For those who follow this blog know I’ve been hyping Magic Reborn (click here for more info) a bunch. I can understand some of you might think why I don’t shut up about it and rather read “real” Old School content. However, after the first tournament that happened last week there is just so much to tell. Since we had already picked this date just before summer it was a long drag till the day was finally there. I was hyping the whole thing all the time and at the same time I was trying to downplay it, just so it wouldn’t be a disappointment. We all know these old sets were not designed with limited events in mind. The chances you open crappy cards is a lot higher than something worthwhile playing. The format plays fairly slow and you are certain that you are destroying a lot of value by opening these old sealed starters and boosters.
So, what were we planning to do? 16 players each would get 1 Starterdeck 4th Edition, 2 Boosters Fallen Empires and 2 Boosters Chronicles. We would play a regular sealed deck tournament, meaning you had to build a 40-card deck and could swap cards in and out as much as you wanted in between rounds. We opened the Starter and Boosterbox seal, handed out all the products to the players and you could see 16 overexcited little boys who couldn’t wait to rip open the packs.
I started myself with the Fallen Empires Boosters. Knowing that these cards would probably be the least interesting from a deck construction point of view. I opened the boosters and the only thing I recorded (because I was a tad too excited) was no Hymn or pump Knights so on to the next one. The Chronicles Boosters should normally provide a little more value. Obviously an Erhnam Djinn would be the top draw but there are plenty of great creatures at common level in these packs. 2 Pixies, 2 Goblins an Azure Drake sure whatever… I want to rip open that 4th Edition Starter!
Some good commons: Craw Wurm, Disintegrate, Spell Blast. Some good uncommons as well: Desert Twister, Black Knight, Fellwar Stone, and a Rod of Ruin! On to the rares. A Time Elemental, Aspect of Wolf and a Clockwork Avian! Not a lot of these cards are played in actual Old School but I think I did pretty well, considering flying creatures are great, removal is key and Time Elemental is really a great card in a format like this.
We had about 45/50 minutes to open the packs and construct a deck. I can’t remember the last time I played a sealed event but it was a very very long time ago. But this wasn’t just a sealed tournament, this was something nobody had done in 24 years! You could feel the nostalgia in the room. Everybody was curious about who opened exactly what. Would we see a Serra Angel or a Shivan Dragon? How many Lightning Bolts or Terrors? When people asked me stuff, I couldn’t really respond. Adrenaline was rushing through my buddy while I was trying to build my own deck.
With an Azure Drake and Time Elemental blue was an easy pick. Spell Blast and Remove Soul good enough to join the party. Artifacts were an easy pick as well: Fellwar Stone, Rod of Ruin & and Clockwork Avian. No Hymn or pump Knight but I did have a Black Knight, Drain Life, Weakness, Bog Rats and Initiates of the Ebon Hand for some color fixing. Still when playing 3 colors I don’t like cards like Black Knight and Drain Life that much and Red & Green looked more promising. A Disintegrate, Brothers of Fire (great value), Blood Lust and some Goblins and Orcs were good enough in Red. Pixies, a Craw Wurm, Elvish Hunter, Night Soil and a Desert Twister seemed good enough in Green. I added a Grapeshot Catapult, Carnivorous Plant and Giant Tortoise to get to 23 cards and added 17 lands to complete the deck.
Some notable cards I didn’t play were probably a Cat Warriors (2/2 Forestwalk for 1GG), Regeneration, Land’s Edge and a Fog. My idea was to play a deck in which I would apply some early pressure, then try to stall a little and wait for my pingteam (Rod of Ruin, Brothers of Fire, Grapeshot Catapult) and/or Time Elemental to gain board advantage. If that plan wouldn’t work, I would hope my Azure Drake or Disintegrate would be enough to end the game.
In the 1st round I played Thomas aka Timmy the Sorcerer who obviously played with a Timmy (flavor win). I lost the first game but in the 2 others games my sideboard proved to be too strong, or maybe it wasn’t that 1 Active Volcano and Crystal Rod that made the difference? What I did notice immediately that this wasn’t as slow as I had envisioned. 4th Edition showed to be a great set to play sealed with. Most people had enough “playable” cards and probably the best part, everybody had to play anything that was playable. So much cards which you never get to play against hit the board everywhere around me. A 2nd turn Lord of the Pit being animated after an opponent’s Hymn. An Elder Dragon being hard casted to break the stalemate. The hype was real!
