Decktalk „The Rodeo Deck“

How can you balance aggressiveness and responsiveness, vehemence in killing and creativity in staying alive? How is a deck possible that is non-linear enough to be full of forward options and defensive answers?

Finding answers to these questions led to building the „Rodeo“ deck: a White & Green body that is strengthened with artifacts and a basic red burn suite – and optionally refined with black and blue power splashes.

At its very core „Rodeo“ works as White Green red mid-range deck, where you hold fast with cheap removal and build ground with a broad Mana base to bring out your midrange beaters and your opponent to his knees in the late game.

Starting with the body or core of the deck: 3 Erhnam Djinns and 3 Serra Angels form an army with a play set of mighty Su-Chi to steadily make your opponent fall. But you will have to stay alive until that army builds.

We have Sylvan Library and the tome for tuning your draw step and indispensable white removal to keep early threats at bay.

A broad mix from Duals, Fellwar Stones, Moxen and Lotus helps to develop your mana base while red burn spells harmonize the balance between defense and offense.

In recent play testing this deck earned its name „Rodeo“ for holding fast while White Weenies and Black threats flooded the early board. Red burn, white power suit and Su-Chi made those aggro horses lame and tired, and even  a ratio of 5 to 28 life points had been reversed to a late game win after Rodeo took its Angels out for a fast ride home.

Variations: For those who are not (fully) powered: You can always replace Moxen with lands, and Lotus with Mana Vault. This deck also perfectly works as a 4 color variant without the blue splash by replacing Ancestral Recall and Time Walk with another Lightning Bolt and another Swords to Plowshares. Also: for the Mana Curve it could make sense to replace 2 Fellwar Stones with Birds of Paradise.

 

 

 

 

Luck, Skill and the Cards

 

Old School Magic is not just about the cards as we elaborated in our recent post „Posh vs. Budget“, and winning any MTG tournament is always the result of the right mix between luck, skill – and the appropriate cards in your deck.

Thus although Old School might have an entry barrier due to small supply of super rare, .ie. super expensive old cards, it is far from guaranteed that you’ll automatically end in the Top 4 only because you’re the rich pimp with all available Power cards stacked together in a deck you’ve copied from the latest Noobcon list.

Actually yesterdays local Old School trial tournament for the Magic Bazar Eternal Weekend showed quite surprising  results, that we’ll share with you today to make our point clear.

Who would have believed that a neat and clean powerless White Weenie would catch the trophy in an Old School tourney? Sure enough the navigator of this Weenie Deck is an apt MTG player who knows the rules of the game from the heart, but apparently he also knew all the tricks of his army of lil‘ creatures and how to navigate his budget deck through the mists of Powered Decks and Black brews. According to the winner it was the double main decked Land Tax that made all the difference, together with that unstoppable flood of one and two drops under Crusade.

Black indeed. Swamps quickly become the dominant land drop in Old School when Fallen Empires is included: Hymn to Tourach simply rocks the house, and we saw quite a few 1st round Hymns cast with help of Dark Ritual or Mox Jet.

The 2nd place was conquered by a CermakAttack version that successfully played 4 Psychic Purge in Sideboard to give the Black breed appropriate fodder: a Hypnotic, Hymn or Mind Twist drawing Psychic Purge resulted in 5 damage right in the face. Together with 1st round Lions and 2nd round Efreets and Psionic Blast as finisher this tournament classic was a success.

The rest of the Top 8 list was dominated by 5 Black players: ranging from brutal MachineHeads on 3rd and 4th place, a brilliant take on JuzamNetherVoid on 5th, to extreme DiscardRack on 6th and UB Tempo on 7th.

Two of the Top 8 Decks:

Winner: White Weenie

3rd place: Black red MachineHead

 

Decktalk „Green Machine Head“

Attempting a green Deck in Old School will often yield a smile from more seasoned players. In the Top Tiered league of UWR Skies, Juzam Dreams, The Deck and the like Green is rarely featured. Actually a pity because Green can do a lot for you. It has this perfect mix of mana ramp, big beaters and spells to protect or tune your weapons.  Nevertheless you will learn that splashing red for Burn and Sideboard Options as well as the 2 black power spells is indispensable to make Green fit for tournament.

The Deck we present today has been named „Green Machine Head“ in reference to the classy Old School Machine Head combo Juzam Djinn + Berserk. Other names this deck attracted was „Green Party Crasher“ or simply „The Green Machine“.

The core are 8 mighty fast beaters, i.e. Doc Erhnam Djinn and his artifact cousin Juggernaut, two 4 mana creatures you will most likely drop in turn 2 or 3 at latest thanks to the power of ramp: 4 Llanowar Elves, 2 Birds of Paradise, 1 Elves of Deep Shadow as well as Moxes, Lotus and/or Mana Vault.

