Schools of Magic: History of Vintage – 1995 & 1996


SKU: HOV19951996 Category:


Building on the foundation of Schools of Magic: History of Vintage 1993 & 1994, author Stephen Menendian dives deep into the history of the Type I/Vintage format in this historical look at 1995 & 1996, the most formative years in the format’s grand history. Do not miss the story of The Deck, perhaps the most famous archetype in the format’s history. Culled from long forgotten archival materials, historical records, new exclusive interviews with key players of the era, and much much more, you will see decks published in these pages for the first time ever and read about:

* The surprising decks that won the 1995 and 1996 Type I Championships and the stories behind them.
* The emergence of The Deck and Brian Weissman’s unforgettable contributions to the game.
* Type I Necropotence and Mana Crypt decks published here for the first time ever.
* Every change to the Banned and Restricted List in 1995 and 1996.
* The impact of each of the new sets of the era on the Type I format, including Ice Age, Homelands, Alliances, and Mirage.
* The card and the deck that got Fastbond restricted (published for the first time ever!).
And much much more!

Weighing in at 40+ pages, this article will keep you turning page after page, and offer a deeper and more profound appreciation for the format’s history and the format as it exists today than you ever thought imaginable.

[Begin Free Excerpt From Schools of Magic: The History of Vintage – 1995 & 1996]

Black Summer: Necro Reigns

During the Summer of 1996 Robert Hahn published an article in The Duelist that opened with these ominous words: “There is today a storm blowing through the Magic: The Gathering tournament scene, and it is called Necropotence.” Hahn’s words were as prescient as they were foreboding, as that Summer had become known as Necro Summer for its dominance of tournament Magic, Type II especially.

This fearsome card, known as the Skull on account its iconic imagery, was also felt in Type I. As Hahn put it, “[w]hile this Ice Age card has been of interest to most Magic players since its release, all but a few scratched their heads trying to figure out how to harness the power of death.” While many players – and publications – famously dismissed Necropotence, in time its power became undeniable and inescapable. Necropotence is the most powerful siphon arguably ever printed: exchanging one of the most abundant resources, life, for the most precious, cards. With Dark Ritual, this card can be played easily on turn one, quickly overwhelming opponents. Eventually, the formula for abuse spread across formats.

Classic Necro, Pilot Unknown

Business (31)
Ancestral Recall
Time Walk
Demonic Tutor
Hypnotic Specter
Juzam Djinn
Knight of Stromgald
Hymn to Tourach
Nevinyrral’s Disk
Ivory Tower
Zuran Orb

Mana Sources (27)
Dark Ritual
Black Lotus
Mox Jet
Mox Sapphire
Underground Sea
Underground River
Strip Mine

The Type I Necro decks, regardless of their appearance, all had discard and land destruction sub-themes. Undoubtedly, these elements were present because of the natural color they inhabited. Black offered Hymn to Tourach, Hypnotic Specter, and Sinkhole. Also notable is the widespread inclusion of Nevinyrral’s Disk, which served the dual purpose of being a board-sweeper as well as destroying the Necropotence once the life had been duly sucked dry. Necropotence decks presented a major challenge to blue-based control decks, since Necropotence could easily match and overwhelm them on their own terms: generating card advantage.

There were many Necro variants. While the mono or predominantly black Necro decks, largely similar to the Type II Necro decks, were increasingly popular in Type I, they were far from the only Necro strategy that saw play. Indeed, some players sought to design uniquely Type I Necro decks using strategic elements better known in Type I.

Paul Montesanti, a Columbus, Ohio player, enjoyed success with the following Necro deck:

Type I Necro, by Paul Montesanti

Business (31)
Ivory Tower
Black Vise
Hypnotic Specter
Juzam Djinn
Stone Rain
Lightning Bolt

Mana Sources (29)
Dark Ritual
Black Lotus
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
Mox Pearl
Mox Ruby
Mox Sapphire
Sol Ring
City of Brass
Strip Mine

Paul’s deck highlights elements already extant I Type I: land destruction and hand destruction are more prominently featured, and the more obvious Type I win conditions, like Juzam and Black Vise, are central to this strategy. During the brief restriction of Black Vise, Paul ran Hymn to Tourach and The Rack.

Paul says that his deck was designed to counter and neutralize The Deck and other popular UW strategies, although it was less consistent than those strategies, it was a great foil. The focus of this strategy is resource denial by attacking the hand and the mana base. The Disenchants address threats like Moat and destroy Moxen, as well as destroying Necropotence when necessary.

Paul notes that while this deck was most effective against top tier strategies, it sometimes wobbled against oddball aggro strategies, like green beats or other weenie decks. If ever you wish to relive the early days of Type I history, this is a fun deck to sleeve up and battle against The Deck.
[End Free Excerpt]