Feb 19, 2009

Peasant Magic Rules

Magic too expensive? Not at all! Starting at a few bucks, you'll have a deck to compete in a real tournament. Since march 2008, we play Peasant Magic at the end of the month. What is Peasant Magic you ask? Good question, here are the rules we use in Groningen, the Netherlands.

Building your deck follows the normal deck construction rules (i.e. a minimum of 60 cards, exactly 15 sideboard card, no more than 4 of each card, except basic land, etc). There's a catch though, between your deck and your sideboard you are not allowed to play more than 5 uncommons and no rares! Rarity is based on Gatherer information, including the online-only Master's Edition sets. Lowest rarity counts, so if a card has been printed as a common and got reprinted as an uncommon, it still counts as a common for peasant. A few examples: Serendib Efreet is a rare, Mishra's Factory is an uncommon, and Exile is a common (because of Master's Edition I). Click here to open Gatherer.

You may play any card printed in a black or white border, as long as you adhere to the previous rules and the banned list below. This means, for example, that you may play with Portal Three Kingdoms cards or cards from the Planechase decks, but not with the special gold-bordered printings of the World Championship decks.

There are certain cards that you cannot play, these are the cards on the banned list. The cards are on this list for different reasons. Some of them are very expensive and don't fit with the spirit of peasant magic, others have proven to be too strong in the format, still others might be balanced, but not fun to play against.

Banned Cards
Bazaar of Baghdad
Brain Freeze
Cranial Plating (banned as of 07/11/2011)
Demonic Consultation (banned as of 14/11/2009)
Empty the Warrens (banned as of 07/03/2011)
Frantic Search (banned as of 29/06/2008)
Invigorate (banned as of 02/06/2011)
Jeweled Bird
Library of Alexandria
Mana Drain

Sol Ring (banned as of 29/06/2008)
Strip Mine (banned as of 29/06/2008)
Tendrils of Agony (banned as of 29/06/2008)
Thopter Foundry (banned as of 07/11/2011)

All silver-bordered commons and uncommons from the Un-sets (so far Unglued and Unhinged).

There are currently no cards on the watchlist.

Recently Unbanned
Skeletal Scrying (unbanned as of 01/02/2013)

Tournament Information
Since Wizards of the Coast doesn't support this format the tournaments are not sanctioned, but that doesn't make them any less competitive. Since the bannings in June 2008 the format has shown a healthy variety of decks drifting to the top tables and it is very popular with close to 20 people participating in each event. The tournaments are held on the fourth Friday of the month at De Purperen draak, Nieuwe Ebbingestraat 83, Groningen. The site opens its doors at 18:30 and the entry fee is usually € 5,-. The tournament starts at 19:00 o'clock. Click here to to check the latest tournament information and to sign up for one of our Peasant tournaments on our magicgroningen forum (a Dutch site). Click here to check the Peasant (and Budget and Commander) subsection of our forum, where, amongst other things, the Peasant League standings are kept up to date.

As mentioned the rules presented here are the house rules we use in Groningen. In France, for example, most peasant tournaments use Crystal Keep to determine rarity, rather than Gatherer. Also, banned lists tend to vary from place to place, depending on which cards have been troublesome in the metagame.

Q: One of the four Mishra's Factory printings in Antiquities was printed at C1, shouldn't it be allowed as a common?
A: No. We use Gatherer to determine the rarity of cards, which shows three of the Antiquities printings at rare, and one at uncommon. Therefore, we treat Mishra's Factory as an uncommon.

Q: I have four Hurricanes from 10th edition, can I play them even though they're rares?
A: Yes. The lowest rarity of the card counts. According to Gatherer Hurricane has been printed at uncommon, so even though your copies of the card are rare, you are allowed to play them.

Q: Can I play Soul Snare from the Commander decks?
A: Yes. Soul Snare has a black border and is an uncommon according to Gatherer, so you are free to play it, even though it is from a special set.

Q: Can I play Exile? The card has only been printed as a rare in Alliances an Sixth Edition.
A: Yes. Exile is a common according to Gatherer. It doesn't matter that it was only printed as a common in an online-only set.

Q: I acquired a promo card, can I play it?
A: Check gatherer. The Kor Firewalker DCI promo has a gold expansion symbol, but is an uncommon according to gatherer, so you are allowed to play it as an uncommon. Nalathni Dragon has only been printed as a promo and has a special rarity according to Gatherer. Special is not the same as common or uncommon, so Nalathni Dragon is not allowed.

