Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Old School is Strong in Ohio (101-103/302)

Hello everyone, welcome to the second month of the Roaring 20's. I hope we all have had a great beginning to the new decade. My goal for the new year was two blog posts per month, however a bad case of the flu at the beginning of the year sidelined me for a week and then an extremely hectic, albeit productive, month at work kept me from meeting my goal. I intend to fix that now. I begin my staycation today and look forward to the Super Bowl, video games, and Magic. 

One of the most awesome parts of Old School Magic: The Gathering is the various local communities that dot the globe. From our forefathers in Sweden to the groups right here in the United States and everywhere in between, the different rules, cultures, blogs, and tournaments are what set this format apart. Any time I see people get irritated about set legality or rule variations I cannot help but feel that they are missing the point. Just play with your group how you like with the cards you like and respect those with whom you disagree. Our differences are what makes this global community so much fun, and as someone who started in Spring of 1994 I can tell you that the different kitchen table rule sets mimic the feel of playing back then. Embrace it and love it, I know I do.

One of the best groups out there is the Columbus Kobolds right here in Ohio. They are a short 2 hour drive from the group my brother Jimmy and my friends Matt and Sean founded here, the Akron Legionnaires. They are all quite genial guys who build cool decks. They also hosted a bodacious tournament at Thanksgiving time that I truly hope will be an annual event (no pressure!) One of the coolest people I met there was Jon Revell, who along with his brothers Ben and Sean represent an awesome family of Old School players right here in the Buckeye state. I mentioned my great time losing 2-1 to his land destruction brew at the aforementioned Butterball tournament in my recap and I look forward to slinging spells with him and the rest of the Kobolds next time I get down Interstate-71 to the capital city. 

About a month ago I received a letter in the mail from Jon Revell, and I was excited to open it as I had the faint idea that he may have sent me a few cards to contribute to my quest to collect a complete set of Unlimited Edition. I have said a million times on this blog that I am in no way soliciting contributions nor do I expect them, but my brother Jimmy, Matt, Sean, Magnus and Mikael have all contributed and it is extraordinarily gracious and very much appreciated. As I opened the letter I was greeted with Jon's awesome gift:

Those merfolk can get quite scary when the Lord of Atlantis shows up.
I am once again truly humbled by the kindness and coolness of this community. Thank you Jon, it is appreciated. When I was young I summarily dismissed the Merfolk of the Pearl Trident as junk, not understanding that it could be made quite effective by 1 (or more!) Lords of Atlantis. That is in part because I was not aware of their lord then, nor would I have considered the possibility of multiple copies of a rare card as a possibility. Isn't that flavor text awesome too? Atlantis is the center baby, we are the ones who left! I always really enjoyed Jeff Menges's art on this card and all his others as well. I also kind of dismissed Creature Bond, but thanks to our singleton format cards like this can play a part in games. Anson Maddocks made some of the very best art of Magic and this card kind of spooked me as a kid. Thank God I never had Living Wall. Lastly we have Lifetap, another card I largely ignored that has found a home in our Akron Legionnaire singleton format. Once again I am impressed by Anson's art. Is that guy like a vampire merfolk? Who can say...

Thank you again to Jon and everyone else who has sent some cards my way. Every time I see your contributions I think of my interactions with all of you and how much you have enriched my first year back in the game. Stay tuned...

Friday, January 10, 2020

100th Card Spectacular!!! (100/302)

Happy belated new year to everyone the world over. It has become increasingly apparent to me that the little things are very important, and having a decade that is easy to say out loud for the first time since the '90's is a big deal. I wish everyone and their families and friends a happy, prosperous '20's! May they roar like a field of Savannah Lions! My Christmas was totally bodacious and the wife and I spent New Years Eve with the rest of the Akron Legionnaires and much karaoke was sang. 2020 has been rough for me so far though as I got hit with a nasty case of Influenza B that had me down for a good week with a severe cough, a sore throat straight from the bowels of Hell, and a high fever. I am now back again, like Aerosmith I persevered through the hard times and am ready to conquer a new decade. Part of this good cheer comes from having acquired my 100th(!) card in my quest to complete a set of Unlimited Edition. What began about a year ago is starting to get really exciting.

