tisdag 24 september 2013

Eternal Flames

Needed to do some procrastination, so I figured I could write a few lines about a sweet burn deck.

Direct damage is is a valid, and not insanely expensive, approach to Old School magic. With both Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning legal, players have access to two of the best burn spells ever printed. The restriction is mainly that the future great red creatures, like Jackal Pup and Wildfire Emissary, are still many years away.

One approach is to go the road of Electric Eel Aggro, adding blue to the deck to get access to aggressive creatures like Serendib Efreet and Electric Eel. This also gives the player access to Psionic Blast and Energy Flux. Another approach is to add green, for an Erhnam Burn'em deck, with a higher overall curve, but access to Kird Apes and the Channel/Fireball combo.

And this play.
JummJumm is playing it clean though. He has been playing Old School for a long time, and is a part of the Varberg play group. He is usually playing a monored burn deck with a lot of sweet tech.

Eternal Flame!
Apart from the 8 Bolts and the bigger burn spells, JummJumm supports the Howling Mine / Relic Barrier packages and a full set of Mishras and additional Copper Tablets to get past Circle of Protection: Red and Greater Realm of Preservation. In particular I like the 4 Detonate and the Mirror Universe. Good show, and I hope we'll see it in action again next BSK!

söndag 22 september 2013

Canadian tech and BSK preparations

About a year ago, Fab Sanglard from Toronto hosted the first old school tournament overseas. Now, another city in Canada has started a vibrant 93/94 community, spearheaded by Mike Borgardius in Nova Scotia.

Last week they held a 4-person tournament, battling out for a booster of Revised. The Nova Scotia crew allow Revised as an 8th set in their tournaments; it's a way for people to somewhat easier get into the format, and it was after all released before both Legends and The Dark. The winner got a few pack-fresh staples for his deck and, as is customary in old core set boosters, a lot of basic lands.

At least they had removed the four islands from the rare sheet when Revised came along.
 Mike's deck is a sweet version of The Deck, optimized against creature heavy decks (e.g. maindeck Moats instead of Scepters).
No Revised in Mike's Deck though.
The reason for playing Unl here instead of A/B is aesthetic. I appreciate wb cards, as was evident in my old white weenie; there's definitely a stylish element to the white borders. I'm personally a big fan of consistency though, so the plan for my next deck is to have it all BB in a year or so (I'm ok to whiteborder almost anything, but I don't have the heart to see my Juzam look like something from chronicles). As a footnote, it's almost strange to consider, but by many newer players wb is considered old school. After all, there hasn't been any wb cards printed for over half a decade (9th edition was the last time).

Clean style or simple blasphemy?
Anyway, the tournament went well, and they're planning a new one by the end of October. That next tournament already have 8 people signed up, and another 8 that are looking into possibilities to get their hands on a deck. That's a very quick expansion of the player base; it took the Gothenburg players well over a year to go from four players to nine in a tournament. The prizes in the Canadian tournament are btw a Beta rulebook and a Chaos Orb. I'm very much hoping to get some sort of tournament report to post here after it's done :)

Beta rulebook. White Ward is looking at you.
What else will happen in a few weeks you ask? As the landscape gets barren and the leaves crumble, Swedish magic players will gather at Borås Spelkonvent, BSK. This is one of my favorite Magic events of the year, along with Easter with n00bcon and Gothcon.

This year, as the tournament takes place during the 1st of November, it unfortunately collides with Bazaar of Moxen (and few players becoming dads). The hotel next to the convention in Borås will most probably still be one of the  largest gatherings of 93/94 players during the year (20-25 players during the last few years :)). The BSK convention itself next door will also host a multitude of tournaments during the weekend, including two Vintage tournaments and two Legacy tournaments, so Borås is a great place to be if you want to play some cards.

BSK 2012 players ready to battle.
I'll keep you updated with more info on the BSK 2013 tournament when I have it. Join up if you can!

måndag 16 september 2013

Decktech from Worlds '94

Last Saturday I got to play some Magic at the old Rotary Pub again. I don't think I've had the chance to play since I had my Oslo showdown at the central station about a month ago, and playing at Rotary has become even more rare. Good times were had in the closed pub, with trash talk and beer aplenty.

I played a few games against Freespace's awesome new deck. At one point I really though I had the game locked, after some sweeping I had stabilzed around 15 with a Forcefield in play, and tapped out for a Mirror Universe. You should never underestimate a single Juzam on the board though.

Double Berserk on Juzam is how every game should end.

I was as awestruck and shocked as this guy :)
Anyway, I was thinking about Berserk, and new tech, and my mind wandered to one of the original Berserk-abusing decks from the way-back time. This deck was played in the World Championships 1994, back when Berserk where restricted as "failure to have a fog should not warrant 80 damage". This deck is still very good with only a one-off Berserk.

