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By: Rob Rogers, Rob Rogers
Dec 23 2007 11:43pm
3.6
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Wizards has developed a whole naming convention for players, dividing them up into Timmy, Johnny, and Spike. You can read about this in more detail here, but in a nutshell, "Timmy" likes big, cool creatures and such. "Johnny" likes to build odd interactions that make cards act in ways opponents might not expect. "Spike" likes to win, period.

My own tastes vary from time to time, of course, but I'm rarely a Spike. The fun of Magic to me is playing with cool cards and, especially, in using cards in oddball ways. When I write this column, the Johnny in me comes out. I've played around with Nacatl War-Pride (admittedly, that's also a Timmy card), Desolation Giant, Homarid Spawning Bed, Endless Whispers, and more, often trying to take advantage of cards in unusual ways.

In the deck I'm spotlighting today, I don't try to bend one particular card for the win (although there is a key win condition in the deck). Instead, I try to play Johnny with the format itself.

As you might or not know already, the shtick of the Singleton format is that each deck can only have a single copy of any card, with the exception of basic lands. It incorporates cards from all card sets available online. This makes for some varied games. You can build decks with your favorite cards, if that's what you want, or certain key, effective cards. Or you can make decks very similar to "regular" decks--instead of four copies of Boomerang, for example, you might pack a Boomerang, a (Man-o'-War), an Undo, and a Wipe Away. They're filling very similar roles in your decks, and at the bottom line, it's not all that different from packing four Boomerang to start with.

Another advantage, especially for casual players, is that you didn't need to go after playsets of cards. One Tarmogoyf is all you're allowed, so you don't need to agonize about paying for three more.

A lot of times, I'll look at individual cards and try to think of what interesting decks I might be able to make out of their attributes. What can I do, for example, to take advantage of the "drawback" of Stampeding Wildebeests that makes me return a green creature to my hand every upkeep?

A while back, I started thinking about the Singleton format itself. How could I make the fact that there's only one copy of each card an advantage?

Well, let's take a look at where I ended up, and I'll examine a bit about the mechanics.

 

The Tunnel (Singleton), Submitted by Rob Rogers
View/Buy/Download the whole deck here.

Creature

View  Buy  (1 x) CSP Jötun Grunt
View  Buy  (1 x) CSP Ronom Unicorn

Snow Creature

View  Buy  (1 x) CSP Wall of Shards

Snow Land

View  Buy  (1 x) CSP Boreal Shelf

Artifact

View  Buy  (1 x) DIS Azorius Signet
View  Buy  (1 x) 10E Mind Stone
View  Buy  (1 x) MRD Icy Manipulator

Artifact Creature

View  Buy  (1 x) RAV Junktroller

Basic Land

View  Buy  (1 x) 9ED Island *Foil*
View  Buy  (6 x) RAV Island
View  Buy  (3 x) TSP Island
View  Buy  (1 x) 8ED Island *Foil*
View  Buy  (1 x) RAV Plains
View  Buy  (1 x) CHK Plains
View  Buy  (1 x) TSP Plains

Creature

View  Buy  (1 x) FUT Cryptic Annelid
View  Buy  (1 x) PLC Aven Riftwatcher
View  Buy  (1 x) LRW Mulldrifter
View  Buy  (1 x) RAV Surveilling Sprite
View  Buy  (1 x) TSP Sage of Epityr
View  Buy  (1 x) TSP Magus of the Disk
View  Buy  (1 x) TSP Riftwing Cloudskate
View  Buy  (1 x) VI Man-o'-War
View  Buy  (1 x) FUT Mesmeric Sliver
View  Buy  (1 x) RAV Drift of Phantasms
View  Buy  (1 x) RAV Ethereal Usher
View  Buy  (1 x) DIS Azorius Guildmage

