Plans were laid way out in advance to get down with the Lords, going back to my plea to Lord Agra back in April about the date.
My calendar and weekends specifically are usually scheduled out 3-12 months in advance, so I have to try to schedule my Magic tournaments the same way. Obviously they weren’t picking the date based on my availability but never hurts to ask right? 🙂
As soon as I heard the official announcement and saw the date, I hit the register button post haste. Although I was stoked, I wasn’t going to be able focus on Old School yet at that time.
I had my own event on the horizon and couldn’t jump in the brew tank right away. If you know me, then you know I generally like to try to bring the spice to these events.
— rajah (@rykerwilliams) June 16, 2019
TSI: The Land was a smashing success, and I even made Top 8! So I turned my focus from Vintage to Old School.
To warm up, I decided I would enter the Summer Derby online tournament with a spikey deck. This was my first experience with the Atlantic rules set and I went with a Shops Machine Gun build as it seemed pretty strong in the one strip mine environment. Running hot during the second half to finish 6-2 and ended up 23/142! Full coverage is here.
As I was running through the Derby, I started bouncing around EC deck ideas in my head. I wanted to follow up my Top Creative performance from OSPB 2018 with Urzatron MUD Prison aka Ma’Ruf if on Fire. Featured in the deck picture is the prize card I took home for the 6th place creative deck award, the gorgeously tattooed beta Shatter in the sideboard.
Leading up to the OSPB 2019, I still wasn’t sure exactly what to play. Among the crew, there are a lot of cards, so most any options are available for a single event loaner. None of us has Juzams somehow, but we can have access to one set from a store; Nam played them at a SCG Columbus Kobolds event. With values as they are, it can of course be difficult to source all cards all the time; sometimes you have to get creative. I have been able to help the homie David Lance (@StaticGripped) with loaner decks or power before, and he came to me about an idea he had, sparked by a set of alters made for me by Knight TAPlar Nick Viau; spoils from my trip to Jackson.
With some help from master Shandalar brewer Nat Moes, Dave shipped me a list and I was able to put it together except for about 10 cards–David “DJ Khabal” Lance was ready to drop the beat, scratch the record and holla WE DA BEST! at the Ball. I was very excited to see the deck in action and have people see the alters!
— David Lance (@StaticGripped) August 31, 2019
About a week before, I settled on running back Eureka Lich that I had piloted to a black out finish at Kumite! 2. I wanted to test out some tweaks and ideas I had after that event. Plus also play the sick Regrowth I scored there.
In the mean time, I had been busy connecting with friends in the community to try to figure out housing. After an exhaustive hours!! long search, I was able to secure a room in an AirBnB for myself and msteve. We would be shacking up with the Alamo City Old School playas as well known associates Shaman Ben and Brother Andrew. I always prefer to have group lodging at bigger events, it helps to emphasis The Gathering aspect. The house was a 5-star build, within walking distance of the OSPB venue, Revolution Brewing Tap Room.
Two weeks out, I was all set to fly out Saturday morning from Cleveland to Chicago and back 36 hours later, I was excited. Then I saw a message that my brother had been able to get registered for the Ball! The next two week were a buzz of excitement and connecting, planning the trip out from the Cleveland. I scrambled and I was able to get hooked up with Mr. Pez Unholy to make a drive out to Chicago with my brother and I. So I cancelled my plane ticket and the road trip was on.
Now that my brother was coming, I had to figure out a deck that only used either one Ruby or one Pearl since that was the extra power I had available after loaning to Lance. All the friends and connects I have made in the community once again stepped up to help figure things out. drunkwookie, aka Daniel Anschutz aka Daniel Alters Magic had just recently hooked up an alter for my Summer Derby deck:
The Crunk Car mowed down many opponents in the Summer Derby, while Dan’s Hail Hydra (Mono Red GauntletFlare) deck was racking up wins that got him into the Top 16.
So when I went to figure out a deck for my brother, I knew his general constraints, and Dan’s deck checked many of the boxes. Deck needs to be fairly linear, with a fairly well defined game plan. Krishna knows how to play Magic but isn’t coming to an event to do homework. GauntletFlare seemed to fit exactly the bill, and I showed him the list. He was in!
I had to acquire a couple more Gauntlets to make the build I wanted, so I went into trade mode. Pez actually had just gotten a beat up one and was able to provide one. I figured out a trade to get the other one too, that I would pick up at the Ball.
After figuring out the deck, a new twist was that the housing I had arranged wouldn’t be able to accommodate my brother also. I wasn’t super worried about finding a floor to crash on so I let it ride until the week before, when things all fell back into place. Me, Krishna and McGrew all had a spot in the Alamo City house.
