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Advent of An Aristocrat: “Official” Rules for a New Magic Format - Brock Siems (9/19/2014)

I think that somebody needs to create a new budget friendly, non-multiplayer, one-on-one dueling Magic format. Thank God I'm here!

“And who is this arrogant schlep?” you may ask yourself. Good point. A brief bio, then. *a-hem*

“Brock Siems is a veteran of Magic: the Gathering, having been a player of the game since Revised. In spite of his decades of experience, his casual tendencies have not made him a Pro Tour has-been, but more of a never-was. None of this has stopped him from being a (very infrequent) contributor to Pojo.com. He finally jumped on the Interwebs bandwagon and downloaded Magic Online fifteen months ago. He has since abandoned any notion of having a social life, and hasn't seen daylight since.”

Now that we've gotten the bonafides out of the way, let's get back to the point: creating a two-player Magic format that doesn't require the bank account of Warren Buffet. “But Brock, we already have that!” I hear you say, right before you rattle off the words “Peasant, Pauper and Noble.” Quite true! But let's be honest here. All of those formats have issues.

Peasant (with only five uncommons allowed in an otherwise all commons deck) suffers from the problem that the Wizards of the Coast of twenty years ago didn't know what the hell they were doing when assigning rarity to cards. (Strip Mine
Strip Mine
Strip MineSet: Fourth Edition
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Daniel Gelon
Text:
T: Add 1 colorless mana to your mana pool.T: Sacrifice Strip Mine to destroy target land.
= uncommon. Really?) Meanwhile, in the present day, Pauper's “commons only” approach is proof that the Wizards of the 21st century still hasn't quite got the card rarity thing down. (Hello Storm, Affinity and Ulamog's Crusher
Ulamog's Crusher
Ulamog's CrusherSet: Rise of the Eldrazi
Cost:
8
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Eldrazi
Rarity:
C
Number:
13
Artist:
Todd Lockwood
Power:
8
Toughness:
8
Text:
Annihilator 2 (Whenever this creature attacks, defending player sacrifices two permanents.) Ulamog's Crusher attacks each turn if able.
!) And then we have Noble Magic which, for the uninitiated, is a Peasant variant in which you're allowed only four uncommons and one rare (which starts out play in the command zone ala Commander.) And the fact that I had to explain Noble Magic is proof of its' greatest weakness, lack of publicity. Also, it's just plain boring. (Oooh! He's editorializing! Somebody stop him!)

(Speaking of, I didn't forget about Commander. I just don't consider it anything like a budget friendly format. Sure, you can play a winning Commander deck with few to no expensive cards, in the same way you can take a shot to the chest from a .357 Magnum without wearing Kevlar and still survive; if you're extremely fortunate!)

“So if all of those formats are total crap, then what *do* you propose, Brainiac?” you ask. (And awfully judgmentally too, I might add.) That right there is a good question. Just brainstorming off the top of my head, I think we need a format that fits the following criteria:

- It fixes the rarity issues of the aforementioned formats.
- It is friendly to the common man's budget, yet allows for the Rich and Shameless to purchase high-end cards.
- It also has to be balanced so that the rich kids can't buy their way to victory.
- Though intended for the casual player with an eye towards less cutthroat decks, it has to be adaptable to the standard Magic tournament formats of Standard, Modern, Classic, Vintage, Legacy, and all past and future Blocks. (You know, just in case.)
- It has to be well publicized in order to reach its' target demographic. Gee, if only there were websites geared towards the casual player…
- It should be extensively playtested before being unleashed upon the public.
- Most importantly, it has to be FUN!

Now those are some daunting criteria, the kind of daunting that makes lesser men -you know, the kind that are more ambitious and less lazy than myself- run screaming for the hills. I, however, know no fear, mostly because Wizards has already done all of the hard work. In fact, they've been doing my work for me since the fall of ‘97.

Remember, if you will, that was the year that Tempest debuted. But more importantly, it was also the simultaneous debut of the preconstructed decks. Or what the young ‘uns call “intro packs.” The preconstructed decks' job was to introduce players to the cards and mechanics of the newest set (which the intro packs still do to this day.) More pertinent to this discussion is the fact that each precon was designed with the idea of making Wizards more money; each deck had only a handful of uncommons and a, uh, handfuller of rares, thus encouraging us geeks to go and spend our hard earned dough on Tempest packs so that we can upgrade our precon decks. Capitalism in action! As Wizards have been releasing precons/intro packs/whatever you wanna call ‘em since then, we have plenty of experience not only in playing such decks, but knowing that a two-player format based on the preconstructed concept will work just fine.

