Is it a plane? No, It’s a Magic Format!

Well loyal readers, I’m back to talk about the more casual side of Magic.  The subject of today’s discussion will be what is almost undoubtedly my favourite Magic variant format.  This format can be played as a duel, or in multiplayer games.  Similar to Elder Dragon Highlander, cards that are generally seen as sub-par are stars of the show.  Like Pauper, it’s great for new players, and as long as one person is willing to put in the time beforehand to make it work, games can be played at any time, for as long as you want with little set-up.  Like Type 4, a turn-one Akroma, Angel of Wrath is quite possible, as is a turn-two Wrath of God to send her to the graveyard. The format can be explained in a few short sentences, which makes it much more accessible to a wide range of Magic players.  This format is a favourite of players at my local shop, and it has only been discussed a handful of times on the internet, and not nearly in enough detail.  This format is known as DC10.

I can’t honestly say that I know where the name DC10 comes from, but I do know that this format is a great way to kill time between rounds.  If I see someone who’s done their match at a tournament, I usually ask if they’ll play DC10.  When they ask what it is, I say the following:

1. Communal Deck & Graveyard
2. Players have infinite mana
3. Players do not draw an opening hand
4. Everything else is like normal Magic.

I then proceed to take out my DC10 stack and we’ll play a few games, and sure enough I’ll have more players for the next time there is extra time to kill.

However, in order for this to work, someone (in this case me, but 2 or 3 other people at my store have as well) must make a DC10 stack.  The following are the guidelines I use when deciding whether or not a card makes it into my stack.

1. The card must not be broken.

New players always ask me what happens in DC10 when someone plays Fireball.  My answer is simple – Fireball is not in the deck.  Nor are Blaze, Demonfire, Banefire, Disintegrate, or anything remotely resembling Firebreathing.  These cards are obviously broken in a format with infinite mana, and they would make the game a whole lot less fun.

2. The card must be fun and sufficiently powerful.

Nobody wants to play a Llanowar Elves in a format with infinite mana, as it would soon get outclassed.  For this reason, common judgement should be used when deciding to put a card into the stack.  I ask myself, “Would I be happy to draw this card in 90% of all situations?”  If the answer is no, the card does not make the cut.  Another card that, while not terribly weak, but just not fun would be Traumatize.  Sure, a player could then proceed to flashback or unearth a bunch of cards and win that way, but then you have to go through the process of milling half the stack, and that takes up time that could be spent playing.

3. There must only be one copy of the card in a deck.

This helps keep games fun and varying.  Playing a playset of each card is not nearly as fun as having 4 times as many different cards.  Thus, I consider DC10 to be a singleton format.

Another thing that players quickly find out about DC10 is that card drawing is extremely powerful.  Thus, cards like Tidings and Concentrate are not put in the stack.  However, I have begun to include Esper Charm in mine, because it can do other things, even if it just trades for two more cards most of the time.  An exception to this rule is Biomantic Mastery (pictured), because how many times are you ever going to resolve that in your lifetime?  As well, although it usually helps a person win the game, it paints a giant target on their face in a multiplayer game.

It should be noted that cards that involve all players drawing cards should be included, as they make for some wild and wacky combos that would otherwise never see the light of play.  I’m talking about cards like Wheel of Fortune, Temporal Cascade, Memory Jar, Sway of the Stars, etc.

Each group has its own rules regarding search effects.  I personally do not include “carte blanche” tutors, like Diabolic Tutor or Demonic Tutor.  However, I believe there is a certain skill in using restrictive tutors like Summoners Pact, Idyllic Tutor, and Knowledge Exploitation.  We usually impose a time limit of one minute on search effects, as well as limiting the player to searching only the stack which has been placed on the table (Due to the large nature of the stack, only a handful of cards are placed on the table for each game, and the rest are kept in a box for when the stack runs low).

Another mistake that new players make is that there are no lands in the deck.  This is simply not true.  Many games are decided by an activated Svogthos, the Restless Tomb, and Prahv, Spires of Order have been known to give a player enough time to get back on their feet.

Where card draw is extremely powerful in DC10, discard is extremely poor.  Most times, players will not have any cards in their hand, and thus will render a Thoughtseize or Duress useless.  The only cards a player is likely to hold back are cards that can be played at instant speed, and will thus make discard spells often fizzle.

While it’s great to have cards like Sphinx of the Steel Wind and Titanic Ultimatum in the deck, it is important to include lots of removal for these types of cards.  It is important to not discriminate against cards because of other ones.  For example, if you were to include Terror in your stack, Dark Banishing is still a fine addition, as it still has a purpose, and a player will be as happy to draw it as they would a Terror.  The same goes for countermagic: Cancel, Counterspell and Cryptic Command all have a place in the deck.

Because DC10 is often played with more than two people, it does a reasonable job of teaching newer players how priority and the stack work.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the mechanics of a multiplayer game, priority goes in Active Player, Non-Active Player order in a clockwise fashion.  In short, the person whose turn it is gets a chance to play abilities when the stack is empty, and after any other effect is added to the stack, players may respond by going clockwise from the effect’s controller.  Thus, it is important for the active player to know about graveyard effects such as flashback, because they are the ones who get to play them, lest they pass their turn (and the effects in question) to their opponents.

When creating a DC10 stack of your own, it is important to remember a few logistical principles.  First and foremost: sleeve your stack.  Because cards like Wrath of God, Cryptic Command, and Force of Will are often included in DC10 stacks, sleeving is important should you ever need the cards for a constructed purpose.  I personally use penny sleeves for my stack, as they are cheap and relatively effective at protecting your cards.  However, if you have some extra cash, go ahead and by some nicer sleeves.