CREATURES (20)
2 Argothian Pixies
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Elvish Archers
4 Flying Men
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Scryb Sprites

ENCHANTMENTS (8)
4 Concordant Crossroads
4 Unstable Mutation

SORCERIES (3)
1 Recall
1 Regrowth
1 Time Walk

INSTANTS (6)
4 Giant Growth
1 Berserk
1 Ancestral Recall
ARTIFACTS (4)
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring

LANDS (19)
6 Forest
4 Island
4 Mishra's Factory
1 Pendelhaven
4 Tropical Island

SIDEBOARD (15)
2 Argothian Pixies
13 Unknown

This deck was played by the current lead designer for Magic, Mark Rosewater. He wrote something of a tournament report of his experience, which can be found here. It's a very nice read with suave pics of old players.

Suave I said.
The deck is surprisingly well built for being 1994, and there's very little to complain about. Concordant Crossroads is a great way to handle Nether Void, Land's Edge and Abyss (apart from having a great effect with 8 elves/birds and hasty beats). The mana looks good, and the deck seem very focused compared to many of the decks from that time. Worlds '94 was however a single-elimination tournament, and Maro lost in the third round to fall short of the top64.

Let's finish today with another deck list. Here's Hjalmar Backlund's slightly less agressive deck, with no wincons:

Ok, I guess Feldon's Cane is a wincon. Or something like that.
If you have any decklists you'd like me to post, please feel free to send me a mail :)

måndag 9 september 2013

Some more Alpha rambling

After getting a pleasant surprise from the Forcefield / Mox Jet picture, I went back to Alpha to look at the art again. Alpha is a very funny set in some aspects. It is truly amazingly well done, but as you couldn't really have a 200+ page comprehensive rulebook, the rules back then where admittedly open for interpretation (the original rulebook states that you may solve rule disagreements with a coin flip). Considering protection, this is what the rules stated:

A creature with protection from one or more colors of magic cannot be affected by any magic of those colors. For example, a creature with protection from blue cannot be blocked by blue creatures, dealt damage by blue creatures, or enchanted, damaged, or otherwise affected by blue cards.

One thing that was not uncommon to see people debate about was the interaction between Black Knight and Balance. It was fairly consensual that you really didn't have to sacrifice a Black Knight to the Balance, as it couldn't be affected by white cards, but there were deeper implications. If your opponent has a Serra Angel and you have a Sengir Vampire and a Black Knight, do you have to sacrifice the Vampire? Should you even count the Black Knight, i.e. could you keep both your creatures? Protection was going deep, which makes this card possibly the first ever "un-card":

"Cannot be [...] enchanted" is actually right there in the rulebook :)
These are the kind of things that you would feel nerd shame about being amused by 10-15 years ago, but are OK to enjoy today in the era of Vine apps and Angry Birds branded candy. Good times.

I could go on about amusing alpha cards, but I think I'll end for now with a quote from Magic Lampoon; on the original text for Living Lands: Some cards [...] make reference to something from real life. “Enchanted, killed and so forth” was an amusing homage to the way that Arnold Schwarzenegger is known for speaking. Yep.

Anyway, I found another pair of cards from ABU that seem to be cut from the same frame. Apart from cards with a common backdrop (like Healing Salve, Disrupting Sceptre and Berserk), we seem to have an interaction between Guardian Angel and Paralyze.

Also, probably easier to find these two in a mid 90's collection than a Mox Jet and a Forcefield.
So, this post has been pretty much a random rant. I like that from time to time. We'll end today with an awesome (and expensive) Armageddon-less EhrnamGeddon, courtesy of Kungen. Very nice to incorporate Relic Barrier in the Stone Rain/Ice Storm package:

WURG EhrnamRainStorm?

måndag 2 september 2013

Shark week 2

There's yet something akin to summer in the Nordic countries, so the spirit is still high up here. Finding some of the last decklists required some digging btw, but I think they are all correct.

Next one on the list was BSK 2011. Here we saw an influx of some old collectors showing up to play; guys that exclusively play 93/94 magic and are mostly unaware of the modern formats. It was really sweet to see guys like Per Olofson and Gunnar for the first time. This was also the first time we had a suite to play in at BSK, and our dedicated scorekeeper Kiddas made the tournament flow well; considering the circumstances. At this point of the format, we didn't have any timing restrictions on the rounds, and the quarter-finals between Robert Schram and Dan Holm took over two and a half hours ;)

BSK 2011 Shark. Signed by the 20-25 players.
Schram eventually won the tournament after beating Kalle in the finals, getting his redemption after losing to him in the finals at GP Rotary. He played The Deck, with Serras and Factories as wincons. It's a really though matchup for any creature-based deck:

CREATURES (3)
3 Serra Angel

ENCHANTMENTS (3)
1 Moat
2 Sylvan Library

SORCERIES (10)
1 Time Walk
1 Timetwister
1 Braingeyser
1 Recall
1 Balance
2 Wrath of God
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Mind Twist
1 Regrowth

INSTANTS (15)
1 Ancestral Recall
4 Mana Drain
4 Counterspell
2 Disenchant
4 Swords to Plowshares

ARTIFACTS (8)
1 Jayemdae Tome
1 Sol Ring
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Ruby
LANDS (21)
1 Island
2 Plains
2 City of Brass
1 Savannah
2 Underground Sea
2 Tropical Island
4 Tundra
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Strip Mine
1 Maze of Ith
4 Mishra’s Factory

SIDEBOARD
1 Black Vise
1 Disrupting Scepter
2 Control Magic
2 Old Man of the Sea
2 Blue Elemental Blast
2 Disenchant
2 Wrath of God
3 Circle of Protection: Red

Easy winnings.
The next shark tournament after BSK was was n00bcon 4, the largest 93/94 tournament so far with 34 participants. Due to pretty intensive drinking and a long tournament (it ended around 4-5 in the morning), my focus wasn't really on top for viewing the top8 (i also missed it myself, ending up in 10th place or so). I know that Pefken won this tournament after beating Schram in the finals however.

