tisdag 26 december 2017

Gathering of the Knights of Thorn III – Tournament Report

Today we have the pleasure to share a guest report from the Netherlands, where the third Gathering of the Knights of Thorn recently took place. Our guide is
Richard Veenman, a recently relapsed veteran of old card board. His weapon of choice is Ernham Burn'em, and his battlefield is the largest gathering the quickly growing Dutch community has seen yet. Enjoy, and happy holidays! /Mg out

After playing, collecting & selling MtG from 1995 till the summer of 2000 I sold all my cards. it was time to venture into other games, eventually this would be poker. In the years that followed, once every couple of years we would play a booster draft but that was just about it. I loved MtG when I started (just after Ice Age was released) but when the popularity of MtG shifted from "Type 1" to "Type 2" most of the fun was over for me. I never regretted selling all my cards but I never forgot the fun I had playing Type 1 tournaments. those were some sweet memories.

A couple of years back my buddy, with whom I used to play, collect & sell MtG, started buying vintage MtG cards again. I wasn’t interested because there wasn’t really a format in which you could play them. Why buy a Mox if it’s only sitting in your binder? That changes at the beginning of this year when my buddy found out that there apparently was a format called 93/94 and it was gaining popularity fast in the Netherlands!

It immediately peaked my interest and after trying to restrain myself from starting to play again due to the expensiveness of the cards nowadays, I bought my first cards in June 2017. I should never have done that... Without further extending this intro, I bought way too many cards, played as often as I could and couldn’t wait for my first tournaments: The Gathering of the Knights of Thorn III.

The Tournament:

In 1995 I always played Erhnam Burn’Em and the first cards I bought this year were to rebuild this deck. Obviously I tweaked it after 22 years, since Incinerate isn’t 93/94 legal, Berserk isn’t restricted anymore, Chaos Orb is somehow made legal (and fun), and Mishra Factory got a great upgrade compared to back in the day.
Red/Green Erhnam Burn’Em

Match 1 – Thomas Meddens: Orbatron
Outside my very small playgroup of 3 people, I hardly played against other people but I had played against Thomas in a small table kitchen gathering in Amsterdam. Back then he played a black weenie deck but this time, already before we knew we would play each other, he was happy to tell me he had a new deck: Orbatron!! (Uhm, what?)

Game 1:
He won the die roll, played an Urza’s land and it was my turn. Mishra, Black Lotus, Erhnam Djinn and we had a laugh. Mishra’s Workshop, Su-Chi. Okay, this is going fine since my creature is bigger! I attack, he takes his 3rd turn and plays Maze of Ith and a Winter Orb, aha now I get the Orbatron, argh! My Djinn gets untapped each time he attacks, Icy Manipulator tables in Turn 4 and I’m not recovering from this old fashioned Icy/Orb combo, damn!
1st Turn Erhnam Djinn
Game 2:
Mulligan to 6, Mox Emerald, lots of green stuff but no lands at all but I refuse to Mulligan to 5 since I’m able to table something with my Mox. Scry, no land, damn! I get a Taiga in turn 3, table a Kird Ape which attacks in turn 4. Mishra’s Factory blocks, I play 2 Giant Growths and 1 Berserk for 13 trample damage which puts him on 6 due to a City of Brass, I love my pump spells! He then has a Sylvan Library with Sindbad (draw a card, put it in your hand if it’s a land, otherwise discard it) so can start looting his Library. My Scryb Sprites gets a Fireball for 6 (you can never be too sure), I table an Erhnam, he misses an orb flip, I hit an Orb Flip, I strip his Mishra, he blocks the Erhnam on his Triskelion and tables an Icy again to hold back my Erhnam. Unfortunately I still don’t have red mana to kill him with my Fireball at hand so I lose, 0-2, damn!

Match 2 – Bye
39 players, so somebody needs to get a bye. I didn’t bring any cards for trade since I only wanted to focus on playing. I look around, 39 players, awesome! This really feels like back in the day, only 3 more matches to go after this one, let’s have some fun!

