Fringe Format: Wacky Races

Fringe Format: Wacky Races

Tom AndersonDesign

Arguably the best thing about Magic is the sheer variety of ways to play it. Even ignoring the growing range of officially-supported formats, Magic’s “rules engine” and massive card pool make perfect building blocks for inventing all sorts of wacky new scenarios! That’s just what a player named “Perodequeso” was up to back in 2016 when he invented Wacky Races. 

Inspired by the then-recent addition of Vehicle cards to the game, Pero whipped up a quick and catchy new format to play with them! This unique format evokes the same chaotic, destructive racing you’d get in the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon or kart-racing videogames.

The MTG version of Wacky Races is fast-paced, easy to understand and a ton of fun in casual multiplayer — which is probably why it’s enjoying a bit of a 2023 revival after Perodequeso’s original rules were reposted to Reddit

Revved up to learn more? Strap into your pilot’s seat and we’ll give you our fastest crash-course!


Wacky Races is a casual multiplayer Constructed format that uses the entire Vintage card pool. Each player needs a 60-card deck, built with no more than four copies of any one card, other than Basic Lands. Since the format is designed around Vehicles, every deck needs to pack plenty of them: community members have recommended at least 16 Vehicle cards and an equal number of creatures to crew them.

None of the “normal” ways to win or lose at Magic are recognized in Wacky Races: players simply continue regardless of negative life totals, poison counters, drawing from an empty deck or any other effect which wins or loses the game. 

The only way to win is to be first one over the finish line in your Vehicle of choice! In this case, “The Finish Line” is actually a unique object which exists from the start of the game; like an indestructible, untargetable Planeswalker controlled by an invisible, extra player.

The Finish Line doesn’t lose loyalty or leave play when attacked — but whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to it, you complete a lap! You can track each player’s completed laps instead of their life total, since the latter number is (mostly) irrelevant for Wacky Races. The first player to complete 10 total laps is declared the winner!

Of course, you can’t enter this Planar Grand Prix on foot! Only Vehicle creatures are allowed to attack and block in this format — your other creature cards are just there to serve as crew (and perhaps offer some utility). 

Yes, that does mean you can crew a Vehicle after your opponent declares an attack and block them from completing a lap. After all, cutting your opponent off seconds from the checkered flag is one of the most dastardly pleasures one can find on the whole wacky racetrack!


These unique rules mean that every deck, regardless of color or archetype, needs to be optimized for vehicle combat above all else. Luckily, the range of Vehicle cards available in 2023 is broader than ever, and there are more different ways to play around them than some players might expect.


Attentive racers notice that your potential to reach 10 laps quickly only depends on how often you can attack The Finish Line — not how much damage you’re theoretically doing. Going wide with a minnow fleet of cheap, easily-crewed Vehicles will put laps on the board early and often. Red and White have the most direct support for vehicles and offer a lot of good, cheap pilots to boot.

You can lean into this mana-efficient plan with your non-creature slots as well, packing cheap combat tricks and defensive spells to help overcome any speed bumps opponents try to throw in your way. Team-wide tricks or “creatures can’t block” spells will be your final nitro boost in the single-minded dash to the finish!


If you prefer to drive only luxury cars, a Midrange deck can afford to play only the best Vehicles in the game — filling the remaining slots with powerful removal and card advantage. The gap between the best and the worst Vehicle cards is more dramatic than most Constructed metagames. Just compare Esika’s Chariot or Thunderhawk Gunship to something like Sky Skiff.

Given how central attacking and blocking are to Wacky Races, Vehicles that create or remove creatures are extremely powerful. Mysterious Limousine and Prowl, Stoic Strategist are this format’s Brutal Cathar, and can punish decks that rely too much on creature tokens for crewing with repeated exiles. 

You can also create value by playing ETB creatures as your pilots (reclamation sage seems particularly nasty) and then recurring those abilities with Golden Argosy, Getaway Car or the Limousine.


Can slow and steady actually win the race? It’s more likely than it first appears. The artificially narrow and combat-centric metagame of Wacky Races makes it easier to pick out the perfect suite of interaction, and the frantic race for laps is likely to leave opponents over-extended when you sweep their pilots and/or vehicles

You can afford to take your time finishing the course if you’ve literally run the opposing racers out of gas! Meanwhile, Reckoner Bankbuster and Shorikai, Genesis Engine will ensure your own fuel tanks are never empty.

The handful of proactive card slots in these decks actually feel like the most important choices. You still need a way to finish 10 laps if you want to actually win, and that game plan should be consistent with the interaction you’re planning for the early game. 

For instance, a blue/white deck could leverage Peacewalker Colossus, Heart of Kiran and similar Vehicles to go creature-less and turn Wrath of God into an asymmetrical pilot-sweeper. But if you’re trying to eventually win through grand theft auto, then you might want to destroy opposing permanents more selectively.


While the very specific victory requirements of Wacky Races turn off a lot of combo kills, combo decks are as powerful as they are in any multiplayer format. Drawing and playing your entire deck in one turn will generally lead to victory, especially if your opponents are still finishing their warm-up lap! There are even some Vehicles with meaningful combo potential to increase your total count of roadworthy racers. 

Dermotaxi can break “once per turn” limitations on triggers like Akki Battle Squad. Smuggler’s Buggy can cheat in Omniscience, especially with a little help from Brainstorm

Megatron, Tyrant is able to produce ever-increasing yields of colorless mana when combined with “additional combat” effects. And Ratchet, Field Medic gets up to two uses of her artifact-reanimating transformation each turn — using the second one to reanimate a second Ratchet creates the potential for a loop, assuming you can keep gaining life.

Cool as those cards are, in the end, making your combo vehicle-centric is more about personal preference than mechanical necessity. The important thing is to ensure the end result of your combo aligns with the gameplay of the format. 

Creating infinite attackers or infinite attack steps works. Infinite mana works so long as you include a mana-sink that draws your deck and maybe a singleton haste-enabler. Likewise, milling yourself to empty and hitting a spell like Wake the Past can work, too. Just keep your eyes on The Finish Line and you can’t go too wrong.


There is one more very important thing to talk about before you speed off to find a pick-up game of Wacky Races — the kind of spirit it should be played in. You might have noticed just from those deck building hypotheticals how full of potholes the rules are; their flavor-first approach to format design does not necessarily lead to airtight handling of corner cases.

But I don’t think the discussion should get too caught up “fixing” those rules or banning cards that flout them. Wacky Races is, after all, a casual community format, and the most important way to preserve that is to play and brew with the whole table’s fun in mind.

There may not be an official ban-list as yet, but do you really need to be told that Stony Silence is a questionable choice for the “only Vehicle victories” game? Or that just finding a new way to win fast with Thassa’s Oracle will probably douse any enthusiasm your friends have mustered for this format? In the general case, I do think most players will know where to draw the line. 

But a lot of these interactions aren’t egregious — just ambiguous. If players can’t lose to their own life totals, should you be able to freely pay down to 0 life to fuel effects? Can you still attack an opponent just to trigger “deals combat damage to a player” abilities? 

Are Transformers cards race-worthy Vehicles, capable of entering combat and completing laps? What about a Griselbrand enchanted with Swift Reconfiguration? Can multiple players declare simultaneous blocks against the same attacking Vehicle?

The popularity of Commander has helped us normalize the pre-game discussion, and that tool is going to be even more important when you’re diving into a fan-made, vibes-driven format like this one. There’s no single authority governing Wacky Races, and no one right way to read the rules or play the game. 

Or more poignantly, there just aren’t any wrong ways to play it. Because as a wacky fringe format like this proves, Magic is ultimately just a vehicle for your imagination.