Tarmotog's picture
By: Tarmotog, Naoto Watabe
Sep 23 2009 2:04am
Login or register to post comments

Welcome to One Double O, the place to read about the 100 card Singleton format. This week, we have tournament results and deckbuilding tips based on a book from many years back and other useful information.

Lately, 100 card Singleton has been covered by a variety of people because of the myMTGO.com tournament.
It's good to see more interest in the format. A format exists because of its people.
The tournament is only possible because of the organizer, Tweaker of myMTGO.com so I would like to thank him here.

Going on, we have a couple of news:

News - Standard Singleton

Wotc has made a new format called Standard Singleton which as the name describes, is a Singleton format that uses standard cards. It's a 60 card format by the way. It replaces vanguard in the weekend events after Zendikar comes around.

Looks like Singleton is a surviving format in the eyes of Wotc.

(I don't plan to cover standard singleton because I like classic cards a great deal but I might play it once in a while. Hopefully the same subset of skills can adapt to another format.)

News - MED 3 Payout for 100 Card Singleton Events

Payout has been changed to MED3 packs! Finally, it is worthwhile again to play in 2 man or even 8 man queues.
A revival for sanctioned play? I sure see it as so.


One Double O Tournament Center

This section is where you can keep up with the winning archetype and see a brief summary of the top 8 decks, continuing from the last covered event.


Decklists: http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/events.aspx?x=mtg/daily/decks/mol520017

so many trolls - Reanimator
dragonbgx - UR control (with green and black mana for flashback Ancient Grudge, Mystical Teachings and a more sunburst-edEngineered Explosives)
thekid - 5c rock (with more basic land emphasis but is close to the 5c greedy deck)
Th00mor - Monored
Thommo - Crosis control (a slightly more creature oriented version)
arwido - GW aggro
JustMeBaby - UWR Control + green (for Tarmogoyf, Krosan Grip and flashback Ancient Grudge)
Gainsay - 4c rock (minus red)

In this particular week, we see so many trolls winning the tournament with his reanimator deck. He has a detailed article about it here: http://www.mtgoacademy.com/blog/?p=1428. This win is significant as it shows that complicated strategies (not just the simpler aggro, control or decks that belong in between) have the capacity to win.

More interesting is dragonbgx's UR control that made 2nd place. UR control is traditionally known as a "casual deck" because everyone has seen the "counterburn" archetype in a casual setting. Personally, I feel that UR control has the capacity to win but playing it is not easy because there are many situations that are not easy to play against. Also, it is generally designed to fight creatures so certain matchups, particularly the slower ones with larger threats, can get very difficult when those cards get out of burn range. The deck uses the "next level blue" (an extended deck that plays draw-go and makes use of fetches and duals to give it access to more colors of mana) land technology to give it marginally better plays and also the classic onslaught of non-basic hates except for Ruination (which would be very good in my opinion). Non-basic hate is very strong in a metagame filled with many decks that rely on non-basic lands to function properly.



Decklists: http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/events.aspx?x=mtg/daily/decks/mol532636

Lundstrom - UG midranged
Gainsay - 4c rock (minus red)
BryTheFryGuy - GW Elves
thekid - 5c rock
joekriii - UG midranged
sMann2.0 - Goblins + green (to use tin street hooligan)
superchevalier - Mono U control
Eternal_Hammer - URW control (with Flametongue Kavu as the only creature to minimize damage from Bribery?)

Lundstrom has done it again with his UG deck which probably has the highest average placing amongst all other decks. Somebody stop him!

Anyway, another interesting archetype has popped out: Mono U control. Despite not having Force of Will or Pact of Negation (which goes along well with Guile), superchevalier managed to play the traditional "big blue" style (usually counters topped with (Mahomoti Djinn)s as finishers) into the top 8. (Who says you need the $$$ to win $$$?) Counter based decks get better the slower the format becomes.

Goblins have also made another t8 since its last appearance many weeks back. I am curious as to how powerful goblins will become with both Goblin Lackey and its double striking cousin from Zendikar. I'm not very sure why the goblin decks aren't interested in playing black but maybe it lets them act like a mono red if need be.



