Another home-brew format for semi-pauper MtG players. As a follow up to my pseudo-Commander format post I thought I'd go into a bit more detail about what we were playing before that glorious discovery.
Taking things back to the end of First Year when my 60-card game was peaking, I was gradually picking up rare cards from odd curiosity boosters and friends. The decks I was playing against generally had a handful of rares in them so putting the ones I had into my own decks seemed fair to level the playing field. For the most part this was fine.
Then AJ got Gisela, Blade of Goldnight in a booster and everything changed.
Every game she came out in he won. Combined with his Tajic and Assemble the Legion, I couldn't compete. Second Year started and we all split off into flat and I saw a lot less of the guys I originally played with but taught my flatmate Rosco and a couple of other friends. Nobody wanted to sink masses of money into a game they had just started so when I told them they could build perfectly viable decks out of mere pocket change they were in. Given they were all new, and I relatively so, the burn to own the most powerful cards was not present and we were content playing the pauper-style I was used to.
I still had my leftover rares that I wanted to use but didn't want to tip the game balance in my favor so I devised "Captain's" format. Funnily enough this was before I even knew EDH/Commander was a thing and the choice of title was a happy coincidence.
Captain's format was essentially this: decks must have at least 60 cards, with no strict maximum but anyone using over 90 cards got funny looks. Cards can be from any set, with the exception of joke sets like Unhinged, and they can be any ratio of commons to uncommons. Each deck is allowed a single rare (not mythic), referred to as the "Captain card." They were meant to tip the balance in your favor when played but decks were built to win without them. It was a little adrenaline boost when you drew your Captain because it could be the card you needed for a turnaround. It would make a victory all the sweeter if you beat someone who had their Captain out when you didn't.
Generally Captain cards embodied the style of the deck. They were not necessarily creatures but we found permanents were preferable to flash-in-the-pan instants or sorceries. Examples of such included Captain of the Watch leading a mono-white soldier tokens, Leyline of Punishment for an Izzet burn deck, or Putrefax championing a filthy Simic infect rush.
We still played with Howie and AJ and the others every once in a while and it didn't matter that they didn't follow our format. It was the playing together that mattered. However, I'd be a liar if I said there wasn't a small amount of pride that came with beating someone using a freeform deck with one under the Captain restrictions.
As I mentioned in my Commander post, I don't really play with these decks anymore, despite having built and kept twenty or so. They see the light every once in a while when I teach new people the game, or when I play with my father or younger cousins. Papa Brebner may be sharp but EDH is significantly better if you know the deck inside out. Maybe I'll cannibalize them if I come up with another Commander deck idea.