2019 Retrospective

I should still write one of these, right? Even though All Tings Considered already did it better, and Pitcast filled in any possible blanks? And with only 24 posts for the entire year, this being is my least productive year on the blag since 2011?

Thought I did write ten more articles for this fanzine. Does that count?

I suppose it is tradition at this point. This would after all be the seventh annual retrospective here. And looking back at something like 2013 or 2015 gives some perspective. Maybe I'll look at 2019 the same way in a few years. Quite a few things happened after all, and the coming decade surely looks interesting for the format.

Something's fishy in the south...

I've played less Magic this year than most years before it. Not that I was growing bored, but rather that life in 2019 demanded a shifted focus. That's a good thing with a hobby though; it is a spice of life rather than a main dish. We are free to pepper to taste and occasionally social etiquitte have us cut back on garlic. Or something. And though fewer meals than usual, the quality of the herbs I got to indulge in 2019 were immaculate.

ViennaGeddon. Wizards' Tournament 2. n00bcon 11. Schram's Magic Fest. TribeCon. Fishliver Oil Cup 3. Scryings release draft. These are gatherings that will stick with me. And maybe flying to both Vienna and Genoa for the first times as well as organizing a couple of 100+ player tournaments in Sweden isn't that bad as the first year of fatherhood goes. Maybe the spice was actually abundant this year even on a personal level, and it was simply hard to see the basil for the all the lushness. Because there was a lot going on in 2019 as 93/94 was concerned.

Not only an abundance of large tournaments, capped events, and a gathering tantalizingly close to the 200-player checkpoint. There was just so much creativity within the gatherings. Spice points and masquerades, team tournaments on both sides of the ocean, amazing gear and trinkets, and events that felt as much as celebrations of the community as actual tournaments. And we dabbled in some weird and creative ways to approach the format. I mean, a non-insignificant number of tournaments this year simply allowed Homelands for the lulz. Don't get me started on the awesomeness that is Urza's Chalice. And did you see The Brewmaster Challenge?

Also Emperor. It's a thing now.

If 2019 did one thing as culture goes, I think it made us double down on what is now simply known as "Oldschool style". Playing in a setting where beer is welcome, using house rules when appropriate, appreciating the people you play with, welcoming n00bs and sub-optimal decks, having small to no monetary prizes to the winner and instead cashing out to charities or other causes, and approaching with "casual competition" (as one spike of the format noted some years ago). In 2019 we had a couple of incidents showing the darker side of tournament Magic culture, perhaps most notably in the aftermath of GP Vegas. While that situation certainly wasn't ideal, it seems like in the end it unified most everyone in the old school mire in that old school should not be approached that way, and that the culture we've managed to build over the last decade should be cherished and protected at least as much as we do our power cards.

With all the tournaments and abundance of meetups, I assume more power cards were cast in oldschool games than in paper Vintage last year. That is a guess, and it may be wrong, but the fact that it doesn't seem totally unlikely is almost insane.

On a personal note, I feel that I kinda maxed out whatever goals I could have for the n00bcon weekend last year. Seven tournaments between Wednesday and Sunday, formats between August-93 to Ice Age Block, 180 players competing for the Shark (split at two tournaments), and about 40 communities from around the world represented. And a really good time of course. We might have broken the August-93 format, possibly beyond a full repair, but it was cool to see over a hundred mages gathering to play the purest form of Magic and taking it to a logical conclusion. Regardless, it feels like we had a good send-off for the World Championship from Gothenburg, and that we can regress n00bcon a few notches with good conscience. Now I really look forward to Winc0n in October. It will be awesome to play the event again, and if Fishliver Oil Cup 3 is any indication, it will be an amazing gathering.

New content creators of 2019

This part has become a tradition of sorts, so let's keep it up. This is the fourth year running with new stuff from around the webosphere. Let's start with checking up on the blags from the last years and see what wind-scarred survivors we can celebrate among the earlier adopters.

Blags of 2016

It's almost nostalgic to look at this picture already now. Eternal Central is going as strong as ever, and both Argivian Restoration and Vintage Magic have been putting up some solid content this year. Cheers to you guys! And it's not like Danny Friedman or Shaman Ben has left the scene either; they're simply contributing content and insight in different ways than four years ago.

2017 blags. Counterclockwise from the top: French Boars, Wak-Wak blog, Brothers of Fire, Old School Ron, Music City Old School Mtg, End of Turn Draw a Card, 52-Week Beta and The Magician's Blog.

