Hi and welcome to my first PureMTGO article. My name is Tim though I'm sure most would know me better as iceage4life. My favorite competitive formats are Classic and limited, however I love some of the more offbeat formats online. This is hopefully the first in a line of articles on lesser known formats online such as Prismatic, Tribal Wars Classic, and in today's case Singleton. Singleton is the Magic Online equivalent to Highlander. Your deck may contain no more then one copy of any card, excluding basic lands. Decks must be minimum sixty cards and have a zero or fifteen card sideboard. Gleemox is banned of course as is Skullclamp. Lorwyn will be realized online at the end of the month and in preparation of that I will be looking at Lowry’s impact on Singleton. Singleton decks need somewhere around forty unique spells so it is more open to new spells then a format like Classic. I was planning on doing a plain old set review focusing on Singleton applications but I realized those are both boring to read and write. Instead, over a series of articles I will be presenting new and updated deck lists using Lorwyn cards. After each list I will discuss the Lorwyn cards I used and why I used them. So thanks for taking the time to read this and let’s get started.
I'm going to start with a pet deck of mine Black White aggro. This deck is very much like Legacy Deadguy (The Pale Ale variant, not Deadguy Red.) decks or the Hand in Hand Standard decks its game plan is to play small creatures and discard spells. The mana requirements of the deck are pretty harsh with most of the good creatures cost two mana and double white or double black. Lorwyn adds a ton of possible cards to the deck leading me to the list below.
Hand in Itself
This deck has eleven cards from Lorwyn. Now I'm sure in time that number will come down, part of this article is me trying to see what fits in. I find this deck a blast to play. It can handle almost anything the opponent throws at it. Eight creatures have protection from one or more colors. In addition it has Jitte and both swords from Darksteel so it can often ride a single creature to victory. Its discard helps versus counterspells and combo decks. One weakness of the deck is large green creatures; Spectral Lynx is the only creature with protection from green. Most of your creatures 2/2 and have trouble beating green fat.
Hideaway lands - This deck only has six potential turn one plays so a pair of comes into play tapped lands is not a problem. In fact, Vivid Creek and Vivid Marsh might be worth testing in place of some basic lands. Windbrisk Heights will not often be activated but in a longer game you can often end up with three attacking creatures. Howltooth Hollow has a better chance of seeing activation. Opponent's will often hold one card in hand to prevent you from activating Howltooth Hollow. Their strategy backfires when you draw a discard spell, forcing them to discard the card they were holding and giving you a free spell off the Hollow.
Burrenton Forge-Tender - Mother of Ruins is the best 1/1 for W ever printed. Forge-Tender is no (Mother of Ruins) but it still very good. Protection for red is very useful but that is the tip of the iceberg. Her sacrifice ability can stop a lethal Fireball pointed at your face, it can also save your Graveborn Muse from a Flametongue Kavu, or just let Serra Avenger attack into a Shivan Dragon and live to tell the story*.
Knight of Meadowgrain - The knight like many other creatures in the deck is a 2/2 first striker for two mana. Knight of Meadowgrain trades protection from white or black for Lifelink. The trade off is worth it, especially with Griffin Guide and equipment in the deck.
Mirror Entity - Mirror Entity has the worst size to cost ratio in the deck. However, turning each of your creatures into a Chimeric Staff should not be underrated. He also plays well with the small, yet talented creatures in the deck. The aforementioned Knight of Meadowgrain can become a 4/4 or 5/5 first striking, lifelinked attacker pretty quickly. Mirror Entity can finish the opponent off in longer games or let my 2/2s tangle with green fat. The ability for him to be tutored up by Amrou Scout and Defiant Vanguard makes the addition of a rebel package to the deck tempting.
Shriekmaw - The most expensive spell in the deck at five mana. However he can always be evoked for two and has evasion, something the deck lacks. I think this will be one of the most played cards from Lorwyn in Singleton, easily splashed and very powerful.
