Fallen Empires: Old School player´s manual (part II)

We return with the second part of the article dedicated to Fallen Empires. We remind you that we are going to analyze those cards that are not played that much but that, in our opinion, have potential and could be included in some decks (they are not arranged in any specific order). In conclusion we will try to understand Fallen Empires in the current context of the Old School.

(If you want to read the first part of the article, click here).

We start!



I was always a fan of this card because of its illustration, I just love it, a great work by Bryon Wackwitz. But let’s analyze in more detail how it works, it tells us that for a red one mana we discard a card and put a counter on target creature, the counter is good because you can put it to himself, but what I find interesting is his ability to discard, since it´s a creature that you can play in turn 1 and for a deck with reanimator cards it can be good to have discard from the beginning if we don´t have access to Bazaar of Baghdad.



One of the first cards to provide the menace ability to your creatures, and in this case to all!

It seems to me that it could be combined with creatures that do something when they damage the opponent, such as Hypnotic Specter, Mindstab Thrull, Farrel’s Zealot, Whirling Dervish, creatures that put poison counters, or even with Orgg for when an opponent’s defender remains untapped, and it’s another enchantment for Verduran Enchantress, and doesn´t have a disproportionate cost.



Here we´ve a little played and a underrated reanimation card, I’m not saying it’s better than Animate Dead, but in a deck with many thrulls can surprise, or even without thrulls you can sacrifice any creature, and don´t worry about the dreaded ” 2×1 “of the opponent that, like the Grenade Goblin, the sacrifice is part of the cost, will not be able to kill the creature in response.



Okay, all right, it has a high cost, but putting 4 creatures in white is always something to keep in mind, especially with Crusade on the battlefield. Combine well with Hand of the Justice, Lord of the Pit or Soul Exchange.



The initiates were always a card that I liked a lot, they enter turn 1 and filter black mana. Black is a color that desperately needs the double swamp and, moreover, it´s normal to play colorless earths like Strip Mines or Mishra’s Factory, so you have to be careful with the opponent’s Mines and correctly design the mana base to ensure that double black. With this creature that problem is minimized and would fit well in a Black Weenie strategy, for example. You could turn your Mana Vault into Dark Ritual, or generate huge Drain Life with Urza´s lands.



It´s a card that could have more potential but its upkeep cost condemns it. It could be combined with a bunch of cards, with Bad Moon or Thrull Champion, or as food for Lord of the Pit or Soul Exchange. The positive part is that it puts the token in the same turn it enters.



This card was played before more than now, you can see this deck (“The deck of taxes”, list that appears towards the end of the article) that was published in the fanzine Serra 5. Its power is that you can clean the opponent’s hand in one go, combined with The Rack can be lethal.



It’s not as bad as it looks, you can activate your ability right after assigning blockers, so you can kill another blocking creature before it assigns its damage, so in all combat phases the opponent will have to think very good blocking and attacks. If you manage to evade it, it becomes more dangerous and, unlike the Mindstab Thrull, it´s not necessary to sacrifice it, in certain cases it will be a Lightning Bolt and we already know everything we can kill with a Lightning …



I don´t know why this card is played so little, it’s true that it has several handicaps (not just one, but several), you need to have islands, your opponent too, and it’s a 0/1 for cost 3, but in a deck of merfolks, you always have islands and there is a card called Phantasmal Terrain, you can enter more than one copy, and blue is the most played color, so in most cases there will be islands in between. And the good thing is that you choose the objective and in instant speed you can steal the opponent’s best creature, which will have to think more than once before hitting. The drawing is also an exquisite work of art by Amy Weber.



It’s on the list because it’s the only Fallen Empires creature that can fly —paying a blue mana—, and it has First Strike base. The problem is that it inhabits islands, although, since it’s a merfolk, you’re almost always going to have islands and your opponent too. A merfolk of turn 3 that could enter with a couple of copies in the merfolks deck.



Another merfolk that is hardly played, perhaps because of its high cost, but I think it could work on a deck with a lot of land destruction, its ability to “Force Spike permanent” seems very interesting.



We have already said that being the River Merfolk these soldiers are not the first option, but in a deck with many fast creatures and that are swollen by the Lord of Atlantis or by Sunken City it does not seem a bad idea to have a couple of copies, and also don´t need double blue for turn 2 if you want to play a factory instead of an island.



