I'm Going Gaga for Grid Drafting

hi y'all! I've been mostly lurking n' working the past half year... but also have managed myself a pretty regular grid partner and a lot of development has occurred of late! The big 3 grids have matured from their early incarnations and new creations are on the horizon (including a 3-color grid)!

(My current work project has me up in Seattle land, but I haven't yet stopped by WotC HQ to protest the state of 1v1 MTGO commander... or at least leave a bunch of banned standard cards taped on the doors with "you deprived me of my full life, why?!" written on them.)

This core-Magic-experience-based grid has been emulating traditional play quite nicely. I've only updated 10 cards since last Christmas (after changing maybe 50 percent of it since its conception)! Beatdown, control. Card advantage, tempo. Auras (go tall), tokens (go wide). There isn't too much esoteric excitement, but the interactions lead to fairly long games with a lot of counterplay between players.

The big takeaways from this grid were:
  • Conditional, expensive and or duplicated removal gives quite a lot of breathing room for synergy building.
  • Multiple inclusions of a single card is great for cards that are role players but are not too powerful.
  • Ravnica bounce lands and Theros scry lands are great in decks that only need one of the colors they produce.
  • Custom limited format can be fun and very affordable. This project was meant to be cheap enough to play with anyone as an 'out-of-the-box' game and not fear theft. The total cost was under 40USD on TcGPlayer tonight- the cost of many of popular board games or cheaper!
An Ode to Odyssey & Onslaught (version ...6?)
Surprisingly, the addition of a tribe and the retooling of the cycling deck (along with numerous ways to answer enchantments) brought this grid from the awkward stage of maybe 60 percent of cards seeing play to all color pairs being viable. Games typically last 8 to 12 turns with key threats answered frequently. In the latest update, I tried to really push the color pair synergies and recognition (by bringing back in multicolored cards). To say that I'm excited to sit at Mox Boarding House and attempt to lock "villian"'s combat step out with Glare is an understatement. :)

The themes, with some examples of applicable cards, are as follows:

Selesnya Bodies

This color pair's aim is to use forgettable creatures to get the job done (or to make them remarkable). I'm marginally confident that Glare can be contained by the removal/counterspells/discard that have policed Astral Slide.

Dimir Madness Control

Blue and black are the hardest control colors in the grid, using madness to discount some spells. The return of Doctor Teeth (Psychatog) is a call-back to OO Standard that was sorely missed.

Azorius Cycling Control

The addition of Drake Haven and tutoring (Drift of Phantasms) has moved Astral Slide to Blue-White (while also giving it some defense against disenchant effects). The other large upgrade for cycling was the increase in lands with the mechanic included.

Orzhov Vampires

As stated above, the tribal addition was unexpectedly decent in-game. Vampires play nicely with other color-pair themes and have a lot of "oopmh" when going for the jugular combined with discard and removal.

Golgari Sacrifice

This deck has been a bit of an underperformer, so another Mongrel Hound and Evolutionary Leap are joining Catacomb Sifters to bolster the strategy. Vampire Aristocrats offer midgame pressure with emerge Eldrazi offering a top-end punch.

Simic Madness Tempo

The foil to Astral Slide over 15 years ago, blue-green aims to play an aggressive game with just a few wrenches to disrupt the opponent. Noose Constrictor sadly is replacing Wild Mongrel of yesteryear.


Key effects are tripled (or quadrupled) to give players many chances at picking them up as well as defining the environment's interaction. Four copies of a single card was a step not taken lightly, but one that has felt extremely comfortable so far!


And finally, over 1/6th of the grid has been converted to cycling lands! Beyond fueling Astral Slide-dot-deck, these lands give all decks more cohesive gameplay. Based on my experience with this grid, I could see including a LOT of cycling lands instead(!) of dual lands in traditional, lower-powered cubes looking for most decks to be only two colors.

Magic Invitational Limelight (version 4 or so)
Somehow, I've only included 4 of the 11 total invitational cards, but I'd like to pretend Ranger of Eos is fetching Welders and Inspectors while Sin Prodder is essentially Dark Confidant... :)

Around the third large rebuild, I stopped worrying about card cost and went wild added three Vampiric Tutors, paving the way for Snapcaster to make it in. Perhaps sadly for some, this trend pushed out Avalanche Riders as a viable inclusion. with all of the changes, the format does feel a lot more like extended before the rotation of dual lands and inclusion of Onslaught fetch lands.

