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Tiny Leaders: Format Staples

I wanted to take this time to further talk about the increasingly popular format, Tiny Leaders. I have collaborated with SaffronOlive (Seth) and wanted this article to follow up his article Tiny Leaders: Introduction. Seth talked about an introduction to the format, financial criteria, and the Leaders themselves. I wanted to continue gathering information, and follow up his piece and look at cards that are trending in the various archetypes. I wanted to look at the format “staples”. Now, I use quotation marks because I want to plainly say that I’m not an expert in the format. The format is young, and could just as well be forgotten as fast as it gained hype. I just wanted to gather information from the very helpful Tiny leaders Facebook group and look at some trends using MTGGoldfish’s metagame tracker.

Before I go into this, I’m going to say again, this format is very young. I’m by no means an expert at the format, nor am I advocating running out right now to buy the cards I talk about. Though, full disclosure, I have been acquiring foil versions of the popular leaders just to be on the safe side, though fully well knowing I could be burned. There aren’t sure things with this format, and it’s not as well established as say EDH. As financiers we know such as Jason Alt (who is very adept at EDH) tells us, “we haven’t figured out trends from EDH yet,” which I wholeheartedly agree with. So just take some caution when reading finance based literature about Tiny Leaders. SaffronOlive’s article echoed these sentiments.

That being said, these are the findings of the question I posed to Tiny Leaders players, and the trends I have found while researching different archetypes. This article covers mono-colored spells, and I will write again and cover multicolored/wedged/colorless "staples" in another article. I am here to report these findings and trends, rather than discuss their viability in the format.


Financial Criteria (adapted from SaffronOlive)

  1. Sets matter, mostly because of supply.

  2. Foils matter. What two formats are most strongly associated with foil demand? Legacy and Commander. What two formats is Tiny Leaders a mixture of? Legacy and Commander.

  3. Reprints really matter.

  4. How often do these staples show up in decks, and what is its purpose in the deck? For example, Smother is great removal, but is it good enough to include in every black-based deck?

  5. Popularity of the card's color. For example, there are vastly more archetypes featuring black than any other color.


Research Methodology

Since Tiny Leaders has no nationally broadcasted tournaments (like Standard or Modern), this made research tricky. I sifted through decks submitted by users and combined that with feedback from the Tiny Leaders community to come up with the following list of staples.


The Most Popular Color

Tiny Leaders Archetypes by Color

Black-based strategies are the most popular. Black-based strategies have many different generals, including [[Varolz, the Scar-Striped], Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, Anafenza, the Foremost, Doran, the Siege Tower, Athreos, God of Passage, Glissa, the Traitor, Merieke Ri Berit, Teysa, Orzhov Scion, Sydri, Galvanic Genius, Toshiro Umezawa, Lyzolda, the Blood Witch, Sygg, River Cutthroat, and Grenzo, Dungeon Warden. The generals containing black greatly outnumbered the generals that didn’t. 


Mono-Colored Black Staples

Liliana of the Veil (foil)


This certainly wasn't surprising at all. Liliana of the Veil is one of the most powerful planeswalkers to be printed, so it’s not wonder that black is so attractive in this format. I found that Liliana, of the Veill was in every black deck. This conclusion was a bit obvious and tailored to the Legacy aspects of the format.

Criteria Notes: Has constructed appeal; heavily played in Modern and Legacy. No reprintings, and has a foil version. The card is very strong — no card can replace what Liliana of the Veil does. 

Smother (foil)

Smother kills any creature in the format. Two-mana instant-speed unconditional removal is too hard to pass up and is an auto-include in any black deck. Everyone suspected Smother to be great, and the data backs it up. It’s also worth noting that despite its multiple printings, foil copies are still hard to come by.

Criteria Notes: Limited printings, and also has an FNM Promo. Ubiquitous in all black-based archetypes. Not a constructed-playable in any other format, but this card is essential in Tiny Leaders. I don’t think it will see a drastic increase, but a solid bump to the price is possible.


Toxic Deluge (non-foil)


Black Sun's Zenith (foil)


These go hand-in-hand because they perform the same role in black decks. It’s worth noting that there are very few sweepers in the format and that black gets the best ones. While not every black deck is playing both of these, most are playing at least one. Usually Toxic Deluge is played over Black Sun’s Zenith due to the lower cost and color commitment.

Criteria Notes: Toxic Deluge only has one printing (Commander), while Black Sun's Zenith has multiple printings. Toxic Deluge does not have a foil printing, but Black Sun’s Zenith does in addition to a Game Day promo. Both are the premier sweepers in this format and Toxic Deluge has constructed viability.

Honorable mentions: Dismember, Inquisition of Kozilek, Hero's Downfall, Thoughtseize.

Criteria Notes: I'm not going into detail for these cards to keep the article brief, but these are very good. They showed up multiple times in black-based archetypes. They fit the criteria stipulations: foil printings, limited printings, and ubiquitous to black-based archetypes. Hero's Downfall has a clash pack promo version.


