After watching LOBSTERCON 2022 from the sidelines as both a Premodern and Old School player, I could not pass over the opportunity to participate in potentially one of the largest tournaments for each of my two favourite formats. I was ready to cash in all the family credit I’d accumulated over the pandemic.
My first international event was Eternal Weekend 2018, which I’d attended without knowing anyone — I’m an extravert, I managed. This event would be different. I have gotten to know so many players over the course of the pandemic through webcam tournaments and Discord discussions that I was prepared to go solo because I knew I’d be surrounded by friends. (Bonus: Four lovely Ottawa locals also attended!)
Knowing how fast the European Premodern Championship filled up, I took a 5-minute pause during a work-related call (their fault, the call went into the lunch hour) to refresh the webform on registration day. It is with pride that I say I was the fastest person to complete the registration form: a testament to my enthusiasm.
The drive down
I decided to drive so I would be fully in control of my schedule. Despite filling my playlist with modern pop and indie songs, the first song to play which set the mood was Bran Van 3000’s Drinking in L.A.: a song from 1997. The very nostalgic song for me references to “drinking in L.A. at 26 [years old])” and now I long for the days when I thought someone who is 26 was old.
I drove 4 hours Thursday night to Berlin, Vermont, and finished the drive Friday morning. The sunset in Eastern Ontario and the sunrise in Vermont were breathtaking, and easily the best parts of the drive. Driving in Vermont at night was a little scary given the numerous Watch out for moose signs. Thankfully, I made it out alive with no damage apart from a car that looked like it drove through an Ornithopter tribal deck. I find a gas station well-stocked with Vermont IPAs 10 minutes before they legally must stop selling beer.
I arrived at our AirBnB a short walk to the event with 2 hours to spare — just enough time to meet my housemates IRL for the first time: Simon, Ty, Svante, and Will. Someone else referred to our AirBnB as the Spike House — I’d agree with that.
Day 1 – Premodern
I didn’t want to stray too far from what I was comfortable with (GW Prison Oath, GW Threshclysm). I chose my deck based on these objectives:
- I needed to be familiar with it.
- I needed time in between rounds to socialize – no 50-minute games.
- Good matchups versus expected meta: Sligh, Goblins, Stiflenought, Elves
I decided on a mix of my two favourite decks and put it through a monthly webcam tournament before LOBSTERCON. I present Angels and Lhurgoyfs:
More thoughts on the choice:
- The creatures are a clock versus combo.
- Strong main deck answers mean a lot of room in the sideboard for attacking Premodern’s varied deck axes.
- Having creatures I’m able to cast means less reliance on Oath of Druids.
- The main deck tutor-ofs can be fiddled with depending on expected metagame.
Unsurprisingly, this pile of good cards did well. (Note: I’m doing my best to recall the matches so some details might be slightly off.)
Round 1: GW Threshgeddon – 2-1
- Game 1: He answered an early Oath and ran me over with Mongeese (Nimble Mongoose) and sealed it with an Armageddon.
- Game 2 and 3: A lot of back-and-forth as we trade and fight to remove each other’s Terravores.
- Overall: Very fair games of Magic versus Gregg.
- Noteworthy play: Gregg casted Cataclysm when he had a Terravore and I had an Oath, Angel, and other odds and ends out. A monster Terravore would seal the game for him so I animated a Mishra’s Factory and chose that as my creature. It paid off as my Oath of Druids gave me with a Terravore of equal strength my next upkeep.
Round 2: Sligh – 2-0
- Game 1 and 2: Nick keeps a 1-lander both games and pays for it.
- Overall: Burn players: Mulligan your 1-landers! (Aaron Dicks agrees)
Round 3: Landstill – 0-2
- Game 1 and 2: Brian was always 1 step ahead and my clocks weren’t strong enough to push through.
- Overall: Tough matchup though there is some solace in knowing Brian went on to win the event.
Round 4: UW Replenish – 0-2
- Game 1 and 2: Manny played very tight and was in control both games with a quick combo in both.
- Overall: This matchup felt utterly hopeless. Ottawa local Pat suggested splashing Blue for Meddling Mages in the sideboard and I really like that.
Round 5: UG Oath Control – 2-1
- Game 1 and 2: I forget the specifics on this one. I believe Brian beat me down with Ravenous Baloths in one game, and I smacked him with Angels and Lhurgoyfs in the other.
