TheWolf's picture
By: TheWolf, Shane Garvey
Feb 20 2018 3:50am
Login or register to post comments

My last Penny Dreadful article proved popular, so I thought I would take a more in-depth look at the format this time around. If you don't remember what Penny Dreadful is (and can't be bothered reading the first article), let me remind you: Penny Dreadful is a constructed format in which every legal card is only worth 0.01 tix. The format rotates at each set release; which cards are legal is re-checked and the card list updated.


There are three main ways to play Penny Dreadful - casual play, league play, and tournament play.

Casual play takes place in the Constructed Open Play rooms on Magic Online. People will create games in the lobby, usually with "Penny Dreadful" or "PD" in the comments. I have played a few of these games but, in my opinion, the most fun lies in league play and tournament play.

I spoke about league play in my last article, and you can find the info there. But I didn't talk about tournament play much, as I had not played any of those and wasn't really sure how that worked. However, I have now done this and can talk with greater accuracy about them.

Tournaments are run through Gatherling. You need to sign up for an account at that site, and then register for the tournament you wish to play in. This is done via your "Player CP" on the site. Once you have done that, you need to register the deck and deck list you wish to play. Do this, and you are enrolled in the event.

When it is time for the event to begin, you need to be able to find out who you are playing. I have found the easiest way to do this is through the Penny Dreadful Discord server. Here, the TO posts the matches, which are then played in the Getting Serious room on Magic Online. When both players are done, you head back to your Player CP on Gatherling and report the result of the match. It's all pretty easy, and the people in Discord are all extremely helpful and friendly if you are unsure of what to do.


I first stumbled upon the format via Twitter. Intrigued, I looked into it. I first went to the Penny Dreadful website where I will admit I was a bit confused at first. The first thing I went looking for was the legal card list, which I eventually discovered is a simple text file. This proved very difficult to look through to see what sort of decks I could make. After a bit more digging I saw that Scryfall has a Penny Dreadful filter. This was very useful for deck building.

However - I am a tweaker, not a brewer, so I had a look through some of the deck lists published on the website. Eventually I found a red aggro deck that I shamelessly stole, and played some practice games with it. I won about half, but discovered one of the strengths of the format in playing these games - the format is full of a wide variety of decks. I rarely ran into the same deck twice. 

I decided to try a league. I had a look through the decks that were doing well and picked a mono-black Zombies list. I signed up for a league and played my 5 matches. I finished 2-3, facing a mono-black control list, a green/blue madness list, Eldrazi reanimator, a Naya Kavu deck, and a mono-blue prison deck. Despite the modest finish, I was hooked.

I started tweaking a mono-red deck and ran it through a couple of leagues, finishing 3-2 and then 4-1. I also played with a mono-green list that I took to a 5-0 finish. Currently I'm trying a white/blue control list I have found/stolen. 

And this is another strength of the format: each deck costs you less than 1 tix, so you can chop and change as much as you want.


Eventually, I decided to go into a tournament. I entered with my latest mono-red list. I had a few questions about how it worked so jumped into the Discord and had a chat. The people were extremely helpful and I was soon ready to play. Eighteen players registered for the event, and we had four rounds of Swiss with a cut to top eight. 

This is the deck I decided to play:


Pretty typical mono-red aggro deck, looking to curve out and beat down the opponent. Nothing fancy, just pure aggression. 

I was paired with my round one opponent who was on what they describe as "Orzhov Smockstack":



Smokestack is the key card in the deck, obviously. At it's heart this is a control deck that looks to get value out of it's creatures and Dunes of the Dead. I was able to win this match 2-1, winning the games I was on the play and losing the game on the draw.

In round two, I faced a very interesting deck that had me flashing back to the bad days of Pauper:



Yep, Drake combo is alive and well in Penny Dreadful. This was the first time I had faced such a deck in the format. It wins by using Displace to eventually flicker Murderous Redcap enough times to kill you. It's creature suite is all enters-the-battlefield triggers, and it just out values its opponents. I lost 1-2, as I was just not fast enough to race the combo.

The next deck I faced was called Wild Pair by it's pilot:



This was kind of a ramp deck, though not a typical ramp deck you see in Penny Dreadful. I won this match 2-1, and never actually saw the decks namesake card across the three games. Triskelion was annoying to deal with for me; it was able to shoot down anything I bought out though, thankfully, my opponent never got to put extra counters on it.

(As a side note, my opponent streamed this match. I went back and watched the replay after the tournament. My opponent identified that I would likely 'bolt the bird' (kill his mana generating creatures) and, yes, that was exactly what I did. I even sideboarded to be able to make sure that I could do that effectively in games 2 and 3).

My next opponent was actually the tournament host, who was on this deck:



This deck does what it says in the title - plays out a bunch of tokens. I actually thought this would be a bad match up; a lot of the tokens are 3/3s which can block and kill a lot of my creatures. I'm not sure if my opponent got unlucky or what, but I managed to go 2-0 in the match without too much trouble.

That left me with a 3-1 finish at the end of the Swiss rounds, finishing 3rd overall and booking a spot in the top 8. I ended up playing j_meka and his Wild Pair deck again, finishing with the exact same 2-1 result. This put me into the semi-finals, where I faced this deck:



This is a pretty classic control list that feature's Conqueror's Galleon from Ixalan. I won a quick game 1, but was slowed right down in game 2 due to a combination of board wipes and Sphere of Law, which really put a stop to my deck. Thankfully, morphed Ire Shamans and sideboarded Cursed Scrolls got me through in the end, but it was tough. I took the match 2-0 and booked a spot in the final.

Here, I played the Drake Flicker deck again. Unfortunately, once again my deck was just not quite fast enough to beat the combo and I lost 0-2, allowing liebkne and Drake Flicker to take the tournament out with a 7-0 record!


I really hope this article and the one before it sparks some interest in the format for you. For me, liking a constructed format as much as I do with this one is very high praise - I am almost exclusively a limited player, and only dabble in Modern and Pauper (and very rarely, Standard). Give it a shot - you really have nothing to lose (well, maybe 1 tix). And feel free to hit me up on Twitter if you have any questions; I'll be happy to help out!


Let me make it easy for you: all the links you need, in one handy place: