My 5 Cents On… Tiny Leaders

Tiny Leaders is all the rage right now out there on the internet and the world.  I’ve built decks (because that’s what I do), played it some, and on the whole, I think I like it okay.

Why I like Tiny Leaders:

  1. It plays quickly, and you can get in a game while the Commander game you just lost is finishing, while you’re waiting to join the next one, or if the store is closing in 20 minutes but you don’t feel like you’re done playing.
  2. You can play Gaea’s Skyfolk and not be called a Bad Player. Lots of other cards that I, as an EDH-only player, normally wouldn’t use are also available, and so is Recurring Nightmare
  3. There’s no Social Contract*, so it’s okay to be mean and play Poison/Mill/Discard and/or pretend like I can win really fast (which is NOT how I like my EDH games to be).
  4. It reminds me of a song my brother wrote (“Little Tiny Superheroes (Swimming in my Diet Coke”)
  5. It’s another, different, way to build Singleton decks, and I like building decks a lot and with different restrictions.

Why I DON’T like Tiny Leaders:

  1.  I’m bad at it.  My brain doesn’t work well in fast, cutthroat play and with competetive/optimal deckbuilding , and I keep wanting to have themes or do “Fun” things that don’t win (and TL, as Legacy w/ a commander mostly relies on the idea that winning is fun).
  2. Miracle-Gro** doesn’t work as well without Gush/Force of Will.
  3. It’s another format competing for time with EDH. I already have to contend with people who like to Cube, and sometimes (always) I mostly want to play EDH.
  4. It’s an expensive format.  Smaller decks plus faster games plus competetiveness means that, in order to do well, things like Fetches and Legacy Staples are much more important.  When I look at decks that have 17-19 unique different lands, it makes me sad.  Spending money on fetches isn’t fun, and Evolving Wilds/Terramorphic Expanse are kind of  “slow”***
  5. I Mana-Flood too easily.  Whereas in EDH, despite 38-40 lands, I’m always mana-screwed. This is probably just karma and not a feature of the game. I played one game where, out of 23 cards that I saw in the game, 16 of them were lands.

Some Neutral Thoughts about Tiny Leaders

1. Differences from EDH need to continue to be highlighted. There was a big discussion on the TL Facebook group that started with a player complaining about how the format is too Spikey.  The general impression I got from the comments was that “NO! UR DOIN IT WRONG. THIS IS NOT 50 CARD EDH, IT IS  SINGLETON LEGACY FOR WINNERS WITH A GUY.”  Which I actually agree with. It’s not Little EDH, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s a different format with two, albeit kind of important, similarities.  This is also why I struggle with it sometimes, since “Fun First, Winning… ?” is kind of my motto.

2. However, as with any format like this, people are going to play it how they want to.  My group doesn’t do sideboards and plays it multiplayer (we’re considering Emperor if we have 6 tonight) instead of only head to head 2 out of 3.  Even 1v1 last week two guys ended up playing it as 2-Headed Giant, each piloting two Tiny Leaders decks.

3. I’m thinking of making Expandable/Convertible decks.   Making Tiny Leaders decks that have 50-card Expansion Board that transforms them into EDH decks.  There are enough  <3-CMC Legends for whom I haven’t build 100 card decks for that I also either have or want to try as Tiny Leaders (Yasova, Alesha, Feldon, Glissa, Lady Evangela, etc).

I think I’m going to build an Expansion for “Able without Cane” (  this Feldon list  ) soon.   There are also EDH decks that could be adapted to have TL modules in them, which I might do to things like  Balthor the Stout  (because I’m sure that  Dwarf Tribal is OP in TL).

Or, even cooler,  build two TL decks that can be slammed together to make a Tag-Team EDH deck…  oooh, the ideas… . It’s like taking 1v1 2HG to another level.

4. I’m happy for the people that came up with the format, and I’m glad it’s really caught on and is getting press and recognition.  It gives me hope that Tag-Team commander will maybe be revitalized.

5. I hope it stays cool long enough for Wizards to put out a summer product for it, (Preferrably NOT as a replacement for a fall commander set), but I worry that if they make it good, it will have too many reprintable Legacy cards in it and cost  WAY too much.   A $35-40  TL “Event Deck” would be cool.

So there are my 3 nickels worth of thoughts on Tiny Leaders.


*: I pretty much  play only-EDH because I love the Social Contract, but every once and a while it’s nice to play a game where you don’t have to care about “interaction” or your opponent’s enjoyment of the game at all.

