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By: ArchGenius, Marcus Rehnberg
Nov 23 2010 5:56am
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Sidebar - A few of you might remember that my Magic Online screen name was Shuyin Knight of Zanarkand.  This is actually my second screen name, and is basically taken from one of my favorite tragic video game villains from Final Fantasy X-2.  I've played for a long time under this name but I've noticed a few problems with going under a moniker that is an homage to a video game character. 

1) Games age faster than other media, and therefore my name started to feel a little dated. 

2) It's difficult to define your own identity when you are copying an identify from a cultural icon. 

3) My screenname was so stupidly long that it messed up the text size in lots of tables. 

So I'm basically transferring my cards to my original account and going back to my original screenname creation of NemesisParadigm.  Now you're probably asking yourself what in Grixis is a Nemesis Paradigm.  Well, basically it's my attempt at using greek to make a name that is roughly equivalent to Devil's Advocate except it sounds cooler and has no reference to the devil. 

I've also decided to give my articles a Title Bar.  I tend to write about what I'm currently interested in and that seems to go back and forth between constructed and limited, so I chose the name Snapshot because it is a throwback to a series I used to write and it doesn't limit me to a specific format or type of magic.  I plan to continue writing about what I'm playing and analyzing and hopefully provide a reasonable amount of entertainment along the way. 

100 singleton needs a recruitment drive.  The weekend challenges, which have some of the best prize payouts of any constructed format are not firing very regularly.    It's somewhat difficult to find a match in 2-man queues.  The prize pack for 100 singleton has been switched to M2011, so the prizes are good.  Why aren't you playing?  We need more players.  We need you!

100 singleton is my absolute favorite format, because just about everything is legal, there are decktypes to suit every style of play, and there are so many decisions to be made.  When both players are casting tutors with over 20 different possible targets multiple times during the game, you know that it's going to be a complex and interesting game.

I'm just guessing here, but perhaps one of the reasons 100 singleton is not drawing newer players is because players don't know what to expect when they start up a game.  The number of viable decklists can be too much to absorb.  To help new players get a grasp of what to expect in the weekend tournaments as well as the 2-man queue, I've assembled a list of the types of decks I've played, watched, or played against in 100 singleton.

