Thursday rant

Those last two posts with Danish tech are hard to follow up! Very entertaining and innovative decks. It's nice to see how other local groups approach the format. I think that Hans and his playgroup are the only ones who actually puts even more constraints on legal sets and cards than us, with their ban on P9 + LoA. The Norweigian players, who are hosting the first tournament in Moss in six weeks, go for the standard Swedish approach. A few other groups in Europe, including many of the Italian, French and German players, allow Revised and in some cases Renaissance and Chronicles. The main difference between the groups outside of the US is however if the allow Revised or not. E.g. the Russians stop at Unlimited like us, while e.g. the Australians have a very open reprint policy.
Russian tech, UG aggro vs. Brw Control. Watch it!

 Australian tech, Eel vs. Monoblack.

Yep, there's a 93/94 scene in Australia :) They hosted their first tournament at their yearly Eternal Weekend, and plan to run the next one the day before GP Sydney this year.

In the US, things looks a little more complicated. Different groups have different approaches on not only Revised and Chronicles, but on Fallen Empires, the B&R list, local rules and errata, and how to approach proxies (no proxies, CE/IE proxies, or anything goes). This is pretty much in line with how different playgroups approached Magic in 1994 though ;)
I guess it makes it a little harder to tech for different tournaments across the states. It doesn't seem to discourage people that much though; there are close to 50 players signed up for the Eternal Central Old School Tournament this weekend. It is one of the largest Old School tournaments ever, at this point second only to n00bcon. Very impressive, and I hope the ones of you going will have a great time. Just remember to practice flipping Chaos Orbs at different stages of inebriation before the tournament. It sucks when you realize that you can't hit water in a thunderstorm after the third round in the swiss.

As for a uniform list of rules and B&R, I don't think trying to enforce unity in the rules is that necessary. Though I like to have a common ground to stand on, house rules are about as old school as it gets. If you're playing expensive old cards with good people, have a beer in proximity, and are having a good time, you're doing it right.
Legalizing Black Vise does have its perks. Like being able to play old school Stax.
So what about the original B&R from October 1994? Well, if we'd use that, I strongly suspect that a modern interpretation of Maysonett Balance would be the highly opressive tier1, The Deck with 4-off Mana Drain would be a decent tier2, and everyone else would have a really bad time. With Underworld Dreams and Berserk restricted it would be even harder for any non-control decks to catch the occasional win. The format is a replica of Magic in 1994, not a copy, and having fun is more important than being completely historically accurate. As for accurate B&R-lists btw, there were no less than seven different B&R-lists in 1994, and this was at a time before the general public had access to the internet. Knowing which cards were restricted at what time and place was definitly not for everyone.

As for playing with the original rules and B&R from 1994, it can easily get weird quickly. I have written a little bit about the original rules here, and how timing changed between 1993-1999 here. But there are implications even with small changes. Take mana burn for example, which might be the most debated rule to bring back. We don't use it here mostly to avoid confusion and have a solid set of rules. There are a few rules from back when I really like personally (Damage prevention step is sweet, e.g. making Manabarbs shut down circle red is great for monored; and I really enjoy the old rules for face down creatures with Illusionary Mask). Mana burn very rarely comes up, and it is rare that it has an impact. It makes Mirror Universe better and Su-Chi worse, but that's close to it. The impact on Mana Drain has been pretty much neglible from my experience.
It is not enough to make this card even remotely fair.
So if it's almost neglible and some players like it, why don't use it? Well, it can get pretty confusing for a very small return in game play value. If we look at the old rules for mana burn, they state that "When a phase ends (but not a step), any unused mana left in a player’s mana pool is lost. That player loses 1 life for each one mana lost this way. This is called mana burn. Mana burn is loss of life, not damage, so it can’t be prevented or altered by effects that affect damage.".

So Su-Chi then. Before sixth edition rules, combat was not an own phase but a part of the main phase. If Su-Chi dies in combat should we use the combat rules from 1999 to handle it (so we can't use the mana in our second main), or should we say that combat is not a phase anymore, so we can use the mana but get burned if we don't? What about upkeep? Mana didn't burn until the main phase as upkeep is step in the beginning phase (along with untap and draw). Should mana stay until draw? That have some implications for using e.g. Icy Manipulator on a land in upkeep, in particular if there's something like a tapped Mana Vault in play. The easiest answer to that question is probably to play 93/94 magic with 2015 rules with the exception of using mana burn from 1999 with phases and steps emptying from the 2010 rules change? Whichever way you look at it, unless we go back to the original turn structure, something will be a little "off" with mana burn, or at least how mana stays between steps. It's most certainly possible to create a solid modern interpretation of mana burn, but for us the current rules worked best to avoid picking different rules from different times to try and create an "intuitive" version of it.

What else? The big one is the Eternal Weekend tournament in a couple of days. The weekend after that though, it's finally time for Pimpvitational again. My deck is finished, and I really enjoy just looking at it. It might not be the best deck in the history of the game, but it is one of the sweetest ones I've played. I wont show to much in order to not spoil any tech, but these are a few of the things we might expect in nine days.

Berserk on Riven. Now that's an achievement.

If anyone who attends the Eternal Weekend Old School tournament would like to write a short report about it, I'd love to post it here. Now go and check out the youtube videos at for some inspiration.


  1. Glad to hear you're upholding the spirit of house rules, and sticking to your approach in general! Personally, I think Magic was more fun when people did what they felt like and didn't know too much about what other people were doing. And yes, I'm aware of the irony of posting that on a blog. :)

    (Finkel is a jerk, by the bye.)

    -- David F

  2. Swedish Benchmark is the best one. Revised or not is not a big change and we think each community has to choose if allows them or not. The only problem of Swedish benchmark is that foster a blue based deck trend because of p9. Danish tournament showed that without p9 there is a creativity boost, but without p9 it is not old school at all. So what is the solution?

    We strongly believe that maintain Swedish benchmark is the best thing (with or without revised nothing change), but it is also a good idea to develop a second parallel old school formart shifting legality from ABU to revised, the legal sets sould be: Revised, AN, ANT, LEG, TD, Fallen and Homelands. In this way we will have a second Old School format for very creative people and for whose have not p9. This kind of Old School T2 including all the stand alone sets will boost creativity and number of decks.

  3. Whatever the banned list, I think all printings of a card should be legal. I understand the aesthetic appeal of all original cards. In my opinion the best way to represent your personal style is to express it with your own deck rather than restrict what cards other players use. New players who are interested in the format will inevitably use revised and collectors cards, so I think at the very least cards with the original art and frame should be allowed. I know my opinion is not popular with many people who already play the format. It's easy to not be inclusive when you are already in a club, but I imagine in the old days of magic, players were just excited to play magic and would be happy to play with new players regardless of their collection's prestige.

    1. We're inclusive. Everybody is free to play and have fun at the tournament as long as you play with what you can afford to get (and tbh borrow from friends) and don't act like you're entitled to get to the same collection and the same point as somebody who have devoted years and $50k of their savings.

      In Sweden we have several people sleeving up their Mono-black, Mono-white, Mono-green and join us for a pint and a good time. Kristoffer Karlsson even tends to top8 or better our events with his mono-black deck.

  4. My playgroup tried the format, but we agreed to include the reprint sets having the original art. This means that we included revised, chronicles and 4th edition. The tech and oldschool feel is the same, in fact the 4th edition cards are better-looking than both unlimited and in particular revised. This allowed sufficient players and it is up to each how much the decks are pimped with black bordered cards. We agree that fallen empires is quite lame and should be excluded, despite its impact on the format would be very limited anyway as there are only 2-3 playable cards in it.


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