To highlight overly on the thematic synergies, only four color pairs are represented in this grid. Removal and utility is in greater proportions than typical limited to ensure interactivity.

Rakdos Welder Combo

Settling on Rakdos as the color combo was an Eureka moment. Red reanimation and looting combines with black tutoring and discard to recur gearhulks (and larger). These decks have been the hardest to build of all four color pairs.

Dimir Forbiddian Control

Jon Finkel's invitational card paves the way to be boring and say, 'no,' a lot over the course of a game. Blue and black pair to play a slower-to-win game that starts with one-for-one responses and builds to an explosive late game.

Azorius Wheel of Fish Tempo

Why say, "no," when you can yell, "never!"? Chris Pikula's card is the crux of blue-white, providing disruption and a body to start attacking the opponent from 20 to 0. Equipment and evasion provide a steady, fast clock while actual countermagic adds to the disruption.

Boros Equipment Aggro

Red-white pairs the artifact synergies of red with white's aggression. Removal and the red zone combine to provide the fastest clock of all of the color pairs, but not before sacrificing a clue or two to keep the engine running.

Some take-aways:
  • Playing is better than theorycrafting to finalize a pool. (Duh, but I had gotten away from it.)
  • The more, the merrier! Multiples for lesser-powered cards and removal have played pivotal roles in solidifying the card pools and (more importantly) game play of more complex grids.
  • Any given grid's strategies should survive a hefty dose of hate drafting. As I draft more with the same individuals, hate drafting has become a staple move. It's important to have enough copies of cards (or effects) so that all strategies are competitive into deck building. Finding the balance of multiples versus power is an ongoing quest.
P.S. The masterpiece frames are hideous. :(
I am endeavoring to capture more info for use in tweaking my active grids. Last weekend, Michelle and I had time to fit in a few "Ode to Onslaught/Odyssey" grids after not playing it for a few months (and possibly not since the last big changes were made).

I neglected to take notes during the draft portions, but some hate drafting by both parties did occur (especially by me in the second draft...).

Draft 1
"Draft 1 Michelle UB"

Draft 1 Chris GW"

This was a fairly easy 2-0 for GW; Evolutionary Leap was an all-star and Squirrel Nest was tough for UB. UB made some misplays and may have been misbuilt (unfortunately, I didn't capture the SBs); Aquamoeba was an underperformer. Revokers and Slides (along with tokens) kept Psychatog from getting out of control. I have a suspicion that UB is the most punishing archetype to draft (as it needs specific reactive spells at defined moments in the games and the colors' aggressive cards offer so little).

Draft 2
"Draft 2 Michelle GB"

"Draft 2 Chris Esper"

The match ended 2-1 in favor of BG; BG might have been better too by playing Unearth, 2nd Nest, 2nd Aristocrat. All games were close (with one BG win being rewound a losing play to try a different line that resulted in a win) and quite interactive.

Beastmaster Ascension, Evolutionary Leap and Naturalize effects were all-stars for GB while Slide enjoyed its namesake and countermagic. The cycling deck played very well at 50% lands; I was forced to play more lands due to hate drafting and high-picking lands.

The increase in power (mostly as singletons) led to a lot of excitement for both players during gameplay. Generally, the decks felt focused but didn’t play out monotonously over matches. I know I will probably always tinker some with these lists, but this particular grid has matured a lot and feels cohesive. Looking for replacement ideas for Setessan Tactics (no clue) and City of Brass (artifact).

I am excited to try out a lot of Dominaria cards in a major reworking on the M-Origins grid (attempted to define color pairs more by adding multicolored legends and reworked lands section) in the coming week. Will try to post more updates as the toys come out to play. :)

Hi everyone! Feel welcome to inquire on any designs or talk shop; a lot has happened in Grid World (even if this particular post is short-ish).

I've update the first, second and third comments of this post with my current thoughts and pet projects; it's a lot (and possibly not 100 coherent). I've been lucky to have some close friends that have catered to my whims and tested grids over the last few years (*and* lucky to have had so many inputs from the fine folks on this forum). All of this playing and updating grids has me itching to drop some updates here: so much to share from the past 3 years!

I've updated grids a ton (and moved a lot of them from CubeTutor to CubeCobra, unfortunately losing some update history after removing the cubes). Also unfortunately, I do not have a lot of card-by-card thoughts recorded for all of the changes.

