Old School at Barlow’s, or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Wolf Tribal

As New England grows in its appreciation of outdated fantasy themed cardboard, I meet all kinds of new mages eager to cast these ancient spells. You may remember Chris Mason from my tournament report from Barlow’s in Boston a few weeks ago. Chris Mason also wrote up a report from the meet up. He also has just about all the deck pics from the event which I didn’t have in my report. So here it is!
Exit Taylor, enter Chris Mason. 

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“Power’s not a problem…I don’t have Fellwar Stones.” – Andy Probasco

Usually my Twitter discussions with Ben Perry (@LibrarianofLeng) involve Old School Magic, alcohol, or, most often, some combination of the two.  Last Friday was no different.  He was musing on the Wizards’ new DCI number policy which, as many of you know, has no bearing in the MTGUnderground.  At some point during this back and forth, Vintage Master and the original 1/3 for 1, Andy Probasco, better known as Brassman, jumped into the conversation.  Knowing that he’s local to Boston, on a whim, I offered him a deck and a beverage of choice if he was free for our Old School meetup at Barlow’s in south Boston.  After some searching for cards and some additional adult beverages, I got the word that he was in, but would need a deck.  No problem, I said, and it was settled.

I currently have two decks built for Old School – a mono-red/artifact big mana deck, and a super budget mono green deck.  I figured that I’d lend Andy my primary deck so he could get the full experience of what the Old School format has to offer.  I’d hoped he’d become hooked after his first Chaos Orb flip.  So Friday night, I settled on my last sideboard cards for the mono green deck that I’d play, and packed everything up for the trek to Boston on Saturday.

The next morning, I met Taylor (@WizardsTowerMTG, who has already written a great report on the event – seriously, check it out) in Manchester, and made the trip into Boston.  We met some of the other guys from the New England Old School group who made the trip from Connecticut, and were waiting for a few others as well as some PAX-goers who Dave Firth Bard (@dfirthbard) had coordinated with as well.  On his way, Andy tweeted me and asked if I had an extra deck for his friend Stephan, and after quickly double-checking with the generous folks in attendance, I had secured Stephan an extra deck.

Andy and Stephan arrived, drinks were ordered, and decks were lent.  Stephan ended up with a mono G build, slightly different from mine, courtesy of Dave.  And then something extraordinary happened.  Andy Probasco, a man completely devoid of Fellwar Stones, pulls a case from his jacket pocket containing a set of cards even the highest of Old School rollers would be jealous of.  Beta power, Beta duals, Arabian Nights Cities of Brass, and a few other cards were added to Stephan’s deck.  And as the last wizards trickled in from the cold, and a fresh round of beverages were ordered, 13 Old Schoolers were ready to battle – some, excitedly, for the first time ever.

Round 1 – Jared on Nayageddon

Jared is a regular in the NE group, and I’ve played him when he was using this deck at out weekly meetups.  Game 1 I  was able to swarm him with a lot of little green dudes, assisted by his own City of Brass Damage, and was able to recover from his last-ditch Armageddon a little better than he was.  Game 2 he overran me with Ernhams and Bolted/Swordsed all my resistance.  Game 3 I had another fast start with my small guys, and he was able to play a T1 Birds of Paradise which allowed him to accelerate and tap out for a turn 4 Serra Angel.  Luckily, I drew my 5th mana source, Hurricaned away his only 2 creatures and a few alpha strikes later it was over.

Record: 1-0 in matches/2-1 in games

Round 2 – Brian on Troll Dreams Combo

Brian is very active in the Connecticut side of the NE Old School group, and it was my first time playing him.  This match highlighted one of the issues with running a budget option – there weren’t a lot of cheap ways for me to deal with his problematic cards in the main deck.  He had turns 4 and 5 Underworld Dreams in Game 1 and a Wheel of Fortune on Turn 6 sealed my fate.  Game 2 I was able to get out an early Whirling Dervish and hit him with it for a few turns, but as soon as he dropped his Sedge Trolls, breaking through on my attack step became impossible.  It was a slow death in 1-2 point increments from his Hippies and Underworld Dreams.

Record: 1-1 in matches/2-3 in games

Round 3 – Christian on Transmute Combo

Christian was our only international competitor of the day, coming down to Boston from Canada to attend PAX East.  Christian was running a 4 color Transmute Artifact combo/toolbox deck with such hits as Triskelion, Winter Orb, Disrupting Scepter, and a host of other one-ofs.  Game 1 wasn’t much of a game, unfortunately, as Christian stumbled on mana and board development, and I was able to overrun him with little green men.  Game 2 Christian was able to deal with some of my early threats via Swords to Plowshares, and got out a mid-game Winter Orb when I was tapped low.  He was able to eventually Transmute for a Relic Barrier, but didn’t draw any action or threats afterwards.  Since most of my creatures were so cheap, I was able to operate fairly effectively under the Winter Orb, and closed out the game in short order.

Record: 2-1 in matches/4-3 in games

Round 4 – Stefan on Mono G with Blue Power

Stefan was a morning-of addition via Andy, and borrowed Dave’s mono green deck.  Andy had some Beta blue power that he lent to Stefan, who swapped out a few cards for Ancestral, Timetwister, and Time Walk, along with Lotus/Emerald and some Beta Duals and Arabian Nights Cities of Brass.  Not bad for an hour’s notice.  I took this match 2-0, and our match really highlighted the difference in mono green builds.  Stefan’s deck featured more weenie creatures, but better pump spells, such as Berserk.  My deck was lighter on the pump, but had better creatures like Elvish Archers and Ernham Djinns.  It was tough for Stephan to attack or block profitably in our match because my creatures were just better in combat.  The highlight of our match was in Game 2, where he Berserked my Elvish Archers enchanted with Aspect of Wolf to try and remove it, but I had the Giant Growth for an extra 6 points of damage.  And of course, the classic Turn 2 board state in the mono green mirror:

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Record: 3-1 in matches/6-3 in games

After final standings were posted and prizes were signed, I ended up in 4th place.  I was lucky enough to claim a Fellwar Stone for my prize, which will slot nicely into my mono red deck.

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Some drinks and a post-mortem of the tournament with first-timers Andy and Stefan revealed that we had two new fans of the format.  I think they both thought, coming in, that because of the older nature of the format, that there wouldn’t be as many decisions or opportunities to outplay your opponent, but they both played enough interesting matches to discover that this is really an awesome format.  A few days later, Andy was tweeting about various builds of Old School decks, which was really awesome to see.

This was such a great tournament.  The people were great, the venue was super accommodating and had fantastic food and service, and of course, the format is great.  We were able to get deck pics of 13 of the 14 decks, which you can check out below.

Thanks for reading, and for more Old School content, give me a follow on Twitter at @MasonsMTGDeals.

Franz Sicinski’s Mono Black

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Duncan’s Esper Funtime

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Jared Doucette’s Nayageddon

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Chris Mason’s Mono Green

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Andy Probasco’s Mono Red

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Christian Arcand’s Transmute Toolbox

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Stephanie’s Big Red

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Taylor Gamache’s Mono Black

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Brian’s Troll Dreams

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Michael Howard’s Naya Tokens

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Dave Firth Bard’s Red Guy Ale

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Tino Galizio’s Mono Black

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Robert Butts’ Sligh

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