On Sunday October 14th there was a German Highlander event held in Bratislava, Slovakia. I wanted to go really badly and hoped I'd be fine so I could go and play. Since you are reading this post, it's clear that I went.
I wanted to go there already several times but unfortunately due to my health condition I can't just go to any tournament I decide to go. It's a risk. This makes me rather sad and often upset because there are events I'd like to participate in but I know that I wouldn't even be able to play or get there. This time though everything actually went well which though also means that the following event I want to go to, may end in disaster. Two weeks before the event I got bronchitis and already thought that this would be yet once again another event I would have to skip. I stayed in bed for days (with some MODO in between^_~) and I took few days off even before the event. I really wanted to go. The day before leaving I decided to stay up for the whole day to test if I can make it. It did not end up in fever so I'd go.
During the bus trip I didn't know what to do so in the end I decided to watch 2 movies. I saw that there is Now You See Me 2 in the movie library. Since I liked the first one, I decided to watch it. Why not start with little bit of magic before a Magic tournament, right? I also suspected that this is the movie from which a certain card meme comes from (I was right). The second movie I watched was way different. The title of the movie was 'The Next Three Days'. It wasn't my cup of tea (romance and drama?) but the movie was actually good (a husband planning and actually breaking his wife out of prison).
When I was ordering the ticket to Bratislava I was told that the bus would arrive to a different place because the bus station was under construction. To my surprise I arrived to a brand new bus station in Bratislava which was just few hundred meters away from the old one. I have to say that I really liked it. I went to the bathroom after the long trip and was once again told that I shouldn't be using the ladies room (the girls mused that I probably got lost and that I'm some stupid foreigner - why people always assume that I do not speak their language?). I thought 'Welcome back to Slovakia'. See that is how my last trip to Bratislava started (with the exception this was a different bus station). After this little adventure I went to eat something, hoping it wouldn't end up in another bad experience. I ordered something, paid for it, so far so good. When I went to get my order though I was told that they don't have it anymore. So well, I got something else to eat which I didn't mind. I planned to eat and relax till Dalibor would come get me. Unfortunately for me, there was some very loud person that was on the phone talking to someone who knows what about (I didn't understand a word). That wasn't pleasant but I survived. I also found out that Alza was providing wi-fi internet connection there so I checked social media and played few games of Ascension. I arrived to Bratislava early for some reason even though we actually had about 20 minutes delay on our way to Brno. Some time later Dalibor, the Library of Slovakia series TO, arrived and with that my bad experiences ended (there were more but I didn't talk about them).
The TO was so kind and let me sleep in his flat. He and his wife took care of me during the whole weekend and I am very grateful for that. They are awesome people and I hope that I will be able to repay this one day.
After we got to their flat we talked about the recent bannings and power level of cards. Since the banning of Mystical Tutor surprised me I was glad to actually hear the whole story about it and I also looked forward to talking other members of the rules committee later. If interested you can read my comment about Mystical Tutor at PureMTGO, skip to 'On Tutors' part - 100CS Banlist Changes, On Tutors. I had my theory and also expected a different kind of banning (Treasure Cruise + Dig Through Time). The end result though is something I prefer than the banning of the cards I expected to leave the format. We talked about Magic and stuff and then went to sleep later.
In the morning I checked both of my decks I had on me - UWb Combo-Control still featuring the banned Mystical Tutor but still legal that day and 4c Blood that I planned to play. Both decks were complete and ready to be played with. My deck choice was 4c Blood (my attempt at sleeping didn't go well). If you are not familiar with the deck or the format here is a short description (or you can view a video below): 4c Blood is a 4-color (without blue) good stuff deck filled with value cards that can either stop an aggression (go over it), or 'out-value' control decks (get the control player in top deck mode and win because 4c Blood simply top decks better). It behaves pretty much like Jund or Junk decks that are good not because they would have many good matchups but rather because many of their matchups are very close to 50%. This is true for 4c Blood as well and that is what it made it the premier deck of German Highlander. It could deal with RDW that was keeping Control in check while it would also deal with the Control decks. The weak point of this deck are combo decks or slower card advantage based decks.
