Welcome all to another article of mine! I started in Old School Madrid talking about decks for beginners, and the last time I talked about Old School formats. Now, it’s time to diversify and to write something more complete (not professional because I am a bad player and Old School is for fun). And what could be better to end the year than talking about my pet deck? This is going to be long so I have divided in two articles; this is the first part.

When I started to play Old School, it was not played outside of Sweden. So I had to play my Quicksilver (Arabian aggro) deck in Vintage events (with four Force of Will, because why not). But when Old School started to catch adepts in Spain, we (two friends and I) started to organize the monthly League North Remembers, and suddenly we were a growing community of 20 players in the North of Spain. People started to play better decks, we started to make contact with the rest of the communities here in Spain (Liga Madrileña, Liga Ilicitana, Asturian Crusaders, Liga Catalana, and a long etc.)

So what the hell has this to do with the article Diliz? Wait, wait, I am arriving to it. When the people started to play better decks at tournaments, there were better answers and better sideboard tech at the same time. So when a lot of people started to play City in a Bottle (even maindeck!), my Quicksilver was not a great deck anymore. I searched for answers, and I immediately falled in love: UR was my new deck. I have played UR for years, in Legacy, Vintage, even in Modern! But in Old School, it had all I needed.

But I think I am going too fast. Let’s start off with some history about aggrocontrol decks: Years ago, decks were categorized in two archetypes: Aggro and Control. On the fast side, the leader was Zoo, and on the slow side, it was the Deck. There was no Aggrocontrol as we know it, all the decks were polarized with either a lot of creatures or no creatures at all. Here you have a link to the past to see what I say with your own eyes:


So –you would ask– how is we all have heard about UR? This deck started to post results later, thanks to the innovative ideas of Alan Comer and his deck called Turbo Xerox. This guy posted a second place in South California Regionals on June of 1997 with this deck:

Force of Will
Power Sink
Memory Lapse
Suq’Ata Firewalker
Waterspout Djinn
Dream Tides

17 Island

Do you see anything strange? Exactly! No rares on the deck, only commons and uncommons. A marvellous and very cheap deck. What?  Oh, I am sorry, but is what people thought when saw this deck on the finals. But there is a VERY IMPORTANT detail that no one saw: there were only 17 islands in the deck. To compare, the winner of the same event played 24 lands and Thawing glaciers to search them for. Alan was a genius, and turned around all the Weissmann principles. Instead of making a long mana base, with half of the deck lands and/or stones, he made the absolute opposite and made the shortest mana base his deck could support. The theory proposed by this genius is this: for each PLAYSET you play with 1-2 mana cost, you can cut TWO lands from the deck.

This deck has twelve cantrips on the deck (3 playsets), so he cut down 6 lands. Also, the mana curve is low so he trimmed down to a 17 land total. Being a MonoBlue deck, all lands are islands so you could never have colour problems; and with no Thawing glaciers, you could be cantripping in opponent’s eot instead of saving mana for thawning glaciers. So in late game, it was most probably for you to be drawing gas and great spells instead or lands.

Meanwhile, in another place, Erik Lauer was working with Andrew Cuneo in a deck they unveiled making top 8 on 1998 World Championship:

1 Rainbow Efreet

4 Force Spike

4 Counterspell

3 Mana Leak

1 Memory Lapse

3 Forbid

2 Dissipate

4 Dismiss

4 Impulse

4 Whispers of the Muse

4 Nevinyrral’s Disk

18 Island

4 Quicksand

4 Stalking Stones


4 Wasteland

4 Hydroblast

4 Sea Sprite

2 Capsize

1 Grindstone

This deck, nowadays known as Draw & Go, was the epitome of control decks, because you played every spell in opponents turn, and all you did in your turn was draw and say “go”, hence the name. But back in 1997, Darwin Kastle (Avalanche Riders Invitational winner) took a more aggressive version of Lauer’s deck, putting in it Alan Comer’s ideas and with his friend Paul created one of the first decks we can truly call Counterburn:

PAUL MCCABE 1997 World Championship Top 8

4 Cloud Elemental

2 Frenetic Efreet

4 Man-o’-war

4 Ophidian

3 Suq’Ata Lancer

1 Wildfire Emissary

1 Disintegrate

2 Disrupt

2 Counterspell

4 Incinerate

4 Force of Will

2 Pyrokinesis

3 Mind Stone

2 Abduction

2 City of Brass

10 Island

6 Mountain

2 Undiscovered Paradise


1 Hydroblast

1 Phyrexian furnace

2 Pyroblast

1 Dissipate

4 Knight of the Mists

3 Pillage

1 Nevinyrral’s Disk

1 Serrated Arrows

1 Pyrokinesis

Ah, at last! After all this annoying spam a real Counterburn deck! There is only a problem: in Old School Visions and Alliances are not allowed sets, so this deck is not legal. But if you have paid attention, we have learned two things:

First is that UR in Old School was created later, with all the knowledge we have nowadays.

Second is the composition of the deck, full of counters and burn and with few creatures as  a finisher. What if I put here a photo of the deck so we can see it better?

This is Olle Rade’s deck, known as Sylvan Safekeeper (another Invitational winner), designer of the UR delver deck in Legacy and la few times top 8 in N00bcon. As we can subtract from the photo, the deck is Swedish legal, so no reprints and only 1 strip mine. Let’s go card by card:

CREATURES: The ideal number is somewhere between five and ten. In this deck there are nine. You don’t want a lot of creatures, with one or two strikes of one of them is enough for us. For example, Menendian’s version only plays 5 djinns and a Control magic with no flying men.

COUNTERS: It’s all up on you, but I have never played more tan nine. This man plays five, the best of the format without doubt, 4 Counterspell and a Mana drain. Other playable counters in Old School are these:

BURN SPELLS: The ideal number is somewhere between eight and fifty! Olle Rade plays thirteen, near the maximum. This guy goes for the throat with all playsets of the best burn spells in the format and a Fireboll to pentakill… and I love it! It’s a solid plan, with a pair of attacks, some pain from his own City of Brass and the opponent is dead before he has time to think about it. Of course, burn is to kill blockers first, but with all this direct damage is the best finisher in the deck too.

THE PACK: The rest of the cards are normally P9 or some powerfull restricted cards worth to splash like Demonic  tutor and Mind twist.

The truth is that when I started playing it, I thought I will miss some white cards like Swords to plowshares or Disenchant, or maybe some CoP. This is not the case. You have the shatters and the Energy fluxes to kill artifacts, and the enchantments don’t really affect you. Moat is bad because you play all flyers, and the Abyss… well, you play counters or you can go full burn. And playing only two colours (or a little splash) has some advantages, namedly BLOOD MOON that crushes all the multicolour fantasies out there.

BONUS: I know you love the photos, so here you have two other decks. The first is a UR Atog with a pair of videos of me playing it (badly), and the second one is a more Budget UR eel.

This is all for this horrible 2020. I hope you are all safe and having a great Christmas; next year can’t be worse! Be careful with the Corona, and play all the Old School you can. If you have comments or wanna ask something, hit me up in Twitter: @diliz13

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