old school event

"Risk and Reward"


April dawns and with it the call to return to the sea and join the SoCal Deep Spawners to celebrate their 5th anniversary of the Old School '93/'94 tournament known to most local OS players as the "Annual Risk."

This year, the Risk was hosted in the golden sands of Palm Springs, CA for a two-day event filled with plenty of interaction along with some of the most expensive collections of cardboard Southern California has ever seen.

Check out the SoCal Deep Spawners website for more info

With registration officially closed and the GPS locked in I hit the road with a little time to spare.

Traffic turned out to be extra thicc and it wasn't until the turn-off onto Hwy 111 that I felt my curled claws begin to unclench from around the wheel. I've got 20 minutes until the first event starts. Whatever. The top is down and the stereo is blasting, can't stop now.

The skyline was unreal, shifting from 95-degree weather in Cabazon, the sun began to struggle to peer over the tall peaks of the San Jacinto Mountain and I'm swiftly careened into a valley of cool shade. I hit the belly of the beast and nab a primo parking spot before skittering through the hotel lobby with only two minutes to spare. The Scribble Ante tournament is about to begin.

For this event: it's find a partner and jam as many games as possible until the timer runs out.

The vibe is magical. A warm pre-summer's night where wooden tables of lantern-lit players sprawled out around a large pool of mana and great energy as they matched with opponents.
A group of dining spectators watched curiously from a level above, the coliseum was perfect.

I find my first table opening and sit down to be greeted by Old School Drew of the SoCal Deep Spawners. After a friendly handshake and a brief convo about the trip down, we unpack our unsleeved scribble decks and open up the first game of our match.

Let's Scribble...

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of Scribble ante matches, it's pretty straightforward:

Decks are 60 cards, '93 & '94 cards only, and totally unsleeved baby! That means wrapped in rubber bands and games are played with partial ante, meaning at the start of every game, each player flips the top card of their library into the ante pile. The highest converted mana cost ante pledge goes first and the winner of each game not only gets to shuffle their ante cards back into their library, but also draw all over the losing opponent's cards in the ante pile.

Depictions of the male anatomy are to be expected and any signed cards are now removed from the deck and illegal for the rest of the weekend per the tournament rules.

The Scribble List

My list for the scribble is basic at best.
It's "Oops, all Red/Green flyers" and uses
Birds of Paradise and Wild Growth to ramp into a mid-game Earthquake to devastate the board. Lightning Bolt helps to maintain board state in the early game and if I get lucky I've got an alternate win condition with Channel and Fireball that's just itching to spark. I'm hoping I don't flip a Birds of Paradise since I need the full playset for the King's Tournament tomorrow, but what can I say?

We're out here playing on hard mode with one life fam.

My first matchup does not go well.
Old School Drew is a great pilot and he's able to out-race me with his mono-black list. His
Wisps laugh at my flyers and eventually Dark Ritual ramps him into a Juggernaut which I could not answer in time with a bolt. The second game isn't much better and more of the same as I have even fewer cards in the library. I take my zeroes I deserve and Drew draws vicious wieners on a red and green source of mine. Good thing my ante cards were only lands, although that is going to hurt me in the coming rounds to be sure. I exchange final
gee-gees" with Drew and scurry on to find my next opponent.

In match two my opponent was Calvin, another Spawner who I have played many games with in previous OS events. He's always relaxed and willing to share a few puns, he's good like that.
We ante our first cards. I pledge a Fireball, he pledges a Wisp. It's starting to look like a repeat of the last match, only this time with fewer lands than when I started and with one-third of my alt win in the ante. Another fast black list with lots of similarities as the last match, no misplays yet, but my spells aren't enough and black puts me down quietly again. In game two, Calvin resolves a
Jeweled Bird getting a Mind Twist back from the ante pile. You love to see it. Before I can get into position, he wipes my hand and it's two more zeroes for me. We shake hands and with a smirk, Calvin makes me the proud new owner of a copy of "Fireballs."

The Scribble event is coming to a close and I have time for one more match before the final scores are tallied.

I make for an open table and sit down with another Spawner. Steve is friendly and always looking to jam a game. By this time, I'm beginning to get low on available land. Most hands are barely keepable and no birds are in sight.
For game one, I manage to outrace Steve's interaction and get in for some damage with some fortunate
Giant Growth and Giant Strength topdecks. I finally take a win however, I'm stumbling. It's signature time and I barely deserve to draw anything save for my initials and date. In games, two and three Steve gets real patient and I'm unfortunately not able to resolve anything valuable through his blue control. It was an awesome game. I got my Steve autographs and I wished him good luck in the tournament the following day.

