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By: Lord Erman, Nafiz Erman
Mar 23 2010 2:59am
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Self Service

by Nafiz Erman

Hello dear readers and welcome once again to Rogue Play. Those of you who know me, even a bit, know very well that I have a weak spot in me for "exotic" formats. Apart from a few exceptions, I played (and still do play) a lot of those exotic formats with great joy and pleasure. I am no master of any of those formats but I always have something to say about all of them. Since I joined MTGO during CHK Block days, I played almost all Block formats, I played Tribal Wars, I played Vanguard, Kaleidoscope, a little bit of Pauper, Singleton, a lot of other specialty formats... So yes, my list is a long one.

And recently I was in need of a new challenge. My love for exotic formats is a good thing (I guess!) but I have a problem; I cannot concentrate on one for too long. I'm always in need of change. And exactly at that point I heard about this new exotic format; Build Your Own Standard (BYOS for short). And credits should go where they are due; dear Zwick, your video about the format on that other site was very detailed, nice and convincing.

And thus dear readers, this week my subject is Build Your Own Standard. This week I will introduce this fine format to you.

Let's get started!



BYOS is actually what Standard is; meaning two main blocks and one Core Set.

WotC's Current Standard: ALA Block + ZEN Block + M10

Your Personal Standard: Any Block + Any other Block + any one Core Set

That simple. For example your own Standard could be Ravnica + Zendikar + 7th Edition. Or it could be Onslaught + Lorwyn + any core set; for some crazy tribal possibilities for example. Or you may wish to try Urza's Saga + Mirrodin + M10. Or you could try the so called "3T"; meaning Tempest + Time Spiral + 10th Edition. Basically your own Standard could be anything. The only limit is your imagination.

Any special rules? No, there are absolutely none whatsoever. You just build your sixty cards deck with your fifteen cards sideboard from your chosen Standard and that's all. Of course there is a banned list but we'll come to that later.



Blocks from Ice Age and up are all legal. And please note that Coldsnap belongs to Ice Age and not any other block! It was in Standard a few years ago but that doesn't make it a part of any other block than Ice Age.

Core Sets from 5th Edition and up are legal. Yes, 5th Edition! If your deck must have Pyroblast in it and if one of your main blocks is NOT Ice Age, then you can select 5th Edition as your core set and eventually play Pyroblast.

Now the important part: You cannot choose MED sets as one of your main blocks nor you can choose one of them as your core set. The same is also true for Duel Decks or any other special sets. For example Liliana vs. Garruk cannot be your main block or your core set. This is important.

You can, however, use cards from those sets. Do you wish to use your Force of Wills? Okay fine, then select Ice Age as one of your main blocks and you will then be able to play them. Do you think that your deck cannot function without Snuff Out? Cool, then select Mercadian Masques as one of your main blocks (the same block also gives you Daze by the way) and enjoy your Snuff Outs.

And finally Lorwyn and Shadowmoor are considered as one single block and not two separate blocks.



If you are familiar with the official boards, then go to:

Magic Online --> Magic Online Player Run Events --> Build Your Own STD.

Under that thread you will find all the necessary information. But if you don't feel like browsing the forums now or simply don't use the official forums at all, then here's a summary for you.

The BYOS tournament takes place on Sundays in the Anything Goes room. Registration begins at 12:30 EST. To be able to participate, you have to be in "/join BYOS". All the talking and chatting takes place in "/join BYOS" but for registration and for posting results, you also have to be in "/join BYOScom".

The rest is as usual as in all PREs. The host announces the matches and then you play. Of course there is no entry fee and of course there are some prizes at the end.



You can use your 7th Edition Serra Angels even though your core set is M10. As long as a card has been printed in your chosen blocks, it doesn't matter which copy of it you play. So yes, you can play your Onslaught Smothers in your Zendikar based deck.

If you are caught using illegal cards in the first round such as using Baneslayer Angel together in a deck with Wrath of God, you will be allowed to change those illegal cards with basic lands. If you are caught using them in the following rounds, then your fate is decided by the host of the event; he may allow you to change them with basic lands or he may disqualify you.  

There are no restricted cards but there is a banned list; and a very long one I must add.

