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By: Leviathan, Mike Morales
Nov 10 2011 11:39am
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My wife held out the phone.  "It's your dad again."

I grabbed it from her.  "Hey."

"I forgot to mention, I found some other stuff too.  High school stuff, letters from girlfriends it looks like, one of your baseball letters.  And some of your Magic cards.  Do you want those also?"

"What?!?  Seriously?"  I hadn't possessed any actual paper Magic cards in over 15 years.  About 8 years ago, I remembered looking around for some, but couldn't find any, and gave up on the search.  I was pretty surprised by this news to say the least.  "Are you sure that's what they are?"

"Well, I don't know for sure.  Let me see here... I'm looking at one right now and it says Magic on the back, so I'm assuming that's what they are."

"Wow.  Where did you find them?"

"In the shed out back.  I think your brother may have put them out there."  Needless to say I never checked the shed for my cards, because I never would have put them out there.

"Freaking Greg.  All right, sure, bring them down.  A little more won't hurt."

"Yeah, especially with the amount of stuff we're bringing down already.  See you this weekend."

I hung up the phone.  My wife looked at me.  "More stuff?"

"Yeah.  My dad found some of my old Magic cards.  Isn't that cool?"

She rolled her eyes and sighed at the same time.  "Ugh."


All right, let's back up a little bit.  If you just want to get to the goodies I found feel free to skip ahead.

I began playing around the end of 1993, beginning of 1994, when The Dark was out but no one could find any Legends boosters anywhere.  I remember being drawn in by the cool artwork and the fantasy elements of the game.  I was already into collecting at that point, with a decent amount of comic books and baseball cards sitting back at my parents' house, so this was just another way to get going with my collecting urge.  On top of all that I really liked the game.  I would buy a box of Revised or Homelands or whatever, and me and my buddies would pull all the cards out and make decks.  It wasn't until I later found information about rarity, as well as deck building, that my obsession with Magic really began.

I liked playing aggro decks and built a concoction that used Derelors, Erhnam Djinns, Serendib Efreets and Lightning Bolts to beat down quickly.  I didn't own any Juzam Djinns, so the thrull had to make do as another non-boltable creature.  Demonic Tutor was the only other Black card in the deck.

erhnam djinn derelor serendib efreet
One of these is not like the others.

I found a place nearby that held tournaments, but at the time they only played Type I (essentially Vintage).  I didn't own any of the Power 9, so I decided to metagame against them, using my ace in the hole, Energy Flux, to shut down those fast starts that Moxes provided.  I think at the time the ruling on Energy Flux was that you had to pay the tax on the artifact before you could tap it for mana, so it actually screwed a few people.  At the time my prized possession was a Library of Alexandria which I crammed into the deck, even though it didn't work very well.   I actually won the tournament but I remember being so nervous toward the end that my hands were shaking pretty badly.  Although I played in a few other tournaments, I realized that casual gaming and collecting were really more important to me.

So I decided to focus on collecting.  Basically what I did was take a card that I thought was cool or powerful, and tried to get 9 of them, so that I could have that full page in a binder that looked so neat.  Back then Hammer of Bogardan, Jester's Cap and Balduvian Horde were considered awesome, so those are the cards I worked on.  I also like Richard Kane-Ferguson art and some of those cards were collected as well.  I would often show up to local tournaments, binder in tow, just to trade with other people.  I liked the looks that people got when they saw all those Caps, and trying to get people to give me their Autumn Willows (at the time the only creature that had the ability to grant itself Shroud) or some other goofy creature that would be outclassed today by Tarmogoyf was always fun.

But that didn't prevent me from continuing to try my hand at deck building.  As a matter of fact, I remember staying up late goldfishing decks, much to my (then) girlfriend's consternation.   Unfortunately, many of my friends were either not inclined or just didn't have the money to put together decks that could stand up to some of my home made monstrosities.  A personal favorite at the time decked opponents with control elements like Icy Manipulator, Howling Mines and Island Sanctuarys.

icy manipulator howling mine island sanctuary
When your friends don't like Disenchants, they won't like this deck either.

