What’s in a name?

Last night Nick Scarchilli popped his ante cherry in a most ridiculous fashion.  We played 2 games.  He beat me the first with some Sedge Trolls I couldn’t get out from under from (my good birdie saved a Chaos Orb), and got his first named bird – Allie – after the stalwart NEOS meet up location Granfanally’s.  We ran it back, and all of his good birdies had flown the coop (mine saved a Scrubland and another card post-Contract).  I was eventually able to Disintegrate him for 12 to seal the game, and he reveals his face down ante card…


Welcome to the jungle, baby!  To add insult to injury, I had sold him this exact Badlands about a month and a half ago to kickstart his deckbuilding for the format.  He was super graceful (I probably felt worse than he did, honestly) but didn’t want to besmirch my prize with the usual graffiti.  We ultimately decided he should put a fake Rob Alexander signature on it instead.  He took a practice run with a Posca pen, and then go to work.

The interesting part is..it’s actually pretty good!  There was some debate among the night’s attendees if this would actually pass for an authentic signature, and there was only one way to find out.  I posted this last night and the responses immediately started pouring in.  Funny and scary at the same time.  

2021 Year in Review

Flashback to DISTANCECON 2020 – DFB’s back yard and my first taste of Ante40k. I was hooked instantly, but did not expect it to become far and away my favorite Old School format. In 18 games, played at various events and meetups, and under the influence of various substances (adrenaline being the most potent of the group), I can safely say I am all in on MTWGI.

This is a detailed summary of all my ante games played in 2021:

Mase’s ante games

The cells highlighted in green are the birds I am currently taking care of. The last one is blank as it has not yet flown Mr. Bradley’s coop. Still needs an outfit.

At one point, I had the most well-traveled bird (Incognito), and set the record for the shortest ownership (Over Easy). I won her from DFB before Lobstercon 3, and promptly lost it to Tim Moran about 5 minutes later in what was by far the fastest ante game I’ve played.

Huge thanks to this group of maniacs for making this niche-within-a-niche space one of the very best in Old School. Here’s hoping I can add a bunch more names – opponents and birdies – to this list in 2022!

Hope you all have a safe, happy, and healthy new year!


Bonus swag pic:

Tis but a scratch

War is hell.

Grizzled veterans of this format, the Format of Kings, will tell you that “it’s mostly just Birds.” And it is, of course. Except when it isn’t.

“NONE SHALL PASS” unless they have flying or regeneration asfkdfkgjsdksjhg

‘Twas the night before the LC Invitational, and I had four Black Knights in my deck. In truth, I was just trying to get Sylvan + Darkpact to work. So I was heavily in black, Rituals and all, hoping to pop off T2 Sylvan T3 Darkpact or something along those lines. And, as Frantz himself will tell you, I came within a heartbeat of pulling it off. If he hadn’t hit a Bird off of his Contract in our game, I would now be the proud owner of a Badlands, courtesy of some truly dark magic.

Somehow both a cowardly hedge and an unspeakably profane maneuver at the same time

But the story of that Friday night, while the normcore mages enjoyed a tame-looking Premodern tournament at one end of the room, was my utter annihilation at the hands of Tim Moran’s Hypnotic Specter. He fired that thing off on the first turn of the game, using a Ritual as Garfield intended. I was caught flatfooted with my black and green deck: no answers, and even worse, no Jeweled Bird. Within a few short turns, the Hyppie had eaten my entire hand. He piled on with a Sedge Troll and direct damage. And then I was dead.

There was a small crowd of onlookers. We flipped my ante card face up.


Ooooooooffff. Suffice it to say, this was the moment that the format became real for me. But I took it in stride. I honestly think that Tim was more flustered about winning it than I was about losing it. After all, I never jam four City of Brass in a deck these days. This was just a spare, honestly. Just a scratch. Or maybe a minor flesh wound.

Bloodied but somehow mostly undeterred, the next morning I stopped by Mase’s “Ante Breakfast,” to my knowledge the first games of Real Magic played outside on Mass Ave in Cambridge, along that storied corridor between Harvard and MIT. (Although, nerds being nerds, I have to imagine that ante games were in fact played in this neck of the woods back in ’93 or ’94.) There was a lot going on, eggs and bacon and coffee, and multiple games popping off. And for me, another chance to pull off Sylvan + Darkpact.

You own target card in the ante. Exchange that card with the top card of your deck. Later, rearrange that card’s position near the top of your deck using Sylvan Library.