Amulet of Quoz Ancestral Recall Atog Balance
Bazaar of Baghdad Black Lotus  Black Vise  Bronze Tablet 
 Channel Chaos Orb  Contract from Below   Cranial Plating
 Darkpact Demonic Attorney   Demonic Consultation  Demonic Tutor
 Disciple of the Vault Dream Halls  Earthcraft  Entomb 
 Falling Star Fastbond  Frantic Search Goblin Recruiter 
Grim Monolith  Gush  Hermit Druid  Illusionary Mask 
Imperial Seal Jeweled Bird  Land Tax  Library of Alexandria 
Mana Crypt Mana Drain  Mana Vault  Memory Jar 
Metalworker Mind Over Matter  Mind Twist  Mind's Desire 
Mishra's Workshop Mox Emerald  Mox Jet  Mox Pearl 
Mox Ruby  Mox Sapphire  Necropotence  Oath of Druids 
Rebirth  Replenish  Skullclamp  Sol Ring 
Strip Mine  Tempest Efreet Time Spiral  Time Walk 
Timetwister  Timmerian Fiends  Tinker  Tolarian Academy 
Vampiric Tutor  Wheel of Fortune  Windfall  Worldgorger Dragon 
   Yawgmoth's Bargain Yawgmoth's Will   

Please note that this format is also played in paper Magic and therefore the banned list have some non-MTGO cards.

And that is all there is to know. Just select your two main blocks, add a core set to the mix, build your deck, watch out for the banned list and be there on time.



This kind of exotic formats are havens for deck builders and the last thing you can tell a real deck builder is what he should play. No, you cannot do that. A deck builder always decides what he will play. But a little bit information about what others play is always welcome and considered as very useful.

Each weekly BYOS tournament actually is a part of the "season". Each week, for each of your achievements you get points. And at the end of the season, the best players will play in a final tournament to determine the winner of the season. So far ten weeks have passed and there are ten winning decks from past weeks. You can find all decks under the thread on the official forums but here is a nice selection of decks I think are worthy of special mentioning.

Sea Stompy / TSP - RAV - 9th Ed.
As Played by bluedragon123
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Kird Ape
4 Tarmogoyf
2 Plaxmanta
2 Trygon Predator
2 Giant Solifuge
2 Mystic Snake
20 cards

Other Spells
4 Shock
4 Electrolyze
4 Remand
3 Mana Leak
2 Psionic Blast
1 Char
18 cards
4 Steam Vents
4 Yavimaya Coast
3 Breeding Pool
2 Shivan Reef
2 Karplusan Forest
1 Stomping Ground
2 Forest
2 Island
2 Mountain
22 cards



What you see here is the winner of the first week of this season and what you see here is a real killer. The combination of Ravnica with 9th Edition gives the pilot a very powerful manabase for starters. And then all he does is to bring in a Tarmogoyf and to protect it with counterspells (or even with Plaxmanta) while all those burn spells clear the path of the crazy lhurgoyf.

Next we have the good old Zoo deck:


This is absolutely not the best Zoo deck I have ever seen but I think that this is the beauty of this format. If you wish to use Tarmogoyf, Baneslayer Angel and Bloodbraid Elf together in a deck, then this is the best you can come up with in BYOS. Those three cards are killers but playing them means that you cannot play the Ravnica duals. Playing them means no Kird Ape, no Grim Lavamancer, no Figure of Destiny, no Fireblast etc...

Personally I would choose Ravnica if I'm going to play Zoo in BYOS due to the lands mainly. But then who can resist the raw power of Tarmogoyf, right?

Here's another Aggro deck:


This deck may look a bit "interesting" at first. Four Mirrorweaves? Iona, Shield of Emeria in an Aggro deck that has only eighteen lands? Only twenty creatures; isn't it a bit too few for an Aggro deck? And where is Ajani Goldmane? Where is Mutavault?

But I say this: Do not take it lightly. The pilot of this deck took it thrice to victory (slightly different versions each time). Winning one tournament could be considered as luck or coincidence, but three wins cannot be luck; it surely is skill. This above is absolutely not the way I would play Kithkin but apparently it is more than enough to win in BYOS tournaments.

