Hello again Old School friends. Here in the burbs of Akron, Ohio we seem to have escaped the cycle of torrential downpour and heatwave that has defined the summer and settled into some nice weather. There have been many great evenings for slinging some spells on a patio with a cold one in your hand or taking a long ride to that out-of-the-way LGS you've been meaning to visit. As for me, I am spending some time outside on a breezy, sunny Tuesday reflecting on roughly six months back in Magic after a 20-year absence. I am also sorting through the exciting ideas swirling in my head to chart a course forward. The Mana Flare my brother Jim gave me is also pretty sweet, but more on that later.
|The glorious sunshine...|
I mentioned in my first post that Jim and I purchased a booster box of Ixalan while back east visiting relatives Fall of 2018. I am not going to lie, we had a blast in spite of the hideous frames. What had they done to the beautiful card design we remembered from the last time we picked up a Visions booster pack back in '99? Sometimes when one returns to the hobbies or joys of their childhood they are disappointed that they do not find the thrill they once did. That was not the case here. We played marathon sessions. We built multiple decks. We argued over the rules. Imagine two people who had not seen a new Magic card in 20 years trying to play Ixalan. We didn't even know what the stack was. We both resolved to get back into the game and buy more modern boosters. That plan would go out the window one snowy morning after the dawn of the new year.
|I almost thew up in my mouth a little bit when I saw the new frame for the first time...|
I have always been an early riser. My wife, like most normal people, will sleep in on weekends or vacation. Not me. After a hard year of professional exams for me in 2018 we decided to take a 2 week "staycation" starting on Christmas Eve. While working on my latest Ixalan deck I had what I thought at the time was a preposterous thought: "wouldn't it be awesome if there were a bunch of people who only played with the cards from the mid-90's?" The overwhelming portion of my and Jim's collection was Revised, Fourth Edition, and Fallen Empires. I googled "old-school Magic" and was floored by what I found. Thanks to our friends in Sweden and other like-minded people around the globe there was a place for those of us who want to recapture the feel of the original game. People who don't want to play in a format where the creatures are so absurdly overpowered that Juzam Djinn would be no big deal. I called Jim. Good times lay in store.
I joined the Facebook group Old School Magic 4Life and made a post noting that I hadn't played since Clinton was president and wanted some clarification on rules, banned/restricted, etc. American Old School luminary Dave Firth Bard immediately responded to my post with a ton of encouragement and helpful info. Perhaps more importantly he pointed me in the direction of Matt Shields and Sean Duffy, two Old School players who live nearby. Every other person in the community with whom I have interacted since Dave responded to that Facebook post has also been super chill and helpful. Armed with a bunch of helpful links and a few local players to contact I called Jim and got to working on the first of many Old-School decks I would brew in 2019 before settling into my current long-term build.
I was fairly tentative at first about contacting Matt and Sean via Facebook, but after some back and forth it was pretty clear they were like-minded individuals and not axe murderers. We met up at our local gaming bar and started slinging spells like old friends. I cannot begin to state how instrumental my crossing paths with these guys was to my immense passion for Old School Magic: The Gathering. They welcomed me into their playgroup, were patient with me on the rules ( I had never heard the term stack, thought interrupts still mattered, etc.) and were just generally cool to hang with. After a few weeks my brother began to join and since then we play nearly every week and I have made two great new friends who live within 10 minutes of me. I guess social media can make the world a better place.
One of the best parts about Old-School is the community content. We have all spent some time on Magnus's OS blog and enjoyed the black-bordered mega decks our friends in Sweden are slinging. I spent a lot of time reading Matt and Sean's blogs and thought it would be fun to have my own blog. I also felt the urge to start some sort of fun project to fill the time while I wasn't dueling, and the blog would be a great way to document this. Like most people who have been captivated by Magic's siren call, I love collecting. When I first played I had never seen a card from the original Alpha/Beta/Unlimited sets. Jim and I had a ton of Revised cards, but in the days prior to widespread internet if your playgroup didn't have any of them and you didn't go to tournaments, they were mysterious treasure of times gone by. Remembering this led me to the realization that I had to have a full Unlimited set. I wanted to see and play the original game. An hour spent on Ebay showed that this would be a long and expensive quest, but also a rewarding one. The cost of the endeavor adds to the appeal in a sense since I can truly enjoy every card as I get it. Though I did not set out with the rule that I could not use the internet, once I realized I had gotten them all in person I decided that I would go straight Old-School and get my cards from LGSs, conventions, and trades. It has been a blast so far and I can't wait until Eternal weekend in November.