Decklists: http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/events.aspx?x=mtg/daily/decks/mol546142

Samwise_GeeGee - Crosis Control
Gainsay - 4c rock (minus red)
ChriskKool - GW aggro
Naoto - UGB Goodstuff
Ryun - BWR control
E. Hustle - Goblins / monored + green
savagebeatdown - URW Control with painter combo
negru - RG midranged (with 0 cards in sb !!!)

Here, we see Gainsay's third consecutive top 8 with his 4c Rock deck, of which he has placed second twice. (Many many packs there)

Like the previous week, the only 2 aggro decks are goblins and GW, possibly signaling a slowing down of the format. In my opinion, I think that this is a direct result of the lack of combo decks in the format for aggressive decks to pressurize. Right now, most of the slower decks have at least some form of resistance against the aggressive decks so aggressive decks need to win via disruption or bashing in and that can be rather difficult.

The RG midranged deck is a deck that throws huge spells at people with some early plays. Oddly, there isn't a sideboard in it but still, it managed to make its way into the top 8. This would definitely be very difficult for aggro decks to beat because the cards used are just plain fat and bomby. Not sure how it would fare vs counters but I'm sure the sideboard could fix that.



Decklists: http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/events.aspx?x=mtg/daily/decks/mol560445

prolepsis9 - UW control
Gainsay - 4c Rock (minus red)
The.Sensei - UGW midranged
E. Hustle - Goblins / monored + green
rainin6 - UB control
Thalai - Angry Hermit Rock
SaradinDR - Crosis Control (With a higher curve)
Ace of Drafts - UB control

Did I say something about Gainsay and his deck? 3 2nd placings in a row is hard to do. Can he keep it up? Wow, just wow.

This week, we see the top tables slowing down even more. I think that a fast deck with a much lower curve than zoo plus a good amount of disruption would be a nice way to punch into the next top 8. The big shift from aggro to control over the months can be seen as people start to respect control decks again.
UB has re-emerged as a contender in the format, with its game breaking Upheaval in its arsonal of weapons.

What is Angry Hermit Rock? Basically, it's a rock deck with a special win condition of using Cephalid Illusionist+Lightning Greaves (but you'd have to have another creature) or a simple Hermit Druid which would let you mill the whole deck, cast a reanimation spell on Sutured Ghoul and let it come back with a Dragon Breath to have a hasted FAT trampler for the win.


Deck of the Week

Gainsay's 4c Rock

makes winning look like a stroll in the park

1 Birds of Paradise
1 Civic Wayfinder
1 Dark Confidant
1 Doran, the Siege Tower
1 Eternal Dragon
1 Eternal Witness
1 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Gemhide Sliver
1 Genesis
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Heartwood Storyteller
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Krosan Tusker
1 Krovikan Horror
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Loxodon Hierarch
1 Masked Admirers
1 Mulldrifter
1 Necrotic Sliver
1 Noble Hierarch
1 Ohran Viper
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Ravenous Baloth
1 Reveillark
1 Rhox War Monk
1 Saffi Eriksdotter
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Shadowmage Infiltrator
1 Shriekmaw
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Sower of Temptation
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Tidehollow Sculler
1 Tradewind Rider
1 Trinket Mage
1 Wall of Blossoms
1 Wall of Roots
1 Weathered Wayfarer
1 Yavimaya Dryad
1 Zur the Enchanter
1 Hunting Cheetah
41 cards

Other Spells
1 Aura Shards
1 Bant Charm
1 Buried Alive
1 Diabolic Intent
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Grim Harvest
1 Liliana Vess
1 Living Death
1 Mind Twist
1 Necrogenesis
1 Necromancy
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Oversold Cemetery
1 Path to Exile
1 Phyrexian Furnace
1 Primal Command
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Sylvan Library
1 Tainted Pact
1 Tithe
1 Vindicate
21 cards

1 Bad River
1 Exotic Orchard
1 Flagstones of Trokair
1 Flooded Strand
1 Forest
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Grasslands
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Island
1 Krosan Verge
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Murmuring Bosk
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Plains
1 Polluted Delta
1 Savannah
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Simic Growth Chamber
1 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Swamp
1 Temple Garden
1 Tendo Ice Bridge
1 Treetop Village
1 Tundra
1 Twilight Mire
1 Underground Sea
1 Vivid Grove
1 Vivid Marsh
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Karakas
1 Scrubland
1 Tropical Island
37 cards

1 Armageddon
1 Baneslayer Angel
1 Celestial Purge
1 City of Solitude
1 Damnation
1 Duress
1 Engineered Plague
1 Ghost-Lit Stalker
1 Hydroblast
1 Krosan Grip
1 Seal of Primordium
1 Thoughtseize
1 Warmth
1 Wrath of God
1 Zuran Orb
15 cards

Heartwood Storyteller



I'm very curious as to what enabled Gainsay to propel the deck to its finishes so let's examine the deck closely.