Ajani Goldmane - The white Planeswalker is perfect for this deck, he fits into the top end of the curve and is the perfect card to pump your small creatures. He is in this deck for his second ability, the life gain and avatar will almost never be used. A permanent boost to the power and toughness of your creatures, along with vigilance make his second ability extremely strong.
Oblivion Ring - Like Shriekmaw this is one of the biggest gains for Singleton from Lorwyn. It is weaker then Vindicate but not by much. It is mono colored and will be about 60 tickets less then Vindicate so expect to see more of these then Vindicates. It can be used as a non-black Vindicate, a budget Vindicate, or Vindicate number two. Oblivion Ring and Vindicate have also both gained value from the release of Planeswalkers. They are both in the small club of non-burn spells that can kill a Planeswalker. I'll go out on a limb and say this will be the most played card in casual Singleton coming out of Lorwyn.
Thoughtseize - The third card in this deck from the shortlist of Lorwyn’s best cards. Thoughtseize benefits from many factors in Singleton making it even better than in other formats. The loss of two life is significant but is nothing compared to a deck running three or four of these which could loose up to eight life a game from Thoughtseize, or worse have them sit unused in hand. In Singleton you're restricted to a single copy eliminating this problem. It also doesn't have to worry about one of the two cards competing with it in Extended and other formats. Cabal Therapy sucks in Singleton. It will never get two cards, and unless you know their hand you'll miss. This means it only has to compete with Duress as the best one mana discard spell. And in Singleton you can run both with no problem. My prediction for Thoughtseize is it will see the most play of any Lorwyn card in Singleton premiere events. Price and the fact it is discard will limit its impact on the casual room.
Crib Swap - This again answers the deck's problem facing large creatures, and the fact it removes them from the game can be nice when a Genesis is staring you down. In aggressive decks it is better than Exile and Condemn, still worth it in mono white controlling decks. The fact it has changeling is another strong case for a small rebel element in the deck.
Wispmare - If you've ever built a Singleton sideboard you'll soon learn that there are fewer artifact and enchantment removal spells in any one color than you thought. Wispmare might be better then Ronom Unicorn and Kami of Ancient Law, it might not be. Time will tell but seems a viable answer for enchantments**.
*You will however have to wait four turns to hear that story.
** Non Singleton tip: If you run Simplify in a deck with access to white mana, or runs "rainbow lands" cut it for Wispmare.
Well onto our second deck, this one is brand new and inspired by Ponder. Ponder is now part of a long list of quality cantrips now online. Cantrips can be used to fill up your graveyard for Nimble Mongoose and other creatures with threshold. [Shameless plug] Check out an example list here I used to reach top 4 in a Classic PE here. [End shameless plug]. Now the readers more inclined to click links and read deck lists might have noticed that only four creature with threshold are in the list. A large part of that is because of Tarmogoyf, everyone's favorite 30+ ticket card. However translating decks like threshold to Singleton is hard. Let me take this time for a brief interlude on Singleton deck design.
When building a successful Singleton deck you should aim for a broad archetype. Specific decks can be combo decks or a focused deck like threshold does not translate well. Combos and focused decks need a few very powerful cards to operate at their best. You can run those cards in Singleton but you're going to draw your 1x Tarmogoyf much less often than you will in a normal deck. The most successful Singleton decks in tournaments recently have been R/G/x aggro and U/B/x control. The aggro decks can just run all the best aggressive creatures combined with the best burn spells. The control decks run all the counters they can, some board sweepers, and a few powerful finishers. Combo and focused decks can see some success but are not as reliable as the less focused decks. A Wild Mongrel, Call of the Herd token, or a Watchwolf can beat down fine. Counterspell, Dissipate, and Mana Leak all counter spells. When you're looking for cards to replace the effect of something like Mind's Desire you'll draw a blank as that combo piece is unique. My first list in this article is simply a B/W aggro deck. It takes the best beat down and discard spells those colors offer and builds around them. Synergy is secondary to power in Singleton. Simply put power is consistent, synergy is not. And now I return you to the article.