The Deck Picture Example What does it do? Key Cards How do you play against it?
Blue White Control Thopter Foundry This deck uses a combination or counterspells, card drawing spells, and Mind Twist to stop you from doing anything, then it finishes the game with a combo like Thopter Foundry Sword of the Meek or simply a large creature like Sun Titan. Force of Will Mana Drain Future Sight Mystical Teachings Don't play into obvious counterspells, wait until you have multiple threats you can play in a turn,  unless you are trying to run your opponent out of counters.  Wait until your opponent taps out to play important spells.  Use manlands rather than fall into counterspells.  Sideboard options include Aether Vial Pyroblast Active Volcano Seedtime
Goblin Burn Deck Lightning Bolt This deck combines cheap hasty threats with a large supply of burn spells to finish off the game quickly.  This deck may or may not use nonbasic land hate such as Blood Moon or Dwarven Miner to disrupt its opponent's game.  Goblin Recruiter Goblin Lackey Clickslither Fireblast Life gain is your friend.  Cards like Loxodon Hierarch Baneslayer Angel and Wurmcoil Engine will wear him out and drain a burn deck's resources.  If you can stall the game with walls, your bigger threats will usually overrun your opponent's threats.  Sideboard Options Kor Firewalker Auriok Champion Sphere of Law Hydroblast Pelakka Wurm Pyrokinesis
Elf Deck Wirewood Symbiote This deck plays out a lot of mana elves with synergistic effects to ramp mana, play large creatures, and usually play Armageddon at some point in time. Joraga Warcaller Gaea's Cradle Titania's Chosen Natural Order If you can control the creatures, you can control the game.  Elves are very vulnerable to mass removal such as Wrath of God, Pyroclasm, and Perish.  Counter their Armageddons if you can, if you can't, try to keep the board in your favor and hold back a land or two in your hand if possible. Possible sideboard cards include Perish Goblin Sharpshooter Sunlance and Doom Blade 
Survival Rock Doran, the Siege Tower Black is used for hand disruption Mind Twist and reanimation Recurring Nightmare.  White and Green are used for Survival of the Fittest and some of the best creatures in the game.  Once again Armageddon can rear its ugly head.   Survival of the Fittest Mind Twist Shriekmaw Maelstrom Pulse If you slow play your threats to avoid an Armageddon, you'll probably run into a Mind Twist.  It's best to counter their early threats and match them on the board so that Armageddon and Mind Twist don't steal the game way.  Survival of the Fittest is a game winner and must be destroyed or neutralized as soon as possible.  A lot of this deck's power comes from the graveyard, so attacking the graveyard is usually beneficial but don't expect a simple Relic of Progenitus to shut down your opponent.   Sideboard options include Pithing Needle Disenchant Relic of Progenitus Faerie Macabre Perish
Naya Zoo Wild Nacatl With cheap powerful creatures like Wild Nacatls this deck starts the game very aggressively and uses pinpoint removal like Lightning Bolt and Swords to Plowshares to put early pressure on its opponent.  This is the deck most likely to use the Stoneforge Mystic package. Knight of the Reliquary Wild Nacatl Lightning Helix Grim Lavamancer This deck attacks quickly with a lot of really efficient creatures.  Like goblin decks, you have a greater chance of success if you can stabilize the game at a healthy life total.  Once again, watch out for Armageddon and plan accordingly.  Sideboard options include Perish Doom Blade Wall of Blossoms Propaganda Pyrokinesis Goblin Sharpshooter
Survival Bant Karakas This deck combines early threats with counterspells and spot removal to control the game.  This deck also has a lot of ways to summon Survival of the Fittest, and use it with some broken combination of cards like Vengevine Basking Rootwalla Loyal Retainers Condescend Remand Noble Hierarch Enlightened Tutor With less discard and more counterspells, Survival Bant often plays similarly to Survival Rock.  It plays a bunch of efficient creatures and backs them up with disruption.  Survival of the Fittest is a must-kill card as it enables lots of broken combos.  Games against Survival Bant are interesting in that sometimes it plays like an aggro deck and sometimes it plays like a control deck.  Sideboard Options include Pyroblast Krosan Grip Leonin Arbiter Bribery and Thada Adel, Acquisitor 
Scapeshift Scapeshift This deck combines land searching spells with some disruption, some tutoring, and some big threats to win the game through the Scapeshift / Valakut combo or by just playing a large threat like Grave Titan and attacking for the win.  Three Visits Wood Elves Mystical Tutor Broodmate Dragon This deck attempts to ramp up to 7+ land, then search for and play Scapeshift to deal 18+ damage to an opponent.  It uses counters and large threats to diversify its game plan and create a winning strategy.  To beat it you need to be able to either counter all its big threats or stop the deck from reaching 7+ lands mainly through mass land destruction.  Sideboard options include Ankh of Mishra Armageddon Leonin Arbiter Mindlock Orb Extract and Blood Moon.
Survival Anger Titan Anger Survival of the Fittest is used here to create an optimal situation for Karmic Guide to reanimate a titan and attack with it on the same turn with an Anger in the graveyard.  This deck has lots of blinkable effects like Reveillark and Karmic Guide and Sun Titan which make it difficult to permanently remove its threats from the table. Fauna Shaman Anger Vengevine Loyal Retainers Karmic Guide As with all survival decks, remove Survival of the Fittest as soon as you can.  This deck relies on ramping up to a big threat.  Therefore if you can counter a few big creatures, you can usually buy enough time to turn the game in your favor.  This deck also uses the graveyard a lot, so graveyard removal is helpful but not a slam dunk victory.  Sideboard Options include Relic of Progenitus Krosan Grip Bribery Hydroblast Humility
Ooze Reanimator Buried Alive Necrotic Ooze can deal almost unlimited stackable damage instantly with Phyrexian Devourer and Triskelion in the graveyard.  Buried Alive, Fauna Shaman, or Survival of the Fittest can instantly do that.  Thus, Buried Alive and a reanimation spell becomes a kill condition. Necrotic Ooze Buried Alive Animate Dead Fauna Shaman This deck is entirely dependent on keeping certain cards in the graveyard.  There attacking the graveyard is the easiest path to victory.  If that isn't possible, discard and counterspells can be used to prevent Necrotic Ooze from entering the battlefield.  Sideboard Options include: Faerie Macabre Relic of Progenitus and Ground Seal 
White Weenie Knight of the Holy Nimbus Small efficient threats and some disruption such as Armageddon, Leonin Arbiter, and Aven Mindcensor can often steal the game from decks using slower flashier cards.  Expect this deck to have a two powered threat to put out on the first three turns of the game. Armageddon Savannah Lions Spectral Procession Brave the Elements Quick aggressive creatures coupled with disruption is a combination that a lot of decks on this list use.  White Weenie is no exception.  The good news is that White Weenie doesn't have the reach of red based decks, so you are relatively safe if you can stabilize at a low life total.  Still, life gain and bigger threats are the name of the game to beat weenie decks.  (Sideboard Options include:  Massacre Wrath of God Goblin Sharpshooter Pyroclasm and (Day of Judgement).
Mega Mana Deck Time Warp This deck uses basic lands, land searching spells, Mana Flare effects, Time Warp effects, Early Harvest, and card draw to assemble a huge amount of land and mana in a very short amount of time.  Then this deck uses some sort of kill spell such as Banefire to end the game. Early Harvest Time Warp Cultivate Harmonize This is the least interactive deck I've encountered.  It will generally win around turn four or five, if you can't disrupt it.  The key to beating it is finding a way to disrupt its game plan.  Any deck with a reasonable supply of counterspells can do this easily.  Other decks need to rely on sideboard options.  Sideboard out the creature removal and side in some of these options: Ankh of Mishra Leonin Arbiter Thoughtseize Manabarbs and Aven Mindcensor
Enduring Ideal Combo Deck Enduring Ideal This deck mana ramps up to playing an Enduring Ideal.  Then it searches out some combination of Humility, Moat, Dovescape, and Form of the Dragon to lock out the game and then win it. Form of the Dragon Humility Moat Ghostly Prison Solitary Confinement Enduring Ideal The key to beating this deck is to win quickly or find a way to remove or counter Enduring Ideal long enough to achieve victory.  Sideboard Options include: Extract Krosan Grip Aura Shards and Seal of Cleansing.  
White Blue Weenie Ghostly Prison Similar to White Weenie, except this version has counterspells, Ghostly Prison and some blue weenies to boost its ranks.  This was designed as an anti-red deck and usually packs a plethora of protection from red creatures.  Kira, Great Glass-Spinner Kor Firewalker Remand Force of Will This is an Armageddon deck crossed with a counter-sliver type of control deck.  The key to victory is to get out larger threats and avoid a situation where an Armageddon is game over for you.  This has kind of gone out of favor because it was designed as an anti-red option and red burn decks are no longer as prevalent as they used to be.  If you're playing red against it, make sure you have colorless damage sources like Pyrite Spellbomb and Cursed Scroll.  Otherwise, watch out for Armageddon and similar effects).  Sideboard options include: Goblin Sharpshooter Darksteel Citadel Land Tax Wrath of God Loxodon Hierarch and Stillmoon Cavalier.
Grixis Reanimator Animate Dead This deck uses looting effects Thirst for Knowledge and Merfolk Looter to put a number of large crazy creatures into the graveyard.  It then uses reanimation spells such as Animate Dead to return those huge creatures to play. Living Death Circular Logic Thraximundar Merfolk Looter Strategic Planning Animate Dead This deck combines looters with reanimation targets to create some really significant threats.  Graveyard removal is a must when fighting against this kind of deck.  Sideboard Options include: Faerie Macabre Relic of Progenitus and Ground Seal.

Deckbuilding is 100 classic singleton's greatest blessing and greatest curse.  With singleton rules, players can customize their decks to a very large degree.  There are many options to play with a favorite card that you think is unappreciated or to play with the colors and playing style that you prefer.  However, it takes a long time to build a deck.  It takes an even longer time to test that deck.  Evaluating individual cards in 100 singleton is very time consuming because some cards may not show up for several matches due to the nature of the format.  It's also very easy to forget about good cards in 100 singleton.   

