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By: Tarmotog, Naoto Watabe
Jun 08 2009 12:06am
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Welcome to One Double O, the place to read about the 100 card Singleton format. Today we'll see what prevents a new player from coming into the format and why these might not be a real but imagined problem due to the lack of understanding of the format.

Announcement #1: July 4th Singleton PE

As we start the month of June, let's be reminded of the next 100 card Singleton Premier Event coming up in a month.

Date: 4th July 2009, Saturday

Here is the prize payout.

Place Boosters
1 40
2 30
3-4 15
5-8 10
9-16 5
17-32 3

And don't forget the 3 QPs tagged along with it. A simple format not dominated by any overly obscene decks and is not entirely reliant on expensive cards (although having them will help you incrementally). Do join the PE if you don't really have anything on!

Warning: There might be last minute changes to the banned list before the tournament that might affect it. Stay tuned to updates around 20+ June because something might suddenly change again.

(I'm somewhat disappointed that nothing was changed before June in 100 card Singleton but a sudden notice of changes just prior to the PE is not good for it.)


Announcement #2: Player Run Events - Coming Soon

I've been informed that some people are going to start player run tournaments for the 100 card Singleton format.

The exact details will be up when I get them.

I personally don't like grinding 2 man queues that have sad payouts which don't let you even out when you win 1 and lose 1. I don't expect too much (nothing like the weekend PE payout which is crazy good) but I'm sure it will be worth the time for anyone who joins. We'll have more "metagame" information and possibly more innovation when it starts.

Look forward to it!


Announcement #3: Garruk vs Liliana Duel Decks

Read about it here: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/arcana/202

We've seen "new" cards hiding in the previous 2 duel decks. I believe that the selling point of these decks online would be the fact that they have cards we currently don't have access to. It'll be available probably somewhere in November. I can't help but wonder what are the possible cards that they will throw into the decks.

I suspect cards from the masquarade block again which we probably won't see online for the next couple of years to come or rather, I hope that they will throw in playable cards from there. Land Grant / Snuff Out? Hmm... We'll have to just wait and see.


One Double O Main Topic: Barriers to Entry into Singleton 100

What prevents a new player from entering the 100 card Singleton format? The target audience for this section are the people who are sitting on the fence about trying to play the format. This section is written so that they can understand the truths of the format and not be too intimidated to play 100 card Singleton.

#1 Card Volume

Singleton 100 draws from the Classic card pool.
Here is what is in the Classic card pool:

7th Ed, 8th Ed, 9th Ed, Xed, MED I, MED II
Mirage, Visions, Weatherlight
Tempest, Stronghold
Invasion, Planeshift, Apocalypse
Odyssey, Torment, Judgment
Onslaught, Legions, Scourge
Mirrodin, Darksteel, Fifth Dawn
Champions of Kamigawa, Betrayers of Kamigawa, Saviors of Kamigawa
Ravnica, Guildpact, Dissension
Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, Future Sight
Lorwyn, Morningtide, Shadowmoor, Eventide
Shards of Alara, Conflux, Alara Reborn
Elves vs Goblins (no unique cards there), Jace vs Chandra, Divine vs Demonic
Assorted promo cards

That is really quite a big card pool. People know for sure that they would need to have a number of cards from these assorted sets to have a great deck.
Is that true? Yes, it is.

Theoretically, a new player would need at least 60 different non-land cards to start a 100 card singleton deck but of course, just 60 different non-lands is far too few to make a proper 100 card Singleton deck. I would say that if a player wants to enter the format without much effort, he should have played at least 3 blocks worth of cards to build a deck without going the extra mile to obtain cards.

Obtaining cards to form up a deck is the best way to enter the format. Just have an idea, look for some cards and making a deck from there is a good start.

A seasoned 100 card Singleton player probably has a card pool of at least 2000 different cards to make various decks with but it's not necessary.

I would recommend getting cards from beyond the more recent blocks to give the deck more power because some of the older cards are just plain good.
One misconception is that old cards are far superior to new cards. I would say that the creature quality has jumped up quite significantly from the past and some spells are just versatile/powerful but it is a fact that there are definitely gems from the older sets, just not as many as one would imagine there to be (which I would imagine would be a really large number).