It seems a good sideboard card against decks of small creatures like White Weenie, Mono Black, or Mono Green. The best thing is that it makes its effect in instant speed so the opponent doesn´t expect



The card itself is quite funny, for the illustration and its effect, in a goblin deck it can help you to always have a goblin on the battlefield to play that Grenade or Goblin King Saviors.



I´m still trying to find this card useful. Getting information about the cards that the opponent is going to receive is always useful, and maybe it can works well in decks with Millstone, to know when to activate it.



Could it be that we are facing one of the most underrated cards in Old School? It seems at first glance an artifact with a high cost and that makes you lose a random card on the way, but if we think it coldly we find that the Jayemdae Tome costs only one less to play, and one less to activate, no one is going to discuss how good the Tome is, the Ring of Renewal is worse than this, but what if we don´t have any cards in hand? Well, we can activate it because discarding a card isn´t a cost (the discarding happens before the drawing), it´s not necessary if you don´t have cards with which you would draw two cards, and that’s when it improves. Its cost is perfect to play it in an Urzatron, and it becomes a 5/5 with Titania’s Song.



One of the first “pseudo-equipment” that there was, this one in particular gives +2 to the power and you can keep it tapped in your untap phase so that it continues to have effect, it’s good if you combine it with creatures with first strike or that have evasion. Who said Flying Men or Stone Throwing Devils?



The fungus deck is one of the tribal decks that you can get only with FE cards, decks that you could not do if you did not have access to this expansion. The Thallids are the lowest step in the evolutionary scale of the fungus and will be spore producers from the beginning.



His ability to deal damage to any target can be useful when the game is extended and you need to scrape those points of damage needed to win. If you combine it with Fungal Bloom it can be even more powerful.



His ability gives some consistency to this card and can generate some respect between the opponent’s creatures or get rid of a Lightning Bolt. He also produces saprolings.



I have to admit that this card is on the list because they are the only goblins that have island walk and because I like the artwork XD, but inside a goblin deck it´s not bad for their evasion ability and because they are a 2/2 which isn´t usual in the old school goblins.



It´s a pity that the creature to sacrifice has to be blue, but hey, it´s not so bad and it can be a card that generates many creatures to get +1+1 with a Sunken City.



It was a card that at time seemed like it was going to see more game, its ability could stop big creatures and control them quite well, but Royal Assassin was much more effective. Can see game with a couple of copies.



The first lands they designed that came into play tapped were these, and that condemned them to ostracism, but their ability to sacrifice to give double mana can be useful when you solve a Balance or activate a Land Tax.



One of the creatures with more potential of FE. You can design a strategy around his ability, and it can even sacrifices to herself or, in advanced game, serve as a finisher and attack in a whirl with your forests that will become creatures 2/3 which is something not negligible.



It costs a lot of mana to play, I know, but it has resistance 6 and that means it can block Juzam, and combined with Icatian Town it can be a good removal.



This atypical elf has a very interesting ability: to gain 2 lives for each saproling you sacrifice can give you some extra turns, it´s also self-sufficient and doesn´t need other cards to work; although Fungal Bloom could help a lot, or combined with Greed, for example, it can become a good drawing engine.



In a deck of Thallids it´s necessary, imagine being able to inflate the Thallids or to get more food for Elvish Farmer. With the right mana you can do many things.



Another “artifact boon”, this worse than Aeolipile, but can have some use if you combine it with Sylvan Library, because if you know what you have in the top of the library you can exchange it with one of the bad cards in hand at the speed of instant (in case your opponent cast a Hymn to Tourach or similar), and if you´ve Land Tax and you can activate it in your next upkeep phase, you could exchange a básica Land for a good card of the top and to look for the same land that you left and to see three new cards on topdeck!

Another use that occurs to me is if you play with ante rules, because if you know what you have at the top of Library tren activating Conch Horn you can exchange a bad card from your hand for the top card and thus not lose one of your good cards, or against Tempest Efreet.



Normally in the Sligh they play with Ironclaw Orcs but they have a serious problem when it comes to blocking, and the Dwarven Soldiers don´t have that handicap, they can block an Erhnam Djinn, for example, and they can even block the Ironclaw and kill them without piety thanks to his ability, and it´s not so rare to find a Sligh in a tournament.

They help for the curve and can replace the orcs —or combine them with these— in a deck like Sligh, the problem is that they can be an easy target for the Icatian Javelineers.


