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By: bburksgg, Brandon Burks
Sep 17 2007 11:04am
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Hello, my name is Brandon Burks. I doubt many of you have heard of me, I play mostly around the Kentucky/Indiana/Ohio area, but I'm a big fan of Magic Online and decided to write some articles about various things that come to mind when it comes to Magic Online. I plan to write mostly about fun, casual formats that are undiscovered or just not very popular, and a few constructed articles here and there.

I used to be a really competitive player, wanting to play on the Pro Tour, and be the best in the world like everyone else. After finally qualifying and playing on the Pro Tour in Yokohama, I decided it was not for me. It wasn't that I did bad, I started off 6-0 and spiked my constructed rating at 2133, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. The only thing that I really did enjoy about it was playing pro player after pro player, including such names as Mark Herberholz, Tsuyoshi & Osamu Fujita, Mike Hron, Pierre Canali, Antonino De Rosa, and current US national champion Luis D. Scott-Vargas. Most everyone I played was really nice and respectful, and I think a few pro players give everyone a bad name.

I digress though. The reason I stopped playing so competitively was that I realized casual Magic with a small twist of competitive here and there is so much more fun. You don't get burnt out on the game nearly as much, and as you all know, Magic Online is the perfect place for casual Magic. You can build decks in minutes without having to sleeve them, and you get to play with them instantly. There are so many different fun formats out there that are left untouched, there is always something new to try. Before I introduce a new format for you to build up and play, let me explain some of the terms that I use:

Singleton: You can only have one copy of any given card (with the exception of basic lands) in your deck.

Pauper: Commons only. No rares, uncommons, or promos allowed. If a card was a common in a different expansion on Magic Online, but is an uncommon in another, it is legal. If it's a common in the paper version, but not on Magic Online, then it is not legal. For example, Twisted Abomination is a Time Shifted card (Promo) and a common out of Scourge, so it would be legal on Magic Online. Cruel Edict, on the other hand, would not be legal.

(Editor's Note:  Actually Twisted Abomination is considered to be a Rare I believe out of the Time Spiral Bonus set.)

Prismatic: Your deck must be at least 250 cards.There also have to be at least twenty cards of each color. Multicolor and split cards count as one of their colors (Example: Hide//Seek can count towards White, Black, or Red, but not all three.)

Now the format I will be discussing in this article is a combination of all three of those. Yep, it's Singleton, Pauper and Prismatic combined. You must build a deck following the above rules.

There are lots of good things about this format. I think the two most important things are that it's cheap and fun. There are a lot of bots on Magic Online where you can buy 32 or more commons for only one ticket, meaning a deck would only cost you five or six tickets. Now that is something I can get behind.

I think the reason this format is so fun is because of the decks. You have 250 cards, you're five colors. You have so many different cards, and so does your opponent. Every single game you play will be different. No two games will really be alike. That is the beauty of combining Singleton and Prismatic.

Another bonus addition to playing this format is the experience. Believe it or not, this will make you a lot better at limited. You get to evaluate lots of different card options in building your deck, and then play them versus the same power level of cards as you would in limited. It's sort of play testing limited in a way, while having fun at the same time.

Not only do your deckbuilding skills improve, but also your play skill. This is a very creature intensive format, so there will often to be a lot of creatures out. You get a lot better at making correct attacks and blocks, and setting up your board and plays down the road. You learn whether to go ahead and use your removal now to not fall behind of tempo, instead of saving it for later. You learn when it's best to apply pressure, and when it's best to wait it out a bit and develop your team.

Below is just an example deck list of a deck of this format. I only have Standard cards at the moment on Magic Online, but I'm planning to add more cards from other sets soon. I wanted to play so many cards from Standard alone that it took me awhile to cut down cards to get it to 250. Of course, you can play more then 250 if you want.


1 Amrou Scout
1 Amrou Seekers
1 Castle Raptors
1 Carom
1 Faith's Fetters
1 Guardian of the Guildpact
1 Judge Unworthy
1 Knight of Sursi
1 Pacifism
1 Saltfield Recluse
1 Shrieking Grotesque
1 Squall Drifter
1 Sunlance
1 Swift Maneuver
1 Temporal Isolation
1 Veteran Armorer
1 Whitemane Lion
1 Youthful Knight


Judge Unworthy


Compulsive Research

Mystical Teachings

1 Aven Fisher
1 Aven Windreader
1 Compulsive Research
1 Coral Trickster
1 Crookclaw Transmuter
1 Dreamscape Artist
1 Drift of Phantasms
1 Errant Ephemeron
1 Helium Squirter
1 Infiltrator il-Kor
1 Looter il-Kor
1 Mystical Teachings
1 Primal Plasma
1 Remove Soul
1 Repeal
1 Rootwater Commando
1 Shaper Parasite
1 Silkwing Scout
1 Snapback
1 Snapping Drake
1 Steamcore Weird
1 Think Twice
1 Veiling Oddity
1 Whip-Spine Drake


