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By: Tarmotog, Naoto Watabe
Apr 11 2008 12:05pm
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Singleton 100?

Singleton 100 was born together with the Elder Dragon Highlander format some time ago. As the name suggests, you play a deck of exactly 100 cards and other than basic lands, you cannot have more than one of any single card.

Today, I will touch on Singleton 100 while specifically excluding EDH because they are really very different. Usually, EDH is usually played as a multiplayer game which leads to a totally different evaluation on the different cards and strategies. I believe that the best way to play it is to just sit there, not invite trouble and put yourself in a really favorable position suddenly and win (Obliterate + Terravore?). (Not everyone wants to just play to win so this really should be done if you are playing for something big or else everyone will simply turn their resources to you and disarm you totally the next few games)

Characteristics of the Singleton 100 format:


-Different banned card list from Singleton (60 card)

The banned cards are:
Coalition Victory
Crucible of Worlds
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Panoptic Mirror
Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant
Sway of the Stars
Test of Endurance
Worldgorger Dragon

Assorted avatars and Gleemox
(If you look at the banned/restricted list of the format, you get to see a whole list of avatars which I feel can be summarized rather than having a whole entire list of them)



No commanders for you. Um.. wait.. where's your commander?

What's different?

The absence of Flash, Skullclamp and Umezawa's Jitte. (With such a revelation, I immediately start work on a Flash deck..  *smile* ) Skullclamp not banned is something very unexpected especially since it was banned from a real long time ago. They claimed that decks were racing to get the equipment and win. Ouch. You can use it here so use it while you still can! It's difficult to understand how clamp isn't broken in a "not-so-fast" format.

The reasons for these (in the list) cards being banned are contributed by the fact that Singleton 100 is a byproduct of EDH. Sure it doesn't hurt if you are playing Singleton 100 as a format of its own but it definitely did something to make people unhappy about them in EDH.

-Less mana consistency for non-mono-colored decks

I find that mono-colored decks and three to four colored decks are favored in this format instead of two colored decks (and five colored decks). Why? 

Let's say I want to play a RG deck of some sort so I would naturally try to maximize the number of lands that can produce either Red and Green or both at the same time.


Karplusan Forest
Grove of the Burnwillows
Stomping Ground
Gruul Turf
Pinecrest Ridge
Mossfire Valley
Shivan Oasis
Highland Weald

Usually, in "normal" 60 card Singleton, I would shy away from Pinecrest Ridge, Shivan Oasis and Highland Weald because of my inclusion of four fetchlands to help smoothen things out. Anyway, if we put all of these eight lands into the slot of twenty four lands, you can see that a third of your lands can help fix your specific colored mana problems.

Now let us think about Singleton 100. If we want to stick to the 40% ratio of lands, we would have forty lands. Of which, even with every  land available, it only fills up one fifth of the lands. So a huge portion of the lands would probably be filled up by basic lands. That is not good news. However, we can add more cards like fetchlands or City of Brass variants if we are really desperate to get the correct mana early.

Despite all that, you can still easily cast cards like Volcanic Hammer and Troll Ascetic consecutively on turn two and three. This slight mana "problem" would only surface once in awhile so there is no reason to shy away from making your favorite 2c decks.

-Mono colored decks will have the most consistency because you can draw any land you need and cast any of your cards

Following the train of thought that the greatest consistency is found in mono colored decks, naturally, the biggest winner is The Red Deck. Red decks win despite not having the need to play really powerful creatures (as seen from historical evidence even from the prototype of sligh builds). They have a large amount of burn lets them seal the deal by just topdecking even after they run out of steam. Burn cards are introduced all the time. I could confidently say that almost every set has some form of a burn spell. Put them all together into a deck and you have a deck that can win.

The biggest winner of the Red deck? Arc-Slogger of course!

With so many powerful cards in this one color, (and the addition of the many upcoming "red" cards from Shadowmoor), it is safe to claim that mono-red is the deck to play if you do not like to be bugged by being unable to cast your spells.

The downside? You don't play with a large number of high quality cards. That can really get to you when people start challenging you with card quality. 



I like big libraries..

For example: 
X: Random 5/5. Done.
You: ShockYamabushi's Flame  
X :Another random 5/5. Done. 
You: =(


I am fine with counter magic that cost more mana for the same effect..

The runner up in consistency would definitely be Mono-Blue which gains a big boost in power because it can now counter cards even more selectively (because of the larger number of "not-so-threatening" cards) and because the format is generally slower because people try to use cards to make their decks more consistent and they tend to have clunky plays because of that. The more traditional blue cards can now be used to better effect. Mono-blue in 60 card Singleton suffers from weaknesses like being not-so-capable in handling cards that "leaked" through the counter barrier. With less consistency from more decks, mono-blue can stabilize faster and can prepare to shape the game in its desire.

If I were to play mono blue, I would definitely put in the Dovescape + Guile combo into it since the games tend to stretch quite abit. For those of you who don't see the combo, you need both Dovescape and Guile in play. You cast a non-creature spell and it gets countered by the Dovescape trigger. You get birds and you also remove it from the game (because of the ability of Guile ) before casting it again for more birds. Rinse and repeat until satisfied. To make this version work, you should put in more powerful blue/artifact creatures into the deck so that you don't start countering your own spells for no reason to Dovescape. Build it like a "big blue" deck (counter magic with big fatties deck).


Guile and countermagic has been proven to be quite good too.

The biggest bane to playing a mono-blue deck? Nobody, I repeat, nobody likes to play against counter based decks.

