Introducing the 40-Card Limited Constructed Format

Mythic Championship IV has come and gone, but I wasn’t ready to let Modern Horizons Draft go, not just yet, anyways… out of packs? Don’t have six or eight players to draft? On a camping trip in the woods with no Wi-Fi to play MTGO? No problem! I invented a new format that reuses the old draft commons and uncommons in a fun and novel way.

Here’s the concept: we are going to build a Limited Constructed deck. Keep in mind, this is a casual, community format and thus not bound to the strict rules of the DCI. Ultimately, how you and your friends decide to play is up to you, and so feel free to tweak and tune these basic rules as you see fit!

What Are the Rules for Limited Constructed?

The rules are simple, but the depth of strategy is extremely deep:

  • Decide what world you want to battle on, i.e. which Limited format you want to explore. (This is based on Modern Horizons).
  • Decks are 40 cards.

Here’s the catch….

  • You are Limited to 1 Mythic Rare, 2 Rares, and 6 Uncommons, and the maximum number of a card is capped at two. You may add in any number of basics, like a normal draftI suggest banning cards that allow you to play any number, like Relentless Rats, but if you want to use these cards go ahead and “rat on!”

*If the Limited Format you are dueling doesn’t have Mythic Rares, players replace the Mythic Rare slot with a third Rare.

The concept is for each player to design the most busted draft deck they can fathom. It’s like you sat down at the table and got shipped the nuts. “How is this still in the pack!?” Not only are you getting shipped a wealth of great commons, but you also managed to spike the three best possible rares. The catch is that so did each of your opponents!

Sideboarding

  • You get a 6-card sideboard, but all the cards must be commons. Again, you can’t have more than 2 of the same card in your 46.

Why is the Format Cool?

It’s dirt-cheap to build a handful of decks that are fun to play against each other

Building a deck is a big commitment of money. It’s also awkward that Constructed formats dramatically change in a relatively short period of time. The Tier 1 deck that you build to jam at FNM is only one set away from being pushed out of the metagame.

Limited Constructed decks, on the other hand, are contextually linked to their Limited Format which means that if you have an opponent and a couple of decks, they’re playable forever!

Also, since decks are limited to a total of 1 Mythic and 2 Rares and 80% of the deck is comprised of Commons and Uncommons, it’s possible to build 10 decks for the cost of one Standard deck. The format is a great way to have a bunch of decks at the ready for when the opportunity to play some Magic rolls around.

I’m interested in collecting a large gauntlet of these decks from various draft formats to play against each other. I’ll have to figure out a way to balance draft formats with one set against formats with multiple sets. I haven’t tested this dynamic yet (as I’ve only recently been onto the concept of the format), but I’m thinking of applying a -1 Rare penalty to formats with more than one set. It’s also possible that it simply doesn’t matter. I’m curious to see how other players would approach balancing this dynamic for a Limited Constructed Gauntlet.

I think it would be interesting to see how the nuts Zendikar BR Aggro matches up against Guilds of Ravnica Boros and other iconic format-defining Limited archetypes.

It’s a Great Way to Teach Someone to Play

Do you have a friend you’d like to teach to play Magic? A young family member finally at the age to learn? Or perhaps you’re looking for a way to reach the most unteachable of MTG Students… a parent? A handful of 40-card Limited Constructed decks is a great way to introduce a new player to the basic concepts of the game without overwhelming them with a ton of intricate interactions that tend to occur in traditional Constructed formats or Commander.

“I’ll sacrifice Arcbound Worker to Arcbound Ravager to add a +1/+1 counter and because I have hardened Scales in play it gains an additional counter. When the counters go onto the Ravager my Animation Module will trigger and I’ll pay 1 to make a Servo. Also, because the Worker went to the graveyard from play, I also get a modular trigger to move his +1/+1 counter onto another creature. I’ll again target the Arcbound Ravager. Assuming that resolves, I’ll get another addition +1/+1 counter from Hardened Scales and another Module tri…

Mom, are you even paying attention!?”

I don’t mean to say the games are dumbed down. In fact, the strategy of deckbuilding and game play is highly strategic. Even more so because you can’t just netdeck tuned lists, and because most cards are commons there is a cap of interactions a deck can produce at one time.

I got onto the idea of thinking of better ways to introduce new players to the game with my Pridemate Memedeck article, when I suggested building a small gauntlet of mono-color decks as a teaching tool for new players at the LGS. I think 40LC is an even more intuitive way for a LGS to demo to new players.

I’ll finally be able to settle the debate abut who is the best Rise of the Eldrazi Limited master

I have a ton of friends who all claim to be the master of Rise of the Eldrazi Limited. It’s a hotly discussed topic that comes up an absurd amount for how irrelevant it is to everyday life.

The next time two people start arguing over the minutiae of ROE draft pick orders, I’m going propose they battle 40LC. You’ve got 10 minutes, no phones, give me a decklist and I’ll go to the LGS counter and put them together so you can play best-of-7 with bragging rights on the line.