Enchant Creature

View  Buy  (1 x) ONS Pacifism

Enchantment

View  Buy  (1 x) RAV Faith's Fetters

Instant

View  Buy  (1 x) TSP Think Twice
View  Buy  (1 x) FUT Spin into Myth
View  Buy  (1 x) TSP Momentary Blink
View  Buy  (1 x) CHK Hinder
View  Buy  (1 x) DIS Condemn
View  Buy  (1 x) FUT Judge Unworthy
View  Buy  (1 x) ALL Lat-Nam's Legacy
View  Buy  (1 x) ICE Brainstorm
View  Buy  (1 x) RAV Remand
View  Buy  (1 x) DIS Overrule
View  Buy  (1 x) MED Arcane Denial

Land

View  Buy  (1 x) TSP Dreadship Reef
View  Buy  (1 x) DIS Azorius Chancery
View  Buy  (1 x) ONS Secluded Steppe
View  Buy  (1 x) ONS Lonely Sandbar
View  Buy  (1 x) TSP Calciform Pools
View  Buy  (1 x) TSP Terramorphic Expanse
View  Buy  (1 x) CHK Cloudcrest Lake

Legendary Enchantment

View  Buy  (1 x) CHK Honden of Seeing Winds
View  Buy  (1 x) CHK Honden of Cleansing Fire

Sorcery

View  Buy  (1 x) ICE Portent
View  Buy  (1 x) RAV Compulsive Research
View  Buy  (1 x) RAV Tunnel Vision
View  Buy  (1 x) 10E Sift

Tunnel Vision

How it works
The backbone of the deck--its key card and win condition--is Tunnel Vision. Tunnel Vision lets you name a card, then dig through a library looking for it, dumping other cards you encounter along the way into the graveyard. In a regular game, where decks often have four copies of certain cards, this often means that you dump a handful of cards into the graveyard on the way to the card you named. In Singleton, if you target your opponent's library and know what card is on the bottom (and, playing this deck, you will know), then you end up putting your opponent's entire library (other than the named card) into the graveyard. Ideally, your opponent will then have one turn, at most, to pull off a win without being decked (forced into a loss due to an inability to draw more cards). The deck needs several types of components in order to pull off this win. I'll cover a variety of those below. As you'll see, there's intentionally a certain degree of overlap here--cards that fulfill multiple functions.

Wall of ShardsCards that keep you alive
There are a lot of Singleton aggro decks out there (decks that beat you down quickly with attacking creatures). When playing this deck, you need to stay alive long enough to pull off the Tunnel Vision casting. You generally don't need to stock creatures to attack with while playing this deck; instead, you want cards that will help hold back the tide. Since the deck wins through decking the opponent instead of killing him through damage, Wall of Shards is an excellent example of a card that keeps you alive. So what if you're giving your opponent umpteen life? This is a 1/8 flying wall for two mana. Bring it on! Faith's Fetters also works nicely in this category, neutralizing opponent threats while giving you back some life. Surveilling Sprite serves as a one-time blocker while netting you a card. You can use Drift of Phantasms to Transmute for something useful (Hinder, in particular) or as a nice, cheap flying wall to slow things down. Cryptic Annelid is another nice blocker who also helps you to drill down to your Tunnel Vision. And Junktroller serves as a good blocker while also filling a critical double roll as one of the cards that will let you know what's at the bottom of your opponent's library. Other cards in this category include:

Ethereal UsherCards that help you get to Tunnel Vision
In a deck that's dependent on a single card, you want to get to that card as soon as possible (or at least as soon as you can cast it). So this deck packs some cards that help you draw into your deck to find the key card when you need it. The sole purpose of Ethereal Usher in this deck, for example is as a way to Transmute for Tunnel Vision. But in most cases I tried to pick cards that helped you find useful stuff in general on the way to that key card. Other card-drawing/sifting spells include:

HinderHow to know what's on the bottom of your opponent's deck
The best way to know what card is on the bottom of your opponent's deck is to put it there. This deck packs a number of cards that will accomplish that. I tried whenever possible to make these dual-function cards so that they're not filling just this one role (as vital as it is).
Instead, I chose cards that would help slow down an opponent at the same time. One thing to keep in mind is that you don't generally want your opponent to know that you're planting cards on the bottom of his deck. You want that Tunnel Vision to come as a surprise. So don't start triggering Junktroller every turn just for the heck of it. Wait until the last possible moment unless it's for something like Condemn where your opponent will just think you're eliminating a threat. Here's the list (and you'll see some crossover as I indicated):

