It’s a wild place down here for the Australian wizard, and it was wilder still in days gone by, when PTQs awarded cash prizes and the rules were more like… recommendations.
In part one of an ongoing series, I’m here to bring you a story which illustrates how Magic used to be played, in the bad old days – or the good old days, perspective being what it is – down under. What follows is a true story that actually happened.
Trades Hall, Melbourne, is a magnificent banger of a building: constructed by starry-eyed dreamers as the home for the Victorian labour movement – and what better venue for many a PTQ than this monument to hope and equality. The format was Kamigawa era Standard, and the hero of our story was piloting Snake Tribal – a truly rogue blue-green concoction; six-limbed Seshiro at his finest.
The field had been whittled down like so much kindling to just two stoic warriors – players who’d deftly navigated through a bristling armada of Gifts Ungivens and Urzatrons – and our protagonist was a mere one match away from their first ever Pro Tour invite. Sure, the win wouldn’t come with a plane ticket (Wizards of the Coast’s frugality as evident, then, as it is now), just a meagre cash prize and a heaping of pride – but our little grinder would pay his way to the Pro Tour if they claimed the invite, rest assured. A crowd had gathered around the final table, as crowds do, and the hushed silence made tangible the stakes.
Body blows were traded games one and two, rollicking affairs with all the swoops and dives of a dodge rollercoaster – and so began the fateful game three. The reptilian tribe came out of the gates hot, dealing early damage and looking poised to pocket the blue envelope – but after a flurry of removal spells from one side and an untimely glut of land on the other, our hero found himself one turn away from elimination, empty-handed and facing down a lethal flier, needing a topdeck for the ages to steal the win.
The board state? Three measly 1/1 snake tokens, versus an opponent on 12 life. They were all tapped out, yes, but this was a tiny window indeed for our tribal brewer whose bag of spice was thoroughly depleted. One draw step, then. The card was peeled off the top slowly and carefully, with a steady hand that betrayed none of the nerves inevitably felt. The rip? Coat of Arms. Alas, not quite enough – close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
But wait! Our hero taps five mana, casts the Coat of Arms, stands up from his chair, and in one swift motion he unzips his fly, flops his dick down on the table, and attacks for lethal!