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Big Red/Drain Life

A while back, there was some talk on Discord about a High Tide, Initiates of the Ebon Hand, Drain Life deck as a possibility. Seeing as how I love big mana, High Tide and Candelabra, I was all in on this brew. I tossed around some ideas and came up with this decklist, and played around with it a bit, but couldn’t seem to get it to really work. There are some great synergies in there, but it didn’t flow.

It’s no secret that I’m no blue mage, so I decided to revisit this plan but shift into the other big mana color, red. With red, I was able to get Mana Flare, Gauntlet of Might, Bolts, some great creatures, and of course X spells. These all unlocked other lines of play, and led to the current incarnation.

Big Life

This was taken for a couple hours of test driving on Monday night, and I’ve gotta say, it was a lot more fun than High Life was. The Rukh Eggs are great for making your opponent re-evaluate their decisions, especially when the Gauntlet is in play. A 1/4 creature makes for a solid blocker, and forcing the opponent to decide between letting it live or killing it to bring about a 5/5 flyer is a tough one. I also really appreciate the “if you do this more than 3 times, the creature dies” mirroring between the Whelp and Initiates. I know that it’s a drawback, but it’s still a cool theme, in my opinion, and I plan to pull the Terror and a basic land to get either another Whelp or a Nalathni Dragon and a Wheel. Earthquake is more of a Hail Mary play than something I depend on regularly, as it wipes my Initiates, but it can also rekindle my Rukh Eggs, so…

There are some changes that I feel I need to make, like the aforementioned addition of Wheel, but I find making cuts to be a bit tricky. Terror is probably better in the board, especially in the Toronto meta where black aggro is very prominent. Another Shivan would help out at the high end, and another Fork or two would add some more consistency and interaction to it. I love my Unlimited Uthden Troll, but I don’t think it jives w/ the deck too well, making it a good candidate for removal. The card that I’m really considering adding in is Inferno.

Sure there are better cards, but this card solves a lot of problems, and getting 7 mana isn’t so difficult for this deck to get to. I’ve found that Serra Angels and other T4+ creatures require me to spend my X spells on them instead of to the face. Not the worst thing, especially w/ Drain Life as an easy eight point swing, but having something to really clear the field feels right to me.

Overall, the deck is similar to my CandleFlare deck, I mean, the engine for this deck is literally Candelabra and Mana Flare, but it plays considerably differently. It’s not as much of a control deck as it is a midrange/tempo deck. Kill off the early threats, use a Drain Life here and there to get ahead, and eventually either red X them out or Initiates plus Drain Life them out. I’ll be playing some variation of this for quite some time to come.

In Exile

It’s been a tough time for our heroes here in Toronto since we lost our usual meetup location last month. We’re fortunate in that the community is strong and supportive so despite lacking our Safe Haven, we’ve still managed to find locations to duel at, albeit while feeling stranded.

We’ve done our best to enumerate our needs so that we can quickly assess possible homes without necessarily having to visit them all. The list is basically:

  • Able to accommodate 15 players
  • Has tables that are stable and large enough for 2 playmats
  • Open Mondays until at least midnight
  • Is transit accessible
  • Is vaguely on the west side of downtown Toronto
  • Food and drinks are easily available

I don’t feel like any of these are really asking for too much, but it’s surprisingly difficult. Toronto is a huge, expensive city, meaning that finding a place that has that many vacant tables is a challenge. Additionally, a lot of places are closed or close early on Mondays. Personally, closing at midnight is a bonus, in my opinion, as I’ll easily stay out until the venue closes, and if that’s at 2am, then I’m not getting any sleep for Tuesday. But that’s just me.

Our first venture outside of the now defunct Bar With No Name was two weeks back at a local bar called Cider House on Roncy. It’s a small place with good tables, bad lighting, ok chairs, and a decent location. They seemed pretty stoked to have the 9 or so of us show up and spend some money and play games. I spoke w/ the proprietor who told me that if we give her notice, she can pull tables together or arrange things for us how we’d like them, and that’s a very good sign. We didn’t have a good turnout that night, so it’s difficult to really make a solid call on this location.

Sling spells at Cider House

This past Meetup, we took over the rear section of our second choice, Pauper’s Pub. This one had some good things going for it, primarily that it’s huge and well lit, but it failed on the comfort and table size metrics. The tables are extremely narrow, so much so that only a single playmat will fit, which also means that all the legs and feet beneath the surface get pretty cozy. The other downside is that it’s all booths with a fairly narrow distance between table edge and booth back, thus making many people not very comfortable to sit at. As for our reception, again we weren’t at full strength, and several people didn’t appear to be spending money which doesn’t do much to win them over. They do have an upstairs that we could reserve, but it sounded like it costed money and/or had a minimum spend, neither of which are ideal.

Where does this leave us?

Quite honestly, I’m uncertain. Bouncing around to various locations is strenuous and seems to result in fewer people showing up; an anti-goal. We need to find a new forever home and get out of Exile, but for the immediate future, we’ll probably still be bouncing around, but we have one solid thing in place. What is that, you might ask?

