Ignite the spark – Raging Bull tournament report

Hi there, another Old School tournament is now in the books, this time it took place in Amsterdam, the first Raging Bull Series organized by Jimmy and Richard. The usual partner in crime Carl couldn’t make it but I reserved 2 slots, one for me and one for my 14y old son Gaston (child #3). Lorenzo was going to but on his own with the Fishliver crew. I planned to stay overnight with him and give him as short tour of the city, I am sure I’d enjoy the sightseeing as I didn’t visit Amsterdam for over 20 years, despite coming in the area several times for work.

I finally got to do some testing, first with Lorenzo at his place with his first version of Twiddlevault and some pauper games. I then played online games vs Simon and Nick, streaming both times, an experiment I want to replicate in the near future (https://twitch.tv/herculesosmtg/ shameless plug I know).

The day before the event my son came back home with a shitload of homework and two tests on monday so he had to bail out, I considered telling me he still had to come with me but I was afraid it would be bad parenting and setting a wrong example, so instead I offered child number 4, known to the Universe as Evan, 9 years old to take his place and he was super pumped with the Idea. Evan has been playing a little bit for a few months and from time to time we go to a small magic club where the atmosphere is super casual to play in standard showdowns, so he had at least a little experience of Mtg tournaments.

But he never touched or read an old school card prior the tournament. To make things worse we had a birthday party the friday evening so all I could do was to give him a crash course on the road on the cards in his deck, I had planned a Mono Black deck for Gaston but I felt maybe Mono Red would be better since it is what he played last week to a 2-2 5th place result (out of 14). Unfortunately my Swedish legal cards stock decided against it as I only had one Ball Lightning from the Dark or one Ydwen Efreet… Back to mono black then, I built it and had no time left to build a deck for me if I wanted to get any sleep, so I settled on The Deck, as we playtested it with Nick, small hesitation on the sideboard, went with 2 Ivory Tower

No problem on the road, we reached the parking advised by the organizers and are about to leave the parking lot to take the tram to the tournament location, as promised I was bringing 2 frames to the Cramer brothers from N00bcon, I was so focused on the tram to get, watching over my son and the frames that I forgot I left my backpack with the decks in the car! Luckily I only walked 50 meters so I hurried to get it and we entererd the tram as he was about to leave, Richard was texting us asking where we were and I assured him we were almost there, luckily the italiens managed to be even more late so I had plenty of time to register, take deck pictures and arrange with the organizers that I’d play next to my son all day as he needed a translator and since he didn’t know most of the cards of the format I knew it would be a lot of work. Knowing that, in retrospect, I should have selected another deck for myself, live and learn.

5 rounds + top 8 so 4-1 should do it.

Round 1 Peter on The deck

I manage to fail my Chaos Flip on his Library early on, luckily I can Recall the Chaos Orb and succesfully destroyed his Library. When I am in the control of the game I get a little too aggressive to go up to 7 cards and don’t play my Strip Mine and end up losing it to his Mind Twist. Turns out it is a big deal as I can’t finish him off and end up being decked with no time left on the clock… The attention my son required turned out too bit a bit disruptive but that’s on me!


0 points

My son lost to Florian, game one he started with turn 1 Dark Ritual Hypnotic but I point out he had 5 cards left in hand, so he has to reshuffle and draw another 7, luckily for him he had the same opening, it didn’t matter much as Florian dispatched him fairly easily. Somewhere in the second game my son passed before realizing he had a play to make, being a perfect gentleman Florian didn’t let him take it back, sure he’ll never learn if people let him take back mistakes all the time but I think it was wrong, especially since it was a virtual bye that he got.

So we are both on 0 points, hopefully we don’t play each other! Oh, and I have to win out to top 8…

Round 2 Sander on RB Sedge Troll

Not my son, good! I recognize Sander from previous Dutch tournament coverage as I had one of his RB Troll Disco deck in my deckpics folder, he seemed surprised that people collect decklist. As expected he was on Black Red Troll Disco :), we trade plow and sink hole for our Mishras, as I use my lotus to play a book he also destroys a Tundra to keep me low on mana. With a Balance I get rid of a Sedge Troll, have him discard 2 cards and destroy a land, he keeps a Demonic Tutor and I keep a Regrowth. He tutors for a Wheel of Fortune and I am glad I can counter the Mind Twist for 6 on the next turn! My Mishras start to do their job while I manage the board with Swords to Plowshares, when I play a Braingeyser for 6 I know the game is in the bag.