My approach to grid design has evolved some from the initial rules/principles:
  • willing to stay strictly singleton in some designs; pools feel a lot more like cube and easier to manage powerband
  • willing to vary number of 3x3 grids drafted (currently fourteen to eighteen, depending on the skill-level and preference of both players)
  • willing to vary the # of cards/colors in the total population
  • changing # of each color such there are slight imbalances when the environment can benefit from the imbalances

Probably the biggest point: three years of new cards (under updated design principles) have magnified *so many* synergy-based designs. MH1 & MH2 offer many cards that fit nicely into higher-power environment (but aren't quite at the power level of Oko, Uro, Urza's Saga & Ragavan)- great for the Invitational Limelight Grid!

Blurbs for each retired & active grid (INCLUDING LINKS TO CURRENT GRID INCLUSIONS) are in posts 2/3, but since some of the history has been lost, I'll catalog it briefly here:

Invitational Limelight Grid​

My journey to grid wonderland, that is designing specifically with the grid draft format in mind, started here: the opponent's total selected card pool is public knowledge (so cards like Meddling Mage, Phyrexian Revoker and Cabal Therapy have a lot more play than in normal cube). For almost 2 years, this was "the Meddling Mage" grid and aimed to be pretty low powered (like Invasion Block Constructed, where Meddling Mage was a staple, but with more complex synergies).

The current grid (as of MH2) is very high average power and has had several iterations to remove high-and-low-end power outliers (with respect to frequencies of appearance): https://riptidelab.com/forum/threads/meddling-mage-grid-vmh2.1540/

Stage 1 - Low power - UR Madness/BR Goblins/WB Enchantments/UB Control???/UW Tempo/RW ??? (Fall 2016)​


Stage 2 - switch to slightly higher power (Nov 2016)​


Stage 3 - higher low powered (April 2017)​


Stage 4 - Switch to invitational focus (End of 2017)​

RB - welder/artifact reanimator
UW - tempo
UB - control
RW - equipment

Stage 5 - Updates with MH1+Eldraine, marked increase in power (mid-to-late 2019)​


M-Origins Experience​

The current singleton grid (as of MH2) is low-to-moderate average power and has had many iterations (from May 2020 to present) to remove high-and-low-end power outliers while cementing color and color-pair identities: https://riptidelab.com/forum/threads/4c-grid-nonsense.3122/

Stage 1 - Super basic with multiples (early Oct 2016)​


Stage 2 - updates with multiples (late oct 2016)​


Ode to Ody and Ons​

Creation Dec 2016

Mess update from (Jan 2017)

early 2018 -> add BG squirrel/sacrifice, WB vampire support
early 2019 -> on hiatus; too wide of a power band and some strategies aren't supported adequately (BG sac, UW slide).
MH2 -> it feels like there may be support for an effective update, but I am not interested in exploring at the moment

Khans Grid​

This hasn't been tested much after the Ixalan update.

Built Sept 2016
Updated mana from gainlands to scry temples and interaction Feb 2017
Updated Interaction March 2018 (Minor Update) & March 2019 (Ixalan Update- current version)

Esper 180 Grid​

Maybe 5 drafts of previous version; added some fun "mystery booster playtest" cards to try for when this gets some more reps

Battlebond 2-Headed-Giant Grid

Purely theorycraft - built it shortly before covid lockdowns started


Staff member
The invitational grid is a magnum opus and I hope it never retires. I know I haven't played the new version, but the drafts I did ages ago I always remember fondly.

The main thing I wanted to ask was; now that you have made a 3-colour focussed grid, how differently does it play out compared to the 4-C grids. I remember when we did it one person was always solidly in 1 colour and the other colours were fought over. Is that the same in the 3-C grid? Do the 3-C ones feel more same-y because of this lack of an extra colour/direction to take?

Look forward to your reply :)
Grid On!
Thanks for the kind words, Kirb! I am more excited to chatter about the Invitational Limelight Grid than 3-versus-4-colors, so!

(1) I have the notion (and have already started) to write a deep dive into the evolution of the Meddling Mage Grid to its current incarnation of the Invitational Grid: lessons learned with respect to variations/costing/density of similar effects and strategy/tactics have been pretty interesting in retrospect.

(2) Since MH2's release, the resulting gameplay between decks has felt highly interactive and the changes have been mostly attempts to tighten the power band (with decreasing density of effects that are high outliers but compelling cards). My gut feeling is the population is 90%+ complete (and only a handful of cards may change if they prove to be consistent underperformers); decks and gameplay has really captured the essence of leanly-built Constructed decks while imposing the Limited challenges and flux of drafting a coherent selection of cards. It's really been a wild ride to see how this once had Replenish & Wild Research to what it is now. :wagg:

(3) Just let me know if you want to draft and then play this on MTGO (even with someone other than myself), and I will make it happen! I am eager to see anyone have a go and whatever is the resulting outcome!

