Event Report – n00bfest 2023, by Brother Jonas

2023 saw a change to the usual proceedings in Gothenburg, with new organisers holding the fort this year. And holding the event IN a fort.

So the event was n00bfest, rather than n00bcon, and no Giant Shark was up for grabs for the winner. But any fears we might have had that the event would feel inferior were proven utterly unfounded over the weekend.

The UK was fortunate enough to send six competitors to Sweden. New faces Brother Karl A and Brother Andy joined established old hands including current World Champion Brother Stebbo, current British Champion Brother Jordan, and veterans Brother Karl H and me, your dear writer.

My journey to Gothenburg with Andy and Stebbo was smoother than a Sligh deck’s curve. We bade farewell to the UK with a full English breakfast, and then learned that Ryanair had kindly upgraded two of us to free extra legroom.

After checking in at the Hotel Panorama – in itself somehow becoming a key part of the n00b experience – we headed to the Rotary Pub. Knowing that the main event the day after would be held in the new venue of the fortress, it was an unexpected and pleasant surprise to learn that we would be able to warm up at the hallowed Mecca of Old School.

Although our group arrived too late to play the preparatory Scryings event, there was no shortage of stimuli. Best of all was the reunions with friends from across Sweden and the world who had made the trek to Gothenburg, including a few unexpected “What the hell are you doing here?” moments as people gradually came in. The confluence of leylines truly runs deep in the geology of Gothenburg.

A trademark spicy brew from Gothenburg

Casual games, exchanges of cards and swag, and many beers flowed. Even the good-natured individual members of the bar staff at the Rotary feel like an essential part of the proceedings, and a welcome serving of lasagne lent a soupçon of a reminder of last year’s, er, s0upCon.

Reindeer ante – a closed pool of cards with plenty of trading. Good fun all round.

After sampling a few ales and some casual games of ‘Reindeer ante’, we were mindful of a big day ahead, so our squad called time at a relatively restrained hour.

The next morning we feasted at the breakfast buffet and Ubered to our venue, a magnificent fort located atop a steep hill. We made a brief pitstop for sustaining coffee, dispensed at a charming cat cafe. The Cats of Old School Instagram account is surely not far off.

Upon entering the fortress, even more reunions took place. Christian and Mitja ran a tight ship all day, supported by OG artist Jeff Menges, who worked tirelessly across the weekend to dispense his incredible artworks, and a few anecdotes of Mtg lore.

Despite a disappointing run with unpowered ‘DFB Green’ at Arvika, I resolved to give the deck another go, this time with the addition of moxes. I was blessed with great opponents who played in the spirit of Old School throughout. My familiarity with the deck has improved and I also benefited from some positive variance, but I reflect that I still have more to learn about this deck. The bogeyman of The Abyss loomed very large in my mind, but I faced none of them this time, instead being frequently wrecked by Trike. That said, with a solid opening hand the deck is incredibly tough for many Tier 1 decks to stop.

(Apologies for the weak deck photo!)

More intriguing than my own performance – a reasonable 3-4 – was the presence of many similar G-with-a-splash decks throughout the event, including at the top tables. And most notably of all, a radical BG build with 4 War Mammoths in the final.

After the Swiss had concluded I played against Wander, who took a GU deck to 11th place, and I was thoroughly schooled 3-0. It has thus dawned on me – probably rather later than for others – that “Mono” G is a relatively broad family of Old School decks rather than a ‘perfectible’ archetype. My own build, with four Crumbles and four Ice Storm in the main, has a focus on resource denial.

Although I had felt that undermining a powered deck’s resources was integral to most victories in this archetype, I was wrong. This variant exists alongside a deck which, with four Giant Growths and four Su-Chis, is radically different, despite having an ostensibly similar core. And that’s before you get into the question of Sylvan, Berserk-Ith removal, and, er, Elephant Graveyard in the board!

Elsewhere in the Brothers team, several of our squad were alive with a chance of making Top 8 until the last round of the Swiss. However, it was Karl A who bore our banner with the most success, as the only unbeaten competitor over 7 rounds and therefore topping the Swiss. Sadly he was eliminated by shark-holder Pefken in the quarters.

MCing like a pro

Leo B, the eventual worthy champion, defeated the aforementioned GB Mammoth deck in the final with his own fine deck sporting many one-ofs and two spicy Dance of Manys. Whoever said that the finals of a big event should inevitably be counter-burn vs The Deck? Arvika may have followed this script, but n00bfest didn’t.

This deck came in 2nd – hats off!

Thanks to Reindeer and Mitja’s impeccable timekeeping and the efficiency of the Tolaria event system, the event wrapped up at a civilised hour, leaving time for festivities to continue long into the night. I tried and failed – again – to win my Chicago Chaos Orb patch, and now intend to rebuild my flipping action.

The night ended with a cheeky trip to the golden arches, sampling Sweden’s fine spicy chicken mcnuggets.

Given the excesses of the previous night, day three of the event dawned with a healthy walk to the venue for some Alpha card-slinging. Thanks to some generous loans of cards, I was able to run back an improved version of my list from last year. With sixteen Lightning Bolts in a 40-card deck, this machine is now a finely-honed weapon. However, it proved fallible to Kalle’s monstrous Alpha deck which was seemingly able to Timetwister at will! Big thanks to Flovo for putting on a great event again this year.

This deck was a lot of fun to play

With the Alpha complete, the final evening turned into a full-on social, with trading, ante, and more Chaos Orb flipping. There may even have been some dancing and debates about the best track on the best album of The Smiths.

On Sunday our group checked out of the Panorama and it was all over for another year.

At the airport, the border guard asked me what I had been doing in Gothenburg for three nights. I’ve learned from past experience that telling border control you’re visiting their country to play a card game raises unhelpful questions – especially when dealing with Homeland Security. So in the past, I would choose to lie and say I was just visiting friends.

When the Gathering is this good, that’s no longer a lie.


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