onsdag 25 oktober 2017

Leprecon 3: The Repreconing

A letter lost in the shuffle. A story from a simpler time perhaps, when we had the summer ahead of us. One night, we sit down, breathe out, ponder, and find the hidden gem in our lap. Perhaps this was the way it should be. The other stories from that pub in Karlstad all had long journeys between their creators' minds and the public's eye. Let's follow Max Weltz back to back to the early days of summer. Let us finally hear his story from Leprecon 3. Enjoy! /Mg out 

For the second year in a row I find my way to Karlstad, or the red pin as my son calls it. Why calling it the red pin, will you ask? Because Google.
I spent the day after the tournament looking for a giant red pin in Karlstad city center but could not find one. The Tourist Information Center did not seem to have heard of it either. Do not always trust what is on Google.
For those keeping score at home, my wife does know where Karlstad is now. And really, if Magic has helped me with anything, it is definitely my knowledge of Sweden outside of Stockholm and the opportunity to practice my Swedish. So I will start this report by giving a Big thanks to all my opponents of Leprecon 3 and to the Swedish Magic communities at large (Old School and otherwise) for being so patient and for being understanding of, and understanding full stop, my broken Swedish. One of my proudest accomplishments in the Magic Old School scene is winning a prize at Leprecon 2 for telling the funniest story (in Swedish) while being a non-native speaker. Good times.

Last year I ended up second with my then trustee black-red Disco Troll™ deck in a tournament that had been a good warm up for the first Ivory cup in Stockholm a few weeks later. I have since then been toying around with different decks, including UBR Troll Disco, which, despite looking better prima facia and having some very powerful lines of play (activate the Disk and play a Hurkyl’s recall with the ability on the stack for value), has failed to convince me.

I decided on what deck to sleeve up before the B&R announcement but I felt my deck would not suffer too much from a few Black Vises as it can pour its hand out rapidly, and would love to draw more cards under a Howling Mine if it came to that. Also Maze would be a really bad card to run against my deck. Definitely unphased in my resolve by the B&R changes. The deck is a rather stock Power monolith combo which also brought me to the top 4 of the n00bcon training day in Stockholm earlier this year.

With what I considered as two flex slots in my deck, I decided to sleeve up a Reconstruction and an Amnesia. I did not get to play Amnesia in a single game, and the UUU requirements had me remove it in quite a few matchups (Land Destruction or Blood Moon ones). Reconstruction saw play and I feel it is relevant in a deck with so much mana and so many artifacts.
Stock Powermonolith list with a janky sideboard - 5/7 would play again
I arrived a bit early in front of the pub, at the same time as three other brave souls fighting their way out of a sunny Saturday afternoon and desperately awaiting for it to open. The pub is aptly named the Leprechaun, or maybe is the tournament aptly named, this will be for future historians to determine when they discover the relics of the tournaments.
The relics of Leprecon 3, circa anno 2017
Amongst the last to arrive is the Grand Organizer, Mällroth, with his usual kilt (I had packed mine but did not wear it because my matching shoes had stayed home #firstworldproblem), and the second car from Arvika. Rapidly we begin and I am paired against Fungi, who bested me in the finals last year with his Deadguy Ale. He is once again rocking that deck.

Highlight of game one is when his Mind Twist for 5 (aka my hand) is followed by a topdecked Balance for a hand of 4, a Juzam, and a land. I definitely believe that one of the most important skills to hone in Magic, especially when picking up this deck, is proper topdecking. After some beatdown a Mirror Universe comes to rescue me and his 19 become my 7 instead and a Fireball seals it.
Brutal Balance
Game two is a loss after the beats come down rapidly and I get my full grip of cards Mind twisted away from me again, but without a lucky top deck to follow it this time.

Game three sees me ship a do-nothing 7 for a 6-card no-lander, which I mulliganed into a 5, 4, and subsequently 3-card no-landers which I eventually kept. It is now Fungi's turn to land a brutal play and Sinkhole my topdecked land on turn 2. 0-1 is a good way to motivate me to up my game and puts me in the not-as-stressful bracket of first round losers.

Match 2 was against Verena on White Weenie who, foreign like me, was an opportunity to play in English. Playing Magic in a language in which I am fluent and not mumblent is a nice luxury once in awhile. Fun fact, I am French and my name is German-sounding while Verena is German and has a French-sounding name. Small world, many wars between our two countries as well. Let us reenact one in paper format.