I have to admit that FE wasn´t one of the best expansions and didn´t cause a great impact among the players of his time, which isn´t the same as causing an impact now in our current format; I think that now it has more importante than before.

With two good cards such as Goblin Grenade or Hymn to Tourach is already causing some impact but, as we have seen, there are more playable cards, more than they may seem at first glance.

One of the main problems of FE is its bad reputation. It was an overproduced expansion, and it´s true, but is this enough to say it´s not Old school? I think not, it was published in the same year as the Revised Edition, which was the expansion with which we began to play many of those that we are today in OS 93-94. FE is an expansion with several design errors, the first is that they forgot the flying creatures, they only included one! And it´s a merfolk that you have to pay a blue mana… And on top of that it inhabits island! That made very few creatures truly competitive. The other error that I detect is that there are some cards that are overcomplicated, you read the text, that sometimes it´s difficult to understand, and then, when you understand it, you realize that it´s an effect that practically doesn´t do anything. There are also cards like Tidal Influence, where you have to be putting and taking counters every turn and each counter does something different, which complicates to players more than providing fun.

In general, Fallen Empires is one of the expansions with the largest number of different tokens and counters

But let´s look at the positives and what FE adds to the format:

The narrative element of FE is quite worked, if you read the flavor text of each of the cards is as if you were reading a story, contains a narrative, that makes me think that FE was an expansion designed with love, with a storyline and narrative behind each card.

A pretty narrative example of flavor text

It shows that the expansion was designed with love and artistic direction (on behalf of Sandra Everingham, who repeated as director after doing the same with The Dark) was one of the best within the so-called Old School formats. The graphic aspect is very successful and it shows a great work in the artistic direction. The truth that the art of FE is the best thing that there is in MTG. It´s noted that it was designed to collect for the good taste with which the illustrations are made and because there were several versions of the common cards, at that time I think I think they were experimenting in WotC.

For the first time emphasis was placed on the tribes, and on the effects of some cards combined with others if they belonged to a specific tribe. Improves tribal strategies and these tribals decks would not be the same, or by far, without FE, such as Goblin or White Weenie (soldiers), for example.

The thrulls are one of the most “exotic” tribes

Including FE in OS 93-94 gives more variety and lowers entry prices, makes it more affordable and allows players to keep innovating (and this always generates more fun). It contributes a lot to a Singlenton format or to one like Brawl. In the end it´s a more fun than powerful expansion, so there is no fear so much, provides more fun than power, and if we talk about mediocre cards, we would have to say that in Legends or The Dark also there are a few.

In short, Fallen Empires is an old expansion, with an interesting narrative element, with an excellent art, which is gorgeous at a battlefield, with black border, with beautiful artworks, affordable, more fun than powerful, which gives enough variety to the Old School format and improve tribal strategies.


This has been all for today, thank you for having gotten here, today has come a long article and I hope it has been to your liking. As you can always tell me what you want and I would like to know which is your favorite Fallen Empires card and if you notice any absence in the list, hit me in the comments of this blog, or in my Instagram account: @retroplayermtg

Until next time!

Carlos Piélago


Fallen Empires: Old School Player´s Manual (Part I)

It was the summer of 1994, when we played a game in our role-playing club, maybe it was M.E.R.P, AD&D or Paranoia. That day came a friend who had been traveling around EE.UU and he showed us the last game of fashion that was causing furor there, it was a card game in a small brown box, you can read: “Revised Edition“. He said he was going to teach us to play and we decide to leave the role-playing game for another time. He showed us the cards that were inside the box, the artworks was beautiful, and made reference to a medieval world. I had never seen anything like it, the text of the cards was in English, I was not understood what they said, at that time I was a 13-year-old boy and I was very bad at languages … but I remember well that afternoon in the role-playing club of my city, and my first game with Magic, it was fascinating … we never finished the role-playing game 😛

Three months later, on November 15, 1994, Wizards of the Coast published a new expansion, it was called Fallen Empires (FE from now on), the booster packs was red and white and the narrative background was amazing, at that time I could not stop playing Magic: The gathering, I was totally hooked and I was looking forward to that expansion …

It arrived en masse to stores and kiosks throughout Spain. Over time we have known some details that we did not realize at the time, one of them is that FE was the most overproducted expansion of all MTG (had a print run four times greater than The Dark), and another that was one of the weakest collections in history in terms of quality, only surpassed, perhaps, by Homelands or Kamigawa cycle, and we also know what it was, and is, one of the most reviled by players around the world. But I was a 14-year-old boy who bought and bought a huge amount of FE booster packs, because they were nice and because they were cheaper than the Revised booster, as I say, I was a child who did not know anything about it, just we were looking forward to Fallen Empires.