In fact, most sets probably have just a handful of useful cards so one should not be too worried about not having all the cards in the format.

#2 Card Pool Knowledge

For the previous point, I have assumed the player does not play Magic past 3 blocks. The thing about the Classic card pool is that there are many great cards lurking in the old sets. However, not knowing what cards are actually available is another stumbling block because the player would not be able to know what cards he actually wants to strengthen his deck. 

This knowledge is hard to transmit. I, fortunately, have been playing Magic Online since its start so I'm familiar, to some extent, with almost every set that is online. I know what I can play with and I know where I can dig out valuable effects from. For newer players, possibly the easiest way to obtain knowledge of older cards is to simply play and bump into them. The deck editor can be quite useful as well because you can search out keywords and see cards you may not have known before and you might be able to find some application with them. Just remember to uncheck the "my cards" tab so that you can look through every card online, including what you don't own.

Another avenue of information is the other mainstream formats. I know of cards to probably the Invasion era but cards from the Masters Editions can be quite new to me if I consider cards that are not very popular because I didn't play from such a long time ago. Even popular cards like Chains of Mephistopheles are quite incomprehensible to me because there are many factors to consider such as their context of the environment where they were played in.

Keeping in touch with extended, classic, vintage and legacy helps improve this knowledge greatly, because you can find good technology that they use and throw them into your deck as well. As such, Singleton 100 is a slow evolving format that keeps changing incrementally.

#3 Price of Cards

I don't deny that card prices can be expensive because the cards you want can also be cards that people playing all the other formats want.
While I don't think money cards are what make the format, I don't deny that money cards can always make the deck incrementally better.
The tip I propose to get by this is not to be too engrossed with the expensive cards because they really do not make/break the format.

"Oh no! That's an Underground River from a Flooded Strand! Those are more expensive than all the cards in my deck combined! I'm dead!"
Such is what often goes into the minds of newer players but is the Underground River really such a big deal?
Looking at the card itself, it's just probably the best dual mana producing version of many other alternatives such as Salt Marsh but it ultimately does one simple function: produce U or B. It itself does nothing to win you. I'm serious. It doesn't.
What it can do is to let the opponent have a turn 1 Duress and a turn 2 Counterspell and it might mean something but it's really just a little better than a turn 1 Salt Marsh turn 2 Counterspell, turn 3 Duress. The format is not cut-throat enough to let you lose to such minor advantages.

I would say that the average, non-standard, "powerful card" in the format is 2-6 tickets.
Here is a list of few "powerful cards" that I can think of offhand that are past that price:

Force of Will => $78
Vampiric Tutor (banned at the moment) => $37
MED II Dual Lands => $20 - $30
Onslaught Fetchlands => about $10
Vindicate => $31.68
Pernicious Deed => $26.73
(Engineered Explosvie) => $18
Tarmogoyf => $15.50

Other than these, most cards you might want from the Classic card pool are usually less than $10. Really. Here are some examples:

Fact or Fiction => $3.68
Psychatog => $1.75
Eternal Witness => $5
Counterspell => $0.50
Fireblast => $2
Ravenous Baloth => $3.50
Sword of Fire and Ice => $8
Exalted Angel => $4
Grim Lavamancer => $3.25

Standard powerhouses are greatly determined by the standard metagame and tend to swing greatly. Usually, when they rotate out, you would be able to get them for quite a good price.

Also, there are many good alternatives to many different cards in the cardpool.
For example: Onslaught fetchlands can be replaced with Mirage uncommon fetchlands first until you get the Onslaught versions.

As long as a player is willing to put some money (you don't have to spend much) into the 100 card Singleton format, his card pool can grow slowly. Mine took many years to grow but I never really felt at a big disadvantage facing money decks during this period of time although I have to admit that facing foil versions of $50 cards (then) can be quite intimidating and impressive at the same time. And prices of some cards back then were much more expensive than what you can pay to get them now. Exalted Angel was like $8-10, compared to the above $4.