The party continued late into the evening where I met up with a couple of Spawners for drinks and a little breakfast for dinner. It was good to catch up with old players and chat a bit about old school, life changes, and how the pandemic had been treating them over the last two years before heading back to the hotel room. I grab all the z's I can and drift softly into the dreams of kings.

The Main Event

We kick off events early, we're going six rounds today. Denni Griffith the event organizer welcomes us to the King's Tournament and 5th anniversary of the first Risk.

Artist Ken Meyer Jr. is in attendance for this event to sign cards and take commissions. It has been a long time since this group has played together at an event like this.

After taking time for announcements, special shoutouts, and remembering those who we have lost; round one pairings were announced and we took to our tables.

For the King's Tournament, I'm rocking an Erhnamgeddon list I've been frugally assembling this past year. The plan is to resolve Birds, chuck rocks and dorks to wheel out an Armageddon and take my opponent off resources. Swords helps to control the early game board, Land Tax keeps me full if I need to launch an early nuke, and hopefully, Serra Angel and Ernie can help me close out the game.

For Sideboard technology, I've packed a full playset of Dervishes and a set of Spirit Links to protect a bit against black strategies or effectively neutralize threats. Two copies of Dust to Dust which is a pauper favorite against robots and toys. Two copies of COP Red for burn or goblins and extra slots for board stall as well as enchantment removal.

My first match of the day was against Austin who was on a Blue Twiddle Vault list. There were a lot of Time Vault, Time Walk, and combo shenanigans, my opponent was definitely up to no good. It was challenging resolving threats or having them stolen with Control Magic and my list isn't exactly low to the ground. 0-2 for old Ernestogeddon, but I'm feeling good and expecting a lot of interaction in the coming rounds.

In Round two I'm matched up with Savage, one of the Spawner's original founders. We have some good conversations before starting. He's on some version of the Deck, and like clockwork has answers for everything I can throw his way.
Lots of denial before getting crushed by a lethal Fireball. We shook hands and wished each other luck in the coming rounds. It was awesome to watch Savage work, I dig on his "smooth is fast" playstyle.

In Round three I'm awarded a bye, which gave me time to check in with Ken and peruse his collection of fine art. He told me his year had been productive and that he's looking forward to attending more events in the coming months.
I was stoked to get some Pauper staples of his signed, namely
Thermokarsts and Kird Apes among a few others as well as a set of signed token jewelry for the collection.

Lunch was absolutely ridiculous. Lines formed for an amazing catered taco bar followed by drinks and desserts. I was able to catch up with Brian Urbano, Nick Aiello, and a few other Spawners when they joined my table and shared a few
mid-burrito laughs.

Now that I had properly fueled I was ready to face off in the remaining three matches.

In round four, my opponent was Phil. An early Volcanic Island had me worried about counter magic and threat removal, but I drew pretty well.
I was able to resolve an early game Geddon and clean up with Ernies. In game two, the control was real and Phil was able to take me down with his Flying Men. Post board I felt good going into game three. This time around the birds and elves showed up and I was able to smash through those Flying Men with Serra Angel for the match win. It was well fought and well played.

In Round five I was matched up with Steve once again. Steve's King's submission was also something spicy in blue. I assumed Counterspell, but didn't see much as Steve decided to lean into a Prodigal Sorcerer in the early game instead.

He didn't have the best luck with draws in this matchup and couldn't get enough resources to slow down the Ernie train. In game two, I was able to resolve an Armageddon and run amok with a few Juggernauts for the match.

For the last match of the day, my opponent was Jomar who was piloting an interesting red beatdown deck. I saw a few Gauntlets and bolts, but I was able to stabilize in both games. Once I had resources online it was tough to defend against multiple angels and djinn. The highlight of the game was Swords to Plowsharing a Ball Lightning which we had a good laugh about.

Closing Ceremonies

After a full day of old-school magic with some of the best opponents among the Gathering, the event winds down with prizes and standings. Many of the old school community big hitters were in attendance and the event judge Damyan held a captive audience as he rewarded players with prizes from his massive collection.

Ken Meyer Jr. also donated some additional artwork to the prize pool to make for an impressive selection of tournament spoils.

With some final words from Ken, an appreciation speech from the organizers on another awesome Risk, and even a wedding announcement; the group got together for a photo with everyone before wrapping up a weekend full of old school magic the gathering of the most proper kind.

I'd like to close with a big shoutout to Denni who put on another impressive event and always making sure I had enough to eat. Damyan for his impressive patience with corraling us lobsters for six huge rounds. The Traylor clan for your infinite hospitality, Ken Meyer Jr. for donating time (among other things) and supplying this event with a personal touch, The SoCal Deep Spawners, and all of those involved in making this event happen.

The Risk of '22 was the biggest and best one yet and I'm fortunate I got to share it with some of the best magic players around.