Lich is a Bad Magic Card

Lich has been around since the very beginning of Magic. Due to its flavour and mystique, it is one of the cards I have always been very curious about. Since 93/94 has become a thing, it’s at last become possible for me to give it a try.

we paid extra for the quality meme

I picked up a couple of Unlimited Liches at Magic Fest Toronto this year and have been brewing with them ever since. Let me tell you, if you enjoy winning games (which I do), you will hate the card Lich. If you enjoy playing really cool cards and messing around building decks (which I do even more than winning), Lich may be the card for you.

There are two main win conditions available to a Lich deck. You can take your pick of Mirror Universe (slow and steady) or Fireball (a turn faster, but with more moving pieces, so even more rickety). Both of these are fun options and possible to build decks around. One can even attempt to cram them in the same deck. Which I did.

Decklist #1 – Classic Lich

The main problem with Lich is once your opponent is “on to you” and figures out that you are playing Lich, if they are any good at Magic at all you are probably going to lose that game. All your opponent has to do is hold a Disenchant or Chaos Orb, wait for you to resolve Lich, and then take it out. Even a plan as simple as holding a couple of Lightning Bolts until after Lich resolves can be devastating when they start forcing you to sacrifice 3 permanents at the cost of 1 mana.

Lich does have some good synergies in Old School. These include:

The Abyss – Matches colour, and we’re not playing creatures.
Avoid Fate – Protects Lich from Disenchant, but not from Chaos Orb.
Fastbond – Where we’re going, we don’t need life, just an excessive amount of mana and some forests to sacrifice.
Sylvan Library – Same deal as Fastbond. Find those combo pieces, who cares if you pay life, it’s going away anyways.
Dark Heart of the Wood – Buy some more time, or start drawing those cards.
– Mirror Universe – Main win condition.
Channel – We don’t need life, and we do need 6 to cast Mirror Universe. We can also win on the first turn by accident 1% of the time.
Dark Ritual – BBBB.
Mana Vault – Helps cast Mirror Universe and can be sacrificed to Lich afterwards.
Time Walk – Great way to get to your next upkeep step without anyone blowing up your combo.

Decklist #2 – Lich Switch

In light of what I learned from playing the “classic” version of Lich, for the Tundra Wolves Challenge II this year I decided to bring a transformational sideboard Lich deck. The deck attempted to steal game 1 with Djinn and Efreet beatdown. The goal was to trick my opponent into side-boarding in creature removal for game 2, hopefully removing some of their enchantment removal. Meanwhile, I took all the creatures out of my deck and replaced them with the cards necessary for Lich combo alongside anti-creature cards like The Abyss.

The plan worked surprisingly well up until I was matched up against Tristan from this group, who unfortunately knew what I was up to before we started playing. I lost game 1 and decided to not sideboard in the combo since he already knew exactly how to beat it, and then lost game 2 anyways. Creatures that slowly deal damage to their controller are not great against burst damage decks like Atog, especially when they are packing several copies of City in a Bottle, but I digress.

Main Enemies of the Lich

– Disenchant
– Chaos Orb
– Tranquility
– Counterspell
– Tristan

Decklist #3 – Lichless Lich

After the tournament I decided to try one more version of the deck, which basically had the same game plan of damaging myself to eventually win the game via Mirror Universe, but this time using Lightning Bolt as the finisher as opposed to having 0 life due to Lich. The deck is a lot stronger, doesn’t randomly die to a stray Chaos Orb, but is arguably more of a knockoff of The Deck than anything resembling a Lich deck.

While writing this article I discovered a slightly odd and cool piece of Lich trivia which I think adds even more to its mystique. The multiverse ID for the original Alpha printing of Lich is #69 (nice), and the multiverse ID for the Unlimited printing is #666 (hail Satan!).

To summarize:

Lich Pros

– You don’t lose the game for having 0 or less life.
– If you gain life, draw that many cards instead.
– Art & flavour is undebatably sweet.
– Alpha printing is card # 69, Unlimited is card # 666.

Lich Cons

– Casting Cost is BBBB, a tall order.
– You lose all life.
– For each point of damage you suffer, you must destroy one of your cards in play. And it has to be a non-token permanent, by the way.
– You lose if this enchantment is destroyed, or if you suffer a point of damage without sending a card to the graveyard.

If you want to win games, never play the card Lich. If you want to brew some cool decks and have fun, give it a shot sometime.

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
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
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!