2017 gave us some really heavy hitters; Wak-Wak, Brothers of Fire, Music City, End of Turn Draw a Card and 52-week Beta have all been giving us some of the best content and events of last year.

GeoCities of Brass, Stockholm in a Bottle, Quantitatively Old School, Baltimore Old School, Deep Spawners, The Sentinel, Liga Madrid, Urborg Buffet, All Tings Considered, Lords of the Pit, Beasts of the Bay, Gunnarson's Bag, Alpha/Beta Oldschool.

An impressive thirteen new participants joined the proverbial web ring in 2018, and a majority of them are still very active. I would venture to say that the 2018 class - with players like All Tings Considered, PitCast and The Beasts' YouTube channel - reshaped the world of 93/94 content. An extra shout-out goes to Mano at ATC who has managed to produce weekly content of great quality on his podcast for almost two years now. Keep up the great work!

Now lets see what 2019 brought to the table.

From top left corner: MoxRuby, New Jersey Old School, Unlimited Adventures, Raging Bull, Earthquake League, ShuffleCutAnte, Tales from la Tundra, Timmy Talks, Brightsdaysmtg, Gaea's Avengers Oldschool Assembly, Desert Twisters, For Gold & Glory, I Predoni del Poggio, Order of the Closed Fist, Dwarven Warriors.

Whoa! These are just the fifteen I know of, there could well be more lurking in darker corners of the web. And, like, Carl's Magic Nest should probably be mentioned somewhere here as well; even though it has technically been online since 1996, the reports surely hit a different level in 2018/2019. Anyways, hats of to you guys, and I'm looking forward to see more content from around the world in 2020!

OK, so let's take some personal picks of 2019.

Deck of the Year

I will be supremely unimaginative and say that it is in fact this one:

Before 2019, Atog had not finished very high in major tournaments that didn't allow four Strip Mines and four Workshops. Sure, AtogFlare won a minor tournament in Sweden, and AtogSmash won a middle sized one. And some kind of Atog decks did random their way into random top8s occasionally. But if someone told me a year ago that 75% of the n00bcon top4 would be on Atog, I would have been surprised. EyeTog created a new Tier1 deck even outside a Strip Mine meta, and creating new Tier1s in this format is brag-worthy.

If you came for something more spicy, I offer this pile of nonsense that won (yes, won) the NOSMTG Christmas Tournament a month ago:

Brothers' Highlander by Kenneth Kristensen‎. Sweet.

Player of the Year

Here's where my criteria may differ from many others. I would want to connect the player of the year with both emergence and connection to that year, and preferably on more levels than just game play. In a way, you kinda both have to be a super high end community member and sort of a rookie in the format to win. So for e.g. 2018, I'd probably note that that was the year when The Flying Bear Jason Schwartz started showing up and brightening days everywhere, binding communities across the globe together by being a part of them all. For 2017, I might note the emergence of a certain Dave Firth Bard and everything that came with that. 2016 would probably be written with Gordon Andersson in mind; 2015 with Shaman Ben; 2014 KungMarkus; and so on. (That's names of the top of my head, and I might give it more though in the future for a potential Medal of Awesomeness or whatever.) So, which player became a household name in 2019, and contributed most to the format in different ways? I'd say this guy:

Apart from high finishes (e.g. closing the year by winnig Torin00b), contributing with loads of content on his blag, and hosting both large and innovative tournaments (like Urborg Feast and Urborg Lake Cruise); Christian Reinhard has truly tapped into the culture of 93/94 and made it stronger. Things like the Gentlemen's Club, 40K culture, and the CommuniTour all bear marks of his making. So that's my pick.

Personal Gear of the Year

Yeah, it's this mat. Oldschool multiplayer perfected, and also viable to use as a sweet wizard's cape.

Told you.

Personal Trinket of the Year

That would be this ring.

Chaos Orb binder addition of the Year

It is possible that the Epsilon playtest Orb (as it is now known) could get the nod as collectible rarities go, but I already wrote about that one. So without any ranking, let's honor three other crazy additions to the scrapbook this year. And what's even more insane with these particular three is that all of them were in fact gifted to me by way too generous members of the community. I seriously don't know how to thank for them properly, so I just hope that I can pass the generosity forward when given the opportunity. These are in chronological order from when I received them in 2019.

