Notes from the Underground

Do you read every {Article} you’re supposed to read? Do you {test} every {deck} you’re supposed to {test}? Buy {the cards} you’re told to want? Get out of your {LGS}. Meet a member of the opposite sex. Stop the excessive {Drafting} and masturbation. Quit your job. Start a fight. Prove you’re alive. If you don’t claim your humanity you will become a statistic. You have been warned.” —Chuck Palinchron

Welcome back.

I am taking the time write again, which is to say I am wasting time on writing this instead of finding the will to write something worthwhile. In truth there is nothing worthwhile to write. The only person who squanders more time than the audience is the performer. You read at your leisure, and I write at my labor.

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Why do I do it? Compulsion. My human condition finds a tinge of fulfillment in it. Perhaps it satisfies the last shred of existential paper-mache that once encased a more youthful and naive edition of myself, but now only keeps me from falling completely over the edge and giving in to a lazy and silent nihilism. Whatever the motive, it nags at me to commit words to existence, and it is only a short step to then communicate them to you.

On Friday night I stopped by two of my favorite Local Gaming Stores during Friday Night Magic. First, I ventured to my long standing base of operations, RIW Hobbies in Livonia, Michigan. While there I managed to trade for a NM Beta Counterspell, a NM Guardian Beast, and a Eureka that has strange indentations likely caused by a trapper-keeper before Swans broke up. The buzz around Modern Masters 2015 was alive and well, and it made it more satisfying to be free of the hype and focused on history. With everyone busy watching the fireworks above, there was no one to keep me from slipping unnoticed into the Sewers (of Estark.) While they were busy trying to pluck the newly manufactured stars from the sky, I was unearthing the treasures of the past. They kept their hands clean and bought what they were sold. I got a little dirty and found what they will never see. This is often the way of those who dwell in the strange world of the MTG Underground. Tomorrow when their sparklers are no more than scorched and bent pieces of wire and absent of their momentary splendor, the spoils of the deep will still enchant us.

After much social revelry I moved on to another frequent haunt, Time Travelers in Berkley, Michigan. Again the excitement of Modern Masters was all around me. I saw enough foil Noble Heirarchs and Cryptic Commands to last a lifetime, but I also managed to pick up my last two Tawnos Coffins and another Chaos Orb, a couple Liches and some filler for my ever-expanding Oldschool collection. I looked at enough draft decks to realize I did not bother looking at the complete spoiler, made some mindless observations about the price of singles, and spoke to an old friend about his inclusion in my next higher stakes sealed event. He said something to the effect of “This Modern Masters stuff almost gets the game into a reasonable context, but I want to play magic for some real money.” There may not be a mass of us, but there are enough people to keep $100 buy in games firing.

With the release of Modern Masters 2015 on Friday, I spent the morning pecking out a series of tweets comparing the SCG retail of each of the mythics to the retail of select Oldschool MTG staples. This was primarily for my own amusement, as most of the things I do are, but it was well received and rapidly discussed in my small Twitter circle. My intention was to recap them here, but in two days some of the mythics are already down and a few of the Oldschool cards are up, making the math wrong and placing too much of an emphasis on how much better Arabian Nights and Antiquities are than Modern Masters. If anyone is interested these tweets are resting pretentiously in my Twitter history between a mess of insinuated criminality and mockery of formats I choose not to play.

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The significance of those tweets had little to do with the cards I chose to highlight or the retail of the most recent recyclable cardboard package of Venarian Gold. The point was partially to draw attention to what interests me, but also to point out that many of the cards that make up the format are no more expensive than those in the packs being cracked at this weekend’s overpriced and overhyped drafts. Oldschool is expensive because Magic is expensive. In year I would much rather have this Unlimited Forcefield than that Modern Masters 2015 Tarmogoyf. If you don’t feel the same way, you are probably in the wrong place.

The MTG Underground is not for everyone. FNM is perfect for the masses. So is Pop Music. Most people will never cast animate artifact and instill energy on a time vault. They would rather unmorph a Den Protector and target {Insert standard card that properly interacts here} and that keeps the world in balance. There is a reason Drake is more popular than Vinnie Paz. It does not make the former superior, just easier to digest because it is already cut into bite size portions and packaged for the mindless consumer.

But the Underground is the perfect place for many of us, and our ranks are slowly expanding. The price comparisons spawned some immediate purchases, planning, and interest. The Oldschool MTG format is popping up everywhere, whether its between rounds in your LGS, in a basement in Detroit, a Bar in Sweden, a Strip Club in New Orleans, or just your living room against your degenerate friends, its presence is here to stay. These cards are older than the legal drinking age in the United States. There may not be an established or definitive set of rules, as many regions have a specific take on things, but this proves further its strength. We do not need the DCI to tell us what to do or how to do it. We will establish our own order.

This is what the MTG Underground is and will always be about. Oldschool is a non-sanctioned format inspired by a love of the cards as well as a love of the game. It is not for everyone. But we are not everyone. We are the dissident voices. We may have little interest in the overpriced set of reprinted propaganda designed to make the premier Police State format more accessible, but we are not afraid to move in on the world we love and admire. Instead of buying a Box of Modern Masters 2015, we will buy our Juzam Djinns and never look back.

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About a month ago I hosted a 4 man Oldschool Invitational at my apartment. There were no pictures taken at the request of one participant, but the event went smoothly and included a player who last played magic around the time when Mirage was released. My next update will highlight that event, including 4 rudimentary deck lists and too much focus on Scotch. Until then, spread the word make your presence known.

#mtgunderground

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