I’m tapping my Helm of Chatzuk to band with some other locals to play the best kind of Magic!
In continuing to try and grow the Toronto Old School scene, I’m publicly announcing that 5 November, 2018, around 8:30pm, some of us will be meeting up at Bar With No Name, located at 1651 Bloor Street West in Toronto. If you have questions, the easiest way to get at me is on twitter as @jasonious.
I’m hoping there’s enough space available for us to take over a few tables and play some games. I’d love to discuss other locations with people who are interested, as BWNN isn’t huge, and with it being cold and wet out, their patio is closed.
Generally speaking, we’ve been playing Eternal Central rules (reprints allowed, 4 Strips, etc) but are open to other formats. In the interest of growing the community, if you are interested at all but your deck doesn’t meet these rules, show up anyhow! Playing games is more important than dogmatic adherence to “rules” in a completely unsanctioned, house rules type of format like Old School.
Now, I’m not exactly the superstitious type, but I really hope that I’m not jinxing anything by writing this so soon. Not superstitious but absolutely optimistic and the last two nights have been full of fun, optimism, meeting new people, playing against different decks, and generally forming bonds.
When my regular playgroup first played Old School and came up with this ridiculous website idea, I had high hopes of building something in the Toronto area. It’s been slow going due to life outside of card games, so I’ve basically only played Old School with those same folks and haven’t expanded much beyond them. We’ve had 2 or 3 other people come over once or twice, and that’s about it. Don’t misread that as criticism, we play often and it’s a rad group of folks! Going back to the origins though, I found a blog post about some players in Toronto way back in 2012 playing Old School, which I discovered via the Old School MtG blog and that got me thinking that there must be more players in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who would want to play. I’ve made some posts in the Toronto and Ontario Old School Facebook groups about getting together to play but didn’t have much uptake on those at all. Undaunted, I’ve still been trying to jam games, write the occasional post, and engage on Twitter with the fantastic #OldSchoolMtG community.
This week, I’ve had not one but two opportunities to get out and meet fellow lovers of old cardboard to play Magic! Monday night, I met up a stranger from Facebook at The Bar with No Name, a place that has regular Drafts and has a bit of a MtG theme to it, and after some quick introductions, food and drink orders were placed and we got down to it. He was on a Powered uW Flyers build whilst I started out with my Wolf Tribal deck. We played a few games, all of which he won, and then I switched over to my pet Candleflare deck for a few more games. Turns out that that deck of mine wasn’t actually a deck anymore as it had been pillaged and tweaked and as such only had 17 lands in it. Needless to say, I got run over in our four Strip Mine world, but enjoyed it nonetheless. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures that night as I was too caught up in enjoying the moment, but I wish I could have captured the sequence of two Serra Angels in play, swing for 8, Time Walk, swing for 8, because that was so good!
One of the exciting things to happen that night was having other patrons, as well as the wait staff, come over and talk to us about old cards, the format, what formats they play, and their own origins in Magic. One dude went so far as to go out to his car to retrieve some pre-Shards of Alara decks he had out there, but he never returned to show them to us.
Then Tuesday night, the stars finally aligned for a twitter friend, Owen, and I to actually get out to play! We’ve been talking about it since June-ish, iirc, but being husbands and dads means that getting out to play cards isn’t always… well, in the cards. But last night it happened. We met up at Snakes & Lattes, a local gaming bar/cafe, and we were joined by my old friend Jonesy who lives around the corner, and was able to get out despite also having a little kiddo. Dads of the Magic community unite! As with Monday night, drinks were ordered and we quickly decided to just play three person free for all, rather than having one player sit out every match. Loads of decks came out this time! I had three with me, the aforementioned two plus my White Weenie deck, Jonesy is on a Troll Disco build, and Owen had mono-black Bad Moon, mono-red Orcs and Goblins, mono-green artifacts, and a final deck that I think was UW flyers, iirc. Most of the games were really between Owen and Jonesy, although my Wolves did have a decent run vs the more controlly decks. We got to see an Ifh-Bíff Efreet do a bunch of damage to everyone, a Rocket Launcher get in for some damage, lots of Chaos Orb flips, so many Strip Mines, Guardian Beast and Disk doing their thing together, and generally see old cards having fun.