Clearly any attempt to build a purely threshold focused deck was doomed to fail. A good idea when you run into this problem while building a Singleton deck is to look at what complements the strategy you're aiming for. This drew to the flashback and madness mechanics. All three mechanics want cards out of your hand, they don't work perfectly together but they can all excel in the same kind of deck. Let me present:
Odyssey Block Gumbo
This deck has seven Lorwyn cards, showing again it is hard to find fitting cards for a focused deck like this. Your goal is to dump cards into your yard. Depending on your hand you might be chucking cards with flashback, using madness, or racing to hit threshold.
Shelldock Isle - The deck can burn through a lot of cards so by the mid to late game it's possible to be under 20 cards in your deck in which case this gets you a free card. This card I think suffers in Singleton as dredge decks are harder to pull off and casting multiple Fact or Fictions is not going to happen making it harder to burn through your deck. If you do make a mill deck it would be a fine addition to that.
Sower of Temptation - This is very powerful versus decks lacking creature removal. Might end up in the sideboard but for now I think it is a fine maindeck addition. Against decks with burn he should be brought out as he won't live long and gives your opponent a possible combat trick.
Faerie Trickery - This is essentially Dissipate number two. While it has no advantages over Dissipate it is much better then some alternatives like Cancel or Hinder. This deck does not run Dissipate but hey, this is a Lorwyn article.
Lammastide Weave - This is in the deck as it is a cantrip that gets two cards into the yard and if you're lucky or have stacked your deck* a bonus. One thing to keep in mind is that the life gain depends on the mana cost. This deck's best draw is pretty much: Turn 1: Brainstorm, Ponder, Portent, Sleight of Hand, or Serum Visions. Turn Two Lammastide Weave flipping Roar of the Wurm seems like a pretty good play. Not going to happen often but having a full grip, being half way to threshold, having a 6/6 in two turns, and being on 27 life is a pretty good game state for turn two.
Ponder - There has been a lot of debate on Ponder. It is worse then Brainstorm, beyond that who knows. Is it better or worse then Portent, Opt, Serum Visions, and Mental Note? Well lucky for me this is a Singleton article so my answer is, run them all! It is certainly better then Sleight of Hand and I'm running that too. Overall I think I still like Portent over it but both are fine choices. These cards are all interesting because they can for a low cost effectively shrink your deck size and let you draw your best cards more often. I think this is an area under-explored in Singleton deck design.
Jace Beleren - This is in the sideboard against control decks. Resolve him against a deck that is creature light and you should win. Against some decks you can stick to using his first ability then use his third ability to deck them. I like him a lot, sideboard slot is due to his weakness against decks with lots of creatures or burn.
Forced Fruition - This is another great card to defeat control decks. Every Counterspell gets them seven cards nearer to their demise. This card is a question mark in my mind. Its high cost is a major downside as it the possibility they draw an Upheaval from the Forced Fruition and use that to win.
*With a card of course, cheating on Magic Online is pretty hard.
The last deck I'll be showing you today is one for those who dislike discard spells or counter spells. It has a very simple plan, play big men and attack. Which men? The biggest of all, giants*. This would also let me use the new R/W Lorwyn dual land, Ancient Amphitheater. The deck has a few effects to wipe the board so it can stay alive long enough to play its mana acceleration and then giants. In honor of this deck being tribal legal, it is presented sans sideboard.
This deck uses the Lorwyn supported tribe giants, clocking in with an impressive seventeen cards from the set. It wants to get as much mana as it can as quickly as it can and then start playing out its large giants. A sub theme of destroying weenies while letting your giants live is also present with such cards as Wildfire, Thundercloud Shaman, and Austere Command. The deck is named in honor of Tomoharu Saito's pair of Orange Stompy decks that made top 8 in Pro Tour Valencia. Yes, even the deck running one creature maindeck was Stompy. Crazy Japanese geniuses.
Ancient Amphitheater - The cycle of tribal lands will be very deck dependent. If your deck is in those colors and includes many card of that tribal type they are an automatic include. As is the case here, I put them in. Ancient Amphitheater and Gilt Leaf Palace do bear special mention as they can be run as effectively Coastal Towers in their color combinations as those colors did not get a dual land in Invasion.