We got there this time, but unfortunately not before Mase had a chance to rescue his ante card with a Bird. So, I seized the Bird, Mase got my basic Swamp, and he also ended up eventually winning the actual game, so he took away a Bird as well. Does this qualify as success? I mean, it’s no Badlands, but yes. Yes it does.

Back to the drawing board, then. I won’t get into all of the reasons why this is true, but White Knight actually has its place, while Black Knight is a truly bad Magic card. The Darkpact experiment had run its course. With only three weeks between Boston and Chalice, I had to move quickly ahead of my next big opportunity to play Real Magic. I needed a Swedish-legal White Weenie kit, and fast.

In the span of maybe ten days, I sold all of my Badlands and Taigas and picked up Scrublands and a Savannah, along with Lions, Geddons, and the various other trappings I would need to make “WW splashing for Contract and Hurricane” a thing at our upcoming battle royale.

Just one of many quality mail days in late September. (Disregard the proxy Pearl.)

It’s hard to overstate the glory of an event like Urza’s Chalice, especially after more than a full year without face-to-face Gatherings. Even without our European brothers in attendance, the roster of “Shuffle, Cut, ANTE” fanatics in California was DEEP: Schwartz. Mano. Frantz and Levi. Eliot. Plus newcomers in Jeff Liu and Paul DeSilva. There were some pickup games here and there on Friday, but the Flying Bear agitated for a proper round robin that Saturday night. At first, I chafed a little bit at the suggestion of even minimally “organized” ante games. But I was wrong. Having all of us jamming there at the same time was fantastic.

Many Birds were named and exchanged, along with at least one serious hitter like Schwartz’s Copy Artifact. I also remember losing a Swords to Plowshares to Mano, and winning a Beta Plains. According to the record scroll, we churned out at least fifteen ante games between the seven of us who dared enter the round robin. And my aggressive collection reconfig paid off: with a record of 4-2, I took home the Contract from Below that Schwartz put up as a prize. We all signed it in RED.

So, that’s my story. Don’t get cute, play what you know. You might lose something “valuable” along the way, but it’s a small price to pay for the tall tales and a seat at the table to enjoy this most degenerate of formats with other like-minded and consenting adults.

Until next time,


It oiseaunly the beginning

As dusk enveloped another muggy New England Saturday, five fully vaccinated wizards converged for cards, drinks, and – most importantly – for the first time in 15 months, a proper, capital-G Gathering.   I was mostly there for the latter, but knowing that two ornithological enthusiasts were among the attendees, this seemed like a prime opportunity to pop my Ante 40k cherry. 

I had planned to do this three weeks from now at The Burrowing, where even more Ante enthusiasts would be in attendance. However, with a graded Beta Contract from Below sitting on my desk for 6 months in anticipation of my first Ante match, freedom couldn’t come soon enough for the best card ever printed.


And so, after tools were procured and plastic destroyed, Scott Bradley and I sat down to play Magic As Garfield Intended.  

Scott won the roll and kept 7, where I mulled to a hand of 6 that included a Library, Jeweled Bird, Sol Ring.  After our good birds saved protected his Ernham Djinn and my Scrubland, Scott cast Armageddon to rid me of my active Library.  

Sol Ring allowed me to cast a Su-Chi a few turns later, and we spent the better part of the mid game trading creatures and removal 1-for-1.  Scott Armageddoned again, but I had another quick Su-Chi that got a few hits in before he was able to deal with it. My Jalum Tome allowed me to find an Animate Dead to grab Scott’s Serra Angel with him at 9. 

A few attack steps later and I had my first Bird, a sweet little chickadee named Helga. And not only that, but Scott also had a single Ante 40k pin left from the shipment Reindeer sent a while back, and I was elated to add that to my Magic bag. 

I’m 100% hooked.  I’ve been of the mindset that when events are feasible again, my excitement for the Gathering will outpace my excitement for the Magic by a factor of 100.  After last night, that gap has narrowed significantly. 

Looking forward to sitting across from all of you sooner rather than later. 


n00bcoM after party

Nothing beats a game of real magic, right.

As me and Jonnie had planned to play n00bcoM at the same site event though the prevailing circumstances regarding COVID-19 we also talked about jamming som real magic after the dust had settled.

Unfortunately he was stressed out leaving home and had no chance of bringing his collection and therefor no ante deck. I was left in the dark and my hopes for the real deal was somewhat crushed by this.

But then I stumbled into Ye Old School Pub and met my fellow Brother Ben who offered me a game of real magic.

