Tarmotog's picture
By: Tarmotog, Naoto Watabe
Jan 05 2009 7:33am
3.88889
Login or register to post comments
3767 views


Welcome to the 4th installment of One Double O!
This week, we have the Weekend Premier Event Survival Guide to prepare anyone who is interested in playing in the January 10 event. It is a general guide to what you can expect, how the deck plays and how to beat them. Instead of the usual deckbuilding columns, random tech will be scattered across the article in relevant decks which can be used in many other areas as well.

(Sorry about the delay, I was away for about effectively 3 weeks and I could not work on this until now.)

In part A, we will be looking at the characteristics of the Singleton 100 format and various deck archetypes from the aggro and aggro-control school.

The Characteristics of the Format

Today, Singleton 100 is a very young format, which means it is not at the level where decks are not yet completely refined, and I believe that play skill plays a more significant role than having a "perfect 100 card deck". I was once told by a legacy player that deck choice was not that important but legacy was more about having the playskill and some technology. I believe that that is how Singleton 100 is today. As long as a deck is decent and refined to a certain degree, it does not really matter what deck you are playing. It will be able to get you the wins you want.

For this reason, the guide today will give you the strategic highlights of a number of more common decks so that it becomes clearer what actions to take in order to better win with your deck or how you can tweak your deck for an effect to win a particular matchup. The decks themselves will vary from what you see but the main ideas should not vary too much.

The format itself can be considered underpowered when compared to classic and is inconsistent by its nature and so, decks should try to generate some synergy within the deck (to curb its lack of power) or more importantly, strive to improve consistency. People are slowly building more daring decks and I personally like that. I hope that the format will evolve past what Wotc expects of the format because I don't like their image of how Singleton 100 should be like (which is something along the line of a format that plays with the speed of standard).

Singleton 100 is a format that values all-roundedness because of its lack of a sideboard. This is not very easy to do because the more diverse your cards are, the less focus you will have. If people play more and more decks of less main stream strategies, it will become more important that a deck is all-rounded.

Playing Singleton 100

While it is much harder to topdeck a specific card in Singleton 100, I still believe that you should still play as though you could topdeck the card you need to win the game. I can't explain this because this concept is very difficult to visualize but doing so (playing like a topdeck king) really lets you win more games because there is a chance that you can draw into the card you need.

Deck Archetypes

Basically, there are the 4 main categories of decks:

-Aggro
Aggressive decks in general are called so because they want to knock your life total to 0. They put pressure on the receiving end that must either win first or survive this pressure. These decks are relatively more straightforward to play as long as one has a good sense of what is more important at each time interval. Aggro decks tend to make use of their consistency and speed to take down decks that can stumble to the inconsistency of the format which can delay their development.

-Aggro-control
These decks are not as fast as the aggressive decks but play more towards the middle game. They are better against control decks because they have disruptive elements and can be built to be good against aggressive decks. Most of the time, such decks rely on a powerful mana base to support their ambitious goals but that also brings about inconsistency which can turn around and hurt them. These decks do not have very powerful early or late game strategies so they need to be able to bring fast games into the middle game and prevent themselves from going into the late game where attrition starts to bite.

-Control
Control decks are generally slow decks that do not want to finish you in the first 6 turns. Instead, they maintain their position and slowly wear their opponents out or start to push when the pressure on them is gone. The key to making control decks is to be able to plan how to drag people into the late game. Attrition begins in the late game and control decks tend to have more powerful cards which will secure the game for them.

-Combo
Combo decks rely on a combination of cards, be it 2 cards or even the whole deck, to win the game. The more cards it relies on, the harder it is to disrupt but 2 card combos are the scariest because they threaten to win the game in a very short time frame. Usually, because of the inconsistency of the format, combo decks generally do not win very fast. It is therefore important to go all in and force them to make suboptimal plays to further slow them down and bring them out of their winning zone.

Overall, for any deck, I generally try to make sure that they can withstand the following

1) fast beats + burn (if playing a mid-game to late game deck)
2) a full suite of counter magic

which I consider the 2 kind of decks I do not want to lose to and this can be done by artificially (as they might not actually fit) putting cards that block well or trade well and removing some clunky cards in favor of more cost efficient ones.


Aggro Decks

Amongst the various deck types, the aggressive deck is one that does not need to worry about having answers to various questions. They can, therefore, be more narrow (not being able to deal with different problems) but more focused in what they want to achieve (to win). Aggro decks tend to end the game really quickly so you can roughly guess what a person is playing by looking at how long that person takes to finish a game.

RDW (Red Deck Wins)

RDW uses the ancient "sligh" technology of cheap creatures (that do not have to be spectacular) put together with mana efficient burn to maximize mana usage. The deck is capable of using every resource it has to bring the opponent down to zero life and would often do so if played out well.

RDW has an advantage over a large number of decks because many decks take damage from mana sources, making it easier for RDW to accomplish its goal. Also its reliance on only 1 color of mana makes it very consistent unlike many decks.

Builds vary depending on what kind of decks they want to beat. RDW is not strong against dedicated beatdown because they can be forced to deal with quality threats by trading spells very actively which will disrupt their ability to win.

