Forty-eight players registered for the first day of Dice City’s sold-out Winter Ball.
The prize pool included a CE Mox Sapphire for best unpowered, a custom-etched magic-card-sized trophy for first place overall, and calligraphy cards for other “prestige” prizes like Top 8, most creative, and the most cards from The Dark and Fallen Empires in a decklist with a winning record. And Jeff Menges made a killer playmat just for the event, which you can see in the background of the calligraphy prizes below:
There were three of us unpowered in the Top 8; the first place deck was powered, but second place was Nathan’s unpowered White Weenie deck with a full set of Mesa Pegasus (see the first round below).
Top creativity went to Greg’s tribal treefolk deck. It used Arboria, Millstone, and Large Individuals, with a Eureka sideboard plan. Second place creativity went to Adam’s “Big Butts” deck, featuring Jacque Le Vert and … several G/W derpy legends from Legends, like Sir Shandalar. Adam played Walls twice last summer, so I think he definitely has a type.
Another standout deck from the tournament was Dustin’s 5-color Millstone/Field of Dreams deck in 4th place.
This article is meant as a conversation starter. We are certainly not hurting for nostalgia formats at the moment, with multiple versions of OldSchool/93-94, ’95, Original Type II, and Premodern/Middle School. But I believe this format is different enough from the others to warrant a look, so hopefully you will stick with me through my arguments for its charms.
Old School 93/94 is a wild and woolly format, full of powerful cards, and most strategies you can think of. The problems, of course, are budgetary. This blog is largely dedicated to budget builds because I’m on a tight budget for this hobby, but it can be a little unsatisfactory to sit across from decks that aren’t suffering from self-imposed handicaps.
The nature of the early sets and the reserve list doesn’t create any reasonable solutions to this problem. You can elimitate the power nine by starting from Revised, as Original Type II tries to do — but then you still have to deal with revised dual lands, which average about $200 in played condition now. My household’s entire collection is worth less than a playset of, say, the Bayous that would go in my Thallid deck! You can try to incentivize playing on a budget, as some tournaments do, but the criteria are inevitably awkward: Do you go by the total value of the deck, the value of individual cards, or just disallow entire swaths of things? Is a cards utility of any consideration, or just its price? What happens if a card spikes because it was bought out and someone paid less than $1 for a card that is now inexplicably $50? Are cards like Berserk expensive or cheap considering there’s a modern border version? Is Underground Sea treated the same as Plateau for budget reasons? Spot the budget cards, if any, below!
One of my ideas was to start with Revised through the end of 1995 and ban the dual lands. I think this is a completely reasonable format, and in fact I would say that it represents the majority of Old Schooler’s starting collections, and except for Wheel of Fortune, there are no expensive cards and very few on the reserve list at all. The banned and restricted lists would be fairly simple and wouldn’t need to be much different from those that existed at the time.
But it’s ahistoric as far as official formats go, which would probably turn people off. (The price of dual lands is ahistoric as well, but we can’t do much about that.)
However, the first Pro Tour in 1996 offers some intriguing possibilities, most especially the format from the very first PT tournament in New York, which includes Fourth Edition, Chronicles, Ice Age, Homelands, and Fallen Empires, and a peculiar deck restriction that people include at least 5 cards from each legal set. (This rule was instituted to force players to use Homelands. Homelands was terrible at the time, but it has improved very slightly following the creature type update about 10 years ago.) There was a cool box set commemorating the top 8 of the very first Pro Tour to give you some idea of the decks around in that format:
For the Sarpadian Cup, I more or less knew that I would be on White Weenie, but it was a question of “Which version?” I knew I didn’t want to play to win, and I tried thinking of something special to do. So I thought back to something I said in my first blog post here, where I discussed white weenie being my first “real” deck that was more than just a pile of some cards that I owned. The major constituents of the Icatians are their soldiers, and they even have the soldier lord, Icatian Lieutenant, so I put the following together, unsleeved, and walked around with it in a 4th edition starter box that FreezyBear on the Discord hooked me up with:
I wanted to play a deck with only cards actually in print in November of 1994, but I did have a few outliers, like Yoshi, the Strip Mines, and the Army of Allahs. I think for once I don’t think I need to say “Don’t play this deck, it’s not serious,” because it’s probable incredibly obvious that it isn’t. We can, however, talk about some of the deficiencies, because on the surface it probably doesn’t seem too far from reasonable.
There are times where you have a fae-rly lousy but fun idea and roll with it, only to see someone else wearing the same dress to the ball.
For the second Sarpadian Summer Series (Sarpadia Rises), I played a deck with … well, almost no Sarpadian cards. Here’s FaerieQuake:
I picked Faeries in part because I just had the cards, and in part because I thought it was one of the worst tribes with the least support, so I would likely be the only person in the room with them. Then it turned out there were three of us, making Faeries and Goblins the most popular tribes that day.
Disclaimer/Apologies: I did not write down my opponents’ names during the tournament, because I didn’t expect this to win more than a couple games. If anyone knows the names of my 2nd, 3rd, and 5th round opponents, has a last or first name to fill in where needed, etc., please let me know either by e-mail or in the comments. -Jon
Thallids. Thrulls. Elves and humans scrabbling out a living in hiding. Icy creeps across the land.
Twenty-one players gathered at Dice City, coming from as far away as New York and North Carolina, to toss around some ancient pieces of cardboard, with additional prizes available for stuffing your deck with creatures of the same subtype. That’s right: it was an Old School tournament filled featuring tribal decks.
I played “Sarpadia After The War,” a warped version of my black–green build of of The Machine: