The Great Race: a Magic Alt-Win Format

The best feature of Magic: The Gathering, and likely the reason that it’s still going strong nearly 30 years after its introduction, is the extensibility baked into the game. While the turn order and timing structures are set in stone, there are a practically infinite number of approaches you can use to get your opponent’s life to zero. However, ever since the cheese stood alone, I’ve been a big fan of cards that let you win the game in some alternate way. Since Odyssey block introduced the first black-bordered alternate-win cards, I’ve been building decks to try to achieve these win conditions, with mixed results.

While it’s part of the thrill of an alternate-win deck to get the win and stymie your opponent(s) before they can traditionally kill you, what would happen if your opponent was also trying to get to their own alternate-win condition? Both opponents racing towards their own win conditions, tossing over obstacles in each others way. That idea inspired me to create the (very simple) Great Race format. It’s basically one rule, vbut here’s how it works:

The Great Race

  1. The only way for a player to win or lose a game is through card text.
    1. If a player is at 0 life or lower, they don’t lose the game. However, they are no longer able to use life to pay for costs. (e.g. If you are at 0 life, you cannot activate Necropotence)
    2. If a player has no cards in their deck, they don’t lose the game when they try to draw a card. However, they can no longer mill cards to pay for a cost. (e.g. For cards like Deranged Assistant or Charmed Pendant)
    3. If player has 10 poison counters, they don’t lose the game.
    4. Cards that prevent you from winning or losing work as normal.
  2. Ban list: The Legacy banned list, with the addition of Divine Intervention
  3. Silver border win/lose cards (including Mystery Booster test cards) are not legal, unless your group agrees otherwise ahead of time.

There’s a handy list of alternate-win conditions available at the MTG Wiki. Hope you enjoy!