I love putting together and playing with projects!
What’s a project? Great question!
A Magic project is anything outside of a normal deck that you put together ahead of time. A Cube is a great example of a commonly played project, as you build the Cube to draft ahead of time. Then folks draft the Cube, and build decks out of it, and play. It’s a self-contained drafting experience that you created that’s distinct from your normal deck or Limited experience.
Most of my favorite playing experiences in the game revolve around a project of some type or another. I have written tons of articles on various projects as well!
The goal of this article is to both inspire your own project creation as well as to provide a link that you can save and come back to. I wanted to put every single Magic project that I have encountered here, to maximize your opportunity!
It’s going to be a big, fun, thing. But when we are done, my hope is that you will have a ton of projects to inspire your own creative juices.
Let’s kick this off with the obvious. C.U.B.E. Did you know that there is this thing called Cube? And that you can build your own draft-able slate of cards? There sure is!
I’m pretty sure that you have played or know what Cube is. But, just in case:
Typically, a Cube is made of 360 cards which gives an 8 player pod the perfect number of cards to draft (3 packs of 15 cards each). Usually, you are not going to include more than one of any card, so you can have a full 360 unique cards, and then after the draft, you can add basic lands (which does include Snow-Covered basics as well as Wastes). You’ll then shuffle, and play using the normal rules of Limited including a minimum of 40-card decks.
There are powered Cubes, Cubes with fun themes, bigger Cubes and lots more. I have a Commander Cube which is meant to played in Commander using those rules, as an example. You can find a virtually limitless number of selection of Cubes over at CubeTutor.com. You can also draft them online as well! They are on MTGO as a draftable option too, if that’s your poison.
I have a Mono-Black Cube, a Crap Cube with some of the worst cards of all time, a flavor-filled Pulp Cube that exhibits the Pulp era of media, and a Chaos Cube with a ton of fun chaotic elements. Now I certainly would never suggest trying something different like that until you have a good handle on normal Cubing, but there are a lot of places to delve into.
Ben’s Big Box, aka AbeDraft
Now that you know what a Cube is, I think I can tell you about my AbeDraft, which is essentially a Cube with a copy of every card in existence, inspired by Ben Bleiweiss’s Big Box.
Now there are a few rules about my slate of cards that I have:
You don’t have to have every copy ever made though. This began with just one copy of every common, uncommon, and bulk rare I had. You can easily make this with any cards you already own without investing any cash at all!
I do enjoy the 11, 3, and 1 method of drafting though, and I encourage it in any drafting project that you build, and I’ve even incorporated it into my Cubes.
A Rotisserie Draft is a draft where you have brought one copy of every card from a certain expansion set. A fast way to do it is to assemble it online on MTGO and then redeem it. But you can also just put it together.
Then you grab some folks to draft your Rotisserie Draft. You flip up every single card so everyone can see them. I like to sort by color and then place into sections for creatures and non-creatures. Then you chose a draft order. The first player may take any card. The 2nd player gets the next pick and so forth. The last player gets the final pick of the first round, but then the first pick of the next round, so if you have 6 drafters, then the person who is 6th will pick the 6th and 7th overall choices. The person with the top slot will pick 1st and 12th, but then 13th and 24th, and so forth.
Then after the draft, you create your draft decks and play!
All you must do is assemble a set for drafting. My favorite set to Rotisserie Draft is Champions of Kamigawa. Just in case you cared. You could Draft anything from Unstable or Magic 2019 to Onslaught or Ice Age.
If you want, you can keep the rules for drafting and try to combine it with a cool Cube as well. Although I find that works best with the maximum of drafters your Cube can support - typically 8, and not well for smaller numbers.
Want a quick game without the normal mana-issues? Something that’s fun?
Welcome to Type Four, sometimes known as Limited Infinity.
This format has two rules that interact perfectly with each other! The first is that you have an unlimited amount of mana of any type and color. Need snow mana? Red? Black? Fifteen Green? You’ve got it! Nicely done, you. The next is that you can only cast a single spell each turn. One on your main phase, one on another person’s turn, and so forth.
