It all started back in 1997 at PT Rye. Jamie Parke, Ben Farkas, Joe Weber (whatever_7 on mIRC, try #mtgpro), Lyle Cohen, Adam Lemke, Dennis Speigel and I had been hanging out playing Magic together for years. We were deece(ish), but back then all you had to do was attack before casting your spells and you were a Top 100 player in the world. Two of our own had finally made it to the big time, the Top 8 of the Magic: The Gathering Junior Pro Tour! Ben Farkas and Jamie Parke were playing each other in the semifinals. Jamie ended up beating Farkas after Farkas main phase tapped Jamie’s Cockatrice with Aysen Bureaucrats, only to lose on the crackback from said Cockatrice as he was at 2 (I mean…I mean…). Jamie promptly lost in the finals to one Ron Franke, a fact we make sure he never forgets (even today we occasionally refer to him as Ronald Franke or some variant thereof). Before the finals, Jamie comes out and says that they want to interview him, and we need a team name on the hop. We had always considered ourselves a team, but had yet to formally announce it to the world. The finals of the prestigious Junior World Championships seemed like the perfect place. Joe Weber suggested Team Sped, which fit for a variety of reasons, and we ran with it. And so Team Sped was born. We have been through a lot together over the years: weddings, babies, Mario Kart, McRibs, etc. They remain my best friends to this day.
Fast forward 20 years to this spring. Wife and I are on our 10th anniversary trip to St. Martin sans kids. We begin playtesting for this Eternal Weekend Old School tourney. It did not go well for me.
10th anniversary trip to St. Martin and stupid wife gets Chaos Orb/Guardian Beast EVERY SINGLE GAME obv asdfghjk. pic.twitter.com/2AO1hgHJ7S
— Bryan Manolakos (@BryanManolakos) May 2, 2017
Fast forward to a month ago. I had been pleading with the rest of the team that they need to come to Eternal Weekend this year to play Old School. That it was just like the good ‘ole days. Bad decks, bad players (us included of course), lots of booze, and just an incredibly fun environment. The Old School tourney at Eternal Weekend in 2015 was just about the most fun I have ever had at a Magic tourney (spoiler: it would not hold this title for long), and I wanted them to experience it for themselves. Alas, they were busy living actual lives, being grownups, whatevs, and I just could not get anyone to commit. Keep in mind I have 4 kids myself (ages 3, 5, 7, and 9), and I was fully leaving them with the wife (thanks Neen!) to embark on this 4 day misefest. But apparently they did not have the same stock of wife credit that I did. Now that I think about it, I too should have been down on the wife credit, as I had cashed all of it in at GP Providence a few weeks ago, where I finished 10-4 and earned my first pro point since ‘Nam, with Old School Syracuse ringers Alex Melnikow and Isaac Haxton (who apparently is the actual best poker player in the world right now? I mean I knew he was ballin’ pretty hard, but I did not realize how big time he was. He got like 8 autograph requests at the GP; it was insane).
Right after the GP, team Sped member Ben Farkas reached out and told me that he likely had to be in NYC for business (he lives in Albuquerque now) on October 18th (aka the day before Old School), and might be able to parlay that into a trip to EW! I live in NJ and was planning on driving out to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night anyway. Before this I wasn’t sure I could be more excited about the weekend, but I was clearly wrong. We were def playing Old School of course, as that was the entire reason for the trip. But figured maybe we would give Type 1 a try, as we would be there anyway. Of course we had not played the format since 1999, and knew very little about it other than watching some Vintage Super League (VSL) now and again. Hopefully Dark Ritual + Hypnotic Specter is still gas! We were determined to find a good Type 1 deck, something off the radar and linear that could catch people by surprise and not punish us too much for all of our play mistakes.
The following weekend was somehow even more fun than GP Providence, as I was the 2nd best (possibly 3rd best) man in (namedrop) Jamie Parke’s wedding in NYC. Congrats Jamie and Makenna! Also in the wedding was VSL “ringer” Paul Rietzl (here we go), David Williams was also coming (wait for it), and I was hoping to pick their brains re: Type 1. While we are on the subject, Jon Finkel (boom) was officiating the wedding. Look at me, I’m Mr. Meeseeks, and I’m friends with all sorts of Magic and poker ballers! If you guys could only see the full guest list, dear lord the amount of misers in that room.
So Williams and Rietzl let me in on their Deeproot Champion “tech” before the masses saw it go 0-6 on VSL, which at the time I was very excited about because I love Regrowth, and I have 8 Alpha/Beta Regrowths that Farkas and I could run in the deck. But after their VSL showing, that deck was off the table, and I was out like $50 from ordering Deeproot Champions, Talrands, Barals, etc. Matt Sperling almost saved the day with the B/W “deck” he posted on CFB the Friday before EW, and even got Farkas and I to join a league on MTGO to get in a few reps, where we immediately went 0-3 drop. I specifically asked Paul if Matt was trolling with this deck, especially after he sent me his newest version that eschewed both Cabal Therapy and Skullclamp, and yet still played Bitterblossom. Matt assured me it was a real deck. That said, a single 0-3 drop was enough data gathered for me to throw the deck in the garbage.
I had already arranged accommodations at the glorious Courtyard Marriot with Type 1 prodigy Will Magrann and some friend of his that I had never met before, Chris Rowland. I basically only knew Will because we have a mutual friend in Jamie Parke, and because he generously lent me his power for Old School at EW 2 years ago when we had never actually met. I actually drove to his office and met him outside in the parking lot where he handed over his Power 9 to an (almost) complete stranger. Seemed like a good man. With Farkas on board, we were now 4. Farkas and I are older (38 and 36), and theoretically past the point where we need to cram into a single room to save on costs. But I already had a deal in place with Will and Chris, who are somehow only 25, so they are right in the prime of their cramming in people into a single room Magic career. So in the end 4 people in 2 queen beds it was! This was truly going to be an old school weekend.
It is Wednesday night now, the night before Old School Worlds (sorry NoobCon). Farkas meets up with NYC local and Type 1/Legacy specialist Luis Neiman to borrow his power, as Luis sadly could not make it to EW this year (thanks Luis!). Somehow the business he was attending to in the city was taking forever. He eventually texts me after 7:00pm saying there is a chance he might be able to get to my house in NJ by 11:30pm! That puts us into Pittsburgh at like 5:00am! So I ditched him. I found out there was an 11:00pm bus from Port Authority that put him into Pitt at 7:00am for $39, and told him good luck. He was pretty cool about it actually. Plus the bus has bigger seats and an outlet and wifi etc, was not actually the end of the world for him. I leave my house near Princeton around 8:00. I eat a Chipotle burrito on the way to pick up Will and Chris, stopping for a total of 4 mins during which I ordered, paid, and ate. Misplayed horribly though by forgetting to try their new queso which was the only reason I Chipotle’d over Qdoba in the first place. This would not be my last misplay of the weekend.