Match 3 - Wikke Westra: Black/Red Ponza
Game 1:
I need to mulligan and explain him I’m allowed to scry after taking 6. It was new to him, just like it was new to me a couple of months ago, this wasn’t around in 93/94! He doesn’t really get anything going, although I have to play against another Maze of Ith, one of the best cards against my deck I noticed. I was able to table various small creatures and nibble away his life until he’s dead.

Game 2:
Whatever I table he burns it and he destroys my land at the same time as well. Unfortunately for him I have just enough lands and draw a creature each time one gets killed. I can use my Scavenger Folk against his 1st Juggernaut, Bolt the 2nd Juggernaut and again I nibble away his life points. He plays a Wheel of Fortune which gives me an Erhnam, Berserk and Lightning Bolt to finish the game, 2-0!

Match 4 - Thomas Posthuma: Blue/Red/Green Zoo
Thomas had won all his matches so far and had won the last Gathering of the Knights of Thorn. We play the same style deck but with the extra (blue) power it’s a tough match-up. To be honest, I love racing, so let’s start!

Game 1:
He takes a mulligan, we race hard! Within a couple of minutes I decide the game in my favor, it was so fast and I was so focused that I hardly recall any plays.

Game 2:
I doubt what to sideboard: Red Elemental Blasts? He will probably board Blue Elemental Blasts, hmm. 3 Cards I’m 100% certain about and being able to sideboard that card is one of biggest upsides of not splashing blue in my deck: Blood Moon! This card is great against Control Decks but also against URG Zoo and it doesn’t hurt my deck that much so now I only have to draw it.

I just draw enough burn spells to kill his first couple of creatures. Due to playing against a lot of City in a Bottles last time (hardly any White Weenie’s this time actually), he prefers Juggernaut above Erhnam Djinn, my Lightning Bolts agree with that! I table a Blood Moon which leaves him in a pickle, he draws a Blue Elemental Blast which destroys my Blood Moon but his strip mine got tapped by playing something else before that. We both have a Mishra, he is a little ahead and I decide to use my strip mine to strip his. My Mishra hold back his Mishra and I’m able to get ahead. After he desperately plays a Wheel of Fortune, hoping to turn the tide, I can finish him off, 2-0 again!

Match 5 - Ruben Kiewiet: Black/Blue/White
If I win this one I might play the final Top 4! Eventually due to the high turn-out it was decided to play a final Top 8 but I still needed to win to get there.

Game 1:
I start with Mountain, Kird Ape. I have a Taiga as well but most of the time table it the 2nd turn to prevent it from being stripped, Sinkhole’d etc. He plays a Mind Twist and my hand is gone, including my Taiga. Mind Twist is such a great card, how the hell can I recover from this? Lucky for me he doesn’t draw any blue mana sources, is not able to play any threats and magically I’m able to win the game, this was surprising after the bad start.

Game 2:
I had hardly seen any cards (only some Black & White cards) so wasn’t sure what to sideboard, every advantage has its disadvantage. He starts this time with a Mox Sapphire, 2 Mishra’s but no Black & White mana. I went all-in fast, had three 1/1 creatures and although I already had the game in the pocket with a Giant Growth and Berserk in my hand, to make it even worse he misses his orb flip so it just wasn’t his match. 2-0 again and I have reached the final Top 8!

Quarter Finals - Florian von Bredow: Sort of Machine Head
Florian is one of 2 German players who came over to the Netherlands. Since the German border is only 35 minutes away this tournament is a great opportunity for German players to come as well!
The Top 8, playing at table #2 against Florian
Game 1:
He needs to take a mulligan while my hand is pretty strong. He gets somewhat mana screwed and I’m able to take down the game easily but again had no clue what to sideboard the next game since I didn’t see a lot of cards. Since he was sitting next to me the previous game a lesson learned: pay attention to the players around you!

Game 2:
I think he played a 1st turn Juzam Djinn and an Erhnam shortly after but even if he didn’t, I lost without putting up a fight, easy win for him and as easy some of my victories were, sometimes you are at the other side of the coin.

