Different Magic the Gathering formats
With Magic the Gathering approaching 30 years old there have been a lot of changes and developments over the years including the different formats and their variants. There are two main categories of formats within MTG, these are Constructed and Limited. Both are different in their own ways and they have several different formats within them.
Let us start with the Limited formats. Limited formats are basically a format where you have limited cards/packs in which to build a deck with. These usually coming the form of a Booster Draft or a Sealed Deck, there are a couple more formats but these two are the most popular.
A booster draft is when each player in the draft is given 3 booster packs. Depending on how many people are in the draft these might be split into a few smaller groups. The way the draft works is each player choses 1 card for the pack then passes the pack to the next person, they intern will receive a pack from the person before them and then chose a card from that pack. This goes on until all 3 packs have been opened. By the end, each player should have a card pool of 45 cards (not including basic Lands) in which to build a 40-card deck. A sealed deck works by each player opening 6 booster packs each, from that pool of cards they are tasked with building the best 40-card deck they can, again this card pool is not including basic lands. Both these formats put your deck building skills to the test as with having such limited resources to work with you need to know which cards work best in the limited environment.
If we move onto the Constructed formats, there are a lot more to discuss. We will only look at a few of the more popular formats but please click here to visit the Magic the Gathering website to see a full breakdown of all the formats.
The first place to start will be Standard. As you can guess Standard is the, well, standard format of Magic the Gathering. As Magic the Gathering has a rotating set mechanism then as time goes by older sets rotate out of Standard and fall into one or several of the other constructed formats. There are 4 set releases per year and there are 8 sets within each rotation. So, each year with the fall set is released, usually in September the oldest 4 sets will rotate out. A set is usually playable in Standard for between 15 months to 2 years depending on when the set is released. In Standard you can build a deck using any of the Standard legal cards to create the best 60card deck you can. The only other restriction to Standard deck building is you are only allowed 4 of the same of any card other than basic lands in your deck.
Brawl is a singleton format that uses only cards from the current standard sets. With this format you are restricted to only 1 copy of each card in your deck (other than basic lands). You will also choose a commander for your deck; this is either a legendary creature or Planeswalker. This card is always playable to you are this card starts the game in the command zone. You then build a 59-card deck around this commander. The aim is to get as much synergy with your commander as you can.
If there are cards you own or cards from a certain set that you really want to play in a deck, then you could look at the Legacy or Vintage formats. These formats are quite similar in that you can build decks from all sets from Magic the Gathering’s history as well as some of the special sets that are released as well. The only difference is in Legacy there are some of the most powerful cards from MTG’s past that are banned however in Vintage it is pretty much a free for all. There are cards that are restricted or banned in both formats, there lists can be found here. The same deck building restrictions apply as in standard, 60-card minimum deck size and only 4 of each card (unless they are restricted).
The final format we are going to look at, and one that is a favourite with the team at Five Realm Cards is Commander. This is quite an old format and the one that Brawl was based on. With commander you have exactly 100 cards in your deck. You will have 1 commander; unlike brawl this can only be a legendary creature unless is specifically states on the card itself that it can be used as a commander. There are not many cards that allow this and those that are, most are Planeswalkers. For the rest of your 99 cards, you may only have 1 copy of any card other than basic lands. The deck building is like Brawl in that you want the most synergy with your commander as you can. Like Brawl, your commander starts the game in the command zone and is available to play at anytime you could cast them. Commander is predominantly a multiplayer format, usually played as a group of 4 but you can play with less or more. All the other formats mentioned above are, for the most part, 1 vs 1 formats. The idea of commander is to add a more group centred format, this usually leads to the use of some politics or deal making between players, which not only makes the game more interested to play but also adds an element to the game that the other formats just do not have to offer.
We hope this has given you a bit of an insight into the different formats in the game of Magic the Gathering and hopefully shows you that you can pretty much play the game in some form or another with any cards that you own. We hope you all enjoy playing Magic the Gathering and if there is anything, we can help you with please do not hesitate to contact us and keep checking the store for new releases.