Have you heard about Tiny Leaders?
At the end of last year I read an article about it on a dedicated Commander website. At the time I thought that it was just a smaller, quicker version of that multiplayer casual format and as such I dismissed it.
Jump forward a few weeks and the sheer number of articles and mentions of this new format made me take a second look.
Take a look at the video for a breakdown of what this new format is.
Having taken the time to look into it further I realised I had misjudged what it was that this new format was about. This is much more spikey than Commander because of the nature of the 3 cmc or less deckbuilding restriction it means that decks have the most efficient spells to have ever been printed.
1 v 1 rather than multiplayer also means that the dueling nature of the game brings out the more straight forward route to battle.
So whats the appeal?
Well in a similar way that Commander made it possible for those big dumb cards from sets in the past to find new life, Tiny Leaders make it possible for you to make use of that 1 of card that you couldn’t find a place for before but still didn’t have the heart to trade away.
I can think of at least two trade folders that I see quite regularly that have 1 huge bomb from Modern Masters in. A Tarmogoyf or a Dark Confidant that were doing nothing. The thing about those cards is that they are constructed playable in sets of 4 but not really that useful as a 1 of, they also don’t go into a Commander deck. Dark Confidant is particularly useless in Commander due to the nature of the format, you quite often have 7, 8 or 9 mana spells in your deck.
Goyf also gets outclassed by those crazy board states in Commander.
Oh you have a 5/6, that’s cute but my 15/5 flying dragon commander will kill you in two turns.
But now you can make use of a one of card in Tiny Leaders.
With the prospect of Modern Masters 2015 in a few months, there are now new options if you open a bomb. As before you can cash in or decide to trade into or buy the other 3 for a playset but now you can decide use your 1 of in a Tiny leader deck.
The more options you have when you open cards the better experience you will have. Even if you aren’t going to play it yourself the one of is now much easier to find a home for.
Make sure you understand what it is that Tiny Leaders is about. In my shop its clearly all about playing all your awesome Legacy legal cards. My son went full on spike with his deck. Tooling up his True-Name Nemesis with a Sword and making short work of his opponent’s life total.
There is a ban list maintained by the curators of this new format you can find it here http://tinyleaders.blogspot.co.uk/p/ban-list.html.
There are the usual suspects of banned cards, a few surprising ones in there too. Or should I say surprising until you have played a few games and then you can see how busted a card like Sol Ring could be.
The Mill sword, Sword of Body and Mind is banned but that should tell you that mill can be strong. Speak it quietly but its true, Mill is a viable strategy in Tiny Leaders.
The thing is, awkwardly that the U/B Leader for 3cmc or less is not a Mill card. So folks play Sygg, River Cutthroat with no intention of casting him. There are enough decent options for your main deck that it isn’t really a problem.
I would like to point out that the people behind Tiny Leaders have made a rule that says you can have a proxy leader for the colour combo that doesn’t already have a Leader, its just a bear but its a nice touch until that card is printed.
So the proxy legend is ‘Sultai[Legendary Creature] UBG 2/2’ until a card exists.
Personally I like red spells, and with this format having a much smaller ban list there are lots of 3cmc burn spells to be played. With a life total of 25 it is slightly more tricky than a normal game but at least it’s more feasible than burn in a game of Commander.
As the video pointed out, there are a surprising number of cards in Standard that are Tiny leader playable especially as commanders. This is a remarkable bit of luck as Wotc knew nothing of this format 2 years ago when this set was being designed. I’m sure there is more than a few people with their eye on the Dragon’s of Tarkir spoilers to see if we get any Tiny Leader bombs.
Speaking of Bombs, Ratchet Bomb seems like it is the all powerful sweeper in this format. A playground where both 4 and 5 mana board wipes do not exist.
There has been a lot of debate about the longevity of this format, will it be solved in the next few months and then lose all its appeal?
I can’t say for the wider format, who knows how the format will evolve, I can say that players love to get use out of all their cards, having a lot of one of playable cards sitting around in folders isn’t really what we want to be doing.
Whether or not this format becomes a staple format like Commander only time will tell. My thoughts are that I will enjoy playing this occasionally, it will be a format that someone will suggest one week at FNM and then next week 8 of us will turn up with our Tiny Leaders decks and do battle. After that the decks get tinkered with and we play off and on for a while, and then it it put away because there is a pre-release to play or a GP to practice for.
This isn’t a bad thing, the fact that Magic can be so varied should be high on our list of things to be thankful for.
Community Question: What are the Pros and Cons of Tiny Leader as a format?
Thanks for reading,