Game one, the beats start coming from the other side of the table and I throw a Mirror Universe into the fray at 10 life and trade my subsequent 5 for her 19. 2 Triskelions seal the deal. At some point I blocked a Benalish Hero during that game. Luckily it was not banding. I am too old for this sh@!#t.
In game two my fast mana on turn one and taste for adventure make me run a T2 Timetwister. I am a strong believer in T1 Timetwisters/Wheels, and pretty certain it is better for both of us to draw 7 now rather than later when her hand has emptied completely. Alas, not much else happened for me after that, so we move to game three and I hope not to have to mulligan too much this time.

I do not recall game three in detail, but looking at my life pad notes I seem to have been laying down the beats more than the White Weenie deck, somehow, and did not win off a combo. Seems like the Triskelions did some work.

This match did not finish early but I get to assist the final moments of a match involving Stasis (which, surprise, went to rounds). The board speaks for itself:
And if the board does not speak for itself, the opponent had this one comment: “Oh, f@$ck”
Now onto the third match against Tommy who was on a UR Atog build. Game one I slowly get my combo on the table, with a Rocket Launcher and a Triskelion – because why not – waiting for the next turn to close it. Never a good feeling when facing red and its Shatters but sometimes you have to trust they do not have it. Also I must admit I miscounted and thought I was the one having it this turn. One is the loneliest number, as the song goes, especially as in "one mana short".
Tommy goes in the tank, tries to play his out but it is not enough to win this turn. I untap for the win.
Game two, I rapidly plow an early threat but take a lot of beats until I try to go off. I play a Timetwister to find me some wincon, and do find one. There is so much mana in this deck than drawing a cold whole new seven is too often a thing. Not this time.

Doing some scouting I got a glimpse of the deck I will be pitted against for the fourth match. I saw Svetzarn slam a All Hallow’s Eve earlier so I know I will be facing some reanimator deck. Reanimator is an archetype I wish was more viable and more represented in the format, unfortunately some of the enablers are pricey (looking at you Bazaar of Baghdad) and the payoffs not as game breaking as in Legacy (I hear drawing 14 cards in a turn is good). I know I would be happy to lose against that deck in any case as it plays my kind of shenanigans.

Game one sees us trading beats until Svetzarn starts milling me. At some point he decides to mill himself to hit some gas and mills... a Demonic Tutor. Certainly not the card you want to see binned.
If you want to see it binned, here it is. Binned. Also quite a few pieces of jewelry on that playmat, moxen and badges that is.
Eventually I miscount my life total (not the first miscalculation of the day) and engage on a line of play that did not work out. That is another pro-tip for playing this deck: you must be able to count. For instance, you might have infinite mana later in the game, but you still need to get there. I find myself one mana short of comboing all in the same turn way more often than I care to admit (and I did admit it earlier!). Remember: play it tight, boys and girls!

Game two I combo off Rocket Launcher. Such a weird card, an artifact with essentially summoning sickness, and terribly pricey if you are not going infinite. I do remember using it in a pinch on a creature once to buy myself a turn. 0/7, would not recommend. Usually it soaks up a piece of artifact removal, sometimes it is also a nice surprise when you are trying to combo, digging like crazy until you realize it was on the table all along played off on a turn 2 Workshop because reasons.

Game three I combo off Rocket Launcher once again somehow and going with a 3-1 record before the final match where I will face Nelson for a place in the top4.

Game one rapidly reveals he is on a mono red build rocking some Blood Moons to keep me off my mana (and geez did it work, look at my lands, there are as many basics as money in my bank account after getting all these duals). It also packs some Howling Mine and Black Vises, fresh off the restricted list. Cool to see new decks emerge so rapidly. My deck does not operate well under Blood Moon since Power Artifact just does not work so well without U (great title for a romantic ballad if I ever heard one). I am left hoping for a Triskelion or two, or a Mirror Universe, or a miracle. I eventually get there after Nelson sends a Chain Lightning my way, I send it back, he sends it back, and we do that a few times, leaving him at 7 life. All my expensive mountains turned out to be enough for a natural Fireball for the win. On to game two with Disenchants and Blue Elemental Blast coming in from the sideboard. I do not draw them and we go on to game 3 where I land my combo rather rapidly with a solid starting hand and end up the Swiss portion of the tournament on 4-1, giving me the lowest seed in the Top 4.