- Game 3: This one had a lot of back-and-forth. Despite seeing Baloths Games 1 and 2, I refused to play Cursed Totem. I needed to address the problem (Oath) because I knew I could be stronger than the Oaths. A hard-cast, sandbagged Decree of Justice Angel gives me the evasion I needed to get there.
- Overall: My biggest advantage this match was Brian overthinking what was going on in my deck.
Round 6: UB Psychatog – 2-1
- Game 1: Petr tries to push through with Psychatog after an Oath and comes just 1 damage short on the crack-back. I did lose a critical spell to a main-deck Force Spike.
- Game 2: Despite being well ahead on board, I did not chump his attacking Psychatog with a Mishra’s Factory. It kills me.
- Game 3: I chew away at Petr’s graveyard with Phyrexian Furnace and brick his Psychatogs with Cursed Totem. Eventually my creatures bring it home.
- Overall: I didn’t think to ask but I suspect my opponent may not have had Duress in their deck. These would have put in a lot of work because I feel I got through the match by overwhelming his counter-magic.
- Petr also mentioned he was losing his voice. Foreshadowing, maybe?
Round 7: UG Madness – 2-1
- Game 1: Justin gets horribly stuck on just Blue after a Turn 1 Careful Study doesn’t get him Green mana. I stick enough threats and outnumber his counter-magic and his Aquamoeba to push through.
- Game 2: Given the mana troubles and the shaky Game 1 keep, I don’t put Justin on Survival of the Fittest. So obviously, Game 2, I don’t have removal for his Survival and he mows me down.
- Game 3: I am more prepared for Survival and I stall him long enough to pull ahead on board.
- Overall: I was expecting this deck and felt well-prepared for it.
Round 8: Mono U Stiflenought – 2-1
- Game 1 and 3: Robert could not find a Phyrexian Dreadnought to save his life. His counter-magic was used against my creatures so it was my man-lands who did most of the work.
- Game 2: This was the ideal game for Robert. Early combo with counter-magic backup.
- Overall: I enjoy this match-up because I have both proactive threats and reactive answers that the opponent needs to address.
What a rollercoaster ride. Going from 2-0 to 2-2 and finishing 6-2 was exhilarating. Every opponent was as lovely as the one before them and the matches were just as enjoyable.
I was lucky to finish 15th on tie-breakers which means this beauty of a deck will be immortalized for people to question what was going through my mind when brewing it.
What I would change with the deck
I really like the idea of adding Meddling Mages to the sideboard and having either Meddling Mages or Oath of Druids in your main. Mage would excel in the match-ups where Oath comes out (Parfait, Replenish, Stasis, and other combo decks).
At this point, I start to feel a tickle in my throat and have itty bitty intermittent coughs. Talking is a little more difficult. I don’t think too much of it and enjoy the first inaugural introductory game of Cards Against Old School. I created, in secret, a 234-card Cards Against Humanity set that highlights the quirks, subtleties, history, and annoyances of the Old School community. Ten sets were printed.
Laughs were shared as we relived the dingusery of years past. I eventually retire to bed early because of how sticky I was from the very hot and humid day.
Day 2 – Old School
I get up early and drink tea to help my ever-worsening voice. Following doctor orders, I go for a walk to explore Boston and Svante joins me.
In the middle of a lovely chat and completely coincidentally (not kidding), we stumble upon this glorious pizza joint. On theme, indeed.
We get back and head out for breakfast. I have my first avocado toast to give my brain the good fats it needs to make good decisions. Verdict: Not great, Bob. Everyone else’s breakfast looked and tasted better.
I expected everyone to bring their A-game (and they did) so I was expecting top tables would be full of Workshops and The Deck. I wasn’t wrong, but I also wasn’t at the top tables.
The deck I chose follows Ryan Rudolph’s deck from last year with a few modifications.
The Red Elemental Blast was a hasty addition that CLEARLY WAS NOT THOUGHT THROUGH. I’m so used to playing 4-colour decks that I just added it without even looking at my mana. Please judge me accordingly.
I never expect to do well in Old School because of how swing-y the restricted cards are, so with that in mind…
Round 1: UBR Disco Troll – 1-2
- Game 1: This is Bill’s first Old School tournament game. He got to see what Recall, Ancestral Recall, and looping Time Walk and Timetwister looks like. What a lovely introduction to Old School.
