The following is a long overdue, rambling recount of Lords Haus 2. Its illogical construction and formatting hopefully provide a somewhat accurate representation of its true memory, dulled by sleep deprivation and time. It is a tall order to capture the pent-up pandemic demand released in a 72-hour nerdgasm, but I shall try.
Lords Haus 2 was a three-day, fully-catered event for the Lords and friends of the club. A chance to escape reality, incur sleep debts, and play cards together until the wee hours. Attendees brought cards, gifts, and booze to stock the bar from which Nathan and Jaco slung drinks day and night. Food trucks rolled in at regular intervals, and folks gathered in the lingering winter chill to order and run back inside with their greasy goods. There was a menagerie of planned and unplanned events with tons of space to chill including a giant indoor pool and hot tub with a 270-degree, windowed view of the surrounding forest. A sound system was carted in to blast the good and the bad throughout the weekend.
Some of the weekend’s events:
LH1 championship decks battle
Chaos Orb patches
Chaos Orb trick flips tournament
Day 0, Wednesday: Reunions
Riding the Blue Line from O’Hare, holding a backpack filled with cardboard was oddly nostalgic and quiet. I double checked the order of stops and popped up from the underground into a city I love. Its fucking cold. I walked down a familiar street to find Bob’s front door and hopped with excitement, or from the cold. I couldn’t help but give him a bear hug immediately. Bob, being the amazing host he always is, had afternoon beer waiting as we discussed the logistics of moving, feeding, entertaining, and sleeping 30+ nerds. After months of planning, Bob amassed tons of snacks, booze, sound equipment and, of course, cardboard for the event so the rest of us could show up and relax like nerd kings.
We headed out to meet Shane and Dom at my favorite place in the city, having a seafood tower, prime beef, and enough cocktails to turn us sideways in the morning. We talked hats, suits, work, cardboard, and enjoyed a moment of normalcy together.
Day 1, Thursday: Lords help us
At our advanced age, we should know better by now, but alas. Some Filipino breakfast with Jaco and Dom, followed by loading vehicles, shook off the previous evening’s haze. Bob pre-planned for Lords to arrive at his house in timed increments to pick up food and gear to hump into the woods. This ended up being a series of mini-reunions on the freezing street, dropping cases of cola and cookies onto the concrete to exchange hugs and laughs. I finally got to meet the legend Cam after many webcam meetups throughout the COVID era. Justin arrived from the airport, and once Bob’s house was emptied out he joined us on the road. We made one last detour into Costco for more food and booze, just in case.
Arrival at the Haus was a mixture of reunions. We unloaded vehicles, cracked drinks, and found assigned rooms before quickly moving to the cardboard.
“Dom presents Crackin’ Boosties: a Brandon Sanders Production”
“DpCBaBSP” aka “Eternal Chaos” has been my favorite Magic “format” for the past twelve months or so. It combines what we know and love in Old School with the variance and recklessness of cracking open booster packs. It’s no longer clear what the rules are and perhaps it never was. My preferred variant, that landed on with Dom and Shane, was ante boosters - at the start of every game, each player antes boosters of roughly equal value. Booster Tutor is unrestricted, and each Tutor cast adds a sealed pack to the ante pile. When you cast Booster Tutor, you can open a new pack or revisit your pool of cards opened earlier in the game.
I brought a mixed box of Strixhaven and Thrones of Eldraine as my packs of choice. Strix brings promo cards from Magic’s past and present like Time Warp, Demonic Tutor, and Inquisition. Eldraine brings adventures, built-in two-for-ones, and powerful lands such as Mystic Sanctuary. I matched the packs with a five-color control deck. Counterspells, Control Magic, and Removal. No threats. Boosters can find big fatties when you need them.
A favorite moment was the joy on Shane’s face opening a Hullbreacher against my control pile only to pass the turn and have it Mind Twisted away. I may have won (or lost?) the Crackin’ Boosties challenge with the most packs opened. Reconstructing History was completely insane and recurred Time Walk and Regrowth at one point. Appropriately, I opened the event tearing open wrappers with Dr. Elleman and ended it swapping packs with Shane. It filled in time between rounds, during meals, and replaced sleep. Big thanks to Lorien for the awesome Booster Tutor proxies putting an old border around the namesake card.
