Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Welcome, fellow magic enthusiasts! If you’re here, you’re probably wondering, “What format should I play in MTG?” Well, wonder no more! This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about MTG formats, from the most popular formats to the lesser-known ones. We’ll dive into the world of Limited, Constructed, and Sealed, and discuss the strategies, deck-building tips, and tricks that will help you master each format. So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newcomer to the game, get ready to expand your knowledge and elevate your game with this in-depth guide to MTG formats. Let’s get started!

Understanding the Basics of MTG Formats

What are MTG Formats?

MTG Formats are a collection of structured ways to play the popular trading card game, Magic: The Gathering. These formats provide players with a variety of unique gameplay experiences, catering to different preferences and playstyles.

Unlike other card games, MTG Formats have specific rules and guidelines that govern the gameplay, deck construction, and tournament settings. Each format has its own set of allowed cards, deck size limitations, and win conditions.

MTG Formats also vary in terms of their popularity and availability. Some formats are widely played in local game stores and competitive tournaments, while others are more niche and less frequently played.

It is important for players to understand the differences between MTG Formats and how they can impact the gameplay experience. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the various MTG Formats and their unique characteristics, helping players make informed decisions about which format to play.

The Most Popular MTG Formats

In this section, we will explore the most popular MTG formats and what makes them unique. These formats offer different gameplay experiences and cater to various playstyles.


  • Also known as “Constructed” or “Eternal,” this format features the latest set of MTG cards and is updated every three months.
  • Players build decks using cards from their personal collection and battle against other players with similar decks.
  • The focus is on strategy, skill, and card synergy, as players aim to defeat their opponents using a well-tuned deck.


  • Modern is another Constructed format that was introduced in 2011.
  • It features a unique list of banned cards and a focused card pool, including the latest sets and a selection of older, powerful cards.
  • Players must build decks within the specified restrictions and strive to outmaneuver their opponents with well-crafted strategies.


  • This format is centered around the Commander deck, which consists of 100 cards, including a legendary Commander.
  • Players use pre-constructed decks or build their own, focusing on unique strategies and synergies with their chosen Commander.
  • The goal is to achieve victory through various means, such as reducing opponents’ life totals to zero or by using the Commander’s abilities to gain an advantage.


  • A draft format involves players selecting cards from a pool of randomly shuffled MTG sets.
  • Each player drafts a deck from the cards they have chosen, and they then face off against other players with similar decks.
  • The fast-paced nature of draft games requires players to adapt their strategies on the fly and make quick decisions to gain an advantage over their opponents.


  • In a Sealed format, players open a set of booster packs and use the cards within to build a deck.
  • This format offers a fresh and exciting experience, as players are not limited by their personal card collections and must make the most of the cards they receive.
  • The objective is to use the available cards to craft a competitive deck and outmaneuver opponents in battle.

Choosing the Right Format for You

Key takeaway: MTG Formats offer various ways to play the popular trading card game, each with its unique style and rules. Players should understand the differences between formats and their impact on gameplay. Consider factors such as playstyle preferences, availability of cards, and budget when choosing the right format. Building a strong deck involves understanding mana base, card selection and synergy, and sideboarding effectively. Mastering the gameplay mechanics, analyzing opponent’s deck, and adapting strategy to matchup are essential for winning games.

Factors to Consider

When choosing the right format for you, there are several factors to consider. Here are some of the most important ones:

Factor Description
Playstyle preferences The first and most important factor to consider is your playstyle preferences. Do you enjoy the thrill of limited formats, where you build decks on the fly using a fixed pool of cards? Or do you prefer the depth and complexity of constructed formats, where you can fine-tune your deck to perfection?
Availability of cards Another important factor to consider is the availability of cards. Some formats are more accessible than others, depending on the availability of cards in your local game store or online. For example, if you live in a remote area, you may find it difficult to access the latest sets for Constructed formats like Modern or Legacy.
Budget Your budget is also an important factor to consider. Some formats, like Vintage, can be extremely expensive, requiring you to spend thousands of dollars on rare and powerful cards. Other formats, like Standard, are more affordable, with a rotating pool of cards that are readily available.

By considering these factors, you can choose the format that best suits your needs and preferences as a Magic: The Gathering player. Whether you prefer the excitement of Limited formats or the depth of Constructed formats, there is a format for everyone in the vast world of MTG.