I arrive at Will’s house outside Philly at 9:00. I meet Will’s dad (nice guy) and his dog (little aggressive). His friend Chris is of course 20 minutes late because he is a young Magic player. He has a giant suitcase containing a couple pairs of boxers, 4 Gatorades, and nothing else. As we literally just met, I hold my tongue and do not immediately make fun of him for this. We leave by 9:30, hoping to get to Pittsburgh by 1:30. Somehow speed limits are 70 in western PA, so I set the cruise at 79 and we make great time. On the way there we brew up a turbo Time Vault deck for Type 1. It has all the good blue cards, 1 of each Tezzeret, multiple Voltaic Keys, a miser’s Transmute Artifact because I am old school, multiple main deck Hurkyl’s Recalls, and Timetwister to send them all away. It also has main deck Ensnaring Bridge that I don’t think any deck in the format can beat. The deck actually seemed pretty great. We also chat about our Magic histories a little. I tell them about my glorious past of playing in like 6 or 7 Pro Tours in the 90’s, and they are clearly very impressed. I say the last big tournament I played in was the Legacy Grand Prix in NJ like 3 years ago where everyone played UR Delver because you could play 4 Treasure Cruise. I played a GB hate deck I found on the interweb containing 4 main deck Choke, along with 4 Chalice, 4 Trinisphere, plus lots of other hate. Oh and 4 Sylvan Libraries. The deck even played a main deck Rolling Spoil (look it up.) So Chris is like I think I played you in that tourney! He said he played 12 Post, and I definitely remember playing 12 Post in one of the early rounds. I remember smoking him, but he says we drew. We look it up, and he is right. Stupid kids and their insane memories. That tournament had 5k people in it, the odds of us playing couldn’t have been better than like 1 in 20. Also in this car ride Will and Chris came up with the idea of calling me dad and calling Farkas Uncle Ben, as we are like 12 years older than them. Solid beat on their part, and the joke held up surprisingly well all weekend.
We make great time and get to the hotel by 1:30am. I prolly get 4ish hours of sleep before Farkas knocks on the door around 7:00. The bus apparently dropped him off 100 yards from the hotel – how lucky. I get up and shower and we go to the lobby to jam some games before the tourney, and lock in the final 2-3 slots in the deck. Our deck is very similar to the deck I played at the EW Old School event 2 years go. White Weenie splashing for good stuff. Blue for Serendib Efreet and Power, plus black for Demonic Tutor and Mind Twist. That deck was not great (Bob) against The Deck though, as it has 4 main deck Swords to Plowshares alongside 3 main deck Control Magic, and I ended up losing to The Deck in the Top 8. I was determined to beat The Deck this year as I believe it to be the root of all the evil in the world. In fact I have heard from a reliable source that Trump plays The Deck. He and Putin will sometimes get together to practice the mirror, and Trump gets super pissed because Putin pre-boards against him with 4 main deck REB. Claims it is just his regular build. “Donnie, c’mon man! I wouldn’t do you like that! These are good in the meta! Everyone plays blue in this format!” So I shaved a few lands, cut the main deck Control Magics, and splashed red for Lighting Bolts (and 4 crucial Red Elemental Blasts in the sideboard). Those plus 3 Dust to Dust, and I really liked my chances against this monstrosity. I was still on the fence between the 4th Factory and the 1st Underground Sea though. Without the Sea, the deck has only 9 main deck blue sources (4 Tundras, 4 Cities, and Mox Sappire.) That is fine for the main deck, but Control Magic is still very important out of the sideboard, and it felt a little light for those. I was actually planning on running a blue source in the sideboard for this, but those slots are so valuable and if losing the 4th factory for a Sea gave be an extra sideboard slot while fixing my mana, so be it. There was also the fun factor of playing a deck with both Plateau and Underground Sea. Leading Plateau into Sea both conceals what you are playing and can be extremely tilting for your opponent.
The second thing I was on the fence about was a main deck miser’s Serra Angel. It is a great topdeck, it is great against U/R Burn (one of our worst matchups), and is just a powerful card in the format. The problem was what creature to cut for it. They all had their merits. Lions are clearly the weakest creature, but are easy to cast and important when we need to beat down against control. Order does work against so many decks (can attack into Factories, is great against black obv, also dodges The Abyss) but is tough on the mana. And Serendib may be the best creature in the format, but occasionally drawing multiples against these low to the ground aggressive decks can be a liablility. In the end we cut a Dib, and I am very confident it was the right choice. I played against many aggressive decks, and just about every time I drew the Serra it was great. Here is the deck we ended up playing. It is called Temple of Sped, named in honor of a similar deck with the same name that other Speds Adam Lemke and Dennis Spiegel used to capture both blue envelopes in a 2-slotter back in 1998:
A small aside on Old School decks. Generally I am very much a proponent of playing what you love, and not maximizing EV. In fact I was VERY close to playing my Atog/Berserk homebrew that I had been working on for quite some time (I am obsessed with Atog). But this was a big tournament, the biggest Old School tournament ever, and I missed last year’s event and had thus been waiting a long time for it, so I decided to play something I thought was really powerful and tuned. In short I was trying to win the tournament, not necessarily to have the most fun (although the 2 are highly correlated of course). This will not always be the case, and I have played tons of super fun, albeit less competitive decks over the last couple years. But you only get to play Old School at Eternal Weekend once a year.
We jammed around 10 games, Farkas on our deck, me playing stock White Weenie, a deck which is prevalent because it is cheap to build, plus not a great matchup for us because of Icatian Javelineers. We split the games down the middle, which I was happy with, as I think we get a lot better against them after sideboard (we get the 4th Swords and 2 Earthquakes).
We bump into Randy Buehler at Bruegger’s for breakfast, where I mention I think restricting Jayemdae Tome is a perfect fix for the format. It knocks The Deck back into regular Tier 1, (instead of being in its own tier of pure evil), yet still allows people to play it if their dirty little hearts desire. Despite being a Deck lover and player, he actually seems to be on board. Old School rules committees around the world I implore you to restrict this card. It is the key to The Deck’s dominance, and makes unnecessary the gentlemen’s agreement that is (kind of) in place regarding people not playing it. I also think it is quite an elegant solution.
We get to the Omni Hotel around 10:30, with half an hour to spare. We register, and say hi to Jaco, who came to Pittsburgh from Chicago basically to run this tournament. He didn’t even play! He procured all the prizes. He ordered a custom stamp that said EC Old School 2017 that he stamped them all with. He printed out pairings, made judge rulings. He did it all. Sure he played Vintage on Friday, but that was just a side event for him. He is the godfather of American Old School Magic. I can barely look him in the eye, he exudes such a powerful aura. It is basically like the movie Old School, he is our Luke Wilson. Randoms in the tourney hall whisper and point at him, giggling like school girls. Or maybe that’s just me, I dunno. Out of respect for Jaco, I decide to donate a beta Veteran Bodyguard to the prize pool. I picked it up a while ago, never use it, and felt like it would make a great prize, as despite being pretty unplayable even in Old School, it is just dripping with flavor and nostalgia. He thanks me, and we get out of dodge before I become tongue tied and embarrass myself more than I already have.
