fredag 24 april 2015

Summer time

"We were originally planning to change the card mix in September, but... well... some stuff happened and we didn't."
 - Kathy Ice. Card Collector Confidential, Scrye Magazine, Feb 1995.

Imagine if you will. Ireland, a game store in the late summer of 1994. Magic has celebrated its one-year anniversary. Players are cracking boosters from the newly released The Dark, dreaming about opening the legendary Leviathan. A couple of novice mages have just built their first decks from a few packs of "Gathering". Spells like Clone and the flavor of the Oi-Oi Troll capture their imagination, as they are yet to find out about Doppelgangers or Juzams.
And Power Sink is an interrupt.
At another table in the store, two old sharks who have played the games for many months are slinging with their finely crafted decks. Decks with price tags of tens or hundreds of dollars even at the time. New playmats are used to protect their cards. A similar scenario plays out at their table.
And Mana Drain gives mana burn.
Now, if you were to trade the cards in the first picture for the cards in the second, that would seem like a very unfair trade at a glance. After a second look, it still looks very unfair, though the other way around. Those "Revised" cards that could be found in Ireland in the late summer of 94 will make even Alpha look overprinted and cheap.

Summer Magic, or Edgar, is a set shrouded with rumors, legends and conspiracy theories. Wizards of the Coast officially denied the cards existence until October 1996, when they were described as "near mythical", stating that a few cards just had gotten misbordered. It was not until 2003 they first acknowledged it as a cancelled shipment of Revised. There's no official information about how many cards were printed, how many were released, or even why the set came to be. There are some theories though.

In April 1994, Revised was released to a rapidly growing base of Magic players. It was the most printed set of Magic by a wide margin. The set had some big issues though. People complained about the washed out colors, the "two-dimensional" edges, font issues (like missing apostrophes), and incorrect artist credits. The set had some more blatant errors as well, most famously that Serendib Efreet got printed with the art and green border of Ifh-Biff Efreet. Additionally, wizards had grown more concerned about the backlash suffered from occult references in the game. Something needed to be done.
Like airbrushing the pentagram away from the demon's forehead.
In the summer of 1994 there was a drastic shortage of Revised product. Some people say that Cartamundi's production suffered from a heat-wave in Belgium from June 27th to August 7th. Some say that the factory only had a single cutting and collating tool, which was used for Fallen Empires and Jyhad at the time. Another source blame problems with the sorting machines. Others yet state that the shortage was due to the production of what should have been the first shipment 4th Edition.

A popular theory states that Summer Magic was in fact no test print nor tiny run, but instead put the size of the run around 120 million cards. Richard Garfield reportedly confirmed this while he spoke at ConQuest in November 1994. When the cards eventually were shown to WotC, they deemed the quality of the set insufficient and burned the entire print run. Almost.
A subtle hint on Summer Magic from the Magic the Puzzling book? If nothing else, it's very puzzling ;)
The set that was supposed to fix the issues of Revised had brought plenty of new errors on its own. They got the artist credit on Onulet correctly listed as Anson Maddocks, but they instead spelled Néné Thomas first name as NéNé. The washed out colors were overcompensated, and the cards looked too dark instead. They fixed most of the apostrophes in the card titels, but missed out on Gaea's Liege and Will-o'-the-Wisp. Sure, they fixed the blatant green border on Serendib Efreet, but Hurricane got a blue border. And they still listed Jesper Myrfors as the artist on the Efreet. And Drew Tucker on Plateau.
Pick your poison.
The story goes that WotC decided to burn all the cards and keep the failed run a secret. Before the cards were burned, they put out large bins of Summer Magic cards and told employees that they could pick any cards they needed for their decks. And that could have been the end of Summer Magic.

The packs looked identical to Revised though, and somewhere along the line there was a mixup. A tiny amount of product, most sources state 4 cases, were accidentally released to the public under the guise of Revised boosters. The booster boxes were then reportedly distributed in Tennessee, Texas, and Ireland. One of the cases ended up at retailer Troll and Toad, who famously wrote a big green "E" on the boosters to distinguish them from Revised.
E is for Edgar.
So, how rare are the cards really? Well, using the Clone as an example, for each Alpha Clone, there are about three Beta, 15 Unlimited and 200 Revised Clones. For each Summer Clone, there could be over a hundred Alpha ones. If you have a playset of a dual land from Summer Magic, you own no insignficant percentage of all the copies of that card in the world. I'd heard that even the most hardcore of collectors wouldn't attempt to complete a set of Summer. Just trying to find the cards can drive even the most connected and whealthy Magic connoisseur crazy. The most complete set I'd heard about before writing this post was the guy who sold his collection to ABUgames in 2009. He had assembled over 300 cards, including 30 rares, and had spent years on the set before giving up. I'm much more of a player myself, using my Clone in my crappy Biovisionary deck and whatnot, so in order to get some good info on collecting Summer Magic, I went to Daniel Chang.

