Old School 93/94/95/96/97: Scryings

When I started playing Magic as a kid around 1997, I eventually worked up the courage to break the threshold of Warlord Comics, my small hometown’s only comic book store. Just slightly bigger than a closet and constantly filled with cigarette smoke and the musk from the previous nights’ D&D campaign, it was where I really learned to play the game. I remember the first time I went in to try and play with someone, the store manager was behind the counter playing Diablo on an ancient computer with a giant Danzig sticker slapped on the side. I had packed a slew of my most powerful decks in taped up cardboard Ultra-pro deck protector boxes and was prepared for battle. Although the tiny bell on the door jingled as I entered the empty store, Randy, the lone manager was far too busy clearing the catacombs to acknowledge I was there. I tried to act casual and wandered about looking at comics I wasn’t interested in until I got up the nerve to ask for a game. I asked as he sat silently, still fixed on the screen, slaying a few more of hell’s worst before saving his game and replying, sure. He stood up and rummaged around the small area behind the counter, which looked like a tiny grand canyon of stacked up cards, boxes, and comics. At this point, I was about 13 or so and this guy was of college age. I was pretty nervous, as the only person I had played up until that point was my buddy from school who played lands and passed until he could hard cast Vaevictis Asmadi. Randy eventually emerged from the card canyon and pulled out a fancy ultra pro deck case, opening it to reveal 8 decks sleeved up in different colors and asked me, “Which deck do you want me to beat you with?”. My shaky finger pointed to a deck and we shuffled up. The next 2 or 3 minutes consisted of him pummeling me at blistering speed with Chain Lightning’s, Bolts, Apes, Archers, and Sprites while I sat fumbling with my cards, making all kinds of mistakes. If I recall correctly, I was finally done in by a Giant Growth’d Scryb Sprites that had been Berserk’d to twice its size, flanked by other creatures of the mountains and forests. It was a swift victory for Tristram’s hero. That deck made an impact on me so much so that I’ve completely forgotten what I was playing.

For the next 4 years I would frequent Warlord Comics. I became friends with Randy and a lot of the other guys who came in and jammed cards daily and they taught me how to play. At least a little better anyway. There were a few spikes who came in, mostly to the tournaments and drafts, but the casual group that played there was where I found myself. We just played whatever we wanted. I never knew what a format was until I played in my first tournament, which was a small Type 1 gathering at the store. But, the best thing about playing there with that group was that it was casual and that’s all I ever really knew of the game. I was never a competitor. We played the game for fun and no one cared what cards were in your deck.

FRONT

back.jpg
Brother A.F. though, he was a competitor.

 

In regard to being lax on formats and cards used to play this game, I’ve noticed lately that the Old School community seems to be stirring the pot a little more. People are dabbling in Middle School or Pre Modern, adding Ice Age/Homelands etc., playing R40, ATL, multiple other house rules/formats and whatever else. I think it’s great. I’m not bored with straight Old School 93/94, surprisingly, since I’ve been playing the hell out of it for a pretty long time now. But, some people have been playing it for a very, very long time and I think it’s at the point where exploration with adding cards into the format is going to happen. When we started playing Old School here in Music City, we threw in Ice Age and Homelands from time to time from the get go. Last December, we decided to play OS ’95 for our winter tournament and this year we’re tacking on the whole Ice Age block, introducing Alliances to the fold, which is like…OS 95.5 or AA (Alpha-Alliances) as we call it.

I’m definitely not advocating throwing in new age, ugly bordered, game over when this card enters the battlefield cards (unless you really want to). However, I do think that some of the post OS sets from the 90’s mesh very well with the Old School card pool. I also daresay that some of them mesh aesthetically as well. Things get a little shinier after Alliances, but mechanically, there’s nothing completely insane in those sets. Urzas block got pretty wild, Force of Will is a card, but Ice Age and Mirage were great blocks that introduced a lot to the game. A lot of game changing things happened in that era. Pros-Bloom and combo in general is one of those things. This was really the first combo deck. You didn’t just have to draw 2 cards to win the game, you had to dig and work your ass off to cast that big Drain Life. These mid-late 90’s sets also brought some tasteful mechanics we don’t see in OS. They also give us better creatures. These sets are cool as hell and playing them on top of 93/94 is awesome. Old School 93/94 is something special, but throwing in cards, especially just up through Mirage block (in my opinion) really enhances the cards we play with. I’m also a little biased as Ice Age/Mirage cards are very nostalgic for me, but most of the Old School players out there probably bought their fair share of those sets when they were new as well and feel similar about them.

At this point I think most everyone in the community knows about MGs brainchild, Scryings. Scryings is a set made up of 116 cards hand selected from Fallen Empires up through Weatherlight, which encompasses the entire Ice Age and Mirage blocks. Scryings is like a reverse Chronicles, in that instead of a set of reprinted cards from the past, it is a brand new set of select cards from the future, hence the name. I think the idea is insanely cool. This set is also going to be legal at next year’s n00bcon 12 and obviously fair game to anyone who wants to dabble. I’m definitely going to be dabbling.