The room the tourney was played in was amazing – it felt like a 90’s PTQ. Small-ish party room in a random hotel, held maybe 200 people tops. There was even a guy wearing a “1996/1997 Pro Tour Qualifier Competitor” t-shirt that could not have been more fitting.
Rather than jamming the 75 card mirror, I take out my cube so we can stretch our Magic muscles a little pre-tourney. It’s close to the MTGO holiday cube, minus all the garbage they put in to promote the recent sets, and plus a few very broken cards they don’t include for some reason. Farkas and I do a quick Let’s Make a Deal draft before the tourney. In Let’s Make a Deal you set up a big stack of cards (maybe 50-60 per person, more than a regular draft because you end up drafting lots of cards you don’t use.) Farkas and I used like 110 for our 2-man. You then place 6 cards face down in a row beside the big stack. First person looks at the first face down card, and either drafts it, or moves onto the next card, drafts it, or moves onto the next card, etc, until finally drafting a card. You then add a card to each pile he saw, ending with the drafted card. Then the other player does the same thing, but now some piles have more than one card. If you pass on all 6 piles, you pluck one off the top of the big stack, and you have to do it face up so all drafters get some free utils via this small sweat. I drafted a 4 color pile of turds that really could only win by casting Upheaval with my 4 mana rocks. I did just that against Farkas’ U/B control deck game 1, and then we packed it up because the main event was starting.
I know this is absurd, but I was actually nervous for this tourney, which of course is not at all in the spirit of Old School Magic. But it really has become my passion, and I had basically been working on this deck for 2 years. Thankfully I brought handles of vodka, rum, and Fireball, and poured myself a tall one right before Round 1 to take the edge off. I made it a rule of mine that I would have at least as many drinks as rounds we were in, a goal I met and then some. I am sure my play generally suffered, but there was only 1 REALLY egregious error that I will get to later.
Round 1 vs. Michael Scheffenacker
Michael was on U/R Burn, but certainly not anything stock/netdecked, as he was playing main deck Backfire, which is actually pretty damn good tech. The perfect spell for U/R Burn. After winning the die roll, he led on Black Vise, and then Backfired my Turn 1 Savannah Lions. Black Vise is a card I am basically in love with, especially with Atog, and I was very close to playing it myself in this tourney. At the end of the day I thought there would be a lot of aggro decks because of our gentlemen’s agreement, and Vise is pretty bad against aggro. But it’s good against just about anything Turn 1 on the play of course. I decide not to attack with my Lion as I am behind in the race thanks to the Vise. The race is super close, and in the end I can get him to exactly 1, but I am at 1 and die on my upkeep to my Dib. He also played an Ankh this game, which was interesting. First of all, it made me think he had Atogs even though I never saw any. And secondly, if that was true, did he have a lot more artifacts that would make my sideboard Dust to Dusts good? I think this is one of the coolest things about Old School. Decks play out so differently every game, and you never know anyone’s actual list unlike Standard (vomit), so sideboarding is very difficult unless you are playing against something super stock (cough, The Deck, cough.) I think in the end I did not bring in Dust to Dust, as I had 4 REB that were obv great and I did not have that many cards to take out. I may have shaved a Disenchant for one but who the hell knows. Finally, what do I do with Swords? He did not play a creature Game 1, but almost certainly had Dibs and likely Atogs as well?
Unfortunately I really do not remember many details about the next 2 games. I know Game 2 I won another slightly less close race, being careful to not play more than 1 creature for fear of Earthquake, and doing as much as I could to keep open white mana in case he Blood Moons, which is a very scary card for my Plateau/Underground Sea manabase. Game 3 I think he led on Black Vise again on the play, I had a meh draw, and he burned me out pretty easily.
I felt pretty bad at this point. I just lost Round 1 of a tourney I had prepared a long time for to some stick playing Backfire (just kidding Michael!!). But thankfully I had a Fireball to cure me. I poured myself another over ice (which somehow was graciously provided and refilled throughout the day by the hotel staff).
Farkas won his round, and tells me the story of the rules lawyer who sat next him. If you are unfamiliar with Old School, rules lawyering is basically the worst crime you can commit. I think it is even worse than peeling an extra card, as everyone did that back in 1994. This guy’s opponent plays The Abyss on his turn, and says go. Douchebag McGee untaps, goes to draw his card, says the word “draw?” and as he is drawing his card his opponent says oh hey you forgot to sack a dude for The Abyss. McGhee claims that he already draw his card and it is too late, and apparently the inquisitive tone he used to say the word “draw” was his attempt to let his opponent stack The Abyss trigger! First of all this is Old School, what the eff is a trigger. Secondly, c’mon man, we are not trying to qualify for the PT here, stop being a dick. But Douchy held his ground, and he was not forced to sack a dude. Apparently no judge was called, as I assume anyone judging in that scenario would have given Doucherson a match loss/DQ for unsportsmanlike conduct. This story, much more than my Round 1 loss, was really souring what was supposed to be one of the most fun days ever.
0-1. Farkas 1-0.
Round 2 vs. Matt Slack
Matt is a tiny little man. He is also a Lord of the Pit. I won the die roll, he mulliganed, kept a risky one, and I just ran him over with a great aggro draw that I think involved Power Sinking his last ditch Erhnam. We chat a little bit, and I realize that I recognize his voice from an episode of the superb Flippin’ Orbs podcast that he did. He was interviewed by fellow Lord Grant Castleton about his second place finish at the Old School Player’s Ball (which I would have of course flew in for, but it was on the exact day I was leaving for a family vacation at Disney World, one of the few things I get as excited about as playing Old School). Because of this, I knew he was playing a very counter heavy version of Arabian aggro, so I knew REB would be great, when in general they are only medium against him. So I brought in all 4, whereas if I did not know his decklist I would have probably brought in 1 or 2 only as I have other sideboard cards against him (Swords, Control Magic). I tell him this as I am doing it and we have a good laugh about it. Game 2 it’s my turn to mulligan and I keep a sketchy 6. He just runs me over, dropping his hand and Timetwistering (his 61st card!!!!). Both of these games were blowouts, so I was hoping for a real game in Game 3. Like I truly wanted that to happen, I was not just saying it like people do in other more mainstream (for now) formats. You know like when they say “oh sorry” after your double mulligan or whatever. Now that I think about it, Old School is the only format where I reply “You too” when my opponent wishes me luck. I usually just say thanks. Truly the greatest Magic format and greatest community, it is Magic as Richard Garfield intended.
Well I got my wish in Game 3 – it was pretty epic. I got off to a great start, with a Mox and a Sol Ring on the play. A couple turns later I had Mind Twist and 5 mana, and he had 6 cards in hand. I did not want to play Mind Twist into his untapped mana. On his turn he drew and played an Erhnam, tapping out. I Swords’d it, and hoped to draw another mana source so I could hit 5 out of his 6 cards. I did not, so I just twisted away 4 out of his 6, still pretty deece. On his turn he draws, says the words “Land for the turn” as he plays Library (this can’t be good) and then casts the Timetwister I missed with my Mind Twist! I at least drew into a Strip Mine for his Library, but he still got a card off of it. On his next turn, he casts Erhnam, which I allow, intending to Control Magic it on my turn, which I do. He plays Chaos Orb, targets the Control Magic, but misses his flip!!! From there it was not too rough, as the Twister drew me into mostly action and now I had his stolen his Djinn. I have lethal on the board, he has nothing, but I am at 7. On his turn he draws, plays Regrowth for Timetwister, hoping to draw a Psi Blast and a Bolt. He draws 2 Bolts! He can get me to exactly 1, but I untap and kill him. Really epic game with tons of huge swings.