Sample Decklist by Tarmotog: (or the build I've been running lately)

Creatures:

1 Tattermunge Maniac
1 Magus of the Scroll
1 Arc-Slogger
1 Tarox Bladewing
1 Blood Knight
1 Blistering Firecat
1 Jackal Pup
1 Ashenmoor Gouger
1 Fulminator Mage
1 Thunderblust
1 Mogg Fanatic
1 Slith Firewalker
1 Countryside Crusher
1 Inner-Flame Acolyte
1 Keldon Marauders
1 Scorched Rusalka
1 Skirk Marauder
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Emberwilde Augur
1 Hell's Thunder
1 Boggart Ram-Gang
1 Greater Gargadon
1 Giant Solifuge
1 Frenzied Goblin
1 Intimidator Initiate
1 Grim Lavamancer
1 Ball Lightning
1 Figure of Destiny
1 Stigma Lasher
1 Zombie Cutthroat
1 Magus of the Moon
1 Rorix Bladewing
1 Duergar Hedge-Mage


Instants:

1 Shock
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Flames of the Blood Hand
1 Lash Out
1 Tarfire
1 Magma Jet
1 Needle Drop
1 Lava Dart
1 Smash to Smithereens
1 Pulse of the Forge
1 Glacial Ray
1 Urza's Rage
1 Incinerate
1 Fireblast
1 Flame Javelin
1 Char
1 Sudden Shock
1 Shard Volley

Sorceries:

1 Volcanic Hammer
1 Demonfire
1 Lava Spike
1 Browbeat
1 Molten Rain
1 Firebolt
1 Disintegrate
1 Molten Disaster


Enchantments:

1 Seal of Fire

Artifacts:

1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Shuko
1 Cursed Scroll

Lands

1 Mutavault
13 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Wasteland
1 Dwarven Ruins
1 Zoetic Cavern
1 Forgotten Cave
10 Mountain
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Stalking Stones
1 Spinerock Knoll
1 Ghitu Encampment
1 Keldon Megaliths
1 Barbarian Ring
1 Blinkmoth Nexus

How to Play:

To play RDW properly, one must understand a few concepts:

1) How to maximize damage the opponent takes
2) What to point your burn spells at
3) Which lands to lay
4) Which cards should be played first
5) Which threats are really threatening to the point where they must be answered to

The main goal is to deal damage until your opponent is at 0 life. As long as you remember this and play accordingly, winning is not very difficult for this deck and hence its name.

How to Fight:

On the flip side, fighting RDW means knowing where and when to exhaust your cards and how to force the RDW players out of being able to deal the last points they need.
Deckbuilding helps greatly here as the simplest way is to deny their hits from the small creatures by playing bodies to stem the damage. Wood Elves is a simple example whose main purpose in a deck is to accelerate rather to have a body but the body puts RDW in a very tough situation when trying to beat with x/1s. Of course, life gain helps greatly in this matchup. Toughness 3 is very solid (like Shadowmage Infiltrator) as it can stop all the 2/x beaters and toughness 4 almost always warrants 2 cards.
Being the beatdown is also a very strong plan because it forces RDW to start paying attention to your cards rather than your life total and that can easily deny the last points of damage via miscalculation or the need to stay alive.
Of course, lifegain is good against the deck but relying heavily on it can backfire with cards like Flames of the Blood Hand, Stigma Lasher or even Sulfuric Vortex in the format.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

WW (White Weenie)

White Weenie is a very old concept that was very new when it first appeared because people were playing their gigantic cards while WW on the other hand did not. Ever since the beginning till today, for very new block, WW will always get some considerable upgrades even if the creatures do not usually break out of the 2 mana 2/2 frame. With efficient 2 drops from throughout the history of magic, WW attacks with its hordes of multiskilled bears to victory just like how it used to in the old days.

Sample Decklist by Tarmotog:

Artifacts:

1 Mask of Memory
1 Æther Vial
1 Chrome Mox
1 Bonesplitter
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Cursed Scroll
1 Shuko
1 Winter Orb

Enchantments:

1 Promise of Bunrei
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Griffin Guide
1 Gelid Shackles

Instants:

1 Mana Tithe
1 Tithe
1 Unmake
1 Niveous Wisps
1 Swords to Plowshares

Sorceries:

1 Sunlance
1 Safewright Quest
1 Ravages of War
1 Armageddon
1 Gift of Estates
1 Spectral Procession


Creatures:

1 Reveillark
1 Samurai of the Pale Curtain
1 Calciderm
1 Exalted Angel
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Mistral Charger
1 Whitemane Lion
1 White Knight
1 Stonecloaker
1 Suntail Hawk
1 Icatian Javelineers
1 Kami of Ancient Law
1 Mirror Entity
1 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
1 Knight of the Holy Nimbus
1 Cloudgoat Ranger
1 Soltari Priest
1 Serra Avenger
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Figure of Destiny
1 Knight of Meadowgrain
1 Weathered Wayfarer
1 Leonin Skyhunter
1 Soltari Trooper
1 Soltari Monk
1 Mosquito Guard
1 Ranger of Eos
1 Amrou Scout
1 Savannah Lions
1 White Shield Crusader
1 Jötun Grunt
1 Sigiled Paladin
1 Goldmeadow Harrier
1 Silver Knight
1 Whipcorder
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Gwyllion Hedge-Mage
1 Blade of the Sixth Pride
1 Azorius Guildmage
1 Hand of Honor
1 Aven Riftwatcher
1 Order of the Golden Cricket
1 Lantern Kami


Planeswalkers:

1 Ajani Goldmane
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

Lands:

1 Windswept Heath
1 Mutavault
1 Kjeldoran Outpost
1 New Benalia
1 Flagstones of Trokair
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Windbrisk Heights
7 Plains
16 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Rustic Clachan
1 Flooded Strand
1 Secluded Steppe



How to Play:

The deck is easy to play. Just cast creatures and turn them sideways. It is more straightforward than RDW because of the lack of options it has but it is very important to be able to gauge when to make poor attacks to push for the critical damage needed later on.
The key to winning in the new age with WW is having unblockable creatures like the shadow creatures from Tempest. In the new age, cards have become more and more efficient, creatures especially, and that has led to increased difficulty in trying to beatdown with bears since they can easily be blocked by the better creatures.

