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By: Tarmotog, Naoto Watabe
Mar 25 2008 9:44am
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Random Ranting

Singleton 2x 22 March 2008 did not fire off because there were only 18 people in it just before it was cancelled. Of the 18 people, there was a rare appearance by me in my new account "Tarmotog" made just to dive straight into the action of the Singleton competitive world and shed some light on what people are thinking regarding the format (I'm somewhat thankful the handle was available). It's not everyday I get to enter the PE because of commitments on Sunday mornings plus the fact that it starts in the twilight zone, when everyone else is deep in their slumber, in my location and I would not be able to play all the way till the very end on a normal day because it would end rather late in the morning. That aside, I was really nervous about playing the event as I definitely wouldn't be able to take it if I had overslept (again). Unfortunately, next week I have plans to go for my local "City Champs" (not really sure of the exact name) so I will be viewing the event from a third person angle again (if it fires off).

Before I go on to talk about anything else, I want to talk about the prize payout for the 2x PEs.

1st gets 12X2= 24 packs, split 16-8 if they are giving out Lorwyn and Morningtide. That's 8 drafts people. Winners really win big.

2nd gets 9x2= 18 packs, split 12-6.
3rd and 4th get 12 packs, split 8-4.
6th-8th get 6 packs, split 4-2.

Each player pays six event tickets to enter the PE and there are a total of 24+18+12+12+6+6+6+6 = 90 packs on the line. The expected number of packs per player in the long run would be 3.75 if we assume there are 24 players all the time. If there are 32 players, the expected payout would be 2.8125 packs per player. This means that if we assume everyone is similar in skill and people play consistently at every one of these PEs, their 6 event tickets would, in the long run, translate into at least 2 packs unless there are really a big group of people (>32 which happens to add a round also) playing in the PE. Of course, doing any decent job gives you more value for your time but what I want to say is that if you have the time and the deck, you should just go for one of these small PEs as there really isn't much to lose from doing so.

Now that the Morningtide release week is over, we can get back to our "not so happening" days again.

Here's a question I'm sure some people want answered:

What decks can I play if I want to play in the Singleton format?

Until now, I have yet to cover the popular deck types out there so I suppose not many people know what to expect.

Today, I will give a short introduction on some of the various deck archetypes for the aggro player. There is no single best build but RG beatdown is rather popular because its consistency.

Random Decktalk

 RG Beatdown

This deck has a rather long lineage from the standard format. It combines efficient beaters with burn. The most accurate description of it, I believe, is "steroids" from the IPA + OTJ era as it has a wider mana curve than the Gruul decks from the previous Standard season that has a greater focus on the lower curve.

RG wins because of its consistency and power more than anything.

 RGB Beatdown
An aggro deck that has more control but loses out on consistency. There are many variations of this archetype that focus on different parts of the mana curve. The higher the curve focus, the more control based it becomes.

  RGW Beatdown

A deck that combines all the powerful drops from the three colors. A gallery of top creatures from the game. Although this deck is really strong early, it tends to lose out as the game progresses unless you get really powerful cards into play. Just big might not be enough.

Wild Mongrel

 GW Beatdown

GW builds are somewhat the anti-aggro types of decks because of the use of persistent creatures, sometimes with regeneration and life gain. It suffers from the lack of "reach" but it has access to the most annoying cards in the game.


The monored decks vary from RDW type decks, Sligh decks or burn decks at the other end of the spectrum. 

The difference? RDW decks usually have disruption in the form of land destruction to steal more wins. Mana screwed opponents don't do alot.

Sligh decks are more focused on cheap creatures backed up by burn spells.