The first Wednesday of every month, we’ll be playing at Toronto Collective, 389 Spadina Ave, which is a great space, owned by local player and international old school Canadian Ambassador, Shane. He’s graciously offered his shop up, after 8pm, for us to do what we want with it. He’s planning to have a dedicated cam table to stream or play vs non-local folks as a way to help grow the community and unify Toronto with the greater OS community. So, this Wednesday, 1 May, (May Day) will be our first regular meeting there, and we’ll discuss in person what we want to do with these sessions, but it’s been tossed around to have some tournaments there, or cubing, or whatever. I think that this is a great opportunity to have a different variety of games from the usual casual Monday Meetups.

So, keep your eyes on this site, twitter, facebook, and we’ll let you know where the Monday Meetups will be, and in the meantime, let’s play some games on Wednesday.

Alpha 40 – revisited

A while back, I wrote about building my Alpha 40 deck and getting some games in with it over the winter holidays. Well, it’s now Spring, and I’ve gotten to play even more games and picked up a few choice upgrades that I figured I’d share.

So it’s a little more than 40…

The first thing to notice is that it’s definitely more than 40 cards now. To me, an all Alpha format hearkens back to being young, naive, and unknowing about all things Magic, so more cards = larger deck. I am eschewing other colors, which is in itself idiosyncratic of the “I cracked a Starter and some boosters and shuffled up” outlook I try to uphold, but the prices of Islands and the difficulties of 3 colors, let alone 4-5 are enough to keep that in check.

my calling card

An early surprise was finding that my deck was missing a Fog. This is a serious omission, in my opinion, from any deck that runs Green. I know that threats are what win games, but a well timed Fog can make all the difference, and even if not, it generally means you get another turn. I personally love this card in multiplayer games as a way to garner favor from another player by saving them. I’ll give you all a piece of insight into my habits; if I can run a Fog effect in a deck (ie, it’s available in the format and on color), I will.

All around good set of pickups

The next set of cards were what allowed me to really grow beyond 40. I was dangerously low on creature threats, so two more Mammoths and the lands to allow me to cast them, as well as more Mountains to ensure I can cast a Disintegrate when needed, were very much needed. I also made the decision that Paralyze would be the card that I’d run more than four of, since it does a lot of work vs creature heavy builds, which, let’s face it, are most of what is faced in casual A40. Stream ended up not being fantastic but is iconic, so I leave it in, but it might not make the 60 card cut.

Three staple cards

The next set of cards I picked up were a bit more strategic than others which tended to be more “those are on color and affordable”. Giant Growth is the original combat trick, and looks fantastic in Alpha printing. Stone Rain, like Stream of Life, probably won’t make the final 60 card cut as there aren’t that many problematic lands in this format, unlike Old School 93/94. Which leave Drain Life. This card, although tough because it’s basically an X spell that requires B, can be a finisher or as removal, making it a good tool for the box.

Channel + Disintegrate is online

Channel plus an X spell is basically the first combo of Magic history, so being able to pull that off is just awesome. I picked this up off a sale from Face to Face games, and still can’t believe I have it. Every time it comes up in a game, I get excited about what it can do. So far, it’s combined with Disintegrate a fair number of times, but my favorite two plays with it were:

  • Turn two Channel -> Obsianus Golem. I know it’s not a good play, but it was awesome
  • Channel in precombat main phase, play out a Throne of Bone from it, then in combat hit for lethal with Howl From Beyond

I didn’t get to play in The Winter Blast, but I did manage to get in some Alpha games between rounds with Owen, during which we were both giddy to cast Spiders and Elves and such. If I recall correctly, we went 1:1 in our first match up and had a tie breaker, but don’t recall how it panned out. I know I did Channel Disintegrate for lethal in one game, a definite highlight.

gorgeous old cards with good people

At The Tundra Wolves Challenge 2 last weekend, the only decks I brought with me were my tournament deck (Wolf Tribal, obviously) and my Alpha deck, and I was determined to get some games in. When we arrived, I immediately started asking if there were Alpha players and was immediately pointed toward a dude in the corner. I sat across from him and said “I hear you play Alpha”, and within minutes we had a 5 player free for all going. One player was even on a mono black Alpha 60 deck for the tournament! Between rounds we also managed a handful of games where some of the great lines of play included Firebreathing Grizzly Bears made unblockable by Dwarven Warriors getting in for damage, and loads of Sengirs eating creatures and players alike. I even saw a Lord of the Pit hit the board!

casual 5 player a40 game in Montreal

I don’t know what my own Alpha journey looks like at this point in time. I recently won a random ebay auction that I low bid on and ended up winning, which consisted of Fire Elemental, Fear, and Fireball, so I’m certain that the two red spells will go in, and that those three put me at 62 cards, meaning I need to cut some things and should probably look at getting another Mountain or two. I still love white, and fantasize about a Banding deck, but I know that I’d want things like Serra Angel, Disenchant, and Swords in it, all of which are a small fortune to pickup, and I really should be focusing on getting the remaining dual lands I want.

