Team Trios Constructed Configurations with Style

In Team Trios Constructed, players form teams of three, with one player playing Standard, one player playing Modern, and one player playing Legacy. There are no overlap restrictions.

The format was first featured at the 2011 World Championships and then introduced to a larger public at the StarCityGames Open circuit in 2017. Due to its ability to showcase a variety of decks across Standard, Modern, and Legacy, the format was an instant success with viewers and competitors alike.

In 2018, a Pro Tour and several Grand Prix will use Team Trios Constructed. One of those Grand Prix will be held this weekend in Madrid.

Yet, one thing seems to be lacking among many teams’ deck choices so far: a clear, stylish theme. Take a look, for example, at the Grand Prix Santa Clara champions:

  • William Ho (4-Color Energy in Standard)
  • John Martin (Dredge in Modern)
  • Jeremy Frye (Grixis Delver in Legacy)

Apart from red cards and Mountains, I don’t really see a theme or common thread across these three decks. It’s like showing up to the World Magic Cup without matching outfits, entering a Team Limited tournament without matching sleeves, or running mismatched basic lands.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, per se. In fact, when striving to maximize my chances of doing well at a tournament, I have often directed my efforts toward finding the best deck(s) for the metagame rather than a quest for proper style.

But if your goal above all is to have a fun, memorable weekend where you can enjoy the creative aspects of Magic in full, then I suggest you look for a common, consistent theme. First, let me provide an example to illustrate what I mean.

Triple Mono-Red

The power of lightning comes in threes!

Standard Mono-Red Aggro

By John Rolf, 10th place at Grand Prix Memphis 2018

Modern Mono-Red Burn

By Zach_S, 4-2 at a Modern PTQ on April 9, 2017

Legacy Mono-Red Burn

By Aznfoodgood, 5-0 in an MTGO Legacy League on January 11, 2018

You could consider the customary splash for Lightning Helix and Boros Charm in the Modern deck, but I decided to present three pure mono-red decks for maximum style points. Of course, all three players should wear bright red T-shirts, bring the same red playmats, and keep track of their opponent’s life totals with red pens.

What are the benefits of such a deck configuration?

There are several advantages:

  • You’ll feel more connected with your teammates. A major appeal of team events is that you accomplish your successes together. But if you, as a Legacy Burn specialist, are flanked by a Modern Tron player and a Standard U/B midrange player, then it can become hard to become invested in or even understand their games. Yet if your entire team starts with “Mountain, Bolt you” in unison on turn 1 (okay, the Standard player has to make do with Shock) then you’ll instantly feel connected to your teammates. This can ultimately improve your performance.
  • It’s memorable. I don’t remember every single team from the last World Magic Cup, but I do remember team Wales and their dragon-themed onesies in the colors of the Welsh flag. Their outfits stole the hearts of viewers, competitors, and the coverage team, and you can achieve something similar with your Team Trios decks. Win or lose, you’ll return home with great memories!
  • You can give better advice to your teammates. A team comprised of three control masters or three aggro specialists holds a strategic advantage over other teams. As all your decks have a similar play pattern, you can be sure to give good advice to your teammates during the matches. For example, your mulligan experience with Mono-Red in Modern will translate to Legacy, allowing you to give useful suggestions to your teammates.

For these reasons, I like the idea of themed deck choices. The triple Mono-Red configuration is my favorite, but let me give a few other examples.

Triple Mono-Black

This configuration is perfect for teams who want to seize power using whatever means necessary.

Standard Mono-Black Aggro

By Christopher Mcmahon, 31st place at Grand Prix Memphis 2018

Modern 8-Rack

By Moonglow, 6-1 at Modern Challenge event #11145571

Legacy Mono-Black Pox

By Reid Duke, played on June 10, 2017

This configuration is not as elegant as triple Mono-Red because these black decks have different game plans. But there’s still some value in showing up with matching black T-shirts, matching black sleeves, and matching basic Swamps.

Triple Spin-the-Wheel

Do you feel that the more unlikely the victory, the more memorable the success? And do all of your teammates feel the same way? Then consider this insane combination!

Standard Madcap Gift

No_Justice, 5-0 in a MTGO League on January 16, 2018

I analyzed Madcap Experiment in this article. If you cast Madcap Experiment on a 50-card library with 4 God-Pharaoh’s Gift as your only artifacts, then you’ll take at least 10 damage 44.0% of the time and at least 20 damage 13.7% of the time. So it’s risky business for sure, and I would recommend adding a few Combustible Gearhulks to the deck as a risk reduction measure. But if you and your teammates crave excitement, then this Madcap Experiment brew is a good start.

B/R Hollow One

Ken Yukuhiro, Top 4 at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan

I ran the numbers on this deck in this article. There, I showed that a Hollow One will be cast on turn 1 or 2 in 39% of the games—a reasonable degree of consistency. And if you would take the risk of keeping all one-landers with Faithless Looting or Burning Inquiry (which my original simulation chose to mulligan), then this Hollow One probability would increase to 46%. It’s almost a coin flip. But nothing tops an actual coin flip.

Legacy Coin Flips

By Ben Bryner, Grand Prix Seattle 2015

To my knowledge, this archetype has never posted a good performance at a premier event. In this article, I determined that a Mana Clash (fueled by Krark’s Thumb when both players are at 20 life) will win the game 0.77% of the time. So it’s not exactly a reliable kill mechanism, and you could argue that Goblin Charbelcher would be a better Legacy deck with a random element. But if your team wants to go for the ultimate insane “feeling-lucky” line-up (best supported by a theme song like “The Whims of Fate” from the Persona 5 OST) then you need to flip actual coins in Legacy.

Other Themed Deck Configuration Examples

You don’t have to play weird or risky decks to arrive at a common theme. Here are several more competitive suggestions.

Triple Merfolk

  • Standard: U/G Merfolk
  • Modern: Mono-Blue Merfolk
  • Legacy: Fish

For max style points, you can bring a Kiora figurine with you as the team mascot.

Triple Reanimator

  • Standard: Esper Gift
  • Modern: Dredge
  • Legacy: R/B Reanimator

For max style points, you can all come dressed as necromancers.

Triple Grixis

  • Standard: Grixis Energy
  • Modern: Grixis Death’s Shadow
  • Legacy: Grixis Delver

For max style points, you can bring a Nicol Bolas figurine with you as the team mascot.


There are plenty of possibilities for themed deck configurations in Team Trios Constructed. Such choices are not only stylish and memorable, but they can also improve connections and game play advice between teammates.

I’m looking forward to seeing the choices at Grand Prix Madrid this weekend. And I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Are the themed configurations I argued for in this article overly silly? Or do they indeed add something worthwhile?

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