Sunday, 14 October 2018

Deep Flavour Decks - Part One - By Chris Sartin

Crank up the spice! The first in a series of articles in which contributors will share their pet decks, with a strong emphasis on the flavour of the decks and the stories behind their construction.  The series begins with a story from Chris about his Brothers' Highlander deck (full details on our house singleton format here).

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?

Well, no.

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…)
But, suddenly the theme hit me – Mordor, the realm of the Dark Lord Sauron!  After that, the ideas came thick and fast.

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.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Format announcement: Brothers' Highlander Autumn 2018 B&R&C update

Our house Highlander format, Brothers' Highlander, has been going from strength to strength as a chance to play fringe cards and enjoy the greater variability of the singleton format.

Check out this smattering of deep flavour action shots!

With a number of games under our belt, here is a revised Banned, Restricted, and Controlled set.

Brothers' Highlander rules version 1.1 - October 2018

Deck sizes: 100 cards exactly.

Legal sets: ABU, AN, AQ, LE, TD, FE, 93/94 promo cards. (Note: Fallen Empires is legal).

RESTRICTED: All cards apart from basic lands.

BANNED: Library of Alexandria, Mind Twist, Karakas

Players have 10 points to spend per deck on CONTROLLED cards:

The Controlled List

Ancestral Recall - 7
Balance - 1
Braingeyser - 5 (new entry)
Black Lotus - 7
Demonic Tutor - 5 (+1)
Icy Manipulator - 1 (new entry)
Jayemdae Tome - 3 (+1)
Maze of Ith - 2 (new entry)
Mirror Universe - 8
Mox (any) - 3
Recall - 4 (new entry)
Sol Ring - 3
Time Vault - 6
Time Walk - 7 (+1)
Transmute Artifact - 1

Rules: Swedish Old School rules (i.e. modern but with errata for Chaos Orb)

Printing legality: Standard UK reprint policy, i.e. any non-proxy non-foil card with original art in the original frame is legal. Revised Serendib Efreet and Plateau are also legal.

Mulligans: Paris Mulligan is not played. Instead, after drawing their initial 7 cards, either player may declare a Gentleman’s Mulligan and show their hand to their opponent. In the event that it contains 0 or 1 mana source, or 6-7 mana sources (i.e. a mana screw or a mana flood), that player can shuffle their deck and draw a fresh 7. There is no limit to the number of Gentleman’s Mulligans that can be declared. (A mana source is any zero-converted-mana-cost card which produces mana - i.e. a land or a Mox, or similar).