In the fall of 2018 our local play group decided to run a sealed league event as an alternative to the nothing-going-on format we were in. This was the back half of Way of the Force, when all of the most powerful constructed decks had been fleshed out. Instead of rehashing the same-ole-same-ole with months of fun decks, we brainstormed some rules for how to run a sealed league, and kicked things off. The format was successful beyond our wildest dreams. Weekly participation went drastically up. Not only did players who’d been missing come back to Destiny, but we actually added several new faces to our group. What would normally have been a time of player decline ended up bolstering our group, so that when Across the Galaxy hit we were larger than ever. If you’re interested in replicating our league (and hopefully our success), here are the rules we played by.
- Pick a start and end date for the league. Six to eight weeks should be about right.
- Each player enters the league with a limited set and four boosters. You can limit your product to whatever is current, or reach back in time for older cards.
- Each player records their pool and stores it with the Record Keeper. This is usually the person that starts the league.
- Each week players may add a single booster pack to their pool.
- When cards are added to their pool, players retrieve their pool record, add to it, and return it to the Record Keeper.
- Players play games of Destiny, using normal limited rules, against each other during the weekly get together.
- Each player earns one point per win in a league match. Points are recorded with the Record Keeper.
- Points are only earned the first time two players match up in a particular week. The same two people cannot grind points all night long.
- Losses are recorded as well. Each time a player hits three losses they may add another booster pack to their pool. These losses do not need to be in a row, and they are counted across sessions.
- The final week is a single elimination tournament for the Top 8.
Rules Explanation, Thoughts, and Discussion
The underlying philosophy for the league was to stimulate player participation through everyone having an interesting and fun time during our weekly play sessions. Every potential rule was evaluated against that philosophy before and after implementing.
- The “Three Loss Rule” turned out to be an amazing regulator. People who struggle to win racked up excellent pools from the very beginning to give themselves a massive advantage in card strength. People who tend to win more found themselves trying to keep up using substantially weaker pools. This ability for lesser skilled players to take down highly skilled players lead to some of the most gratifying moments of the season.
- Some people wanted to expand the ability to play to TTS. That was nixed immediately, and never saw play. The point of this league was to encourage participation during our weekly play session, so, while we might have had slightly more overall participation by including TTS, it would have watered down the experience for our weekly night.
- Our first iteration of the league included an additional point for showing up. Each night you arrived you were given an additional point just for showing up. While this was meant to encourage participation, it actually just ended up punishing people who couldn’t make it as often, and suppressed part timers from the final standings. It turned out that the advantage of showing up and playing games was enough of a participation differentiator.
- Some people wanted to limit the number of matches a person could play each week. This was one of those that never saw the light because the entire point of the league is to get people playing. By limiting total matches you were actively discouraging play. The normal limit of our four hour play window did enough to limit play without adding an artificial limit to it.
- Use local social media to promote the heck out of your league. Bring it up in discussions with potential new players. Point everyone you know and might know towards the league.