At first, it looks like a basic rock deck but if you look again, you see cards like Reveillark protecting (Tradewind Riders), Zur the enchanter and many other friends. This means that it will be it will try to setup some locks that make you lose out by a big margin if they get together.

It has many card advantage outlets in itself so grinding out mid-games would not be too difficult. Most likely, the time to beat it is early on when it is still stumbling on its mana. Disrupting the deck is probably the best way to win because it looks very well set up for long games with many powerful cards in its arsenal.

One of the many examples: Buried Alive + Genesis or (Oversold Cemetary) becomes a slow tutor for game breaking answers too. Imagine getting Genesis + Reveillark + Eternal Witness. Ouch.

In the deck, Tainted Pact is a sure-hit tutor because of its snow-land, non-snow land split of the basics and everything else is non-basic.

Like many other colorful decks, its greatest weakness is in its mana base, even though there are a couple of measures in place to help get the deck out of a total lock-out (like the sideboard Celestial Purge).

Overall, this will be a hard deck to beat unless you land a Wasteland at a crucial moment and go all out. Not a deck I want to meet unless I have specific answers to the right cards because the threats are so hard to get rid of.


Tech of the Week - Karakas

This land is:

1) Legendary
2) Taps for white mana
3) Taps to bounce a legendary creature

Would you play a white land in a non-white deck?
Would you play it if it were colorless?

By tapping, it can stop your opponent's legends and protect your own.
This is the hidden gem of MED III that costs less than a ticket.

If you are not bound by heavy mana commitments, do try it out!




One Double O Basic Deckbuilding Tips

Since there has been a flux in the number of people playing the format as of late, mostly contributed by myMTGO's tournament shout out by 2 of my favorite podcasts, I suppose there is a need to discuss deck building issues. I was wondering if this clashed with ArchGenius' article but I checked again and thought that it would be good to go since the contents don't clash.

As a starting point, I looked at this book I have lying at home called "Magic the Gathering Advanced Strategy Guide for advanced and expert Magic players" by Mark Justice whose name would ring a bell to the people who have played Magic from a long time ago.

Information becomes invalid easily with time but good advice is one that stays relevant.

In it, he gives "The Principles of Deck Construction"

#1 Use Good Cards
#2 Balance Your Mana
#3 Be Able to Kill Creatures
#4 Do not be vulnerable to one counter-spell
#5 Apply Early Pressure - or Be Able to Cope With It
#6 Do Not Be Vulnerable to Artifacts and Enchantments
#7 Do Not Suffer from Mid-game Crisis
#8 Be Prepared for Whatever Gives Your Deck Problems
#9 Practice, Practice, Practice
#10 Know Your Environment

This book was published during the time when the set Stronghold was still new so you can probably guess how long ago this was written. I don't suppose Magic literature was very advanced then so with the different knowledge accumulated up till today, I will take a look at how these ideas can be applied to the deck you want to make. The playing environment of standard formats has drastically changed throughout the years but somehow, 100 card Singleton is a format that can comfortably apply these ideas because of how it's like.

#1 Use Good Cards

Obviously good cards are good cards because they are good. Some cards are obviously "good" to a majority of people but there are instances when "bad cards" can be good too. So what ultimately makes a good card good?

For starters, looking at theories such as "the mana curve", "card advantage" and "tempo" are good starting points for evaluating how useful a card is, because cards work best in the proper archetypes that make use of them for specific reasons.
Usually, decks hinge on one of these three theories because they are easy to understand and both provide a nice framework to winning.

If you understand these theories, the reasoning for playing certain cards will surface more naturally. Commons, uncommons, rares or mythic rares don't really matter here because the power of cards is not solely determined by their rarities. Also, different decks need different cards to be good so being able to analyze a card from a different vantage point would be good.

