Half-melted patches of dirty snow unearthing forgotten trash of seasons past. The few remaining days of winter were finally on their last breath as I settled on my deck choice about a week prior to the event, the second edition of Le Roi de la Chope. Like spring, I put my efforts into a new creation I was working on, a deck which was now ready to bloom and see the light of day. I had high expectations, but they quickly turned out to melt away like snow would on a warm sunny day. From the beginning, I had a strange feeling that clouds and rain would ruin my day. I figured it out only a couple days after the event. I forgot to bring my umbrella. All the clues were in plain sight, but I was blind to all of them. Indeed, it turned out that we were on the eve of last day of winter, and I wasn’t playing Equinox. That’s an odd statement to be sure, but it was actually the biggest mistake I had made preparing for the event. Here is how the story went.
The Loot: Goblin King for the winner, an awesome illustrated box for the runner-up and tokens for everyone!
Before we go further, let’s take a look at the process behind the creation of this deck. Its genesis sparked from my desire to build 5 different mono-colored decks, one for each color. At first, when looking at red cards, I tried to brew a Slight deck like may others mages had done before me. However, I discovered that our contemporary knowledge of the archetype couldn’t be successfully executed with the pool of cards that the Old School format offered us. The other way around, when looking at the red cards available, I found quite a lot of spells for a control strategy. Also, one summon spell was on my radar. I do believe that the Efreet is one the the most underrated creature card of the format. Indeed, Ydwen Efreet’s only real drawback, its triple red mana casting cost, is easily negated when playing a sixteen-mountain deck. With that in mind, I came up with my first iteration of Mono Red Control, which was supporting cards like Smoke and Falling Star, but later developments led to a more square design. Over the pasts months I won more than I lost with it against a huge variety of decks. Here is my current configuration:
Mono Red Control
However, I felt quite defenseless showing up without any Disenchants, a spell that offers so much versatility and deals with threads like Underworld Dreams, the worst nightmare for the deck. White also offers the best spot removal in the format, Swords to Plowshares, which is definitely worth considering, too. With that in mind, I finally decided to go pink a couple of weeks before the event. My urge to be competitive suppressed my desire to play a creative red deck. In a way, I felt like I was betraying myself doing so, but I always enjoyed juggling with the duality offered by competitiveness and creativity. Here is the 75 I sleeved for the big day:
I made last minute changes and swapped the Cop: Blue, Disrupting Scepter and Shatter for a pair of Spirit Links and a Shatterstorm.
On the morning of the event, Jessy came to my place to pick me up to drive me there. We took some time to have a good breakfast and made some last minutes modifications to Jessy’s deck before driving to La Chope Gobeline to meet with the others. Fourteen players showed to this year’s edition, everyone eagerly tense to battle for the coveted title. That’s makes it 5 more than last year and equivalent to Le seigneur du Corail’s attendance last summer. I bet we can still beat those numbers next year as some people from our playgroups were having other obligations. Some concluded trades and other were playing warm up games while waiting for the first round to start. So, here is my round-by-round recollection of what happened in my games. Also, all the decklist pictures are available at the end.
For the first round, I was paired with Simon, the crowned Roi de la Chope as well as Le Seigneur du Corail champion. Already with two titles under his belt from 2016, Simon is definitely a worthy opponent I would not play against first round if I had the choice. This time, he had no choice but to run White Weenie since he sold all his Unlimited Dual Lands to finance his NES collecting addiction. As the fears I expected materialized, my deck criminally lacked threads. And so game one dragged to a point where I considered forking his Wheel, but he was one card ahead of me unfortunately. Also, I could not set up for a big Fireball/Fork since I was constantly under pressure from Armageddon which resolved twice. The game ultimately ended when my life total dropped to zero with only three cards remaining in my library. Game two was quite the opposite since I lost pretty quickly as I couldn’t find the ark that would have saved me from the massive flooding which drowned me into a sea of mana. 0-1
On the bright side, I had lands in hand to recover from that Geddon.