The reason I bring this up is because I strongly believe that shortcuts in deckbuilding are essential to your sanity. So, I've added the decklists for the top 8 decks in the last four premier events in order to get a reasonable database of the top cards for each color.

Click on the links to see the data from the top 8 decks.
Artifacts

Land

Black!

Blue!

Green!

Red!

Blue!

MultipleColors!

Conclusions:  Red is not being played very much anymore.  When the top red card is Pyroblast, you know red's in trouble.  Black is also not seeing much play outside of splashes for Mind Twist Shriekmaw and a few other discard spells. Sensei's Divining Top is showing up in all decks and it's pretty easy to see why when you look at the number of fetchlands in the format.  Stoneforge Mystic and her ability to sneak Swords into play under counterspells and away from sorcery speed artifact removal has created a new desire to play with the Darksteel swords.  White, Blue, and Green are all seeing heavy play in many different kinds of decks.  Take a look at the results and see if there are some obvious cards that you're missing in one of your decks. 

 

 

Much is still unexplored in 100 singleton.  There are great cards that are missed all the time.  Every new card that is printed opens up possibilities to greatly increase the power of older cards.  Necrotic Ooze, the M2011 Titans, (Valakut, the Molten Pinacle), and the Eldrazi are all cards that have increased the value of older cards, but there are many more undiscovered cards that are hidden gemstones waiting to be exploited in 100 singleton.  Here are a couple of the cards that I believe are under-used in the current 100 singleton meta-game.

Five Under-Used Cards in 100 Singleton

Picture Qty in Top 8 decks from the last 4 tournaments Why I think it's under-used.
Grim Monolith 0 This card is able to get a titan out on turn 3 with no other acceleration.  Not to mention the fact that it is nuts with Tezzeret.  The only reason I haven't played much is because I didn't discover it until recently.
Loyal Retainers 0 Survival of the Fittest is being used all over the place but no one is using the obvious combo of Loyal Retainers and a Emrakul?  Are players that afraid of Bribery?  That's what Flickerwisp is for.
Captain Sisay 0 Sisay has gotten a whole lot hotter over the years.  She can tap to find Gaea's Cradle, Flagstones of Trokair, or Karakas, and those are just the lands she can summon.
Viashino Heretic 0 This little guy can kill Wurmcoil Engine deal 6 damage to an opponent in the process and come back to do it again with the wurmspawn.  What is there not to like about this guy?
Miscalculation 2 Credit goes to Platipus10 on this one.  Here is a reasonable 1U counter that cycles.  This is great for players who need counters but aren't playing heavy blue.

Now let's take a closer look at two of the best decks in 100 singleton.  These are some of the decks that I've had the most difficulty playing against.  They are well tuned and deadly. 

4 Color Valakut

Valakut by platipus10 (2nd Place)
100 Card Singleton Challenge #1641480 on 10/02/2010
Creatures
1 Acidic Slime
1 Broodmate Dragon
1 Civic Wayfinder
1 Eternal Witness
1 Farhaven Elf
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Grave Titan
1 Inferno Titan
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Lotus Cobra
1 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
1 Mulldrifter
1 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 Primeval Titan
1 Rampaging Baloths
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
1 Shriekmaw
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Trinket Mage
1 Trygon Predator
1 Wall of Roots
1 Wickerbough Elder
1 Wood Elves
1 Yavimaya Dryad
26 cards

Other Spells
1 Brainstorm
1 Bribery
1 Clutch of the Undercity
1 Condescend
1 Diabolic Intent
1 Evasive Action
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Farseek
1 Fire/Ice
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Incinerate
1 Into the North
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Kodama's Reach
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Magma Jet
1 Mana Drain
1 Mana Leak
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Mind Twist
1 Miscalculation
1 Mystical Teachings
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Nature's Lore
1 Pact of Negation
1 Ponder
1 Putrefy
1 Rampant Growth
1 Remand
1 Scapeshift
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Sylvan Library
1 Terminate
1 Three Visits
36 cards
 
Lands
1 Badlands
1 Bayou
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Breeding Pool
1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Flooded Grove
1 Flooded Strand
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Polluted Delta
1 Raging Ravine
1 Scalding Tarn
5 Snow-Covered Forest
3 Snow-Covered Island
4 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
1 Taiga
1 Treetop Village
1 Tropical Island
1 Underground Sea
1 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Volcanic Island
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
38 cards

Scapeshift

 

What does this deck do?

This deck is designed to play lands and land searching spells in order to get to 7+ lands and then search for and cast Scapeshift to put Valakut and 6+ Mountains into play at once to finish the opponent off.  Alternatively, this deck is perfectly happy with ramping lands in order to play a titan or Broodmate Dragon and win through simple aggression.  What makes this deck interesting is that it is a Scapeshift deck that doesn't have a lot of red spells.  At its heart, it's a green blue ramp/control deck with red and black used mainly for removal, a few tutors, and a few finishers.  It's powerful because it has enough disruption to stop most aggro decks and enough counterspells to get Scapeshift through a counterspell wall. 

Another feature of this deck is that it uses a lot of ways to find basic lands, so even though lands are a critical component to the deck and it's a 4-color deck, it isn't especially susceptible to non-basic land hate. 

 

 

Basic Land Acceleration

Rampant Growth Three Visits Nature's Lore Kodama's Reach Into the North Farseek Sakura-Tribe Elder

Rampant Growth Three Visits Nature's Lore Kodama's Reach Into the North Farseek Sakura-Tribe Elder

This deck combines cheap ramping spells with some of the best cheap "1U" counterspells. Nature's Lore and Three Visits are especially good at ramping and keeping a counterspell wall available.

