The MTG Community - Why You Should Play More Limited [Ty Thomason - Archmage, Level 46]

Last week, the big news in the Magic world was the banning of Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom in Modern. I don’t want to get too deep into my thoughts on the bannings. I think Twin was a long time coming, and Bloom wasn’t the right card to ban from that deck. And I’ll save my analysis of the Modern banned list philosophy for another time as well. I want to talk about a particular reaction to the bans that I saw and read.

Many players felt betrayed by the DCI that they could ban a card like Splinter Twin which had been a staple of the format for so long. They invested a significant amount of money and time acquiring the cards they needed for the deck, assuming it was a safe long-term deck. Perhaps there should be some kind of watch list like there once was, letting people know a year ago that while Splinter Twin was deemed okay for now, it has the potential to be banned in the future. As it is, many people were left shocked by what appears to them a black swan type event.

If this sounds like you or you look at the price of Modern or Standard decks to beat and wonder how you can afford to play and still eat, my suggestion is: Play more Limited!

Limited Is More Affordable

Limited (sealed deck and booster draft) is a great way to enjoy Magic! I feel like it gets a bad reputation from close-minded people. Limited is a more affordable way to enjoy the game if you aren’t trying to play as much as possible. When I first was playing competitively, we almost exclusively drafted. Constructed is what we would do to pass the time between rounds of drafts. When you don’t know what deck you want to play, it can be foolish to pay for the cards to finish one deck only to discover at FNM or a PPTQ that you don’t like it. You can avoid that by playing in FNM drafts or sealed PPTQs and using proxies to test constructed while you figure things out. Your Limited deck won’t get banned, nor is it a huge investment. It also gives you a way to use all the packs you’ve won (Do I need to tell you it's bad value to crack your packs?).

Limited Is Less of a Commitment

Playing more Limited means you can come and go as you please. You don’t have to keep up with the latest trends and metagame shifts. You can take a break from Magic for a set or two and come back on equal footing. The skills you learn drafting and building sealed decks will last a lifetime from format to format. Whenever an old-school player I know comes back to the game, he or she doesn't take long to get their skills back because they know quickly remember the fundamentals that you learn from Limited. If this person had spent his or her time learning when to use Counterspell on Fact or Fiction, he or she would have a bunch of useless skills in today’s game.

Limited Is Less Repetitive

While you’re free to come and go from playing Limited, playing a bunch of it won’t burn you out. Limited Magic means a variety of decks and experiences. You won’t have to play against Abzan or Burn round after round. There are rarely unwinnable matchups. You won’t get stuck playing a bad draft deck very long.

Limited Makes You Better at Magic

Limited will make you a better Magic player on a fundamental and theoretical level. If you feel like every time a new set rotates into or out of Standard you have to relearn everything, having a solid foundation from Limited will make that transition easier. The variety of situations you find yourself in will help you make creative decisions and train you to not autopilot through your turns. There are more opportunities to bluff and leverage hidden information.

Building a sealed deck or deciding which cards to draft will teach you fundamentals of deckbuilding you can use to build your own constructed decks. Mastering the art of Limited gives you a better understanding of the variance inherent in the game and can help you avoid going on tilt when things don’t go your way.

Limited Can Be More Social

Discussing plays and builds with other players is much more rewarding when playing Limited. The variety of styles and strategies leads to more dynamic conversations. There is rarely a consensus strategy in Limited, even amongst the best players in the world. This can be frustrating when you're still learning, but very rewarding once you begin to realize your own thoughts are just as valid as those of others. Having a group to discuss picks and plays really adds to the Magic experience.

Question Everything

Constructed is more popular, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Following a Modern tournament coverage from a popular website might be something you enjoy, but remember the people showing it to you also have an agenda - they want to sell you expensive things! You can still enjoy Magic and build the skills to be the best by playing more Limited. Be the change you want to see and ask your LGS to run more Limited events!


What's your take on Limited vs. Constructed?

Additional Reading

1. Event - $1k Magic Tournament Hosted by Galactic Treasures & The Card House

2. The MTG Community - Pros & Cons of Playing Two-Headed Giant [Edward Eng - Battlemage, Level 42]

3. MTG Reporter - Horseshoes & Hand Grenades [Jon Waldrop - Task Mage, Level 12]

A Little Bit about Ty

He's been playing Magic since Ice Age; competitively since Onslaught. Ty's a veteran of 6 Pro Tours and has over a dozen money finishes at Grand Prix tournaments. His favorite formats are Sealed Deck and Legacy, but he'll play anything as long as it’s Magic!

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