The storyline of Fallen Empires focuses on the continent of Sarpadia. The war of the brothers has plunged Dominaria in a time of darkness and chaos (The Dark), The Ice Age (winter) is comming (What current serie sounds like this?). These changes in climate are causing shortage of resources. The spoils of the empires are being disputed by the tribes that live there. The war seems that, again, it´s the only solution …

In this article, we will look more closely at the best FE cards and in next chapters the cards with the most potential and the different strategies (always from the point of view of OS 93-94 player). I hope that this article serves to know a little better this expansion, with its virtues and its defects; I admit that you have to scrape a lot to find “playable” cards, but there is more to it than meets the eye.



It´s the most destabilizing card that this collection gave. This single card can change the whole format (always referring to Old School and its variants). We have already talked about it in the previous articles.

Hated and loved in equal parts, but not because it is bad, but because of its enormous potential.



The second best card from Fallen. What would our goblins do without this bomb? Well, it would not be the same deck. It´s a very dangerous card and it´s not easy to stop because you can´t kill in response to the goblin that is going to sacrifice to be part of the cost, so you know, the best goblin is the dead goblin, kill them all before that they do throw this bomb to you.



Another important contribution of FE are those known as “pump knights” who are better knights (white and black). We already talked about Tourach´s sons in the article dedicated to Monoblack.

Nothing more to say, they are a great contribution to the monoblack decks.



In the current metagame the Order of Leitbur are worse than their antagonists because they have a protection against black that´s not as useful as that of the Ebon Hand, because Terror isn´t as basic a card as the Swords to Plowshares are.



If you don´t have Savannah Lions in your starting hand, then playing with these soldiers isn´t bad, apart from kill the Savannah Lions of the opponent, and many more creatures: Royal Assassins, Order of Leitbur, Argothian Pixies, Flying Men, Ball Lightnings, River Merfolks, Dandân, etc … the list of candidates is long.

In addition, combined with a spark, can help to kill larger and annoying creatures such as Serra Angel, Sengir Vampire, Serendib Efreet, Tetravus, Su-chi, etc. To end games to the late game are also not bad, and can scrape those extra damage points needed to win.

A must have in your White weenie.



River Merfolks are the perfect contribution for the merfolk deck in Old School, its cost of turn 2 helps for the curve (so necessary in that deck) and its power of 2 contributes the necessary aggressiveness (for that reason they are always above the Vodalian Soldier), also has evasion by itself and is a merfolk that will get +1+1 thanks to the Lord of Atlantis.



This land never came up me in an booster pack of FE and until I started playing OS 93-94 I didn´t know of its existence, so as soon as I met her I got the playset without really knowing where I could include it. It was thanks to Jaco’s deck tech at Eternal Central that I saw what it was very effective for: to activate Land Tax.

Apart from sacrificing your lands with your own Strip Mine, it’s a great way to activate Land Tax. And very efficient.

I am always looking for more uses but it´s not easy to play this land in any deck.



This card belongs to one of the existing cycles in Fallen: the “artifacts boon”, which are very bad versions of Ancestrall Recall, Giant Growth, etc. In this case it´s a version of Lightning Bolt and this artifact is at least playable and a source of direct damage that you can also do at any time for a low cost. It may even be playable with Titania’s Song. One more spark to take into account in the format.



A 4/4 for 4 manas has never been bad. It can be the budget substitute for Su-Chi and it has some advantages over it, for example, it doesn´t die with Disenchant nor does it affect hatred against artifacts. His handicap normally converts him into a black splash. In the right deck is a good finisher.

10- ORGG:


The same “flavor text” says it, nor does he himself know how big is XD

A 6/6 for 5 mana and trample seems pretty big. It´s designed to attack so the handicap isn´t so much if you have the right cards, it can be combined very well with Smoke, Icy Manipulator, Word of Binding, sparks, etc.



Another 6/6 with trample and with an interesting ability of shroud, and it´s perfect to play it in Reanimator deck because he himself fills the graveyard every turn. Very good addition to reanimator decks.



It´s true that the true potential of this card was discovered years after being printed, and even a tier deck was made around it, but it´s not bad in the current old school and it can be included in decks that need a lot of mana like the mana flare, big blue, etc.


