While I’ve been working on The Winter Blast, I’ve spoken to some other organizers and been paying more attention to the Old School world on the whole a lot more closely. I know that we are relative newcomers to the community, and as such we have a lot of privilege since so much ground work was already laid, however, there are still a lot of awesome things going on, and I’m hoping to help spread that groundwork some more. Today, I want to highlight some that I absolutely love.
First up is the Lords of the Pit’s map of Old School groups around North America. It’s been so much fun to see it evolve and notice new groups showing up, and being able to visualize where there are scenes happening. I know that it’s by no means definitive, but it is very handy.
Next up is this rad chart that MTGAlphaCastle linked on twitter as an easy way to know the differences in all of the major Old School flavors. Getting in a quick Skype match before work and your opponent says JK rules? Now you know what that means!
The last one that I want to mention, which was also the impetus for me posting is the global old school mtg event calendar. I first noticed it as a sidebar on the old school subreddit and immediately added it to my Google Calendar. With this in hand, I was better able to try to schedule The Winter Blast without interfering too much with other events going on both locally and globally, you know, in case any of you want to fly in and jam with us *hint*hint*
Behind the scenes here at geocitiesofbrass, along with working to foster and nurture a thriving Toronto Old School/MTGUnderground community, we’ve been working towards something a little larger. At last night’s Monday Meetup, we debuted our plans for the first ever Winter Blast! What is a Winter Blast? you might ask. Well, it’s basically a day for Old School players from all around to get together, have a tournament, do some silly side events, buy and trade cards, and raise some money for charity.
So, without further ado, http://thewinterblast.ca or you can click on the Winter Blast 2019 link above. We hope to see a bunch of our regulars and ideally get some new faces out, and maybe even entice some out of towners to come and jam with us. It’s scheduled as an all day Saturday sort of thing, but it won’t be difficult to organize some casual side events for Friday/Sunday somewhere in town as well.
Note, I’m terrible at remembering peoples’ names, and even though I went into this night with the intent of taking loads of pictures and writing down names for each match, well, neither of those really happened. The entire night happened so quickly that taking out my notebook didn’t even cross my mind. I’m also certain that I’m missing at least one match in here, but again, I can’t recall what it was.
I’m fortunate enough in life that I was able to take the summer to spend time with my kiddos and to free up my wife’s time a bit more to focus on her business. It was fantastic, but it had to end eventually. Job hunting began in early September, resulting in a company wanting to fly me out to their office in San Francisco towards the end of that month. I was excited for the job opportunity as well as the possibility of meeting up with the iconic Beasts of the Bay while out that direction. Well, it didn’t work out on that trip, but it turns out that I got the job and was flown down again in October to do some training, and this time, I made it out for one of the Beasts’ regular Monday night meetups. Was not disappointed.
I prepared for the trip mostly by contacting folks on twitter to get a good idea of the lay of the land. Elliot offered me a ride from SF to the bar, but since Monday was literally my first day of work, I was unsure of when I’d realistically get out of the office, so I opted to take CalTrain up and grab a ride share to the bar. As luck would have it, Dave Firth Bard, aka DFB, was also in town for the week, meaning that I got to meet a lot of rad people that night. I arrived at the bar around 7:30pm, a bit later than I’d have preferred, but the site that greeted me made it all worthwhile. There were ~20 people playing Old School! I got to chatting with some of the regulars and learned that 20 is almost guaranteed and that they have meets that have over 30 people fairly often. This made me very happy.
Anyhow, I arrived and was quickly ushered to a table where a game just finished, pulled out a deck and got down to it. I decided to start the night out with my Candleflare deck, which fared poorly. In one match I was taken down by a Primordial Ooze, in a Juxtapose deck, where I never saw a Juxtapose played in 3+ games! note that this deck went on to place in top 10 most creative at Eternal Weekend! I did manage to get one win in, because my opponent got greedy w/ Sylvan Library, bringing his life down a bit, and the combination of [/c]Mana Drain[/c]ing him, then getting to untap and cast a Fireball for lethal was pretty great. Very fun chatting with the other players and seeing so much nice old cardboard being played. Next up I played against DFB’s Spice Rack variant. Holy shit, that deck is so fast and difficult to handle. I decided to switch over to my Wolf Tribe deck to try and get under him, which came closer to working, but I still went 0-3, iirc. Fascinating to see how that deck plays out though. We all know how good Hippies are, but when combined w/ The Rack, Disrupting Scepter, and of course Hymn, this just gets away from you. Despite being crushed multiple times, I very much enjoyed the games and the company. During every game, there’d be a couple people taking breaks who would come over, introduce themselves, talk about cool tech, and generally be welcoming and inviting.