The result is a game with a big give-and-take. You’ll need to build a stack of cards for it. Lots of folks draft their stack and then play everything that they grabbed in order to introduce some synergy into their decks. Other groups will just shuffle and play sections of the deck in order to speed things up.
The stack you build will need to be strong at analyzing powerful stuff. You’ll want to steer clear of any card or creature that can kill in one turn, such as a creature that can be pumped with mana, or an X spell that kills everyone else at the table.
Some of the best cards in this format are those that enable you to “get” more than one spell per turn. Take a cycling trigger as a good example...
Decree of Silence is a “counterspell” that can be “cast” even when you’ve already cast your one spell for the turn. The Resounding cycle that includes Resouding Thunder is another good example of a perfect card for Type Four. Morph creatures that you can flip up and counter are heavily desired.
The rules of the format allow a spell cast with its alternate cast, like Force of Will, to not count against the one-spell-per-turn limit. So, I can hard cast Force of Will normally and it counts as my one-of, or exile a Blue card and a life and then alternate cast it and get another spell that turn. Finding useful cards with these alternate costs is pretty important to the format as well.
Type Four is a pretty interesting format to play, and I still slip in games with it a few times each week. Build your stack and try it out!
Much like Type Four, Mental Magic plays the game quite differently. The goal is to cast a card in your hand for the best choice with that mana cost that exists. You’ll draw 7 cards from a central Mental Magic stack that was prepared ahead of time and should not include lands. You can play any card in your hand as a land that counts as all land types, and thus can make any color of mana. You can cast cards in your hand as if they were any legal spell with that casting cost.
But the major restriction is that no card may be chosen more than once in a game. If I use Desertion for a card, then neither of us may do so moving forward. Additional play costs and zones also matter. For example, if I have a card in my graveyard such as Way of the Thief, then I can flash it back for Deep Analysis and lose 3 life, spend 2 mana, and draw two cards.
Again, alternate costs and zone play and such are pretty nifty and cool!
Now, you are typically going to build a deck for Mental Magic. Everyone plays from the same deck. You can just grab a slate of cards from your draft leftovers and play, but that format can be warping due to the limited options available. Building a deck with a plethora of different mana costs that challenge people is key to the game.
Mental Magic is a lot of fun, and it will encourage and test your knowledge limits.
This project is a lot of fun! The goal is to feel like the old Enchant Worlds that could have one on the battlefield at a time. In order to play Enchantment World, you need to build a deck of cards that have mechanics that effect everyone, like Howling Mine, Meekstone or Mana Flare. Shuffle them together. At the beginning of the first player’s turn, before the Untap Step, that player flips over the top card of the deck. That ability and effect will occur for every player. At the beginning of each future turn by the first player, that player flips up the next card, and then that effect replaces the previous one.
Only the effect written occurs. There is not an enchantment, artifact, creature, or whatever with that ability. If the ability reads as just applying to one player, such as the owner, it applies to everyone - so you can give all creatures +1/+1 with Gaea's Anthem. Should it matter, the effect still retains its source information.
A great example is Aether Flash. Should you include this, then when a critter arrives on the battlefield, it takes two damage from a Red and Enchantment source, so a Protection from Red or Enchantments creature will remain immune to the damage
The goal of this project is to have fun with stuff for a turn. It’s crazy and fun! Plus, you never have to worry about a bad effect for too long.
I don’t like including something that no one wants to flip over, such as Stasis. But things that some players might like, such as Meekstone, and other’s hate feels fine. If Aether Flash is going to kill your dork, then you can wait a turn and cast it later. The same is true to attacking into a Caltrops or something similar. I try to stay away from hosers that hose a certain color such as Light of Day that prevents all Black critters from attacking or blocking.
