Popping my cherry at N00bcon

2 Years ago I was able to play my first N00bcon. After losing the semi’s against Joel, I walked around the Rotary pub and saw some wizards playing a tournament for Ante. A real tournament, with Swedish legal Old School cards, for Ante. I had seen some Ante40k games a couple of years before at the Team Unified tournament in London. However this time it felt different, I was intrigued and that feeling never disappeared after. Back in 1996-1999 I played a lot of games for Ante. We had 2 different ways to play for Ante. Fixed Ante with regular decks, which was often played for $5-15 cards a match. Or a format we called “Proto”. In Proto you would buy a Starter and 2 Boosters. Shuffle all the cards you get, with any amount of lands you wanted to add, and from there on you would play regular Ante games. Sometimes you would Ante 1 card, sometimes 2, but if you would get low on cards often your whole deck. In fixed ante we would just exchange cards, in Proto we would sign the cards as is done in Ante40k. Proto used to be 1 of my favorite ways of playing magic.

The idea to build my own Ante40k deck was born. Due to many other priorities I knew it was going to be a slow process, but I got started anyway. Playing black is obvious in Ante40k, so I bought a Tutor, Twist, Contract and a Sol Ring. During summer of 2023 I unfortunately had to sell a large chunk of my collection, which till that moment I shared with one of my best friends. This was a little setback which was quickly overcome when I knew I might be able to go to N00bcon 15. I was sure about 1 thing, if I could play another N00bcon, it would include Ante40k. And so the buying began.

DFB Green or Mono Black were the 2 decks I had in my mind. With little knowledge of the meta, I had no clue what would be better. Mono Black has been a deck I’ve played a lot before. I just love the esthetics, staples and it fits my playstyle. I was able to confiscate a lot of cards and at the end of last year, and I only needed a couple more. After telling Jason in Groningen that I was close to finishing my Ante deck and would participate during N00bcon, he told me he had a spare Chaos Orb which he was willing to sell me. That was the last heavy hitter I had to buy, so I was 100% sure I was going to play my first Ante games at N00bcon.


Typically the Ante40k tournament is played in the evening of the main event. My schedule for the weekend was simple. Have a lot of beers on Thursday during the warm-up. Wake up, try to pace myself on Friday so I get to play the Ante tournament. Of course MG screwed up my plans, by moving the Ante tournaments to Thursday. Booking the Rotary however was a pleasant surprise. After the warm-up I dropped all my cards at the hotel. Took my Ante40k deck and grabbed an uber to the Rotary. The place was already filled with people (I expected only Ante players) and I was looking for my first opponent.

Who better then Jason to pop my cherry? I wasn’t able to test my deck. I never goldfish, so I didn’t really have a clue about how often you would save your ante with a Bird. From the previous posts on this blog my expectation was pretty often, but often doesn’t mean always. My deck isn’t really up for the job against Jason, running only 1 artifact/enchantment removal doesn’t do well against Icy Manipulators & The Abyss. The funny part however was that after a decent amount of turns, we both still hadn’t played a bird. I lose my first ever game of Ante and it’s not a bird.

The goal of the tournament was to win as many “value” in Ante as possible. The value would be taken from Scrye Magazine #3. My personal goal was to try and play as many different players as possible and DFB is my next opponent. I was behind all game but at a certain moment it becomes a race. I have flyers who deal damaged while DFB has 2 Whirling Dervish in play. Su-Chi, Mishra’s, Maze of Ith and Disks are the cards I’m looking for, but I draw a Tutor. That’s never bad, but at that moment I need Maze of Ith to survive another turn. Being new to the game of Ante, I ponder what to do. While a Maze is good, a Contract could get me a Maze and some more. Since the Maze is a necessity and a Contract is a gamble, I take the Maze. Unfortunately DFB holds the Ice Storm and seals the deal. First Bird lost, first Bird I can name. I had pondered a lot about my first Bird. Somehow I had the idea of naming my first lost Birds after the Daltons. So Joe it is and Black/Yellow stripes for his prison suit.

Game #3 I’m playing Levi. We haven’t met before, meeting new people through ante games is a pretty proper way to get to meet each other. He borrowed some cards to play Ante40k, because the worst that can happen is that you lose someone else’s cards. He tries to help by playing Howling Mine’s and I get to see my Juzam in action for the first time. I’m able to win my first game of Ante and I’m super happy. The first thing I mention is that I don’t hope he’s drawing a dick on my Bird, since I really hate seeing dicks on cards. Obviously he’s the guy running around with a dick stamp, so my first Bird won (Kenneth), has a huge cock on it.

I’m ready for some more games and have the honor to face Slanfan. A mighty Ante40k foe and an overall nice guy. I’m not really looking forward to play Robots and The Abyss but somehow I’m able to take down the game. He explains me that it’s common courtesy in Ante40k to allow your opponent to ask for a re-match and so we do. That resulted in another bird won, so all of a sudden my bird cage gets filled quite fast. Look at how pretty Coco is!