How to Fight:

The key to fighting white weenie is to wear them out as much as possible. If you manage to hold the front, WW barring unblockable creatures , will have no way of dealing you the final damages it requires to end the game with (which is why I advocate maxing the count of potentially unblockable creatures if you want to play the deck). Mass removal works very well against them (which they can't really stop) and do be careful of Armageddon which can potentially wreck your game. Playing defensive is the most effective method of winning the WW matchup and dragging the game to an attrition war should almost always be in your favor.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Boros Hybrid

More commonly known as Boros Deck Wins, this color combination plays more like an extension of RDW rather than WW. Opening up to white trades the natural stability for an upgrade in raw power with the access to cards like Lightning Helix and Ajani Vengeant and upgrades Duergar Hedge-Mage to its dual function. Unlike WW, Boros can actually head straight into creature combat with the combination of first strike and burn spells to take down large creatures so it is generally more powerful but it suffers at the mana base level which does not favor double white mana or double red mana spells. Boros Deck Wins uses better creatures than RDW and has less creatures than WW. Also, it is capable of getting rid of cards which RDW can't (like Solitary Confinement).

How to Play:

This deck is slightly more mana consuming and more particular about mana than both RDW and WW which are relatively easier to support so it is important to be able to design a stable mana base to support the correct color of mana to be churned out early.
Playing the deck is rather straightforward but understanding what to point your damage at is again an important skill which will hlep you win more games.

How to Fight:

It is important to stay in a healthy life total against this deck. Attacking the creatures as early as possible will ensure that you do not lose precious points of damage. Once you stabilize, immediately go for the win and force them to point their damage at your threats to stay alive longer.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

RG Beatdown

This deck throws powerful creatures down and has burn to clear the way or deal the final points to the head. RG beatdown's trait is that it is heavily dependent on creature combat. It plays many quality cards and can therefore make strong topdecks. It does have trouble against big creatures or life management cards coupled with card advantage.

RG Beatdown is one of the oldest most stable Singleton decks around. Its good game against a variety of decks makes it a strong choice to play.

Sample Deck by Flughund (from the 1st Singleton 100 PE):

Creatures:

Grim Lavamancer
Kird Ape
Mogg Fanatic
Fyndhorn Elves
Llanowar Elves
Mire Boa
Wild Mongrel
River Boa
Werebear
Dryad Sophisticate
Vexing Shusher
Gruul Guildmage
Dwarven Miner
Dwarven Blastminer
Tin Street Hooligan
Tarmogoyf
Taurean Mauler
Goblin Matron
Burning-Tree Shaman
Kitchen Finks
Ohran Viper
Eternal Witness
Boggart Ram-Gang
Countryside Crusher
Troll Ascetic
Magus of the Moon
Chameleon Colossus
Flametongue Kavu
Wickerbough Elder
Murderous Redcap
Phantom Centaur
Boartusk Liege
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Ravenous Baloth
Arc-Slogger
Siege-Gang Commander


Instants:

Summoner's Pact
Lightning Bolt
Firestorm
Manamorphose
Magma Jet
Incinerate
Sudden Shock
Char
Krosan Grip
Fireblast
Flame Javelin
Pyrokinesis

Sorceries:

Firebolt
Volcanic Hammer
Rift Bolt
Pillage
Call of the Herd
Primal Command

Planeswalkers:

Garruk Wildspeaker

Artifacts:

Skullclamp
Umezawa's Jitte
Loxodon Warhammer
Sword of Light and Shadow
Sword of Fire and Ice


Lands (40):

7 Forest
8 Mountain
Stomping Ground
Treetop Village
Mishra's Factory
Mutavault
Shivan Oasis
Highland Weald
Grove of the Burnwillows
Windswept Heath
Taiga
Wooded Foothills
Blinkmoth Nexus
Bloodstained Mire
Fire-Lit Thicket
Karplusan Forest
Forgotten Cave
Rocky Tar Pit
Mountain Valley
Grasslands
Centaur Garden
Mossfire Valley
Barbarian Ring
Tranquil Thicket
Gruul Turf
Ghitu Encampment
Pendelhaven

How to Play:

Cast creatures, clear blockers and beat.

How to Fight:

Attacking creatures is a fine plan as they consist of the bulk of damage that will be dealt to you.
Unless the board is very stable, it is wise to end the game as quickly as possible. As mentioned, RG can have strong topdecks. Ending the game early reduces the chances of dying to a topdeck.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

GW Stompy

GW stompy is the extreme end of the aggro archetype, playing large creatures with some lifegain and minimal removals. It heavily preys on aggressive decks because they cannot match the GW creatures nor the lifegain but GW falls prey to the control decks that trade minimal mana for GW's threats, capable of developing far ahead than GW can. However, GW has access to the most disruptive spells like Gaddock Teeg and Aven Mindcensor just to name a few. These troublesome cards paired with a stream of strong creatures can easily make the game rather lopsided.

How to Play:

The main problem with this deck is choosing which threats to put on the board first. This has to come with the proper evaluation of the board. The wrong threats can be costly. Be careful during the combat step as well as the biggest advantage this deck has is in the combat zone and messing up there will remove the advantage you have.

How to Fight:

GW is rather clunky and lacks removal so the main plan is to out-tempo them. This can be done by using hard/soft counterspells, bounce or removals. Control decks should be careful of Aven Mindcensor when facing this matchup.

For aggro decks, the key to winning this matchup is to manage your life total properly because they tend not to be able to deal damage past those you can see. It may be a difficult matchup but it is by no means unwinnable.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

RGW Hybrid

This deck plays like RG beatdown with a white touch for better creatures or spells like Swords to plowshares and Armadillo Cloak. It has the edge against red decks because of its beefier creatures and life gain but it lives on a more inconsistent mana base which makes it more vulnerable to mana problems.

I would say that this deck is stronger against aggressive decks but slightly (just a little) weaker against control decks as it is not blazing fast and tends to play bigger spells because of its reliance on 3 colors of mana.

This deck has slightly powered up by Shards of Alara (since we last saw it) with the Naya cards like Wild Nacatl, Woolly Thoctar, Naya Charm (Naya's own Cryptic Command), and also Ranger of Eos in the mix.

The color combination also allows both Garruk Wildspeaker and Ajani Vengeant to be played.