I quickly assembled my mono red Diamond Valley deck with birds, rukhs, walls and boosted it all with some expensive cards to reach the limitation for legal card slinging.

We sat down, shuffled up, cut our decks and anted the official blind ante before we started our battle. His black/white aggro against my red slowness.

The battle went back and forth and I was slowly drained by some real nightmares from the underworld if I recall it correctly.

I was struggling for my life and neither my bling bling birdies or valleys of treasure where to be seen. When I finally got to dig up some treasure in the valley and stabilized my life I was also able to sign the contract and thus also the firepower needed to bring my opponent down.

An epic battle with an epic wizard was resolved and the traditional late night real magic after the Good Friday happening was saved.

In my prized collection of birdies I now also possess the Lost Soul! Equipped with some extra battle gear and armour to fight battles for me as he have been fighting for others before me.

Over and out, yours truly


Vienna Geddonless Ante-geddon

As the only two contract-carrying madmen attending the Viennageddon tournament last weekend, The Reindeer and I crossed birds in a duel for ANTE superiority. We had a great series of 7 Ante40k games over the course of two days. Good birds saved great cards, named birds changed hands (and then returned home as well). We had some games where we chickened out early and saved our antes quickly. We also had some long games where no one seemed to be able to draw a bird and the game ended with dramatic revelations that the ante was… a bird the whole time.

Good bird, good bird, save my precioussss ‘byssssss

I played a Black/Blue robots brew that suffered from a chronic lack of black mana in the opening hands. I lost one game with Dark Ritual, The Abyss, Contract from Below, and Demonic tutor all sitting useless in my hand while getting beat down (there might have even been a mind twist too). I think that was the game that I lost where my ante turned out to be a swamp (just the one I needed, see it in the above picture on the other side of the table the next day). Christian played another beautiful Black/Blue deck full of Sengirs, Hypnotics, Serendib Efreets and a lovely beta Royal Assassin which I drooled over. One day… one day… I dream it might be mine.

Another good good bird, saving a vulnerable Efreet from the tough streets of Vienna (2 at-risk Efreets were saved like this over the course of the weekend).

Of particular note was a bird which Reindeer won on Saturday, a bird going by the name Opotamus Rex. Before this bird had a name, I had won it from Christian in London at the World Cup mini-ante tournament. When he won the bird back from me in Vienna, I added a nice middle finger to its feathers and added an alter to the casting cost. Opotamus Rex now costs only 0 mana to play when cast ‘gainst Jason (and this will be in effect no matter who owns the bird in the future). Luckily I won this bird back before the weekend ended, so someone else will have to win it off me if they ever want to benefit from the alternative casting cost.

Another one of my named birds, Incognito, also changed hands, but again. I managed to bring the flighty little thing home and apologized for dubbing it a “witch”. I also added a new unnamed bird to my collection and a glorious Mishra’s Monster Factory. Overall, I won the series of 7 games barely by a margin of 4 to 3. It was a small victory after being DECIMATED 3 different times by Christian and his 93/94 decks in the regular tournaments.

Feeling spoiled by nice war spoils

As always, it was a pleasure playing ANTE40k with a good friend. These games add an extra rush of adrenaline for me that I assume only usually happens in other high pressure games, like a finals (not that I’d know). It fulfills that tendency I have to want to gamble while still feeling like I can lose and have a good time. In that way, it’s just like 93/94, but just a little hotter, a little more spicy! Having an enthusiastic audience for our games also added to the fun and I’m fairly sure we might just have a new contender entering our ranks sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Stay safe out there, madmen. Love you all. Flying Bear and Prancing Reindeer, out.

Worlds farthest up Ante Gathering

Welcome, Madmen around the Globe. We proudly present the worlds farthes up Ante Gathering! On top of Mount Rigi, great men of honor meet up to battle for Beer, Rum and AnteAnte!

It was a cloudy day – no just kidding, sun was shining and the temperatures were really nice for January. The biggest, most numerous and gigantic Ante Tournament took place! Two players – i repeat – TWO PLAYERS (world record on this height!) shuffled their Decks, they cutted and (you know what there is to come) they Ante’d! Yes, they Ante’d and battled for victory.

Jason “the legend” VS Christian “the Reindeer”. Two foes with individual strenghts and weaknesses. Two players of the first minute of this glorious format. And two Friends. The first big surprise was the bird which hitted the table from Reindeer. A really good bird saved the mighty Chaos Orb from changing sides to Jason. Reindeer followed up with a City in a Bottle and ruined all dreams for a victory for Jason. With 5 Arabian Nights cards in his hand (two Cities) he never regained the strength and got beaten down by a very angry Electric Eel to zero live. Urrrg. First Match goes to Reindeer.

