Introducing TL, the next generation of Magic. The TL format is a new playing style that's radically different from the normal Magic: The Gathering formats (Vintage, Extended, Standard, Limited, etc.). The TL format is a better portrayal of what fighting a mages' duel really would be like.
Beginners, see Rules of the game.
Player's library and card drawEdit
Card drawing takes the form of "draw a card", meaning "draw a card from your library" rather than "draw a card from a stack at random". A player's library now has no size limit. Players can choose which cards to draw from their library rather than draw them at random from a deck. The only down side is the time spent in finding and taking out the card the player wants. This means that players will want to get as many cards as they can, including the ones they will ever intend to play with. More cards means more options on any given turn, which translates to greater chances of winning. Most times players will each have hundreds of cards. However, a player with a small library of 40-60 cards can still play.
Having a large library can be hard to work with. Players in the TL format can have upwards of a thousand cards, and can use any and all of them in a single game. Players would almost always bring binders made specifically for holding TCG cards, and filled with all their cards. This then forms their deck, which they bring to all their matches. Cards are sorted in their own way to be easiest to find, ie. with stacks of commons out in front and uncommons arranged depending on game situations in which they would be used. Because it's a lot like a book and is well-sorted, the binder with the cards is likened to a library.
Because there's no down side to having a card if you didn't need to and plenty of upside for a card that turns out to be exactly what you need but never expected to use, there's no reason to construct any decks for particular games or even styles of play. Players just use the one deck they have, also called their library.
While players will end up with large libraries, some can still play with smaller decks provided these smaller decks still have what's necessary, ie. a good amount of land cards and a diverse set of nonland cards. Players can get to turn 8 using 20-30 cards, which for a deck with just commons is not hard to do.
There are 4 card rarities, of which only 3 normally see gameplay.
- Commons - These are the cards that see gameplay almost all the time. Players generally get quite a few of commons and keep them where they're easy to get to. This rarity includes the basic lands and many of the spells that can be played on turns 1-3.
- Uncommons - These are cards that sometimes see gameplay. For any one player, a few are used as the core of a player's strategy, and the rest are "contingency" cards, cards that are played when the occasion arises for optimal use of those cards. Most cards are uncommons.
- Rares - These cards rarely see gameplay. On rare occasions they see gameplay. Of course, these are also a bit of a collector's item because their difficulty of use means that fewer of them need be printed. This includes the really powerful spells.
There's also the mythic rares, but these are generally collectors' items because they just about never see gameplay.
The fact that players can reliably draw whatever cards they want each turn removes the issue of determining the probability of being able to play certain cards or card combos - you will almost always be able to play most cards. However, this is true for all players, which means that there will be more countering going on. Players will have to be on the watch for what each other player is doing, and plan accordingly.
Opening hand and card drawEdit
At the beginning of the game, each player puts one card, of the player type, of their choice into play under their control. Player cards are not considered to be creatures. Instead, like their namesake, they represent the players of the game. Generally players start with 20 life and can't recover lost life naturally. When the player card goes down to 0 or negative life, the player loses the game. There are a great variety of player cards available, each of which is a variation of the standard 'player' seen in other formats, meant to add flavor to the game. Some player cards are just better than others, so it's up to the players to decide if they're okay with the player cards everyone else is playing with. This can be useful in balancing matches in favor of a less experienced opponent.
Land cards are still the traditional mana-generating permanents. However, since players can choose which cards they want to play, they can almost always play a land card every turn. Player draws four cards at beginning of turn, which generally are either 3 non-land and 1 land; or 4 non-land. Not playing a land is often not a good idea until late game, so there is a tradeoff between being able to play another land and being able to play an additional spell for that turn.
Each player starts off with only four cards, of which one is almost always a land. This means the player can play 1 land and at most 1 spell using the mana produced by that land. This leaves two other cards which won't be usable until at least the second turn. This means that those two cards a player chooses to place in his/her opening hand should be selected to be most useful later on. The question is, how much later? Generally players will be able to play a few spells and a land each turn, but balanced by the four cards a turn limit, it's not always easy to decide whether those two extra cards should be a 1-mana (an early-game spell) or a 6-mana (mid to late game spell). Also, the first spell can only be played if it costs 1 or less mana, and if you don't use it the first mana you get is wasted. However, if it's a 1-mana it also is weak, and you could instead have it be a more mana-costly spell for the same card slot, which may pay off later on. Alternatively, players may choose to play one or more 0-mana spells, allowing them to do a lot more early on but cost them card slots later on. At any rate, by mid game players can't play spells fast enough and won't be trying to save up card slots.