All in all, the Alpha Journey has slowed considerably, but is still moving along. Being able to play something is more important to me than playing an optimal deck, and these niche formats (such as ABU 60 and Revised 40) really go a long way towards getting suboptimal cards into decks. I am surprised to see how many people have gotten in on A40, and really need to finalize my cam setup to get more games in.

The Winter Blast 2019 Wrap Up

Editor’s note, this is very image heavy and quite a long read. Probably should have split it up, but here we are. Also, I forgot to get a group photo and a photo of the winner 🙁


Well, it’s been a few weeks since the first Winter Blast occurred, and this post is far later than I’d originally planned, but thanks to Joel, at least we were able to give some insight into the experience before now. I’ll start off with some of my own thoughts and experiences as the organizer and then get into decks and standings.

my card from the pool

Leading up to the Saturday, I had a laundry list of things to cross off before go time, and I think that I did a reasonable job of getting most of them taken care of. One big wrench in the operation was going to San Fran for a week for work, one week before the big day, which meant missing the meeting to finish paying for the space, meaning I had to frantically call and hope that I could pay later or send someone else to pay. The venue only takes cash and checks; very not 21st century. I am not good at delegating, unless they are things completely outside of my wheelhouse, or are things I know a specific person will enjoy, such as Chris making the awesome 93/94 Spotify Playlist (and indulging me in some heavy, less accessible stuff I wanted on there). This meant doing loads of things on my own, and the most important one was making certain that I’d secured the prizes ahead of time. Face to Face Toronto had generously offered to donate the prizes, but working out a time for two parents who also work full time and live/work on opposite ends of Toronto to meetup proved very difficult, resulting in this being a Thursday-before-the-event meeting. It all worked out fantastically though as Kelly was amazingly generous and just kept pulling cool cards and adding them to the pile. At one point, he asked me if some card would be a good prize, and I stepped back and said “at this point, Kelly, it’s whatever you are comfortable throwing in” because we’d already fulfilled every card I had on my list.

Jason Rombouts made these amazing Chaos Orb height checkers/table numbers

Saturday morning, we arrived at 10am to get setup, and the venue finally let us in around 10:15. We had to scramble to find enough tables, which was a bit of an issue. I was assured there’d be plenty, but once everything was set up, we had room for 6 more people at a table, and that was it. No big deal though. Friends were there helping get everything ready, and I forgot the prize cards, so I had to drive home in a very dangerously slippery snowfall to grab them, about 30 minutes before go-time. We got started about 40 minutes later than I’d wanted, which ended up crunching the day a lot, and we somehow missed one registrant in the pairings, so I dropped and gave him my spot. Definitely for the best as I don’t see how I could have played and kept things rolling.

Scribbled’em up real purdy like

After round one, we had all of the community prize pool cards laid out for people to sign, and all of the raffle prizes out and on display. During round 3 we ordered pizza (thanks to Jae for organizing that, Kelly for buying, and players for donating money), which was eaten after round 4, iirc. We also had the Chaos Orb flip contest that was a load of fun. In order to streamline it, we set up 4 stations on a table and had people come up, hand over their money, and start flipping. When they missed, the next person in the queue came up, paid and got started. The prize was a Revised Tropical Island, and the winner was Joel. It took him 3 entries to finally get past the 17 hump, but he got there.

Joel with his Chaos Orb flip winnings

We also had a “guess the card” contest, that I completely failed to take photos of, that involved 16 old school cards placed backwards in dark sleeves w/ small windows cut out of the sleeves to reveal bits of the card. This one had a tie, so I had to think quickly, and decided to have the two finalists write down the artists for all 16 cards, which was very close, but Morgan pulled off the win by a single artist. He took home a Presence of the Master and a signed Anson Maddocks’ art print of Serendib Efreet.

prizes w/ a terrible glare

Next up we had the raffle drawing that was super hot. People were very into the donated prizes, with the Chaos Orb mat being a fan favorite.

Tedin and Maddocks early MTG poster
Signed Anson Hurloon Minotaur print, LE Signed Chaos Orb playmat
CE Serra Angel, UNL Icy, Signed Anson Lannowar print
Cyclopean mummy LE print and signed artist proof

Round 6, the final round of Swiss, was finally upon us and there were was a single 5-0-0 and several 4-1-0 players vying for the win. A huge upset, which required a Judge ruling (seriously Brendan?!?) resulted in 4-1-0 Brendan defeating the undefeated Joe, but the victory was short lived as Joe had a better record and still came out on top.

