Hello and lots of Mana to all of you fellow Oldschool-players.
For those of you who do not know me, and that may be the majority, I feel like giving a short introduction.
As many others, I started playing back in 1994/1995 when MTG hyped the first time. I can remember buying an Arabian Nights Booster for roughly 2.50 DM back then and only buying one because they just contained 8 cards. From the little money I had available, I had to buy Revised, 4th and sometimes even German Unlimited to increase my collection.
Just after Homelands/Alliances however, there were different things on my mind and the cards available back then were so weak that many of my friends decided to stop.
Thanks to the Website of Fabien Sanglard I stumbled upon the Blog end of 2015 and the rest is history. If you haven’t seen or read the 1994 WC replay-report he posted on his site, you definitely should!
The Oldschool scene in Germany is vibrant, but geographically spread. A good chunk (possibly 50%) of the players lives within the vicinity of Stuttgart, more or less building a community of their own.
The other 50% are scattered all over the country as it seems. Me in Hannover, David Chambers in Berlin for example, I have heard of one or two in Berlin with Swedish legal decks, but never seen them.
As the Stuttgart gang is autonomous and has regular weekly/bi-weekly meetings, I am trying to establish some sort of community for the rest of Germany (including Stuttgart of course!).
My first attempt was after I met David Chambers for the first time mid/end 2016 and we decided to have a small Tournament in Berlin last year. It ended up smaller than I thought with just 3 more players attending, only one of which had a “swedish legal” deck/card stock. It was Thilo who later then attended N00bcon with us.
A second attempt to host a tournament in March at my home, as Hannover is logistically in a sweet-spot, failed and only David arrived. So we had to switch this to a Skype/in-person hybrid event with a whopping 10 players on short notice! After several hours in many different appear.in rooms, the tournament was decided by Chaos Orb flips.
After being able to participate at N00bcon 9, (I was one of 8 attendees from Germany) Thilo told me that we need to start playing for Ante and there is a way to do this without losing cards worth a car. This shall be the report of the very first official 93/94 Ante-games being played in Germany maybe ever!
|First game of the day, already playing for Ante.|
|Jeweled Bird not only provides a new card, but also removes more valuable cards from the Ante. But beware: it is worth 4 usd/euro.|
|Why did I choose a Rare card?|
As a sidenote: this time we did not have a heavy drinker with us as Richard had to skip on short notice ;)
We played 6 rounds of the well-known Best of Three without any Finals as the plan was to start a second event that would include the Ante-part.
To make this short, we had an undisputed winner in Patric Hiness going strong with a flawless 5-0 (10-0 games) and a bye. The Stuttgart-connection managed to be at places 1-4, showing that experience prevails.
|Patric's MaRo Zoo.|
Ante-Side eventThe main reason for this article, I guess, is the Ante side event.
As said Thilo lured me into the thought of playing Ante games at our next Tournament. I have heard from my old Skype-nemesis Mr. Moss that Ante has been played in the US by the Lords of the Pit where everyone that played Contract from Below had to pay a shot (of alcohol) to his opponent and everybody got drunk was merry. Kinda in the spirit of oldschool, but I liked the "new" idea where we would play Ante like in the days of old and as it has been described in the Alpha rulebook, or at least as close as possible.
The biggest problem is obviously uhm, well, you don’t want to lose a card that has a 3 or 4 or even 5-digit value. So that idea of using an old Magazine from end of 1994 or beginning of 95 and use the prices printed as a guideline to buy back your lost cards.
Just after N00bcon we started and searched for magazines, found scanned copies of almost every old magazine, but not old and accurate enough. Either is had not all the expansions or it was too new and Fallen Empires has already been released.
Marc Lanigra managed to buy a Scrye #3 Magazine from somewhere and truly, it has an announcement on the cover advertising The Dark prices (and Jyhad prices for those who remember). We decided that this shall be the Reference for all Ante events from now.
We all agreed that in an ideal world everybody should more or less leave the event after some rounds of Ante-games with +-0 profit or loss.
It also was Marc who forced me in a friendly (for Germans friendly) way to immediately play the first Ante game just before the regular Tournament started. See pictures above.
The tension was there from the very start. We were sweating before we even started, it was very exciting. As you can see, nobody held back with their "pimp" (mine is more the MP in Pimp, where Marc's collection truly is PIMP all the way) and we played with a deck we liked and not so that it would be very cheap to buy back cards. All in or nothing.
|Jeweled Bird is a hell of a card|
So game one the Ante was Marc's Triskelion vs my Beta Ritual. Nowadays it would be more or less equalled out, but in the end of 94? Let’s find out.
The Median price of an Antiquities Triskelion (the only one existing back then off course) according to Scrye #3 is 6 usd.
The Median price of a Beta Ritual is 0,50 usd. So much for the value of Mana acceleration back then.
But Marc and I continued to raise the Ante-stakes through casting a Contract from Below each, where he had to Ante an Alpha Darkpact (9,30 usd and trending up) and I had to Ante an Alpha Swamp (0,20 usd). It got tense, but I was still pretty chilled looking at those prices.
As a side note: We both played CfB a bit wrong as we kept our hands and drew seven, instead discarding our hands and then drawing seven. The pressure surely had an impact onto our synapses.
