I have no idea how to embed a video from Twitter so I’m linking the tweet here. It’s Gordon’s Noobcon hype video, just click it already.
Today I am pleased to present this guest post from Dean Costakis. I am not sure what lured him to the dark side, I can only assume that after the beating his B/G deck took on “All Roads” (ATC Episode 42) he immediately sold it off and moved on to a completely different format. This is his story. -Mano
No sooner had the energy sparked from Thayden’s fingers, an immense bubble blinked into existence surrounding the battlefield. The grin which faintly appeared at the corners of Ezra’s mouth belied his subtle surprise and wonder at the spectacle. After regaining his composure, his voice pierced through the mist, “It will take more than blowing bubbles to finish this, Thayden!” Unfazed, Thayden softly extended his open hand upward into the still air. The heretofore starry night sky seemed to disappear behind a blanket of ominously dark clouds leaving both combatants awash only in the soft crimson glow of the bubble. Rolling thunder from what seemed many strides away now grew ominously closer until a blinding bolt of electricity struck down from infinity and exploded on top of Ezra bringing the mage to his knees. Through the smoke emanating from his charred flesh, he narrowed his eyes and observed his opponent surrounded by energy, arms stretched toward the heavens. Sensing he could not survive further loss of life, Ezra drew energy from the forest to absorb whatever lifeblood its rivers and streams were willing to ante. But something was wrong.
Flickers and flares sputtered from Ezra’s fingers and the spell failed – the world around him growing eerily silent as fear enveloped him like a crushing darkness. The unnatural silence was quickly replaced by thunderous booms rhythmically emanating from Thayden’s direction. Hurricane-force gales from the wings of a magnificently terrifying dragon drew Ezra aloft and rocketed him backwards, leaving him dangling precariously by his vestments which were now entangled with the limbs of an ancient Ironroot. As the creature moved toward Ezra, its feet crashed against the earth, one after another, while a thick jet of fire from its maw ravaged the battlefield in every direction. The doomed, dangling wizard began his final, desperate incantation to call upon the fog and mists of the forest to delay what appeared inevitable. As his spell again failed, a hysterical and frenzied Ezra found himself staring directly into the eyes of the great beast which was flanked by its summoner. Thayden extended his arm into the air and Ezra grew motionless as the two locked eyes. “Beta magic will not work here, mage,” Thayden flatly stated before turning around and dropping his arm. Ezra’s final thoughts turned to astonishment as it struck him how bright the night sky seemed in contrast with the blackness that now presented itself as the crushing jaws of the Shivan Dragon closed slowly around him.
Only Alpha Edition is allowed? That is a bit pretentious. A forty card minimum? Nothing is banned or restricted? What is to stop someone from shoving twenty Lightning Bolts in their deck? And why are none of these cards in sleeves?!
Each of these thoughts materialized in my mind when I first discovered the Alpha 40 format several months ago. Though the breathtaking beauty of Limited Edition Alpha cards was undeniable, what was not hard to deny was the overt elitism oozing from the fibers of the Alpha cardstock. Or, maybe, like a fine wine, the simplistic brilliance of its flavor profile was hiding between the numbers on the price tag?
Day after day, I continued to simultaneously admire and abhor beautiful imagery of ancient but vibrant round-cornered, black-bordered cards – exactly forty in each picture. What was the source of my sharp distaste for a format, admittedly, I knew next-to-nothing about? After a brief round of introspection, I had squarely settled on cost being an issue – but, why? After all, I play Old School and I know what it feels like to spend rebarbative sums of money on cards. How was this any different? Well, for starters, Islands exceed the thirty-dollar-mark.
