Reading Serra: Magic Fanzine nº5, february 1995 (Review)

By: Carlos Piélago

Hi, Oldschoolers! Today we are going to read and review another of the old magazines that I own: the number 5 of «Serra: Fanzine de Magic», published in February – March 1995.
We begin with the cover: the drawing of a Lord of Atlantis, the work of Albert López, same artist that in previous issues. I like his drawings because they are very Old school and they works perfectly with the atmosphere of the magazine.


In the Editorial section, Pau Carles, director of the magazine, tells us that they are going to start a new stage, that they are only going to focus on Magic, since the other games «are not able to overshadow him and steal enough attention from him. of the players «, and seeing the high level of its» competitors «(I think it refers to the Urza magazine that published the number 1 at that time) will try to improve the contents of the magazine as much as possible.

In the News section there are interesting stuffs, the first is the announcements of the following expansions, in April 95 the Fourth Edition (the white border) and in May Ice Age and the Fourth Edition in Spanish (with black border) and, next to those dates, Chronicles. I remember a lot of these expansions because we expected them with anxiety and when they came out we bought a lot of booster packs.
A curious news is the reference to the misprints that made some common cards of the game Wyvern CCG appear with the front of Fallen Empire´s cards. Apparently it was due to a printing error, since these cards were made in the same printing house where Magic was made. At the time they were quite rare and had an exorbitant price, but they have reached us today and are some of the most rare and sought after misprints, highly valued by misprint´s lovers.

We arrived at the Dossier section, where they used to publish quite interesting articles, that of this magazine was no less and it is about a series of «golden rules for the Magic player».

Magic has evolved a lot over the years, but there are things that never change in this game, and this article comes to prove it to us. They indicate a series of rules, or advice, that have lasted in the way of playing of any player.
It is divided into two parts: game, and design. Start with an example that we all know, if a player has a Swords to Plowshares in hand, but does not mana to use it and the opponent plays a Granite Gargole, for example, will be expected to have mana available to be able to eliminate it, but a good player would wait for the creature to attack in the turn of the opponent and would be at that time when playing the Swords, obtaining the same effect but making sure that the opponent does not lower something worse, such as a Shivan dragon, for example. This is the tone of the golden rules, but better I leave the photos so that you can read them on your own, as they have no waste.

Then there is a section entitled «Clarification of the rules», and I will not go on to explain them, since it can be that some rules are already sufficiently known by all, or that they have been updated by WotC.

In the section «The stock market» we have one of the first price lists (not the first) that appeared in our country. As a curiosity indicate that the most valued card of Revised was the Shivan Dragon, and only below … Will-o-the-wisp! That was even more expensive than any of the duals, and within the double lands it is surprising to see that the most valued was the Plateau tied with Underground Sea. I leave you a few pictures as an example.


In the «Championships» section we can see how WotC has already officially taken charge with a series of guidelines so that the tournament you want to organize is approved by them. And they have established three types of format, which we all know: Type I, Type II and Type III.
I was struck by some of the prohibited cards of that time in Type I, which is closest to our current Old School, and we can see that in addition to the «ante» cards, which were banned almost from the at the beginning of the game, Divine Intervention, Shahrazad, and Time Vault come together. Cards that we can play today and, as we have seen, do not have a great impact on the game. But the list of restricted is even more curious, because apart from what we know as restricted to today, we have Ali from Cairo, Berserk, Candelabra of Tawnos, Copy Artifact, Falling Star, Feldon’s fits, Ivory Tower, Mirror Universe, Mishra’s Workshop, Swords of the Ages and Underworld Dreams were restricted! I found it quite curious.
The Type II of that time was made by Revised, The dark, and Fallen Empires. I would like to play this format someday, although a priori it may seem too limited.
Type III was done with a Revised starter deck to which you could add the contents of 3 booster packs of the last expansion of 8 cards, or 2 booster packs of the last expansion of 15 cards, or 2 booster packs of Revised … I would like to play this one! : P

Look carefully at the prizes XD, 10 Legends Boosters and 10 Antiquities Boosters for a less than 3€ tournament




«If you do not like it, we’ll give you your money back»

I recognize that before they had a way of naming the somewhat bizarre decks, they were other times 🙂
As Pau Carles says this deck does not think it is competitive but it can be fun, I was surprised by the use of the Fastings, a card totally disregarded in the current format.


«The deck of painful resources»

This deck, as Pau Carles tells us, did take her to some important tournament, like the Second Open in Madrid, with what seems to be more competitive. I like the combination of Power Surge with COP: Red. This deck has a very important defensive arsenal, Power Sinks have to work very well, even if you include the P9 (which at the time of the magazine is not included in these decks because I think there was a restriction in Spain on it) can go much better. The negative point that I see to the deck is that it is very vulnerable to a Blood Moon.