Game 2 He goes turn 2 sink hole, turn 3 gloom, turn 4 sink hole, luckily I play my Library after this and on turn 5 he plays gloom number 2. I blue blast a Sedge Troll and counter his Gloom number 3 then start drawing from my library, the Gloom only prevent me from playing a Serra but don’t do much more. I end up winning on the back of my Library to be perfectly honest.

So 2-0, 1-1.

Evan was playing Koos with a Time Vault/Animate Artifact/Instill Energy combo and lost horribly despite a first turn Sengir Vampire.

Not taking it too well…

He then had a meltdown, crying, stating the combo was unfair and his combos aren’t as strong… We get out, he get a Coca-Cola (#notsponsored) while I explain him that instead of finding this unfair he should be in awe that the game allows for such broken things and admire that. Luckily this pep talk turns his head around and he enjoyed the rest of his day, whatever the outcome. Oh to be 9 years old!

Round 3 vs the legendary Jason Schwartz

I read a lot about him prior to our match so it felt I was playing someone I knew while we never really met, I remember I saw him playing against my friend Carl on the ABU block tournament in Gothenburg, but as I was really tired, using power sink to counter Chaos Orb activation or shuffling my lands while resolving a timetwister I have some excuses to not engage then!

Jason was on RGu Atog, with Ice Storms

Game 1 I play a balance on turn 3 so we have 0 creature and 1 card, my card is an Ancestral, I then use a Recall to get the Ancestrall again, really fair… I play a tome and use it while he gets some Ice Storms, my Mishras take it from there.

Game 2 is another story as he opens with a turn 1 Vise and I have no Mox in sight, things get worse when he adds an Ankh on turn 2, sure I disenchant his Vise and Divine Offering his Ankh but I start the game at 12 life. He then plays an Ancestral and an Atog before refueling with a wheel of fortune, I plow the Tog and play an Ivory Tower after which he plays 2 ankhs, then a blood Moon and a pair of Black Vises, when he Crumbles my Tower the game/blood bath is over.

Before game 3 I gamble and side all the blue cards out except for ancestral and Time Walk as my side was already full, to avoid having cards rotting in hand under Vise, so I side in everything except for the 3 red blasts.

I start with a land mox time walk (good I only have one card left that he can REB), his starts with Ancestral and Crumble  on the mox, his first Ankh is met with a divine offering, he uses his Chaos Orb on my 1st tower and plays two Ankhs, I get to kill his 2 Mishras. Then he plays a Wheel of Fortune as it turns out his hand is 2 useless Red Blast, I terror his birds of Paradise and all of a sudden he’s low on mana. I want to Disenchant his Vise but he has his sideboard technology of Avoid Fate, luckily I proceed to play mana rocks and a Serra, my City in a Bottle aggravates his mana issues so he has to play lands and proceed to take 8 damages from his Ankhs while I took zero so I am still at 20 life. He plays a second Vise and plays a Timetwister and a Third Vise, I play a disenchant in the upkeep, and drop to 16, as he’s at 10 thanks to the Ankhs I simply Attack and Fireball him for the win., the plan worked 🙂

My son was paired against Lorenzo and gets his first match win, match, not game 🙂

2-1 and 2-1 overall

Round 4 Jasper Boelens playing Mono Black

My opponent is on the play and I am delighted to find a Library on the top of my… library (hahaha I’m so clever). Unfortunately Jasper has the sink hole the same way I have a disenchant for his Mishra, a plow for his specter and more importantly counterspells for his Mind Twist, Underworld Dreams and Disk. His Greed is disenchanted and I reload thanks to a recall that lets me trade excess lands for a Disenchant and a Counterspell. I strip his Library and finally turn the advantage bar on my side when I play 2 tomes and play a Balance with 1 card in hand, my recalled counterspell if you recall (I’m on a roll here). He plays an Underworld Dreams which I counter and he concedes as I have 2 books.

