An introduction to Premodern: Elves, Goblins, and Deadguy Ale | Magic: The Gathering

Premodern is a community-created old-school format. According to, "Premodern is a community-created constructed format consisting of the sets from Fourth Edition to Scourge. A rule of thumb for the card pool is: all cards with the old frame printed between 1995 and 2003. In line with this idea, some cards that are dominant in other formats are banned in Premodern (e.g. Brainstorm and Force of Will) in order to leave room for other cards to prosper, and to make the format distinct from others."

You can find the full banlist here!

Premodern isn’t as restrictive as old school, and you can play cards with newer frame printings as well, making it relatively cheap since you don’t have to necessarily play Vindicate from Apocalypse and instead can use a reprinted variant. Also, even in most tournaments, the normally not legal gold-bordered cards from World Championship Decks as well as Collectors' Edition and International Edition cards are allowed.

Of course, the format has several expensive Reserved List cards which can make certain decks rather expensive (like Gaea’s Cradle or Mox Diamond), but you can also find good decks for about just 50,00€, like this Orzhov Midrange deck more commonly known as BW Deadguy Ale.

Deadguy Ale by Carlo Pierini | Top-8, 4Seasons Premodern

Lands (23)

4 Caves of Koilos
1 City of Brass
Tainted Field

Creatures (12)

Exalted Angel
Hypnotic Specter
Nantuko Shade

Instants (11)

4 Dark Ritual
Swords to Plowshares

Sorceries (11)

Death Grasp
Gerrard's Verdict
Skeletal Scrying

Enchantments (3)

Phyrexian Arena

Sideboard (15)

2 Circle of Protection: Red
2 Diabolic Edict
1 Disenchant
3 Engineered Plague
2 Seal of Cleansing
2 Warmth
3 Withered Wretch

This is a typical midrange deck with the powerful turn one play of Swamp, Dark Ritual and Hypnotic Specter, but it also has great answers like Swords to Plowshares and Wasteland.

On my paper-focused YouTube channel Mengu’s Workshop, we played Premodern recently - and the two decks we chose were Goblins and Elves!

Premodern Goblins – Tommaso Turchi

Lands (24)

Mossfire Valley 
Karplusan Forest
Rishadan Port
Wooded Foothills

Creatures (33)

4 Gempalm Incinerator
1 Goblin King
4 Goblin Lackey
4 Goblin Matron
4 Goblin Piledriver
4 Goblin Ringleader
1 Goblin Sharpshooter
4 Goblin Warchief
4 Mogg Fanatic
3 Siege-Gang Commander

Instants (3)


Sideboard (15)

4 Pyrokinesis
4 Hull Breach
2 Tormod's Crypt
2 Caller of the Claw
2 Anarchy
1 Naturalize

Goblins is very old-school. You’re playing Goblin Lackey, killing your opponent’s blockers and putting Goblin Ringleader and Siege-Gang Commander into play way ahead of schedule!

My deck of choice on the other hand was Elves, and it was the deck I played at the 4Seasons tournament!

Premodern Elves – Andrea Mengucci

Lands (18)

14 Forest
Gaea's Cradle

Creatures (34)

3 Priest of Titania
4 Wirewood Symbiote
4 Quirion Ranger
Multani's Acolyte
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Nantuko Vigilante
1 Caller of the Claw
2 Masticore
3 Deranged Hermit
4 Fyndhorn Elves
4 Llanowar Elves
1 Tribal Forcemage
2 Wall of Roots

Enchantments (4)

Survival of the Fittest

Artifacts (4)

Tangle Wire

Sideboard (15)

4 Wall of Blossoms
1 Spike Feeder
4 Naturalize
4 Call of the Herd
1 Tranquil Domain
1 Nantuko Vigilante

My list is slightly different from the normal one, which tends to splash red for Anger to have a more explosive combo with Survival of the Fittest, that can win in one big turn with Kamahl, Fist of Krosa.

I like a more midrange approach, playing Wall of Roots in the main deck to be more prepared for my opponent’s sideboard plan of Engineered Plague and to have my mana dork survive to cast Call of the Herd.

I’m excited to play Premodern also because I love to collect cards and play with old beautiful versions. It’s an aspect of Magic that I like a lot and I miss the old border cards! Just look how beautiful my deck looks!

Author: Andrea Mengucci

Magic: The Gathering, Member of Team CFBUltimateGuard

Andrea first learned Magic as a kid back in 2004 at probably one of the most peculiar places to find Magic: the beach. In his expansive Magic career, Andrea’s proudest moment in Magic was winning the 2015 Magic World Cup, representing his beloved homeland of Italy and marks, in his words, his first big achievement in Magic. Learn more about Andrea.