Like a lot of us who started playing back in early 1994, I never really saw any cards from the first edition of Magic, regardless of whether one is discussing Alpha, Beta, or Unlimited. Granted my play group consisted of me, Jimmy, my cousin John, my dad and my sister Kristin, but it is pretty much common knowledge that A/B/UArabian Nights, and Antiquities were nearly impossible to find. It was not until I came out of my Magic coma last January that I ever even saw any cards from those sets in person. I of course knew of the famous ones from reading Duelist magazine, but not seeing them up close gave them an almost mythical air. In a way even cooler that the Power Nine was cards like Raging River and Ice Storm, cards that you never heard about that didn't make the cut. The coolest card of them all to young Billy however was the (in)famous Chaos Orb, one of only two cards that you actually flipped onto the playing field! I remember reading the tale of the player who allegedly ripped his copy into tiny pieces and scattered them on all his opponents cards. There was also a story of a player who simply flipped it onto his opponent's library and declared victory. We are all familiar with these probably apocryphal stories but to a young lad they were accepted as fact. I have wanted an Orb for over 25 years. When Jimmy and Sean each got one at Eternal I was super stoked for my friends but also bummed that I was the only Legionnaire without a Chaos Orb. It became my ultimate quest to finally get myself the mighty lava-vomitter.

A few weeks ago Jimmy, Matt, Sean and I were having one of our regular game nights. Spirits were high as the Christmas holiday was approaching and we have all been really enjoying our group meta. Jimmy is our aggro player, piloting a fearsome, beautiful red/green creature deck that is a much more refined version of this childhood deck from the '90s. Matt is an expert deck-builder and player who somehow finds a way to make all kinds of wild creations work beautifully. Sean pilots a dreaded control deck that has locked me down many times, and I drift from deck type to deck type searching endlessly for one that is not only unique but also really good. We all have fun, everyone wins some games, and Matt and Sean are always patient about rules clarifications since Jimmy and I never saw a game from 1998 to 2019. Towards the end of the night Jimmy and I were playing a game with our ante decks (60 cards, only A/B/U but reprints OK, singleton, no more than 5 rares, unsleeved) when he cast a Chaos Orb!!! I felt a sense of surreal confusion. It was after 10PM on a work night, I was a little sleepy, and it didn't register to me why he would risk that card in an ante deck! Also, he had 2 now!? He then looked at me and said "you have an Orb now." Before you all think he is the most crazy generous brother of all time (he is quite generous and we buy each other surprise cards fairly often,) he had tasked himself with scouring game shops to find me a good HP to MP copy at a great price. I did not anticipate him getting one for many months so I was a little taken aback, but after about 20 minutes of digesting the shock of the acquisition I became utterly elated. It would be my precious, forever.

I love all of my cards, from that gorgeous Mountain to the mightiest Shivan Dragon, but nothing beats my love for this card. I have loved it from afar since I was in grade school back in 1994. It has always been so mythical and unattainable. I love it every time I play it. It helps that the Legionnaires play original Chaos Orb rules (cards have to all fit on the playmat) but even with the new, soulless, less chaotic rules it is still a blast. As I come close to getting all of the common cards each acquisition will become more pricy and more special, but I don't think anything can top this, except for one day down the line if I am fortunate enough to get the point in my quest where I am looking at power. Even if I never complete my quest or get any power, at least I know I have the best friends in the world, the best brother in the world, and one mightily loved played Chaos Orb. Thanks Jimmy for forcing me to pony up before 2020. Sometimes you gotta shove someone into the pool to make them swim.

Stay tuned... 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Three Akron Legionnaires Trek to the Columbus Kobolds Butterball Tournament (93-99/302)

Greetings duelists around the world, and a belated Happy Thanksgiving. The holiday season has always been my favorite time of year, and I can say without reservation that I am super stoked about Christmas this year. I love giving and getting gifts, eating well, and taking a few weeks off at the end of another wild year. I am happy to report that I kicked off the holiday season this year with a bang. My brother Jimmy, Matt and I represented the Akron Legionnaires at the inaugural Butterball OS 93/94 tournament put on by the Columbus Kobolds the Saturday before Turkey Day. Though we sorely missed our friend and fellow Legionnaire Sean, it was a great day of dueling. I can say without reservation that the Kobolds are awesome, many thanks to them for putting on a great tournament and being a generally classy, jovial group of guys.