But to your question:
The main thing I wanted to ask was; now that you have made a 3-colour focussed grid, how differently does it play out compared to the 4-C grids. I remember when we did it one person was always solidly in 1 colour and the other colours were fought over. Is that the same in the 3-C grid? Do the 3-C ones feel more same-y because of this lack of an extra colour/direction to take?

I've only completed a few drafts with the 3-c grid (all over 18 months ago and in paper w/o a lot of notes captured).

Four-color grids typically go one of two ways: players quickly settle into AB vs CD color pairs or there is some amount of contest over a single color (which could lead to AB vs BC). Though, sometimes, the contested color changes throughout the draft, and other times, one player gets a plethora of fixing and goes 3-to-4-colors (usually rooted in a single, predominant color pair). The dynamics center around drafting colors/curve (and not necessarily synergies/strategies within the colors) for much of the draft; this may just be poor drafting on the drafters' parts, as whichever deck didn't execute a cohesive strategy is often the underdog in gameplay.

Three-color grid drafting has been very much more about drafting for synergies and an overarching strategy; with 3 colors, there is little concern on # of playables within a color; even drafting only 14 grids and taking small piles when going second would lead to 11-12 minimum of each color if split between each. The focus of an individual drafter was twofold: strengthen synergies & prepare to answer the best threats from the opponent. I think that I ended up with over 30 playables in my color pair the last time drafting but had issues over 5 games due to not preparing to interact with flyers; oops, I didn't pay enough attention while drafting.

Honestly, a lot of my losses have been due to my decks not having the right tools for the expected opposition (but they have sweet curves)! I need to learn a lesson here...
There is new weather on the horizon; is it pouring in the Invitational Limelight grid?! A raindance to wet-ify an experience.

This is an update to the approach for the Invitational Limelight Grid. I have not yet committed to these changes, so the static grid CubeCobra is not yet updated with the cards in the following image (but I have a temporary cube link: https://cubecobra.com/cube/list/1igj1):

2021.12.25 180c invi test.JPG

Noted feedback:


In these threads, my interpretation of the draft feedback leads me to believe that there wasn't enough variety in lines of play (which focused more on incremental card advantage supported by a TON of duplicates and some triplicates) outside of a medium velocity threat-answer paradigm. I was okay with this as an outcome in the short-term (since the card population's goal is to mimic a constructed environment in gameplay through a limited deck-building method), but it is my wish for the drafting and decks to feel more "exciting" in an effort to stave off long-term staleness (as I want to stop updating this grid but still enjoy playing it at some point). The card pool in early summer 2021 didn't present a combination to me that would take the design in a more "exciting" direction beyond Modern Horizons 2 additions, so I stopped earnestly looking for ways to update the card population.

Luckily, Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, Innistrad: Midnigh Hunt, Innistrad: Crimson Vow and some soul searching has reinvigorating my approach to this grid! (I owe this update to the Blood token.)

Revaluating restrictions to add variety: increasing from 162 to 180 cards, adding "fringe" and more primary color-pair mana fixing and increasing singleton cards.

Going up to 180 cards. The original number of 162 cards in the total population was arbitrary beyond being a multple of 18 and greater than 8x18 (which is the target number of 16 3x3 grids to be drafted). At 180 cards in the pool, 20% of the population will go undrafted each time and hopefully lead to a greater variety in how competitive decks are built. To accomodate the increase to 180 without adding a lot of variance to the desired existing structure, ~50% of the cards added are lands.

More mana fixing. From the beginning, I yearned to show off a color-pair-restricted environment so that supported 2-color strategies could be more heavily weighted in a grid draft format. For a long time, only 4 of the 6 possible color pairs were "supported archetypes" and only those four pairs got mana-fixing lands. With such a high density of fetch lands and shock lands, 3+ color decks would pop up, but they operated tenuously as more than 2 colors during the first few turns as the mana fixing primarily supported a shared color among the support color pairs (and not all three colors equally). The addition of a shock land and fetch land for the minor color pairs (with more primary color pair shocks) should vastly improve decks looking to play 3 or 4 colors (such as Goblin Welder followed by Tidehollow Sculler, Cabal Therapy into Meddling Mage or Giver of Runes into Young Pyromancer into Shadowmage Infiltrator)!

