A case for budget oldschool

Old school’s entry barrier is getting ugly in 2021, prices tripled since 2018 and people who are in their 30s and 40s fulfill their affluent dreams of getting long Moxen et al. as an alternative asset to counter inflation. But besides the physical joy of playing 500€ or 1000€ bills of card board there is some oddness creeping in, when you recognize that the format of your youth has become a bitcoinish bazaar. Especially when playing against old school neophytes who deem proxies unacceptable and proudly play their budget decks, only to notoriously lose against powered decks, so I get the impression to have an unfair advantage.

And while the SWE ABU4K hall of fame is limited and beyond reach even for the affluent middle agers, who prefer to buy houses for those sums, even the hobby ATL gates are getting heavier to crack these days. In early 2021 any decently ATL powered deck version including a handful of Duals starts with a solid 5.000 budget.

Maybe reflecting on a budget sub-format might be a strategy to invite interested players who ‚don’t wanna sell thy organs“ for access to the game. Indeed I read about ideas to make old school accessible on a fair basis: 7point singeleton or „unrestricted only“ are interesting options.  

But instead of allocating cards to points or banning the unrestricted I’d like to introduce a third option: oldschool100: an ATL based format limited to cards whose cheapest old card frame version is double-digit in value, i.e. accessible below 100 euros on a platform. So instead of pimping up the deck with older version or black borders, builders are biased to prefer the budget version reprints for additional brewing space.

I think this could yield an interesting new meta and would like to test this, so if you are curious just join us on https://discord.gg/DDU9WZk4 and let’s organize some webcam games 🙂

What deck would you play? Mono black, mono red sligh and white weenie are obvious choices, but in that meta I guess we mightt also suddenly have a look at Tier 3 tribal themes like gobo festival and merfolk attack.

The personal choice for our oldschool100 initiation are FleaCircus vs. JuggAtog.

FleaCircus derives from a brewing session with my 10 year old son who intelligently refuses to touch my powered deck, saying he doesn’t feel at ease handling cards that cost hundreds or thousand of euros, and asked me to co-build a fast UG budget deck. We decided to run the maximum flyers on steroids and 1/1s for Pendelhaven and imitate the UG typical infect archetype by going berserk after pumping everybody up with growth and unstable mutation. My son admires Flying Men, and I always wanted to bring my two Berserk into action, so FleaCircus was born.

Jugg-Atog is just what it is: a RedMud machine head going full throttle with ManaVault. Atog takes care of the residues. Old Shivan, Granite Gargoyle are pure nostalgic flavor choices over the usual Ball Lighting, and Mechanics back-up the Atog Artifact utility strategy for the vault and late black vise.

Happy for feedback and deck pics of your oldschool100 🙂

Decktalk „Deadguy Ale“

Most of us have vivid memories of their first booster pack, or mostly starter pack in 1994, and what was revealed sometimes tied us for a color or theme forever. I do remember my French exchange student who not only made me listen to Nirvana for the first time, but showed me his UR Deck and with his magical enthusiasm convinced me to buy into the game. Off we went to the local game store and exchanged pocket money for a starter and three boosters. Wow, was I fascinated by the Shivan Dragon that roared out of the pack, and kind of frowned upon the immediate urge to trade with Vincent who absolutely wanted my Serendib Efreet. He got it, and I was guided to build my first deck. The limited card pool held some WB build for me, and I remember how cool that Hypnotic Specter was, who stole cards from my opponent before getting bolted. And Serra Angel. Sure she looked kind of queer and cheesy to a 13 year old boy, but she had vigilance (a term to be invented later) and blocked that nasty looking Efreet for good. Here it was: a first love for Black and White, that was crushed very soon: too hard to play for all that double colored mana and no clue about a solid mana base. I went on with my quest to build solid Type 1.5 decks, started to collect Duals for their weird look, learned that Serendib and Sedge Troll do have an edge, and even spotted a real Juzam Djinn in a folder. The owner asked for 80DM at that time, about 60USD in 1995 (or about 100USD adjusted for inflation in 2021). It would have been to brash to buy it for that small pocket money I had. 

In Summer 1996 I quit MTG for other adolescent adventures, but I kept my cards, all of them, neatly packed in a folder and a box, that I rediscovered in 2011, thoroughly fascinated again. In early 2018 my old friends from school, now all settled men, delved into old school magic, and hey: even when our start was Revised or Foreign unlimited edition and our P9 are mostly from IE and CE, we’re deep in love with the format and organized the (EC rules) Miracle Worker cup in Frankfurt/Germany when live magic was possible.

Still today I do love the WB color combo that in the 2000s years got dubbed Deadguy Ale, apparently. I don’t know who coined the term, and if someone out there has some anecdote for me I’d be most grateful to read it. WB for me ist a perfect combination of the best disruption and removal that Old School can offer. And some version of Deadguy Ale, I learned, is known in every format, from Old School, to Legacy, to Modern, to Premodern. 

