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!


  1. The Eternal Central Old School tournament during Eternal Weekend (okay, immediately prior, on October 19) was somehow left off of the Upcoming Events list!!!

    1. It was not announced until two days ago, after this post was already published. Here's the registration link:

  2. Glad you like your extra cards :)


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