Letter from the Editor:
On December 1st, 2018, the Sisters of the Flame gathered for an 8-man Old School draft featuring 4th Ed, Ice Age, Fallen Empires, and Homelands! We started by each opening the 4th edition starter and taking 10 mins to look it over. Then, we drafted Ice Age, Homelands, and the 2x Fallen Empires boosters.
The throw a wrench in an otherwise normal draft, we played with Ante rules in effect! We implemented it like this: At the beginning of each game, both players remove the top card of their deck face up. The winner of that game keeps both cards permanently. The winner can add that card to their deck immediately if they choose and the loser must add a card from the rest of their draft pool to their deck to meet the 40 card minimum.
We played 5 full rounds of best-of-3 to crown our winner, Andrew Taylor, who went undefeated. What follows is Andrew’s tournament report.
Tournament Report by Andrew Taylor
The draft was pretty wacky (considering Paul and I were on the same deck, and drafted next to one another), so I had a blue splash and a decent amount of white cards rotting in my sideboard (I hate drafted two Order of Leitburs). I started on this build (note that I was allowed to play as if my swamps were snow-covered for the gangrenous zombies):
Rd 1: 2–1 vs Danny on UW fliers
I lost game 1 (and my uncle Istvan in the ante) to fliers. I sided in a Vampire Bat and a Sengir Bat for the second and third games, which eventually remained maindeck (and were MVPs along the way). The pingers were good all day, but exceptional vs Danny’s deck. I ended up winning two lands off ante. Whomp whomp.
After this game Danny swapped to having black as a primary color and started crushing. I’m glad I avoided his Necropotence in our match.
Rd 2: 2–1 vs Micah on junk weenies
I won game 1 — it was fairly unremarkable, and I got an Icatian Javelineers in ante. Game two is going well until he slams a Northern Paladin. I lose my Torture to ante fairly shortly thereafter. At this point, I realize there’s no way I can ever beat that card, and that my black is significantly weakened between the Torture and Uncle Istvan losses. I decide to swap out black for a bunch of white weenies and an Elder Land Wurm for game 3.
The game goes suuuuuper long, and was difficult to navigate because of Micah’s banding creatures. Eventually, we get to a point where he blocks my Scaled Wurm with an Icatian Phalanx and a Hand of Justice (with an Armor Thrull token on it). I give the Wurm first strike with an Icatian Scout and he’s unable to assign damage in a way that I don’t finish one of his two creatures with my on-board pingers before he deals damage back. The Scaled Wurm turned into the abyss after that and then won me the game. I got a giant growth from ante.
Rd 3: 2–1 vs Paul on BG
I may be mis-remembering the order of the games on this one, but I think I lost game 1 to Pentagram of the Ages on a super convoluted board state. I lose Prodigal Sorcerer to ante, and decide Power Sink alone isn’t worth the blue splash. Also, Paul’s Thorn Thallid did a number on my 1-toughness white creatures, so I side back into black. Game two, Paul mulls to 6 or maybe even 5, and I get there mostly on the back of one of my Moor Fiends. I win a black knight in ante — hell yeah.
Game three is a real nail biter. I mull to 6 and keep a hand with no Forests, a Vampire Bat and an Unholy Strength. I never get green mana the whole game, and end with 3 or 4 green cards in my hand. But build-a-delver got me there. Paul said he needed 1 more mana to win. Super close game, and I walk away with a second Thorn Thallid from ante.
Rd 4: 2–0 vs Erik on RG burn
In Game 1, Erik killed a trillion of my lands (Stone Rain, Stone Rain, Thermokarst in successive turns), but eventually I built up a large enough board to win. Got an Orcish Spy in ante. Game two I run back the build-a-delver strategy, this time Unholy Strength-ing my Bog Imp. He had the bolt, but I had the giant growth, and the imp gets the job done. I win a land in ante.
Rd 5: 2–0 vs Andy on RG pingers
At some point midway through this game I have two Thorn Thallids in play, both with three counters on them. I then realize that this should never have been the case — Andy’s Thorn Thallid should have been able to kill off one of mine before I was able to double ping his down. He forgot his own Thorn Thallid triggers but didn’t mention it when he realized his mistake. I kill his Thallid and run away with the game afterwards. It was a feel-bad way to win. In the future I hope he points out when he messes up — I’m cool about take-backs assuming the game hasn’t progressed very far. He lost a land to ante.
Game two, Andy powers out a Shambling Strider with two Rainbow Vales, while I have 4 various 2/2’s in play. He swings for a lot of damage and drops a Brassclaw Orcs. Since he can’t block, I swing back for 8, putting me on a lethal attack next turn if he doesn’t hold his creatures back. I end up winning the race — his mana development after losing the two lands wasn’t great, and I basically wouldn’t tap the rainbow vales unless I had drawn Scaled Wurm. I win another land off ante.
This event was super fun, not in small part because we had such a limited amount of knowledge about draft strategies. I assumed unholy strength was going to be bad, but the amount of removal is so small that it was infrequently card disadvantage. Unholy strength on an early flier was surprisingly effective. Splashing for a third color was totally fine, given the long games. Also, despite theoretically knowing what banding did, it seemed much more powerful in-game than it did when I was reading the cards. It was a super fun event. Shout-out to Paul for putting it together!
My final build, along with the Hazezon I won:
Final Standings and Decklists
The decks were awful and the event was a blast! Ante proved to be a great addition to keep the stakes high even when the cards were (financially) worthless. In my match against Danny, he used his Bronze Tablet to steal my Pentagram of the Ages. In game 2, I added the Bronze Tablet to my deck hoping to steal something of his (ideally taking the Pentagram back) but when we went to start game 2, Bronze Tablet was my ante card! Danny won that game and proceeded to steal additional cards as the day progressed. For me, that was the highlight of the draft.
Thanks to everybody who came out to open such terrible ancient cardboard. We hope to be hosting another one very soon.