The second principle is to keep your stack relatively together.  Do you remember the boxes from the 10th Edition Release event with Kamahl, Pit Fighter on them?  That’s what I use for my stack.  However, over a year or so of wear, I’m needing to find a new box, which will probably be one of those long card-storage boxes you find at game shops.

Then comes the unfortunate matter of shuffling.  Because stacks tend to be quite large, it can be an ordeal to randomize it.  Unfortunately, not randomizing it will ned up with you playing the same game over and over again, and randomness is a large part of what makes DC10 fun.  Thus, if you have some time will watching TV to kill, give the stack a good pile shuffle, I personally create between thirty and fifty stacks when I do this.  If this seems too daunting, one of the things I do is break it out before the tournament starts.  People who know what your stack is are almost always willing to help shuffle as long as they get to get in on the action when it’s done.

I wanted to show you a sample game of DC10, so I sat down at our kitchen table with my brother.  I had gotten a bunch of cards shipped in that day, so I was eager to see how they played out.  Unfortunately, reliable is one thing that DC10 is not, and so I will show you what my notes looked like for game 1.

That’s right, I drew and played a turn 1 Barren Glory.  With my brother Jay’s draw yielding an irrelevant spell (and by irrelevant, I mean non-Disenchant), we were a little dumbfounded.  Coincidentally, Barren Glory was one of the cards that had been shipped in that day and added to the stack.

Although moments like that do occur in DC10, they are not what the format is all about.    So we put the two cards from the first game aside and started again.

Jay and I both passed our first turns, and Jay made a Synod Sanctum on his second turn.  I then cast Rivers Grasp to make him discard a Battle Mastery.  He resolved a Windbrisk Raptor on his turn which threatened to swing the game in his favour.  Luckily I had a Fissure for the raptor and a Shadowmage Infiltrator to add to my board.  Jay put his Raptor underneath his Sanctum in response to my kill spell, so I had to make sure I saved removal for when it came back.

Jay got a Saltblast on his next turn, and when he tried to draw on his next turn I was waiting with a Plagiarize in the upkeep.  After passing a couple turns Jay called back his raptor off his sanctum at my end step and attacked on his turn.  Then he added insult to injury by casting a Heroes Remembered.

On my turn I cast a Necrotic Sliver, but before taking out his raptor, I used Pentarch Ward to draw an extra card.  The card I drew was a Steelshapers Gift, and I searched out a Heartseeker.  The Sliver then traded with the Raptor and it was Jay’s play.

Because the 25 life Jay had gained thus far was clearly not enough, he then cast a Tower of Eons for another 10 life.

I was enthralled to draw Azami, Lady of Scrolls, which I promptly played and turned sideways to draw a card.  The Wirefly Hive I drew got played and a Gerrards Command untapped my wizard, which drew me another card.  After failing the toss on the Hive, I passed the turn.

Jay gained another 10 life on his upkeep, and cast Vulturous Zombie, which was met with Incinerate from myself.  Azami proved her usefulness again on my turn by drawing me another card, and I was able to cycle Resounding Thunder to burn Jay for 6.  A Trevas charm pulled a Merfolk Looter impression into a Harmonic Sliver, which would halt any more shenanigans from his Tower.  Jungle Weaver cycled for another card, and Dralnu, Lich Lord came down on my side.  Lastly, a Wirefly token hit my side.

Jay Gloomlanced Dralnu and played a Weight of Conscience on my Sliver.  I drew another extra card on my turn and used Heartseeker to pump my token, and then swung in for 4.  Afterwards, I played a Copperhoof Vorrac to bolster my forces.

My double draw effect was matched by a Scepter of Insight from Jay, and a Hamletback Goliath came down on the opposite side of the field.  Heartseeker took it down and my Vorrac attacked Jay.  He made a Teneb, the Harvester and a Kederekt Creeper.  I shot both of them, courtesy of Heartseeker.  A Blood Tyrant came down for me, and Jay was able to cast a Tower of Champions.  He was able to kill my equipment with a Demolish, and I was able to untap with Blood Tyrant in play, and he became a 7/7.  I also cast a Murkfiend Liege and a Ronom Hulk after swinging in with my vampire.

Jay’s turn saw him play a Spike Tiller and a Bringer of the Red Dawn, and I drew a new card with the newly-untapped Azami at the end of turn.  After powering up my Blood Tyrant, I cast Iname as One, searching out Divinity of PrideAethermages Touch then netted me a copy of Wort, the Raidmother.  I finally cast a Violent Ultimatum, and drew the concession from Jay.

Not all DC10 games are like this.  Some are much longer, and others (like the first game mentioned above) are extremely short.  Nevertheless, DC10 is one of the greatest casual formats ever, and I’ve been known to get 5 or 6 player games extremely easily at my school whenever I bring the stack.  In the next week or so I’ll work at typing up a list of my stack and putting it online, but with 300-400 cards (an estimate) I don’t have the time for it right now.  I encourage all of you to try making a DC10 stack, and either post in the comments or email me about your experiences with the format.  A DC10 stack does not have to be expensive, and some of the best cards in my stack come out of the dollar rare bin at my local card shop.  You’ll gain lots of friends at tournaments really fast if you have a stack, not to mention the hours of fun DC10 can provide.

If you have any questions or comments about today’s article, or any suggestions for future articles, email me at zak -at-  You can also message me on twitter, my account is

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