The Kitchen Table #331 – The Compendium of Alternate Formats #13: Bazaar Magic

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Thursday, April 1st – Welcome to the Bazaar. Step right up, make your payments, and proceed to build the deck of your choice. It’s very simple. You just arrived at this unnamed Plane and you intend to use it as a battlefield. However, you realize that you are bound by a few different rules than normal, as this world infringes on your previous freedoms. You are in the Merchant Square of a large city, and intend to find the items you will need to fight your foe.

Hello my friends, and welcome back to your weekly casual injection, a vaccine against too many tournament articles. Here we take things a bit slower. Make sure you take time to enjoy the others around you.

Over the past eight years, I have brought you a variety of Magic variants. If you include articles on Peasant Magic, Pauper, and Five Color, fully 108 previous articles by myself have specifically addressed an alternate format. That does not include different variants, or multi-player articles.

One of the main topics I have always wanted to explore involves the alternate formats that we can play with in casual land. Even if your store decided to have a Peasant Magic tournament, it’s still a casual format. Even if your store had a Scavenger Hunt tournament, it’s still a casual format. The beauty of these formats is that you can always try something new. You can always play a new format, try something out, and see if your playgroup wants to play it or not. A lot of playgroups have a variety of decks for different formats, and then play Peasant, or Tribal or Chess Magic during the evening. It’s nice to have a few decks in your deck box for a variety of formats, to be able to play whatever your group fancies.

I recommend having everyone build a few decks for a new format, then try them out. If you like it, keep it. Otherwise, take apart the decks and try something else. At the end of today’s article, I will have an appendix that links to all of my alternate format primers, and you can use that as a resource to find other formats you might like.

As you can tell from the title, this is the next article to look at a new format. I created this format when I realized that there were a lot of formats trying to do the same thing, like Pauper, Peasant, King, etc. Therefore, I decided to try to customize a new format that does something old.

Bazaar Magic

There are a lot of formats out there that say you cannot play more than X of something in your deck. You cannot play more than 5 uncommons, you cannot pay more than 0 rares, you cannot play more than 10 rares, etc. What if you had a deck where you could customize what the requirements were for your own collection? What if you could build a deck where there is a reason to play just commons, and a reason to play rares, and you have to find the balance? That is what today’s format is.

Welcome to the Bazaar. Step right up, make your payments, and proceed to build the deck of your choice. It’s very simple. You just arrived at this unnamed Plane and you intend to use it as a battlefield. However, you realize that you are bound by a few different rules than normal, as this world infringes on your previous freedoms. You are in the Merchant Square part of a large city, and intend to find the items you will need to fight your foe.

Initially, your deck cannot have more than two of any non-basic card.

You enter the beautiful Bazaar with a belt pouch carrying 20 gold coins. This land can suit your needs, but you need to spend your gold in order to fuel your magic powers. There are countless stalls, many with things that do not interest you like food and clothing. Then you spy the Magic District of the Bazaar and you make your way quickly over. There are numerous tables and vendors you can walk up to, and make as many purchases as you like as long as you have the gold. You decide to take a look through the Bazaar and get a feel of what goods are available and their prices, before you decide what to spend.

You look around and spy several tables and booths. They are labeled “Non-Basic,” “Rare,” “Mythic/” “Common,” “Uncommon”, “Basic,” and “Duplication.” The closest table is Duplication, so you head there now.

You spy a table where the goods pander to the wealthy. The prices are steep, but the value high. The goods here are just official documents notarized and ready to go. Yet, you sense a great deal of power here. The merchant engages you in conversation, and you tell her what you want. After you dicker for a while, you get her to lower her price to 10 gold coins.

For each ten gold you spend, you may include one additional copy of each card.