Spinerock Knoll - One of the weaker hideaway lands. However if this deck hits the opponent with two creatures, odds are it has done more than seven damage that turn. Added to that fact are the high mana costs in the deck, the free spell often costing six or more mana. I didn't include Windbrisk Heights because if this deck is attacking with three creatures it is winning anyways.
Vivid Meadow - This deck has zero turn one plays so this seemed a fine inclusion to help with the colored mana costs in the deck. While not great for faster decks it is a good budget option for Singleton mana fixing.
Arbiter of Knollridge - Great to play after an aggressive deck has spent its turn depleting your life total. Pretty disheartening for a red deck that has gotten you down under ten life to see you jump back up. Also, his name is the best pun I've ever seen on a Magic card. I didn't notice it was Knollridge until I started writing this.
Blind-Spot Giant - Only playable in a giant heavy deck his main allure here is helping your atrocious mana curve.
Brion Stoutarm - This guy owns aggro decks, 4/4s for four mana are rare when green is not involved. On top of that he has Lifelink and can get damage in past a stalled board. This guy should be played in most Singleton decks with access to red and white, be he in the main deck or the sideboard.
Cloudgoat Ranger - I love both the name and art of this card, is that enough reason to play him? If not I'd point out that he gives the deck evasion, something it is sorely lacking.
Giant Harbinger - Being able to tutor up any of your creatures is great in a deck like this. Singleton makes tutors more powerful due to more inconsistent decks o being able to grab Brion Stoutarm or Sunrise Sovereign is great.
Hamletback Goliath - Play a second creature of yours after him and he won't be dying in combat. Hopefully pair with a Sunrise Sovereign for trample.
Hillcomber Giant - Again a little evasion can go a long way. The relatively low mana cost also helps.
Sunrise Sovereign - As you might have guessed from the mentions of him before, I love this guy. He makes huge guys huger and gives them trample! What more could you want for your small fee of six mana?
Thundercloud Shaman - Really nice when you have another giant or two and your opponent has a swarm of small creatures. Take that chump blockers!
Stinkdrinker Daredevil - A red Krosan Drover for one mana less. Oh and it only effects giant spells, still nice for this deck.
Austere Command - This deck's mana acceleration and high casting cost creatures makes this arguably better than Wrath of God in this deck. This spell is very flexible which is always good in Singleton. It can kill a swarm of 2/2s or take out your opponent's Morphling, both good options. Its mana cost is high but in the right deck this will see play though I don't think it will make a splash in the PEs.
Ajani Goldmane - Unlike the previous deck Ajani's first ability will see quite a workout in this deck. If you play him on turn three of four you probably won't have any creatures. His first ability becomes a stall effect. Your opponent has to be able to attack for six damage to kill him, and even if they do it buys you time to get your large giants in play. If you have some giants in play with him feel free to go nuts on his second ability.
Chandra Nalaar - I think Chandra might be the worst of the Planeswalkers. However this seems a good deck to test her in as you can often play her turn four and unanswered your opponent will often loose when her third ability is used two turns later. If your opponent has creatures you can always kill one with her then force your opponent to attack her again buying you time. She can also deal five damage to your opponent the turn she comes into play with Stuffy Doll.
Crush Underfoot - I think this is the only time this card will ever be used in Singleton. But it should take out most blockers smaller than 7/7. Also great with Stuffy Doll.
Well there you go three Singleton deck lists with Lorwyn's best and brightest**. I hope you enjoyed reading this and I would love any and all feedback on the article. Feedback on length would be great, too short? Too long? And post if any of the links are broken so I can fix them. Thanks a lot! Feel free to message me in Magic Online at iceage4life. Tune in next time for updates to some of Singleton's strongest decks as well as a new archetype I think could make a competitive splash!
*At least until Wizards starts seriously supporting the Titan race.
**Blind-Spot Giant doesn't count; he's not the sharpest tool in the shed if you get my drift.