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By: Tarmotog, Naoto Watabe
Nov 17 2008 8:07am
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Hi all! It's me again. As your requests, I'll be discussing the Singleton 100 format on a regular basis in One Double O.

Rules of Singleton 100

To those new to the format, here are the rules to build your deck around:

-The decksize is exactly 100 cards with no sideboards.
-Other than basic lands (including the snow variations), every card is restricted (no one card can be played in multiples).
-The cardpool is the Classic card pool (which is basically every card you can put into your deck online)
-The format currently follows the following ban list:

Biorhythm
Coalition Victory
Crucible of Worlds
Gleemox
Grindstone (pre-emptively banned)
Lion's Eye Diamond
Panoptic Mirror
Protean Hulk
Riftsweeper
Sway of the Stars
Upheaval
Worldgorger Dragon

As mentioned many times already, these bannings are directly influenced by the EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander) multiplayer format which spawned Singleton 100 as a byproduct. Some of these bannings hurt the diversity and power of the Singleton 100 format. One example I can think of is playing Gifts Ungiven into Crucible of Worlds and the Urza tron (the full set of Urza's TowerUrza's MineUrza's Power Plant) with Academy Ruins in play or control decks using it as a simple card advantage engine.

In the recent days, Singleton 100 has been pushed as "the format" to play" over the previously supported Singleton format which had its own share of Premier Events. Currently, there are no premier events planned for either formats till the end of the year. Instead, Singleton 100 has a 4 man constructed 2-1 queue in the "8 man constructed room" alongside Prismatic. With people playing in these 4 man queues for prizes, there has been an increase in demand for insight into the format and here I am to provide some. Most of the time, I can be found testing deck ideas on my main account in the casual room so if you play there, you would have probably played against me at least once.

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Describing Singleton 100

Before the main protagonist of Duel Masters, Shobu, played the Duel Masters card game (which belongs to Wizards of the Coast), he originally started off playing the game we play, Magic: the Gathering. During his battle against what would be translated as 'the Elite Four', he played various different formats including Singleton. The conversation within his group during deck construction is as follows:

Friend A: You're making your deck already?
Shobu: Yeah, but I'm having a tough time. The "other than basic lands, no same cards can be played" rule is crazy... Like this, even not having to think about combo, I'll already have a hard time drawing my trump card "Earthquake".
Friend A: Instead of relying on trump cards, solidifying your deck with creatures is a strong strategy. Rather than waiting for a card that may not even turn up, having creatures that would be useful is the basic tactic for Highlander (in our context, Singleton).
Shobu: Basic huh...
Friend A: You're good at creature battles aren't you? Just go for it!
Shobu: That won't do.
Friend A: WHAT?
Shobu: I can't use a basic tactic. Duels aren't that simple. In this case, I will go the other way round and make a deck that beats creatures!
Friend A thinks: An anti-creature deck?
Shobu: Take Wrath of God for instance is the best anti-creature card that can sweep away all the creatures on the board. I once had a hard time against [another character] playing it. (This is because Shobu plays beatdown quite often, mainly the green heavy varieties)
Using this card as a base, throw in all the cards that deal with creatures like Wildfire and Earthquake to make an anti-creature deck!
Friend B: Even if you say to "throw in"... I wonder if there are that many cards in the first place.
Friend A: That's going to be tough...
Shobu: Of course... I'll be having you two help me.

This exchange is surprisingly relevant to the Singleton 100 format today. The format can be roughly broken in to two schools, the aggressive decks and the control decks. Of course, combo decks exist but majority of the time, these are the two types of decks you will find being played in the format.

Aggressive decks capitalize on a stable mana base and early pressure to win the opponent.

Control decks on the other hand, need to be able to manage the aggressive decks and other control decks, using the more powerful cards to outplay and win the opponents.

The Aggro Way

Traditionally, creatures are sized at 1/1 for 1 mana, 2/2 for 2 mana, 2/2 for 3 mana and 3/3 for 4 mana.

RG / GW decks take advantage of this by playing cards that are more cost efficient than the traditional ones so you will find 2/2 for 1 mana, 8/9 for 2 mana (2/2s or 3/3s usually), 3/3 (or even 5/4) at 3 mana and is usually topped at 4/4 for 4 mana. When they play out their efficient creature cards early, they have the advantage at that moment in time because other decks cannot match the sizes of creatures for even a 1 to 1 trade.

