April 2, 2023

Musings on an Efreet

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about Nothing In Particular. The last several posts have really only been tournament reports and event summaries. That makes me feel pretty good, though. Music City Old School has been as active as ever, playing just about anything: 93/94, Alpha to Alliances, Middle School, Classic, Vintage, and even some explorations into more fringe formats like Premodern and Legacy. But those, and other fringe topics, are best left for another blog.

Here I want to talk about a journey I’ve been on centering around maybe my all-time favorite Old School card: Serendib Efreet.

I started playing Old School in 2017, meeting up with the original MCOS members in an LGS. I brought a hastily put together version of UR Burn with Flying Men, Islands from Portal 2, and Volcanic Islands, Bolts, Counterspells, and Serendib Efreets, all from Revised. I was hooked on the format, despite the rightful ridicule I received over my choice of basic land. My first tournament, the inaugural Bootleggers Ball in 2018, saw me run the same UR Burn deck to a middling finish.

Deck pic wasn’t available, but this action shot shows the Efreet’s mortal enemy in action: an Icy Manipulator. I love that card too.

I didn’t wind up sticking with the deck, but I knew I loved Serendib Efreet. After that deck, I transitioned into what is now my Signature Recipe: RUG Aggro. Kird Ape and Erhnam Djinn are two other Arabian creatures that beat the mana curve, presenting a Power that is greater than or equal to the casting cost. The trio of Arabian creatures formed the basis for my next few iterations.

Players Ball 2018

The list above is the one I ran to a weak showing at Players Ball 2018 in Chicago. I was still finding my footing with how to construct the deck, but my first version of RUG featured the classic Channel+Fireball combo, a miser’s Control Magic main to deal with bigger creatures, and some spicy inclusions such as Orgg and Disintegrate. But what held it together was a trio of Serendib Efreets. Here, I have procured my first upgrade in the form of an Italian white border version. Soon, three more would follow.

Rukh Cup, 2019
Bootleggers Ball 2019 – Featuring Planeswalker Saddam

In 2019 I began to upgrade a large portion of the deck to black border. At Players Ball in 2018 I traded Dustin Brossard for some expertly done Lightning Bolt alters featuring Gandalf from the 70s Lord of the Rings animated movies. Signed Psionic Blasts were procured from Jaco in Chicago, swapping a too-well-templated Psionic for something more antiquated, albeit with a white border (which still pops). Various other black border upgrades in the form of a Beta Regrowth, Mishra’s Factories, and tempo pieces like Sylvan Library, Shatter, and Power Sink scratched my itch for black borders. From Rukh Cup in winter to BLB in the summer, it was clear I was experimenting with some of the open slots in the “standard” RUG list, to varying degrees of success.

The Dibs were now finally all the correct art and correct frame color. This set is what I would run for years. But all that time, the desire for black borders would only grow.

Players Ball 2019 – This won me 5th Place overall

By the time Players Ball rolled around again, I had been seduced to the power of the Dark Side. I dropped red in favor of the best removal in the game. Here, the full set of Disenchants, Swords, and Balance backed up the Erhnam-Geddon plan. This is maybe the style of deck I love second most behind RUG aggro. It plays more midrangey than RUG, but still maintains those Dibs, which I used to great effect.

Then, came Covid…

Summer Slam 2020 – 5C Geddon

In 2020, there weren’t any in-person events. We transitioned to webcam and made the best of a tough situation. It was at this point I decided to experiment even more–running a 5 color list in a 4-Strip Mine environment. The list was a ton of fun, in part due to the greed behind it.

This saw even more upgrades to my deck, chiefly my manabase. In Late 2019 I churned through my Revised Dual Lands and picked up everything I could that was Collectors Edition, with RUGW lands being the main priority. This deck is the result of that work. As of this writing, I am at 37/40, lacking 3 Bayous, with no plans to finish the set. By summer of 2020, I had also procured three Arabian Erhnam Djinns and CE Serra Angels. As a weird flex, I picked up Alternate 4th Edition Swords to Plowshares, and a well-loved Beta Balance as a more understandable flex.

Chatt House 2022 – my winning NY Zoo list for A2A

During the pandemic, MCOS debuted Alpha to Alliances. The format is maybe one of my favorites, as it cranks up the degeneracy inherent in Old School by adding things like Necro and Force of Will and all round making for an incredibly fast and combo-permissive environment. After things calmed down, we were able to get together for a weekend in a rental house to cut loose in Chattanooga. I played this pile above to win our A2A event. It merges the power of white removal with the efficiency of Dibs and Erhnams.

There were also other events where I ran RUG piles not shown here. I ran a RUG pile at our first Christmas A2A event in 2019, but it wasn’t all that notable and it was ill-constructed. The following two Christmas events (2020 and 2021) I ran Esper Necro Mirror and mono black Necro. Gotta change it up here and there.

In late 2022 I decided it was finally time to pull the trigger. Through the years I had picked up ARN Kird Apes, the final fourth ARN Erhnam, a set of 4 CE Serra Angels, Juzam Djinns, more Argothian Pixies than I can count… but never those original printings of Serendib Efreets. That needed to be corrected. Quail out in Iowa graciously gifted me a pair of black border Serendibs, getting me one step closer. But that didn’t solve the English Language problem. Plus, four of a kind beats a pair.

Evolution of a Dib

I had to trade away one of my Juzams (which just sit in my binder, unfortunately) to fund this, but I’m incredibly happy with that trade. The set is now complete. I have a full 12 Arabian Aggro base fully black bordered in the original printing. I have yet to cast my ARN Dibs, but that should change in 2023.

The white removal is sitting in my Titania’s Prison list, which I’ll reveal in the future. Erhnamgeddon is going to come back together soon enough as well. And now that I have these ARN Dibs, UG Berserk is going to look absolutely marvelous with Beta Giant Growths and Berserks. But for 2023, I’ve decided to go back play the ultimate evolution of the deck that I first fell in love with. Behold:

93/94 RUG Tempo, 2023
A2A RUG, 2023

Til next time. Don’t let your Dibs get Icy’d.



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