Whether or not you decide to buy from her, it is not long before your eyes move to the next table. With shiny blue, green, and red beads and glass, this table glimmers in the Bazaar, with its dark wood construction enhancing the glittering shine from the beads. You arrive and see a sign in glass with black letters against a white background, telling you the goods here are “Non-Basic.” The gentleman is dresses in the finest of liveries. He offers you many discounts. You agree to just one gold for each non-basic.

For each copy of a non-basic land, if it only taps for mana, you only have to spend one gold. (This only applies to uncommon, rare, and mythics)

The next vendor is almost missed entirely as you scope out the Bazaar for more enticing tables and booths. It is not even a table, because it is on to the ground. Here you see an old seller with basic goods for survival, like bread and water, plus some of the basic items you need to tap the resources of this plane. There is nothing fancy here, and the old man is fast asleep. Try as you might, you are unable to wake him. You see a small sign engraved poorly with the word — Basics. You may take anything from this blanket on the ground that you wish, for free.

The use of basic land does not cost you gold

As you turn a corner, you are dazzled by the golden red display in front of you. The light reflecting off this polished and unearthly metal is simply staggering. You hear whispers in the crowd about you, bedazzled by the light. They also appear to have lost their wits, because they simply repeat the same things over and over again “Mythic, Mythic, Mythic.” You move outside of the reflection and see a table with many objects of the alien metal available. You gasp as you recognize some of these items from fable and legend. Obviously, these assembled items of the Days of Yore are not cheap, but they are moving very well at five gold each. There is no chance to barter them down.

For each copy of a Mythic card you want to use, spend 5 gold.

Right beside it is a quaint display with small trinkets that are quite common among adventurers and mages. These small trinkets pale in comparison to the table of glinting mythic treasures mentioned only in legend and verse next to it. Yet, these are the common magic goods necessary to survive and thrive. You glance around, and the proprietor is not here. While they are gone, you may take as many of these common trinkets as you desire.

Common cards are free to use. (This includes common non-basics.)

The next table is a long and flat booth with many items on them. It has many decorations around it, advertising various goods from other lands. Although they are certainly of a higher quality than that which you just saw, they are not the most special ones you’ve seen either. These uncommon aids are well crafted, and certainly will cost you money, but you can find some great deals here too. Several people are offering their wares here, and you manage to get them to agree to a bulk deal. You can purchase as many as you like, for two gold each.

Uncommon cards cost 2 gold per card to include.

Finally you find the area in the back dedicated to the rarer goods. You have to enter a fenced in section of the Bazaar with two town guard on either side. The four of them look at you sternly, and a mage with a magical scanning rod makes sure people do not steal anything. There is a lot of traffic back here. Tons of customers try to find the perfect item for their collection. There is a veritable cornucopia of treasures to be found here, and all of these rare items have value to someone or other. You see a giant sign advertising them at three gold each. You look and see many tables with treasure, and expect you may want to revisit this area of the Bazaar later.

Rares are 3 gold for each copy.

That is all of the tables, booths and vendors in the Magic District of this incredible Bazaar. Now that you have taken stock of the variety of things that abound here, you can go back and make your purchases. It doesn’t make sense to hold onto any gold — it has no use unspent. You pull out a sheet of vellum on which you inscribed notes during your journey.

Magic Bazaar Prices

Commons — Free
Uncommons — 2 each
Rares — 3 each
Mythics — 5 each
Basics — Free
Non-Basics — 1 each (only if they have no other abilities)
Duplication — 10 each

If you purchase duplication once, you can play up to three of the cards in your deck, if you purchase it twice, up to four. If a card has multiple commonalities, you must purchase it at the level of the copy of the card in question. For example, a rare Serra Angel must be purchased as rare, and an uncommon one at Uncommon. Timeshifted cards with the purple symbol are treated as rare.

Sample Bazaar decks:

Fire Elves

4 Llanowar Elves
4 Fyndhorn Elves
4 Skyshroud Elves
4 Priest of Titania
4 Timberwatch Elves
4 Wellwisher
4 Fireball
4 Disintegrate
4 Lightning Bolt
16 Forest
8 Mountain

The gold was spent on Duplication twice.