The 2nd round I played Joep. I won 2-0 and while Joep had a lot of “okay” cards, he just missed any heavy hitter. That’s always a risk when playing a Sealed tournament and finishing 2-2 for him was probably the best he could get out of this deck. I played Ron in the 3rd round who had already a notorious deck with Lord of the Pit, Animate Dead, Hell’s Caretaker, Drain Life, Black Knight and Order of the Ebon Hand. I was stupid enough not to take a mulligan the 1st game and had to mulligan to 5 in the 2nd game. Twice mana screwed and his Order of the Ebon Hand did most of the work. I could have definitely given him some competition but his deck was certainly better.
I played Gideon the last round who got to learn just how good Time Elemental was. With a T3 Time Elemental (due to the Fellwar Stone) I could start sending back his land every turn starting T4. This means he couldn’t develop any mana base and after being very happy to finally draw creature removal which he was able to cast, he forgets to do it after I had used my Time Elemental. So, after he played his removal I just targeted Time Elemental with my Time Elemental and the crazyness continued.
Aftermath & Trading
Jeff won the tournament beating Ron in the finals. Jeff had both a Nightmare and a Dragon Whelp, flying is a big deal! For each participant I had a 4th Edition Rebirth to celebrate the start of the Reborn League. Of course this League also needs a trophy card. Jeff won the Ice Age Jester’s Cap, for me the most iconic card from that period. There was definitely a competitive element during the evening but I’m pretty sure everybody had loads of fun anyway.
After the sealed tournament you were allowed to trade cards. My first tactic was to not trade at all and wait for the Fallen Empires Boosterdraft. During that draft you’ll most likely get loads of cards from 2 colors and since you want to keep your options open, I thought this was the best plan. Things got a bit out of hand, something I really didn’t expect beforehand. 1 Terror was traded for a stack of Blue/Green cards. Everybody tried to get their hands on key cards and nobody was waiting. Once a key card is traded, it’s high unlikely it will ever be traded again. Waiting could mean you lose out on a card forever, since we only open 2 more 4th Edition Boosters each.
People were asking around which cards were opened. No Serra’s, Shivan’s, Sengir’s, Mahamoti’s, Forces of Nature. 3 Hypnotic Specter’s, 3 Dragon Whelps’s, at least 2 Azure Drakes, a Killer Bees and some Phantom Monsters. 3 Drain Life’s, unsure how many Terrors but at least 2 and 0, yes 0 Lightning Bolts! Luckily Koos who couldn’t join us on Friday openend his 4th Edition starter the next day, he got a Serra Angel as well as the only Lightning Bolt in our Reborn Cardpool. Knowing what’s in the cardpool is important to construct your deck. Still if you want to trade you need to have something in return. You can’t buy cards outside the cardpool so you have to be really careful what you trade for.
I only ended up trading 1 card that evening but the next day things went apeshit on What’s App. I spent 2 hours chatting with 7 people before my first trade. Playing was fun, but negotiating for hours on a deal for cards worth 2 cents is crazy. For now I’m aiming to play Red/Green. Probably not the best combination for the Fallen Empires Draft but there are some great cards in Ice Age which I hope to get my hands on. I’ve already traded 1 Dragon Whelp, got my hands on the only City of Brass and the only Ball Lightning!
The next Reborn tournament is on the 17th of November and is actually an open event, not restricted to people playing in the Reborn League. 6 Boosters of Fallen Empires which will probably bring us some Hymns, white/black pump Knights, Goblin Grenades and a bunch of Thalid’s. There are very little good cards in Fallen Empires but there are plenty of okay “fillers” which you really need to get to a 60-card constructed deck. After the Fallen Empires Draft, we will play another Boosterdraft in March. “The Ice Age is Coming” is the crossover event from 4th Edition to Ice Age. We will open 1 4th Edition Booster, 1 Chronicles Booster, 2 Ice Age Booster and 1 Homelands Booster.
I expect a lot of trades happening in the next 2 tournaments because after these we will play our first constructed event. Each player will have less than 200 cards in their cardpool so I expect suboptimal decks and lots of cards that would typically not see any play. I hoped Reborn would be somewhat similar to what I experienced when I started MtG in 1995. Sure, you know so much more but opening the Boosters, playing “crappy” cards and the trading madness afterwards was even more fun than I had hoped. The biggest downside is that we can’t play more often and don’t all live close enough to trade F2F and play some kitchen table matches.