Game 3:
I take 2 Whirling Dervish from my sideboard and I’m able to cast it turn 2 already. It grows bigger each turn and I can smell victory having 3 creatures in play. His Bird of Paradise is useful to cast a variety of cards, one of them being a Balance, ouch. Luckily since he had a living BoP I could keep my Whirling Dervish which had 3 or 4 counters already at that time. He needs to discard cards since I’m only holding 1, with an Underworld Dreams in play he plays a Timetwister but is out tapped and doesn’t draw a Black Lotus or something to go crazy. I only need a burn card, Giant Growth or Berserk to win it, with 7 cards to draw I was bound to get something useful! 2-1, ready for the semi-finals!

Semi-Finals - Joep Meddens: Geddonless Erhnamgeddon
I had played Joep’s brother in the 1st round and know him a little bit from the same small gathering in Amsterdam. I know what deck he plays and I’m looking forward to the match. Top 8 was already great in my 1st tournament but Top 4 somehow felt really special. Let’s get ready to rumble!
Joep’s Geddonless Erhnamgeddon
Game 1:
Joep starts with a Library of Alexandria and is able to draw cards, more cards, and after he plays a Ley Druid (taps to untap target land), many more cards. Since he didn’t draw any non-white mana for some time I was able to hold on for a while but since he was drawing 3 times as many cards as I did, this game was doomed!

Game 2:
Time for my Blood Moons! Lot’s of non-basic lands and that damned Library so again I was happy with my choice not to splash blue :) I tried to do as much early damage as possible which worked out pretty well with my Erhnam. When he tabled an Erhnam as well, at 8 life points, I had to make a crucial choice: continue to attack and use my giant growth to kill his creature(s) or make use of his Erhnam as it gives forest walk, which lets me nibble away his life points slowly again. I opted for the latter and it worked out great, 1-1 and still everything to play for!

Game 3:
Mox Emerald, Forest, Pendelhaven, Mishra, 2 Llanowar Elves and 1 Scavenger Folk to start with. Just with my Kird Ape/Mountain/Taiga start, without really thinking I start with Mox, Forest and 2 Elves. I know he plays Ice Storms, but think Pendelhaven is the better play here. Turn 2 I play my Pendelhaven and not my Mishra, this small error I realize as soon as I table it, you always remember the mistakes you make in crucial games like this but they happen all the time.
Joep has a Sylvan which lets him draw the cards he needs but he can’t afford 4 life to draw an extra card, not against my deck at this stage. I table a Blood Moon and can smell the victory since it leaves him with only red mana for the moment. I really thought I had him at this moment! With his Sylvan he looks at the top 3 cards, one of them being a Mox Pearl which enables him to play a Disenchant, plan failed...

He tables a Serra Angel, which I try to kill with a Pendelhaven/Giant Growth on my 1/1 creature when attacking, but a Swords to Plowshares saves the Angel, another plan failed. He plays Erhnam Djinn just like last game and all I think about is Forest walk, this could win me the game again. I sit back and in his upkeep I gently ask, which creature gets Forest walk? After he points at my Scavenger Folk I look at the board and notice that he doesn’t have any Forest! I played professional poker for 5 years so this shouldn’t be a problem but lots of people are watching the game as well at this time. In my turn I attack bravely with my Forest walking creature, bluffing right through his armada of blockers.
With a Serra Angel and Erhnam chopping away at my life points I have only 1 turn left to live. Joep has 4 life points left, I need a pump spell or a burn card for the kill, or at least that’s what Joep thinks does the trick, since I’m still not actually Forest walking. Unfortunately I draw a Forest, congratulate Joep and tell him my little secret.
Game 3 against Joep, City of Brass and a Llanowar Elves proving green mana, but no Forest.
Joep plays Roy Neijland in the final. Roy plays Black Weenie with no power 9 and wasn't only able to make it to the final table, he won against Joep and is the 3rd winner of the Gathering of the Knights of Thorn! That’s something special as most people believe it requires P9 cards being able to compete. Most certainly it helps and Roy probably had his share of luck, just like myself and all the other players.

