söndag 9 juli 2017

Stories from the Black Summer

June 1995 was the cruellest month. Breeding snow out of the dead lands. Mixing memory and desire.

I was there when it happened. I never saw the snow as relics, it was always nostalgia from a distant present. 22 years has passed since I opened my first booster packs at Tradition in the lower levels of Nordstan in Gothenburg. Almost a quarter of a century. Maybe it's time to look back.

Erik Sundberg has played the format for as long as most of us remember. He has a solid streak at n00bcon and started the first 93/94 Cap Magic community. He developed the idea of 93/94 Rotisserie drafting. He's one of those guys that don't make to much noise at social media but is a pillar in developing casual old school tech. He wanted to delve into the Ice Age. And if someone should break the 7-set limit we usually hold here, I guess Sundberg is the guy. This is a story of the black summer. This is old school. Enjoy! /Mg out

An invitation; to the past, the present and the soon to be present

I jump off my bus. The sun is shining but I am cold to the bone. IS the sun really shining as it did last year?

As all other stories this one takes place in the past. But what is past? According to the “tyda” dictionary: “earlier than the present time; no longer current”. So history can never occur in the present (current) time. Is it then the past? But how long time is “the present/current” time? And when is the past actually soon the future? We play 93/94 in 2017 and we call it old school, but I think we all see that the actual game we play in 2017 is vastly different than the past 93/94 game. But to most people the 1993 and 1994 is the past.* According to our definition, "the past” is separated from "the present” which is the same thing as saying “the past” is dead or at least inactive/non-present. So this article is about the future and the present but starts in the past. This is magic 1993/1994, 1995, 1996 and 2017.

Ah, there they are... I press my face against the glass in the toy store. So many Booster packs of chronicles, fourth edition and the new frosty set. I slam my money on the counter and demand Ice age boosters. 
If the magic baby was born in 93/94 it started to grow up in 1995 with the new mtg expansion: Ice Age, a snow-themed set. Not every card was painted with a winter motive but almost every card in the set shared the same cold barren feeling. Ice Age introduced new mechanics in “cumulative upkeep” and “snow lands” which further emphasized the cold feeling of despair. This was a long way from cheerful high-fantasy used before. Ice Age was cool, really cool.
Just look at these pieces of cold barren beauty.

A new card, a new love, a new age

The smell of new cards attack my nostrils. I stare with awe at this dark, dark card. Maybe it can complement my beloved Frozen Shade? I read the card text and I feel that the life in my body drains away… Pay life? What a lame card. SO much text to no use. How can I be this unlucky to get this rare? How can they throw away a picture this cool on a terrible card?
But I waited until the november 95 inquest with my final judgment of the card. I really wanted this bad ass looking card to be great. In our community, which had no card shop, all prizes were set by the Inquest magazine. This was our holy bible when it came to card prizes and rating. So it was with real excitement I searched for Necropotence power rating. 1-5 in power rankings; 5 = strongest and 1 = weakest.
Hell’s Caretaker 5/5. Hellfire 4/5. Nether Void 3/5. 
Lich 2/5. Hell Swarm 1/5.

1 point... Necropotence got the same power rating as Hell Swarm. The card was officially shit. 

Same card, same love, another new time

The summer of 96 it all changed...
In the New York pro tour format you were forced to play 5 cards from each of the last 5 expansions and a lot of people thought players would show up with some snow-covered basics but stories soon emerged about something new:

“There is some guy playing with Necropotence downstairs—he just paid five life to draw five cards. I don't know how he won.”

“That guy just cast Demonic Consultation and removed half his library from the game. What is he thinking?”

“Good lord. That guy just cast Dark Ritual and Demonic Consultationed for Hymn to Tourach and Hymned his opponent. He had another Hymn for turn two and then played that enchantment and drew seven new cards on turn three! I think his deck might be good.”

Leon Lindbäck took third place at the pro tour with a mono black deck and to the world’s surprise it used the power of the skull to fuel his dark magic. It wasn’t a trick (or a trick deck) but the 1 star card with the awesome art was not garbage, it was golden. Black was back.

The sun is really strange. Smog in this nice small town? Is the factory running hot again so the pollution have started in the delta?

The ramifications in our playgroup were huge. All those who had donated their necros were furious and we, the suckers who had kept the cards, were really happy. Four necros in every deck. We played mono b, r/b aggro necro, g/b life gain necIro, b/w life and death necro. The cards were different but they were all fueled by the life draining power house. We really didn’t understand the deck but Necropotence was so strong that the card by itself compensated for our flaws. In many ways the Ice age card let us younger kids catch up to the more established players cause the deck didn’t require as much power as the old tier 1 decks.  
In our days of necro decks we got the idea that the theme with necro decks were to lose life...

Start of the Current aka more present but non present time

A rainy day our present necro-less world began it’s timeline: "Necropotence restricted".

Minds shattered, hearts broken. Our souls weren’t burned they were defeated. In our group of friends six of twelve played necro. We launched a last tournament where we still could play our beloved decks. Want all loose all. Unfortunately the red sligh deck crushed us all. Necro was restricted and after some trix in extended it was all over. Necropotence was dead...

