– a DWARVEN WARRIORS IV report by Evert Visser
It is August 7th 2021. I park my car across the street from Erwin’s house and a feeling of giddiness creeps up on me. This is a day I have been looking forward to for months now.
Time has become a bit of a relative or peculiar thing these days. On the one hand it seems like only yesterday we met up in Erwin’s backyard, while at the same time it feels like an eternity ago... Anyhow, today is the day, DW4 has arrived.
Upon entering I see so many of the faces I missed this past year that I’m a bit overwhelmed. Where to start? I want to talk to all these guys, catch up on good stories, drink a few beers and play some games with the cards we love so much. There won’t be enough hours in this day to do everything I want, but I know I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. I make my round and say hi to everyone and soon realize, much to my joy, that despite all these months having passed by some things do not change.
Before I get into my adventures on the day, I’d first like to tell the story on how I got to the deck I played.
If there was one thing 2020 gave us a lot of it was time to think. Normally I don’t really prepare all that much for a tournament but one of the fun things about Dwarven Warriors is that it is all about the journey. A large part of the fun is the chase for AB cards. It is a true celebration of the game and the beauty of old cardboard. We spend a year to work towards the deck we want to play, either by thinking about what cards to put in our deck, or on how to acquire them.
It was November of 2020 when I decided I was going to “break” Rock Hydra in DW4 in 2021.
Rock Hydra as a card represents pretty much everything I love about the AB format. The art is beautiful and iconic, the textbox reads like a good book and the card oozes flavor. The perfect card to build yourself an Old School bucket list for. My bucket list ended up something like this:
- Kill somebody with a Rock Hydra.
- Grow multiple heads on a Hydra during my upkeep.
- Laugh in the face of “weenies” such as Lord of the Pit and Force of Nature.
- Dazzle and impress my opponents with the mighty (rules text on) Rock Hydra.
Despite its epic-ness, Rock Hydra can use all the help it can get. Mana Flare is an obvious inclusion if you want to make big hydras, but not the safest card to play in a format where most players pack drain life and fireballs. But with some counter magic, forks and restricted cards I was confident I could make it work.
Only problem was I that in November of 2020 I owned 0 Rock Hydras and 0 Mana Flares. And so the journey got a goal to work towards.
In the end I settled on this list, solid as a rock (hydra) if you ask me:
As a rule, all creatures in the deck had to have multiple heads. Two Headed Giants seemed fitting companions for my Hydra’s instead of for instance other icons like Shivan Dragon. I thought about playing Vesuvan Doppelganger, as it kind of has multiple heads, but the utter and complete dyssynergy with Rock Hydra made me leave it out.
On the morning of the event, I changed the 4th Mana Flare into a Demonic Tutor, breaking my own rule of only playing 2 color decks in AB, which I justify to myself by understanding how special this event is. Having access to black also allowed me to put a Mind Twist in my sideboard, for those players who end up Mind Twisting me in game 1.
Now on to the games:
Round 1: Henk - RG Aggro
Henk has done a lot for the OS community in COVID times, starting an online league for the Dutch community early 2020, which quickly grew to international fame. By now one could wonder who hasn’t played with his ODOL?
Henk is also a very good player and all-round awesome guy, so I could not have asked for a better person to start tournament with.
Game 1: Henk packs a lot of land destruction which is not really what I want to see in my slow mana intensive deck.
We go back and forth for a while where in the end Two Headed Giants do some work allowing me to finish it off with a large X spell.
Game 2: I drop a Mana Flare hoping to make it to the next turn, in which I could close the game. I’m at a healthy 17 life so what is the worst that can happen?!
Well, a Berserked Juggernaut (10), a Bolt (3) and a “Flared” Disintegrate (5) to finish it off! Epic conclusion of the game.
Game 3: The one for all the marbles. Henk bolts me, I bolt him, just to make a point. Henk takes a moment to do some counting, I put on my best poker face, and this happens:
Forking a Lethal Channel Fireball for the win! Is it going to be that kind of a day? It will probably be hard to top this today…
I win 2-1.
Round 2: Ron - Red Black Control
Ron is a really good player and a force to be reckoned with. He made it to the finals last year and has played a lot of online Magic in the past 1.5 years and putting up amazing results in the process. The highlight of which was reaching the finals in this year’s Summer Derby! Scheduled the Wednesday after DW, making all of us in the Dutch OS community proud.
But obviously this also means we had to teach him some humility and keep him grounded.