The last game of the night saw Troll Disco vs Mono Red Orcs and Goblins vs White Weenie, and it was such a wonderful showcase of Old School possibilities. My turn one was very strong, Plains, Sol Ring, Chaos Orb, and I resolved an Argivian Archaeologist on turn 2, really hoping to be able to dig up my Orb a time or two, but sadly the Archaeologist was struck down by Lightning and buried alongside the artifact they never had a chance to discover. Nonetheless, the next turn saw me resolve Shahrazad, a card that all three of us were excited to see. So, we three, all at 12-13 life, set aside that game and started the subgame. My hand was 4 Plains and some removal, so I stuck with it, despite not having any real threats. Loads of back and forth, Orcish Artillery getting in and doing some serious damage, a Mana Clash that did a combined total of 8 damage between myself and Owen, multiple Disks being cracked, an Armageddon clearing the fields only to be followed up by a Disk to completely reset the subgame. I mean, this is what Magic is really about folks. In the end, I managed to win the subgame, taking them both down to 6 life, and eventually sealed the deal with double Crusades in play.
As I mentioned above, lots of dads in the Old School world, which I find very relieving. For folks without kids, it’s not as easy to empathize and understand how fickle children can be, resulting in it being difficult to make and hold plans. Of the limited number of players I know, three of our regular players (myself included) have kids, and the two fine gentlemen I met this week also had kids, both of which were basically in the same age ranges as my own kids. I find it personally very reassuring to have a community of people who I can bond with over sweet old cards while also being able to empathize and share our stories of having children and how that alters our lives.
To bring this back full circle, we’re going to try and get a semi-regular schedule going for games here in Toronto, most likely Monday nights around 9pm, at Bar with No Name. They don’t have a lot of space or the best lighting, but for the immediate future, where I foresee our numbers being in the <8 players, it should suffice, and unlike S&L, it’s free so long as you buy food and/or drinks. Keep an eye on the site for the next dates.
Well, it’s been a busy summer of not playing nearly as much Old School as I’d have liked, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. Sometimes it’s nice to be away from our hobbies so that we can truly appreciate them. It also helps that I spent most of my summer at our Tiny Cabin out of the city with my wife and kiddos enjoying my time off from working.
Anyhow, that’s not what I’m here to write about! The other night, I did get a chance to play some cards with my regular playgroup, which is where I learned about an amazing combo. We have one regular in particular who has gone all in on getting Power and _good_ cards for the format which makes it exciting to play against him. He’s been known to run Powered Winds of Dreams combo, so that’s what I was expecting. Instead, I was greeted by a Troll Disco deck. My Gw Tribal Wolf deck was able to get under it in game one, but he was able to make up for that in game two with a ton of land destruction and generally controlling the board. I found that once he was able to land a 3 Toughness creature or two, there was little I could really do.
That lead us to game three wherein I learned a valuable lesson. Guardian Beast plus Chaos Orb is very oppressive! I had no idea that Orb would be reusable every turn. Needless to say, it was only a few turns of this before I had no board state left to speak of, and he was able to do me in with creature damage.
Let’s have a look at the interaction between these two cards. Guardian Beast’s rules are:
As long as Guardian Beast is untapped, noncreature artifacts you control can’t be enchanted,
they have indestructible, and other players can’t gain control of them.
This effect doesn’t remove Auras already attached to those artifacts.
and of course, Chaos Orb:
1, Tap: Choose a nontoken permanent on the battlefield. If Chaos Orb is on the battlefield, flip Chaos Orb onto the battlefield from a height of at least one foot. If Chaos Orb turns over completely at least once during the flip, and lands resting on the chosen permanent, destroy that permanent. Then destroy Chaos Orb.
If Chaos Orb were a modern day card, it would probably involve sacrificing it as a part of it’s activation cost, but since it does, it destroys itself, and Beast makes it indestructible, instead after the flip, it returns to the owner’s control tapped. Meaning this combo can only be used once per turn, but even that is downright cruel.
After this game, he and I were discussing it, and he sent me this link to a post on Wak-Wak about an entire deck built around this combo. Lucky for me, he only has one Beast.