Alternate Format - Big Deck

Casual Article from DeQuan Watson
DeQuan Watson
submit to reddit » Print «

this article! - or - Bookmark and Share

I know. The name's not very original, but that's beside the point. I would be open to suggestions if you have a cooler name for it. I'm sure you want to know what this format entails. Well, the obvious, and most important piece of this equation is a very large deck. But there are some game rules.


The setup is simple. Grab a couple of buddies and put the deck within reach of everyone. You're all going to play off the top of the same deck. That's right...the same one. But you don't share everything.

You each have your own life totals. That probably seems a bit obvious. But it needs to be said.

You will also each have your own graveyard. Originally, this format was played with a shared graveyard, but at times, things got a bit awkward and out of hand. Also, creatures and spells that relied on the graveyard could get out of hand. So, now, every player maintains their own graveyard.

For cards that specify owner, simply refer to the player that originally cast the card. Since you're playing off of one deck, there isn't a 'true' owner. It's usually not that hard to keep up with and it keeps it similar to 'normal' Magic.

If playing with more than two players, all spells can affect everyone. You can also attack whomever you wish. There are no restrictions. This keeps it interesting and less restrictive with some of the randomness that can happen from time to time.


 Desert Twister
Store QTY Price  
MaelstromNexus 1 $12.98
Flipside Gaming 1 $13.47
Millers Gaming 1 $13.50
Bigger Better Games 1 $13.58
Diamonds Mined 1 $15.99
Magic Kyngdym 1 $18.95
LastSavePoint 1 $21.99
Sky High Comics 1 $22.99
Arcadian Marketplace 1 $23.47
Tara Angel's Magic 3 $23.70
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Desert Twister Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

This whole time I keep making reference to the deck, but haven't really gone into detail. I told you before that it's the most important part. You really need it to be a balanced mix of many things in order for the game to be fun.

You can't play your cards without the mana to cast them. So your land mix needs to be just right. In a normal deck 60 card deck, your land/mana generally make up 34-37% of the deck. You might as well push the mana count up to the 40% mark. The main reason is that the mana is going to be split up over multiple players. This means that if you build a 250 card deck, you want the lands to total about 100 of those cards. That may seem high, but it is definitely needed.

It's not only important to have a bunch of land here. You want to have a large variety as well. Feel free to add in pain lands, dual lands, and a fair amount of basic lands. I would like to caution against fetch lands and sac lands on the fact that they can slow the game down a ton. That's a large amount of cards to search through every time you want to get a land.

Most of the small creatures in the deck should be utility creatures. You don't want hard to deal with powerhouses to rule this format. Stay away from the White Knights, River Boas, and Savannah Lions. Push more for Llanowar Elves, Weathered Wayfarers, and Grim Lavamancers. You want creatures that are worth getting early, but nothing that's going to dominate.

You want the game to get into later turns, so feel free to play your dragons. Spiritmonger isn't a bad choice. This format even lends itself to taking advantage of those large creatures you would normally toss to the side. You know what I'm talking about. Sisters of Stone Death are generally banished to your storage box, but in this format, they are more than acceptable.

Creature removal is a tough Balancing Act to play in the creation of a Big Deck deck. You absolutely need to have it. But you want something that's limited to one time uses. The only time I would break this rule is when I want to add something that's hard to use. This can make some cards really rewarding to get into play. Terror is a more than acceptable choice. Try to play things from each other. Swords to Plowshares is great. And there are old favorites that will fit nicely in here like Desert Twister. Also, keep things a bit limited. Don't have more than one or two of each card. It keeps things interesting and unpredictable.

Mass removal is tough too. I would only play about 8-10 total mass removal cards. And I might even hold firm to this number regardless of the number of cards I put into the big deck. You want this format to be about interesting card interactions and fun. Don't have everything keep getting wiped off the table that everyone has worked so hard to get. It will make the game very boring and the person that's had the most trouble getting something to stick on the board will be frustrated.

You want enchantments in there as well. Don't put anything in that's overly dominating. Oath of Druids and Survival of the Fittest might be a bit much. Honestly, Circles of Protection aren't any fun for this format either. Furnace of Rath is always a fun one though. You could even go with Gravepact. Those are cards that make for some fun interactions that may not get played all that often.

 Howling Mine
Price N/A
Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card Howling Mine Magic MTG Card
Magic MTG Card

You definitely want to add artifacts into this format. They are easy for everyone to cast, so mana isn't an issue. And honestly, you can even add a few that help with the mana situation. I also like cards such as Howling Mine. These give everyone a benefit and are extremely fun for everyone involved. Other cards, such as Ensnaring Bridge, can be fun, because it's hard to exploit them in this type of format. So, it's a useful card that can be played, but it takes some work to take advantage of it.


This is a great format for killing time between rounds in a tournament. If you want something that three to five players can play with no preparation, this is a good format for you. The best way to carry your Big Deck around is in a simple single row long box.

Why have any dead cards in your collection. This format helps alleviate this issue. Just about every card is useable here. That's one of the biggest reasons to play this format. You can play whatever you want. And better yet, you can build an interesting Big Deck from spare cards that are currently going unused.

Obviously, there isn't much room for competition in this format. You can have some fun and get some short-term bragging rights from your buddies, but there's nothing else to it. No one is arguing over better deck builds or superior strategy. Everyone playing simply sits down to play and have a good time.

This is quite possibly one of the ultimate casual formats. It's completely made for the casual gamer. But, a competitive player that wants a break from the norm will enjoy it as well.

submit to reddit » Print «