I’m not really sure there’s any merit to me doing a year in review here. Everything I’ve done, I’ve already written about, and a retrospective would probably be mostly depressing or boring or both. Maybe I will say something about Scryings soon, and maybe not. However, in the meantime, I can give you a review of a year you might not have followed as closely as mine: a guest post by Will Magrann, who in my opinion is the 2019 Old School Player of the Year on the back of a streak of impressive finishes, mostly the ones beginning and concluding the year. Enjoy! /Svante out
2019 Year in Review
As far as Old School Magic is concerned, 2019 was a hell of a year. After reading Christian Reinhard’s recap and listening to Mase and Mano on ATC I was inspired to do a year in review of the Old School events that I attended.
Tournament 1: Urza’s Chalice
2019 started off with the Urza’s Chalice event in January. For the uninitiated, this was a private event in the Bay Area which was attended by a lot of wonderful people and unsurprisingly ended up being lots of fun and worked out pretty well for me. In hindsight, things almost went together too well for me as I had a magnificent time spent with amazing people, and somehow managed to win the tournament despite my best efforts. No matter what happens in 2020 or any other year for that matter, I will have Urza’s Chalice to drink out of whenever I’m feeling especially thirsty. Spoiler alert, that cup is WELL traveled, having gone to Gothenburg, Roanoke, New York, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, and last but certainly not least, Philadelphia.
The setup was amazing, the venue was picturesque, and the event was gas. I played Workshops and found myself on an insane heater. Not only did I manage to go 7-0, but I also got my Chaos Orb marksmanship patch by going 50/50, then used a fire poker to open up my graded Urza’s Chalice and had an absolute ball in the process.
All credit for this deck goes to Martin Berlin, if it weren’t for his finish at the Lighthouse Tournament at Fishliver in 2018 I certainly would not have played it.
Tournament 2: Wizards Tournament 2
n00bcon was one of the most pleasant surprises that I could have possibly asked for. In 2018, I watched the n00bcon stream and fantasized about how cool it would be to get there someday without a hope in the world that I would actually end up flying to Sweden to attend, which I somehow did thanks to Dave Firth Bard. The trip was fantastic. I realize that I will probably say this with every tournament that I touch on, and if that annoys you then fuck off because 2019 was the top of the mountain for me in terms of Magic. I had an amazing time and did my absolute best to make the best of every event that I could, especially n00bcon.
The trip started out with Mano and I flying together to Copenhagen and battling it out on the train to Gothenburg to start out Wizards Tournament 2. I managed to sneak my way to a victory with a siq topdeck which I of course do not remember right now, I mostly just remember that the game was insanely close and then we got off the train, ran to a cab and made it to WT2 just in time for round 2. Pictures were forbidden, but I had a great time piloting Mano’s Icy Venom deck which even had the 1993 tech of playing a Swamp because you want another mana source but only own so many Islands. This tournament was more of an appetizer for the weekend ahead, but it was a delicious one at that. From WT2, I mostly remember that I got to put a ton of faces to names and had fun playing Magic casually, something I have almost never experienced.
This may be my favorite deck that I played all year. There’s nothing quite like having a pair of Sol Rings and 6 Icy Manipulators in a 41 card deck.
Tournament 3: n00bcon 11
As you can probably gather from the extensive ATC content put out, Svante, Mano and I all put our heads together to build an Atog monstrosity which got us 2nd, 3rd, and 14th place at n00bcon 11. I suck and thus got 14th thanks to Jordan Boyle and Alban Latuer being monsters, but in my match against Jhovalking I got to achieve the dream start against Turn 1 Library, the pictures shows my Turn 2 (after Time Walking on the first turn).
I had a great time at n00bcon despite starting off 1-2 and probably wouldn’t have anchored the US in their Ryder Cup victory over the silly Brits if I had made Top8, so you win some and lose some. The event finished at 6:00 AM and then we went home and slept for a few short hours before waking again for more Magic.
Here’s my deck as I had it before leaving for Sweden and borrowing a bunch of Swedish legal cards. Crazy to think that this is the culmination of 3+ months of collaboration, but the only regret I have is not mentioning to Mano that he should Shatter the Book if given the chance.
Tournament 4: Huvudturneringen
The next day we had breakfast at the house which was the bomb.com and then we went out to hang with Kalle at Huvudturneringen (which I can somehow spell correctly sans accents now). [Editor’s note: There actually are no umlauts or accents in that word.] We stopped at the liquor store, got booze, easter candy and then headed over to the event. I hadn’t met Kalle yet and had just heard rumors, but his event certainly lived up to the hype as “The Main Tournament”. It was Atlantic Rules and I played a Workshop deck, going 4-1 with a loss to Constantine and his Twiddlevault deck. We followed up the event with the Gordon Andersson experience aka karaoke. To this day I can’t help but hum along to Tainted Love whenever it comes on the radio, I wonder why…
Again, a Martin Berlin special, this time just with 1 Strip instead of 4. Jury is still out on which world Shops is better in but regardless, it’s damn good in both.
Tournament 5: Mobstercon
Next up for me was Mobstercon in May. Team Unified was a ton of fun. My team was Mark Hornung, Svante Landgraf, and myself. We decided on Arabian Aggro, Mono Black Distress, and The Deck.
Sorry for the Abyss proxy, I only owned 2 up until a week ago and took my Deck pic before Svante lent me the 3rd Abyss.
If I’m lying, I’d tell you that Svante let us down by not doing better by playing The Deck against Mono Black Rack all day. But if I’m being honest, we were a team and won or lost together, not as individuals. [Editor’s note: Love you too buddy!] The tournament was a lot of fun, the idea of playing with a team was fun, and I think we would have done better if the tournament were run again. At least I got my first and only spice prize of the year at this event!