I still had some time before my ride back to SF was leaving, meaning that I of course found a new opponent. He was on a ponza/zoo list that was omg brutal. In one game he got two Strip Mine‘s and two Ice Storm‘s AND a Mind Twist at me in rapid succession. Despite my Wolves curving out at 2, I couldn’t get anything to stick. I believe that I won one game out of three by going wide enough with Wolves to chip him to death.
After that, Elliot was kind enough to drive me back to SF. Well, actually, we were so engrossed in conversation that by the time they asked where I was staying, we’d passed the exit, so we ended up near his place and me just catching BART back to the hotel. The alone time on transit gave me plenty of time to process just how much of a fun night it had been. Sweet cards, some awesome swag, fun games, but the thing that really hit me was how welcoming, friendly, and eager folks were. I’ve been to a few MtG events in my day, and finding pick up games is usually an awkward process of trying to initiate conversation, hoping they play the same format as you, and hopefully at a similar tier. Not here. Show up, people greeted me and basically forced me into games. Now that I think about it though, I played someone before I played the Juxtapose deck, and it involved a Spirit Linked Guardian Beast, but I can’t recall anything else about that matchup, but here’s a pic of it.
I also was given some lovely swag by the Beasts as well as DFB, once again cementing just how awesome the Old School community really is.
Last night, Monday 5 October, a group of strangers (well, some friends as well) met up at Bar With No Name here in Toronto to play with 25 year old cardboard. Leading up to it, I was worried that people wouldn’t show up or that too many people would show up for the space. We were lucky in that the bar was pretty quiet when we arrived, so we were able to carve out five tables for the ten of us to play.
I arrived to see my friend Chris already hanging out with a fellow old schooler, Joel, so I joined them and chatted for a few. The few became more, and it soon became evident that it was time to claim our tables, order some food and drinks, and get things going. In total, we had 9 players and a spectator, with 3 of them being total strangers who heard about it via DaveFirthBard‘s Reddit grooming, posting in FaceBook groups and of course twitter, whilst the others were from my regular playgroup. I have to say that having your friends show up for you and be present when you’re expanding beyond the usual comfort zone is pretty amazing and went a long way towards making it such a good night. Unfortunately, I only had the chance to play against one of the new people, who builds mostly Swedish legal decks, so they were gorgeous. A UW flyers list, complete with Alpha Serra Angels (!) and a Moat, which caught it’s demise on camera.
Retribution came swiftly though as I believe I lost all of these matches and then faced off against his Atog deck, where I recall being hit in the face multiple times by Orcish Mechanics hurling artifacts at me. They are quite reactionary, those Orcs.
We basically closed out the bar, meaning we played for fiveish hours and I’m pretty sure we treated the bar staff pretty well while we were at it. It wasn’t all games though as a lot of us voiced opinions on when we can do it again, how often, where at, what rules, etc. It seemed like Monday nights were pretty decent for most people (sorry Joel’s board game night!), so we’re going to go with every other Monday, 8:30 pm, Bar With No Name, until we outgrow their space.
I want to thank all of you who came out, shared trade binders, waxed nostalgic on old cards, and contributed to figuring out what we want to do up here in the North. A huge thanks goes out to Joel for literally giving me the playmat from under his cards, and not just any playmat. Pictured w/ a beautiful Sorcerous Queen I picked up in exchange for the Strip Mine.
And finally, here are a couple of other pics from the night:
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.