Daniel Chang of is one of the most acknowledged traders of high end Magic rarities in the world. If you want a booster box of Arabian Nights or mint graded Alpha Power, he'll get it for you. If you want Jesper Myrfors to paint a reinterpretation of Obsianus Golem for you, he can probably set it up. So when I wanted to know about the business of collecting Summer Magic cards, Daniel seemed like the go-to-guy. I sent him an email, and he was quick to set up a Skype meeting. So did anyone actually complete a set?

Well, he had a complete set himself for one. Daniel estimated that there were actually eight or nine in existence. As for how many copies of each cards there were, he could give some qualified guesses. "My guess, and it's more of a fact than a guess but I can't give my source, is that some cards from the common sheet are more rare than some of the rares and uncommons. And there are uncommons that are more rare than certain rare cards." Daniel stated that, as far as he had seen, the two main sources of Summer cards had been Ireland and Seattle itself. Many of the cards in circulation had come from employees at Wizards, and as such, they had been more prominent to pick up the rares. "Many collectors ask how many cards there are, but it's impossible to know. I would guess around 20-40, maybe even 50, of the rares. The uncommons are probably between 30-200, and the commons are about the same. That might sound like a lot, but even compared to Alpha which had 1100 of each rare and I don't know how many thousands of the uncommons, it's incredibly few."
So this might be the most crazy set of duals in the world. First time they are shown on the web btw :)
Clone was my first favorite card, and the first card I owned myself that was highly sought after by my playgroup. I remember getting offered stacks of cards for my Revised copy, including multiple duals, without wanting to give it up. I may not be a classic collector (I would e.g. much rather have cards I can play with than graded ones), but I do appreciate the history and rare gems from the early days of Magic. I like playing on a 1994 Khalsa-Brain playmat, learning about banding from the Alpha rulebook and getting hints on how to use Circles of Protection from The Duelist #1. The Summer Magic set is probably the most prominent source of Magic legends from the mid nineties. The set tells a story about how a much smaller WotC tried to keep up with the explosive growth of Magic players and the struggles of creating high quality Magic sets. The cover up and lacking information about the set combined with its extreme rarity makes it an exciting piece of Magic history.

If we were to legalize another set in 93/94, Summer Magic would be at the top of my list. It would be pretty damn cool to get my Thunder Spirits destroyed by a blue Hurricane.

An extra thanks to Daniel Chang for the info on Summer collecting and the pictures of the graded Summer cards. Daniel will be launching the his vintagemagic website (www.vintagemagic.com) this Summer, and the crew will be attending their first Magic Grand Prix in Las Vegas May 28th to 31st. If you want to contact them, you can check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/vintagemtg or email Daniel at daniel@vintagemagic.com.

torsdag 16 april 2015

The n00bcon top8, part 2

Time to round up the n00bcon top8! While UR Eel decks dominated the top tables last year, recently The Deck seems to have reclaimed its place as the prime tier1 Deck to beat. It might be that fewer people are prepared for its raw power, skip a little on the sideboard cards, and instead opt for cards against UR Burn or Monoblack. Whatever the case, The Deck is back in style, and claimed no less than four spots in the Top8 (five if you count Sehl's The Burn Deck, though Sehl would probably have top8'd with any random pile of 75 cards). I actually kind of like that The Deck is a monster in this format when piloted by a skilled player. It wouldn't feel "old school" if it wasn't ;)