#1.1 Mana Curve

In a nutshell, the mana curve is based on getting the most efficient use of your mana by preselecting cards that would allow your draws to give you cards that you can cast with the mana you have available to you. This would allow for the greatest consistency against mana problems while being able to take the full advantage against inefficient starts of slower decks. A mana curve is named as such because the cards played follow a curve that is skewed towards the lower casting costs. Very aggressive red, white or even blue decks use this model because it is efficient and can steal many games under normal circumstances, on the back of their efficiently costed spells that gives them the most plays.

Under such a model, a good card is considered a good card when it is:
a) Efficiently costed
b) Allows you to advance in your gameplan

For b), it is not very intuitive because a card that allows you to advance in your gameplan need not necessarily look very appealing.

Example A: Kavu Titan is said to be better as a Grizzly bears than a 5/5 trampler because it's usually better at doing its job at applying sufficient pressure early than later in the game.
Example B: (Skirk Marauders) is said to be better off casted on turn 2 than a morph on turn 3 although you can later on morph it up and deal 2 damage.

From these examples, it can be said that maintaining the mana curve, for a deck that runs on it, can be more important than having plain "better cards".
As such, the "good cards" for such an archetype are determined by whether or not they can allow you to maximise your mana in games.

#1.2 Card Advantage

Unlike the mana curve, card advantage essentially understands the game as a symmetrical game where one would win if one had more cards. The basic idea is that if one trades cards at a 1 for 1 basis, you can imagine that the one with more cards will end up winning the game. While this is not how the game is played most of the time, the advantage of having more plays can definitely felt if you play the game for awhile.

Control decks use this idea as a base and tries to get ahead on cards by either drawing more cards or by making the opponent lose more cards, either in play or from the hand.
Cards like Flametongue Kavu and Shriekmaw are popular because they can usually trade for 2 of your opponent's cards.

In control vs control matchups, card advantage is one of the most important factors because games drag on to the point where every incremental advantage in terms of cards can matter.

In a deck that tries to use card advantage to win the game, cards that create the most card disparity between you and the opponent are the most highly valued cards. When you hear 2-for-1 or 3-for-1, you should take a mental note of those cards down.

#1.3 Tempo

Tempo uses time as an attack front. Usually, the main concept used here is the limitations of mana. As we all know, we can lay a land every turn. In the best case scenario, we want to have the respective drop for the respective turn, i.e. 2 lands => 2 mana spell, 4 lands => 4 mana spell. However, things don't always turn out like that. Tempo alters the flow of the game by creating situations whereby the non-optimal situations can be created by displacing spells (like with bounce or removals) while still staying on the optimal progression of the game.

Ideally, you want to minimize the number of plays of your opponent while maximizing yours.
6 mana for a Shivan Dragon against 6 mana for a Terror + Hill Giant shows part of the idea of what part of tempo is about.
Also, cast Sword of Fire and Ice, equip against bounce Sword of Fire and Ice, block with creature is another very tempo losing play because the game has not only not progressed but the board situation has regressed.

For a deck that wants to generate as much tempo as possible, both offensive and reactive spells that disrupt can be very useful. Cards that trade well, mana-wise, are very effective here.

#1.4 Simple Comparing

Another simple way to check can be to compare between cards of similar functions. If you can think of more situations where X is more desirable than Y, chances are that X is "better" than Y.

ArchGenius has an article (http://puremtgo.com/articles/100-singleton-jump-format-part-1) which showed a table of the cards that showed up in the top 8. Looking at what people played into the top 8 can help you see the more popular cards of the format but do remember that the numbers by themselves don't have any absolute implications other than the fact that the card is being played.
For example, Counterspell is a highly played card but that doesn't mean that any deck with a tinge of blue mana should start playing it.

Still, having an overview of the format is very useful. Look at the cards, look at what might work for you and play it. Ultimately, trial and error is what should help determine the usefulness of a card. It's not wise to play a card because everyone else is playing it although it might be useful to find out why people are playing certain cards.

#2 Balance Your Mana

In my opinion, the mana base is what makes or breaks the deck. A good mana base is one that can allow the player to cast the spells he needs at the right time. Making a deck work is a two-fold effort. You need to play cards that your mana base can support and you need to make a mana base that supports the cards you play. Although it looks like a simple jumble up of words, do think about it carefully.

1) Don't play cards that can't be cast when you actually want them to be casted.
For example, I've seen cards that cost WW in a RGW zoo deck that doesn't make much sense because the odds of getting WW on turn 2 are very slim. If you are going to play a 2 mana card on turn 4, chances are that there are better 4 mana cards. No?