We arrived to Cloudpost, their LGS, early (the TO had a lot to do). I sat there among the players not really knowing anyone. From time to time someone asked if I don't have a binder with me but otherwise didn't interact. I was too scared to do that too, so just waited for the event to start. 57 players registered for the event so we played 6 rounds of Swiss and top 8. A very short report follows.
Round 1 - Junk Midrange
I played against Junk. It seemed the deck wasn't ideally built because it was put together on last minute in the LGS. It played good cards nonetheless and could do fine in the event. The first game went very well for me. I just played my efficient creatures and won the game later.
Round 2 - RDW
In round 2 I was paired against Red Deck Wins pilot. He won game one very easily, my only lands in my opener were City of Brass and Llanowar Wastes and I did not even have good enough creatures to stop RDW or deal efficiently some damage. I did not even draw a better land and lost. My hand wasn't bad against a slower deck, but against RDW it was rather a bad hand.
My opening hand in game 2 was way better even though it still had some flaws - we don't see ideal hands all the time. I do not remember what lands I had but one was City of Brass and the other one was something like Badlands (it was a land messing up my mana base, since I usually need a combination of lands like Savannah + Scrubland first). I needed a source of white or green so I could later play Kitchen Finks that I already had in my hand. The land I drew was Horizon Canopy which was rather a painful land but one that allowed me to play all the cards I needed to play. Even with losing 2 life per turn due to my lands I managed to win. Kitchen Finks was joined by Huntmaster of the Fells that stuck in play. My opponent had 2 burn spells in hand and Ball Lightning, but fortunately for me I could deal with Ball Lightning with Swords to Plowshares and the two burn spells wouldn't be able to kill Kitchen Finks, Huntmaster of the Fells and the Wolf token produced.
Game 3, I wasn't entirely sure how I shuffled my deck but after I got it back from my opponent I ended up with City of Brass and Horizon Canopy in my opener. When I played City of Brass, Thoughtseize on turn 1 my opponent even started to laugh. I looked at his hand full of 3 drops and 2 lands. A third land on turn 3 would certainly mean I'd lose so I tried to avoid it. Since I had Demonic Tutor in hand, I played it and searched for Wasteland to destroy (fortunately for me) my opponent's Barbarian Ring. My opponent missed few land drops and during that time I was able to draw a land and few creatures and eventually win the game. My opponent wasn't happy about this at all and was constantly swearing. He probably wasn't a fan of Demonic Tutor either. I was able to play Huntmaster of the Fells and Siege Rhino later which still didn't need to be enough for me to win. The game was actually pretty close but I produced big enough creatures that my opponent had to start defending himself and that is never good for RDW. He almost managed to stabilize the game, but couldn't deal with 4/5 Trampler which won me the game in the end.
Round 3 - Scapeshift
Next round I did not even have a chance to see what my opponent was playing. Many basic lands and the colors suggested that my opponent was on Scapeshift deck of sorts. My opponent played some ramp spells and helped me a lot with playing a creature on turn 3 so I could safely land Liliana of the Veil, destroy his creature without letting him make a good use of it, and discard some cards in later turns. I felt safe because Liliana could deal with any creature he would play and I wouldn't lose to Scapeshift probably because I had enough creatures to win before this could happen (to deal lethal). My opponent didn't find a global removal or answer to Liliana and I won.
In game two I just tried to be as fast as possible and avoid Toxic Deluge etc. My opponent had Courser of Kruphix in play which was pretty bad for me in terms not being able to efficiently attack (and my opponent was also gaining life) but it helped me because I saw all my opponent's draws including True-Name Nemesis. Thanks to that I could find an answer before True-Name Nemesis hit the table and win the game soon after that.
Round 4 - Izzet Control
I was asked to go to the feature match area and I was paired against a Izzet Control player which I didn't know. First game I didn't really keep a good hand but it was in theory playable unless I'd play against control. Since I didn't know it. I kept it. I terribly died to Blood Moon.
