3 Great Magic: The Gathering Tiny Leaders and Deck Lists, by Grant Hislop

Everything you need to know about Tiny Leaders plus 3 great Tiny Leaders decklists

MTG Tiny Leaders and Deck Lists by Grant Hislop

3 Great Magic: The Gathering Tiny Leaders decklists and everything you need to know

Tiny Leaders is a relatively new format that’s been the focus of attention recently, due to the creators’ frankly ludicrous decision to trademark the name. Whether this is laughably ridiculous or not (it is), the fact remains that it’s actually a tonne of fun, from both a deckbuilding and gameplay perspective.

It’s organised through a site at http://tinyleaders.blogspot.co.uk, which is well maintained, and on which you’ll find an up-to-date ban list. At this time, the ban list is (hopefully) in a state flux, as there are several cards, both on and off it that I disagree with for a variety of reasons, and given that I’m always right, I expect to change more in line with what I consider reasonable quite quickly, as more players start trying out the format. This is the reason I don’t list it here, at the risk of spreading misinformation.

People are like trees. If you cut them low enough, they will fall.

ankle shanker

As with all player-run, non-WOTC sanctioned formats, engagement with the creators is important, as they don’t have access to the mounds of data that WOTC do, and a healthy format requires a tonne of maintenance to keep on ticking. Shout out to Daniel Kitachewsky, who does a fantastic job on 1v1 EDH, a successful, well run, and untrademarked player-run format.

For the uninitiated, Tiny Leaders is a duel singleton format, where both players are using 50 card decks, and attacking a life total of 25. You use a General, in the same way as (un-trademarked player run format) Elder Dragon Highlander / (officially trademarked by an actual company who also owns the intellectual property being used) Commander. Where things get slightly more interesting is the restriction that only cards with converted mana cost three or less can be used.

The format plays as somewhere between Legacy and 1v1 Commander, which is a reasonably sweet spot to be in. The singleton rule ensures a degree of separation from the consistency driven Legacy decks. The CMC 3< rule insists on an element of urgency to the gameplay, in that there is really very little time to wait around before people start, rudely, trying to get you dead.

Naturally, it can be tempting to try to port Legacy decks over into the format, and indeed, that is a reasonable way to start. Consider the following, slightly modified deck by a gentleman going by Youtube_Money, which either isn’t their real name, or belongs to someone with remarkably prescient parents.


3. Tiny Leader – [card]Merieke Ri Berit[/card]


[deck]Baleful Strix
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Dark Confidant
Snapcaster Mage
Stoneforge Mystic
Trinket Mage
True-Name Nemesis[/deck]


[deck]Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Jace Beleren
Liliana of the Veil[/deck]


[deck]Ancestral Vision
Council’s Judgment
Engineered Explosives
Inquisition of Kozilek
Lingering Souls
Mental Misstep
Path to Exile
Sensei’s Divining Top
Serum Visions
Spell Snare
Sphinx’s Revelation
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Fire and Ice
Swords to Plowshares


[deck]Arcane Sanctum
Celestial Colonnade
Command Tower
Creeping Tar Pit
Flooded Strand
Godless Shrine
Hallowed Fountain
Marsh Flats
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Scalding Tarn
Tolaria West
Underground Sea
Watery Grave[/deck]

Decks in the format are allowed 10-card sideboards for more “competitive” play, but as those are massively meta dependent, there’s very little point in listing ten cards here. These are going to be your strategy hosers, most likely, like [card]Relic of Progenitus[/card], [card]Rest in Peace[/card], [card]Meddling Mage[/card] etc.

This deck is obviously designed to be a reasonable port of Stoneblade from Legacy into the Tiny Leaders arena, and, from the looks of things, does quite a good job of doing so. Tiny Leaders, as a format, has only seven planeswalkers available to it (six, assuming you don’t count [card]Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded[/card], and you probably shouldn’t), and this deck runs three of the four available to it, eschewing [card]Ajani, Caller of the Pride[/card] presumably due to being off theme.

The deck is able to put one of these planeswalkers into play with something approaching consistency, and protect them using a variety of removal spells and token generators like [card]Lingering Souls[/card] and [card]Bitterblossom[/card].

