Cardsmith Blog

CCC: Tiny Leaders

We're excited to continue Coast to Coast Casual (CCC), a new blog series written by East2West, published on MTG Cardsmith.

As some of you out there might know I'm a huge fan of EDH (or Commander). A big goal of mine has been to prove that it's possible to have fun playing magic without breaking the bank and I personally think EDH is perfect for that. Now of course you could always spend a bunch to full trick out a deck but where's the fun in that? My first commander deck remains my main, it's a childish Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind deck. It started as a stack of every card I owned that said draw a card and a bunch of lands, now it's more of an actual threat and has pulled of some impressive victories. My other mainstay is my mono-black deck usually headed by Chainer, Dementia Master. Aside from being one of my favorite characters from all of Magic's story Chainer is also a decent card. I say usually headed by because one of the concepts of the deck is that depending on the opponents any of the deck's legendary creatures can be swapped out into the command zone. Now I could go on for pages about my personal EDH decks but that's not today's article. No, I bring up these two decks because they share something all too common in EDH, a consistently high mana cost across all it's cards. These high mana cost cards can really be a pain when they're just sitting in your hand without the resources to cast. It can also suck to be on the recieving end of some higher CMC cards for obvious reasons.

Now what if I told you that there's a format where such costly spells weren't even legal? What if there was a format where all you need to worry about is having at least three mana? What if an extra crazy deckbuilding restriction could give birth to a fun format? It's called Tiny Leaders and I love it.

Tiny Leaders is similar to EDH in a lot of ways; it's a singleton format, you need a commander, color identity of cards must match your commanders, etc. However there are a few key differences; only cards with CMC three or less may be played, you start with 25 life, decks are only 50 cards, and there's no commander damage! (For more comprehensive rules see http://tinyleaders.blogspot.com/p/tiny-leaders-magic-gathering-format.html) Today I want to show you guys my top six favorite commanders for Tiny Leaders and some cards that I think work in their decks. my personal decklists will also be included.