And here's something you may be very familiar with:

Eldrazi Green / TSP - ZEN - M10
As Played by zwick
4 Arbor Elf
4 Nissa's Chosen
4 Acidic Slime
4 Leatherback Baloth
2 Ant Queen
18 cards

Other Spells
4 Harmonize
4 Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
3 Nissa Revane
3 Eldrazi Monument
3 Bestial Menace
17 cards
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
2 Dread Statuary
15 Forest
25 cards

Eldrazi Monument


I would also select TSP block for Eldrazi Green even for Harmonize only... well okay also for Krosan Grip too. I'm not so sure about those four Mwonvuli Acid-Mosses in the maindeck but the pilot took this above version to a successful Top-4 finish, so most probably he knew what he was doing.

Of course this whole format is not about turning men sideways. There are also some very nice Combo decks. Such as this one:


This deck is actually called "French Eggs" and this version above is its "egg-less" version. Normally the deck also plays Odyssey's mana artifact Skycloud Egg. This is an interesting deck and it kills the opponent with a harmless(!) Pyrite Spellbomb. Surely it takes a bit of time and it requires some clicking but it is a different way of finishing, if nothing else.

Then there is this Combo deck played by no one else than our fellow Puremtgo writer Flippers_Giraffe:

HelmLine / ICE - RAV - M10
As Played By Flippers_Giraffe
4 Dimir House Guard
3 Dark Confidant
2 Wall of Bone
9 cards

Other Spells
4 Counterspell
4 Remand
4 Leyline of the Void
4 Helm of Obedience
4 Lim-Dul's Vault
4 Duress
3 Dimir Signet
1 Liliana Vess
28 cards
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Watery Grave
3 Frost Marsh
2 Dimir Aqueduct
2 Soldevi Excavations
5 Island
3 Swamp
23 cards

3 Sleep
3 Unsummon
3 Doom Blade
2 Hydroblast
2 Deathmark
2 Pithing Needle
15 cards
Helm of Obedience


HelmLine is a well known Classic combo deck but building it with only two main blocks and one core set takes some skill and apparently our fellow Flippers_Giraffe has adequate of it. 

We've seen Aggro and we've seen Combo. And here's a very nice Control deck for the lovers of that strategy: 


A very nice Control deck that uses the best cards of Ice Age block together with one of the most deadliest creatures of all times; Psychatog. Did you know by the way that six of the top eight players at the 2002 World Championship used Psychatog based decks (including the winner)?

And finally there is this one:


This is a deck I liked a lot. One day I will also visit CHK Block and build myself a midrange deck too for this format.

Okay these decks are all I'm going to show you in this article. There are a lot more and if you are interested in this format, then go to the official forums and find the thread. There you will see a link that will take you to all the Top-4 decks of past tournaments.

Okay, you've seen what others have played. Now it's time to show you what I played.


WHAT DID I PLAY (and how did I do)?

As I'm the author of this article, I'm sure that you don't mind me talking about my achievements in a seperate section, do you? Thank you! Well, I joined the format on the eighth week and this below was my deck in my very first tournament.


It looks nice, doesn't it? And do you wonder how I did with it? Yes? Okay then, check this out:

So yes, you can say that I did fine.

I don't want to talk about in detail how I ended up winning the tournament because this isn't a tournament report article. All I can tell you that I played against a Storm Combo deck and won 2-1 in the first round, then won against a very deadly deck thanks to my Kor Firewalkers and then won against a Bant midrange deck in round three by playing carefully and by not wasting my Day of Judgments early.

From there the tournament's Top-4 matches have started and I got paired with the Storm Combo player whom I played in round one and won again; 2-0 this time. And in the final I won 2-1 against a crazy Elves! deck.

For my second appearance I prepared this deck:


Unfortunately I didn't have the chance to play the deck. Since two weeks I missing the tournament because of various real life issues. This means that this above deck will go to the archive before even seeing the light of tournament day, because I have tons of other ideas and I don't want to delay them any further.

And what will I play next week? Well, I already have more than five decks ready and I will choose one of them. 



You have seen what others play and you have seen what I played. And what about you? Of course you know what you will play but here are two different ways you can go:

1- If you are good at playing but bad at deck building:
If this is you, then dig up some old proven Standard decks. How about Dragonstorm combo? How about Tooth and Nail? How about playing a Gifts Ungiven deck? Do you remember Solar Flare? Did you ever play Ghazi Glare?

As you see there are tons of decks you can choose from. Just take that old bomb deck and come and play.