How to Play:

Because of the clunky nature of this deck (as it relies on 3 colors), it is important to make plays that reduce tempo loss as it cannot recover as fast as other aggressive decks. Playing it slowly is fine because it can be very strong once it stabilizes. Playing hastily with this deck can be costly because it is not able to recover very fast.

How to Fight:

With its natural mana problems, it is best to look at which areas they might seem to have problems with and attack them. If you see a Birds of Paradise and you figure that they might need it, getting rid of it will go the long way.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Satanic Sligh (RB aggro)

The deck I'm referring to is a RB aggressive deck that runs many 1-2 drops coupled with various forms of disruption. This deck is slightly weaker to aggressive decks but can be a beating against control decks.

The most powerful card in this deck is Dark Confidant which can potentially make games unwinnable for the slower control decks that cannot match its card drawing power.

Other than that, Satanic Sligh is a deck that is capable of attacking the opponent from a variety of angles such as hand disruption, land destruction and creature destruction. As such, it is a deck that is vulnerable to its own draws that can fail to provide the needed gas in the relevant areas but is able to capitalize fully on any situation where the opponent does not have a strong hand.

How to Play:

The key to playing this deck is understanding the shifting weights of various effects throughout a game. For example, turn 2 Hymn to Tourach plays very differently from a turn 6 Hymn to Tourach. As many spells contest to be casted, it is therefore important to know when to play which card. This mainly comes from experience because different situations have different weights of effects.

How to Fight:

On the flip side, the key to fighting this deck is to disrupt their timing by forcing them to cast spells to react to your cards and forgo the best timing for their various effects, lowering the damage (not the damage that is used to kill creatures) done by their spells.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

RB Goblins

Goblins is a different deck which plays like an aggro deck and partially a combo deck, capable of pulling off little combos to overpower non-reactive decks. The games are highly variable because the power of the goblins are concentrated within a few of them and those key cards have very little or poor substitutes so they can get low quality draws at times.

Some of the little combos in the deck include:
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Goblin Ringleader
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Siege-Gang Commander
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Goblin Matron
Goblin Recruiter into Goblin Ringleader and other goblins.

How to Play:

Playing this deck is not easy even though it seems straightforward at times because the key to winning is to plan a few turns ahead of time. As it can attack from multiple angles, it is crucial to know the possible plays to ensure your victory because wins can come out very unexpectedly.

How to Fight:

Reacting one card to one card means you will definitely lose to goblins because in the long run, Goblins can capitalize on Living Death and Patriarch's Bidding to turn the game in their favor. Therefore it is important to know which goblins to attack or which goblins to throw counter magic at.

Never let the tutors resolve because letting them get a card out of the library is very dangerous as going into the graveyard can present a potential threat as well.
Also be weary of the card advantage spells like the 2 big black spells or Goblin Ringleader/Siege-Gang Commander.

Try not to attack the lesser goblins with burn because you need them for the stronger few unless you think that your opponent does not have any strong ones in hand.

Watch your life total closely but do not go too far to maintain it because they do not play as much burn as a normal red deck but they might have hasted creatures instead so look out for those.

Play this matchup carefully because it is capable of extremely explosive plays.

Tech for the deck: Boggart Birth Rite
This is an underrated card in the goblin deck which can help reuse the powerful goblins and also help the deck to become more counter-resilient. I remember not seeing it in goblin decks in 60 card Singleton decks during its era but I strongly advocate playing this card especially in between Goblin Recruiter chains.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

4/5C Zoo

Of all the aggro decks, this deck enjoys the most number of size-cost efficient creatures when compared to others. 1 mana can produce a 3/3 while 3 mana can get it a 5/5 equivalent or a 5/4. Of course these are very specific examples but indeed, zoo, as the name suggests, has a myriad of top quality creatures put together with top quality spells. This is only possible if the mana base is a strong one.

Playing 4-5C has its advantages like being able to cast a wrecking (global ruins) which can be rather one sided in effect. It can also take the good technology from many decks and incorporate them easily because of its good mana base. I would expect 4-5C aggro decks to be popular because of their raw power which is very alluring unless people start to play very unfriendly decks (land destruction).

How to Play:

The biggest problem when playing Zoo is knowing which lands to play and which lands to find (with cards like fetchlands). It is best to design combinations of lands to search out the proper mana before entering a game so that you do not waste time thinking or make a bad move that can cost the game because the deck simply is too demanding on the mana base.

In the same line, always spend some time to tap the correct lands and leave the correct mana up. This may not be very easy when each of your lands give you different combinations of mana.

Otherwise, play the deck very fast against aggro decks and tactfully against control decks as there is no real need to over-commit with the high quality cards in the deck.

How to Fight:

The weakest link in the deck is at its mana base. Simple disruption can bring the deck to a halt but not many decks have such disruption.

The power level of the individual cards may be high but they usually cost 2-3 mana and this exposes it to tempo robbing plays. Bounce can be very effective against this matchup because it may not be able to recast the card even with available mana if lands are tapped carelessly.

Most of the cards in the deck boast versatility but they don't usually give the handler more than 1 for 1 value so trumping Zoo with card advantage is also a very strong line of attack. Zoo can be largely summarized as:

1) big creatures
2) versatile spells
3) clunky
4) M (from SM) or in other words, likes to inflict damage to self

Handling the big creatures can be enough because it does not run as much burn as some of the other aggressive decks. Control players should always take note that this deck has access to almost any spell so relying on a single card for defence is not a good idea unless the plan is to clear the board.

Aggressive decks should go all out against Zoo because it can be rather weak to pressure because it takes some time to get started and it takes quite a significant amount of damage from itself from the lands. However, this may be difficult when they play out their crazy creatures.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

General Summary of Tips to Fight Aggro:

Generally, fighting aggressive decks can take multiple approaches.