Creatures that search for a land

Primeval Titan Civic Wayfinder Farhaven Elf Wood Elves Solemn Simulacrum Lotus Cobra Yavimaya Dryad

Primeval Titan Civic Wayfinder Farhaven Elf Wood Elves Solemn Simulacrum Lotus Cobra Yavimaya Dryad

Here are all the ramp elements that also put a creature into play.  Other than Primeval Titan, these creatures are mainly designed as a way to ramp, a way to stall an aggressive opponent, and a fuel source for Diabolic Intent.

Alternative Cards to Consider:

Harrow Harrow - This card is an instant speed land ramper, However it is really painful when it gets countered. 

Crop Rotation Crop Rotation - Finding Zendikar spell-lands at instant speed is quite powerful.  This little card also finds key lands like Karakas and Volrath's Stronghold. The problem is that it doesn't help us get closer to Valakut mana unless you search for Krosan Verge or Thawing Glaciers.  Without white in the deck, this doesn't seem like that great of an idea.

Search for Tomorrow Search for Tomorrow - It's debatable, but I'd say this card is slightly better than Rampant Growth and probably should replace Rampant Growth in the deck.

Tree of Tales Tree of Tales - It's tempting to put an artifact land into the deck in order to make Trinket Mage into a Civic Wayfinder and more.  The problem with that plan is that artifact lands are very susceptible to destruction and that works counter to the mana-ramping plan.

Khalni Heart Expedition Khalni Heart Expedition - Quests can be really annoying dead cards in the late game.  Also there aren't many enchantments in this deck, and it would be annoying if we added a target for an opponent's mostly useless enchantment destruction spells.

Utility Creatures

Shriekmaw Acidic Slime Flametongue Kavu Eternal Witness Mulldrifter Trinket Mage Kitchen Finks Wickerbough Elder

Shriekmaw Acidic Slime Flametongue Kavu Eternal Witness Mulldrifter Trinket Mage Kitchen Finks Wickerbough Elder

These are some of the staple creatures of the format that perform double duty as spells.  In survival decks, these become invaluable because Survival can only tutor for creatures.  In a deck like this one, creature tutors are slim, but anything that can provide a very powerful effect as well as attack and block is good.

Alternative Cards to Consider:

Skinrender Skinrender - I like Skinrender more than I like Flametongue Kavu because Skinrender can do more to effectively manage cards like Baneslayer Angel and Doran, the Siege Tower.  The problem is that double black casting cost which can sometimes be problematic for a 4 color deck.

Indrik Stomphowler Indrik Stomphowler - Generally speaking, Acidic Slime gets the nod above Indrik Stomphowler because there are so many dangerous lands out there.  Wickerbough Elder is a much closer comparison.  The Stomphowler doesn't require 2 green to play and activate, but the Wickerbough Elder is more flexible in how you use its ability.  I would say that the edge goes to Wickerbough Elder but I substitution is not completely out of the question.

Game-Ending Creatures

Inferno Titan Grave Titan Broodmate Dragon Rampaging Baloths Obstinate Baloth Meloku the Clouded Mirror Trygon Predator Ob Nixilis, the Fallen

Inferno Titan Grave Titan Broodmate Dragon Rampaging Baloths Obstinate Baloth Meloku the Clouded Mirror Trygon Predator Ob Nixilis, the Fallen

One of the biggest advantages of ramping is the fact that your creatures can simply out-class your opponent's cheaper threat.  One Inferno Titan or Grave Titan can usually match up well against 3-4 of your opponent's threats.  However, unlike Survival decks, Scapeshift decks don't need to rely and getting a good creature spell past counterspells, as it can always go back to the Scapeshift plan.  Having two reasonable paths to victory that don't have much overlap is often very useful.

Alternative Cards to Consider:

Wurmcoil Engine Wurmcoil Engine - A great card against aggro decks.  The main problem with the wurm is that Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring can take care of it easily. With the Titans at least you get something out of the deal when they Swords it.  Since this deck was played before Scars was released, I fully expect this card to show up in future versions of the deck.

Avenger of Zendikar Avenger of Zendikar - Rampaging Baloths were always a bit ackward if you could just get to 6 mana to cast them.  My general opinion is that the Avenger is better in ramp decks and Rampaging Baloths is better in reanimator strategies.

Counterspells

Mana Leak Mana Drain Miscalculation Pact of Negation Remand Condescend Evasive Action

Mana Leak Mana Drain Miscalculation Pact of Negation Remand Condescend Evasive Action

This deck is not heavily devoted to blue, therefore Force of Will, Counterspell Hinder and other similar counterspells are just too difficult to cast consistently. 

Conditional counterspells like Exclude and Remove Soul are not included because they do almost nothing to protect Scapeshift from another counterspell.

Alternatives to Consider:

Negate Negate - It's good at protecting Scapeshift and countering planeswalkers, but this deck has so few counters that it needs them to be more versatile.

Divert Divert - It's either really really good, or it sits in your hand waiting for something to do.  It's sort of like Bind and Interdict in that way.

Counterspell Counterspell - Mana Drain makes it because its ramping ability outweighs its hefty double blue mana cost.  Since Counterspell doesn't have that bonus, I don't think you need it.

Cryptic Command Cryptic Command -  This one is way too difficult to cast.

Search for Scapeshift

Scapeshift Mystical Teachings Mystical Tutor Clutch of the Undercity Diabolic Intent Merchant Scroll

Scapeshift Mystical Teachings Mystical Tutor Clutch of the Undercity Diabolic Intent Merchant Scroll

Along with plenty of card drawing cards, these tutors help find that singular copy of Scapeshift that you need to win the game.

Alternative cards to consider:

Personal Tutor Personal Tutor - The world can dramatically change in a turn.  Making Mystical Tutor a sorcery kills a lot of its effectiveness because your opponent has an entire turn to prepare for and react to what you're going to do next turn.  That doesn't mean that Personal Tutor is unplayable, but it is simply quite a bit worse than Mystical Tutor.

Grim Tutor Grim Tutor - Double black is kind of hard to get in this deck.  Therefore this tutor stays on the sidelines.

Tainted Pact Tainted Pact - When your kill condition consists of finding a limited number of (Mountains) in your deck, Tainted Pact is likely to backfire by exiling too many of those Mountains.

Gamble Gamble - I've never liked Gamble.  When I want to Tutor for something, I want it to be a sure thing.