Monored decks take the opposite approach. They have many 1/1s and 2/2s but in exchange, they make use of spells to clear the blockers which usually cost more mana and the remaining mana can be used to drop more small men into play. Most of the damage comes from these small men and hopefully the opponent's life total drops to the point where burn spells can seal the deal.

Of course, there are decks like white weenie that come from yet another angle. For them, their strength comes from the quality of their 2 mana 2/2s that have a variety of abilities that make combat difficult. They send the 2/2s into the red zone and tend to win by large numbers.

The Control Way

What about control decks? Control decks mostly rely on card advantage to win. They try to trade 1 card for multiple cards. There are a variety of control strategies in the format but most of the time, they tend to aim to get card advantage in the long run. The simplest but most hated of these is the deck that is stuffed with counter magic, removals, card drawing and a few win conditions. The more advanced types cast powerful spells like Gifts Ungiven to setup an almost impenetratable defence that guarantees a high chance of victory. That said, control decks tend to be reactive in nature and that in itself represent holes in the defence that can be attacked specifically but I'll leave this for another day to be discussed.

"Variance of Draws"

In the Singleton 100 format, there is this phenomenon called a "large variance of draws". This refers to the fact that although the ratio of lands to spells are statistically the same, there are many more situations in which you don't draw what you generally need at the right time and may end up losing because of that. This affects deckbuilding to make players take into account the fact that they may get really crappy draws in more games than 60 card formats. This may take some time for the newer players to get used to. This factor leads to more draw fixing or mana acceleration to be seen being played in the format.

Even for aggressive decks, it is reasonable to play mana fixers. For example, decks with access to white mana can play Tithe which would usually net enough mana to play properly.

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Deckbuilding One Double O - The Land Guide

In this section, I'll be giving a tip on how to make your decks. Today, I will be sharing on the topic of land count. This is one of the topics people want to know about because who knows how many lands to play and how low can they go? Here's a guide based on experience:

For decks that have a very high concentration of cards that cost 1-2 in one color, you should play a minimum of 30 lands.
For decks that play spells that cost 1-3 mana in two to three colors, you should play a minimum of 35 lands.
For decks that play spells that cost 1-4 mana in three to four colors, you should play a minimum of 37 lands.
For decks that want to consistently cast spells that cost 1-6 mana, you should play approximately 40 lands.
For control decks that really want to win the control mirror, slightly more than 40 lands is good because mana advantage is very important there.

 Of course, these numbers are not absolute but numbers like 30 are really stretched. Following the extended Boros deck wins, it is comfortable to fill a third of your deck with lands which would get you 33 but because you can stabilize at 2 mana, you can actually lower the number to 30 so that chances of drawing excessive lands are lower. Most of the time, going under 30 is very dangerous because of the variance present in the format which can be a real pain especially with the "more random than real life" shuffler. Factors that can alter these numbers include mana fixers and cantrips (cheap cards that can be exchanged for another card). You may cut lands at a ratio of 3 [cheap mana fixers or cantrips] to 1 land but I usually prefer not to cut on lands.

Depending on how the curve of your deck looks like, you can consider using mana creatures or mana artifacts which again has to go through some consideration again. However, this these cases, you tend not to cut lands because of the fact that your deck is mana hungry (which led you to put them in in the first place) or that the mana creatures are there to serve as a small boost only and cannot be relied on as a permanent mana solution.

Different decks favor different mana sources.
Birds of Paradise for example, is stronger in a mid-range deck that plays about 3-4 colors but is considerable weaker when played in a control deck that would want to cast 4-6 casting cost spells. In such decks mana artifacts like signets or Coalition Relic are favored because of their immunity to creature kill that can potentially make them lose a crucial turn and also not lose a mana source when they themselves want to cast mass removals.

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Tech of the Week:

In this section, I'll be introducing a card that I believe is underrated by the Singleton 100 community at large. Hopefully, I wouldn't run out of cards to talk about as time passes. Without further ado, here is today's card:

Ancient Grudge

Ancient Grudge is particularly strong in this format where every aggressive deck packs with it a "Skullclamp + Umezawa's Jitte + At least one sword (Sword of Fire and Ice or Sword of Light and Shadow)" package and control decks are hardly missing artifact targets that range from the lowly mana producing signet to the island specific Vedalken Shackles and even an activated Mishra's Factory. Many control decks come with the equipment package simply because of its raw power as well.

Assuming your deck has access to red and green mana, why then would you choose Ancient Grudge over cards like Tin Street Hooligan or Viridian Shaman? I wouldn't go to the extent to say that Ancient Grudge replaces those but rather complements them in an aggressive deck or in a control deck, one may choose this over those because of its instant speed. The closest direct competitor is Krosan Grip but the strength of Ancient Grudge comes from being able to snag 2 artifacts instead of just 1.

