2016 Retrospective

2016 showed the highest literacy rate in history, the lowest percentage of people living in extreme poverty every, and it looks like the lowest child mortality rate we've ever seen. People are healthier, more educated and have more opportunities than any time before in history. We also flew a thing to space and had it land back here again. On the flip side, it has been the warmest year since anyone started measuring these things, and much of the political debate is very divided. All in all, I guess I would grade 2016 at 'B-'. Though flawed, a very decent year if we zoom out to the global scheme of thing. But let's zoom in to our community.
Looks like a solid 'A'.
This is the fourth time I do a retrospective post (click 2013, 2014 and 2015 if you're interested in revisiting previous ones). Every year I am surprised by the steady growth of the community and how much the players create and bring to the format. Skype Magic is a thing now. There are oldschool Instagram accounts approaching 10,000 followers these days. Some guy makes 93/94 art with 93/94 graphics. The oldschoolmtg subreddit is alive and well. I've lost count of the number of facebook groups. There are like seven other blogs with old school content.
These are all things now.
As tournaments go, I think it's cool that ChannelFireball adopted the format this year. As have Bazaar of Moxen and ManaLeak. Among the slightly earlier adopters of the large organizers we have the Ovino series, Nebraska's War and Eternal Weekend; each of them hosting major 93/94 tournaments during 2016. This year, the old school tournament at Ovino X surpassed Vintage in attendance, which is kinda insane. At the US Eternal Weekend, Jason Jaco gathered 86 mages battling, making it the largest 93/94 gathering to date. And we have 100 players from 11 different countries signed up for the yearly 93/94 World Championship in Gothenburg next Easter. I don't think there's been more activity in this kind of Magic since 1995.
Kalle Nord and Danny Friedman contemplating the zeitgeist.
This month is the most visited in the history of this blog. As almost every new month is. It has been a continuous slow and steady progress for over four years. When I started writing this blog, about four and a half years back (I was handed the reins from Christoffer "Stalin" Andersson whom started it a little over half a year earlier), we had around 350 views per month. Today we have around 2,000 per day. This autumn we passed a million views. And this is with me updating no more than once a week, and writing stuff like ridiculously convoluted posts on post-graduate mathematics or tournament reports where I can't remember all the rounds. I have no idea where the ceiling is anymore, or what would happen if we started posting clickbait articles three times a week. Top4 Reasons Mishra's Factory (Probably) Shouldn't be Restricted. 6 Solid First-Picks in Old School Drafting (Number Five Will Surprise You). Seven (Grossly) Undervalued 93/94 Cards You Should Have in Your #MtgFinance Spec Box.
Five Reasons I Need Beta Duals More Than My Modern Collection. My largest trade of 2016, and the largest sum I've ever spent in a single Magic transaction all in one picture.
But that's not what we do. Instead we write 7,000 word pieces on using software development theory to build a Sligh deck and the closest we get to #MtgFinance is that I should check my wallet for gold coins.

We have no ads, sponsors nor stakeholders other than ourselves. Tournaments like BSK, the UK Championships, and people selling cards in the name of #MtgForLife have gathered hundreds of dollars to charities this year. The glorious Party of the Pit Lords tournament in Chicago had an un-wrapped toy as entry fee, which were all donated to a community outreach program working with less fortunate families. Earlier this month in Barcelona, the Spanish players hosted an oldschool event to raise money to buy Christmas gifts for children who might not get it otherwise.
Entry fees collected in Chicago.
That's pretty damn cool, right?

Good netiquette holds that I should mention a few of my favorite posts from the year. I've linked to a few of my own already, but here goes a few other ones from around the web.
You see where I'm going with this? There is no longer a lack of content creators. There are tournaments for people to play all around the world. n00bcon, with it's pretty much negligible prize structure, has grown to the extent that we need qualifier tournaments even after we managed to raise the cap from 76 to 100 players. We have a great sense of community and camaraderie, and take pride in being nice to strangers regardless of whether they are new players in the format or homeless kids that needs Christmas presents. Whatever I hoped to achieve with these weekly updates for the last four and half years, I think it's done.
People flip Chaos Orbs again.
This format and its community is great source of pride for me. It's humbling to stand in the middle of it all. But it has become time for me to step back and acknowledge that dutifully updating this blog isn't necessary anymore.