This was a superb tournament with a fantastic turnout and a great bunch of Old School players. It literally felt like I was back in 1995 and I can’t wait to do it again! I want to specifically thank Mari Steinhage for organizing this tournament and anybody else who have helped organizing it. I would also like to invite everybody who’s reading this to join the 4th Gathering of the Knights of Torn!

See you there!
Richard Veenman
Follow me @ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/oldschoolmtg_nl

Winner: Roy Neijland

torsdag 14 december 2017

49 decks to beat

If one would argue that I have been lazy updating the Decks to Beat page, one would have merit. Of course, I have a sack filled with excuses to for that very purpose.
I was busy hunting Fungusaurs.
But excuses is not why we're here. We're here for tech, and I've sorted the top decks from Ivory Cup 2, Scandinavian Championships, Alphaspelen 3, The Horrible Horse Gathering, Fishliver Oil Cup Ed. 1, and BSK 2017. Three lists are still missing, but nonetheless we have 49 new Decks to Beat collected.
Kalle Nord's Parfait.
Ivory Cup 2 Top8
35 participants, photos of 7/8 decks.
The second edition of Stockholm's annual Ivory Cup was a smashing gathering. The attendance had risen since last year, as had the powerful cards. Erhnam Djinns faced of each others in the finals, leaving strategys like Atog Burn, The Deck and Dead Guy in their trail.

Scandinavian Championship Top8
48 participants, photos of 6/8 decks.
The first edition of Scandinavian Championship in Arvika was hosted in the familiar area we know from the Arvika Festival. As always when visiting that community, great ambiance and good people were aplenty. Jimmie's mono Red Atog Burn took down the championship, with Parfait, Disaster, Power Monolith, and different variants of Zoo and control also showing up in the top8.

Alphaspelen 3 Top4
12 participants, photos of 4/4 decks.
Alphaspelen is one of the more local tournaments in Stockholm. This gathering was home to some creative tech in the top4, including a new take on White Zoo with Personal Incarnations, CandleFactory, and some sort of ErhnamBurn'em midrange with Sedge Trolls.

The Horrible Horse Gathering Top8
27 participants, photos of 8/8 decks.
The Horrible Horse Gathering pitted Norwegian spell slingers in the largest 93/94 gathering in Oslo yet. The final was battled out with Lions and Efreets on both sides, leaving Troll Ponza, Athopher, Titania's Song Control, Juzam Smash and other sweet tech in the elimiation rounds.

Fishliver Oil Cup Ed. 1 Top16
86 participants, photos of 16/16 decks.
One of the major European gatherings, the Fishliver Oil Cup has quickly become home to some of the best that the format has to offer. The people, the atmosphere and the brews truly puts a smile on your face. Rather than having a top8, Lorenzo and Megu opted to go for a top16 in the elimination rounds for this one; with 14 different archetypes among the 16 decks.

BSK 2017 Top8
38 participants, photos of 8/8 decks.
BSK is the second oldest annual tournament in the format, and one of the most revered by the "old school old school" players. This was the eight annual Halloween gathering in Borås, bringing foogies from different corners of Sweden to dust of their old cards in chance of winning a The Fallen. Once again, Master of Magic Cards Olle Råde claimed the trophy, using his URb Burn to defeat MirrorBall in the finals. Combo had good showing here, and the top8 also included e.g. TwiddleVault and PowerMonolith.
Giacomo Zorzan's Erhnam Burn'em. Love this strategy, and haven't seen it played for many years.
Is there something we can see here? Piles and piles of awesome cards! But I guess some people are interested in the top-tier meta trends as well. We see an impressive number of different archetypes at the top tables. Aggro, Midrange, Control and Combo are all well represented, along with a handful prison decks and some sweet weird pet decks. Seems like unrestricting Maze of Ith didn't kill the format after all ;)

Perhaps we don't need to analyze the meta. It looks healthy and fun, so delving might be unnecessary. But I guess it could be worth noting that The Deck's presence in elimination rounds of mid-size to large tournament has declined further since last year. In the 49 top decks here, variants of The Deck has dropped slightly from around 18% to 16% (down to around 14.5% if we don't look at the 9-16th place finishes in the Fishliver Oil cup). That's like, very low for a supposed boogie man. There's also a fairly low number of pure UR Burn strategies this time. Many aggro decks seem more inclined to combine their Serendib Efreets with Savannah Lions than with Chain Lightnings at the moment.