The final standings

And then came the moment everyone was waiting for; the prizes. First up, we had prizes for the spiciest decks, which consisted of an altered Shai Hulud, I mean Elder Land Wurm, that went to Owen for his super rad all Legends deck, and a CE Hurricane that went to Beverly for a creative mono-green Thallid deck that went so wide! We did a sufficient job of making the community pool prizes beyond valuable for those who participated, as well as provided some other wonderful cards. The way I arranged it was starting at the bottom, each player was called to come to the table and choose one signed card and one prize card, which meant that everyone had something pretty cool, and thanks to the generosity of Face to Face, we had more than enough cards for everyone, so even the top placed players got some decent cards, imho.

The spice must flow

Decklists in semi-random order

Andrew Ruschpler – Black Rack
James Everson – RB
Jon Teigesser – Dreams Combo
Joe Schacher – Sweet Void Control
Morgan Criger – Black on Both Sides
James Duncan – The Deck
Beverly Strain – Thallids
Eric Do – Thrull Disco
Jeff Follett – Erhnam-Burnem
John Little – Mono Black
Andrew Donut Boy Oyen – Jeskai Aggro
Matt Michels – Mono Black
Micah Bates – GB
Dave Lee – Troll Aggro
Nate Campbell – Suicide Blue Black
Joe DiClemente – White Weenie
James Flanagan – Red Sligh
Louis Emond – Spider Stompy
Patrick Burt – Nether Reanimator
Owen Fletcher – Legends of the Hidden Temple – Karakas
Jeff Rowbotrom – Rowbots
Tony Van Veen – Pink Weenie
Chris Suppa – Arboria Mill
Chris Anderson – UWb
Christian Brellisford – Panic at the Disco
Rick Blaschke – Mono Black
Karthik Sundaresan – 4C Aggro Control
Raymond Mitchell – ‘Geddonless ‘Geddon
Joel Bowers – White Weenie
Paolo Vago – Green ‘zerk
John O’Keefe – Miami Vise
Tristan Bates – ATOG ATOG ATOG ATOG
Derek Shank – UWR Control
Jason Pilarski – Robots
Jackie Reed – White Weenie
Aaron Bowers – Channel Fireball
Josh Jones – Petri Dish
Nick Chen – 4C Zoo
Barry Foss
Brendan Yeats – Pink Weenie
Jason Rombouts – Zoo

Lots of Triskelions Upcountry

For the second year, the Tundra Wolves held a 93/94 tournament. Five of the Geocitizens of Brass (Jason, Tristaan, Joel (myself), J, and Morgan) decided to head upcountry to accept the Tundra Wolves Challenge!

After considering our transportation options, we settled on doing a road trip to the tournament. Thanks to Jason for donating his dad-van, and also for driving it. We stopped for food on the way up. We all really enjoyed our meals, except since we didn’t eat any meat, we were hungry again 20 minutes later!

We also stopped at Wizards Tower near Ottawa along the way to see if they had any deals on old cardboard. Unfortunately they didn’t have a showcase, which made it very difficult to browse.

When we arrived upcountry, it took us a couple of trips around the block to spot our AirBnB. It was on the second floor above an Air Conditioning shop, and had a distinct street address than the shop under it, which is confusing at first. The AirBnB had a bit of an odd layout, but it worked great for our group. It had 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, a living room, a large patio, and a big kitchen table we could use for games.

we are, of course, 12 year olds

We went to the local Couche Tard to purchase some upcountry necessities like BBQ chips, 36 beers, a couple pepperonis, a pack of darts, and 3 Liters of Pamplemousse Wine. It was snowing, so it was still super slippery and dangerous on the sidewalks. Luckily, nobody was injured too badly.

Once we were settled in, we did some testing, finalized our decks, and took pictures to send in to the Tundra Wolves.


Jason played a very on theme Wolf Tribal deck.

Tristoon played a semi-powered Atog Burn deck. He says “Next time I would not play Recall or Mind Twist. Timetwister and Black Lotus would be way better, but I am Too Proud to Proxy.”.

I played a Lich Switch deck. The idea was to play 12 Djinns and Efreets in the first game, and then swap them all out and transform into a Lich combo deck with Fastbond, Dark Heart of the Wood, and Mirror Universe. Troll-less Troll, basically. My goal was to get it to work at least once during the day.

J played Re-animator. He’s glad it was a proxy tournament and he didn’t have to buy anything for the deck.

Morgan played Black with Red splash. He says “Adding the red splash makes this deck miles better than the mono Black version.”.

After we registered our decks, we all made sure to brush our teeth. It’s really important.

this was the billboard outside our window. wtf, RBC?

Saturday Morning

Saturday morning we decided to go out, pick up some famous Montreal bagels, and check out a brunch restaurant that Jason wanted to try. After brunch we went back to the AirBnB to try Jason’s newly constructed Old School Cube.

The cube contains cards from Beta through Ice Age, and has lots of cool archetypes and interactions. I drafted a GW ramp deck with moxes, elves, birds, Serra Angel, Seraph, and Arcades Sabboth, and was able to go 3-0.

As soon as the draft ended, we headed off to the tournament. We knew it was on Rue St. Catherines, but due to some dueling GPS action and our extremely poor French skills, we weren’t entirely sure if we were headed Est or Ouest. We eventually figured it out and made it there with plenty of time to spare.

