Deconstructing Constructed – Vintage: Now and Then, Here and There

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This article will be about the history of Vintage, and some of the personalities / in-jokes you may have missed if you’re new to the format. I’m hoping that, in the future, a few more articles can be written about the subject, since the format has had quite a long history and much of it from three or more years ago has been lost over website moves and server crashes.

This article will be about the history of Vintage, and some of the personalities / in-jokes you may have missed if you’re new to the format. I’m hoping that, in the future, a few more articles can be written about the subject, since the format has had quite a long history and much of it from three or more years ago has been lost over website moves and server crashes. Note that this is purely a humor article from old jokes, so don’t expect any major strategic content for the week.

I’ve noticed recently that more and more that people were missing in-jokes, or simply had no idea what certain people were talking about in regards to former members / archetypes / jokes when talking about Vintage. This really isn’t a shock considering how long some of the Vintage players have been in the format and involved in the online forums, while over the last few years we’ve received a huge influx of new players into the format.

Let me give some background about some of the inside jokes, and a few stories of notable idiots that have been overlooked over the years.

1. Noble Panther
You can read a bit about the inside joke in one of Oscar Tan’s older articles. I’ll summarize: at the time this joke first started, the deck to beat was still more or less Keeper*. This meant every week, sometimes less than that, some new random posters would pop up on the site and talk about how X or Y strategy or singular card absolutely smashed Keeper. Some of these strategies were reasonably defendable, although the majority failed to convince once real thought was put behind exploring the validity of the statements.

* The Deck — Five Color Control, first popularized by Brian Weissman as the original control deck that only cared about surviving until it could take over the game via card advantage and win the game.
The Franchise / Keeper — Eventual evolutions of The Deck.

One of the most absurd suggestions was that Noble Panther somehow decked Keeper, because it had first strike and could handle everything in the deck. To give you an idea of how terrible some of the players were back then, this could have been a 100% serious post and not just a sarcastic commentary on everyone else around. The Noble Panther comment was the prompt for one of the best in-jokes on TMD pre-server crash. It was generally brought up whenever someone wanted to know the best creature in Type 1, and would randomly be referenced in tournament reports or extensive deck posts as a reminder that Noble Panther was the greatest creature ever.

As proof that Noble Panther decks Keeper though, I present this irrefutable photographic evidence.

BurningIce: “As for Noble Panther, well, if you don’t ph34r it, you’re ph34rless and a better man than I.”

Pic credit goes to Steve ‘O Connell, and I wish I could find the other two shots to go along with that one.

2. Incredibly Long Raccoon Cap Signatures

I doubt any but a dozen or so active members of TMD actually remember this joke, but this was a short period of time where it was the in-thing to reference the absurdly long end signature line Oscar Tan had at the end of his articles. For those who forget, here was the original:

Oscar Tan
[email protected]
rakso on #BDChat on EFNet
Manila, Philippines
Forum Administrator, Star City Games (http://www.starcitygames.com/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi)
Featured writer, Star City Games (http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/archive.php?Article=Oscar Tan)
Author of the Control Player’s Bible (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bdominia/files/ControlBible.zip)
Type I, Extended and Casual Maintainer, Beyond Dominia (http://www.starcitygames.com/cgi-bin/dcforum/dcboard.cgi?az=list&forum=DCForumID89&conf=DCConfID19)
Proud member of the Casual Player’s Alliance (http://www.casualplayers.org)

To put that in perspective, I just took up about 40% of a page in Word by just copy pasting that. So many of us decided to sign off our posts with something like:

Joshua Silvestri
veggies on irc
proud owner of 20 chimney imps
writer of words on virtual pages
member of team X — insert a witty euphemism for tim aten here
wearer of many raccoon caps

Of course, that practice quickly ended when we realized if reading it at the end of one person’s articles was annoying, an entire thread filled with them would be terrible.

3. That Damn Raccoon Cap

Go look at Oscar Tan’s writer picture. Ah, fur cap, how we’ve missed thee.

4. A Beautiful Mind & The Ugly Duck
I’m always amazed what decks people call crappy or terrible nowadays. Inferior or outdated perhaps, but very rarely is a deck outright horrible in this day and age, as far as strategy and specific card choices go. The overall bar for wannabe designers has risen significantly over the last couple of years, and so many people forget the piles of garbage people were playing just a scant four or five years ago. One of the most famous examples came from poster NaClhv on The Mana Drain in 2002, when he posted this abomination of a deck and claimed favorable matches against the entire field. Here’s presenting one of the true classics in deck design, A Beautiful Mind.