I also remember a buddy putting together what was essentially a Kaleidoscope deck which was a lot of fun, even with the limited card pool we had back then.  He called it his "Gold Team" and took a lot of pride in its performance.  Eventually my friends moved on to other pursuits.  Then, around 1997 when Tempest was out, a buddy of mine organized a trip for himself through Asia.  He was planning on hitting the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan.  The best part was that he knew people at each of these stops so housing wasn't going to be an issue.  He invited me to tag along and I was pretty excited.  Unfortunately I had just graduated from college and was working at a pretty low paying job at the time.  I had very little cash to my name and still had to pay for plane tickets, as well as have extra spending cash on hand.  The plan was to be out there for 2 months and I was old enough to know how much money I was going to spend boozing (a whole lot).  I had only one liquid commodity to my name:  My Magic collection.  So I collected almost everything up, marched down to one of the shops, and sold my collection for a couple of grand.

I have no idea why I thought this guy was so funny.

Great view.

The Asia trip was awesome, and we did stuff there that probably wouldn't be appropriate to write about.  Selling my collection made me a little sad but the fun that I had was well worth it.  However, I recalled that I didn't sell my entire collection.  I was pretty sure that I kept my Derelor deck, "Just in case."  Unfortunately time moved on and when I went searching for my hidden stash years later I couldn't find it anywhere.  I gave up, thinking that I had probably sold everything, and didn't think about it again.

Recently my parents decided to move closer to my family to get more time with the grandkids.  Of course this meant going through almost 30 years worth of stuff in the house that I grew up in.  Along with all my old baseball cards and comic books that my mom had been asking me to take off their hands for years my dad found some old Magic cards.  Let's just say I was very curious about what I was going to find when they brought them to my place.


So my dad came over with a van full of stuff.  Along with my souvenirs from running with the bulls in Spain and old prom pictures, I got this nice pile of boxes and binders:


Before you freak out, this is almost all baseball cards.  I actually opened most of them looking for Magic stuff, but didn't find anything.  That was pretty disappointing.  But then I opened up a brown cardboard box, and what did I find inside?


Well, besides an old baseball trophy and a Richard Kane-Ferguson poster from an old Duelist magazine, I found two small boxes of cards which you can see on the left.  Plus what looks like a miniature teddy bear?  Strange.  I opened the first box, and found this!

That's right, it looks like 4 different decks had remained intact for almost 15 years!  Pretty sweet, right?  The funny thing is that I have absolutely no recollection of saving any specific decks, so going through them would be like opening a new pack of cards, or a present on Christmas morning!  I was getting pretty excited by this point and went through each of them.

I decided to flip through the deck on the far left first.  As you can tell from the picture above this was the only deck that wasn't in a little deck box.  In fact it had those really crummy thin plastic sleeves, the kind that are used for bulk baseball cards.  I'm pretty sure these types of sleeves wouldn't be tournament legal mainly because they are so sticky but also because they fall apart if you look at them funny.  So obviously I didn't have high hopes for this deck but was still interested.  And just a disclaimer, if you are looking for the most recent tech or anything like that, trust me, you won't find it here.


Well, I can see why I liked this deck, but it leaves a little to be desired.  Obviously this was at the beginning of the mono-Green stompy movement.  Rogue Elephant was a card that everyone was excited about at the time it came out.  A 3/3 for 1 mana!  How sweet!  Oh yeah, but the drawback was rough.  You get set behind in mana development a whole turn, which really blows.  The deck tried to overcome this obstacle by including a little bit of land destruction, as well as Fallow Wurm to get your lands back.  It's obvious by looking at the deck however, that I didn't completely buy into old Rogue here.  I only have 3 of the Elephant, and 2 of the Wurm's to get the lands back.  I probably should have gone 4 of each, plus 4 Harrow.  Oh well.

You can also see the beginning of the love affair with one-of's and goofy creatures.  I can understand my thought process regarding Barishi:  Get all those critters back in your deck after the Wrath, so that you are just drawing gas!  Plus it was 4 power for 4 mana, which was good at the time.  Just look at the drawback a creature like Nettletooth Djinn received because it had an extra point of toughness!  The screwiest inclusion in the deck is Apes of Rath (funny pun though).  The guy is just poo.  I must have been lured by the extra point of power, but not being able to untap with him after attacking is horrible.  I know he can untap with Quirion Ranger, but that's just a pain.  The Apes should have been an extra Barishi or something.