A while back, I found this post from Music City Old School about mono-green budget weenie deck and was enamored with it. It runs a bunch of cheap, efficient creatures and a full set of Winter Orb to lock out the opponent while constantly having threats to drop. I played it a handful of times with my usual group as it was and then started tweaking it to my personal liking. I was pleasantly surprised when I returned to the article to see the update about removing a bunch of stuff and adding in a load of wolves. Be still, my beating heart! I’d made very similar changes once I realized that the old green wolves worked very well in the deck. I tried to get Aspect of Wolf to fit as well, but it just doesn’t work very well.
Since I played it a bunch of times, I realized that I wanted more wolves. Sadly there aren’t any other green wolves, and Master of the Hunt‘s mana cost for making hounds (with Banding!) is a nonbo with the Orbs, so I had to look elsewhere. My changes have made it much less of a budget deck, which I’m somewhat saddened by because I have a deep love of inclusive decks that can entice newbies into the format. On the plus side, the changes I’ve made were all with cards I already owned, so didn’t cost me anything. I’ve yet to test this version out, and I’m a bit worried about the mana base, but I think that it will still work out. I know that splashing in white for Disenchant and Swords to Plowshares is very cliché, but if I’m already in white for Tundra Wolves, I might as well ditch Crumble for better removal.
Having a second Berserk really helps me want to play this deck more as it’s effective as both a beater and removal in an emergency. I can’t wait to use Timber Wolves and banding shenanigans with it. I know that Tundra Wolves aren’t as powerful as Elvish Archers, but they aren’t canines, and their cmc is twice that of the former! This deck still has a very low curve, topping out at 2 cmc, so shouldn’t have problems casting spells whenever necessary, even with an Orb in play, while also running 25 creatures.
There are two minor changes that I’m thinking about making, but am unsure of what to remove to get there. The first is to run a second Ankh of Mishra to further punish my opponents for wanting to play lands. As a singleton, it’s probably not worth it and could be swapped out to make room for the second change. I think that this deck screams for some card advantage, most likely in the form of Land Tax, but possibly a Sylvan Library, although I’m reticent to freely give up life in a deck like this. Side note, it took be far too long to recognize that life is just another resource to manage, and I still have issues with it. Sideboard ideas basically turn it back into something more closely related to the Music City version, since the creatures in the mono-green list have much more utility than “12 wolves” do.
I’m going to play it as is and see how it does for a while. Gw is quite possibly my most comfortable color pairing, and this has a lot of cards that I love, so no doubt that I’ll enjoy playing it, even if it doesn’t perform super well.
It’s been a while since our last post, but that doesn’t mean that nothings been going on. Quite the contrary! We organized and played our first tournament amongst our usual play group a few weekends ago. It was a lovely afternoon here in Toronto, which means that we got to sling some spells outside. All in all, it was a fantastic day, and I think that all of the players very much enjoyed old cards, grilled/smoked foods, and plenty of beverages. Oh, and playing for the chance to win this, rather appropriate, old school prize, which we of course signed and altered as we saw fit, so as to follow the old school culture we’ve seen around. It happened to be a player’s birthday, so we figured a Candle of Brass made sense.
We wanted to keep our first tournament fairly low-key, so we didn’t bother with using technology to organize challenge brackets, no FaceBook event page to sign up on, or anything like that. Instead, we invited our friends via word of mouth, and chose the first round organically, by simply finding a friend to play and doing so. As games ended, we jotted down the outcomes from each round on a paper bag to keep score on, and invested our time in playing instead of micro-managing.
We had nine players to start with, meaning we had a bye, thus making the brackets not as clean as we’d like, but he was borrowing a deck and was mostly there to see us and play some Commander between games and afterward. The decks were pretty diverse, and do a great job of showcasing what our regulars have to brew with. Everything from budget Pink Weenie and Mono-Blue up through some Power were represented, with the winner being a very fun Naya Zoo build. Preacher plus Diamond Valley proved to be a powerful combination in this deck.
Without further ado, here are the rest of the decklists, in no particular order.
And some glory shots from the day’s activities.
Some highlights from the day:
Chris, playing mono-blue, being very taken aback that I was playing a UR deck, and then being blown away that I was playing Mirror Universe, which I successfully used to swap lives and then fireball him in the face for lethal.