Burn decks? Every player in Magic would have met a "burn deck" when he or she started playing with friends. These decks have picked up popularity because of the craze in extended that spread to standard and I myself made one as it definitely sounds fun to burn someone's head off. Here's my list:

Burn.dec as suggested by Tarmo"joiningthetrend"tog

Blazing Salvo
Shard Volley
Lava Dart
Lightning Bolt
Chain of Plasma
Magma Jet
Sudden Shock
Psionic Blast
Pulse of the Forge
Glacial Ray
Shrapnel Blast
Fiery Temper
Flames of the Blood Hand

Rift Bolt
Lava Spike
Tribal Flames
Volcanic Hammer

Pyromancer's Swath
Seal of Fire

Sensei's Divining Top
Howling Mine
Isochron Scepter
Mindstorm Crown


Spark Elemental
Mogg Fanatic
Grim Lavamancer
Keldon Marauders
Ball Lightning

Wooded Foothills
Windswept Heath
Flooded Strand
Polluted Delta
Bloodstained Mire
Ghitu Encampment
Mishra's Factory
Barbarian Ring
Blinkmoth Nexus
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Blood Crypt
Sacred Foundry
5x Mountain
Spinerock Knoll
Great Furnace
Darksteel Citadel

Lightning Bolt

 The Classic Burn

This list tries to get greedy with the lands to up the damage of Tribal Flames to five (But usually it might just be another Volcanic Hammer), while also using the blue Char. (So usually the first land to fetch for is usually Steam Vents) I don't dare to play Lightning Helix main because I would not want to play needing multiple colors (If I ever would need to play both, I might consider dumping a lone Hallowed Fountain into the mix [although this sounds really very weird or rather, greedy]).. It's seems a little desperate to push more damage and it does suffer against similar decks because of the pain from lands. Against not-so-pushy decks, you get the benefit of doing damage stunts with Pulse of the Forge. I once had Tarmogoyf in the deck but I found that having creatures really water down the power of the deck because most players have anti creature measures which will affect the efficiency of "great creatures" in this deck. Probably Sideboard material or just a part of another deck. Boldwyr Heavyweights are great against the mirror.


Goblins fall in this category. Goblins are just swarms and swarms of red synergistic creatures made to slaughter and kidnap goats.  Another type of deck in this color would be similar to the "Satanic Sligh" from the standard season of last year. Dark Confidant is the gem in this type of deck, fuelling tons of quality cards. Hopefully you don't hit anything big.


The cards in this color combination tend to be of really high quality. The gems come from the Ravnica block and some cards from Apocalypse. Consistency is the biggest problem for this deck.

 White Weenie

This deck comes from early days of Magic, when people really enjoyed playing Shivan Dragon and Sengir Vampire. Nobody expected the small and dumb looking white creatures to actually mess up everyone. White weenie can be seen once in awhile in Singleton and it can get very difficult to deal with if the right creatures and the right removals turn up. However, this deck can lose steam rather fast if players are prepared in some form or the other. Mask of Memory is really good to counteract that. As the years go by, the number of high quality two drops increases. Good white two drops usually get a 2/2 body with two abilities. Cards like Samurai of the Pale Curtain or Soltari Priest can make some games tough to play without having to go the extra mile. This is one of the few decks that can use AEther Vial very efficiently.


Boros styled decks mixing white weenie with burn. The challenge from this deck comes from choosing which creatures and which spells go into the deck. The mana poses a rather significant problem because white two drops do have a large population residing in the WW housings and we do not have access  to many RW lands.

  GU tempo

This deck tries to gain as much tempo as possible by using cards that hopefully buy enough time to win the game. This deck is usually filled with soft counter magic and bounce. If you like to be sneaky and win on the edge by being a turn ahead, you would like this deck.

 GUr tempo

An extension of GU tempo. The addition of red allows the player to have access to Flametongue Kavu and burn. During its stay in the standard format, Flametongue Kavu was like Tarmogoyf. Every deck wanted to splash for it because it was so good. A good reference would be the sea stompy deck from when the Simic guild was around.

RGu beatdown

This time, its an extension of the RG beatdown. The deck gains tempo plays. and more staying power but loses a slight amount of consistency.

 5c Zoo (Not always. Might be 4c)

Similar to the extended version, this deck plays the most taxing mana base to abuse the powerful gold cards or the top aggressive drops from various colors. The only similarity between the two is that both take tons of pain straight up. The difference is that the extended deck is slightly easier to play and is much more consistent. It gets really difficult when your opponent is playing a consistent aggro deck with larger creatures. I don't really advocate playing this deck until the "original duals in MED II" wish has been fulfilled because the pain you take from the lands alone makes this deck "not user friendly".