«The deck of the booster pack»

It has this name, according to the author, because its structure is equal to that of an envelope: 3 infrequent, 1 rare and the rest common. It’s an atypical Monoblack budget deck, which includes Drudge Skeletons, Frozen Shade, and Scathe Zombies! Creatures that, to this day, see little table. It is clear that the knights are much better in all aspects and have the same cost.


«The deck of taxes»

In this case we have a monoblack discard deck, we have some unusual cards such as Mindstab Thrulls, in my opinion the best Thrull of FE. Too many Disrupting Scepter for my taste, since the deck does not generate much mana, and this device if there is not enough mana is not so effective. But as an option I see it better than the previous deck.


Then, the magazine continues with several articles, among them I would highlight the one of «Fallen Empires: User’s Manual».

It is a good analysis of FE, an extension that had recently been published on the dates that the article was written. The author begins by saying how discredited is being FE, many players believe that the quality of the cards is bad and the fact that the players did not include just copies of their cards in the tournaments as witnessed.

The worst of the expansion are the artifacts, of that there is no doubt, is that there is hardly one playable, followed closely by the lands, in which the author highlights the so-called «battery lands» that, in our days, do not nobody plays, I do not know if they played at that time. Those who sacrifice themselves are much better and have seen something of a game.

Then he goes on to analyze the «tribes» of FE, each color has a tribe, and perhaps that was the greatest novelty of FE, its tribal dynamic, in which many carsd were combined if they were from a specific «tribe».

The Homarids are the worst, undoubtedly, and the Thallids are the most synergistic, and, even, they are the ones who give to make a tribal deck around them without almost having to play cards from other expansions. Also note the Thrulls, Merfolks, Goblins and Soldiers (these last three not originating in FE).

He comments that the most «tribal» of FE are the soldiers, and I do not take away the reason, I think the Thallids are the most synergistic, but the soldiers of FE are the best contribution to the competitive game when it comes to «tribe» «- creatures of the same type – and they were an important addition to the White Weenies of the moment, providing more power with cards such as the Icatian Javelineers or the Order of Leitbur, which became essential, proof of this is that they continue playing pretty much.

Then he makes an interesting review of the best cards of FE, which highlights, of course, the Goblin Grenade, which indicates that «If with any card they have gotten out of hand in this expansion is certainly with this» , although I think that (almost) the most powerful card, and over time it has been like that, it is Hymn to Tourach, a card that has proven to be the most «broken» of FE, and its abuse in OS proves it; that they play you an HtT of T1 is painful. The High Tide would be the third in discord, in terms of quality refers, a card that alone generated a deck around him, but not at this time, but later.

The article also highlights cards like Orgg (of which we have seen a deck recently with 4 copies), Night Soil, Thelonite Druid, Combat Medic or Elvish Hunter, these last two have never seen them in play.

And to finalize 3 articles:

«The other side of the Magic» is a fun chronicle of what was one day at the Mercat de Sant Antoni stand in Barcelona, ​​written in an epic way, with hordes of enemies asking if they have Terrors for sale, a funny text.

«The cursed cards» is an interesting article about some cards that the people of the time despised but that had a greater potential than they appeared. These are Armageddon Clock, Atog, Manabarbs, El-Hajjaj, Animate Dead, Warp Artifact, Hurkyl’s Recall and Living Artifact. Of these, with the passage of time, we have verified that the players finally knew how to get the best performance and see their true potential, such as Atog, Animate dead and Hurkyl’s Recall, of the rest we still have to see their true potential to make decks.

«Incredible but true» is an article dedicated to those brutal starts that we sometimes play or that we suffer in our own flesh, and narrates some of them that the author has been able to see in the gaming tables of the time, quite entertaining. Today we could do something similar with the amount of P9 that are seen per game round.

And finally the Mail section where «The Black Angel» makes a constructive criticism to the recent (at that time) opening in the tournaments to be able to play the cards of all the expansions, and how this leads to inequality instead of equality to it was a few people who possessed such cards; Do you hear the word «speculator»? Well already in these times was around in everyone’s mouth.

As always, a pleasure, if you feel like commenting something you can do it in this blog or in my Instagram account @retroplayermtg


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Un comentario en “Reading Serra: Magic Fanzine nº5, february 1995 (Review)

  1. Pingback: Fallen Empires: Old School player´s manual (part II) – Liga Madrileña Old School MTG

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