MTG Innistrad Midnight Hunt available now!
   Sign In
Create Account

Alternate (Competitive) Formats


I’d like to take this week off from going over Standard and other sanctioned Constructed formats to cover a topic: alternate Constructed formats. It’s a proud tradition of a Magic forum I post frequently on to run eight- or sixteen-man tournaments with Constructed formats that we have come up with.

Why do this?

It’s a fun alternative to the grind of sanctioned Constructed.

Restrictions in deck building breed creativity and innovation that are valuable skills to have for constructing decks in other formats. Depending on the format, you will get to see old archetypes or cards you might not even have known existed.


The most recent eight-man that is ongoing is “GG 8-man: Tournament of Champions”.

To quote the person who started this:

Here's this tournament's schtick:It's an 8-man, double-elimination, bracketed by Challonge.The decks that will be played will be eight decks that won Worlds. Lists are here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic:_The ... ampionship . After eight people sign up, a random order will be drawn. Players will pick their decks in that order, from the past Worlds winners.

The eight players included: Magic Online luminary Bing Luke, me, and Love Janse (Worlds 2010 Top 8 competitor).

The pick order for decks broke down as follows:

  1. quasius
  2. Seraph
  3. Kelvandil (Love Janse)
  4. Seeker (Eric Duerr of Next Level Spec fame)
  5. llarack (me)
  6. LSK
  7. Rylinks
  8. prolepsis (Bing Luke)

For those of you who haven’t encountered some of the decks covered in those various Worlds, Quasius started by picking Mihara’s Dragonstorm deck from 2006, which seems quite strong against everything since it packs four Gigadrowse main for control decks and has a pretty good game against aggressive decks.

Seraph picked Malin’s Faeries deck from 2008, which is about as good as we all remember Faeries being.

Next, Kelvandil selected Finkel’s Tinker deck from 2000, while Seeker picked Budde’s Wildfire deck from 1999. (Both of these decks abuse the fast mana in Urza’s block to power out huge artifact threats.)

I selected Romao’s Psychatog deck from 2002 since I think it has a pretty good game plan against most of the decks, although quite a few matchups seem like coin flips (big-artifact mana decks in particular seem like they can just drop a huge threat on turn two if they are on the play, and I’m on the back foot).

LSK picked Coimbra’s Naya Lightsaber deck from 2009, which is among the weaker options, but we were down to the dregs by this point.

Rylinks selected Zink’s Mirari’s Wake deck from 2003, which is designed to beat aggro decks but not much else.

Prolepsis chose to select Matignon’s U/B (six-Jace) control deck from 2010, which seems better than both Naya and Wake by a fair amount in this metagame of degenerate decks.

The brackets of this eight-man can be found here and resulted in the initial pairings of:

  • (Me) Psychatog versus (Seeker) Wildfire
  • (Quasius) Dragonstorm versus (Kelvandil) Tinker
  • (LSK) Naya versus (Seraph) Faeries
  • (Rylinks) Wake versus (Prolepsis) Matignon U/B

My predictions for the Round 1 results were:

Psychatog versus Wildfire comes down to the die roll; Dragonstorm over Tinker; Faeries over Naya; and Matignon U/B over Wake.

I managed to take down Wildfire because I won the die roll and he flooded out in Games 1 and 3.

I think this is a flaw in his deck if we examine the decklists of Psychatog and Wildfire respectively:

He has a whopping thirty-eight cards that are not threats by themselves: four Fire Diamond, four Grim Monolith, four Thran Dynamo, two Worn Powerstone, four Voltaic Key, three Ancient Tomb, four City of Traitors, and thirteen Mountain.

Meanwhile, Psychatog is packed with nothing but card-draw, counter-magic / removal, four Psychatog, four Nightscape Familiar, and two Upheaval. If the game ever goes long, it almost certainly favors Psychatog since Wildfire will inevitably flood out on irrelevant spells, which is exactly what happened to Seeker. It is still pretty scary to play against Wildfire on the off-chance he has a really good draw, leading into a turn-one or turn-two large threat (Mishra's Helix, Covetous Dragon, and so forth).

Dragonstorm defeated Tinker in a 2–0 blowout, while Faeries beat Naya 2–1, and Wake defeated U/B in a 2–0 match.

Further details, pairings, and game logs can be found here—it is still ongoing.


Another recent ten-man that fired (in Swiss-style brackets) was Promo-Only Magic: The Tournament.

The rules were as follows:

I managed to 4–0 with a build of Isochron Scepter / Orim's Chant as follows:

The other decks were:

W/U Faeries / Enlightened Tutor, U/B control with Damnation and Dark Confidant, U/B Faeries, W/B aggro, Elves! with Living Wish, another Scepter-Chant deck, mono-black control with Cabal Coffers and Korlash, Red Deck Wins, B/G/W Junk, another Elves! with Living Wish, and W/U control.

An example of Elves! That I found interesting was:

The thread with all of its gory details can be found here.


Another interesting format that Benjamin “Pumbles Mumbles” Peebles-Mundy came up with was Terrible constructed; the tournament rules were:

Build a normal 60+15 card constructed deck from the pool of cards rated 2 stars or less by the Gatherer community! Ante and dexterity cards are banned.Tournament FormatThis will be a double-elim 8-man, as seeded by random.org and bracketed by challonge.com.

Oracle wording will be used for all cards.

You are expected to play on MWS, but if you and your opponent want to play on another client that is fine.

Matches are expected to finish within a week.

Once 8 people are /in, you have a week to build your deck and PM it to me.

I managed to lose to the Pumbles Mumbles himself once in the first bracket, and then a second time in the finals as B/R aggro versus his R/G large idiots.