I played against the mono-black Juzam deck, where I was killed on turn 4, with no chance. Turn one Juzam Djinn followed by hypnotic specter and a mind twist proved incredibly destructive!
Playing against Tristan’s UWb Control deck, I was not doing well, but got out [/c]Time Vault[/c] and Mirror Universe, thinking that I could pull off a big fireball. I decided to use Book of Rass to draw a fresh grip of cards before triggering the Time Vault, only to die in my free turn’s upkeep due to Black Vise that I’d forgotten about.
Since getting into the Old School format, I’ve thought quite a lot on my history with the game, what I like, why I continue to play, what has brought me back to it after selling out, etc. There are two main answers to these: nostalgia and friendship. I have a hunch that these are fairly universal in the Magic world on the whole, and particularly true for most of the Old School players. I’ve never been a good player, but I’ve always enjoyed playing. It’s a reason to hang out w/ friends and have some focused, social fun.
My introduction to the game was with my friend Nick, while visiting two brothers for some D&D playing while in high school. The older of the brothers was a year older than me, and had a few decks of a game called Magic the Gathering that he and his brother were figuring out how to play. We paired up, Nick and the older brother, myself w/ the younger, and proceeded to butcher the rules, and since this was around the time of Unlimited, the rules were rather handwavy anyhow. Regardless, Nick and I were hooked. We went to our local game store, The Bookery, and grabbed some starter decks. I remember opening the deck in the backseat of my mom’s car, and my first rare was a Personal Incarnation, which started my love of white cards. I tried to collect every white card available, which wasn’t very easy due to the lack of resources available around the Revised time period. But I still tried. I crammed my deck with Circles of Protection, Castle, Serra Angels, White Knights, and loads of sub-optimal cards. I had no idea about card advantage, life as a resource, or any real interaction outside of combat. Nick, however took to blue and black and quickly figured out the control archetype, which pretty much summed up my early days of playing. Since I got in at the tail end of Unlimited, and I know this is akin to sacrilege in the Old School community, white borders define Magic for me.
I remember Fallen Empires being released, and splitting a box of it, my first time ever buying a box, with Nick and another friend, Vince. At first it was exciting, but by the end of the box, it was pretty miserable. When Ice Age came out, we split a box again, and this time it was exciting! Icy Manipulator was back, Snow Lands were a thing, which meant black border basics were abundant, and there were new Starter Decks to buy. I didn’t know then that booster packs were the way to go to get good cards, so Starters were far more interesting.
Around this time, we started hitting up local tournaments around the Dayton, Ohio area, and learned about all the other cards out there. I, of course, did terribly as I played cards that I liked, and always played too few lands, whereas Nick was figuring out real strategies. He built a deck around Ornithopter, Enduring Renewal, Ashnod’s Altar, Farrelite Priest, Blessing, and trample creatures. The first time he went infinite, his opponent went berserk! He’d never seen an infinite combo either and tried to force Nick to go through the combo as many times as mana he wanted to produce, but luckily the judges were on our side. Imagine a 20+ year old man screaming and cussing out some teenage kids over a game of cards. It was amazing.
Shortly after this, I went away to university, and my cards stayed neglected in a box at my parents house. After university, I was unemployed and needed money, so I sold the collection for $300 USD and a terrible laptop. I was fine with it then, but as I look back on the cards I know I had, it saddens me. So, my journey back into Magic has involved me trying to replace the cards I miss, and I’m happy to say that I’m mostly there, except for an Angus Mackenzie and a Word of Command.
I’m fairly certain that this relationship effectively sums up a large number of players’s experiences with the game in it’s early days. I can’t count the number of people I’ve met who tell me the identical story of selling all their cards and the outcome of the conversation is either one of chasing the dragon (like me), or of incredulous disbelief at the value of some of the cards they parted ways with.
We are currently playing with the Old School 93/94 sets, including Fallen Empires, Revised, and reprint sets, but how I long to play a format that includes Ice Age so I can rebuild that Enduring Renewal combo deck.