The Game of T4
Today I will present you a new form of magic, in fact my favorite form of magic. Something like no other version before. It is called T4.
“Wait!” I can hear people scream. “Not another magic-fun-crap-thingy!”
Well, I admit it is not exactly Magic, but it has some good twists. First of all it is very fun indeed. But it also lets you play cards you really really like but never found the room for playing because they are just not good enough for a competitive player and most of all it is the most skill testing format there is. If something can make you a better player in general, this is it. Sounds good? So, let me show you.
The History of T4
A very long time ago, there was a very popular thing in Germany that people started to build decks around. The rule was that you can produce mana from every card in your deck since you can play them as lands. So you didn’t play lands, you played only cards you like. And those cards produce mana according to their colored mana symbols or all colorless mana. I never really got into that. One cold winter evening we just took one of those decks and played from one deck from the top. With the decks being insanely powerful it was fun in the beginning but not for a long time. We then started to discard cards that are too strong and make up some additional rules. Actually we crafted the whole evening and came up with something amazing. But like most of the amazing things now days it was not the time back then.
A little less time ago Jasper Grimmer (also a member of MTGMadness) created something very similar on his own and it made me remember that time. We exchanged ideas and experiences and it was born. From that moment on we not only spent a lot of time playing but also finding new cards from old and new sets and every new card creates an exciting additional factor to the whole game. You will understand soon.
The Rules of T4
Basically it is magic, of course. Almost everything is the same, but of course there are some key differences.
1. The Deck is one pile of about 400 cards. Both player play from the same pile.
It is very important the deck is the same for both players as you will see later.
2. Starting Hand is TWO cards and starting life total is 30.
3. You are only allowed to play one spell per turn (with few exceptions).
4. All creatures have haste.
We adjusted those rules so that we can have a decent game of Magic that usually takes some turns to win over damage. Since we are including strong creatures in the deck, we had to raise the life total to insure some room to use life as a resource. But don’t take it wrong, the games are very fast and very interactive. Almost all decisions are crucial, because…
5. All cards involved in a game will go to the winner. Winner of a match is the one that won more than half of the deck from those games.
(6. All cards that would go to the bottom of the Library get shuffled in instead)
That is not really necessary, but you find yourself putting a lot of cards to the bottom which makes it a lot more of a remembering game, especially later in the game. We decided to cut this out, because the last stage of the game has a key difference – it is however not bad to leave this rule out.
7. If a player would draw a card and there is no card to be drawn anymore, that player skips that draw instead.
You can not die in the last game to decking. The last game will be played out with the remaining cards in hand, which can lead to very complicated end games.
The Beauty of T4
As you probably realize, games can be really fast, but they can also be really grindy. In general they are full of interactions and synergies. But that doesnt make a key difference to normal magic. It just means that those fun matches appear way more frequently.
Almost no games are boring. Almost no games are unfair.
You may ask yourself: “But what makes the difference?”. In normal Magic you win your game. You dont care about how you win and more important how clearly you won the game. The goal is to win the game and that is all. This goal is not the same anymore.
The goal is to win the most cards in a game you are winning. Or in other words: The goal is to win the closest game possible.
It doesnt help you to win a game very fast. It doesnt help you to make your opponent concede on 25 life because of your dominant position or your card advantage. You have to exactly know what will win you from the game, but doesn’t make your opponent concede. You also have to know when a game is probably lost and not worth playing for. Playing for your outs is sometimes not right. Even though you might win the game, you might still be more likely to lose it and lose more cards in the process. That is why conceding is as important as never before. You are not used to conceding a game you might win, but in this game it might very well be correct and moreover necessary.
As I said, because you can play your spells for free, there leaves a lot of room for your favorite cards that are just not good enough to play normally. I love Predict, Plagiarize, Liar’s Pendulum and Hidetsugu’s Second Rite, but I cant play with them normally. In T4, they turn out to be really good cards, which is so much fun.
Since there is so much interactions to be found, so many fast decisions to be made, playing this a lot gives you a much better sense for synergy and your general state in the game. I am playing this game for a long time and I still find new stuff with certain cards working together. Those situation not only make me remember those interactions for later similar situations, they also improve your general feeling. There are numerous occasions, where I figured something out in a normal limited game, because I saw something before happening in a match of T4.
How to build a deck for T4
Well, you can build whatever you want. I wouldnt advise you to play Fireball, but that is kind of obvious. Over the years we came up with some rules for our Deck.
1. The deck should have about 400 cards. That make an average match playing time of about an hour.
2. The deck has every usable keyword at least once. Some, like annihilator, can unfortunately not be used, but for almost all keywords are some very usable cards. The reason for this is, that the keywords ensure so much interaction you have never seen before.
3. Creatures shouldn’t be too strong. 4/4 should be the average, which doesn’t mean that you cant have some better ones but too many is not good for the balance of the game. If you want to go higher, there has to be a drawback – like Liege of the Pit
4. Although the power level shouldn’t be too insane, it has to vary. There should be some more powerful cards for different stages of the game. While Elspeth Tirel is very strong in the beginning of the game, it isn’t necessarily in the later stages. The other way around is Puppeteer Clique, which can be insane as a later topdeck, but only decent in the beginning. Also it is very important to include some cards, that benefit players that are behind. Sometimes you fall short on the board or in card advantage but those cards can play out for you big time in the end. Those are also some sweet cards to fool your opponent into feeling secure. Reverse the Sands is the prime example, but Pulse of the Grid, Jace’s Archivist or Decree of Annihilation also work out fine for this.
5. And most important of all, you can put whatever you like. We decided to play a lot of charms, Changelings, Morphs and Allies to raise the possibilities. Also there should be a good division between instants, creatures and sorceries and of course there should be a good mix between threats and answers.
6. Although you can only play one spell each turn, there are some exceptions to that rule, because some cards either don’t work how they should or just don’t really work at all. That is why some cards have an exception to this. Deny Reality actually allows you to cascade and play that spell, you can play Seedtime if you could, even if it would be your second spell and Galvanoth gives you a juicy free spell if you hit. If you happen to find the time to suspend something, that is also a free spell for you (but let me tell you, most of the time it is not ^^). Funny enough those are also some of the few possibilities to flip back a Daybreak Ranger. But all of those Decisions are up to you, if you want to include a card that needs this extra to work and it will not be too strong, why not.
Why not. That is a very good conclusion. Everything that works for you is worth trying. Whenever I am on Magic trips, this stack is part of it. I remember that T4 was so much fun with people that didn’t know the pile or T4 at all. It was like a revelation for them, because it was just so different and yet the same game we all love. Also if you get the possibility to play Two-Headed Giant with the deck, it is insanely fun. There were GPs, where we were playing Day 2 but decided to play Two-Headed T4 until like 4am in the morning.
If you end up building your own pile or if you see me at a bigger tournament, I will be almost always up for a few games. But beware, I am very hard to beat at this game . I am also very interested which cards you are including in your pile, there is always room for some sweet cards.
If you really really want, I will write down our whole up to date decklist. I guess like 10 nice demands in the comments to this article would do it.
I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do and thank you for reading. Soon the articles for Khans of Tarkir will start on MTGMadness, so don’t miss out on that.
Have a great day!