The Trinity format is exactly the same as the Legacy format, except that cards are limited to 3 copies per deck. This simple change has powerful effects.


More card diversity and innovation

Fewer non-games from A+B combo decks

New avenues for deck exploration

Legacy is 40% more expensive than Trinity

Can support a larger community

Elegant reserved list solution

Format Thesis

The Problem

The Trinity format sprung from the realization that as eternal formats mature, they homogenize over a small subset of powerful cards and avenues for deck exploration and innovation become few and far between. Gradually, more and more cards are pushed out of the format to the point where the format goes from stable to stagnant. The below visualization by janchu88 shows how Legacy has homogenized over a small subset of cards.

Download as SVG File (8mb):

Secondly, the reserved list has had a detrimental effect on the longevity of eternal formats. Vintage, once the thriving pinnacle of Magic's most notorious and iconic cards, has floundered due to the astronomic costs associated with the power nine cards and the limited number of deck slots to innovate with. All the deck slots are already taken by broken cards. Over the last several years, Legacy has started to move in a similar direction. Previous attempts to address reserved list concerns are to:

1)  Abolish the reserved list   

2) Allow sanctioned proxies   

3) Legalize Collector's Edition

Wizards of the Coast is likely to uphold its promise to keep the reserve list, and so increasing the print run is not an option.

Format Benefits

Trinity gives us a wider variety of cards in our format. There will be more heterogeneity across decks. The free slots grant more degrees of freedom in deck design, providing it new avenues for deck exploration and innovation. It will be exciting to see cherished, but outclassed cards from a bygone era reenter the format alongside new cards for the first time.​

Format Accessibility

The shift from Legacy to Trinity will create a more inclusive and accessible eternal format. The fourth copy of every play set can reenter the market, which virtually increases the supply of reserved cards by 33% without violating the reserved list. The demand for expensive reserve list cards would decrease by 25% because players would only need 3, instead of 4 copies. Law of supply and demand dictates that the price equilibrium will be lower, drastically reducing the format's barrier to entry. Simultaneously, new staples will stimulate economic growth. The reserved list cards can support a larger, and thus healthier eternal player base.

Economic Effects

I plugged the data to calculate the equilibrium price for the average value of a legacy card. The base value I used came from this article:


Average Legacy deck price: $2729.36

Average Legacy card price: $33.61


The model assumes 500 copies of a single legacy card are sold per month. This is a big assumption because we do not know this value, and there is a difference between 500 LEDs or 500 Force of Will. It doesn't matter too much for the purpose of what I'm trying to show. In green, you will find the changes in supply increase and demand decrease. The average legacy card price would go from $33.6 to about $24.

I also plugged the numbers for Supply Elasticity and Demand Elasticity with the assumption that cards are not as elastic in terms of Supply than as of Demand. 0.9 supply elasticity (supply doesn't matter as much) and -1.25 demand elasticity (the effects of demand translate directly to a price increase or decrease). With the elasticity changed, the equilibrium quantity would be 504 (instead of 480) from 500 and the equilibrium price would be $25 per card (instead of $24) from $33.6.


I was not able to calculate unidirectional Elasticity, to model that demand increase is elastic and demand decrease is inelastic. This is how Veblen Goods like Magic operate. Another weakness is that the average price per card will decrease (at least short term) because high value cards like Force of Will, Dual lands or Lion's Eye Diamond need to be replaced with cards that currently see no tournament play and are therefore cheaper, bringing the average down more. It is hard to calculate the impact of changes or make economic predictions when Wizards of the Coast does everything to keep their supply quantities hidden, but at least this is something..


Trinity's 3-of rule would affect the average price of legacy decks significantly which should make it more accessible to other players. Depending on how you would like to frame it:



TLDR: Legacy is 40% more expensive than Trinity.



TLDR: Trinity is 28.5% cheaper than Legacy.



Possible effects on the community:

  • Better price support (same $ amount, better cards)

  • Deeper engagement and activity (more money to spend on actually going to tournaments)

  • More accessible eternal format to new players

  • Better on-ramp from Modern (Avg. card: $13.72) to Trinity ($24) than to Legacy ($33.6)

  • Could hit some reserved list speculators that have no connection with the game and scare them out of Magic. Especially those who are on credit, since interest rates will force them to liquidate their positions


With a reduced play set size comes increased variance. Blue decks may relatively gain in power due to the fact that it loses less consistency than other colors because of the cantrip cartel: Brainstorm, Ponder and Preordain. While cantrips are always dangerous, they also play an important role in streamlining decks. The cards that Brainstorm wants to find also become more difficult to find (Force of Will, Swords to Plowshares, Terminus) unless they run surrogate printings (Force of Negation, Path to Exile, Supreme Verdict).

This is a good thing because it unifies players who wish to leave their decks mostly unchanged while also giving deck builders the degrees of freedom they need to innovate. Surrogate printings bridge the divide between those who want format innovation and those who do not want change. Here are some notable surrogates effects:

  • Brainstorm, Ponder & Preordain

  • Goblin Welder & Goblin Engineer

  • Thoughtseize & Inquisition of Kozilek

  • Swords to Plowshares & Path to Exile

  • Mother of Runes & Giver of Runes

  • Wasteland & Ghost Quarter

  • Force of Will & Force of Negation

In Trinity, it is expected that archetypes will be preserved but diversified. Many surrogates with lesser effects of powerful cards exist, and it will be exciting to see which ones will be good enough to see tournament play and which ones won't. Here is the first Trinity deck list ever created:

A decklist by Qweerios

                                                                                      Threats (14)

                                                                                      3 Delver of Secrets

                                                                                      3 Nimble Mongoose

                                                                                      3 Tarmogoyf

                                                                                      3 True-Name Nemesis

                                                                                      2 Wrenn and Six

                                                                                      Spells (28)

                                                                                      3 Lightning Bolt

                                                                                      2 Chain Lightning

                                                                                      2 Spell Snare

                                                                                      3 Stifle

                                                                                      3 Spell Pierce

                                                                                      3 Daze

                                                                                      3 Force of Will

                                                                                      3 Brainstorm

                                                                                      3 Ponder

                                                                                      3 Preordain

                                                                                      Lands (18)

                                                                                      3 Wasteland

                                                                                      8 Fetch

                                                                                      3 Tropical Island

                                                                                      3 Volcanic Island

                                                                                      1 Fiery Islet


Everything broken about Legacy is still present but less oppressive, therefore we get to interact more in the same format we know and love and play against a wider variety of cards over the course of a match. Some strategies will win while others will lose in a 3-card format. Games that offer a wide selection of choices and reward the better players and deck builders of the world are the ones that push magic forward.


Rock, paper, scissors is a game that everybody knows but nobody enjoys as a hobby. Cantrips (manipulation or just draw attached to something) and tutors are core elements to both interactive games and synergistic decks that keep games flowing in a dynamic way.

When you have an abundance of strategies that devolve the game into A+B=insurmountable obstacle, you stray away from choices and get ever closer to rock, paper, scissors gameplay. A 3-card format curbs those strategies in favor of more choices in both deck building and play, and that's a happy compromise between the Legacy we know and love, and format innovation.