With the help of 4 Giant Growth and 2-3 Berserk your Green Machine gets awfully big and will destroy everything that comes in the way, or just reduce your opponents life total to 0 in minutes. 1-2 Avoid Fate might prove useful to defend your Juggernaut who notoriously attracts Disenchant and Lightning Bolt.

The 2 Spitting Slugs proved to be essential: as 3 drops they perfectly fit the mana curve, they are Lightning Bolt prove and they will easily block Mishra’s Factory, White/Black Knights and Kird Apes.

Finally a small collection of basic red burn spells as well as Demonic Tutor and Mind Twist are included to harmonize the Deck.

At the latest tournament the „Green Machine Head“ landed Top 4.

Posh vs. Budget: Old School is playable without the Power9

Old School Magic is for everybody, but many people shy away from the format thinking they must invest some 7 to 10.000 bucks to build a decent deck. Let’s be frank: while playing the Power9, LoA and the like may give you a natural edge (and a lot of fun), it is by no means the conditio sine qua non for an initiation into the world of Old School Magic.

So before swapping your retirement plan from stocks to Black Lotus (and feeling reluctant to play it for fear of card loss/damage), the authors of this blog encourage budget deck building to attract more MTG players to this charming format. As a matter of fact – if technically possible – we will always try to show a budget alternative when we discuss a deck in our Decktalk blog posts. And for a start we will show how you can quite easily replace (or handle) most of the power cards and still build a competitive deck:

Budget Replacements

Black Lotus / Mana Vault

Black Lotus, the most expensive and iconic of all Magic cards… okay let’s try to put the fascination and buzz aside, we know it’s hard to do, but let’s have a rational thought here: yes, a first round Lotus plus land drop can basically be enough to win a game, but at its base a Lotus is a bigger Dark Ritual with open colour choice, so it’s a huge ramp into something big or a play to diversify your spells.

On the other side if a Lotus is drawn at a later stage sometimes the same play might eventually be replaced by a Mana Vault that had been played one round earlier. So basically it’s round two ramp into Juggernaut instead of first round Juzam Djinn, and it’s the same when it comes to boost your Fireball or Mind Twist.

Yeah, most of the times it is far from equivalent but we recommend players to replace Lotus with Mana Vault in a budget deck.

Mox / Land

Again, let’s put the fascination aside: after all a Mox is a land that doesn’t count as a land. Thus it will always be a great first turn to play land and Mox to go into White Knight, Sinkhole, Hymn… Fellwar Stone is just no alternative here and just loses when compared.

But when we assume your Mox shows up in turn 5 it’s a different story and a land will do the same job. Fellwar stone might or might not work here, depending if you share the colour with your opponent, so in the end our budget players don’t really replace a Mox with Fellwar Stone, and we recommend players to replace Mox with Land, especially when building an aggro deck

Juzam Djinn / Juggernaut

A lightly played Juzam Djinn cost under 300€ a couple of years ago. In 2018 you must pay over 700€ for the same condition. Something is very broken in the market, and there are even rumors that a bunch of people are cornering the market by buying all available Juzams outright to increase the value. So most of the Old School Players who want to build a Mono Black or Machine Head Deck, will never be able to afford a Juzam.

Here comes his little nephew Juggernaut, and he has some good aspects indeed: Juggernaut is The Abyss, King Suleiman, Protection from Black and CoP: Black prove while Juzam is not, Terror won’t remove him (same as Juzam), as an artifact he is totally mana flexible – and he costs a fraction from what you pay for his big Black Uncle.

Of course Lightning Bolt and Disenchant will kill him, and a White Knight in Crusade will stop him, while he must attack, but overall we think he is a good replacement for the Djinn.

Other Posh versus Budget replacements

Timewalk / Mana Short

Timetwister / Wheel of Fortune

Handling broken cards

Ancestral Recall / Fork

Playing Ancestral Recall gives a huge advantage or brings you back in the game after a Hymn or Mind Twist. It is one of the greatest top decks and maybe the most iconic one drop. It is the perfect reason to play or at least splash blue in every deck, so you can be pretty sure to meet Ancestral Recall more than once in tournament. Thus for a budget player, we recommend to main deck Fork and/or Red Elemental Blast in order to participate in the card spree –  or just counter it.

LoA / Stone Rain, Blood Moon, Sinkhole

„The Library wins games“, is the laconic answer you always hear after being beaten by an early LoA play. It is next to impossible to catch up with a talented player who knows how to use it. That is exactly the reason we recommend budget players to build some LoA insurance in their decks, i.e. a couple of Stone Rain, Blood Moon, Sinkhole, Ice Storm, especially in the European Old School formats where Strip Mine is restricted.

Conclusion

It is not a prerequisite to own the Power9 in order to succeed at Old School Magic. Although it is much more fun and you feel so mighty potent with a Mox and an Ancestral Recall in your deck, we have seen budget Goblin decks smash the choreography of The Deck with as much fun and potency. Budget players might always feel a bit handicapped, but the satisfaction resulting from a won match against some power player is a far bigger reward.