Of course, the term “preconstructed” needs a bit of defining. Historically, the very first Tempest precons (four in total) consisted of 60 card decks with no sideboard, three rares (not three copies of one particular rare but three unique rare cards) and nine uncommons ( ditto), all from the same set and/or block. Every precon released since Tempest Block has done two rares and twelve uncommons (though the cards are not necessarily from the same set/block in the case of intro packs) but the general gist is the same.

So, now that we have it in our collective minds to build a preconstructed format and we've defined what a preconstructed deck is, we're going to need to lay down the official (official, he says!) ground rules of the format. Deck construction rules for Precon Magic are as follows:

1) Decks must contain 60 cards.
2) Decks can have up to 2 rares. Of the two rares, each one must be unique. In other words, a deck can't have two copies of the same rare. [Example: Let's assume I'm building a Selesnya deck. I can include up to one copy of Advent of the Wurm
Advent of the Wurm
Advent of the WurmSet: Dragon's Maze
Cost:
4
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
51
Artist:
Lucas Graciano
Text:
Put a 5/5 green Wurm creature token with trample onto the battlefield.
plus another rare of my choice, but I cannot run two copies of the Advent.]
3) Mythic rares are not allowed. Ever! Yes, Virginia, that means no planeswalkers.
4) Decks can also have up to 12 uncommons. Like the rares, the number of copies you can include of any particular uncommon is restricted. In this case, no more than three copies of any one uncommon are allowed. (Example: I can include up to three copies of Call of the Conclave
Call of the Conclave
Call of the ConclaveSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
146
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Put a 3/3 green Centaur creature token onto the battlefield.
in my hypothetical deck, but four is straight out.]
5) The rest of your deck is composed of commons, with the restriction that only 4 copies of up to three particular commons are allowed, with the rest of the deck's commons being limited to no more than 3 per unique common. [Example: I've decided that said deck will run four copies each of Seller of Songbirds
Seller of Songbirds
Seller of SongbirdsSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human
Rarity:
C
Number:
22
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
When Seller of Songbirds enters the battlefield, put a 1/1 white Bird creature token with flying onto the battlefield.
, Elvish Mystic
Elvish Mystic
Elvish MysticSet: Magic 2014 Core Set
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elf Druid
Rarity:
C
Number:
169
Artist:
Wesley Burt
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
{T}: Add {G} to your mana pool.
and Centaur's Herald
Centaur's Herald
Centaur's HeraldSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elf Scout
Rarity:
C
Number:
118
Artist:
Howard Lyon
Power:
0
Toughness:
1
Text:
{2}{G}, Sacrifice Centaur's Herald: Put a 3/3 green Centaur creature token onto the battlefield.
, leaving me to run three or less copies of Wake the Reflections
Wake the Reflections
Wake the ReflectionsSet: Dragon's Maze
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
10
Artist:
Cynthia Sheppard
Text:
Populate. (Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)
.]
6) Basic lands are used as normal, with no particular limit on copies. [Example: I'm totally running 20 copies of the same John Avon illustrated Forest
Forest
ForestSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add G to your mana pool.
in this deck, so nyah!]
7) Sideboards are allowed and encouraged, and may include up to 1 rare and 3 uncommons, duplicating perfectly the rarity distribution of a typical booster pack. Additionally, none of the cards in the sideboard can be copies of the cards in the main deck. [Example: My hypothetical deck is not allowed to run Advent of the Wurm
Advent of the Wurm
Advent of the WurmSet: Dragon's Maze
Cost:
4
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
51
Artist:
Lucas Graciano
Text:
Put a 5/5 green Wurm creature token with trample onto the battlefield.
in the sideboard. It can, however, run Wayfaring Temple
Wayfaring Temple
Wayfaring TempleSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
209
Artist:
Peter Mohrbacher
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Wayfaring Temple's power and toughness are each equal to the number of creatures you control. Whenever Wayfaring Temple deals combat damage to a player, populate. (Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)
.]
8) Sideboards are allowed to have 4 copies of up to two particular commons in the sideboard. [Example: My theoretical sideboard will have full playsets of both Giant Growth
Giant Growth
Giant GrowthSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Sandra Everingham
Text:
Target creature gains +3/+3 until end of turn.
and Sundering Growth
Sundering Growth
Sundering GrowthSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
10
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
223
Artist:
David Palumbo
Text:
Destroy target artifact or enchantment, then populate. (Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)
.]

In order to better illustrate Precon deck construction, allow me to show you the hypothetical Selesnya deck in finished form. In the following decklist, uncommons are marked with one asterisk while rares are marked with two.


SELESNYA STOMP

CREATURES (17)
2 Centaur Healer
Centaur Healer
Centaur HealerSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Centaur Cleric
Rarity:
C
Number:
148
Artist:
Mark Zug
Power:
3
Toughness:
3
Text:
When Centaur Healer enters the battlefield, you gain 3 life.