The venue L’Adversaire was very well suited for the event. There was plenty of beer to choose from, it was clean, and the staff was super friendly and accommodating. Apparently the back of the menu had a lot of excellent food options, if you knew about it.

The Tournament

Round 1

It didn’t take long for my deck to go off after all. After winning game 2 in Djinn form, I was able to combo out with Lich / Mirror Universe, accomplishing my main goal for the day. Jason got machine gunned by a Triskelion, a sign of things to come.

Morgan: 1-0
Jason: 0-1
Tristaan: 1-0
Joel:1-0
J: 1-0

Round 2

J got into a mirror match against another reanimator deck. Unfortunately he ended up getting taken out by his own copy of Nicol Bolas. Jason taught someone how banding worked, and then got Triked out again. I won my second game with Lich, and Triston defeated a RG aggro deck on the back of a well timed City in a Bottle.

Morgan: 2-0
Jason: 0-2
Triston:2-0
Joel:2-0
J: 1-1

Round 3

It was time for the inevitable Geocitizen on Geocitizen violence as Joel’s Djinns got taken out by Tristoon’s Togs. Morgan played against another Lich deck. He was victorious against that one after many confusing Mirror activations.

Morgan: 3-0
Jason: 1-2
Tristaan: 3-0
Joel: 2-1
J: 1-2

Orb Flip Contest

Myself and Jason entered the orb flipping contest, which was a little different than Toronto. You needed to buy in each round for $5, and you would get a total score out of 5 flips. You could buy into as many rounds as you liked, and the highest cumulative score would win the playmat.

I blew it and missed on my first flip, which was apparently sudden death! Jason went on for 5 rounds and ended up coming in second overall, with 23 hits total.

Round 4

Heading into the round, Morgan and Tristaan were the only remaining undefeated members of our group. Morgan lost his first game after getting eaten by Lions, but was able to sideboard into Blood Moon and shut his opponent out of the next two games. Triston ran up against a tough mono Black deck, and his streak came to an end.

Jason’s intended opponent didn’t show up. It would have been nice if they let someone know that they were dropping. Luckily Jason found some folks with Alpha decks, so they played them while awaiting round 5.

Morgan: 4-0
Jason: 2-2
Triston: 3-1
Joel: 2-2
J: 1-3

Round 5

Jason got to play in the main tournament again, but unfortunately his deck’s mana denial plan was not effective due to Moxes and Birds of Paradise from his opponent. Morgan’s opponent defeated him with the help of some Juzam Djinns, ending Morgan’s impressive victory streak.

Morgan: 4-1
Jason: 2-3
Joel: 2-3
Tristaan: 3-2
J: 1-4

Round 6

The final round was memorable for all of us. Tristaan beat Troll Disco for the 4-2 finish by Wheeling into 3 copies of Black Vice for 9 damage. Jason played against an incredibly interactive Sleight of Mind deck. He won the round 2-1, but was also treated to a Sharazad sub game, which he lost. J won his round by resolving a Turn 3 All Hallow’s Eve, reanimating three copies of Deep Spawn and a Bolas! Morgan played Greg Titcomb, the champion of the tournament! Greg was running a Machine deck with Copy Artifact, Juggernaut, and Lightning Bolt.

Morgan: 4-2
Joel: 2-4
Jason: 3-3
Triston: 4-2
J: 2-4

Final Standings

Overall we were very satisfied with our results. Triston came in 7thand won a Wolf Hymn to Tourach, as well as an Unlimited Demonic Tutor from the raffle. Morgan came in 5th, won a Hymn to Tourach, as well as a Meekstone and an oversize Black Lotus for the highest finishing unpowered deck! 

After the prizes were awarded, we headed across the street to grab a sub for dinner. They either came in 7” or 14” options, and so will be henceforth known as a Quatorze Sandwich.

The Magic Sugar Shack

We eventually woke up and headed even further upcountry to the Magic Sugar Shack. They had a traditional sugar shack meal, which included maple syrup, pea soup, ham and eggs, hot dogs, baked beans, buns, beets, pickles, fried dough, and sugar pie. The shack was BYOB, so we finished up the rest of the beer and wine we bought Friday night while we played 3 rounds of Jason’s Old School cube with the people who were able to stick around.

The shack itself was really cool. It had goats, and we bought 8 Liters of maple syrup. After the draft was over, we headed outside for some hot syrup poured over snow. We said goodbye and began the journey home, during which we put this report together. Morgan drew this emoose at the shack.

A huge thank you from all of us to Francois and Pascal Benjamin for organizing! We can’t wait for next year, and we hope you will come downcountry for our next event.

Winter Blast #1 Tournament Report

This past Saturday we had the first big Toronto 93/94 tournament, the Winter Blast

To help thank Jason for putting the tournament together, I decided to write an old school style tournament report for this website about my experience at the tournament and how my matches went.

