While the global lockdown continues to cause disruption to the Old School calendar, Brothers of Fire have been holding inter-club events via webcam.
Back in May, we had the joy of playing Sisters of the Flame in an entertaining clash of hard-tuned Tier 1 decks that was documented on this blog by Brother Ben here.
Then in July, we played ‘Team Paul Gascoigne’, drawn from the ranks of Dutch Old School. The Brothers fielded Brothers Ben, Stebbo, Oli, and Jonas (myself), against a Dutch side comprising Erwin, Koos, Nick, and Evert. After play was concluded, we shook virtual hands on an 8-8 draw that was played out in great spirit. Dutch Old School remain one of our favourite playgroups to play against and we hope to get together again soon.
Since May, conversations had been continuing about getting in another match with Sisters of the Flame. We eventually agreed to get together to play some Brothers’ Highlander, a format which is slowly gaining increased traction with recent mentionings by Carter and Danny of Lords of the Pit on All Tings Considered, and of course with a brilliant deep-dive hosted by our leader Mg at the HQ blag.
Calibrating such a contest was always going to be a challenge. While it is impossible to ignore the fact that the idea of a game of Magic is about trying to reduce your opponent to zero life points, the idea of Brothers’ Highlander is to do this in the appropriate way – ideally by eschewing the staple cards of Constructed. The emphasis is on good-natured competition, enjoying each other’s most treasured cardboard, and zany board states. However, it isn’t purely about eccentricity and aesthetics.
Situations in Brothers’ Highlander can flex intellectual muscles that other forms of Old School cannot. Note my situation in our first match when I laid an Ifh-Bifh Efreet with a Radjan Spirit in play. Only after I had done so did I realise that this allowed me to protect the Efreet from his own ‘Hurricane’ effect and to potentially drive much greater damage than would otherwise be the case. This opened up a whole new range of play lines which had to be considered, especially given the fact that my opponent had access to green mana.
Even the games which approach a playground-like stalemate, with serried ranks of gold Legends, backed by Seafarers’ Quays, facing off over no man’s land, a high degree of calculation – when to blow the whistle on the all-out assault and lead your troops out of the trenches – is at the heart of the experience.
The Brothers’ team consisted of Brothers Ben, Stebbo, Scott, Jordan, and captained by myself. We were supplemented by our secret weapon and official Rookie of the Year, ‘Scathezombie’ Stu, who has had an electrifying impact on the UK Old School scene despite the limitations of COVID.
The Sisters fielded a powerful line-up of their own, comprising captain Seth Roncoroni, Noah, Jeff, Danny, David, and wandering mage of US Old School, Dom D.
With six players on each side, we agreed to play best-of-one over half-an-hour each, with any unused time used for additional chit-chit and ‘fun’ games. In the end, the final scoreline omitting four draws favoured the Brothers 22-14. However, with the Sisters demonstrating considerably higher channelling of the spice, and with the spiciest single deck on show that day, we consider this event to have been an honourable draw. In our defence, we hadn’t expected everyone to ‘get’ the ethos of Bros’ Highlander quite so effortlessly. Accordingly, some of our Brothers brought decks that could have benefited from a few extra
pieces of chaff deep Legends cuts.
The Sisters’ decks are below. Particularly honourable mention goes to David T’s blue machine, a mono-U brew featuring ALL 53 legal blue creatures in the format (which destroyed me twice in our matchup). Danny packed in the most gold cards of anyone. And Dom extended his successful Beasts Singleton brew to pioneer mono-red control in the 100-card space.
The Brothers’ decks are below. Ben has upgraded from Ashnod’s Battle Gear to Tawnos’s Weaponry and Stebbo pioneered some main-deck Thoughlace/Volcanic Eruption/Spinal Villain “synergies”. I discovered against Noah’s artifact-heavy brew that casting an unchallenged Aladdin can be absolutely brutal!
The only thing missing from the event was the ability to buy each other a beer afterwards. Nevertheless, it’s amazing to see people’s buy-in of this spicefest format, and we hope we can repeat it soon.