By Niels Viaene

It is easy to forget in the Gentry community in Flanders, where ever other player is less than an hour away, that there are other people and places that play Gentry as well. Often those other people have community cornerstones that support a thriving play group that is enjoying our awesome format all over the globe.

This article series will aim to take a look at the different communities and their leaders.

First up we have Malmö, which was also the very first out-of-Belgium group that I am aware of. They started playing Gentry because of Patrik Fridland, a L2 judge that you can often find at Magic Fests, so lets see what he has to say about the community.

Patrik is on the right.

Gentry Community Spotlight Hi, can you tell us who you are and how you discovered Gentry?

I remember talking to a weird judge at some GP, I can’t even remember which GP, he was suuuuuper enthusiastic about this random format he invented. Apparently people were going crazy for it in Belgium. I decided to try it myself, build a few decks to play with the locals and before you know it…. everybody was into it. I think it is because that weird judge is secretly a viking and it resonates with us people from the north.

Why did you decide to introduce it back home?

We were planning a charity event, and we were looking at different formats. In the end we decided on Gentry because of the accessibility and low costs of decks. We thought this would attract more players to our event but also stress the point of this being for the charity in focus and not Magic per-say. It helped in making the atmosphere more light-hearted while attracting people we would not have reached with an event that would likely be overrun by competitive grinders.

Is there anyone else supporting the community?

Yes, The Malmö Scene is mostly maintained by three other persons, Mårten Lennedo, Jens Alden and Richard Brorsson-Moreau.
I also know they are doing a start-up in Stockholm through John Barkestedt, so Gentry is still growing up here.

What are the best and worst aspects of the format according to you?

The rares/mythic rares. I think they represent both the greatness and the weakness of the format.
We (Me and a few friends that play Gentry) tought about how big an impact the rares/mythic have on the format. Right now at least a lot of them feel just too nuts and to powerful. A lot of games are won by being the player resolving one of them.
On the contrast without them what would the format look like? The conclusion we got to in those discussions is that the rares/mythic also define the decks.  
There is this important aspect to them that really excite especially newer player that is instrumental in making the format fun. It adds both an element of randomness and strategy. You, as the player, get to decide on which side of that equation you are by play skills.

What does the community look like? (level of competitiveness, number of players)

I would not describe our community as that competitive anymore. Sure, we have a few people that were grinding the qualifying events back when we had those but most people tend to stay local and find their motivation in challenging each other as long as it is fun.
Each FNM has between 8-16 players, which is a good number for Malmö, seen from a historic point of view. What is especially nice here is the age variance, it goes from around 10 all the way up to people in their forties. We have kids that has brought their parents that now are at least and in most cases more hooked than the kids.

What does your metagame currently look like?

Currently Izzet or Izzet centred decks have been over-represented. I have the feeling this is mostly by both how easy the deck is to build and play, I have been playing UW Birds personally (see decklist below), and feel pretty comfortable against both Drakes and Golgari decks. Other than that
the last few months has been very much aggro/tempo oriented. I hope Ravnica Allegiance shakes up the format in a big way soon.

Are you excited about the upcoming Invitational stream (March 10th) and Gentry Open (April 20st)?
The Invitational is the single elimination 8 player event, right? I am really looking forward to that one. I like that you are way more prepared at those, have decklists ready to discuss and such. It is also nice that it has very little downtime, so it is way more engaging.
The Gentry Open is nice to watch as well, but it is ‘rougher’ than the Invitational. The main reason I like this one less than the Invitation is because there tend to be way fewer people in the chat for this one. I wish I could attend, though…

Feel free to include some cool pictures of your local store, players and their decks/favourite cards.

“Bird is word” by Patrik Fridland
4 Azorius Guildgate
4 Chemister’s Insight
1 Cleansing Nova
1 Conclave Tribunal
2 Depose // Deploy
3 Devious Cover-Up
3 Dovin’s Acuity (to be replaced by Depose//Deploy)
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Eyes Everywhere
9 Island
2 Meandering River
4 Murmuring Mystic
4 Opt
7 Plains
1 Primal Amulet
4 Revitalize
4 Ritual of Rejuvenation
1 Sanguine Sacrament
1 Search for Azcanta
3 Thought Collapse

Winnie Life, the deck that went 4-0 last FNM
4 luminous Bonds
4 impassioned Orator
2 Mesa Unicorn
2 Bishop Soldier
4 Stubhorn Sentry
4 Healers Hawk
4 Ajani’s Pridemate
4 Ajani’s Welcome
4 Leonin Vanguard
3 Adanto Vanguard
1 Resplendent Angel
1 Mentor of the Meek
1 Ajani, Adversary Of Tyrants
1 Dawn Of Hope
21 plains
4 Pegasus Courser
4 Adamant Will
4 Hunted Witness
2 Invoke The Divine
1 Blessed light

Niels Viaene came into contact with Magic first through the Kazz & Zakk starter set in 1996, but it wouldn’t be until 2000, around the time Prophecy came out that he actually started playing magic thanks to his nephew. Niels’ Magic career has been a roller coaster up to now, including Grand Prix Paris 2009 top 8, Pro Tour San Diego 2010 top 8, becoming a L3 Magic Judge in 2015 and managing the community effort that is the League of New and Beginning Magic: the Gathering Players, the birthing ground for Gentry since 2012. All this comes from a deep love for the game that is far from diminishing.

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