Best posts made by Prospero
posted in Vintage Community read more

Rich, an excellent post, as always. Very well constructed, and considered.

Before addressing things, I'd like to just point out that I believe there was a fundamental change in philosophy back in January 2015, when we saw the restriction of Treasure Cruise. Treasure Cruise was exceptionally powerful as a four-of, but this was the first major domino to fall in this chain that continues on today. First Treasure Cruise, then Dig Through Time, then Chalice of the Void, then Lodestone Golem, then Gush and Probe were restricted, and I don't think any of us think we're done.

From the June 2009 restriction of Thirst for Knowledge through the January 2015 restriction of Treasure Cruise, we had a format that was defined by new printings and unrestrictions, not restrictions. It is my personal opinion that the metagame probably reached its apex around 2012, when Martello Shops, Grixis Control, Oath of Druids, Dredge, Delver, and several other decks were all serious players capable of adjusting for, and winning, any given event. I know that this was probably around the last time that I had a lot of fun playing the format.

Was Treasure Cruise too good? It was clearly very powerful, but this is a format of powerful cards. I was not one of the voices campaigning for restriction, because I was concerned for two reasons:

  1. The axe that cut down Treasure Cruise could certainly come back to hit my pillar.

  2. While the stated desire was clear, it was impossible to know the actual effect of the restriction.

I am a peacenik in general, and this bleeds into other areas of my life. What I define as fun is not necessarily something that others may enjoy, and I both respect that and understand that they should not be coerced to live in a world where they must conform to my standards of fun. I thoroughly hated Blightsteel Colossus, I didn't enjoy being Vault/Key'd, I loathed how little I could do against Dredge (while operating within Mishra's confines), and I had a deep-seated loathing specifically for Oath of Druids.

I had difficult problems thrown at me, and I adjusted. I worked with Forino a lot, and we worked together in building decks that addressed those problems as best we could. Having something new thrown at you, reacting, and throwing something back at them was much of the fun in playing the game.

The philosophy change, in believing that restrictions are the path towards a healthier metagame, has robbed me of much of this enjoyment. I did not celebrate when Cruise, or Dig, got hit because I knew that my time would come. As we reflect on the metagame now, I believe that we're coming back to that point again. Will Mentor be restricted? Will Misstep? Will Thorn? Will Workshop? Who knows?

The point is, before we start thinking about what's going to happen next, shouldn't we be asking ourselves if we're even using the right tools to get us to the balance that we claim to be looking for? Is the metagame better now for having had all the restrictions we've had in the last two and a half years? To reiterate, I don't think any of us think we're done here. I think we all think that more restrictions are coming.

There are many things that factor into attendance at an event. I have more than 15 years worth of experience as a tournament organizer for this format to know that.

I swear I'm not puffing my chest here, but the N.Y.S.E. Open is a lot of work, and a lot of risk. There were several salient issues with N.Y.S.E. Open IV, most notably the interminable heat at the venue. I know that I lost some number of players for the event this year because of that issue last year. The number of players who travel long distances to the event is considerable. I know that many of the attendees leave very early in the morning, play all day, have dinner with friends afterward, and then have a long drive home ahead of them. Sometimes it's a bridge too far for those who would otherwise have been interested. The entry fee for the event is considerable, even if the prize support, giveaways, staffing, and venue all warranted it (and, sadly, should have warranted more) this year.

I sincerely believe that a major factor in us having lost 27 players, going from 157 to 130 (all while having eight players make the trip from Spain - which effectively means we lost 35 players from last year before we start accounting for other first timers who make up for those who decided not to play this year) players from one year to the next is the state of the format. I'd rather not speak of my own personal disenchantment with the state of things. It should be noted that the state of the format has very real effects on tournament organizers, vendors, judges, staff, et al in addition to showing distorted top eights. This is how you drive players away from the format, and how you hurt the format in deeper ways.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that "my right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins". My definition of joy in this format is not yours, as yours is not mine. But weren't we supposed to live and let live? Are we in a better place now than we were just a few years ago? When does this end?

If we're operating under the paradigm that we fully know what restrictions are going to do to the format (which is foolish, because none of us can say with authority that we do; we can watch, and wait, and see), then yes, Monastery Mentor and Mental Misstep should be restricted. But what happens then? If Workshops continue doing what they're doing, they will be hit again. Then what? Thorn? Sphere? Shop itself? And what does the format look like when a combo deck like Paradoxical Outcome has seen its most serious enemies nerf'd? Will we have hit the point where we took a balanced metagame, and turned it into the coin flip format that we should never want to see?

I'd much rather see us start peeling back some of the restrictions, and seeing what could be done to get us back to where we were. Maybe Gush never should have come off the restricted list. In a world where Chalice of the Void and Lodestone Golem are restricted, using the paradigm that restrictions can be used with foreknowledge as to what will happen, I see no reason why Gush should be unrestricted.

Some iteration of this fight has been going on for a long, long, long time. I know the world I live in, I think I have a pretty good handle on the landscape ahead. I don't like what I see. I believe that a misguided, albeit well-meaning, few are taking us down a path we would have done best to never trod.

With work being what it is for me, and everything else in my life up in the air right now, I have no idea when I'll play again, or if I've played my final match. Vroman was a hero from afar for me, and I remember how he just kind of disappeared. I top eight'd the last event I played in, back in April, and, like every event I've played in of recent memory, I remember wanting to go home nearly the entire time. This was an uncommon rejoinder from me back in 2012.

I sold my Moxen a few weeks ago, I sold my Lotus last weekend, I'm selling my Shops soon. I'll keep the core of my collection, so that I can power up again and play when I want to, but when is that going to be? I feel like others have been pushed away from the format because of the decisions that have been made regarding the B&R list. While work constraints certainly preclude me from playing as often as I could, I've had the option to buy into MODO and play more often, and I haven't felt like it. I would like to think that I'm going to come back to playing at some point in the next few years, perhaps in some limited fashion, and that I'll feel the draw to compete at a high level, and not just show up at events and occasionally embarrass myself with bad plays. If I'm going to come back and play like I did at Champs last year, or Waterbury this year, there's really no reason to come back and play at all.

To try and get back on point, and wrap this up, I'd just ask that people really think deeply about when Vintage really was balanced in the last few years. Maybe we could start taking steps back towards a metagame where players could play with more of their cards, and we weren't looking to just hit everything that ran well for a while, but looked to develop new strategies to combat new problems. Everything in life isn't a nail, and we have more tools at our disposal than a hammer. Terra Nova was built as a rebuke to a comment that no new innovations were possible in Shops until new cards were printed, or new restrictions/unrestrictions took place. Maybe before we take away someone's right to play their cards we can go to the drawing board and work towards addressing the problems at hand in new, unseen ways. This current philosophy is exhausting, and awful for the long-term health of the format.

posted in Off-Topic read more

I think one of the fundamental reasons why people often exhibit bad sportsmanship is because they haven't put Magic in its right place. Magic is a game.

When a lot of us started playing Vintage, we were teenagers, or in our early 20's. Even though the cards were significantly cheaper then, I know that (for me) the money was a lot harder to come by. Buying a Mox in 2003 or 2004 was tougher for me than buying a Mox would be today, and I think that's true for a lot of the people who played back then.

The crux of this was that even though we were working, we weren't making all that much money, and many of us were looking for a way to make a few extra dollars here or there; it would help expand our collections, maybe it meant we weren't strapped for cash that week. In order to buy my first set of Beta Moxen, I had to work out a deal with a store owner who was willing to take $100 a week for me for several months. I couldn't afford to buy them otherwise. When you're in your early 20's, potentially still in college, you're not going to be making the kind of money that leaves much disposable income.

I picked up a lot of shifts working security (graveyard shifts) to be able to afford my first set of power. When I finished my first set of Moxen, I carried them all with me, in toploaders, for a week or so. I would lay them out as I sat in my security booth; I felt pride in having put a set of Moxen together (an aside; Alpha and Beta power will always, always, always look nicer, but Unlimited power will always be special in its own way, as it was what we could afford, and there's a magic in your first piece of power that a gem mint Beta Black Lotus will never have).

Many years later, upon meeting Raffaele Forino, he made a point of noting that if money was an issue for him, he'd just work instead. If you're showing up at tournaments with an expectation of making money, just how much money are you really going to make? Pro-rate that out over the number of hours spent, and then think about how much you'd make if you just spent that time working instead. And if you're not working a job where you can make the kind of money to afford the things that you want, what are you doing to ensure that this is no longer the case in the future? How much do you really want the cards? Are you willing to work a second job for them? Are you willing to make sacrifices in other areas of your life for them? I was broke for the better part of two weeks after I picked up a Mox Ruby from Dave Kaplan back in 2002 (I couldn't have put $20 together). Worth it. The barrier to entry now is obscenely high, and I wish they'd axe the Reserve List, but it's still possible to slowly buy in. If it's important enough to you to do it, you'll do it. And if it's not, it's not; the key is knowing where you stand.

I bring all of this up because it's so easy to look at the prize support, not really have all your priorities in order, go out, play in an event, and maybe take those losses a little harder because your house isn't in order. I don't think I was ever a 'bad sportsman', but I definitely beat myself up harder after losses than I should have back then, when the money was so tight. I could see how that would cause people to lash out, transfer some of that anger that they may subconsciously feel about things, and direct it at whomever they have sitting across from them. It sucks for everybody involved.

Before Magic was anything else, before it was a collectible, before it was about the art, before it was about the tournaments, before it was anything else, it was a game. A game. A recreation that you enjoy in your spare time, and that you play because you enjoy the game itself. Visna Harris is one of the best men I know, and he's having a good time no matter what his record is. He's kind, generous to a fault, and always laughing as he's trying to win with whatever crazy concoction he brought that day. I love this and I wish that everyone was like this.

One of the things that has always bothered me was about players discussing the E.V. of tournaments, and pushing tournament organizers to commit more support than could be reasonably expected. When we all flew to GenCon to play in Vintage Champs, there was the flight, hotel, food, entry costs, etc. Who came out 'ahead' in that calculation? The winner, and...? The tournament isn't being framed the right way by those who would view it through those parameters. The tournament is a vacation. Yeah, I want to win. Yeah, I'm going to test, I'm going to play my best, and I'm going to try to drive you into the ground (while never sacrificing my integrity), but this is a game. The person sitting across from me is a gift, I owe the tournament organizer, judges, and assorted staff my thanks for putting together an event that gives me a chance to play a game I love, I am lucky to be able to play that game and I should be thankful for that. I shouldn't be showing up with an expectation of the 'value' I can gain on the day, because the value I do gain from it all has nothing to do with money, even when I win.

Human beings are complex, and when you show up anywhere, you're carrying things with you. There are always other aspects that factor into how we react to the people around us, how we feel, etc. We don't always react the way that we should. When we don't , we should acknowledge it, own it, apologize for it, and try to be better. Reading about Brian becoming better is heartening. The primary emotion that we should all derive from this game is gratitude.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@Soly If you're going to make the 'fair and balanced' argument, then you're going to lose a hell of a lot more than Workshop and Lodestone Golem.

Do you really think that cards like Gush, Mentor, et al, are fair?

They're not. Fair and balanced isn't part of the equation. We all accept that there are games that we lose because this is the format that we play in. Some examples include:

Lotus, Vault, Key, land, GG
Lotus, Mentor, Mox, Preordain, anything
Mox, Orchard, Oath
Land, Ritual, Necro

Are you really making the argument that a turn one Lodestone Golem, off the back of a Mishra's Workshop, is fundamentally different, and significantly more powerful than any of those plays?

Let's leave aside the propriety of restrictions for a moment, and consider something that people haven't been talking about much lately. The amount of money spent by Magic players in order to play Vintage is considerable. Shop pilots spend less than many other pilots, but they still spend a significant amount of money to play Vintage. If I were to look to replace my Workshops with another nice set, right now, it would run me around $3,000. This says nothing about Tabernacles, Karakas, and the myriad other necessary expenditures in order to play Shops. The average Shop deck will run less than the average blue deck, and it will still run well over $10,000, and likely more like $20,000.

What would it say about Wizards for them to tell players who've spent $3,000 on a playset of Workshops, in addition to however many thousands extra on Workshop-centric cards that they can't play with those cards? Lodestone Golem is not an expensive rare; restricting Lodestone Golem, as abhorrent as that would (will) be, is not a major financial hit for the players involved. Restricting Workshop is enough to disillusion players with the game, and the company.

To get back on the verity behind the assumed necessity of restricting a Shop card; the results aren't there for it. Steve and Kevin's most recent podcast cites seven wins for Workshop decks in 2016. These include events of eight through twelve players. How ridiculous would it be to restrict a Workshop card on the back of results like these? An eight man tournament may be the death knell of Shops? Get the hell out of here.

To the opportunists who think that this will provide you with the blue field that you've always dreamed of; caveat emptor. Do you think Dredge will be able to survive when sideboards are no longer split between Shops and Dredge? Bazaars and Workshops exist in harmony with each other. What hurts one hurts the other. I have played in the ridiculously heavy blue fields that existed from before the unrestriction of Workshop. When Sam Black says that this Vintage is not his Vintage, what he's saying is that he yearns for the days of Keeper vs. Blue Bullshit vs. Old School Expulsion vs. the early Landstill variants vs. infinite other forms of blue.