This deck is your basic Fire Elves deck, with some elves, and some fire. It’s pretty simple. You want to drop mana producers early until you reach a critical mass of mana production, then you start playing Fireball and Disintegrate at your opponent’s head. You can also use Wellwisher to keep you alive until you get to that point, and Timberwatch Elves can make a powerful blocker or attacker for your red zone needs.

Feel encouraged to use an X spell in the early game to allow you to set up. Normally, you’d prefer to use Lightning Bolt, but you may be under some serious pressure, so use your resources to extend your life.

This deck is Pauper legal. Note that Pauper Magic decks are already legal in Bazaar Magic and have used all of the points, but Peasant Magic or other variants have not. They have used too much (30 in the case of Pez) or not enough.


2 Armageddon
2 Catastrophe
2 Mystic Enforcer
1 Eternal Witness
2 Cartographer
2 Harvest Wurm
2 Llanowar Elves
2 Quirion Elves
2 Werebear
2 Selesnya Signet
2 Wildfield Borderpost
2 Seal of Primordium
2 Oblivion Ring
2 Blastoderm
2 Mystic Zealot
2 Springing Tiger
2 Wall of Roots
1 Battlewise Aven
2 Selesnya Sanctuary
10 Plains
14 Forest

Gold was spent on six rares and one uncommon. This deck wants to drop Armageddon or Catastrophe as a Geddon, and then clean up from there. It has creatures that will likely get better through threshold, as well as things that tap for mana outside of lands.

Because two of your Geddons cost six mana, the deck needed a bit more flexibility, so I made sure to include two each of Harvest Wurm and Cartographer, in order to allow you to get some lands back. Note also that the Borderpost and Sanctuary can help you get lands back prior to a Geddon effect, in order to allow you to have lands in hand.

Mana producers include Wall of Roots, Werebear, Wildfield Borderpost, Selesnya Signet, Quirion Elves and Llanowar Elves. That’s a nice smattering of mana production, and the Werebear can be used post-Geddon as a beater too.

Mystic Enforcer should be one of the more powerful creatures running around in the format. You also have the 5/5 Blastoderm, the 5/5 Springing Tiger, 3/5 flying Mystic Zealot (post-threshold) and the 3/3 flying first strike Battlewise Aven in addition to the 4/4 Werebear. Certainly your other creatures can join the fun as well.

The deck also has a smattering of other cards as well. The Seal of Primordium can take out an opposing artifact or enchantment, and you can drop it pre-Geddon, so you don’t have to worry about playing it post-Geddon. It can also be used to destroyed a fragile artifact mana producer, giving you a small amount of pseudo-The Oblivion Ring can take out any non-land, with the caveat that if it goes, the permanent comes back. However, this can regularly be used to help your deck.

I know there is just one copy included, but the singleton Eternal Witness can really help you out if it shows, bringing back a land post-Geddon if needed, or a key creature or spell as well.

And that brings us to the close of another entry in the Compendium. I hope that you enjoyed seeing this little format of my own creation, and if you like it enough, experiment with it! Enjoy it! Change it! As long as you are having fun with it, I’m happy.

Until later…

Abe Sargent


This has a full list of the various articles I have written for various casual formats, in those cases where the article serves as a primer to the rules.

Five Color

Current Version

Peasant Magic

Magic the Conquering

Magic: The Role-Playing Game, Second Edition

The Compendium of Alternate Formats:

Tribal Wars

St. Patrick’s Format

New York Format

Updates to NY F – 1

Updates to NY F – 2

Rainbow Stairwell

Scavenger Hunt Format

A Later Hunt

Chess Magic

Update to Chess Magic

Just One Star

Elder Dragon Highlander



Acid (aka 5PH)

Update for Acid Magic


This list does not include alternate limited formats like Magicshop or Shandalar.