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How Many Cards in a MTG Deck? MTG Deck Size

MTG deck size depends on which game format you’re playing. Here we look at how many cards are in a Magic the Gathering deck, whether you should play more than the minimum MTG deck size, plus some cool cards to try if you play a large MTG deck!

the backs of cards from a mtg deck

How Many Cards in a Deck?

The number of cards in an MTG deck varies depending on the game format. Limited formats have 40 cards and Constructed formats (excluding Brawl and Commander) have 60 cards.

Here’s a quick reference table for you on the minimum and maximum number of cards for each format. For more on the best deck size, interesting large deck cards, and an intro to formats and card sideboards too, read on!

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FormatMin Deck SizeMax Deck SizeMax Sideboard Size
Brawl1001000
Commander1001000
Draft40NoneNone
Legacy60None15
Modern60None15
Pauper60None15
Pioneer60None15
Sealed40NoneNone
Standard60None15
Vintage60None15

Can I Put More Than 60 Cards in My Deck?

With the exception of Commander and Brawl, which each have a maximum (and minimum) deck size of 100, your deck has no maximum hand size. In theory, you can put as many cards in your deck as you want!

Here are the exact rules for Standard (the same rules apply to most other Constructed formats).

  • Your deck must be at least 60 cards.
  • Up to fifteen cards may be included in your sideboard, if you use one.
  • Include no more than four copies of any individual card in your main deck and sideboard combined (except basic lands).
  • There’s no maximum deck size, as long as you can shuffle your deck in your hands unassisted.

But…

I wouldn’t recommend including more than 60 cards in your deck. Generally speaking, sticking to the minimum deck size is the way to go.

When you increase your deck size, you lower your chances of drawing your best cards. Consistency is key to winning games of Magic, and increased deck sizes lead to decreased consistency.

There are exceptions to every rule though, aren’t there? To date, two cards in the history of Magic encourage larger deck sizes: Battle of Wits and Yorion, Sky Nomad. Let’s take a look at each of the two so we can figure out how best to build around them.

Larger deck size cards

There are a couple of interesting cards in magic that allow you to have fun with larger deck sizes.

Battle of Wits

Battle of Wits MTG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
Battle of Wits MTG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

I’ll be honest here, Battle of Wits is more of a fun card than a competitive one. Sure, playing a 5-mana enchantment that basically says, “you win the game” sounds super powerful, but since you’ll be putting over 200 cards in your deck, the odds of you drawing it will be pretty low.

And I did say over 200 cards, not exactly 200 cards. Battle of Wits checks your deck size when you cast it, so you’ll probably have to put around 230 to 240 cards in your deck for it to work.

On top of that, think of all the shuffling you’ll have to do. Have you ever tried to shuffle four MTG decks at once? That’s basically what shuffling a Battle of Wits deck is like.

And given that one of the Standard rules requires that, “you can shuffle your deck in your hands unassisted” it’s perhaps only for those with larger hands!

Yorion, Sky Nomad

Yorion, Sky Nomad MTG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.
Yorion, Sky Nomad MTG card. Image: Wizards of the Coast.

This card, on the other hand, is very good. Yorion, Sky Nomad sees competitive play in a multitude of formats, in part due to its more forgiving deckbuilding restriction. Its companion ability requires your starting deck to contain twenty cards more than the minimum deck size (so 80 cards, basically).

Companions, right. A companion is a card that starts in your sideboard and has the following text:

If this card is your chosen companion, you may put it into your hand from outside the game for {3} any time you could cast a sorcery.

Let’s focus on Yorion, Sky Nomad for a moment. If your starting deck has 80 cards or more, Yorion can be your companion. If at any point in the game, you’re running low on cards, or you have a bunch of extra mana to spend, you have this handy creature at your disposal. It’s like starting the game with an extra card in your hand!

What is a Format?

Think of a format as a game mode in MTG – all MTG formats share an overlapping set of rules, but each format has its own intricacies.

Standard, for example, is a rotating format, meaning it only allows you to play specific cards that have been printed in recent times. (The exact restrictions are more specific, but that’s the general idea.)

Other formats, such as Modern and Legacy, don’t rotate at all, meaning the pool of cards that you can choose from grows with each new set release.

Sometimes, a format’s card pool will be restricted to a single set. Formats like Draft and Sealed, where you build your deck on the spot, come to mind.

Now that we have an understanding of formats, let’s go over the difference between Constructed and Limited.

Constructed and Limited

Formats can fall under two distinct categories: Constructed and Limited.

Constructed formats: e.g. Brawl, Commander, Legacy, modern, Pauper, Pioneer, Standard, Vintage

Constructed formats let you build your deck well in advance. Most formats fall under this category. Generally speaking, Constructed formats have a minimum deck size of 60, but there are exceptions to this rule. More on that later.

Limited formats: e.g. Draft, Sealed

Limited formats include deckbuilding as part of the game itself. Sealed, for example, is a Limited format where you are given six booster packs to open. From those cards alone (and some basic lands), you have to build a deck that you pit against other Sealed decks. Limited formats always have a minimum deck size of 40.

What is a Sideboard?

So, you may have noticed a column in the table at the start of the article titled “Maximum Sideboard Size”. What is that anyways?

Many games of Magic are played in a best-of-three setting. In your first game, you’ll play with the deck you started out with, but in games two and three, you can make slight modifications to your deck. This is done by taking cards out of your main deck and inserting cards from your sideboard.

Why would you want to change your deck? Well, let’s say your opponent’s deck has a lot of enchantments. You might not want to run cards like Disenchant in your main deck, since not a lot of decks play enchantments, but Disenchant is just the right kind of card for your sideboard! In games two and three, you can swap out a less useful card for Disenchant, that way you’ll be better equipped to deal with your opponent’s enchantments.

To make things fair, sideboards are generally limited to a maximum of 15 cards. That means you have to pick your sideboard options carefully so that you can be prepared for every kind of deck you might come across.

In Limited, since you’ll only have a handful of cards to begin with, your sideboard consists of all the cards that you didn’t put in your deck. So, if you’re playing Sealed and you opened 6 booster packs, all the cards that you didn’t select to go into your deck become your sideboard.

For more about sideboards including tips on how to build your own, see our article: Sideboards in MTG: All You Need To Know!

Conclusion – How many cards in a MTG deck? MTG Deck Size

As you can see, the question of how many cards go into an MTG deck can’t be answered with a single number. Magic is a nuanced game, and even the simplest rules have strange exceptions!

For our deck-building tips, check out our articles, How to Build an MTG Deck – Beginner’s Guide!, How to Build a Commander Deck in MTG, and Sideboards in MTG: All You Need To Know!

More Magic: The Gathering articles

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Emily
Hi, I’m Emily, the tabletop gamer behind My Kind of Meeple. If this article helped you, I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.

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