Last Tuesday, Star City announced a couple of special side events for GP New Jersey. There was Urza’s Block Sealed, a Revised Draft (with a hefty $200 entry), and a Sealed event with a tournament pack of Italian Revised, a pack of 4th edition, and a pack of Chronicles. Since I wasn’t playing in the main event and enjoy novel formats, I decided to sign up for the Italian Revised Sealed event. While I’ve spent an exorbitant sum of money on Magic cards over the years, I have to say that the $100 entry fee for this event is the most I’ve ever paid to get into a tournament. I understand that if I were to just buy a tournament pack of Italian Revised, I’d be spending about the same amount, but in this case I needed to actually open the box and potentially lose the dual land lottery. See the thing about Revised is that if you open a blue dual land, or a Bayou, you make money. If you open another non-blue dual, you recoup most of your expenses. If you open just about anything else you are out $100. If you don’t open a dual, it’s like opening a box of Khans of Tarkir where the rare in every single pack is Avalanche Tusker or Kheru Lich Lord. Yeah, it’s that bad.

Aside from the dual land lottery subgame, I was excited to play with some old cards. While Revised, 4th, and Chronicles were not designed with Limited in mind, I imagined that opening a couple of packs and building a deck was how most people played Magic when the game came out. Before the internet, netdecking, or even known rarities, players opened packs and did their best to build a deck that would beat their friends. I started playing way after this point so the concept of Magic as a kind of mystery yet to be solved is a romantic concept for me. Furthermore, just the idea of cracking packs that have been out of print for nearly two decades is, well, really fucking cool and something I’ve wanted to do for a while.

After a Saturday morning spent selling cards and waiting in line to get stuff signed by John Avon, I sat down to play in the event. Because all the Revised cards were in Italian, the event was staffed with two Italian judges with a bunch of visual cheat sheets for the players. After everyone sat down and instagramed a picture of the packs, we were given permission to start.


I opened up the Revised tournament pack first because I’m impatient. The first card I could see in the plastic packaging was a Sengir Vampire. I tried to move slowly through the cards, start to make a mental inventory of cards I was going to play, but I couldn’t do it. I had to find the rares. After picking through a million basic lands I found a Meekstone, Flying Carpet, and a Taiga. While I had still lost money on the dual land lottery, at least I had a pack fresh Taiga to show for the $100 entry.

Here is what I built:



WRG Italian Revised Sealed

Lands (18)

Creatures (14)
Llanowar Elves
Scryb Sprites
Shanodin Dryads
Grizzly Bear
Emerald Dragonfly
Dwarven Warrior
Hurloon Minotaur
Orcish Artillery
Keldon Warlord
Serra Angel
Thicket Basilisk

Spells (8)
Barl’s Cage
Sideboard (4)
White Knight
Repentant Blacksmith
Active Volcano
Circle of Protection: Red

There were so many suboptimal and situational cards in my pool that I had trouble figuring out exactly what to play. Here are some of the synergies I tried to build around:

Meekstone— Since my creature suite was composed almost entirely of evasive 1/1’s, I played Meekstone in the main to stop opposing Craw Wurms, Sengir Vampires, and Mountain Yetis. The one creature I had with power three or greater was Serra Angel which has vigilance and isn’t effected by Meekstone. It is worth noting that the Meekstone I played was misprinted and said, in Italian, that creatures with power two or greater don’t untap. I had to call the judge every time I played it.

Lure & Thicket Basilisk—This is the Timmy dream right? I managed to do this more than once to effectively wipe an opponent’s board. This is one thing I can cross off my Magic bucket list.

Fireball & Disintegrate—My plan was to come out of the gates with cheap evasive creatures and close out the games with a giant Fireball or Disintegrate. I also played 18 lands and two Llanowar Elves, so I figured that with half my deck being mana sources I could expect to win the longer game with this strategy.

Serra Angel—Yes, I splashed a double white card off four plains. While I would normally never stretch my mana like this, Serra Angel is a legitimate bomb and I was short on playables anyway.

Dwarven Warrior & Firebreathing—The idea is to make a creature unblockable then sink in a bunch of red mana. The problem is that this is way too cute and auras are terrible. Do you know what kills a Llanowar Elves with Firebreathing? Every removal spell ever.

While the limited game play certainly wasn’t up to par with current limited formats (even Theros) it was still awesome. I remember Mark Rosewater talking in one of his podcasts about playing Portal starter decks with another advanced player. Despite the game being “dumbed down” by the lack of instants, Rosewater remembers it still being enjoyable. Magic is like that. While I have my preferences over the kind of Magic I want to play, at the end of the day this game is awesome in so many forms. Even with a bunch of clunky cards, terrible creatures, and situational hosers, playing with Revised, 4th, and Chronicles proved to be another lesson on the enduring spirit of Magic. The game has evolved over the years but the most basic components—customizable decks, art and flavor of the cards, and the variable nature of the game play—were enough to give the game staying power.

I digress, the event itself had an air of goofiness about the whole thing. There were constant judge calls because of most of the cards being in Italian. I had thought I had a good working knowledge of Revised until I ran into stuff like Guardian Angel, Instill Energy, and Jade Monolith. Most of the players I talked to signed up for the novelty of the whole thing and weren’t super competitive. I didn’t take pictures of my opponents for this one, you know to really capture the fact that there were no cell phone cameras in 1994, but I kept a few notes on my games.

Round 1—Matt with RG Disco (2-0)

Matt confided in me before the match that he didn’t think his deck was capable of winning any games. In both games, he played a Nevinyrral’s Disk (Disco di Nevinyrral) and then not much else. I hit him with some of my little green idiots and finished up each game with a Fireball.

Round 2—James with BR Mind Twist (2-1)

James had a removal heavy BR deck with Lightning Bolt, Terror, Fireball, and a Mind Twist. Game one, James killed some of my creatures and Mind Twisted me for four. I couldn’t recover. Game two, he killed everything I played until I landed a Serra Angel. He didn’t have the removal for it and I killed him in four swings. Game three, James kept a hand with no Swamps and then proceeded to never draw one. I killed him with Llanowar Elves, Shanodin Dryads, and a Scryb Sprite while he continually missed on black mana.

Round 3—Olav with UGr Beats (1-2)

What I remember most clearly about these games is that despite my opponent having Unsummon and a small suite of counter magic, I was able to put a Lure on my Thicket Basilisk twice and eat at least two creatures. I also remember that my Meekstone tapped down a board of two Craw Wurms and a Woolly Mammoth. Despite my sweet high jinks, I still lost two games to Air Elemental and well timed Recalls.

Round 4—Jason with RG (1-2)

Our decks were very similar and we each took a game. In game three, it came down to a situation where we were racing and in top deck mode to draw a Fireball. He drew his first and burned me out for exact damage.

My 2-2 record was good enough for six packs of Khans.

Despite a lackluster performance, and not winning the dual lottery by opening a blue dual, I really enjoyed the event. I have never opened a pack of Revised before and I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance again; there is something fantastic about being able to crack open a piece of Magic history and play with the cards.

Until next time, may all of your Revised starters have blue duals, Serra Angels, and Demonic Tutors in them. Or rather may none of your Khans prize packs have Avalanche Tuskers or Rakshasa Viziers.


At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities and plays guitar in an indie-pop band.


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