Thursday had finally arrived. The plan was for my brother to come to my house that night and stay over, with Pez coming up from Pittsburgh the next morning. We didn’t get to play much magic that night, mainly catching up and being bros. I tried to walk him through the deck a few times and I remember how little he plays.
I smile at his awkward shuffling and I’m really happy he is able to make the trip out. Probably at Player’s Ball 2030 he will have gotten the hang of everything.
The morning was packing up and playing with the kids; everyone loves Uncle Krishna. Pez arrived and we were on our way just before 11AM. We made good time out to Toledo where we stopped at the Original Tony Packo’s for the first food adventure of many on the trip. I went with my usual build: two packo dogs plus chili, half veggie/half chicken. Their veggie chili has the best flavor but I like a bit of the chicken’s sweetness. Side of onions, because hot dogs need onions. If you ever are near or going through Toledo, stop in at the Packos on Front Street, it is the OG. Definitely gotta go once, at least to say you had done that.
Refreshed with food, we continued our mission. Krishna was the selector and I recall listening to some very random nostalgia songs. I recall requesting “Dookie” and swore it was a song. I meant the song “Burnout” which is the first song on the album. Lots of random Northwest hip-hop was also blasted, including Swollen Members and Oldominion. About this time, we all realized that there would be a time change on our drive, and that we actually would arrive just before 6PM, hopefully in time to make it out to the festivities. Time travel is awesome. Thanks, Central Timezone!
We rolled into Chicago and made our way to the Pez house. Oso had initially offered lodging to McGrew and I during my first search, but couldn’t accommodate 3 when I was scrambling. Their house was jam packed with cool people, including the indomitable Jimmy Cooney of Dice City Games.
After the drop off, we headed to the AirBnB. The well appointed home was less than a mile from the DMen Taproom, a sweet D&D themed bar, and the main event location, the Revolution Brewing Taproom. Everyone was already out socializing by the time we got there. Krishna and I were able to leave the car parked in the garage the whole forty some hours we were in town.
We got situated at the house and quenched our initial thirst, as we checked out the fridge and grabbed a beer. I had built Krishna a BalleR40 deck that was UG Serendibs. I had a mono blue Psychic Venom deck plus Middle School Eggs, where I wanted to test out my sideboard tech.
We headed out to the DMen Taproom on foot and arrived to find everyone in the throes of gaming. Sat down across from Krish with a beer and jammed the R40 decks against each other. I of course let him win (I definitely did not let him win). He drew some strange version of Urza’s Tower on my card and wrote about chickens for some reason? A bit confused by his artistry but still thirsty for games, I went in search of another drink and some Middle School W’s.
Got to meet in person Northern Paladins’ own Joseph Freshwater. He was cool enough to throw down some prize cards for our matches, and I was able to come away with a very cool Blue Elemental Blast. Northern hospitality indeed!
I recall getting wrecked and losing all the games I played, but I think Eggs did the thing at least once. Never did I cast Doomsday though. I met up with Butzen to snag the Gauntlet for Krishna’s deck; we had arranged a 3 way deal involving a Savannah coming to him and some alpha/beta mountains from me to Dan Anschutz. Old school!
We ended off the night at DMen by flipping for cards to celebrate “Chicago Contracts 2”. I came away with a Skull of Orm and a resolution to practice orb flips. After everyone started clearing out, we got an order of Poutine Fries from the kitchen there at the Taproom. The beer was definitely better than the food. The gravy was a bit watery, the cheese seemed to be string cheese, but it was almost 1 AM and we crushed the whole thing.
When we finally got back to the house, Shaman Ben shoved a stack of cards into my hands from his amazing Eternal Weekend 2018 deck and said “Pick one.” Continuing a generous spreading of his wealth. I have several alters from his OSPB 2018 333 card mono-black masterpiece, not the least of which is the “Ice Cube – Lethal Injection” Swamp; all the swamps in the deck were altered with the name of bands / albums from 93 and 94. I play them in mono black or whenever I get the chance to. I know he loves to see them show up in deck pictures.
I dug through the pile and found the beautiful Librarian alter of a Sylvan Library, which my deck was running, so I snagged it and slotted it right in. None of my Sylvan Libraries are currently signed or altered so I was stoked about the acquisition. Krishna was able to snag a very sweet CE Rock Hydra similarly altered, again slotting right into his deck. I made Ben agree to accept a donation from me in exchange for the cards, towards the next MTGUnderground charity initiative.
As a final night cap, Mark handed us a box of Desert Storm cards. “What do I do with it?” “Open it!” I’m not sure if they were a Collector’s Edition or what but there was a lot of cool cards in there! The guys also hooked us up with proper Alamo City schwag.