I really like the inclusion of Hurricane in this deck.  Not only does it help against fliers, but it gives the deck some late game reach.  The Stampeding Wildebeests work with a few creatures, but not all.  And Quirion Ranger can provide some shenanigans with Fyndhorn Elves.  I wonder why I didn't use Llanowar's?

So obviously this was just a regular stompy deck with a few goofy card choices.  If you wanted you could probably put this deck together on MTGO for a few tickets at most.  But would it be worth it?  Maybe if you made some changes to make it more consistent, but not as is.  Now let's open up one of those decks in the UltraPro boxes!

Burn and stuff
Not my cup o' tea
4 Viashino Sandstalker
4 Frenetic Efreet
4 Fog Elemental
1 Ball Lightning
13 cards

Other Spells
1 Arcane Denial
3 Memory Lapse
4 Impulse
2 Hammer of Bogardan
4 Fireblast
3 Thunderbolt
4 Incinerate
1 Teferi's Veil
22 cards
10 Island
15 Mountain
25 cards
frenetic efreet


Everyone who played back then remembers having to deal with Frenetic Efreet.  Half the time he would dodge removal, making that Terror a dud.  But sometimes you could never win a coin flip, and your crummy 2 power flyer wouldn't seem as cool.  All I have to say is I have no idea why I kept this thing.  It's basically a weak version of a counterburn deck.  

So let's see.  We have Viashino Sandstalker tying up our mana every turn, which must account for the 25 lands in the deck (I know back then I almost never would have played more than 22).  We also have Fog Elemental, who dies when he is first active during the combat phase.  And we have our one shot Ball Lightning.  The one part I do like about this package is the Teferi's Veil, which CottonRhetoric recently mentioned in one of his articles.  Not having to re-cast your Sandstalkers, and keeping your Elementals alive is actually pretty sweet.  

The counters are kind of goofy too.  Memory Lapse is a great tempo boost, but doesn't keep you from having to deal with the same spell next turn.  On top of that, there are only 3 of them, and 1 Arcane Denial.  That's not a whole lot to work with.  Hammer of Bogardan was supposedly a great card back then, but it was definitely built for the long game.  And this deck doesn't look like it wanted games to go that long.  On a good note, Impulse is a strong card, and the burn package at least includes Fireblasts.  I'm assuming this is some sort of block deck, as there are no Lightning Bolts or Chain Lightnings included, and both were plentiful back then.

The main reason I know this wasn't a deck I loved was that there are no special lands, or at least any dual lands.  It actually reminds me of a story.  During the time I was playing, I remember asking my girlfriend to get me a bunch of dual lands for my birthday.  I was also working as a resident assistant that summer in the dorms, dealing with a bunch of visiting foreigners.  My job mainly consisted of hanging out at the pool and drinking at night.  Needless to say, my girlfriend didn't like me hanging out with Portuguese girls in swimsuits most of the week.  I couldn't handle the jealousy, so I dumped her.  Unfortunately this happened before my birthday, and as such, no dual lands for me.  She made a big show of saying how she was selling them, but I got to enjoy my time with residents from Argentina, Portugal and Japan!

On to the third deck box!


Now this is more like it!  Mono-Black reanimator with some of the biggest nasties of the time!  A deck that actually uses Tolarian Serpent!  I remember getting them almost for free off my friends, who all asked me the same thing:  "What the hell are you going to do with that?  Why would you deck yourself?"  Looks like I found an answer, plus it has 7 power to boot!  Archangel was a hit with me and my playgroup.  Just look at how awesome she is, a whole point larger than Serra Angel!  She was great back then, even if she is pretty weak now.  Also included are a couple of big Green guys (Aboroth, you're poo) and our old favorite, Crypt Rats.  Crash of Rhinos is still one of the best card names ever.  Dauthi Mindripper seems really out of place, but I guess if you can keep him coming back he can trash your opponent's hand.  Good times.