With everyone fixated on playing artifacts today, this is definitely a card worth playing (I can't say maindeck can I?) in today's context.

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Deck of the Week:

Every week, a full decklist will be in this column which may or may not be made by yours truly. I will try asking for decklists that I find interesting so I hope those of you approached by me would not mind it.

Today, I have my own Reanimator deck which I feel is a possible contender in the format today where graveyard hate is not rampant:

100 - Reanimator
by Tarmotog

Creatures
1 Hapless Researcher
1 Putrid Imp
1 Magus of the Bazaar
1 Squee, Goblin Nabob
1 Filth
1 Body Double
1 Caldera Hellion
1 Oona, Queen of the Fae
1 Twisted Abomination
1 Sedris, the Traitor King
1 Sharuum the Hegemon
1 Bladewing the Risen
1 Phantom Nishoba
1 Nicol Bolas
1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
1 Sundering Titan
1 Scion of Darkness
1 Kederekt Leviathan
1 Hellkite Overlord
1 Akroma, Angel of Fury
1 Woodfall Primus
1 Avatar of Woe
1 Godsire
23 cards

 Sorceries
1 Ponder
1 Personal Tutor
1 Thoughtseize
1 Imperial Seal
1 Careful Study
1 Duress
1 Smallpox
1 Life/Death
1 Recoup
1 Ideas Unbound
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Hymn to Tourach
1 Stitch Together
1 Sickening Dreams
1 Compulsive Research
1 Buried Alive
1 Zombify
1 Dread Return
1 Torrent of Souls
1 Twilight's Call
1 Breakthrough
11 cards

Enchantments
1 Zombie Infestation
1 Dragon Breath
1 Dance of the Dead
1 Animate Dead
1 Compulsion
1 Necromancy 
6 cards

Instants
1 Brainstorm
1 Entomb
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Goryo's Vengeance
1 Shallow Grave
1 Catalog
1 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Makeshift Mannequin
1 Careful Consideration
1 Gifts Ungiven
1 Force of Will
1 Read the Runes
14 cards

Lands
1 Badlands
1 Bad River
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Cephalid Coliseum
1 City of Brass
1 Crumbling Necropolis
1 Flooded Strand
1 Frost Marsh
1 Graven Cairns
1 Island
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Polluted Delta
1 Reflecting Pool
1 River of Tears
1 Salt Marsh
1 Secluded Glen
1 Shivan Reef
1 Shizo, Death's Storehouse
1 Snow-Covered Island
2 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Steam Vents
1 Sulfurous Springs
1 Sunken Ruins
1 Swamp
1 Tundra
1 Underground River
1 Underground Sea
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Vivid Crag
1 Vivid Creek
1 Vivid Grove
1 Vivid Marsh
1 Vivid Meadow
1 Watery Grave
36 cards
 
 

Stitch Together

 

 Looking into the Deck:

First off, here are each of the reanimation targets:

First of, the first card that came to mind when thinking of what to reanimate was Akroma, Angel of Wrath. At the same time, Akroma, Angel of Fury popped into my mind. Although her alternate version was not as impressive, her protection from white and blue were her merits.

Akroma, having a large number of abilities tied with a 6/6 evasive body, means that unaided, she will put your opponent on a 4 turn clock.

Even though 4 turns can be considered very long, "being hard to answer to" is the real reason why they are so loved by players around the world.

Akroma, Angel of Fury has an auto "put into graveyard" function through morphing and can actually be morphed up if unmolested over the course of a few turns.

Next, the creature type dragons come to mind.  Of the many dragons available, I have chosen to use 3, all of which can be found in the From the Vaults: Dragons box set.

Unfortunately, I managed to lose my box set online in a terrible situation but that is not my story to tell today.

Nicol Bolas is the best creature you want to connect with your opponent as early as possible to make him drop his hand. Most decks cannot react immediately to it. Its upkeep cost is payable and a conscious effort should be made to notice it.

Hellkite Overlord, on the other hand, is the best dragon to race someone with, with its abilities and its 8/8 body which is probably the biggest in the deck.

 

So then what was next? Other than efficient fat beaters, the next cards that came to mind were fat efficient disruptive beaters.

The most prominent one capable of turning the game upside down is Sundering Titan. With many people playing dual lands nowadays, getting a Sundering Titan into play is as close as a one-sided Armageddon one can get.