My opponent for the second round was Jessy piloting a UR burn variant with a white splash. I knew it would be a very close and quick matchup against his deck stuffed with format staples. I was right, but found myself on the wrong end of the stick. It’s a nice sadistic pleasure to keep a Serendib Efreet at bay nearly an entire game with Maze of Ith, but it wasn’t enough in the end and I lost both games having lethal for the next turn, but he managed to find burn spells to seal the deal on his turn both times. Adding insult to injury in game two, he resolved the Timetwister I lent him to get the single bolt needed to drop my life total to 0. My Twister totally betrayed me on this one as he actually drew a Bolt and two Chain Lightnings. Pretty overkill. 0-2
Some Shahrazad action around!
Head full of dreams and expectations earlier on that day, neither I nor Dave, my third round opponent, would have anticipated this battle in the 0-2 bracket. Dave was piloting a tricolor trick deck using land destruction as support to submit opponents while they slowly agonize to Underworld Dreams. Not exactly the kind of stuff one plays to make friends, but no harm done. Everyone is geared the best they can to compete. One game dragged for some time as I was denied to play proper Magic. I was helpless to my lands falling under Stone Rains, Blights and Sinkholes. As he couldn’t find the tools to apply proper pressure while I was most vulnerable, I seized the opportunity to gradually build a threatening board presence later in the game. 1-2
How hard is it to keep lands on the board?
Back on the track with my win from previous round, I faced Yanick with a renewed confidence. We both still had a shot at top 6 if one of us won his two remaining matches. This time around, Yanick revisited his list from Le Seigneur du Corail tournament and added a green splash for Regrowth and Sylvan Library. The games were pretty bland and I don’t remember anything worth to mention. It is no surprise that I didn’t even bother to take pictures. Again, I fell into the path of destruction that Armageddon brought into the dawn of spring. I did managed to pull a win, but in the end, an unanswered Serra Angel quickly won the matchup for Yanick. 1-3
Veteran Bodyguard and Two-Headed Giant seeing some play on another table.
Resignation engulfed my hopes as the thought of missing the finals hit me. But I couldn’t let feelings disturb me as I still had one round to play and prove my deck could pull some more wins. I was paired with Christian, who had returned from New England just a few weeks before with fresh and new technology. With his newly acquired information, he brewed a deck around Mishra’s Factory, Consecrated Land and the boogeyman of the day, Armageddon. I quickly realized I was in for another round of mana denial after the first few turns of play. The destruction was real as Christian put an end to this new glorious world three times during game one. This produced an empty board on my side of the battlefield which painfully illustrate well the day for me. 1-4
“O miserable happy! Is this the end of this new glorious world…?” –John Milton, Paradise Lost-
After the swiss portion, I took some time to eat while the quarters were being disputed. I also stayed to watch the finals between Sébastien playing The Deck and Simon piloting White Weenie. They each pulled one win which forced a game three. Things were looking grim for Sébastien as he was struggling for mana and lost a full grip of goodies to Simon’s Balance. Interestingly enough, Sébastien gradually recovered while Simon couldn’t resolve or stick any summons on the board to threaten Sébastien’s life total. In the end, Serra Angel sealed the deal for Sébastien, awarding him the coveted Roi De La Chope title for 2017. With his win, he also choose to give the entry fees proceeds to the fondation de l’école des vieux moulins which helps high school students to get different school supplies.
In the aftermath, it’s easy to understand that Equinox would have provided me a safe haven from the devastation I faced on this eve of a season change. It would certainly have been a bold move to include it in the sideboard, but in a sense, a deck that could win casting a Fireball should unequivocally protect its assets. I will definitely give the deck another shot and maybe, I’d drop the white splash to get back to the passive/aggressive control mono-red can offer, which is what I did originally.
Gobbosh and me doing a Roi de la Chope personification!
That being said, the second edition of Le Roi de la Chope is now in the books. Again, the players were fantastic and the venue even more thanks to the generous Gobosh, owner of the restaurant. Our next meeting will happen soon enough as we will battle Two-Headed Giant style somewhere in June. Brewers skills will be put at test as it will be a team unified decklist event respecting the current 93/94 Old School ban and restricted list (Underworld Dreams will be added to the restricted list for this event). This means that only one player of the team will be allowed to play Sol Ring. Choose wisely. Until then, I will, and welcome everyone to enjoy the subtle flavors offered by l’Equinoxe du Printemps.
L’Équinoxe du Printemps, a well balanced maple syrup scotch ale.
Here are all the decklists along with their respective records after swiss:
Marc Antoine 3-2