Do you remember the decks from the first trimester of the first season of the VSL? Please, check this out:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1GbSEeQpH8sV-cfUDVd-8CAlSAQwCR-jeNuPOIucvGx4/edit?pref=2&pli=1

For a moment, let's talk about the nine blue decks that were played. Realize that these players came into this format with, for the most part, virtually no recent experience in either paper or pixel Vintage. LSV is a Vintage pilot, and he should be afforded that respect. Dave Williams and E-Fro were as well. But what you see is nine interpretations of blue, and various ways to one-up the blue mirror. Do you really think that Merfolk should have been 30% of the field? Even after Joel Lim won Vintage Champs, was Merfolk even half that?

Now, let's come to Chris Pikula. Chris asked me before the event what I thought was worthwhile. He knew that I'd suggest a Workshop list, and he knew that I was used to playing against blue decks. Blue is the fastball of the Vintage metagame. Chris tore through his opponents in his first trimester, as well he should have. Chris playing Workshops meant that pilots had to be honest with their deck selections moving forward; they were not able to run greedy blue decks without paying a cost.

We have seen what the pros believed Vintage was, and I believe that we see what they want Vintage to look like. No Dredge, no Shops, blue on blue.

To Sam Black; unlike nearly everyone else who currently plays this format, I played in your halcyon format. It was fun, but it is nothing like the complex, demanding, worthy format that we have now. The incredible arrogance in championing blue to the detriment of myriad other Vintage pilots who have chosen something other than Force of Will and Mana Drain as the cornerstones of their decks should make entirely translucent your objectives. The garbage that you spew about restricting Lodestone Golem, Mishra's Workshop, Bazaar of Baghdad, and anything that does not conform to your view of what the format should be shows monumental ignorance and arrogance, a deadly combination. That a man who does not play the format, does not test the format, and hasn't done so in years should have influence over bannings and restrictions is some of the most stupid nonsense I've ever seen. If you were so emotionally wedded to this format, you'd play the damn format. If you valued your invitation to the VSL, you'd have tested. You walked in, unprepared, and expected to get by on the back of experience in other formats, and your name. You were wildly mistaken. You earned your losses in the VSL play-in tournament. Own them. Or be a child, and complain about the nature of the game, until you receive the trophy you feel is your birthright, and not something worthy of effort, time, and dedication.

posted in Vintage Community read more

Incredibly, it looks as though everything that was stolen may end up coming back to Tom, Mike, Brian and Shawn.

The thieves showed up at The Soldiery in Ohio yesterday, with all the deck boxes and binders thrown in Shawn's duffel bag, which had Shawn's name on it. The employee on hand knew about the missing collections, and called the police. There was an altered Lotus in the collection, which is unique, and will also help cement that this was their stuff. Everything is now sitting in a police evidence locker room right now, but we hope for some kind of resolution to all of this in the next week.

Everyone who donated will be made whole, and the four guys will post a more complete rundown of what went down (in addition to a thank you) in the coming days.

This made my day yesterday, and I hope it's a bright spot in your day as well!

posted in Tournament Reports read more

N.Y.S.E. Open IV has come and gone. And it was a hell of an event.

For starters, with 156 attendees, N.Y.S.E. Open IV doubled the attendance of N.Y.S.E. Open I. As a tournament organizer, especially a Vintage tournament organizer, I cannot begin to adequately express how rewarding it is to see that so many people felt the event worth attending. We are a community built format, and to see so many members of our great community rally behind this event, and all the people who put in a great deal of effort to make it a success, is something that I will treasure. Thank you.

Many members of the community contributed their time, effort, and skill in order to make this event a success. I owe a debt of gratitude to Nick Coss, Calvin Hodges, Greg Fenton, Aaron Rubinstein, Mike Lupo, Visna Harris, Paul Baranay, Brian Paskoff, Mani Cavalieri, Adam Shaw, Gil Rappold, and the countless others who ensured that N.Y.S.E. Open IV was a success.

The top eight for this event was one of the most legendary top eights I've ever seen, as we mixed some of the old giants with the new pixel greats. Anytime you get to see Roland Chang and Andy Probasco in a top eight, it's a good event. That we also got to see many of the newer members of the community, including Andy Markiton, Hank Zhong and Tom Metelsky, was a great thing. Congrats to Montolio, and all of my top eight!

Top Eight Decklists:

Andy Markiton - Ravager TKS

4 Mishra’s Workshop
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Wasteland
4 Eldrazi Temple
1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mana Crypt
1 Sol Ring
1 Black Lotus
1 Chalice of the Void
4 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Lodestone Golem
4 Thought-Knot Seer
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Triskelion
3 Hangarback Walker
4 Sphere of Resistance
4 Thorn of Amethyst
1 Trinisphere
4 Tangle Wire

SB:

4 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Crucible of Worlds
2 Dismember
2 Witchbane Orb

Tom Metelsky - Grixis Pyromancer

2 Baleful Strix
3 Young Pyromancer
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
4 Cabal Therapy
2 Flusterstorm
4 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mental Misstep
1 Ponder
3 Preordain
1 Demonic Tutor
2 Sudden Shock
1 Time Walk
2 Dack Fayden
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
1 Jace, the Mindsculptor
4 Force of Will
3 Gush
1 Pyroblast
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Island
3 Polluted Delta
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Volcanic Island
1 Strip Mine
2 Underground Sea

SB:

1 Dread of Night
3 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Pyroblast
1 Shattering Spree
1 Null Rod
1 Dismember
1 Mindbreak Trap
3 Ravenous Trap
2 Ingot Chewer
1 Murderous Cut

Hank Zhong - Esper Mentor

4 Monastery Mentor
3 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Snapcaster Mage
4 Force of Will
4 Mental Misstep
1 Flusterstorm
1 Thoughtseize
3 Swords to Plowshares
4 Gush
1 Dig through Time
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Jace, the Mindsculptor
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Demonic Consultation
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Ponder
1 Brainstorm
3 Gitaxian Probe
1 Preordain
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Jet
1 Mana Crypt
3 Tundra
2 Underground Sea
1 Island
4 Flooded Strand
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Polluted Delta
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Strip Mine

SB:

2 Disenchant
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Balance
1 Engineered Explosives
4 Containment Priest
1 Rest in Peace
1 Ravenous Trap
1 Energy Flux
1 Plains
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Thoughtseize

Ryan Glackin - Amalgam Dredge

4 Narcomoeba
4 Bloodghast
4 Cabal Therapy
3 Golgari Thug
3 Ichorid
4 Bridge from Below
4 Leyline of the Void
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Unmask
4 Golgari Grave-Troll
4 Prized Amalgam
4 Serum Powder
4 Bazaar of Baghdad
4 City of Brass
2 Dakmor Salvage
4 Undiscovered Paradise

SB:

4 Barbarian Ring
4 Ingot Chewer
3 Serenity
4 Wispmare

Vito Picozzo - Jeskai Mentor

4 Force of Will
4 Gush
4 Monastery Mentor
1 Young Pyromancer
2 Dack Fayden
1 Jace, the Mindsculptor
4 Preordain
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Pyroblast
1 Flusterstorm
2 Gitaxian Probe
2 Snapcaster Mage
2 Swords of the Plowshare
1 Mindbreak Trap
3 Mental Misstep
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Brainstorm
1 Wear/Tear
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Island
1 Snow-Covered Island
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Flooded Strand
1 Library of Alexandria
3 Tundra
3 Volcanic Island
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Dig through Time

SB:

4 Rest in Peace
2 City in a Bottle
2 Ingot Chewer
1 Wear/Tear
2 Containment Priest
1 Mountain
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Flusterstorm
1 Supreme Verdict

Brian Kelly - Minus Five

1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Lotus Petal
2 Monastery Mentor
3 Dark Confidant
1 Snapcaster Mage
4 Force of Will
3 Mental Misstep
2 Flusterstorm
3 Gush
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
1 Steel Sabotage
1 Swords to Plowshares
3 Gitaxian Probe
3 Preordain
1 Ponder
1 Time Walk
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
1 Tendrils of Agony
2 Jace, the Mindsculptor
3 Polluted Delta
3 Flooded Strand
2 Misty Rainforest
3 Underground Sea
2 Tundra
1 Island
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Sensei’s Divining Top

SB:

2 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Containment Priest
2 Rest in Peace
2 Swords to Plowshares
1 Balance
1 Karakas
1 Disenchant
1 Steel Sabotage
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Mindbreak Trap

Roland Chang - Ravager TKS

1 Black Lotus
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
2 Hangarback Walker
1 Sol Ring
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Sphere of Resistance
4 Thorn of Amethyst
1 Trinisphere
4 Tangle Wire
1 Lodestone Golem
4 Thought-Knot Seer
4 Triskelion
1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Eldrazi Temple
4 Mishra’s Workshop
4 Wasteland

SB:

3 Crucible of Worlds
3 Dismember
3 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Karakas
4 Tormod’s Crypt

Andy Probasco - White Eldrazi

1 Chalice of the Void
3 Containment Priest
4 Eldrazi Displacer
1 Lodestone Golem
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Reality Smasher
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Thorn of Amethyst
4 Thought-Knot Seer
2 Vryn Wingmare
1 Black Lotus
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Eldrazi Temple
1 Karakas
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
3 Plains
2 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland

SB:

2 Aegis of the Gods
1 Dismember
1 Containment Priest
2 Disenchant
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Umezawa’s Jitte
2 Tormod’s Crypt
2 Swords to Plowshares
1 Rest in Peace

With eight pieces of power given out, a playset of Workshop given out, a playset of English Mana Drains given out, sealed boxes of EMA and MM2 given out, and more than a thousand dollars extra in additional free giveaways, N.Y.S.E. Open IV came to an end.

Thank you all for your support. This series has been tremendously demanding in both time and effort, but seeing the community response makes it feel worthwhile.

See you all around!

posted in Official Tournament Results read more

An updated Terra Nova list performed well for the Forinos and I at Champs last year, but was an alteration or two away from putting us in contention. I picked up my second loss at 6-1, I'm not sure when they picked up theirs. If the deck had Lodestone Golem, it would be able to be adjusted, and be a player. It doesn't, so it sits on the sidelines.

The token generators have been brutal to Smokestack in general. The last iteration of the deck that was successful was a list that I played that had both Ratchet Bomb and Steel Hellkite main. Without both Chalice and Lodestone, the deck sits on the sidelines.

While I was not a fan of the Chalice-less list that Nick DiJohn was piloting to successful results, the deck was still successful in that incarnation. The loss of Lodestone Golem was brutal to that deck.

Forino put in some work in the pillar in the spring of this year, but the results weren't there with the new list at the N.Y.S.E. Open.

My Dark Depths list was absolutely crutching on Lodestone. It was critical, as it provided a reasonable clock, and also pushed the opponent to respect you with artifact removal while you had the backup plan of assembling a 20/20. Without Lodestone Golem, the deck has no clock, and thus, no distraction from the 20/20. It doesn't help that there are infinite Swords to Plowshares in the metagame right now. I can't speak for anyone else's results, but I split a top eight, split top four twice, and split a finals with the deck. Every time that I played it, I won with it. That deck is done without Lodestones, and seeing Bob Maher pick up the list for the VSL play-in was weirdly disappointing, as I don't think he realized that the deck is garbage now.

As an aside that is totally irrelevant now, I had taken to offering splits as soon as I was in top eight/top four/the finals of every tournament that I did well at because I knew that when I performed well with a Workshop deck, the commentary wouldn't be "wow, Detwiler did well" but rather "Workshops are dumb/oppressive/need to be restricted out of existence". Playing with that over my head at every event that I played in for the last three years has been ridiculous, and exhausting.

I have tens of thousands of dollars into cards that I can't play, because the pillar I've spent tens of thousands of dollars on can't compete like it could a year ago. Attendance at local events are generally down, people who have been stalwarts of the community are gone, and all I see is a few different variations on blue decks win ad nauseum. The B&R list is a personal thing for a lot of people, mostly because the barrier to entry to Vintage is so high. If I was going to play a tier one deck right now, I'd need duals, fetches, and a lot more. There was a point in time, recently, where the only pillar that was weak was Storm. The argument can be made that the only pillars that are strong right now are Null Rod and Force of Will. That's bullshit.

I have let loose a few times in the last few months, and I have quickly backed off, because this whole conversation is 100% poison, and all it is guaranteed to generate is bad emotions. Nothing I say will impact the B&R list (I devoutly believe this), and yet someone like Sam Black (who doesn't play the format, and didn't even know that Bazaar hadn't been restricted as he made his ridiculous "restrict Bazaar & Workshop" argument") can influence what happens, because he's a Magic celebrity, and thousands of people who don't play the format assume he's right about things they remain ignorant of. Sam took a generic Mentor list to the VSL play-in, got beaten up, and was upset. Names don't matter here; under the right circumstances, I'll take any number of our Vintage aficionados over the PT guys. But the PT guys have megaphones, and we do not. Perhaps it's supremely arrogant on my part, but there is a part of me that believes that I bear some responsibility for Lodestone's restriction; not for results that I have put up, but for losing my match to Ochoa in the play-in finals. If I had won, I would have spent the entirety of that VSL season arguing against the Lodestone restriction, and doing it with results. Maybe that would have tipped the balance. At this point, it's another moot point in a sea of moot points.