So, on to the next one and I get to meet another new face. Mike Frantz, a familiar name from tournament results and trip reports but we only shortly interacted with each other during the warm-up event, which by now started 12 hours ago. The games fly by and my memory starts fading from here on. Luckily I remembered to make photo’s of anything won or lost. I win 2 special birds, since Mike sometimes askes MG Alters to alter his birds for him. I win two altered birds in “moxen style”, Pearl and Emerald. Besides that, I’m able to save my first big card with a bird. Not just a big card, the biggest, my Juzam. Mike is able to tutor for a bird in his last turn, since he had no outs against my board, saving his Taiga. These saves make you remember you can actually lose some of these beauties.

After 20 hours of being awake and drinking most of the time, I’m about to walk home with Koos. However, Megu is suddenly playing for Ante. I wasn’t aware Megu was playing Ante40k and I was actually right, because it’s his first time as well. We agreed to play a game and Megu is extremely unlucky. Megu plays Blue with a splash of Black and that splash is supported by 5 Swamps. He gets to draw 4 of them and can’t cast a single spell besides a Bird which saves his Island (obviously). Lucky enough he draws a contract, so he can draw a fresh hand but has to ante again. He was already so behind, that the contract came to late, but since he didn’t draw another bird, I was finally able to win a non-Bird. My own bird saved a Su-Chi, so that was another decent ante to be saved.

Only days later we found out that Megu had already named another Bird Maya. Most likely alcohol played a tiny role in this, but we already settled for a proper solution. Since Maya was lost together with Clone, and my Maya is the second Maya, Maya will be renamed during Raging Bull to Maya-Clone.

Next to me a Badlands is won in Ante by Bonnie and another Badlands is lost at the same time. What are the odds? For me it’s enough for the day, I head home and feel pretty happy after my first night of Ante40k.


After playing 7 rounds of N00bcon, I was ready for some Ante games. I wanted to play opponents I hadn’t played the night before and so my first match is against will. While brewing for Ante I actually never considered Red. Now that I’ve played Ante, Tempest Efreet really seems like a fun card. I don’t remember much of the match but I believe I was able to stabilize and hold of some of Will’s explosiveness. Another Bird in the pocket, Hunnturr is now mine!

Bonnie was definitely on my “to-do” list. 2 years prior he was my first opponent at N00bcon and I was really looking forward to playing some Magic with him again. He was building his deck in the Rotary the night before and to be honest, I was pretty scared to play him. I tried my best, but lost the first game (Bird Tihania), only to try again right after. I got really really close. While he was on 3, I had 2 Drain Life and some flyers as out. I kept on drawing land unfortunately and I wasn’t able to seal the deal. A Bronze Tablet hit the board and I could only applaud. Somehow I never really read the card properly but immediately fell in love. This was amplified by the beautiful alter Slanfan had drawn on it. Bonnie was able to swap a Hypnotic Specter for it and after the game he flipped open his own Ante which was a Chaos Orb. So close! Luckily I was able to ditch Kenneth, so I’m playing without any dicks for now.

Henk told me Svante wanted to play some Ante40k and it’s obviously always good to play Svante at the end of N00bcon. Playing such a mighty foe in Ante was something I was really looking forward to but I’m pretty sure this was one of the worst moments of the weekend I could have chosen. As Evert covered it nicely in our What’s App group. Richard is ahead 11-1 (beers), but I’m not sure if he’s still there.

I had added the tablet into my deck, for 6 mana it’s not a great card, but it’s definitely in the spirit of Ante. I’m not sure anymore how I won the first game. Bird Bert made its way to my deck. Besides dicks, I don’t think tits on my cards are very appealing either. We agree to play another game and after some early pressure of Svante I’m able to Disk. 1 (or 2?) Sinkhole had removed some lands in play, so Svante was low on mana with an empty board. After attacking with a Juzam and a Mishra, I play a Dark Ritual into Bronze Tablet! I don’t have the mana to use it yet, but I’m about to with a Taiga and Forest in play. I’m on 8, which isn’t great but hopefully good enough. After reading the tablet Svante picks up his graveyard ready to scoop, reconsiders, draws and scoops anyway. For a moment I thought a Taiga would come my way, but obviously paying the 10 life to counter the tablet would have always been the better play, which is essentially the same as scooping. Still I would have loved to pass on the tablet, a Taiga would have been a nice addition to the art.

The next day I agree to play a game of fixed ante with Bonnie with our Alpha decks. We were playing Alpha anyway and our Ante40k decks are not really a fair match-up. I lose a sinkhole but more importantly, Bonnie adds a beautiful drawing on the tablet he swapped the day before. He told me he was going to write a little report himself, so I leave the full story of the tablet up to Bonnie.

My first weekend playing Ante and what a ride. Birds won and Birds lost. My own Juzam already being ante’d and very close to winning a Chaos Orb and a Taiga (twice). I’m pretty happy with my wins, since my Bird cage is pretty stacked now. But most important, there’s a new aspect in Old School I got to experience. And I loved every game of it. Thanks all for playing and I hope to meet soon again. If you play for Ante yourself, hit me up for a game. My deck is always ready!
Final Result after the first weekend playing Ante40k

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