4 Centaur's Herald
Centaur's Herald
Centaur's HeraldSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elf Scout
Rarity:
C
Number:
118
Artist:
Howard Lyon
Power:
0
Toughness:
1
Text:
{2}{G}, Sacrifice Centaur's Herald: Put a 3/3 green Centaur creature token onto the battlefield.

4 Elvish Mystic
Elvish Mystic
Elvish MysticSet: Magic 2014 Core Set
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elf Druid
Rarity:
C
Number:
169
Artist:
Wesley Burt
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
{T}: Add {G} to your mana pool.

4 Seller of Songbirds
Seller of Songbirds
Seller of SongbirdsSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human
Rarity:
C
Number:
22
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
When Seller of Songbirds enters the battlefield, put a 1/1 white Bird creature token with flying onto the battlefield.

2 Trostani's Summoner
Trostani's Summoner
Trostani's SummonerSet: Dragon's Maze
Cost:
7
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elf Shaman
Rarity:
U
Number:
110
Artist:
Howard Lyon
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Trostani's Summoner enters the battlefield, put a 2/2 white Knight creature token with vigilance, a 3/3 green Centaur creature token, and a 4/4 green Rhino creature token with trample onto the battlefield.
*
1 Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
Vitu-Ghazi GuildmageSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dryad Shaman
Rarity:
U
Number:
207
Artist:
Jason Chan
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
{4}{G}{W}: Put a 3/3 green Centaur creature token onto the battlefield. {2}{G}{W}: Populate. (Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)
*

SPELLS (21)
1 Advent of the Wurm
Advent of the Wurm
Advent of the WurmSet: Dragon's Maze
Cost:
4
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
51
Artist:
Lucas Graciano
Text:
Put a 5/5 green Wurm creature token with trample onto the battlefield.
**
1 Alive Well
Alive Well
Alive WellSet: Dragon's Maze
Cost:
4
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
121
Text:
Put a 3/3 green Centaur creature token onto the battlefield. (Alive) / You gain 2 life for each creature you control. (Well) Fuse (You may cast one or both halves of this card from your hand.)
*
1 Avenging Arrow
Avenging Arrow
Avenging ArrowSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
4
Artist:
James Ryman
Text:
Destroy target creature that dealt damage this turn.

1 Call of the Conclave
Call of the Conclave
Call of the ConclaveSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
146
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Put a 3/3 green Centaur creature token onto the battlefield.
*
1 Collective Blessing
Collective Blessing
Collective BlessingSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
6
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
150
Artist:
Svetlin Velinov
Text:
Creatures you control get +3/+3.
**
1 Common Bond
Common Bond
Common BondSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
151
Artist:
Raymond Swanland
Text:
Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature. Put a +1/+1 counter on target creature.

1 Coursers' Accord
Coursers' Accord
Coursers' AccordSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
6
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
154
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Text:
Put a 3/3 green Centaur creature token onto the battlefield, then populate. (Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)

1 Druid's Deliverance
Druid's Deliverance
Druid's DeliveranceSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
123
Artist:
Dan Scott
Text:
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to you this turn. Populate. (Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)

1 Eyes in the Skies
Eyes in the Skies
Eyes in the SkiesSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
10
Artist:
James Ryman
Text:
Put a 1/1 white Bird creature token with flying onto the battlefield, then populate. (Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)

1 Hindervines
Hindervines
HindervinesSet: Gatecrash
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
124
Artist:
Svetlin Velinov
Text:
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn by creatures with no +1/+1 counters on them.
*
2 Horncaller's Chant
Horncaller's Chant
Horncaller's ChantSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
8
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
128
Artist:
Eric Velhagen
Text:
Put a 4/4 green Rhino creature token with trample onto the battlefield, then populate. (Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)

1 Knightly Valor
Knightly Valor
Knightly ValorSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Sub Type:
Aura
Rarity:
C
Number:
13
Artist:
Matt Stewart
Text:
Enchant creature When Knightly Valor enters the battlefield, put a 2/2 white Knight creature token with vigilance onto the battlefield. Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has vigilance.

1 Righteous Charge
Righteous Charge
Righteous ChargeSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jeffrey R. Busch
Text:
All your creatures get +2/+2 until the end of the turn.
*
1 Selesnya Cluestone
Selesnya Cluestone
Selesnya CluestoneSet: Dragon's Maze
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
C
Number:
144
Artist:
Raoul Vitale
Text:
{T}: Add {G} or {W} to your mana pool. {G}{W}, {T}, Sacrifice Selesnya Cluestone: Draw a card.

