h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6 { font-weight: bold !important; }

Tiny Leaders, I’m with ya!

Welcome to my first Tiny Leaders article! For those that are veterans of this 50 card Commander variant I hope this article meets to your approval. I will warn you that I have not played a single game yet, so my lack of knowledge will probably shine like a dimly lit sewer plant for the next few paragraphs. I wanted to have an article posted before I dove head first into the deep end of the tiny pool as a reference point. This article is simply a mechanism to put down my initial thoughts and brainstorms after I decided to create tiny decks and look forward to joining the rest of you.

What is Tiny Leaders?

For those that are brand spanking new to the format (like myself), here is a quick overview of the Tiny Leaders format.

  • Decks are 49 cards plus 1 Commander (Like EDH)
  • All Spells in a Tiny Leaders deck must be Casting Cost 3 or less
  • Players Start at 25 life
  • Tiny Leaders is designed to be a 1v1 duel format
  • Duels are best two out of three matches
  • Decks may have a 10 card sideboard
  • NO Commander Damage
  • All other rules follow the Commander EDH rules at MTGCommander.net

Here are a few resources for Tiny Leader information and discussion:

Now, on to the meat of the article… Here are my initial brainstorms as I prepare to enter the Tiny Leaders format!

Cards That are Better in Tiny Leaders

Abrupt Decay in Tiny Leaders

When thinking about what cards would be great for a Tiny Leaders deck, Abrupt Decay was the first card that came to mind. This was a card that was always on the bubble of my EDH Golgari builds due to the fact that it is worthless against cards of 4 or greater converted mana cost. In Tiny Leaders, however, Abrupt Decay can destroy anything on the table and cannot be countered. Now we’re playing with power.

So what other spells are marginal in Commander/EDH decks but can really shine in Tiny Leaders? We look to the Black portion of the color pie for other cards that collected dust due to the 3 converted mana cost restrictions. Discard themed decks receive Inquisition of Kozilek as a staple. Tiny reanimator strategies can look to Unearth as an auto-include while all black decks reap the benefits of unconditional creature removal with Smother.

My second thought of going from okay to good was the legality of spells. Since X=0 in terms of casting cost, cards like Entreat the Angels, Mistcutter Hydra and Fireball now have the ability to tilt games one way or another.

Cards that can be cast early and “leveled up” or gain counters as the game progresses seem like they would do fairly well (Figure of Destiny and Transcendent Master). Board wipes are a premium resource since most wrath effects cost four or more. This gives even more playability and power to Commander Staples Toxic Deluge and Oblivion Stone. Players may also want to take a deeper look at Martial Coup and Ratchet Bomb, both of which are significantly better in a Tiny Leaders deck then they were as part of an EDH deck.

Improved Tiny Archetypes

Sword of Body and Mind Banned in Tiny Leaders

As far as archetypes are concerned there is no doubt that the mill strategy is significantly better in Tiny Leaders than it is in Commander. With only a 50 card deck, there is little reason to question Sword of Body and Mind‘s place on the official banlist. Another archetype that seems to be way better in a Tiny Leaders 1v1 matchup is Red Deck Wins and/or Burn. With toughness of creatures being somewhat on the small side in T.L., burn spells should serve as a valid removal source or a great way to melt into that 25 starting life total.

With the fast pace presented in a 1v1 Tiny Leaders matchup I would assume that monocolored decks are much better in this format than their EDH counterpart. I would also venture a guess that Elves, Merfolk and Goblins are low converted mana cost tribes that could swarm an opponent within a few turns.

More Tiny Thoughts

Serra Ascendant is more acceptable, Geist of Saint Traft is arguably the best Tiny Commander to build a deck around, and Isochron Scepter could be broken. I see that Balance is on the banlist. If there was ever a format where Balance was legal, I would assume that this would be the one. Don’t get me wrong, I am okay with it on the list. Better safe than sorry.

So those are my initial thoughts on the Tiny Leaders format. Again, I am simply putting my initial brainstorm on the format down on virtual canvas before I submerge myself into compiling decklists and research.

The Tiny Leaders format has my deck building juices cranking up, so here are a few of the commanders I will be constructing soon:

I would love to hear your feedback on the format, brainstorming ideas you had, or any advice you can give me and others that are new to the format! Check back soon as I should have my first decklist ready to go!

Oh, before I go. Do you want to write a Tiny Leaders Deck Primer or post your thoughts? Then contact me at nick@MagicEDH.com and I’ll help you get an account set up on MTGCasualPlay.com so you can post your thoughts and Tiny Leaders decks to share with the tiny world! Currently, MTGCasualPlay.com is receiving 150-200 visitors a day, so there is already some great traffic.

On to the Next!


  1. I’ve been considering a TL Boros Heroic deck with Anax & Cymede at the helm. So long as it was split about one-third Heroic enablers to two-thirds weenie aggro creatures, I think it could make a decent impact.

    Unfortunately I don’t know anyone who actually plays the format so I can’t test it!

    1. Hey Tom! Good to see ya. It will probably be just a matter of time before Tiny Leaders hits your area. It really came out of nowhere in the Peoria area. One of our local shops just started an every Thursday night event for it.

      If you want to play T.L., you may need to build about 4 decks and let a friend borrow one. That’s the quickest way to introduce it to your area, I believe.

      I’d love to see your decklist for Anax & Cymede when you get it done. I think you’re on to something, that idea sounds like it would work.

      I’ll be posting a few of my decklists on here soon. I am almost done constructing Vorel, Kemba and Orim.

      Later friend!

Leave a Reply