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!


  1. I would like to comment on your #SetThemFree part
    1. If you grade a card to gain a premium value, you need to be pretty confident the card will get a grade 9 or better. Otherwise it is not worth it.
    2. Grading cards is for collectors. Collectors may want to display their graded cards for their beauty. For this reason, I believe BGS is superior to both PSA and also to the suggested kickstarter idea. Personally, I would only grade card that is BOTH valuable AND has great art ( Time Vault : YES, Volcanic Island : Meh..)
    3. I think it is not a good idea to crack a BGS 9, at least if it is Alpha. BGS 8.5 and lower = OK to crack.
    4. I think your point that the card may diminish after being graded is pretty remote and unlikely, unless you deliberately put in your south facing window.
    5. Back to the kickstarter idea: The final result must be far better from an aestethic point of view than the suggested idea if it should be successful.


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