  • Hinder is a sweet, sweet card for this deck. It will be your most frequent Transmute target for Drift of Phantasms and is often the best way to get your something on the bottom of your opponent's library (you'll generally want to cast it during your opponent's turn right before the turn when you cast Tunnel Vision.
  • Condemn is great, too, because it's cheap and takes out an attacker. The life gain it lends your opponent is immaterial.
  • Junktroller serves as a good wall. See my note above about using it, though. Don't trigger it until right before you cast Tunnel Vision unless Junktroller is on its way to the graveyard. By the way, if your Tunnel Vision gets countered, this is one of the few chances you have of casting it again--put it on the bottom of your own library and hope for the best.
  • Jötun Grunt will let you put cards on the bottom of your opponent's library during your upkeep, perfect for the turn you cast Tunnel Vision. Just make sure you keep track of the order in which you placed the cards there. He's also a heck of a blocker while he lasts. You generally don't want to cast him until mid game at the earliest, though, or else he'll just go away too quickly.
  • The two Fateseal cards: Spin into Myth and Mesmeric Sliver

GaeaWhat to watch out for
Anything that helps your opponent shuffle his deck is your enemy. Gaea's Blessing is an obvious problem for this deck, but I lost the game once because I didn't pay attention and my opponent had a Terramorphic Expanse in play and activated it in response to my Tunnel Vision. Doh! Make sure to keep track of exactly what card you put on the bottom of your opponent's deck and make sure to pay attention for anything he does that makes him shuffle.

An oddball problem I've encountered--but it's happened to me at least twice--is that it's pretty easy to misclick when you're actually playing Tunnel Vision and have to scroll through a list of available targets. Each time this happened, as I cast the spell, my opponent typed something along the lines of "OMG" or "huh?" or "uh oh" or "cool trick!" and I clicked out of the Tunnel Vision interface to type a quick reply and managed to trip myself up. If you select a spell your opponent doesn't have in his library, then effectively all Tunnel Vision does is shuffle his deck, so it's a big loss to you to goof it up.

As I mentioned before, if your Tunnel Vision is countered (if there's a chance of this happening based on what your opponent is playing, try to have a Remand or Arcane Denial or Overrule handy to protect your spell, it's difficult to recover from, but either Junktroller or Jötun Grunt will allow you to get the card back into your deck, so it's possible (if unlikely) that you'll be able to pull off a win after all.

Alternate win conditions
This deck is mostly a one-trick pony. If Tunnel Vision fails to work its magic, it's difficult to pull off a win. Still, the deck has a number of control elements and a number of creatures. You can still pull off a win if you play your cards right.

To Clash or not to Clash
The Clash mechanic from Lorwyn often ends up with your opponent putting cards on the bottom of his deck. You can keep track of those and use that to your advantage, meaning that adding some Clash cards to this deck might not be a bad idea (it could help you to drill down to your Tunnel Vision. But there's a pretty good chance of your opponent sticking a Forest or something down there, which, of course, you don't want (since basic lands are the only cards that appear in multiples in Singleton decks). If you are looking for substitutes for some of the cards on my list, then by all means try out the Clash cards, but my gut feeling is that they're not going to be reliable enough to warrant replacing what you have.

Adding money to the deck
There are a few ways to boost your chances with this deck with more expensive cards. Wrath of God and Akroma's Vengeance and related spells can give you additional "reset buttons" to help you maintain your control. I'm also eyeing Austere Command as a cheap (in terms of money) solution that has the additional benefit of being a potential target for Ethereal Usher (as does Akroma's Vengeance. Force of Will and Pact of Negation can both help you to protect that crucial casting of Tunnel Vision, as can Orim's Chant. The land base here could benefit from a copy of Adarkar Wastes and/or Hallowed Fountain. You could also replace all of your basic lands with snow-covered ones and run a Scrying Sheets to cycle more quickly through your decks (there are probably a couple of decent snow alternatives to cards currently in this deck that you might want to run in that case, including swapping Coldsteel Heart for the Azorius Signet and maybe replacing your Azorius Guildmage with a Squall Drifter.