Flametongue Kavu

In my top 10 favorites


This deck is quite ok. I wouldn't say that it's really great because there are not that many cards that belong naturally in the deck so the fillers might get you. The explosiveness of the deck cannot be comparable to the extended version of it but there are some ways to get around it. Everyone likes artifacts.

I can't cover everything because of the diverse nature of the format but these are just some characteristics of the decks you can try to make. They usually mirror real life decks in structure.

In this section, I will reveal parts of the deck I intended to play at the PE and go through every step of the game from my side of the board. I will not disclose any information on my opponent because I have not gotten any permission to do so.

I win the die roll and keep a hand containing: Greater Gargadon, Yavimaya CoastStomping Ground, Island, Body Double, Garruk Wildspeaker and Gifts Ungiven. I'm rather happy to see a turn one suspend Greater Gargadon hand which I find is not very common. My turn one play is the obvious: lay Stomping Ground untapped (18 life) and suspend the red monstrosity. A very threatening play against any deck. This particular start suggests that I am playing a RG aggro deck. It is best to give false impressions when playing so that people take slightly longer to react to particular cards or strategies.

My opponent kept his hand too and started off with a turn one Forest, passing the turn over to me.
This is a really suspicious play. Usually, it is almost always better to lead off with a non-basic land because some come into play tapped, some can hide information (like fetchlands since you can get many combinations of lands) or can lead to better plays on subsequent turns. Therefore this play suggests that he might not be playing a straight 2c deck because 2c decks tend to want to get both colors out really early and the number of non-basic lands should be rather high in most cases. Of course, this might just be a slow start to a really explosive deck so I should continue to observe and not jump into early conclusions.

Next turn, I draw Vendilion Clique and lay an Island. This Island says alot to an observant player. I had already started off by playing Stomping Ground untapped and I lay basic Island and say go. This suggests that I am playing some form of an RGU deck and I am very likely to have in hand a soft counter. The fact that I pushed the early two damage to myself suggests that I might have relevant turn two plays but I simply pass the turn over. It is easy to assume I have Remand, Mana Leak or Memory Lapse in my hand. Also, I didn't drop any special non-basic lands. This suggests that I might have a high spell count (about four to five spells) in my hand and have probably stabilized by getting the right mana out into play. At the very least it does not contain a basic Mountain in hand unless I just happened to draw it which seems rather unlikely because 3c decks tend not to have a big amount of basic lands.

My opponent lays a Plains and hands over the turn to me. This signals that my opponent, despite have GW mana available, is not casting a two drop which reveals that there is a large possibility that his deck is not a GW aggro deck. If anything is going to attack me next turn, it's going to be either soldier tokens from Raise the Alarm or an Ashcoat Bear, both of which are rather unlikely. Also, my opponent might not have Mana Tithe because it is usually coupled with decks that are slightly more aggressive in nature and a no turn one or turn two play from my opponent suggests that there is actually more going on than meets the eye.

I draw into Kodama's Reach, lay Yavimaya Coast and play the topdecked card. Until now, I have no concrete idea on what my opponent is playing. Therefore, the better line of play would be to try develop my board position until I can be sure of the proper plan to take. I search for a Mountain and a Plains, which might get the opponent a little shocked because now I would have shown him four different colors and the false impression I have been building until now is slowly getting dissolved.

My opponent lays a Forest and casts Kodama's Reach as well, finding a Mountain and an Island.

This new revelation exposes the mystery behind the continuous basic land drops. It really likely that my opponent is playing a deck that tries to abuse having multiple basic land types in play and probably some gold cards. I might be wrong on the multiple basic land types part because of the lack of shock lands which definitely would serve that purpose more easily or it might simply be due to budget constrains.

Almost for sure, my opponent is not playing a storm deck because most Heartbeat of Spring based storm decks do not run red even if every other color might make an appearance. Even if his does run red, he wouldn't need to assemble red mana this early on in the game.The ritual based storm deck has no reason to be running land searching so it is very unlikely that it is that deck either (plus it does not benefit from green and white much).

