With Standard being the most expensive it's ever been, the cost of Magic is a pain felt across the community. When deck building, it's easy to complain about the cost of fetches, not owning a playset of a 5,000 point card, or the value of cards being constantly in flux. As we sacrifice continuous Friday Nights to sling spells it's easy to be wrapped up in Magic and forget to look up from the playmat. Syrian refugees now total over 4 million. Displaced from their homes and fleeing across borders for asylum, one Planeswalker couldn't sit idle. He turned to the resource he loved the most, his trade binder.
Allow me to introduce Magnus de Laval (MG), founder of the '93/'94 Magic format and champion for #MtgForLife.
Puca: Tell us about who you are and your history with Magic. When did you start playing Magic, what keeps you playing Magic?
MG: My name is Magnus. The first cards entered our home in October 1994, when my mom bought a starter of Revised for my sister. It took a few months before we buckled up and learned how to play properly though, around the spring of 1995. By then a lot of guys in school also started playing, and Magic become a big hit in Sweden. This was still in the wild west of Magic, before spoilers and easy access to the web. I took a few more years before I learned the rules properly and started to play in tournaments; I think my first DCI-tournament was a sealed Tempest event in 1997.
What keeps me playing? It's damn good game, perhaps the best there is. And the community is awesome.
Puca: Can you tell us a little about 93/94 Magic, what lead to its creation? What do you think the biggest draw is for someone to start playing 93/94? What are the deck building restrictions?
MG: Haha, well. In the middle of the 2000s I was a part of fairly good Eternal team in Sweden. In order to get better at the game as a whole we played, and tried to break, a myriad of odd formats. It was a lot of Mirage Block, Cap Magic, and Ice Age going on. Sometime around early 2007 I had posted yet another mediocre idea for a Legacy deck on the team forum. I think it was a 4C Wee Dragonauts deck with Berserk and Psychotic Fury. Kalle, a friend in the team, argued that the deck was terrible and called it HeadlessHorseman.dec. It got me inspired to build an actual HeadlessHorseman deck, so I ordered a pile of cards from Alpha to The Dark to build the deck. I couldn't afford any rares at the time, and the blue-black pile played Sea Serpent over Mahamothi Djinn and Air Elemental over Sengir Vampire. It still looked awesome. Kalle really liked the deck and the idea, and set out to build one on his own so we could play "Old School Magic". And that's how it started.
We argued a while in 2007 on which sets should be legal in our Old School format (this was before the name 93/94 took hold in 2008). Kalle had started playing a few months earlier than me, and didn't feel the same way I did about The Dark. We also argued at length about Unlimited. On one hand, it was all reprints, but we also realized that the mana base could get to expensive without it. In the end we agreed on that all cards only easily available in stores during 1993 and 1994 should be OK, but that the cards that were overprinted and all over the place in 1995 didn't cut it for the majority of the players interested in the nostalgic aspects. So we ended up with seven sets; Alpha, Beta, Unlimited, Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends and The Dark.
I think that the biggest draws are a combination of nostalgia, community, and deck building. Getting a new card for your deck is a big deal, and the deck will never rotate nor become obsolete here. Here, you get to play with the cards you could only dream about as a kid, and Juzam Djinn is one of the top creatures in the format. The community is friendly and casual, and as we don't have any real prizes or (occasionally ridiculously) expensive decks, the people are about as far away from "power gamers" as they come. Playing a very "pure" form of Magic, from way back before there existed different formats, is also very appealing. And casting turn one Erhnam Djinn off a Black Lotus is really, really sweet.
*For more info about the Old School format check out Magus's site: oldschool-mtg.blogspot.com
Puca: What inspired you to start the #MTGForLife campaign?
MG: It was due. I'd been away in Stockholm for a work course over a couple of days and got to spend some time alone at my hotel. There were refugees at the train station and I looked at the people helping them out. I'd been reading the news for a long time and eventually I just got pissed and realized we couldn't afford to be idle. I had a platform in the blog, a few cards to spare, and an awesome community to reach out to. Time to reach out.
My girlfriend is leaving in a couple of weeks to help out at refugee camp in South Sudan for four months. Everyone can't travel to Africa or the Middle East, but we can be decent, we can care, and we can do something. Who really needs a dual in the binder?
Puca: Having looked at some of the examples you give in your campaign, it’s shocking how far the value of a single card can contribute to helping doctors who are helping refugees. How can people contribute to your cause?
MG: Yeah, it really puts our collections in perspective. For an MSF expat (someone travelling from another country to help) in Syria, a blue dual from Revised will pay at least four days salary; for local MSF employees it usually goes far beyond that. For one of the internally displaced persons living in an overpopulated camps in South Sudan, a few bucks worth of food means a whole lot. Downgrading a fetchland can offer enough for someone to eat for a week. MSF has very little overhead, we can be certain that the money will go to good use. As I type this, we've reached over $9,000 from the Magic community and it's likely that this money will actually save someone's life.
Puca: What kind of rewards are you offering to thank people who do contribute?
MG: If you want to contribute, go to the campaign at https://www.indiegogo.com/
As players we invest a lot into Magic, both time and money. This is an opportunity to put that investment to use. Consider what cards have been gathering dust for too long that if sold could contribute to the campaign. If you haven't been playing as long as Magnus and don't have Old School cards lying around, consider giving to #MtgForLife and living up to the PucaTrade motto of Give and Let Give.