I've been thinking about it for a long time. Updating this blog takes about eight hours a week. Reading, writing, taking pictures and editing posts and subpages. Some weeks it goes a little quicker and some weeks it takes a lot more. I'm excited to see what I would do with those hours if I were to free them. I've signed up for horseback riding lessons. I have downloaded books I want to read to my Kindle. I want to learn cross-country skiing and how to speak french. Maybe I should learn to play the harmonica or start holding more seminars on software testing. And I'm getting married next year, which is awesome.

The plan isn't to stop creating content, and I will host n00bcon for as long as people want to come. I currently still have three posts still in the works. My idea is rather to severely scale down and cut my output rate down to about 10-15 posts or articles a year; either here or at other sites that want my scribbles. If you want to contribute with a guest post here, don't hesitate to email me at delaval@gmail.com. If you want me to write something for you, feel free to give me a nudge.

I wish you all a great 2017. Let's see where we can take it.


  1. Awesomesauce! I like everything with this except the advancing rate of destruction of old cards by scribbling all kinds of weird stuff on them.

  2. Ah, can't say I'm not sad. I love your blog, man. Will look forward to your monthly or so posts. Thanks for this whole site and everything you e done to boost the 93/94 community, and enjoy your new endeavors!

    P.S. I get the push for a mishra's factory restriction. Played my bro the other night in about 16 matches and wow, most games came down to board control followed by an assault of factories. They are fairly good and I see overplayed. Not saying I'm on board entirely, but I would be less bitter if it happens.

    Thanks again!

    1. Thanks a lot man! Feels weird (and a little scary) to drastically cut down on the writing I've be doing for such a long time now. It has very much become a part of my weekly routine. I hope I manage to use the time for something relevant :)

      Regarding the Factory, I was building and playtesting with Kalle Nord this week regarding a possible restriction. And some things we found was rather counterintuitive. Decks like e.g. BW Party Crasher and Distress becomes MUCH worse when opponents doesn't use Factories as wincons anymore. Crimson Disco and Sligh loses a lot of their viability. And after playtesting with a The Deck using Mirror Universe + Fireball as the main wincon (along with miser's The Hive), I can't say that it lost a significant amount of its punch. Instead of slowly beating down with factories, you win after a long game with a single Fireball. And all the imitations a factory can do of a moat doesn't hold a candle to when The Deck starts playing actual Moats instead (ones that don't die to Lightning Bolt or Sinkhole). So I'm still sitting on the fence for now ;)

  3. On a more fun note, that altered chaos orb with guardian beast is amazing. Never a big fan of altered cards, but I would definitely do this to mine. I love it!

    1. Haha, yeah, that Orb is sweet! Unfortunately not mine though, it belongs to Kalle Nord ;)

  4. I love reading the blog, but you should do what feels best for you, Magnus. Write only when it makes you happy. We live in the future now, and we need to take care of it.

  5. Who did the alter on the orb? You think they'd do it again? I'm obsessed with it. Mines pretty beat up anyways, not like I'm killing a nm card. I think all chaos orbs should be beat anyways. Just seems more right.

  6. Your blog gave me the drive to start mine. I have love for everything you do. You are always welcome as a guest on the Underground, and I will hit you up in the next month or two about something I want to write for your blog. Happy New Year and best of everything with your endeavors, both magic and otherwise.

  7. Love the blog and it'll be sad to see less content but I'm in full support of you doing what you need to do. You're welcome to do a post at the wizard's tower anytime!

  8. Thank you for the nice words :)

    @Ryan: It's a Ken Meyer Jr alter.

    @Ben: Thanks a lot. I have one post in mind for you as well, if you're interested once it's done. It's a topic that I think fits better at the MtgUnderground blog. Might be a month before it's finished though.

    @Taylor: I'd be happy to. I saw in one of your posts that you were interested in posting reviews of earlier Duelists. I have Duelist #1 and could e.g. write a review of that one if you'd like.

    1. That would be awesome. I'm super curious about what's inside the first issue. Whenever you get around to it you can email me at gamache.taylor@gmail.com.

  9. Epic as always Magnus! You have set the wheel of fortune spinning together with lots of friends out there. This is still just the beginning of our old school format! :)

  10. are chinese high quality fakes getting into the market in Northern europe too?
    Lots of 93 94 "only" cards so I suspect some people ordering proxies do play 93 94

    1. Haven't heard of anyone using them nor seen them. But the culture against fakes in the 93/94 community up here is harsh. Knowingly playing with fakes/"high-end proxies" is pretty much the only reason I can think of that would make me permanently ban a player from attending tournaments I host. There's no tolerance for those kind of fakes here; it's so easy just to make a proxy with a basic land and a sharpie or even just print out a card yourself if someone wants to playtest.


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