The return of The Deck

Twenty years ago, two guys named Brian and Matt lived together in Santa Cruz. This was at a time before the web was common knowledge, and before the printing of Legends. Brian and Matt playtested relentlessly between their classes at UCSC, and their creations would change the face of Magic decks forever. Before a tournament in San Francisco, they had created a monster of a Deck with 4-offs of the two cards they though were the most powerful non-restricted cards in Magic at that point; Mind Twist and Library of Alexandria. They first named it "The Mind Twist Deck", but Matt then shortened the name to simply "The Deck". It was miles ahead of it's time, and Brian described Matt's journey in the tournament as "a hot knife through butter". It easily won the San Francisco tournament and then crushed their local scene during the coming months, until Mind Twist and the Library eventually got restricted. With the printing of Legends however, The Deck got access to Mana Drain, Moat and Recall.

"One down, three to go!" -Magic, April 1994
 At that time, playing a deck - any deck - with 2-3 win conditions were unheard of. Matt and Brian's deck rewrote the conceptions of what a deck should like. This early 1995 version of The Deck, which won DundraCon, is probably their most famous version:

4 Disenchant
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Mana Drain
4 Counterspell
1 Red Elemental Blast
2 Moat
2 Disrupting Scepter
1 Jayemdae Tome
2 Serra Angel
1 Chaos Orb
1 Regrowth
1 Demonic Tutor
2 Balance
1 Mind Twist
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Timetwister
1 Recall
5 Moxen
1 Sol Ring
1 Black Lotus
4 City of Brass
4 Tundra
4 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island
2 Scrubland
2 Strip Mine
1 Library of Alexandria

Robert Hanh, who wrote some of Magic's first real strategy articles, got hold of of Brian's tech, and named one of the "Schools of Magic" after him. Even today the name Brian Weissman is synonymous with maybe the most important deck of all time. Matt didn't play as much after the first few years, and didn't have the same success at the Pro Tour. I recently read an interesting post by him from 2003 at a (non-magic related) forum though:

"I don't play any more. My college roommate and I were fanatics. We got in at the tail end of the first expansion set (Arabian Nights, I think it was called). My roommate, Brian Weissman, was quite famous in that little circle -- he did the M:tG commentary on ESPN2, was one of the contributors to the first magic book, etc. I myself won the first Manafest tournament in San Francisco. I was playing a blue/black Mind Twist deck, before that card was restricted. I didn't get to go to the national qualifier, but I heard 15 of 16 of the final 16 decks in that match were more or less copies of mine.

Brian and I invented what we called 'The Deck' - it was the first blue/white permission deck. I beat Zak Dolan, who was the first world champion of M:tG, 11 out of 11 games when I played him at Stanford. (Not that this was a real accomplishment; his win at the championships was quite the fluke)"

Ah, Zak Dolan. I should email him for an interview some day.

In Old School Magic, up until the restriction of Mana Drain a year ago, different versions of The Deck were utterly dominant. It was described as though "the only tier1 deck is The Deck, and no other deck is even tier2". Even though winning isn't the main goal for our tournaments, it was a little disheartening to know that you simply wouldn't win a tournament unless you played control. After the restriction of Mana Drain, the Deck seemed to take a backseat in our format, and both Kingvitational 0.5 and BSK 2013 was won by White weenie. There were very few control decks at both tournaments.

Åland's 2nd place deck from Kingvitational 1 last weekend.
This year we've seen a resurgence though. Two players have competed with new versions of The Deck in tournaments the last months, and both times they've showed again how powerful it really is. Jocke Almelund crushed the Pimpvitational with his The Deck, and Mikael "Åland" Johansson took a very similar version of The Deck to the finals of Kingvitational 1 last weekend. Without the 4-off Mana Drain, it's no longer the only viable choice, but it is certainly one of the absolute top decks in the format when piloted correctly. Åland has stated that he has improved the deck further in preparation for n00bcon, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the top8 again this year.

On that note, we are already 30 people signed up for n00bcon 6, a week after it first was announced and with over a month left until the tournament. It might be the largest and sweetest 93/94 tournament yet. Join if you have the opportunity!


  1. Love this post!

  2. Borde starta team "The new deck" med Jocke Almelund


  3. @Kalle: Thanks! I really like the history of the early pioneers in deckbuilding. It feels pretty sweet that we play with the exact same cards as they had access to in those days :)

    @Åland: That would be actually be pretty interesting! You both have lots of solid finishes with control decks, would be cool to see what you come up with if you'd work together,


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