visitor. I remember messing up that turn which resulted in the Planeswalker's death. On the other hand it was Skullcrack that destroyed the card which was good because I could play Timely Reinforcements then. I felt fairly safe after that. My first few creatures that followed died which was a good sign as well since my opponent switched to defensive. Later I managed to have a creature in play that was big enough for bolts and won the game later.
The deciding game was similar. I had more creatures so I could trade them with other creatures. I also managed to discard Sulfuric Vortex as in the previous game knowing what would follow next. I had Dryad Arbor, mana dork and one more creature in play and Sword of Fire and Ice in my hand. Hopefully my opponent did not have Forked Bolt or something similar. The Sword is a big problem for these decks so I had a plan, but I drew Sorin which got a higher priority. I played it and swung with my creatures with lifelink. That bought me more time and it would require two cards for my opponent to deal with Sorin. Later I drew a fifth land so I could play the Sword, equip and the game was over.
When the tournament was over we waited for standings because with my record I could possibly be in top 16. Judging from the table I played at in the last two rounds I expected to be far from that. I missed the top16 by 4 places though. I was happy with my 4-2 record though. I did not get annoyed with my deck much so all was good. The card that performed better than I thought was Grim Flayer. I would swap Leonin Arbiter for Containment Priest next time. The card I was seriously missing from my deck was Winter Orb. I usually play it (instead of Sword of Feast and Famine) but it did not come to my mind when I was putting the deck together on the last minute as usual.
After the tournament I traded and sold few cards. My binder full of Vintage cards wasn't too useful to many but I was glad I sold something, hopefully it helped the players at least a bit. I also sold Brainstorm for 1 EUR. That was funny. The player did not want to give me 1EUR but in the end bought it, he gave me that in 10 cents pieces (so I bought bus ticket for that). When no one else seemed to be interested in my binder we left.
We arrived to the flat and ordered some food. In the meanwhile Beata and Ivan went shopping, I opened Magic Online and played some Standard while Marian was watching me and Tomi was left alone at the table. One of the games I played was quite funny. I played against something that seemed to be Energy aggro. When my opponent played some 1/1 creature I was wondering what can happen to me next turn. My opponent had two cards in his hand so I did not expect anything lethal to happen. I decided to play Liliana, the Last Hope and try to kill the creature. I did not expect the creature to die but I expected my opponent to save the creature and not be able to kill me next turn. Well...this happened.
When all of us gathered we started a draft of Conspiracy: Take the Crown. Marian opened three Mythics, drafted a nice deck but flooded out during the actual game. I took a mulligan because I had 2 Mountains in my hand while the rest of the hand consisted of blue cards. When I drew my new seven cards I realized that I play 3 colored deck (I was 'splashing' Hallowed Burial and 2 Lieutenants). The first round of all turn 1s ended up like this - 5 different basics in play.
I had a bad deck with a lot of flyers but it didn't help me against a Wild Pair deck. Beata got a neat deck with the 'Doran' conspiracy card. She had 5/5 lifelink creatures with flying which was quite a problem for everyone. When Tomi managed to play Wild Pair he started doing crazy stuff. Unfortunately we were too ravaged by trying to fight 5/5 lifelink Sycopants that we couldn't handle another strong player. We started to get eliminated one by one. I lasted long but I ended up with 16 lands in play so I couldn't defend myself nor eliminate one of the strong players.
After we were tired of Conspiracy Tomas and Marian left so they could still use the public transport to go to their flats.
I played few games of Standard, featuring Emrakuls and some very big Tireless Trackers, wrote my decklist for Standard PPTQ and went to sleep.
I would like to thank Beata, Ivan and Marian for the awesome weekend (I might add a PPTQ report later). I can't thank everyone enough. I also wish good luck to the Highlander Series TO. I hope to come to other tournaments of the series but most probably I won't be able to come to other cities except Bratislava (we'll see about that). It was a great tournament.
Thanks for reading. If interested in games of Highlander (100 card singleton) just contact me via Magic Online (stsung) or twitter (stsungjp).
(The report was written on my cell phone which I hoped would make the report short, just saying...)