Exploring Alternative Formats

Magic: The Gathering (MTG) offers a variety of formats for players to enjoy, each with its own unique style and rules. In this section, we will explore some alternative formats that you may want to consider trying out.

  • Commander-style formats: These formats involve a single commander card that serves as the centerpiece of the deck. Players can build decks around the commander card, and the game is won by defeating the opponent or reaching a certain number of points. Commander formats are popular for their casual, social gameplay and allow for creative deck-building.
  • Rotating formats: These formats have a set of cards that are allowed in the format for a limited time, usually a year. After the set period, the cards are rotated out and replaced with a new set of cards. This allows for a constantly changing metagame and encourages players to experiment with different strategies.
  • Brawl: Brawl is a newer format that involves a unique lineup of powerful, mythic rare creatures. Players build decks around these creatures and compete to be the last one standing. Brawl is known for its fast-paced, aggressive gameplay and is a great format for players who enjoy high-stakes battles.

These are just a few examples of the many alternative formats available in MTG. By exploring these formats, you can broaden your MTG experience and discover new ways to enjoy the game.

Building Your Deck: Strategies and Tips

Understanding Mana Base

Determining the Right Mana Base for Your Deck

The mana base of your deck is a crucial aspect to consider when building your deck. It refers to the lands you include in your deck to generate mana, which is used to play spells and creatures. To determine the right mana base for your deck, you need to consider the colors of the spells and creatures you plan to include. For example, if your deck contains mostly red and black cards, you will want to include a mix of red and black mana-producing lands.

Importance of Mana Fixing

Mana fixing is the process of ensuring that you have the correct mana to play your spells and creatures at the correct time. This is especially important in competitive play, where your opponent may be playing spells and creatures that require different amounts of mana. Including lands that produce mana of multiple colors or special lands that can generate mana in different ways can help you to fix your mana and play your spells and creatures more effectively. Additionally, having a consistent mana base can help you to play your cards more predictably, making it easier to plan your turns and respond to your opponent’s plays.

Card Selection and Synergy

Card selection and synergy are crucial aspects of building a successful Magic: The Gathering deck. The cards you choose to include in your deck will have a significant impact on the game’s outcome, so it’s essential to choose cards that work well together and support your overall strategy. Here are some tips for selecting cards and building a cohesive deck theme:

Identifying Key Cards for Your Strategy

Before you start building your deck, it’s important to identify the key cards that will support your overall strategy. These cards should be the backbone of your deck and provide the majority of your deck’s power. Some key cards might include powerful creatures, card draw spells, or removal spells.

Once you’ve identified your key cards, you can start building your deck around them. For example, if you’re building a deck around a powerful creature, you might want to include cards that help you get that creature into play quickly, such as fetchlands or shocklands.

Building a Cohesive Deck Theme

In addition to identifying key cards, it’s also important to build a cohesive deck theme. This means choosing cards that work well together and support each other’s strengths. For example, if you’re building a deck around a particular tribe, such as elves or goblins, you’ll want to include cards that synergize with that tribe, such as elvish mystic or goblin chieftain.

When building your deck, it’s also important to consider the color of your cards. Each color has its own strengths and weaknesses, and choosing cards that work well together can help you build a more cohesive deck. For example, black and red tend to work well together, as black provides removal and red provides aggression.

Overall, card selection and synergy are critical aspects of building a successful Magic: The Gathering deck. By identifying key cards and building a cohesive deck theme, you can create a powerful and effective deck that will give you an edge in any game.


How to use your sideboard effectively

Your sideboard is a crucial component of your Magic: The Gathering (MTG) deck, providing you with the flexibility to adapt to changing game conditions. Effective sideboarding can mean the difference between victory and defeat, as it allows you to adjust your strategy in response to your opponent’s moves.

Here are some key considerations when using your sideboard effectively:

  1. Assess the metagame: Analyze the popular decks in your local meta and consider how your opponents might be sideboarding against you. This will help you determine which cards to include in your sideboard to address specific matchups.
  2. Focus on hate cards: Sideboard cards that disrupt your opponent’s game plan, such as counterspells, discard effects, or card draw restriction, can be highly effective. Consider including a mix of versatile and targeted hate cards to gain a strategic advantage.
  3. Board in for specific matchups: Adapt your sideboard based on the cards your opponent is playing. Board in cards that specifically address the threats or weaknesses of your opponent’s deck, such as countermagic against aggressive strategies or additional removal against creatures-heavy decks.
  4. Be mindful of card count: Maintain a balanced sideboard to ensure you have enough cards for the matchups you expect to face. Don’t overload your sideboard with too many cards, as this can lead to awkward hands and slow decision-making.

