December 16, 2021

A Very Bootleggers Christmas – Tournament Report

It’s been a long, strange trip. In December 2019, we held our annual(ish) Christmas tournament. We were looking forward to another year of the same. Forward to Bootlegger’s Ball. Forward to Player’s Ball. Forward to whatever other events two or three of us decided to partake in. But we all know what happened…

And so for two full years we didn’t traveling to see our friends. Nor did we host our friends from other locales. We saw one or two passing through after vaccines started being available. Even within our group, we held a small cookout or two to make the best of the world. Those times were sweet and needed, but they weren’t what we truly yearned for.

What we wanted most finally returned on December 4th, 2021: The 2021 Bootlegger’s Christmas Alpha to Alliances Tournament.

The gathering returns

Quick rundown on the specs. Our Nashville tradition is to play our own locally produced format, Alpha to Alliances. For the fortunate ones who haven’t heard me talk about it yet, we take Eternal Central 93/94 Old School and add Ice Age, Homelands, and Alliances. Restrict Demonic Consultation and Mana Crypt, and voila, we have A2A. In addition, any event we put on goes to charity. Christmas 2019 we did a sweet raffle with a bunch of prizes. This year was no different. All entry fees and raffle proceeds went to Pencil Partners, a charity that supports public schools here in Nashville. And because we’re all insane, from entry fees and raffle tickets together, we raised over $1,600 for this great charity.

Logistically, we knew something had to be done about Covid even though things were relatively okay. We hemmed and hawed about this before getting confirmations, but at the end of the day we decided that it was safest to ask that attendees provide proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test prior to joining in. Everyone was more than happy to accommodate this.

Nineteen magi from all around came bearing themselves (as well as gifts) to celebrate the gathering once again. On Friday night, Alan graciously hosted everyone at his house for a cookout/hangout/jamout. And on Saturday, Yazoo Brewery cordoned off an area specifically for us dudesweats. It was a mighty weekend.

The Pregame:

Here’s a few action shots of the cookout the night before the tournament. We all rolled in with a variety of decks. Several people tested out their A2A decks while others played Middle School, another local favorite.

Our Ohio friends in deep thought
Apropos of nothing, minor league baseball teams have the best names.
Speaking of Trash Pandas… Sonny here looks like a raccoon that’s been discovered in the act of rummaging through a dumpster.
Stephen on RUG burn vs. Josh on RUG “it’s not a burn deck!”
Alan’s basement is indeed a basement, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t be a CLASSY basement with table plants.
Alan’s view of my own deck I was playing for the first time… more on this later.

The Tournament:

With 19 people, we were to play 5 rounds. I took it upon myself to run the thing, so I had my laptop in tow, along with an assload of raffle tickets, tournament prizes, and–I shit you not–60 prize cards to be signed and distributed. As people trickled in, the raffle pile grew larger. An MTG clock donated by Josh B. Repaints of Magic art donated by Stephen. Jingle All the Way on VHS… I donated a Homelands art playmat. And Bob, our evil mailman himself, brought several cards that he gold-leafed himself. And a magi can’t come only with gold… so he brought literal frankincense and myrrh too. And that wasn’t the end of it.

Our 1st Place prize was a Jester’s Cap altered by Quail. Nick Viau also altered a Gorilla Shaman. The grand prize for the raffle drawing was a Brossard altered Kjeldoran Outpost in a Nashville theme.

Loot stack at like, 70%. There were so many cards…

After ordering our first beers and scarfing down lunch, we started off with the pairings. Below is a selection of some of the tournament action with my thoughts peppered throughout.

A wonderful venue.
City in a Bottle definitely harshes some buzzes harder than others…
So… Bob played a deck of pogs he made from cards.
Easily the coolest deck there.
And I say that knowing about the Fireball/Candlestick/Thawing Glaciers/Gauntlet of Might deck.
We legalized proxies, by the way. That’s why Fish (right) is playing Summer Power.
Dib plus Force of Will? Is that… Delver?
Reanimator is definitely a format boogeyman. Hope you’re good at keeping up with triggers.
Charles with the casual turn 2 Channel for a pair of Trikes.
I had quite a bit of fun myself.
Alan and Sonny both had blue piles that I was terrified of facing. It was A Serious Match.
Daylight wanes…

I don’t want to personalize this report too much by focusing on just how I did on the day. As you’ll see soon enough, there was an incredibly wide and varied meta for the tournament. I remain convinced that Alpha to Alliances opens up the field of Tier 1 and Tier 2 decks much moreso than regular 93/94. As such, there were probably 5 other decks out there that seriously worried about my chances facing. Luckily, I faced only two.

I’m not usually a combo player, but A2A offers the privilege of playing 4 each of Necropotence, Lim-Dul’s Vault, and Force of Will. How can you not go that route? I played an Esper Necro list that hinged on Mirror Universe and Drain Life as the kill, with the aforementioned cards plus restricted list as backup. It it possibly the most powerful deck I have ever played. Even though we allow 4 Strip Mines, I decided I only needed 2. I still wound up with 62 cards. From jamming games with Alan Friday night to each one of my rounds, I loved every minute of it. I do hope that my opponents had fun too.

At the 5th and final round, I matched against Alan on his Thought Lash/Power Monolith combo list–a deck that is very creative and very powerful. His is the better deck. His has more tools to deal with my Necro/Drain Life bullshit. He is a better player than I am.

Getting my Turn 2 Necro Forced, protected, then Pyro’d was not unexpected. This should have been the end.

But I drew better out of the Luck Sack and finished 5-0 after a pair of Draw-7s that resulted in nothing useful for Alan and nothing but gas for yours truly. Heartbreaking.

The Skull takes another one.
Winner on the day. 5-0.

Closing Thoughts:

I can’t begin to thank everyone for the support. The entire weekend was wonderful. It was so good to get back to the thing we love most once again. The world is growing a bit more uncertain again, but hopefully we can do this all over again some day soon.

Oh, and regarding Covid, our precautions seemed to work. We’re almost 2 weeks out from the weekend and we’re all healthy.

Now, on to the good stuff…

Here are the overall standings:

Decklists (Placement Order):

1st – Cayce Grissom
2nd – Alan Finney
3rd – Sonny Tennille
4th – Jesse Fish
5th – Stephen Bush
6th – Charles McFadden
7th – Jeremy Pratt
8th – Chris Ward
9th – Josh Burgoa
10th – Josh Jones
11th – Ethan Ward
12th – Ben Revell
13th – Jeramy Snyder
14th – Bob Foflygen
15th – Chip Reed
16th – Brian Limbacher
17th – Chris Martin
18th – JJ Johnson
19th – Thomas Chandler

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