Next turn, I draw Fact or Fiction. With my opponent tapped out, I consider my possible plays. My opponent is tapped out and from the look of the lands he has, it is very unlikely that blue is a main color. Force of Will shouldn't be a problem. No double blue source confirms no Pact of Negation nonsense. My priority here should be getting Garruk Wildspeaker out to allow my mana development to shoot past my opponent. If I go along that line of play, I can either pressure him with beasts or untap two lands. I currently have 5, so -4+2 gives me 3 mana, enough for my Vendilion Clique. I think I should wait till the draw step before casting the faerie gang so that at the very least my opponent would have to expend some mana if he wants to respond so that I'll be way ahead in board development. 
Otherwise, I would cast Gifts Ungiven for sick cards and overpower my opponent but that requires slightly more board development so my priority turns to Garruk Wildspeaker.

So I play Garruk Wildspeaker (17 life, damage from coast) and promptly set a stop at my opponent's draw step. (down to 16 life from coast again)

Here I get to see what my opponent is up to. Early Harvest in the deck is probably why the basic land count is so high. Spirit of Resistance is going to be really annoying if it gets working but I think I might be able to win before he gets all colors into play otherwise I might end up taking really long to win. However, right now it is a dead card and I want to leave as many with him. Since the lands in play suggest Rith, the Awakener, I choose to cycle away the dragon so that I can keep him off some colors of permanents. He casts Darksteel Ingot and searches out a Swamp with Deep Reconnaissance.

My draw step gives me Utopia Sprawl. Like mana ramp from standard, Garruk Wildspeaker + lands that produce more than 1 mana = super acceleration. (1 from coasts yet again) I enchant my lone forest (or forest mountain) and set the color of Utopia Sprawl to blue. Right now, I have yet to make a land drop and my deck has a few of the Ravnica block "karoo" lands which would benefit from Garruk Wildspeaker again so I cast Fact or Fiction hoping to see lands.

 I obviously didn't give much thought into tapping lands, as seen from the above picture. This reveals a slackened play that shows that I am not playing cautiously having seen his hand. I totally reveal that I do not have any soft counterspells by not consciously leaving a blue mana open. That is such a bad play.

Anyway, my opponent splits the Fact or Fiction piles as:
1) Gruul Turf + Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Careful Consideration
2) Lotus Vale + Seedborn Muse

This split shows that he finds Lotus Vale more threatening (because of Garruk probably) than the above pile which looks really random. He expects the game to last a few more turns unless he didn't suspect that I cannot lay the Lotus Vale this turn. I'm not sure what he thinks about Seedborn Muse right now but putting both together means that he is ok with me having alot of mana and believes or hopes that I do not have any mana intensive cards so that two cards cannot be utilized to its fullest potential.

The first pile on the other hand requires alot of mana to actually work. (For that Garruk Wildspeaker is gold) I suppose that he wants me to take this pile since he gives me three cards here. Anyway, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker isn't threatening without any non-Legendary creatures in play so its threat level currently is lower.

Naturally, I take the three card pile which looks alot more promising than the two card pile (to me). It's not easy to split random looking piles unless you can really predict what is going to happen during the upcoming turns which I don't think is really easy unless you knew my deck.

I lay Gruul Turf and return Yavimaya Coast to my hand. Untap both 2 mana producing lands and tap my remaining 5 mana to cast Body Double copying Seedborn Muse.

I untap together with my opponent. He lays yet another Forest, one of his two draws (from clique and this current draw step) so I know that I only do not know 1 mysterious card that I shall call card X. He proceeds to tap all his lands for mana and casts Early Harvest. I pause there for a few seconds and consider my options. I can cast Careful Consideration but I will not have any blue mana up to do anything relevant. I think I might be able to win next turn so I pass priority back slowly to show that I have options. If he is observant, he would be able to remember every single card in my hand except for a mysterious card I shall call card Y which he has no clue as to what it is. I am rather concerned as to what he plans to accomplish by having all that mana up. If he taps everything (and the ingot), he would have 12 mana in total. I get a little afraid of an Obliterate here because of the indestructable Darksteel Ingot although it does not make much sense considering the cards he plays that would prefer that he has lands and creatures on the board. My senses heighten as he goes for the 12 mana and unloads it to a spell, most likely card X. Card X goes on the stack asLegacy Weapon. I let it resolve to see what he chooses to remove. This is really very important because I might lose my ability to outright win next turn. His target is Garruk Wildspeaker. I think I'm ok with that since I already have quite a considerable amount of mana up already. I cast Gifts Ungiven into...