The deck has a whole mess of discard outlets.  It might not seem to have a ton of reanimation, but all you really need to do is stick a Strands of Night and you'll be bringing back large dudes all the time.  And I assume that the Infernal Tribute is supposed to work with the creatures resurrected by Shallow Grave.  This is actually a pretty fun looking deck, and one that I would try to put together for MTGO.  I'm pretty sure that I would upgrade some of the creatures, but the basics of Tolarian Serpent and Strands of Night would remain the same.  Not sure how many games I would win but it would be fun at least.

Interestingly, the 2 Drain Life in the deck are both black bordered Japanese cards.  No idea where they came from, as foreign cards weren't something I specifically remember collecting.  But they look cool, and I can see how they appeal to collectors.

Now we come to the last deck.  I was really hoping for my old Derelor deck, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.


Here is where I put some extra time into a deck.  First of all, there are a ton of counterspells in the deck, including our old friend Force of Will.  There is also the original Counterspell, a Mana Leak and 2 Arcane Denials.  Along with that we get Winter Orb. Wow, just thinking about how annoying I currently find this card makes me wonder about what I was thinking back then.  But I'm sure I had my reasons and I know that I was probably trying the old trick of turning it off before my turn with Icy Manipulator.  

The creatures are pretty interesting.  I remember having an unnatural love for Phyrexian War Beast.  Something about a 3/4 body for 3 colorless has always appealed to me, even with his drawback.  I occasionally find myself trying to stick one into a Commander deck before I come to my senses and realize that there is better stuff out there now.  Waterspout Djinn is an efficient beater with a drawback, although Serendib Efreet would likely be better.  The inclusion of Suq'Ata Firewalker made me shake my head until I saw the Earthquakes in the deck.  I'm pretty sure that the Rootwater Hunter should be another Firewalker.  Even still, there had to be a faster way to kill people than with a bunch of Tim's.

The mana base is something I obviously put some thought into.  Of course, we have 4 Volcanic Islands (so it appears I didn't need my ex to buy these for me).  Then I actually included a few fetch lands, obviously to make sure that I had the Red mana to cast Earthquake.  Finally, we have the Crystal Ball of the time in Soldevi Excavations.  I obviously wanted to make sure I was drawing what I needed and could cycle through my deck.

I have to say that I may have liked this kind of deck back in the day, but it's definitely not something I would play now.  All the counters, the slow, grinding clock and the Winter Orb makes it seem like it may not have been very fun to play against.  But obviously things change over time.

The funniest part of this deck for me was one of the Islands that was in it:

I have no idea who signed this, but obviously it was meant to memorialize a trade.  Maybe the guy's name was Stephen Fry?  The trade looks semi-reasonable, but I can't tell if I was getting a Skeleton Ship or giving one up.  Or even why I decided to have a trade memorialized on an Island that I played with?  If you're Stephen Fry, or know him, ask him if he remembers why we did this, because I sure as heck can't.

I went through the other small box, which was pretty much uncommons and other stuff.  But I did find some goodies.

Two more Force of Will, 4 Wastelands, a Reanimate, 2 Bayous and some other stuff.  The rest was a bunch of uncommons, but I honestly have no idea as the value of paper cards.  I thought the Mirage tutors would be worth a decent amount, but it looks like they go for about 5 bucks at most.  The price of Wasteland was definitely surprising though.  I also found another box of commons, all neatly organized, so that was cool.

I thought that was about it but then I did some more digging.  At the bottom of the box there was a thin binder with more cards!  I flipped through the binder, and it had some rares and some other good stuff.

We have 3 Tundras here, along with 2 Thawing Glaciers and Winding Canyons.  There were also 4 Plateaus, a Wrath of God, and a bunch of other random Tempest and Mirage rares.   

Oh yeah, my Richard Kane-Ferguson "art" collection, with a little bit of Terese Nielson thrown in.  Most of these cards are jank, but at least Dakkon is in there to run the roost.  I remember having lots of pages like this, with art that I liked.  For the cards that I really liked I would collect whole pages.  And look, there's a Leviathan at the top!  I wish I could actually throw it into a deck, but it's just sooooo bad now.