Players very often have a choice of when to use their spells. Use them up earlier, when you don't have much excess mana, and you would be at a loss should an opponent play a counter-spell or some cheap removal spell or ability. Wait too long, and you risk lagging behind by not using up your card slots as quickly as possible. Different types of spells played at different times have different outcomes. Instants can be used right now, making sure they're used for some good, but precluding the possibility of using them later for a greater effect. Players can play three or four spells consistently every turn, but this consumes card slots compared to drawing higher mana cost cards that can be used more slowly but for just as much bang and which would save cards for later use, when you are really in need of cards. At any rate, it's pointless to hold on to cards when you already have a maxed out hand.
Commons are generally considered core-use cards, though they vary from player to player depending on the strategies all players are using. These are the cards that can consistently be played each turn and for which it makes sense to always draw a least one per turn, so that you can at least play that one. If you draw one, you may choose to have it be lower mana cost to save mana for other spells, or higher mana cost to get more out of it. If you draw more than one, you may choose to have them be of lower or higher mana costs for similar reasons, but you do so at the expense of drawing contingency cards. If they're high mana cost, they can give you more bang for the card, but you might be unable to play more than one a turn.
Contingency cards are the uncommons and rares. These are the cards that you play when the opportunity arises for great effect. They're often more effective than core-use cards. The trade-off is that they're harder to play or the chance of such opportunities arising is low. If the opportunity doesn't arise, you end up being unable to play that spell or playing it for much less power than it was intended for. If you don't play it, you get to save it in your hand for later use, but you can only retain so many cards at a time, and you could just as well have put that card slot to better use by drawing a common, core-use card that turn. The catch is you don't know at the time you draw your cards just which ones will be coming in handy.
You can do a lot more with card draw, so they're no longer the cantrips they sometimes used to be in other formats. The ability to draw a card, a card that you want, at will from your library to play directly onto the stack is highly valued, especially since by then you'll often know what to expect from your opponents.
TL format games generally last a few turns longer than your standard game, due to medium and high cost cards being less powerful, having less power, and having more toughness. As a result players will frequently have more mana over the course of a TL game than in others. If you really want to get a lot of mana, there's no chance problem to get in your way: it's perfectly possible to keep yourself busy all of your turns just playing lands and mana-generating permanents. You may get 2-4 times as much mana in a TL game than in a standard game. As the game progresses through middle and then late game, this is reflected by the use of cards with more mana cost, or the use of cards that allow you to draw more cards.
Player psychology becomes important in game-play. If you can correctly guess the general kind of card an opponent will be playing next turn, you can draw cards that would counter or negate them at less cost than what it took to play them, thereby earning you mana advantage. This also encourages the use of contingency cards, which give great benefits when played correctly, especially if you can increase your chance of drawing the right cards by knowing what the opponent will be drawing or playing. However, there's always the chance that you'll be wrong, so then there's the question of whether you are willing to take the risk. Rares imply more risk and reward than uncommons, which carry more risk and reward than commons. Players don't even have to anticipate something the turn it might happen - they can prepare for it in advance by drawing cards on earlier turns and holding on to them. Since randomness is rarely at issue, the distinguishing mark of a successful player is good anticipation abilities that mesh well with a good strategy. This also results in various mind-play games, each player trying to out-smart, out-think, and out-maneuver the other.
Sometimes the appearance of a certain card or card combo can totally change the paradigm of a game, such as a quick burn game using cheap mana spells seeing cards that greatly increase available mana, or dampen damage dealing, or make playing creatures more attractive. When this happens, the game may see a switch to an entirely different style of game-play as each player seeks to gain the advantage in this new situation by moving and adjusting quickly. This has the tendency of making games last a lot shorter or longer than either player may have anticipated beforehand.
Since players can now play what they want with much greater reliability, they'll more often try to do so. In response it is generally a good idea to have a few counter-spells on hand, just in case an opponent tries to play a contingency card that you don't have any other good answers to. However, since all players will be doing this, it's very likely that players will be trying to use their counters to counter that of others and thereby allowing their other spells to go through. This results in a clashing, in which players quickly play a lot of spells with countering functionality over a single thing. The winner is the one with the right counters, adequate counter-spells, and the mana to pull it all off, while not losing advantage elsewhere in the game. Like most threats, this is a lot more likely to happen when both players have nearly full hands.