Top8 players: Jocke, Artelas, Kalle, and MrSinclair.
So, yeah, Jocke Almelund. You'll pretty much always see Jocke Almelund here. The latest (and so far only) Pimpvitational winner has top8'd n00bcon five out of six times, only narrowly missing the elimination rounds at n00bcon 6 last year. He is also mine and Myfz's nemesis, having something like a 100% match win against us in the format. His latest take on The Deck is pretty interesting; playing no less than three Amnesia in the main and sideboard. This time he also cut Moat and Time Vault, but plays maindeck Fork. He got to use it dreamcrush my own hopes of a top8 in the swiss with Fork+Timewalk, Recall for Fork+Time Walk. It's a pretty sweet play.
Surprisingly many wincons for a Jocke Deck.
Tommy "Artelas" Aaen is a Vintage and 93/94 player from Karlstad, not that far from Arvika. He is a pretty new player to the format, having started just last year. Arteleas picked up his first top8 at his first BSK last November, and followed up with his first top8 at his first n00bcon. He can hence brag about a 100% top8 ratio in Shark tournaments, not a feat to be taken lightly. At BSK, he was seen piloting Monoblack, and at Stabcon in late February a Monored Atog took him to the top4. This time his decision landed on a monoblue deck. Well, monoblue maindeck at least. With his set of fellwar stones, transmute artifacts and jewellery, he can fairly easily find a single colored mana source for the other four colors. He caught a lot of unexpecting players off guard, having them stare down at a Blood Moon or a Balance post sideboard.
Brutal and tricky at the same time.
Then we have Kalle "egget" Nord. Kalle is the epitome of a lucksack with all the charm of a grease fire. If he would have been an actual troll, no one would build bridges. And also obviously a great friend. Kalle and I were the first to start playing 93/94 back in 2007, and now he finally got to claim his title as world champion. His deck is pretty techy, with e.g. three Lightning Bolts main deck. It is also a jaw-droppingly gorgeous pile of cards.
Picking up his second Giant Shark :)
For our last player, I must unfortunately leave it pretty much blank for now. Emil "MrSinclair" Klintbäck claimed the last spot in the top8. This was his first tournament in the format, but I don't know what he played or much about his background as a magic player at this time. If you're reading this Emil, you are very welcome to send me a decklist and a small presentation!

Also, retronick.com just posted an interview with cutter of cards and Forker of Mind Twists Danny Friedman about old school Magic. I highly recommend giving it a read!

söndag 12 april 2015

The n00bcon top8, part 1

I would never have guessed. If someone had told me a few years back that 93/94 tournaments would attract more players than the national championships in Vintage, or that players would travel multiple time zones to battle for a Giant Shark, it would be hard to not be a sceptic.

There are communities around the world these days. There's a thriving scene in Italy, the second double-digit tournament in France was held last weekend, this Sunday I'll be playing in my first tournament in Norway, at the same time as n00bcon there was a Magic '95 tournament in New York, two weeks from now the first tournament in Russia will take place, and a month back I was playing old school in Germany. When we first started to call n00bcon "the world championships" it was mostly as a joke. The first tournament at Gothcon in 2008 had four players, all from Gothenburg. Today, with well over fifty players from different countries, I think that we in good conscience can say that n00bcon is the largest and most prestigious tournament for wizards and mages interested in the origins of Magic.

It's not about winning though. It's about nostalgia and to enjoy the game, your deck and the company. The four hidden Easter eggs at n00bcon contained a Sandrelin altered unlimited Scrubland, a Legends booster, a playset Felipega altered unlimited Enchantresses, and a two-player ash Khalsa Brain mat. Prices that you probably could use as incentives to get players to join the tournament, or give as incentives to win. These prices were not mentioned before the tournament though, nor given out to the top performers, but randomized to players after the swiss. If you win, you'd get a Giant Shark, if you placed second, you'd get nothing.

That's not the whole story, of course. Top8'ing n00bcon gives some pretty big bragging rights in the eternal community. It shows that you have what it used to take to Master Magic Cards.
Sehl, Icelander, Myfz and Arkanon.
Erik "Sehl" Larsson played his first game of Magic in 16 years in Januari 2014. Since then, he has pretty much crushed the format. He placed 2nd at both Warcon 2014 and the Mindstage premiére tournament, he top8'd BSK, won the 93/94 tournament at Vasa Gaming, and came into the tournament as the fifth highest ranked player in the format, behind three recent Shark-winners and Freespace. It is notable that he has used a myriad of different decks during the year to claim his victories; WW, Erhnamgeddon, WUR aggro and Monoblack. It is also notable that he doesn't own all the moxes nor the Lotus, but is still a favourite against most of the full-powered players.

