Sunday, February 19, 2012

Any Standard: An Alternate Magic: The Gathering Constructed Format

I remember playing this format one time a long time ago at the Foul Line in Lincolnton, but I hadn't thought much about it until this weekend when alternative formats were being discussed at The Dugout. After briefly explaining the format to the crowd and narrowly losing the vote to the Two Headed Giant Pauper crowd, I said that I'd still explain the format so that it could be voted on again in the future. Before I forget, I want to get this out there...

Any Standard
Note: There's probably an official name for this out there somewhere, but I can't remember. It isn't the same as Build Your Own Standard. It sort of got the nickname of "Josh's Style" while it was being discussed today, but I'm not too crazy about my name being attached to it for any extended time. If you know the real name, please let me know in the comment section below.

This format is ideal for tournament organizers who want to mix things up, but who don't have a strong enough Legacy or Modern player base to make those tournaments successful. In this format, any deck that was once legal in Standard can be played, so the current Standard crowd can mix it up with older players who don't have all of the new cards.

For basic deck construction rules, I've pulled this from the Wizards of the Coast website:
Constructed decks must contain a minimum of sixty cards. There is no maximum deck size; however, you must be able to shuffle your deck with no assistance. If a player wishes to use a sideboard, it must contain exactly fifteen cards. 
With the exception of basic land cards, a player’s combined deck and sideboard may not contain more than four of any individual card, counted by its English card title equivalent. All cards named Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain, and Forest are basic. (The fiveIce Age block snow-covered lands -- Snow-Covered Plains, Snow-Covered Island, Snow-Covered Swamp, Snow-Covered Mountain, and Snow-Covered Forest -- are also basic lands. Note that snow-covered lands are permitted only in formats that allow expansions from the Ice Age block to be used.)
In an Any Standard tournament, players may choose from any Standard (or Type II) format in the history of Magic: The Gathering. Want to play Tempest-era white weenie with tons of shadow creatures? You can. Want to play Astral Slide again? You can. Want to play Faeries again? You can. The list goes on and on.

Banned Cards
Any card that has ever been banned in Standard is also banned in Any Standard. Jace, The Mind Sculptor is out... so is Skullclamp... so is Tolarian Academy.

What's probably even more fun than Any Standard? Make Your Own Standard! I've never played it, but I stumbled across it looking for the name of this format. It looks like a ton of fun too, and it keeps the same new-player-friendly status because decks legal in the current Standard environment will also be legal. I'd suggest keeping the banned rule from Any Standard when playing Make Your Own Standard. A card that was banned at one point was too powerful for the mix of cards that just happened to be in the format at the same time... it would be even more problematic when the deck builder has more control over which cards are in the format!
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