We also need to consider the fact that there are cheap but good cards, although some of their prices may have probably been inflated (from before) due to increased demand from the Pauper format. A good common can range from probably $0.08 to say $0.30. Good uncommons range from $0.12 to about $0.50. 

Putting the numbers together, a playable deck can easily cost hundreds or it could be maybe $30?
It really depends on the deck and the card choices made.

Most of the time, the more expensive decks are those that want to exploit mana capabilities of the good lands while the cheaper decks are those that put together cards that work towards a simpler but more stable strategy. As such, slowly expanding the mana capabilities of your card pool is a good way to invest in the format.

One should prioritise buying in such a way: not-too-expensive playable spells => not-too-expensive lands => expensive spells => expensive lands

#4 Deck Information

I would say that decks are still very open to innovation. The main problem I see in most decks that are not "optimal" is that the cards played may not actually contribute to the entirety of the deck. Other than that, anyone can make a decent deck or slowly build into one.

I really don't like the idea of putting up "netdecks" because they give a false impression to what the format really is. The format is not just the classic archetypes of Magic. The format can support way more variations of decks as long as the player can will something out and build the deck accordingly. Surely everyone has a deck in mind which he wants to play.

For example, I was toying with a UR "counter-burn" deck a few weeks back. Counter-burn is usually plain bad and exists casually right?
But with a proper concept (as you will be able to figure out in the next section), the deck I made could work and compete easily against "proper" decks but relying heavily on playskill because that is the nature of such a deck.

The main thing to bring home is that as long as you want to make a deck competitive, it can be done if you are very focused as to what you want your deck to do and have a proper plan against some of the known "problematic" strategies in the format.

#5 Knowledge on What People Can Throw at You (Other than facebook sheeps)

That said, what should the newer players know about the format before they get scared off?

Powerful Artifacts

Sword of Fire and Ice, Sword of Light and Shadow and Vedalken Shackles are all very troublesome artifacts and they are widely played. I recommend playing maindeck artifact removals for any new players because having an out is definitely going to go the long way to playing the format. I would imagine newer players staring down powerful artifacts and not having a proper plan against them.

Be warned: there are powerful artifacts in the format!

Non-basic hate

This is a basic problem that most decks will end up facing. Non-basic hate are played sometimes so players need to be prepared to get hit by those. Playing healthy amounts of basic lands or some artifact mana can help greatly in this aspect. Always remember that unless you have made a combo deck of some sort, you want to be able to interact with your opponent with at least some degree of answers.

Magus of the Moon, Dwarven Miner and Dwarven Blastminer are popular cards that are played to mess up the mana base so knowing how to play to react to these can be very useful.

Armageddon / Winter Orb Massive Mana Disruption

Armageddon is possibly the most powerful white spell around that can rob games out of nowhere. "Oh you have no lands. I have threats. Good Game." Knowing this can happen in the format is very important because you can play in a way that you do not get badly affected by it. 

Red-based decks have performed well

Currently, aggressive decks have been doing well in the tournaments and red decks are not uncommon. Being able to make a deck that can fight those decks is a good way to enter the format. People play burn spells, big monsters and good removals. Don't be too shocked if someone pulls off a turn 1 Wild Nacatl, turn 2 Tarmogoyf, turn 3 Woolly Thoctar. It happens sometimes.

Counterspells are in the house

When you run into an Island, chances are that your opponent has counter magic. Counter magic are an integral part of Magic and exist outside the legends and in reality, even if your opponent may not play many. Therefore, a new player should think about ways of overcoming counter magic when they make their decks. Cheap and efficient spells are good. Card draw is good too. Knowing how to play against counters help greatly too because people tend to make mistakes that benefit the counter decks when they get too intimidated by them.

As long as a deck can take all of these into account to some extent, that deck would be tournament viable. Otherwise, the deck would probably fall into the casual category. It is not easy to make a tournament calibre deck because these factors have to go in but that said, not being able to handle all of these is not a real problem.