Similar to counter-clashing, hurt/heal-clashing results when one player uses damage-dealing spells and the other uses damage-prevention/healing spells or growth spells, or when one player uses growth spells and the other uses damage-prevention/healing spells. This type of clashing primarily uses a different scheme of mana colors than counter-clashing does. The winner, of course, is the one with the right spells, enough of them, played in the right order, and with the mana to pull it off while not ignoring the other aspects of the game.
Mana cost progressionEdit
As the game progresses, the average amount of mana a player can draw upon each turn steadily increases. On turn one, there's only 1 mana available; by turn ten, there's often 10 or more mana available. Hence, players gradually gain the option of playing more and more powerful spells for the same card slots. This might take the form of more powerful instants/sorceries, more brutal creatures, or more useful permanents. The scale of what's played in the early turns is often vastly different from what's played later on. This makes holding onto weak spells for too long not a good idea.
Using more colorsEdit
Players can play what they want more easily, and can also easily focus on particular land types. This makes having at least some blue mana much more necessary for being able to counter things, having at least some white mana much more necessary for recovering from a near-death experience and for keeping costly creatures alive, having at least some green necessary for being able to overpower an opponent's creatures, having at least some red necessary to occasionally take out the troublesome permanent an opponent plays, having at least some black mana necessary for getting at least some mana smoothening (black mana gains a focus, namely, mana-filtering and mana-production). Basically, having some of most if not all basic land types becomes much more important than before. Gone are the days when players would play mono-color decks and seek tremendous synergy.
Multicolor option valueEdit
Because players are able to play interrupting spells and spells which you need to counter or negate much more often, it's harder to know what mana you'll actually have available after casting your own instants and the like. But in a situation in which players can often play all the cards they draw that turn, not being able to play a card you've drawn is a major setback, especially if you still have plenty of mana, because it sets you far behind. Additionally, since you need to play more than one color to survive against many opponents, you may end up lacking in one or more color of mana needed for a spell. As a result, spells that allow you to choose which mana to use (ie. colorless, 2/color or color/color mana costs) carry greater option value than they used to. In other words, they're a tad weaker for the same mana cost.
Card-draw limit and castersEdit
Mid to late game, being able to draw just four cards really won't cut it, since you'll be playing them all and often have mana left over or wish that you had more cards. Certain cards (casters) alleviate this problem in two ways. They may allow you to draw additional cards. They may have charges of spells already on them, allowing you to cast their own spells in addition to the spells you have at your disposal. The spells casters have are oftentimes commons, which also happen to be the most widely useful spells though not particularly cost-efficient - exactly what you'd expect from a supplementary caster.
New mechanics explainedEdit
There are 6 kinds of game zones:
- Library. This replaces the deck. Each player has his/her own library.
- Hand. This is unchanged. Each player and each Planeswalker has his/her/its own hand.
- In-play. This is unchanged. There is only one in-play zone and it is shared by all players.
- Exile. This is unchanged but is a lot more temporary than in previous formats due to spells that work with this zone. There is only one exile zone and it is shared by all players.
- Graveyard. This is unchanged. There is only one graveyard zone and it is shared by all players.
- Discard. Meant to be a more permanent graveyard zone, only permanents that are really gone go here. Very few spells bring cards back from the discard zone. There is only one discard zone and it is shared by all players.
Cards might also be attached to something else, and they might also be face-down. These states are not considered zones but they have rules of their own. Be sure to keep your exiled, discarded, and cards-in-graveyard separate from those of other players.
There are many keywords which have been renamed and reorganized, and others that have been significantly revised (marked by *). This is a list of canon keywords and their TL counterparts.
Attaching: Enchant, Equip, Imprint, Onload, OverlayEdit
Enchant/Unenchant, Equip/Unequip, Imprint, Attach/Unattach, Onload/Unload, and Overlay are abilities/keywords that involve, somehow or another, attaching of one permanent to another. Attach is the general term for this set of abilities. The mechanics for enchanting, equipping, and imprinting haven't changed. However, the others have.
The idea behind introducing Overlay is that, once something A grows into or turns into something B, it doesn't make sense to, while B is still alive and well, bring the A back from the dead to now have both an A and a B. Meanwhile, it may be possible for B to devolve back into A, and it would also make sense for B to have the properties, abilities or characteristics of A. Hence, when A turns into B, the card B is overlaid onto that of A, attaching the two together.
Onload is inspired by the transport concept. A transport A should be able to hold transported permanent B, but if this happens B is both in play and not directly interacting with the environment of the in-play zone. Also, if A went anywhere, it would make sense that B went there also. But this doesn't feel like an equip or an imprint, since B is not an equipment, nor is it actually imprinted. Additionally, the controlling player should be able to un-attach B from A through an "unloading" process with ease. Hence, the two are also attached in their own way.
