Updated: Feb 9
Here’s a quick round-by-round report for the King of the Cage 2019 event that was hosted by the Brew Crew at La Cage aux Sports in Québec city last august 10th. Swedish B&R list was used, but reprints à la Eternal Central including CE/IE cards were allowed. A twist, also: the Gentlemen Old school agreement was in effect, where both Library of Alexandria and Mind Twist are forbidden. It turned out to be an excellent event! Great spells were slung, round after round, and the vibe was amazing.
Four Montreal Tundra Wolves and one Ottawa Capital Chaos afficionado made the trip up north. I was playing my Beast Island deck, initially designed for an EC-environment, now adapted for Gentlemen Swedish OS:
For the first time it was featuring my new flavour-oozing Regrowth (Orb) Alter, just in from AS Alters, Denmark:
The pile really is a healthy mix of equal parts Timmy, Johnny and Spike elements, I believe. I ended up placing 2nd out of 16 mages, losing only to the would-be champion in a heartwrenchingly close match (more details below).
Disclaimer: I didn’t take any notes nor too many pictures, so all which follows is off the top of my head. Mileage may vary. This being said, onto the rounds:
For round 1 I am facing the legendary Yves who’s on a UW Birds type thing. Lightning Bolt were zapping left and right and the one time he managed to get some threats to stick around, it’s the Mana Drain for his Armageddon that I did have. Then eventually, the combo to take over, sporting a new classy technique. Postboard, i did get the scare when i saw a Golgotian Sylex go on the stack, but fortunately he had to tap out for it and I found a very clutch Disenchant to prevent him from obliterating my board. City in a Bottle did resolve too, and kept me off my Beasts and splash colors this game. Sages of Lat-Nam and Factories in aggro mode still got him hurt, just enough so that hurling fire at his face would prove lethal.
For a second year in a row, i beat Yves on the opening round of this tournament, which means… that i get a sweet Yves-themed custom card! See for yourself:
This Yves to Plowshares already made my day, and many envious!
Then for round 2 I faced homie Laurence on 5c Fatties. First game sees him trampling me over with giant monsters, but I’m luckily able to find a Balance and turn the tide. Second game is grindier as we both kind of flood with mana and answers. Sages are left unchecked and try to aggro him out, but as you can tell that he’s rather unimpressed…
And down the road, when I do commit to try to burn him dead for exactsies, he Swords his Angel away and survives, untaps and kills me with fire himself on the swingback! I underestimated the versatility of his pile, it seems. Actually not, I had foreseen the line, I just had nothing else lol. Third game was rough for Laurence as, as soon as I saw him miss his second land drop, I went straight for the jugular: Bolted the Bird and Stripped the one land away. Poor lad never recovered. And just like that i prevailed over my opponent from last year’s KotC’s finals! Yay me.
Sitting across from me for Round 3 was Jessy Pouliot on UB Robots. Jessy’s army of Juggies were met by Bolts, Su-Chis by Fireballs. I then summoned the Beasts to guard the mystic Orb of Chaos, but he kept making copies to blow the Beasts away! After trading flips back and forth for a little while, I proceded to outdraw him with Trikes, pew pew ded. Second game was more technical — the mulligan rule for the day were both very nice (for 0, 1, 6 or 7 landers, you had a free mull) and rough at times (no vancouver’ing nor london’ing when you were staring down at a plain bad hand). So it was one of the latter ones. Not having much in terms of fuel, only a couple of answers, at least i had the clarity of not playing out my City of Brass and Mana Vault in the face of his early Manipulator. Which eventually became two Manipulators, and then three! Man, how dead i’d be. With the board totally gummed up, it is the burn that won me the topdeck war once again.
Round 4 i was up against Simon who was piloting RWG Big Zoo. Game one with Bolts taking care of his Lions and Apes, I get to summon some Beasts and get the Orb’ing going, obliterating his manabase fast. Game two grinds back and forth, my mana-flooded hand turns out kind of awesome once he casts an Armageddon around the mid-game. We trade ressources reaaaaal tight and Serra Angel proves too complicated for me to deal with in the timeframe i’m given, even though i had now started chaining Trikes and would surely have gotten there eventually. Argothian Pixies was quite a nuisance too, in this specific situation. “Note to self: side those Psi Blasts in” — I hadn’t because 1. he’s playing burn so i didn’t want to burn myself, 2. I didn’t even know he was playing critters as big as Serras!
Game three was an epic one. On the play, i have no choice but to mull down to a blind six, which gives me a Volc, a Bolt and an Ancestral Recall to start off with, yay! There’s also another land, a Timetwister and a Control Magic. Yeah, the nuts. So the early game definitely tilts in my favor, however playing out my cards looking to Twist asap to gain card advantage, Simon never provides a threat worthy of my Control Magic, so I figure I’ll just ship it to find it again later. Because now is the time. My Twister is however met with two Disenchants attacking my manarocks, impeding my ability to play out what’s coming and effectively use tempo, as well as a Bolt to my face iirw. In other words, the card advantage plan i was pursuing kind of blew up in my face.
From there on, Simon eventually attempts to corner me, casting a couple of Lions and an Armageddon all in one flashy turn. But it turns out I was gripping on two burn spells that I was slowrolling, so I was able to answer swiftly, game basically just started over. The rebuild is long and steady, we trade blows to the face using whatever we can, and lots of answers inevitably come. In retrospect, there’s one Sylvan Library that stuck around that I wish I would’ve done something about.