Game 2 he plays an early sink hole but I have enough lands,  he plays 2 specters in a row but I plow them both so he’s at 24 when he can resolve a Greed and I manage to topdeck my Ancestral which provides me with a Disenchant and a Serra. The Serra is met by a Maze of Ith and I use the Disenchant on a Mishra. I draw my Strip Mine and my Serra is now available to hit, he doesn’t find any answer with his Greed and I win.

2-0, 3-1 so win and in next round.

My son drew against Brinn in a mono black mirror match so he’s 1-1-2

Round 5 Maarten Buhler

Maarten is really active and I meet him at almost each tournament I go to, it is always a pleasure to talk to him and I finally get the chance to play him. He came with an almost singelton deck (and won the Spice award).

Maarten is on the play and my only lands are 2 Cities of Brass, I keep my hand as it also contains a Lotus and an Ancestral, yet my start is slow but I find my Library in the first cards I draw, Maarten proceeds to an emergency Mind Twist of 3, nagging a recall, a tome and a plow, luckily I also have a regrowth so I can get my Ancsetral back and abuse my Library right away, he plays a Sol Kanar and i’m glad I have a plow for the Swamp King. I then hit a pocket of cards that do nothing. We have a strange moment when Maarten plays a Time Walk, looks at me, I say it resolves and then he wants to fork it, I am a bit surprised and explain him this is not how it is done and this is where playing on Arena or Mtgo helps to understand how the timing exactly works, I have a Mana Drain and could counter some of that action if I want but in the end I let the 2 resolve, I see a Mahamoti and a Shivan being played and it is awesome, well as long as I have the answers which I do thanks to the cards advantage provided by the library, he eventually dies to some Mishras.

I don’t recall much of the second game except that I had a pair of tomes and that I gained a lot of life of Ivory tower despite Maarten playing and resolving a Mind Twist for 7! I suspect I had a Serra out as my notes show he dropped from 17 to 13, 9,5 and 1 before dying.

2-0? 4-1, good enough for top 8 as 3rd seed baby!

Quarter finals vs Malte playing a very aggressive RG deck

Malte was as happy as he was surprised to be in the top 8 apparently, he picked up Old School not so long ago and seems to enjoy it and the community a lot.

I didn’t have time to take much notes as the games were super fast and alas for me super quickly over. I never was close to contain his aggressive draws, game 1 his turn one was land mox Lotus, Sylvan and 2 elves and then he wisely chose to pay life for cards. Worth mentioning is that I managed to make things worse by failing a second flip of the day!

During playtesting with Nick we talked about the difficulty to handle swarm decks and this was the perfect illustration, maybe a pair of Earthquake in the board could help.

At least this lets me see my son play in the pauper side event, piloting my red green deck with some success as he reached the finals (but one of his opponents -Wouter I think- let him win to be perfectly honest). Before the finals Simon asked me if he should let him but I insist he plays it fair and square. Simon wins and I am pleasantly surprised that my sons takes it very well. 

Feeling much better!

He received a Black Lotus playmat for his efforts (thanks guys it really made his day!) He finished 37th out of 46, grabbing a win and a draw in the main event so this is an excellent result considering he doesn’t know the format, what cards to expect to face, what he could/should play around and basicaly doesn’t know what the vast majority of the cards do.

Lorenzo got also spoiled for finishing dead last, I thought I should mention it once more 🙂

The only thing I regret is that I couldn’t hang out as much with other players during the day as I was quite busy with my son.

We then go out for a celebration dinner at the nearby -excellent- burger joint

The champion’s reward

We finally get back to the car to… sleep as I wanted to test an accessory from work, a tent to sleep above your car (and a picture taken at home in daylight to help visualize).

I just didn’t pay attention that I parked under railways as I parked next to the train station (remember we were in a hurry…) but we are so tired we aren’t bothered, we have a good night sleep, meet Lorenzo after he dropped the Fishliver crew and do some sightseeing together and my son has the high point of his weekend according to his power ranking:

Ah the simple joys of a 9 years old!

We finally head back home and I arrive at the polling station 4 minutes before it closes so I can cast my vote and be a good citizen!

And that was our Raging Bull weekend. My son’s first and already not last Old School tournament, but this is a tale for my next report.



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