The Past’s Not Set

 

On September 10, fourteen veteran mages gathered and put their honor at stake, ready to battle for the Seigneur du Corail title. This time around, the battleground was set at a local pub called Le Corail (The Coral). Thematically, each participant had to bring an Old School 93/94 legal card representing a creature from the sea as the entry fee. Once the outcome of the battle would be history, like nostalgic time travelers we would go back to our own time along with a nice memorabilia signed by everyone present. But only one glorious gladiator would take the signed-by-all Unlimited Lord of Atlantis home. Here are the spoils :

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Giant Sharks!

My deck choice for the event settled on Arabian Beatdown, a Lestree Zoo variant, which is a tempo-orientated deck that uses counter-magic and burn to disrupt the opponent while attacking with a menagerie of some of the best Arabian Nights summons. This is definitely a force to be reckoned with that also incarnates my favorite play style. A perfect match, thus, that makes it an obvious choice for the event. Here is the 75 I sleeved:

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City in a Bottle could be devastating

Apprehension and excitement were palpable while people were having the usual chat before the tournament and some other traded treasures or played warmup games. Without waiting any longer, the waitress took our orders, pairings were done for the 5 rounds event and we were ready to shuffle up and cast! It fact, the waitress took orders each hour as everyone had to drink at least one beer every round. And it came in pints. It seemed that they only had pints since no one bothered asking if I’d like a glass or a pint. On top of that, it was ruled that we could use a special mulligan that allowed us to draw a new hand of 7 if our hand contained 0-1-6 or 7 lands at the cost of taking a shot of our choice. To add even more, it was like Cumulative Upkeep: if you didn’t like the second hand, you could take 2 additional shots. Well, I guess I could handle it. At least they didn’t have strong craft beers, so would not be dead drunk after round 5. I can drink lagers all day long – that would be fine.

 

For the first round, I had a Rickard’s Red and was paired against Jesse. Jesse is from the group that originally started playing Old School highlander. But I know now that his group has risen to the challenge and jumped in head first into the four-of playset paradigm. In other words, I had no idea what was up his sleeve. I quickly realized he was on some five color red aggressive deck. We disputed a very grueling match up, throwing bolts, blast, and lightning at each other’s faces. Creatures didn’t last long on the battleground. One memorable moment was in game 3 when he pondered about burning my Serendib Djinn that had previously eaten a whole Juggernaut the same turn. In the end, he was rewarded for keeping the bolt as he later used it seal the deal on his turn. I knew I had lethal on my next turn, thanks to the bolt sitting on top of my Sylvan Library. So close! I must say I was really impressed by Jesse’s deck which was definitely the most original deck that performed very well. (0-1)

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Jesse’s 5 Colors Red

 

I had another Rickard’s Red and played against Yan with his signature mono black-bordered deck for the second round. I know that Yan was already 3 shots down thanks to his mana base designed to mulligan. I mean, what could you expect of a deck including only 18 lands (22 mana sources total, I don’t think Dark Rituals count). Nevertheless, we had an interesting match-up in which he won the first game after he traded another shot for a mulligan. I also guess that it is no mere coincidence that during game 2 Yan missed his Chaos Orb flip on my Sylvan Library which ultimately costed him the game. (1-1)

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Yan’s Mono Black

 

Another round, another beer. I was now playing Sébastien piloting a dreadful UR burn deck. This was my first time facing him in a Old School tournament even though he won the 5-player side event at GP Montreal using the same deck. I knew that I had to capitalize on Erhnam Djinns and protect them at all cost. I lost game one even though he missed his Chaos Orb flip, but I managed to come back game 2 after many back and forth draw-go turns. Game 3 was pretty intense and concluded quickly after I blasted his Earthquake saving Elvish Archers and 2 points of damage on Ernie. I immediately saw hints of despair on his eyes which told me that he had had the bolt to finish the Djinn. We were done a few turns later. (2-1)

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Sébastien’s UR Burn

 

Now on I decided to go lighter and shifted on Molson Canadian for the fourth round. This time around, my opponent was Yanick playing UW control with a lot of heavy hitters. Again, I lost game one even though Yanick missed his second Chaos Orb flip. I’m starting to believe I have a special thing with the orb! I managed to win the 2 other games (3-1)

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Yannick’s UW Control

 

Since I don’t have any other particular memories about this match, I will take this time to talk about something else that occurred during the event. To add further more to the old school atmosphere, the organizers thoughtfully determined that each player had to cut his deck to determine who would get to go first, like we did back in the day. For those unfamiliar with the technique, each player cuts his deck revealing a card. The player who cuts the higher casting cost card (X = Infinite) goes first. Where it gets interesting is that tiebreakers are won by the oldest printed card. We had an argument about the chronology of the printings around Unlimited, Arabian Nights and Antiquities. I was quite sure that Unlimited was printed before Arabian, but others thought the opposite. Someone even tried to get the information online only to find out that both sets were released in December 1993 without anything regarding the day. I think we ruled in favor of Unlimited before Arabian, but I sensed some skepticism among the crowd. During the week after, I stumbled upon a copy of Magic: the Gathering Pocket Players’ Guide illustrated by Christopher Rush. In a nice chapter by Garfield about the creation of the game and the Roreca’s Tale (Worzel’s story) came a chapter about early collector information. There we can learn that Unlimited was in fact released on December 1 and Arabian Nights on December 17.