Teching with the aggro angle is not that strange. Though I believe the URb version that Olle won BSK with is still one of the most powerful decks in 93/94, trying out new attacks are very much in the spirit of the format and I don't believe the shifting meta is "solved". It seems like a lot of players got their eyes on the power of Savannah Lions around the same time; much like many of us sleeved up Flying Men a year or two ago. But the continuous decline of control seem a little odd. I mean, The Deck, the supposed end boss of the format, hasn't won a tournament in Sweden or Norway in over a year at this point. It averages around one The Deck per top8, where we a couple of years back had two or three. There were a total of 34 Jayemdae Tomes in the deck lists above, which is less than the number of Savannah Lions (36). And far less than the number of Su-Chis, which clocks in at an impressive 52 copies (about the same number as Serendib Efreet).
I'm not saying we necessarily need more The Decks in our tournaments, but it could be interesting to try and find out why control keeps falling out of favor and Su-Chi has become a far more popular 4-drop artifact than the book. Are the control players suddenly more interested in different strategies, have we all learned how to play better against it, or are we as a community cowing people out playing control as some deem it "unfun"? Any The Deck players out there, current or former, are very welcome to give their take on the situation :)

If any other tournaments across the continents would like to add their decks to the decks to beat here, please go ahead and email me a list and a short description and I'd be happy to add them.

Next time we'll check out another guest report from Gathering the Knights of Thorn 3 in the Netherlands. Really impressive community down there :)

fredag 1 december 2017

This month in oldschool: November 2017

November has passed, and for those of us living in the North the darkness is truly upon us. As Old School goes, this month included among others the first 93/94 Team Championship in London, the long established Swedish BSK tournament, the French National Championship, the Horrible Horse Gathering in Oslo, and one of the final tournaments in Liga Catalana Old School in Spain. Lets take a dive.

From around the Web

n00bcon X
The web page for the upcoming World Championship at n00bcon is up and running. A stunningly modern collection of hypertext compared to last year, and a casual surfer might feel like it's 1998 already.

Music City Old School Mtg
We have a new blag in the blogosphere! Music City Old School Mtg chronicles the budding community in Nashville, Tennessee. Four posts and a lot of musings in the last month. Check it out!

Stasis: The unspoken elephant in my deck (Old School Ron)
Hey! Another new blogoblag in the blagotubes! Old School Ron has posted a lot of content this month, starting with a report from Eternal Weekend and most recently about his, perhaps overabundant, attachment to the card Stasis. Check it out!

A Fruit That Can Talk (The Wizard's Tower)
Taylor at the Wizard's Tower take a journey to the mysterious Island of Wak-Wak. A great chronicle about the flavor of a peculiar card.

Flippin' Orbs: Episode 9 (Wak-Wak)
Grant, Gordon and Seb talk about removal and highlander formats, and invite Felipe Garcia for his take on TwiddleVault combo and the Playable Certification Kickstarter.

Tomato, Tomato: Three styles of Old School Magic in three weeks (OldschoolMtg)
Marty Silenus flies around the world to play 93/94 with EC rules in Pittsburgh, Italian rules in Genoa, and Swedish rules in Gothenburg. Highly recommended read if you haven't checked it out.

Brewing the CandleFactory (Wak-Wak)
Gordon takes us through the evolution of his tricky CandleFactory deck.

Tournament reports

BSK 2017: Organizer's Report (End of turn, Draw a card)
Svante Landgraf sleeved up something other than the deck, organized the tournament, and convincingly took his combo to the Top8. Well played Svante! The second place deck in the tournament is beaut btw :)

Better late than never ;) Gordon Andersson reports on the second edition of Stockholm's flagship tournament; The Ivory Cup.