Common sideboard strategies

Some common sideboard strategies in MTG include:

  1. The “Hate Bomb” strategy: This approach involves boarding in a large number of hate cards to disrupt your opponent’s game plan. This can be effective against decks with a specific game plan, but be cautious not to overload your sideboard with too many hate cards, as this can make your deck less resilient to other matchups.
  2. The “Spoiler” strategy: This strategy involves boarding in cards that specifically target your opponent’s key cards or strategies. This can be particularly effective if your opponent’s deck has a weakness that can be exploited.
  3. The “Midrange” strategy: This approach involves boarding in a mix of hate cards and cards that can win the game in a longer, grindy game. This can be effective against decks that struggle to close out games quickly, but may struggle against aggressive strategies.

Remember, sideboarding is an art and a science, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The key is to understand your opponent’s deck and the metagame, and adapt your sideboard accordingly to gain a strategic advantage.

Playing the Game: Tactics and Techniques

Gameplay Mechanics

  1. Understanding the Rules of the Game:
  2. The first step in mastering the gameplay mechanics of MTG is to understand the rules of the game. This includes the basic rules such as how to play creatures, how to attack and defend, and how to use mana to cast spells.
  3. It is important to familiarize yourself with the basic terminology used in the game, such as “tapping” and “untapping” creatures, and the different types of mana.
  4. Interacting with Your Opponent’s Board:
  5. Another key aspect of gameplay mechanics is understanding how to interact with your opponent’s board. This includes knowing how to attack and defend against different types of boards, and how to use your own creatures and spells to gain an advantage.
  6. It is important to pay attention to your opponent’s moves and anticipate their strategy, and to use your own resources effectively to counter their plan.
  7. Knowing Your Lands:
  8. Lands are a crucial part of the gameplay mechanics in MTG, as they provide the mana needed to cast spells and play creatures.
  9. It is important to understand the different types of lands, such as basic lands and nonbasic lands, and how they interact with each other.
  10. Knowing how to manage your lands effectively can give you a significant advantage in the game.
  11. Managing Your Mana:
  12. Mana is a limited resource in MTG, and managing it effectively is crucial to success in the game.
  13. This includes knowing how to conserve mana when possible, and how to use mana efficiently to play your spells and creatures at the right time.
  14. Understanding the different types of mana and how they interact with each other can also help you to manage your mana more effectively.
  15. Building Your Deck:
  16. Finally, building a strong deck is a key aspect of mastering the gameplay mechanics of MTG.
  17. This includes understanding the different types of cards, such as creatures, spells, and lands, and how they interact with each other.
  18. It is important to build a deck that is both powerful and flexible, with a mix of offensive and defensive strategies, and to continuously adapt and improve your deck based on your experience and knowledge of the game.

Matchup Strategies

Matchup strategies are crucial to winning games in Magic: The Gathering. To succeed in any format, it’s essential to understand how your deck’s strengths and weaknesses fare against your opponent’s deck. This section will cover analyzing your opponent’s deck and adapting your strategy to the matchup.

Analyzing Your Opponent’s Deck

Before the game begins, it’s essential to analyze your opponent’s deck. Here are some tips to help you do so:

  1. Identify the deck’s core strategy: Determine what the deck’s primary objective is, such as ramping, aggression, or control.
  2. Evaluate the deck’s resources: Analyze the deck’s mana base and identify potential resource problems your opponent might face.
  3. Assess the deck’s threats: Identify the deck’s main win conditions, such as direct damage, board control, or card advantage.
  4. Gauge the deck’s flexibility: Evaluate the deck’s ability to adapt to different situations and whether it can respond to your strategy.

Adapting Your Strategy to the Matchup

Once you’ve analyzed your opponent’s deck, it’s time to adapt your strategy to the matchup. Here are some tips to help you do so:

  1. Focus on your deck’s strengths: Play to your deck’s strengths and use its unique abilities to gain an advantage.
  2. Exploit your opponent’s weaknesses: Look for ways to exploit your opponent’s deck’s weaknesses and capitalize on them.
  3. Play defensively: In some matchups, it’s necessary to play defensively and focus on surviving until you can gain an advantage.
  4. Sideboard: Adjust your sideboard to address specific matchups, such as adding removal spells against aggressive decks or card draw spells against control decks.