1 Slime Molding
Slime Molding
Slime MoldingSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
135
Artist:
Marco Nelor
Text:
Put an X/X green Ooze creature token onto the battlefield.
*
2 Trostani's Judgment
Trostani's Judgment
Trostani's JudgmentSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
6
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
28
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Text:
Exile target creature, then populate. (Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)

1 Unflinching Courage
Unflinching Courage
Unflinching CourageSet: Dragon's Maze
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Enchantment
Sub Type:
Aura
Rarity:
U
Number:
111
Artist:
Mike Bierek
Text:
Enchant creature Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has trample and lifelink.
*
2 Wake the Reflections
Wake the Reflections
Wake the ReflectionsSet: Dragon's Maze
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
10
Artist:
Cynthia Sheppard
Text:
Populate. (Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)


LANDS
11 Forest
Forest
ForestSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add G to your mana pool.

9 Plains
Plains
PlainsSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add W to your mana pool.

2 Selesnya Guildgate
Selesnya Guildgate
Selesnya GuildgateSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Land
Sub Type:
Gate
Rarity:
C
Number:
246
Artist:
Howard Lyon
Text:
Selesnya Guildgate enters the battlefield tapped. {T}: Add {G} or {W} to your mana pool.


SIDEBOARD
3 Aerial Predation
Aerial Predation
Aerial PredationSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
113
Artist:
BD
Text:
Destroy target creature with flying. You gain 2 life.

3 Dryad Militant
Dryad Militant
Dryad MilitantSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dryad Soldier
Rarity:
U
Number:
214
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
If an instant or sorcery card would be put into a graveyard from anywhere, exile it instead.
*
4 Giant Growth
Giant Growth
Giant GrowthSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Sandra Everingham
Text:
Target creature gains +3/+3 until end of turn.

4 Sundering Growth
Sundering Growth
Sundering GrowthSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
10
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
223
Artist:
David Palumbo
Text:
Destroy target artifact or enchantment, then populate. (Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)

1 Wayfaring Temple
Wayfaring Temple
Wayfaring TempleSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
209
Artist:
Peter Mohrbacher
Power:
*
Toughness:
*
Text:
Wayfaring Temple's power and toughness are each equal to the number of creatures you control. Whenever Wayfaring Temple deals combat damage to a player, populate. (Put a token onto the battlefield that's a copy of a creature token you control.)
**


A brief explanation of the deck: “Selesnya Stomp” is built around the populate mechanic. When the deck isn't casting creatures, it's casting spells that create creature tokens or spells that duplicate creature tokens in play. The linchpins of this deck are the Advent of the Wurm
Advent of the Wurm
Advent of the WurmSet: Dragon's Maze
Cost:
4
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
51
Artist:
Lucas Graciano
Text:
Put a 5/5 green Wurm creature token with trample onto the battlefield.
(create a 5/5 trampling wurm token) and Collective Blessing
Collective Blessing
Collective BlessingSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
6
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
150
Artist:
Svetlin Velinov
Text:
Creatures you control get +3/+3.
(give all your critters +3/+3), but you'll be caving in skulls with an army of centaur and bird tokens the majority of the time. Or maybe you'll get the job done with a giant Slime Molding
Slime Molding
Slime MoldingSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
135
Artist:
Marco Nelor
Text:
Put an X/X green Ooze creature token onto the battlefield.
. (Elvish Mystic
Elvish Mystic
Elvish MysticSet: Magic 2014 Core Set
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elf Druid
Rarity:
C
Number:
169
Artist:
Wesley Burt
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
{T}: Add {G} to your mana pool.
loves himself some Slime Molding
Slime Molding
Slime MoldingSet: Return to Ravnica
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
135
Artist:
Marco Nelor
Text:
Put an X/X green Ooze creature token onto the battlefield.
!)

Now that I think of it, we should probably think of a better name for this format than “Preconstructed Magic.” At first, I thought that perhaps I should continue in the tradition of past casual two-player/budge friendly formats like Pauper, Peasant and Noble by climbing a rung or two up the social-economic ladder and thus naming it “Aristocratic Magic.” But that sounded horribly arrogant and pretentious, not to mention stupid. Really, really stupid. Nonetheless, I'm sticking with it until I hear something better, so I'm opening the floor to suggestions on this one.

And that's pretty much it for My Debut Article. I got nothin' else left in the tank other than to state that the beauty of Precon Magic is its' adaptability. The deck construction rules are geared towards a more casual bend, but can just as easily be used for tournament-style play. I encourage you to speak up and offer your most sincere criticism and/or flattery in the comments section (note to self: sign up for an account on said forums) and until next time, I remain…

B. Siems


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