Regular readers may note that posts on this blog have been fewer over the last few months, aside from our reveals of a number of new cards from MG’s forthcoming Old School ‘release’, Scryings.
Given that Old School has been continuing to expand in popularity, is this a sign that our love for the format has been waning? I’m pleased to say the opposite. The truth is that there has just been so much Old School happening in real life. As valuable as the internet can be for fostering the global community and for sharing ideas, the truth is that nothing can really overcome the real thing – and accordingly it’s been the real world that has taken a front seat – at least for me. If this is the golden age of Old School (and it feels like we are living through a special time), then it’s been my objective to make the most of it – which has unfortunately left less time for online posts.
Looking back, 2019 was a good year for Brothers Of Fire, with members of the team scoring wins in major online events, and a member of the club making the Top 8 at n00bcon for the second year in a row. Our thrice-yearly tournament, COPcon, recently passed its 11th iteration and we are now experiencing regular attendances in the high teens. Other clubs elsewhere in Europe are drawing bigger numbers, but we are really happy with how our events and club are shaping up, blending competitiveness and lots of good cheer, all helped along by our new venue in Walthamstow, East London.
On a personal front, the last six months or so have been marked by four major highlights: Lobstercon, the World Cup, the Brothers’ Xmas party, and finally the Quest For Urza’s Chalice.
First up in September 2019 was a trip out to Lobstercon, DFB’s flagship event in Boston. The Brothers sent out three members: myself, Stebbo, and our new prospect Joe. Despite their team insignia showing a brave British redcoat being attacked by the Old Man of the Sea, the guys from New England Old School and particularly Jared and Dave couldn’t have been more welcoming. We had a night out at the baseball, a chance to visit the legendary Moogy’s meet-up (and meet Jimmy), and a special barbecue.
The event itself was super-special: very well-run, and an incredible buzz and a chance to meet a lot of familiar names from the world of Old School. I ran WRU shops and had a lot of fun making lots of Tetravites, however the broader field was impressively spicy, with an Elephant Disco deck in the mix. The prize raffle at the end was a nice touch, which Stebbo and I sought to emulate.
Boston is a fantastic city to visit in late summer – the Trillium Brewery, the freedom trail, and Harvard Yard were all special. A recommended trip for out-of-towners (and we even got a Beta Wanderlust for our trouble).
It felt like we barely had time to catch our breath after that trip before having to put together the Brothers’ own flagship event here in London, the Old School World Cup. This year, the Brothers were thrilled to welcome Chris C into our ranks and put on the event together, with Stebbo leading the charge on logistics and organisation. We found a brilliant nineteenth-century venue with loads of space, late opening, and a full bar.
Online pre-registration indicated that we would be joined by attendees from across the world, including no fewer than seven from the USA, plus Austria, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands… With so many people due to travel, we were determined to make the event a classic.
In the event, the World Cup was taken for the second year running by Team South Africa, which was an incredible achievement.
As amazing as that was, the lingering feeling I took from the day was a) admiration for Stebbo’s logistical chops, and (more pertinently) b) my sense of gratitude to so many people who contributed to the raffle. We were simply overwhelmed by the generosity of the participants in the event – everyone put their hand in their pocket to support our chosen charities, Breadwinners and London Inner City Kitties (LICK). The donations to charity really blew us away – with original artwork by Jesper Myrfors, a card from Hall-Of-Famer Randy Buehler, and so many others pitching in incuding black-bordered goodies and other choice cards and paraphenalia, and even some Willy Wonka Swiss chocolate from Christian (I personally made the golden-ticket pull of an Unlimited Mana Vault!).
We raised a total of £1200. Our charities were bowled over, and asked us to pass on the following messages to our attendees:
Only a month later, the Brothers gathered for our now-legendary Christmas Party, where we launched our new format, the Jamboree Draft. Every attendee packed three 12-card boosters with their own cards, which we marked on the back and then put into new casings. We drafted these packs of Old School cards and got to play the world’s first-ever ‘constructed booster’ event. It was a lot of fun – and we recommend the format to anyone else playing in a small group, especially if your funds don’t stretch to cracking new product!
As if the previous six months hadn’t been enough, last month a group of four of us (Brothers Ben, Jordan, Stebbo, and myself) took the trip to California to participate in the quest for Urza’s Chalice. We were thrilled to be invited by the Beasts of the Bay, joining up with participants from across the world to descend into the redwood forests and celebrate the spirit of Old School for three days of non-stop cardboard.
The experience of being in the remote forest with sixty other hardcore fans of Old School is hard to put into words. Needless, to say, Chalice had everything, from super-smooth logistics, to incredible beer, to the invention of the Urza’s Ante house format.
The first event was Beasts Singleton. I have to admit that I was skeptical of the merits of 60-card singleton as I didn’t believe that the card pool would be adequately explored, but the whole event had a good feel and still led to some fun board states. I played a particularly memorable match against Tyler from Lords Of The Pit, who eventually beat me down in a marathon third game with a Palladia Mors. Brian Urbano ran out winner.
My personal competitive highlight was my opportunity to go full spike and attack the main event, taking a UWb Shops deck to fourth place – my best finish since the 1990s. Even at the top tables, the spirit of the event was perfect. Honourable personal mention goes out to Geoff Willard who gave me a very generous takeback in our crunch match (which he went on to win). Eventually Svante Landgraf took home the main prize after defeating Paul Da Silva in the final.
I attach a few select photos below to hint at the full proceedings, but those of you who want the full story will have to ask us about it…
So – a packed six months. Thank you to everyone who was part of such an incredible time, and here’s to Scryings, and all the fun ahead in 2020… May the golden age of Old School continue!