So far the first part, in the next article we will go to analyze in more detail those cards that have a lot of potential but don´t see the game as often as we have seen here. We´ll also try to understand Fallen Empires in the current context of Old School 93-94. Do you think there is a card missing from this list? Tell me in comments or through my Instagram account: @retroplayermtg

Until next week!

Carlos Piélago

Top 10: Best One-Drop Creatures in Old School MTG

Then, I present a list with the best creatures with CMC = 1 in Old School MTG, the best creatures, in my opinion, we can put into play on the first turn.
Being honest, we all know that the best “creature” of turn 1 is the Mishra’s Factory, but leaving aside the over-played “manland”, I present my ranking:

TOP 10 – Brass Man

For me, a really underrated and underplayed creature, because for one mana of any color we have a solid 1/3. It is true that Brass Man demands 1 mana for be untapped, but as a defensive method he is tremendously effective, and he can also serve as an attacker in decks that are not too mana-intensives. I’ve seen Brass Man in white control decks sideboards, especially against moboblack to keep the Black Knights and Order of the Ebond Hand until you can destroy the Gloom. And I’ve also seen it in Atog Budget strategies, both with very good results. I think it has much more potential than what has been taken out.

TOP 9 – Will-O-The-Wisp

This “fatuous fire” has also been used in defensive strategies very effectively, keeping at bay any creature no matter how big it is, and especially the Serendib Efreet as it flies. Very difficult to kill (except with Swords to Plowshares), and its combination with Nevinyrral’s Disc is simply delicious. A real annoyance for the rival if what you need is to take turns.

TOP 8- Llanowar Elves

In one color and a format where ramping is essential, the elves become a staple of green color. Not only do they attack, but they also give mana, they are creature and Mox Emerald at the same time (with the defect that they are easy to kill). Nor will they ever be a bad top deck especially combined with Pendelhaven. The best acceleration possibility for decks without moxen!

TOP 7- Flying Men


For one blue mana a 1/1 creature with evasion. What was missing from the blue, a more than decent aggressive creature in turn 1, very played in UR and mono blue strategies, to scratch at least three points of life and have done, after all, its function.

TOP 6- Scryb Sprites

This time the green goes over the blue. Although they are exactly the same as the Flying Men, their possibility to combine with Giant Growth makes them much more dangerous.

TOP 5 – Scavenger Folk


For a mana hits one, and as soon as it comes out of summon sickness can destroy any artifact, in a format full of wonderful artifacts… You have a Crumble and a creature in a single card, which will never be a bad topdeck. The disadvantage, which demands green and is only played in decks that do not have access to Disenchant or Shatter.

TOP 4 – Icatian Javelineers


It is incredible the amount of creatures that destroy these javelineers. Of course 90% of the creatures on this list. But, to these we must add: Argothian Pixies, Order of Leightbur, Elvish Archers …). A nightmare for small creature decks, and an annoyance to control decks, for the possibility of throwing his javelin through the Moat pit. Combined with Crusade makes it a tremendous creature, which is already quite powerful by itself.

TOP 3- Birds of Paradise

The chicks have been giving hapiness from the basic collection, and being the pillar of many strategies, both to ramp in zoo decks, to build strategies around them as Erhnamgeddon, and cast Armageddon with the peace of mind of having mana after. Its main advantage: to give you mana of any color in a format in which many times the color mana is a problem.

TOP 2- Kird Ape

If I did not demand forest to grow, it would logically be the Top 1 on this list. Combined with Taiga is logically the most powerful, having for a single mana an authentic 2/3 beast capable of killing knights, mishra’s attackers, and number of other creatures 2/1 of the format. A classic of Old School and Magic in general for more than 20 years. Respect the Ape.

TOP 1- Savannah Lions

There is no one “CMC=1 creature” more powerful by itself in Old School. The only one of the format that for one mana hits two, without any restriction. It has no disadvantage for its power, and they are perfect in fast decks. If they enter on turn one, before the opponent realizes, they may have easily do 4 or 6 damage points to the opponent. The traditional kings of the jungle, and the kings on this ranking too.

The list with the 10 best CMC = 1 creatures in Old School finish here. I hope you liked, it and of course tell us… what do you think? Which should be on the list? In what order should they appear?

I await your comments, and I expect you all of course at the NATIONAL (and INTERNATIONAL) WEEKEND OLD SCHOOL in Alicante on the 1st and 2nd of June.