 

Card Advantage

Ponder Brainstorm Fact or Fiction Jace, the Mind Sculptor Mind Twist

Ponder Brainstorm Fact or Fiction Jace, the Mind Sculptor Mind Twist

Blue is lucky that it has the trio of Ponder Brainstorm Preordain.  It's these three cards that save so many 1 land hands from becoming mulligans.  Sure there are other cards that do that too like Land Tax and Weathered Wayfarer but blue's assortment of mulligan stoppers are still very potent in the middle and late game too.

Fact or Fiction is simply vital to any deck playing blue and I didn't need to repeat how good Jace can be.  The only non-blue card on this list is Mind TwistMind Twist is one of those cards that simply devastates an opponent in very unfair ways.  It's one of the few cards that is probably a little too good at what it does, but it's also one of the few reasons that anyone plays black at all, so I don't really want it banned or anything like that. 

Alternatives to Consider:

Preordain Preordain - It's pretty much Ponder #2 with some very minor differences.  Ponder Brainstorm and Preordain are so good in 100 singleton because they increase the number of acceptible hands you can reasonably keep.  If you get a 1 land hand, it's almost always a mulligan unless you have Ponder Brainstorm or Preordain and your land can produce blue mana. Of course, these cards are also never dead and can be just as useful in the lategame as the early game.

Annex Dream Leash Mwonvuli Acid-Moss Annex Dream Leash Mwonvuli Acid-Moss -  Since the main purpose of this deck is to ramp land and then play out a Scapeshift, stealing a land is a very relavent way to accomplish this goal while slowing an opponent down. The presence of Crop Rotation is the main deterrant of this kind of strategy.

Wall of Blossoms Carven Caryatid Wall of Blossoms Carven Caryatid -  Draw a card and block your opponent's Kitchen Finks indefinitely.  What's not to like about that plan?  Unlike some decks, this one doesn't have a way to really abuse cantrip walls.  Cantrip walls also don't do a lot against control decks.  They are mainly designed to slow aggro decks down.  The problem is that there seems to be less and less aggro decks around, so now might not be the best time for these cards.

 

Removal

Terminate Putrefy Maelstrom Pulse Shriekmaw Lightning Bolt Incinerate Fire/Ice

Terminate Putrefy Maelstrom Pulse Shriekmaw Lightning Bolt Incinerate Fire/Ice

Except for Shriekmaw, these cards are all instants and therefore all searchable with teachings.  They are also some of the most effect removal spells in the game.  I can't really say much more than the obvious that these spells are usually worthwhile in any deck that can support their mana requirements.

Alternatives to Consider:

Slaughter Pact Slaughter Pact -  It's very nice with Mystical Teachings and Tolaria West and not that bad of a removal spell considering how little black is played.

Bone Shredder Bone Shredder - Unless you want it as a searchable target for Imperial Recruiter this little guy is inferior to Shriekmaw.  You might want to have a second Shriekmaw effect in your sideboard without resorting to the double black casting costs of Nekrataal and Skinrender.  That would be the main reason to run this guy.

Pernicious Deed Pernicious Deed -  I'm not sure why this card isn't at least in the sideboard of the deck.  It is a great card to use against plenty of decks while it leaves your Titans and Dragons on the field.

 

How to Fight it.

Ankh of Mishra Ankh of Mishra - Here is a colorless way to discourage your opponent from ramping.  Yes, you're opponent has ways of dealing with an artifact, but that's true of any permanent.  The main conclusion is that this is an artifact that your opponent is going to have to deal with.

Zo-Zu the Punisher Manabarbs Zo-Zu the Punisher Manabarbs - If you're in red, you have even more options for punishing ramping style of decks.  Sure, Zo-Zu is pretty easy to kill, but Manabarbs isn't.

Leonin Arbiter Aven Mindcensor Leonin Arbiter Aven Mindcensor - These two critters should be in every white deck.  They hose so many cards from fetchlands to tutors.

Extract Extract - This is the easiest way for a blue deck to stop Scapeshifts primary win condition.

Armageddon Ravages of War Armageddon Ravages of War - Armageddon strategies are quite effective if you can use you are aggressive enough.

 

UW Control

dragonbgx (1st Place) #1689714 on 10/24/2010
 
Blue White Control with a splash of black - The bane of my existence
Creatures
1 Baneslayer Angel
1 Court Hussar
1 Eternal Dragon
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
1 Mulldrifter
1 Sun Titan
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Trinket Mage
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Wall of Omens
12 cards

Other Spells
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Azorius Signet
1 Brainstorm
1 Bribery
1 Compulsive Research
1 Condemn
1 Condescend
1 Counterspell
1 Cryptic Command
1 Day of Judgment
1 Disenchant
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Essence Scatter
1 Exclude
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Faith's Fetters
1 Forbid
1 Force of Will
1 Future Sight
1 Impulse
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Mana Drain
1 Mana Leak
1 Memory Lapse
1 Mind Twist
1 Moat
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Mystical Teachings
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Negate
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Pact of Negation
1 Path to Exile
1 Pithing Needle
1 Preordain
1 Redirect
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Remand
1 Repeal
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Standstill
1 Sword of the Meek
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Tezzeret the Seeker
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Thopter Foundry
1 Tithe
1 Vedalken Shackles
1 Wrath of God
49 cards
 
Lands
1 Academy Ruins
1 Arid Mesa
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Celestial Colonnade
1 Flooded Strand
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Karakas
1 Marsh Flats
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Mutavault
1 Mystic Gate
1 Nimbus Maze
1 Polluted Delta
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Scrubland
1 Seat of the Synod
12 Snow-Covered Island
3 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Tolaria West
1 Tundra
1 Underground Sea
1 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
38 cards

Tezzeret the Seeker

 

What does this deck do? 

The main gameplan is to have a counter or removal spell for all of the critical things your opponent does while ignoring the chaff.  Then use card drawing spells to outdraw your opponent and win the game.  Alternatively, you can play cards like Sower of Temptation that steal your opponent's creatures in order to win the game with your opponent's stuff.  Either way, most of your spells either give you card advantage or counter your opponent's plans.  This deck, and control decks in general, are gaining in popularity because they can handle just about any kind of deck. 

