by Hogan "Rare Drafter" Long.

Most people who know me consider me a serious magic player… and I am. When playing in a sanctioned event, I take it very seriously, maybe even too seriously. I enjoy the competition. However, I guess I will never be a "true" "magic playa" because I also really enjoy formats that are less serious and more… well… fun.

Neutral Ground New York has always supported these fun formats. Years ago when NGNY was just NG they had a box at the counter when you could toss your reject cards. Then once a month they would run a Reject Tournament. Every player would get about 100 of these cards and build a 40-card deck (like in a limited sealed tournament.) There was no entrance fee and the winner would walk away with a $50 gift certificate. These tournaments were a blast. More recently (about 2 years ago) when Brian David-Marshall (BDM for you net-heads) saw that my friends and I were having a fun playing limited Two-Headed Giant, he started running Two-Headed Giant tournaments. These tournaments have been quite successful and popular at NGNY.

As an aside, if you are interested in playing limited Two-Headed Giant with your friends, I would suggest the following "house rules." Each team gets to pick 7 booster packs of their choice with no more than one booster pack each of Tempest, Stronghold and Exodus. (Buyback is just too broken.) To these cards, they can add any number of basic lands to build the two 40 card decks. 10 of these lands may be snow covered with no more than 5 snow covered lands of any one color. There is no side boarding in Two-Headed Giant. If you want more information, please e-mail me with questions.

Well Brian has done it again. In a moment of brilliance, BDM invented a new tournament format - Rare Reject Draft. Building on the Reject limited format and on the popularity of drafting BDM came up with a new tournament format that is especially fun and no one leaves disappointed. Here is how it works: For about a month before the tournament NG accepts rares exchange for raffle tickets (1 rare for one ticket). Before the tournament starts a ticket is randomly drawn an a prize is awarded (in the tournament yesterday this prize was a Juzam Djin!) All of the "reject rares" have been dived into "packs" of 15 cards each. When the pods have been set up each player is give 3 packs (45 rares!) and the drafting proceeds as normal. Well that is if you can call having to make a first pick from among 15 rares "normal." The cost of entering the tournament is only $10 and the first place prize is also a Juzam Djin! However, this is kinda deceptive, since it is rare (sorry about the pun) that you won't "make your money back" in the first pack alone!

Of course the real fun is drafting and building the deck - and in this format you can have some amazing combos! (Check out the report below for some examples like Maddening Imp/No Mercy or Pit Spawn/Magnetic Web - Who does that??!)

A Quick Tournament Report

My deck worked out well… I managed to stick to two colors and it has a surprisingly nice curve to it. The tendency in Rare Draft is to get stuck with a lot of expensive spells and creatures. I managed to stay on target and did not get to distracted by the 3 Soul Sculptors, 2 Karmic Guides, Intrepid Hero, and Elite Archers that I had to pass. I did bitch and moan about it, as anyone at my table will tell you.

Here is a deck list (for fun I added the set name and some comments):

Creatures (16)
Wyluli Wolf (5) cheap and good.
Querion Druid (VI) not bad for a 10th pick
Spike Breeder (ST) spikage! I've missed it.
Citanul Hierophants (US) mana… good.
2 Elven Warhounds (TE) mmm… tasty

Carrionette (TE) Removal!
Apprentice Necromancer (UD)
Maddening Imp (TE) 3nd VIP
Xenic Poltergeist (4) Artifact control.
Mindwarper (ST) Hand control.
Eastern Paladin (US) Green control.
Witch Engine (US) lotsa black to walk on.
Pit Spawn (EX) game over man.

Dragon Engine (5) cheap and good.
Thopter Squadron (EX) it flies

Sideboard (I never sideboarded!)

Selenia, Dark Angel

Crown of the Ages (IA)
Fool's Tome (TE)
Iron Maiden (UZ)
Scrapheap (UZ)
Wheel of Torture (UZ)

2 Darkest Hour (US)

Rayne, Academy Chancellor (UD) (rare draft)

Sporogenesis (US)
Trailblazer (IA)

Canyon Drake (TE)
Glacial Crevasses (IA)
Tooth and Claw (TE) (good with 6th ed. rules!)

Hidden Retreat (ST)
Kjeldoran Royal Guard (6)
Marble Titan (TE)
Oracle en-Vec (TE)
Orim, Samite Healer (TE)
Righteousness (4)
Soul Sculptor (US)

Other (7)
Mirri's Guile (TE) not bad for a 9th pick.
Volrath's Gardens (ST) 23rd card
Midsummer Revel (US) mmm… creatures

Fevered Convulsions (TE) 1st VIP
No Mercy (UZ) 2nd VIP

Magnetic Web (TE) better with 6th rules
Jalum Tome (5) mmm… cards.

Lands (17)
10 Swamps
7 Forests


I am not going to do a round by round report, mostly because I was not taking notes and my memory sucks, but here are some interesting highlights:

Maddening Imp was amazing. It worked well in combo with No Mercy. Once I even killed an artifact with it using the Xenic Poltergeist's ability.

Fevered Convulsions was broken as expected, but it was especially fun to turn artifacts into creatures with the Xenic Poltergeist and put counters on them at the end of my opponent's turn.

Magnetic Web is much better under 6th edition rules. Since it now works even when taped. You can make it have an effect on the game much quicker. There is nothing better than having a magnetic Pit Spawn attack and swat away up to 6 creatures with its first strike triggered effect.

Magnetic Web is also quite good when used in combination with Elven Warhounds.

The only time I played an opponent with green in his deck my Eastern Paladin was locked down by a Marble Titan…. Sigh.

The only game where I got the Quirion Druid to make more than one 2/2 my opponent played planer collapse… sigh. At least I was able to take two of his lands with my 10 creatures.

In round 2, I used Fever Convulsions on my own Carrionette, and then used Carrionette to remove his last blocker so I could attack for the game.

I highly recommend this format if you are looking for a fun game. BDM has told me that NGNY is planning on running this tournament format at least once a month for as long as there continues to be interest. Come by and check it out, I look forward to playing you, and sharing a laugh or two.

Hogan Long
Team Grumpy Old Men
NYC, Sept. 20th 1999.