Gush is dumb. Gush was dumb in 2003, and Gush is dumb now. Gush never should have been unrestricted, and yet I held back my opinion on it because I knew that other people enjoyed playing with it, and because Vintage was the format where we were supposed to be able to play with our cards. What's the alternative? Be vocal, demanding, and rock the boat until somebody at the DCI gives me what I want? This game is a hobby, not a job. This game is supposed to be a release, not a stress.

I have spent more time, effort, and money building the community in the last 15 years than just about anyone else in the world, and Vintage is sickening right now. I want nothing more than to be excited about the format. I want to build decks, loan them out, spread the gospel of the format, and further proselytize. I can't do what I want to do right now, because the format is not exciting, because a few very vocal people warped the format in ways they didn't understand (and don't really care to), and because as much as the salt is flowing now, I don't want to keep doing this, having this conversation, letting all of this out. I love the community, and my love for the community made me do things I didn't really want to do. When the Lodestone restriction was announced, part of me wanted to refund every N.Y.S.E. Open entry fee, sell the prize support, and be done with it. Spending over 100 hours putting together a tournament that makes no money, year after year, while you hate what has been done to the format was not an appealing prospect. Do I take the Lodestone restriction personally? Absolutely. It violated my basic standard philosophy about what Vintage was supposed to be. I started the process of selling off cards, and sold off a little over $6,000 worth before I stopped, because I know that once I sell my power and Shops that it really is over for me (and I'm not going to buy back in).

I don't want to pay the bill that was handed to me (a bill for duals, fetches, Flusterstorms, etc.) in order to keep playing Vintage, and I don't want to walk away from the game entirely. You could make the argument that Classic is nothing more than me running away from Vintage, and you wouldn't be entirely wrong. Maybe what I need is someone to just tell me to 'man up' and sell everything, take the money, walk away, and do something else with my time. But with the amount of time, effort, and money that I have spent on this game, and this format, that's a galling proposition. Workshops aren't fine, and they're not going to be fine until something is done, but the majority of Vintage players play blue, so it's only ever going to be an unpopular position among a few people while we watch the rest of the format play their blue spells.

posted in Tournament Reports read more

Traditionally, the T/O report featured a quick rundown of the day, decklists, a top eight breakdown, a few thanks, and an 'until next time'. You can call this a report, but it's really just my reflections on the day.

There were players who flew from all over the U.S., and even from Europe, to make the event. I am humbled and honored that you came to play in my event.

I mentioned this when I spoke to everyone at the beginning of the day, but it is impossible for me to run an event like this without relying (at times heavily) upon the friends I've made through our shared love of this game, and this format. Nick Coss and Calvin Hodges were absolutely instrumental in making NYSE Open VI possible. Without them, this event doesn't happen. This community has survived for more than 20 years on the backs of independent store owners, vendors, and tournament organizers, and unless we witness the death knell of the Reserved List, that is unlikely to change. These two men are pillars of the community for a reason; their dedication to the format, and all its adherents, has helped keep this format, and this community, alive. They are pillars in the truest sense of the word; they hold us up, and make our time away from work, and the rest of our lives, that much better by keeping something we love alive. I can't thank them enough.

There are many, many others whom I need to thank. In no particular order: Visna Harris, thank you again for your help with the trophies. I firmly believe that the NYSE Open trophy is the best trophy in Magic, let alone Vintage. This happens because of you. Greg Fenton, thank you for lending your considerable talent to creating an indelible image that we are lucky enough to now carry around as a playmat. It serves as a reminder of a great day, and the better community behind it. David Tao, thank you for coming through in the 11th hour, and saving the video coverage. This event will live on, in part, because of you. To Lupo and BrassMan, thank you for helping share the NYSE Open with all of those who could not make it that day. Hundreds of people watched the event on the day, and thousands more will enjoy it online as time goes on. Thank you to Dave Kaplan, a friend of more than 20 years now, and his company, AltFest, for providing a Library of Alexandria, among other raffle prizes; you added a nice bonus to the event that helped make it just a little more special for the players who attended. Thank you to Jason Jaco, for keeping Eternal Central updated throughout the day, and for completing the thankless task of providing us with all the lists from the event. You are a historian for the format, and the format is better for it.

There are a few others whom I need to thank, but it's best to work my way through the day, before I finish up with those few people.

The first time that you run a tournament, you're surprised at the things that go wrong. Or, at least, I was. In the beginning, you plan out all the things that you know you have to improve. And don’t get me wrong, there is always room for improvement, and it is possible for an event to run relatively smoothly. That said, there are always going to be issues.

I’ve run a fair number of Vintage tournaments at this point in my life. I’ve been T/O’ing since 2002, when I was just 19 years old. NYSE Open VI was beset by problems from the outset of the day, and it felt like every iteration of a T/O problem that could crop up did at some point during the day. That event was easily the most trying event, from a logistics standpoint, that I have ever run, and it started taking a toll on me as the day progressed. A special thanks goes to Nick Coss here, as Nick saw the problems, and helped attack and resolve all of them.

When things started going wrong that day, I had the support that I needed in order to help keep the event running, even if it did feel like the event was teetering on the edge at times. Looking back at the absurdity of the day, I cannot believe that all the things that happened happened, that we got through all of it, and that the response from the players has been as positive as it has been. Thank you all.

When I showed up at the venue that morning, I showed up with most of the rest of my cards, as it was my intention to sell nearly all of them, and make NYSE Open VI my last Vintage event. I’m beat. The leadup to this event was, in many ways, as absurd as the event itself, as I found myself working a very heavy load of hours at work, and then found that complemented with a half dozen serious issues outside the office. The month before the NYSE Open was one of the most stressful months of my life; I have had many difficulties thrown my way, and it has not been easy fighting my way through them. Resolving all of them will take months.

That the day was what it was, that it felt like I was constantly running from one fire to another for the better part of 12 hours, meant that I didn’t have the time that I had intended to take to sit down with Nick and Calvin to sell off the vast majority of my Vintage cards (with a few exceptions; a set of Mishra’s Factories that were once part of my original collection, a Beta Sol Ring that was a gift from a dear friend, a German ‘winter’ Tolarian Academy that I had Earl Grant DeLeon do, and a few others).

I was affected by the hearty round of applause that I received after I welcomed everyone to the event. It would not be the only time during that day. Sean Came organized having all the players sign one of Greg Fenton’s incredible NYSE Open VI playmats, which means a great deal to me. I will treasure this. I had many people approach me throughout the day, bringing up a meaningful interaction between us, and I appreciated all of them. Each of these moments helped keep me powered up, and motivated to keep fighting through the waves of problems that besieged the event.

At the conclusion of his top four match, JP Kohler was headed out the door. I congratulated him on an incredible performance on the day, and remarked that it was something that he should be deeply proud of. To start your day 7-0, in that room, is nothing short of remarkable. As he walked out the door, he told me that he was leaving his Underground Sea, his prize, with me. He knew that the event had gone negative on the day. I didn’t have the chance to argue with him before he was gone. I intended on returning the Sea to him at a later date, when the noise of the moment had settled.

Joe Brennan and Vasu Balakrishnan sat down to play the finals, and I left the coverage room with the trophy in hand. The trophy is always placed on the table with the last two competitors, as a reminder of what they came there for, and what is so close to being achieved. As I walked into the room, and was noticed, Joe Brennan faced me and told me that he and Vasu had both agreed that they did not want the Workshops, and that they wanted the Workshops to remain with me.

I have run six NYSE Opens. The NYSE Open has never been run to turn a profit. My goal, year after year, was to break even. I took losses several of those years. Sometimes the losses were considerable. It deeply, deeply pained me to have to reduce the prize support for this event, but I literally didn’t have the money to lose, as I couldn’t cover the gap between the registrants, and the cost of the event. I had mentally prepared to lose a couple of thousand dollars on the event, but couldn’t cover where we were.

I wanted the prize support for every NYSE Open to be the same as the first, but the world at large caught on, and the cards that I had given out had soared in price. I kept the prize support, and the entry fee, the same for as long as I could, first sacrificing with the venue, then the support. You have to walk the line between the entry and the support, balancing the costs of judges, security, giveaways, alters, et al, and it’s oftentimes difficult to call it correctly. That I had to cut the prize support for this event felt like a failure on my part. That it wasn’t the prize support from NYSE Open I felt like an unavoidable failure.

In my head, in that moment that Joe told me what they had agreed on, I reflected on all the things that had gone on that day. It was an emotionally tumultuous day, as it was my intention that this be the last NYSE Open, and probably the last major event that I ever run. I thought about all the things that had gone wrong that day, and I thought about how I wasn’t able to offer the support that I had wanted to the community that was the source of great memories, and greater friendships. I thought about my intention to sell out again, this time for the last time. I sincerely believed (and still believe) that I did not deserve those Workshops. I immediately declined, thanked them both, and then declined again.

I was too shocked by it to really process it fully in that moment. It was an obscenely generous gesture. I have not owned Workshops for a while now, as life’s demands made their sale a requisite move in the grander scheme. I walked back into the coverage room to finish up with what needed finishing, and found myself repeating Joe’s offer to the coverage team. I wasn’t thinking about the effects of repeating that. I took the team trophy, and headed back out to the main room, running into all the friends who had remained. I was told by many to take the prize, and it still felt anathema to me to do that. It wasn’t mine to take. Joe offered again when I put the team trophy on the table, and upon pushing, I didn’t have it in me to respond again, and left the room.

It's too much.

It continued. Upon discovering that there were plans to do something that would have made me deeply embarrassed, I agreed to accept the Shops.

Thank you is something that’s said for holding a door, for letting someone go ahead of you in a line, for a moment’s kindness or decency. Those two words buckle under the weight of the action that Joe took on Saturday. I don’t really know what to say to him. It is a deeply appreciated kindness that still makes me feel uncomfortable.

I honestly felt lost at the end of the event. The meaning of the word ambivalent seems lost on most of the world today, as they have confused it with the word disinterested. I was ambivalent about NYSE Open VI. The difficulties in the leadup to the event, specifically the week of the event, made me doubt whether I was going to be able to pull it off. Only by heavily relying on my friends were we able to. The day of the event was more difficult than the leadup to the event. And yet it was met with moments of incredible generosity, decency, and love. I didn’t expect any of those things. I am, in many ways, ambivalent about NYSE Open VI, because I don’t like thinking that this was the way that I was due to go out as a T/O, not with a bang, but with a whimper. But it wasn’t quite that, was it?

I headed upstairs from the conference rooms, intending to find a friend who was staying with me, as it was finally time to go. Sitting by the bar, I found Jon Geras, Jeremy Beaver, Dom DiFebo, Travis Compton, Jim Sharkey and Nils Thiim. It didn’t take long before we were all reliving stories of Vintage tournaments past. Without knowing what had gone on with Joe, or JP, Travis said that he had something for me, and it was another dual, the Badlands that had been given away in a raffle. I stopped fighting it, and I thanked him.

Thank you, Joe Brennan. Thank you, JP Kohler. Thank you, Travis Compton. Your generosity was unexpected, unnecessary, and deeply appreciated.

The generosity, and the love, from that day will be what, through some wonderful alchemy, eventually turns my ambivalence about NYSE Open VI into love.

I don’t know where I go from here. I know that I have quite a few problems that demand intense effort, and I hope that I prove myself able to solve them all to my satisfaction. But when I was thinking about what it would be like to sell out, and move on, finally, completely, the community was there for me, unknowingly pushing me to stay close. How can I ever sell out and move on? My best friends are all here.

So, thank you. Thank you to Nick Coss, and Calvin Hodges. Thank you to David Tao, and Greg Fenton. Thank you to Mark Hornung, and Visna Harris, and Dave Kaplan, and Will Magrann, and Jason Jaco, and David Ata, and Sean Came, and Jackie Fenton, and…

Thank you all, for forgiving its failings, and for making NYSE Open VI a day I’ll never forget.

posted in Workshops read more

As long as Mentor is a legal four-of in the environment, every potential Smokestack deck must start with three Tabernacles in the main. Mentor, and Pyromancer before it, made Smokestack significantly worse. In order for Smokestack to be worthwhile, it needs to be hitting opposing lands, which means that you need to do all you can to complement what Smokestack does. Tabernacle clears away creatures, potentially leaving their opposing mana bases exposed.

But the uptick in tempo strategies, beginning with the Delver/Pyromancer lists, culminating in Mentor, and its response, the various Ravager Shop decks, means that you have to accomplish a borderline impossible feat; gain control of the game quickly enough with your four mana Smokestack (which will take 2-3 turns to start doing real damage) before your opponent is able to hit you for a crippling, potentially lethal, amount of damage.