My brother Aaron came out from the far west (Hamilton) to join me in the tournament. I will briefly explain what happened to him as well where possible. Aaron got to my place around 11AM, and we immediately headed out to the tournament site at the Polish Combatant’s Hall. The venue was truly perfect for the event. There was plenty of table space as well as room to move around, and space for a bar and a card vendor

Aaron hadn’t actually seen his deck in person before that morning, so we grabbed the first beer of the day and settled in for a practice match before Round 1. 

For this event I decided to run my old standby, White Weenie, which I was clearly overconfident about. Aaron was running my Channel Fireball / Ball Lightning / Berserk deck, which is about as good as rolling a dice. I have seen that deck do absolutely nothing over several games, and I have seen it Channel-Fireball out and win on turn 2 before. It’s very unpredictable, but fun to play.

Here’s the White Weenie deck as it was the night before the tournament (sorry it’s squished, there were a lot of decks on that table):

Here’s the Channel Fireball deck as it was the night before the tournament:

We also managed to borrow two more Taigas on the morning of the tournament from Jason, so that helped the consistency of Aaron’s deck a little bit. Thanks again Jason.

Round 1 – Joel v. Derek (UWR Zoo?)

Game 1

Derek and myself started out strong by both mulliganing twice and going down to 6 cards. editor’s note, we allowed 1 free mulligan, then began the familiar -1 card and scry method.

I won the play and managed to play a few creatures and a Crusade, but around Turn 3 or 4 they all died to Lotus-Earthquake. Derek played some post-quake Savannah Lions which ended up being boosted by my Crusade. He attacked with the Lions for a couple of turns alongside a Serendib for the win.

Game 2

Derek found a Library of Alexandria in his opening hand on the draw and started drawing two cards each turn, which was not ideal for me. Through these extra cards he was able to deal with all my threats with either Lightning Bolts or Swords. Eventually he played a few spells at once and cast Timetwister to reload, topping up my hand again. Thanks to the Timetwister I was able to stick a few creatures at once, putting up a bit of an offensive. However, Derek followed up with another Earthquake, clearing my board again. From there he was easily able to burn me out.

Aaron played Jonesy on Land Equilibrium and got totally destroyed. Jonesy’s deck is both a monster and not a good matchup for Aaron, who is trying to work up to RRR to cast Ball Lightning. I was glad they got a game in since Jonesy is a regular at the Monday Bar with No Name meetups.

Joel 0-2
Aaron 0-2

Not a great start, but we grabbed another beer and settled in for Round 2.

Round 2 – Joel v. John (Mono Black)

It was comforting to see a familiar face at the table after getting beat up by a stranger in Round 1. I had played John plenty of times before at the bar with relative success, but we normally never bothered side-boarding…

Game 1

I was able to stick some Protection from Black creatures, which are super hard to block if you are playing mono black. John couldn’t keep up with those.

Game 2

John was able to stick Gloom, and I couldn’t cast any spells. Uh-oh.

Game 3

John was able to stick Gloom, and I couldn’t cast any spells.

Aaron played Dave on Troll Disco and was successful. Good for him! Dave is also a regular at the Monday meetups.

Joel 0-2, 1-2
Aaron 0-2, 2-1

We grabbed a celebration beer for Aaron and a consolation beer for me, and settled in for Round 3. I wasn’t winning rounds but was having a pretty good time losing, and was happy to officially join the “Beer Bracket”.

Round 3 – Joel v. Dave (Troll Disco)

Game 1 

I’m not entirely sure, but I vaguely remember a Disk blowing up and killing a lot of Lions and Crusades.

Game 2

Dave was able to stick Gloom. A few turns went by and I was just about to 5 mana Disenchant it. Instead, Dave was able to resolve another Gloom right before he passed the turn, and I did not have time to get to 8 mana.

I knew I always did a terrible job of side-boarding at the bar, but somehow I didn’t see this much Gloom action coming.

Aaron played against Patrick, who I don’t know. He was victorious again! Great job buddy.

Joel 0-2, 1-2, 0-2
Aaron 0-2, 2-1, 2-1

After Round 3 it was time for the Chaos Orb challenge, which thankfully was the flipping point of the day for me. The flags really helped with the correct height both during the contest and during matches all day. They were a fantastic idea, and every old school meetup should have a couple. Thanks J!

On my first attempt at flipping I ended up with 17 hits, which I was happy with. That was the record for a short while. Jeff was able to beat my record at 18 hits, so I decided to retry. On my second attempt I hit 17 again, which I thought was kind of funny, but I was pretty sure I could do better. I tried again and was able to get up to 18, which prompted a flip-off!

Here’s a video of my last 3 flips and missing #19:

The flip-off was short lived. I hit my first flip, and Jeff unfortunately did not.  I emerged victorious, taking home a nice Tropical Island from Face to Face and a giant Chaos Orb from Jae. Thanks guys!

The Tropical Island was a super convenient prize as I had just traded two away to Jonesy for the Land Equilibrium deck he was using at this event, and I was looking to replace them.