Woodfall Primus on the other hand, may not sweep the board but can knock away lands, especially non-basic ones, while detering opponents from killing it because doing so would only make it slightly smaller and another land would be lost in the process. It is a very good card to reanimate when expecting removals.

As a combo to two of the previously mentioned cards, Sharuum the Hegemon and Bladewing the Risen were both chosen to reanimate Hellkite Overlord/Nicol Bolas and Sundering Titan respectively.

Being able to present 2 threats with one reanimation spell is a way of avoiding cheap removal like Chainer's Edict from spoiling the plan.

Other than that, they have special reasons why they are included which would be shared later on so try not to miss it.

What other creatures are there to reanimate?

The rest of the creatures had to somehow be useful enough to be in the deck. Sedris, the Traitor King is there to go for the "overkill" mode whenever possible. Even if I say "overkill", I do not mean win more. In many situations, because of the fact that you don't win immediately but over a few turns, it becomes very important to find a way to get to a strong position whenever possible. Sedris, the Traitor King can be easily hard cast because he costs a mere 6 mana and requires colored mana that isn't difficult to obtain. Spamming Shallow Grave is a nice way to win.

Phantom Nishoba sits in the deck because I found that Empyrial Archangel was too fragile and it usually shined as a card with shroud rather than its protective ability. I had to find a card that could improve aggro matchups and so in came the classic reanimation target.

Avatar of Woe is one of the more 'classic' cards of the reanimator deck. Its strength comes from the fact that it can be cast at BB in the mid-late game. It has fear which is almost like unblockable and has the ability of Visara the Dreadful. A very strong card to fight big creatures with.

Kederekt Leviathan, as mentioned previously, appeared in my quest to make my deck better. It is a very strong anti-control card that can mess up 1 turn when it unearths into play and bounces everything. It also works with the reanimation enchantments to bounce non-lands every turn if need be. Its effect is so unusual and can be easily played from the graveyard if the game drags. When you see the board chock-full with non-land permanents, this is a card that should come into mind.

I had quite a debate with myself about whether to use Scion of Darkness or Teneb, the Harvester. On one hand, Scion of Darkness is a mere 6/6 body with trample but could be easily engaged in combat while on the other hand, Teneb, the Harvester is a dragon and a legend that flies but requires mana to steal a creature. Because it is 6 mana, there is a chance that Teneb, the Harvester can be hard cast but in the end, Scion of Darkness won because it could cycle to put itself into the graveyard. I may consider switching back if I find that the creatures people play become too big.

Godsire was what I came up with to replace Verdant Force. Verdant Force was a good 7/7 which made tons of 1/1s. The problem was that the 1/1s never made a difference in the games they popped out in. I use Shallow Grave and Sedris, the Traitor King in the deck so having a one shot ability to make a permanent 8/8 can be quite useful or the more correct term is synergistic.

Finally, the last 2 slots are given to 2 cards that just make good reanimation targets when the time comes.

Oona, Queen of the Fae can be easily cast at 6 mana especially with black and blue mana in the deck. Reanimating Oona, Queen of the Fae early spells the doom for many decks but most of the time, if possible, I would save her to hardcast since I would normally be able to do so.

Twisted Abomination finds a land and can reanimated very early in the game even though it isn't as impressive as the other reanimation targets. Sometimes, a 5/3 body can simply take the game. Its real power comes from being able to search out dual lands so smooth out the casting of spells. The body in the yard is just to make it better.

 

While the reanimation spells are the mostly the standard ones, here are 2 special reanimation spells used in the deck:

Shallow Grave
Goryo's Vengeance

Of the two, Shallow Grave needs to be planned properly in order to maximize its use because you have to take into account the way your graveyard is stacked.

For example: you would need to put Bladewing the Risen over Hellkite Overlord and X if you intend to go the beatdown route when you cast Buried Alive. Natural discards would also need to be planned properly so that you do not sabotage the Shallow Grave when you cast it.

Goryo's Vengeance is much simpler to use but it only lets you reanimate legends. If you have Entomb and this in hand, you can go for a turn 2 Nicol Bolas drop hand play which is one of the most devastating plays in the format which is only possible with either Shallow Grave or Goryo's Vengeance.

Shallow Grave

Other useful cards include:

Caldera Hellion - can be reanimated for a Firespout effect or easily hardcast.
Zombie Infestation - can be a win condition on its own vs counter heavy decks.
Compulsion in the same way, is used to gain card advantage against counter heavy decks.
Dragon Breath over Anger because it is not easy to have a Mountain out in play and Dragon Breath sticks on most of the targets.

