Rereading Centurion, Issue #4: 1995 Swedish Nationals

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This cover image, like most used by Centurion, is taken from Mutant Chronicles/Doomtrooper. Probably because of the editor’s connections to Target Games. The magazine was always more about Magic than any other game.

Oh, we should have been there. We should all have been there, at the 1995 Swedish Nationals, slinging dual lands and Demonic Tutors in Type 2 for the first and only time. That tournament is the subject of a couple of long articles in Centurion issue #4, the first Magic one, written by the recent staff member and eventual champion Dan Hörning. The format was Revised, Fourth Edition, The Dark and Fallen Empires, with a Type 1-ish restricted list, including Channel, Mind Twist, Balance, and Fork, but not Strip Mine. Hörning played the following deck:

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Interesting things of note:

  •  It plays Orgg. Orgg is awesome.
  •  It runs a second copy of Jayemdae Tome in the sideboard “to combat the discard decks”. (Jayemdae Tome was popular at the tournament. “Some even ran three!”)
  •  “Sometimes, my deck feels like a zoo”, writes Hörning, referring to his apes and bears. What we call Lestree Zoo appears to be referred to in Sweden as Serendib decks at this time.

An aggressive R/G deck with a light black splash, built around Channel/Fireball and Blood Moon, to punish all the greedy decks. And boy, were there greed. Think about the mana bases possible in the format. The only fixing available are the original dual lands, Birds of Paradise, and Land Tax. Nothing else is close to playable. There’s also unrestricted Strip Mine and Mishra’s Factory. Strip Mine is not mentioned even once in the article, though, except that the runner-up in the finals, Leon Lindbäck of PT1 fame, played one copy. This is his deck:

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Yeah, zero basic lands turned out not to be very good against Blood Moon in the finals. I’m no stranger to playing one color too many, but splashing green for Regrowth and Sylvan Library in a format like this is too close to madness even for my taste. Something UW with a small black splash for tutor and Mind Twist seems feasible, though. Maybe with 29 mana sources, 2 Strip Mines, Sol Ring, a couple of Fellwar Stones, and 0 Mishras, a mana base could offer 14 blue, 14 white and 8 black while sporting 6 of each basic. That is bad, but not horrible. And the power is there: card drawing, restricted cards, the cheap answers we all love.

But what else is there? My first instinct, in a format with horrible manafixing and unrestricted Strip Mine and Black Vise, is to play some mono-colored aggro deck. The cards are just so bad, however. Going mono-red, you have to play goblins, and beyond Lightning Bolt and Goblin Grenade, you’d have to go to Fireball for burn. What’s worse, the deck can never handle a Circle of Protection outside of Disk, a card you wouldn’t even want. Mono-blue has Counterspell, Control Magic, Serendib Efreet and Mana Vaults to accelerate out Air Elementals and Mahamoti Djinns, but the rest of the creatures all suck and there’s no cheap removal, nor enough good card draw and counterspells to play draw-go reliably. Mono-green has Grizzly Bear leading their creature suite, as Hörning’s deck shows. Mono-black has Hymn, Knights and Erg Raiders and Hypnotics, Dark Ritual, Sengir and Disks, but no Juzam, no Su-Chi, no Sinkhole or Necro. The power just isn’t there, you just have a bunch of small-to-mid sized creatures backed up by Hymns. Not the worst deck by any means, probably better than most multi-colored decks with their faulty mana bases, but not where you want to be. White Weenie is probably the most promising. You have synergy between Strip Mine, Black Vise, Armageddon and an aggressive plan, you have good removal and okay creatures between Savannah Lions, Icatian Javelineers, Knights and Serras. You’d lose to Wrath of God but that’s WW life.

Maybe GW is the best. All the good removal, Birds of Paradise, Land Tax, Sylvan; you can’t kickstart the Land Tax, but running both Strip Mine and Armageddon should help. There’s no Erhnam, but there’s Serra, as well as splashing black for a couple of Derelors in addition to Demonic and Mind Twist. That actually doesn’t sound halfway bad.

Anyway. The tournament seemed to be dominated by BW control decks with Hymns, Serras, Sengirs and removal; multi-colored aggro decks, presumably with Serendibs, Sedge Trolls, Kird Apes and the like; and some white weenie decks. Including one of the semifinalists, as well as one player in the stage of 16, “Olle Rydå, a small kid I remembered from [Gothenburg game convention] GothCon”. Some things never change.

But some things do: the tournament was run as 35 groups of 4, where every winner and the 13 best runner-ups advanced to a second group stage of 12 groups. After that it was, for some reason, cut to top 16. Pre-sideboarding (boarding for game 1) might have been allowed, or just practiced anyway.

Interesting cards seen throughout the tournament: Twiddle, Divine Transformation, Disintegrate, something white with banding (Benalish Hero?), Elvish Riders.

Also, there is a detailed play-by-play of the finals, including one game where a turn-2 Blood Moon forces a concession. Probably decipherable even for those who don’t know Swedish:

But what more is covered in this issue? An article covering every deck archetype, featuring goblin decks with Goblin Shrines and Goblin Caves (“the non-blast one”, meaning not using Chain Lightnings and more burn), classic Stasis decks with Time Elementals or Obelisks of Undoing, but otherwise mostly sane concepts. A guide to building R/G aggro with 59 commons and an uncommon (guess which). A look at the fresh Ice Age set, highlighting Orcish Lumberjack, pain lands, and cantrips (but not Brainstorm), while not being as high on Jester’s Cap than everybody else. Rules for multiplayer games and tournament play. A list of useful websites (this is 1995, remember), including newsgroups and the official Magic site at http://www.itis.com/deckmaster/magic. And, finally, a price guide. Preceded by a still very useful guide of print runs from the available sets (Alpha through The Dark, at which point print run numbers cease to be public, as far as I know). Oh, but the prices. The prices. (Quoted numbers are in SEK, Swedish kronor, which currently are about 9 to the dollar, 10 to the euro; the exact numbers in 1995 I don’t know). Jester’s Cap at 150, which isn’t that surprising for the chase card of a new set, but also Pentagram of the Ages at 100. Revised Jandor’s Ring at 30-70. Fourth Edition Blue Mana Battery at 40-70. Dual lands at 80-150, Bazaar at 200-270, Tabernacle at 270-350. The power wasn’t insanely cheap, comparatively, at 1500-3000 for the Lotus and 1000-1500 for the moxes. Guardian Beast at the same price as Juzam, 650-900. In general, bad cards are expensive, good cards are cheap.

Man, those were the days.

We should have been there.

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7 thoughts on “Rereading Centurion, Issue #4: 1995 Swedish Nationals

  1. This is great. This was the first magazine that circulated in my playgroup. I tried to copy Leon’s deck, but I didn’t have half the cards. So much nostalgia. / noyoudont1.

    Like

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