Number 6: Danitha Capashen, Paragon
Danitha is actually at the head of one of my regular commander decks so this transfer wasn't much of a change. For creatures you have some great choices for a voltron style deck. Auriok Steelshaper and Hero of Iroas help reduce your costs on top of Danitha's reduction while Kemba, Kha Regent and Graceblade Artisan give us valuable targets for our equipments and auras. As for our actual pieces Strata Scythe combined with Sword of the Animist can equal a massive creature since we're in monocolor anyway, and we can double up our bonuses since Masterwork of Ingenuity is legal. As for auras we have the classic Ethereal Armor which pairs quite well with Battle Mastery. I also like to run Bonds of Faith since it can double as a pacifism if needed. A lot of really good equipments and auras are within our limitations so customization here is super easy.
Number 5: Depala, Pilot Exemplar
For anyone who's played Brawl I'm sure you've seen the power of Depala unleashed. Her buff to vehicles can make or break games and the ability to filter for vehicles and pilots for them is incredibly useful. For vehicles we run some of the best and deadliest. Heart of Kiran, Peacewalker Colossus, and Aethersphere Harvester are insanely good in general and since it's not banned in Tiny Leaders we get to run Smuggler's Copter. The problem with crewing is that it taps the creature, leaving you often without tricks. So a lot of creatures we run have sacrifice effects; Kami of False Hope and Sanctum Guardian protect your life total while Ember Hauler and Hearth Kami act as pretty good removal. We also have access to undercosted creatures with high power such as Vexing Devil and Torpid Moloch which act as incredible pilots. I also like how Stonybrook Schoolmaster works in this deck, getting us a token every time he crews. This deck focuses on getting that kill fast, it can suffer heavily if the game goes on too long.
Number 4: Naban, Dean of Iteration
I love wizards as a tribe, at every Dominaria draft I've been to I forced wizards and I haven't lost yet. Naban is an interest commander giving us a tribal Panharmonicon effect so we want to abuse that as much as possible. To that effect we run Sage's Row Denizen as a win con, attempting to mill our opponents as well as Simic Manipulator to take their threats. Exclusion Mage, Aether Adept, and our multitude of bounce spells keep the board ours or can return our own wizards so we can get their ETB effects again. Metallic Mimic and Adaptive Automaton give our scholarly type creatures the buff they need to get in some serious damage. All in all this was just a fun deck to make and even more fun to play. Naban is truly and underappreciated treasure.
Number 3: Zo-Zu the Punisher
I took this deck on as a challenge to myself, I knew that there wasn't much land destruction at this low of a CMC so I thought it wouldn't really turn out well. And y'know turns out I was only half right. For destruction our all stars are Raze, Stone Rain, Pillage, and Molten Rain plus some other much, much worse cards. Our punishment package is pretty limited to Zo-Zu himself, Ankh of Mishra, and Countryside Crusher. To get rid of our excess lands in hand we run Seismic Assault, Land's Edge, and Molten Vortex. This is a very odd deck and it plays either annoyingly well or disastrously bad. The reason it's so high is because in all honesty that's how I like to play Magic. Sue me.
Number 2: Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer
Gwafa as a card embodies one of my favorite types of commander decks, political. He makes the transfer to Tiny Leaders extremely well at the head of a hyper effective prison control deck that works similar to Owling Mine. For protection we run Island Sanctuary, Ghostly Prison, Propaganda, Reflector Mage, and Orzhov Advokist. These protect us and can turn our opponents against each other. Gwafa provides our opponents with cards so we want to encourage that. Running Horn of Greed, Temple Bell, Vision Skeins, Remand, Howling Mine, Mikokoro Center of the Sea, and Eidolon of Rhetoric means our opponents hands will often be full so we take advantage with Windfall, Black Vise, and Ebony Owl Netsuke. This deck is evilly fun to play and I might expand upon it to create an actual EDH deck in the future. God I love politics.
Number 1: Mathas, Fiend Seeker
We start and end this list the same way, with a commander I actually use in EDH. Mathas is my favorite kind of political commander, one who turns your opponents against each other. To ensure the backstabbing we run Vow of Malice, Vow of Duty, Vow of Lightning, and Spectral Grasp all of which make it so the enchanted creature can still attack, just not us *insert evil laugh* We also run a lot of the same white prison cards from the Gwafa deck like Ghostly Prison and Advokist but red gains us Circle of Flame and Besmirch. Black brings the best removal around as a looming threat I like to run Royal Assassin and Kiku, Night's Flower both of which highly discourage lifting a finger against us. I could go on for a long time about this one but I suggest actually building it and seeing the mayhem and bloodshed for yourself.


High price tags can really turn people of of certain decks in magic so I tried very hard to keep my suggested decklists for these commanders under 50 dollars. This doesn't mean you can't upgrade them with some more expensive additions. For example Zo-Zu benefits immensely from the inclusion of Crucible of Worlds while Naban is a great enabler for Snapcaster Mage. The possibilities are truly endless. As always remember, this is a fun game so let's try and keep it that way. See you all next month.


East2West is an aspiring writer from NJ currently seeking fame and fortune on the internet. She's been playing Magic since Zendikar block (the original one) and is a commander player with one deck for each two color pair and one for each single color. The only non EDH deck she plays is her own personal Pauper brew, Pauper Eggs. Follow her on her newly created and probably soon to be underused twitter @East2WestMTG.

Aug 14, 2018 by East2West
Comments

Artistic August

This month MTG Cardsmith is hosting it's first ever Artwork Contest! Read the full details and rules. In honor of this amazing challenge we're looking for your Custom Artwork Cards for the month of August! Show us your custom artwork cards, and watch for them to be featured!

Featured Cardsmiths

Crimson
Most of you don't know this, but Crimson is one of the longest running Cardsmiths on the site! He was here before longtime Cardsmiths such as Tomigon, Beeswax, AustinSmith and practically everyone else. We're very honored that Crimson has graced us with his cards for such a long time, and we hope you'll take a few minutes out of your day to look at some of the cards he's created!


Latinas
Once you've really taken a look at Latinas' cards, you'll come to the same conclusion we have... She doesn't play around when it comes to making awesome custom cards! We narrowed it down to just these five, but we encourage you to check out her entire collection... you won't be disappointed!


Each month we're excited to highlight just a couple of Cardsmiths that have helped make MTG Cardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!
Aug 01, 2018 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon
Comments

CCC: Kitchen Table Magic

We're excited to introduce Coast to Coast Casual (CCC), a new blog series written by East2West, published on MTG Cardsmith.