Well, whether you try this deck or not, I'd recommend taking the Singleton format for a spin. It's a fun format.

0 Comments

by Lord Erman at Mon, 12/24/2007 - 09:14
Lord Erman's picture

Nice idea!

What happens if you use Tunnel Vision targeting your own library and the bottom card of your library happens to be a Forbidden Crypt :))) ?

Or what happens if you play Tunnel Vision, again targeting your own library WHILE Forbidden Crypt is on table and the bottom card of your library happens to be a Leveler :))) ?

Just some thoughts...

by Rob Rogers at Mon, 12/24/2007 - 09:27
Rob Rogers's picture

Lord Erman, that's an interesting idea. I'm not real familiar with Forbidden Crypt. It might be fun to try that out.

by Rob Rogers at Mon, 12/24/2007 - 09:29
Rob Rogers's picture

Hey, elrogos. You're right, dude. This, like pretty much all of my decks, is for playing around in the casual room. It's not super competitive. I win maybe a third to a half of the time in the casual room with this deck. The payoff is that when it does works, it's a pretty cool experience.

by Stu Benedict at Mon, 12/24/2007 - 11:11
Stu Benedict's picture

Relearn from Weatherlight would be a way to get they key card back if countered.

1 copy of Mystical Tutor would probably be worth the $5 too. 

 

by elrogos at Mon, 12/24/2007 - 11:14
elrogos's picture

Maybe i was a bit rude (sorry :) ), but i intended that this deck is too weak even for the casual room. Think about your deck with nacatl war pride: ok, it wasn't enough powerful to compete with zoo or aggro loam, but it could beat affinity or some nearly competitive decks (usually the ones withouth duals and fetches) and maybe half of the casual deck online. In this case you can't beat competitive, but you cannot even beat mono green decks (non elves)... If buiding casual is good, always losing is not, and tuning the deck so that you are not always on the bad side is something you could take in consideration (however, everything is IMHO).

For example, given the fact that you are going the mill plus control side, i would put in more white control, instead of blu counters and subpar critters: for example more life gaining (martir of sands, auriok champion [even if a bit costly for my tastes], aven riftwatcher, kyiomaro and descendant of kiyomaro]), more control (wing shards, sunscour, final judgment, purify, evacuation), some milling tricks (jace, traumatize, wheel and deal, brain freeze, laquatus creativity), some fetchers (the one from mirage, the one from tsp) and more mana accelleration, with massive draw (tidings, rush of knowledge). So you should have a deck that can stand on his own legs even without the combo done [p.s, reito lantern is better than the junktroller].

by drob (Unregistered) 167.88.201.100 (not verified) at Mon, 12/24/2007 - 14:38
drob (Unregistered) 167.88.201.100's picture

I think the way to 'save' this deck is to add alternative win condition that are really good. e.g. akroma angel, or decree of justice, or even platinum angel, something else that just win against another deck if the tunnel strategy is not working. I'd say maybe 2 card slot for alternative win condition.

by elrogos at Mon, 12/24/2007 - 05:42
elrogos's picture

Ehy, nice idea, but few chances to make it successful. Your entire deck and strategy is based only on just one card, a card that you could even never draw in the entire game, and a card that needs an entire "preparation" to be (maybe) effective. I understand the Johnny sense, but here we are at an extreme :)

I've played and hinder/tunnel deck for a long time, and it packed mass removal of everything (except artifacts), hondens, wing shards, time stops, traumatizes, wheel and deals etc. And the same, it won in 15 turns and was powerful only against aggro decks, cause burn or control ones ate it. Now, think to try the same in singleton, with just one tunnel, just one hinder, but the same incredible amount of shuffling that non-singleton decks have, and without the possibility to win a gea's blessing shuffling (in normal decks tunnel is one of the few milling cards that do not care about gea'sblessing, cause it can target it).

I don't want to be rough, but this deck has really no chances to win (singleton is not an all casual deck, there are lots of nearly competitive decks in the format), with just one win condition that can be tricked so easily (there are lots of way to counter tunnel vision... oh yeah, even counters :) )