My personal concerns about Tiny Leaders by David Northeast

My personal concerns about Tiny Leaders by David Northeast

I have personally been playing Magic since September 2013, I have developed a passion for the relaxed aspect of Commander. So when I heard about Tiny Leaders you can bet that I was psyched for it.

If you have been around on the Magic scene for the last couple of months, then you will probably have heard of this format already. For those that haven’t, here is a brief overview:

  • You have a single legendary creature with converted mana cost 3 or less.
  • You have a deck of 50 cards and a sideboard of 10 cards.
  • All cards used in tiny leaders must have converted mana cost 3 or less.
  • You can only use the colours of your commander identity.
  • You start on 25 life.
  • It is singleton rules (only 1 copy of each card except basic lands)

The problem for me is that I rarely give things a chance, even though I should; I either love it or hate it from the start, but the more I read about Tiny Leaders, the more I watched games of Tiny Leaders the more sceptical I became of the longevity of the format.

Did you ever have a favourite game as a child, and you played so much of in the first 2 weeks that you got sick of it? To me I see that being the fate of Tiny leaders.

Let me explain why.

My first issue is that it has hit the Magic scene like a cyclone. One minute no one had heard of this format, the next everyone I know has a Tiny Leaders deck of some kind. Now bare in mind this is just my point of view. Fads come and go so maybe just maybe Tiny leaders will die down, but not out completely, or maybe it would become a stable format in Magic.

The second point is that there is already a load of Magic formats out there that rarely gets played (local to me at least), take Archenemy and Planechase for example. So will Tiny Leaders follow the footsteps of these formats?

This format obviously is very subject to changes, new bans etc, due to it being fresh out the oven, and so therefore I for one will not be investing a huge amount into this format, like I know some have and/or will, until it has proven to me that it is not just a passing fad.

I am currently still looking into the format and how it is evolving. Will it make it onto the competitive circuit? Or will it just be a thing you play with friends? I would love to see this format lean one way or the other; at the moment I think it is stuck bang in the middle; it’s what a playgroup makes of it and I feel that I need something more concrete about where it is heading.

Tiny Leader Banner

My final– and weirdly –biggest issue is that it ruins the essence of Commander for me. I know your are probably thinking, “What!? It is a variant, based on Commander rules, how can it ruin Commander?”

My answer is simple; it makes what was a very casual format into a semi-competitive format. Don’t get me wrong I am not adverse to the competitive formats. I just think that having a casual format and making it competitive, is like going to a wedding in tracksuit bottoms and an egg stained t-shirt. For me personally it just doesn’t mix well, I like to keep my casual formats casual and fun, and competitive formats competitive and serious.

Yes I do have a tiny leaders deck, yes I am trying to have fun with the format, but my overall feelings the format is just a not a good one right now. My current deck list was a throw-together of an existing Commander deck that I was building with the same general Alesha, who smiles at Death. I know investment in my deck is going to be needed, and sadly not something I want to do at this moment in time due to my unsure feelings of the format.

I think, if I do decide to build another Tiny Leaders deck with a view of making it competitive. I would like to try and make mono green hydra-elves running beasts like Genesis Hydra and may consider a splash of red to give me more options to play decent X-spells.

I shall continue to give the format a chance and continue to watch it evolve and I hope that it becomes something I can thoroughly enjoy but for now I shall keep to that full on Commander action.

Alesha, Who Smiles at Death

I like to try keep my opinions balanced, so here are some positive things that I feel Tiny Leaders will give to the MTG community.

  • It is encouraging to see new formats all the time and this is where I feel it has an advantage over other niche formats; it’s the fact that it does not need anything other than 2 players, some Magic cards and a way to keep track of life totals.
  • It has been kept simple and for me that is encouraging. To not over complicate this format was a great idea, and may even encourage more people to invent and create formats of their own.
  • It has made me look at Magic in a new way. Instead of just “not liking” a format, it has made me stop and think to give other formats that I didn’t initially get on with e.g Modern another chance.
  • It has given generally “weaker” deck types a fighting chance as well with it being mostly aggro and tempo decks with a bit of mill. Ah mill… one of my all time favourite strategies and now it is a viable option, or so it seems.

Noble Hierarch banner

So I have come to a point in my article where I think I have expressed all my main feelings on this format. In order to get a few more points of view for you to think about, I asked a good friend of mine, Jon Welfare, to list me what he feels are 5 good things and 5 bad things about Tiny Leader as a format. Here is what Jon said:

  1. It’s an interesting deck building challenge that hasn’t been done before (e.g. it’s like Commander but way more aggressive and designed for 1v1, and it’s like Legacy except with slightly more variance and a Commander).
  2. It lets you play a lot of Legacy and Modern decks that you wouldn’t be able to play normally on a budget.
  3. It’s quick to play and doesn’t require a lot of set-up, unlike other casual formats.
  4. There is a lot of strategic depth in the game that has yet to be fully explored.
  5. It’s a format that brings together the casual and the hardcore players.

I’d also like to take the  opportunity to respond to Jon’s list.

First off I strongly agree with the first point of view that it does create an interesting challenge to build a Tiny Leaders deck that can then be adapted, however this is where the tweaking of the format may be necessary. I mean how many playable/broken cards can there be in a format where all cards are under 3 mana?

I also agree with his 2nd point. As a newer player myself I just don’t have the funds to afford Modern decks at the moment, however it is a format I would love to get to know and maybe this will give me a chance to dip my toe in the water.

Point 3 I disagree with however. I don’t like a game to go on forever, however I do want a good game to last at least 20-25 minutes. I want to be able to feel that I had the opportunity to really get into that game.

mtg time clock banner

Here are Jon’s list of 5 bad points about Tiny Leaders.

  1. It’s a format that brings together casual and hardcore players, but does this cause friction?
  2. Some guilds are not well represented (or represented at all!).
  3. Some colours and strategies are much weaker than others in this format due to how the format rules.
  4. It’s a competitive format that fights for the same space as other more competitive formats, e.g. Modern/Legacy, which means card prices can be high.
  5. It’s a relatively untested format and could have some problems further down the line that we aren’t aware of yet.

No, that point #1 is not a mistake. I think what Jon is trying to say is that casual players playing against competitive players can be both a good thing and a bad thing. I can see where he is coming from too; the competitive players will invest more in their Tiny Leaders decks than the casual players, and will more often than not lead to match ups whereby its Fun vs a £700 Legacy deck, or something along those lines. Could we be mistaken with this?

Number 2 I will probably disagree with however, because although at the moment some colours may be under represented if Tiny Leaders takes off and carries on going then it may lead to a new product line for Wizards Of The Coast and along with that proper support of colours and strategies.

The 3rd point I think is a fair statement, for example most control strategies I have seen involve big finishers such as Pearl Lake Ancient and/or lethal planeswalkers like Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. I personally think that it means that mid-range to late game strategies are going to be next to non-existent.

I am unsure about point #4, that Tiny Leaders really is a “competitive format”. As I have already mentioned, I feel that this format at the present time doesn’t quite know where it wants to sit exactly.

Last but not least point #5, how much to do we invest in the format? Do I invest now in the cards that seem like they’re broken? or do I wait until the format becomes more established?

Please let me know what you think of Tiny Leaders as a format, is it an exciting new format that will go far? or will it just disappear into obscurity in the coming months?

Community Question: Do you think Tiny Leaders will become more or less popular over the coming years as a format, and why?

Tiny Leaders will become more or less popular over the coming years as a format

Thanks for reading,

David Northeast

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