1-1. Farkas 2-0.
Round 3 vs. Joseph Alane
Joseph was on G/R/W. Apes, Ehrnams, Swords, Bolts, Disenchants, and lots of Sylvans. He had Channel and a full set of Fireballs too. And some Forks. Honestly a lot of similar cards, at least in style, to my deck. But my last 5 cards are Ancestral, Time Walk, Braingeyser, Demonic, and Mind Twist, whereas his are like 3 Sylvans, Regrowth, and Fork. Not really a fair fight. This was a theme throughout the weekend. Game 1 is relatively even. He draws multiple Sylvans, but I draw multiple Disenchants, which is quite lucky as those are basically his only targets for those. He Forks my Ancestral at some point, but I have been nickel and diming him all game and eventually deal the last few with a Dib that he cannot Bolt. Game 2 was more of the same, I think I sideboarded out 2-3 Disenchants, a Power Sink, and a Fireball for Control Magics and the 4th Swords. I am likely a much bigger favorite after board, and the game played out exactly that way, partially due to his medium draws, but mostly due to all my blue cards.
2-1. Farkas 3-0.
Round 4 vs. Nam Tran
At this point I was quite buzzed, prolly 5 deep. This was my first match against The Deck, and I am still not sure how I won. He won the roll, got off to a great Decky start countering and killing my stuff, and played a Tome that I did not have a Disenchant for. He was still at like 16 at this point and I honestly was about to concede, but I figured I would play a little longer to see his wincon – was he on Moat/Abyss/Serra/something new I have never even seen before? Then I won. Holy Pikula! I ripped a Disenchant which somehow resolved, and he kept drawing lands while I drew threats. I honestly must have been 95% to lose at that point. Misers be misin,’ as they say. I really like the matchup after sideboard, as of course I hate The Deck and everyone who plays it with a fiery passion (um, except for you Nam). I cut 3 Swords, 3 Bolts, and some other card (usually the 4th Bolt) for 4 REB and 3 Dust to Dust. I mulligan and keep an ok hand in Game 2, but he has it all again, and eventually gets to a point where he has 2 Disrupting Scepters out and I am hellbent with nothing on board. I was about to concede again. I draw Braingeyser for the turn, normally the perfect card, but I only have one blue mana, so I say go. For some reason he forgets to Scepter me, possibly drunk so he forgot? So I get to go, hoping (a) to draw a blue source and (b) that he has no counter. I draw Ancestral. Oh mise. I cast it, and he doesn’t counter!! I draw into Lotus and Braingeyser for like 5, get a Dust to Dust and pull out another unwinnable game. I have never really played a game like that, especially as I am an AGGRESSIVE conceder (like if my opponent Ancestrals on Turn 1 and I don’t have mine I seriously consider conceding). Maybe that is a bad strategy? Yet here I played back to back games where I won from horrible positions, it was pretty insane. Had I not lost Round 1, I might be starting to think this was my day.
3-1, Farkas 4-0. I believe this was also the round that we realized Farkas had a huge dick drawn on one of his beta Control Magics. I own like 10 of them and must have given him that one by accident? Or maybe on purpose, who knows. Anyway, that’s another thing about Speds, we love drawing dicks. Mostly on Magic cards, but we don’t discriminate, we will draw them anywhere. It’s not even that big of a deal, something like 8% of kids do it or whatever. It was only out of respect for Jaco that we did not pepper that room with penises using the sharpies he generously provided for autographing each other’s Argothian Pixies.
Round 5 vs. Matt Moss
Now this guy is a true miser. He is a Lord of the Pit, but I thankfully did not know it at the time, as I would have been quite intimidated. He is very hammered, as he is carrying around a handle of gin, and I believe he is gunning for the heaviest drinker trophy. He is on UW, but not The Deck. He has all the usual UW stuff, but Serras/Dibs/Moats instead of Tomes/Septers/The Abyss. I can certainly respect that. At this point the games are getting kinda hazy for me. I know Game 1 he rolled me pretty good. I saw no Moats, but given he was UW with Serras and Dibs I should have realized this, but alcohol/etc. Game 2 I roll him, pretty sure I Mind Twisted him for the full amount with Blast backup on like Turn 4. Game 3 was another doozy. It is kind of back and forth, we kill each other’s things, while I have a Lion out doing some light work though, and I get him to around 10 or 12, when he drops a Moat. I have a Disenchant or 2 left in the deck, but that is bad for me as it turns off almost all of my dudes. He plays a Dib, which I Control Magic. He Disenchants, and I decide to Swords it now as I will gain the life and I am likely to have to Swords it anyway. I have another Control Magic in my hand though, and could just run it back, but I felt like it would be fine to just Control the next thing he played. This may have been a mistake though, as he clearly did not have any answers to the Dib at that point, so if I take it back it might just go the distance. As it stood we both had nothing going on and were just hoping to draw gas, and he was a lot better at it than I was. He drew another flyer, which I Controlled, and he Disenchanted. I did draw my miser’s Fireball, which at the last second I had sideboarded back in (took it out for game 2) over a Bolt as it seemed like he did not have many Factories. He had countered a ton of stuff this game, I think using all 4 Counterspells and his Mana Drain. I went for it, rather than wait for a Blast, Fireball for 9 (he had taken some city damage), to kill him, but he had Power Sink. He then drew 2 more flyers over the next few turns and started doing some real damage, but time was called. I was at 9 and he had 2 more attacks with a Serra and a Dib. I had just a Dib out. He attacks with both, I block Dib, take 4, go to 4 on my upkeep. I draw nothing, he attacks, I chump block Serra, go to 1, and the game is a draw.
Except in Old School there are no draws, any game that ends in a draw goes to sudden death Chaos Orb flips! He won the roll, so he got to go first, which I think is an advantage as it puts more pressure on me. Anticlimactically, he missed his first flip, and I nailed mine as I always do. 50 pushups and 50 Orb flips a night, every night, no exceptions. I did not miss a flip all weekend, prolly went 30 for 30, including side events and fun games. Matt took this loss really well, as he obviously would have won next turn unless I ripped something, plus he missed his first Orb flip. Great guy, great match, whole thing was back and forth, full of haymakers, and ended with an Orb flip; quintessential Old School.
4-1, Farkas 5-0.