Planeswalkers and TL Planeswalker FormatEdit
The game mechanic for planeswalkers is radically different. Planeswalker is now its own keyword and effectively a new supertype. Planeswalkers are beings with high mana cost that bring plenty of benefits:
- They often feature more powerful innate spells (abilities rather than spells, which need cards) than magi do.
- They you control are also able to cast spells using your library. They take turns, draw cards, play lands, declare attackers, and play spells just like you would.
- You get to play with any Planeswalkers you control, however you don't share mana. This means that other players you control will lag very far behind in terms of mana when compared to you.
- Planeswalkers are treated as other players rather than as cards or creatures. This makes them much harder to destroy.
- They have life points that are retained through turns just like regular players do. They generally have a good deal of life points, which in some cases you can sacrifice instead of using your own life points. However, if you yourself run out of life points, you still lose the game.
The TL Planeswalker sub-format is a style of play within the TL format, with these notable differences:
- Players have a Planeswalker card represent them as their 'avatar', which is put into play at the start of the game. This card is treated as if it were the player, and the above rules governing Planeswalker cards don't apply to those which represent players.
- A player who loses his or her avatar Planeswalker loses the game.
- Players may choose what Planeswalker card to use to represent themselves, but also may object to an opponent's choice of which Planeswalker card to use.
God Cards Edit
TL has a variety of different rarities, though all but common, uncommon and rare are generally not allowed in official play. Above rare is mythic rare, though this has 3 tiers to it, with tier 1 being the highest.
The highest rarity level, the tier 1 mythic rare, is the unique, of which only six exist, one for each of the six uniques - six, for the perfect number. These uniques are the "god cards", incredibly powered but quite hopelessly out of reach in almost all competitions. But if they ever manage to be played, they're unstoppable juggernauts that can quickly win players the game.
All six god cards start with "Omni-" and end with "-ance" or "-ence". Of the six, there is a god card for each of the five colors. They are Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omnidefeasance, Omnibeneficence, and Omnioccurrence. They're all incredibly expensive, the most costly in the game, and their mana costs use the first two perfect numbers - 6 and 28 - as well as 2X. Then once they come out, they're invulnerable to everything, both while casting (because only these six have casting speeds greater than 10) and afterwards (they can't be destroyed, can't be removed from play, and are immune to everything). They also give players the most powerful effects in the game, each flavored to its type and its color.
And of course, for the ultimate card in the entire game and the god card of the god cards, we have Omnipotence. It's the only card which gives you infinite mana and the ability to do just about whatever you want - almost like a god! - including outright winning the game and, if you want to, losing it - in an instant.
Runewords can make your equipment vastly stronger, allowing you to customize them in certain predefined ways. They each bring with them a host of various properties, the mix of which changes from runeword to runeword, although they all have the standard effect, which is to grant Shroud, Immune to all colors, and Indestructible to both itself and the equipment. They're incredibly powerful and because they enchant equipment, which aren't destroyed when creatures are, they are that much harder to remove from the game than enchant-creatures.
The cost for casting one of these is very expensive. It may take until turn six or later to bring out your first one, though on later turns you can get them considerably faster. Their summoning requires the sacrifice of multiple permanents under your control through the Runic Sacrifice mechanic. Each one requires a different set of sacrifices depending on the name of the runeword; you have to sacrifice a permanent for each of the letters in the Runeword's name. For Enigma, you have to sacrifice something with a name starting with E, another starting with N, and so forth, for a total of six sacrifices. And you can't just simply sacrifice whatever, because of the first-letter requirement. (You'd usually want to sacrifice 1-mana creatures, though that may simply be infeasible if you're facing an opponent who knows you're trying to do this and is dispatching of your creatures.) The use of one can wipe out your entire force, so they're only used mid to late game.
Of course, that also means that longer runewords are that much costlier, stronger, and more useful.
Alongside the introduction of the Runic Sacrifice mechanic that accompanied the Runewords, TL also introduces the all-new Runes - half colorless, half colored artifacts that give bite-sized benefits to your creatures at a low mana price but balanced with the need for a sacrifice of a permanent starting with a particular letter. This is useful if, for example, mid game you realize that a certain creature, enchantment, or artifact isn't doing what you had hoped from it or even if it had turned detrimental - all these runes are good for many things. Here we have the Algiz Rune, Othala Rune, and Fehu Rune.