I hope everyone got my pun for the title. If not, I shall cry shamelessly while consuming a gallon of ice cream and watching “An Affair to Remember.”
That aside, I apologize for not posting in approximately…forever. Life gets in the way when a job gets dropped on you without your consent. I’m not complaining anymore, but it did prevent me from posting.
On to the subject matter: The differences between a limited format mindset and a constructed format mindset. I will use categories to explain the differences and similarities. From there, I hope you can properly evaluate cards for each format and not get confused why your draft bomb never wins you a game of Standard or why your nifty Domri Rade did so little for you in your last draft.
Average Mana Cost: Constructed generally has a much more streamlined mana curve. You can expect that you will cast a least a desirable spell by a specific turn. However, limited generally has more haphazard and sporadic mana curves, but this is not to say that curve isn’t important. Sometimes to make your draft/sealed deck more consistent and less ‘clunky’ is by taking a less costly card than the more powerful one. This is so you don’t get accidentally overrun by someone who didn’t fill their deck with 17 creatures that cost 4 or more.
Color Greed: Constructed decks are often times about being greedy. “How many color commitments can I play and still make my mana work?” With the current Standard format, you can reasonably play 3 or 4 colors due to the various dual lands and other mana fixers. But with limited, you’re…well…limited as to what fixing you can take.
Cost Greed: Constructed has some huge bombs, Sphinx’s Rev, Thundermaw, formerly the Titan Cycle. And the decks that run these often run 3 or 4. Weirdly enough, however, these 5-and-6-mana spells always get cast at the best times and for the most value possible. This is because that UW player plans to cast Rev. around turn 8; his/her deck is set up to do this for max value. The same holds true for these other spells. Why can’t you do that so easily in limited? A lot of times in limited, you’re limited to what you draw. That means you’re often mercy to the top of your deck (I want to come back to this point, so I don’t discourage you from playing). But if you have a 5-drop in hand, and you’re waiting for that last land, maybe you shouldn’t have had seven 5-drops in your deck when you never saw a single Keyrune.
Too Cute: You can call this “Trick Greed.” Sometimes you find this trick in limited that blows people out, two cards that just work so well together. But then you try it in your deck at an FNM, and you never get it off. Let me ask one question: Did the trick involve more than two specific creatures? If it did, your confusion is easily answerable: consistent removal. Constructed decks ALMOST ALWAYS pack good removal. Relying on untapping with two specific creatures is a recipe for disaster in constructed formats. If your trick involved some enchantment or something, chances are that constructed decks are designed to be resilient enough to not to be a sitting duck to a cute combo. So getting cute in limited can very much pay off.
Bomb-Diggities/Fatties: Why does your random 6/6 win games in short order, but your Bant Midrange opponent does not even care? Because constructed decks are designed to take care of problems. You often have to overwhelm the constructed opponent rather than land a better dude.
Incremental Advantage: Constructed is often about gaining incremental advantage. Whereas limited is often either about gaining the upper hand or smacking your opponent’s hand down. So cards that don’t do anything the turn they come into play or the turn after are completely unplayable in limited. Whereas, constructed allows you to bend on this a bit–not a lot, but a bit. This is because your deck is designed to take super advantage of otherwise do-nothing cards.
Mill: Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE MILL…in constructed formats. I’ll write an article about this later, but I will tell you my conclusions now. Mill should never be your main gameplan in constructed formats. In limited, you probably still shouldn’t go for it, but in certain limited formats, maybe 1 out of 12 people can pull off a mill deck.