The best approach is to be aggressive against them once you manage to stabilize the board but it is definitely not easy to walk the talk since if you can be aggressive, why are they the aggressive deck? The main idea to bring home is that once you get the chance, you should try to end the game early so that the aggressive decks don't get time to pull the last few cards it needs to bring you to 0 life and you will also end up soaking up the points they need to win you in the process of doing so. Unless you can maintain a high life total, this is very important because most players think that it is safer to hold back their creatures when it actually isn't.

The next best approach is to have cards that can get rid of creatures because creatures are usually contribute to the main bulk of damage in a game and being able to handle multiple creatures is gold against aggressive decks because they can lose steam to mass removals.

Another approach is to have stoppers to buy you time early on. Walls (like Wall of Roots or utility cards with bodies (like Mulldrifter) are very good against them. Slowly having larger creatures to stop them from turning sideways is much more effective but you will need to get there first. Cards like Flametongue Kavu and Shriekmaw serve as both removals and good stoppers in their respective colors and they can be quite a beating against the aggro decks.

Of course, there are other methods of fighting aggressive decks like stealing their creatures or playing life gain spells which can be quite effective but they tend to be more narrow in purpose which other decks might prey on. Nevertheless, they can be very effective in the relevant matchup.

Aggressive decks demand attention and interaction. If you can successfully make them quiet, you should be in favor on winning the game.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Aggro Control

Aggro control decks take the balance between wanting to be able to handle everything while being able to end the game in the mid game. Their main aim is to be able to control the outcome of the board by being able to have a say in everything. This play style is for people who don't want to lose to random cards that just wreck games.

To illustrate:
"Worship + Troll Ascetic = I win" (Most aggro decks can't beat this by the way unless they have enchantment kill)
"Not today. Repeal, attack for the win."

They employ different elements to disrupt the natural flow of games.

Red has burn to clear creatures.
Green has large powerful creatures and answers to various threats.
Black has discard, creature kill.
White has lifegain and many answer cards.
Blue has bounce and counters.

Green is usually a mainstay in such decks because the big monsters can usually end the game quickly. Also, playing green opens up answers to a wide range of problems:
Indrik Stomphowler or Wickerbough Elder => artifact/enchantment
Loaming Shaman => graveyard

Red is a very strong control option because it has flexible cards that do not necessarily require creatures on the board but can also kill early threats like Dwarven Blastminer with minimal mana.

Black is a very strong color at attacking control decks because of Duress + Thoughtseize or troublesome cards like Dark Confidant while being able to handle troublesome creatures as well.

White is more sidelined but gives decks access to powerful cards.

Blue is easily splashed for its soft counters and powerful draw card spells like Fact or Fiction.

If I were to comment, aggro-control decks somewhat embody the true intention of the Singleton 100 format by being able to handle a wide range of decks with a single deck. Aggro-control is a safe strategy that has a small degree of protection against everything.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

UG Tempo

This deck plays many creatures coupled with soft counters and bounce spells to disrupt the opponent long enough to win by beating down. Blue gives access to draw spells to refuel the beats of the deck. Some versions focus on bears while others go up the mana curve a little. The lower the mana curve, the more aggressive the deck but the more fragile it becomes. It is best to maintain a balance for the deck so that there will be instances in time where you can have both cases working out for you.

Sample Deck by Chriskool which he put on the Wotc forums:

Creatures:
Birds of Paradise
Fyndhorn Elves
Llanowar Elves
Boreal Druid
Epochrasite
Elvish Visionary
Kavu Titan
Mire Boa
River Boa
Tarmogoyf
Looter il-Kor
Plaxmanta
Viridian Zealot
Gaea’s Skyfolk
Jhessian Infiltrator
Man-o’-War
Serendib Efreet
Trinket Mage
Wake Thrasher
Kitchen Finks
Eternal Witness
Trygon Predator
Kira, great Glass-Spinner
Vendilion Clique
Briarhorn
Nantuko Vigilante
Wickerbough Elder
Glen Elendra Archmage
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Chameleon Colossus
Sower of Temptation
Venser, Shaper Savant
Mystic Snake
Meloku the Clouded Mirror
Riftwing Cloudskate
Higure, the Still Wind

Non-creature spells:
Ancestral Vision
Pact of Negation
Cursed Scroll
Sensei’s Divining Top
Worldly Tutor
Brainstorm
Force Spike
Mystical Tutor
Ponder
Daze
Delay
Memory Lapse
Negate
Remand
Counterspell
Vedalken Shackles
Krosan Grip
Call of the Herd
Psionic Blast
Repulse
Temporal Spring
Fact or Fiction
Garruk Wildspeaker
Cryptic Command
Force of Will
Condescend

Lands:
Yavimaya Coast
Wooded Foothills
Windswept Heath
Polluted Delta
Miren, the Moaning Well
Flooded Strand
Flooded Grove
City of Brass
Breeding Pool
Blinkmoth Nexus
Academy Ruins
Wasteland
Treetop Village
Mishra’s Factory
Ghost Quarter
Faerie Conclave
Tree of Tales
Tranquil Thicket
Simic Growth Chamber
Seat of the Synod
Lonely Sandbar
9 Island
8 Forest

How to Play:

The key to playing this deck is knowing what to attack for the most tempo gain. For example, bouncing a land, especially a karoo land (like (Dimir aquaduct) for example), is a very strong line of play which can be equivalent to a Timewalk (or more) in some cases. Many plays from this deck do not have very good long run effects but have very strong short run implicaitons. Capitalizing the short run is what lets this deck win. Soft counters may not counter the spell but they can buy some time for the deck to beat for the win. If I were to say, Venser, Shaper Savant is the card that can represent the intention of the deck.

One must have a good grasp of the concept of time for this deck to shine properly because the good plays in this deck can turn out to be very bad plays in other decks. If you can put the lead the pace of the game, it should not be too difficult to win the game.