Ah, here we go, some of my old pages of art stuff.  Kaysa was never really that good, but people liked her back then.  Sibilant Spirit was crap and always has been.  I'm sure that you guys with paper collections have seen similar stuff, but it's just cool for me to look at this all over again.  Of course, back in the day I had Jester's Caps and other stuff, but obviously I had to lose those when I sold my collection.

Awwww, yeah, Derelor baby!  I'm probably the only guy alive who would get excited about having a page of these crappy old thrulls.  I admit that he does look kind of cool with the Black border and in real life.  He gets to be alongside Sword Defender, a card that isn't available online yet and probably never will be.  I just liked the fact that she was lugging around this huge sword, and she looked pretty cool.

There were a few more pages of stuff, but nothing really worth mentioning.  I also had a bunch of Wildstorms cards in there, plus some Shadowfist, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars cards, but I don't think they even make those games anymore. 

So now comes the big question:  What to do with this stuff?  My first thought was to sell them off to Heath at Cape Fear games, but then I noticed that my daughter has really started becoming interested in watching me play online.  She is getting some of the basic concepts down (you need lands to cast the other cards), but she certainly doesn't have the math skills to actually play yet.  I assume that the game could actually help her out with the math so it would be cool to make a few basic decks out of the commons and other stuff that I have around.  She is definitely drawn to the female characters so that could also give me some direction.  But I think that she is still a little ways away from actually playing.

So for right now I think that I am going to sit on the cards.  Sure, most of the value is in Legacy playables, and who knows what is going to happen to the prices of Force of Will and dual lands in the near future.  But just having the possibility of playing the game with my kids seems like it would be worth having the cards around.  Plus, I know that they will tick of my wife, and I love pushing her buttons.

Thanks for coming on this trip down memory lane with me!  Next week I will get back to our regularly scheduled Commander programming.  Until next time!

Leviathan, aka Tarasco on MTGO
mrmorale32 at yahoo dot com


That's really cool. I wish, by geo67 at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 12:20
geo67's picture

That's really cool. I wish, wish, wish, i still had all my stuff from back then. Probably better that I can't remember exactly what paper cards I sold in the late 90's for pennies on the dollar...

Did you find any Alien vs by smack8001 at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 12:22
smack8001's picture

Did you find any Alien vs Predator CCG cards?

I found some of those in a by 2of1 at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 14:01
2of1's picture

I found some of those in a box, and accually some unopened boosters :)
the art of Little Girl is the best ever...

finding old cards is always by seydaneen at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 12:58
seydaneen's picture

finding old cards is always cool. couple months ago i found an old binder with 3 foil promo wastelands and 1 foil misdirection. it was a good day

wow 11 duals (7 blue) 6 fow, by Clan Magic Eternal at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 13:59
Clan Magic Eternal's picture

wow 11 duals (7 blue) 6 fow, 4 wastelands? talk about some niceness, thats the down payment on a new car right there. enjoy your roughly 1500 dollar box of memories!

Nice findings! I laughed a by PiDave at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 14:28
PiDave's picture

Nice findings! I laughed a lot about the dialogue between you and your wife, I had a pretty similar one just a few weeks ago. XD It's a pleasure to see that certain things are the same everywhere. :D

Oh yeah, I didn't find MTGO by Leviathan at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 15:52
Leviathan's picture

Oh yeah, I didn't find MTGO until after we were engaged. She likes to say that if she had known how much time I would spend on it, she may have thought harder about marrying me! If I teach my daughter I'm sure she'll freak out even more! I'm looking forward to it now for sure.

Funny by apaulogy at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 18:26
apaulogy's picture

My wife says the same thing. Then she reflects on when we got together, and how much emphasis I put on me playing MTG. she thought it was excessive at the time, as it was "just another guy hobby". Fast forward five years, now she says that she might have reconsidered if she understood how much time I spent on the game.

Your find here is pretty much what happened to me and has funded my MTGO habit!!!

I love this kind of nostalgia by Lord Erman at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 15:02
Lord Erman's picture

I love this kind of nostalgia articles, they bring back tons of great memories. Thanks for doing this and as said above, enjoy your new car as well!