It pushes you to want to run cards like Tabernacle, Smokestack and Ensnaring Bridge together, which leads you to running a bad control deck that can't tutor for the pieces that it needs. Null Rod also belongs in that list, which is unfortunate, because Null Rod and Smokestack are not friends. You don't want your opponent sacrificing Moxen that have been turned off; you want that Null Rod to be doing something else that otherwise impacts the game. Also, that Null Rod doesn't stack well (that you never want to see multiples), all while you're forced to run 3-4 in order to, hopefully, see one, puts you in a position where a deck that can rarely afford bad topdecks has guaranteed some number more bad topdecks than it would like.

Singletons in Shop decks that don't have Kuldotha Forgemaster feel random. You're not guaranteed to hit them, which means that you want to take a step back and consider what they generally do (i.e., Walking Ballista as a threat, Karn, Silver Golem as a threat, etc.) in lieu of looking at what specific effect they bring to the table (i.e. Karn, Silver Golem as Mox control, Walking Ballista as creature control, etc.).

To address the larger points:

A lot of things pushed the Shop decks to where they're at right now. The token generator strategy was a stake through the heart of Smokestack builds because a quick Pyromancer/Mentor meant that an opponent wasn't sacrificing mana (either Moxen or lands), but was instead sacrificing tokens generated from their instants and sorceries. Smokestack, one of Shop's few true card-advantage engines, was suddenly potentially a card-loss engine.

The rise of Swords to Plowshares, from a sideboard option that usually only saw two or so copies being played, to a maindeck four-of, punished Shop decks for investing mana in expensive threats. A six mana Wurmcoil Engine could be flicked away with a one mana instant. This pushed Shop decks to run cheaper, more efficient threats. The restriction of Chalice of the Void further pushed this home; Shop decks that wanted to try to run cards like Kuldotha Forgemaster weren't able to protect their threats, which meant that even if they were ready to try and establish threats on the board to end the game, the opponent could easily collapse their strategy.

Dack Fayden is silently responsible for much of what we see today with Shop decks. A Shop deck must be able to answer a resolved Dack Fayden, which changes how Shop decks are built. Phyrexian Revoker is a necessity in all modern Shop decks. The restriction of Lodestone Golem, which, when paired with cards like Chalice of the Void set to zero, helped ensure that an early Dack wouldn't happen, further powered up Dack. Cards like Smokestack and Crucible of Worlds become far worse, as your opponent can easily steal them, and negate any advantage that you had hoped to gain from them. Cards like Arcbound Ravager become more powerful because of their ability to negate Dack's theft ability.

Decks with fully developed fast mana bases, and a healthy dose of basic lands, were being run over by Gush decks. Gush decks weakness to Sphere effects, especially multiple Sphere effects, demanded that Shop decks max out on Sphere effects.

Suddenly, you were looking at the cards that you needed to run, with your rough mana base, your fast mana, the full resistor package, and the creatures needed to combat Dack Fayden, and you didn't really have many open slots. Consider this:

1 Black Lotus
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Sol Ring
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Sphere of Resistance
4 Thorn of Amethyst
4 Tangle Wire
1 Trinisphere
1 Lodestone Golem

1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Mishra's Factory (Or Eldrazi Temple, or Cavern, or whatever, but four more lands)
4 Mishra's Workshop
4 Wasteland

That's 48 cards before we decide what we want to be. I also don't think an argument can be made for running anything less than four Walking Ballista right now, unless you want to try and be some kind of Null Rod hard control deck (which I think is terrible). Add those in and we're at 52 cards.

This sucks.

There is little room for innovation because there's so much pressure to answer the problems at hand. Speaking as a Shop pilot who has had Crucible, and Smokestack, stolen by Dack Fayden, it's a miserable world.

There was a real point in time back in early 2012 where you could run Espresso Stax (Smokestacks), Martello Shops (effectively Tinker), MUD Marinara (Welders) and be justified in deciding to run any of those decks. The token generators killed Espresso. The last time I ran the list to a successful finish, I had to switch out Karns for Steel Hellkites in order to try and make up the slack from Pyromancer/Mentor. The restrictions to Chalice of the Void and Lodestone Golem killed Martello Shops. The modern demands on a Shop deck's mana base (maxing out on Ancient Tombs) and the printing of Walking Ballista, I believe, finally ends the notion that a successful Shop/Welder deck can be constructed again.

All the aforementioned strategies are outdated. We had a point where the various parts of 5C Stax had been taken apart and reassembled into their own full decks:

Espresso Stax - Smokestack deck
Martello Shops - Tinker deck
Terra Nova - Sphere deck
MUD Marinara - Welder deck

Those decks are all in the past.

The future of Workshop decks came when Javier David took the first of his 'Mudhoney' Ravager decks to play in the LCV in Spain. Several Americans played with iterations of his build, First they (/we) played with a Ravager/Lodestone deck (Rich Shay at Champs, Brian Schlossberg/Will Dayton at local events, me in the VSL play-in that I participated in). Then the restriction of Lodestone Golem saw the build get adjusted again, this time swapping in Eldrazi Temples for Mishra's Factories, so that the deck could run Thought-Knot Seers.

Everyone is always hunting for their edge. I decided that I wasn't willing to quit playing Vintage over the restrictions to Chalice of the Void and Lodestone Golem back in September of 2016, which led me to see what I could do to attack the metagame from a different angle. I put together what I believe to be an advancement to the second round of Ravager decks (both the Thought-Knot Seer builds and their cousin, the Fleetwheel Cruiser builds), running a lower curve with Steel Overseers.

Even if you believe that Steel Overseer isn't the best route for Shop decks, currently there are really only three variants that make sense (if your goal is to play competitive Vintage, and not just have a good time (which is fine; knowing what we want out of the things we do with our time is critical, and having fun is a good thing)); Car Shops, Ravager TKS and Blitzkrieg Shops (Overseer Ravager).

I've droned on long enough.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

posted in Vintage Community read more

Today a major distinction was made, as we were told that winning the Vintage Championship does not make one a Vintage World Champion.

This year, for the first time ever, there will be two Vintage Championships. One will be held in Paris by the tournament organizers who were behind the Bazaar of Moxen, Europe's most prestigious Vintage tournament, and the second will be held by Nick Coss, who has run Eternal Weekend since its move from Pastimes/GenCon.

To start, the organizers behind the Bazaar of Moxen are genuine champions of Vintage. They are responsible for countless Europeans playing the format, and they helped turn Vintage into what it was a few years back in Europe. For years, Americans envied the attendance (and prize support) of the Bazaar of Moxen. If any European T/O were to get support from Wizards of the Coast for Vintage, it should be them. They deserve all accolades sent their way, and my future points in this post are in no way meant to detract from the tremendous work that they have done in championing the format, and creating the once thriving European Vintage community.

With all that said, and keeping that respect in mind, this change is a truly awful one.

Since 2003, we have referred to the victor of the Vintage Championship as the Vintage World Champion. Carl Winter, Mark Biller, Steve Menendian, Mark Hornung, Joel Lim, Brian Kelly and all others were received as the champions of the format. The distinction of the victor as Vintage World Champion is now impossible, as there are multiple champions when there can only be one.

What does this do?

For starters, European Vintage pilots who were interested in the title of world champion now have no incentive to fly to the United States to play. A statistically significant percentage of the competitors traveled to Eternal Weekend 2015 from Europe. Lacking the incentive to travel to the U.S. to play, I'd imagine that they won't.

Secondly, for those of us who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on cards, prepared, tested, and flew around the country to attain the title of the sole Vintage champion, the meaning of our quest is now significantly diminished, if not entirely removed. In running multiple Vintage Championships, there is no longer one acknowledged champion. Vintage Championships is no longer special. It is no longer the opportunity to compete against the best and claim your victory for that year, it is now just another large Vintage tournament. In running Vintage Champs in the U.S., and Europe, what's to stop there from being an online Vintage Champs? A Vintage Champs in Japan? If there is a Vintage Champs in Japan, and it nets 60 players, is it now more prestigious to win the N.Y.S.E. Open than to win Vintage Champs (because this one just so happened to be run in Japan)?

There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into running a large event, and it takes months upon months to organize. I know the amount of work that goes into Vintage Championships because I've seen it firsthand, and had an incredibly tiny role in it a few times. Nick Coss has done more for this format than any other T/O currently active. He has staked tens of thousands of dollars on the format and its community. He has run Vintage events through the dark times. He has promoted the format and the community at every opportunity. If there was one member of the Vintage community whom I'd deem absolutely critical, it would be Nick Coss. Everyone here owes him a debt of gratitude, either directly or indirectly.

The last Vintage Championship, run by Pastimes, had 187 players. It was the biggest attendance that they had ever had. Nick Coss, in his first year, surpassed that attendance by 50 players, with virtually no notice. In his second year, with notice, Eternal Weekend had 320 players. To my knowledge, no other American Vintage T/O can claim to have run a 300 man tournament, unless we go all the way back to before Magic rotated, and events were held in hotels. The most well-attended Vintage tournament I have ever seen was a Bazaar of Moxen several years back that had 382 players. In his third year, Nick had 482 competitors for Vintage Champs.

Nick's love of the format, work in sharing it, and tremendous efforts in running the best event possible, combined with the efforts of myriad other Vintage T/Os has helped to create a Vintage tournament that is more vibrant, better received, well-attended than anything that had existed before it. Consider that, at 482 players, Nick managed to nearly triple the attendance that Vintage Champs had just four years prior.

When you see success, you try to encourage it further. Wizards should be helping him here, and yet this will undoubtedly hurt him.

Vintage in Europe is ailing. America has achieved supremacy in terms of the best attended events, something that I wasn't sure I'd see anytime soon, let alone see at all. I love the format, and the community, and I am all for helping the Europeans rejuvenate their community, and return to where they were. But to destroy the title of Vintage World Champion, to make the title of Vintage Champion worth so much less, is at the very least odious, and at the most, offensive.

There is a way to do this. If you believe that the Vintage World Champion should be a product of a global community, you could run Vintage Championships once a year in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. You could run an annual World Championship once a year in one of those three places. You could alternate between continents. Would it be more difficult for American players? Yes. It would be more fair to the rest of the world though, and it would not deny us our champion. To run multiple Vintage Championships each year removes the incentive for many players to compete. It removes the incentive for many others to travel. It will take the efforts of Nick Coss, in particular and squander them.

I urge you to reach out to Helene Bergeot on Twitter, and to ask her to work towards solving this problem. We have had a Vintage World Champion since 2003. Will that title die this year? Please help us ensure that it doesn't.

posted in Art and Collecting read more

I was the beneficiary of help from friends in Italy, Singapore, Croatia, Japan and the U.S. recently, and it resulted in me being lucky enough to add Paolo Parente’s Masticore to my art collection.

I wrote a nostalgia trip/thank you/article about it, which can be found here:

http://www.eternalcentral.com/no-man-is-an-island/

posted in Vintage Tournaments read more

Are you ready for one of the best Vintage events of the year?

What:

N.Y.S.E. Open VI

15 proxy, non-sanctioned Vintage tournament.

Prize support for this year's event is going to be different, though still excellent, and I'd like the feedback of the community. In the coming days, I'm going to post, and ask for feedback from the community as to what you, the players, want for prize support. It's the NYSE Open, so I want to give out power, and I want to give out Workshops. Let's figure out what works for the greatest number of people in putting together another great event.

When:

Saturday, July 20th 2019
9:00 am registration
10:00 am start

Where:

The Four Points Sheraton
Address: 333 S Service Rd, Plainview, NY 11803
Phone: (516) 694-6500

Pre-Registration & On Site Registration

NYSE Open V featured pre-registration at $125 that was available online through roughly one month before the event, and day-of registration that was available at $150. This year will be the same. Pre-registration will go live as soon as possible.

As with past years, the NYSE Open will be capped. Max cap will be double-checked, but should be 153.

Proxies:

Most everyone on these forums knows what a proxy is. A proxy, for the N.Y.S.E. Open, will be defined as the following:

A Magic: the Gathering card with the full name, card type (instant, sorcery, land, artifact, creature, enchantment, planeswalker), full mana cost and text clearly displayed. This can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Using a Sharpie, not pen or pencil, to fill in the required text on a card where it can clearly be read. Revised lands are excellent for this, new commons and uncommons aren't usually, as they're darker, and far tougher to read.

  2. Using acetone to remove certain text from a card that's close to the intended proxy (i.e. Lotus Bloom, with certain words removed to proxy a Black Lotus, Ancestral Visions with certain words removed to proxy an Ancestral Recall).

Take pride in your proxies! Your opponents should know at all times what your proxies are.

Using 15 Swamps to make your proxies is a bad idea, as it's going to create confusion. If you're proxying Moxen, please use a land from each appropriate color to make a proxy for each according Mox (i.e., your Mox Sapphire is on an Island, your Mox Jet is on a Swamp, your Mox Pearl is on a Plains, etc.).

Please use your best judgment when creating your proxies; we know what will and what won't be easily recognizable.

Your opponents should not ever be at a disadvantage because you don't own the cards. There is nothing wrong with using proxies as you slowly pick up the cards that you need to play Vintage, but please consider your opponents while you're making them, as we're out to make this an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. One of my favorite aspects of the Vintage community is that we look out for each other, whether it's constant vigilance to counter potential thievery, or the day to day stuff that mostly goes unnoticed. Let's all do what we can to make this event as special as we can for our fellow aficionados of Magic's greatest format.