After some awkward attempts at taking pictures of the decks going onwards to the top4 (imagine bearded men climbing on the tables at a pub one holding a phone and one holding a jacket to block the lights but not too much and you will understand why some of the below deck pictures do not feel like they were taken by Cartier-Bresson. Also, because they were not).

Time for the semi-finals against Dan who is playing a Mono Black build which I was crushed by during n00bcon. Game one makes me relive my nightmares about Hypnotic Specters stripping my hand and Underworld Dreams making refilling it a dangerous proposition. Down at 5 life I try to go for it and get a lucky Wheel for the win.

Game two starts off with Underworld dreams on his side followed by a Mishra’s factory coming into the red zone. Underworld Dreams are sure good at making you think twice about that Ancestral in your hand and your Library activations, but you have to do what you got to do and I combo off Rocket Launcher once again. It is one of these days I guess.
Dan “danols” Olsson’s Mono black deck - 3-4th place
^^^ The deck ^^^
vvv The man  vvv
Dan “danols” Olsson holding his plaque for 3-4th place at Leprecon 3 - Thumbs up as well for a great opponent in semi.
Hearing the news from the other semi table, it sounds like I will meet Jimmie in finals as he won against Johan “JohanGuld” Guldbrandsson.
Johan “JohanGuld” Guldbrandsson holding his plaque for 3-4th place at Leprecon 3.
Johan “JohanGuld” Guldbrandsson big pink deck - 3-4th place.
I have not been able to scout Jimmie’s deck enough to know more than his colors, it will be exciting, but I am feeling good about my deck and its ability to win off all sorts of situations. Game ones are all about comboing freely without fearing much dedicated hate, so I usually come out on top by the time we start sideboarding.

Game one an Underworld dreams comes down rapidly and I start to regret having cut one Disenchant from the sideboard when sleeving up the deck. Luckily I draw into a Chaos Orb and go back to my business until a few turns later, a couple more Underworld Dreams land on the table, followed by a Vise and some Sedge Trolls. The same trolls that had afforded me my second place last year, so I dare hope they will not side against me this time. They did. 0-1 in the finals. Time to sideboard but I am not ahead at all. Jimmie takes in every card with the word Shatter in it, and I side in for a creature matchup because of the Trolls, which turned out to be a mistake as they were hardly a main feature of Jimmie’s deck. It did not prove to costly a mistake as I did not see my sideboard cards in game two, nor did I see the trolls. Nor did I see Lady Victory.

That being said, onto game two, where rapidly I get pinged to death by his Underworld Dreams. For so many turns, I end up doing nothing relevant. So many turns that I, in fact, die. Jimmie made a rapid affair of the finals and gets a well deserved first place at Leprecon 3!
Jimmie “oboy” Hansen’s ponza deck - 1st place.
Oboy celebrating his victory, drinking Oboy Guiness out of his first place trophy
Fun fact, during this tournament, I got to win off combo + Fireball, combo + Braingeyser, Mirror Universe + Fireball, straight off Fireball, and straight beats with Triskelions. It is a definite advantage of the deck to be able to win without the combo, sadly, it is still very artifact heavy when it comes to wincons.

In hindsight, my sideboard was all over the place. More disenchants were needed for sure as Underworld Dreams can be a real pain with little answers for a deck poised on drawing cards until it can assemble its combo. Not sure what deck or sideboard I will pack for next year's Leprecon, the only sure thing is that you will see me there as Old School, great arrangement, great people, and good beer are a more reliable combo than Power Monolith!
Posing with the combo and one of my wincons.

lördag 14 oktober 2017

Community Spotlight: Oldschool in Québec City

With both the Eternal Central Championship and the Fishliver Oil Cup coming up in the next couple of weeks, it can be unusually tempting for an observer to view 93/94 as a large, organized format with a coherent followership. We do have 100+ player tournaments these days after all. But I still don't believe that is really the case. In the end, 93/94 is all about the grass roots; the local pubs, the local rules and tech, and the local high fives. This is what makes the format what it is. The major tournaments just gather many of these different locals to battle on a common turf. Think 1912 Olympics more than a contemporary Grand Prix.

I've been wanting to share some "community spotlights" here for quite some time. What's it like in Yekatrineburg, Manilla, Los Angeles or Québec City? Damn if I know.