But it is not a proper tournament without a proper revenge. So both players shuffled, cutted aaaaaaaand Ante’d again of course. This time the match went back and forth. Jason with his Robots tried to gain advantage, but Reindeer had Shatters and a Disk ready to parry. No Birds saw the daylight of the battlefield and the Ante stayed hidden for the whole game. in Turn 10ish, Reindeer slammed the most feared foe for Jason on the table. Jason gave a whining moan, never heard before in the whole carreer of both players. It seemed that a Leviathan hitted the table – but NO, it was an electric Eel haha. Unresponded and fuelled with 4 Red the Eel managed to attack twice and deal lethal to poor Jason. Game Over. Two Games – Tournament done.

Tournament Price – altered from Mari “the Destroyer”

The Spoils of War – the winner takes it all. Even a lonely Kraken – hand painted from mighty Mari Stenhage, was waiting to change sides. But it did not happen.

Spoils of War!

Thank you Jason for this great opportunity and see you next time in Vienna.





We all love spoil(er)s right!?

Spoils of war is a coming term among the players who play “real magic”.

You know the thrilling feeling you get whenever you are surprised with a gift and have no clue whatsoever might be inside?

I believe it’s the unknown combined with the fact that your reactions to the content will tell whatever you feel about it. You don’t want to hurt the feelings of the bringer of such gift if it’s something unwanted and…you might feel anxiety and noxious all at ones.

This is the same kind of feeling I get whenever I win or loose a battle of wits and get to turn the anted card face up.

Will I loose or win big or small!?

Another feeling connected to this could of course be the excitement, right?

Well well. Needed to get that out of the system, time to tell you about something I think is really exciting.


There is a great amount of excitement whenever there is spoiler season for a new set. At least I thought so a couple of years ago when I actually cared about new magic sets and whatnot. These days I rarely look at spoilers as the only format I usually play is Oldschool.

I remember how it was prior to new releases with all the cool stuff spoiled every day and sometimes I follow a spoiler season for new sets just to itch that nerve…but it’s not quite the same when you know you are not going to chase the new cards down and start brewing with them in real life.

This time it’s different as I will actually both enjoy the spoiler season and the chase afterwards (or actually going on) as the cards will affect me and the format I actually play.

Will you stop all the nonsense and come to the point already!

OK, no more messing around with fancy words about feelings and such. Let’s get to the point!

It’s spoiler season and we (the ante group of the world) have got a juicy one for you!

We love signing contracts and getting screw by others, unlike Tarenah, who probably lived in the Suq’Ata Empire in northern Jamuraan during the Mirage Wars. Event though Suq’Ata suffered the least during the war I believe that Breathstealers brought some evil with them. The noble people living on trade maybe wasn’t prepared for this change and might as well thought their trading skills where plain awesome.

But we all know that you can’t be to careful when it comes to dealing an wheeling with the evil of any world and especially hell. Tarenah clearly didn’t know that!

With that said I think it’s time to reveal what you have come for. Let’s meet…

[spoiler title=”Show me the goddamn card right now!”]Infernal Contract - Scryings[/spoiler]

Well that is a proper magic card fit for any misfit ready to give some and get some.

The art, flavor and name all fits perfect here in hell. This is the kind of stuff we all love!

Can’t wait to start brewing with this and especially start jamming games with it.

Don’t forget that when it comes to contracts, first READ, then sign and finally…




Tales of the Ante40K community

Since N00bcon 2019, playing for Ante is kind a thing – during various Tournaments we tried to organize a “REAL Tournament after the Tournament” and play for real Ante (including all the nice Ante Cards of course 🙂 )

Maybe you asked yourself nowadays “why do they do that? Are they crazy?” Short answer would be: Yes, they are. They are completely insane – but this would be a way to easy shortcut. Truth is, that the Oldschool Community is an incredible fair, nice, lovely, caring, sharing, drinking pulk of various people around the world. We (obviously and of course!) do not care about race, gender, sexual orientation or other exclusionary things (despite the fact that anbody in the community should love the game, should be friendly, polite and fair and wants to have a great time). This is what we discover in various places and locations around the world.

