My relationship with Magic is more akin to bookends than a spectrum. As I’ve mentioned before, I more or less quit the game sometime after Ice Age, and didn’t return fully to the game until the first Theros block, leaving about 15 years in the middle as a black box to me. I know some of the cards from that era from dabbling in Legacy and EDH, however I’ve spent the last four or so years fully entrenched in the sets up to and including Alliances, so when the locals started talking more seriously about PreModern, I felt lost. I still do, really. At Eternal Weekend 2019, I sat down with Owen to play some casual games and he pulled out some World Championship Decks for us to play, and I had absolutely no idea what the deck was supposed to do, or what cards existed in the deck, let alone the full card pool. The period isn’t nostalgic to me like traditional 93/94 Old School is. However, I do remember the excitement of brewing with new cards when Fallen Empires and Ice Age were released, so I’m trying to treat PreModern similarly; use some familiar cards while also integrating the new stuff.
Seeing as how I didn’t really know where to start, nor do I own many cards from this time period, I admit that I’ve done some netdecking. MtGDecks actually has an entire section on PM decks, tournaments, and many blog posts about the format, and it’s been invaluable in assisting me. Despite not knowing the cards, I did know that I didn’t want to break the bank, as I’d rather spend “real money” filling in the gaps in my OS collection, meaning I would be entering this on a bit of a budget. My first interest was in the various Cycling decks, like Astral Slide and Fluctuator. I made up a list of cards and headed over to a fantastic shop that has long boxes of bulk, organized by set and sometimes a step further by color, and got to digging. I found the vast majority of these cards in the ten cent boxes, and then later in the week I took a trip down to another local shop with a larger selection (but they don’t let you flip through boxes/binders) and grabbed all the Apocalypse pain lands, since I already have playsets of the Ice Age pain lands, figuring that this would allow me to have a flexible and robust mana base.
Feeling pretty decent with my spoils, as well as my budget, I got more involved in the PM conversations with my local playgroup, and we all started talking about decks we have and are working on. One player already has Fluctuator built up, and for the sake of diversity, I started looking at other budget decks. My first choice was Zoo, because I enjoy turning creatures sideways, but I was thwarted by local card availability. Tom mentioned that Clerics feels like a Jason deck, and off I went to read about these cards, and it is basically a combat deck, but sort of like a precursor to Maverick or Bears, where they are small creatures, but they have a variety of abilities to further your board state. Once again, off I went to the LGS with a nice list, making the obvious mistakes of not planning ahead and it being Saturday. The shop was busy and short staffed, but the folks working did an awesome job of pulling beat up cards for me, and getting me a fair price for them, resulting in me coming home with a nearly complete Clerics deck.
I’ve yet to play the deck, and since I’m in Ohio and the rest of my collection is in Toronto, it’s going to be another week or so before I can pilot it. While goldfishing the deck, I notice that the sense of nostalgia and comfort I get from OS is definitely missing, and in it’s place is a bit of wonder and mystery about how these cards will play out and what sorts of board states they’ll create. All in all, I’m somewhat excited about playing with a different card pool, but it definitely won’t be replacing OS as my most beloved format. I somewhat worry that PM is a more competitive environment, a thing I desire least in playing games with folks, however that’s tempered a bit by seeing the sheer variety of decks being played across all tiers. So, here’s to trying new things.
PS: If you’re in the Toronto area, PM will likely be on the menu once we start playing irl again, alongside other old frame formats.