Jimmy, his fiancee, and Matt headed down bright and early Saturday morning. Since my sister-in-law lives in Columbus my wife and I decided to make a weekend of it, which is cool since I didn't feel like driving two hours home after dueling an entire day. I remembered from my other competitive OS experience in February just how much energy one expends playing competitively all day, even in the friendly confines of our community. Any time my wife and I take a trip out of town we always start with a delicious, healthy, McDonalds breakfast. Fast, tasty, and packed full of the nutrients we need to hit the open road. She dropped me off in the Short North section of Columbus to meet the other Legionnaires before heading off to see her kin. Matt, Jimmy, and I grabbed a quick lunch and headed off to the Brewdog.

At the Cleveland Rocs event, which was only a month or two after I got back into Magic after 20 years out, I ran a budget white weenie and finished middle of the pack. I disassembled that deck long ago in search of something more unique and was piloting my main blue and red deck, an unpowered/no duals counter burn deck with walls as a critical component. Jimmy was of course running his unpowered red and green creature deck, a bodacious, powerful deck featuring Berserks  and Giant Growths to make his Kird Apes and Erhnam Djinns utterly terrifying. A full set of Taigas meant that he could very quickly have a horde of psychotic apes out raising hell. Matt brought a new red and white brew featuring the requisite white removal spells, Serra Angels, and burn. I was cautiously optimistic that I could finish in the middle of the pack but running blue and red without duals or power is a challenge and I was cognizant of that fact, but mostly really excited to play.

After a good half an hour of joyful mingling and signing of cards the tournament was about ready to begin. Before it started I laid out $10 for the raffle, as I never can turn down the chance to win a raffle even though in my life I have yet to be blessed by Lady Luck. I was pumped and ready to go when Ben Revell of the Columbus Kobolds announced the round 1 pairings.

Round 1:

For my first match I would face Andrew, a local guy who was a real joy to sit with and sling cards. He gets kudos from me for bringing a Kobold deck to the Columbus Kobold event. It is always nice when someone shows up with something spicy and fun. In our first game he got out a great assortment of Kobolds pretty quickly, including the dreaded sergeant. My factories and walls stayed his assault and I lost only a few lives. Andrew cast a Mana Flare after about seven turns, which allowed me to fireball his board. I then used Jayemdae Tome to get to a couple more burn spells and win game 1.

Mulliganing is tough for me. When I stopped playing back in 1998 my brother Jimmy and I were still playing original mulligan rules: all land or no land. We were not aware that there were other mulligan rules, or that both players did not get to draw still for that matter. When I started back up again in January I embraced the "new" rules, only for the London rules to come into play a few months later. I still heartily reject the new drawing rules and mulliganing when you have land. It simply allows players to attempt to build a perfect hand. That being said, I was determined to mulligan aggressively at the tournament, so I sent back a hand filled with Fireballs and single Island in game 2. On turn 1 Andrew dropped 4 Kobolds, fortunately none of the commanders. On turn 4 he did manage to summon their sergeant, however I proceeded to Earthquake the following turn. I burned my way to a quick victory in game 2 and the match was mine. A good start, but I was aware that his deck, while filled with flavor and a joy to play against, was probably on the lower side of the power level in the room.


Round 2:

For my second match I was paired with David, who was running Pink Weenie. The Akron Legionnaires play 1 Strip Mine and after this match I would come to understand and thank Matt and Sean for having that rule in place when I met them. Playing a game against someone with 4 of them, especially when you are playing without power, is awful. David was a cool dude and his deck was a blast, but there is nothing worse than getting constantly mined and then seeing an Armageddon. Game 1 was over very quickly. Game 2 was a lot closer, I was able to Earthquake his two early White Knights and land several Lightning Bolts. Unfortunately he got a few Savannah Lions down and Armageddon ruined my chances for victory. David would go on to win the entire tournament, and I can see why. His deck was fierce.


Round 3:

Just as we did at the Cleveland Rocs tournament, Matt and I would meet in the third round. Matt was running a really versatile red and white concoction featuring the best removal and burn spells. I have been playing Matt since January and know that in addition to being a great deck builder and a real gentleman, he is also an astute player who almost never makes an error. He beat me in Cleveland and I was determined to beat him in Columbus. In game 1 we traded Swords and Bolts to clear each others creatures. The game dragged on with my walls and Icy Manipulator holding steady until he cast an Earthquake that would have killed me, however I cast Psionic Blast in response so the game would end in a draw. A thrilling match up.

