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Demetri Xenidis on Magic

December 19, 2007

Introduction to Big Deck


Are you looking for a fun and interesting format to play? Today, I’m going to tell you about my favorite casual format- Big J’s Big Deck.


Before I get into the rules and whatnot, let me give you a brief amount of background information. This format was named after Big J, who is the one who came up with the idea; he no longer plays magic either. This is a multiplayer format similar to Elder Dragon Highlander format, except it isn’t nearly as popular. Big Deck is mainly played in the general area of Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas; it is usually played in Southeastern Pennsylvania for the most part.


The goal of the format from the beginning was to have fun, and we play it based around that general custom. One way to preserve this custom is to refrain from playing cards that are not enjoyable- such as massive land destruction spells. Some examples of cards that make the game miserable are: Armageddon, Jokulhaups, Desolation Angel, Blood Moon, etc.


Official Rules


Let me explain the rules:


ˇ    Highlander: No more than one of each card (yes, even Relentless Rats).

ˇ    200 Cards Total: 20 cards of each color, 20 artifacts, 80 lands.

ˇ    Multicolor cards count as the color of your choice (as long as it costs one of those colors).

ˇ    This is intended to be a multiplayer format, so for maximum results, try 4 or more people.

ˇ    Mulligans: 0-1 land or 6-7 land hands are free mulligans and you get one free friendly mulligan. Other Mulligans are penalized one card just like in tournament play.


House Rules


Each group of players usually has their own way of playing, and creates their own set of house rules. Some people think that including the sets Unhinged and Unglued would be no fun, so they decide to limit or ban those cards, while others think its fun even with these sets. Banned lists may vary from group to group, so you should always ask for any specific rules before you join in a game.


Banned List


This is the small (but necessary) list of banned cards:



Mox Lotus


Enter the Dungeon


Card That You Should Not Play


There are certain cards that should NEVER be played in your Big Deck. There are some great, great cards out there, but they don’t all have a place in this format. Lets go through some of the big ones.


Our couple cards that should not be found in your big deck are Darksteel Colossus and Sundering Titan. These may seem grand, but they really don’t when your getting beat down by your own Darksteel Colossus and cannot do anything about it because you have no lands. How you say? Almost everyone plays both Bribery and Aquire. You will be the target EVERY game, because you are ignorant if you run Darksteel Colossus or Sundering Titan (land destruction makes everyone gang up on you by the way).


The next card is Psychatog. You WILL get screwed over if you play this. Since it’s a multiplayer format, your turn will be taken over by Mind Slaver, or your Psychatog will be killed after you empty your graveyard.


Rude Awakening. Why is this bad when you have 20+ land out? People play plenty of instant speed board wipers, whether it be Rout or Starstorm. This card can also screw you over if your opponent uses Mind Slaver on you.


Card That You Should Play


Well, now that we’ve went over the cards that you shouldn’t play, lets go over what you should play.


ˇ    Mass removal spells are probably the best kind of cards to play. You can play all of them: from Akroma’s Vengence to Pernicious Deed to Oblivion Stone.

ˇ    Huge threats are how you win the game obviously. Play creatures like Bringer of the Blue Dawn, and Niv-Mizzet the Firemind. Basically, any creature that your opponents must deal with.

ˇ    Card draw is essential. Run cards like Stroke of Genus, Braingeyser, Allied Strategies, Invoke the Firemind, etc.


Allies and Enemies


Making friends is a huge part of playing in this format. You want someone that will save you when your about to die, just because you did that person a favor earlier in the game when they were behind. It’s always funny to make enemies too. For instance, if you Mind Twist someone at the beginning of the game, you better watch your back…



When I tell people about this format, usually the reaction I get is that it costs too much. This is a misconception. I’ve seen some really great Big Decks that were basically only had block cards. There are some really great cheap cards like the Planar Chaos dragons. Also, there are a ton of really good commons and uncommons for the deck, like Allied Strategies, which draws you five cards for only five mana.


You can, however, pimp your Big Deck out. There are plenty of cards that are expensive and vintage pimp cards. A foiled out Big Deck looks awesome!


One Example


I’m going to leave you with one example of a Big Deck. This is a digital photo of mine:



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