Autumn cleaning

This post is a bit overdue. Not that we should have posted it a week ago or so, but more that we haven't done any sort of cleaning or page updates on the blag for years. I hadn't done any Decks-to-Beat updates since n00bcon X, the hot hyperlinks lacked obvious stuff like Timmy Talks and Emerald City Trolls, and the "popular posts" page showed nothing since the Obama administration.

Ah, autumn cleaning and re-sorting of the bookshelf. Though that seems like a supremely scary place for a fire sprinkler...

Time is weird, as is views. Do you know which post has been the most read this year on the blog? That would be the only post from 2021 that don't have any comments here, and the post I spent the least amount of time on with a decent margin.

The graph of instant gratification.

Well over 12,000 people checked out Blogger has bad UX, and it annoys me at the end of July. If you haven't read it, you really don't need to. It's a mostly uninteresting post where I whine about how the UX of this platform deleted another supposedly more interesting post in the making. The best thing it has to offer as oldschool goes is a picture of Fasting. But apparently it looked amusing for a subsection of readers, and it was re-posted for dissection on a forum for IT designers. Accidental click-bait gonna accidentally click-bait. As a reference, I'd consider any article with over 2k views to be very well read these days, and the "most popular" article so far on this blog (Summer Time) has a bit over 30k views. 12k is a lot here, as clicks go it's around the ballpark of an all-time top10.

Here's the pic of Fasting. Now you don't have to spend time on that UX post.

This blag thing is certainly not a numbers game for me. But it still feels a bit off that a bunch of designers on some random forum get to grab gratification in hearing me whine about auto-save, while newer players looking for a bit more timeless information about cards or the format are mostly out of luck. There are somehow over 500 articles and pages here, most without any tags or guiding structure. So I did some cleanup again. I removed a handful posts from the Popular posts page, and added a bunch of newer ones from the last five years to overcompensate. Here are all the new additions if you are looking for a rabbit hole:

Tournament reports

  • Blind Notes from Fishliver Oil Cup 3
    After a legendary weekend in Genoa with over a hundred OS brethren, my infant-parenting state causes me to lose my phone with notes and pictures. That's no excuse to not write 6,000 words of course, but we have to go a bit less details and a bit more gonzo.
  • Arvika Festival 6
    As strong winds rages across the land, KungMarkus - armed with a fresh toddler - gathers scrying wizards for the sixth annual Arvika Festival. This was the last major in-person event in Scandinavia before the pandemic hit.
  • Tomato Tomato: Three Styles of Oldschool in Three Weeks
    American wizard Marty brings us along on a three week pilgrimage across continents and different styles of Oldschool. Starting at Eternal Weekend in Pittsburgh, via the Fishliver Oil Cup in Genoa, eventually ending up in an apartment in Gothenburg. (By Marty Silenus)

Chronicles and annals

  • The One Ring of Ma'ruf
    An unexpected gift from the Brothers of Fire leads me down a rabbit hole of memories of one of my favorite cards in the game.

  • Argivian Excavations
    A deep delve into Argivian Archaeologist tech while clearing out the last boxes of childhood memories from my parents' house.

Rarities and oddities

  • The Gamma Orb
    We're going pre-Alpha and look at the legendary pieces of paper most commonly referred to as 'Gamma'. The first 1992 iteration of Chaos Orb leads the way.
  • Menagerie and the Orange Orb
    Starting with the second Chaos Orb playtest card, we follow the history of Menagerie from its 1992 conception to its eventual release as the Mirage set in 1996.
  • The 3rd Party Magic Set
    Once, in 1996, a small group of people lead by Donald X. Vaccarino and Japji Khalsa created a full 3rd party Magic set, got it acknowledged by WotC, and even held a release event for the expansion.
  • Garfield Signatures
    A history of Richard Garfield signed cards, and his signature's evolution from 1993 until today. Also some really spicy Chaos Orbs, if I may say so.
  • Extra Pulled and Magazine Cards
    Before Secret Lairs and official Dungeons and Dragons sets, there were alt-art and pop-culture referencing Magic cards in printed media. Some of these have not aged that well.
  • Event Cards
    Over the years, Richard Garfield has created four personal cards to celebrate various life events of his. This post is about Proposal, Splendid Genesis, Fraternal Exaltation, and Phoenix Heart. 
  • Franky and Stuff
    We're talking ante, and we're talking rare 5-Color Invitational Cards.  
  • Artist Proofs
    We crunch the numbers on the card proofs given to the original Magic artists for sets released in 1993 and 1994. (This post is a bit dry, but as it contains some potentially hard-to-find information on proofs, we'll keep it here for reference)

  • Crimps and Maildays
    It's May 2020, and a crimped Beta Chaos Orb has just arrived safely after a dramatic two-month journey back and forth across the ocean. We take the opportunity to go deep on crimps; what they are and how they occur.
  • Miscuts, Misalignments, and NFCs
    Sometimes people make actual mistakes while aligning or cutting sheets of Magic cards, and sometimes mistakes are made on purpose to create unique-looking cards. This post is about both those things. 