In game 2 we once again cleared each other's creatures and factories early with our respective Lightning Bolts and his Swords to Plowshares. I laid down a Rukh Egg while winning 19-6 after a string of burn spells got him on the ropes. I then cast a Lightning Bolt to draw out the angry Mama Rukh but he countered with Red Elemental Blast. In an awesomely old school fashion I cast Blue Elemental Blast to save the day. But wait...there's more. He then blasted my blast! Fortunately I had a Counterspell but then HE CAST ANOTHER BLAST!!! The wind was out of my sails at that point. He cast a Roc of Kher Ridges, stripped my Maze of Ith, and cruised to victory. A crushing defeat.Game three I drew a pretty bad hand and he was able to quickly make mince meat of me. We shook hands and I sincerely wished him luck. Any time I got done early I would try to find him and Jimmy to silently cheer them on. We are a tight group.


Round 4:

In round 4 I was paired up with Jon Revell, one of the Columbus Kobolds, brother of the aforementioned Ben Revell, and one of the most affable people I have had the pleasure of meeting since I started in January. While playing his deck was extraordinarily frustrating, the conversation more than made up for it. Jon whipped up a spicy brew the night before the tournament, a complete land annihilation deck with Ice Storm, Stone Rain, 4 Strip Mine, and Kudzu. It also featured Winter's Orb for that extra kick in the gut and Titania's Song to help finish you off. He would win game 1 fairly easily by locking me out of land.

Game 2 was an exciting one. I was able to use my Icy Manipulator to shut down his Orb and laid out a couple Wall of Earth early to control the board while I laid down bolts and Psionic Blast. He was never able to deal with my control and I slowly bled him to death. Game 3 played in a fairly similar fashion, except he was able to finally break through and I never got the land I needed to cast the mighty Fireball that was usually how I won games. Jon went on to win, but I can say without reservation that playing with him was one of the highlights of the day.


Round 5:

For Round 5 I would duel Greg, another really classy guy who I met that day. While most people who play the format we do are generally chill, there are some who are just a real joy with which to sling spells. The sort of people who don't get annoyed when you ask to undo an attack with a factory because you forgot they had a Pendelhaven. Greg was one of these people. He was running an aggressive blue and white deck with several Savannah Lions, a suite of Serendib Efreet, and the requisite power. In game 1 I got my walls and Maze of Ith down to stay his attack. I was able to fireball his ensuing efreet. He got down another Serendib but since I had a Wall of Swords he unfortunately (for him) slowly died at the hands of his own genie. Game 2 was actually pretty similar. He would get out his genies pretty quickly but my control cards made it so that his own Serendibs would claw him to death. This was easily my best match of the day.


Round 6:

I have been playing against Jimmy since 1994. I remember his red and green deck going back to when The Simpsons was still awesome, Super Nintendo was the highlight of video game technology, and grunge was reigning supreme on the Billboard charts. It was only fitting that we would be matched up together for the final round of our first tournament together. It was also only fitting that we would both be 2-3. What was not cool though was how the games went. Usually our games these days are close, thrilling, and intense. His Kird Ape legion staring me waiting to go Berzerk and my walls and control spells holding him off until I can burn him to death. In game 1 he drew almost no lands and I cruised to victory pretty quickly. Game 2 was just as anti-climactic. This was not what I had hoped for in our awesome duel to end the day. I am not afraid to admit that Jimmy is the better deck builder and player. He finds synergies I don't, he makes great deck suggestions, and he is much more attentive to detail when playing. The only thing I am possibly better at is figuring out a good mana curve,  and I suspect that his troubles that day were due to him underestimating the impact of the extra 3 Strip Mines that most people had.


Once again, just as I did in Cleveland, I finished 3-3 for the day and placed in the middle (15 out of 29 to be exact.) Jim finished 21st, but Matt led the way by claiming 4th place! Furthermore, he did this while scoring one of the most creative deck prizes. It is amazing to me that Matt was a top finisher at both tourneys and got a most creative prize at both events also. He is a radical dude and a great Magic player. Outside of all the great people I met, the highlight of my day may have been that I finally won a raffle! For the first time in my life I got to hear my number called! Better yet, it was for something totally awesome: a print of Balance autographed by Mark Poole. I remember cracking a Revised Balance in a booster pack that my cousin John gave me for my first Communion, which now sits in my binder with an autograph of its own.The day was really awesome.