Report of Fishliver Oil Cup (The Magician's Blog)
Hey, here's blog that I've completely missed! I has been active for a year and somehow it has flown under the radar until now. Could be that french is like my fourth best language and I have some linguistic trouble following the french communities. But I guess I could always go google translate when I'm over my head. Apart from the tournament report, there are a lot of posts in the backlog here.

Trials of a n00b Magic player (The Wizard's Tower)
I'll just quote Taylor on this one: "Jack Ryan had never played a tournament before and his first one happened to be the biggest Old School tourney in Old School history. It’s certainly interesting and funny as he weaves his way through the tournament. He ended up doing quite well despite his lack of experience. Here is his experience first hand."

Create your own Heroes (MtgUnderground)
Dave Wojtkowski takes the stand at the MtgUnderground blag and shares his story from Eternal Weekend. His weapons of choice is the Forest.

Stephen Menendian top8'd the Eternal Weekend 93/94 tournament for the third time with his UR Burn. Here he goes through his matches and reflects on the meta.

David at the Timewalking blag tells his story from the Fishliver Oil Cup.

User andthisisthewell at Reddit posts his experience playing Fallen Empires constructed at the set's 23rd birthday. Four Thrull decks in a field of nine, which must translate to an awesome gathering.

The Norway crew gathers in Oslo to battle for the title of Horrible Horse Champion.

I'd be amiss to overlook the 93/94 World Cup in London, the first team championship in the format. It has yet to have a report written, but I can at least share a picture of the winning team:
See you guys at n00bcon!
Among the other cool gatherings we also had a 29-player n00bcon qualifier in Denmark, the 21-player French National Championship, and sweet highlander tournament in Norway. The communities are really growing around the world.
Prize for the French national champion.

n00bcon Qaulifier in Denmark.

Highlander in Norway.

Upcoming tournaments

Hey! There are so many upcoming tournaments these days that I can't really keep track of everything lest I set up camp at facebook. If you are missing an event here, feel free to comment or email me, and I'll add it to the list :)

Gathering the Knights of Thorn #3 (Netherlands) December 3
Mari Steinhage 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.

2 Magical Hacks Charity Old School 93/94 Tournament (South Carolina, USA)
Now, I may occasionally frown upon using proxies in 93/94, but if this tournament actually manages to make me excited about it. 2 Magical Hacks hosts their second charity tournament for Toys for Tots, and for every set of 15 proxy cards you play you'll have to donate $5 to give kids some toys. That is awesome. Also a bunch of Unstable drafting going on that day, so take the trip if you have the chance.

Lucia Legends (Sweden) December 16
In the words of Gordon Anderson of the Stockholm community: "We're going to have a tournament on the 16th of December and there will be a n00bcon invite to fight for in some way.  More info will come soon!". More info has arrived if you follow the link.

Madison Offensive (USA) January 20
I'll just cut and paste: "The Lords of the Pit and Eternal Central are proud to announce the second annual Madison Offensive, a charity Old School Magic 93-94 event in Madison, Wisconsin, on Saturday January 20 2018. [...] Entrance Fee will be donations for Citizen Schools, a Chicago based organization that attempts to close the opportunity gap for underserved populations." Good stuff :)

Copcon V (UK) January 27
The Brothers of Fire in London will host the fifth Copcon Gathering early next year. Expect beer and sweet tech.

The Wizards' Tournament (Sweden) March 29
The Wizards' Tournament plays Magic like when it was first released in August 1993. Alpha is the only allowed set, and no modern stuff like mulligans, sideboards, oracle text, B&R lists or proper sleeves are allowed. There is an initial cap at 40 players, which has already been filled, but if you are interested, feel free to contact the organizer and they might be able to expand the venue.

