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By: Tarmotog, Naoto Watabe
Jun 10 2008 10:56am
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Standard is a fast evolving format. The new cards that make it into Singleton decks come from there. The old cards come from the odd releases like Tempest from the far future. Being the most volatile format, card evaluation changes often. We Singleton players can pick up some standard technology to use. Today, I'll talk about a couple of cards from standard, that might not have seen play in the format but have a chance. Also, I'll be sharing a Singleton Rock deck and announce the winner of the contest from last week.

Primal Command

The first card I want to look at is Primal Command. With red decks on the rise because of the popularity from standard and extended, the 7 life gained from Primal Command is pretty much game against them. Since you are already playing green, searching out a Ravenous Baloth is going to mean you have a total of a 11 more life than the normal 20. Tough luck for them red decks.

Besides creature tutoring and life gaining, the card has 2 more functions. One puts a non-creature on top of the owner's deck and the other shuffles a player's graveyard into the library.

Putting a non-creature card on top of the library is usually used to buy time. For example, if your opponent lays a Nevinyrral's Disk, you can buy a turn buy putting it on top.

Primal Command

Shuffling the graveyard back into the library can disrupt strategies like interactions with Academy Ruins, Life from the Loam, Genesis, threshold and even reanimation strategies (if you're lucky). Also, shuffling your own graveyard back may be a good idea sometimes because we have lands in play and we can have a higher concentration of business spells in the library which in turn means you are drawing better cards. However, shuffling back your graveyard filled with fetchlands may not be such a good idea because your deck may be "dry" of actual lands and drawing a dead fetchland can get rather annoying unless you have Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth (your opponent could have one instead) or Sensei's Divining Top in play.

When I saw standard slowly playing more and more of this card, I knew I had to do so as well.

Another reason why I am starting to like Primal Command is because people are moving away from counter magic based decks and combo decks to more powerful early to mid-ranged decks in the casual room.

Glittering Wish

As Shadowmoor comes, the value of Glittering Wish increases. Since there are so many hybrid cards, Glittering Wish is able find you cards in your sideboard which has access to almost half the set.

The possible wish targets include the Pyroclasm of the set, Firespout (2 g/r Sorcery. Deal 3 to each non flying if R was paid and deal 3 to each flying if G was paid), and also Vexing Shusher (r/g r/g 2/2 Goblin Shaman, can't be countered. r/g: target spell can't be countered).

I like using Glittering Wish with Living Wish side by side with targets that match both requirements (a multicolor creature). For example, both search for Harmonic Sliver, Angel of Despair or Brion Stoutarm. This allows you to have 2 cards that let you have a toolbox of cards against specific situations. You can imagine the opponent's face when you wish for Wilt-Leaf Liege ( 4/4 green/white get +1/+1 respectively, can come into play if discarded by an opponent's ability) against someone trying to make you discard your hand. 

Glittering Wish

 With Kitchen Finks (1 g/w g/w 3/2 Ouphe, Persist. When it comes into play gain 2 life) coming online soon, it and Loxodon Hierarch can spread into both the maindeck and sideboard. Whichever sounds more logical to be in the sideboard can go there if I'm using the Glittering Wish toolbox since both are of maindeck quality.

Ancestral Vision and Ponder

Merfolks and faeries have used Ancestral Vision and some merfolk builds run Ponder. This gets me thinking about what the advantages and disadvantages are of running either.

Ancestral Vision
-One blue mana, suspend 4.

Once upon a time, people were skeptical about this card. The argument against it this was that it was really bad if you drew it late because it would take more time to actually work and it would become irrelevant.
So why now do people play them in the blue decks? For faeries, the answer is more obvious. It's a deck that is almost able to never tap out on its own turn unless the build runs Sower of Temptations or it casts Bitterblossom. For 1 mana, you can easily cast it on turn 1, turn 3 or turn 5 where you have odd mana up, without ever "tapping out". With Bitterblossom capable of holding the front, Ancestral Vision can easily wait its 4 turns to do its thing.

-Look at the top 3 cards of your deck, rearrange/ shuffle library, draw a card.

