Part 1: First Contact
‘Hey Ron, how are you doing? Good to see you!’ Jasper Boelens, a guy I know back from the 90’s when I played MtG for a short and intensive time, is welcoming me in Proeflokaal Hooghoudt in Groningen. It’s February 2019 and I’m here for my first Old School magic event. The event is held in a dark brown pub and about 24 men aged 30-45 are gathered there. The atmosphere is laid back, people are chatting, most of them drink coffee, but I also see some crazy guys drinking beer at 11 in the morning. Also I see some nerds who are hustling and trading magic cards in a dark corner of the pub. It’s like I stepped back in time straight to the 90’s again. Except these guys are a bit better dressed now and you can’t smell them from a 5 miles distance. I like it. I like it a lot!
Three years have past since and with Paladins of the North Cup II coming up soon, I think this is the perfect moment to look back at my now 3 year rollercoaster ride into Old School magic. Three years that got me ‘broke’ and ‘rich’ at the same time. Broke because of the amount of money I have spent. And rich because of finding joy I hadn’t felt for years. Joy because of the social gathering & making new friends. But also joy for finding competition and intellectual challenge in playing and brewing decks. Where do you find a place where competition, social gathering and intellectual challenges are all embedded in one? Yes, for me that’s Magic the Gathering. And in this OS scene it seems they understand that the Gathering part is by far the most important. Just like it was in the 90’s when I first started playing MtG. And I can’t tell you how happy I was that I found back that 90’s feeling in that dark brown pub in Groningen 3 years ago.
Now let’s dig a little deeper into the getting ‘broke’ part. I initially did not buy old expensive cards to play Old School magic. No, for me it all started with 40 revised duals and an unlimited power 9 set. Me and some friends had been playing Cube magic for the past 10 years and after some financial windfall I seized the opportunity to buy the cards I always wanted and never had. The perfect cards for a great Cube experience. And after playing some great power games with my Cube I got the taste of it. I was now in the possession of P9, I loved playing them and the mere chance of being able to play P9 cards were the reason I started looking for events where I could use them. Google soon taught me that Vintage and Legacy were pretty much dead, but also that there was something like Old School. And there just happened to be an event in Groningen, a 45 minute drive from my hometown, very soon. Deep diving into tournament reports I found some deckpics that would suit my play style well: Erhnam on Ice. I had read something about ‘Play with what you have’ and I decided that’s just what I would do. Maybe because of that my preparation was a bit messy. I started to scramble together the cards for my deck just one day before the event to find out that I didn’t have legal Icy Manipulators. PANIC! The spike in me, who had been in hibernation for about 20 years, had just awakened. I felt like I really, really needed to have those 2 Icy’s otherwise I absolutely could not play that tournament. So I started a late search on Cardmarket and found some Dutch sellers who had Unlimited Icy’s and started messaging them, explaining I needed to have 2 Icy’s before 11am tomorrow for a tournament in Groningen. I think it was the 3rd message that got me a reply that the seller happened to participate in Groningen as well and that he was happy to hand them over there (don’t remember who it was unfortunately). Pfff, I felt like I was only an inch away from cancelling last minute. Of course I also missed cards like Chaos Orb, but no way I was going to spent big money for tournament play again. At least those were my thoughts back then.
The Icy’s for Paladins would be my first OS Cards that I was last-minute buying just to be able to play an OS deck like I wanted to. Who could have guessed that it was just the beginning and that many, many, many would follow?
It’s now 3 years later and I’m now amongst others the proud owner of an Alpha Power 9. And in about 2 weeks I’ll participate in Paladins of the North Cup II. So many things have changed since my first tournament. Besides having put a lot of money in my personal collection I also invested in the community by organising Uthden Troll Cup, tried to built a local community in Friesland, made a lot of friends and have satisfied my inner Spike every now and then. More about that in my next blog.