#OldSchoolMail of the Month

Can't complain to the postman this month either. As some of you might know, I am a sucker for Chaos Orbs. I guess I am what people call a "global collector", which basically means that I'm trying to collect every different printing and promotional version of the card. So Alpha, Beta and Unlimited of course, but also more weird things like the Ultra Pro puzzle and the playtest card. This month I finally got the third square cornered one, a card that is over 100 times more rare than the other two square cornered Orbs in my collection.
I didn't really plan to buy this last month, but it suddenly came up for sale in an Artist Proof group and it is rare enough that I figured I had to pull the rope when opportunity arose. So now I have all the official printings of Chaos Orb. Time to start looking for alters and obscurities.

This month's topic: #SetThemFree

Don't know if that's a real hashtag. It probably is, but for something terrible. Let me check twitter.
Ok, so that hashtag is actually about 668 babies that are currently in prison in Turkey, violating human rights. Damn. That is not cool. You can check out more about that here on twitter. I could just change the section header and delete this paragraph now that I know a little better, but I think that we could lift our sights to topics affecting people's lives every now and then. So now you know about that. You're welcome, I guess?

But, what I was actually going to talk about here, was the current trends against PSA and BGS grading of playable cards. There actually was a proper hashtag for that when I dug a little deeper; #CardsAreMeantForPlaying.

Ever since I first saw Elof swinging wildly with a meat cleaver at the Rotary Pub kitchen back at n00bcon 3, desperately trying to get to a pair of Earthquakes out from their a PSA prison before the swiss started, it has been clear to me that certifying cards with BGS or PSA doesn't always work for us players. Many of us even started taking some pride in breaking graded seals, in particular in the old school communities. One of the Easter Eggs at n00bcon 7 e.g. contained a PSA 10 graded Black Vise, just so that the guy who opened it could get the chance to break it. And it has escalated from there.
One of the more hardcore; Kalle building a deck before Arvika Festival 2 two years ago.
One of the more recent posted a couple of days ago on Facebook. Around 100 likes btw.
The thing that grading cards does well is ensuring that the card has had its quality assured by a third party and is traceable. It also gives a professional verification on condition, or at least the condition the card were in when it was graded (it is possible for the card to get nicks or faded colors from inside the case). But you can't play with it anymore, so rogue characters in the MtgUnderground often find it a good solution to just break the cases and set the cards free. From a player perspective, that can be seen as admirable, and from a collector perspective, it can be seen as stupid or barbaric. Personally, I wouldn't break a '10' (not again) as I would consider those cards to have passed the treshold to pure collection pieces (like the AP Chaos Orb), but an 8 or 9? Sure man.

So we have to make a choice. Either have a 3rd-party verification and some traceability on our cards, or be able to play them. The card grading industry have its roots in technology from the 70s. It is great for Baseball cards, and good enough for comic books, but as playing cards go it arguably misses the mark sometimes. Otherwise people wouldn't take pride in breaking the cases after all.

So a few players in the 93/94 community decided to address this issue using modern technology. Spearheaded by Felipe Garcia, the team also consists of community organizers Lorenzo Novaro, Marc Lanigra and Gordon Anderson. Instead of placing the cards in the more traditional clunky cases, they are working on using small sleeves with a physical termo seal, an electronic NFC seal, and a cloud digital seal. These "playable certification" sleeves then fit in outer sleeves, so that you can shuffle up the certified cards in a normal deck alongside non-certified cards. It is a pretty cool idea!
Would I personally certify my cards this way? I honestly don't know. I probably wouldn't do all the cards in a deck, more likely a handful of my power cards and a Chaos Orb or two. But what I can say is that I am much more likely to use this than any other way of certifying my cards. And I really like both the idea and the people behind it. They have a kickstarter up and running right now, and I just pledged $50 because their plan seems solid (did not personally ask for any perks). So if you think that this sounds interesting, go ahead and support their kickstarter as well. If nothing else, for a few bucks you get to stay in the loop and test the platform once it goes online. It is low risk and in case they don't reach their goal you'll get your money back regardless. Check out their video and the campaign here.

This month's deck

This month's deck is Audun Døssland's Top4 deck from the Horrible Horse Gathering. It is a sweet pile of Titania's Song, Jade Statues and Manipulators. Well played Audun!