If you're worried that your proxies may not pass muster, please speak to the head judge of the event before the event starts. Leave enough time to create new proxies, if necessary.

Using paper printouts of card faces and gluing them to cards is not acceptable! This alters the thickness of the cards, making the cards marked for all intents and purposes. Please don't do this, as the judges will be instructed to consider these as marked cards, and enforce punishment according to DCI Competitive REL event regulations!

Site Security:

Theft is always a concern, even if theft has never been a problem at one of my events before. I feel that the security that we have had at all my N.Y.S.E. Opens was what was needed.

All players will be given wristbands that will be used to associate them with their corresponding bags. You will not be able to leave with someone else's bag, and any time you leave the venue, your wristbands will be checked. If you feel like it's a hassle, please remember that this is a measure that is meant to ensure that you, and all your friends, leave with everything that you brought. Security is helping keep this a positive experience for everyone, so please be kind, and remember that they're just doing their job!

To any potential thieves, God help you if you're caught stealing. There are cameras recording every corner of this venue; you will be caught, you will be arrested, charges will be pressed, it will be a horrific experience for you and it will stay with you for a while. Let's not walk that path.

Miscellaneous:

There are a lot of details with the NYSE Open that I love; the Vintage FNM, the altered Karns, the trophies, etc. There is a lot that goes into this event, and there are a few more complications with this year's event than events in years past, so I'm not rolling out everything at once. There will be polls, a lot of feedback from the community, and a great event. There will be many, many, many free giveaways, as I've been collecting cool things for a while now. I can promise you that this event will be the best event that I can make it.

I hope to see you there!

posted in Vintage Community read more

Hey, everybody.

I've had a fair number of people reach out to me in the last couple of months about information for N.Y.S.E. Open VI, and wanted to pass along where we stand now.

For the time being, I have stepped back from the format. I want to see some iteration of the event continue, and may take up the mantle again in the future, but have reached out to my close friends Nick Coss and Calvin Hodges about picking up the N.Y.S.E. Open for 2018. Whatever they run will be their event, and I can promise you that organizing something of this scale is a lot of work, so please give them time and the space they need. They are both currently working on an event for the summer. Details, including the venue, prize structure, etc., are not set at the moment, but will be in plenty of time for the event.

I count many members of the Magic community among my closest friends, and I am grateful for all the community has done for me over the years. Even though I haven't played in about a year, I'm still reachable if you want to talk, and I'm still willing to try and help. Work and personal life responsibilities demand more of my time than they have before, and the prospect of spending well over one hundred hours working on an event, spent across six months, is too tall an order for me right now. Hopefully 2019 will be different.

My most sincere thanks to everyone who has supported the N.Y.S.E. Open in the past. It has been incredible to see the support that the event generated, and seeing the community come together, from all over the U.S., and the world, to support something that I (and my friends) did. I will always be amazed that we had players from Spain, Hawaii, Canada, California...

Hopefully I'll see you all again in 2019.

posted in Vintage News read more

Brassman's right, Scourge was chosen because it was the last set with old-bordered cards.

I loved playing with old-bordered cards. I loved when the only cards were old-bordered cards, and we got to complain about things like 'summon' being removed post Urza's Legacy. We didn't know better. Back then I thought it was a major piece of flavor that had disappeared.

With every set that sees print now, there are more and more old-bordered cards that get pushed out of Vintage decks. Cutting Tangle Wires from my Shop deck felt awful. Silver bordered cards were rare when I played Vintage back in 2003. Now they're everywhere, slowly knocking out the last holdouts.

Can we talk for a second about how awful the silver border is for artifacts? Of all the things that were done with the 8th Edition update, this was the most offensive. Do those of you who were playing back then remember how difficult it was to quickly tell the difference between artifacts and white cards in Mirrodin, and how Wizards had to go back, and make the color differentiation between the two more noticeable? The brown artifacts weren't confused for anything else. We knew what they were. Beyond that, the silver makes literally all the art look washed out. Consider the following:

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This art is absolutely magnificent. It's legitimately great. How many of us have really spent time appreciating that, given that it looks like this:

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You had one of the very best artists that Magic has ever had do a painting that's an absolute home run. And most of us never really appreciated it, because it looks dull, on behalf of the ridiculous frame that they've thrown on it.

Look at the promo version, and tell me that you don't see the art better here, that the art isn't complemented better by the border here:

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This is small, and yet it's one of the unconscious things that affects how we see the game. The cards, the art, the text, the set symbols, they should all work together to form something truly beautiful, unique, and easily distinguished from other card games.

Here's a fun example, stolen in part from Greg Fenton.

Check out these six images:

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Can you easily identify which ones are Magic art? Are any of them? Are all of them?

If someone can't identify your game from someone else's game, isn't that a problem? Why are you different, and why should I want to spend money with you? If the art didn't matter, and it was all about the functionality of the cards, then the art could be removed entirely. But how exciting would Magic be if you were just playing cards that had nothing but text? The art clearly adds something, in the positive instances. In the bad ones, it's able to detract. Cleanse your palate with the following images:

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Distinct styles, artists with a little breathing room, a unique touch that feels like Magic.

Very few people currently playing actually played 'Old School' when it was just Magic, so part of the selling point of Classic was that it was going to appeal to more players. I can relate to Old School, but it still feels somewhat foreign to me. I was talking to a friend on Wednesday about old decks, and we spoke about many of the decks that I think players around my age feel a great sense of nostalgia for. If money wasn't a factor, I'd happily buy and build tricked out versions of all the following decks:

Ponza
Hatred
Academy
Accelerated Blue
Replenish
Chevy Blue
Fires
Counter-Rebels
Nether-Go
Thundercats
Tinker
Wildfire
Napster

I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting.

No 8th Edition frames, virtually no digital art, no ridiculous art direction that makes everything look like it's from World of Warcraft, like two of the six images I posted first.

I remember playing Chevy Blue without sleeves, because the whole deck was like $20. That deck may still be under $50 to build.

To get back on point, there's a purity to the game that was lost slowly, chipped away at, beginning in 1999, culminating in the change of the card frame in 2003. Wizards starting testing cards before releasing them was a smart move (this was something that should have always been done, but it led to a lot of mistake printings that I think we all love, lest we wouldn't have invested in, or played Vintage), but I loved the crazy power levels of cards back then, and Masques block was a steep drop-off from Urza's block. And the 8th Edition frame just thrust a dagger in my heart. I know some people swear they like that frame better than the original, but I think they're all nuts. The original frame is superior. This is still the same company. They are capable of producing something legitimately beautiful, something cohesive, where all the various parts feel like they complement the whole, in lieu of the mess that's going on now.

Another thing that is supremely subtle, that nobody I know talks about, is the quality of the set symbols. There were so many great set symbols back in the day. The column for Legends, the scimitar for Arabian Knights, the flag for Alliances, the snowflake for Ice Age, the palm tree for Mirage, the storm cloud for Tempest, the bridge for Exodus, the gears, hammer, and flask for Urza's Saga, Legacy, Destiny. The mask for Mercadian Masques! The set symbols tried to communicate a brief point, and that was that. The people behind them knew that they didn't have a lot of space, and that the set symbol had to be something that was easily recognizable. There were some middle-of-the-road set symbols (Visions, Homelands, Stronghold), but the first one that I remember being bad was Invasion. At some point in the process, it felt like there was a shift; the set symbol stopped being something that communicated something about the set to you, to being something that required existing knowledge to understand. A cloud with lightning firing from it communicates a storm, and there are many things that we associate with storms, both in literal and figurative terms. What exactly is the Dominaria set symbol? There are enough uniquely identifiable objects in existence that this should never have been a problem. It's just one tiny thing that adds to your experience, all without you really thinking about it.

A Magic card is the culmination of all of those things. The cards themselves matter - the text within those borders is obviously critical, but in its own way, it's also irrelevant. If you create a legitimately beautiful piece of art, and you complement it with exquisite frames, fonts, set symbols, etc., the attachment that people form with the game will be that much stronger than it is now. Check out the font on this card:

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They paid to develop this font! They wanted to be able to copyright a font. I totally get it, it makes sense, from a legal perspective, to have a font that you've copyrighted. Great. Why was this the end product? Here's a fun aside for anyone interested:

https://gizmodo.com/the-gorgeous-typeface-that-drove-men-mad-and-sparked-a-1686081182

https://typespec.co.uk/doves-type-revival/

The function of the cards is tremendously important; Wizards mishaps with the function of the cards in the last few years has certainly lost them players. I just sincerely believe that if they had spent more time working on making the game as beautiful as possible in all the other ways that they could, that they'd have the opportunity to create a more 'sticky' experience with the game, and potentially keep their player retention rate higher than whatever it is.

This is all a wildly absurd deviation from the original point of the conversation, which was just to say that, yes, Classic was for sets from 1993-2003, and that those years, and sets, were chosen for valid reasons. Various interpretations of 'Pre-Modern' that don't take into account what they lose by adding 8th Edition frame cards (and anything newer) miss a significant part of the exercise in creating the format.

Sorry for the ridiculous nature of this post. My kudos to anyone who gets through this whole thing.

posted in Tournament Reports read more

When Eternal Weekend comes around, there's always preparation to be done, both in working on a new build to attack the metagame, and in tightening up the decision-making that you'll call on all day long.

This year was different. For the first time since 2010, Raffaele Forino and I would not both be making the trek to play in Vintage Champs together. Prior commitments had pulled him away, and for the first time in a while, I felt like I was flying solo. It wasn't a comfortable feeling.

The release of Kaladesh had given me hope that there would be an opportunity to use new cards to attack the metagame in unanticipated ways. Several cards caught my attention, but most notable among them were Foundry Inspector and Chief of the Foundry (which had been previously printed in Magic: Origins as a preview card from Kaladesh).

Foundry Inspector was very exciting, and got me thinking about Workshops for the first time since the Lodestone restriction. I immediately tried to put together a deck that could abuse Foundry Inspector by presenting the opponent with multiple threats quickly. The first iteration of the deck looked like this:

1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Sol Ring
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Phyrexian Revoker
2 Steel Overseer
4 Thorn of Amethyst
4 Chief of the Foundry
4 Foundry Inspector
4 Tangle Wire
1 Lodestone Golem
4 Triskelion

3 Thought-Knot Seer

1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Mishra's Factory
4 Mishra's Workshop
4 Wasteland

I had taken the various interpretations of one of Javier David's 'Mudhoney' lists, commonly known as Ravager TKS, and I had cut Spheres, swapped out Eldrazi Temples for Mishra's Factories, and cut down one Thought-Knot.

It didn't take long before a few things became apparent:

  1. Thought-Knots with no Eldrazi Temples are too slow to be effective.
  2. Unrestricted Gush means that every Workshop deck starts with eight Spheres and a Trinisphere.
  3. Foundry Inspector doesn't belong in this deck.
  4. Steel Overseer was more powerful than I thought it was.

The Thought-Knots were cut because they were too slow. Even when I cheated, running only four Sphere effects instead of the full eight, it was still not something I could consistently drop until the game was mostly decided. Workshop decks don't typically come from behind. They have to attack you where you live, and keep the pressure up. Thought-Knot Seer, an incredibly powerful card that is now a Vintage staple, didn't feel right in this deck.

I played several games against the URW Mentor list from the September Power Nine Challenge. The deck runs four Swords to Plowshares, two Dack Faydens, a Wear/Tear, a Snapcaster Mage, and a little additional artifact removal in the sideboard. If you're going to build a deck, you need to know if you're able to hit the fastball of the metagame, and URW Mentor was the fastball. I was pounded, over and over, by a counter on a critical spell, a Swords to Plowshares on a critical creature, and one more effect (either a second Swords, the Tear, the Snapcaster flashing something back, or the dreaded Dack Fayden).

The issue that I had with Foundry Inspector was that every time I saw him in an opener, I wanted to play him immediately. But if I played him immediately, I potentially granted my opponent an additional turn in which they went by, unmolested, able to greatly impact my ability to win the game. Again, Workshop decks aren't decks that usually come from behind. They need immediate pressure, and they need to keep pushing (albeit with lock pieces or creatures) in order to win the game. Foundry Inspector is a very powerful card. Right now, for me, he doesn't really have the perfect home yet. I am impressed with what he's able to do, but the cost of what he does was too much to bear for the time being. I had to move on. Someday, someone will find a way to take advantage of that card, and they will do something very powerful with it. It will probably not be me.

The games that I won against URW Mentor were games that I managed to present him with more powerful creatures than he was able to handle. I had several games, on the back of Steel Overseer, where I was able to quickly turn the game against him.

Turn one: Shop, Mox, Thorn, Overseer.
Turn two: Mishra's Factory, Phyrexian Revoker. End of opponent's turn, pump the team.
Turn three: Play Chief of the Foundry, activate the Factory, pump the team with Overseer, swing for ten.
Turn four: Swing for lethal.