All in all I am once again really happy that I visited an official event. While I am blessed to have an amazing local playgroup, it is fun to step outside and meet new people and see new decks. A change of scenery once in a while is important, especially when it involved getting to hang with such a great community. The trip to Columbus was a blast. Lest anyone think that I have forgotten my quest to collect a full set of Unlimited Edition using only conventions and local game stores, I picked up a sweet Lance and six other bodacious cards at a shop on the way home. 100 cards here I come!!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

A Very Special Episode of Unlimited Adventures: Scryings Spoiler

Greetings Old School community far and wide. We are getting ever so close to the big 2 holidays here in the states and I don't know about you but if you are celebrating Thanksgiving then I am sure you are starting to feel the same hunger pangs that I am. You may be wondering why I am posting so soon after the pretty big article describing my adventures at Eternal Weekend a few weeks ago. No, I do not have any new Unlimited cards in my collection. Tonight I have the privilege of being a part of a radical, tubular, nay bodacious idea from our friends in Europe.

On December 28th a new set will be released into the Old School community. How is this possible you say? Surely Wizards wants nothing do with us. Are those wild-eyed Scandinavians creating cards from scratch? No, Scyings is being released. It will be a collection of 116 cards from Fallen Empires through Weatherlight. Those of you who were playing like me back in 1995 surely remember the excitement when the first rumblings of a set of reprints from the 1993/1994 sets was being discussed. I remember people thinking we might see cards like Library of Alexandria and Black Lotus printed again. The set that would become Chronicles obviously did not include any power or the major heavy hitters from Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends, or The Dark but it was still an awesome way for the vast majority of people who never got to play with those cards to take a look back. Which brings us once again to Scryings, the set that that the community designed. And now without further ado:

Enduring Renewal.  A mind bendingly cool enchantment released in 1995 as part of the Ice Age expansion. Ice Age was of course the first truly stand-alone expansion, including basic lands and reprints of cards such as Giant Growth and Swords to Plowshares. Theoretically it could be played on its own. I cracked a ton of Ice Age packs back in 1995 and still look at the rares occasionally as I flip through my binder. I never did see Enduring Renewal. In fact I was unaware of the card until Magnus graciously asked me to do a spoiler for Scryings.

Scryings is more than just a collection of cool cards from 1994 to 1997. It is a testament to the vibrancy of this global community and the many people who give it color. It is the set that the community built. On a personal level it is extremely exciting. Those of you who have been following my blog since the beginning know that I started back in April 1994 and stopped around 1998. That being said I never opened more than 2 or 3 packs from any set after Alliances. My play group consisted of my brother Jimmy, my Dad, my sister and my cousin. When I got back into the game this January it was like awakening from a 20 year Magic coma. This set truly is a "reverse Chronicles" for me. I am unfamiliar with nearly every single card printed after Ice Age. For me it is literally as if I am standing in 1994 and looking into a crystal ball. I for one know what one of the biggest Christmas presents for me will be this year: the release of Scryings.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Eternal Weekend (77-92/302)

Hello Old School community far and wide, greetings from the cold burbs of Akron, Ohio. Winter is rapidly approaching as we barrel towards Thanksgiving here in the United States. November means Eternal Weekend, and being that the Akron Legionnaires are less than two hours from Pittsburgh, Matt, Jimmy, Sean, and I decided to make the sojourn east to the iron city to take in the fun. This was not the first Eternal Weekend for Matt and Sean, but it was all new to the brothers Casale. When I found out our cousin John would be there, he who first introduced the game to my family back in 1994, I knew this would be an excellent way to commemorate nearly a year back in the game.

The four of us spent the drive discussing what deals we would be looking for at the sprawling convention hall. Regrettably, none of us could participate in the Sunday tournament for scheduling reasons so this trip would be all about dueling among ourselves and picking up cool new cards. Jimmy was unsure what he would get, though we have all watched him acquire a sizable collection of dual lands over the last six months and he had been hinting at possibly using that EV for bigger and better things. Since Matt and Sean have their own blogs I won't go into much detail on what they acquired lest I play spoiler, but let's just say the original two members of our playgroup engaged in some pretty awesome wheeling and dealing.

Our adventure got off to an awesome start when we headed over to the artist area to talk to Mark Poole, who was of course the artist who created Akron Legionnaire. Matt was pleased to give him one of our pins and Mark was gracious enough to take a picture with us.

A cool start to a cool day
The following day we would return to the artist area and Matt and I acquired some really cool playmats, Matt grabbing an awesome Swords to Plowshares from Jeff Menges and yours truly finding this sweet mat from the aforementioned Mark Poole.