This brings us to Shaman Ben. Ben was quietly playing some Chaos against Cam one evening when all of a sudden, Cam’s laughter boomed throughout the house. Ben had cast Booster Tutor and was ruffling through the folds of his coat to throw a Revised booster onto the table to be cracked immediately. Ben’s pack was awesome from a Booster Tutor perspective. Luckily, Ben does not give a shit about dollar EV, only life EV. He happily flipped over hits such as Earthquake, Prodigal Sorcerer, REB, and Island. The legend of the Shaman grows.
Lords Haus Un-Championship Decks
What if you could change 93/94 decks every round? This is a project I’ve wanted to do for a while and I’ve been a big fan of proxies ever since CE power went above $50 per Mox. Thus, the LH1 Championship Decks were born. Eight decks from LH1 were printed (excluding repeat archetypes) ala the Gold Border decks of yore, but with significantly lower artistic quality. Since EDH is not my cup o’ tea, we ran this concurrently with EDH on Night 1.
We played three rounds with an eight-person pod. After each match, players turned in their deck to get a random new 75. I played Shops in Round 1; for the first time I got to feel the power of a land that is functionally a Black Lotus. This was a cool experience and a fun way to memorialize some of the top players and lists from LH1. Ben Perry destroyed the field 3-0, and Grant complained his decks sucked all the way to a well-deserved 0-3.
List of Un-Championship Decks:
Sala’s Good Stuff
The Danny Deck
Tyler’s Fuck Your Lands
Two pods fired. Here, Cam captures everything that is multiplayer EDH.
Day 2, Friday: Settling in
This format was an awesome way to hang out on Friday morning. When the event was announced, Dom said he was looking for a partner, so I reached out asking if he wanted to link up. His response: “you don’t want me,” and “you need a high-performance partner.” So, I reached out to Danny instead to create beautiful misery together. We landed on an all-in Lich deck matched with a control deck to prevent disruption – a truly abhorrent combination. Danny dominated the 2020 Fall Brawl with Lich and we figured no one else would risk a Necropotence deck since it knocks out both players’ draw steps. Danny and I goldfished and decided we wanted to go as fast as possible so early disruption was key. The control deck was filled with counter magic and low curve disruption, including 4x Force Spike and Twiddle to take opponents off mana on early combo turns, and an unironic Healing Salve to combo with Lich.
Danny and I thrived here, getting to debate what lands to play, how to mulligan, and the nuances of each move. If you’re in a hurry in this format (or facing me and Danny) you may not have a good time. Most of the competitive decks were abusing Underworld Dreams to deal 30 damage. We ripped through the first two matches with Danny piecing the matrix together to make Lich go off while I just played The Abyss and countered anything relevant.
Our last match was an epic grindfest against Butzen and Tim. They had a similar strategy of pairing combo and control, but using Underworld Dreams as the finisher. They proved the better and Fork shined, enabling the combo player to have a relevant combo piece that doubled as protection against counter magic. It was a pleasure to battle against such solid play and deck building in this unexplored “format.”
Above are the winning 2HG lists from team “Tim Butzen.”
Among the 10,000 things Bob did for the club was pull together his Vintage cube. This is no small task, tracking down all the cards from across a collection. Not only that, there were a ton of cool siggies, alters, etc. in the list. The only proxies were Power since the official cards were in his 93/94 and Vintage decks. The first pod quickly fired off with a whole bunch of sharks around the table. I joked with Danny that I had drafted a couple MTGO cubes but had no idea what I was doing. He shrugged and said “just draft Blue Red and do your thing.”
P1P1: Mox Ruby. So far, so good. I saw Dack with my third pick, followed by Force of Negation and Shelldock. We were in business. The last packs brought me Time Walk and a Timetwister to pair with Hullbreacher. What a deck! Easily the best part was grabbing a pack with my all-time favorite Brainstorm in it.
Paper Vintage cube lived up to the hype and I highly recommend trying out a cube for those who have not given it a whirl. This also sparked an idea for future Booster Tutor madness; use a cube for the packs and watch the power level go through the roof! Maybe next time.