One of the critical lessons in learning how to play Workshops was how to play small, then get big. Everyone loves playing powerful creatures, but there's a reason why 'Six Drop Shops' (as I called it at Champs in 2011 after running into it a few times) wasn't winning. Wurmcoil Engine and friends are great, but when you don't punish him early, you can't punish him late.

So it was back to the drawing board. And it was without enough time.

The list that I had put together a week and a half before Champs:

1 Black Lotus
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Sol Ring
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Sphere of Resistance
4 Steel Overseer
4 Thorn of Amethyst
4 Chief of the Foundry
3 Etched Champion
4 Tangle Wire
1 Trinisphere
1 Lodestone Golem

1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Mishra's Factory
4 Mishra's Workshop
4 Wasteland

The list wasn't perfect, by any measure, but it addressed a few of the problems that the initial deck had:

  1. Etched Champion was a threat that could dodge blockers, and removal.
  2. The Sphere count was correct.
  3. The deck better understood what it wanted to be; it better walked the line drawn between aggression and control that Shop decks must walk.

I was tired of my threats being wiped away with a Swords to Plowshares, only to see me quickly lose to Mentor and friends. The deck had a few concessions to that: Arcbound Ravager, Steel Overseer and Chief of the Foundry. The issue that I had with my threats was primarily that they weren't good enough on their own once the best of them was annihilated. All of those cards helped address that, in addition to helping pump the Etched Champion.

Etched Champion was weak at 2/2. Its ability to blank literally every removal spell that sees play in the format, however, was powerful. A 2/2 wasn't usually enough to win you the game. But at 3/3, or 4/4, it started to become a very credible threat.

Every other build that I have seen that ran Champion ran equipment. It was a natural concession to Champion's weak power and toughness. Equipment helped bulk up the Champion to turn him into a lethal threat. But each piece of equipment cost me an additional card in my deck that wasn't a piece of disruption, and wasn't something that could directly attack the opponent's life total. That was an issue, and will continue to be an issue. There is no such thing as a 'correct' Workshop list right now that runs anything less than a maxed out Sphere count. I couldn't find the room to run Sword of War and Peace, Sword of Fire and Ice, Umezawa's Jitte, or Cranial Plating. They're all solid cards, and they're all worthy of consideration, but they're likely cards 61-64 in what the maindeck should be.

So, there I was. I had a deck that I knew to be pretty good, but that I knew would have some flaws. Null Rod would be a big concern, but I felt that, especially with a little work in the sideboard, I'd be able to punch up Null Rod decks under their curve, as I was faster than they were. It wouldn't necessarily be a fun, or easy match. But I felt it was winnable. The biggest flaw with the deck was Oath of Druids.

If you're a Vintage pilot, and you've been playing for the last few years, you know that while you may not see Oath in the first few rounds, there is a good chance that you're going to run into it if you go deep on the day. Pilots like Greg Fenton and Brian Kelly, among others, have innovated with Oath in ways that I couldn't have considered. I didn't want to go into Champs with a weak Oath match, so because I didn't have the time that I needed to test, to build a sideboard, and to potentially address the issues that I'd have with Oath, I shelved the deck.

I picked up White Eldrazi, and toyed with it for a few days. I asked Brass Man for a list that I later put down when I realized that I had no idea how to board with it (thank you though, Andy). I played a very vanilla list, poorly on the day, and was dead by round four. To be fair, my pairings were pretty brutal. That said, when you're on, you're able to rise to the occasion and play with the best. When you're not, you're going to be run over pretty quickly.

Champs came and went, and it was time to lick my wounds. I have missed playing Vintage a great deal, even as I have felt tremendously salty about everything that has happened. I said on Facebook that I didn't feel like paying the bill for dual lands that I was sent once Lodestone Golem was restricted. Over the summer, I started paying that bill, but that's another point entirely I suppose.

I wanted to play. I had a deck that I knew needed work. Top Deck Games was having an event on 11/19, and I wanted to go. So Jimmy Hangley, Greg Fenton and I made our way down to Top Deck Games yesterday, and we played.

Forgive me for the abbreviated rundown, but here we go:

Round One: Mark Hornung (Powerless G/B Eldrazi)

Mark is one of the recent great champions that we have had, even if he's a dirty Eagles fan. I had enjoyed breakfast with him earlier, and knew him to be on Eldrazi, though I didn't know what tech he had that he was going to throw my way. Luckily, I had two openers with Lotus, powered out fast threats and punched up his mana enough that he was never able to come over the top at me.

One of the things that I do enjoy about this deck, as compared to other Shop Aggro decks of the past, is that the deck can grow well. Usually, when the game stalls, you're in a top-deck war. When the games stalled for me, I was presenting a more imposing threat each turn, as my Steel Overseers and unnecessary artifacts sacrificed to Arcbound Ravager created ever larger threats for my opponents.

Round Two: Stephen Harvey - Joseph Bogaard's U/W Landstill (I think)

We trade games one and two, and come to a critical point in game three where he has just played an Energy Flux, with a Pithing Needle holding down my Mishra's Factories. I had put him to 16 off one swing with a Steel Overseer pumped Chief of the Foundry. I lose everything but two Chiefs and a Thorn, presenting him with near lethal. A Wasteland from him nails an Ancient Tomb, and shrinks my board down to the one lonely Chief, who continues bashing away. Eventually, he gets there. Whew.

Round Three: Matt Murray - Salvager Oath

Game one was not a lot of fun. I had opened up with a powerful starter that presented an Etched Champion, Arcbound Ravager, and a Revoker. It was met with a Mox Pearl and an Oath of Druids. Oops.

Games two and three were aggressive hands that either drew into, or initially possessed the second Grafdigger's Cage. The second Cage got Matt both times.

Oath is a truly awful match. It needs a slew of work, more than I could put in before the event. I didn't learn anything in this match, other than that I needed to figure out the Oath match if I ever intended on bringing this deck to another event.

Round Four - Travis Compton - Dredge

Travis is a local, and a friend who is always on Dredge. We're both 3-0 at this point, and while I didn't really want to draw, I didn't want to potentially win and knock a friend down. I offered the draw before game one, but it was decided that it would be better to play.

We play a very, very close game one where an Etched Champion has been pumped by an Overseer to be lethal on the following turn, as it swung past zombie tokens and Narcomoebas. On his last turn, Travis dredged the Dread Return that he needed for Elesh Norn, pumping his zombies up to lethal, and killing my 3/2 Phyrexian Revoker.

I don't really remember game two. I just know that it featured multiple hate pieces and a fast clock.

Game three had me open with a Wasteland, a nice balance of threats and mana and a Tormod's Crypt. Unmask removed my Crypt, which had me feeling like I had to be a dog here, but he didn't have a great deal of pressure, and more hate showed up. A Grafdigger's Cage helped seal the deal, as my Steel Overseer ensured that my team was bigger than his, and eventually allowed me to swing for lethal a few turns later.

Rounds Five and Six - Draw

I didn't think that the deck was going to go this far, but at 4-0-2, I was either the second or third seed going into the top eight. At this point, I had nearly exhausted my capacity to play decent Magic, and was very much looking forward to the car ride home. I hoped for a top eight split and a quick car ride back. Three of our eight decided that they wanted to play it out. So it would be at least one more round.

Top Eight - Joe Brennan - URW Mentor

Joe Brennan has, incredibly, only been in the Vintage community for about a year or so, but he has already become a staple member of our community. In addition to being a talented player, Joe also happens to be a really nice guy. I had only played him once before, but I had seen him play, and I knew that this would not be an easy match.

My opener for game one had Sol Ring, Mishra's Workshop, two Moxen, an Etched Champion, and more. When my Sol Ring was Misstepped, I played the Shop and landed my Etched Champion. My Workshop quickly bit the dust to a Strip Mine, and I was suddenly left with an uncomfortable decision: Joe had a Tundra in play, with no more mana. I had two Moxen and my 2/2 Champion. In hand I have Sphere of Resistance, two Phyrexian Revokers and a Chief of the Foundry. If I play the Sphere of Resistance, I push him off all his two drops and ensure that he has to have a second land to start the Preordain engine going. If I play the Revoker, blind, I could name Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, or a few other cards that concerned me (DACK FAYDEN), but they'd be blind names, and, thus, unreliable. I made what I believe to be the correct call, and played the Sphere of Resistance. I proceeded to brick on lands for the next six turns, and died because of it. Oops. I still think that it was the right play. When it was made, Joe was at 16, which meant that the Champion would have to do quite a bit of work in order to close the game out. It led me to believe that more mana was necessary for a win. This time around, it didn't show up.

I don't remember game two. I'm getting old.

Game three was an interesting one. Joe seemed to debate the hand for a little while, and that meant that there was an issue with it. This usually means one of two things when you're playing Shops; either the opponent doesn't have counter-magic, or they're light on mana. Joe opened on a Mox Sapphire with a fetch for a basic Island. I opened on a Shop, Ruby, Overseer, Sphere. I followed with a Thorn. Then another Sphere. I played a Revoker on Joe's Sapphire. I played a Factory, and kept pumping away with the Overseer. I had lethal shortly thereafter.

Our top four was Greg Fenton, Travis Compton, John Callahan and I. We split, and I, blessedly, got to go home.

I got lucky several times throughout the day. It's part of the game, and yesterday it broke my way. Tomorrow it may not. That said, the deck was fun, if imperfect, and I hope to put some more time in with it when I feel sufficiently motivated.

I bought my twelfth dual land today, a German FBB Tundra. I look forward to battling with you as a fellow blue mage again in 2017.

Hope to see you all at an event sometime soon!

posted in Vintage Tournaments read more

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One of the best Vintage events of the year returns!

What:

N.Y.S.E. Open V

15 playtest card, non-sanctioned Vintage tournament.

The top eight will be drafting eight pieces of power nine based on the final standings in the event! This means that you'll have a chance to draft the following cards if you make the top eight:

1st-8th:

Unlimited Black Lotus
Unlimited Ancestral Recall
Unlimited Time Walk
Unlimited Mox Sapphire
Unlimited Mox Jet
Unlimited Mox Ruby
Unlimited Mox Emerald
Unlimited Mox Pearl

But since this is the N.Y.S.E. Open, the prize support doesn't just end there!

9th-12th:

Mishra's Workshop

13th-16th:

Revised Underground Sea
Revised Volcanic Island
Revised Tropical Island
Revised Tundra

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The price on power and other assorted Vintage staples continues to go up, year after year, but maintaining the prize support of the N.Y.S.E. Open is something that I believe to be critical, and I am happy to offer that support again in 2017!

When:

Saturday, June 24th, 2017
9:00 am player check-in
10:00 am start

Where:

The Four Points Sheraton
333 South Service Rd
Plainview, N.Y.
11803
(516) 694-6500

Pre-Registration and Late Registration:

There is a quiet tension between the many parts of a tournament; the prize support, the venue, the judge staff, the security staff, the giveaways and all the other hidden costs that most players aren't going to see (hello high-speed internet, photocopies, pens, table numbers, etc., etc., etc.).

Last year, in order to maintain the prize support, I sacrificed with the venue, hoping that we wouldn't pay for it too dearly. We did, and that's my fault. I'm not going to make that sacrifice this year; for those of you who were there for N.Y.S.E. III, I am going back to that venue. I want all the players to be comfortable at the venue, and that will be assured there, as A/C won't be an issue, there is a restaurant/bar upstairs, and there are many affordable hotels within a short drive.

In order to keep the prize support, improve from lats year's venue, keep the judge and security staff, keep giveaways and all the others things that people have come to expect, the entry fee has to go up. This year, pre-registration is $125. I'm not happy about this, but it's necessary in order to make the math work on everything.

Additionally, and this is important, registration will be capping at 152 players. This is a hard cap. We had 157 players last year, and the attendance at the N.Y.S.E. Open has gone up every year; there will be players who want to play, and who are unable to play.

In order to afford a venue in which I wouldn't have to cap attendance at 152, major sacrifices would have had to be made with either the prize support, or a major hike would have been required with the entry fee. I did not want to raise the entry fee as it is, so raising it enough to compensate for what some of the other (significantly more expensive) venues would have run, a considerable hike would have been necessary. This was unacceptable. In addition, as previously mentioned, the prize support (especially the top eight support) is something close to sacrosanct for me. If power and Workshops don't go out, it isn't going to feel like an N.Y.S.E. Open, and I'm not sure that I want to run that other iteration of an event.

The N.Y.S.E. Open has not been run as a for-profit venture. Last year saw me take a hit on the day, and while I'm not happy about that, the event is run to effectively break even.

When we went to major Vintage events, we spent a significant amount of time and money in order to get to the event. We spent for our travel, accommodations, meals and more. We did it because we were afforded the opportunity to spend a weekend with friends, enjoying their company as we competed for a prize that was worth competing for. I promise you that nobody is more upset about the entry fee hike than I am, but I hope that you can all understand that it was done out of necessity, and done in order to maintain the integrity of the event.

If, at the close of pre-registration, there are still spots available, there will be a late-registration available for those remaining spots. Registration for the event, once pre-registration has closed is $150.

All registration is non-refundable, so please ensure that you are able to make the event before you register. If the event hits max capacity, you are no longer able to make it, and there is someone else who is looking to attend, please reach out to me, and we will see what can be done to switch your registration to become their registration.

