Centurion #9, part 1

Reading this recent post on Åland’s blog made me realize I had a job to do. Just needed to stop slacking. Yes, that’s right: Rereading Centurion is back. This time with issue #9, very likely my favorite one of all. There are so many good things here, I will break up the post into two.

In the news section: a bold magic theft at a store in Stockholm. You can probably figure out what was stolen, even though the text is in Swedish. All in beta.

The price for this? 30 grand. In Swedish kronor, that is. So let’s call it 3000 USD. Oh, the days of 1996 …

Then a tournament report from the annual gaming convention LinCon. Summer of 1996 wasn’t the most exciting time for Type 2, as it was all about Necropotence, therefore I won’t do any deep dives here. I was actually attending the event even though I wasn’t qualified for Nationals (and didn’t do so until 1999, I think). Of more interest is probably the type 1 tournament, the Swedish Nationals in the format. The author, Dan Hörning, expresses how he prefers the format to that of Type 2 because of the greater deck variety, because only really necro, white weenie, erhnamgeddon or bad decks were being played. 90 people showed up to the open event. First prize is a Black Lotus, “which isn’t bad”. Hörning played a bolt deck with three moxes, since he had sold a few and thought they were slightly overrated. He won the group stage, but then lost to The Deck in the round of … 16? Unclear. Winner was Thomas Andersson with a Handleman deck, a slow Juzam/Necro deck that’s for some reason supposed to be good against The Deck. We’ll return to that later. Too little Type 1 content here for my taste, instead lots and lots on the Type 2 Nationals including a lengthy report by the winner, Leon Lindbäck of PT1 fame. He played WW splashing blue for Sleight of Mind, beating lots of Necro decks on the way to the win. As usual, there are no decklists of any kind here. Very sad. Get your shit together, Centurion, we demand those lists!

There was a tournament in “Highlander type 1”, apparently with no changes to the B&R list, so the format became all about Library, because, “one strip mine is not enough to handle the threat of the Library”. Yeah, we all know how that goes. More interesting is perhaps the 2-player tournament in type 1, where 2-player teams face off with unclear rules. This is the only written remains of the NecroHell deck, “constructed by Adam Maysonet and improved by us and Olle Råde”, hinted that “I can’t describe it here but will return to the topic in a later issue”, which never happened. All I know is that it is a combo deck involving Necro and then Fastbond. Apparently especially good in the team format, as combo decks usually are (combo synergies between the decks, and/or one deck providing disruption to clear the way for the other one’s combo).

Also, don’t miss this photograph of a youthful Jeff Menges. :)

And you thought this was good? We’re just getting started. Next up is PT3, aka PT Columbus, the ALICE PT. The best deck, of course, is the RG monster deck. Why? Well, it runs 24 creatures, very little burn and very little card draw and other stuff. Usually, such a deck loses to UW and Necro, but here, “there is no Ivory Tower or Zuran Orb to gain life” (spoiler: Zuran Orb is in Ice Age and unrestricted) and no Disk or Wrath to clear the board, which is true and a very real feature of the ALICE format. Therefore, UW and Necro are much worse than usual, whereas RG is almost as good as in Type 2. There is a white weenie deck that seems almost as good, writes Thomas Andersson in the article, but of course we don’t get a list of that.

So most of the Swedish players were on the RG list. However, the Stockholm crew arrived late and missed the tournament due to flight issues, so all hope was on some Gothenburg players: Martin Jordö, Tapani Utriainen and Olle Råde. The only one of them making the t64 cut (out of about 150) to Day 2 was Olle Råde with a 4-2 record. Going 6-1 on Day 2, that was enough for top 4. (Very unclear why there was a cut to top 4, or even if this is correct. I seem to recall from other sources that it is not.) As that entailed at least $7000, Olle was now “a rich man” (oh, being a kid in the 90s), but with the potential to win more. And he first beat Peter Radonic on a RGW land destruction deck, whom he had already beaten twice in the tournament. Olle lost g1 due to drawing only one land, but then taking the next three.

Time for the finals. The highlight of which is Olle locking out Sean Fleishman with Stormbind against his Ivory Gargoyle. A classic matchup.

Olle is a happy man, as we can see:

And this is his deck:

I can also prove that Olle still plays the same format occansionally.

Oh, now. Over to Schools of Magic. Few articles have influenced my own understanding of the game as much. It’s a collection of Type 1 decks, outlining different deckbuilding paradigms and theories about the game, and I remember printing out a version of the real document from the internet a while after reading this. By Rob Hahn, not a great player but one of the early theorists. Nowadays, all that’s really known is the first example, Brian Weissman’s The Deck.

The Kim School is a very weird deck. Like The Deck with Jade Statue and Lightning Bolts instead of books. Sure, a pile of good cards, but very unfocused. I could write an article about each of these decks, probably, like the number of Strip Mines, but I’m not going too deep here. It’s theory is based around flexibility, being able to be both offensive and defensive, and since The Deck doesn’t play Mishra’s Factories at this point, there’s certainly some kind of niche for Kim to fill.

The Handelman school is more different. Built around something labelled “the offensive overkill theory”, the plan is to trade threats for answers until something sticks and you win. Therefore, no Dark Rituals to destroy the card economy, and a splash for 4 Mana Drains to handle global answers like Moat or The Abyss. An ambitious mana base, to be sure. Being able to sideboard into a Necropotence deck is probably why this list is fine against The Deck.

Next up is the Chang school. No, it’s not about ripping off vulnerable people, posting insane videos or generally employing the shadiest business practices in the already totally unregulated and frequently unethical Magic finance world. Created by a player named Warren Chang, it’s quite close to an Old School UR Burn deck, but with Serendibs and Flying Men replaced by Jade Statues and Black Vises. The theory is to play cards which your opponent can’t ignore and have to sideboard against, like Black Vise and Blood Moon, keeping the initiative. Of notes are the sideboarded Fountain of Youth for the mirror, actually not a horrible idea.

And finally, O’Brien school. Pure land destruction with Nether Voids. The example given here isn’t the original one but one the article’s author prefers. Of note is no Ice Age or Homelands cards, so it is legal in modern-day EC/PAC. One note says that Alliances (just released in time of writing) will change things in Gorilla Shaman and Pillage. You could say the former did affect Type 1, yes …

And there, we take a break. Next time: Alliances, the origins of Magic in Stockholm, Finnish Turbo-Stasis, and more.

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