Anyhow there’s now a City in a Bottle on the board, Beasts are stranded in hand. Sages, Factories, Apes and an Angel are battling it out anyways. The Angel is the real problem, I tell you… But then, Chaos Orb comes off the top to save the day! Adrenalin flowing, heart pounding, coffee, beer, hours of focused effort, the new technique i’m sporting, the crowd watching… blame what you like, but this one doesn’t even come close to flipping one full revolution. Crowd goes silent. Of all flips, this one would be the only one (off 20+) i’d miss during the whole event. Strike one.
Felt like the window was closing for me, but i eventually find a Psi Blast to deal with the Angel. Some of my critters go farming, which fortunately give me a bit of leeway, as far as life count goes. Trading ressources some more, we end up on a board that, except for one Sage (and two rocks to crack), is empty. I just Blue Blast’ed a burn spell away, gripping onto a second one so I know that, at 5 life, I’m somewhat safe from his Fireballs (or eventual Shivan Dragon, would I later learn!) He’s got two cards in hand, at 7 life or so. And like a champ, I topdeck a Triskelion (#ONE TURN CLOCK).
However like a noob, I get giddy and proceed to slam it down on the table in a heartbeat, tapping out. Yep no, not even floating one and cantripping off a rock (strike two), to probably find my seventh mana and keep the Blue Blast up (strike three). To be safe. No. Not even thinking, really. Yup, just like that, I lost to my own punt.
My excitement collapses just as abruptly as it rose, when i realize the mess i made — fast. Simon‘s face features a hybrid form of frown and subtle smirk, with good reasons. From his hand, he then graciously points a Lightning Bolt toward my face. He untaps. Casts and resolves (keyword), a Wheel of Fortune. Salt.
Here is that very mighty pile (champion Simon’s deck) by the way: [his pic]
From the very dark place, I eventually resurface.
I then get to play Kevin from the Ottawa Capital Chaos crew for round 5. He’s on Ernham on Ice. First game he floods BAD, so I don’t really see much except Djinns. I don’t even realize that there’s blue in his pile, so postboard my Red Blast are nowhere to be seen. Second game I’m caught totally off guard by his rad suite of enchantments: Karma, Energy Flux, and Circle of Protection all hit the table, on top of a Sylvan Library that goes unanswered for ages. Ernhams and Iff-Biffs (that’s a thing!) provide massive amounts of pressure while i scramble to deal with all the curses. But with a Timetwister, Kevin allows me to find and cast a *brutal* Balance. I get to crash in with an army of Factories of my own for a couple of turns until he rebuilds quite a merry band that’s just about to stop me, and with the Karma still online, time is running out for me. But he taps out, so I take the opportunity to double Psi Blast him dead, for exactsies again, leaving me at just 1! [his pic]
The day ends with me duelling Fred, who is on an RW Tax-Edge deck featuring knights. Game one i blind-mull into a bad hand and quickly succomb to Vises and Wheel’ing without much resistance. Second game sees me funk a turn 1 Guardian Beast out off moxen, followed up by a turn 2 Guardian Beast, and they would go all the way! Last game was hyper grindy. I basically rode 4x Factories to victory, only disabling (Disenchanting) his Land Tax off pure intuition just a turn before he would have gone off and killed me with Land’s Edge. Very close and strange match!!!
5-1 record and second place, worthy of a gorgeous Fire Elemental signed by all the 16 contenders of the day!
Closing thoughts: I found the Swedish ruleset experience less aggro-inclined than EC or Pacific indeed, with the restriction of Strip Mine, and somewhat less than Atlantic too, since you lose Fallen Empire. I still feel like the Strip Mine restriction kind of automatically translates into a Mishra’s Factory driven midrange fest. I did try to make the best out of it however, by 1. using the Factories myself, and 2. maxing out on Lightning Bolts to deal with opposing ones — things i usually do not do in this deck, in favour of going more all-out combo. It did work, but indeed were Mishra’s Factories goddarned prevalent!
At least we didn’t have to deal with multiple Workshops, thanks to the Swedes. Nor did we have Library of Alexandria to deal with (in context, read: die to), as implied by the Gentlemen’s Old school agreement in effect on this day. I did miss playing my own Library though. As well as Mind Twist to some extent. But I can see how playing without them can lead to less feelbad moments experienced, on the receiving end. I don’t mind personally however: IMO it’s part of the Old school wonk and, just like Strip Mine, if you’re in the right mindset, this is all pure radness, an axis of the game that can and should be used and abused! I’ll tell you what anyways: all the times I got to cast Balance on this day were pretty fucking massive feelbad moments for my opponents anyways lol, so… :)
Then there’s my deck. Beast Island. After some rougher times in its first couple iterations, i feel like we’re really going places: you saw us at the top table in Ottawa earlier this year, and this time in Québec city. And I’m loving every single bit of the journey. I’ll certainly keep at it in the upcoming weeks, leading up to Boston’s Lobstercon 2, where we will be!
Lastly, some shout outs: one to Yanick Blanchet for hosting the event, which was slick. Thank you man! Another massive one for opening the event to reprints, which effectively allowed many of us to play the cards and decks that we love. It enabled us to drive up and share the good times with you guys, really. It was great, do again! Another shout out to Remi, a Montréal Tundra Wolves rookie with an already promising OS record. Against the odds, he top 4’ed the tournament with a very special unpowered Bad Moon Aggro pile! Wo0t, congrats. And to the winner, Simon, you’ve been a fierce opponent. I bow before your victory. And lastly, to everyone involved, I had a great time at King of the Cage 2019!
Ulululluluuululullululuu [famous Guardian Beast song]