That Brother’s Highlander deck - by Chris Sartin
I was lucky enough a few weeks ago to attend COPcon VII, an Old School gathering hosted by the powerful Brothers of Fire and I loved it: beautiful cardboard, great venue, and supercool people – everyone. I can safely say it was the most fun I have had at a Magic event. The casual nature of the day and the laid-back attitude of all of the competitors was a breath of fresh air from the usual Standard/Modern grindfest punctuated with yells of ‘Judge’ all over the room. I was also chuffed to bits to receive the spirit of COPcon award and a Brothers of Fire signed by all the competitors, a prize I will really treasure.
I had seen Brother Jonas’ article on the Brother’s Highlander house format on Facebook and I was instantly sold on the idea. I love ways to give unloved cards the light of day and there are so many Old School cards which don’t make the top tier but deserve their time in the limelight - I mean, I had a headless horsemen across the table from me!
So I played around with a few ideas. Initially I looked at trying to build RG because I had a copy of Stangg from Chronicles. Maybe I could even stretch it to RGW so I could include my Palladia-Mors. These cards had sat in a binder for probably twenty years and were opened from Chronicles boosters some-when in 1995. So I started looking through my first ever binder and shoebox of Magic cards and pulled out cards to fit the deck. Then I started looking at the pile of Goblins... I also had a Revised Goblin King... Could there be a tribal goblin deck?
In the legal sets there are 21 cards that mention Goblin and only 14 are creatures - not enough for a 100-card deck.
|(Oh yeah, they have a cave troll)|
But Goblins often go hand-in-hand with Orcs. Could this be the theme - Red Orcs and Goblins?
Well, no. There are only 12 cards that mention Orc and only 9 are creatures
|(Yep there is a bad moon here - Orcs only fight at night unless you cross-breed them…)|
First, there is Sauron himself:
|(Or, to be honest, it could be the one ring)|
The realm of Mordor is surrounded by blighted marshes and mountains – perfect:
|(“Don’t follow the lights... or little Hobbits go down and light candles of their own”)|
I like the idea of the Ebon Stronghold being Cirith Ungol or even Mount Doom:
There are lots of Goblin caves and Dwarven ruins as well, which fit right into the theme:
|"Drums. Drums in the deep. We cannot get out."|
By extending the theme to cover a bit of The Hobbit I can also have Smaug and his Dwarven Ruins:
And then there is Moria and the evil that Lurks in the deep:
|“You Shall not pass”|
Ok, so we have the locations fairly well covered and the mass armies of Orcs and Goblins. But what about the truly terrifying followers of Sauron, the Ringwraiths? I just chose nine black creatures here. The Bog Wraith and Murk Dwellers could also be denizens of the blighted marshes. There may be better choices but these are all wraithy enough:
There were several spells I thought captured the essence of the Ringwraiths as well, especially their overwhelming terror and power:
The dark Lord draws allies from all across Middle earth:
Above, the Harad or Easterlings. If I can find my Desert Nomads, they will defiantly have to go in. I remember around 1995 really wanting any card from Arabian Nights. I would have settled for a Camel but with no internet, no eBay, no online card sellers, it just wasn’t possible. Years later I built a Pauper cube and as a tribute to this dream I bought a Desert Nomads (and a Moorish Cavalry). The Nomads have a new home now.
Oh yes and then there is 'Golem' - can’t forget poor Smeagol!
|And the machine they use to smoosh him with: “Shiiire, Baaagins”. Poor Smeagol.|
Ok, so the last few cards are not really on theme, just some good cards and spells to round the decks out. I couldn’t leave out Tor Wauki in a RB deck.
So that was the deck! I’m a little sad there wasn’t an on-colour Mammoth or Giant Spider, but I think it would have been a little excessive to splash green for these two cards.
I managed to play two games against Brother Jonas and Brother Stebbo and had a blast with both of them. This format really does capture those early days of Magic when our decks were one big pile of all the cards we had.
So, where next? I think I want a deck to fight the good fight against Mordor, although the good side is a little harder. I think I may go with a WG Elves, Ents, and Men.
So what do you think? Any glaring omissions?
The format is super fun and great to brew, and I hope this inspires a few of you to dig through those old shoeboxes to find that revised Sea Serpent and jam it into your new Brothers' Highlander mono-blue Oceanna deck. Actually, wait a minute... Deep Spawn, Hormarids, Merfolk... This might work!
Hope to see you at an Old School gathering soon.