Why did some merfolk decks run this over Ancestral Vision? Merfolk works more like the traditional weenie decks coupled with counter magic and tricks. Ponder fixes the draw of lands or business spells and lets you make decisions that can influence your plays this and next turn, which is rather important for such a deck.

Recap: Ancestral Vision is for the deck that is more capable of playing longer games while Ponder is more for the deck that wants to get its options immediately.

Ancestral Vision belongs in a blue based deck because you don't want to wait forever for your blue mana source to pop up and continue waiting a few more turns before you are able to net the three cards while Ponder, like Brainstorm, is a nice card to draw late and early in the game.

Sage's Dousing

Also found in the merfolk deck, this card is a possible cantrip stuck with a Mana Leak. The condition? You need a wizard in play. Did standard merfolks have that many wizards in the first place? Cursecatcher, Silvergill Adept, Stonybrook Banneret and Mutavault are the wizards in the deck.

Historically, wizards are rather powerful. Meloku the Clouded Mirror wins games, Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir disrupts games, Venser, Shaper Savant can deal with almost everything, Sower of Temptation is a control magic on a stick and Chameleon Colossus smashes face.

Sage's Dousing need not necessarily be in a deck with many creatures but you have to make a conscious effort into wanting to play a few creatures for it to work. At the very least, it's a 3 mana Mana Leak which may not be very tempting. I can't say with confidence that this card is great but it is worth taking note of it because drawing a card can be quite good.

Makeshift Mannequinin

Reanimation strategies have not been popular lately. This is probably happening because people nowadays prefer to play "fair" Magic or maybe the graveyard is becoming a very unsafe place for cards in this age. Makeshift Mannequin is rather useful mainly because it's an instant and you can catch people off guard when it does its thing. There are other similar instant (or instant speed) reanimation spells but  Makeshift Mannequin is as efficient as instant speed reanimation spell get even though the card that comes into play becomes really fragile.

Chameleon Colossus

Is this big green guy from standard good? There are more than enough 4 mana 4/4s available in Singleton. So why the special mention of Chameleon Colossus ? The most important reason why it should be played is due to the presence of Bitterblossom. (All this trouble for 1 dumb enchantment?) While not every deck can and will have Bitterblossom, it is good to know that there is a card that almost negates the wall of faeries from the said 2 mana enchantment while being able to end the game in a really short time if unmolested. It shines in the late game when you can simply bash your opponent down with 2 digit worth of damage every turn.

The biggest problem with the super changeling is that it has a 4/4 body. As mentioned earlier, 4 mana 4/4s are rather rampant and this makes it draining on your mana when you are attacking into other 4/4s because a simple combat trick can set your development back by a great margin.


Chameleon Colossus

The biggest plus to Mr changeling is that you can search for it with Treefolk Harbinger which can also find cards like Doran, the Siege Tower and Nameless Inversion.

Porphyry Nodes

While this card seems a little out of place here and now, I have to say that it's a very good solution to Bitterblossom while also a decent removal capable of hitting untargetable creatures which can get rather irritating. I do not want to overrate Bitterblossom for its actual impact in the Singleton format but I have to say that it is a very difficult card to handle. 

Kavu Predator

Although I don't see much of RG decks anymore, (they probably exist only in tournaments) I expect life gain to be rather relevant in the modern context. Grove of the Burnwillows will definitely be in the RG deck and having Kavu Predator in play can get quite troublesome because if unanswered, it can make lifegain look unprofitable.


Pendelhaven and Desert are quite unique in what they do. Pendelhaven need not be in an on color deck just like how faeries use it just to pump the 1/1s. Desert can attack x/1s and there are probably more targets now you can Desert with as compared to last time.




Singleton Decktalk: Doran Rock

When the price of Doran, the Siege Tower suddenly jumped to about 9 tickets, I knew I had to let mine go and I was left Doran-less for a very long period of time. Recently, I managed to get a copy at 4 tickets and I finally got down to making my Doran, the Siege Tower deck.

The main idea of the deck is to play every "powerful" card available in the format and win on the strength of the individual cards.

With Doran, the Siege Tower as the focal point of the deck, I think of cards from the different color components and combinations.