Nice find and nice article. by Paul Leicht at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 15:10
Paul Leicht's picture

Nice find and nice article. :) I have a similar box of rares and some 8k or so commons I found in a couple 5k boxes underneath stuff.

very nice. Thanks by marzial at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 15:26
marzial's picture

Very nice article.

Cool pictures too.

Thanks for sharing it.

Glad you guys liked it! I by Leviathan at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 15:49
Leviathan's picture

Glad you guys liked it! I was a little unsure of how people would take this, but I knew that if I thought it was cool, some of you out there would as well.

Sorry smack8001, no Aliens v. Predator stuff. But I also found a lot of cards for a werewolf game called Rage, some Netrunner cards, and a good amount of Legend of the Five Rings stuff.

Just for reference, that first pic of me is outside the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial in Taipei, and the panorama pic is of the Taal Volcano (I think) about an hour south of Manila.

For rating by apaulogy at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 18:26
apaulogy's picture

Great read, sir.

nice find by cavegoat at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 19:30
cavegoat's picture

its like i found them, without the cash rewards though. since we are talking about the wife. i gave up on mtg right around masques, which was a good thing, but who gets me back into it? oh yes, she (the wife!) and now all i get is rolled eyes when i log on for my daily evening draft. good times.

What would I give to still by bogtrog at Thu, 11/10/2011 - 22:15
bogtrog's picture

What would I give to still have my cards from my first foray into magic. It was only for a few a little while during Mirage block. I know I had a playset of FOWs at the very least. I also vividly remember having a few LEDs and just hating them because they were a total jank rare. Alas they are all long gone.

My wife is pretty supportive of my magic hobby in general. I guessing largely because I don't over do it. If I were to play as often as I would really like I doubt that would last.

I'm sorry to say that I by StealthBadger at Fri, 11/11/2011 - 05:10
StealthBadger's picture

I'm sorry to say that I checked http://www.tomfolio.com/autographimg.asp?sigid=210&ret=AGIni
and your island isn't signed by the celebrity Stephen Fry! (at least, he's a celebrity here in the UK, I don't know about you americano types!).

He once knocked me off my bike, but that's another story.

Anyway, fun article. I always enjoy digging out random old boxes of cards for a look around. I often find the funnest thing is how wrong our rules interpretations used to be. We were convinced that Wash Out (naming green, for example) would return all forests to their owners hands, and were splashing blue in almost every deck for 4xWash Out!

Stephen Fry by apaulogy at Mon, 11/14/2011 - 12:23
apaulogy's picture

As a West Coast "Americano" type, I love Stephen Fry.

Greatest Card Ever... YOU by Alternate at Sun, 11/13/2011 - 15:41
Alternate's picture

Greatest Card Ever...


It's essentially the best ever card because it's the only member of the Flying Purple Barnie the Dinosaur Hippo Tribe.

That is much much much more valuable than anything else there. I mean it's a FLYING PURPLE HIPPO!!!!!

And you have no clue how sad I was when I went to a store and was going to sell my near-mint Beta Icy Manipulators only to find out they were pretty much useless at this point thanks to it now becoming an uncommon.

Icy Manipulators have always by bogtrog at Tue, 11/15/2011 - 08:43
bogtrog's picture

Icy Manipulators have always been uncommon. On the plus side though beta versions of classic cards like Icy, Serra Angel, and Hypnotic Specter still hold pretty strong premium prices even though they are no longer all that relevant.

Stephen Fry... by Fred1160 at Tue, 11/15/2011 - 12:08
Fred1160's picture

Stephen Fry was in Jeeves and Wooster with his good friend Hugh Laurie (of House fame).
If you ever get a chance to catch those old TV shows, it's definitely worthwhile.
Of course, it also helps if you are a fan of British humor, P.G. Wodehouse, or both.

QI by Phroggie at Thu, 11/17/2011 - 21:14
Phroggie's picture

He's now done 9 seasons of QI (Quite Interesting) ... and I still can't get enough of it.. my lady and I are seeing Alan Davies live in a few days, very excited!