Silvos, Rogue Elemental | Illustration by Carl Critchlow
One of the best things about the Magic is all the wonderful ways to bend and break its rules to create entirely new formats. Modifying things like deck size, starting life, and the number of players brings new challenges and unique mechanical interactions to the game.
Over the years players have founded hundreds of casual formats, letting them change the game to fit the cards they had on hand, the players they had at the table, or the way they want to play. These unique casual formats are forced out in recent years by a barrage of official products and supplementary sets. They’re only played by the especially committed, but each casual format is rewarding in its own exciting ways.
Type 4 is just one of these casual formats. What is it, exactly? How customizable is it, and what to its variants look like? Let’s jump in and find out!
Type 4 is a casual multiplayer MTG format. It has a lot of variations, but a few core concepts distinguish it from Standard Magic. Players have access to an infinite amount of mana, but they’re restricted from casting more than one spell per turn.
Decks are drafted from a prebuilt card pool using one of a number of drafting styles. Instead, all players can collectively use the stack as their library.
The Type 4 card pool is a curated list of cards chosen specifically for this format. Like so many other casual formats, its intended purpose was to find a home for all those less-than-stellar rares in your card box. Since there’s no limit on mana, fatties like Akroma, Angel of Fury and Silvos, Rogue Elemental fit right in, as do all those overcosted chaff spells leftover from Drafts.
MTG World Champ Paul Mastriano claims to have invented Limited Infinity (the Draft variant of Type 4) sometime in the late 90s after seeing some kids in Akron, Ohio playing infinite mana, one-spell-per-turn Magic. It was already called Type 4 at that time.
Another unsourced claim makes the case that it was invented around the same time in Fairbanks, Alaska by players at “The Comic Shop.” This could be true, but I don’t know anyone in Alaska who could swing by and ask.
Sometimes known as DC10 or Limited Infinity, Type 4 is a variant format where players draft decks from a curated card pool, similar to a Cube. But the format is also played with each player using the single stack of cards as a shared library.
Regardless of which style, the Type 4 stack contains no lands. “No lands? But how can you cast spells?” Fear not! Each player has access to an infinite amount of mana in all five colors, but they can only cast one spell per turn. This is sometimes interpreted as having an infinite number of shrouded and indestructible basic lands that can’t be sacrificed, so cards like Mutilate and Gush can be used.
The card pool requires a bit of consideration beyond just the stack of cards you have around. Because of the nature of the format, Type 4 stacks tend to avoid any X-cost spells. With infinite mana, every Fireball becomes a game-ender.
Players can also activate the abilities of permanents they control infinitely if they can meet its non-mana activation costs. When two abilities that could be activated infinitely conflict, the defensive ability takes precedence. The typical example is Crowd Favorites attempting to tap Azorius Guildmage, which uses its second ability to counter it. In this case the “defensive” ability wins out and counters Crowd Favorites’s activated ability.
Players start the game with 20 life and a starting hand of five cards, though the maximum hand size remains the same. From then on it’s a standard multiplayer game. The winner is the last man standing, but cards with alternate win conditions like Approach of the Second Sun still work like normal.
A lot of Type 4 is left up to the players to decide. The standard card pool size is up for debate: some say 360 is the ideal amount, but it can be adjusted based on the number of players or the desired size of the drafted deck. MTG World Champ Stephen Menendian’s Limited Infinity Cube has only 232 cards, meaning a four-player Draft yields 58-card decks.
There are multiple ways to draft this card pool. The Rochester-style Draft sees you deal out a number of cards face up onto the table equal to the number of people playing multiplied by two (if four people are playing, deal eight cards). Randomly decide which player drafts first. They pick a card and each player follows suit in clockwise order until it reaches the last person, who’s referred to as the “wheel.” This person takes two cards and picks continue again in reverse order, so that the person who drafted first also gets stuck with the last card.
For two player groups, the Solomon or “Fact or Fiction”-style Draft may work best. Here one player deals four cards from the card pool and arranges them into two piles. The other player chooses a pile and then does the same for the first player until all the cards have been drafted.
Some playgroups forgo the Draft entirely, and each player uses the card stack as a shared library.
Cards with X-casting costs can be cast for any amount of mana in Type 4. But cards with X in their casting costs are usually excluded from the Type 4 card pool.
Access to infinite mana in every color effectively guarantees any X spell that causes direct damage or loss of life will defeat a player, if not end the game. Fireball, Torment of Hailfire, Braingeyser, Hurricane, you name it. You can cast just about anything for X = 1,000,000 and win.
Stephen Menendian included X spells in his Type 4 stack, but each has a considered purpose. Forced March and Dregs of Sorrow are both strong, but neither ends the game outright. Masticore and its peers can wipe the board repeatedly, but none of them can directly damage a player.
X spells can be rewarding inclusions in a Type 4 pool. Be aware of why they’re there and how they’ll interact in the environment.
The Best Cards for Type 4
Constructing a Type 4 card stack is very similar to constructing a Cube except you won’t have to worry about mana costs. More accurately, you can favor cards with a high converted mana cost since you won’t have any mana to worry about.
Total stack size depends on the number of players and desired deck size, but 230-360 seems a good range for 4-8 players. Remember that the drafted decks can afford to be a bit larger without lands.
Getting a good mix of spells is paramount to an enjoyable Type 4 experience. Stephen Menendian’s Type 4 Cube (from 2004!) is a perfect example at 232 cards.
Menendian’s Type 4 card pool is meant to be drafted Rochester-style. As you can see he’s made conscious choices to affect the limited environment created by his cube. The inclusion and exclusion of certain X-spells as well as the inclusion of Platinum Angel and Phage the Untouchable gives players alternate win conditions.
You don’t need to copy Menendian’s cube card-for-card, but you should consider the same things he did when constructing your own before adjusting for Draft style, life total, and deck size accordingly.
Type 4 isn’t an officially sanctioned format so you won’t see it played at your local Friday Night Magic. It’s meant to be played with groups of 2-8 in a casual setting.
How can you sink your hands into this format? In my research I wasn’t able to find a lot of devoted channels, subreddits, discords, or other communities exclusively devoted to the glorious Type 4 format.
But I’ve found the best way to find a community is to be that community. If you’re interested in playing some Type 4, build a card pool and take it around to the next Commander night. Offer to break it out and teach others how to play. You can fine tune the card pool and rules to fit your specific play style once you’ve got a regular group interested in Type 4.
Dedicated Type 4 online communities are sparse, but a handful of creators have streamed content on Twitch or YouTube.
MTGLexicon has a series on their Limited Infinity Cube, and they’ve invented some special rules for their pod. They’ve drafted individual decks to play with, and each player has three lives, only losing the game once they’ve been dropped to zero three times.
Smetch Rat Games also has an actual play stream of their Type 4 Cube with some “house” rules specific to their Cube. They start their game with 30 life and draw from a shared library.
Gush (Mercadian Masques) | Illustration by Kev Walker
In our never-ending quest to play a game with our cards that isn’t Magic, players have created formats far different from the standard ol’ 60-card Constructed. Commander is the most well-known amongst the fan-made formats. Other more esoteric formats have sprung up and died off over the years, but some are seeing resurgences today. Type 4, Dandan (or Forgetful Fish), Judge’s Tower, Emperor; all were inspired ideas from playgroups just like yours.
What do you think? Will you be playing Type 4 in the near future? Would you prefer to Rochester Draft your Type 4 deck, play from a shared library, or some other way? Is this just a needlessly complex way to build a Cube? Let me know in the comments or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.
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