Some guys do know their stuff however. In particular Christian Arcand, a weathered spellslinger from Canada. Christian quickly picked up the gauntlet when it was suggested that he shared some stories from his local crew, and gracefully went writing. This is his story of 93/94 in Québec City. Enjoy! /Mg out

The Challenger's Guide to Old Schooling

Challenges come in all forms. Some are stupider than others. I recall playing Bottle Caps drinking a whole 26oz bottle of straight up 40% alc. Bacardi rum against people drinking 4% alc. beer. Unfortunately I recall pretty much every details of the ensuing night. Boy was I stupid back then.

This one challenge was served to me by Mg when I commented one of his publication. I could have bailed out, who would know if I did? I'm just another random guy and nobody knows me 'round here anyway.

But I decided to grab the bull by the horns.

The Battlefield at the End of the Multiverse

I didn't choose to play Magic, the Gathering. Magic chose me.

Back in October (or was it November? Memory has a funny way of altering facts over time) of 1995, I was sitting in a friend's basement with another friend who took out of his backpack a deck of that new card game he discovered a couple days earlier. Then he took out a second one and proceeded to teach us the basic of that game we ever came to know by the name of "Magic". That afternoon I gave in to this world that forever changed mine.

I don't recall much from that afternoon but for one thing, Uncle Istvan. That guy could handle any other creature without even so much as a blink. He must've been the most powerful creature in Magic, right?
I remember my first starter deck. It was from 4th Edition and I spent all the pocket money I had in order to buy it. I found a Force of Nature and a Gaea's Liege inside that wonderful little box. I traded them away to get an Ice Age Kjeldoran Frostbeast because gold cards were so much better to 15 year old me.
My deck building skills were at best abysmal back then and I carried my whole collection in a 500 ct box pretty much everywhere I went. We spent lunch breaks tapping cardboards at the cafeteria. We had the time of our lives and no responsibilities holding us from playing whenever we wanted.

Fast forward 17 years.
"Choose a life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers..."
Irvine Welsh's words forebode of my adult life to come. I got to let go of Magic for some time but eventually got drawn back into it... more than once.

I now live in a different city, I was lucky enough to meet people with whom I share a common interest. That of a game drawing us together every other week for some relief from our other duties, sharing memories of the past and having a good time in general.

Let me introduce you all to the group I play with.

Québec, the Multiverse and Everything

Where are we?

The 1607 settlement founded by Samuel De Champlain, Québec City. From up North a.k.a. Canada. Eh
Modern days Québec City (credits: http://photos.rxphoenix.net)

Who are we?

A band apart. Our group comes from the merging of several other groups.
  • There are the singleton players. They evolved from playing "one of" to playing "four of". They also have their own rules for Magic, the Drinking Game. Don't try it unless you know what you're doing kid!
  • There are the '95 players. They started playing Revised to Alliance and evolved to playing '93-'94.
  • There are the '96 players. Once upon a time a couple guys started playing their own format where they played Revised to Mirage with rares and a couple outstanding uncommon cards being restricted and having a limitation of 6 restricted cards in a deck. White border was king amongst these men but black border was highly sought after. They (we!) moved on to playing '93-'94.
  • Then there are the others. A ragtag of people coming back from vintage-legacy-edh.

Where do we play?

Any basement will do. But we prefer the warmth of a hardwood kitchen table. Preferably with some fuel, ethanol in any of its form (craft beer and whisky being the most commons).

We gather for 2 official events
  • A spring tournament held at La Chope Gobline (the Goblin Beer Mug, a medieval themed restaurant) where we duel for a Goblin King
  • A summer tournament held at Le Corail (the Coral, a biker bar) where we duel for a Lord of Atlantis
(credits: http://www.lachopegobeline.com)
Both places are aptly named and can be linked to a lord available in the format. We plan on holding a fall tournament where the winner would get a Zombie Master at some point but still need to find a Hallowe'en themed place (edit: a suitable place has been found. The event will take place on November 4th at the Meldown an eSport bar).
There are also discussions for holding a two-headed giant tournament with a shared card pool for building decks. Members of the winning team would get a Two-Headed Giant of Foryis each.

When did we start?

An interesting question that is not mine to answer. I got involved 2 years ago from the '96 players and help found the '93-'94 community. But the Old School roots go back to before my time.

Our weapons of choice?

Cardboard of course! We abide by the swedish B&R but allow Revised, FBB and FWB. CE/IE are welcome at night but haven't got an official stance for tournament play yet.