Increasing singleton non-land cards (by reducing multiples). In past iterations, the number of triplets was decreased to add greater variety. This iteration reduces doubles in favor of going to seven singleton inclusions per color pair (and moving further into multicolor and colorless card singletons). Multiples are primarily for synergy-enabling and baseline-interaction spells; singleton cards are "spicy" single-card enablers, payoffs and powerful threats.

(Restrictions around including as many compelling* non-green invitational cards, limiting the number of different token types created at power/toughness for specific color, no +1/+1 counters and no planeswalkers are not changing. *Compelling is just my preference.)

Individual cards filling roles: the blood token, exiling cards from graveyards and the single-card spice.

The blood token. Centered in black-red in Innistrad: Crimson Vow, this artifact token that gives a player a one-time rummage that is the perfect signpost to the Goblin Welder archetype. I just wish there were more cards that I want to run beyond Bloodtithe Harvester and Blood Fountain!

Exiling cards from graveyards. The two 2021 Innistrad sets also brought a lot of high-impact (but timing-restricted) interaction with the graveyard at all power levels. Which graveyard-based synergies a primary source of repeatable card advantage, I hope a new mix of interaction will provide answers beyond black cards while giving graveyards some room to breath.

Single-card spice. Increasing the number of singleton cards opened up more fringe-strategy inclusions. A healthy dose of tutors with the additional mana-fixing should open new directions for drafters to explore (such as Mystical Teachings for Restoration Angel, Trinket Mage fetching Boots of Speed or perhaps even Unmarked Grave for Demilich).

I hope to get some testing in before the new year!
I'm on a playing freeze for existing Grids, so I got distracted from tuning them by another shiny Grid-possible object.

Eldrazi Convergence, A Strixhaven Story

Taking inspiration from Eldrazi Domain, fueled by Strixhaven and armed with many untested thoughts on updating the Inventors' Fair, this cube is another example of what happens when a cube-addicted MTG fan doesn't spend enough time playing cubes and rather daydreams about playing them.

The (completely grid-able) cube: https://cubecobra.com/cube/list/eldrazi_convergence

My Slithermuse, Jason's 2013 (https://strategy.channelfireball.co...nelmagic-articles/cube-design-eldrazi-domain/) Eldrazi Domain cube article piqued my multicolored interest, being what I believe is called "an Invasion-Block simp". Additionally, Rise of Eldrazi captured my heart and mind in both its novel limited implication and bevy of viable Standard decks. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before I tried to put my energy into an Eldrazi-plus-multicolored, wild-mana cube.

Then, I forgot about it until Wizard Waddell popped up insinuating he played and enjoyed Strixhaven. (I also played and enjoyed Strixhaven quite a bit.)

So entered the question into my mind: what could Eldrazi Domain look like if the Learn/Lesson mechanic was a central feature?

* Lesson/learn is a fun and novel draft minigame.
* Summoning lessons create 2-colored permanents.
* Hybrid enemy-colored mana cards can be played in four allied-color pairs.
* Successfully splashing cards can be cool if it takes some work (in draft and/or game).
* Eldrazi cards are cool.

Given the small amount of Lesson (and Learn) cards that exist, this cube will be built at 315 cards to support up to 6 players while providing some unpredictability in card appearance. To further support a small amount of players, going as few as two for grid drafting, only the 5 allied color pairs will be overtly supported.

The overtly supported color-pair archetypes:

White-Blue +1/+1 Counter Tempo

Blue-Black Eldrazi Processor Control

Black-Red Sacrifice Midrange

Red-Green Ramp Midrange

Green-White Token Aggro

With minor themes:

3-to-5-color Elemental-tribal Midrange - base Red

3-to-5-color Multicolor-matters Aggro/Midrange - base Green

Bounceland Synergy

Many incentives and tools to splash beyond 2 colors

Small self-discarding synergy

Small Tribal

Breaking singleton on allied fetches, common lessons/learn and some archetype glue

I knew wanted to play a lot of "weird" cards, stuff that is low in "popularity" on CubeCobra, so that Lessons could shine.

But, I also wanted to port over the aggression from the Eldrazi Domain cube.

And I couldn't forget a good selection of mana fixing lands for the supported allied-color pairs.

Lastly, I felt I had to power down the average removal by quite a bit so that players could develop boards and facilitate interaction in a meaningful way beyond breakneck racing/stabilizing cycles.

But of course, there still remains a small selection of premium, though narrow, removal.