**: The only time I was ever “good” at Magic, or “Won” games was back when Miracle-Gro was awesome in Extended (R.I.P, Extended).

***: But I totally play both of them. To be honest, I mostly still just play basic lands and proxy in for my Revised Duals and maybe play some ETBT duals.  In the “hell-freezes-over” scenario where I played a real tournament, I’d use the real copies of the duals.

Game #146: Selvala, Explorer Returned

Game #146: Selvala, Explorer Returned
Date: 2015-01-14
Location: Family Game Store
Vs. Karona (Lucifer); Gisa; Jarad, Golgari Lich-Lord; Lazav, Dimir Mastermind
Result: Neutral Loss

Selvala, Explorer Returned, Magic, Conspiracyvs10744945_10153296444478747_1509206168_nJarad, Golgari Lich Lord, Magic, Return to RavnicaGhoulcaller Gisa, Magic, Commander 2014Lazav, Dimir Mastermind, Magic, Gatecrash

My first draw had no lands, and my second had 1 plains, so I kept it. I ould continue to play Plains for 5 turns, dropping a Loyal Pegasus and a Stormfront Pegasus and an Obelisk of Urd convoked. In this time, Jarad has Boundless Realms-ed for 7 and played a Ring of 3 Wishes. and a Grave Titan which Lazav steals and Gisa Duplicants.

My obelisk gets destroyed, as does a pegasus, but by then I have Selvala out and am able to cast a Collective Blessing. Karona is on the table, but gets passed to Gisa first who swings at Karona and then sacrifices her for more zombies. Jarad plays an Ob Nixilis. Most of us are down pretty low in life, and I (at 14) die to Jarad’s Exsanguinate for 14.

About the Deck (tappedout someday)
This deck started as a pile of Griffins, Centaurs, Pegasuses, Unicorns, etc. Eventually I pulled out the Griffins and decided to do more heavily horse-based theme. Selvala was picked mostly for colors and it was an excuse to play her with Well of Lost Dreams. However, I decided the deck was now “Selvala, Homecoming Queen and her Little Ponies.” It’s just a lot of Centaurs, Unicorns, Pegasuses, and Horses and some creature buffs. It only has 2 non-permanents in the deck so it can play Primal Surge.

The Rest of the Night

We played tiny leaders the rest of the night. I played Feldon mostly which was a pretty fun deck to play, though kind of slow. I did manage to get him to summon Twin Ball Lightning Robot Lovers at one point.  One game was a 5 player game, both I and the generally really-really-good Selvala elf tribal deck got booted from quickly, so we played another game while we waited for that one to finish.   The last game I switched to my Soraya birds deck. In the course of the game I drew 16 of the 20 lands in my deck, and probably under 6 other spells, there were also two global mana-increasers on the board, so those Plains were all tapping for 3. It was annoying and didn’t get finished.

So far my general thoughts on tiny leaders are 1. It’s more fun 1 on 1 because the games go fast and there are not many global answers and 2. Its MUCH harder to build a good and fun deck. I’m not giving up on it though.

News: Little Tiny Superheroes…

Thanks to, I discovered the Tiny Leaders format.  It’s like EDH (Highlander, a “General”) but Tiny (50 cards, Nothing with CMC>3 ) and I think it sounds AWESOME.  It has a modified ban-list, and is meant to be played 1v1, but it’s not “French” EDH.

There are a lot of cards that I have that I’d like to play with, but don’t really do much in the Big Mana, Big Dudes, Big Games realm of traditional Commander, and this format makes them worthwhile.  It’s also something that can be played quickly, and a format where I wouldn’t feel bad trying to win fast (or play poison or counterspells).

Obviously I’m not giving up on EDH — I should be to 150 decks sometime in the next few months — but I have a feeling that I’m probably going to build 25 (one for each color combination)  or so Tiny Leaders decks as well.

I’ve already built  Soraya the Falconer as bird tribal (in honor of Kangee, Aerie Keeper, my first EDH deck), and Nin the Pain Artist as an instants/sorceries/prowess deck. Also, for my wife, I resurrected a modified version of my Animar Slivers deck.   In the works,  I’ve also got  Rhs, the Exiled  (Elves),  2 competing ideas for Glissa the Traitor (Poison or Artifact Combo),  Thada-Adel (merfolk tribal).

For those who may be missing my regular-EDH game reviews, I have a few more to write up, and I also intend on having decks starring Nahiri (Kor Tribal),  Ghoulcaller Gisa (zombie-less zombie tribal), Titania (lands dying).