It's 2009, I'm sitting on the floor of a neighbor's house slamming down a Giant Growth onto my Sage Owl and having a blast doing it. I had just gotten my first taste of Magic a couple months back at NYCC where I picked up my first deck, the Unstable Terrain deck from Zendikar. It wasn't exactly powerful, certainly not competitive, and had only single copies of it's most powerful cards. And yet I always come back to this deck because it was fun. It wasn't consistent but every time I used it I had a great time. This deck is what first ignited my love for kitchen table Magic and the fun that can be had not by playing the best decks or cards, but by playing something new, something that barely works.

For those of you out there who don't know, kitchen table Magic is the most casual of casual formats, in fact I don't think it can rightfully be called a format. The basic rules of Magic remain the same. The main difference from your average Magic match lies in the end goal of the game. In a game of KT the goal is to have the most fun possible from the duel while actual victory takes a backseat. The best game of Magic I ever played was a two hour match between my KT control deck and a friend's Death and Taxes deck. Obviously I lost but neither of us had ever laughed so hard.

This super casual approach to Magic can be difficult for people who are serious players. Some of my friends on the competitive level have actually started to lose interest in the game because even though they don't want to keep spending money on new decks for standard, or they've become bored with the relatively unchanging modern meta, they've become so hardwired for competitive play that it's nigh impossible for them to just sit back and play casual again. KT Magic is as far from competitive as it gets and for players who are hardwired for tournament level play I think the secret to enjoying casual play lies in the deckbuilding being used as a gateway to enjoyable gameplay.

At heart I've always been a brewer, I like making my own versions of archetypes or creating entirely new combos. KT is the best type of deckbuilding experience for people who want to try out some crazy new idea in a place where it won't just get batted aside by optimized decks. KT is all about that spark of wild imagination. It's searching through bulk rares, it's asking yourself why no one's ever thought of making a coin flipping deck, it's building around absurd win conditions that have no viability outside of such a casual format. Honestly if you're a brewer and you know other people who like making new decks than there's no reason you guys shouldn't be playing KT right now.

Now that I've raved about it I have to admit that KT has one big issue. Mainly since it's such a casual format it doesn't have a ban list. This means that technically you could play Storm or Birthing Pod decks in KT to just sweep all of the more casual decks aside. My proposed solution to this is that as a playgroup set your own banlist for KT. These sort of specific ban lists let you set the level of casual play you want to have within your own group. And doing this can even allow you to ban a card only in a specific build. Instead of banning specific cards you could even ban decklists. Now a downside to the group specific ban approach is that it'll make it difficult to play with others outside of your playgroup, to that extent I've actually been working on an out of playgroup ban list. Hopefully this goes the way of EDH and gets enough attention for people to see this. However this banlist will only apply to spontaneous matches outside of your playgroup. As long as everyone in a game agrees on the legality of cards or decks I actually encourage you to ignore the ban list in favor of personal preference of the players present.

Hopefully this has turned on the brewing switches in some of your minds. If you've never tried kitchen table Magic do it. Get off your computer and go deep diving through your collection. Even if you have played KT before now's a great time to turn the way a lot of us started playing into a genuine way to enjoy this beautiful game. A quick first of two endnotes; it should go without saying but one of the things that this format hinges on is good sportsmanship. This format seeks to avoid getting to such levels of optimization that the meta becomes static. Part of this format being self policing relies on it's players not making decks that seek to just win. All in all just don't abuse the openness of this format to crush naive players who are seeking a fun game with your fully tricked out Tron deck. Remember that the goal here is to have fun, not add to your win/loss ratio. See the suggested out of playgroup when it's posted for cards and decklists to maybe not use in an effort to keep KT accessible to new players. The second little note is that you shouldn't seek out cards for a KT deck. If you're at your local game store I'd say go through their bulk if they have it but try to spend as little money as possible and work with what you have as much as possible.

To help everyone along the way I have included below my personal favorite Kitchen Table deck I've ever played. You'll notice it has no sideboard because honestly if everything goes correctly your decks shouldn't need them. It also only costs about 18 dollars as of the writing of this article.

