Off the Top

I may have mentioned the game Off the Top before, but never explained it. It’s a casual way of playing Magic.

What you do is grab a stack of cards — any old stack — and plunk it down in the middle of the table as a library. Both players start with no cards in their hand and an infinite number of all five basic lands. The players share the graveyard and library.

Some things are banned. Notably, any ‘library search’ ability is ignored (like ‘search for a creature and put it in your hand’). Any card whose sole purpose is to give you mana can be tossed. Other cards may be useless in this format as well, and you’ll likely have to make some card-by-card group decisions about that.

And that’s basically it. But our play group, having long experience with this game, has some recommendations on how to make this game more than merely a way to kill a few minutes.

Basically, you don’t want to play with a random stack. It’s best if you don’t use cards that are too powerful or instant wins (like fireball) nor trivial creatures like a 1/1 for 1. I’d say don’t include creatures larger than 4/4 unless they have an interesting drawback.

Some cards that we have found to be particularly fun are:

We play with just one copy of each card for variety and strategy (card-counting).

If playing with more than two people, I’d recommend playing teams or ‘attack right,’ where you can only attack the person to your right. This keeps the game moving.

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