Holy shit its 2019. I’m finding myself at work trying to slice through the grind so I figured I’d blast out a quick post. It’s been fun for me to word vomit upon this blog for the past year about my dumb decks and boring work life, even if I am just bullshitting for my own amusement. 2018 was a big year and 2019 is looking bigger already. We’ve got a literal van full of dudes heading up to St. Louis in a couple of weeks for The Rukh Cup, which I unfortunately can’t attend, but I wish my brethren the best of luck. Just one of many sweet happenings we’ll be jamming at this year. It’s cool to see a scene happening up there in St. Louis. Planning for our own annual tournament, The Bootleggers Ball, is well underway. The venue has changed from last year and will be at Tennessee Brew Works on Saturday, May 25. We’ve got some cool shit planned. It’ll be a rager and we’ll crank the hype soon with registrations coming out sometime in February/early March.
Anyway, I hope the New Year is treating you all right. We’ve been jamming a lot of cards lately, more than usual. Lots of impromptu meet ups and brewing is taking place. Aside from old school, we’ve just recently dove hard into Middle School. This is something that CayC.E. and myself have been messing with a little bit for a while now, but using the PreModern B&R because EC hadn’t yet announced Middle School. We finally hooked some of the others and are excited to spice things up and get into the format. I’ll probably intertwine a little bit of Middle School throughout some of the upcoming posts in the future.
First I wanted to talk about my most recent Old School brew. I use the term brew pretty loosely here as it’s really not that innovative. Mono black was the first deck I built when I got into OS. It was pretty stock. 8 Knights, Hyppies, Hymns, Sinkholes, a couple Sengirs. A solid and cheap entry deck. After that I started building other decks and left it alone for a long time and decided to come back around and do something different with it. I wanted to build a control (ish) deck. The color is pretty versatile and there are a lot of different ways to go. I have recently been throwing out a spotlight on certain cards that are on my radar at the end of my posts and the first one I featured was Evil eye of Orms by Gore. I also mentioned in that post a couple of decks I had seen that revolved around that card; One splashing Blue for Clone and Dance of Many to swarm the board with (essentially) unblockable Eyes. The other was a BW list from a Lords event that used Spirit Link on the Eye for life gain to fuel Greed. Both of those decks looked super fun to play and are true brews. I didn’t really want to build a deck around the Eye necessarily, so I figured I’d just build a mono black deck resilient enough to have the Eye as one of the main threats, which is kind of necessary in working around his draw back, which is that only “Eye” creatures may attack on your side. I scrapped all the staple Black creatures for the Eyes, a couple of Xenic Poltergeist and a single Royal Assassin for the only creatures. I had initially put together a sort of janky all-in land destruction deck and the Poltergeists were there to blow up Moxen. In that list I also had some Ankh of Mishras, Black Vise, mother fucking Worms of the Earth, Sinkholes, and Blights. Right before I got my hands on the playset of Blights I was missing, I decided to just throw together a black deck really quick for a meet up we had on a whim one day and that’s pretty much the deck you see in the picture above. It ended up being a lot of fun to play and probably better than the land destruction route I was headed. The only changes I made after that meet up was adding 2 Pestilence, which has been insane with the Eye on the board.