Doran, the Siege Tower

Green White Black Green/Black Black/White Green/White GBW


Exalted Angel Bitterblossom Pernicious Deed Vindicate Loxodon Hierarch Doran, the Siege Tower

Of these cards above, the one that looks most problematic is the Exalted Angel because she costs WW to hardcast or to morph up. Contemplating whether to run Exalted Angel or Kokusho, the Evening Star, I settle on Exalted Angel. I need either because I believe that my deck will end up having a low life count against aggressive decks even if I play both Loxodon Hierarch and Ravenous Baloth as I expect to take damage from lands and Bitterblossom. For Kokusho, the Evening Star to be effective, I need it to trade with something big and trigger its ability before I can stabilize on my life total. On the other hand, Exalted Angel is capable of being able to get me out of a tight situation and slowly into a safe life total. The advantage of having Kokusho, the Evening Star is that it is black (BB is more enticing than WW), and can be used to end the game quickly with its 5 power body and can be followed up by a 5 point drain life by sacrificing it to flashback a Cabal Therapy or maybe just killing it with. Again, considering Bitterblossom in the format (being able to chump block the dragon), Exalted Angel should be the way to go. (Doran ups Exalted Angel's damage to 5.)

A card I found to have very interesting interaction with Doran, the Siege Tower is Animate Dead. The drawback to Animate Dead, besides the fact that the enchantment can be attacked, is that the creature gets -1/-0 and it gets negated if Doran, the Siege Tower is in play. Weird. Anyway, playing rock and all, I want to pull off a turn 2 Animate Dead on an opponent's creature knocked out with a turn 1 Thoughtseize (urgh.. more damage.) .

I once gunslinged against Devin Low from R&D sporting a block kithkin deck (was trying to get a pack but..). He ran Reveillark and I couldn't Wrath of God his board while I was dry on other business spells. This use of Reveillark, probably the first impression of many people, kinda stuck in my head. If my deck had a considerable number of creatures that had power 2 or less, I would definitely put Reveillark in. For now, the few cards that come to mind are Eternal Witness, Treefolk Harbinger, Sakura-Tribe Elder and Doran, the Siege Tower. This is not enough for a slot in the deck but maybe if there are more creatures later on, I'll have to reconsider.

Playing 3 colors, I will have a full suite of mana fixers to ensure that my deck can run properly so Treefolk Harbinger, Wood Elves, Farseek, Into the North, Nature's Lore, Sakura-Tribe Elder and Kodama's Reach make it in. Playing Doran colors give us access to the cheaty Krosan Verge which is really powerful for a land.
Treefolk Harbinger, Wood Elves and Nature's Lore can find the shock lands and Murmuring Bosk. Into the North can find Arctic Flats but I will need to play snow-basics as well. Together with these shuffling effects come Sensei's Divining Top to help you draw more quality cards than your opponent.

Before I continue, I think I open up access to blue for Gifts Ungiven because splashing for the most powerful card in Singleton sounds like a good idea. Together with Eternal Witness and Animate Dead, Gifts Ungiven will get you any two cards you want. Fact or Fiction is also welcome here. Similar in function to Animate Dead, Body Double can come in as another creature from either graveyards which can be important because I want to maximize Loxodon Hierarch and Ravenous Baloth even after they hit the bin.(Also, if I ever put Reveillark in, Body Double and it make a very good combination.)

Rock traditionally has discard so in goes Thoughtseize, Duress, Cabal Therapy and Stupor
Cabal Therapy is not very easy to understand in Singleton. Ideally, you want to have seen your opponent's hand before you use Cabal Therapy. Unlike extended, Cabal Therapy cannot hit more than 1 card. So why do you want to use Cabal Therapy? First, people play cards that search, bounce, reveal cards and Cabal Therapy can hit those. If you miss, you can flashback to hit a card if you really need to. 

I don't want too many discard effects because I am not comfortable drawing into them later on but they are necessary evil in the deck especially when they can disrupt the early game where you are stuck developing your mana base.
If I want to have more discard, I'll put in Gerrard's Verdict since the life gain can help abit.

With Treefolk Harbinger in the deck, we can get some tutoring effect for Nameless Inversion and Chameleon Colossus.