The incredible prizes and lottery of the OS National Weekend

All of us who will go to the OS National Weekend will do it mainly with the intention of spending a spectacular weekend, surrounded by friends, making new colleagues, and especially playing our favorite format that has obssesed us: Old School.

Although the fun, fairplay, and good vibes are the priority, win the distinction of Old School MTG Spain Champion, is something that everyone would like to achieve … And there is no denying, the prizes and lottery that will have, are absolutely amazing.

As in other big Old School tournaments, we wanted to encourage lottery and give a prize to the best unpowered, so that no one is timid to participate with their budgets and / or unpowered decks, and everyone comes to this great party of Old School!

We make a brief summary:




Commemorative card to choose (by order of Swiss) between these treasures + Diploma:



Spectacular playmat inspired on the Spanish National Team of 1994, with drawings of mythical cards of Old School, which accredits him or her as Spanish Champion of Magic Old School with EC Rules + Diploma + The chosen card among the previous ones




Beta Phantasmal Terrain playset + MTG Official Encyclopedia 1995

56520990_527556117777912_1766679830218145792_o - copias-l1600





Among all the participants who have played all the rounds of the Swiss, which of course we know they will be all:



For having already exceeded 66 players:






Commemorative card to choose (by order of Swiss) between these treasures + Diploma:



Spectacular playmat inspired on video game Street Fighter II, with drawings of mythical Old School cards, which credits him as Old School Spanish Champion with UK Rules + Diploma + The chosen card among the previous ones



Playset of Beta Merfolk of the Pearl Trident + Chaos Orb Oversized






Among all the participants who have played all the rounds of the Swiss, which of course we know they will all be:



For having already exceeded 56 players:


To finish, and if all the above was not good enough to go to Alicante on the weekend of June 1 and 2 at OS National Weekend, we remind you that there will also be a:


The organization will give the player who presents the most played card with which he has played the tournament, and will be each of the days, as it could not be otherwise, a Beta Plague Rats:



Among the winners of the facebook contest “Guess who will win the tournament“:


That’s all folks! You no longer have an excuse to miss the tournament! We are waiting for you on June 1st and 2nd at Dual Games Alicante!


By: Carlos Piélago

We started a series of articles dedicated to the Monoblack archetype that, we`ll see, is more varied than it seems. In today’s article we`ll review the most played cards or those that hold the archetype … Let’s start!

I still remember my first “competitive” deck, or one of the first ones (the first ones I rode had more than 90 cards … they looked like Commander XD.) My “star card” was a Hydra rock that was the first rare card that I had in an Starter deck of Revised, next to Badlands, to which I did not even pay attention XD). But the first deck that I took a local store tournament was a Monoblack, with 4 Hypnotic Specters, 4 Dark Rituals and 4 Hymns to Tourach.
It can be said that the initial play “Swamp – Dark Ritual – Hypnotic – Go”, is at the height of the mythical “Taiga – Monkey (Kird ape) – Go”.

The Monoblack have been since the beginning of the game (I was going to write “from the beginning of time” but it was going to sound too epic :P), they´ve always given war and good results, now, to this day, they continue to do so. The archetype lends itself to innovate and try new combinations of cards. From the most “budget”, to the “full power”, but all or almost all the versions agree on something: the disruption of the hand and the destruction of land is fundamental, annul the game of the other to cast a creature (a “clock”) that wins in a few turns.

These are the key cards, in my opinion, in all Monoblack decks (they aren`t placed in any special order):

Powerful spell of Fallen Empires that makes any magician of control tremble (they say that to any magician). You can cast it in turn 1 with Mox Jet or with Dark ritual, but this last move isn´t optimal, because you lose a mana (with the consequent point of damage if you play with mana burn and you don´t take advantage of it) and a card along the way, and the 2×1 that you make to the opponent is lost, although, if you know what you’re playing against (maybe another deck with discard, or a very aggressive deck like Workshop aggro) it might be a good move to try to route the match.


The combination with Hymn To Tourach plus Strip Mine in the first turns can be decisive and be able to cancel the opponent’s game. It´s usually played 4 copies of this cards, but if you want to leave a slot for a card some players cut some pieces here, but, in my opinion, they should always go 4.


