The (10/3) Day Thread Tears Up the Card

(Header image by Mark Tedin)

On October 1, 1995, Chaos Orb and Falling Star were banned from use in official DC1 Magic tournaments. The stated reason was that

The difficulties inherent in using Chaos Orb and Falling Star make them especially undesirable and problematic for tournament use.

Thomas R Wylie, October 1, 1995

These two cards are now known as “dexterity cards” as it takes actual physical dexterity to get the most value out of them – the mentioned “inherent difficulties”. Aside from being very much not accessible, it was encouraging players to spread out their cards as far away from each other as possible so that fewer cards could be touched by a single Chaos Orb. There were even rules about when you could rearrange your cards, as people could otherwise respond to a cast Chaos Orb by stacking all their cards on top of one another to make the smallest possible target.

However, true Magic players know the story of the ultimate Chaos Orb exploit:

In the final round of a State Championship tournament, a player (said to be a future known pro player) had their back against the wall. Their opponent had an overwhelming board state, but if the pro could last just a few more turns, their opponent would run out of cards in their deck and lose the game. That is when the pro plays Chaos Orb. Now, as mentioned above, players of the time knew to keep their cards far apart, which the opponent had done – there was no way that the pro could flip the card to make a dent in the state of the game. No way, until…

The pro tears up his own Chaos Orb into many tiny little pieces and with a flourish, sprinkles them all over the opponents side of the table.

A judge present at the time ruled that each fragment of Chaos Orb counted as part of the whole Chaos Orb, so anything that any piece touched would, indeed, be destroyed. This left the board clear enough for the pro to survive and win the game, but was disqualified from the 3-game match for having only 59 cards in their deck in the following game.

This story is, of course, apocryphal. The best guess as to where it came from is a humorous article in the TCG magazine Duelist Issue 4, “According to Mr. Pling” by Scott Hungerford:

Some players still use Chaos Orbs and Falling Stars, and many show an unsettling mastery of nailing cards that offend them. I have seen airborne Chaos Orbs that defy the laws of gravity and physics; […] No matter how weird things get, though, you cannot:

  1. Cover any part of the playing field with plastic wrap.
  2. Cover your cards with card protectors, pieces of stained glass, or hundreds of little lead figures.
  3. Use large encyclopedias, animals, or people as counters. (Using your little brother as a counter just isn’t legal.)
  4. Shred your Chaos Orb into little pieces and let the fragments drift across your opponent’s side of the playing field. (The Chaos Orb becomes an invalid card, or at the very least can safely be considered marked and cannot be legally used in play.)
  5. Tape or staple cards to the walls, ceiling, underside of the table, or yourself.
  6. Hide your cards underneath your opponent’s cards.
  7. Coat your Chaos Orb with Stickum(tm) so you can nail the Pearled Unicorn your roommate stapled to the dorm room ceiling.
  8. Nail your opponent in the eye or any other vital organ with a well-thrown card. Just because you’re losing doesn’t mean you have to blind or cripple your opponent—it’s just poor sportsmanship.

This joke item likely spread and mutated as memes2 do, eventually becoming a widely acknowledged “true” story.

That’s not quite the end of the story though. When the first humorous Magic set, Unglued came out in 1998, the card “Chaos Confetti” was printed, with art by Chaos Orb’s original artist, Mark Tedin:

Have a great Day Thread!