Middle School Marauders
Life has been crazy over the past year with less time for Magic. While I’ve dabbled in MS, I haven’t had the bandwidth to jump all-in and I’m often surprised by the cards and decks in this format. Given that backdrop, and knowing I had a box of Boosters to open, I wanted to play something fast that didn’t care what my opponents did. Trusty old Reanimator it was. Round 1 had a promising start as I blasted Butzen in the face with Akroma. The wheels fell off from there. Shane mulliganed to three and beat me with a siyaq Dreadnought build. Bob combo’d me out with Aluren, also sweet. And Jaco ground me up with some control Oath stew that I didn’t understand. Reanimator remains a fickle mistress that can’t always be trusted. I finished 2-4, but got to see some good friends and crack Boosties between the rounds.
The top tables were dominated by control with multiple Standstill/UW/Oath stews moving about with stalwart players Lil’ Greg, Zinni, Jaco, and Sam in the Top 4. After Swiss+1, Zinni took the top spot on breakers with his Standstill list. It’s no surprise that Zinni was able to take down the event despite his lack of recency; he has been crushing U/W lists in multiple formats for what must be at least a decade.
Day 2 ended with a bunch of folks betting drinks to earn Chaos Orb patches with Moss finally breaking a 69-year losing streak. Well done to Mossman, Justin, and Quail!
Day 3, Saturday: The Sun still rises in the East
The window with no curtains, 18 inches from my face, had a clear line of sight into that glorious sunrise. Good morning, world. Pre-coffee, brain askew, I realized that after jamming cardboard and drinks for 2+ days, playing my trusty Deck of Decks for our main event did not hold its usual appeal. I opted instead for a four-color aggro-control good stuff deck. It’s more straight forward while still shuffling up some of my favorite Betas and all the Power. I pulled the cards together but couldn’t find the right lands. Hey, it’s close enough! I grabbed my Vintage deck and the previous day’s mug in search of caffeine and opponents. Time for some fucking Magic.
I love Vintage. It’s just so powerful and stupid. Turn 1 may bring a million questions of the right line. This was my first time in a Vintage “event” since LH1. Ninteen players scraped lists together on Saturday morning to jam the most powerful format. I picked cantrip.dec because it’s an archetype I know and enjoy, and Pyroblast seems pretty good against all the broken blue Tinker shenanigans. I picked up four copies of offensive looking Preordains (some experts consider it the best card in Vintage) to troll the crowd. I enjoyed getting to play with some new old border cards… though I really missed the mark on forgetting to upgrade Dack. Moss gifted me an (Avon) signed, un-bordered Island to mark our use of the land to troll folks since its release. It slotted right into the list.
I will spare you, dear reader, with a blow-by-blow of the morning, but I will say that I got to Shattering Spree Shane’s Shops list back to the fucking stone age enough times that my 2-2 finish felt just fine. I’ll also note that playing against Ian on PO was awesome with so much Power and counter magic available; it was the quintessential Vintage showdown. Ian got the match by working through the counter magic and drawing all the cards.
Bob won Vintage with Oath and Okos. Go Bob, go! His deck photo is an MTGO screenshot, his biggest punt of the weekend.
Pizza time! It was impossible to be hungry here. Food was constantly arriving and unlimited junk food overflowed from the kitchen. I grabbed some Lou’s and beers and caught up with everyone before the main event began, the Lords’ championship. I grabbed my 93/94 deck to mindlessly shuffle but it felt a bit fatter than usual. I counted the cards… 79. Welp, this is what I get for building a deck before coffee. I perused through and remove some cards.
93/94 Old School Championship
Ian and I settled into the journey ahead at some over-stuffed leather chairs within shouting distance of the bar. I was relaxed after multiple days sans things to worry about. Or perhaps I was just super tired. Either way, it was great to have another chance to jam some cards and catch up without real world worry for another afternoon.
Round 1: Danny
Pairings were posted and someone yelled out I was playing Danny. Oh hell yes. Besides our joyous 2HG partnership, Danny Friedman and I have somewhat of a long running rivalry, always trying to out-control each other in a field of other folks too nice to so blatantly run The Deck. To deliver him an L in the opening round would be sweet indeed. I was then surprised to see I was actually paired against Danny Dunaway.