2) Play cards that you can imagine yourself playing at the right time.
If you choose your spells according to what your mana can churn out, chances are that the odds of the deck working in your favor would be very high because you do not limit your plays to specific land draws which might be used against you to lock out your potentially playable cards.
For example, Terminate vs Doom Blade is a choice that would favor the latter if the deck is not capable of producing RB consistently even if Terminate is a strictly more powerful card.

3) Do invest in non-basic lands and put them so that you can cast the spells you hope to cast.
Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable part of Singleton 100. The difference in the power of a good mana base and a weaker one is very clear because of how consistent plays become with the help of multicolored mana sources.

If you need to play tons of non-basics, go ahead but do try to have some answers to the popular non-basic hate. Usually, people tend to

Another way to do improve the consistency of a deck is to skew the deck to one color and use the other colors to support. This removes the reliance on all its colors but has one to hold the deck's early plays together before the rest start to come in time.

As to how to actually go about with the steps to make a mana base, ArchGenius has a good article here: http://puremtgo.com/articles/100-singleton-jump-format-part-2-mana-base.

#3 Be Able to Kill Creatures

This format is largely dominated by creatures, like most formats that last till at least till the 4th turn. As such, having outs against probably the most played permanent type (other than lands of course) is part and parcel of clearing the format.

Of course, it is needless to say that not "killing creatures" is fine but there should at least be some basic plans like blocking, fogging or bounce to stall against the most common gameplan (attacking with creatures).

#4 Do not be vulnerable to one counter-spell

Counter magic, in my own opinion, is the most effective type of spell in the entire game because you can almost always trade 1 for 1 with anything. Think Maelstrom Pulse here. Unfortunately, it is the spell type that everyone not playing blue hates because of the very same reasons.

While it is definitely hard to go against an opponent of a billion counter magic, that in itself is risky for the opponent because the more he relies on counters, the more effective cards like man-lands, uncounterable spells, creatures with flash become. Most players won't go overboard with counter magic.

In the original text, this section is on how the author doesn't like to play combo decks that rely on not getting their key spells countered (Duress did not exist at that point in time).
Nowadays, if you are planning to play any combo in Singleton 100, it is best that the deck is made resilient to counters. In fact, because of how the format is more creature based, I would think that combo can drag long enough to release an onslaught of must-counter spells and just go off if not under pressure to do so early, making combo the advantageous deck against a control deck.
Cards like Silence or Orim's Chant or Xantid Swarm are very useful in this aspect.

Decks that do not rely on just a key spell are able to overcome counter magic to some degree because counter magic can always be baited on a variety of spells, making them (counter magic) difficult to maximize without falling back somewhere. Despite that, counter magic still holds a strong grip of fear against those facing it. I would think that counter magic can generate a large amount of tempo (as mentioned above) and its main power lies there.

The most effective way to get around it is to lower one's mana curve to negate the ability of counter magic of being able to trade cards that cost more. Unfortunately, Singleton 100 is a format where people enjoy casting large spells, even in a tournament setting so they have no choice but to fight counter magic in a different way.

Simple efforts like playing Genesis, or cards like Eternal Witness can really make life easier for the offensive side and more direct approaches like playing Split Second cards or uncounterable cards can directly challenge the threat of counter magic. If you think counter magic is ruining your life, do something about it.

#5 Apply Early Pressure - or Be Able to Cope With It

This is very strong advice because it is very likely that the player who is able to "dominate" the early game would be able to win right there unless something really goes very wrong. Control decks can only go so far to stop a highly aggressive start unless it is able to exhaust the start by trading really aggressively or by having powerful stoppers early but by doing so, would already have been prepared to have a dogfight with the aggressive deck. Speed is the key here because of the limit of mana set by the rules of the game and the reliance on a few random lands early in the game that may not be able to contribute effectively from turns 1 to 3.

Some decks are unable to do anything for the first few turns and if the aggressive decks are able to take full advantage of that, it is very difficult for the slower deck to mount a proper comeback unless it has relevant cards in that area with the right mana to cast them.

In the light of this, slower decks have to throw in efficiently costed removal spells to handle early threats to buy enough time to setup completely. The capability of being able to handle early rushes is directly related to how many of such removals are put into place but they can only do so much in the short run where the inconsistency kinks of the format start to kick in.

