Two Magical Hacks and a Glimmer of Hope

We have yet another guest here! This one is from Ash Anabtawi down in the U.S. southeast old school scene which has recently exploded into a very impressively large group of card slingers calling themselves “the Two Magical Hacks.” Here’s Ash’s take on their most recent tournament.

In origin, the genre of Old School Magic began with the nostalgia of old cards and the games that we once played with them as youngsters. Traditionally, Old School Magic communities place a high premium on using older, more valuable, iconic type cards. However, the Two Magical Hacks take a different approach to 93/94 Magic. Each quarter, the Two Magical Hacks of Columbia, SC host an Old School Magic charity tournament benefiting various causes. As a way to welcome new players into the normally cost prohibitive format, at these tournaments, proxies are allowed!

There is however, a catch. If a player chooses to play with proxies, one must pay a surcharge of $5 per 15 proxies used. That’s not all; there is also a static tournament entry fee of $10, and various fun raffle events that you can purchase tickets to, for $5 a ticket. All proceeds from the tournament and events are collected and donated to the charity of choice each quarter. During the last quarterly tournament, 14 mages raised over $400 for the Columbia Harvest Food bank.

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The Wheel of Fortune side event – Get the highest score on your spin, and win an actual Wheel of Fortune!
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Another fun side event, Tim’s Shooting Gallery – Earn the highest score by shooting a nerf gun at various MTG related targets, and win a Sylvan Library!

This time, 22 mages gathered to battle it out. Players hailed from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and even Texas. Over the course of just one year, the Old School scene in the Southeast region has grown from being nothing, to being a vibrant group of players, committed to slinging the spells of old.

With the end of the year approaching rapidly, I knew that this would be my final Old School tournament of 2017. Between not being able to attend this year’s Eternal Weekend, narrowly missing the top 8 during this year’s Skype Old School “Summer Derby,” and losing in the finals of the last “Two Magical Hacks” tournament to a fierce “White Weenie” deck, I just knew that I had to redeem myself in some capacity.

My Weapon of Choice:

I took the drawing board and brewed, brewed, and brewed some more. Until finally, I decided to run a Black and Red no-nonsense, smash-mouth aggressive type deck. The plan was shockingly simple – knock my opponent’s lights out… quickly. That should be easy, right? After rigorously play testing my deck against various international opponents over Skype and having a final play test record of 17-3, I felt that the odds were in my favor. And so, the five rounds of Swiss began!

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The digital version of the deck that I pieced together.
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Despite my helper trying to feverishly convince me to remove the Juzams from the main board, cooler heads eventually prevailed!

Five Rounds of Swiss:

My first opponent of the day was playing a GWR Zoo style deck. He won the first game handily with a swarm of small creatures and several lightning bolts to my face. During my loss, I couldn’t help but notice that my opponent wasn’t playing a single basic land. A quick sideboard adjustment of adding three Blood Moons led me to beat him 20-0 in game two. Game three was a close match of back and forth. I finally stabilized the board with two Sedge Trolls that he couldn’t attack through. However, his top deck lightning bolt followed by a chain lightning to my face left me dead. Well… that didn’t go the way I had hoped; I was 0-1 to start the day.

After a tough first round loss, I went up against my second opponent of the day. His GWU “Bant-mageddon” deck was simply no match for my deck’s speed and aggression. I took the first game convincingly with a pair of quick Hypnotic Specters and a Mind Twist, leaving him with no resources to fight back. Our second game, a turn two Sengir Vampire and turn three Sedge Troll deterred him from casting an Armageddon. Not too shabby, I was 1-1 on the day.

Feeling good after my last series, I found myself sitting across the table from the rarest of rare: a mono green mage. The first match, I couldn’t exactly determine what his deck was comprised of. As far as I could tell, it just seemed like an unlikely assortment of random green creatures and spells. A few slams with my early Juzam, and we were off to game two.  I consulted my sideboard and decided to board in three Nevinyrral’s Disks. Whatever it was that he was playing, it should easily be handled by a rogue disk. Game two started off similarly; I attacked with Juzam and got him down to low health. Sitting at 14 health myself, I allowed an unblocked Argothian Pixie through my defenses. Two Giant Growths and a Berserk later, I was dead… out of nowhere… impressive. Game three, he made quick work of me through traditional green mana acceleration and a whole host of green creatures that swarmed me. I fell to 1-2 on the day.

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Battling the rare Green Mage.

During my fourth round of the day, I faced off vs a “White Weenie” player. Unfortunately for him, he had to mulligan down to six cards game one. A turn one Juzam off my Black Lotus doomed him from the get-go. During game two, he again had to mulligan down to six cards. My turn one Hypnotic Specter and turn three Mind Twist left his already meager hand completely barren. After that series, I was 2-2 for the day, and I knew that if I could just somehow sweep my next opponent, I could still make the top eight despite my less than desirable performance. Onward and onward!

My final round of Swiss was played against yet another “White Weenie” Player. Our first match went to me quickly due to a Sedge Troll that went unchecked in tandem with a massive Fireball to my opponent’s face. I was elated; if I could just win this finally match, I would solidify my spot in the top eight. Having lost to “White Weenie” in the finals at the last “Two Magical Hacks” tournament, I came prepared this time. After the first match, I boarded in three copies of “Gloom” to absolutely ensure a game two victory. During the second game, Gloom was nowhere to be found. After beating him down to eight health remaining, he took over my Juzam with a rogue Preacher, then surprised me with a Black Lotus Armageddon combo. Trying to keep my wits about me, I realized that I wasn’t completely out of the running. In addition to winning my final match of the day, I now had to receive some help from other players with similar records losing their final matches. Game three, my opponent drew an absolutely unstoppable hand. A turn one Plains, Black Lotus, and two Orders of Leitbur left me in awe. As if that wasn’t enough, his second turn comprised of a Mox Pearl, Crusade, and a Strip Mine leaving me completely vulnerable. That game was over before it even began. After my quick defeat, my glimmer of hope for redemption was lost. I had been officially eliminated from the top eight.

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Foiled by White Weenie, yet again!

Final Thoughts:

Despite my poor personal showing, the tournament was a raging success. I am both proud and honored to have participated in an event for such a worthy cause. After all the dust had finally settled, between the various toys donated, proxy fees, tournament entry fees, and raffle event proceeds, 22 mages raised a whopping $1,200 for Toys for Tots. It never ceases to amaze me how Old School Magic has the capacity to bring out the absolute best within us. There we were, playing the very game that captivated our imaginations as children; only this time, we were brightening the lives of children today.

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Just some of the gifts donated for children this year.

I’d like to express a massive thank you to the Two Magical Hacks (Jame Easteppe and Matthew Fink), Lon Starkey at Ready to Play Trading Cards (Cayce, SC), and all of the event participants.

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