Counterspells 

 

Heavy Blue Counters: Force of Will Counterspell Mana Drain Pact of Negation Cryptic Command

Force of Will Counterspell Mana Drain Pact of Negation Cryptic Command

Light Blue Counters: Mana Leak Memory Lapse Muddle the Mixture Remand Condescend  

Mana Leak Memory Lapse Muddle the Mixture Remand Condescend  

Conditional Counters: Exclude Essence Scatter Negate Exclude Essence Scatter Negate

I've separated the counterspells into tiers to illustrate the uses of each.  Heavy blue counters are counterspells that require double blue mana or a heavy commitment to playing blue.  The light counterspells require only a single blue mana and are often the ones you see splashed in multi-color decks.  The conditional counterspells are ones that target only a certain kind of spell.  This particular blue/white deck has a good selection of all of the types of counterspells, because that is one of the main things it does.

Alternatives to Consider:

Miscalculation Miscalculation - I believe Miscalculation deserves a slot in this deck.  I like it better than Essence Scatter, as it is generally more versatile and it can hit things like Survival of the Fittest early when you really need to stop those kinds of threats.

Prohibit Prohibit - Prohibit is a really powerful counter against many weenie decks, but this deck already has a lot of powerful counterspells and since it's mainly just two colors, keeping UU open is not that much more difficult than 1U. 

Evasive Action Evasive Action - This is another very solid counterspell for multi-color decks, but it is solidly underwhelming in a heavy blue deck.

Spell Snare Spell Snare - Few people expect counterspells with one mana open, and there are many critical spells at two mana.  I would definitely play this in the maindeck as it gives you some protection if you're playing second and you really need to counter your opponent's Wild Mongrel Fauna Shaman or Survival of the Fittest.

 

Card Advantage

Mulligan Stoppers: Brainstorm Preordain Ponder Sensei's Divining Top Brainstorm Preordain Ponder Sensei's Divining Top

Pure Card Drawing Power: Fact or Fiction Mystical Teachings Mystical Tutor

Long Term Gains: Jace, the Mind Sculptor Future Sight

Other Card Drawers: Impulse Ancestral Vision Repeal Exclude 

Other cards to consider:

Thirst for Knowledge Thirst for Knowledge -

 

Black Splash

Mystical Teachings Mind Twist Mystical Teachings Mind Twist

Black is usually used to take advantage of these two really broken cards.  But there are other uses for a black splash.

Other cards to consider:

Shriekmaw Shriekmaw - One of the best removal spells in the game because black is not heavily played and it can hit Emrakul.

Thoughtseize Thoughtseize - This is the second best discard spell in the game.  The only problem is that 2 life can really hurt if you're playing against a red deck.

Psychatog Psychatog - This is one of the better creatures in the game and can usually go toe-to-toe with Tarmogoyf quite nicely.

Entomb Deep Analysis Entomb Deep Analysis - Entomb Fetches Sword of the Meek to the graveyard when you need it to combine with Thopter Foundry.  It also can be used to use the flashback on Mystical Teachings and Deep Analysis among other things.

 

Combos

Thopter Foundry Sword of the Meek Tezzeret the Seeker Thopter Foundry Sword of the Meek Tezzeret the Seeker

With Thopter Foundry in play and Sword of the Meek either in the graveyard or in play, you can create an army of 1/1 flying thopter tokens each turn, as well as gaining that much life. This is a nice little combo that is fairly versatile and protects your life total while it gives you an army.  It also helps that both combo pieces have a casting cost of two mana and are artifacts that can be easily fetched with Tezzeret the Seeker

Karakas Venser, Shaper Savant Vendilion Clique Karakas Venser, Shaper Savant Vendilion Clique

Karakas has some wonderful uses which include protecting your legends, bouncing your opponent's legends, and re-using your legend's enter the battlefield abilities.

Sun Titan Wasteland Sun Titan Wasteland

Sun Titan can do a lot of useful things including reactivating a Thopter Foundry and returning a fetchland to play.  But one of the more devious uses is to recur a Wasteland to deny your opponent of some critical land.

Alternatives to Consider:

Mana Severance Goblin Charbelcher Mana Severance Goblin Charbelcher - This combo is a little more difficult to assemble but it is an instant kill card and it's very hard to stop.

Painter's Servant Grindstone Painter's Servant Grindstone - This instant speed combo has declined in use since just having a legendary eldrazi in your deck can negate its effect.  However it can still be potent against an uprepared deck.  Also Extract and Relic of Progenitus can finish the job if you run into a legendary eldrazi or Gaea's Blessing

Creatures

Mulldrifter Court Hussar Meloku the Clouded Mirror Kitchen Finks Trinket Mage Vendilion Clique Venser, Shaper Savant

Mulldrifter Court Hussar Meloku the Clouded Mirror Kitchen Finks Trinket Mage Vendilion Clique Venser, Shaper Savant

These "creatures" are mainly played for their abilities which just so happen to leave behind a creature that might be able to attack for the win or simply block your opponent's guys while you are searching for something better to do.

Baneslayer Angel Sun Titan Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir Eternal Dragon Baneslayer Angel Sun Titan Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir Eternal Dragon

These are some of the true finishers of the deck.  This collection of mostly white creatures is notable because they can usually out-race 2-3 smaller creatures without difficulty.

 

How to Fight it.

AEther Vial AEther Vial - If your creatures can be played at instant speed and can't be countered, Wrath of God and Essence Scatter become nearly dead cards.

Pyroblast Active Volcano Guttural Response Pyroblast Active Volcano Guttural Response - If you can't beat them, join them.  Red has the distinct ability to counter and destroy blue cards easily.  Unfortunetly, it's also a given that any self-respecting blue player will be boarding in Blue Elemental Blast and Hydroblast, so this becomes a somewhat even exchange.  Still it's nice to have a little protection against your opponent's counterspells.

Thoughtseize Mind Twist Duress Thoughtseize Mind Twist Duress - Cheap hand destruction cards like these are some of the better ways to neutralize your opponent's counterspells.