You’ll notice that the deck contains an X Spell in [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card]. There is something of a loophole to the 3< rule, in that X spells are allowed, so long at the base cost isn’t more than 3. There are, in fact, many ways to almost circumvent this rule, as things like Kicker, Buyback and Overload are all very reasonable ways to get more bang for your buck.

As a deck building aside, 18 lands seems to be around the consensus, and the vast majority of decks would eschew mana-idiots entirely. When you’re only ramping to three on turn two, and curves are stopping at three, it seems less than stellar to give yourself many mostly dead draws in the mid to late game.

mostly dead

In fact, efficiency is very much the name of the game in Tiny Leaders. You’re looking to get the most use out of the cards that you’re playing. Something like [card]Sylvan Library[/card] goes such a long way in a format with an additional life cushion, while straight up [card]Divination[/card] is unplayable.

If we considered the [card]Merieke Ri Berit[/card] deck as what passes for a Control deck in the format, what would an Aggro deck look like? Well, how about this:-


2. Tiny Leader – [card]Anafenza, the Foremost[/card]


[deck]Abzan Falconer
Dark Confidant
Deathrite Shaman
Eternal Witness
Glissa, the Traitor
Knight of the Reliquary
Loxodon Smiter
Mother of Runes
Pack Rat
Putrid Leech
Qasali Pridemage
Silverblade Paladin
Stoneforge Mystic
Voice of Resurgence[/deck]


[deck]Liliana of the Veil[/deck]


[deck]Abrupt Decay
Council’s Judgment
Green Sun’s Zenith
Hymn to Tourach
Inquisition of Kozilek
Maelstrom Pulse
Sword of Light and Shadow
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Fire and Ice
Swords to Plowshares
Sylvan Library
Tangle Wire


Dryad Arbor
Gavony Township
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel
Marsh Flats
Overgrown Tomb
Sunpetal Grove
Temple Garden
Verdant Catacombs
Windswept Heath
Woodland Cemetery[/deck]

The sideboard for this deck would likely include a couple of pieces of graveyard hate, but would favour cards like [card]Yixlid Jailer[/card] and [card]Loaming Shaman[/card] over other types, some more discard spells like [card]Duress[/card] and co, and maybe some alternative equipment like [card]Behemoth Sledge[/card].

The deck is a disruptive Aggro deck, where we’re looking to go through what our opponents are doing, and hopefully stop what they’re doing by filling gaps on the curve with discard spells. Ideal scenario is to play [card]Anafenza, the Foremost[/card] as fast as possible, and start swinging as soon as it’s safe. Her counter buff turns our smaller, more utility based creatures like [card]Dark Confidant[/card] into legitimate threats in their own right, and looks to end the game through either smashing through a board, or landing [card]Abzan Falconer[/card], and flying over what our opponents have assembled.

I’m using perennial casual favourite [card]Tangle Wire[/card], as it’s just filthy the second you get even remotely on the board, and [card]Glissa, the Traitor[/card], who’s otherwise fairly short on targets, but has a reasonable body to cost ratio gets even more valuable. It’s a solid deck, and one that’s pretty easy to build, in fact, it almost builds itself. I’d expect to play against a lot of Anafenza decks if you’re playing in anything resembling a tournament. This is my version of the deck, and I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a very stock list.

Having covered Aggro and Control, it’s time to consider what a Combo deck would look like. There are many routes that combo can take, but I think Storm and Doomsday are the best routes to take. Here’s a slightly tweaked version of S_Pellegrino’s Doomsday Combo.


1. Tiny Leader – [card]Tetsuo Umezawa[/card]


[deck]Laboratory Maniac
Snapcaster Mage[/deck]


[deck]Burning Wish
Cabal Ritual
Careful Study
Cunning Wish
Dark Ritual
Faithless Looting
Frantic Search
Gitaxian Probe
Ideas Unbound
Inquisition of Kozilek
Lim-Dul’s Vault
Merchant Scroll
Mystical Tutor
Night’s Whisper
Pact of Negation
Personal Tutor
Scroll Rack
Sensei’s Divining Top
Thought Scour
Wheel of Fortune


Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Command Tower
Dragonskull Summit
Drowned Catacomb
Ebon Stronghold
Mana Confluence
Misty Rainforest
Polluted Delta
Reflecting Pool
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Underground Sea
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Volcanic Island[/deck]


Chaos Warp
Forced March
Hymn to Tourach
Mental Misstep
Smash to Smithereens
Tainted Pact
Toxic Deluge[/deck]

Sideboard is actually included here, as the deck runs a [card]Burning Wish[/card].