Round 6 vs. Chris Bergeson
Chris was on Goblins. Not Mono Red though, he was splashing at least blue for Power, as well as a light splash of white and green. Game 1 is going ok, as he has a couple of goblins and like 4 cards in hand. Then he Chain Lightings me, Goblin Grenades me, and drops Lotus in to Wheel of Fortune! This guy! He drew a little more burn off his Wheel, and that was that. COP Red time. Game 2 my Serendibs did serious work. They knocked him pretty low, and when he eventually double Bolted one the game was basically over. Game 3 I had Library and he had no Strip! That is basically ggs right there, but I also followed that with a Turn 3 COP Red. I drew a lot of lands off Library so it took me a while to actually kill him, but it was inevitable from Turn 1. There were a lot of these sorts of red decks in the tourney, many of which, like Chris, did very well. Pre-tourney I was unsure of the COP Red slot, but it more than earned its keep today. I would not play without it going forward. At some point in this match I ran a Lion into a goblin with Pendelhaven out, but I think it was Game 3 and I was so far ahead nothing mattered. I would love to blame the alcohol for that one but I think I just fell for an on board trick.
5-1, Farkas 6-0! Only 2 undefeateds left!
Round 7 vs. Nathan Mullen
Nathan is another Lord of the Pit. He is also a dead ringer for McLovin from Superbad. In fact his whole aura is very McLovin-ish, other than his tats. This is not at all to say he is not pure gas, as he clearly is (also very much like McLovin). I am just surprised the other Chicago guys have not nicknamed him McLovin yet. Nate is on the W/G/R deck that he and Jaco played to Top 4 finishes at the Old School Player’s Ball. Lions, Apes, Pixies, Preachers, Burn, Swords, Disenchants, plus 3 Sylvans and 2 Bazaars for his card draw/selection engine. I basically knew his exact list, whereas he had no real idea what the hell I was on. I’m sure that made a difference during sideboarding. This is another matchup where our first X cards are very similar, but then I play Ancestral/Walk/Geyser/Mind Twist/Tutor, whereas he plays 3 Sylvans and 2 Bazaars. He cannot usually even pay life with Sylvan as I am so aggressive. Game 1 he has a Preacher I cannot kill, and I flood out, and he beats me pretty easily. I sideboard in Earthquakes and the 4th Swords, for I think 2 Disenchants and a Power Sink. Possibly the other way around. Sink is a lot worse on the draw, especially against his super low curve, and Disenchant really only hits Sylvan, and I guess his Factories, but I know he only plays 2. I don’t remember the details of Game 2, but I am able to pull it out without a ton of trouble. Game 3 got a little weird. I am way ahead after Mind Twisting his hand away on like turn 4. It was only 3 cards, but they were all gas. I still have a lot of life (16?), and he does not play Wheel or Twister, so I like my chances. I topdeck a Lion, play it, say go. He draws, says go. I draw a blank, say go. He draws, does nothing, says go. I draw, and say go. He draws, plays a Javelineer, and says go. I draw, play a land, and say go. He untaps, shoots my Lion. I’m like what is this sorcery? What Lion did he shoot? Oh the one I cast 3 turns ago that I NEVER ATTACKED WITH because it was kinda hiding out under my Mox for some reason. We were very scrunched this round, so my cards were all on top of each other, but I mean that was just embarrassing. Next turn I drew Library, stripped his Bazaar, and he had no Strip for me. I waited a couple turns to get up to 7 cards, eventually I drew a Dib and a Serra, and that was that.
This round I also sat next to this complete miser Dominic Dotterer. He is another Lord, and an all-around great guy (redundant I know, but I assume some readers do not fully understand how broken the Lords are). Dom was also vying for the heaviest drinker award, and was one of the frontrunners. Dom was playing against the baggy guy who angle shot his opponent’s The Abyss in Round 1. I felt obligated to point this out. The guys tried to defend his play as “ethical” somehow. I mean his play may have been technically correct (although I am not sure about this), but ethical is just about the opposite of what I would call him. When my opponent plays The Abyss, I don’t even mention the word trigger, or do anything involving the actual rules of Magic, I just sac a dude on my upkeep like a gentleman. He got all hot and bothered, said he was doing the guy a favor so that he won’t make the same mistake next time!!! I eventually let it go, but not before making it clear that the whole room thought he was a bag.
I was 6-1 at this point. Farkas lost to fall to 6-1. In Game 3 he missed an Orb flip on a Control Magic that would have won him the match. Orb flipping is a legitimate skill in Old School. Practice those flips kids! So there is only 1 undefeated left now, the guy who beat Farkas. He literally flew in from New Zealand just to play in this tourney, but forgot his deck, so had to make a deck here with whatever scraps he could rustle up! It was actually very similar to our deck, minus 6 lands! I’m not exactly sure what that means for my deckbuilding skills. He basically cut 6 lands from our deck and ran Tundra Wolves and Unstable Mutation instead. It was really an amazing story in so many ways.
In the Old School tournament there was no Top 8 playoff, they run Swiss+1. You play whatever the correct number of rounds is for the number of people in the tourney, and then 1 more after that instead of a playoff. So generally tiebreakers are extremely important for actually winning the tourney. I figure I am out of the running given my Round 1 loss, but Farkas obviously has great breakers as he started 6-0, so we think he has a real shot to finish 1st overall if he wins his last round and the New Zealander loses.
Round 8 vs. John Grudzina
I had seen John playing The Deck earlier, so I knew I was in for a battle. At least, given his deck choice, he is playing the most gorgeous Deck possible. All Alpha/Beta and really crisp cards. One of the few decks in the room that looked better than mine. These games were not actually that close though. Game 1 I played a dude or 2, and dealt him some damage until he Balanced, which killed my guys, but brought him down to 2 cards. He followed it up the turn after with a Tome, but I had a Disenchant. I topdecked a Serendib that went the rest of the way on its own. I think I am generally a small dog to The Deck Game 1, and a deece favorite after board, so I was feeling pretty good here. Out go the Bolts and Swords, in come the REBs and Dust to Dust. I think he mulliganed this game. I resolved an early Ancestral on his upkeep after Red Blasting his counter, and drew Library, which he could not find a Strip Mine for, and that was game. I probably drew 10 extra cards. He Mind Twisted 3 of them away at some point, but I just played draw/go for 3 turns to get back up to Library. Again it took a while to finish him because I drew a lot of air, but no one can come back from that. I did Dust to Dust a Tome and a Mox at one point which felt pretty good. In case you haven’t noticed, Library is just busted in this format. It is the best card by a mile. If someone has one going and the other guy can’t kill it, nothing else matters.