Tournament 6: SCG Con
Less than a week later, I met DFB in DC and we headed to Roanoke for SCG Con and what was described to us as all you can eat Sushi, but turned out to just be all you could tolerate. I spent my weekend in Roanoke piloting Workshops to good results, but Jaco proved to be my Achilles’ heel. He whooped my ass bad at the Magical Hacks side event despite me Mind Twisting him for 15? cards in the 3 games we played. He won 3-0 so ummm yeah. I got 2nd at the Hacks event, 4th at the main event, and then made Top 4 at the Team Trios event. My big takeaway is that 20 rounds of Old School with the same deck is too much for one man to bear over the span of 4 days.
Props to the SCG Camera guy for the professional deck photo and funny to look back and see how many cards I changed over from Japanese to English just from January to June of 2019.
Tournament 7: NYSE VI
In July I attended NYSE VI and the Old School side event. Part of my time this summer after playing and getting sick of Shops was spent messing around with The Deq. I had fun and I learned a lot. I think that if you were to pick one Old School deck to play in the hopes of maximizing the number of interesting, challenging decisions on a per game basis, The Deck is a pretty strong choice.
I went 4-2 in the side event with losses to Rich Shay and John Grudzina. I think both losses were pretty close with the most noteworthy of which was when I Mind Twisted Rich for hand only for him to reveal 2 Psychic Purges which dealt me lethal. I’m glad Rich snapped a picture before I finished scooping up my cards, his playmat might be the funniest part of it all.
Tournament 8: Old School Player’s Ball
For the second straight year I was able to travel to Chicago in August for the Old School Player’s Ball. In 2018 I got 2nd on breakers playing Atog and I felt driven to win the event at any cost. I considered playing Workshops, but given my burnout from SCG Con, I opted for The Deq. My finish left something to be desired at 5-3 and I gained a bit more respect for EC rules and the power of leaning into 4 Strips rather than leaning away from them. In the process I also learned why many people don’t play The Deck despite it’s raw power. Even when you win an absolute landslide, the match is going to take 30 minutes at a minimum because you want to play around Fork on your lethal Fireball. After OSPB I promised myself that at least for the rest of 2019 I would put The Deck down so that I could maximize the amount of time that I got to spend catching up with friends rather than being chained to my seat all day.
In the last round of the event my rather inebriated opponent fell asleep mid-match as I buried him in card advantage. Sometimes you hit the books and sometimes they hit you I guess.
Tournament 9: Lobstercon
September saw me fly up to Boston, spend some time with DFB, his wife and daughter, while also attending Lobstercon. I chose to play Dibatog because for whatever reason I wrote off Serendib Efreet early in my year of Atog.
The event started off unceremoniously for me with a weird match against Andrew Walker where I accepted a concession despite losing which still leaves a funny taste in my mouth to this day. I rattled off some victories, lost to Jimmy Cooney in a “trainwreck in slow motion” match and then won some more matches including my “signature” Wheel of Fortune topdeck where I surprised myself by yelling, “AND THAT’S WHY THEY CALL ME WHEEL MAGRANN” (nobody had ever called me ‘Wheel’ prior to that moment, but “fuck it”). I ended up at 6th in the final standings and received a prize for that, but the true prizes that I received were an Asterisk award from DFB and the valuable lesson that I shouldn’t accept wins that I didn’t actually earn.
Tournament 10: Eternal Weekend
Finally, I headed out to Pittsburgh for Eternal Weekend with my girlfriend, Veronica. I knew that this would be the end of my 2019 journey and I wanted to make it count. I had a conversation with Aaron West leading up to the event where I deliberated between Dibatog and Shops. Both decks had treated me well, but I couldn’t make up my mind until Aaron asked me which would be more fulfilling to win with. The answer was simple; I had already won with Shops, but Atog had not yet taken me all the way to the promised land.
On Saturday after a quick trip to the Strip to feast off polish food, Veronica headed home and I spent the better part of the evening before EW hanging out with Speds, whooping Jamie Parke’s ass. I think I was pretty close to audibling Parke off of Storm Seeker but ultimately he stayed with it and managed to 6-2 despite going 0-15? against me with the deck. I came back to the Beasts house and saw Dom get possessed by Shaman Ben causing him to awaken from a deep sleep, scream like bloody murder and then fall back asleep. Prior to this, Ben, Conor, and Kevin had shown me the “murder basement” and reassured me that I wasn’t going to get murdered in my sleep. Needless to say, I didn’t get the greatest night’s sleep.
I woke up the morning of EC at EW feeling better than I thought I would because of daylight saving’s time. We headed to the event and things started falling into place. In Round 2, Mark Brothers had me dead to rights only to run out of time on Turn 5 of turns after putting me to 1 and then fall to me in Orb flips. Later in the day I became clairvoyant, calling a Wheel of Fortune topdeck when facing down lethal. In the final round I played against my good friend, Paul Da Silver with both of us undefeated and managed again to have a moment of clairvoyance. On turn 7 or 8 I told Paul I was Stripping his City of Brass because he was going to draw Demonic Tutor. Paul then proceeded to draw his Demonic, show it to me and pave the way for me to swing for lethal.
For my efforts I received this amazing Mirror Universe as well as a flight voucher for Winc0n in 2020 courtesy of the Fishliver crew.
I don’t know exactly what I did to deserve all of the insane variance that I got, but I am pretty happy that I transformed into Neo and managed to take down the biggest event in Old School history. Furthermore, starting and ending 2019 with big tournament wins is a lot of fun, I should do that again in 2020.