So sweet seeing this autographed mat whenever I play 

I now have quite a few autographed Mark Poole cards thanks to his presence at Eternal Weekend and the Cleveland GP. He, Anson Maddocks, and Douglas Shuler were always my favorites growing up so it was a blast to see Mark again. I also was stoked to meet and acquire autographs from Dan Frazier, Jeff Menges, Richard Kane Ferguson, Bryon Wackwitz. I always spend some time thanking the artists for the enormous contribution they made to the game. I know as far as I am concerned it was the art that initially drew me to the game, and I think many would agree with me.

Having never been to such a large gathering of vendors, I must admit it was somewhat overwhelming taking it all in. I must have spent a few hours walking (on a broken ankle) around trying to figure out what I wanted. Even though I am trying to collect a full Unlimited set, I was not necessarily going to ignore other cool stuff I wanted. After much deliberation and browsing, I ended up getting a lot of cards that not only would add to my collection but also replace reprints in my deck.

The Sol Ring really pops compared to the Revised version
While Matt, Sean, and Jimmy were doing their thing, I decided to grab some cheapies while I pondered what my major purchase would be.

God I love these cards, even the commons

Prior to my deciding what I would get, Matt made some really cool purchases (once again I will not play spoiler) and Jimmy continued to decide what to get. I was floored that after several hours he had not yet found anything he wanted. He was so excited for weeks I could not understand how he had not yet found even one card he wanted. Satisfied with my additions to the collection, I decided to focus on my deck and pick up a really nice Mana Drain. When we returned the following day I would add a card I have always wanted, going back almost 25 years: a winter factory. When 4th Edition was new I got a Mishra's Factory in a booster and loved it. During that awesome year of 1995 I heard tale of three other factories, one for each season. It would be another 24 years before I would even know what they looked like.

The Factory has a little wear on it, but compared to my cards from that era it is near-mint
I won't get too in depth on this, but the four of us decided in the car that we would go in on a box of Throne of Eldraine. After dinner we did a sealed draft with the box, which Matt won I believe. I did not take the food mechanic seriously and was soundly trounced in every match, I think I only won a total of 2 games. The highlight of that draft session for me was when Jimmy cast the following:

Awesome, just awesome
That's right, an Orb. When I was not paying attention he slipped his newly purchased Chaos Orb into his hand and cast it. For about ten seconds I felt a surreal cognitive dissonance: they reprinted this in its original border? I obviously did not think that seriously, but for a short moment I was very confused. I learned that he traded some duals into it at the convention center and somehow Matt and Sean kept masterful poker faces throughout the afternoon when I mentioned multiple times how I wished Jimmy would pick something up. I am totally stoked that he got this, as I had been hoping to get something a bit more epic than I did, but a lot of home remodeling made me keep a relatively tight clamp on my wallet. Though I am without an orb, at least my oldest companion is in possession of the mighty lava vomitter.

All in all Eternal Weekend was a resounding success for all of us. I got 16 Unlimited cards, getting me tantalizingly close to a third of the set after ten months. Jimmy got by far the coolest card either of us have ever had. The group played a little Eldraine (not gonna lie it only further solidified my love of Old School, though the art was really cool.) Matt picked up some really cool stuff. Also, thanks to some mind-bendingly awesome wheeling and dealing, Sean picked up some excellent stuff himself, though that is his story to tell. Cheers.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Blockbuster Deal Leads to Major Acquisitions (64-76/302)

Hello again Old Schoolers from sea to shining sea and across the mighty oceans. It has been less than a week since my last post, but there is some big news out of Akron this weekend. Today's post will be relatively brief but filled with major news regarding my Unlimited collection. I was playing this weekend with my brother Jim when I got to talking about my plans for Eternal Weekend. We were both tossing around ideas for what we might try to get while we were looking through each other's binders. One thing led to another and then something decidedly Old School took place: a blockbuster trade. After a lot of friendly negotiating I added the following to my collection

That's right: my first dual land. It is by far the most valuable card in my collection. Now I have seen many dual lands before, but obviously this is my first one without the tap symbol. Growing up Jim and I had four Revised dual lands (Savannah, Tundra, Underground Sea, and Plateau.) Though it is of no use to me in so far as deck building goes at the moment, I love it already. To make it even more exciting, I also added another totally bad ass card

I had an Ice Age version of this card until Jim and I split up our collection a few months back, but God is this card cool. It held mythological significance to me from 1995 onwards when I found out that the Ice Age version was in fact not the original. The art is amazing, the words "Mono Artifact" are beyond awesome to anyone who started with Revised, and it is of course useful in many varieties of deck, including my main deck (which I promise I will FINALLY blog about next time.) Now since no cash was part of this deal some may be wondering what I sent packing. What made this a blockbuster deal was that I sent away my most valuable card, both in terms of cost and usefulness in my deck: my Revised Volcanic Island. It was a tough choice, but I don't want to stretch myself to thin and moving forward my quest must come first in so far as major acquisitions go.