Sehl's deck of choice for the tournament was The Burn Deck. It's a five-color pile of Lightning Bolts, Chain Lightnings, Psiblasts and Fireballs, backed up by most of the restricted list and a set of Factories. Simply put, it's broken burn.
Sehl's The Burn Deck
Erling "Icelander" Hansson showed his consistence with a third consecutive n00bcon top8. Last year he was maindecking Nicol Bolas, but this time it looks like he has slimmed his strategy quite a bit. Icelander was a member of the Icelandic team in the Magic World Championships in the 90s, and showed yet again that his masterful skills with old cards. He is also a really cheerful and friendly dude, which goes a long way in this format :)
Icelander's The Deck
Myfz had a pretty long hiatus from old school Magic in the last few years. He last played at n00bcon three years ago, though he top8'd that one as well. More recently, Myfz placed second at BSK last November and top8'd Frippan Open in December. During the last six months, he has pretty much been a fixture in the elimination rounds of the Swedish old school tournaments. He deck of choice was, as always, monoblack.
Myfz's Monoblack. It was a long night.
Last we have Nicklas "Arkanon" Johansson. Arkanon has played the game for well over 20 years but is actually fairly new to 93/94, having found the format last year. After placing second at WSK last summer, he kickstarted the local scene in Scania and organized a couple of tournaments in the autmn/winter. Arkanon's deck of choice looks like a very hard nut to crack for any creature based deck. He uses The Abyss backed up with the full playset of both Juggernauts and Su-Chis. With stones and jewlery, Arkanon can fairly easily cast one of the four-drop creatures turn one or two and start smashing. He backs up his core strategy with card advantage and control using restricted cards and the Tome.
Arkanon's Abyss Beatdown

onsdag 8 april 2015

Pictures from n00bcon 7

The dust has settled from the world championships in 93/94. A record 57 players came to battle for glory, good times and a Giant Shark. 

Stories will be told and decks will be shown, but for now lets just look at a few pictures from the event.
Stalin, the 2014 World Champion, came to defend his title and drink light beer.
Elof, the Varberg Juggernaut, has won pretty much all the different big tournaments in the format and holds three Giant Sharks already. Here he is musing with Erik Sundberg who, yet again, has broken the format (and the dress code).
The glorious Shark. Alpha-cut by Danny Friedman :)
The pub has a somewhat hidden door to a gymnasium right next to it. As we couldn't fit all the players in the pub, we used the gymnasium as the seating area.
Mikael Lindén finds himself confortable in the feature match area.
Round one has started!
Mahamothi and rad Fellwar Stones vs. Serra.
Jokemon found an Easter Egg with a Legends booster. Being a real player, he of course cracked it immediately.
Solid tech.
Elof, Schram and Oldschool. Sharks of the format.
Our glorious scorekeeper Tgd checking up on the last players in round 3. In the far back, Constantine from Russia stands and looks at remaing field.
Simon Gauti Rokkjær from Denmark and Freespace.
Guardian Beast shenanigans.
Tibia beating down on Vigo.
Monogreen vs a pair of Priests of Yawgmoth.
Sehl and JummJumm. Preparing for another victory.
Burgers, beer, broken tables and power.
Jocke Almelund dreamcrushing his way into his fifth n00bcon top8.
LennartGuld and Axelsson facing off in HUVUDTURNERINGEN.
The Lestree pose.
A solid keep from Arkanon.
Another Easter Egg found, this one with a playset of Felipega-altered Enchantresses.
Magic.
More Magic.
The epic final between Erling "Icelander" Hansson and Kalle "egget" Nord.
I hope that we'll get a report from the new World Champion soon, and I'll be showing off some sweet deck lists along with my posts in the coming weeks (please send more sweet decklists btw). Thank you all for an awesome tournament. I had a great time!

torsdag 2 april 2015

n00bcon preparations

By this time tomorrow, we'll be deep into the world championships in 93/94 Magic. It is my favourite casual Magic event of the year, with so many great players gathering to battle, drink beer, and show off amazing decks.

Yesterday, I met up with Constantine Prishvitsin, a Russian 93/94 player who had just arrived to Gothenburg for the tournament. Putting the jetlag aside, we went to my place for some playtesting with Felipe Garcia and Freespace. After seeing the great Fellwar Stone Danny Freidman had made, Constantine had brought a very sweet gift for my deck as well:
Russian pimped Fellwar Stone!
Constantine grinning like a Juzam after casting a first turn ditto.
Russia vs. Spain.
Playtesting against Felipe. Sweet turn one from Project M, but I still didn't get to play more than three turns before Felipe transmuted into Time Vault and started recurrig Twiddles.
A few players had suggested that we should give a card to each player as a small memorabilia of the event. Doodling away :)
The cards will be given out randomly after the swiss. Four of the cards will also give you a sweet Easter egg with some extra value.
Glorious Trophies.
Convention pins.
Viktor "Oldschool" Peterson printed name tags/ deckbox tags for all the participants :)
Really looking forward to see you all tomorrow!