Mark of Asylum

Tech of the Week:

Here we have a sideboard worthy card to protect your creatures from burn spells.

Possibly good for elves or other decks with many creatures in it like White Weenie.
Without burn being able to clear part of the horde, swarms of creatures can go the distance.


Deck of the Week:

I mentioned playing a UR deck a while ago. Here's the list.

by Tarmotog
1 Bogardan Hellkite
1 Plumeveil
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
1 Arc-Slogger
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Mulldrifter
1 Sower of Temptation
1 Ingot Chewer
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Trinket Mage
1 Grim Lavamancer
1 Swans of Bryn Argoll
14 cards

Other Spells
1 Electrolyze
1 Repeal
1 Cryptic Command
1 Compulsive Research
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Mystical Teachings
1 Ponder
1 Chain of Plasma
1 Gush
1 Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker
1 Think Twice
1 Pithing Needle
1 Memory Lapse
1 Magma Jet
1 Exclude
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Mind Stone
1 Incinerate
1 Sudden Shock
1 Jace Beleren
1 Isochron Scepter
1 Predict
1 Force Spike
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Impulse
1 Phyrexian Furnace
1 Force of Will
1 Firespout
1 Pyroclasm
1 Psionic Blast
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Izzet Signet
1 Seismic Assault
1 Remove Soul
1 Condescend
1 Coalition Relic
1 Negate
1 Pact of Negation
1 Firebolt
1 Mana Leak
1 Future Sight
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Cruel Ultimatum
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Brainstorm
1 Starstorm
45 cards
1 Shivan Reef
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Vivid Crag
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Polluted Delta
1 Underground Sea
1 Flooded Strand
1 Lonely Sandbar
1 Badlands
1 Great Furnace
1 Dreadship Reef
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Tolaria West
1 Steam Vents
1 Wasteland
1 Sunken Ruins
1 River of Tears
1 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Vivid Creek
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Ghitu Encampment
1 Caldera Lake
1 Faerie Conclave
1 Rupture Spire
1 Crumbling Necropolis
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Cascade Bluffs
5 Snow-Covered Island
1 Molten Slagheap
1 Forgotten Cave
1 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Graven Cairns
1 Thawing Glaciers
40 cards
Swans of Bryn Argoll


The key to playing the deck is to know when to cast a certain spell and when not to because some of the spells have different timings to cast them and their effects don't complement other cards easily.

The deck splashes black for Cruel Ultimatum and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker which can be odd to call it a splash since you normally want to splash spells that don't cost as much to cast but the lands and the Coalition Relic can solve this problem.

It runs a minor combo of Swans of Bryn Argoll + Chain of Plasma into Swans of Bryn Argoll + Seismic Assault since I don't have the maindeck Conflagrate to do the super big Fireball move.

It also has the Sensei's Divining Top + Future Sight combo which can be very brutal.

Have fun burning your of Swans of Bryn Argoll to draw cards!


Last Words

I hope I'll be able to play in the July 4th tournament because I'll be overseas for a summer program. I really hope the internet connection is good or I'll be down for many weeks. Ack!

Singleton 100 is a nice format with troublesome cards. Just enjoy yourself with whatever you want to play. (I like counter magic)

tarmotog on myMTGO.com


interesting article on the by LOurs at Mon, 06/08/2009 - 08:20
LOurs's picture

interesting article on the that format. About non-basic land disruption, i think Ruination should be mentioned because it is the only real armaggedon for non-basic lands ... Maybe it is not used a lot in the current meta (i dont really know the format) but if this strategy is the core, for sure ruination will find a place into.

Underground River? Really? by M. Jacobs (not verified) at Mon, 06/08/2009 - 11:57
M. Jacobs's picture

I know you mean Underground Sea, but it's funny reading this sentence:

"Oh no! That's an Underground River from a Flooded Strand! Those are more expensive than all the cards in my deck combined! I'm dead!"

You are a funny guy!

Also..... by M. Jacobs (not verified) at Mon, 06/08/2009 - 12:04
M. Jacobs's picture

Ravages of War > Armageddon b/c it does the same thing at the same CMC, but for 3 tix less. People... pay attention to stuff like this and you can save some money.