Once the event maxes out, a wait-list will be put up. It is first come, first serve. If people who have previously registered to the maxed out event are unable to make it, making a spot available, the first person on the wait-list will have the opportunity to effectively buy their registration.

Pre-registration will be up later this week. Pre-registration will close on Monday, May 29th at 12:00:00 (this means that you need to pre-register by Sunday, May 28th at 11:59:59). Regular registration will close on Thursday, June 22nd.

Karn Alters!

In keeping with N.Y.S.E. Open tradition, there will be a pair of altered Karn, Silver Golems given away at the event! Earl Grant De Leon's (Poxy14's) Karn alters have added a wonderful touch to the event, and I look forward to sharing them with you as soon as images are available.

One Karn, Silver Golem will be presented to the winner of N.Y.S.E. Open V, and a second Karn will be given out to the best sportsman of the event!

For some great examples of Earl's work, check these out:

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If you're interested in having a commission done by Earl, you can reach him here:

Earl Grant De Leon - Facebook

Trophies!

The N.Y.S.E. Open wouldn't be the same without one of the best (alright, the best) trophy in Magic:

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Will Andy Markiton and the Canadians defend their title? We'll have to find out!

Team Event:

Magic is a great game, but most of the time it's a solitary one. Team events are some of the most fun events in Magic (unless they're Limited!), and as with tradition, there will be another team event at N.Y.S.E. Open V.

Entry to the team event is free! The winning team wins the team championship trophy!

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Points are calculated by adding up the total number of match points that the three members of the team have throughout the event (including the top eight). Let's consider a team that has three players who finish with the following records:

5-2-1

4-3

4-3

That team would earn three points for each match win (13 wins amounting to 39 points from wins). The team receives no points for losses, but does earn another point for its one draw, bringing them to a grand total of 40 points earned.

In order to register for the team event, all you have to do is have the three team members write your team name on the top right corner of your deck registration sheet. P.C. team names are a must, so please don't use anything offensive/dirty.

Qualifiers:

There will be fewer qualifiers available this year, in part because it's difficult to schedule them and make them work for other T/Os (where there are no date conflicts).

Qualifiers for NYSE Open V are currently sold out.

Please see the list below for a list of the scheduled qualifiers.

N.Y.S.E. Open Qualifier Victors:

  1. Top Deck Games - February 18th
  2. The Bearded Dragon - February 25th
  3. Black Magic Gaming - March 4th
  4. Top Deck Games - TBA
  5. Black Magic Gaming - TBA
  6. The Comic Book Depot - May 28th
  7. The Comic Book Depot - June 11th

Playtest Cards:

Most everyone on these forums knows what a playtest card is. A playtest card, for the N.Y.S.E. Open, will be defined as the following:

A Magic: the Gathering card with the full name, card type (instant, sorcery, land, artifact, creature, enchantment, planeswalker), full mana cost and text clearly displayed on the front of the card. This can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Use a Sharpie, not pen or pencil, to fill in the required text on a card where it can clearly be read. (Revised lands are excellent for this, new commons and uncommons aren't usually, as they're darker, and far tougher to read.)

  2. Use acetone to remove certain text from a card that's close to the intended playtest card (i.e. Lotus Bloom, with certain words removed to become a Black Lotus, Ancestral Visions with certain words removed to become an Ancestral Recall).

Take pride in your playtest cards! Your opponents should know at all times what they are.

Using 15 Swamps to make your playtest cards is a bad idea, as it's going to create confusion. If you're making Moxen, please use a land from each appropriate color to make a playtest card for each according Mox (i.e., your Mox Sapphire is on an Island, your Mox Jet is on a Swamp, your Mox Pearl is on a Plains, etc.).

Please use your best judgment when creating your playtest cards; we know what will and what won't be easily recognizable.

Your opponents should not ever be at a disadvantage because you don't own the cards. There is nothing wrong with using playtest cards as you slowly pick up the cards that you need to play Vintage, but please consider your opponents while you're making them, as we're out to make this an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. One of my favorite aspects of the Vintage community is that we look out for each other, whether it's constant vigilance to counter potential thievery, or the day to day stuff that mostly goes unnoticed. Let's all do what we can to make this event as special as we can for our fellow aficionados of Magic's greatest format.

Using paper printouts of card faces and gluing them to cards is not acceptable! This alters the thickness of the cards, making the cards marked for all intents and purposes. Please don't do this, as the judges will be instructed to consider these as marked cards, and enforce punishment according to DCI Competitive REL event standards!

If you're worried that your playtest cards may not pass muster, please speak to the head judge of the event before the event starts. Leave enough time to create new ones.

Security:

Site security, as with all N.Y.S.E. Opens, will be present, and will be tight. Wristbands will be issued to all players and staff members, granting them access to the ballrooms in which games are being played, in addition to granting them access to the two dealers on site. Individuals who have come looking to deal with our dealers will have a separate wristband that will grant them access to the dealer-area, but not the play-area.

There are cameras in the rooms, there are cameras in the halls, and theft is going to be taken exceptionally seriously. If you are caught stealing, you will be banned from all future events I run, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted. This is a very serious matter, and it will be taken seriously at the event. You will not be able to leave the venue with any bag(s) that don't match the wristband(s) that you are wearing, so please plan accordingly.

In four N.Y.S.E. Opens, we have had zero thefts. That streak will be kept alive.

Custom Playmats:

Greg Fenton is the master behind the iconic images that you see for each N.Y.S.E. Open playmat. He has done incredible work for this event in the past, and I look forward to sharing this year's image with you once it's available.

For an idea as to the quality of Greg's work, check out some of Greg's play mats:

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Greg will have a limited number of playmats with him the day of the event, priced at $40 each. If you are interested in a playmat, I highly recommend purchasing one from him as soon as you see him that day. Greg will have a station set up at the venue with the mats. Once they're gone, they're gone!

Custom Shirts:

Jason Jaco has been responsible for creating some great t-shirts for the past two N.Y.S.E. Opens! Here are last year's shirts:

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There will be an N.Y.S.E. V t-shirt this year. As soon as the image is made available, I will share it.

N.Y.S.E. Dice:

In keeping with tradition, and thanks to the efforts of Will Magrann, there will once again be commemorative dice available at this event!

Last year's dice looked like this:

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This year's dice will look nearly identical, with the only difference being the change between Roman numerals.

If you'd like to purchase dice, they are $1 per, and will be available the day of the main event, at a separate table.

While the main event of the N.Y.S.E. Open is the apex of the weekend, the N.Y.S.E. Open is not meant to be a solitary event, but rather a weekend of Magic with friends...

Video Coverage

As with the last two years, there will be video coverage of the event, in large part thanks to Mike Lupo.

A Twitch stream will be set up before round one. Once the link is good, it will be posted here, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Friday Night Vintage:

As with past years, there will be a Friday Night Vintage tournament held at The Comic Book Depot!

What:

$10 entry, 15 playtest card, non-sanctioned Vintage tournament.

Where:

The Comic Book Depot
2847 Jerusalem Avenue
Wantagh, NY 11793-2016
(516) 221-9337

When:

Friday, June 23rd, 2017
6:30 pm registration
7:00 pm (sharp!) start

All entry fees will add a commensurate amount in store credit to the prize pool. At the end of four rounds, credit will be split between the players who finished with 4-0, 3-0-1 and 3-1 records.

This event will be complete before 11:00 pm, giving you an opportunity to jam some Vintage and practice for the event all while you don't sacrifice your night's rest.

Sunday Old School Magic at the Depot!

Finally, there will be an Old School tournament on Sunday to close out the N.Y.S.E. Open weekend!

Where:

The Comic Book Depot
2847 Jerusalem Avenue
Wantagh, NY 11793-2016
(516) 221-9337

When:

Sunday, June 25th
11:30 am registration
12:00 pm (sharp!) start

What:

$20, un-sanctioned Old School tournament.

For information on rules, sets allowed, and any other queries, please check the link below:

http://newyorkoldschoolmtg.com/

Prize structure for twenty people:

1st: $200 credit
2nd: $100 credit
3rd/4th: $50 credit

$20 credit will be added to the prize pool for every entrant beyond the twentieth. Depot has a wide selection of great cards, and will provide any victors with a great chance to pick up some cool stuff to add to their collection.

Miscellaneous:

Card Titan and Black Magic Gaming pay to vend at the N.Y.S.E. Open. We all love this game, but love alone doesn't pay the bills; their support makes the N.Y.S.E. Open possible.

There will be absolutely no buying and selling of cards at the N.Y.S.E. Open unless you are dealing with one of the two authorized vendors. Trading is acceptable, but no cash, PayPal, Venmo, Bitcoins, krugerands, etc., should be trading hands. Dealers deal, and the payoff is that we have places to play. Please help make this a great day for everyone.

posted in Vintage Community read more

One of the greatest games I've ever seen...

It's 2011 or so, and Mike Egan, on U/W Landstill, is playing Visna Harris, on some form of Grixis Control. We're at a fairly developed board state, Visna has some number of Underground Sea and Volcanic Island in play, Egan has a Mishra's Factory and some number of Tundras/basics.

Egan taps and casts Standstill. Visna cheers. Literally cheers.

Egan, confused, asks if it resolves. It does. At this point in the game, all Egan has seen is typical blue stuff. Fetches, duals, Force of Will/Mana Drain, etc. Nothing is out of the ordinary. But this is Visna Harris.

Visna untaps, and plays Bazaar of Baghdad for his turn. Is he on Dragon? Nope. He taps the Bazaar, draws two, and pitches THREE BLOODGHASTS, then passes.

What the hell is going on here?

Egan untaps, activates the Factory, and swings for two, then passes.

Visna untaps, plays MISHRA'S FACTORY to recur his three Bloodghasts.

The game becomes an utter blowout. Egan pops his Standstill to try and handle the Bloodghast/Factory army from the Grixis Control deck, but it's too much, too quickly.

There are other good stories, but that one's great.

posted in Official Tournament Results read more

NYSE Open V is in the books! With players flying in from Hawaii, Spain, California, Canada, and traveling from all across the U.S., we had 132 competitors! After a grueling eight rounds, our top eight duked it out, and saw Ryan Glackin best Stephen Menendian in a three game set to take the Lotus, trophy, and altered Karn! Congratulations to Ryan Glackin, Stephen Menendian, and all my top 16 competitors!

1st – Ryan Glackin
Mustard Shops

1 Black Lotus
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
4 Walking Ballista
1 Sol Ring
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Sphere of Resistance
4 Thorn of Amethyst
4 Foundry Inspector
1 Trinisphere
3 Fleetwheel Cruiser
1 Lodestone Golem
3 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Triskelion

1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Mishra’s Factory
4 Mishra’s Workshop
4 Wasteland

SB:

2 Crucible of Worlds
1 Dismember
4 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Karakas
1 Powder Keg
2 Ratchet Bomb
2 Tormod's Crypt
2 Wurmcoil Engine

2nd – Stephen Menendian
Jeskai Mentor

1 Fragmentize
3 Swords to Plowshares
1 Stony Silence
4 Monastery Mentor

1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
1 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mental Misstep
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Ponder
4 Preordain
3 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Time Walk
4 Force of Will
1 Gush
1 Dig Through Time
1 Treasure Cruise

2 Pyroblast

2 Dack Fayden

1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl

1 Flooded Strand
1 Island
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Polluted Delta
1 Strip Mine
2 Volcanic Island
3 Tundra
4 Scalding Tarn

SB:

1 Fragmentize
1 Balance
3 Containment Priest
1 Stony Silence
1 Pyroblast
4 Ingot Chewer
3 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Mountain

3rd – Will Magrann
Blitzkrieg Shops

1 Black Lotus
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
4 Walking Ballista
1 Sol Ring
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Sphere of Resistance
4 Steel Overseer
4 Thorn of Amethyst
4 Chief of the Foundry
1 Trinisphere
3 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Lodestone Golem

1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Mishra's Factory
4 Mishra's Workshop
4 Wasteland

SB:

3 Dismember
4 Grafdigger's Cage
2 Ratchet Bomb
2 Tormod's Crypt
4 Porcelain Legionnaire

4th – Nate Hoffman
Mentor Outcome

4 Monastery Mentor

1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
1 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mental Misstep
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Ponder
4 Preordain
1 Brain Freeze
1 Hurkyl’s Recall
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Time Walk
4 Force of Will
4 Paradoxical Outcome
4 Thoughtcast
1 Dig Through Time
1 Treasure Cruise

1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
4 Mox Opal
1 Mana Vault
2 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Sol Ring

1 Island
1 Tolarian Academy
2 Flooded Strand
2 Tundra
4 Seat of the Synod

SB:

4 Fragmentize
2 Swords to Plowshares
1 Balance
1 Flusterstorm
2 Steel Sabotage
2 Hurkyl’s Recall
2 Mindbreak Trap
1 Plains

5th-8th - Vito Picozzo

1 Fragmentize
3 Swords to Plowshares
1 Stony Silence
4 Monastery Mentor

1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
1 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mental Misstep
1 Ponder
4 Preordain
3 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Time Walk
4 Force of Will
1 Gush
1 Dig Through Time
1 Treasure Cruise