Q: Can I play the basic lands from Unglued?
A: Yes. Only the silver-bordered commons and uncommons from the Un-sets are banned, and the basic lands have a black border.

Q: I have a Rancor with a gold border, can I play it?
A: No. Only cards with a white or black border are allowed, so even though Rancor is allowed because it's a common in Urza's Legacy, your copy of the card is not allowed and you'll have to find a black-bordered copy to play with.


  1. Peasant magic seems so cool! i wish i could play it, as it recuires creativity etc- and doesnt cost 200 euro's / deck!

    i live in the south of the netherlands tough, so i cant come to groningen every month xD

  2. Hi Jonas, that's a pity. If there's a magic community near you that plays regurarly, maybe peasant is something for them. It's perfect for both innovative players and competitive players. Peasant is a very competitive environment that still leaves room for creativity.

  3. Hi, I couldn't find any mentioning of what sets are allowed, does this mean that all sets are allowed?

  4. Hi Richard, all white- and blackbordered sets are allowed. So, Un-sets are out, Portal is in, and so on.

  5. dank je wel voor die info.

  6. Hi Jonas, I heard there is a Peasant Community in Arnhem, I don't know if you life nearby.

  7. At Spelkwartier we play Peasant Magic once a month. Last Friday we had a great evening with 30 participants. We are looking into the banned list of Groningen, because it contains a lot of cards that are indeed overpowered in the Peasant format.

  8. Cool! That's a really large turnout! I must say, we are pretty happy with the current banned list. There's a large variety of playable decks and strategies, and there isn't a single deck that dominates the tournaments.

  9. I would like to know the reason that Skeletal Scrying has been banned.

  10. Hi Kevin, you can read most about it here. Of course, we discussed it at some length on our forum as well, which you can read about here. Keep in mind that the posts over there are in Dutch.

    Basically, it came down to a desire to change the stale format. We had a considerable stretch of time after the unbanning of the artifact lands, where Affinity, Mono Black Control and Faeries were the tier 1 decks, with no decks behind at tier 1.5 or tier 2. This made for an unfun enough metagame, that we decided to ban some key cards from each of these decks.

    For Affinity we chose to reban the artifact lands and be done with that boogeyman once and for all.

    For MBC we chose to ban the tutors and Skeletal Scrying. The commons weren't really banworthy, and we didn't want to make MBC a non-option. There is still Necrologia, which fills a similar, but slightly less overpowering role as Skeletal Scrying because of casting time restrictions and the casting cost.

    For Faeries we chose to ban Counterbalance, which was the most unfun card in the deck.

    So far, the bannings have panned out well. MBC and Faeries (with Force of Will) are still playable and powerful in the right metagame, but they don't warp the format as they did before these bannings.

    I hope that answers your question! :)

  11. Hey Peasant Magic Groningen!
    I see your site and especially its banned list is a big inspiration for a lot of people playing peasant magic.
    Now i have a suggestion.
    With Infect creatures being printed and invigorate being legal in peasant Berserk should defenitely be banned again! We had a tournament and the B/G Infect deck with 4 berserks 4 invigorates 4 vines of vastwood and so on didnt loose 1 match! its just too powerful.

    Maybe you try it out yourself and consider banning it again!

    Greetings from germany.

  12. Hmm... we haven't had that problem yet, but I agree that Invigorate is absolutely nasty with infect. I don't even know if Berserk is the problem really, but we will certainly consider it. Thanks for dropping in!

  13. you should mention the new Master's Edition IV in the rules.

  14. Hi There!

    I would like to make a suggestion: Instead of adding Thopter Foundry to the banned list (whenever you think it is necessary), it would be better to add Sword of the Meek instead, like wizards has done in the "Modern" format: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/other/05192011d because the foundry can be useful and fun on its own sometimes and the sword is useless alone.

  15. I was just wondering if you accept tournament reports from any place else if they use this list? My local shop might use it, with only one slight change, allowing un-cards. Which I am actually ok with considering how balanced the rest of your list is.

  16. All storm is now banned?

    Our shop doesnt use a banned list just plays Kam block and up. I found some color combinations have very little against storm. Namely mono white, mono green, and white green. I suppose marrow shards helps this out a bit!