1 Assassinate
1 Blightspeaker
1 Cradle to Grave
1 Death Rattle
1 Deepcavern Imp
1 Demon's Jester
1 Dimir House Guard
1 Disembowel
1 Douse in Gloom
1 Gravedigger
1 Grim Harvest
1 Ichor Slick
1 Last Gasp
1 Macabre Waltz
1 Mana Skimmer
1 Orzhov Euthanist
1 Phyrexian Rager
1 Pit Keeper
1 Rathi Trapper
1 Recover
1 Seal of Doom
1 Stinkweed Imp
1 Strangling Soot
1 Terror
1 Twisted Abomination
1 Urborg Syphon-Mage


Last Gasp




Guerrilla Tactics

Tribal Flames

1 Arcane Teachings
1 Brute Force
1 Cackling Flames
1 Coal Stoker
1 Dead // Gone
1 Fatal Attraction
1 Flowstone Embrace
1 Galvanic Arc
1 Gathan Raiders
1 Ghostfire
1 Goblin Skycutter
1 Goblin Spelunkers
1 Guerrilla Tactics
1 Henchfiend of Ukor
1 Incinerate
1 Lightning Axe
1 Ogre Savant
1 Prodigal Pyromancer
1 Rift Bolt
1 Seal of Fire
1 Shock
1 Stingscourger
1 Suq'Ata Lancer
1 Tribal Flames

1 AEther Web
1 Aggressive Urge
1 Aquastrand Spider
1 Citanul Woodreaders
1 Civic Wayfinder
1 Craw Wurm
1 Durkwood Baloth
1 Edge of Autumn
1 Evolution Charm
1 Farseek
1 Frostweb Spider
1 Gather Courage
1 Gemhide Sliver
1 Ghor-Clan Savage
1 Giant Growth
1 Greater Mossdog
1 Herd Gnarr
1 Kavu Climber
1 Kavu Primarch
1 Llanowar Empath
1 Mire Boa
1 Nantuko Shaman
1 Nessian Courser
1 Penumbra Spider
1 Rampant Growth
1 Ronom Hulk
1 Rootwalla
1 Rushwood Dryad
1 Search for Tomorrow
1 Siege Wurm
1 Silhana Starfletcher
1 Simian Brawler
1 Simic Ragworm
1 Spined Wurm
1 Sporoloth Ancient
1 Sprout Swarm
1 Strength in Numbers
1 Thallid Shell-Dweller
1 Thornweald Archer
1 Thrill of the Hunt
1 Thrive
1 Transluminant
1 Utopia Sprawl
1 Utopia Vow
1 Wildsize
1 Wormwood Dryad


Siege Wurm


1 Azorius Signet
1 Boros Signet
1 Chromatic Star
1 Dimir Signet
1 Golgari Signet
1 Gruul Signet
1 Izzet Signet
1 Leonin Scimitar
1 Orzhov Signet
1 Prismatic Lens
1 Rakdos Signet
1 Selesnya Signet
1 Simic Signet
1 Terrarion
1 Assault Zeppelid
1 Blind Hunter
1 Golgari Rotwurm
1 Izzet Chronarch
1 Minister of Impediments
1 Perplex
1 Pillory of the Sleepless
1 Selesnya Evangel
1 Shambling Shell
1 Streetbreaker Wurm
1 Wrecking Ball
Wrecking Ball
Terramorphic Expanse
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Boros Garrison
1 Dimir Aqueduct
18 Forest
1 Golgari Rot Farm
1 Gruul Turf
14 Island
1 Izzet Boilerworks
14 Mountain
1 Orzhov Basilica
15 Plains
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
1 Simic Growth Chamber
15 Swamp
1 Terramorphic Expanse

Creatures: It's really important to have powerful, cheap costing creatures, with a few high drops if the game drags out or if you draw it late game. The reason you want many powerful early drops is because this is easily a pretty decent speed format, with a creature coming down almost every turn if everything goes well. Creatures with strong board presence, like Mire Boa, are very important. It can either attack and is usually unblockable, or it can defend by blocking and regenerating. Big, cheap creatures like Siege Wurm, Spined Wurm, and Errant Ephemeron are very powerful, and can easily push the game in your favor. It's also important to have a few creatures whose sole purpose is to defend, and Stinkweed Imp is probably the best creature for it. Having a lot of evasion creatures is usually a good idea. Landwalkers like Goblin Spelunkers and Rootwater Commando are good for this. There is also a large amount of flyers available.  I guess the main bullet point of this is I am saying creatures with evasion are important in this format. 

