Unlocking the Vault #66: A Classic Sendoff

Classic was never much more than a format for enthusiasts and diehards awaiting the arrival of Vintage (and hopeful that it would in fact one day finally arrive on MTGO). Despite all the things going for it (unrestricted Brainstorm, tons of Legacy-banned cards, etc.), the fact of the matter was that without any tie-in to paper Magic, few people were willing to try out the format.

My journey started nearly 4 years ago when I first heard “rumors” that you would soon be able to play Vintage on MTGO. At the time, I was living in California and had stopped playing paper Magic 3 years before because the closest local scene was in Berkeley, which was a 30-minute drive without traffic, a $3-4 BART ticket, and a $6 bridge toll. Needless to say, heading toward Oakland and San Francisco on a Friday evening to catch FNM never took 30 minutes. Between gas, tolls, and the train ticket it often took more than 1 hour and about $20 just to get to FNM before I even spent a dime on playing in a draft, etc.

After doing that for about 4 months, I finally had had enough and quit playing Magic. Without a more “local” scene, it just was no longer worth the effort to get to Berkeley anymore. It was a few years later in the Summer of 2010 when I heard of Duels of the Planeswalkers. After buying the app on my PS3 and playing for a couple weeks, I started to get “the itch” again. After a few google searches, I was dismayed to see that no “local” stores had popped up in the last 3 years.

Somewhere along the way, I caught wind of Master’s Edition IV and that people were speculating that Power might finally arrive on MTGO. Like most paper players at the time, MTGO wasn’t on my radar screen and I bought into the stigma that MTGO was garbage and a rip-off (at least that’s what the local Berkeley players made it out to be. Having seen DotP on PS3, however, my opinion of playing a digital version of Magic started to change. With the idea of being able to play Vintage online, something that was only in the wildest dreams in paper (even at 2007 prices), I took the plunge at started playing MTGO.

At first, I was limited to what I was willing to invest in the program as well as my skill level, so I stuck with playing a handful of M11 limited events. Once Scars of Mirrodin was released, I switched over to Block Constructed. Despite being limited to Block cards, I was awaiting the spoilers for Master’s Edition IV to see if Power was indeed making its way online.

Like many others, I was disappointed that Power was not in Master’s Edition IV, though most likely less than others that had been playing Classic for years already. Nonetheless, I resolved to acquire the dual lands and a few other staples that were in Master’s Edition IV, hoping that Vintage was around the corner. I opened a Time Vault in my first ME4 sealed event during the pre-release and I was hooked. I focused on building a Workshop deck to start and finally took the plunge playing Classic in May 2011 with a 3-1 finish in my first DE.

Fast forward a year and Classic had started to slow down. There were several reasons for this, but I was convinced that chief among them that players wanted more out of playing for 11 or 6 packs of a Magic 20xx in a DE and that the DE schedule was difficult for several players. Having seen the success that MMogg had with his league in the Summer and Fall of 2010, I wanted to replicate the idea with a little more at stake. With the help of clanmate abstrakt66 (Zach), we came up with the concept that turned into the Classic Quarter League, featuring the Classic Invitational. It was immediately a huge hit, but I think we all owe MMogg much of the credit for coming up with the original premise of a weekly PRE.

This past weekend we held the final Classic Quarter League Invitational. As much as I look forward to Vintage, I will miss running these events. It’s too early to tell if I will run Vintage PRE’s since the premise was to encourage people to play Classic; I don’t think that much encouragement will be needed for Vintage. Regardless, it was bittersweet to see this all come to an end.

Overall, it was a good way to end my “career” in Classic. Here is the deck I played:

Congrats to thewoof2 for winning the 2014 Classic Invitational. He can walk away from the tournament as the “king of the hill” of the Classic format. Perhaps it’s only fitting that, not only did Affinity win the tournament, but that it was an Affinity mirror match in the final.

Now that Vintage Masters is finally here, I look fondly upon my time playing Classic. The players made the format more than what it was. The niche community is something that I’ll miss. We all shared a common passion and could share in our misery while postulating how/when/if WotC would finally let us play Vintage online.

Going forward, I’ll be switching over to bringing you all Vintage content. My next article will be a Vintage Masters draft during the pre-release this coming weekend. In time, once I acquire Power and enough people can start to fire Vintage DEs, I’ll try to bring those as well. It’s an exciting time for MTGO, and I can’t wait to start fulfilling the dream of playing actual sanctioned matches with Power. Nonetheless, I won’t ever forget the 4 year journey that I took to get to this point and how Classic filled the time gap through the good and the bad.

Clan Magic Eternal
Follow me on Twitter @enderfall.

  1. Why does Montolio’s name have a sad face after it on your buddy list? Besides the obvious of course. I mean it is Montolio after all, heh heh.