Mutavault Mishra's Factory Mutavault Mishra's Factory - Lands can't be countered.  This means that you can stroll through your opponent's untapped islands with a manland while he is waiting for you to cast something.

Seedtime Summoning Trap Seedtime Summoning Trap - These are two of the deadlier ways to punish counterspells. 

Vexing Shusher Gaea's Revenge Vexing Shusher Gaea's Revenge - Sometimes you simply need a creature that counterspells can't touch.  Here are two of the prime targets.

Final Thoughts

100 Singleton is one of the more complex formats out there.  There are lots of viable decks which require a decent amount of decision making skills to pilot.  I've seen decks that mimic most of the older decktypes and I'm also finding out something new.  We have decent prizes now, and new players are always welcome.  It's not the cheapest format out there, but there are cheaper decks like Goblins, White Weenie, and elves which can compete with the best decks.  So, if you're interested in trying out the format, come join me online.  If there are other decks that you'd like me to cover in a future article, let me know in the comments.  Thanks for reading.   

Marcus, NemesisParadigm on Magic Online.

16 Comments

Nice title bar logo. The only by Paul Leicht at Tue, 11/23/2010 - 06:50
Paul Leicht's picture
5

Nice title bar logo. The only change I would make perhaps is to add beveled corners to the outside to match the bevels inside. (And probably add a rounded border around that in a light but not white color. Nice break downs. :) Good to see you writing again.

Good article here, I like the by Drbenwayy at Tue, 11/23/2010 - 09:59
Drbenwayy's picture
5

Good article here, I like the breakdown of the decks in the beginning (great for a new player) and then the focus on the two decks later in the article. I know there is a lot of commotion that Survival should be banned in Vintage but I was wondering what do you think about new 100 Singleton Bannings? Top, Survival, and Mind Twist?

The bannings of Survival, by ArchGenius at Tue, 11/23/2010 - 10:25
ArchGenius's picture

The bannings of Survival, Top, and Mind Twist came in less than a day after I submitted this article. I'm actually in the process of writing another article on the 100 singleton bannings along with how I predict the metagame will shift because of them.

The short story is that the bannings are at best inconsistant and at worst random. I believe 100 singleton should have powerful game-changing cards in it. Certainly these three cards fit into those categories as do many other cards that are equally strong. We have a metagame with viable decks of every color combination that appeal to everyone, why mess with that? Top and Mind Twist probably won't shift the meta-game around much as they are often just added to every deck that can support them. Survival on the other hand has roughly 3-4 separate and distinct decktypes that build around that card. Banning survival will mean that the players playing those decks (myself included) will simply move to other major decktypes such as Naya or Elf Armageddon or Scapeshift. It will constrict the metagame and you will see less variety in the decklists.

If you want to look on the bright side of things, banning Top will probably speed up games. :-)

The consternation felt by the by Paul Leicht at Tue, 11/23/2010 - 12:45
Paul Leicht's picture

The consternation felt by the 100cs crew was also felt by others (TWL for example, Moat? Really? Disenchant disagrees with this banning.) put in the same bucket by the randomness of the current ban list. Not only were they inexplicable from any common sense point of view, no justification was forthcoming. Love the arrogance involved in that.

Yeah, the Moat decision makes by ArchGenius at Tue, 11/23/2010 - 13:03
ArchGenius's picture

Yeah, the Moat decision makes me think that WotC is just making banning decisions for the fringe formats based on which cards players are screaming about the loudest.

Of course the test for that is if Scapeshift is banned in 100cs next month, since many players have been screaming about it lately even though it's still somewhat under the radar when it comes to Weekend Challenge appearances.

As usual the screams come by NetHwarang at Tue, 11/23/2010 - 14:43
NetHwarang's picture

As usual the screams come from people that like "fun" formats (like the "no cloudpost" crowd found at the multiplayer room, that on the other hand, just concede to a stone rain.)

The most absurd part about that, is that this kind of bannings do lead to degenerate metagames, where control decks can't compete, combo decks run rampant.

A metagame dominated by combo, that is "fun" for sure.

I find it amusing that in the by Drbenwayy at Tue, 11/23/2010 - 14:48
Drbenwayy's picture

I find it amusing that in the comments of a tribal article a few weeks ago there was an argument about Moat needing to be banned and BOOM!, a few days later it was done.

Do they take a look at the banned list every month? People complain about many powerful cards and it would be nice to get an explanation about why they are banning certain cards. Even just a few words from them would be appreciated by the player base.

To be honest if they've been by Orgion at Wed, 11/24/2010 - 13:30
Orgion's picture

To be honest if they've been reading the Tribal articles I find it unusual that they haven't banned the other cards on the PRE ban list. Surely they're more troublesome? This feels more like someone at WoC has been over playing Moat and the Banned and Restricted list people have been somewhat narked so they've banned it out of spite!

Oh to have that power :)

Yep I agree 100%, every by ArchGenius at Wed, 11/24/2010 - 14:06
ArchGenius's picture

Yep I agree 100%, every additional banned card on the Tribal Apocalypse PRE banned list is more deserving of a ban than Moat.

Great article by Zimbardo at Tue, 11/23/2010 - 15:25
Zimbardo's picture
5

Nice summary of 100CS. I might quibble with a deck or two in this list, but overall this is a great picture of the metagame. I'll look forward to your thoughts on the bannings.

I'm certain that they don't look at the list every month. And when they do look at it, I don't think they're looking at the right metrics.

Anyway, it's great to see somebody consistently write about 100CS over on PureMTGO. You have written a number of articles geared toward interesting new players in the format and helping them get up to speed, and that is one of the ingredients 100CS needs to grow a bit. I actually think the format is in half decent shape - after more than a year, we have consistently fired our tournaments except for this recent stretch in which we had 4 Friday time slots in a short span. I know the 2-man's don't rapid-fire one after another all day, but I have been able to get into 2-mans much easier lately than I could before the payouts switched to M11.