Want to have an idea of where to start? Great! Some of my favorite cards include priming your creatures (Berserkers' Onslaught, Glorious Anthem, Mass Hysteria, True Conviction, Collective Blessing), giving everybody something fun (Kami of the Crescent Moon, Eladamri's Vineyard, Well of Knowledge) or something that can help folks make the most of a problematic situation (Fecundity, Silent Arbiter, Oath of Lieges) or cards like Revelation or Field of Dreams. I also like the occasional gentle card that can reward or punish a specific strategy for a turn. (Meekstone, Juntu Stakes, Root Maze, etc) There are always some fun cards out there to toss around.
Planechase has always felt like it was inspired by Enchantment World. I can’t say for sure, because I don’t work for Wizards of the Coast as it may have just been a case of parallel development. Enchantment World was certainly known at the time and had been published by a few authors for years prior to the announcement of Planechase.
In Planechase, you are planeswalkers who can move from plane to plane and get different effects based on where you are battling.
Take The Hippodrome as a great example. On the plane of Segovia, their largest and most powerful creature, a Segovian Leviathan, is merely a 3/3, due to everything being smaller. You can see the effect, stuff is weaker here. If you ‘walk to Segovia, then you get that effect for everyone.
Want to leave a plane and head to a random plane? Great! You can roll a special planar die on our main phase. If you get the planeswalker symbol, you can head right on out, and there’s just a 1/6 you’ll roll it. If you roll the chaos symbol that you can see in the above card, then you get that effect. There’s just a 1/6 chance for that one as well. Did you want to try again? All right! Spend a mana and try again. Did you miss? Okay, next time 2 mana for the next roll, and then 3 mana. You get the idea.
The format is designed around the idea that you bring your own Plane deck so you can build around the planes that synergize with your deck. But I prefer just to have one shuffled copy of every Plane and Phenomenon and then have this fun and wacky adventure through the planes!
Do you like James Bond but you identify with the villain? Are you plotting to take over the world, one lackey at a time? Then this is the format for you!
You grab some Schemes and then you play against multiple people who are combining their power to take you down! Puny Maggots! You have your villainous schemes to teach them a lesson they shall soon not forget!
The Schemes have a lot of power to level the playing field. From the Time Walk of All in Good Time to the heavy use of destroying your opponents’ stuff and more, you have a lot of powerful schemes to toss into your deck that will push your foes down hard. You have schemes that make some strong dorks, like the five 1/1s of Roots of All Evil or the 5/5 flying Dragon one of Look Skyward and Despair.
And this isn’t all. You start with 40 life as the villain! You take the first turn!
Like Enchantment World above, the Archenemy will flip over one card from the shuffled deck. However, you flip it at the beginning of the first main phase. Unlike the enchantments, you just do the Schemes effect when it’s revealed (unless it’s an Ongoing Scheme, which is an effect that remains out until destroyed).
The annoying gnats trying to take out the Archenemy act like Two-headed Giant’s rules save for they each have 20 life and can die singly.
By the way, I would argue that Schemes have the coolest titles in the game of any card! The Very Soil Shall Shake. Rotted Ones, Lay Siege. Only Blood Ends Your Nightmares. My Wish is Your Command. Ignite the Cloneforge! Dance, Pathetic Marionette. So many awesome titles!
There is a fun format here where you can build your deck and Scheme stack! However, want to know what’s even cooler? Villains facing off against each other! Seeing the power of competing Schemes can be pretty cool! I also enjoy just shuffling the Schemes together and then each person flips up a Scheme in their turn and follows it, without anyone building a Scheme deck. That’s faster and feels more fair as no one can unite a power 60-card deck with a nasty on-theme Scheme one that breaks things quickly.
Who are you?
Typically, in Magic-dom you are a generic character or planeswalker with a certain deck of things, allies, and mana links that you have assembled to battle from. From Commander where you might be a legendary character that’s in the canon of Magic to playing as a planeswalker in Brawl or something, who you are varies.
But what if who you were playing actually mattered to the game? What if you had abilities that reflected your character?
That’s where Vanguard steps in!
Want to play as Sliver Queen? Great! You will start with a hand of 7 cards, 28 life, and you can spend 3 mana of any type to churn out colorless Sliver tokens! If you are Sliver Queen, then let’s embrace your Sliver Queen nature!