The difference is now players are not limited to what they open and what gets passed, but can instead explore the format from an abstract point of view. What is the best archetype and how do I build it?

It’s a great way to theorycraft about a new Limited format

Obviously, you don’t get to build your ideal Limited deck for a Grand Prix or MCQ, but thinking about the best ways to build the best Limited decks can teach us a lot about which cards are most important to the best archetypes.

It can teach us a lot about how certain key matchups work and which cards are important in differnet matchups. It’s also a great way to think about and evaluate our pick orders for draft.

Examples

I’ve gone through the rules and some of the practical applications for dabbling in this format and so it makes sense to end with some actual examples of decks that I’ve built:

Sultai Snowmen

2 Snow-Covered Forest
2 Snow-Covered Forest
2 Snow-Covered Swamp
6 Forest (347)
5 Island (335)
2 Iceberg Cancrix
2 Rime Tender
2 Winter’s Grasp
2 Springblood Druid
2 Glacial Revelation
2 Frostwalk Bastion
2 Abominable Treefolk
2 Man’o’War
1 Chillerpillar
1 Spell Snuff
2 Dead of Winter
1 Ice Fang Coatl
2 Arcum's Astrolabe

Sideboard
2 Nature’s Chant
2 Diabolic Edict
1 Spell Snuff
1 Prohibit
1 Chillerpillar

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! A control deck with snow synergies.

Rakdos Goblins

8 Mountain (343)
8 Swamp (339)
2 Changeling Outcast
2 Firebolt
2 Goblin Champion
2 Munitions Expert
2 Putrid Goblin
2 Return from Extinction
2 Goatnap
2 Goblin Matron
2 Pashalik Mons
2 Goblin War Party
1 Lightning Skelemental
2 Sling-Gang Lieutenant
1 Mob

Sideboard
2 Phyrexian Defiler
2 Diablic Edict
2 Lava Dart
1 Mob

Tribal Goblin Aggro.

Hogaak Squirrels

2 Snow Covered Swamp
2 Snow Covered Forest
6 Swamp (339)
6 Forest (347)
2 Unearth
1 Spore Frog
2 Phyrexian Defiler
2 Rime Tender
2 Winding Way
2 Ransack the Lab
2 Wall of Blossoms
2 Squirrel’s Nest
2 Springbloom Druid
2 Mob
2 Crypt Rats
1 Genesis
1 Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis
1 Deep Forest Hermit

Sideboard
2 Nature’s Chant
2 Mother Bear
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Thornado
1 Weather the Storm

A wacky black-green graveyard deck with some sweet synergies. Looping Crypt Rats? Double tapping Squirrel’s Nest on Snow Lands? Looping Spore Frog? These all seem like sweet combos.

R/W Sliver Aggro

9 Mountain (343)
8 Plains (331)
2 Universal Automaton
2 Firebolt
2 Enduring Sliver
2 Cloudshredder Sliver
2 Bladeback Sliver
1 Winds of Abandon
2 Pyrophobia
2 Lavabelly Sliver
2 Lancer Sliver
2 Spiteful Sliver
2 Irregular Cohort
2 Cleaving Sliver

Sideboard
2 Nature’s Chant
2 Lava Dart
1 Gilded Light
1 Settle Beyond Reality
2 Ephemerate

A straightforward Sliver beatdown deck.

Conclusion

I’ve put together four decks to showcase the format and I’ve barely even scratched the surface of the types of decks we could easily build: U/B Ninjas, Battle Screech, Green Stompy, Mono-Black Control, U/W Soul Herder, B/W Tokens.

I think it’s a cool idea to battle people who are building for the same set, but I could see playing different sets being a lot of fun. Each can pick a set and brew a deck to battle. Maybe your favorite set is Mirrodin and you build an Affinity deck and I showed up with Onslaught Goblins! We’d create some really interesting match ups and when we’re finished, we can add those decks to our gauntlet.

I could also see a format like this having a unique place on MTG Arena in the future. It would be a great way to bring new players into playing Constructed. I know that when I started Arena and didn’t have a collection, I basically played terrible, underpowered Standard decks against other players who were doing the same thing. It kind of makes sense to me that a format like this might be more fun than “underpowered Constructed.” You’d need fewer Rares to build an ideal 40-card deck and could play against other players who were doing the same thing.

I also like the idea of playing a Ravnica Boros Deck against an Ixalan Pirates deck. It would be sort of a cool crossover that expands a set’s Limited’s shelf life beyond three months.

Lastly, I’m also thinking about playing some iteration of this 40-card Constructed Limited with Old School Magic Applications. I know there are some really neat decks that could be built with just Unlimited as the set, or, with the card pool ranging from Unlimited through Fallen Empires or The Dark.

Thanks for taking the time to read through my latest pet format project. I’m interested to hear feedback in the comments about the things you liked, and/or, ideas about where it could be improved or tightened up. I’m also curious to hear and see the best possible decklists the readers can think of for various formats. So, pick a set, 1 Mythic, 2 Rares, and 6 Uncommons and see how broken you can get!

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