How to Fight:

Giving them constant pressure by not holding back is a strong line of play because they will be forced to play out their soft counters which will be able to disrupt you eventually if you try to stall. With a good hand, they can throw down creatures with counter magic to back them up.

For aggro decks, try to force down your powerful cards when they tap out or try to attack their threats when you have an open opportunity.

For control decks, try not to wait too long to cast a spell even if it may not seem entirely profitable to do so as their soft counters can wreck your plan.

If possible, try not to be too greedy like with cards like Shriekmaw. If you suspect counter backup, it might just be safer to evoke Shriekmaw than to hardcast it.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

GB Rock

One of the more traditional decks around, Rock plays creatures, discard, removal to keep other decks at bay. Its inherent card advantage mostly comes from its creatures and this deck is an all rounder which does not suffer much non-basic hate because of its reliance on only 2 colors of which one can fix mana easily.

How to Play:

The deck is a proactive deck that plays reactive elements and is capable of being able to switch styles to suit the situation. The strength of the deck comes from its persistence with cards to reuse the more relevant threats via cards like Eternal Witness or Profane Command.

The important point here is to know how to change the styles effectively, even when using the same cards. When fighting aggro decks, find the best way to keep alive and play the options to let you win. Overloading creatures and properly timing disruptive cards can put the game in your favor for a slight moment in time and capitalizing on this lead is very important.

On the other hand, fighting control decks means to be attack them from various angles to make them confused about what you want to do and use their uncertainty to win them because they will not know what your build looks like.

How to Fight:

This deck brings you to attrition mode very fast so therefore, the key to beating this deck is to have heavy card drawing to let you stay out of attrition mode and still have options to make. Attacking the graveyard is a good plan against such a deck because there are builds that try to maximise the use of a graveyard. Try to keep the 1 mana artifacts that disrupt the graveyard alive as long as possible until you have no other choice but to break them.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

UBG Hybrid

This particular deck plays many soft counters and aims to beat down with a Tarmogoyf or some other big creature (like Tombstalker). It is a early to mid-game deck that uses a variety of cheap cards to control the game. The deck tends to favor raw power of individual cards over more card advantage but of course, it does not lack card drawing. The power of the deck is concentrated in a few cards.

Builds can play from a legacy threshold deck to a more creature heavy concoction. Creature heavy builds tend to be more vulnerable to anti-creature strategies but such versions can be identified early by observing the creatures already in play (which tend to be less powerful).

How to Play:

Making the most efficient plays is very important in this deck because the deck tends to play safe and protect its threats carefully simply because that is the fastest way of winning. While it tends to be really strong within short periods of time, dragging the game too long can be a problem for this deck so try to engage. Try to bring the game to your pace naturally with the threats from the deck. The more they play into your pace, the more control over the game you will have.

How to Fight:

The key to fighting this deck is to handle it threats as soon as possible because they will not be able to pile up pressure without them. The deck needs to juggle between protecting and casting spells so casting spells aggressively is a good idea as it prevents them from using their mana efficiently.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Sea Stompy

This deck disrupts the permanents in play and also the spells being casted while maintaining some pressure on the board using creatures.
Tapping into the 3 different colors gives access to strong creatures like Trygon Predator and Flametongue Kavu. Ninja of the Deep Hours can easily fit into this archetype because of the good creature count. This color combination is open to the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Pestermite combo which fits with the overall concept so incorporating them is a good idea.

Aggressive cards like Kird Ape and Wild Nacatl push the frontline for this deck, as well as Tarmogoyf and even Quirion Dryad.

Sample Deck (for illustration purposes since it's not tuned):

Instants:

1 Fact or Fiction
1 Incinerate
1 Spell Snare
1 Remand
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Stifle
1 Worldly Tutor
1 Arcane Denial
1 Force of Will
1 Brainstorm
1 Pact of Negation
1 Cryptic Command
1 Sudden Shock
1 Interdict
1 Repulse
1 Repeal
1 Gush
1 Mana Leak
1 Daze
1 Condescend
1 Lava Dart
1 Flame Jab

Sorceries:

1 Ponder
1 Ancestral Vision

Artifacts:
1 (Æther Vial)
1 Chrome Mox
1 Cursed Scroll
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Sword of Fire and Ice



Creatures:

1 Kird Ape
1 Nimble Mongoose
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Mulldrifter
1 Serendib Efreet
1 Eternal Witness
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Wild Mongrel
1 Sea Drake
1 Sower of Temptation
1 Pestermite
1 Granger Guildmage
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Civic Wayfinder
1 Wild Nacatl
1 Viridian Shaman
1 Wickerbough Elder
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Grim Lavamancer
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Ravenous Baloth
1 Trinket Mage
1 Quirion Dryad
1 Ninja of the Deep Hours
1 Wormfang Drake
1 Plaxmanta
1 Vinelasher Kudzu
1 Venser, Shaper Savant
1 Mogg Fanatic
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Trygon Predator


Enchantments:
1 Standstill

Lands:

1 Mutavault
1 Stomping Ground
1 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Shivan Reef
1 Treetop Village
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Mishra's Factory
1 Yavimaya Coast
3 Snow-Covered Mountain
4 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Mountain Valley
1 Lonely Sandbar
1 Wasteland
1 Breeding Pool
1 Windswept Heath
1 City of Brass
1 Taiga
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Flood Plain
1 Flooded Grove
1 Polluted Delta
1 Flooded Strand
1 Cascade Bluffs
1 Steam Vents
1 Fire-Lit Thicket
1 Caldera Lake
1 Skyshroud Forest
1 Reflecting Pool
4 Snow-Covered Island
1 Karplusan Forest
1 Grand Coliseum



How to Play:

Sea stompy is a relatively easy deck to play but it is important not to lose creatures carelessly to high risk plays. Other than that, beating down like a RG aggro and stealing tempo like UG is a good way to play the deck.