Vanguard cards are characters during the Weatherlight Saga. They include Serra, Urza, Mishra, Sisay, and Squee. You begin the game with the Vanguard card of your choice, then your starting life will increase (or decrease to balance very strong abilities) and your starting hand size may increase or decrease as well.
And these abilities fit the characters as well!
Crovax the Cursed Soon-to-be-Vampire will give you life as your creatures deals damage. Ertai will give your stuff hexproof so it can’t be messed with. Karn will make your non-critter artifacts turn into dorks. You get the idea.
This is an awesome way to accept and embrace another character! Play Vanguard!
Note that there are some Vanguard cards out there that were never printed in real life. They are for MTGO only. You could run these as well, should your table allow.
Momir Vig Basic
This is Momir Vig’s Vanguard card from online. This project will have everyone play as Momir Vig. You must build a deck with just basic lands. Then, once you have done so, you can discard cards as above to make tokens that copy a dork with the casting cost you used at random.
Now the online version of this is nifty. You can get anything!
In real life, I’ve built a Momir Vig stack as well. I make a few changes.
For my real-life stack, I have a large stack of dorks divided by casing cost, and I’ll shuffle them and you randomly take one as you play the game. My stacks are a few hundred cards each and do not represent every creature in the game but are sufficiently randomized.
As each set is released, when I crack open a new box of cards, I will grab one copy of the commons that I think will add something, so if we have a new flavored but literal Grizzly Bears or Glory Seeker as a 2/2 for two-mana with no other abilities, then I don’t add it. But I will add in things with explore or embalm or have new and usual vanilla power and toughnesses. I do the same for bulk rares and uncommons.
Because this game really flourishes around the higher level casting costs, I really want to include as many high casting cost cards as possible, no matter how duplicative, so I am often looking for those to increase my options at the 5+ casting cost.
After playing with it, you’ll either start on turn one and then get to turn seven and then sit at seven lands, or you’ll start on turn three and then head to nine and sit there. I’ve seen one or two people try a two through eight set up as well, as a compromise. That means the higher end stuff can get tossed out a lot, and you want to make sure you have everything from the hilarious Scornful Egotist to powerful Green tramplers.
Some folks will include a 60-card deck with 12 of each basic land type, but I like to do 5 Forests, Islands, Plains, 25 Mountains, and 20 Swamps. There are a large number of Shades or firebreathing effects out there that you will want to pump your stuff. With the large number of Red firebreathing, that’s important for me to have, but your value may differ.
As you can see, based on the fun-times of Momir Vig and his Basic format that spawned, the powers that be made another card in the same genre. Discard a card, make three instants or sorceries, chose one to cast!
There is also a Jhoira of the Ghitu Basic format as well, although not nearly as well known, and it’s much more random!
You build a 60-card basic-lands only deck as above. But the stacks are easier to run. All you need are a fat stack of sorceries and instants to shuffle and randomize. Now this one just requires 3 mana to run and you begin with 8 cards. Typically, you’ll get to six lands, and then sit on six burning through two cards per turn until you run out of cards.
Unlike Momir Vig, there’s no ability to control or focus on what you flip. You could need a removal spell for some 1/1 Soldier tokens and then grab Impulse, Disenchant, and Jump as your three instants. Swing and a miss!
It’s also a lot swingier than Momir Vig. I’ve seen Momir Vig games have a lot of give and take and take can take up to an hour to play. This can end on turn three or 4. If you flip over something like Searing Wind, Biorhythm, Storm Herd, and such. If you can’t get a mass removal spell for the Storm Herd’s 20 1/1 flying Pegasus, or an instant to either counter or put a token into play in response to a Biorhythm then it’s hard to answer stuff.
I recommend not having too many blanks. Have a few! Or have some narrow answers such as Shadow of Doubt that can be used to draw a card if nothing else or generic answers like Recoil and Desert Twister.