Since I started my quest in February I have acquired 49 unique Unlimited cards. The breakdown of those cards by rarity is as follows:
Rare----------5(including the Mana Flare)
Breakdown by color is:
I didn't realize until today how many of them were uncommons, that's pretty cool. The color breakdown is about even which is to be expected since I was not specifically seeking any of them. My favorite card so far is the Gaea's Liege I acquired at GP Cleveland in February. It was my first rare, my first convention, and my first tournament. I've never seen anyone playing with one, but I still love it. One thing I've figured out through all of this is I would rather win less and have a deck with cards that I love and don't see as much play than just default to a killer deck. I could build a mono-black discard/drain life deck and do better than my current build, but it would not have the allure of my Dragon Genealogy deck...
Jim came over this week to play a for a few hours. He is my original Magic compatriot and oldest friend. He is also a better brewer than me and has made his childhood R/G deck into something of a feared entity in our playgroup. I've mentioned before that I don't like posting decklists since I think it takes away something of the mystique and mystery of playing, but let's just say that Berserk and Kird Ape now give me sweats and shakes when I see them. He has also been a constant source of advice and encouragement as I have built and trashed multiple decks over the last six months. When we were kids I had a R/B deck that my dad put together quickly and I took apart after a few months to build something of my own. I then ran a B/W deck for the next 4 years that had no real theme and was generally regarded as awful even for a 10 year old. Since getting back into the game I went from White Weenie to G/B ramp/discard, on to mono green ramp, stopped over B/U control, and have finally settled into R/U Dragon Genealogy, which I adore and will never leave. I will expand on these decks in a later post, but building them has been a true joy. I have discovered that I want to win, but not at the expense of missing out on playing with some of my favorite cards. I'd rather win a few less games and still get to include some elder dragon legends and other less optimal spells.
So where do I go from here? Job number 1 is continuing in my quest for a full set of Unlimited cards. I've always wanted to savor all the cards. It would be incredibly easy, but incredibly boring, to just go and pound out all the commons and uncommmons in a manner of weeks. Even with my rule of not using the internet, I am blessed by several LGSs that carry a lot of Old-School. That being said, moving forward I am aiming to accelerate my accumulation of those cards and start going after some heavy hitters. I aim to get a major addition at Eternal Weekend, a lot of that depends on how many new clients I get at the office and how nice I can be to my wife between now and November. Aside from my quest, I also am going be working on putting together a Swedish legal version of the original R/B deck my dad made for me. Get ready for some sweet Beta Hill Giants!! I am still working on completing my collection of The Duelist magazines and have had an awesome time reading through them. My friends and I will soon be dipping our toes into premodern which is really exciting to me because I have never really played with any cards after Alliances beyond a few booster packs of Mirage and Visions Jim and I bought at the end of our original playing. I am also yearning for a more limited play environment to complement our normal constructed play as I would like to see more of the cards used. Perhaps Revised cube? As you can see there is a ton I want to do and a lot more stuff to explore, experience, and write about. Can't wait to see where the rest of the year takes me.
|I've seriously wanted this since the days of Ace of Base. Possibly my favorite art.|
Getting back into this game/hobby/lifestyle in January after 20 years has been one of the most positive developments in my life. I have a job in finance that I love though it is fairly stressful and this game has become my oasis. When I am having a bad day I drift off to Dominia and think of new ideas for brewing. When I am having a good day, which thankfully is most days, I have to keep myself from drifting there too much lest I become unproductive. My wife and I play together often, in fact I am fairly certain that after 4 months she is a better brewer than I am. I've made new friends and am communicating with people from sea to shining sea and even across the mighty oceans. What more could someone ask for from a hobby? That my friends, is Old-School. Stay tuned for another very special post next time commemorating card number 50! Cheers!
**Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that I've updated the look of the site. I felt that the white text and black background made it much easier to read. Also, I replaced Birds of Paradise with Frozen Shade because Douglas Shulers art on that card was one of the first cards I loved and remains one my favorite pieces of Magic art.