The second game seemed actually pretty good for me. I played Thoughtseize and saw that my opponent's hand is not really good. I was trying to decide whether to discard Thing in the Ice or some transform card that would turn into a 3/4 Prowess (which would also be problematic for me). I had removal for the 1/1 transform creature (two actually) so I discarded Thing in the Ice that threatened to kill me if transformed. After this everything went awry. My opponent drew the best card he could possible have each turn. It started with Daze on my removal, followed by Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Force of Will back up, Slagstorm, True-Name Nemesis and Batterskull. I have to say that I was very sad about this outcome. I wanted to play game 3 to see if I could possibly win but wouldn't mind losing either. It was not to be though.
Round 5 - UWb Combo-Control
My opponent was on the play and started with Plains. Next turn he played a tapped land which suggested that he's got Mana Tithe in his hand or at least that started flashing in my head. I ran right into it with Sylvan Library since I didn't have another land and couldn't wait for my opponent to untap and counter my Sylvan Library with certainty next turn. After this I just simply tried to play any card (creature) that I could cast and keep my opponent without double white. I managed to deal quite a lot of damage. My opponent before dying found a second white source and wiped the board. In the meantime though I was able to draw a planeswalker so after the Wrath effect happened I just played it and started creating some tokens that later won the game.
We both took a mulligan. We both kept a hand of six cards. My opponent's hand though wasn't good. Not only he was mana screwed but pretty much didn't have anything to play. My deck was able thus to simply go through and win. It is true though that I also needed a little bit of help from my opponent. He played Jace, Architect of Thought that could in theory find something relevant, instead it just slowed me in my attacks (+1 ability). This gave enough time to draw another creature. I had Scavenging Ooze in play that could get big, but at least could eat any instant or sorcery (my opponent had Snapcaster Mage in his hand). In the end my opponent decided to use the minus ability of Jace and found Day of Judgment. It was too late though already. Instead he took Negate which he couldn't cast on my turn. So I looked for Thrun, the Last Troll with Green Sun's Zenith on that turn and next turn I played Falkenrath Aristocrat for the win.
Round 6 - Izzet Control
During the top 8 I just wanted to chill and come back to my senses and possibly eat something. I ate little bit of a pizza I ordered but unfortunately my stomach didn't cooperate with me so I rather decided not to eat anymore. Afterwards I asked a local judge to play some games of highlander. She took my 4c Blood while I was on UWb Combo-Control. She could read Japanese so I didn't need to explain what cards in my deck do. We played some interesting games and I even managed to have two Gideons in play! (it wasn't necessary but for the lulz I just played them both - I could have won with Entreat the Angels, but in paper we don't have that very suspicious stop in a draw step so my opponent didn't know about the top decked spell). In the last game we played I tutored for Mystical Tutor and found out that the card is not in my deck. After knowing I left with it and that I actually cast it earlier that day I just couldn't understand where the card ended up. We searched practically everywhere for it (even 4c Blood where we discovered Negate) but didn't find it. It probably got offended and decided to disappear since it was about to be banned from the format in few hours. I still cast the card in Vintage though so I'll have to get another copy.
Some players had inappropriate remarks about two girls playing Magic and I wondered how people can actually make such remarks after one of the girls was judging the event while the other one was top8 contender. Both of us, at least that day, proved that we at least know what Magic: The Gathering is about either rules-wise or format-wise.
After that I watched the finals seeing Izzet Control come back from a Tarmogoyf beats. After the event we spent some time getting our prizes (see the credit is not really a good thing for non-local players).
The TO had very nice prizes prepared for us. In addition to 'normal prizes' which was mostly Cloudpost credit (which the finalists traded for upcoming IMA boxes), we were also given some additional prizes in the form of foil cards. The 9th place also received a consolation prize in the form of Masterpiece Counterbalance (I think I will add it to my collection of other shiny cards I won at events). The top 13 players received a foil Triskaidekaphobia which was very flavorful, a pity 13th event didn't take place on the 13th. Places 26th and 39th also got something since those are multiples of 13. There was also an ongoing team competition. I didn't ask anyone to join me, so I didn't participate. The German team (with two players out of three in the finals) though won it, receiving 2 playmats and a very nice old school box.
The event was awesome and I thank all the players that participated and all those that helped it take place. Hope I'll be able to come soon to other events of the series.
Thank you for reading
S'Tsung (stsung on MODO, stsungjp on Twitter)