Removal: You want all of the non-situational removal you can get your hands on. Cards like Cradle to Grave are borderline playable, but cards like Terror and Lightning Axe are an absolute must. The two main reasons to pack a lot of removal is to answer the creatures your creatures can't handle (big guys and landwalkers or flyers) and to answer your opponent's creatures that can handle your best threat (annoying walls, big creature in the way). You may also just win some games by burning out your opponent with spells like Cackling Flames and Tribal Flames.

Mana Fixing: An important cornerstone of the deck. You are going to needs lots of different mana fixing cards. This is why in my list I included one of each signet and one of each bounce land. Along with those, I added a lot of the green mana fixing cards. It's extremely important for you to be able to play all of your cards, and mana fixing is the best way to do it.

Utility: This is anything from drawing cards to combat tricks. Utility spells are to give you an edge in tight situations, like paying one mana to cast Brute Force or Giant Growth on your small creature to destroy your opponent's fatty. Only having to use one mana lets you still cast an important card that turn. You also have access to Mystical Teachings, Compulsive Research, and Perplex, which let you find more powerful spells, or just tutor up Grim Harvest, Strangling Soot, or Sprout Swarm.

One other important thing to take into consideration when building your deck is your spells casting cost. You don't want early drops with multiple of the same color in the casting cost unless it's really powerful. For example, you don't want any mediocre WW creatures or a card like Boomerang, which is UU. It's very important that you can cast every card that you draw.

Well, that's pretty much it for my article. I hope you take the time to try building a deck in this format, as it really is a ton of fun. If you're interested in a game, feel free to add me to your buddies or type /join puremtgo to see if anyone else wants to play. Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoyed my first article.

Brandon Burks
sub7wuzhere on AIM
bburksgg on Magic Online


nice article by don_quichote (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 09/19/2007 - 09:54
don_quichote (Unregistered)'s picture

Hi Brandon and congratulations on a fine article about PPS ! It makes me happy that more and more people are getting interested in this very entertaining and challenging format. Meanwhile we have started a dedicated forum for PPS strategies here : Greetings from Germany, don_quichote

by Evu at Mon, 09/17/2007 - 13:24
Evu's picture

A well-done first article; thanks for writing it.

The PPS format seems to be gaining some momentum lately.  It took me a long time to get a deck built, but I'm just about done now, so you might see me around the casual room with it soon.

To clear up the confusion about cards with more than one rarity in Pauper formats: the determining factor is the lowest rarity the card was printed at in a set that's in the format.  To use the Twisted Abomination example: the Abomination is in (regular) Standard, but only because it was a Time Spiral Timeshifted card, and that's a different rarity.  So Abomination is not legal in Pauper Standard.  In (regular) Extended, though, the Abomination is legal both because of its Timeshifted printing, and because of its common printing in Scourge.  The common printing in Scourge means that you can play Twisted Abomination in Pauper Extended (until Onslaught Block rotates).  Prismatic and Singleton are both based on the Classic format, so again, you can play Twisted Abomination there as well.  As long as the card is legal, you can play any version of it: if someone already has a Timeshifted Abomination, no sense in forcing them to get a Scourge copy as well.  Hope that explanation was understandable.

One more minor point: I think Mystical Teachings is banned in Prismatic.  A shame, too, because I would have liked to use it in my PPS deck.

nice article by don_quichote (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 09/19/2007 - 09:53
don_quichote (Unregistered)'s picture

Hi Brandon and congratulations on a fine article about PPS ! It makes me happy that more and more people are getting interested in this very entertaining and challenging format. Meanwhile we have started a dedicated forum for PPS strategies here : Greetings from Germany, don_quichote

nice article by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 09/19/2007 - 09:48
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Hi Brandon and congratulations on a fine article about PPS !
It makes me happy that more and more people are getting interested in this very entertaining and challenging format.
Meanwhile we have started a dedicated forum for PPS strategies here :

Greetings from Germany,

nice article by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 09/19/2007 - 09:53
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Hi Brandon and congratulations on a fine article about PPS !
It makes me happy that more and more people are getting interested in this very entertaining and challenging format.
Meanwhile we have started a dedicated forum for PPS strategies here :

Greetings from Germany,

by bburksgg at Tue, 09/18/2007 - 01:36
bburksgg's picture

I looked over the Prismatic list just to be sure, and I must of somehow missed Mystical Teachings.  My apologies. 

 If you haven't built one of these decks yet, it is really worth it.  I really enjoy playing games of this format, and I try to sneak in a couple a day.

 Thank you for reading my article, and please respond with more of your thoughts and ideas.


by Stu Benedict at Mon, 09/17/2007 - 22:48
Stu Benedict's picture

Good writing style ... just not sure that you should be writing on a format that you do not seem to have the strongest grasp on yet.(Teachings, std rarities)


New Writer! by mtgotraders at Mon, 09/17/2007 - 11:06
mtgotraders's picture

Great to have you writing for PureMTGO.  Just make sure to upload an avatar and check here for more comments from people.  Great first article and I hope we see some more this good!