Next in line are the recent additions to the rock decks: Garruk Wildspeaker, Profane Command and Shriekmaw. These three cards are self explanatory in how powerful they are. It is easy to win on the back of Garruk Wildspeaker or Profane Command.

Harmonize and Mulldrifter are decent card drawing that make it in to refill your hand after trading cards and searching out lands. Finally there are just a few slots left for cards. I will have Primal Command, Swords to Plowshares and Slaughter Pact. Slaughter Pact, I feel, is necessary because you tap out often and a Slaughter Pact can save you after you spend your mana drawing cards.

Birds of Paradise
Sensei's Divining Top
Cabal Therapy
Treefolk Harbinger
Swords to Plowshares
Into the North
Nature's Lore
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Animate Dead
Nameless Inversion
Eternal Witness
Pernicious Deed
Wood Elves
Doran, the Siege Tower
Kodama's Reach
Gifts Ungiven
Fact or Fiction
Loxodon Hierarch
Ravenous Baloth
Chameleon Colossus
Garruk Wildspeaker
Primal Command
Body Double
Exalted Angel
Profane Command
Slaughter Pact


The first land that comes to mind is Treetop Village. Uncounterable, unwrathable 3/3 green creature.

Next come fetchlands, painlands and shocklands.

I'll play a the Doran colored shocklands + Breeding Pool because there are many cards that find a forest.

All the fetchlands come in except for Bloodstained Mire because it can only search for swamps. The other fetchlands have access to more.
Polluted Delta => island swamp
Wooded Foothills => forest
Windswept Heath => forest plains
Flooded Strand => island plains

island represents Breeding Pool and Snow-Covered Island
forest represents Breeding Pool, Murmuring Bosk, Temple Garden and Overgrown Tomb )

One Yavimaya Coast and no Brushland in favor of Arctic Flats and no Horizon Canopy because the deck is mana intensive (means I will want more mana even in the mid game) and 1 less painland is good. Murmuring Bosk fits the deck but I usually almost never fetch it out because I would have mana of at least 2 relevant colors and I'd rather search for a shockland most of the time.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and Golgari Rot Farm comes in. The rest of the cards are basic snow lands. There must be at least 1 plains because of Krosan Verge and at least 1 island so I will play 2 of each of the Doran colored lands and a singleton island.

Breeding Pool
Temple Garden
Overgrown Tomb
Godless Shrine
Murmuring Bosk
Caves of Koilos
Llanowar Wastes
Arctic Flats
Yavimaya Coast
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth


Polluted Delta
Wooded Foothills
Windswept Heath
Flooded Strand
Krosan Verge
Treetop Village
Golgari Rot Farm

2x Snow-Covered Forest
2x Snow-Covered Swamp
2x Snow-Covered Plains
1x Snow-Covered Island

Put both tables together and you have a Doran Gifts Rock deck by yours truly.

-The power of the cards are very concentrated which means that if you manage to attack the powerful cards, the rest of the deck is going to be pretty weak.
For example, the only "universal removals" are Vindicate and Pernicious Deed so attacking those can force the deck to just try to win based on the stronger creatures without being able to protect itself.

-The deck has a very vulnerable mana base which can give you mana you don't want at times and the deck may not be able to function if the mana is attacked.

-No Troll Ascetic, Ohran Viper and Sword of Fire and Ice/ Sword of Light and Shadow. These are rather self explanatory for this deck because 1GG is not easy to pull off. Plus, Troll Ascetic is too mana consuming for this deck. It belongs in a different type of rock deck. The swords are excluded because using them can result in a big tempo loss which is very tough to recover from especially in a deck doesn't have many cheap spells. Call of the Herd might make it into the SB against control decks.

-There might be an in-play judgment problem of which lands to find early in the game because there are 4 relevant colors.

-This deck doesn't have a Living Wish / Glittering Wish based toolbox sideboard because the deck is rather slow. Probably, if I do not play blue, I will use this toolbox instead.

Post - Shadowmoor changes

With Shadowmoor, the obvious candidates are Kitchen Finks, Murdurous Redcap, Reflecting Pool and Dusk Urchins.