How to Fight:

This deck can run out of gas so to attack it, one should try to get rid of its creatures as it is heavily reliant on them but try to save up some removals for troublesome creatures like unblockable ones. Sea stompy has a small number of burn cards but it should not be significant enough for you to make poor blocks trying to maintain a high life total so be more aggressive when handling your life total.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Doran Rock

Doran Rock is a small upgrade from GB Rock with access so a good number of strong spells that need white mana (like Vindicate). It lives on a heavier mana base which forces the deck to take more pain from the lands so lifegain from the deck may sometimes only be enough to negate its own damage. However, playing BGW gives the deck a good number of strong defensive options like the basic Loxodon Hierarch and also opens up to attacking tools like Gerrard's Verdict.

Sample Deck by Sabberlod (from the 1st Singleton Weekend PE):

Creatures:

Birds of Paradise
Darkheart Sliver
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Wall of Roots
Wood Elves
Yavimaya Dryad
Carven Caryatid
Eternal Witness
Kitchen Finks
Loxodon Hierarch
Ravenous Baloth
Solemn Simulacrum
Sapling of Colfenor
Shriekmaw
Deadwood Treefolk
Duplicant
Exalted Angel
Ancestor's Chosen
Angel of Despair
Krosan Tusker

Instants:

Swords to Plowshares
Vampiric Tutor
Dismantling Blow
Krosan Grip
Gifts Ungiven
Skeletal Scrying


Sorceries:

Duress
Thoughtseize
Gerrard's Verdict
Farseek
Castigate
Chainer's Edict
Hymn to Tourach
Nature's Lore
Night's Whisper
Life/Death
Vindicate
Mwonvuli Acid-Moss
Harmonize
Persecute
Wrath of God
Grizzly Fate
Plow Under
Crime/Punishment
Decree of Pain
Decree of Justice
Mind Shatter
Profane Command

Enchantments:

Animate Dead
Dance of the Dead
Necromancy
Necropotence
Faith's Fetters

Planeswalkers:

Garruk Wildspeaker
Liliana Vess




Artifacts:

Phyrexian Furnace
Scrabbling Claws
Skullclamp
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Light and Shadow
Umezawa's Jitte

Lands (39):

Bloodstained Mire
Diamond Valley
Flagstones of Trokair
Flooded Strand
Godless Shrine
Golgari Rot Farm
Grand Coliseum
Horizon Canopy
Krosan Verge
Murmuring Bosk
Mutavault
Nantuko Monastery
Orzhov Basilica
Overgrown Tomb
Polluted Delta
Savannah
5 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Snow-Covered Island
2 Snow-Covered Plains
3 Snow-Covered Swamp
Temple Garden
Temple of the False God
Treetop Village
Tundra
Underground Sea
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Urza's Factory
Vivid Grove
Vivid Marsh
Vivid Meadow
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills

How to Play:

Against different matchups, the approach is different.
You want to be very defensive against aggro decks and want to go moderately offensive against control decks.
Doran, the Siege Tower itself is strong against aggro decks because it messes up the combat step while 5 damage a turn is also quite threatening for control decks. You want to maximise every card to work with the intention of the relevant matchup so you may want to cast the same spells in different orders to let them work well. It is important to think about where you want to spend your cards on as the good cards don't have good replacements to be topdecked later on.

How to Fight:

Like other rock variants, you want card drawing spells to help you win.
Doran Rock is much more prone to mana problems than the simpler BG version so attacking the mana base is a good idea. Shutting out access to a color can be very brutal because Doran is not a deck that makes very powerful plays but strong plays over multiple turns.
Racing them could be a possible option because of some pain they will take along the way but it will definitely not be easy as rock builds are mostly created to be able to withstand aggro decks.
Control decks should slowly play out the game and stabilize as fast as they can. Doran rock tends to be less disruptive than the BG version for more power so playing around troublesome cards would be slightly easier. They also need some setup time so control decks can get a breather in the early game.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

UGW

This is one of the more popular aggro-control decks around as it enjoys the powerful Krosan Verge with strong creatures and versatile spells and not to forget access to card drawing. It has access to many life maintaining elements like the full set of Kitchen Finks + Ravenous Baloth + Loxodon Hierarch before looking at the more narrow options available and has access to good card draws and answers.

With Shards of Alara, this archetype gets Bant Charm and a few other options like Rhox War Monk or Stoic Angel which can be tough to beat for certain aggro decks.

Against control decks, this deck has the mana advantage and also have cards that control decks will find tough to beat so while it is not perfect, it has game against even counter heavy decks. Some builds have cards like Genesis to frustrate the counter mage while others use annoying creatures like (Troll asetic) to make life difficult for targetted removals.

How to Play:

Start by pulling ahead on mana and start cementing powerful creatures into play. The play style of the deck does not vary much against different decks because its main plan is a strong one: get mana => cast spells. The difference will probably come from the different order of cards that go into play. As not all cards are strong in particular matchups, they may end up sitting in the hand for some time until they have a good timing to appear.

Against aggro decks, going all out is a good plan as many of the creatures have very good stats to block and attack with. Backed up with anti-aggro cards, aggro will have a very bad time.

Against control decks, it would be wise to plan out which turns to cast spells and which turns to hold back as getting the relevant threats countered is not going to help greatly. The not-so-important spells can be rushed out to bait counter magic and the stronger spells should be protected.

The mirror matchup is something I think is horrible and will greatly hinge on who gets more card drawing spells because almost any threat can be answered 1 to 1.

How to Fight:

The main cards in this deck are relatively clunky, which is a very reasonable tradeoff for their power, and so, making tempo robbing plays can greatly hinder the deck. Try to prevent mana accelerators from staying on the board so that they do not get a jump start to start taking control of the game.