The goal of this deck is very simple: find and resolve [card]Doomsday[/card] as fast as is safe to do so. From there, with a cantrip in hand, you win the game. Without a cantrip, they get a turn to kill you. There are several ways to do this, but the most common Doomsday stack will be, in order

[deck]Gitaxian Probe
Laboratory Maniac

plus any spell that says “Draw a Card”

The cantrips are fairly interchangeable, and alternatives exist if you’ve happened to draw one. [card]Brainstorm[/card] adds value here, and can put back parts of the chain we’ve drawn in error.

The way the chain works is this:

Cast [card]Gitaxian Probe[/card]. Look at the opponent’s hand. Hopefully there’s no [card]Slaughter Pact[/card] etc hanging out in there. You’ll want to do this before [card]Doomsday[/card]’ing as well, through [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]. [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] on an earlier used [card]Probe[/card] is equally good in this stack, for what it’s worth. Draw the card from the [card]Probe[/card], which should be [card]Predict[/card].

Cast the [card]Predict[/card], naming [card]Laboratory Maniac[/card], which will then be put into the graveyard, netting us the last two cards in the library, an [card]Unearth[/card] and another cantrip.

Cast [card]Unearth[/card] on the [card]Laboratory Maniac[/card], then the cantrip, to fulfil Maniac’s condition of drawing with an empty library.

Congratulate yourself on completing what should have been very close to a game of Solitaire.

The plan B for the deck is to actually cast [card]Laboratory Maniac[/card], and then [card]Burning Wish[/card] for [card]Tainted Pact[/card], which will exile the rest of the library, and then either cast a cantrip, or give the opponent a turn to kill the Maniac or you.

They laughed when I tried to sing… But finally I completed the MegaSpeaker and the whole city will know the true power of Justin Bieber’s “Baby”. Mwahahahahaha…

laboratory maniac

It’s a remarkably consistent deck, and on a few test goldfishes with it, I was killing around turn four. When goldfishing combo decks, I like to test how quickly I can go off with one piece of protection or disruption, which is what I was doing here. You’re theoretically capable of going off on turn two, with both rituals, [card]Night’s Whisper[/card] and [card]Doomsday[/card] in hand, but that’s not exactly realistic, even with the smaller deck sizes.

This deck was an absolute blast to play, and if you like head scratchers, [card]Doomsday[/card] could very well be the deck for you.

Essentially, for most fans of competitive Magic, Tiny Leaders can offer an enjoyable, casual variant, and with most popular archetypes supported. My personal menagerie of decks includes the above listed [card]Anafenza, the Foremost[/card], [card]Marath, Will of the Wild[/card] and a Storm deck that I wasn’t particularly happy with in testing. I might well migrate to [card]Doomsday[/card], as that was a lot more fun than just counting with Storm.

It could be easy to write the format off as something approaching Legacy-lite, and while that’s not entirely an unfair comparison, I’d urge anyone with anything approaching a competitive streak to try it out. I know I’ve been carrying decks with me to tournaments recently, so if you’re living in Scotland, and PPTQ’ing in the near future, I’ll be more than happy to jam some games between rounds, and, given present form, any time after round three.

Community Question: Who is currently your favourite MTG Tiny Leader and why?

Who is currently your favourite MTG Tiny Leader and why

Stay classy, mtgUK


3 Great Magic: The Gathering Tiny Leaders and Deck Lists, by Grant Hislop
Tiny Leaders is a relatively new format that’s been the focus of attention recently, due to the creators’ frankly ludicrous decision to trademark the name. Whether this is laughably ridiculous or not (it is), the fact remains that it’s actually a tonne of fun, from both a deckbuilding and gameplay perspective.

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