I got home from Darmstadt last weekend and just felt sick, and I was afraid that I would miss The Plague tournament by having the actual plague. Turned out it was a false alarm, and I was already better on Wednesday.
During the years I have learned to know several old school players from Norway. The old-timers like Audun, Thomas, and Erland and then more lately players like Øyvind, Trygve, Daniel and many others. The last time I visited Norway it was back in 1999 and GP Oslo. Oslo/Drammen is close and with so many friends there nowadays I don't know why I haven't gone there before. There is always the feeling with Norway that everything is so expensive.
When the roll-up looks like this you just have to go
Usually, I start the trip with a beer at the airport but this time I just skipped and went for the traditional Norwegian lunch which is called "matpakke". I'm not a Norwegian culinary expert but from what I've heard its basically just boring dry sandwiches you eat at the office. And the drink of choice was Coke Zero. I went by bus to Oslo it seems there are buses that leave almost every hour from Gothenburg to Oslo and they are also really cheap. Good that they are cheap because I'm not looking forward getting drunk in Norway...
Going to Norway it seemed reasonable to bring a "matpakke"
I arrived smoothly in Oslo and went straight to the train station and got my train for Drammen. As expected, everything runs smoothly in this country, I downloaded an app and bought a ticket with my Visa card and just got on the train. Trains left every 10 minutes for Drammen so even if you missed one it was no problem to get on the next. I catched up on some ATC episodes on the bus for Drammen and listened a bit to Madrugada as I wasn't in the mood for black metal today.
Drammen is really beautiful this is a random place I found while walking to hotel
I hadn't done my research before, and it seemed I was the only one staying at the hotel I had chosen. No worries though as Drammen is a small town and I just had to walk for 10-15 minutes to get to my hotel. Just took a quick rest and went out to hunt for Hansa Mango IPA. It's a random 4,7% beer that seems to taste better than all the Mango IPA available at Systembolaget. But it costs like 46 NOK which is three times a random beer at Systembolaget. I love browsing food stores in all countries I visit. It's interesting to see what they sell, how everything is priced and what items they lower prices on to attract customers.
Found the true Norwegian gold, Hansa Mango IPA
The tournament today was AB40K which only allows cards from Alpha and Beta, and you have to make a 60-card deck. My only cards for this format is a Alpha Serra Angel and 42 Beta Basic lands so I can't even make a technically legal deck. I wasn't in the mood for cheating and making a fully powered unlimited deck. I did some grumpy talks on the ODOL WhatsApp-group and Erik Henriksen, the founder of Elfvalley MTG (check out his Instagram and give him a follow) said I could borrow a deck from him.
This is what I like with this community, here is a guy I never met that offered to lend me a deck from his card pool. As he was playing black it was out of the picture, so I choose to build a green-red aggressive deck. This deck had a good curve, powerful spells (but nothing broken) and aimed for a solid aggressive plan. I would really have liked 2.2357329 Berserks in this deck but other than that I'm very happy with it.
My AB4K deck, think I made the most of the available cards!
We played at a place called Skjenkestua in central Drammen. A small cosy pub that apparently has hosted several Magic tournaments before. It was a friendly atmosphere and the people that worked in the bar wished us good luck for the tournament and welcomed us back for next year. The beers (cheapest pils) costed 96 NOK and a burger with potatoes costs 220 NOK so it is by no means cheap, but I can survive this after enjoying all the cheap stuff in Darmstadt last weekend.
Solid burger for only 220 NOK!
We were set to play three rounds of swiss as only eight people played the tournament (there were around 15 people at Skjenkestua). Not everyone had brought exactly AB4K decks so the first two rounds I played against people with their ordinary decks featuring revised duals, collector's edition power but I managed to beat these two. My deck feels very favoured against every draw that stumbles and don't have a solid game plan. In the third round I was paired against my real nemesis Erland (except for maybe Mano who has beat me more times). Erland has a mono black Alpha deck that is amazing, he managed to beat me in two quick games with Hypnotic Spectres. Once he even deployed two Bad Moons beforehand so I couldn't bolt his Spectres. Well played. After he beat me, he asked if I wanted to play another game - No thanks! :) Except for beating me in Magic Erland is one of my favourite guys around and every Arvika tournament we usually spend the Friday evenings in the hotel lobby drinking beer and slinging cards.
Skjenkestua, Friday's venue
Apart from the three rounds of Magic it was quite a soft evening. I gave Mitja a fat pack of Legacy cards I want to get rid off, fuck that format! I got to meet Odd Anders of the Farmstead crew (check out his amazing YouTube channel). Odd Anders brought his recording gear and was gonna stream the whole tournament next day, one spike table and one spice table all rounds. Also, I got the chance to hang out a lot with webcam legend Erik Olstad and talk about all things gaming, been a long time since I discussed board games! As old school tournaments go this was an early evening, at midnight I slowly walked back to my hotel. The meet-up was 11.30 next day so I had plenty of time to sleep.
I love the smell of Mango IPA in the morning (photo by Erik Olstad)
The next day I got up around 9 AM to have an amazing breakfast. I don't know how the breakfast was at the main hotel but mine was tier 1. Bought some more Mango IPA and randomly met Erik and Erik outside the main hotel. After getting some Paracetamol one of the Erik's joined me drinking a Hansa Mango IPA (I really should be sponsored by them!). The organizers had set up for us to be picked up at 11.30 AM. A 16-man minibus picked us up and we drove up to Spiralen. This is most likely the weirdest ride I have taken in my whole life. You reach the top of the mountain by driving through a spiral tunnel up the mountain. I felt a bit nauseous and you couldn't really feel if you are going up or down.