I believe in the long-run so as long as your deck is capable of doing something, it would be able to do it properly more often than not. So try not to dismiss certain findings based on individual games.

#6 Do Not Be Vulnerable to Artifacts and Enchantments

It is odd how some advice can look because I don't think that people in the past who played standard actually had many outs against the said artifacts and enchantments but in 100 card Singleton, this advice is very much a sound one. Unfortunately, there are some decks that can simply stop playing completely when certain cards come down (like Moat for instance). If possible, it might be a good idea to have some artifact removals (because people like equipments) and some ways to deal with enchantments (which are rarer but more deadly when they pop out) somewhere between the maindeck and the sideboard.

I would think that the advice would be better if it were to say "do not be vulnerable to specific artifacts and enchantments".

There are many deadly enchantments such as Sulfuric Vortex and the highly mentioned Moat or even the vile Blood Moon that can alter the course of the game to a large extent. Unfortunately, you either need an answer to those or you need a way to kill your opponent with those in play. Deck planning can help there by giving you outs against certain effects without being redundant when not against those.

For example, Blood Moon is the bane of many decks out there because it completely shuts down core of the deck, its mana. In this case, playing basic lands can help and playing mana artifacts to advance your gameplan (but more importantly allow you sufficient plays while under the Blood Moon effect) can be one of the many ways to overcome it. Playing cards that require less specific mana (like UU etc) would help too.

For cards like Moat, it becomes more difficult to actually play with it in play unless you have a Wonder in your graveyard. Therefore, if you think you might lose to it, play some enchantment hate like Indrik Stomphowler or Krosan Grip. Cards that go bypass it like Hurricane might also help.

#7 Do Not Suffer from Mid-game Crisis

This actually refers to playing cards that are strong in the mid-game to help you push through when you are sitting in the mid-game without being able to do very much.

The usable references here are probably Cursed Scroll and spells with buyback. With improved technology, abilities such as flashback, threshold, retrace have significantly improved the mid-game capabilities of many decks but of course, not many of these see play.

In the mid-game, monsters like Kokusho, the evening star or Baneslayer Angel that are very high powered threats take control of the game. Playing a couple of your own would greatly improve the odds of getting through the mid-game. Cards you can topdeck to win like Banefire or Arc-slogger are very strong mid-game cards.

In the battle of mid-ranged decks, the slower one tends to win but it is really important not to make mistakes that would let your opponent go far ahead in the game because every single small thing begins to matter in the mid-game.

The advice here is to not neglect the mid-game. Having some cards that wreck the mid-game would help in this aspect.

#8 Be Prepared for Whatever Gives Your Deck Problems

Every deck has some sort of weakness somewhere. Some more obvious, some less obvious. Some can be attacked more easily than others. The problem with "weaknesses" is that they give your opponents be placed in a highly advantageous position if they were to attack the weakness of your deck because they would unlikely be as affected even if they were to be bound by the same restrictions.

Preparing for problems can be done in 2 stages:

1) In the maindeck

2) In the sideboard

The difference between the two should be based on how "prepared" you want to be against a certain line of attack.
You can maindeck solutions to common problems and you can sideboard solutions/ threats against specific decks/ attacks.
Maindecking answers usually hurts the maindeck because you lose out efficiency when you do so because it is an unnatural approach to deckbuilding.

When I created Crosis-control, I had "non-basic hate hate" as the foundation of the deck so that it would be highly unlikely for me to scoop to a simple Blood Moon or a random miner because decks that rely on 3 colors tend to be very reliant on non-basic lands. Another reason why I made the maindeck resilient to non-basic hate was because it would be extremely difficult to implement enough countermeasures from the sideboard without losing cards to battle broad archetypes, looking past the hate aspect of the duel.

Because a sideboard consists of only 15 cards, it realistically provides 3 to 10 cards per matchup and that would affect only a small portion of the game. Therefore, it is important that the sideboarded cards would make a big impact in the games where they appear.

Offensive and defensive sideboarding plans vary on how much of your back you think you can cover.
If the maindeck can pull it off, a defensive sideboarding strategy would help. These usually help the battles out of the usual gameplan.
If the maindeck is relatively weak to the opponent's deck, a more offensive sideboarding plan would be useful. These help to guide the game plan towards victory.

