There were several tournaments springing up in New Orleans circa late 1994 – one comic shop on Esplanade near UNO started running Type 1 events (as of the initial DCI rules) under the watchful eye of Serendib Jim. Jim was one of the early figures of Magic in New Orleans – he was a college student himself back then, and had several friends interested in Magic. Steve Curry, who I mentioned briefly, was one of them. Jim and Steve and another guy named Alan were close friends, though out of all our play group at Tulane only Steve and I shared a desire to really compete at any level,. Rick and Dave and Neil and others gave tournament play a shot, but they all fell kind of short. Neil in particular grew quickly frustrated with one-on-one duels – and this was not good for a man with a temper.
I was really annoying back in the day – I still can get on people’s nerves present day, but it’s a character flaw of mine that I’m more acutely aware of now that I’m older and more mature. It’s part wanting to be the center of attention, and part manic energy – either way, I tend to go a mile a minute and have had many episodes of overreacting. This didn’t sit well with Neil, who barely tolerated my antics. “I’ll kill you!” he’d yell, chasing me down a dorm hall, or throwing me onto the floor of the cafeteria in the University Center. He wouldn’t be the first of the last to feel this way about me.
What would bring on these violent outbursts from Neil? Sometimes it was my Chaos Orb destroying all his permanents in one flip. Sometimes it was my superior rules knowledge – there’s nothing casual players hate more than someone who uses the rules to their advantage. I’m not saying I rules cheesed him – but by late 1994 and early 1995, I had learned how the stack worked, understood the value of holding fast effects until you really needed to use them, and knew that when my opponent used Icy Manipulator in response to my declare attackers, it backed me into my main phase. This doesn’t work under post 6th Edition rules, but it definitely worked this way in a prehistoric Magic world.
One incident in particular stands out in my mind. Neil and I were playing in the UC with Steve and a couple of other people. I was running Red/Green/Black land destruction, complete with Sinkholes, Stone Rains, Ice Storms, Nether Voids, Dark Rituals, Hypnotic Specters, Fireballs, Lightning Bolts, and Terrors. Neil had a R/G Erhnam and Burnem deck, replete with Kird Apes, Lightning Bolts, Erhnam Djinns, and other fatties. Every game I would kill his early mana creatures (Llanowar Elves and Birds of Paradise) and then proceed to destroy all of his lands until he was sitting there fuming. With every game we played, he got progressively redder in the face, and more belligerent. Finally, after about a half dozen duels, he threw his deck down in the table in disgust.
“God damn it, you’re so F’ing lucky!”
“It’s lucky that I beat you six in a row?”
(Picks up his deck, and fans it out)”I’m running four Birds and four Elves and you still keep mana screwing me!”
(I glance at his cards)”Neil, how many lands are you running?”
(Getting angrier)”I’m running twenty lands!”
(I count his lands)”Neil, you’re only running nine lands, 2 Moxen, a Lotus and 8 Elves. Of course you’re going to get mana screwed every game.”
(Ready to explode)”What the F? Elves are as F’ing good as F’ing land. You’re just so God damn lucky.”
(Jumping up and throwing down a chair)”I don’t want to hear it. If I hear one F’ing word out of your mouth I’m going to beat your F’ing ass so hard that you’ll be in the hospital.”
(Running start)”Play more lands and your deck won’t suck so much!”
Yeah, I was a bit pompous back then. [I want to insert beats here, but I have to work with Bleiweiss at Worlds. As Ben said, Neil isn’t the only one to feel that way. – Knut, who loves the Bleiweiss anyway]
You might notice that Neil had invested in power cards. I had bought mine online in the rec.games.deckmaster.marketplace newsgroup. This was pre-Magic newsgroup days, pre-any website selling Magic singles, and pre-any sort of way of getting cards. The way it worked was this: people would post lists of cards, some with or without a buyout price. You’d send them bids via e-mail, and they would post updates on auction prices 2-3 times a day. If your bid survived for four reposts, you’d win the cards. You can see here (link to http://groups.google.com/groups?q=lotus+bleiweiss&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&selm=3996n4%24ilo%40canopus.cc.umanitoba.ca&rnum=8) the auction where I won my Mox Sapphire, Mox Pearl, and Black Lotus – for a respective $35, $35 and $65. I also obtained all my other pieces of power online in such a fashion.
The early tournament scene revolved around three shops: the aforementioned comic shop (helmed by Serendib Jim), Wargames and Fantasy (helemed by Clay and Deana) and a monthly power nine tournament run by Steve and Keith. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at these five colorful figures who helped completely deform the New Orleans tournament Magic scene for all time.