Beginner Planeswalker Guide: Ways to PlayOctober 11, 2018
This is an ongoing series of Magic articles aimed at welcoming people into Magic: The Gathering!
Since you are now all prepped to jump into playing in a structured Magic game and might even want to try your hand playing in a local game store, it’s important to understand all the different ways to play the game. There are a number of official ways to play and many ways that are created by the community, so more formats are invented often. You don’t have to play all of the formats and you likely won’t like all of the formats, but I recommend trying many formats to see how you prefer to play.
Today I am going to do a quick overview of the most popular formats. I will dive deeper into each format in later articles, so you can look forward to that!
Limited vs Constructed: First of all, there is a fork in the road when choosing a format to play.
- Constructed means that you bring a pre-constructed, fully ready to play when you sit-down deck. This is generally a deck built from your personal collection before you show up to whatever event you are attending, but there is also the option to buy pre-constructed decks at many game stores.
- Limited means that you build a deck exclusively from a limited pool of cards, most commonly from opening booster packs when the event starts. In this case, you cannot use any cards from your collection and can only use the cards opened in the booster packs to build your deck.
Note: Deck size is generally measured as a minimum amount of cards in a deck, but I recommend staying as close to the minimum as possible to increase the chance of drawing your best cards.
Going into a Limited game, you need nothing but your brain and the entry fee! I am personally a huge fan of limited play and at this point in my life, this is the primary way that I enjoy the game. This format is fairly easy to jump into and keep up on. Overall, limited formats have a lower financial cost and require less of a time commitment than most constructed formats. Limited events also help to build your collection. In all limited events, you will have access to however many basic lands you need to complete your deck.
- Sealed Pool: In a Sealed event you receive 6 booster packs (sometimes 4 booster packs) to open and construct a 40 card deck. This format is also played at Prereleases: events where players have their first chance to play a new set before it’s available for sale!
- Booster Draft: My personal favorite, each player gets 3 unopened booster packs and drafts cards around the table, choosing cards they want to include in their 40 card deck. Booster drafts require higher strategy tactics and generally have a more level playing field than other limited events.
- Mini-Masters: In this fun format you only get 1-2 packs to build a small 30 card deck with. Whenever you win a round, you get a booster pack that you can add to your deck! The more you win, the better your deck gets.
In order to play Constructed, you need to be armed and ready with your very own deck! Constructed decks generally require more upkeep and research. Deck building is a huge component of Magic, so many players really enjoy creating a deck and trying it out at a tournament. For all Constructed formats, research the banned card lists before you take the deck into an event.
- Standard: This popular format uses 60 card decks built only from the most recent Magic sets (usually within the last two years). Standard resets every year, so you have to play often to keep up with the format.
- Commander: A very popular casual format where players have 1 special Commander card that they always have access to cast. Decks are 100 cards exactly and every card (besides basic land) must be unique.
- Modern: Similar to Standard, this format can use cards made from 8th Edition (2003) through today.
- Legacy: Similar to Modern, this format can use cards from all of Magic’s deep history, but there is an extensive banned list to be aware of.
- Vintage: This format has no restrictions, so you can build whatever deck you want!
I hope this helps plant the seed for deciding what kind of Planeswalker you want to be!