Marc however brought this to a new level and thought that two Ante cards were not enough: let’s play Demonic Attorney. Off course neither conceded and we got to Ante the third card in this game alone. Marc was leading again with an Alpha Mox Sapphire (37 usd and trending up) to my Legends Greed (5 usd). The game was more or less tied, but the Ante was potentially at 52,30 usd to 6,80 usd. This is fun. It never was an Ante pool of >50 usd for Marc however as he was able to play three Jeweled Birds in that game, moving his Ante cards to the Graveyard and drawing three more cards. Be careful though, Jeweled Bird is a whopping 4 usd, so the same value as Uncle Istvan, Green Mana Battery, Primal Clay or Bazaar of Baghdad… Let this sink in a while...
Side note II: David asked me to re-read the Text of Jeweled Bird just two weeks after the Tournament. It clearly says we could exchange “ALL” the ante-cards with Jeweled Bird, not only one. So we played this card wrong as well…
|Demonic Attorney for the win? not quite, I'll never concede.|
Marc's Abyss then did the job and he won, leaving me the choice to buy back the cards or pay for the first beer. I gladly did the latter and as beer in Cologne is a mere waterish liquid I also paid a coffee.
During the day, I play 3 more ante games with Marc, losing the second but winning the third and fourth. With him I was pretty close to that “ideal world” and lost officially 20c or so.
However, Mr. Lundqvist from London challenged me to two more Ante games in the evening and despite his efforts to distract me (when my Ante was my Time Walk as I switched back to play with my Tournament deck), I won both of them leaving the day with a 5€ plus in my wallet.
|Another Contract from Below|
|...and another one.|
|Two parallel Ante games. Chaos Orb (Beta) and Lightning Bold on the left, Time Walk (UNL) and Psi Blast (Beta) on the right.|
|18€ for a NM Beta Orb? It is possible in 2017...|
SummaryTo summarise the experience of an Ante game: I’d love to have a small tournament again soon in the near future and play 5-10 Ante games again (we never did best of three but only one game). If you lose it is more or less up to you if you had decided to include the more expensive cards or not. It might open up a small new world to us with some smaller surprises, like Guardian Beast being the most expensive card from Arabian Nights and who would have guessed that Old Man of the Sea is more expensive than Library of Alexandria, Juzam or Erhnam Djinn? You can still build a very competitive deck without excluding the most powerful creatures and still leave out the most expensive cards of some of the sets.
There is a lot of room for improvement and alteration. David, for example, suggested that we should build a deck with a limited budget of Scrye #3 value to build a deck. This can be a very nice addition to the usual deckbuilding, it also increases the knowledge of the prices back then.
To all of you, who are interested in the game and format of oldschool and live in or close to Germany or just like to travel for this game: I am hoping to do another small tournament in Berlin either end of September or sometime in October. There might also be another N00bcon qualifier in November/December, as Marc has promised.
Thanks for reading,
An additional comment from Marc Lanigra about the Ante-part:
This was an experience unlike any other I've had in my 15+ years of Magic.
Even though I was pretty confident in my deck, even though we had the rules set up to keep the maximum loss (in terms of money) in check ... when flipping over the cards, I was already sweating. It was close to the feeling when playing a big tournament top8, it was a real rush. But way more fun than such a high stakes tournament, because it is not about winning a title or losing your only shot at it for probably a lifetime - it is in the end also very much a fun experience.
Of course, in our very first game, both of us played Contract from Below within the first two turns. One naturally drawn, the other one Demonic'ed for. Of course, both were blackbordered, although that being a clear downside in an ante game! We played the card wrong (no discard) which shows you how excited we were just getting to play it for the first time ever. The only thing that seemed to matter was the additional flip. Everything intensified, but it was not much for both us added to the Ante. I was a little sad to ante my copy of Darkpact, and also quite surprised it was worth some real money in 1994. David told me that both the cards I had ante’d so far recently *spiked*. Still, casual fun, and the goal for the game was anyway just to decide who should pay for the first beer.
Then came the moment that really sold me on this kind of gaming forever: I played a Demonic Attorney. The idea of this card always intrigued me more than any other ante card. You basically ask your opponent: Do you just cut your loss right here, or are you ok with upping the pot by a card each, probably loosing much more? You need to imagine some Juzam Djinn style grin with that question. We flip over the cards, and it hits me like a truck: I ante my Alpha Mox Sapphire. Boom. All the sensation and excitement I've felt before are multiplied. One of the most memorable situations in my whole Magic career, it was absolutely crazy. Not only did I manage to ante one of the most expensive cards of 1994, I did it myself with the greedy Attorney! Absolutely mind-blowing!
So that was the moment, it didn't even matter at that point how the game would end. I was sold. Of course, playing for ante 1994 style is not for everyday gaming, but it is a hell of a lot of fun if you do it only once in a while, with specifically built decks, and you just wanna play a few games with maximum impact. Over the day, I played I think in total 4-5 games with Florian, and the result was as expected: We were always hovering in the /- 5 bucks region. You won't lose a lot of money doing this - but you'll feel like a badass high roller.
All that being said, I urge you to try it out. Wait for a special day, some extraordinary occasion to play, and (most important) build a special deck for it. You'll have crazy situations, high adrenalin and a lot of fun. Will definitely do it again!
^^P.S.: That first beer tasted great, thank you Florian ^^
|My Deck. I clearly made an error with the lands, one or more should have been included. I call it: Beauty and the Beast.|
|Mr. Karl Keks's White Zoo. Placed #4|
|Leo's Troll Disco coming in at #3|
|Markus' URB Djinns and Toys|
|Vincent's Baghdad Reanimator|