Point-Buying Deck Construction

Posted in Arcana on March 22, 2011

By Monty Ashley

When Magic started, the minimum deck size was forty cards, not sixty. And there was no four-of rule. If you wanted to make a Constructed deck, you were free to take twenty Black Lotuses, nineteen Timetwisters, and a Lightning Bolt if you wanted to. That example would probably involve a lot of shuffling, but you can go ahead and think of other degenerate decks on your own.

So Wizards of the Coast invented the Duelists' Convocation, which invented the sixty-card limit and the four-of rule. But everyone wasn't sold on it and a few other ideas were thrown around. So here, from Duelist #9, are the proposed point-based deck-building rules.

Note that these are not the current rules. They were printed in February 1996 and might never have been used. But if you want to construct your own deck that conforms to this hypothetical system, remember that Homelands has just come out.

Okay, that's enough setup. Enjoy!

Want to try a new Magic tournament format? The Magic R&D team (the people who develop all Magic cards) has created an experimental, point-based, deck-construction system that allows a great deal of freedom while still ensuring game balance.

The idea of setting up a system of restrictions is neither new nor unfamiliar to most players. When Magic: The Gathering was created, players could have as many of a particular card in their decks as they wanted, with Plague Rats being a perfect example of a card intended to increase in potency as it grew in number. Unfortunately, this idea didn't work in practice. Certain cards proved too degenerate and the Duelists' Convocation instituted deck-construction rules (no banned cards, one of each restricted card, and only four of any other card). These rules were quickly adopted by players, ending the chance of ever playing a mean, tournament-level Plague Rats deck.

Realizing that most cards were not a problem in large numbers, the Magic R&D team created a new tournament type, one that allows players to use multiples of most cards but that limited the number of degenerate cards in any one deck. The end result is as follows; enjoy, and may your Plague Rats flourish.

Deck-Construction Guidelines


  • Your deck must contain at least sixty cards.
  • You may have no more than ten of any one card in your deck and sideboard.
  • Any card not appearing on the Card Point Values list has a value of zero.
  • You may have no more than twenty points in your deck and sideboard. You have three sideboard options under this system:
    Option 1: No Sideboard for zero points.
    Option 2: A ten-card sideboard for one point.
    Option 3: A twenty-card sideboard for two points.
  • The following cards are banned in this tournament structure:
Air Elemental 1 Demonic Consultation 1 Lightning Bolt 2 Sengir Vampire 1
Ali from Cairo 3 Demonic Tutor 3 Mahamoti Djinn 1 Serendib Efreet 2
Ancestral Recall 5 Desert 1 Mana Drain 2 Serra Angel 1
Armageddon 2 Diamond Valley 1 Maze of Ith 4 Shivan Dragon 1
Army of Allah 1 Disenchant 1 Mind Twist 3 Sinkhole 3
Ashnod's Altar 3 Dragon Whelp 1 Mirror Universe 3 Sol Ring 4
Badlands 1 Drop of Honey 3 Mishra's Factory 1 Spirit Link 1
Balance 4 Erhnam Djinn 1 Mishra's Workshop 5 Stasis 1
Ball Lightning 1 Eureka 2 Mox Emerald 3 Strip Mine 3
Bayou 1 Forcefield 3 Mox Jet 3 Swords to Plowshares 2
Bazaar of Baghdad 1 Fork 4 Mox Pearl 3 Taiga 1
Berserk 4 Gauntlet of Might 2 Mox Ruby 3 Terror 1
Black Lotus 5 Giant Growth 2 Mox Sapphire 3 The Abyss 3
Black Vise 3 Goblin Grenade 1 Nether Void 2 Time Elemental 1
Blood Lust 1 Guardian Beast 2 Old Man of the Sea 1 Time Walk 4
Braingeyser 3 Hymn to Tourach 2 Orcish Lumberjack 1 Timetwister 6
Candelabra of Tawnos 4 Hypnotic Specter 1 Plateau 1 Tropical Island 1
Chain Lightning 2 Icy Manipulator 1 Preacher 1 Tundra 1
Channel 6 Incinerate 1 Psionic Blast 2 Underground Sea 1
Clone 1 Ivory Tower 4 The Rack 1 Underworld Dreams 1
Control Magic 1 Jester's Cap 1 Regrowth 2 Unstable Mutation 1
Copy Artifact 3 Juggernaut 1 Relic Barrier 1 Volcanic Island 1
Counterspell 2 Juzam Djinn 1 Rukh Egg 1 Wheel of Fortune 4
Dance of Many 1 Kird Ape 2 Savannah 1 Word of Command 3
Dark Banishing 1 Land Tax 2 Scrubland 1 Wrath of God 2
Dark Ritual 2 Library of Alexandria 5 Sedge Troll 1 Zuran Orb 3
Deflection 1         Zur's Weirding 1

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