Fairly blurry tournament with blurry cards
 Pefken played the first incarnation of Parfait we had seen thus far; this was the first deck that abused Relic Barrier in 93/94 tournaments. It's also pretty sweet that the deck only plays a single Mana Drain, and it's still legal in 93/94:

ENCHANTMENTS (2)
1 Underworld Dreams
1 The Abyss

SORCERIES (6)
1 Braingeyser
1 Time Walk
1 Recall
1 Balance
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Mind Twist

INSTANTS (10)
2 Divine Offering
1 Ancestral Recall
2 Disenchant
1 Mana Drain
4 Swords to Plowshares

ARTIFACTS (24)
4 Howling Mine
4 Relic Barrier
3 Icy Manipulator
1 Jade Statue
2 Winter Orb
3 Fellwar Stone
1 Black Lotus
1 Sol Ring
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl
LANDS (19)
1 Strip Mine
4 Mishra’s Factory
1 Mishra’s Workshop
4 Scrubland
2 Tundra
3 City of Brass
2 Underground Sea
1 Maze of Ith
1 Library of Alexandria

SIDEBOARD
1 Power Sink
1 Disrupting Scepter
2 Disenchant
2 Underworld Dreams
3 Wrath of God
2 Circle of Protection: Red
1 Jayemdae Tome
3 Blue Elemental Blast

Pefken and Schram battling it out at n00bcon 4
During 2012, there were quite a few local tournaments with around 10 players hosted in Sweden. The prizes for these tournaments included a Strip Mine, a Deep Water, a Moss Monster, and a Chaos Orb. When we got the chance to play at Warcon for the first (and so far only) time, we though that that tournament was sweet enough to warrant a Giant Shark. It was the first tournament at a convention since the format had grown out of the Gothenburg area, and it needed some celebration. This was when Elof entered the scene and started winning all the non-local tournaments. The list he played at Warcon differ quite a bit from the Book Decks he played at BSK 2012 and n00bcon 5. This deck lacks one Mox and Lotus, and plays 8 direct damage spells (including 3 lightning bolts). It also has a much higher density of Sceptres compared to Books. It is affectionately called "The Burn Deck":

INSTANTS(22)
4 Swords to Plowshares
2 Disenchant
2 Divine Offering
4 Mana Drain
4 Counterspell
1 Ancestral Recall
2 Psionic Blast
3 Lightning Bolt

SORCERIES(7)
1 Balance
1 Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Braingeyser
3 Fireball

ARTIFACTS(9)
3 Disruptive Scepter
1 Jayemade Tome
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Sol Ring
LANDS(22)
4 Tundra
4 Volcanic Island
2 Island
2 Plateau
3 City of Brass
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Strip Mine
4 Mishra's Factory
1 Maze of Ith

SIDEBOARD
4 Red Elemental Blast
4 Blue Elemental Blast
1 Divine Offering
2 Control Magic
1 Equinox
2 Stone Rain
1 Greater Realm of Preservation

"I shall get used to this..."
Next up was BSK 2012. We were back in the hotel suites, and we now had timed rounds. The suits were now almost a convention in it's own, as we had two 93/94 tournaments and no less than two 93/94 cubes present for drafting (along with a pre-modern cube, with cards up to the early 2000s). The main tournament started fairly late though, and was again drawn out, so the two finalists (Kalle and Elof) opted to meet up in Gothenburg and play the finals a few weeks later. Once again a sweet tournament with rad dudes, but I think that the intoxication level was once again pretty high during the actual rounds (better to go all in after the tournaments over), and it started very late in the evening. Elof's and Kalle's lists can both be found (with pictures) in Kalle's report of the finals (a post in the blog from December 2012).

Kalle vs. Field of Dreams
And lastly we come to n00bcon 5. n00bcon 5 was one of the only major tournaments where we managed to start fairly early, and we had some sweet pins (and smaller trophies for top4). Elof's winning list can be viewed in the DTB-section of this page, and his future lists now includes these three cards:

If he wins two more, he's allowed to play Giant Shark as a 5-off :)
 I feel that this post is getting pretty long, and that I've already talked quite a bit about last n00bcon, so I think we'll leave it here. It's fun to play old school magic, and the fact that the biggest prize you can win pretty much forces you to play a sub-optimal card is very much in the spirit of the format. Winning is a far second from playing, chatting, building nostalgic decks and meeting good people :)