Into the Fray: Magic: The Gatheirng Team Play

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Two Headed Giant may be the only type of multiplayer format sanctioned by Wizards of the Coast, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the only one that exists. Magic players enjoy other games such as Emperor, Star, and Archenemy.

Two-Headed Giant

Two Headed Giant is fairly straightforward. There are two teams of two players going against each other. The players of each team go through each of the phases simultaneously. Their decks, however, are separate from their teammates', including the cards in hand, and the mana generated, and each player is not required to consult their moves with their teammate. They share the same goal of beating the other team, though, and must work together to achieve this goal. Each team starts out with 30 life between the two players, and as with regular magic, when a team gets to zero life, or ten poison counters, that team has lost.


Assassin is a multiplayer variant where each player is randomly assigned one of the other players as a target. Points are awarded to players as they eliminate their target. Once a player eliminates a target, they gain whatever target, or "contract", the player they eliminated was after. Points are also awarded for being the last remaining player.


Emperor is usually played with two teams of three people each. The teams sit across from each other with their Emperors sitting in the middle. The objective for each team is to have their emperor outlast the other team's emperor. If either emperor is eliminated, the game is over. Each player has a "Range of Influence" (ROI) of 1. This mean any player can only attack or target players who are within 1 player of where they're seated. This means either emperor may attack or target any other player, but each of the players to the side of the emperor (usually called generals) may only attack the general they're sitting across from and the enemy emperor.


Star is easy to play, but difficult to win. Originally, there would be five players, each with a monocolored deck. They would sit in a circle arranged as the magic colors would be displayed: White, Blue, Black, Red, and then Green, next to White, and your teammates were those playing your allied colors, while your enemies were those playing your color’s enemy colors. Meaning everyone was on a completely different team. Now, however, people play with whatever deck they feel compelled to, and are allied with the two people next to them, while the two players across from them are their opponents. A player wins when the two players next to them are alive while the two players across from them have lost.


Archenemy requires a special deck. There is one player with that deck against three opponents, playing with their own decks. The one player, known as the archenemy, wins when the other three are defeated, while the team of players wins when the archenemy falls. The idea is that three people who would normally be fighting each other, have teamed up in an unlikely alliance to take down an evil foe for the greater good. The archenemy deck has special archenemy cards, which offset the fact that it’s three vs one. These special cards are called schemes, and they sit around and act just like the planechase cards. That is to say, what’s written upon them is like an enchantment over the entire battlefield for the duration that the card is in play. These cards change when the archenemy’s main phase of their turn begins. The archenemy starts out at 40 life, where the other players start out at 20 life each. Beyond that, it’s played like a regular game of magic. Except for the evil guy trying to rule the word. That’s special.

Check out our article on different Magic: The Gathering formats for more ways to play!

Author: Amy Brown


Comments on "Into the Fray: Magic: The Gatheirng Team Play"

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Author: John Lowe

Date: March 26, 2014


Wizards did sanction team
trios around the time of Kamigawa/Ravinca standard. You had teams of three
which faced off. You played vs. the person sitting across from you, how you
arranged your players was a big deal. Usually your best player sat in the middle
so he could give advice to the other two. The team which won at least 2 of the
three matches won the match. Table talk was encouraged and you could openly
talk about your teammate’s hands and plays etc. You could not have more than 4
copies of any one card between your three decks, so decks had to be very
different. I attended a PTQ of this format and it was great fun. I have always
hoped that they would bring it back but to date have never heard of it again.