Armageddon and Ravages by ArchGenius at Mon, 06/08/2009 - 13:52
ArchGenius's picture

If you are playing one, you are probably going to want to play the other one to increase your chances of drawing it. This is 100 singleton afterall.

If you are playing either by platipus10 at Mon, 06/08/2009 - 15:09
platipus10's picture

If you are playing either Ravages of War or Armageddon in your Singleton 100 deck, you would have to think long and hard about why you are not running both. If one of them is good enough for your deck, surely you would run them both to have a greater chance at drawing it.

Generally in this format it is better to think about how many of a certain effect that you want and not focus too much on what card fills that effect until tuning the deck.

EDIT: Well ArchGenius beat me to it, I guess I had the article open on my desktop for quite awhile.

Good article by JP (not verified) at Mon, 06/08/2009 - 14:27
JP's picture

Interesting article. I started playing 100CS a couple weeks ago. I already had an EDH deck that I did not play at all since v3, so I made some changes into a 100CS deck. It's evolving slowly and has some problems against fast aggro draws. Anyway, the biggest problem I see so ar is that it's hard to ind opponents to playtest. Sometimes I have to wait half hour to get a match at the tournament practice room.

casual room playing by Necropotent at Tue, 06/09/2009 - 10:58
Necropotent's picture

Hey JP, welcome to the format. I do all of my 100CS playing in the Casual room, both the "fun" decks and the one that I'm working on for the upcoming PE.

Nice job on the article, Tarmotog. I look forward to the next one!

Looks more like a singleton by Anonymous (not verified) at Mon, 06/08/2009 - 16:31
Anonymous's picture

Looks more like a singleton 99, if you ask me. ;)

yes.. It's underground sea.. by Tarmotog at Mon, 06/08/2009 - 21:26
Tarmotog's picture

yes.. It's underground sea.. =x sorrie bout tt..

more = better is really what makes reprints likable in this format.. unlike sasy clasic where u become "I have a playset of armaggedon from MED I.. why on earth did they reprint it in MEDII?"

JP: i think it's fine to play in the casual room.. i personally think singleton is about playing good cards.. or cheap cards that beat good cards. there's no real point making a deck that is so restricted already, only to want to make it "casual" (or weak).

Cas/Cas by JP (not verified) at Tue, 06/09/2009 - 14:31
JP's picture

Ok guys, I'll try the cas/cas room. Are you sure it's ok to play counters and discard there, playtesting a deck you want to bring to the PE? Btw, I probably won't be able to play the next PE :( It seems I'll have to wait another couple months :( I hope the PRE really gets organized.

Casual Room by Tarmotog at Tue, 06/09/2009 - 23:28
Tarmotog's picture

I can't say anything about not being able to play something in the casual room but from my experience, singleton is not that popular a format to be able to get enough games in the tournament practice room.

If u want to avoid good decks, I suggest not playing in matches but single games. That's my yardstick for differentiating a person who wants competitive play vs casual play.

Competitive play and casual play have a thin line in the singleton format because most "casual" decks are quite good anyway. Sure there are people who don't like counterspells (i dun think discard but i hate facing land destruction) and would scoop to you if you showed 2 in a game but other than that, I don't really see why someone would want to make a deck of 60 different cards that don't do much.

I mean.. wouldn't someone want to play with his best cards?

Abt the PE, fret not, there is going to be 4 consecutive weeks of singleton 100 PEs if I didn't read wrongly starting from the 4th wk of the season. =)

Holiday by Sensei at Sun, 06/14/2009 - 12:54
Sensei's picture

Surprisingly I didn't see someone mention this yet: July 4th is Independence Day in the US. This will probably decrease attendance due to vacations and barbecues, etc.

Nice article,i think in the by el_fake (not verified) at Sun, 06/14/2009 - 15:04
el_fake's picture

Nice article,i think in the next PE,format will turn too control decks,i``m not sure at 100% but the decks i`m seeing in queues and in casual,make i think about that.