This resulted in Challonge telling us:

Supreme Champion: Peebles

Worthy Adversary: llarack

Maybe Next Time: Bracketbot

4th place: Seeker

5th place tie: Kelvandil, Rooser

7th place tie: wcbarksdale, quasius


His “terrible” R/G deck:

My “terrible” B/R aggro deck:

The matchup did not seem terribly good on paper since he has mostly large creatures that line up pretty well against my choice of removal spells. Slay is an all-star against him boarded, and it is telling that the only game I won against him was in the finals when I drew three Slays.

The further details and decks can be found here.


However, not all of the eight-mans we have played have been Constructed-only.

Prolepsis decided to fire another take on Sealed: “GG 8-man: Choose your own sealed 2”.

The rules were as follows:

  • Each player chooses 6 sets and receives a booster of each.
  • Each set may only be chosen once. There is no limit to boosters that can be picked out of a block.
  • Eligible sets are expansion sets (including portal) and core sets. No chronicles, MED or alara-block boosters.
  • New Rule: Alpha, Beta, and Unlimited are considered the same set.
  • Arabian Nights, Antiquities, The Dark, Fallen Empires, and Homelands boosters all had 8 cards. If you choose any of these sets, you will receive 2 boosters for that set. Hopefully the extra card you get is balanced by the relative shittiness of these sets.
  • Alliances boosters only had 12 cards. You will not receive an extra booster.
  • Vintage ban list. (Ban list only, I don't care about restrictions.)
  • A neutral party will receive the booster choices. Once all the choices are in, that party will post the sealed pools here, as opened on Bestiaire or that other site. Boosters are whatever is as on Bestiaire. For example, the portal sets are 15-card boosters there even if they were 10 irl.
  • Tournament will be a double-elimination bracket and played on MWS

In this eight-man, we had quite a few good players with their chosen sets afterwards:

  • Wrathofmoocow (Nick Lynn): Alara Reborn, Conflux, Shards of Alara, Darksteel, Time Spiral, Portal: Three Kingdoms
  • Slippy: Planar Chaos, Time Spiral, Ravinca: City of Guilds, Magic 2010, Magic 2011, Darksteel
  • Seeker (Eric Duerr): Ravnica: City of Guilds, Guildpact, Dissension, Alara Reborn, Darksteel, Future Sight
  • Peebles: Revised, Unlimited, Mirrodin, Darksteel, Tempest, Worldwake
  • Kelvandil: Mirrodin, Darksteel, Scars of Mirrodin, Shadowmoor, Eventide, Tempest
  • Me: Invasion, Apocalypse, Shards of Alara, Dissension, Alara Reborn, Time Spiral
  • prolepsis: Tempest, Magic 2011, Magic 2010, Future Sight, Darksteel, Unlimited
  • Chifley: Time Spiral, Future Sight, Urza's Saga, Eventide, Mirrodin, Darksteel

One of the more interesting strategies in this eight-man was to choose as many sets as possible with X spells, such as Fireball, Rolling Thunder, Disintegrate, and Blaze, or as many sets with gold cards (since they tend to be above the average power level).

Also, modern sets tended to have more and stronger playables, but there were people willing to roll the dice on dual lands and/or Moxen.

I managed to take it down with my awesome Jund-themed Sealed deck:

"Choose Your Own Sealed: Jund"

Supreme Champion: llarack

Worthy Adversary: kelvandil

Maybe Next Time: prolepsis

Further details and results of this eight-man can be found here.


The last interesting recent eight-man that we have run was Mana-Cost Singleton.

The rules were:

All decks must choose 1 mana cost (for example, ww, 4, 2r, or xr), and all cards in your deck must be a basic land or spells with that mana cost.edit: Hybrid cards are their own mana cost, so are likely unplayable.

editedit: Split cards are ok as long as one half counts.

editeditedit: For clarity, xr != r.Format is Vintage. This is not "singleton" despite the title.

All games will be played at a reasonable pace on MWS, and tardy players will be forfeit.

Double-elimination: best of five.

Notable players in this eight-man included:

  • Noted Elves aficionado and respected GatheringMagic writer Jesse Mason playing Elves for g with the list that follows:

  • Kelvandil playing Elves for g
  • Prolepsis playing mono-red for r
  • Myself playing mono-red for r
  • Paz (notable GoodGamery moderator/administrator) playing mono-blue for uu

Prolepsis ended up defeating me yet again to become the supreme champion yet again, in a mono-red mirror in which most games were decided by whoever got to draw first (and drawing first was actually the correct strategy).

His mono-red list:

More in-depth and interesting details and decks can be found here.


I’d like to thank GoodGamery for having all of these alternative Constructed (and Limited) formats that have helped me develop as a deck builder and player—it forces you to see unique situations and deck-building decisions that you normally do not encounter within the sanctioned formats.

You can contact me about anything either here or on Twitter @jkyu06.


Entertaining Quotes and/or Screenshots

Jason Ford: just asked my cointern to help me tape something up

Jason Ford: it was about as embarassing as if i asked you to do a belly dance for me

In the chatbox, Tarmogoyf1: ‘THOSE GUYS ARE BIG’.

Peebles: you could do all dudes if you wanted

[11:10] Khelek: http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii90/aziridine/jund-10.png

[11:10] Khelek: i might just run 18 land


[11:13] prolep: or you could play dragon's herald

[11:13] prolep: and tilt your opponents when he sees your two dragons

[11:13] Khelek: that's a good idea


[11:17] Khelek: yesss

[11:17] Khelek: he magma sprayed my herald

[11:17] Khelek: {e}

Limited time 35% buy trade in bonus buylist