Game 1 is a quick one. Ron starts off with a turn 2 Shivan Dragon powered out through a Sol Ring and a Black Lotus. Pretty epic stuff, not much I can do about that. On to game 2.
Game 2: Ron has a reputation of being the most avid Mind Twister around. I especially put a Mind Twist in my sideboard for the off-chance I would face Ron.
Well that plan worked out: I draw my 7 and go land, Lotus, Mind Twist turn on 1, telling him “this is what it feels like Ron”, to the great enjoyment of the table. Ron took it with grace but did not recover.
I durdle a bit and eventually end up doing this:
Forking my Time Walk and playing Timetwister all in the same turn allows me the extra turns/time to win off a 5/5 and 8/8 Rock Hydra! Old School Bucket list material.
Game 3: As if 1 time was not enough to teach him a lesson, I got to Mind Twist Ron again in this game! This time even with an additional Mox. He also Mind Twisted me later in the game, valiantly defending his title as the Mind Twist King, but only for 2 cards. A Two Headed Giant and an X spell finish the game.
Just two rounds in and this day is already momentous!
I win 2-1.
Round 3: Edo - UW Control
Edo is the Spice King of our community, but even a Spice King will spike every now and again. Edo is on a fully powered UW control list; this should be interesting.
Game 1: Edo starts with a turn 1 Serra Angel. I’m getting flashbacks to the previous match, but well, at least it was not a Shivan Dragon. I take some hits but power out an X spell to stop the Angel, which gets countered. I take another hit and try again to burn the Angel to a crisp, but again Edo has the answer to my answer. Fireworks!
Game 2: As all my win conditions are Red (with the expectation of Braingeyser I guess) I really fear white decks. A COP Red pretty much messes up my plans, hence the 2 Sleight of Minds in my sideboard.
It turns out Edo indeed plays COP Red, a full playset actually! I counter the first COP but Edo lands a second one. Which eventually I can turn into a COP Green to burn him out.
Game 3: Again Edo drops an early COP. My first Sleight is stopped in a counter battle, so only 1 bullet left in the deck. Here is where books and blue power can really shine. I dig for the right cards and manage to Fork my Time Walk and Time Twister all in the same turn (again!). I even drew the Time Walk again from my new Timetwister hand, so I eventually took 3 extra turns. This allows me the opening to make his COP Red a COP Green and burn him out.
I win 2-1.
Round 4: Dyan - Lion Dib Bolt
Dyan is the official “End Boss” of Dwarven Warriors, having won both DW2 and DW3. Basically, it is a long-standing tradition that Dyan wins DW, the rest of us just play for second place.
His first two wins were achieved piloting Mono Black, but this year Dyan is not messing around. He plays an aggressive, fully powered deck with Geddons in the side. Pretty much all things my slow, mana intensive deck with somewhat limited wincons does not want to see.
It is always a pleasure to play against Dyan and playing him pretty much guarantees intense games. I do not recollect all the details of the specific games anymore, other than me Forking my Mind Twist into 2 Mind Twists for 5, just to be safe. Against Dyan you don’t want to take any chances... But we played 3 interesting and close games, where Armageddon did a lot of work.
I lose 1-2.
Round 5: Mari - Mono Black
Mari is one of the Godfathers of Old School in The Netherlands, THE Knight of Thorn, so it was awesome to finish of the Swiss rounds playing him. He always runs a smooth operation when running a tournament, today was no exception.
Game 1: I was able to answer his turn 1 Hippie with a Time Walk and X spell and keep off his beaters long enough to land a Two Headed Giant which did a lot of work.
Game 2: The choice to splash black turns out to have a downside! Bog Wraiths do some work! Mari Mind Twists me but I have a Fork and Counterspell. I use Control Magic to take his Hippie and manage to pull out the win.
I win 2-0.
Quarter finals: Ron (yet again).
Erwin announces the pairings and Ron is out for blood! He is eager for revenge after our epic games in the Swiss.
Game 1: We go back and forth for a while. I land a Mana Flare after which Ron Mind Twists me. Fortunately, I have a Fork. So not only have I Mind Twisted him twice with my Mind Twist, but I also now get to Twist him with his own Mind Twist! I’m clearly coming for his title.
We both end up empty handed. After which I have the best topdeck of the day (or maybe even the year): my Braingeyser! I draw 8 with the extra Flare mana and win the game soon after.