2 Pyroblast

2 Dack Fayden

1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Pearl

1 Island
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Plains
1 Strip Mine
1 Wasteland
2 Volcanic Island
3 Scalding Tarn
3 Tundra
4 Flooded Strand

SB:

2 Fragmentize
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Balance
1 Containment Priest
2 Rest in Peace
1 Stony Silence
1 By Force
1 Pyroblast
1 Ingot Chewer
3 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Mountain

5th-8th – Dan Nelson
Car Shops

1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Chalice of the Void
4 Walking Ballista
1 Sol Ring
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Sphere of Resistance
4 Thorn of Amethyst
3 Foundry Inspector
4 Tangle Wire
1 Trinisphere
2 Fleetwheel Cruiser
1 Lodestone Golem
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Precursor Golem

1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Mishra’s Factory
4 Mishra’s Workshop
4 Wasteland

SB:

4 Grafdigger's Cage
2 Pithing Needle
2 Ratchet Bomb
2 Crucible of Worlds
2 Coercive Portal
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
2 Precursor Golem

5th-8th – Jose Antonio Alascio Lopez

3 Swords to Plowshares
3 Monastery Mentor

1 Ancestral Recall
1 Brainstorm
1 Flusterstorm
1 Gitaxian Probe
4 Mental Misstep
1 Ponder
3 Preordain
2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Time Walk
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Force of Will
1 Gush
1 Dig Through Time
1 Treasure Cruise

1 By Force
2 Pyroblast
1 Sudden Shock

1 Dack Fayden

1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl

1 Library of Alexandria
1 Plains
1 Strip Mine
2 Island
2 Scalding Tarn
3 Tundra
3 Volcanic Island
4 Flooded Strand

SB:

1 Path to Exile
1 Swords to Plowshares
2 Containment Priest
1 Disenchant
1 Rest in Peace
2 Stony Silence
1 Energy Flux
1 Mindbreak Trap
1 Pyroblast
1 Sudden Shock
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Grafdigger’s Cage

5th-8th – Mickey Mahr

1 Black Lotus
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
4 Walking Ballista
1 Sol Ring
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Sphere of Resistance
4 Thorn of Amethyst
4 Foundry Inspector
1 Trinisphere
3 Fleetwheel Cruiser
1 Lodestone Golem
3 Precursor Golem
1 Wurmcoil Engine

1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Mishra’s Factory
4 Mishra’s Workshop
4 Wasteland

SB:

2 Dismember
3 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Relic of Progenitus
4 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Crucible of Worlds
2 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Ghost Quarter

I made this announcement at the beginning of the day, and it’s time to make it again; the NYSE Open may be my tournament, but it’s only possible because of the help of several others. Nick Coss and Calvin Hodges, thank you for all that you do to help this event possible, Visna Harris, thank you for all you’ve done with the trophies, Greg Fenton, thank you for the beautiful images that you produce, year after year, Mike Lupo and Andy Probasco, thank you for your excellent work on coverage, Elliot Raff, and all my judges, thank you for your work on the day!

We had 132 players at this year’s event, which is lighter than I had hoped for. Every dollar that was taken in (and more) went out in the form of prize support, staff, venue, etc. I haven’t made up my mind yet as to whether or not I want to run another NYSE Open, but if I do, and you enjoyed this year’s event, or have enjoyed past events, please pass the word along. This event survives on the back of the support from the community. I think we’ve found our permanent venue (multiple complaints of it being too cold in the venue were actually music to my ears).

Thank you again to the dealers, judges, staff, and the players, for making the event as much fun as it was.

posted in Vintage Community read more

There are a lot of great points to discuss in all of this.

First up, the barriers of entry to playing Vintage:

As much as many of us don't like the Reserve List, it's there, and given the myriad opportunities that Wizards has had to abolish it, they haven't. At this point, we have to accept that it's there, and do what we can to ameliorate the ills that afflict us due to it. As with many members of this site, I am in favor of reprints done carefully (much as they've done Eternal Masters, and Modern Masters I).

I was at a local store on a Friday night a few weeks back, and I was speaking with the owner. He had gotten one of the larger orders of Eternal Masters on Long Island (around 80 boxes from Wizards, before secondary distributors contributed towards that total). All told, he had gotten somewhere around 120 boxes of Eternal Masters. He had just gotten his restock in of the set. His restock? Two boxes. One of the other stores on Long Island's total received quantity of Eternal Masters was 24 boxes. They had no restock. That's nuts. We all knew that this was going to be a limited print run, but this was far more limited than I think many people were ready for. In turn, because there's so little Eternal Masters out there, it's affecting the market, but I think it's affecting it more than it should. How many more copies of Karakas and Force of Will are out there? Honestly, not that many. Both are mythic rares; wasn't the expected ratio something like one of each per case? A case of Eternal Masters is only four boxes, and each box has 1/3rd less packs than the typical box, but that's still something like one Force of Will per 96 packs opened, if I'm not mistaken. Those four boxes will have run the buyer somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000. There isn't some flood Force of Wills and Karakases on the market.

So I went on eBay a few weeks ago, and I decided to check on the prices of English Legends Karakas. I own three copies that had run me around $120 apiece, but this was before they had started their upward movement, and had hit the $160-$180 range. English Legends Karakas was down to $80-$100. This makes no sense. There aren't enough new copies of the card to warrant it nearly halving in value. I reached out to a friend to see what a playset of German Alliances Force of Wills would run, and was amazed to hear that they'd be a about $320 for the set ($80 per). The last I knew, German Force of Wills were over $100, and, in really nice shape, probably ran something like $120 per.

Karakas may not be one of the critical cards needed to play Vintage, but it is one of the most expensive cards in the White Eldrazi list, which is one of the best decks in Vintage. Force of Will is a staple of the format; new players having access to Force of Wills that shouldn't be as cheap as they are right now is a great, great thing.

Because Vintage is, by and large, a 15 proxy format, Wizards has relieved some of the immediate pressure that is felt by players trying to buy into the format. The Chicken Little crowd has pushed the price on Karakas and Force of Will far lower than it should be, but that's great news for new pilots. A friend of mine ended up with two English Legends Karakas for his White Eldrazi deck, all for under $200. This opens up proxy space for him should he decide that he needs to run something else expensive (City of Traitors comes to mind).

Second up, Moat, Tabernacle and speculation in general:

I live in Nassau County, New York. The town that I live in is a little over 200 years old. In the 200 years since its founding, a lot has changed. The advent of the suburbs post-WWII, and the creation of a mass-transit system capable of serving the country's biggest city meant that there wasn't a need to live in Queens or Brooklyn anymore. Cheaper real estate, more space, and multiple other factors pushed people to Nassau County, and even Suffolk County, all while they maintained their NYC careers.

As more and more people moved out to the Island, more pressure was put on the local infrastructure, specifically the roads. The basic layout of my town was designed about 100 years before there were cars; it was never intended to do what it's being asked to do now. There are patch-jobs, but the fundamentals are bad. There's no going back and changing it now, it just is the way that it is.

And such is life when it comes to cards like Moat and Tabernacle. Is this speculation, or is this a price correction? A small percentage of Magic players play the formats in which these cards are legal, and yet even that small percentage is far more than could have been expected 20+ years ago. Nobody could have predicted in 1993, before Magic was released, that it would be where it is today. There really aren't that many Moats and Tabernacles out there. They're good cards, and for better or worse, Wizards has established that they're not breaking the Reserve List. If ever there were a time to break the Reserve List, the release of Eternal Masters would be it. They haven't done it. Accept that it's there, and that it's not going away.

Magic is an expensive game that demands consistent disposable income. Vintage and Legacy are the most expensive formats in the game. This was hit upon earlier, but if you're in a position where you need to choose between rent and cards, and you're choosing cards, you're doing it wrong and you have something that you need to fix in your life. Magic is a hobby, and hobbies can be expensive. I don't want to see an English Legends Moat cost $600, but I certainly don't blame the individual who purchased 60 Moats. There aren't enough of these cards out there. If he didn't do it, someone else would have, and the nature of supply and demand would have done what we see now. I've had 20 years to buy Moats. I sold the ones that I owned years ago, and I didn't replace them. The cost of entry on a nice English Legends Moat is now $600. Oh well. If I decide to buy them, I'll buy them. I'm not angry about the upswing in the price; if anything, it's just another puzzle to figure out (how do I buy those Moats while maintaining the integrity of my collection otherwise, etc.). I enjoy figuring out those things, and I enjoy it even more when I've done it, and I can look back on the sacrifices that were made, and the goal that was achieved.

Third up, the nature of collecting, and where we go from here:

I got my driver's license shortly before I turned 18. We had two cars; the Ford Expedition that we were leasing, and the 1988 Jeep with 200,000 miles on it that had been all over the U.S., and Europe. The Jeep was old, was starting to show it, and was all I was allowed to drive (which only happened when I asked, and my request was approved). A few months after I got my license, a cousin of mine got his. My aunt and uncle bought him a new $40,000 SUV. It was a lot of money to be spent on a car for a 17 year old. The car was miles nicer than what I was driving. If I was given the choice of being gifted a brand new SUV, and driving my Jeep, clearly I'd have chosen the new SUV. But with all that said, I didn't really care. Function matters more than form to me more often than not, and the Jeep that I had got me from point A to point B without fail.

I was working on Valentine's Day this past year, and while my car was parked outside my office (which is on a somewhat busy street in Queens), someone totaled it. I didn't owe much on the car at that point, and I was clearly pretty pissed about it. A couple of weeks went by, and it was time to replace the car. I had enough money put away that, if I chose to, I could have gone out and purchased a very nice car. But I choose what I care about, and I don't care about that now. I replaced my Mazda with a newer model, instead of going for something nicer (and far more expensive).

We choose how we spend our disposable income, and where our dollars go. If we don't really have that much extra in disposable income, then we've probably made a choice somewhere along the way that we want to do what we're doing, and we choose not to spend more of our free time doing things on the side that will make buying the things that we'd like easier. When I have had the opportunity to do some extra work on the side, I've always taken that opportunity up. I took one week's vacation last year, instead of the two I was allotted. I used a minimal amount of the sick time that I was allotted. The extra money that put in my pocket come January was spent on things I wanted to spend on.

It's not to say that this is an option for everyone. I know that there are some members of this site who are weighed down tremendously by student loan debt, are married, have kids, and don't have the opportunity to just work an extra 10-20 hours on the side. I'm nobody's idea of a life coach, and that's not what I'm getting at now. What I am saying is that if you're creative enough about it, we can all find little things that we can do to work through the limitations that we've got, and take the steps forward to the futures that we want.

This could go on far longer than it has, so I'm going to cut it off here. I've enjoyed reading where everyone's at with everything here.

P.S. - One of the things that was discussed amongst some friends and I when Wizards announced reprints of certain cards that weren't on the Reserve List was what that would do to the market for cards on the Reserve List. I was of the opinion that it would shift the values around, but not necessarily change what the total of the decks were worth. I figured that it might mean that the dual lands, power, and other Reserve List staples were going to be a little more expensive while the cards that were reprinted were less so. I'm interested to see what happens in the coming weeks and months, as we wait to see if there's another small upward trend in the prices on Reserve List staples. Just thinking back to when Troll and Toad was buying NM/M Tempest Wastelands $60 is funny, especially since there are Eternal Masters Wastelands available for sale for $42 on eBay right now. Wasteland was double that a few years ago, thank goodness it's not on the Reserve List.

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Also, regarding aesthetics:

Aesthetics are tremendously important. If you had walked into a game store and seen people playing with little pieces of cardboard that had no color, no images, and were nothing more than words printed on cardboard, would the game have appealed to you? Would it have interested you in the slightest? The game was beautiful, and had tremendously gifted artists producing beautiful images for a long time. The art direction was incredible. Now everything looks like it's produced for World of Warcraft. I'm sick of homogenized digital garbage. Are there exceptions? Sure. Flusterstorm comes to mind. But those exceptions are rare.

Restoring as much of the aesthetic beauty of the game as possible is important because the game was beautiful for a long, long time, and that's how I'd like to remember it first and foremost. Paolo Parente's Masticore is beautiful. The silver framed reprint is awful. If you were going to play Masticore in a deck, there is only one correct answer as to which to play. Jerry Tiritilli's Rishadan Port is beautiful. The new reprint is awful. Does this seem elitist? Sure. Is it right? Yes. How do I know this? Because there are still some objective standards that can be agreed upon in order to determine superiority among art and artists. This is why a four year old's finger painting isn't hanging in the Met next to a Picasso.

Classic stops at Eighth Edition specifically because of the card frame change. I would have loved to have had Eighth Edition, and Mirrodin block, but it's absolutely not possible. The beginning of this abomination was in July 2003, and if I'm going to go back to a time when I truly loved Magic, deeper than I ever have since, then it's going to be before that absurd mistake came about.

I have BBS and Suicide Black built, and they're beautiful. If I wasn't a damn Luddite, I'd post pictures of what they look like. Compare that to the Eldrazi decks floating around now. There's no competition.

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Why innovate when you can restrict whole pillars out of existence? Then we can just enjoy a blue circle jerk until the end of time.