What Has Sunk

by East2West
  • 24 Island
  • 4 Lorthos, the Tidemaker
  • 4 Quest for Ula's Temple
  • 2 Tolarian Serpent
  • 2 Isleback Spawn
  • 2 Elder Deep-Fiend
  • 3 Negate
  • 3 Cancel
  • 2 Unsummon
  • 4 Void Snare
  • 4 Kraken Hatchling
  • 2 Trench Gorger
  • 2 Whelming Wave
  • 2 Hypnotic Siren

Thanks for reading, please feel free to write to me at [email protected] with ideas and things to write about in the next issue of Coast to Coast Casual. See you all then.

-East2West

East2West is an aspiring writer from NJ currently seeking fame and fortune on the internet. She's been playing Magic since Zendikar block (the original one) and is a commander player with one deck for each two color pair and one for each single color. The only non EDH deck she plays is her own personal Pauper brew, Pauper Eggs. Follow her on her newly created and probably soon to be underused twitter @East2WestMTG.

Jul 14, 2018 by East2West
Comments

Legen... wait for it...

Last month we got not one, but TWO new card borders! The now infamous colored artifacts and the completely amazing Dary borders... Oh wait, sorry, Tomigon just reminded me they're the new Legendary Borders! This month, in honor of these fantastic new borders, we're looking for Noncreature Legendary Spells! Instants, Sorceries and Enchantments of any kind, as long as they're LEGENDARY! Submit your entries and some of our favorites might just end up becoming featured!

Featured Cardsmiths

Tesarand
We've been blessed with having some incredible Cardsmiths over the years, and Tesarand is just one more of those incredible Cardsmiths we think you should know about! Her designs are thoughtful, well crafted and getting better all the time! We grabbed just a handful of Tesarand's cards that we wanted you to check out because we think you're gonna love them as much as we do!


Gelectrode
Gelectrode has been a key member of the Cardsmith community for a while now, and we're sad to hear they will be leaving us for a while. We think their cards and designs are amazing and we wanted to take this opportunity to make sure everyone has a chance to take a look at what's been done! We all agree that they will be missed while they're away, so until the grand return, let's take a few moments to check out some creations and drop a few favorites on them!


Each month we're excited to highlight just a couple of Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!

Cardsmith Updates

Livestreaming Schedule - Be sure to check the forums for our weekly MTG Arena livestream schedule. We're participating in the closed beta on Twitch at https://twitch.tv/mtgcardsmith. You can also become a Follower (it's free!) on Twitch for go-live updates and more.

Artist Artwork Requests - If you are using artwork from another source, or going directly to the artists page please seek out the permission of artists before you incorporate their artwork into cards. If your artwork gets flagged or requested by an artist to be removed, the card will be deleted immediately! Use your best judgement here and abide by the Terms of the site.

Premium Members - Thank you for your continued support! As mentioned above, last month we released two new card borders to the community, as well as other functional updates and improvements. The only reason that happens is because of SUPPORTERS LIKE YOU! Starting next week, listen into our live stream for a shout out to new supporters each week - you deserve it!
If you are interested in supporting the site, subscribe to a Premium Membership today for profile benefits and more!
Jul 01, 2018 by MTG Cardsmith, Corwinnn, & Tomigon
Comments

Colored Artifacts Have Arrived!

You've asked for it, and now they're here! Artifacts with colored borders have arrived! So now we want to see what all the fuss is about! (Don't worry, we know what the fuss is about.) Show off some of your best custom Artifacts with your favorite color identity and you could find that card Featured this month!

Featured Cardsmiths

Lujikul
Lujikul has been a contributing member of MTGCardsmith since joining back in 2016. He's always pitching in with fun designs and interesting concepts. We love having him around, so take a little time and check out these and more of Lujikul's cards by following the link above, and the links on the cards!


Phelgming
We've never featured a Cardsmith with so few custom card creations before, and probably never will again. Even though he doesn't make many cards, most of you know him from his card comments! Whether you love his comments or not, Phelgming has been helping all of us make better cards with his sage advice for quite a while now, and this is our way of saying thanks for being a valued part of the community. Now go check out the smallest card collection we've ever featured!


Each month we're excited to highlight just a couple of Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!
Jun 01, 2018 by Corwinnn & Tomigon
Comments
Want to join the largest online custom MTG community?
Sign up!