Winter Blast 2020 Report

It’s now been over a week, and I think I’ve had enough time away to really process and articulate all that happened that weekend here in Toronto. But before I dive in, there are a few bummers I want to address right away:

  1. Food catering was a mess. I’m sincerely sorry for how awful that was handled and that it meant we lost an entire round of play. Won’t happen again.
  2. Round Timer. I’d meant to put up a timer on the projector and completely forgot, so time got away from me. Again, sorry for the sloppiness there.
  3. Lack of Orb Flipping contest. Getting a prize for this slipped my mind until very late, so I made a last minute call not to do it at all; a call I should have vocalized more.
  4. City of Brass for first place. Sorry James 🙁 I had it out for everyone to sign and forgot to grab it before we handed out the player prizes.
Forty four mages!

Now that that’s all out of the way, let’s get down to business. Saturday morning, I arrived at the venue around 10:45am, after loading up my van and making sure that I had everything necessary for the long day. Got in and immediately saw people already there, so chatted a bit and then dug into getting the space ready. Huge thanks to all of you who moved tables and chairs, setup the sound system, organized the prize table, and generally got things rolling. By 12:15 we were ready to start round one, about 15 minutes later than I wanted, but not terrible. This time around we were able to use a projector to show pairings, and I think that that helped hugely to make for a much smoother day.

Food was supposed to arrive between 2:30 and 3:00, so we took a break between round 2 and 3, which ended up being nearly 2 hours long due to the delay in the food delivery. Next time, we’ll break once the food arrives and we’ve ended the current round; lesson learned. Regardless, I personally think that catering food to the venue makes a lot of sense as it keeps more players in the building, making for fewer stragglers for the next round. Between rounds we raffled off a lot of prizes to random participants, and I personally think that that went over very well.

One of the prizes I picked up from the Old School Discord group was an IE Time Walk. I knew I wanted to do something special with it and really make someones day, but I wasn’t immediately certain what. I remember reading older Euro reports about giving Power to unPowered players, and I loved that idea, but how to know who qualifies? Just because their deck doesn’t have Power doesn’t mean they don’t own it. I decided to create a Google Form for deck pic submissions and to ask some questions about food and such, so I added some more probing questions about when folks started playing, whether they’d ever owned Duals or Power. Viola! This left me with a list of ten attendees who met the “never owned Power” criteria I’d come up with, so between rounds 4 and 5, I held a drawing of one of those names. Micah, a good friend and Toronto regular ended up winning it!

When it became obvious that we only had time for five rounds, I started to worry about how clean the Top 8 would be. As luck would have it, we ended up with a very clear Top 8, so that crisis was averted. We quickly went about getting out of the Hall, as our rental time was up, and headed around the corner to our regular meetup spot, O’Grady’s. I was a bit late arriving as I’d forgotten my laptop and had to run back so we could do the the final bracket, and when I arrived, much to my surprise, Shawn (sp?) our regular bartender had not only traded shifts so she could work Saturday but also decorated the tables with table clothes, balloons, confetti and drawn us a sign on one of the chalk boards <3 Immensely awesome and helped us all feel right at home. Once Quarter Finals were under way, I got to play some Magic!

Top 8 Mages

This is where the highlight of my weekend, as far as playing comes in. Sat down across from Benoit and readied my BG Lord of the Dorks deck that I’ve been brewing for some time, and realize that he’s on an All Hallow’s Eve build. He had no idea that I main board Night Soil, so after he has an Eve about ready to go off and six fatties in the yard, I drop Night Soil and mulch all six of them into my own Saproling army! Mwuahahahaa!! I still lost the match, but damn did that feel great.

Top Four prizes

Ok, back to the action! Quarter Finals took a long time as we were all distractedly playing side games, and then Semi Finals went a bit long as well. Raymond mentioned that he had to wake up early for work on Sunday, so we sped things up a bit to get to the Finals between Raymond on Esper Shops and James on The Deck. Raymond fought valiantly, but post-board, The Deck just has so much spot removal for critters and artifacts that it was not pretty. At five minutes to midnight, nearly twelve hours after starting, we were able to crown James the winner!

Finalist Raymond and James, with the trophy

Tournament Details


Full pairings, rounds, and stats are here:

Deck Pics:

All the submitted Deck Pics, although some folks didn’t submit theirs 🙁

Starting Hands

One thing that we started doing at The Fire Ball was to ask people for a picture of what their ideal starting hand would look like, or what cards really showcase the focus of the deck. I personally find this to be more interesting than just 6×10+15 pics of decks, so I wanted to showcase a few choice ones.

Eric’s Dakk in Black
Benoit’s All Hallow’s Eve
Eddie’s gorgeous all Unlimited deck! Look at those white borders and saturated colors <3
Gotta love Joe’s devotion to sticking an early Shivan!
Legends spoiler season right here! Juxtapose + Evil Eye and a 2/6 Wall of Heat
Derek’s Guardian Beast combo

All of the hands can be seen in this Google Folder:


I feel bad burying this all the way down here, but it doesn’t really flow with the rest of the tournament stuff, so here we are. Our charity of choice for this event is the Cecil Community Centre here in Toronto. They do a lot of child and family outreach work, are in support of the teachers strikes here in Ontario, and are also helping families that are impacted by the strikes by offering day camps for littles on Strike days. Very cool stuff. So, from the doors and raffles we managed to bring in $1670 to donate! There’s still some more donation money coming in from Face to Face but I haven’t heard what that total is just yet, but suffice to say that despite our smaller numbers, this event brought in the most donations! Thank you all for giving so generously, both in cash and also in the form of prize and raffle donations.


Sunday Side Events

This article will come soon, as this one is already very long, so stay tuned!

2 thoughts on “Winter Blast 2020 Report

  1. I did, in fact, get a chance to play a first turn Shivan! Childhood dream achieved. Of course it was promptly blue blasted but it was worth it.

    Thanks again Jason for a well done event. Everyone appreciates all the hard work you do just so we can play nice cards with nice people.

    ps. i think if you squint reaaal hard you can see my name on that trophy 😀

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