    Leite is right about the foundry. It's actually fun and playable without sword. Sword however is not. Ban the sword.

  17. why is Strip Mine banned? After all it takes an Uncommon Slot!

  18. Strip Mine is banned because we briefly had a mono-black aggro deck that was very powerful and very unfun to play against. It played a full playset of Strip Mines and Sinkholes. We still don't see how a land as powerful as that could lead to interesting and fun decks, so it's probably not coming off the banned list any time soon, if at all.

  19. ah okay. Can you please show me a decklist of this mono-black aggro deck with strip mine?

    I just want to know how it performs against my decks.

  20. I'm afraid that decklist is lost to time. The deck was played in a tournament before I started this blog. It should be easy to figure out though, something like...

    4 Dauthi Slayer
    3 Skittering Skirge
    4 Chittering Rats
    2 Liliana's Specter
    4 Phyrexian Rager

    4 Dark Ritual
    3 Unearth
    4 Diabolic Edict
    4 Sign in Blood
    4 Sinkhole

    4 Strip Mine
    20 Swamp

  21. Thanks for your reply :)

    And why is Bazaar of Baghdad banned? i cannot imagine any deck, that wants to play it. In what cases is the price a reason?

    And what was the reason for banning Sol Ring 2008?

    Pls dont take these questions as critic. I'm just interested in the detailed backgrounds of the rules.

  22. No offense taken :)

    Bazaar of Baghdad is banned in Legacy, and that speaks volumes of its power. It is insanely good in dredge strategies and we don't want to run the risk of enabling an overpowered dredge deck (it is already quite good as is).

    Sol Ring was banned because it simply provides an unfair mana advantage. Playing Sol Ring on your first turn means you're two turns ahead in mana development. In affinity decks it was even more degenerate.

    Imagine your opponent going "Seat of the Synod, Sol Ring, Ornithopter, Cranial Plating, Frogmite, go" on his first turn while you are on the draw. Not that fun.

  23. Changed the start date of the changes to the banned list to 07/11/2011. There's a Peasant tournament in Ingolstadt this weekend that will be using the old banned list! (Last chance to play Thopter Foundry guys ;))

  24. what is about cards that were printed only in the Commander-Pack?
    e.g. Soul Snare? allowed in Peasant?

    And what would happen if a former rare card would see a reprint in one of those packs with a silver oder black symbol?

  25. No Timmerian Fiends? So I can bring my 60-card deck and remove my 4 Timmerian fiends before playing the rounds^^?
    (Remove Timmerian Fiends from your deck before playing if you're not playing for ante)

    1. @Manudesbois
      Usually you are required to replace cards removed from your deck and sideboard with basic lands so you cannot thin your deck by using cards with ante rules.
      But that is a valid point - list of banned cards should include all cards using ante rules.

    2. Rarity is based on gatherer information, and Timmerian Fiends is a rare on gatherer. Jeweled Bird is the only Peasant legal ante card according to gatherer, and therefore the only ante card on our banned list.

  26. Good update Martijn (onderzeeboot)!

  27. Why is Force of Will not on the banned list?

    1. Because it has never been a problem card. As an uncommon, it doesn't even show up all that much. Even in Faerie decks it isn't the default uncommon of choice anymore, since Favorable Winds offers so much power for the deck. Seeing that it isn't a prohibitively expensive card that is required to play the best deck, nor a card that warps the format to an unhealthy degree, there really isn't a reason to ban Force of Will.

  28. look at your banned list:

    "Mana DrainSkullclamp" is in one row.

  29. I need to know if channel is legal, people have told me yes and no.

  30. Sorry for the late response.

    Channel is very legal, going for Elfball? :)

  31. Just wondering, how come Grapeshot is left out of your banned list but it's one the pauper banned list for MTGO? (you still have the other four cards from MTGO pauper's banned list though: Cranial Plating, Empty the Warrens, Frantic Search, Invigorate

    Just curious :)

  32. Well, it has been a process of elimination for us with the storm cards. We have banned brainfreeze and tendrils early on because they were deemed too powerful and in a later stage empty the warrens was added as well. Grapeshot in my opinion is the weakest of the storm cards and is not too powerful in peasant. The decks that have used grapeshot so far have been weak to discard effects in particular and countermagic (although gigadrowse can circumvent that), and possibly even to a card such as prismatic strands.