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The Formats

by Mike the White

Well, as I type this, the Shards of Alara pre-release is tomorrow. Time to crack the sealed pack, add a few boosters, and whine because I got a crap rare. However, to quote the immortal words of The So Fine, "I hope I win".

Thinking about the sealed tournament got me pondering the differences between the different formats of Magic that I play. Namely, Standard, Draft, Sealed, and recently Elder Dragon Highlander. Now, technically since I haven't "busted my cherry" in EDH, I can't speak very well to that format. However, I feel that since I've played at least two games in the other formats, I'll pretend I'm "The Authority"... poorly. (Side note: turn on "safe-search" when googling images for the term "Busted Cherry"... seriously)


I really like standard. The card pool is limited enough to make it more or less fair to new players, yet wide enough to offer some diversity. As Macdaddy Clay said in one of his articles, I don't like playing the "typical deck". I don't cruise the "net deck" pages looking for something to play every other Friday night (not that there's anything wrong with that). I like putting double-quotes around "words" for no good "reason". But that's just me. Standard is good for Wizards of the Coast because it keeps us buying new cards and it's good for the players because we're not constantly playing that bomb combo out of Exodus. Yay! New stuff! Boo! There goes my paycheck!


Draft is where people who thrive under pressure and think quickly shine. My blood pressure always increases on nights when I draft. You have to be able to read the table, see what colors are going where, and develop a deck strategy from nothing. You can be somewhat prepared by studying the card pool, but only true skill and adaptability will see you through to the win in draft. Our friend Dayne is an excellent drafter, quick thinking and skilled. I miss him coming around. :( I'll always love draft, I'll always get stressed when I draft, and I'll always be a sub-par drafter. I don't read the table well and once my mind gets set on a color I tend to make bad picks. It's something I'm trying to change, but at 39 years old I'm not the most flexible individual you'll meet. Wish me luck.


Sealed is, obviously, in many respects like draft but in other respects it's a totally different animal. Luck factors in more than in draft since your card pool is down from a potential 24 booster packs+ to a tournament pack and 3 boosters. When you get a bomb rare or two in sealed, your chances skyrocket. On the other hand, nobody has seen what you potentially have in grip. There are a lot of the same pressures and a lot of the same mistakes can be made. I like sealed for an entirely different reason.

Sealed to me means a release event of some kind... and those are always fun (despite, as Bud has noticed, the usual presence of sweat-pants clad, personal hygeine deficient, basement dwellers). I'm not including a pic of what I mean, but you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Magic in all its forms is fun. The competition, the surprises, the card interactions, the diet cokes, they all add up to a mentally stimulating challenge that is hard to beat for the money. There are times that I give my friends grief for getting me into this game, but the truth is that I love it. Ask Bud sometime about when he attacked with Teneb into his opponent's 3 x Aven Riftwatchers... good times... good times...

+ 3x+=
Bud played Sudden Spoiling, no lives were gained by his foe, and Bud and Sudden Spoiling have been bestest friends ever since.

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