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Christopher Rush Art as a bonus!

 

For the last swiss round, I was playing Simon for a chance to place second, thus earning a bye for the semi finals. As it was proposed before round one, the cut down for the finals would be top 6 players. While first and second would skip directly to the semis, the other four players would play the quarters. Apparently they do that in the NFL playoffs, something I have very little knowledge of. Anyhow, I really liked the system as it created a great incentive to play the last round of a tournament. It is also worth mentioning that the upcoming Pro Tour Kaladesh will use a similar system for top 8 matches. Old School 93/94, always a step ahead of mainstream Magic!

 

For the cautious reader, one might have seen that Simon’s sideboard included a Goblin King identified as “Le Roi de la Chope”, the grand prize from our previous event. I was determined not to let him win both events, or at least not easily. Even so I was at my fifth pint, I gatherer all my thought and focused entirely on the game, memorizing the lines of play we used to gain information in case we get to joust again in the elimination rounds. I don’t remember any details, but I can say I was pretty much steamrolled 2-0. You know that an early grinning djinn always gets the job done when the game ends with a bolt to the dome. (3-2)

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Simons’S WBR Brew

 

I managed to reach the top 6 thanks to my tiebreakers. Only one player, Jessy with a 3-2 record, missed the playoffs. We lost no time and as soon as the pairings were announced, we immediately sat down and started the hostilities. This time, I was facing Dave piloting a near summonless UR burn. My djinns and efreets shined here as they didn’t die easily to burn and didn’t find much competition on the other side of the battlefield. Also, to his defense, his level on alcohol intoxication was quite high, which must also be why he missed his Chaos Orb flip. Then, I had a revelation. I saw the wide open mouth lava drooling orb and I immediately felt osmosis-bound to the card. I had indeed forged myself a reputation of one-who-never-misses-his-flips in the past months, while my opponents fumbled more than their fair share during the day. I pleased the Orb and it rewarded me. For this, I am grateful. (4-2)

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Dave’s UR Summonless Burn

 

Next to the semi-finals, I got my chance at a rematch against Jesse who had had a bye in the quarters for being king of the hill after the swiss portion. At least this time I knew what I was facing upfront even though his deck was pure brute force. Surprisingly, I managed to claim game one as he ran out of gas pretty quickly. On the other hand, the subsequent games were quite intense and ended in the same breathtaking way. On game two, Jesse resolved Timetwister as his desperate final move to find some burn to put me at one life. He didn’t draw it right away but thanks to Library of Alexandria he found a Lightning Bolt while I could only glance an eye of shame at my Serendib Efreet with lethal on board. Now I know how Olivier Ruel must have felt during the finals of Pro Tour Honolulu 2006 against Craig Jones. Game three was pretty much the same song except that he played Wheel of Fortune and found a combination of 3 Chain Lightning/Lightning Bolt to deal with my remaining 3 life points as I had lethal on board. Again. Even though I didn’t win the match, I enjoyed playing these tense and cutthroat games.

This is basicly a reenactment of game two!

 

The final battle proposed to be a clash of the titans between Simon playing his WBR concoction and Jesse piloting his 5-colors aggro brew. Only one warrior could emerge victorious and claim the Seigneur du Corail title along with the Unlimited Lord of Atlantis trophy. Unfortunately for Jesse, the games looked to be pretty much one-sided in favor of Simon, which didn’t render any justice to his creative deck. During the last turns of the game two, Jesse tried to find an answer to a pair of huge 5/5s  by spinning the Wheel, but it backfired during Simon’s turn as the latter cast a timely Mind Twist for 7, putting the last nail in the coffin. This is Simon’s second victory in a row, which is no small feat. Will he be able to stay on the throne?

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A picture is worth a thousand words

 

Back home, musing on the highlights of the day, Terminator 2 playing in the background. Are we still in 1994? All I know for sure is that the 2016 battle for Le Seigneur du Corail is in the books with its first crowned champion. I hope that, as the dust settles and all mages leaved the battlefield, everyone brought home memorable stories along their signed creature from the sea card. I got myself a Giant Shark. So close, yet so far. Along with my Goblin Hero from Le Roi De La Chope tournament, the shark will be a bitter reminder that will keep me thriving to someday claim the top seat. After all, the future’s not set. In fact, as we wander through the many possibilities that old School 93/94 offers, the past’s not set either. Nevertheless, I had an amazing time and played a lot of thrilling games with fantastic opponents in a great venue. I am already pumped up for the next event which couldn’t be soon enough.

 

Until then, here are all the decklists along with their respective records after swiss:

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Jesse 5-0

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Simon 4-1

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Etienne L. 3-2

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Dave 3-2

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Guillaume S. 3-2

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Yanick 3-2

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Jessy 3-2

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Yan 2-3

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Christian 2-3

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Sébastien 2-3

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Etienne J. 2-3

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Jackie 1-4

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Guillaume L. 1-4

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Yannick 0-5

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