Ignoring any glaring weaknesses, I tend to make generically playable decks for game 1. (This means that the deck is probably best for goldfishing)
From how game 1 looks, I would then either sideboard in cards that can plug up the holes in the strategy that might be attacked or play cards that would help in an offensive against such a deck archetype.

Some archetypes are very difficult to fight because of their natural advantages but there is no one deck that can do everything. Therefore, it is alright to lose a couple of matchups if you can win more in the long run.

#9 Practice, Practice, Practice

Playing with the deck you've made is important because understanding every card in a deck is crucial as each has some impact on the games you play, whether or not people believe (100 cards is really not that much bigger than 60 cards). Tweaking a deck is very difficult because it is hard to see the long term impacts of each and every single card unless you play an arbitrarily large number of games. Even if you can't play infinite games, playing a couple will definitely help you identify the weaknesses and the strengths of your deck so that you can work on being able to plug up the various holes in the gameplan.

Actually, I think this point should come before the previous point because you would need to practice with the deck before you can figure out what "gives your deck problems" but it doesn't matter.

The deck itself, while being the problem at times, is not the only thing to focus on when you test the deck out. Play skill is very important because the game situations that present themselves can be very rare at times because of how many cards are actually available and are played in the format.

To learn by playing is probably the most effective but tedious method because it literally takes hours to improve a little.
Watching plays help too because we tend to see things better when we are not at the steering wheel but it becomes a different story when one sits behind the screen with cards in hand. Thankfully, the more mistakes we make and notice, the less mistakes we tend to make when it matters so do play more with your deck.

#10 Know Your Environment

Unfortunately, for the 100 card Singleton format, it is very difficult to gauge what the metagame looks like unless there are very obvious trends, like those we have seen in the past, because there is a myriad of strategies available.

Thankfully, in the tournament setting, you tend to see more streamlined archetypes because people are not very fond of taking risks going into a tournament.
For this purpose do I gather the information you see in the "tournament center". To help one understand the environment better, take a look at each week's top 8 and try to see what the trends are like.

For example, I noticed that the top 8 was slowly shifting into a control metagame so coupled with my understanding of decks, I predicted that some very aggressive decks with disruption should make it into the next top 8. (Not that I would change to a deck unless I have a good build for it) If this happens, decks that prey on those (the more mid-ranged aggro decks) will take over and the control decks would follow up after that, creating some loop until it becomes very even.

This will not work in a more open environment because there is no tournament pressure to push people towards playing control that looks promising as the trends suggest.

Also to note is that some players stick to their decks for some time so knowing who is playing what can give you an edge already.

In the weekend challenges, you can always scout your opponent's decks before your round or at the start of your round (via replays) to know what you are in for. The more information you have, the more informed plays you can make. (This has no relation to making a deck but you get to play your deck differently I suppose.)


Last Words

For those who play the format, do enjoy playing it. It might not be easy to start with because of information and card gaps, but nevertheless, you get to play the game you are here to play at many different angles. Make many decks and play more Magic. That's all there is to it.

tarmotog at myMTGO.com and on MTGO


Interesting Advice. I found by Paul Leicht at Wed, 09/23/2009 - 08:30
Paul Leicht's picture

Interesting Advice. I found some of the wording to be funky but the content is straightforward. I am a little disappointed you did not flesh each section out a bit more with illustrations etc but perhaps that was too much to expect. The best approach to this sort of article I think is to give the advice and then the example so building a deck while showing how the advice applies is a great way to teach the tips therein. (And perhaps show games between tweaks to the deck to display how the deck improves overtime.) Other than that it was a fine read.

I thought this article was by rainin6 at Wed, 09/23/2009 - 17:45
rainin6's picture

I thought this article was great.

I too, hence the 5* rating by Paul Leicht at Wed, 09/23/2009 - 18:08
Paul Leicht's picture

I too, hence the 5* rating but I wanted more, perhaps being a little greedy because for me the format is new enough to want more depth in the advice given.

I had that book and remember by Kriterian (not verified) at Wed, 09/23/2009 - 10:14
Kriterian's picture

I had that book and remember it fondly. I made the R/G aggro deck with Kird Apes for a local tournament and got my butt whooped by a control deck with force field in it. It wasn't long before it was out dated, and I remember briefly thinking that this hobby would get expensive if they kept coming out with a new set each year.