2- If you are a real deck builder and like the challenge of creating something new:
Are you aware of the possibilities you can create when you combine two totally unrelated blocks? How about building a multicolor deck using Invasion and Shards of Alara? After all, both blocks have crazy multicolor possibilities. Using Crosis, the Purger together in a deck with Cruel Ultimatum should be... cruel!

Or how about creating the ultimate Goblins deck by combining Onslaught together with Lorwyn? Or even with Tempest? Or how about combining Urza's Saga with Mirrodin for some crazy artifact action? Cards like Voltaic Key or Karn, Silver Golem will surely make some good friends on Mirrodin. But then again Urza's Saga's main keyword Cycling would also make good friends with a few cards from the Onslaught block.

Nice enough?

Urza's Saga actually "combos" with many sets and Lorwyn/Shadowmoor is just another one:

How about this?

And let me remind you that Idyllic Tutor is also in Lorwyn/Shadowmoor.

So yes the options are limitless. Ladies and gentlemen, deck builders from all around the world, you may start your engines!



And that's all I have to say about BYOS. To sum up I can say that I liked this format a lot because:

1- It isn't shallow as some other exotic formats: Some specialty formats such as Standard Singleton or ZEN Block have a very narrow card pool and after some time all the decks start to look alike. There is no room for deck building if your aim is also to win.


2- It isn't as broken as some other exotic formats: In some other specialty formats the only thing that matters is building decks using some overpowered and even broken cards. Surely you can play Grindstone / Painter's Servant in BYOS too by selecting Tempest and Lorwyn as your main blocks. But then how will you protect your fragile combo? Your Classic version of this deck plays Daze and Force of Will. But your BYOS version can't. Your Classic deck tutors its combo pieces with Trinket Mage and Imperial Recruiter. Your BYOS version can't.

Basically BYOS is a format that lets you use all the cards in your collection but doesn't allow you to get wild and do some broken things. 


Seven Deadly Sins, Part IV

Next week I'm returning to my routine schedule.  In my previous articles I talked about three of those seven deadly sins; gluttony, greed and pride.

Next week, if I don't make a change at the very last minute, the sin I'm going to talk about will be lust. I will talk about two decks; one is taking sadistic pleasure from hurting the opponent and the other is taking masochistic pleasure from getting hurt by the opponent. Sounds interesting? Tune in next week then!

Thanks for reading.

See you online
Nafiz Erman, aka Lord Erman


Thank you by jayhoegh at Tue, 03/23/2010 - 11:01
jayhoegh's picture

I'd been getting bored with the offered formats on MTGO lately, and I always work during the pauper PE, so finding out where all these PRE's are set up is a huge blessing. Of course, I won't be able to do any of them till after I get back from spring break, but at least I'll have something to do

thx by JustSin at Tue, 03/23/2010 - 12:04
JustSin's picture

great stuff I had kind of heard the format, but never really knew what went into it, nice to finally know

srry by JustSin at Tue, 03/23/2010 - 12:03
JustSin's picture

srry for the double comp error.

Format is full of awesome. by Anonib at Tue, 03/23/2010 - 12:47
Anonib's picture

Format is full of awesome.

Yeah I must admit this is a by Flippers_Giraffe at Tue, 03/23/2010 - 15:54
Flippers_Giraffe's picture

Yeah I must admit this is a great format I've only played in one event myself so far but will hopefully be putting in a appearance this week.

There are so many deck possibilities the choice is endless.

I've also built a prototype Hypergenesus deck which is very similar to yours with the dragon theme and Magister Sphinx :)

Banned list seems a bit padded... by GnomesofZurich at Wed, 03/24/2010 - 12:46
GnomesofZurich's picture

Good article, but quite a few cards in your banned list can't be in this format, and thus shouldn't be on the list. By my count, you can remove 37 cards from your banned list because there they don't appear in any 5th edition or later main set, or any Ice Age or later block.

Of the cards in your list, only the following could be legal in the format:
Amulet of Quoz
Cranial Plating
Demonic Consultation
Disciple of the Vault
Dream Halls
Frantic Search
Goblin Recruiter
Grim Monolith
Hermit Druid
Memory Jar
Mind Over Matter
Mind’s Desire
Oath of Druids
Time Spiral
Tolarian Academy
Vampiric Tutor
Worldgorger Dragon
Yawgmoth’s Bargain
Yawgmoth’s Will

The rest are all pre-5th edition, pre-Ice Age, or from Portal sets.