Kitchen Finks is an auto include. The other 3 need to go through testing before I can make a firm statement. Dusk Urchins is somewhat like a universal Slay in most cases or a 1 for 1 at the very least. Murdurous Redcap might be SB quality here but BB is not easy to pull off so it's on the waiting list.

Reflecting Pool is one of the most talked about cards from Shadowmoor but I am worried that it does not fit into this deck that needs 4 different colors of mana. I suspect it is better in a 2c deck or maybe a 3c deck.


Contest Result

The Lorwyn booster goes to telsacow for 22 Forests and 38 Imperious Perfect which is able to win a large number of strategies including Meddling Mage.dec and the runner-up idea of 60x Mishra's Factory.

Imperious Perfect can keep using all its mana every turn and the team gets  bigger with every copy of it in play. Nice.


Until next time, this is Tarmotog talking about Singleton again.



by iceage4life at Tue, 06/10/2008 - 23:06
iceage4life's picture

Okay Gerrad's Verdict work?  Much better spell than Stupor just harder to cast by a little.

As far as MM.dec loosing I'd assume these are matches not just a single game?

by Tarmotog at Wed, 06/11/2008 - 00:43
Tarmotog's picture

verdict is fine but it's not very often that you'll get BW to cast it properly on turn 2. 2B is much easier to cast in my opinion. 1 random discard wins life gain I guess since the deck isn't that short of life with baloth+hierarch+angel+primal command in the mix to counteract the damage from pain. 

while I'm sure that the mana would fix itself by turn 3/4, I don't have confidence to say that I can cast BW consistently especially with blue in the mana mix and since green is the main color which the deck revolves around.

the pain from lands is the reason why vampiric tutor is ommitted from the deck despite its high power level.. but the pain has to be there to make sure the deck works properly.. which is why gerrard's verdict makes such a tempting candidate.. but I suppose the main reason to give it a pass lies in the fact that the deck is too overly stretched at the mana base that it would be near impossible to demand BW early. However, without blue in the mix, I definitely would consider more options like verdict but I guess I find Gifts Ungiven too powerful to not play in this deck.

abt the xx.dec, I pit(ted?) the ideas for the contest together and thought about how they would fare against each other. if best of 2/3, meddling mage would win imperious perfect but would still definitely lose to mishra's factory.dec as mishra's fac.dec can trade 60 lands for 40 bears and mishra's factory.dec is able to win a big number of other decks too.

but looking at the submissions, I figured tt imperious perfect.dec can maximize its mana usage better than other decks. Each copy makes every card in play bigger which makes it able to trump most of the other types of decks submitted, making it the overrall winner that doesn't lose to the major problems (or loopholes I'd say) in the impossible format.

by iceage4life at Tue, 06/10/2008 - 11:53
iceage4life's picture

How does Imperious Perfect.dec beat Meddling Mage.dec???

Regardless of who goes first MM.dec stops IP.dec from ever playing a spell.


As far as the Doran deck I think you run Bloodstained Mire because it can fetch any colors you need thanks to shock lands.  Stupour seems like a pointless card, I'd cut it for Vindicate.

by Tarmotog at Tue, 06/10/2008 - 20:59
Tarmotog's picture

that came down to imperfect knowledge i guess.. the point is that meddling mage has to know what to name. If you don't, you can't stop the first card. If you cast imperious perfect, you'll be able to keep making bears every turn to survive meddling mage beatdown and you'll be able to win many turns later when the number of meddling mages stop increasing. or so i think.

bloodstained mire is not there because it can only search for a "swamp" since I don't run red. I'm thinking about the mid-game here since it obviously doesn't matter in the early game and the deck should almost always make it into the mid-game..

Vindicate is in the deck already so if I would remove stupor, I'll probably put in something not mortify/putrefy. Maybe a wish I suppose.. to open up space for answers like harmonic sliver (probably not turn 3)/kitchen finks on turn 3?

Stupor usually gets what the person cannot cast (like some fat dumb powerful creature) so it might help animate dead? it gives you a clue as to what is happening in your opponent's hand too I suppose.

I personally don't like the discard elements of a rock deck because it doesn't make much sense unless u already have something threatening in play and if you don't, u're just wasting time. I suppose I need it here to see the effects of non-spot discard.