Mana burn is in effect.

Who are our champions?

  • Simon, Goblin King and Lord of Atlantis holder. From the chosen many, he found his way to the crown twice.
  • Sébastien, Goblin King holder. Living away from Québec City he is. But that does not stop him from being one of our most active guy around. He drives-in to jam a couple of games whenever he can notwithstanding the distance. He is also our resident signed cards afficionado. He would rather play a signed Purelace in UR Counterburn than an unsigned Volcanic Island.
  • Guillaume, Lord of Atlantis holder. He stitched the various sub-groups together into the quilt that is our community. His musing can be found on his Old School blog (Argivian Restoration).

Name a card that can be found in our meta that stands out

Spitting Slug. What can be said about it? It survives Lightning Bolt and the weenie favorite critters. I heard it's been gaining some momemtum outside of our group recently.

Power Surge (okay that makes it 2 cards). It combos pretty well with Candelabra of Tawnos.

Who am I anyway?

I like janky decks that underperform but everyonce in a while I come up with a build that works well. I was really happy with my 2-1-1 score at the Toronto GP Old School side event last month. I was even happier when one of my opponent spontaneously granted me with an "You didn't get that deck off from the net" at the end of our match (he was on Weissman and I gave him a run for his money that ended in my favor 2-0 with my Esper robot).

So Long, and Thanks for All the Cards,

söndag 1 oktober 2017

This Month in Oldschool: September 2017

This has been a memorable month on a personal note. It started with two weeks of after work preparations, and ended with me being literally off-line for the last week. But in the middle some awesome stuff happened:
This would of course be an excellent excuse for me to write about "event cards", but alas, time has been leaping at a brisk pace and I haven't found the footing to indulge by a keyboard. I plan to have something to share on that topic before the end of October.

So what has been going on around the web this month?

Tournament reports

I think that the major tournament last month, at least as far as bragging rights and content go, was the first annual Scandinavian Championship in Arvika. Around fifty Swedes and Norwegians gathered in that dark heart of the woods to battle for joy, camaraderie, a coveted title, and an invite to the next world championship. The competition was fierce, the fatigue was real, and in the end, one man stood undefeated with his 9-0 streak (after 6-0'ing the swiss).
That's actually a Beta Clone with a the picture of Giant Shark glued on to it ;)
Jimmie has been on a huge run this season; already before this finish he was the top rated player in the PWP standings. This was the deck he used to take down the Scandinavian Championship:
One Mishra's Workshop is missing from the picture.
So far we have three tournament reports from the gathering out.
...and then we have some other stuff:

Boating, flipping, and catapulting on the Stockholm archipelago (Oldschool Mtg)
David Chambers tell the tale of the Magical Island Tour where hungry Atogs and angry waves sails him towards success.

There and Back Again: Adventures in the Pit  (MtgUnderground)
The Librarian Ben Perry Weaver a shamanic story of the Chicago Player's Ball. It's a chronicle to indulge.

GP Birmingham Old School (Brothers of Fire)
Jonas and his band of Brothers travel to GP Birmingham to join 23 mages for the old school side event. Channel Fireball rules means a slight deviation from the usual UK card pool, and his weapon of choice this time include Goblin Grenades.

I also have to mention the 93/94 FNM in Yekatrineburg, Russia. Constantine and his crew keeps marching on, and the third ever 93/94 FNM is now in the books (first two were held in Karlstad, Sweden). Five out of the six decks played were monocolored, and pretty much no power nor duals littered the tables. Very cool to see new communities evolve like this.
Ann Kveglis's finalist monoblue deck in Yekatrineburg.

From around the Web

Stand like druids of old (The Wizard's Tower)
Taylor takes us back to the fog that is monogreen; one of the most wide but fringe strategies in the format. He has tweaked his deck since last, and shares his thoughts about his updated game plan.

Episode 6 - Machine Gun & the Player’s Ball (Flippin' Orbs Podcast)
Gordon, Grant and Seb discuss the UR Artifact Aggro archetype and then interview Matt; one of the finalists from the Old School Player's Ball.

Rereading Centurion, issue #5 (End of turn, Draw a card)
Svante Landgraf keeps sharing stories from his old magazines; this time it's Centurion #5's time for review.