By understanding and implementing these matchup strategies, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions during the game and increase your chances of winning.

Advanced Techniques

  • Mulliganing: Mulliganing is the process of shuffling the cards in your hand and drawing a new set of cards before the game begins. This can be done if you feel that your hand is not strong enough or if you are unsure of how to proceed with your current hand. Mulliganing is a useful tactic as it allows you to adjust your hand and potentially improve your chances of winning.
  • Mana curves: Mana curves refer to the distribution of mana sources in your deck. A well-balanced mana curve ensures that you have the right mix of mana sources to play your spells at the right time. It is important to have a good understanding of your mana curve to ensure that you can play your spells effectively and manage your resources properly.
  • Counterplay: Counterplay refers to the act of playing spells that counter or disrupt your opponent’s plans. This can include playing counterspells, bounce spells, or other spells that disrupt your opponent’s strategy. Counterplay is a key part of the game as it allows you to respond to your opponent’s actions and gain an advantage. Understanding how to use counterplay effectively can help you to win games and gain an edge over your opponents.

Expanding Your Horizons: MTG Tournaments and Events

Types of Tournaments

  • Pauper
  • Historic
  • Vintage
  • Modern

In the world of Magic: The Gathering, tournaments offer an exciting and competitive platform for players to showcase their skills and knowledge of the game. These tournaments are structured around different formats, each with its own unique rules and gameplay style. Here’s a closer look at the four main types of tournaments in MTG:


Pauper is a popular format that requires players to construct decks using only cards that cost three mana or less. This format is known for its fast-paced and aggressive gameplay, as players must quickly assemble their armies and launch attacks to overwhelm their opponents.

Some key aspects of Pauper tournaments include:

  • 60-card deck limit
  • No card in the deck can cost more than three mana
  • Sideboard is allowed
  • Game 1 of a match is played using the standard Pauper rules, while Game 2 allows for the use of fetchlands, which can change the mana base of the game


Historic is a format that showcases some of the oldest and most iconic cards in the game’s history. In this format, players can include cards from any set released before the current year, with some restrictions on certain cards. The goal is to create a fun and diverse format that highlights the game’s rich history.

Key aspects of Historic tournaments include:

  • 90-card deck limit
  • Players can include cards from any set released before the current year
  • Certain cards are restricted or banned
  • Modern staples like Sol Ring and Sword of Feast and Famine are not allowed


Vintage is a format that is beloved by many players for its deep strategic gameplay and high skill ceiling. This format allows players to include powerful cards from throughout the game’s history, with a focus on the most iconic and sought-after cards.

Key aspects of Vintage tournaments include:

  • No deck may contain more than one copy of any given card, except for basic land cards
  • Certain cards are banned or restricted
  • This format is known for its fast pace and emphasis on card advantage


Modern is a format that balances the power level of cards and seeks to create a fair and balanced playing field. In this format, players can include cards from the past 25 years of Magic: The Gathering sets, with a focus on the most recent and popular cards.

Key aspects of Modern tournaments include:

  • Cards from the past 25 years of Magic sets are allowed
  • The format emphasizes the use of fast and efficient strategies

Preparing for Tournaments

When it comes to competing in Magic: The Gathering tournaments, preparation is key. To be successful, you need to have a well-designed deck, a solid sideboard strategy, and ample practice and playtesting under your belt. In this section, we will delve into the details of each of these crucial elements.

Deck Building

Creating a deck that is both powerful and cohesive is a critical aspect of tournament preparation. When building your deck, it’s important to consider the format you’ll be playing in, as well as your own personal playstyle. Some factors to consider when deck building include:

  • Choosing a strategy: Do you want to focus on aggression, control, or midrange?
  • Selecting the right cards: Which cards will work best together to achieve your strategy?
  • Balancing your curve: What is the right balance of creatures, instants, and sorceries for your deck?
  • Optimizing your mana base: What lands will help you cast your spells most efficiently?


Sideboarding is the process of adjusting your deck between rounds of a tournament. It allows you to adapt to your opponents’ decks and gain an advantage in specific matchups. To prepare for sideboarding, you should:

  • Analyze your opponents’ decks: What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Identify your own weaknesses: What cards or strategies are your opponents likely to exploit?
  • Plan your sideboard moves: Which cards should you remove and which should you add to address specific matchups?