We grabbed another beer and settled in for Round 4, where my luck continued to improve.

Round 4Joel v. Louis (Green Weenie)

Game 1 

Louis played a bunch of early creatures, mostly Elves, Pixies, and Sprites, getting an early lead on the life point totals. I was able to slowly pick off his creatures in combat since Louis was trying to keep the pressure on, but unfortunately for his team, most of my team has First Strike.

Game 2

My First Striking creatures got blown out a couple of times by Louis’ Giant Growths, and I eventually got run over by Pixies!

Game 3

I was able to play a couple of creatures on Turn 1 and Turn 2, and stick a Jihad for Green on Turn 3. The buffs were too strong for the little green guys to deal with and Louis got run over by Thunder Spirits.

Aaron played Matt, another regular from the Monday meetups! I thought it was really cool how he was getting the full Bar with No Name experience. Well, almost.

Joel 0-2, 1-2, 0-2, 2-1
Aaron 0-2, 2-1, 2-1, 1-2

It was time for the Art Trivia contest. I gave it a shot for fun but did not advance to Round 2. The challenge was pretty tough, and got even tougher for the two finalists who had to name the artists! Morgan from the Monday meetups was one of the finalists, but I forget if he won. editor’s note, he did!

Round 5 – Joel v. James (Goblins)

Game 1

James did not seem to be having very good luck. He started out playing a couple of Goblins, and a King, but I was able to Swords the King during combat and effectively take out the rest of his team with my blockers and a Javelin. The freshly unburdened Javelineers then got pumped up by a couple of Crusades. They were backed up by a Knight and were able to attack for the win.

Game 2

I had a great draw with Mox Pearl, three Thunder Spirits, two Plains, and a Crusade. That went well.

We played a third game for fun because James was happy I wasn’t playing a crazy combo deck, which I suppose he had just run into a bunch of.

Aaron played J, another guy from the bar, and was victorious. Funny the way that kept working out.

Joel 0-2, 1-2, 0-2, 2-1, 2-0
Aaron 0-2, 2-1, 2-1, 1-2, 2-0

We grabbed another beer and settled in for the final round!

Round 6 – Joel v. Jon (Dreams Combo)

Game 1

Jon played a couple of early Black Vises on the play, doing lots of damage quickly. I was able to stabilize by dumping my hand in a couple of turns and running him over with weenies.

Game 2

I believe this last game was the closest and best one I had all day. Jon had the early Black Vises again, along with an Underworld Dreams this time. The Vises took me to 1, and I was about to die to an Underworld Dreams in my draw phase, but I had the Disenchant. After the Dreams was cleared I was able to keep my hand size under 5 while I played out some creatures, and eventually attacked for the win.

I accidentally picked up Jon’s deck box at the end of the match since it was a purple Ultimate Guard box, just like mine. We figured it out though. Sorry about that Jon!

Aaron played Micah, another guy from the bar, and lost this time. Another land destruction deck, which is probably his worst matchup. Overall there was more land destruction than I expected, but my deck doesn’t really care about that too much. 

Final Standings: 

Joel 0-2, 1-2, 0-2, 2-1, 2-0, 2-0
Aaron 0-2, 2-1, 2-1, 1-2, 2-0, 0-2

We both ended up 3 and 3. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.

After my match finished, Brendan was finishing off his match against Joe for the trophy, which I decided to go watch. He ended up being out of beer though so I went to the bar and bought him one to support the team. Brendan ended up winning the battle but not the war. Since Brendan won over Joe in 2 games instead of 1, Joe had the better tiebreakers and ended up being the first Winter Blast champion!

Overall, it was a fantastic day. I’m already looking forward to the next one in Montreal. I don’t think the event could have gone much more smoothly, especially for the first large event. Everyone had a bunch of fun, and we raised a bunch of money for a good cause. Thanks again for all your hard work Jason!

Tundra Wolves Challenge 2

I know that all of you are chomping at the bit to get all the details from this weekend’s tournament, but that’ll have to wait a few days (it’s a lot to sift through). Right now, I want to promote the next big Canadian Old School Event; The Tundra Wolves Challenge 2! It’s happening in Montreal, 23-34 March, starting with a team Legacy/Old School duo event, where the winners get free entry into the main Old School event, and then the next day is top 8 and casual games at a Sugar Shack.

Awoooo

Some of us Torontonians are making the trek up-country to participate in this as it sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’ll also be nice to strengthen the Canadian Old School bonds with new faces and see some of the Ottawa folks who came out for The Winter Blast. Facebook event link is here, for anyone interested in coming out for it.

If you need more convincing, check out some pics from their last event.

Monday Meetup Update

It’s been a bit quiet here on the blog as most of my attention is directed at The Winter Blast, but that doesn’t mean that nothing’s been happening.