Farkas won his last round against Douchy Von Baggerson, who was on mono red, while at 1 life in Game 3! Douchy was very upset, it was great. So Farkas and I are both 7-1, but Gene (the New Zealander) also won his last round, so he was the clear winner of the tourney as the only 8-0. I wasn’t even upset about it, as his story was unreal. I will say it is mildly insane how few mana sources he ran: 19 lands/Moxes, plus a Lotus. I played 25 lands/Moxes plus a Lotus and Sol Ring, and I kinda wanted another! But his story is just so damn old school, he literally opened his trade binder an hour before the tourney to build a deck. Very fitting ending to the tourney. Farkas ended up in 2nd as predicted, and somehow my tiebreakers were great despite losing in rd 1 and I ended up in 3rd. Farkas won a City of Brass, and I won an Alpha Regrowth, which I believe is my 4th, so now I am pot committed to playing some 4 Regrowth deck in Type 1 at some point. Farkas gave me the City as a thank you for brewing the deck, breaking the format, and handing him a fully powered deck right before the tourney. This is slightly less generous than it sounds, as the city is going right into the 2000+ card cube that us Speds have been playing for 22 years every time we get together (yes we invented Cube draft, and for the record it is called Broken draft). We basically just shuffled 2000 random cards together in 1995 and started making packs to draft because draft is the purest and best form of Magic. The cube is a living breathing thing however. Every time we get together we vote out the worst cards and then vote in some new spice that we like from a new set or an old set, whatever you want to nominate is fine. The Broken Draft currently has 5+ sets of Power (6 Ancestrals because mise, 5 of everything else). Yes I have Ancestraled into Ancestral, and it feels better than you are imagining. Oh and for the love of god, the card is called Ancestral, not Recall. Recall is an entirely different card. If you are the kind of person who, after casting Ancestral, says “Recall?” kindly close this tab in your browser.
At this point we are starving and the Omni hotel staff is kicking us out. So we walk back to our hotel with our foster children Will and Chris, who came a couple hours ago to cheer their elders on. We go to this meatball place across the street from the hotel which was surprisingly great. We all finish our food except for Will who ordered double meatballs so he takes them to go. Back in the room Will is trying to get to sleep for Type 1 Worlds the next day, as he is apparently some kind of master of the format, while Farkas and I are trying to brew something for Chris to play. Oh and Farkas and I decided to just skip Type 1 because we would be too tired/hungover to brew and play anything at this point. Chris really only has cards for Dredge, but Farkas and I say we will pay his entry fee if he plays whatever we build for him. He is on board, so Farkas and I get right to work figuring out the correct number of Chaos Orbs for him to play. I only have 3 real Chaos Orbs, but I have like 7 IE/CE, so I feel like 10 is the right number. This strategy gets tossed when Farkas has an idea to brew a deck called “Not Great Bob” based on the iconic scene in Mad Men where, after getting some bad news, Pete is asked how his day is going in the elevator after work and replies “Not great Bob.”
This is one of the funnier jokes in the kingdom of Sped. The joke (like all jokes) gets funnier the more often and louder you say it. It is so prevalent that we sometimes just write or say ngb to save time because we say it so often. We played the clip for Will and Chris and they are not exactly impressed. Anyway, the deck was based around Confidants, comboing with Emrakul, Draco, and Autochthon Wurm. The plan was to play Bob, reveal a 15 drop, and then hopefully die, so that when your friends asked you how the round went you could reply “Not great Bob.” You could also say this every time you revealed a 15 drop to your Bob during the match. The deck also played the Nourishing Shoal engine so you could reveal the Wurm, gain 15 life and then combo again. The deck also ran Death’s Shadow as an actual combo after a Not Great Bob hit. In the end we passed out before actually building the deck and Chris just ran Dredge, but man that would have been a great story. For those interested, the deck is also playable in Legacy. You lose Top, so your Bob hits are sometimes great, but the meat and potatoes are still there.
Those guys leave at 8:00am for Type 1, while Farkas and I try to figure out what to play at the Old School side event. We both need to win side events at some point so we can get into the Revised Sealed deck they are running on Sunday, where you open a Revised Sealed deck that is a part of your pool, and then draft Eternal Masters to finish out your deck. Oh and house rule that Contract from Below is a 1 mana draw 7. It was VERY important for us to qualify for this. Because of this, we both just ran back Temple of Sped from yesterday with 1 tiny change. Farkas, a control player at heart, really wanted a main deck Earthquake in his White Weenie deck so he cut the Fireball, moved an Earthquake to the main, and added a Blue Elemental Blast to the board. I changed nothing. We got bagels again, and went over to the venue around 10:30. There were tons of awesome artists there selling all sorts of cool stuff. I bought a couple of cool prints from R.K Post from The Nightmare Before Christmas (What’s this?) and Peter Pan (Second star to the right and straight till morning) for my kids. Farkas bought the original art to Bewilder from Time Spiral. He collects Magic original art, and has like 15-20 originals. He was also planning on buying this insane Chaos Orb print from Mark Tedin that was done on metal, but when he went back to buy it someone had already scooped it.
Old School started at noon, and only had 11 people! I figured it was all but a certain one of us would 4-0, possible both of us depending on how the chips fell. It turned out that someone was me. At 3-0 I played against a B/R deck that felt like a bad matchup as he had Hymns and Blood Moons (the scariest cards for me), but I won a tight Game 3 after killing his second Blood Moon off a topdecked Mox Pearl with a full grip. Farkas went 3-1, putting our combined record with the deck at 21-3 on the weekend. Also here is a board state I witnessed in this tournament:
It was 3:45 at this point, and there was a Modern Masters 2HG tourney at 4:00. We hopped in, after Farkas lost the CCR for the $100 buy-in. We opened what I think was a medium pool but who knows really. Farkas ended up with a U/R affinity/Control deck with 2 Thoughtcasts, Bolt, Electrolyze, and Niv-Mizzet. He played 41 cards because we could not figure out what to cut, plus the mana felt better at 17/41 (hah!). I on the other hand, played a full on masterpiece. I had 3 Skyreach Mantas and a Matca Rioters, plus that 2/2 flyer for R3 you can cast form your graveyard for BGURW as a 4/4. I also had 2 Rampant Growths, 4 Ravnica bouncelands, and 2 land cyclers. But that is not the half of it. I also played an Eye of Ugin to go with Ulamog’s Crusher, Artisan of Kozilek, and Emrakul!!!
Emrakul MAY have been a stretch, but with all the bouncelands and the Eye it felt worth it when you included the spice factor. Also eye can search for Skyreach Manta, who knew? Farkas also actually has some experience playing 2HG, and basically said you want the slowest, most powerful decks possible as you start with 30 life. Sounded like fine logic, plus it justified the Eye/Emrakul package so we ran with it. Turns out he was exactly right. We won our first 3 rounds after falling way behind, but then stabilizing and playing 5/5 flyers while they ripped 2/2’s or whatever. We finally hit a bump in round 4 as we played an Affinity deck that churned out a bunch of Rusted Relics that we could just not keep up with. Oh and his teammate played Primeval Titan. So the day was a partial success, as I managed to Q for Revised Sealed, but Farkas did not. We still had one more day to pull it off.
Will had been blabbering on about this burger place called Burgatory for weeks, so we felt obligated to try it. Turns out it was very good. Burgers are top notch, great fries/sides and beers. We misplayed by ordering nachos as an app, which were huge and then we did not really have room for the burgers, but we powered through anyway. These burgers were literally $24 though once you loaded them up with all the gas, so we felt obligated to show the kids the scene in Scent of a Woman where Pacino orders the $24 burger and Charlie asks him if he is some sort of rich miser. Once again they were not amused. Kids these days!