5 Plains
5 Island
2 Undiscovered Paradise
2 City of Brass
2 Gemstone Mine
1 Library of Alexandria
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Diamond
1 Black Lotus
1 Sol Ring

4 Land Tax
3 Scroll Rack
1 Trade Routes
1 Zuran Orb

1 Ancestral Recall
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Time Walk
1 Balance
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
1 Regrowth
1 Mind Twist

2 Meddling Mage
2 Devout Witness
2 Whirlpool Warrior
2 Werebear
2 Mystic Enforcer

2 Force of Will
2 Misdirection
2 Back to Basics
2 Powder Keg
1 Fire / Ice
1 Swords to Plowshares

As you can see, the main plan is to be a disjointed pile of cards using the structure of a Limited deck as far as numbers go, even going so far as to run Whirlpool Warrior to get the point across. It isn’t so much that the cards it ran were bad – you can’t really argue with stuff like Force of Will, Back to Basics in a pre-Fetchland format, Meddling Mage, and obviously the restricted cards. The true issue with the deck was the complete lack of redundancy, instead trying to abuse the Tax Rack engine to keep finding the key answers to any situation the deck may face. This is going to be a serious downer considering the key card combination was slow even for that day and age and was vulnerable to everything.

However, the real fun didn’t begin until what was more or less the entirety of TMD came crashing down on all the silly match-up percentages included in the opening post, which were effectively summed up as, “I beat everything except Dragon.” This caused one of the most annoying members in TMD’s history to appear… Psyduck. Dealing with this guy was like trying to deal with a rabid badger thrown in your face. Not only were his arguments completely detached from logical reasoning, but he would constantly challenge everyone who disagreed with him to play games over Apprentice (of course, nice small sample sizes from which to draw conclusions), even though almost no one actually wanted to waste time playing someone who was so obviously a donkey’s rear.

Nevyn: “My name for the deck is Rodney King, because can’t we all just get along?”

If I remember correctly, the multiple threads about this deck ended up being closed after a sufficient amount of screaming occurred. All match-up percentages were banned from future deck discussions. We still have that rule today.

5. Say It With Me Now, Z-h-e…
One of the funniest things to look for in posts by newbies was the obligatory, “Thank you Zherblus for running the site!” or “thanks zerbis, awesome site.” At some point, around half of the new posters were basically just maiming Steve O’ Connell’s screen name on TMD. The problem escalated to the point where the first ever “Name Primer” was written to combat the issue. Thanks to the wonders of the intarweb and webtrawling bots, I’ve recovered the primer for those who couldn’t see its original glory.

..::My name primer::..

Due to a common inability to spell my name, I figured I would write a primer for it.

Spelling my Online Name by Steve “Zherbus” O’Connell

Introduction: The letters that make up my name.
The name is spelled with a lone “Z” followed closely by a mixture of “H,” “E,” “R,” “B,” “U,” and finally, “S.”

General playing strategy:
One tip I can give you is this: no letters ever repeat themselves.

Conclusion: This should be the order in which you spell it. Z-H-E-R-B-U-S. Commit this to memory. Good luck!
Posted by: Zherbus on 07/23/02

6. The Legend of Magic Speaks
One of my personal favorite trolls was a guy from the Bay Area who on went by name The Legend of Magic (later changed). To give you an example of how he differed from other amazing trolls like Psyduck and Random Miser, here’s one of his classic posts.

Sorry Mr. Pink, in the bay area I am the oldest and longest playing Magic player here, if you go to all the Cons, people will tell you about how many tourneys I’ve won and how I was the one that kept Vintage alive around here, while everyone coverted to type 2, of course I am much older than you, when I was doing all this you were probably watching power rangers still. Hence, I earned the name TheLegendofMagic, since my career in Magic has its roots at the FIRST PTQ, and of course I’ve even played with other legends, such as Zak Dolan, you are pretty young, if you don’t know who his is he was the first Magic the Gathering world champion…

I am part of a very small circle of pioneers of Magic, or legends, and right now membership is closed so I guess you can claim to be a legend, but you lack any great accomplishment or any influence that has changed the game of Magic… Anyhow further attempts at a personal attack will be ignored, since you and I are not in the same level.

TheLegendofMagic (putting newbies in their place)

Unfortunately, his act grated on so many people he only lasted a couple of months before being banned. In the meantime, his rather annoying posts brought the real Legend back for a post or two, and eventually LOM had to resort to making multiple screen names to help defend his points of view on various decks once trotting out random lists of historical accomplishments that changed post to post. Eventually Steve had enough of his idiocy and changed LOM’s name into something more… appropriate, which I unfortunately can’t say on a family website, before he eventually disappeared into the mist like all trolls.

So there we have it! A look back at some of the more colorful happenings from Vintage discussion past. Next week, it’s back to your scheduled programming.

Josh Silvestri
Team Reflection
E-mail me at: joshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom

P.S. Congrats to Luis-Scott Vargas for winning GP: SF! After the massively bad beat on Day 1, you deserved it.