I for myself found within this amazing Community a lot of new Friends around the world. Some friendships around them are outstanding and we try to meet at as much Oldschool-happenings as possible to have a great time and play our game we love so much. I am in this Community since mid 2018 and had a very warm welcome, especially by the members of this small Ante40K-Club. I met Jason in Genova at the Breakfast table. We talked about Magic and have become close Tournament buddies since then 🙂 Also in Genova, same year, Bonnie played against me in round 5. He told me if he is playing to slow due to his intoxination, i should tell. As my Level was also quite high, i did not even understand his sentence haha. Ben and the Brothers of Fire have been opponents in our first Team Worlds in 2018 – we had very nice talks. Markus is the bringer of the Format and we played at N00bcon 2018 (respectively, grandmaster Paul da Silva had to sling the spells as Markus was, hm let’s say “currently unavailable”…) Allan hostet DOS 2.0 in which i was guest and he cared very nicely for this foreign guest of Switzerland 🙂 Svante was a known Name for me due to various Tournament reports i read through this time. We also met in Genova and had some talks about “restrict to two” that time. I think we actually never played against each other at a OS Tournament – is this true? Bryan was also playing N00bcon 2019 and he missed Ante40 action due to his Top8-matches – but we had a very nice talk and All Tings Considered Episode together. Magnus is also part of this group – we met in real life at N00bcon 2019 and instantly knew, that we connect very well 🙂 And finally Slanfan – i could write books about this wonderful Person but i Keep it short: Great human being and great OS friend 🙂 We expanded just today in the USA with 3 nice Oldschool-Gentlemen (DFB, Eliot Davidoff and Scott Bradley) – a warm welcome to you guys.  So a big hug and thank you Ante-Friends to be part of this amazing Ante-Community and for your Oldschool Friendship! Rock on!

So after N00bcon 2018, where Markus and Mighty Magnus played an Ante Match with their real Decks (yes!) a Llanowar Elf changed side to Markus and the Idea of Ante was born in his head. He needed one whole year to plan, organize and handle everything for the great Ante40K N00bcon Aftermath Tournament (just joking, i assume he did that in a couple of Hours haha). There was a quite decent announcement and 6 fellow Madmen gathered together to play for – hm, i can’t really remember? a Contract from Below? a Darkpact? i really don’t know anymore… We agreed that a Card which switches Sides of course has to be signed and properly altered (if you are an Artist like i am, you will receive veeeery Beautiful altered Cards haha).

We discovered that the Ante40K format opens up for quite some interesting Deck Archetypes – mostly because the lack of Power9 and fully teched out decks. Also, normally you include 4 Jeweled Birds so you Need some space for them.  So far, everybody was more or less happy or at least not devastated as one lost Dual Lands, Ehrnam Djinns or even a Chaos Orb – we all know that this Card will be taken over by a friend – not some random foe. Also, the Cards will be included in OS-Decks for actual Tournament play 🙂 Everybody wins 😉

So if you ever again ask yourself, why there are reasons for Ante:
– being insane could be a good one
– Altering cards and hand them over to friends
– love all facettes of the game and playing Magic overall

So may the Moxen be with you and don’t forget:




See you around

It has to be London

London – legendary City in which so much happened. It will also be the place where the first high-stake-international Ante40K tournament with 7 +1 Players will take place 🙂

After the Main tournament, the REAL main tournament started. We gathered after 7pm for the real deal – AnteAnte40K.

  • Slanfan
  • Svante
  • Markus
  • Ben
  • Allan
  • Jason
  • Reindeer
  • Dan (Guestplayer with my Deck)

It was a beauty to watch how Ehrnam’s changed owners, Birds stole away Underground Sea’s (twice!) and finally a very aggressive Fish which was already signed was handed over from Slanfan to Svante. Therefore the black bordered Contract from Below (sponsored from SlanfanReindeer Intoxinated 2019) is going to get a new Owner – Svante. To honor this first Ante40K achievment, the Fish is now a 6/4 even more aggressive japanese meal!

Dan Sonderskov, a nice Gentlemen from Danmark rounded up the Tournament to 8 players and fought a match with my Deck against Slanfan – and he lost just a Birdie… Goodbye my lovely Jeweled Bird… But it was beautiful to see how my Black Green brute force Aggro was fighting its battle without me as pilot. So i did enjoy my beer and waited until the Ante was stolen away (a contract from below by the way 😉 ) from the Birdie.

Even more fun was the aftermath – we discussed via our Ante-Chat which player battled which one and which player won/lost… The memory of each participant was kind of deleted or at least “a little bit foggy” hahaha. But we figured it out and i assume that Svante is the overall winner of the tournament, right?

So i hope there will be many more interesting games and i hope you will enjoy the time until Christmas 🙂

See you soon