Alpha cards are rare. No, I mean endangered species-rare. In this hyper-connected, always-on world, the Internet has, for the most part, instilled us with the power to acquire the same rare Magic cards we scantly heard of as kids and with relative ease. Do you want a full set of Unlimited Power Nine? A Candelabra of Tawnos? No problem – you are nearly assured that, at any given time, there will be plenty available on eBay and most other Magic market sites. Alpha, however, is a different matter. Sure, you will find cards from this edition for sale online, but in vastly limited quantities and, in many cases, sold out. A quick look at the numbers makes this an unsurprising occurrence: the print run for Alpha rares was 1,100 – a quantity so small you could fit all Alpha Black Lotuses ever to exist inside a shoebox [which, ironically, is where a handful undoubtedly met their demise]. Alpha uncommons were printed in a quantity of 4,500. Finally, Alpha commons were printed in a quantity of 16,000 making each rarer than any Unlimited Black Lotus – of which there were 18,500 printed. Alpha is nearly three times rarer than Beta. When you factor in how many Alpha cards have been lost to time, even their limited availability online is shocking. My sudden awareness of its fundamental scarcity is, for me, what eroded the snobbish stigma of the format, allowing me to swirl it around the bowl of the glass and enjoy its earthy aroma before drawing in the first sip.
Alpha is the genesis of collectible card games. With its 295-card collection and unrefined rule set, Alpha is also the Oldest School. This deceptively limited card pool paints a rich portrait of simplicity that underscores the format with every neigh-forgotten spell cast. Interestingly, this means many of the auto-includes of Old School such as Strip Mine and Mishra’s Factory are not allowed here which encourages one to more deeply explore the depth and breadth of spell offerings. In the bustling environment of Old School which has experienced exponential growth over the last half-decade, it can be enjoyable to escape The Deck, Counterburn, and other formulaic decks and experience the satisfying simplicity and blissful ignorance of casting Regeneration on an Ironroot Treefolk or Flight on a Frozen Shade. It can also be entertaining to watch your opponent flip their fourth Chaos Orb without the aid of Copy Artifact or Regrowth. This example of exploiting the “nothing restricted, nothing banned” rule might pose a problem to some, but this was Magic at the time of its conception – and that is the entire point.
The Chaos Orb example also underpins the important role of cost in the format. Earlier, I explained how the Internet made the bulk of the Old School card pool more accessible than it ever was when we were kids in the mid-nineties. During our years-long lamentation of how card prices have ballooned, rarely do we take time to appreciate that the objects of our nostalgic affection are accessible at all. Do you remember just how hard it was to find those rare Magic cards as a kid, let alone one that was for trade or sale? I have come to accept the cost of Alpha cards for one essential reason: cost is the mechanism which simulates scarcity in our hyper-connected world. It is what makes it difficult to include four Chaos Orbs or twenty Lightning Bolts in a deck. Sure, some players strive for – and achieve – this goal, but that is part of the format’s flavor. It is a beautiful celebration of absurdity, and an unassailable achievement when you procure that fortieth card to complete your first Alpha 40 deck.
Since joining the Alpha 40 community, I have come to discover just how accepting, encouraging, and helpful its members have been. There is much excitement and celebration surrounding this ancient format – an excitement which has driven the Alpha 40 Facebook group member count to a number high enough to lay claim to nearly half the Alpha Dingus Eggs ever printed. As interest grows, many people who are curious about how the format plays have asked about using Unlimited or Revised cards as proxies. In an Alpha 40 event, you will find yourself out of luck. However, the relaxed and casual climate of Skype offers the perfect setting to pilot a forty card non-Alpha deck and to test the waters of the Alpha 40 environment before diving in. My Army of Green would be honored to welcome you!
Hello friends! Do you love casting old Magic cards? Do you love team tournaments? Are you tired of playing (and playing against) the same ‘ole decks? Enjoy tier 1.5 Pastrami? If you answered yes to at least 2 of the above questions, keep reading.
OLD SCHOOL 93/94 – 3 PERSON TEAM UNIFIED CONSTRUCTED This means that if you stack all 3 team decks on top of one another, the resulting giant deck still has to be legal. So only 4 Bolts, 4 Volcanics, 1 Lotus, 1 Chaos Orb, etc, per team (you can split cards between decks though, i.e. 2 Bolts in 1 deck and 2 in another.) I am a big fan of the format for a few reasons. First, and most importantly, team tournaments are frickin awesome. Second, the team unified brewing restriction forces you to brew something outside the box. And third, the format is super budget friendly (for Old School), as the most powerful cards are spread out over 3 decks, not 1. That said, I know there are downsides, mostly logistical. It is hard enough to get a single person to commit to something 3 months away, much less 3 people. If you want to play and are having trouble putting together a team, reach out to me and I will try to match you up with other people in the same boat.