So keep up the good work. Some potential new players do read these articles, and hopefully everybody else will remember to be friendly to new players and help them along so some of them can become be the next 100CS stalwarts.

lands by enderfall at Tue, 11/23/2010 - 20:32
enderfall's picture

I always viewed the cost of lands a barrier to entry for 100cs. Sure, I can get pain lands and tap lands for much cheaper than the original duals/shock lands/sac lands, but in a format with mostly broken cards, these things can set you behind the curve as a new player to the format. Any suggestions to break the cost barrier for entry?

Goblin Burn deck seems like a by NetHwarang at Tue, 11/23/2010 - 21:54
NetHwarang's picture

Goblin Burn deck seems like a budget choice (isn't it always?)

well, most mono-colored or by ArchGenius at Tue, 11/23/2010 - 22:28
ArchGenius's picture

well, most mono-colored or nearly mono-colored weenie decks are a good place to start for budget reasons. Elves and White Weenies are both relatively inexpensive.

Control options are a bit more expensive. However you can probably put together a reasonably strong UW control deck without spending a whole lot. However missing Force of Will and a number of the other strong expensive blue cards will noticeably hurt the deck.

Land Prices by Zimbardo at Tue, 11/23/2010 - 22:48
Zimbardo's picture

I suggest picking a two or three color combination of colors you like and chipping away at the good lands for those colors.

Example 1: You want to play GW and try Elves and GW Aggro. You would want Savannah + Temple Garden + 7 fetch lands, which cost about 55 tickets. However, start out by getting just Temple Garden (2 tickets), Windswept Heath (5 tickets), Misty Rainforest (3.5 tickets), and perhaps a couple of Mirage fetches (about 0.4 tickets each). That's a way to start off with part of your mana base for 12 tickets or so, and you can chip away at that by getting another fetchland once in a while. Then when Savannah drops to 10 or so with ME4, you can take a plunge for that.

Example 2: You want to play GWB Rock colors. Get Temple Garden (2), Overgrown Tomb (1.75), and the 4 Forest fetch lands (18). Add the two Mirage forest fetch lands (0.55). Throw in Three Visits and Nature's Lore to find forests. That can add up to a pretty decent mana base on a budget, but it's also one that you can readily upgrade into something competitive if you chip away at it.

These examples assume that you can budget 10 or 20 tickets to at least try out a deck and then pump a few more tickets into it to upgrade it once in a while.

bannings - WHAT??? by caterpillar at Wed, 11/24/2010 - 09:41
caterpillar's picture

First, a link, since nobody provided one: http://community.wizards.com/magiconline/blog/2010/11/19/magic_online_ba...

Fastbond is banned.
Library of Alexandria is banned.
Mana Vault is banned.
Mind Twist is banned.
Regrowth is banned.
Sensei's Divining Top is banned.
Survival of the Fittest is banned.
Time Vault is banned.
Wheel of Fortune is banned.

Subject line says it all--what on earth is going on with this list? I can understand the preemptive bannings of cards like Fastbond, Regrowth, Time Vault and maybe Wheel of Fortune, but what on earth is the reasoning behind banning these?

* Mind Twist
* Sensei's Divining Top
* Survival of the Fittest

Survival is surely a pain to play against, but as previous posters here and on the other page have noted, it needs some degree of support from your deck. And there are answers to it like: Planar Void and graveyard hate to some degree, Pithing Needle, Aven Mindcensor and Leonin Arbiter, Disenchant(!), etc. I could go either way on banning Survival, especially since I can't afford a copy myself, but when you think about it there are plenty of other effects which are just as abusive: Oath of Druids, Scapeshift, Painter's Servant combo, etc. Just how far does the line of thinking that says Survival should be banned go?

The other two bannings above are bringing us into real WTF territory. Mind Twist can often win games, sure, but again there are solutions: counterspells, giving yourself shroud, cards like Obstinate Baloth or Dodecapod that punish players for playing discard, Divert, and maybe a few others. It's also part of the way we approach games to assume that black decks will try to force us to discard cards at some point in the game. It's completely dumb to ban, as the article's author above has noted, one of the few good reasons for playing black in this format, not to mention that it's removing a very useful tool for keeping combo and permission-based control decks in check.

Finally the biggest WFT of all: Sensei's Divining Top. This makes zero sense. Absolutely none. Have people been complaining that it slows down the game too much or something? Or that it goes in almost every deck? What?

To answer the first point: players have individual chess-like clocks for a reason; if your opponent is running down their clock by making lots of decision each turn, then that's /their problem/. I think that the vast majority of players who actually want to play in the format want to do so because it's challenging and presents us with the opportunity to have games where we /have to/ do a lot of thinking. If this banning is down to the moaners who just want instant gratification and are complaining because players like to actually think things through and play magic the same way they would play a game of chess, say, then I really despair for this format.

To answer the second point, just have a look at the price of the card: it's currently 1.25 on this site. That's hardly a barrier to entry or anything, now is it? There are many expensive staples for this format (dual lands and fetchlands being one obvious example) which /are/ a barrier to entry, but nobody was ever put off the format because they couldn't pick up a copy of Sensei's Divining Top.

I'm still shaking my head in disbelief about this announcement. Seriously, WHAT?

The three 100cs bannings I'm by Orgion at Wed, 11/24/2010 - 13:27
Orgion's picture

The three 100cs bannings I'm assuming are because wizards has an idea on what the format should play like and they believe these cards stop it from doing so.

a) It feels like banning both SoF and Top at the same time are an attempt to support the more random nature of the format. SoF allows almost unlimited tutoring and the Top consistently smooths your draws. I'm sad to see SoF banned but not overly surprised . The Top however, if I'm honest, I'm over the moon about! I've been complaining about this artifact since I started playing the format. When it's common to see someone using a wordly tutor for a trinket mage into a Top, that's 2 tutors!!, as early as they can in a format where tutors are KING speaks to the power of the Top. The difference in early draw power density in a random format is ridiculous.

b) Mind twist is a little odd. I suspect that the Mind Twist is banned because they expect games to be slower and wiping a players hand for 5 mana'ish is possibly a little too difficult to recover from?

As I've said I'm not upset about Top but Survival, and definitely Mind twist, seem a little harsh.