A Magic: the Gathering blog by and for the janky combo casual players alienated in a world of netdecking millionaires.

I value inexpensive (kinda) decks outside of the meta because I am cheap and easily bored.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Magic the Mathering - The Bad Deck Format

The Bad Deck Format.

Have you ever bemoaned pulling some truly terrible cards from your boosters? Condemned to a life of never being included in a deck, or even in the sideboard of an experimental deck? Ultimately they are used as coasters or simply take up space in your boxes. We’ve all been there.

However, salvation is now at hand! I present to you the BAD DECK format! The chance to give those abominable cards their moment in the spotlight.

The Rules: A bit prescriptive and with my apologies, a bit LONG, but they are really there to make sure that games are fun and have a chance of getting a winner.

It's really a format for casual games/tournaments, I don't recommend making it too competitive. The idea is to allow your oft maligned card a shot at being in the spotlight and collectively laugh at some of the terrible cards and admire the genius ways in which people use these terrible cards to poorly interact with each other to conspire to lose the game for their opponents.

The point of the bad deck therefore is that you give it to your opponent to use and because it is so heinously bad, your opponent cannot possibly win, allowing you to win with their (hopefully) slightly less bad deck. 

Deck Construction

Mana and Duplicate requirements

Decks are constructed with exactly 60 cards, between 20 and 25 lands and no sideboard.

Each card, with the exception of basic lands, can only appear in your deck once.

If you include a white card, the deck must have at least 4 plains.
Include a blue card and the deck must have at least 4 islands
Include a black card and the deck must have at least 4 swamps
Include a red card and the deck must have at least 4 mountains
Include a green card and the deck must have at least 4 forests

There is no requirement to run all five colours.

Cards that have two or more different mana symbols count as all colours represented, include an Ebony Treefolk and you need both 4 forests and 4 swamps

For split and hybrid mana cards, owing to their versatility you may choose one side of the card/one colour of the card to count as the card in your deck. The vast majority of decks are five colour for maximum mana screw so it's not usually an issue, but if you have Fire/Ice you must include at least 4 islands OR 4 mountains. If you include Unmake you must include 4 plains OR 4 swamps.

Creature Requirements

The deck must include creatures with a total power of at least 35 and with no upper limit. This must also include at least TWELVE creatures but can be more.

Creatures with defender can be included in your decks, but they do not count towards your total power. Include a Wall of Swords (power 3) and you still need creatures totaling power 35, not 32.

Legal Casting Requirements

Underhanded tactics are welcome and indeed encouraged but everything has to be “legal” and “useable” at least in the technical sense of the word. You can’t just pick creatures that the deck is unable to get around their restrictions in attacking. The games need to finish after all! As long as the capability is there you should be fine.

“Legal” Is fairly simple.

Each spell must be possible to cast, as well as possible to pay any mana-based upkeep costs at least once, using the lands you have in the deck. I think the basic lands requirement pretty much covers this but there are exceptions.

“Legal” Casting Example:

If you play a Khalni Hydra in the deck (Casting cost of: GGGGGGGG) you need to include eight forests in your deck. If you make that the only green creature card in the deck you are also an evil genius.

“Legal” Upkeep Examples:

Spells that have regular or cumulative upkeep for colourless mana are no problem, likewise things with upkeep requiring you to pay life or sacrifice permanents are also fine.

Cover of Winter has cumulative upkeep {s} (one mana from a snow permanent.) Now we’re talking! There is no problem including this card providing there are at least four plains in the deck (the requirement of including a white card) and one snow land in the deck (to pay the mana-based upkeep at least once.)

In this case, three normal plains and one snow plains is enough to meet both of the requirements.

Useability Requirements

“Useable” Is a little more complex and mostly relates to the creatures and their restrictions in attacking because the creatures and working around their uselessness are how you win games. It just makes sure that the games come to a conclusion by having creatures actually be able to attack, however sporadically.

Useable example 1:
Blind-Spot Giant can't attack or block unless you control another giant. Therefore your bad deck MUST include some way to get a second giant creature on the battlefield or the card is not “useable.” You could literally use another giant creature, or you can get creative, by using a changeling for example, which is every creature type. That is a little bit powerful though.

Other ways that are technically “useable” are; including an Imagecrafter, which can tap to make one of your creatures any creature type that you like. But that’s every turn and therefore reliable. The pro Bad Deck builder might instead run a Trickery Charm. Using the “target creature becomes the creature type of your choice until end of turn” option to target a second creature they control.

This would mean the giant could only attack once, on the turn that you use your trickery charm on another one of your creatures to turn it into a giant.


Useable Example 2:
Scarred Puma has an ability that says it can't attack unless a black or green creature also attacks. Therefore, your Bad Deck MUST include one black or green creature that can attack, or else the card is not “useable.”

The sneaky bad deck player might make the only other green or black creature a Reiver Demon and then trollface as the Reiver destroys their precious Puma as it comes in to play.

To get around the fact that casting a Reiver Demon in a format like this is probably enough to win you the game the canny Bad Deck player would likely only include 4 swamps in the entire deck and pray swamp 4 is near the bottom.


Thus the Bad Deck format is defined.

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