The cube hasn't really been tested beyond some initial bot grid drafting to see if decks looked at all compelling. But as pandemic restrictions are trending down, I will try to capture some play data and post it in the next few ...months!
Last edited:
I played Invitational Limelight over the summer and didn't care for the feel of the games: it played much like midrange soup without deck identity. I'm trying a higher power package (aiming for smaller resource games) with Garfield's favorite play pattern: land destruction! This update will also push the grid into cleaner card design (pre-F.I.R.E.) to help evoke the nostalgic feelings of 00s Extended format gameplay.

Current iteration of grid: https://cubecobra.com/cube/list/invi_limelight_rev_grid
Last iteration of grid: https://cubecobra.com/cube/overview/c0a696ee-1b3c-4794-b2cb-93ff2d3d1cc4

Some of the new cards!
  • Heart
Reactions: dbs
Note: I need to proofread this some more... will come back to clean up the language and thoughts (bed time for now)!

So, I played some over the summer, and midrange soup seemed to be the most powerful approach. From memory:

Adversary drafted Blue-Black in the beginning, but opened up his mana with a Solemn and numerous fetch/shock lands and cut to a minimal inclusion of blue cards. I drafted 3 Pyroblasts in an attempt to play a lean Boros aggressive strategy. Over the course of 7 or so games, I went down to a single Pyroblast but still barely won any games of the series. Sedgemoor Witch, Dark Confidant, Trinket Mage and Shadowmage Infiltrator put adversary too far ahead for my meager removal suite.

Here is the prior version: https://cubecobra.com/cube/list/c0a696ee-1b3c-4794-b2cb-93ff2d3d1cc4?view=spoiler

Here is the current version: https://cubecobra.com/cube/list/invi_limelight_rev_grid?view=spoiler

In the previous interation, the following were consistent underperformers:

With a test of the updates alluded to above in the forum (https://riptidelab.com/forum/threads/meddling-mage-grid-vmh2.1540/post-128036), I have settled on the following additions:

Up numbers for the following:

I've struggled over the years to determine what I want out of this project. It's easy to point at Meddling Mage, Goblin Welder and scream, "these cards were fun in 2000, 2005!". But what exactly is needed to make this grid meet the criteria: "This card population aims to evoke nostalgia of the mid-2000s Extended format with lower-velocity threats and splashy spells or card interactions."?

Gifts from recent years have really given this card pool a chance to refine its identity.
Tokens: Germ 2.0+ & Blood
Return to Artifact Synergy Sets: NEO, BRO
Colored Trinkets Sets: MH2, AFR, KHM

My attempt to build a cohesive environment around name-a-card plays and artifact graveyard synergy at a moderate power level is under the following four point guidance:

1) Adhere to less whimsical fantasy aesthetic
With ~25% Evocative O.G. Old-Frame and by leaning into wizard-and-artifice-based fantasy, the card pool retains an early 00s MTG artistic direction.

2) Known entities: threat versus answer
Constructed-like gameplay with drafted decks. Embrace graveyard synergy, defined interactive cards and known information to create mini-metagames in every draft.

3) Power toughness ratios & Large MV creatures
Earlier iterations of the grid had more creatures with unaugmented power-toughness of 3 and greater. One of these creatures, especially with flying/evasion, could run away with a game without immediate counterplay. What should be a nearperfect design for this card pool, Noxious Gearhulk, was a primary offender. Currently, only 7 creatures (all equipment-created or artifact creatures) are larger; these are primarily to be cheated into play with Stoneforge Mystic, Goblin Welder or Argivian Restoration (with occasionally control decks getting to the 7 or 8 mana needed to hardcast many of the creatures).

In addition to setting the pace of games to be longer, the controlled spread of power and toughness should make combat decisions more impactful. Many creatures trade cleanly with one another; low toughnesses ensure attackers are constantly at risk of dying in the red zone.

4) Incremental advantage: sequencing versus mana usage
Decks will either limp or blitz across the finish line. In many games, it like won't be clear who the winner will be until close to the final point of damage has been inflicted (and many cards have been drawn and played). Only perfect aggro curves or reanimation without counterplay should see a game quickly over. Most games, the timing of spells will be more important than using mana to cast the maximum number of spells each turn. Key threats may need to be properly protected before deployed, or a player may need to weather a beat for a fun turns to save speciliazed removal for later in the game.

This point concedes that some games (and even some decks) may win very quickly. If it happens to the point of oppression, draft again with more knowledge!