InQuest Issue 1, May 1995 (Part 2) (The Wizard's Tower)
Taylor also keeps his nose in the books to spread the knowledge to us with less fortunate libraries. Here he shares scans of the second half of Inquest #1.

Upcoming Gatherings

8a Liga Catalana Old School (Spain) October 8th
LCOS gather old mages for their eight showdown in Barcelona. Come deal cards and sling spells.
Top Deck Games First 93/94 Tournament (USA) October 28
Top Deck Games in Westmont, New Jersey, joins the fun and test the waters with their first ever 93/94 gathering. It's EC rules and a lax reprint policy, so if you're in the area you have no reason not to come by and show support :)

Fishliver Oil Cup 2017 (Italy) October 27-28 
Fishliver Oil Cup has quickly become one of the major European tournaments. Expect a large number of joyous players, intense Magic, and great beverages at this "Italian rules, Swedish style" tournament. Check out their awesome webpage for more info.

BSK 93/94 2017 (Sweden) Novemver 3
Once one of the flagship tournaments of 93/94 Magic, the glory that is BSK may now have Fallen wayside to gatherings like the Arvika Festival. Though we gathered over 50 players last year, as the tournament's Giant Shark now have swimmed over to Arvika, it is not unreasonable that this year will be significantly smaller. But battle we will. Perhaps even in the spirit of "old school old school".

Tournoi "All Hallow's Eve" MTG Old School 93/94 (Canada) November 4th
The Canadian players raise the stakes and gather ghouls for a fiendish Hallowen tournament in Québec City. Sleeve up your All Hallow's Eves and get ready to cast Bog Wraits.

French National Championship (France) November 18th
The first French national championship in Old School Mtg will be hosted at Waaagh Taverne in Paris Novmber 18th. Apart from honor and showing that you are of the same soil as Bertrand Lestree, an invite to the World Championship in Gothenburg is of course in the pot.

n00bcon Kval (Denmark) Novemer 25
The Danish oldschool communites gather to find their representatives for the n00bcon championship next year. The Danish players are some really sweet characters and I look forward to see what they come up with.
Team Championship (UK) November 25-26
The UK crew, in particular Christopher Cooper, will host the first 93/94 Team Championship. The format is unified oldschool. i.e. if you put all the team's decks on top of each other, the resulting pile should still be a legal (though large) deck when using the baseline B&R. The winning three-player team will get invited to the World Championships.

Gathering the Knights of Thorn #3 (Netherlands) December 3
Mari Stenhage gathers the Knights of Thorn once again, this time without a cap on the number of participants. The Dutch Old School Guild is one of the fastest growing in the world. Check out the tournament report from Knights of Thorn #2 here if you want some inspiration.

#OldschoolMail of the Month

Well, not every month can deliver Power cards or Arabian Nights boosters. I did do a couple of extravagant purchases this month as well though, but I haven't received them yet so I can barely count them as #OldschoolMail. But I did get this gem of a letter:
I like it when people pack their cards with other random cards for sturdiness, and love it when those cards are both kinda playable and have personal touch. That Ghoulsteed says "Bää!" in golden sharpie. I need to build a horror horse deck with it alongside Black Carriage and Fleshmad Steed. I will use it to throw at people, or battle pre-modern Thallid decks with. Magic is awesome. But I digress. The card I actually ordered was Recall. Recall's prominence in 93/94 has a couple of features. First, people now generally shorthands Ancestreal Recall to "Ancestral", rather than "Recall" as many did ten years ago around here. I enjoy that lack of ambiguousness. Second, I have considered it one of the least offensive cards on the Restricted list for a couple of years, and I assume that it eventually will get unrestricted. So mise well get a second copy when the opportunity arose.

In fact, a couple of weeks after I bought it, at the Scandinavian Championship, two separate players approached me and argued for the merits of unrestricting Recall. Getting feedback on the B&R is not all that uncommon during the larger Autumn gatherings, as by then usually the spring's B&R changes have settled a little, people have had the chance to brew with the changes to test their merits, and players start to look forward to the next iteration. This was a particularly heated topic five years ago, at BSK 2012, when the debate on Fallen Empires was at its highest here. And that's the segway to this months topic from social media.

This month's Topic: Fallen Empires

A few days ago this poll appeared on one of the more popular 93/94 Facebook groups:
The poll has something like 200 comments by now. I have divulged into this topic a few times before, and the post about Fallen Empires (from 2013) is one of the most commented at this blog. It is clearly a topic a lot of people care about.

