This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Tiny Leaders

Hayes1 (1) panda Choo choo! There has been a very exciting format that has recently been gaining lots of traction in the magic community: Tiny Leaders! Hayes here with input from Clay writing about how the hype is real and why you should grab a friend to try it out.

Tiny Leaders is a Commander variant where players play a 1v1 match against each other using 50 card decks (including the Commander) and starting at 25 life. Each deck is full of singleton cards besides basic lands. The Commander and all the cards in your main deck and 10 card sideboard have to have a total casting cost of 3 or less. Hence the name, “Tiny Leaders”.

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The Commander follows the same rules as in normal Commander; when it would die you can choose to place him in the command zone instead and it costs (2) colorless mana more to cast each time this happens. Commander damage doesn’t exist in Tiny leaders.

The only odd rule is that there are a couple of basic created cards that exist to serve the three color wedge groups because not every wedge has a commander (EG, Anafenza, The Foremost). For each of these wedges and shards that don’t have a Commander yet there is a basic legendary creature that is a 2/2 with a casting cost of one of each of the wedge/shard colors.

A detailed full version of the rules and ban list can be found on their site here

Tiny Leaders really solves what I perceive to be the main problem of playing 1v1 EDH: It isn’t a format that is stable enough to play  at a consistent competitive level. Over all the years that I’ve fishbowled 1v1 Commander most games end quickly with one player taking the lead and it being hard for the other to take the lead away. In Tiny Leaders the gameplay feels much tighter; I often feel like I’m playing a strange form of Legacy and Modern at the same time. The game changes hands multiple times and there is a constant air of excitement that comes from a competitive environment.

When I talked to other friends about the format after I had been initially introduced to it a few months ago some of them were doubtful as to how diverse it was.

“I’ll just play elfball and kill you over and over again. It won’t be fun.”

I didn’t really believe him. His view seemed to black and white.

My awesome longtime friend Clay, @EDHPanda, and I built decks and decided to start dueling it out at our local shop after we had gotten home from our respective colleges. Inadvertently Clay had chosen to build Ezuri, Renegade Leader, the king of elf ball. As I sat down with my Grenzo, dungeon warden deck I was a little nervous. I was confident in my goblin build; a stripped down version of my greater Grenzo 100 card EDH deck but I was worried that I didn’t have enough pieces of interaction to stop him from snowballing me.

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We sat down and relived the classic Elves VS Goblins matchup. The elves came down fast and often trying to either crush me early with Ezuri’s activated overrun ability or by going infinite with mana and drawing Clay’s deck with either Staff of domination or other value cards. As the Goblins came out they sniped elves, regenerated fallen comrades and grouped together for powerful offensive pushes. I was really surprised by how back and forth the gameplay was. Sure there were times when one of us had a god hand and were able to skate to victory because our opponent didn’t have an interactive hand. But for the most part there were good amounts of trading and interaction going on.

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What surprised me the most was that against elves, my goblin deck was the control deck. The elves were so much faster and mana efficient that they could almost always get underneath me and attempt to race me to the finish line.

After our initial foray into the format we decided to go home and make new decks. We decided to focus more on sideboards and reflected more on what interactions mattered in our matchups. In my next few articles on Tiny Leaders I’m going to be talking about Clay and I’s deckbuilding and how we approached the format. We’ll cover specific matchups as well as individual decklists and archtypes. Think of it as a continuing story.

If you like exploring formats this is the format for you. Tiny Leaders is modestly easy to build  with its 50 card set lists and as we move into the future with Fate Reforged the possibilities will only keep on coming.

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Until next time! Follow me @hayesthehayes if you like the series. Questions, comments and concerns welcome below. Also feel free to share your experiences with Tiny Leaders and share your excitement with the rest of the Commandercast!

Series Navigation<< Tiny Leaders! 02: Elves V.S. Goblins