To play you must register prior to June 1st. There will be no registration day of. I expect this even to fill up quickly, and space is limited, so don’t procrastinate too much!
Click here to register. YOU MUST FILL OUT ALL THE BILLING DETAILS IN CHECKOUT, EVEN THE ONES THAT SAY OPTIONAL! There is apparently no way to fix this, or at least no way for someone with my technical know how to fix it.
** Don’t stress about the team name as you can always email me later to change it.
$100/TEAM (non-refundable) All proceeds will go to HomefrontNJ. Homefront is based out of Trenton, NJ. Their mission is to end homelessness in Central New Jersey by harnessing the caring, resources and expertise of the community. In short, they help families break the cycle of poverty. It is a great organization, who wastes almost nothing, and gets top notch marks on Charity Navigator.
SATURDAY JUNE 1ST Tourney will start at noon, doors open at 11:00. I imagine there being 6-7 rounds of swiss, and ending around 7:30 PM.
ATLANTIC RULES* The tournament will feature Atlantic Rules with a single modification. Mishra’s Workshop is restricted. There are 2 reasons for this: (1) I think it a super obvious and easy build around and (2) it provides a huge barrier to entry as shops are not nearly as prevalent as power/duals etc. I do not want the top 8 to just be the 8 teams that were able to assemble 4 shops. More info about Atlantic Rules can be found here.
Prizes will be awarded to top finishers, most creative decks (both individually and across the whole team), and for Team Name. Yes we are bringing back team names. Please do not be the team to mail in your team name, as that would be pretty embarrassing. I am looking forward to seeing some great team names! Prizes will Old School in nature (likely both cards and other goodies.) This a tournament for fun (not EV) so do not expect to make a killing by spiking this tourney. ALL TIEBREAKERS WILL BE DECIDED BY DECK SPICINESS, as judged by me, so plan accordingly!
The tourney will be held in the Atrium Ballroom at the E Hotel and Banquet and Conference Center in glorious Edison, NJ. This is the very same building that played host to many a PTQ back in the late 90’s. I have locked up a block of rooms at $75/night for Friday and Saturday. You need to call
(732) 661-1000 on an actual phone (I know) and mention Mobstercon in order to receive this rate, and you must do so before April 30th. There is plenty of free parking on-site. There will be a cash bar featuring beer, wine, and mixed drinks. Absolutely no alcohol may be brought in from outside the venue. Please be respectful of the venue, the cards, and the people around you, or you will be asked to leave (and unwelcome at future events). Old School is predicated on treating others with respect, and enjoying the people you play with. Don’t take yourself too seriously, or you’re doing it wrong.
Tshirts, playmats and maybe some other spice will soon be available. All proceeds will benefit HomefrontNJ.
Check back here to purchase official Mobstercon 2019 merch.
The venue is connected to arguably the greatest Jewish Deli in all of New Jersey, Harold’s. There will be no pre-orders. I will provide menus day of for people to order on their own. One warning: the portions are HUGE. The pastrami sandwich (highly recommended) is like $28, but it has ~ 1 lb of meat easily feeds 3 people. The menu is huge as well, more like a diner than a deli, so should be no problems finding something to eat.
There are no text lists in Old School, only deck pics. If you would like your deck (or your team decks) to be considered for creative prizes, you will need to submit a deck photo.
Click here to submit deck pic. If your deck pic is at all difficult for me to quickly decipher it will not be considered for any creative prizes.
The venue is about 30 miles from downtown Manhattan, and 17 miles from Newark airport. You can easily make a NYC weekend out of this event if you are so inclined! It is at the nexus of 4 different major highways. NJ Transit trains also run directly to Edison. You can eat and stay onsite. Full one stop shopping, so you have no excuse not to come 🙂 I hope to see you there.