If you sculpt your stack well, then you can run a more controlled and less “I FLIPPED THIS CARD AND I WIN,” feel to it. You don’t want your game to basically be a Magic version of High Card. “I reveal a 7 of Hearts. I reveal a 10 of Spades, I win!”
Stonehewer Giant has a fun project built around him as well. Unlike the first two, our good Giant can’t be played in a Basic Land context as you aren’t discarding cards with him. However, this is a good supplement to other normal decks. You just put together an equipment stack and then play like normal.
Note that a zero-cost creature, or token, will fetch a zero-cost artifact.
Unlike the last two projects, this one will get pricey (barring proxies). Due to the small number of equipment cards that exist, you really do need to have most of them to make this work, and that requires pricier ones.
I created my stack a few years ago of every card, and then as each set is released, I just toss in a copy of the new cards into my Stonehewer Stack. It’s easy as most of the recent cards made are either not rares at all or are bulks.
Here is how I run this in real life:
The big benefit of building up each of these three above projects is that they can synergize into an awesome Basic format called MoJoSto. You can discard cards for Jhoira for Sorceries, Instants, tor Momir Vig for dorks and then get a free equipment for Stonehewer Giant. It’s great fun for all!
MoJoSto for the win…
Speaking of a project that combines three Vanguards together, you can just combine Vanguard, Planechase, and Archenemy together as well!
You choose a character, head to planes, and then grab Schemes. All to determine who is the nastiest character of all time! I’d go with Urza, who has always felt a little archvillain-y to me.
AVC for the win too…
(I love AVC and wrote an entire article for you here in case you care to review it!)
This is a project specifically for Commander. The goal is to create a 100 card Horde deck to play against and attempt to defeat!
The Horde represents a thematic challenge to play against in Commander. The sample given is typically Zombies. You will need around 60 Zombie tokens of various sizes in your deck, as well as cards that are synergetic with Zombies.
Everyone is playing against the Horde. If you drop the Horde’s deck to zero, with no cards in hand or dorks on the battlefield, you win. If the Horde kills you with damage, it wins.
The Horde has infinite mana, is played automatically, and makes all choices randomly. (I try not to include any choice cards in my Horde Deck. Please do not try and hit it with a Fact or Fiction that requires choices, as they would be randomized. Or if you prefer, always choose the worst option for you and your team.)
At the beginning of the Horde’s turn, they reveal cards from the top of their library until it reveals a non-token card. The tokens heads to the battlefield. They have haste. They must attack if able. They cast anything from their hand, or graveyard, that is castable.
Damage dealt to the Horde mills them of that many cards. If you deal four damage to them, then the Horde put the top four cards from their library into their graveyard.
Players get three turns before the Horde takes their first turn, in order to give them time to build defenses and mana. The players play like Two-Headed Giant, taking their turn together. They have a life total equal to 20x the number of players.
And that’s it. Play, enjoy, have fun.
Playing against the Horde can be pretty great. It’s really gut-punching when you think you are winning only for them to flip over Living Death and out spring these Zombies you milled from their deck as you hit them for damage. It’s a great format!
Theros Challenge Decks
In a very similar way to Horde Magic above, the three Theros Block Challenge Decks provide a cooperative multiplayer experience that enable you to face a large Hydra with its various Heads, the Minotaur Horde, or taking out Xenagos, God of Revels. All three are fun. Battle the Horde was originally designed as a single-player challenge, but multiplayer rules were added officially later.
I think that the Hydra one that came first is still the strongest of the options by far. The heads are done well, as there are different heads you can flip up, and there is a game board with it that works nicely. The value is that you don’t have to do much work. You can just grab one and play without much mess or fuss ahead of time.
You can also play this with the Theros Block Heros:
This cycle of 16 Heroes play into the archetypes of the great Sagas of old. The play like a Vanguard card that doesn’t change your life total or hand size but are still in your Command zone. They also work well with the Challenges.
Also don’t forget the five pieces of Hero Equipment as well -
Starting with Hero Equipment can be pretty dope too!
Heroes and Challenges – take the path of history my friends!