Mono-Colored Red Staples

Anger of the Gods (foil)


Mizzium Mortars (foil)


Slagstorm (foil)

I would consider these red staples even though they aren’t always played in red decks. Since red-based strategies are lacking in this format, it's uncertain how valuable these will be going forward despite being premier sweepers. Whether or not red finds a home in the format will determine the value of these cards.

Lightning Bolt (MPR promo)


Lightning Bolt isn’t financially relevant to Tiny Leaders, but the card is relevant to the format. Lightning bolt was included in every red deck. Clearly constructed viable and one of the oldest staples in Magic history. It can kill almost every Leader in the format. There were multiple printings of this card, but there may be interest in foil versions, and perhaps a bump to the sought after MPR textless promo.

Criteria Notes: Certainly covers most criteria, except for the number of reprints. Non-foil versions are likely not a factor, but foil versions would be a point of interest here.


Honorable Mention: Chaos Warp


Mono-Colored White Staples


Stoneforge Mystic (foil)


One of the most powerful white cards ever printed (which spawned several Legacy archetypes) seems like a shoo-in for Tiny Leaders. While you won’t be tutoring for Batterskull, there are still plenty of options including Sword of Fire and IceSword of Feast and Famine, or even Sunforger. This card generates card advantage in every deck regardless of what Leader you choose.

Criteria Notes: Certainly covers all the stipulations. Already a proven constructed staple, it’s unclear where these could go financially. There could be more interest in foils as the format gains more traction (which would be insane given the current ~$160 price tag).


Efficient Removal

Path to Exile


Swords to Plowshares

In constructed these have shown up in every deck featuring white; Tiny Leaders is no exception. Other colors have access to more sweepers than white, but none can beat the efficiency of white spot-removal.

Criteria Notes: There have been many printings of both of these cards, so these aren’t too financially relevant.


Mother of Runes (foil promo)


Ah, an oldie, but goodie. Mother of Runes has stood the test of time, and mom is just as valuable in Tiny Leaders as any other format. Close to all user submitted lists with white included Mother of Runes. From protecting valuable creatures to the Leaders themselves, Mother of Runes provides too much value to not see play.

Criteria Notes: With foils already being high, it's uncertain how much more Mother of Runes can gain. There would have to be a serious influx of Tiny Leaders demand to really drive the price up even further. It is worth noting that there aren't many foil versions of this card. With limited supply, it's not outside the realm of possibility to gain additional traction. Mother of Runes is admittedly hard to gauge.

Honorable Mention: Unexpectedly Absent

Mono-Colored Blue Staples

True-Name Nemesis

A dominant force in Legacy, it was no surprise to see True-Name Nemesis show up numerous times. Being one of the most effective evasive creatures ever printed, there's no reason to not include this in your deck. True-Name Nemesis becomes better with the inclusion of Stoneforge Mystic and equipment. At that point we’re basically playing Legacy right? Many Tiny Leaders players agree. Perhaps as the format gains popularity, this once very pricey creature can make up lost ground.

Criteria Notes: True-Name Nemesis has dropped off considerably price-wise since it was first introduced in its Commander product. This card is just as good and effective in this format as it is in constructed.


Blue Sun's Zenith (foil)


A casual favorite, this card can be utilized as recurring card draw or a mill finisher; with only 50-card decks in Tiny Leaders, mill looks more viable or one can simply use Blue Sun's Zenith to deck an opponent in a grindy match.  

Criteria Notes: It's uncertain if Blue Sun's Zenith will take off; perhaps additional demand from Tiny leaders could create a surge. 

Honorable Mentions: Gitaxian Probe, Ponder, Preordain.

Mono-Colored Green Staples

Green Sun's Zenith (foil)

Green Sun's Zenith made an appearance in every single green deck and is obviously powerful given that it's banned in Modern. Outside of Green Sun's Zenith, Green strategies lacked auto-include cards.

Criteria Notes: Green Sun's Zenith has had two printings. The foil printings can be attractive, but I would still temper expectations at this point. This card does everything green-based strategies want and is a reusable tutor.

Sylvan Library (foil)


Sylvan Library showed up in many lists, but it was not a unanimous shoo-in for green decks. However, the recurring card advantage and card selection (with a shuffle effect) is powerful enough that this may find its way into every deck. 


The concept of a staple in a singleton format is subjective, but this list of cards is a great starting point. This in no way means the format is solved; many of these cards could gain or lose favor with players depending on how the format grows and evolves. As I mentioned earlier, I’m just here to look at decklists created by the community and attempt to write good literature on the subject. It was certainly a community effort, and I greatly appreciated the help and input from many Tiny Leaders players, especially the Facebook group!

As always, I appreciate the read, and feel free to leave comments and/or questions in the comments.





Tiny Leaders Information:

Facebook Page

Official Blog


Check out the BoltSnapBolt Community!

Want a place to discuss and learn MTGFinance? Check out the Facebook group. It's a great place to learn and discuss MTGFinance in a positive and constructive manner.

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