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You should play more Limited, here is why.
An opinion piece by Chewy.
Pretty much every game of Magic the Gathering can be categorised into two buckets. Constructed and Limited.
Constructed covers a range of formats from Standard, Modern, Commander and Pioneer, as well as Arena only formats like Historic and Alchemy.
Limited is just as, if not more diverse than constructed (in WOTC sanctioned formats at least) with formats ranging from Pack Wars (Mini Masters), traditional 3 booster drafting, team drafts, sealed and the love of my MTG life, Cube.
I am sure we are all familiar with the difference between limited and constructed play, if not the depths of each format specifically, but I will assume you know what differentiates Sealed from Modern. You probably even have a preference of which you would rather do at FNM or around the kitchen table with your friends. There is no right and wrong on this, each one of us will sit somewhere along the bell curve between only playing/enjoying one format or the other. Personally, I site somewhere around the centre, but if I had to choose, I would move the needle exactly one click toward Limited. I love constructed, but gun to my head, I would side with a Cube draft with mates over anything else.
With the disclaimer thinly wrapped in a preamble, let me get into why I think every Magic player (with the exception of those few who only play Limited) should play more Limited than we currently do.
Reason 1: It is a great way to build a collection.
Whether drafting in paper or digitally, Sealed and Draft are a great way to open packs to build your collection of commons and uncommons that will make up parts of your constructed decks. The majority of us lean toward favoured colours or even archetypes when we play Magic so you will find that powerful black removal spell at lower rarity might just make its way from your 40 card deck to one with 60 or even 99. While not every card will make the cut to your constructed decks, this is a great way to scratch the itch of cracking packs but you are more likely to play with some of the lower powered spells at least once.
On more than one occasion I have used my “draft chaff” or leftovers to build decks for friends who are interested in learning the game. This has lead to many people continuing to play Magic to this day, including a fellow Magic Bean. The cards that would have otherwise been donated or put into the recycling have resulted in people sharing the same passion as I do, which is priceless.
Reason 2: Diversity of decision making
It is really easy to get to know your constructed deck. After 10 or so hours, you should feel like you have a good grasp on play patterns, common match ups and even sideboard plans. This can open us up to a common pitfall where we go through the motions in a competitive situation, just doing the thing our deck is designed to do, without thinking outside the box. In games of limited, every single match will be unique. I mean the chances of two of your opponents at the same event having an identical 40 cards may not be infinite, but you can see infinite from there.
What this does is makes you consider each and every decision in the game, from sequencing land drops, what to target with your removal spell, attackers and blockers as well as the many other decisions that go into a game. This will train your brain to not just follow the same old play patterns and to see alternate lines of play that you might not have seen.
It is worth mentioning that one of the things that makes Commander so appealing to many people is that the experience can differ so much from game to game, as deck size and singleton nature of the format mean you rarely draw the same hand twice. Limited is the next category on this scale of diversity, so if you enjoy Commander, drafting just might be your thing as well.
Reason 3: Deckbuilding
Necessity is the mother of invention. This is a quote that most of us would have heard over and over again, but Limited is certainly a time where this applies. When opening your six packs at a prerelease or sitting with seven other people around a draft table, we all hope for the busted rare or the consensus best archetype to present itself. But this doesnt always happen. Sometimes things dont go our way. Rarely, there are train wreck drafts or disastrous sealed pools (ask Shorty about this one) but the majority of the time, your deck will be somewhere between broken and dumpster fire. When it is close to the middle or on the dumpster fire end of the spectrum, I recommend getting a little creative with your deckbuilding, perhaps even going all in on a particular synergy or interaction, leaning hard into aggression or some other axis that may give you a chance to win more games than the deck has the right to do.
This will translate into deckbuilding for constructed and even sideboarding in a poor match up as you will be forced to innovate and take more risks, being prepared to lose badly but having a chance of success is better than no chance of winning. The result slip only counts wins and losses, so stealing a game and losing 2-1 rather than not trying and going down 2-0 could be the difference in breakers to get you to top 8.
Another side effect of this is you might just stumble across an neat interaction that inspires an new constructed deck or is at least worthy of inclusion in an existing deck.
Reason 4: Manabase construction
This point is partly related to deckbuilding but I wanted to call out manabases separately. Obviously, good mana makes good decks. Being able to cast your spells on time, or even ahead of time is much better than the alternative. But when you finish your draft, figure our the 23 or so cards that will go into your sealed deck, you need to have a workable manabase. This will further develop your deckbuilding skills across all constructed formats, helping to recognise colour requirements, at what stage of the game you need your colours and how many mana sources your deck needs (hot tip – usually +1 more than you have)
Reason 5: Drafting is fun!
This is a pretty self explanatory heading. But drafting or building a sealed deck is a truly unique puzzle that is challenging and ultra rewarding. Pitting your creation against another’s to see who’s comes out on top is the ultimate test.
Not only that, but you will have many opportunities to learn more about the game and yourself as a Magic player along the way, which leads to even more enjoyment on this journey of discovery.
So in conclusion, playing more limited will not only make you a better Magic player, but it will broaden your enjoyment of the game, give you greater sense of achievement and help you build better constructed decks! What’s not to love?
About the Author:
Chewy is one of the Magic Beans.
Chewy likes limited and qualified for a limited Pro Tour through a limited Grand Prix about a million years ago.
Chewy also thinks Cube draft is the pinnacle of Magic game play.