It surly rocks and delivers as a sturdy Midrange deck, with #sinkhole #hymntotourach and #hypnoticspecter as disruptive forces, #disenchant #swordstoplowshares as sweet removal and some #sengirvampire #underworlddreams and #su-chi beef for your opponent to chew. 

Add the notorious #stripmine and #mishra’sfactory playsets and off we go. 

The only weak point to my perception is what most mid-range decks lack: speed (only delivered through Dark Ritual) – do you guys see or experience other weaknesses? 

The sideboard – besides the CoPs and Divine Offerings and Terror – holds some surprise action in form of #disruptingscepter #kismet and #icymanipulator that I am eager to test against The Deck.

Thank you for reading and I am most open for any feedback, notably: who played some sort of Deadguy Ale and wants to share his thoughts?

Besides Juzam Djinn – obviously – what do you guys think are good options and add-ons for your preferred #deadguyalemtg ?

Tourney Report: the 4th Miracle Worker Cup

Only 8 players defied the hot weather and starting holiday season and gathered for the 4th edition of Miracle Worker Cup, but the atmosphere was all the better.

Deckwise there were two distinct camps: the straight forward no-proxies mono colored aggro decks, and the super weird multi color combo-or-die experiments.

No wonder it was one of the 2 mono white weenies that went straight to the finals, only to meet its nemesis in shape of an all new atog version, dubbed orc-atog. But first things first.

My first match was a mirror: as I had never ever played mono white armies in tourney and needed a deck that would harmonize with the beer count I opted for a brew that featured Lions, Javelineers, Knights, Orders and Thunder Spirits, assisted by the all potent white removal suite.

Clashing with Manuels White Weenie proved to be a tough match, winning the first game thanks to my Armageddon and losing the second due to his Serra Angels, I finally won and would say the Javelieers and Aeolipiles made all the difference.

Getting to match-up number 2: Dominik came up with a mono red budget Atog deck we didn’t see in the local community so far: besides the usual suspects Atog, Ankh, Copper Tablet and Black Vise he had playsets of Meek Stones that stopped my Knights on Crusade as well as Orcish Mechanics who would join the Atogs eating artifacts to shoot 2 damage. I never would have thought that a White Weenie might suffer that much from 1st round Black Vise, and every threat I dropped was either burned with Bolts, shaken by Earthquake or shot by the Mechanic. 0-2 it was.

Round number 3 was a combo-deck for a change, and one that won the Most Creative Deck award this time: Chris came up with an eccentric Twiddle Vault brew that dropped Howling Mines, searched for his Twiddle and together with Time Vault would go for extra turns thanks to Regrowth and 3 Recalls, to drop so much Mana that a big Fireball does the thing. Whereas his combo match-ups gave him enough time to assemble some extra turns, the match-up against my White Armies was hopeless: overrun in no time. 2-0

In my last Swiss round I had the honor to meet with Tobstar – the other candidate for Most Creative Deck: he built a whacky three color singleton deck that is beyond strategy and plan, assembling everything that goes. Although featuring some Flyers and all removal that is possible he had no chance against the White Armies, but we definitely had the most suspense when he was on 1 life point and managed to top-deck handle all my threats for 10 rounds, until I dropped my beloved Javelineer and his Demonic Tutor wouldn’t find an answer in all his remaining cards.

And then after 5 hours of Old School Magic the re-match in the Final against the Orc-Atog proved what was all too clear: in the future White Armies will need Repentant Black Smith instead of White Knights to survive the match-up. Dominik from Bamberg took home the 4th Miracle Worker trophy and showed us that Budget Old School can dominate even a fully powered proxy environment and unpowered Atog is definitely worth a try; congrats mate!

Other decks to mention:

The 3rd place was Moritz who brought his beloved Millstone deck. Starting with Ivory Towers to defy early aggression, once he would assemble his Field of Dreams – Millstone lock his adversaries notoriously conceded. A wise decision as it can be quite frustrating to see all your threats and your library steadily milled away.

Number 4 in Swiss standings was Sebastian, who came up with a three color Zoo deck that flooded the board with Apes, Pixies and Lions before burning his opponent. Pimped by Land Tax, Sylvan Library and Bazaar Sebastian proved that you can go without Blue Power and still have a blast.

Last but not least there was Axel who brewed a Candelabra High Tide Fireball combo deck, going for crazy Time Twister turns and assembling so much mana that once he managed to cast a 45 damage Fireball. Yeah, that’s what we love about Old School Magic.

Cheers and stay tuned for the next Miracle Worker Cup in Autumn 2019.

MWC4 – the 4th Miracle Worker Cup is on the way >> 29th of June

Hey old school folks,

it is time again: announcement of the 4th Miracle Worker Cup, so come celebrate the spirit of the olde cards at our renowned Frankfurt MTG Old School tournament, hosted by oldschoolarena.com.

Stay true to the benefits of the rambling Atlantic format and enjoy the non competitive non discriminating atmosphere of friend- and companionship where crazy and creative deck builds rule the house.

Format: Atlantic Old School Sets, Rules and Ban/Restriction list apply.