The view from the site on Saturday
As it was great weather this day there was a big crowd of random tourists watching the view, and what a view it was! The best view I've ever had during a Magic tournament and I wonder if there is some Magic tournament, that ever had a better view? During the tournament there were some bikers enjoying a coffee break at the restaurant on the top (we had only booked half the restaurant). The bikers of course had vests and patches standing in line with me and Mitja with our old school vests, wonder what the hell they thought about us?
As per tradition I always try to play the decks that have been featured on Monster of the week (listen to the episode here) and this tournament it was time to try out Stebbo's wic0n-winning deck I named Triple S. It's a well-oiled machine that can close out games quick. I have cast a fair amount of disenchants, swords and counterspells and played a lot of angels, lions, and weird fish.
My choice of deck was Stebbo's winc0n-winning deck
As usual there is not going to be any in-game analysis of the games. It's just boring to me. But you will probably find my round 4-6 on Farmstead YouTube channel later as I sat on table one for those matches. To keep the story short, I finished the Swiss 6-0 and lost only one game against The Deck. All opponents were great, and no one went sour from losing (or at least they didn't show it).
Round 1: 2-0 versus Twiddle Vault Hybrid (Amund Resell)
Round 2: 2-0 versus Robots-Transform Fliers (Tomas Bjorkhaug)
Round 3: 2-0 versus Mono Black (Erik Henriksen)
Round 4: 2-0 versus BB-8 (Roy Henrik Sundbye)
Round 5: 2-1 versus The Deck (Simon Gauti Rokkjer)
Round 6: 2-0 versus Disharmony Valley (Ole Rustad)
After round 3 we got lunch/dinner which was an extremely tasty goulash soup with fresh bread. You could also go for seconds if you wanted that. I must say that this tournament is extremely well run, included in the fee was transport both ways and food. I don't mind paying a bit extra to get everything arranged and don't have to think about what to eat and how to get to and from the site. Daniel and Erland did an amazing job all weekend, but I wouldn't expect anything else from these guys.
The venue was a café/restaurant on top of a mountain
The deck performed extremely well, and I never really got punished for the weakness of the deck (the bad mana base, being able to cast t1 lion and t2 counterspell). It's also extremely fun to play and you can often take different routes and sideboard into a more controlling version by removing lions. As much as I love Troll Disco as a deck, I think it's a bit hard to keep winning against all those 12 bolt decks and The Deck with it. If I want to spike and not play 12-bolt this Triple S deck is something I probably will play quite often.
The unique two-player mat for the winner
Before the top 8 there was a small award ceremony. Berntsson got a Beta Gloom for finishing last place, Simon Adebisi (how do you keep that hat on your head?) got something for finishing ninth and KungMarkus son Elliot got a prize for best newcomer. I think Sweden has some problems with regrowth in the OS scene but bringing in your kids might be the way to go. Elliot playing white weenie walking around the venue like a pro and talking to everyone. He came up to me and asked, "Are you Åland?". Hope to see Elliot at more events going forward! Selling your Pokemon cards might be the best thing ever.
Best newcomer was Elliot surrounded by organizers Daniel and Erland (Photo by KungMarkus)
As I had been featured three rounds in a row on the feature table I got to play outside of the camera. The quarter finals were a rematch against Ole Rustad who I beat in the last round of the swiss. He asked if we should play without Mind Twist and Library. If someone asks me to play gentleman's I have never turned down that offer. The game was a bloodbath and Ole managed to beat me 2-1 after dealing exactly the amount of damage to me the turn before he would die. There is really not much to do, Ole is a great guy and he has been building his spicy deck with Disharmony and Diamond Valley for some time. And if I hadn't lost there wouldn't have been a single Norwegian player in the top 4.
We played the QF with gentleman's rules
The top 8 was full of well-known players, n00bcon veterans and shark winners. Last time I finished 6-0 in the Swiss at Viennageddon Tryge also made top 8. I can go with this that when I'm playing a tournament with Trygve I finish 6-0 and he gets into the top 8. I didn't watch the other top 8 games. Kalle managed to win yet another tournament, I told Ole that it's better to lose the quarter finals than the finals. There is nothing that feels more sucky than to lose a final.
The final top 8 bracket
I got to hang out with Erland and Team Tron-Simon after the tournament. It's always good to spend some time humble and nice guys. Didn't have so much time to hang out with Øyvind during the tournament so at least now we could do some drinking and planning the upcoming tournaments with Trygve and Thomas. We all know that playing Magic is the worst part of going on to a Magic tournament. Seems like more people already are getting hyped for Lobstercon!
Hanging out with my friend Blazer! (photo by Blazer)
At midnight the restaurant closed, and I got a ride in a car that took me straight outside my hotel. I listened to an episode of ATC before I went to sleep. I got a good eight hours sleep and took it really slow on Sunday. I got home around 7PM and had quite some time to unpack my stuff and watch some TV series before going to sleep.
Sunday breakfast, this was just amazing
My legacy cards (with an expensive throw-in) got me my third extra unlimited mox. I think I'm still going for an extra pearl but skipping sapphire as I would have to get ancestral, and time walk to make that count for something. KungMarkus offered me the OG white bordered Strip Mine from MGs old White Weenie deck for two beers (one to him and one to MG). The Pestilence was my prize card, and I will probably play that at BSK, which is my next stop on the IRL tournament schedule. But before that Charles Klein's online tournament Oktoberfestcon.
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