First I want to burn a couple of straw men. Some people (who are pro inclusion) argue that the reason it is not included is that the play groups who decline to use it don't know what cards are in the set, and perceive it to be low power level apart from marquee cards like Hymn to Tourach. I have never heard this argument by the players who doesn't want to add FE to the card pool. Of course we know that Tax Edge would jump with joy for Rainbow Vale. I have personally smashed a lot of faces with Derelor. Everybody can envision Deep Spawn as a reanimator target and River Merfolk as a playable card. Every single set in Magic have good cards, given such a small card pool as ours, and most of us would put the average power level of Fallen Empires in front of at least The Dark, and possibly Antiquities and Legends as well.

Second, some people argue that it is not allowed because it is cheap and that wouldn't sit well with some perceived elitist view. That's not really an argument either. You are allowed to play cheap cards. I have sleeved up my Unlimited Benalish Heroes more times than I can recall. No one spits on you for playing Relic Barrier or Ironclaw Orcs. That Order of the Ebon Hand somehow shouldn't be OK due to its price tag is perplexing.
And finally, the last common straw man is that we wont include it because we're afraid of change. That's also pretty out of the blue. The baseline format has changed every year for the last decade using the B&R list as a means to that end. There's definitely no fear towards pushing some extra creativity each year at the cost of angry commenters; one could even argue that the "non-FE" versions of 93/94 have been more prone to stir the pot than the others.
The main reason we didn't include it here was that it didn't feel "oldschool" enough. Yep, that's a really subjective argument ;) But the fact of the matter is that for the great majority of the players in the mid 90s, Fallen Empires (and Revised) were everywhere. There's a reason that Chronicles didn't include Fallen Empires cards. The first two editions of Gathering and the first four expansions held a mythical quality no Magic product since have been able to reproduce. It was a big deal when you saw a Legends card, even though it technically was printed after the Revised cards we put in our bicycle spokes. We were looking for a particular feeling with 93/94, and Fallen Empires simply didn't evoke that feeling as well.

Five years ago, the arguments on Fallen Empires was a real discussion. We first tested to play with it during the inagrual Pimpvitational tournament and lengthy orations were heard from both sides. In the end, we knew that it wasn't a bad set, but that it was something else. I actually wrote an April's Fools post about us legalizing Homelands as a sort of satire over the Fallen Empires discussion; just like FE, Homelands could well be argued for inclusion in the format, but it clearly wasn't what players were looking for in old school magic (obviously even more so than FE).

So what has changed since then? Why aren't we discussing Fallen Empires the same way anymore? Because the issue has become much less of a thing. The number of gatherings have increased, and using house rules in 93/94 has been adopted in a big way (much more so than for other formats that encourage house rules, like EDH/Commander). If you want to brew with Fallen Empires today, you could just organize a tournament using Eudogames rules, EC rules, BoM rules or CFB rules. Or just make your own tweak at your local tournament.
E.g. the n00bcon 9 qualifier tournaments in Gothenburg had FE legal, along with Black Vise and Recall unrestricted and Mind Twist banned.
There are many comments in the poll mentioned above that echoes this sentiment in different ways. One of the shortest and most to the point is this one:
I think that is pretty good way at looking at it today. I mostly prefer playing Vintage to Legacy, but I don't mind sleeving up a Legacy deck every now and then. But I would mind if every Vintage tournament suddenly were removed in favor of Legacy. The popularity of the different house rules has made "oldschool" something of an umbrella term today, much like "eternal". Conforming to a least common denominator isn't necessary. When we look at the results of the poll, we see that a majority of the players who want to "officially" include Fallen Empires play in communities where it is already accepted, and a majority of the players who are against it play in communities without it. If that isn't a sign of healthy casual environment I don't know what is. And for those that argue that the issue is that they want to have deck that they can play everywhere, it's still pretty universal to build one using Swedish rules ;)

This month's deck

This month's deck is Niels Thiim's winning deck from the first Danish National Championship (September 9th). 15 players turned up to the battle, and the subtle power of Savannah Lions flanked by Serendib Efreets again showed their way to a trophy. Congrats Niels!
Let's end today with a pic of a good guy from Arvika finally trading for his first Black Lotus with an old Shark winner, and Kasper Lund's response to the morning whisper "Build me an army worthy of Mordor...".

Have a great October!