The rest of the deck is basically draw or discard and some cards to make life difficult for control decks so that it becomes easier to resolve a reanimation spell.

Tips on playing the deck:

-The main plan is usually to put a creature into the graveyard and reanimate it into play.

Despite looking like a very straight forward deck, it is in fact not very much so. There are many difficult plays that hide in the deck that require very fine risk analysis. I tried playing the deck once in a 4 man but lost because I wasn't in touch with the deck and couldn't pull off the best line of play which I deduced out later on.

Against different decks, you want to dump in different cards into the graveyard. Let's look at Buried Alive piles:

-Against aggro, you could dump in Caldera Hellion and maybe Bladewing the Risen and Hellkite Overlord if you think you can race of you could try Phantom Nishoba or Godsire.
-When you see a deck with many dual lands, you could find Sundering Titan and Sharuum the Hegemon.
-When facing a UB deck, you should try to get Woodfall Primus and Kederekt Leviathan which can be unearthed (which cannot be countered).
-When facing a UW deck, you probably want Akroma, Angel of Fury instead.

-The deck runs vivid lands to allow the deck to hardcast some of the big creatures when the games drag long so it's ok to play into the late game.

-36 lands are ok because there are quite a number of card draws which can draw into the hiding lands but the land choices may slow the game down a bit (especially if they come into play tapped).

-Always make sure to stack cards that are going into the graveyard properly for Shallow Grave.

-When able to choose what cards to put into the graveyard, always consider the situation properly because there is no fixed reanimation target.

-The deck is strongest against mid-ranged decks but suffers slightly against very aggressive decks and counter heavy decks so be cautious against them.

Tempest Upgrades:

I'm waiting for Tempest to come online to improve the deck.
Reanimate will be a very strong reanimation spell to add, Intuition will replace Catalog and Living Death will replace Twilight's Call.

Deck Evaluation:

This deck is not one that can be considered easy to play with because there is quite a large decision tree when it comes down to what to tutor for or what to throw into the graveyard. It is a deck that can be classified as a "high risks high returns" deck. Games can end really quickly if unhindered but it can get quite tiring to force your way through counter magic. I would recommend playing it in the constructed queues only after some amount of practice with the deck.

It's good in a metagame without much graveyard hate as well so when you find that more and more people are packing graveyard hate, you should keep it until the situation changes or you think it is possible to fight through the hate.

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Additional Resources to Level Up:

At modosharks.com, you can find Singleton100 video by Sensei and others. They are interesting to look at if you're interested in playing at a higher level (competitively) to see what decks people play and study them.

And here is the top 8 for the Singleton 100 Weekend Event: http://www.wizards.com/Magic/Magazine/Events.aspx?x=mtg/daily/decks/mol82862 (Sorry for the delay. I had no idea where to find it)

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Last Words

This concludes the first instalment of One Double O. Anything you want to know about regarding to format, I'll try to answer slowly in subsequent articles so do voice your enquiries out.

Until next time, this is Tarmotog making 100 card decklists.

Any personal questions can go to tarmotog@hotmail.com.

 

5 Comments

by Tarmotog at Tue, 11/18/2008 - 10:25
Tarmotog's picture

wow.. thanks for the support.. =)

I'll be covering singleton 100 from now cos it doesn't look like wotc wants to revive 60 card singleton anymore. It's much easier to test and write for a single format I guess.. I'll definitely want to rake in some wins in the 4 man queues in the near future so I'll be testing singleton 100 ideas instead ;p

by paul7926 at Tue, 11/18/2008 - 08:11
paul7926's picture

I signed up just so I could give non anonymous feedback!   lol

Thanks for starting to cover S100 specifically and I look forward to more articles.  As I've said before I personally think that S60+75 is better but I like to play in the 4-man queues so it's S100 or nothing.  You get bonus points for listening and responding to previous feedback.  Don't give up on the normal Singleton articles completely though.

by spg at Mon, 11/17/2008 - 11:33
spg's picture

How much do you think the unbanning of Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant and Test of Endurance will impact the format?

by iceage4life at Mon, 11/17/2008 - 12:49
iceage4life's picture

Not at all?

Those are unbanned for EDH and may have an impact due to higher life total.  At twenty life in 100cs games they are unplayable.

by spg at Mon, 11/17/2008 - 13:02
spg's picture

Oh man, that's my bad - I've only actually played EDH, and for some reason I thought the 40 life carried over..