At the main event yesterday I managed to procure some of the Lords’ phone numbers so I reached out to them to see what they were up to as I was sure it would be rather gassy. Turns out I was right, they were in the bar literally next door to us slinging Old School and getting rowdy. We get there at like 11:30, but apparently the bar closes at midnight?!? So we walk across the street to another bar that was basically empty and had some nice high tables that were perfect for slinging spells. Dom bought everyone a round of Wild Turkey 101 (gross). I offered to CCR him for it but gentleman that he is would have none of it. He then gave me his W/G/U Erhnamgeddon deck to sling against Matt Moss (the guy I beat in sudden death Orb flips in the Old School main event) playing B/R Sedge Troll. For Ante. Not actual ante, but the Lords have come up with some awesome ante errata. Basically you get to play Contract from Below (it is restricted in the format), but if you cast it you have to IMMEDIATELY buy a shot for both you and your opponent. Your ante is the shot. If you are not aware of what Contract From Below does, you should look it up, as it is easily the most powerful card of all time. I am already not feeling great as I think my lack of sleep of catching up to me, plus that Wild Turkey was strong and disgusting. But misers be misin,’ as they say. We played like 3 games involving 4 Contracts, including him Forking mine once (no one even knows how many shots that is, can’t even figure it with the juice). And all of a sudden it was 2:00am, the bar was closing, and I had done 4 shots in the last 45 mins. Some of the Lords went on to more debauchery, but Farkas and I decided to call it quits. We headed back to our hotel with Matt Slack, another Lord, and another one of my opponents from yesterday (Round 2, Arabian Aggro, whose voice I recognized from the podcast he did, sucker).
We get back around 2:30am and find our children wide awake in their beds! Will was upset because earlier in the day he came back to the room to try and have a meatball snack from the night before only to find out someone unplugged the fridge. It turns out it was Farkas, who was so upset that Will took his food to go in a random city in a random hotel room that he sabotaged Will’s meatballs! Now I agree it is kinda weird to take your leftovers with no way to heat them up, but Farkas clearly next leveled this! We argue about the absurdity of the whole thing before falling asleep around 3:00. Chris is the only one of us playing Legacy the next morning (12 Post, same thing he played against me 3 years ago), and managed to get 1, possibly 2 hours of sleep as Farkas is a monster snorer. I didn’t care about Chris’s stupid Legacy tourney of course, I just wanted Farkas well rested because he had a big day ahead of him playing in the Old School side event at noon. He needed to 4-0 to qualify for the Revised Sealed.
Chris leaves the room around 8:00am as he is not sleeping anyway. Will and I wake Farkas up around 9:00 as we have been up for hours because we cannot sleep with his snoring. Shower, bagels, tourney hall. It is beginning to feel like Groundhog Day, in the best possible way, like if Groundhog Day was Christmas morning. Every day we bagel, mise Magic tourneys, eat something delicious, have a few beverages, rinse and repeat. Usually it’s all free too because Farkas is so bad at CCR.
I get a message from Dom saying the Ernhamgeddon deck he lent me to play is missing an unlimited Trop. Mother effer. I did not think I was that drunk last night, and I am always very careful with my cards, but anything is possible. I tell him I am sorry but I do not have it. He of course says it’s no problem, and says he is going to go back to the bars we went to the night before. 1st bar no luck. 2nd bar nothing either. Ugh. They are walking out, dejected, when another bartender runs over, reaches into his pocket and pulls out this:
How lucky! He had been carrying it around in his pocket, and it had gravel inside the sleeve somehow, yet the card itself was almost completely unscathed! He sent me that pic and I breathed a huge sigh of relief as that Trop was honestly weighing pretty heavy on me.
In Round 1 of the Old School side event I get matched up with Jimmy Cooney, Merfolk master. I played Jimmy at EW Old School in 2015. We became fast friends and chat about the format A LOT. Jimmy is opening an LGS in the Maryland/DC area called Dice City Games (opening an LGS has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember so I am very jealous of this). He will soon be hosting all sorts of tournaments including Old School! I even talked to him about coming down to do commentary for his Old School tourney stream. Yes I am mildly obsessed with the format. Check out his store if you are in the area, I cannot wait to get down there myself as the space looks awesome.
Jimmy has been tuning his deck for longer than I have. And today he came prepared for aggro. He Psychic Purges (look it up) my first 2 creatures, casts Telekenisis (look it up) on my Dib, and that was all she wrote. I brought in 4 Red Blasts, the 4th Swords, and Controls and Earthquakes for a bunch of dudes and Disenchants. I win this one relatively easily by Earthquaking away 2-3 guys. I think I am pretty favored after board against Merfolk, especially against his tempo version, but he can always just Merfolk me out. Game 3 was amazing. He had a couple of early Dan-Dans, but I skillfully had not drawn any islands. I had a City and a Control Magic in hand that I could not cast. But then he Phantasmal Terrained my factory and hit me for 8!! His Terrain turned on my Control Magic, but 8 damage is a ton and I was now on the ropes, especially as I was taking a tapped Dan-Dan that could not block.
On his turn he unsummons my/his Dan-Dan and replays it after attacking. I think I rip Ancestral here, play a blocker and have a Bolt for his other Dan-Dan. We eventually get to a spot where he is at 6 and I am at 1 with a Dib on board. I rip a Bolt, attack him to 3. He has 2 lands untapped. I Bolt him in his upkeep, but he has the blue blast, and I die on my upkeep to Serendib. Another really epic game involving all sorts of amazing Old School cards. I manage to win my next 3 to win a box of Ixalan (one match was against NYC Old School pro Paul DeSilva playing his version of Arabian aggro featuring a set of Alpha Birds!), while Farkas starts 3-0, and then gets paired against Jimmy in the last round who generously concedes! So Farkas Q’s! They wanted to actually play their match though, which is pretty epic and takes like an hour and a half to finish. Farkas wins a nailbiter in the end after Control Magicing Merfolk of the Pearl Trident. If I had a nickel for every time that happened.
It is 4:45 now and there is a Chaos draft at 5:00, so we hop right in to that. I get garbage recent packs, Farkas gets a Conspiracy pack and 2 garbage packs as well. He is 2 to my right and opens Conspiracy first so he can draft around it, and first picks Regicide. I am pretty surprised to see Custody Lich still in the pack 3rd. I have never actually seen this card before, but after confirming what being the monarch means (which I still do not actually understand) I take it and move into black. I end up with an unexciting G/B/w deck, splashing for Orzhov Charm and Coking Restraints. Farkas and I both go 2-0 (I drew Custody Lich a lot) and then draw in the last round so we can get back to Burgatory before it closes. We learn from our mistake this time and skip the apps, while watching the Yankees implode in Game 7 of the ALCS. I message the Lords again (I must be their biggest barn at this point) and find out they are at the Embassy Suites lobby running an Old School Cube draft. That sounds like something we might be interested in, as those are the clear 2 best formats of all time. So we hop in a car. It turns out that the lobby of this hotel is actually on the 25th floor, and there is a huge bar there as well as ample seating for a cube draft. We get there just before the end of pack 3. Nate and Dom are there, as are Jaco, Eliot, Mith, and a few others whose names escape me at this point (my apologies, as everyone there was gas). The Old School cube was just beautiful, nothing white bordered, and nothing foreign, only Beta through Fallen Empires. A lot of amazing cards saw action, including Jaco looking up the Oracle rules text for Lord of the Pit! How ironic.