Perhaps the key card that makes the archetype so competitive, especially if you go unpowered, because by a single black mana you accelerate in the first turns to play Hypnotic Specter, Juzam, Sengir, or a Nevinyrral`s Disk, or a Mind Twist of biblical proportions, in addition, if you play Drain Life, that excess of mana won`t be ruined in advanced game. Very important also not to get stuck by needing double swamp, a very common problem in black magicians, the Ritual will always help you unclog.


We´ve to take into account if we play with Swedish rules, or EC rules, as I speak as a player of the LMOS, where EC rules are played because I tell it from that perspective.
As I said before, combined with Sinkhole and Hymn to Tourach can be devastating. The problem comes when you need the double black to play your knights, Juzam, Hymn to Tourach, Hypnotic, etc., and you really need them, and the opponent knows, and almost certainly will play with 4 Strip mines, and will go to death for your swamps in the first turns, so you´ve to know this when building your Monoblack deck, the Strip mines don´t count as a source of mana (although they give mana if necessary) but as a more resource, and as almost certainly you`ll play 4 Mishra’s Factory are already 8 colorless lands, which is recommended to play about 16 swamps.
In addition, the Strip Mine will delay a turn in the evolution of your game, so keep this in mind so you don`t get stuck, which can be one of the problems of the deck.



Maybe it’s one of the most played cards of all OS, because almost everyone has 4. Is a cheap creature, hard to kill (why they`ve to kill with instant or Strip Mine), and immune to Wrath of God, The Abyss, Disks, Earthquakes, etc. Blocks well because it gets +1 +1 itself becoming a 3/3 and if it´is accompanied with his “sisters” it’s becomes a win condition in some decks as they help each other and become a serious threat.
In Monoblack goes very well combined with the discs, and in the same turn you clean the battlefield you can attack your opponent and scratch a few points of life. and if not then it gives colorless manna that is also not bad, so it is a card that you have to put 4 copies.


The black color has a serious problem: it`s not able to remove certain threats once they are in play. Against creatures isn`t bad, because it has Paralyze, Drain Life, Terror, Royal Assassin … but against enchantments and artifacts there is hardly anything, and the disk comes to solve this problem, in just one blow.
Not all Monoblacks include it, some include it as a sideboard option, and some even don´t play it, but I think it`s necessary in this archetype. Also, it`s so good (it`s the card itself) in this deck because, if everything went as expected, you`ll have disrupted the opponent’s hand, and you`ll have destroyed the necessary land and, perhaps, when you download the disk, the opponent doesn`t have the disenchant or Shatter to save him from the approaching debacle, once untapped his effect will be done yes or yes. After activating it you will be able to play your finisher, either a Juzam, or Sengir, or Knight of the Ebon Hand, or even a Hypnotic that will have controlled the opponent until his life is reduced to 0. He will have that to draw to the top deck the lightning or the saving swords to be able to hold.
I only see her as a sideboard in the cases in which your deck is designed with strategies based on Bad Moon, Underworld Dreams, The Abyss, or The Rack, in these cases you play many permanents at the battlefield and it could be that one disc harms you more than Help you unless you play against control.


The first tutor of the game, and still one of the best today, that will allow you to find the necessary card in each moment of the game, a demolishing Mind twist, a saving disk, or a Drain Life that gives you victory, or that strip mine that doesn`t arrive, necessary to destroy the Library of Alexandria of the opponent. It’s a Swiss Army knife that you have to play forever.


The eternal companion of the Demonic Tutor, always together, and the first candidate to look for him with the Tutor, because it`s one of the most overpower cards of the format, for only one card you clean the opponent’s hand, which in many cases will be to the top deck to comeback the game and, while, your creatures will do the dirty work. A must have in any strategy with black, which is often splashed by its enormous potential. Unbalancing


If you play Dark Ritual, the most normal thing is that you play this creature, because you take advantage of the first turn, because it`s an optimal play, and because it`s one of the best creatures available in the black color and of the whole format, whether it is on the way.
He has evasion, enters the first turns, thanks to the dark ritual, as we have said, and discard from the opponent a card … at random! If he has no way of getting rid of her, he can make life impossible.
There are some players who complain that when they play the Hypnotic in the first turn they will kill him with a lightning and they will lose that turn in addition to two cards, having played it with Dark Ritual, but it`s logical because the opponent doesn`t you can leave it at the table and hit it even once or the disadvantage will be important. Even so, it is the most optimal move you can make of the first turn with a single mana and a Dark ritual because what if you catch him off guard and the opponent has neither a lightning nor spades? Well, that means you are closer to the GG.
If you don`t include Dark Ritual, it’s a card that isn`t so good anymore, unless you go full of P9, because deep down is a creature of turn 3 that hits by 2, still the abilitys of flying and discard are very good. If you don`t play dark Ritual (badly done) you can always include 2 copies.