- Game 2 and 3: Bill is too fast for me. He claws ahead on cards and board presence and I can’t keep up against his fierce Sedge Trolls.
Round 2: Pink Weenie – 2-1
- Game 1: Tim comes out fast with creatures and I can’t keep up.
- Game 2 and 3: These two games blur together for me. In one, I read through Jayemdae Tome enough times to put my opponent asleep, in the other, my opponent ran out of removal and Serra Angel stuck around and finished the game.
Voice update: By now, my voice is getting worse and worse…
Round 3: UWb Midrange – 2-1
- Game 1: Jay and I trade resources for several turns. He turns a corner and gets ahead on cards and all he needed was a Su-chi and a Icy Manipulator to clear the way to finish the job.
- Game 2: A lot of cards were drawn and countered. I get control of this game with Jayemdae Tome but do not have what it takes to finish it, yet. I plan for the mill win. Seeing the writing on the wall, Jay concedes.
- Game 3: This was a fast game that I don’t remember too well. IIRC Jay was behind on mana and I had a great start.
Now, it’s lobster roll time.
Voice update: Annnnnnnnnnnnnd it’s gone.
Round 4: UBR Disco Troll – 2-1
- Game 1 and 2: I don’t remember which is which: I win one of these games and in the other, I am fighting for my life as Xanadude tries to find a single piece of burn that won’t get countered. Eventually, he pushes a burn spell through after a lot of counter-magic.
- Game 3: We both play quickly but this one still goes to time.
- Orb flips: Xanadude proposes we flip Orb hockey shoot-out style. Being a Canadian and knowing what he’s talking about, I oblige. I quickly flip my 3 Orbs and hit 3 times. Xanadude misses his first.
Voice update: By now, I have to communicate in writing with my opponents. Talking is almost impossible and I’m barely audible in a room with 250 people.
Round 5: Lion-Stone-Rain-Bolt – 1-2
- Game 1 and 3: Library of Alexandria pulls Stephen ahead in both of these games. With no Strip Mine to answer it, the writing was on the wall.
- Game 2: I won this one and I think it was because Stephen had mulliganed enough for it to make a difference.
Round 6: UW Midrange (Lauter) – 2-1
- Game 1: An unanswered Mahamoti Djinn takes over the game between Karl and I.
- Game 2: Karl won, but I don’t remember how.
- Game 3: This game featured a lot of Jayemdae Tome activations, which carry me to victory.
Round 7: Arabian Aggro – 1-2
- Game 1: Turn 2 or 3 Mahamoti Djinn and a few counterspells win me the game.
- Game 2: Michael lands an early Sylvan Library and I can’t keep up with the pressure. Argothian Pixies run me down while my City in a Bottle does nothing.
- Game 3: This was a replay of Game 2 without the Library. Argothian Pixies get MVP.
Round 8: Lion-Dib-Bolt Atog – 2-1
- Game 1: Being out of Top 16, I keep a trash hand of all white spells, Mox Sapphire, and Ancestral Recall on the draw. Tim plays Volcanic Island and Mox Sapphire. Annnnnnnd, Tim has the Counterspell for my Recall and I scoop soon afterwards showing him no other cards.
- Game 2: I board in City in a Bottle, again, playing very loose since I’m out of Top 16 and putting him very likely on Serendib Efreet. He mulls to 5 and my Bottle takes care of an Efreet and a Mind Twist makes him concede.
- Game 3: Tim quickly sides out cards and I side out of my Bottles. I find out later that my hunch was correct and he had sided out his Efreets. This was a long grind with a lot of back and forth. Eventually, the burn spells dry up and I take over the game.
What a great day of Magic. I finish 35th out of 196 people. Though I didn’t face Shops or The Deck, my deck did what I wanted it to do.
While I wasn’t able to stay up as late as I would have wanted (not being able to speak as an extravert is a death sentence), I did still have a lot of fun. My cup is full. You’re all such a swell bunch and I look forward to seeing you next year.
As for my voice, I woke up the next day being unable to speak. I prepared answers to commonly asked questions by border agents and mentally prepared myself for being sent to secondary inspection where dogs would sniff my every crevice.
Now, a day and a half after the tournament, I’m still at 50% but at least it’s getting better.