This deck suffers in the early game because of the lack of very cheap cards to play and its need to stabilize its mana. If you can attack the mana base, you can effectively shut down the deck because it is very reliant on its mana both in quantity and in specific colors.
For aggro decks, rushing them is a good idea as there isn't anything much you can do. Being able to clear blockers would be very strong in this matchup as UGW tends to have only a few creatures out in play.
For control decks, specifically attacking the important spells is the key to fighting this deck as they run many cards that can be considered "average" against your deck.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Jund Control

This aggro-control deck is very unique compared to the others. While it may look rather weak because of its lack of blue card drawing, it has some in the form of Phyrexian Arena and Dark Confidant which some control decks find very hard to deal with. The deck is capable of attacking heavily blue based control decks effectively while still being able to handle aggressive decks without struggling too much. Its strength comes from its versatile threats but the deck itself can be rather weak against specific strategies and may need to change certain card choices for a predicted metagame for its true power to be expanded on.

How to Play:

This color combination has access to cards that are difficult for both aggro decks and counter heavy decks to handle. Here are some of such cards:
Aggro Control (or tons of counterspell.dec rather)
Ravenous Baloth
Flametongue Kavu
Shriekmaw
Siege-Gang Commander Dark Confidant
Genesis
Urza's Rage (which can be kicked)
Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni

The build varies on what decks you expect to face. This color combination has strong creatures so cards like Grim Harvest or even Disturbed burial (if you expect little counter magic) can be very useful.

Force aggro decks to exhaust their gas and try to prevent letting the control decks react to your plays (this requires a build that can do so) so that they effectively lose turns if they play very reactively.

How to Fight:

This deck is very mana consuming so buying time against it is going to help in the long stretch. Relying on 3 colors makes this deck vulnerable to mana disruption so that is another possible line of attack.


Tech for the deck: Resounding Thunder

At 8 mana, one can cycle and deal 6 near-uncounterable damage to the opponent or a threatening creature. It is decent as a 3 mana 3 damage burn as well but its flexibility really shines in the deck.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Summary of Aggro-control:

Fighting aggro-control decks isn't easy because they can disrupt you and they can have answers to unusual threats. They are built to combat aggro decks and try to buy enough time to win against control decks. While their cards tend to have a wide net, they do not have cards to deal with specific threats all the time. As first priority, try to stabilize the board. When that is done, try to unload spells to force them to start reacting early so that you do not get caught in an important time later on.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

-To Be Continued in #4b-

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Last Words:

This marks the end of One Double O #4a.

I hope this helps. I've never done something like this so I have no idea about its effectiveness in being informative. I definitely would have wanted to post more lists but I do not have good ones at hand now so forgive me there. Before I go, this is Tarmotog wishing you a happy 2009!

Can be contacted at tarmotog@hotmail.com
or tarmotog on the PureMTGO forums and in MTGO.

9 Comments

by Lost but Seeking at Thu, 01/08/2009 - 15:20
Lost but Seeking's picture

Just what I was looking for to put me back in touch with the format. Thx a lot for the write-up, Tarmo.

by Tarmotog at Wed, 01/07/2009 - 02:13
Tarmotog's picture

I don't really know where to find lists online esp for Singleton 100. It's currently a format too "casual" for people to actively discuss it. Hopefully that changes soon.

Here are the "best alternatives" I could find:

http://www.magicplayer.org/phpbb/viewforum.php?f=2
http://www.magicplayer.org/forum/index.php?board=6.0

For satanic sligh, I recommend looking at the list from old standard, mesh it with the RB blightning deck from now and putting cards that fit with the main idea like efficient small cc creatures and burn. U can use cards like sarcomancy and jackal pup and maybe even a reanimate to get creatures knocked down by discard or to resupply ur troops.

Very Informative by Rerepete at Mon, 01/05/2009 - 13:14
Rerepete's picture

There sure is a lot of information in this block of text.

I have to agree with Blade in that perhaps it would read better if the deck lists were put into a supplementary article.  Or perhaps shorten it down by a third (I was starting to haze over around Sea Stompy - gonna have to re-read at a later time so I don't miss anything).

Comprehensive by Sensei at Mon, 01/05/2009 - 21:25
Sensei's picture

This Part A is longer than some writers' entire articles.  Thanks for all the time spent writing it.

by Anonymous(Unregistered) 24.65.181.254 (not verified) at Tue, 01/06/2009 - 00:05
Anonymous(Unregistered) 24.65.181.254's picture

lovelovelovelove

Decklists by spg at Mon, 01/05/2009 - 12:20
spg's picture

Is there a good place to look for decklists of some of the archetypes not included in the articles?  RB Santanic Sligh specifically?

by Tarmotog at Mon, 01/05/2009 - 11:43
Tarmotog's picture

I tried to edit it to make it cleaner using this stable looking base but I ended up having the same problem as I did before so I couldn't change it (even though I said I wouldn't yet).
To the readers: Sorry. =(

by Tarmotog at Mon, 01/05/2009 - 11:25
Tarmotog's picture

I'm quite suprised it came out like this (the original was a very very sad case). A very big thank you to the editor for putting it up. =)
I had some technical difficulties getting it up past the white weenie section even with the bare minimal text for some reason I could not figure out. My real post was a link to somewhere else where I put the article. My guess is that the editor went there to put the text from there up here and also because I made the article here, the tables and proper visual help did not translate properly over there (where it was a forum type of post) which brought back to over here would be as you see it now. I assure you that it looks like this but worse.
I apologise for the looks of it but there isn't much I can do at the moment especially when the timing of it is more crucial.

My priority now is to get up part b asap which I hope can turn up properly so I won't be fixing this until that is done.

Which list did I spoil? Other than my own lists, I took already publically available ones from the previous PE and the mtg.com forum shared by Chriskool.

Longcat is long by Blade at Mon, 01/05/2009 - 09:33
Blade's picture

Nice article at the right time! 

Maybe a bit more work with the deck lists (you know like more than one column) and some general formatting could have reduced this wall of text. Don't get me wrong, you are definitely full of knowledge and your writing is great but readability should not come last.

Oh yeah and thanks for spoiling my list. :(