Rules: describing a format, defining a standard

Old School Magic is a non licensed and mostly casual format that was born in 2007 in Sweden, and slowly but steady took to other countries. In the last two years the interest in this charming format rocketed (with prices for the old cards doubling and tripling in value) and today we have established Old School communities in Scandinavia, the USA, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Belgium, and a nascent community in Germany.

While other MTG formats like Modern or Legacy have official rules from Wizards of the Coast / DCI, the Old School universe remains quite autonomous, so basically every community has variations and their own sub-standard. While the more orthodox communities would only allow Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends and the Dark, the most liberal end of the spectrum additionally allows not only Fallen Empires, but all kinds of later reprints (same artwork though). With the prices of ABU cards skyrocketing and touching ridiculous levels, there is increasing pressure from newcomers to allow even IE/CE or DIY proxies in order to participate in this great game.

Nevertheless as the formats cradle is Sweden, the Old School Mtg blog acts as an orthodox reference for most of the European communities. Although being very strict in defining the format, they have done a great deal in nurturing not only their own format with a constantly evolving ban/restriction list that serves as blueprint for most of us, but also in describing the variations of the format, i.e. Ravenna Rules, EC Rules etc.

As the authors of this blog are part of a local German Old School community with their own liberal variation of the format, you will find pictures of decks with cards from 93/94 (sometimes including Fallen Empires) with reprints from Revised/FWB/FBB, 4th edition, Chronicles and Renaissance.

For tournament purposes we created the mighty Miracle Worker Cup – a non-sanctioned private tournament format in Frankfurt that is based on the Atlantic Rules set, but would allow proxies without limits in order to not discriminate players who don’t have access to significant 9394 card pools,  to encourage highest quality deck engineering and to build a solid and diversified meta game.

(Budget-)Decktalk „Goblin Festival“

Well, here’s a mono red favorite of ours for a kick start into the deck talk section of this blog.

Yeah you got it right, it’s a super fast mono red, aggro Goblin festival, where 12 goblin one drops build the base, to be tuned in turn 2 and 3 with Goblin Grenade, Blood Lust and Goblin King to inflict fast big damage. There’s artillery support from Ball Lightning and 10 burn spells, and… that’s kind of about it. In recent testing the 2 main decked Blood Moon proved to be essential to break a control deck and enable Goblins of the Flarg to sneak through Mountain walk – but let’s be frank here:  you should be done with your opponent in 4 or 5 turns. Once an adversary will steady himself with some control features or blow a disk in turn 4 or 5 you can be pretty sure to be dead meat in the long term, unless you draw your Wheel of Fortune.

To sum it up: This deck is fun and it is fast, but surely it is very linear and has next to zero turnaround capacity. With all that fast damage and burn to finish you will have quite good odds though. And hey: this is a budget deck that is perfect for a primer into the world of old school magic.

German Old School Calendar

Upcoming Old School Tournaments and Gatherings

In this section we publish all German Old School events that we know of. Please provide your local event information and we happily publish it here.

1st Miracle Worker Cup

Saturday, June 16, at 4 PM, find all relevant info here

Old School Meetup – Playtesting

Wednesday (every week!)
from 6 PM
in JK-Store
Eschersheimer Landstr 267
60320 Frankfurt/Main
Germany

Old School Trial for Eternel Weekend Europe

Wednesday, April 25th 2018
5 €
at 6 PM
in JK-Store
Eschersheimer Landstr 267
60320 Frankfurt/Main
Germany

MKM Series Hamburg

Sunday, May 20th 2018

Eternal Saturday

Saturday, May 26th 2018
in JK Event Store
Gwinnerstr 36
60388 Frankfurt/Main
Germany

Old School Tournaments at JK Series Summer

Friday, June 1st 2018, at 6 PM
Sunday, June 3rd 2018, at 3 PM
in Bürgerhaus Bischofsheim
Dörnigheimer Weg 21
63477 Maintal (Germany)

 

Welcome to Old School Arena

We are a MTG think tank and community building network for Germany that focuses on 93/94 or Old School Magic the Gathering.

Old School Magic is a MTG format that allows players to use only cards that were originally printed in 1993 and 1994 – so most of the cards played are real charming old timers and sometimes quite valuable, but the main reason for a growing Old School community is the nostalgia and fun.

For an intro into the world of Old School MTG please read our Rules blog post where we define the format (and the myriad of variations).

The Events blog posts give an overview and regular update on the local play groups in Germany, and all interesting upcoming Old School tournaments in Europe.

Our blog posts tagged Decktalk are a magic treasure vault of deck lists and inspiration.

Have fun and enjoy the spiritual sanctuary of Old School Arena!