Practice and Playtesting

Before you head to a tournament, it’s essential to practice and playtest your deck extensively. This will help you identify any weaknesses and refine your strategy. Some tips for effective practice and playtesting include:

  • Finding suitable opponents: Look for players with similar skill levels or decks to yours.
  • Recording your games: Take note of the cards you played, the situations you faced, and the decisions you made.
  • Analyzing your games: Identify patterns in your play and look for areas where you can improve.
  • Refining your strategy: Based on your analysis, make changes to your deck and playstyle to better suit your needs.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to success in MTG tournaments and events. Remember, the more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel, and the better your chances of victory will be.

Navigating the Competitive Scene

  • Understanding the metagame
  • Building relationships with other players
  • Staying up-to-date with the latest developments

Understanding the Metagame

The metagame refers to the overall strategies and trends that emerge within the Magic: The Gathering community. It is constantly evolving as new cards are released and players experiment with different deck configurations. Understanding the metagame is crucial for any competitive player, as it can help you anticipate your opponents’ moves and adapt your own strategy accordingly.

To start, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the different archetypes and strategies that exist within the game. For example, some popular archetypes include aggro, midrange, and control. Aggro decks focus on playing a large number of creatures and attacking quickly, while control decks focus on disrupting your opponent’s game plan and gaining card advantage.

In addition to archetypes, it’s also important to understand the different types of cards that are commonly used in competitive play. For example, removal spells like Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile are often used to eliminate threats, while counterspells like Mana Denial and Disrupting Shoal are used to disrupt your opponent’s game plan.

By studying the metagame and understanding the different strategies and cards that are commonly used, you can begin to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the game and make more informed decisions when building your own decks.

Building Relationships with Other Players

Building relationships with other players is an important aspect of the competitive scene. Not only can it help you learn from others and get feedback on your own playstyle, but it can also make the experience more enjoyable and social.

One way to build relationships is to attend local game stores or tournaments and get to know other players in your area. You can also connect with other players online through forums, social media, and online gaming platforms.

It’s important to remember that building relationships takes time and effort. Be respectful of others, listen to their opinions, and be willing to help others in return. By building positive relationships with other players, you can create a supportive community that can help you improve your skills and enjoy the game even more.

Staying Up-to-Date with the Latest Developments

The world of Magic: The Gathering is constantly evolving, with new sets and cards being released on a regular basis. Staying up-to-date with the latest developments is crucial for any competitive player, as it can give you an edge over your opponents and help you stay ahead of the curve.

One way to stay up-to-date is to follow Magic: The Gathering news websites and social media accounts, which often provide information on new releases, upcoming events, and other relevant news. You can also attend pre-release events and participate in online communities to get a sense of what new cards are being played and how they are performing.

Additionally, it’s important to regularly update your own collection and experiment with new cards and strategies. By staying flexible and adapting to the ever-changing metagame, you can ensure that you are always ready to compete at the highest level.


1. What is a format in Magic: The Gathering?

A format in Magic: The Gathering refers to the specific rules and restrictions that govern the way a game is played. Each format has its own unique set of guidelines, such as allowed cards, deck size, and gameplay mechanics.

2. What are the most popular formats in Magic: The Gathering?

The most popular formats in Magic: The Gathering include Standard, Modern, and Commander. Standard is a rotating format that only allows cards that have been released within the last two years. Modern allows cards from the past ten years, while Commander allows players to choose a legendary creature as their commander and build a deck around it.

3. What is the difference between Constructed and Limited formats?

Constructed formats, such as Standard and Modern, allow players to build their own decks using a combination of cards from their collection. Limited formats, such as Sealed and Draft, involve building a deck using a limited number of randomly selected cards.

4. How do I choose the right format to play in Magic: The Gathering?

Choosing the right format to play in Magic: The Gathering depends on your personal preferences and playstyle. If you enjoy building complex decks and strategizing, then Constructed formats may be the best choice for you. If you enjoy the excitement of building a deck on the fly and the thrill of the unknown, then Limited formats may be more your style.

5. What is the best way to learn the rules and guidelines of a new format in Magic: The Gathering?

The best way to learn the rules and guidelines of a new format in Magic: The Gathering is to start by reading the official rules and guidelines provided by Wizards of the Coast. You can also find helpful resources and information on websites and forums dedicated to Magic: The Gathering. Playing games with other players and asking for feedback is also a great way to improve your understanding of a new format.

Explaining All The Most Popular Formats in MTG Easily and Plainly

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