Reveillark, Pestermite, Eternal Witness and Cryptic Command.

If you notice, I am playing the Pestermite + Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combo that Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (PV) played in his  "sea stompy" deck at magic-league to a win in an extended event there. I like to pick up techs, especially techs that win.  Anyway, the combo doesn't look really very obvious to the naked eye. 

The bait here is Cryptic Command which would bounce the Legacy Weapon on my turn since he would be unable to cast and activate it the following turn. Many people tend to hand me Pestermite which I want to get because it allows me to win with the combo even when the lands in play don't suggest I can (which can be really misleading).

He gives me Pestermite and Reveillark. I cast Pestermite targetting Stomping Ground while floating a red mana. I get 2 more red mana and cast Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker (I didn't really need to do that since I actually have 3 red mana sources in play but this is how I usually get the third red mana). I copy Pestermite and target Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. He sees the interaction and scoops.

I suppose I should talk abit about Reveillark since it might not be obvious why I searched for it. By now, we should be familiar with the Reveillark + Body Double + Mirror Entity combo.

In this scenario, I have Body Double in play. (I don't think many people would notice) I can actually cast Reveillark here and untap with Seedborn Muse. From my print screen, I have at least 3 counters on Greater Gargadon. (So the turn 1 suspended crap I did not touch at all throughout the game actually had a use?? I think I should have about 5 but lets assume 3 to limit the number of plays possible.)  I will cast Careful Consideration on my opponent's upkeep, discard Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker sacrifice Body Double and Reveillark to get back Body Double (which becomes Reveillark) and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.

=If he activates the Legacy Weapon in response to my Careful Consideration targeting Reveillark, I can sacrifice Body Double and Reveillark to return Eternal Witness and Body Double back into play. I can return Pestermite and discard it together with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. I would then sacrifice Reveillark copy#1 to Greater Gargadon during my upkeep, return the combo and target the Darksteel Ingot so that even if he draws any removal, he would have to use it and I can combo off in response. (Unless it happens to be Sudden Shock.) =

=If he activates the Legacy Weapon in response to the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker activation targeting Body Double, I can sacrifice the Reveillark copy #1 to get back Body Double and Pestermite which would tap the Darksteel Ingot. Unless he knows which color to tap for, he might not be able to cast the appropriate answer. Lets say he floats white mana and casts Swords to Plowshares, targeting Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, If I only have 3 counters on Greater Gargadon, I would have to copy the Reveillark copy #1 to get Eternal Witness and Seedborn Muse and start attacking with the Greater Gargadon with Cryptic Command backup.=

(Back into the alternate reality where he has yet to activate the Legacy Weapon) I would then try to copy Body Double to become Reveillark copy #2. (Still during upkeep)

This makes it so that even if he draws Putrefy or Terror or some creature kill, I would be able to combo off successfully during my own upkeep. How?

Let's say he draws Terror, passes his turn, the remove token from game trigger goes and the copied copy targets Pestermite and Eternal Witness.

If he casts Terror now targeting Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, I can let it die, return Cryptic Command to my hand and target a black mana source using Pestermite to prompt the activation. If he does, I can sacrifice Pestermite to Greater Gargadon. Next turn, I bounce Body Double (or Reveillark copy #1) using Cryptic Command to return the combo from graveyard into play and win.

However, if he draws Swords to Plowshares or Sudden Shock, I will have to abandon my combo plan unless I have more than 3 counters on Greater Gargadon. (It's fine with me.) With more, I can simply sacrifice Reveillark to get back Body Double and a combo piece which I can sacrifice if there is any danger.

All these scenarios apply only in this particular game but I just wanted to say:

Reveillark is just so very very powerful.


A Random Bonus Section

Here is a blog by artist Terese Nielson. http://teresenielsen.typepad.com/ It's rather new but if you are interested you can always take a look.

If you have any friendly questions you want to ask me directly, you can e-mail me at tarmotog@hotmail.com.


by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 05/11/2008 - 20:20
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

If you have reveillark, body double, and a sac outlet (gargadon), you could go for the infinite mogg fanatic kill instead. It uses one less card than kiki + mite, and yes you can do infinite sacs with gargadon (look at Juniper Order Ranger combo).