Against Garruk the Slayer
Take a look at this oversized Garruk the Slayer. Note his starting loyalty and other abilities. In a duel, one person plays as Garruk, and the other person plays a legal deck. Can the deck-wielder take out Garruk? At least you get to go first!
Note that you cannot answer Garruk by bouncing, exiling it or dealing with it in any way other than damage. You cannot avoid this planeswalker!
Garruk the Slayer can also work as the target of ire for a group. I like to play Garruk the Slayer as the leader of an Archenemy slate of Schemes, and in addition to playing as normal Garruk the Slayer, you also have him flipping over Schemes as per Archenemy above. I like to steer clear of Schemes that require the player to have a deck, like drawing some cards, and just ones that impact the board.
Archenemy Garruk is nasty!
This is a project that was popularized by Anthony Alongi on the homepage of all things Magic . The goal of the format is simple. It will give you a guaranteed way to acquire creatures over the course of the game, and without paying their mana cost. But these mercenaries will need to be paid before they will deign to fight for your cause.
Before the game begins, you build a Mercenary stack of dorks. I recommend using card sleeves of a certain color. In front of each of these cards you will need to have slipped a number, which is this Mercenaries payment cost.
You give a creature up to three Mercenary Points to pay.
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you want to hire a Mercenary, you flip over the top card and then you must pay its cost in points. Typically, stuff is going to run you between 1-3 MPs.
Did you flip over Akroma, Angel of Wrath or Primeval Titan? These sorts of powerhouses were likely given a 3 MP cost due to their size and power at the kitchen table. How to you pay their cost? Great question!
These Pay 1 MP each, and Can be Repeated:
(I do think that a Commander format that runs Mercs is going to want a 10-life payment over a 7-life one, but that’s just been my experience.)
So, for Prime Time, you could exile 60 cards, pay 14 life and exile a card from your hand and any combination of these three you want. And you do this at the beginning of your turn, so you can ensure that you get a creature. You must pay. If you cannot pay, then you lose the game.
For cards, you are the “owner” of the Merc you brought out, as opposed to normal “controller” language which still works. You may not bring out more than one Mercenary during your upkeep. You may not be the “owner” of more than one Merc at a time from your own payment (although you can control more than one by stealing others). When a Mercenary you own leaves the battlefield, it’s removed from the game and sent to the Merc discard pile and returns only if the deck is exhausted and is shuffled. (This effect takes place even if you do not control the Merc at the time, and you will get the replacement under your ownership and control). When one of your Mercs heads out to the Great Merc Graveyard in the Sky, then you may immediately reveal another Merc from the deck and pay its cost.
You will need to build the Mercenary Deck ahead of time, and there are some flexible rules. Some creatures might be free, as they arrive with a weakness (such as Hunted Wumpus). You might even want to sprinkle in some bad critters that no one wants, and you have an auction of MPs to send it to someone, like Xantcha, Sleeper Agent. There are also scalable costs for those that can spend the mana to enhance their new acquisition. Although my own experience hasn’t shown that to be meaningful. There are enough good dorks out there that everyone wants that I haven’t found it to be overly useful.
If you want to add a fun rule for this game that is flavor only, make your Mercenaries have the Mercenary creature type!
Enjoy the Mercenaring of your Kitchen Table!
And there we are!
Thanks for reading! Again, the goal of this article was to give you a number of projects to inspire your own challenges and projects of your own. Feel encouraged to bookmark this and then return as you feel the need.
I also want to point out that you can certainly combine these. You can add Planes or Schemes to a Cube and make them draft-able. You can add Vanguards to a Horde Challenge! You get the idea, put your hands together my friends and mix and match your formats.
Today’s article closes on 5800+ words and 33 pages (in Word, single spaced). But you know what? It’s worth it! Formats are awesome! They are my jam!
From Momir Vig to Hordes to Mercenaries, there are a ton of options out there. Any projects I missed? Any thoughts on these? Anything inspire your deck kitchen table fun times? Any questions I can answer?Let me know!