I looked over my cards one more time, I was still up in the air on what I wanted to do with the sideboard. I decided to sleep on it so I downed the last of my drink, pumped up the air mattress (SpellbombFTW!) and passed out so hard that the thunderous snoring around me failed to wake me until around probably 6AM; at which point I half wake up and hear Dan shaking my brother and shoving a pillow under his head. The day of the ball had arrived!
A great thing about the spot we were staying was the garage; we were able to park the car once we got to Chicago and didn’t have to take it out until about 40 hours later. The trek from our place to Longman and Eagle Brunch was made via Lyft. My brother and I split breakfast meals, with him on the Elotes Benedict standard build, while I chose the Avocado Toast with some changes based on meta. Excellent choices both, but I don’t think I can do Benedict without fried corn cake on the bottom anymore.
After breakfast, a contingent of us cut back to the crib for deck pictures and biology. I agonized a bit more over my sideboard. Should I run Moat? Should I try for two Nicol Bolas? Was Concordant Crossroads empty calories? I decided that an extra Shivan was more castable than a second Bolas and that Concordant Crossroads was good for it’s ability plus the second mode of blowing up other World Enchantments. I took the picture and immediately wanted to go up to 2 Bolas. No turning back now, the list was submitted!
We had gotten word that the venue was going to open early so we headed out on foot from the crib to make the less than a mile walk. Once we arrived, I realized I had left my new notebook in my other bag. The No Boundaries hand made journal was something I wanted to christen at this event. The small journal is the kind of accessory that I had always wanted to own, ever since watching Indiana Jones. Plain white, heavy paper, leather and a wrap around closure. Anway, it was too late to try to go back for it. I look forward to christening it at EW.
The venue did NOT in fact open at 11, so we milled about outside, and took some pictures with those that rocked the Rocs gear. Once we got inside and settled, I decided to drink water for the first few rounds, to recover a bit from the night before. I correlate my lack of beer drinking with losing my first 2 rounds.
Round 1 – Andrea Longhi – RG Aggro
Pretty bad MU for me. IIRC game 1 was a nothing, I drew all lands. G2 sided in the dudes plan and won. G3 switched back to the combo plan. Got a Lich down with Mirror and she reads the Lich, so I tell her to probably read the Gatherer and then I can answer questions. Gets to the end about sacrificing permanents, nods, I think realizing that she is going to kill me 🙂 Pass turn to her. Shatter Mirror, attack for 5 leaving me with just Lich. Ded! She reveals that she had a line to Regrowth Chaos Orb too on Lich. Good times!
Round 2 – David Holler – 4C Aggro
I’m going to say right now that this is written in retrospect, a month out. So if am wrong in details, please message me to correct. I’m not positive that this was my opponent this round. Let’s just say all the rounds from here to the end are possibly wrong, but I’m pretty sure I played all these people.
This was a wrecking. I think I got to Eureka in some dudes, but he also put in big dudes. Pretty sure I died to Shivan. 0-2
Round 3 – Aaron Jessee
Eureka Lich combo on t4 or so when he tapped out for Serra Angel. I think G2 was dudes plan and beat down though I don’t recall. 1-2?
Round 4 – George Murphy – Kobolds!
This was weird, I recall winning but it was strange. I think it was just a G2/G3 dudes plan. I remember being attacked by Kobolds and then also shooting them down with Trike in response to a Kobold Lord.
Round 5 –
Matthew Braun – Mono White Andy MacDougall – UW Skies Aggro Control
Not much to say about this one. I forgot the order of matches.
White Weenie UW Skies did what it does, just as mono black did. He shared that he had forgotten his actual deck and was playing a jammed together white weenie. It should be good to know for budget players that random mono black and random mono white can win matches at the middle tables all day. Andy contacted me via the discord after I initially published to remind me that HE was the one that smashed me this round. Apologies to Andy for blocking out the beating. “the only thing I remember was casting a balance or wrath after you Eureka’d.” NOW I remember. It was a sad game. Swords, swords, Wrath. Pretty sure this was 0-2 in games.
The box that
he SOMEONE did bring had a bunch of baseball cards in it, I got Mel Rojas 🙂
Round 6 – Danny Dunaway – MonoBlack
I lost track of a round in here somewhere. I’m pretty sure this was round 6.
but anyway, if I played you, let me know. [Got that sorted, thanks Andy!] I probably blocked it from my memory because I lost so bad. What I do remember from Round 5 is ordering Bahn Mi sandwiches and eating them right before it.
My brother was assigned the task of ordering, but the place required some ordering app that he didn’t have. While lamenting this, Will Magrann overhears and offers his services because he had that app installed. One pork and one beef sandwich were split and devoured. Tip of the hat to Mr. Magrann and Old School teamwork!
Danny seemed a bit bummed about his record when we played; he shared that he had taken Juzams and Power out of his deck the night before. He felt like he wanted to play a deck more like he had actually played back in the day, which didn’t include Lotus or Juzams. I think I stole a game off of him with Eureka in g2.