Special: Proxies allowed without limits, regardless whether Revised, Italian Legends, 4th Edition, IE/CE or DIY Print-outs, original artwork recommended though.

But please: Miracle Worker Cup is about fun and innovation, so don’t just copy the latest Manolakos Deck! Be creative and courageous and brew your own original personal incarnation 🙂

Style: Swiss-system tournament, 4 rounds minimum

Fee: 2€

Trophy for the winner: one original altered The Dark Miracle Worker signed by all tournament players.

Trophy for most creative deck: one original altered Glasses of Urza.

Venue: Ginnheimer Wirtshaus

Adress: Am Ginnheimer Wäldchen 8, 60431 Frankfurt

Timing: 29th of June 2019 tournament starts at 2pm sharp. Please bring a Deckphoto on your smartphone for post-tourney documentation purposes.

Registration: until June 28 via email to jerome[at]oldschoolarena.com

About: the 4th Miracle Worker Cup is hosted by the Frankfurt Germany Old School MTG Community oldschoolarena.com and is a non-sanctioned private event for friends and fans of the 9394 MTG format.

To ensure highest quality deck builds and for inclusion purposes we go with the adage of Liga Catalunya de Old School and allow „Proxies sin Limite“.

For those who’ve got the money to buy the world (and the Power 9): Be humble, welcome the new players and fathom the chance to play in a creative and non-discriminating environment, where skills outperform wealth.

For those without significant 9394 card pool: be bold, get inspiration on Wak-Wak, but don’t just copy paste – let creativity free flow and build the deck you’ve always wanted to play.

As we favor the true and old flavor of the 9394 era of MTG we value fun and high spirits over competitiveness and discrimination in this tournament, so besides Proxies and casual table talk we don’t mind a few beers neither.

Registration is open and we’re happy to have you taking part in the 4th Miracle Worker Cup on 29 of June 2019

Tourney Report: the 3rd Miracle Worker Cup

The 3rd Miracle Worker Cup was a blast!

The first Atlantic format styled Old School tournament in Germany attracted a jolly bunch of seasoned MTG players who brought an amazing variety of creative decks rarely featured in regular matches.

With the Atlantic Old School format the tournament organizers decided to introduce the so called London mulligan rule which was great fun and adopted easily, as well as a 60 minutes match time limit – which was still not enough time for many flavor matches 😉

My personal deck choice for this afternoon was an EeryDiscoEve:

Taking the the reanimate theme even further I opted for mighty Nevinyrrals Disk in order to clean the board for my recurrent All Hallows Eve party, which proved to be amazing. Disk is one of the most notorious board cleaners, and who needs Sedge Trolls when he can reanimate Nicol Bolas? I went for 14 creatures, and had so much fun with Deep Spawn that I’d include a fourth one in future.

My first match (2-1) was against Tobstar who took the Mana Burn rule as deck theme and built his Surge’n’Destroy deck:

Surge’n’Destroy is built around the symptomatic Power Surge which forces you to use your mana every turn or take damage for every untapped land. Candelabra of Tawnos helped him to attack and pump his Mishra’s Factory while an early game Blood Moon transformed the boards into a Mountain landscape and blocked many players outright.

My second match (1-1 time out) was against Phil who really managed to build a potent TitaniasLock deck:

Phils deck taught me how mighty Icy Manipulator is. 4 Icy + 4 Relic Barriers are a nuisance, I can tell you. The classic Winter Orb completed the lock, and his card advantage thru Howling Mine (which I wouldn’t have thanks to his Relic Barrier) and Sylvan Library made me sit still until his finisher Titanias song came in for the 20 life points kill. Luckily enough I shipped in the second game with a risky Eve play just in time.

The last two matches were against two varieties of the prevalent Workshop Aggro theme.

While Sebastian (1-1 time out) built a BlueWhiteBrown version with white Power, Juggernaut, Triskelion, Tetravus and Su-Chi,

…Mathias (0-2) chose a mostly brown version with 7 blue spells and a playset of Icy Manipulator instead of Juggernaut:


And the winner of the 3rd Miracle Worker Cup was… Leif who brought his signature FantasyZoo deck and just simply smashed them all:

The mix of fast, efficient creatures like Savannah Lions, Su-Chi, Serendib Efreets and Serra Angel with white removal, blue power and the ultimate red burn suite proved overwhelming in todays Meta.


The most creative deck award was a tight decision between Jasper and Axel.

Jaspers NayaLegendary was a most impressive combo deck running bizarre Legends folks such as Stangg and Hazezon Tamar, who favorably interact with Gauntlet of Might and Karakas,

…while Axel made his youth dream come true to build a dedicated Merfolk deck. And his Atlantis themed deck was not only true to the format name and purely Tribal, but also fit for tourney: many opponents struggled hard against this blue weenie approach.

In the end the Miracle Worker trophy for the best deck after 4 rounds of Swiss went to Leif, and the Glasses of Urza trophy for most creative build went to Axel. Congratulations guys, thanks to everybody who participated in this tourney and stay tuned for 4th Miracle Worker Cup in June!