01 February 2017
Second ‘Weird Magic’ event run by Andy Wallace allowed proxies to recreate decks worth thousands
Part of Magic: The Gathering’s enduring popularity is down to the flexibility of its competitive play. Alongside the evolving standard format, which periodically introduces new cards and restricts the use of older variations, plenty of officially supported and fan-hosted competitions make use of the collectible card game’s two-plus decades of history and more than 15,000 cards in a variety of ways that never fails to impress.
In some cases, fans actually opt to go back to the very beginning of Richard Garfield’s seminal title, which first appeared in 1993.
One such Magic devotee is video game developer Andy Wallace, who has established a series of events he refers to as ‘Weird Magic’ tournaments focused on, in Wallace’s own words, “unusual or overlooked parts of the game”.
The first Weird Magic event used an Arabian Nights and Legends booster draft, which allowed players to use recreated versions of the extremely rare sets – known as proxy decks – to take part.
Wallace’s second Weird Magic event, which took place last weekend, introduced a different restriction: only cards from May 1996 or before were permitted.
This means that both Arabian Nights and Legends were allowed, as well as sets such as Antiquities, The Dark, Fallen Empires and Ice Age, plus Power 9, a set of cards that all but vanished just a year after Magic’s original release. Anything released after that time was banned or restricted, and, again, proxies were made legal to avoid players having to spend thousands on hard-to-find cards. Wallace even released an online tool to help players to build their proxy deck, with printed-out cards able to be put into card sleeves and used in matches.
If you’re wondering why Wallace was so specific with his rules for the tournament, he offers a lengthy explanation on his blog.
“1996 was an interesting year for Magic: The Gathering,” he writes. “The card base was getting large and the requirements of setting up a competitive deck were becoming difficult. The idea that the game would just be played casually by a local play group that had only a handful of any given rare was completely out the window by this point.
“To combat this power creep, the previous year saw the creation of a new tournament type, then known as Type 2, which would eventually be called Standard.
“In May of 1996, a third format was created—Type 1.5—which would go on to become Legacy, a more rigorously managed eternal format. At the time, Type 1.5 inherited the restricted list of Type 1, but instead treated it as a banned list. Between Legacy and Type 2 players could play cards form any point in the games history. Any card that is, except for the power houses that had come to define Type 1 and which were now banned in the newly created Legacy format. Through a combination of inflating prices as well as being banned in every heavily played format these cards all but ceased to see play.
“This split certainly proved healthy for the game in terms of creating a space for new players to get started and allowing room for new cards to be played, but I’d rather not leave the early days behind entirely.”
Wallace himself utilised a customised version of a deck used by Jon Finkel in 1997, bolstered by some cards that had been outlawed due to their power – but were still legal to use in 1996.
The winner, Ezra, instead used a blue/red control deck – you can see the makeup of the deck on MTG card stats site Tapped Out.