Danny played a similar list to mine, but his list was more aggressive with burn and Black Vise. Game 1, he showed the advantage of burn-heavy lists, unloaded a pair of opening Vises and quickly dispatched me. Games 2/3 were a blur, but I know skill was heavily involved, especially in this Game 2 opener…
His Vices didn’t do enough in the mid-game and I was lucky enough to find the right colored mana to escape the near-mirror in three. 1-0.
Round 2: Jimmy
Jimmy plopped into the leather seats for Round 2. A similar song with early Black Vices from Jimmy’s Lion-Tog deck, and he quickly won Game 1. We went to board and I brought in some low curve creature removal. In Games 2 and 3, my slightly bigger and control-y list was able to break the advantage. Game 2, we wore down each other’s resources and a late game Braingeyser with no REB answer broke things open. Game 3, we held at parity until eventually I found the black source to Mind Twist his hand and play out my gal pal Serra for the W. 2-0.
Round 3: Danny “Player of the Year” Friedman
It was time. Our partnership went on-hold for 50 minutes.
We shuffled up and Danny won the roll. He smoothy laid out Turn 1 Library of Alexandria and proceeded to draw 700 cards and grind me into dust. At one point, I surprised myself and actually got a little salty as Danny considered which of his 14 lands to tap for Tome. I looked over and Andy, sitting in the chair next to me, provided a calm, prescient take: “you deserve this.” He was 100% right of course and jerked me back to reality and we laughed as Danny recurred his deck until I conceded. Game 2 was a replay with an early Library. I was way behind in card count and felt forced into trying a big Braingeyser to get back into the game. He had the open mana + Counterspell and my fate was sealed. Danny apologized profusely for the beating as only Danny can, and we reveled in the power of the Deck in our umpteenth battle. I got a stronger drink. 2-1.
Round 4: The Champ
Well, hot damn, from player-of-the-year to reigning Lords Haus Champ, Carter Petray. I talked tons of shit about dethroning the king. The king that arrived day-of on full rest. (Carter has real world responsibilities now?) I ate my words as rapidly as ever. I don’t even know how it happened, but Carter dismantled me with his deck of shitty 1/1 flyers and Relic Barriers (!?) that somehow coalesced into a fine weapon. I cast Carter’s former CE Ancestral Recall and Time Walk against him, to no avail. He operated on another level of play (juiced by actually sleeping the last couple nights, no doubt) and had a decklist tuned and ready. A demonstrative performance from a great player, it felt like Carter was on another level entirely. I returned to the bar to double down on Nathan’s cocktails. 2-2.
Round 5: Tim
Tim is a great player across many formats. I am still smarting from his 2HG takedown of me, Danny and our abhorrent Lich contraption. The details on this match remain fuzzy (reference the increasing cocktails), but I think my threats got underneath him and were a little too quick. Back above .500. 3-2.
Round 6: Jaco
What a way to finish out 93/94. Jaco made his way down to the table and the verbal sparring began immediately. Jaco and I have a long history of battles in OS and Vintage and I will humbly claim to have the highest lifetime win percentage against The Godfather among anyone in the club, and perhaps across the globe. But Jaco is exceptionally skilled in this children’s game, and he defeated me in Boosties and MS already this weekend. My luck was put to the test again.
I don’t know what Jaco was playing but in the blind, I assumed his classic Bazaar Zoo deck. I looked at my opener – an odd one with Factory, Sol Ring, Lotus, and Alpha Serra Angel. If he didn’t have Swords, the Serra would dominate anything Zoo can produce. If he had Swords, I’d lose. I didn’t put an Alpha Angel in my deck to NOT turn one cast her, so I kept and slammed her down. Jaco gave his patented small smile communicating “whatever, I don’t care.” I’ve got him, I thought. He played a bunch of irrelevant little dudes as Serra got in the red zone. His Preacher was answered with removal. He blew up my meager mana as I drew spell after spell. Jaco dropped down to four life when he finally found Swords. Uh oh. His little dudes started swarming. I was at five and, with a lethal swing pending next turn, he passed to me. The top deck revealed a third mana source. I cast Psionic Blast. He responded with Lightning Bolt. A draw!