Trading is super fun, I now have not one but two awesome additions to my Unlimited collection, and my brother is getting tantalizingly close to a full set of dual lands, including full playsets of many of the individual duals. On a side note, I also completed the most basic part of my quest: I finished out the basic lands.

And with that my friends I bid you all farewell...just in time to go watch Fox NFL Sunday. Take care everyone and have a safe, Happy Halloween with your friends and families.


Monday, October 14, 2019

From Scandinavia with Love (51-63/302)

Greetings fellow duelists. Halloween will soon be upon us here in the states and nothing puts me in the mood for Magic: The Gathering like chilly nights, ghouls about, and stuffing my face with candy. I was going to (finally) post about my various decks this month, but then something totally awesome happened: I received not one, but TWO letters in the mail from all the way across the ocean in Europe. That's right, a missive arrived in my post box from the Scandinavian mecca of Old School. This was a very special mail day.

Back in August, Magnus over at the Old School blag was gracious enough to highlight my quest to acquire a full set of Unlimited Edition. I have really enjoyed reading through his old blag posts and have come to appreciate the Swedish roots of Old School. While I used to think it was crazy not to allow reprints, I now see that the price of the cards is the only real way to recreate the scarcity of the original Gathering set and early expansions. While I am not going to rid my main deck of reprints and Revised anytime soon, the Alpha/Beta 1,2,3 format is of course Swedish legal and a hell of a good time. One of the absolute best things about Old School is the very fact that there are so many different regional variants and house rules, that in and of itself is absolutely in line with what the good doctor envisioned back in the MC Hammer days.

Those of you familiar with the world's favorite spy know that one of the best Bond flicks of all time was From Russia with Love, an awesome romp starring Sean Connery and the smoking hot Daniela Bianchi as his Soviet double agent love interest.

Super Old School
I chose the title for this post because I recently took a train trip across Scandinavia in an effort to acquire Unlimited cards. During this trip I was pursued by agents of WOTC hell-bent on snuffing out Old School and forcing me to buy Standard-legal the crazy story I dreamed up while convalescing on the couch with a broken ankle for the last month unable to drive or walk. The real story is however just as awesome. I was watching another episode of Walker Texas Ranger when my wife came in with the mail and a big smile on her face. She had not one, but TWO letters from across the ocean blue in her hand. I got my crutches and hobbled over to her so I could open them at the table. The first letter was from the aforementioned Magnus, and in addition to a very kind note he sent proof of the devil's contract I had entered into to help me complete my quest.

Now there is no turning back....

This is not only amazingly cool, it is also my first altered card. I will admit that I am not usually a fan of changing cards, but this is totally bodacious and will take an honored spot in my binder. Thank you Mg.

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How could this possibly get any more ecxiting than the amazing drying abilities of Shamwow?
Remember that second letter  I mentioned? A gentleman by the name of Mikael Mallroth (apologies for the lack of umlaut, not working in blogger) who is buddies with Mg sent me a really nice letter along with a sweet little bundle of Unlimited cards. This would have been really, really nice if I had already communicated with him in some way, the fact that it was sent without us even having ever talked is just mind bendingly gracious. Thank you Mikael.

Fire Elemental is a babe...
As you can see, no gun fights, trains, spies, or Soviet love interests...just this community continuing to amaze me with its inclusiveness, generosity, kindness, and generally excellent ways. I hope to meet some of you at Eternal Weekend in a few weeks, I will be there with the rest of the Akron Legionnaires looking to sling stories and brews of both the magical and the alcoholic variety. Cheers friends.

**Please note that this article is in no way a solicitation for contributions to my quest. I am extraordinarily humbled by the kindness of these gifts in addition to those from my brother and good friends, but I am happily trudging along at my snail's pace only getting cards at conventions and LGSs.