We had a scare that turned into more of a low grade worry approximately 2 weeks ago when our usual Monday haunt, The Bar With No Name, announced that they are closing soon, and then announced their final draft night last week. We assumed that meant they were going to be closed this last Monday, 25 Feb 2019, causing us to frantically search for a replacement locale. Turns out that they will be open until the end of March, so we can kick that can down the road until at least after this weekend. Huge relief there.

monday's turnout
Monday’s turnout

Our latest meetup had a great turnout of players as well as a few observers and traders who swung by to hang out and meet the community. I got in games against 4 or 5 different players and learned that Green Weenie is pretty solid in game 1 vs most decks and then deteriorates quickly post sideboarding. I don’t have a board for it, which is something I should get on for the weekend to improve my chances of winning a round or 2.

Orb flipping!

And here’s a little cell phone video of a Chaos Orb flip, being flipped like a coin! Super fun to see and this table saw some great games with impressive decks. One is almost entirely signed and the other is entirely Alpha and Antiquities!

Next update will most likely be a tournament report/update in the next week or so.

Donations and Prizes

The first ever Winter Blast is a mere 6 days away, so we’re in full blown “cross the Ts and dot the Is mode” around here. As such, some folks have stepped up, volunteered, and/or donated time, skills, and/or donations to the cause. We had Morgan design up these rad 90s style flyers that we distributed all over Magic Fest Toronto.

quarter sheet flyer

Next we’ve had a local player, Jae, reach out and offer tons of great ideas as well as donating time and resources to helping make the day even more awesome. He’s donated a Limited Edition Artist Print, 125/250, from the late 90s, as well as soliciting a donation from Hairy Tarantula in the form of what just might be the first MtG poster ever printed, or at least from very early on, with art by Mark Tedin and Anson Maddocks.

mummy!
poster!

In addition to the above items and assistance, I’ve had several other donations that will be used as random prizes for things, and also had a special music playlist created for the day by my friend Suppa. I’ve not spoiled all the good stuff, but hopefully this gives you all a good idea of what to expect for the day.

So all in all, this coming Saturday is looking to be a spectacular day, full of fun, prizes, cards, and all sorts of good vibes.

Media Promos in Old School

Editor’s note: There’s recently been some more sleuthing and it was pointed out that the copyright on the Windseeker Centaur is 1995, which explains why it’s not actually legal in 93/94, despite the book being available in 1994. According to a post to an mtg usenet group in January 1995, people had not received the cards yet as they were still with Carta Mundi.
So I guess that makes it pretty officially not-93/94 playable.

Over in the Old School Discord, one of the players posted a Dragon themed deck that includes Nalathni Dragon and we started discussing the various media promos of the era. I mentioned Windseeker Centaur, a card they’d not heard of, leading me to dig into it a bit more. I thought it was printed in 1996, so certainly not Old School Legal, but lo-and-behold it was actually printed in November 1994!

pic from bugdoodles tumblr

Reading the rules as published by Eternal Central, they clearly omit this sweet red, vigilant, Centaur, while the Swedes full on explicitly state that it’s not allowed. According to MTG Gamepedia, Windseeker Centaur was the first Centaur, and was included as an insert in the novel Whispering Woods, which has a publication date of 1994 November, leading me to believe that this card should be legal, alongside Arena, Nalathni Dragon, and Sewers of Estwark. I have no idea why it’s omitted and not allowed in the two most popular rulesets, but it seems odd to me.

Personally, I could see the Centaur doing pretty well in a Big Red or Zoo deck. A 2/2 Vigilant for 1RR isn’t terrible for the format, and given the general power level of most creatures in old school, it seems fairly on curve. The double red is a bit rough, not not terrible to build around.

Not sure if that’s a flail or a decorative sphere on the spear, but it’s awesome

The art on this card is pretty great, as is to be expected of Anson Maddocks. I particularly appreciate that it’s a female warrior wearing not overly sexualized armor that looks mostly practical. I mean, the obvious breast cups are still strange, but are a very common trope in fantasy art (how else would we know this warrior is a female? :eyeroll:), and are still better than chain mail bikinis and exposed skin that is rife in the fantasy art world. Unrelated to Magic, but I recently read this fantastic post about how revolutionary Warhammer was in it’s early years when compared to the rest of its scifi/fantasy contemporaries, so this sort of art observation has been on my mind. I know that the original designers of Magic worked hard to desexualize women and to be inclusive of persons of color (although I can no longer find the specific article about this era), which I greatly appreciate, and feel like it deserves more attention than it usually gets, but that’s outside of the depth of this post. Back to the look of the card, these media promos were printed with similar tones and saturation as 4th edition, but in black border, so they look great, even if they do have a date line on them.

To conclude this ramble, I’m not sure why the lowly red centaur isn’t included in the major rulesets for the format, because from my limited research of release dates, it certainly seems like it should be. I’d allow it at our events anyway. As always, if any of you mtg historians are reading this, I’d love more details on this decision. We definitely got more information about this, and got to the bottom of it’s legality in the format. Sadly, but not surprisingly, I was wrong.