Nope, you are not drunk and the picture isn't blurry. One common sheet of Unglued somehow got the black ink printed five times with various degrees of shift. This is among the crazier printing errors I've seen and certainly the strangest misprint I own. The Chaos Orb scrapbook tries to tell a story of Magic cards, and as such I really wanted Chaos Orb related "error cards" (printing error, cutting error, packaging error), and finally adding a piece like this to the binder was fantastic.
Not only a rare Chaos Confetti Artist Proof (which I previously lacked completely), it has the most stunning of original Mark Tedin art on the back. Like with the "drunk print" above, I had seen this particular card before I got it, hoped to maybe get the chance to acquire it someday somehow, and then randomly received it for no reason whatsoever beyond that the owner being way to generous and wanting to help out my collection.
Now this one is weird. I'd heard about "the mox with chaos orb art" before, but thought it was called Mox of Ma'ruf until I saw this picture of this card from (I think) GP Vegas 2017. Maybe there's a Mox of Ma'ruf in addition to this card? Probably not, but I wouldn't know and the actual story of this one is murky to say the least. The only thing I can say for certain is that it originated from a Wizards' employee and that it's an old card. Why it was made is still very unclear. Any information is as always very welcome. Even with the lack of written provenance and information here, it feels really nice to finally add it to the scrapbook and put that three-year search behind me.

Again, I have no idea how to thank you guys. Did really not expect this going into 2019.

Rules update of the Year

In the 2018 retrospective we gave this nod to Atlantic Rules which - while very new at that point - showed real promise to shake any status quo and bridge the gap between the Swedish and EC B&Rs. And during 2019 the most prominent new rule set in tournaments almost surely was indeed Atlantic. As such, perhaps the rule set of 2019 should be Atlantic, but as we looked forward last year I think that we can in good conscience do the same this time. And I surely know what excites me most as new rule variants go in 2020.

Image courtesy of Slanfan.

"This is just an expansion[...] People will just play it for flavor, and when they get tired of it, they'll stop playing with it."
   - Richard Garfield, late 1993 (Email to Dave Petty regarding Arabian Nights)

Scryings is, in the original sense of the word, an expansion to the 93/94 card pool. Just as Atlantic Rules or Brothers' Highlander don't aim to replace the original 93/94 rule set, Scryings will not try to usurp the original rules but rather act as a new flavor under the old school umbrella. And in my mind it looks like a tasty one. I've only tried it once in limited and once in constructed thus far, but if those two gatherings are any indication, this looks like something I'd want to revisit at least a couple of times every year in the coming decade. This is silver age nostalgia, and a new horizon to explore in the confines of the MtgUnderground.

My first Scryings draft deck, before the round robin swiss (ante each duel).

The same deck at the end of the tournament, after ante shenanigans. Casting of Bones was the actual gas, and Hammer was of course wild. Ended up 5-2 or 4-3 (don't fully recall the last duel).

Scryings is by no means amazing as a draft set, but I'd venture to say that it was better than drafting most other sets from 1993-1996, so I guess there's that. And I think it could add some spice to old school sealed as well. If you want to create some packs, go check out the pack builder at MoxRuby.com.

But in my mind, constructed is where it's at. It was next level fun to take this pile for a spin last week:

SquattelHaups! You haven't lived before you've stolen a Library of Alexandria with Orcish Squatters.

It will be interesting to see where this all ends up. Maybe it's a one-hit wonder, or maybe it will be a long-lived addition to the spice rack. I look forward to look back on this in another year ;)

Good posts from this blag

As is tradition and good netiquette, I will finish up with a few posts from this blag in 2019 that I though was good or in some way representative of the annals. So here goes.
So those were deece I guess. But if you're only going to read one post, I would recommend Re: Any word on Fallen Empires? over at 52-week Beta. It captures the essence and playfulness of oldschoolmtg in late 2019 in a brilliant way.

Five other great Disney Songs that they didn't mention on the All Tings Considered 2019 Recap

  • Friends on the other Side (Princess and the Frog)
  • Trashin' The Camp (Tarzan)
  • Ev'rybody wants to be a cat (Aristocats)
  • Oo de lally (Robin Hood)
  • I won't say I'm in love (Hercules)
(I wont hammer the nail on Hellfire from Hunchback of Notre Dame as Mano fully acknowledged that song on the following ATC)


So that's it! Maybe a little longer than expected, but at least you got some deck lists and some rarities among the rants. Here's to an awesome 2020, and I hope to see a bunch of you guys in Genoa in October!


  1. Sweet summary of the year and thank you for mentioning Timmy Talks in there. I can't believe how many OS content is coming out and most new blogs and channels are actually pretty good! Looking forward to see what 2020 will bring to the table.


    1. Thanks Timmy! Yeah, a lot of sweet content these days! This will surely be an interesting year :)


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