The games I lost I recall he just curved out with creatures and Hymns. Black can be devastating even without power and he proved that in our match. Maybe it was 0-2? I got wrecked anyway. I think he went on to finish in the black at 5-3. I think he was happy with our match, I was for sure. Great opponents so far.
Round 7 – Derek Walker – Mono Green
All of my opponents were extremely good-looking, charming and intelligent, but my last two round opponents were the most so. Derek is a great stalwart of the Music City and I’m always happy if he and/or his crew are going to be at an event I’m at. Like Danny, Derek seemed a bit down about his performance on the day. IIRC, he shared that he was running a similar build as his last year’s build with some tweaks and that he had a goal to better his record from last year.
After our G1 where I was I think I was able to lay down Moat and eventually combo him, he was dejected by the power of Eureka and discussed how laying down several 1/1’s was less than powerful. Maybe that was G2?
In any event, it came down to the wire, where in G3 I finally laid down a Moat to protect against the oncoming green horde. Maybe he topdecked or maybe he had been holding it, but the Moat and my other enchantments were swept away by Tranquility. With nothing holding them back, I was devoured by Wolves, Sprites and other forest creatures. 2-5.
Round 8 – Nick Viau – Atog Alters
Serendipity paired me in the final round against a regional conspirator, Knight TAPlar Nick Viau (say it “VIEW”). His deck was amazing and beautiful. If you will recall, Nick is the one who made the DJ Khabal disks mentioned above! I don’t recall if this was two or 3 games. I thought that I played Nick at Kumite 2 but I didn’t, so I was happy to actually play him in person.
I recall he was stranded with no Red for one game, just playing strips and factories? I some how won but I immediately forgot how. I actually messaged him after to confirm. What a jerk I am. So it was 2 games. Whatever, it was sweet to battle against such an awesome ally, and I look forward to seeing him again soon.
Look out for his alters at the upcoming Columbus Kobolds event on November 23.
So I ended 3-5 and had a blast. My goal was to 4-4 and I came just shy of that. I know Lich isn’t the best deck but it is one of the most fun cards to combo with, especially because it is still non-determinant, even if you go off.
With all the rounds wrapped up, we all gathered our stuff and waited for the final results to be announced. I didn’t know more excitement was about to happen for me!
Because of the number of awesome and spicy decks, I didn’t figure I was in contention for a creative deck finish. I had done a small write up describing the specific card choices and some of the cuts. I hoped maybe the specific synergies I had put into the deck would work for a prize; also the relative difficulty of winning with Lich in the EC format due to 4x Strip. But I wasn’t sure it was a lock.
In the end, the Lords recognized me at 10th place, most creative deck and I’m beyond thrilled to have received this recognition two years in a row.
At the conclusion of the awards, the raffle took place, with the top prize being a Beta clipped Chaos Orb. Lots of sweet schwag in the pool including sick Nutty McFlush gear. As the table is cleared and the prizes are claimed, several people around me had tickets pulled. The final announcement was made by Lord Agra, “This ticket will be drawn for the grand prize.” I look at my tickets. I have 5, number 011 to 015.
As he is pulling the ticket, and starting to announce, I read off the first ticket number, “011” outloud to myself, as he is simultaneously saying the same number! It takes me a second to realize what happened. I’ve been carrying around the ticket in my wallet ever since, I figure it might have some luck left in it.
I have since been practicing my flips with this amazing Orb. Since I own an UNL and another CE one, this guy will find his way back into a raffle or prize pool for some future event, after I have mastered my flip.
The food of Chicago is amazing, but we were quite tired after all the festivities wrapped up. Since my plan was to get on the road first thing in the morning, rather than trying to head out anywhere after, we headed back to the house for rest. The house crew had ordered pizza that was smashed. Something something shrimp pizza from a local joint.
As the sun rose, we broke camp with our friends, who were staying in town for the long weekend. We packed up the car, said our goodbyes to anyone that was awake, and headed out to pick up Pez. When we arrived, we had some final chats with the housemates who were awake there, basking in the afterglow, with hugs and daps all around. Shouts to Jimmy, Jose and Joy!
We headed to our final Chicago stop, to fuel up on breakfast before we left town. Previously I had sold the group on Uncle Mike’s so we headed there. Apparently we got in slightly later than we should have and the wait for food was quite a bit longer than advertised. It was worth the wait though! I did have to leave a small piece of steak behind, since I was about to get into the drivers seat and didn’t want to be too drowsy.
After a long drive and some more time travel, we finally pulled back into my house exhausted, just about 60 hours after we had left.
Thanks again to all the Lords and the entire Old School community for an amazing event. Until next year Chicago!