Today I wont be writing about old school Magic. It will be a rare departure from the topic of this site, but figured it's my blog and I can occassionaly write whatever. Vote Bernie Sanders. Don't drink and drive. Night of the Hunter is awesome. Unit test your code. Here's a bad resolution pic of a bunch of moxen powering out a 0/0 Wood Elemental.
Let's go back a few years, eight or so. We're in the time before smartphones, iPads, instagram and the Obama administration. Black Lotus costs $600 and most people have never heard of Elder Dragon Highlander. It's not back in old school times by any means, but it is a while ago. I was studying computer science, working in a dive bar, and still felt the occasional sting of nerd shame. I had my friends and I had my magic friends, but I rarely combined the two worlds. Magic was Team 0-2 Drop with Kalle, Grip, Elof, Fork and Freespace. The 93/94 format was less than a year old, and had something like five players.

Though the players were already rad.
Enter Arvid Grahn. Arvid had moved into the same apartment building as me. We'd seen each other a few times at the local gaming store Backstab before. I remember him being highly entertained by witnessing a 93/94 matchup between Kalle and myself. I had experienced a kind of rough night before, and had gotten my hair shaven off with a razor somewhere in the haze. So there I was, in an overheated game store with beady eyes and sweat dripping from my newly shaved dome onto my Alpha Sea Serpents, them swimming across a Phantasmal Terrain to victory. When Arvid checked, and realized he had just moved into the same building as I, he sent me a PM and asked for a showdown. I went down to his apartment with my Thrull deck and a few 2,8% ABV beers, and he responded with his Lhurgoyf deck and beers of his own. It was The Ultimate Matchup.

Arvid was a man of many trades; well versed in music, literature and the arts. At the time he was studying for his bachelor's degree in theology, and had a penchant for both the finer and fowler of beers. As such, we spent many nights drinking cheap beer, ranting about culture and philosophy, and playing The Ultimate Matchup. I brought him to Rotary pub, where I worked, and shortly after he also started to take up shifts there.

The pub was my second living room. The people who worked there, pro bono I might add, was a ragtag motley crew of winners and sinners. And with us came youthful decadence. I wont delve too deep into stories, but at some point, when we had had security guards called to the pub three times in two weeks and we were forbidden to play music after midnight, we realized that checking for wounds maybe shouldn't be a part of the morning ritual five times a week. We drank a lot back then, by any standards, and we needed an excuse to stay sober while hanging out. Enter LDM, LhurDay Magic.

Arvid had no nerd shame whatsoever, and proudly talked about his Magic exploits in the pub. It was infectious. A couple of other people who worked in the pub, Erik and Honka, who used to play back in the Masques days, decided to dust of their old cards and start playing. With a couple of Arvid's friends, another former player from the pub, and Kalle from Team 0-2 Drop, we started to play Magic together every Saturday night. The rules were simple, casual Magic and no strong alcohol. It is kind of amusing when I think of it, rather than being Magic friends that started to go out and drink together, we were drinking friends that decided to sober up a bit and play Magic instead. The team was named Squattlehaups, after my Orcish Squatters / Jokulhaups deck from Ice Age block.
Honka flanked by The Brothers. Merfolk, Beasts and Shapeshifters. Light beer.

So that was the setting. We played a lot of the old 0-2 Drop formats, like 93/94 and Broken Tribal Multiplayer. We also came up with a bunch on our own in the pub, like FallenHomelands (with basics banned), Chromiumatic, Reject Rare Constructed and Tribelander. Of these, Tribelander was the favorite by far. A couple of years later, Arvid wrote a primer about the format at SvM (in Swedish) which expanded it a little outside our local playgroup to other players in Sweden. We haven't written anything about it apart from that article though, and I find myself referencing the format quite often, so I figured it could be a good idea to share the rules should someone be interested in trying it out. So here we go.

Basic rules for deck contruction:
* A deck must contain at least 100 cards
* At least 30% of the deck must be creatures with the same creature type. This is your tribe.
* Creatures and Tribal cards that don't share a creature type with your tribe are banned.
* Non-creature cards that create creature tokens outside your tribe, or can become a creature outside your tribe, are banned.
* All non-creature spells in your deck must share a color with a creature in you deck.
* Non-land cards that don't share a creature type with your tribe are restricted.
* Planeswalker cards are banned unless they clearly belong to the tribe (e.g. Vraska is ok in Gorgons and Tamiyo is ok in Moonfolk).
* If a creature "works with the tribe" flavorwise but is not a creature in the tribe, it is restricted instead of banned (e.g. Endrek Sahr is restricted in Thrulls, Ratcatcher is restricted in rats)

Format specific rules:

* Each player starts at 30 life
* "Partial Paris" mulligans are allowed
* The starting player gets a draw phase
* Triggered or activated abilities that make you win the game or make an opponent lose the game have no effect instead.
* If a player has the choice to perform a series of actions an arbitrary number of times, such as with e.g. Pestermite and Splinter Twin, that player cannot choose to perform that action more than once each turn. In short, "infinite combos" are banned.