Game 2: Ron is still not recovered from my top-deck. He unfortunately gets stuck on mana early in the game allowing me to proceed to the semifinals.
Semifinals: Juan - RB Vise Burn
After the Swiss we had an amazing buffet dinner which I got to enjoy with the Spanish enclave. It is always an absolute joy to sit down with Juan and Purple. And it was a real pleasure to meet Lluís. We discuss football, life and of course Magic.
Upon mentioning Rock Hydra Juan tells me he will immediately scoop if I resolve a Rock Hydra in the top 8 which he cannot answer in the same turn.
And now we get to meet in the top 4.
Juan is playing an aggressive fast Black Vise burn deck with green. A beauty to behold and blazing fast.
Game 1: I have a fairly fast start but get stuck under a turn 1 Black Vise chipping away. After a Wheel and second Vise I’m digging for answers, but do not find them. Juan takes the first game.
Game 2: Post board it gets a lot better for me with my Blue Blasts and Shatters. We play Magic as Garfield intended for a few turns and I end up playing a 7/7 Rock Hydra, reminding him of our dinner discussion with a wink. Juan takes his turn, looks at the top card and wants scoop, as he is a man of his word. I have to convince him to please keep playing, I’m glad he finally agrees to play it out. I’ve ticked off nr. 4 on my bucket list and could not have asked for more.
Turns out a 7/7 Rock Hydra is pretty good, even when facing a mighty Earth Elemental. I take the second game to even things out.
Game 3: We both mulligan if I recall correctly and Juan leads off with a Vise. I have an early Shatter and a fast start. I do not recall the details too clearly, but do remember some misplays on my end regarding Juan tapping down my Mana Vault with an Icy. Having the entire crew cheering us on and joking was awesome, but not necessarily benefits the quality of play. Juan and I continue to exchange jabs and jokes but eventually I can finish him off with a lethal Disintegrate.
After a day filled with pretty epic matches this was maybe the best one for me. Probably because of everyone gathering around the table, joking, shouting, sharing in the fun and the game coming down to face off’s between Giants, Hydra’s, Elementals, Whelps and Gargoyles. Thanks again Juan!
So that leaves the final. When setting the goal to “break” Rock Hydra in November of last year I had never anticipated actually reaching the finals with the deck. Clearly it packs a whole lot of powerful cards and is capable of some really flashy plays. But it is also slow, very mana intensive and a bit light on win-conditions.
All my matches turned out to be super interesting, spectacular or fun, which is pretty much all you can ask for if you ask me. And now, as icing on the cake I get to play the finals against Dyan.
Unfortunately, the finals were not very interesting games.
Game 1 Dyan overwhelms me with a start including 3 Moxen and a Sedge Troll.
I make it my goal to do Hydra damage on camera in the finals, and maybe even grow a few heads. I tap out for a 2/2 Rock Hydra to try and achieve this goal, but lose all my cards, including a Fork and Braingeyser, the following turn due to a Mind Twist. However, I top-deck a Disintegrate! Allowing me to clear the way for my Hydra and swing in for what is probably the most satisfying 2 damage I’ve ever dealt. Life is about enjoying the small victories.
But this small victory was of little significance in the overall war that was the final. The next turn my Hydra catches a Bolt and Dyan closes the game soon thereafter.
Game 2 Dyan powers out a lot of creatures and I can only fry so many to a crisp with my X spells. The rest of the guys have started partying, the music is loud but with some effort I manage to grab everyone’s attention, shouting over the music to announce Dyan (now officially named 3yan) is the winner of DW4! The crowd erupts and we celebrate the conclusion of an amazing day, an event to never forget...
The rest of the evening is filled with music, beer, jokes and singing. And it turns out some powerful wizards also make competent Spice Girls impersonators, gangster rappers and rock stars.
I want to thank Marijke and Erwin, two amazing people, for yet again outdoing themselves in organizing this event. Just when you think it there is no way they can top what they did last year the outdo themselves yet again. I truly feel blessed to have been part of this.
Now all that is left to do is find another card to “break” in DW5!
And so the journey starts anew... ;)
Read all about it in the rules section of AB4K!
Dwarven Warriors #5
Dwarven Warriors #4
5 rounds of swiss, after which we go to top 8.
Round one starts after there is indisputable evidence that Mg has shown any sign of life.
Tournament ends after the last man can either no longer stand up straight or keep his eyes open.
Dwarven Warriors #3
Dwarven Warriors #2
June 23rd, 2019