We go to game 2. Jaco dominated from start to finish, unleashing restricted cards and little dudes, using Sylvan Library to reload after I Swords’d them. No Bazaars popped up. It was evident he mis-sideboarded, thinking I was on more of a control shell, but his Dust to Dusts still found targets, destroying my Moxen. At the conclusion, the shit talk increased as he boasts that now that he knows what I am playing, he will win easily. In Game 3, the tables turned. Jaco upped the tempo of play as we drew and threw cards at the table. There is no more talking other than “go” with slight hand waves. The rapid play suited my style and I out-card advantaged him with my own train of restricted cards. We shuffled up for game 4 and I inquired as to why his new sideboard plan didn’t work. No reply. Game 4 we quickly exhausted our resources with one-for-ones, but I ground my way to the W by accumulating enough points of damage here and there. A fitting battle to round out LH2. 4-2.
Wait, there’s more?
I was retelling my bad beats as Bobby the Brain announced Top 8 and, low and behold, I snuck in at 8th place due to incomprehensible breaker math. Ok then! Only snag: 1st place is the undefeated Carter whom I faced off against in the quarters. His deck was tuned to beat Lion/Dib. My deck was tuned to have 75 cards. My plan was to find Serra.
We collected all eight players and began. The Top 8 had a diverse group of lists with several wild ones. A huge shout out is owed to the Peoples’ champ, David Velasco, who had a fantastic tournament playing the TwiddleBerserk list he’s iterated on for a long time. As a bonus, click here to view Lord Velasco’s gallery of Instax images from the weekend. Of course, Shaman Ben’s completely insane, personally-altered Eureka build made the field.
Check out Pitcast for a rundown of the rough sequence of play, but here’s a spoiler: the Champ is very good and I did not luck sack into Serra. It was a pleasure to play against Carter again and like most OS Top 8s, it’s fun to play with great people around. Danny and Lorien hung out and watched the beating unfold. Moss moseyed on over after his match to banter (and gather that sweet intelligence collection EV). Yells came from down the table as distant shenanigans played out.
The Champ continued winning and faced off with his archnemesis Moss in the Finals. It was the thing of fairy tales. The returning champ with his little green shitters against the true heel Moss with his Tier 0 Shops build. At this point, no one could even tell who the bad guy was anymore. Carter aggro’d his way to victory, putting a back-to-back undefeated Lords Haus run into the history books.
To recap: Carter, a dude who basically stepped away from Magic for the past 18-24 months, popped by the morning of the event just to remind everyone that he is the best, secured his crown, drank half a beer, passed out on the couch, and drove off in the morning. Well done sir, well done.
Prizes and things
I love the Lords Haus tradition, adopted from Team Serious, that each person brings a prize for the community prize pool after the main event. It’s more like a defacto gift exchange and as such creates a very personal feel. People Brought things meaningful to them to share with others - special cards, homemade mystery boxes, music, art, booze, A GRADED PACK OF LEGENDS, etc. Mrs. Punts not only supported me ditching my family responsibility to play cards for several days, but she created two little works of art. The first was a contribution to the prize pool, memorializing my favorite new way to jam games with a more format-appropriate “Demonic” Booster Tutor. The second was the return of the Golden Lord for the 93/94 Champion. Tons of amazing stuff was arrayed on the grand piano.
The champ marched off with his second Golden Lord. His P1P1 from the prize pool was a fitting meme end, with a repeat of the previous Haus’ power drill selection. My Top 8 finish garnered an early pick. I perused the table and noticed a nondescript leather pouch and a couple boxes. Turns out, it was Dom’s contribution and he announced they were watches and cards. Snap select. Dom is a watch connoisseur and a man of style. I am a man in need of both a watch and style. More importantly, it was a way for Dom and I to connect over something he is passionate about and now I have a set of siyaq starter watches so my wrists have class on all occasions.
Each event and mini-event at the Haus also involved the ritualistic signing of cards to commemorate the event, punctuated with plenty of gift giving and trading. Below are some of my loots.
The weekend concluded much as it began, only in reverse. Hauling stuff back into cars, last minute returning of loaned cardboard, food, and goodbyes. A huge thanks to all the Lords and friends for their company and, of course, to Bob, who once again went above and beyond to deliver such an experience.
Most of the Lords posted pics of their dinners that evening. Vegetables and other nutritious varieties featured prominently to begin offsetting the days of caloric damage. Danny, Dom, and I opted for several airport beers instead and said goodbye until the next time.
MIDDLE SCHOOL GALLERY
OLD SCHOOL GALLERY