A dead thing is supposed to not be part of the present and is scuffed away to the past. But a loved thing will not be pushed away easily, so in some hearts the thing is always in the present (even when some people claim it already to be a part of the past*)...

NO! The sun ain’t shining through. There is something going on here in Vargön... Suddenly I recall that we were warned about the “Devil’s island” when we moved here. Can it be black magic for real? In Vargön? 

The dark skull is back and the Vargön community welcomes you to the black summer of 2017! A time for the present Old school community to meet the frosty dark magic of Ice age!
I was thinking about doing some power level errata on the pictured cards, but we try to stay true to the original printing so we don’t mess the old cards up (but I hope you understand the strange language).
18/8: Necro summer at Vargön 93/94 headquarters (my house) or a bigger location nearby. Black Vise wasn’t supposed to be part of “the present” and is restricted.
19/8: Super secret team unified vintage invitational tournament (dredge banned). Really few slots and it will be a blast (at least 3 people from vintage nationals top 8 will attend).  Mail me at sundberg.erik@gmail.com if you want to participate in a tournament so I can do the proper arrangements.

Special challenge!

Shark winner and hall of famer Olle Råde will be attending Necro summer at Vargön and he has promised that he, besides having a secret tech, will crush the event!!! There is no doubt that the skillful green mage have a lot of power and loads of experience but we wonder if he can truly tame the black beasts once and for all. It is supposed to be a black summer so the whole of Vargön’s 93/94 community (myself) has done a lot of research to help our fellow dark mages. To our satisfaction we have discovered some ancient vods and a pro tour winning decklist.

Special prize = Everyone that loses to Olle Råde will receive a signed copy of Woolly Spider.

This is a tournament that tries to emulate the former current feeling of 1995. You maybe wondering: “But Erik... Why 1995? And how does that feel?”. What can I possible know about the past present (1995) in the present time? I guess 95 is equally depressing and jolly as all other years on planet earth but as a mtg set Ice age adds tremendous depth and skill. And for all you people that just hate literature this tournament is for you! So come and try it out in Vargön and make this summer a black one!

Props:
  • The “old school” community: Never felt so good to buy some ridiculously expensive white bordered cards.
  • Placebo_blue: Nice support with great grammar check (I hope).
  • K.a.o.s aka Karlsborgs Anti Oseriösa Spelförening: the sole reason I started this mtg life.
  • Gothenburg vintage and old school scene: Some people will never stop.
  • My fiance: She didn’t force me to sell my (our tbh) power to finance the house.
  • Cardflopper: Who scanned the inquest number.
Slops:
  • People that always want to ban the first “best” thing and can’t see that there always will be a next, “perceived”, best thing.
  • Too few “oldschool” players are giving vintage a shot. It’s a freaking awesome format where your hated books aren’t dominating ;) 
Notes
*Some things are binary and some things are not. This article doesn’t want to wreck some fellow magicians worldview with some metaphysical claims about the relative dimension about truth, knowledge and meaning. But with safety regulations aside and some big reservations regarding non scientific usage of English words (I am trying to exemplify my thoughts in a “alla ska med”-language. If you want some hardcore thinking try out the links at the bottom).

Who creates the definition of “the present”? Is it a valid statement to state that something is not “the present” (valid in the meaning that it can be true or false). Can something be “the present” that is viewed upon? Cause is really my viewing instant? Isn’t there a lapse in time between me viewing and me experiencing an object? An easy example would be when you are listening to music. Every tone is an experience but when am I experiencing a song instead of single tones? Are the tones then not any longer “the present”? To exemplify this further (without trying to be too complex): If you start a song and pause after the first tone, it’s part of, what a lot of people would call “the present”. If you then play the next tones then they are experienced in context with the first tone (that you no longer are hearing directly) but is the first tone still part of “the present” or is it now part of “the past”? If it’s still part of the present because it is creating the context how long is it part of “the present”? If you think about “Seven nations army” as an example. It is a melody/song that is sung by a lot of crowds. Every time you hear someone singing the melody you are (at least I am) recalling the song from your memory. A memory that was created by an experience when you first heard the song. That experience was given it’s meaning with the “the first tone” (and all the others) so you could argue that when you are experiencing  the crowd sing “seven nation army” then “the first tone” is taking place in “the present”. Even when they aren't singing the “first tone” the “first tone” is active as the context.  But the “first tone” experience is a past experience cause you experienced it years ago so “the first tone” is both “the present” and “the past”.

Another example: If I make the statement “now is the present”. Is “the present” taking place when I start uttering the statement or is “the present” present through the whole speech act when I utter the words? Or only the last part when someone understands what I am saying? Or is “the present” a definition that is up to the agent to make? If that is so, it no longer tries to describe an objective object/state. Then there would be merit to claim that there are multiple “the present” and that it’s “true” that for example a bit of time can at the same time be “the present” and “the past”. Or in other words: A proposition regarding “the present/the non present” have a relative truth value or more simply put: If you view something as present then you can’t be wrong.**

** Yes, I ramble around here and in the article as a whole to promote some philosophical thinking. I wanted to write an article for several years so when I managed, I feel obligated to promote some nice thought provoking articles about truth/knowledge and time) Enjoy :)

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