After reading the announcement post for Scryings, I immediately contacted MG as he had mentioned that anyone who wanted to spoil a card on their own platform could do so. So, from the mothership blog we know Deadly Insect is in as well as Primal Order.  We also know that from the Brothers Of Fire spoiler yesterday that Goblin Grenade is legal as well. And so is….

 

 

 

 

 

 

TINKERer
Yes, they can..

 

This may not be a bomb drop, but Goblin Tinkerer is an interesting addition for a few reasons. I was given a few cards to choose from to spoil and I chose this one, mostly just because it’s a goblin, but also because of his bad ass ability. I have a soft spot for mono red too, Sligh in particular, and since Sligh in OS is essentially goblins I jumped at the Tinkerer. In regard to the Swedish ruleset, Goblins is not really a feasible deck choice. Sure, you can do it, but you lack the much needed Goblin Grenade as well as 3 more Strip Mines, which are both pretty crucial to the Sligh strategy. With Goblin Grenade in Scryings and possibly some other red bombs like Fireblast or even Viashino Sandstalker, an aggressive mono Red deck becomes a much more viable option in that ruleset. As for EC, a well-tuned mono Red deck is already decent. Getting Tinkerer and maybe the other cards I just mentioned and whatever else, a fast mono Red deck could be a beast and really kick up a notch. It’s also just a really good 2 drop Red creature of which there is exactly 1 of in OS, Atog. I’ve found Dwarven Lt. to be decent in a Sligh build, but would choose Goblin Tinkerer over him in the 2 drop slot every time. As for other decks, it’s going to help really any aggro deck in red, definitely a low curve RUG deck, off the top of my head.

Goblin Tinkerer is very similar to Gorilla Shaman out of Alliances, also referred to as Mox monkey, as he is a 1/1 for R that blows up non-creature artifacts for XX1 mana (X=artifacts CC) , but doesn’t tap to activate the ability and can’t hit creatures. Goblin Tinkerer may have to tap, but can blow up Moxen just as easy and also destroy other artifacts for much less mana. A mere R, to be exact. My first thought on the card being thrown into the mix was that it can blow up Factory’s and Moxen no problem and trade with Su-Chis. Blowing up Su-Chis and Factory’s is possibly a little more relevant to Swedish rules because those two cards are everywhere. Regardless of the ruleset, having a repetitive answer to those things is a pretty big deal. While there are many artifact removal spells in the format, there’s not a lot of, or any artifact removal on a stick that can be used multiple times. Scavenger Folk is great, but he’s a one trick pony, while the Tinkerer can sit around and get rid of Moxen, Sol Rings, Racks, Vises, and all sorts of things all day, which may help in keeping Atog decks in check as well.

I won’t go too far into the rabbit hole. I think the card will make a decent impact, especially with the possibility of other additions that may aid him in his tinkering. Scryings is one of the coolest things I’ve seen happen to Old School. I’m hoping it will not only help with some underdog strategies, but also open up new builds as I’m sure it will. I’m looking forward to both. I’ve definitely got my eye on a few Green cards that will send mono Green Stompy into overdrive.

This is the punk rock of formats and as such, we should not fear to stray from the norm. Open your mind and dive deep. Get to Tinkerin’. Busy yourself with the music and card spotlight below.

-D

 

MUSIC: Refused

refused.jpeg

I don’t think this choice could have been more suitable for the article. Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come came out in 1998 and was extremely ahead of its time. The record made a huge influential impact on many bands to come. The albums cover is a rip off of Rye Coalitions Teenage Dance Session (which is itself a rip off of Dan Terrys 1954 Teenage Dance Session) and the album’s title is an obvious nod to Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come. The record is a fuck you to the direction of punk/hardcore music at the time. There are dashes of Jazz and Techno throughout the album and every song rips. The album is so polarizing that I have never heard anything this band has done before or after (or very little anyway) which sounds bad, but is just a testament to how good this record is. The song I chose is sort of a deep cut called Tannhäuser / Derivè. It’s a great example of the strange things they were doing on the album and the lyrics are very fitting for the post. My favorite tune on the record is Deadly Rhythm, which I highly suggest you check out as well. Song below.

 

CARD: Quirion Ranger 

RANGER

Not an Old School card spotlight. Not yet anyway. As I mentioned in the post, I have my eye on some possible Scrying’s green cards for my mono G Stompy deck and this is probably at the top of the list. This card’s ability is also pretty versatile and I’m sure it can be used in a variety of ways, but I’m thinking combat tricks and playing under Winter Orb. It can also be used to untap one of my favorite green creatures, Spectral Bears, if needed. I love Spectral Bears for some reason and it’s possible that they too will be available in Scryings. 

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