Magic League: Not Only For Beginners

Magic League is a casual limited format you can play at your local game store without tournament dates. It's the perfect entrance into the world of Magic for beginners, but it also offers great opportunities to play Magic for other players as well. Antidefeated is here to tell you why he plays Magic League.

What is Magic League?

Magic League is a casual gaming experience organized play offers outside of tournaments.

It's mainly focused on introducing new players to the game by bringing them together in a friendly, non-competitive environment where they can meet other players, get to know new cards, play the game at their own leisure and get rewarded for showing up to the local game store regularly. So, what are the rules of Magic League?

This is the suggested version of Magic League rules from Organized Play:

Magic League Rules

But you may encounter different styles of leagues at your local game store in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

At BB-Spiele in Rosenheim, Germany for example, we gift a current welcome deck of a random color combination to every player in the league and players may buy and add one booster pack to their collection only when they lose a match. This means that you don't need to pay any money to participate in the league and the impact of a single booster pack on your collection and deck is not as big, which translates to a more balanced starting field since every deck is about of the same power level.

Stores may also choose to use Planeswalker Decks as starting decks for a Magic League in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

Essentially, you are playing a sealed event that lasts four weeks and where you may play whenever you want or have spare time and your pool of cards grows so you can increase the strength of your deck or build a totally new one.

For participating in the Core Set 2019 League, you will receive this exclusive promo card:

Reliquary Tower

What Are the Goals of Magic League?

Benefits of Magic League

Magic League helps stores to sell more booster packs on first sight since it gives more reasons for players to buy some booster packs. Even I, someone who hasn't bought Booster Packs in years, have found myself buying a lot of packs because of Magic League. I think that's a great thing since I want booster back purchases to feel natural and good, even for tournament players like me.

But more importantly, the Magic League makes local game stores a more welcoming place for beginners and players who might not be ready yet for tournaments but enjoy playing the game in an organized play setting. It grows and fosters the magic community of every local gaming store and will produce more potential tournament participants for the future. There will be more players that compete in the League, and players are likely to improve their collections and skill while playing in the league, making the jump much easier to actual tournaments like Friday Night Magic, Standard Showdown, or even the next Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier, all because of Magic League.

Many people like playing Magic but don't have or don't want to spend the time competing in full-day tournaments. With Magic League, those players can just drop by and play some one-game matches since they don't take much time and then they can leave when they need to take care of other things or have an appointment they couldn't make if they would have needed to stay for a four-round Swiss tournament.

Therefore, Magic League does a great job at making Magic accessible for people on a low budget, or who have serious time constraints, while also being better for beginners and players who want to get more experience before competing in actual tournaments.

Why would a tournament grinder like me play Magic League?

You might have noticed, none of those categories fits me since I'm a very experienced tournament grinder who has all Standard, Modern and most Legacy Decks available to him and spends a ridiculous amount of time with Magic tournaments and preparation anyways. So why does a player like me, who always feels the need to practice the format of the upcoming Grand Prix even bother with that kind of Magic?

Well, there are several reasons for that, which we'll go through now, though maybe the biggest is:

1. Magic League is actual Magic: The Gathering as Richard Garfield intended

Richard Garfield, PH. D.

Don't get me wrong, I love tournament Magic but it has nothing to do with what the Game designers initially had in mind when they created Magic: the Gathering 25 years ago.

They didn't expect players to buy Booster Boxes until they had ridiculous amounts of the best cards available. That's why they didn’t initially feel the need to limit all cards except basic lands to four copies. They had to introduce that rule because people were getting huge numbers of copies – not something they anticipated. 

The vision was that most players would buy a starter deck and every now and then improve their collection by opening a booster pack and trading some cards with friends or people from another local playgroup. And this vision is essentially what is going on in a Magic League, besides trading to improve your deck. Because of this, decks are of an equal power level at the start and grow slowly with their owner's collection.

2. There is a legitimate sense of growing competition and community 

Growing Ranks

I previously mentioned our so-called "Wall of Fame" which is a place where pictures of our tournament and season champions are posted. It is a prestigious place and every player wants to collect as many pictures as he can. Of course, the Magic League Champion is awarded with such a trophy as well. There is a leaderboard that gets published and updated on our Facebook page where Magic League participants earn points and at the end of the season, there is a big playoff tournament open to all League participants. Everybody wants to become the league champion and watching the beginners and new players getting better over the course of a season, asking me for advice and deckbuilding tips and eventually competing in their first tournament kind of makes me feel nostalgic for the time I started to compete in Magic tournaments.

3. You can play Magic League between tournament rounds.

Spike, Tournament Grinder

Every tournament has lots of dead time between rounds. Of course, you can just socialize and relax or have a snack while you are waiting for the next round but you also could just challenge your opponent and other people at the store to play some League Matches if you want to get more Magic games in. I'm one of those people who can't get enough of Magic. The opportunity to challenge my current tournament opponent after our match for a game of Magic League is just perfect for me. Also, I'm usually early for tournaments and playing some League games before the tournament starts is the perfect warm-up

4. There are standard legal cards you might miss out on if you don't participate

Aggressive Mammoth

Did you know this bad boy? No? Maybe that's because the card is exclusively available in core Set 2019 Welcome Decks and Planeswalker Decks and can't be pulled from any booster packs but it's legal in Standard. There are more cards like this, so you might check out what those decks contain in order to not miss out on potentially relevant cards.

5. It's just good fun! 

Elvish House Party

I love all kinds of Magic formats and just because a format is not good practice for the upcoming Pro Tour Qualifier or Grand Prix doesn't mean it's not a good use of my time or doesn't entertain me. Also, I'm at a point in my Magic career where I just love to interact with the community and local player base and try to be a resource newer players can come to for advice. I want to help them get to higher levels in magic and every time a beginner beats me with his Shivan Dragon, I can't help but smile and feel happy and not only because I get a new booster to improve my deck!


The current Magic League just started a week ago and I can't resist to show off the sweet deck I was able to build:

Andreas's Magic League Deck

I received the black and white welcome decks and with the help of some losses and fortunate booster packs I was able to build a Control Deck that wins with Grindstone! If you like being excited about cracking a booster pack in search for good cards for your deck, interacting with new players and hanging out in your local game store while playing some games of magic, then check out your local League!

Tell me in the comments if you participate in your local game store's Magic League, what rules they used and what you think about the format in general! 

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.

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