This was really a perfect ending to a perfect weekend, we said our goodbyes and went to bed for the last time, ready for one last Groundhog Day.
The Groundhog Day plan was shot when both bagel places were somehow closed on Sunday. We had to settle for BK. I never eat BK, or really any fast food (except Taco Bell but that obv doesn’t count). The one exception I make is for McGriddles at McDonalds, but somehow they were nowhere to be found. So we had garbage BK for breakfast and then headed over to the site to get focused for the Revised Sealed tourney.
We did not care at all about opening a money card. Dealers were buying the sealed decks for $220, so we could lock in a Tropical or so if we cared about the money. But we had our sights set much higher. We were only looking for Contract from Below. They handed out the decks. There were ~40 people in the tourney, and I think only 5 of us opened the decks. Farkas and I were going to open them one after the other so we could sweat each other’s open. Farkas shotgunned last, a legal move on Team Sped, so I tore into mine. Commons first. I got a fireball and a Disintegrate, as well as a Llanowar Elf and a Wild Growth as far as playables go. Also an actual Grizzly Bear I could play in a pinch if I needed a 2 drop. I squeezed the uncommons, hoping for Demonic Tutor (for my inevitable Contract) or Sol Ring. Barring that I would settle for a Serra (Serra in all formats.) I got an early Sengir. Deece. I then turned over a Thicket Basilisk. I could feel my heart beating faster. Instill Energy, meh. Black Ward!! Orcish Artillery. Obsianus Golem. Keldon Warlord (google the Alpha text on that one). I slowly squeezed out my last uncommon, and there it was. A beautiful, brand new pack fresh Lure! I screamed, people came over thinking I opened a dual or something, and somehow were saddened to learn it was just the most glorious 2 card combo in the history of Magic.
Time for the rares. I was not sure I could handle another roller coaster like that. I squeezed the first one slowly. It was red. Not a Contract, but could be deece in my Fireball/Disintegrate/Llanovar Elf/Wild Growth/Grizzly bear deck. R3. I was hoping for Roc of Kher Ridges over Manabarbs, and I got there. Roc is actually a deece card in RG, possibly even deece+. I squeezed the next card slowly. It was black. A little further. Casting cost was B!!!! I did it! I slid it out, only to find myself face to face with a Deathlace. Quite the letdown, but I do have some fond memories playing a Deathlace/Reap deck in the mid 90’s, so I was still feeling a nice nostalgia high at least as a consolation prize. I only had one shot left. I squeezed this last rare super slowly. Red, crap. Although it could be a Shivan for my deck. Casting cost was RR, which left only one option, Fork. Ah well, no Contract, but I still had a pretty sweet R/G deck to draft Eternal Masters around. I ended up in a G/R beater featuring all the Revised cards I mentioned (I even played the actual Grizzly Bear as I had 4 Elephant Guides!), Bloodbraid Elf, and Green Sun’s Zenith for Bloodbraid Elf or Thicket Basilisk. Deck was fine, super fun, but not a world beater or anything. I won my first 3 matches by just playing dudes and putting Elephant Guides on them. That strategy is actually absurd if I don’t run into bounce, which I didn’t for the most part. In Round 1 I got my revenge on one of the guys who beat us in the finals of the 2HG earlier. He was about to Channel/Fireball me, but Sensei’s Divining Topped his cards in the wrong order by mistake and then I attacked him too low so he couldn’t do it anymore. He had a pretty nice pool:
In Round 4 I was paired against longtime friend Eli Kassis (I believe I have known him since actual 1994) and we drew as it was getting late. The only thing I knew about his deck was that he had at least 4 Peregrine Drakes because on turn 5 of one match I saw him drop 4 on the table at once!
Oh, I forgot about Farkas’ deck! His only good common was a Lightning Bolt, but he slowly went through his uncommons and plucked a Sol Ring! He also mised a Doppelganger(!!!!) and a Volcanic (meh.) At least he could splash the Bolt in his very nostalgic U/W deck featuring multiple Counterspells, Swords, Doppelganger, Wrath of God, Maze of Ith, Prodigal Sorcerer, and Wall of Swords. Farkas had to catch a flight at 5:00, so he had to drop from the tourney at 2-0, but not before telling us his meatball sabotage was all a troll and he just needed somewhere to plug in his phone. The meatballs were just gravy (I’ll be here all week).
At this point my foster children were becoming restless so we needed to hit the road. I promised them ice cream if they could keep their shit together for a little longer and they mostly acquiesced. The ride home was uneventful for the most part. We stopped at Popeyes because I have been dying to try it. Not nearly as good as Chik-fil-A, but certainly deece. This was probably the first time in 20 years I have had fast food twice in the same day. The kids kept me awake by telling stories about their insane friend Craig Berry, who was the one behind the Moat and LED buyouts last year. An idea I can generally get behind, as I was an options/commodities trader for almost 15 years, but let’s stay away from the Old School cards. Spec anything you want with a new border, but leave my poor Juzams alone please; thanks.
Farkas and I went a combined 41-5 on the weekend, between Old School, 2HG, Chaos Draft, and Revised Sealed. In Old School we went 28-4 playing Temple of Sped, which I think is kind of insane for a couple of old men like us. Obviously we ran well, but I think I really did break the format in Old School. If you are reading this and somehow you have never given Old School a try, do it! The combination of nostalgia, community, weird cards, and just generally good people make it a total blast. And you absolutely do not have to play to win, in fact you probably shouldn’t. Sure I played the best deck I could this year, but this was a big tourney that I had my eyes on for a while. I have tons of other WAY less competitive decks I play all the time. Sinbad/Sylvan/Scryb Sprites/GG/Unstable/Berserk.dec. Atog/Berserk. Skull of Orm/Control Magic/Diamond Valley.dec. I even have a deck based around 4 Ivory Towers with Land Tax and Library of Leng where my only win condition is a single Feldon’s Cane! At the main event this year there was even a separate Top 8 for most creative decks! The winner was Hunter Prendergast’s Mono Red based around Kobolds, Ashnod’s Altar, and Gauntlet of Might for huge Fireballs (and bigger Kobolds)!
Here’s a picture of Hunter Prendergast’s “most creative deck” winner from Thursday’s Old School. Won him a sweet custom Chaos Orb deck box. pic.twitter.com/THt6VUSxSH
— Randy Buehler (@rbuehler) October 21, 2017
David Firth Bard also had a spicy little number based around Psychic Venom and Icy Manipulator!
— Dave Firth Bard (@dfirthbard) October 20, 2017
Build an Old School deck, get your friends to as well, and you won’t regret it. Hopefully I will see you at Old School Champs at EW 2018, as I am already in negotiations with my wife to attend. I will leave you with one last pic. This is Farkas’ hand in Game 3 on the draw against Jimmy Cooney’s aggressive Mono Blue Merfolk deck after Jimmy already mulliganed.
Keep or Mull?