Old gear and trinkets

  • The First Magic Sleeves
    We're unboxing and testing out the first sleeves created specifically to protect Magic cards. Even finding some rad puzzle pieces while we're at it. 
  • Binders 101
    Seven or so lessons for getting a new (or a quarter century old) binder.
  • The Six-player Playmat
    For the second year of ManaFest (the world's first Magic convention), Khalsa-Brain created two six-player playmats. One of them was stolen and presumably cut up around 1995. We found the other one.

Rules and tech

Format and community

  • The Oldest School: A Wizards' Tournament Primer
    If you think "expansions" are unnecessary to enjoy a perfectly good base game, and that the traditional Swedish reprint policy is far too lenient, we have the Wizards' Tournament for you. These days many people refer to it as "Alpha 40", but we just used to call it "Magic".

Single-card rants

  • North Star
    North Star: Terrible card, or the worst card?
  • Witch Hunter
    The white Goblin Wizard, or the white Underworld Dreams?

Other and random

  • A Matter of Some Proportions
    Power and toughness made a whole lot of flavorful sense back in 1993. We tip our hats to the fantastic attention to detail in The Gathering.
  • Beware of Magic: the Gathering, part II
    Some years after our first Beware, we go back to find unsettling references and coincidences still live at the WotC homepage. Tinfoil hats on, here be nazis, and possibly NSFW. (WotC has updated both their website and their policies on particular cards since this post was written btw)
  • Maze's End
    Luck has it I get the opportunity to chat with Anson Maddocks, and he me tells stories of Maze of Ith.  Cyclopean Tomb or Combat Medic will never look the same again.

  • 4th Edition is a Strange Set
    We were just hit by a pandemic, and life is strange. So is 4th Edition. 

The Deep End

(Here be dragons.)

  • Deconstructing Print Runs
    We dig through old usenet archives, printed media, and ftp servers to challenge the conventional wisdom on early print runs.

That's the clip show for the last five years. Maybe you remember some of them from back when they were posted, maybe a few of them look new.

I also saw that the left sidebar lacked a myriad of sweet new resources from the last half decade. So I added most of these guys to the rooster as new hot hyperlinks:

Finally, even though we don't really do Decks to Beat here anymore, it feels like nothing short of blasphemy to have a link with that name here without showing the last years' n00bcon, n00bcoM, and Fishliver Oil tech. So here goes 41 "new" decks to beat:

n00bcoM 2 Top8
Another Easter with social distancing, and global wizards cope with the second online n00bcoM. This time we gather for oldschool oldschool; classic Swedish rules with its draconian reprint policy and no expansions outside the four horsemen. Some truly amazing decks showed up to battle, and in the end Time Vault combo stood tallest, having bested things like GR Blitz, Guardian Disco, CounterBurn, and Artifact Aggro in the top8.

n00bcoM 1 Top8
The pandemic is upon us, and the annual Easter gathering has turned digital. Like during Arvika Festival 6, the Scryings expansion is legal to brew with here, so these are not your grandfather's Easter decks. We have things like Pegasus Control, Reanimator, B/G Nether Void, TwiddleVault, and a full-on tempo deck vying for the trophy.

Arvika Festival 6 Top8
In the last major tournament in Scandinavia before the 2020 pandemic hit, celebrating wizards gathered at Viksgården in Arvika for the annual Festival. This was the first Swedish tournament to use the Scryings expansion to throw a wrench in the meta, and among the eight distinct decks we find things like Snake Disco and MaskNought flanked by familiar yet different versions of e.g. MirrorBall, Disaster, and B/G Nether Void.

Fishliver Oil Cup 3 Top8
133 players from across the continent gathered in Genoa, Italy, for the third (technically fourth) Fishliver Oil Cup. Slightly more relaxed reprint rules than up North, but that doesn't prevent spectacular tech. The Savannah Lions showed up big time, but we also find three different Triskelion decks as well as Arabian Aggro and The Deck in the top8.

n00bcon 11 Top8 (+1)
Around 20 countries and 40 communities brought 170 elite players to Gothenburg to fight for the coveted Shark and the World Championship. Atog had a true breakout performance, mostly powerless merfolk showed some sharp fins, and Triskelions threw around their arms with expert aim in the top8. In the end, the format's boogieman deck with a master pilot claimed the title. 


Feels good to finally structure up these things a bit. And, on a personal level, it was really fun to go back and re-read a bunch of posts. Nostalgia inception. But we should probably do these annually or so rather than waiting five years for the next one.

Next time we'll write about, let's say, Syphon Soul. Much love!


  1. Nice update...but where's the link to ;)

    1. Eh, it was always there of course, you must have missed it. Not like I could have somehow mixed it up and added it just now ;)

  2. Suggestion for a future post: Top 20 art pieces of Old School Mtg, irrespective of power level. Examples of bad cards but great art : Moorish Cavalevry, Angry Mob, Pixie Queen, Amrou Kithkin, Winter Blast, CoP Blue, Samite Healer +++ Example : Amrou Kithin is a greater piece of art than all the P9, maybe with the possible contender Timetwister.

    1. Oh oh, and Season of the Witch and Untamed Wilds!

    2. That's a nice idea, thanks for the tip!

  3. So mamy things have happened in the last five years irl.

    I dare to say I had a pleasure of reading all the mentioned articles. So much fun.

    Gamma Orb while waiting at the dentist:)

    Mg, have a nice Autumn Time!


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