* Boseiju, Who Endures
* Dust Bowl
* Emeria, the Sky Ruin
* Gaea's Cradle
* Library of Alexandria
* Mishra's Workshop
* Mystic Sanctuary
* Starlit Sanctum
* Strip Mine
* Tolarian Academy
* Notorious Throng

* Ancestral Recall
* An-Zerrin Ruins
* Biorhythm
* Black Lotus
* Cyclonic Rift
* Darksteel Forge
* Engineered Plague
* Expropriate
* Exsanguinate
* Goblin Recruiter
* Gray Merchant of Asphodel
* Humility
* Icon of Ancestry
* Insurrection
* Limited Resources
* Maze of Ith
* Moxen (Emerald, Jet, Pearl, Ruby, Sapphire)
* Overwhelming Splendor
* Panoptic Mirror
* Plague Engineer
* Rise of the Dark Realms
* Staff of Domination
* Time Stretch
* Time Vault
* Time Walk
* Upheaval
* Vanquisher's Banner
* Venser's Journal
* Wanderwine Prophets
* Dexterity cards (Chaos Orb and Falling Star)
* Ante cards (except Rebirth)

In addition, the following tribes are banned:
* Angels
* Avatars
* Eldrazi
* Elementals
* Humans
* Slivers
* Vampires
* Wizards

House rules:
Anyone playing Confusion in the Ranks or Thieves' Auction may be punched in the face. Anyone winning with Timetwister or Jokulhaups still in hand shouldn't call themselves a winner. 

Treefolk vs Shapeshifters, last tribes standing.
The format has a tendency to balance itself. If someone is showing up with Dragons or Angels, it's fairly certain that the other players will gang up on him or her first. The more casual tribes and slightly worse decks are often a better bet to stay alive. At the final table at WSK, the tribes represented were Snakes, Giants, Plants and Sphinxes. I wouldn't blatantly state that it's a better format than EDH, but it's really sweet. And it's nice to find a home for my Blood Pets.
Tribelander Thrulls.
So, that's Tribelander. If you enjoy diplomatic and conflict-ridden multiplayer Magic, you could try it out. Kinda surprisingly, the Tribelander tournament at WSK actually attracted more players than the Standard, Modern, 93/94 and Vintage tournaments at the convention. It's good Magic.

For those of you distracted by all the modern cards and in need of some more Old School fix, here's a picture of another mediocre turn one play in 93/94:
That Badlands should probably have been a Bayou.
In other news, Orlando player Michael Parler just set up a forum for Old School Mtg at A forum feels more old school than Facebook, and as it will probably take Hardy and I many months before we get something to show for our old school web page, I recommend giving Michael's forum a look. It  could be a good gathering place for players around the world :)


  1. Thank you so much for this post, for the Tribelander info, and for the awesome story! :) Every format should have that rule about Confusion in the Ranks.

    -- David F

    1. Thanks a lot man, glad you appreciated it :)

  2. The same Arvid had a a huge or the most impact in my magic career.

    It all started the day before Christmas break in the first year of middle school. Arvid was playing some card game with another childhood friend of mine, so I went over and asked a few questions, abut the art, how to play, what the different colors meant etc. At that time I did not know him very well but both of them were helpful and nice.

    Fueled by their enthusiasm I decided I would spend my allowance on the game, the problem however was that in our town Magic was nowhere to be found. We had to go to the other town next to ours. After some tips on what I as a newbie should buy of I went. After arriving to the tobacco store (Knalles) I bought one starter of Fifth Edition and one Booster of Visions. I knew what cards were good because Arvid had already instructed me that Vampiric Tutor and Crusade were really good. I was lucky because I managed to get Vampiric Tutor, Crusade and Nevinyrral's Disk at the time I believe that was the best things you could actually pull.

    I traded the Vampirirc Tutor and the Crusade for basically a whole green mana accelerator deck with grow giant or smth like that. I thought it was a great trade since the Tutor would give you a card that you eventually draw anyway, and with the drawback of giving up two lives, I could not understand why it would was that awesome.

    Fast forward until Christmas morning I had told my parents about this new card game I was playing to hint that I wanted it for Christmas, of course being great parents they had already bought me some. However they had bought me Portal Second Age Starter pack which at the time was completely useless because you could not play with it in any tournament. I think that it was the day before Christmas that I told them about the Portal Second Age problem. So they actually went to the next town and bought me an Ice Age starter deck, I can however not remember what was in it at all.

    After Christmas we have this giant sale kind of like Black Friday-Boxing day but way crappier so my family went down to another big town Gothenburg to do some shopping. It just so happened that my older cousin had been playing magic a year or so before me, so he let me buy his piles of cards that were in a cookie jar for 40-50$.In retrospect it was a bad deal because the best card was a Birds of Paradise from Revised (I think). Anyway I took my cards to Tv-Spelsborsen where you could actually buy and sell single cards. They looked through my cards and only wanted my BoP which I gladly sold because all of my elves were way better having 1 attack, who would ever need different colored mana? With my new found money I bought two more VIsions boosters trying to get another Vampiric Tutor, that did however not happen I got an Aku Djinn and some other crap rare.

    The rest of the Christmas break was spent playing MTG with Arvid in his house at his old Wooden table, drinking tea and probably listening to Iron Maiden.

  3. Mg, I think we should legalize Rebirth in 93/94 magic too! that would be awsome :D Think about the newbie with his Mono G deck for 300$ flip up an Unl Juggernaut for ante would you do the same with your Project M? ;)



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