Not all monoblack include them. They combine them with other creatures like Juzam or Sengir Vampire. They`re fast creatures, who enter the second turn and who have two abilitys that make them very dangerous: First strike and Protection from white, which we will analyze in more detail.
The first strike in a low cost creature like this makes it possible to stop an early factory or an Argothian in the first turns, it`s not the same if you are going to attack it because you`ll find Kird ape or a Factory that can be given + 1 +1, but it`s still an ability to respect. The protection against white is what really makes this creature dangerous, because there are decks that as only removal carry Swords to Plowshares, and above is a ability that gives them evasion if they play against White weenie, and will be a real headache for the white magicians.
In addition the Ebon hand are able to take advantage of the excess of mana thanks to the ability to swell, and if you solve a disc and then cast the children of Tourach because they are very dangerous.



It`s clear that the Juzam is dominant in Old School, a 5/5 only for 4 manas that you can cast in turn 1 with Dark Ritual is a constant danger when you play against black.
But the Sengir is not far behind and we are going to make a brief comparison between the two creatures.
The Juzam doesn`t die against Psionic Blast, and drops by only 4 mana, but it dies against City in a Bottle (present in all the sideboards of OS) and it`s terrible if teh opponent cast a Paralyze, Spirit Link, Moat, Icy Manipulator, etc. . And he doesn`t have evasion.
The Sengir costs one more to play and he dies with Psionic blast, but he has evasion (flies), he skips the Moat and Island Sanctuary, he doesn`t die against City in a Bottle, and if they annul him with any of the cards described before, nothing would happen more than that: it’s nullified, but you don`t lose lives along the way, and it has an interesting ability that makes it able to defend and stop small creatures, a ability that isn`t usually activated (please, someone tell me if he has ever activated the ability of Sengir xd)
The Juzam isn`t accessible and the Sengir is; The Sengir is perfect for budget decks.



Maybe it’s the weakest staple on the list, because it only really shines when you get the opponent to draw a lot and not be able to play at ease either because you’ve stuck with mana or you’ve managed to perform a prison strategy. But you have to keep this in mind as it turns out to be a very interesting card and that manages to scratch those life points that in the end get the game to go in your favor, in addition to nullifying the control decks that draw many cards, and those who use Sylvan Library. It`s clear that there is a card called Disenchant and that they will use it against you without hesitation, but if you play it for the Underworld it will be a Disenchant less for your disks. In an aggro deck, with all the creatures we’ve talked about before, it may not be necessary, but even the sideboard can be inluded.


It is the multipurpose card of the deck, serves to finish off the opponent, as removal anti creatures, to combine it with Greed and draw more cards, not to die and hold another turn, maybe that turn that gives you the victory … seriously , put a Drain life in your life.


One of the problems that the archetype has is that it doesn`t draw enough cards, the draw engine is insufficient, and we have to play with the “pack” for the deck to draw extra cards, or Howling Mine, which are always a double-edged sword. In black few things help us draw, one of them is Greed, enchantment that paying a black manna and two lives makes us draw a card, it`s usually included in decks that use or abuse Drain Life or Ivoy Tower, because if not the cost of life that is necessary to activate it in the long run no rent and if on top you will play Juzam then we would be talking about a Suicide Black rather than a monoblack.


Lately I see it in all Monoblack, and no wonder, for a single black mana you can cancel in the first turns a Serra Angel or a Juzam Djinn, or a Shivan Dragon or an Erhamn Djinn. But it`s his combination with Hymn To Tourach, Strip Mine and Sinkhole, which makes it so good, because the advanced game the opponent can have more resources, but if we join these cards and the speed of our creatures, it may be that Paralyze slows down the opponent a lot and doesn`t have time to react.


That`s all! So far the review of the most played cards of the Monoblack, I know that I leave some cards in the inkwell … what do you think? Do you think any is missing? Tell us, we want to know your opinion, you can make me a comment through this blog, or tell me something in my account instagram @retroplayermtg

Until next time, and See you soon in the Old School Spanish National Tournament, 5 countries confirmed!

See you!


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