Reading Serra: Fanzine of Magic (Review)

By: Carlos Piélago

Hello there old school`s players! For the Serra´s wings here we bring you a new article.
It`s a brief review about what, perhaps, is the oldest publication about Magic in our country: Serra, the Magic fanzine. Not the first to talk about Magic, but the first that was dedicated almost exclusively to our favorite game.

It`s number 2, number 1 doesn`t have it in my possession. We are talking about a fanzine that appeared in September – October 1994. The dark was taking its first steps and Fallen empires was announced and shortly it was going to be published, the game of Richard Garfield had landed in Spain that year and was causing furor.

Let’s focus on what this fanzine tells us (with magazine consistency, since there are 4 stapled folios, it has a careful edition) that Pau Carles directed, Albert López edited and Alejo Cuervo (publisher of Gigamesh publishing house, and owner) edited from the bookstore of the same name).

We find a cover on which highlights the illustration of an angel of Serra drawn in pencil by David Garcia, that I love and has that «old school» air that we like so much.


On page 3 we have an editorial written by Pau Carles in which he tells us that other Trading card games (tcg) are coming to the market trying to follow the wake of Magic: The gathering, such as Jyhad or Spellfire. Or how they are trying to develop a national ranking and the increasing number of tournaments that are being played in Spain. It also announces that within the fanzine you can find 2 checklist, one dedicated to Legends and official, and another to The dark, unofficial, made by themselves.

We continue with the news section in which between the announcements of new magazines dedicated to Magic that are emerging on the national scene, or the odd game of cards, we read that there are already rumors that Magic will come out in Spanish, which It was our beloved fourth edition in black border.

And we come to one of the most interesting parts, Alejo Cuervo’s article entitled «Adventures and misadventures of a tourist in Gencon USA 1994», in which, as a summary, it deals with the author’s experience in what was called the first World Magic Tournament, also tells us that moxes prices became … $ 15! And the Black lotus from $ 40 to $ 60 … In the blog Rol de los 90 you can read a summary of this article, and also see a photo of the final of that tournament between Bernard Lestreé (rival who eliminated Alejo) and Zak Dolan, final that the latter would win.

Among all the decks that he played against, there was one that caught his attention: a deck that as only creatures included Elves Llanowar and Birds of Paradise and played Land equilibrium combined with Armageddon and Black vise to close the game.

The article refers to other card games that were presented in that Gencon, among them, for example, the card game of Atlas games: On the edge, which he tried in a demo game and that seemed to him at the level of rules. promising. I liked reading this reference because this was a game I played at the time, which we called the «Magic of the Poor» because an envelope was worth less and in atmosphere and rules was very good.

But there is an image that stuck in my mind when I read this article for the first time at the age of 13, and it is that Alejo, in the end, tells us, textual words:

«I can not help remembering, just as I was leaving, a man who was sleeping on the floor of a hallway. A sign placed next to his shoes showed the legend: «MAGIC RUINED MY LIFE».

It just seemed brutal to me this anecdote, who would that man be? How did you get to that situation? And what happened to him?

In the section entitled «Championships», David Villanueva, he reviews 3 tournaments: the first of L`Hospitalet, which was attended by 60 people, where the organization was very successful. The color combinations in the decks that stood out were red / blue, red / green, white / blue, and in monochrome, black and blue. How can we check the monoblacks decks were ready to fight from the beginning and, how could it be otherwise, blue was the predominant color.

Apparently there was a tournament the day before that only 8 players attended and in which he won a monoblack deck «very ingenious» (hehe) based on Dark ritual, Mind twist and The rack.

At the end a trophy was given to the winners and an envelope of Legends for the first 5 … I want prizes of those!

A week later was held in Mataró another tournament with the same level of affluence, but here the reviewer criticize to the organization commenting that they did not let play more than 5 artifacts per deck without notice, which outraged, and rightly, to many players.

There is a curious fact and that, just a week later, surprised the amount of monoblack decks that were in play, it proved to be a viable strategy. Again the prize was in booster packs, this time from The dark. David Villanueva was the winner of the two tournaments, which at that time seemed to win everything. He also tells us that the first Sabadell tournament was organized, being 9 rounds, and that perhaps because of the inexperience it was a bit chaotic. So far the tournaments, in the middle of the magazine we have the checklists of Legends and The dark, note that there is still no price list, that will not appear in Spain until the Urza number 1.


Down we can read the old official rules with several differences with respect to our current B & R system: the first, and most differential, is that you could only play with Revised edition and the ante rule was allowed in tournament games, provided that there was a prior agreement between the players . The mulligan rule was also different, if in the first initial hand you did not land or all land you could teach it to your opponent and re-shuffle your cards to draw a new initial hand of 7 cards, and could only be done once by game. Here is a photo with the list of restricted and prohibited at the time:


Later there is a section dedicated to the combos, in total 5 combinations, the one of Giant Shark and Prodigal sorcerer I find it funny.


And we come to another of the cool sections of the magazine, the decks:


The first is a deck that is not a 100% Goblins but rather a Goblin sligh, with fast creatures and green splash, with the Fireball-Channel combo, with few sources of mana, although the curve is not high, and with few forests in my opinion, which makes the Kird ape not so effective (although strip mine could not be played, and that the «ponza» decks had not yet exploded as they did a short time later).


«The impious deck», named after its creator, Alejo Cuervo, because as he says, some of the cards he used were considered «unpleasant» by some players: Karma, Conversion, etc., The deck consists to combine with the Magical Hack and Sleight of mind, and adapt your enchantments to the colors played by the opponent, note the 4 base balance that was not restricted at the time, what a wonder!

Finally, three articles, one that refers to the fashions or trends when building the decks, and in which the two archetypes faced from the beginning can be seen: the control cards against the aggressive ones. Then, a review of the game Jyhad, also designed by Garfield, and an post mail written by «The Black Angel» that contains a curious reflection on the speculation in Magic, something that has been present since the beginning of the game.

Well, that`s all for now, you can leave feedback on this blog, or on my Instagram: @retroplayermtg

Until next time!



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