With the Eye’s 6 toughness, I can activate the Pestilence a max of 5 times, clear the board of pretty much all creatures aside from Eye and deal 8 damage to the opponent. Other than the creature suite, it is a fairly basic Black deck, but it’s got some spice and I’m happy with it. The only thing missing is a Mirror Universe, which I’ll add when I get my hands on the cheapest, gnarliest copy I can find. Mirror is going to work well with Greed and it’s just a nice back up. Another card worth mentioning is Nevinyrral’s Disk. I believe Disk is essential in mono Black. Black suffers from lack of removal-enchantments, creatures, artifacts, all of it. Fortunately that’s padded with Sinkholes and Hymns, but those are only going to get you so far. Pair those with the 3 or 4 Disks and you’re in business. Hymn what they don’t play, disk what they do. Nothing fancy, nothing new, but the card is clutch. I can also animate the Disks as well as the Icy’s into 4/4 beaters if need be with the Poltergeist until my Eyes come down. I’ve also animated my opponents Artifacts so that I could Drain Life them, which is super bad ass. Drain Life is another card that has done surprisingly well in this deck. I’ve messed with different numbers of Drains in mono Black before and they’ve always been pretty underwhelming. I usually end up cutting them completely or playing 1-2 max, but when you’re playing the long game and have a couple of Greed and/or Pestilence, they’re great. One hang up I had was the mindset that a Drain had to be a big bomb, but with 3-4 copies, it’s a great removal spell. Drain for one or two if you have to, fuck it. I mentioned Greed earlier and it’s one of my favorite cards. Not a great one, but on occasion, when all is right, it can do some work. However, I may move the single maindeck copy to the board as it’s not great with Pestilence. I’d like to test a Disrupting Scepter or Jayemdae Tome in its place. But, that’s the list as of now. The side board is also pretty stock. One card I’d like to mention is Haunting Wind. As I said before, Black doesn’t have a lot of defense against artifacts and I believe this card is one of the best to abate that problem. I just recently boarded it in for the first time against a very artifact heavy deck rocking Relic Barriers, a full set of Moxen, Icy’s, etc. and the card completely locked the game down. While it may only be average, in the right match up it can be brutal. The only other card that needs an explanation is Animate Dead. I was inspired to throw it in after rocking a Pox deck in our recent Old School ’95 tournament that used Dance of the Dead to bring back fatties that were pitched or discarded from Pox or Hymn, weather from mine or my opponents’ graveyard. I figured if I’m up against some kind of mid-range deck sporting any kind of big boys, chances are good that one is going to get Hymned or Disked. Might as well raise that som’bitch to do my bidding.
Moving on, I wanted to touch on Middle School. A recent Pitcast and the official EC announcement of the format sparked my interest again after having played Pre Modern a little bit. Our group was throwing around ideas and trying to figure out a way to use these cards a while back, but never came to a conclusion on how to best go about it. I have a soft spot for Ice Age up through Urza’s block so I was eager to play anything with these cards. Now that EC has Middle School, we’re adopting that. A few of us are super into it and stirring the pot. I’m working on a few things now, but the first deck I built was a revamped version of the Mirage era deck Counter-Hammer.
Hammer of Bogardan was always one of my favorite cards. After some digging over at the Dojo, I found an old list for it, did some homework on the post Masques sets I had never seen and tweaked it the best I could. The deck simply draw-goes and counters and burns everything your opponent try’s to play, builds up some card advantage and when it’s safe, starts recurring Hammers and/or drops a Morphling. I added the Morphlings to speed things up since recurring and casting Hammers is extremely costly and slow. I gave it a go in the first online Pre-Modern skype tourney a while back and made it to the second round of the top 8, which was way better than I expected.
So, only about ankle deep into the format a bunch of us have quite a few decks built and ready to go. It’s great not worrying as much about budget restraints, which for me opens up a lot of freedom in brewing. It was also nice to see the wide variety of decks in the report from the recent Lords’ Middle School event. There’s definitely a lot of exploration to do and I’m excited to see how the format evolves. See action below.
That’s all I’ve got. Just a short pop in to share a deck and bullshit around. As I said, I’ll be blasting out registrations for Bootleggers Ball soon, so keep your eye balls peeled. Some featured tuneage, card spotlight, and literature below. Ride on.
Learn yourself on Middle School–EC Middle School
Coliseum is a band from my home state, Kentucky, hailing from a once thriving hardcore scene in Louisville. I meant to tone my musical suggestion down a bit for this post, as my first two featured bands were pretty heavy hitters, but I’m not doing that today. I’ve actually had the pleasure of sharing the stage with this band a couple of times and they’re one of the loudest, most intense bands I’ve ever seen. The best way I can describe them is biker punk, which sounds dumb, but it works. If the biker dude from Raising Arizona had a soundtrack, this would be it. The’re fast, heavy, and loud as fuck. The song below kicks off their 2nd album, Goddamage. Their records preceding and succeeding this one are great, but in my opinion, their following efforts are a bit lackluster. The grit fades and the band calmed down a bit in their later years before eventually disbanding in 2015. BUT, this one is a rager. Rev it up. I’ll take it down a notch in the next post.
CARD: Xenic Poltergeist
I talked a little bit about this card in the post, but I feel like it needs some attention. It doesn’t see a lot of play, but for me its been really versatile and has done a lot of work. Its blown up Moxen, turned Relic Barriers (among other artifacts) into 2/2’s to to bomb with Drain Life, and transformed Icy’s and Disks into 4/4 fat boys. I also saw it turn a tapped Disk into a creature so that it could be destroyed with a Royal Assassin. Not my play, but it was a glorious spectacle. It’s not a top shelf card, but it’s possibly a little overlooked. And as usual, I think the art is killer.