Side talk: I once played a turn two Remand (I was not playing a ton of counters but just a few soft ones to buy time) and have my opponent say stuff like "I don't play against counters" and leave the game immediately. If you don't want to meet such people, I recommend playing decks that do really powerful nonsensical things instead. If people don't like counters, chances are that they are not running counters themselves unless they are really the hypocritical type of people. If you just run powerful cards one after another, you win anyway.

-Big decks equals more space for silver bullets

Definition of Silver Bullet (in my words): A card that can give you a really advantageous position against a certain strategy and is usually played as one offs and searched out by other cards.

For example: Engineered Plague vs goblins or Serenity vs affinity really puts your opponent in an uphill battle.

In 60 card Singleton, you cannot afford to squeeze in too many silver bullets because if you get an irrelevant one, you essentially have a dead draw unless if your silver bullets happens to be a Tormod's Crypt and you have a Thirst for Knowledge in hand. In Singleton 100, the chances of you picking up the irrelevant card is much less so it wouldn't hurt as much.

Zur the Enchanter is a card I have toyed around to some amount of satisfaction in the format. I can put in Oblivion Ring, BitterblossomPernicious Deed, Animate Dead which are really good on their own but they get really ridiculous when they pop for free. You can also tutor them like the way silver bullets should be found.

Sidetalk: A long time ago, I brought up the sliver bouncing Vedalken AEthermage as a way to find wizards. In 60 card Singleton, there was no need nor time nor space for it. However, in the Singleton 100 world, I think that it has another chance at making a comeback.

I have a deck with a considerable number of wizards. The wizard team includes game winning Meloku the Clouded Mirror, the creature stealing Sower of Temptation, the super bounce Venser, Shaper Savant and even the sneaky Spellstutter Sprite (!!). To back them up, I even have the Riptide Laboratory to bounce my wizards.

-Big decks mean more space for what you want to play

Nowadays, in 60 card Singleton, many of my cards get the boot because they no longer make the mark. In fact, some decks I make are getting more and more specific that I don't get to put cards I want to play unless I sacrifice consistency somewhere.

"To fufill your dream, you have to trample over the dreams of others."

I am sure that everyone has some card they like that they don't play with anymore. For me, that card would be Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni. She is really powerful but I no longer use her actively because her inbuilt game plan doesn't coincide with what I want my decks to accomplish nowadays. However, in a 100 card deck, I can now openly play her (of course not in any random deck) in decks that I feel can let her showoff her prowess because it becomes more forgiving in bigger decks going into longer games.

If you notice I like to say that you can play cards you want to play when talking about Singleton. It feels sad when you can't play cards anymore because there is no reason (that contributes to you winning) to play them. 

-Inconsistent draws make plans harder to execute

Singleton 100 loses out in consistency simply because there are simply not that many cards that try to accomplish the same thing and that you can get really bad draws in the short run easily.

Sidetalk: Because of the "full randomness" of Magic Online, I was able to draw all 17 lands from my draft deck with help from Fallowsage and have like 18 cards left in my library (books?). I lost the game having 5 lands in hand and 12 lands in play, thinking that I could no longer topdeck lands but did anyway. (I have friends who think the shuffler is rigged so that you actually lose. No idea why they think that but I hope someone prove that it's random.) 

-Can you imagine all 40 lands stacked on top of your deck?-

As part of my testing of big mana sources, I tried to put the Urzatron (Urza's Tower+Urza's Mine+Urza's Power Plant) and the Urborgtron (Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth+Cabal Coffers) together in the same deck, giving the deck full access to cards that can find non-basic lands. (Scapeshift was the ultimate glue to the deck. I have yet to test a Scapeshift build for 60 card Singleton because I don't think that having tons of mana is that powerful anymore and Scapeshift doesn't seem like its needed yet.)

The biggest problem with my deck was that I spent too much time developing mana that I ended up in really horrible situations, even if I managed to get out of them sometimes due of the lack of a full scale offense from the other side of the board. I was saved from a dying position by Platinum Angel twice. I also managed to have a tron set naturally in the early game at some point in time. (lucky me)

This showed that by wanting to focus resources on getting to the "mega mana" state, I had to sacrifice cards that didn't help to get there. I couldn't really assign card space to the cards that could potentially let me stabilize with ease because I was afraid that these cards could potentially backfire because of the inconsistent draws.

Cabal Coffers

No swamps = no gas

Certain cards have certain values at different times of the game. For this deck, land searching becomes gold early and big uncastable nonsense are junk. Once I hit the "mega mana" switch, the reverse becomes true. If I have lets say Jungle Barrier, I put myself in a situation where I have to opt to interact at my opponent's level which he would probably be able to execute more efficiently than I would. This is coupled with the fact that the cards I would have in my hand are probably not the most optimal cards I would want at that point in time. I put myself at a big disadvantage if I try to interact head on with my opponent when my deck's final stage does not desire to.

In 60 card Singleton, you don't have to forcefully get out say the Urzatron because you can slowly draw into them at your own pace. However, in Singleton 100, you don't have that luxury because there are too many cards to draw and if you make your deck intending to stall effectively while trying to search out the specific lands, you will get killed by poor draws of the wrong parts of the deck at the wrong time (which is less likely to happen in 60 card Singleton).

Last Words

If you like to play mid game decks, I suggest playing Singleton 100 as compared to the 60 card version because you get more advantage by playing there. 60 card Singleton can be quite quick at times so you may not be able to simply play your big stuff.

If you like to be competitive and all, go for the 60 card Singleton where you can start to think which cards to boot and which lands to play and have the concept of urgency when deck building.

This is Tarmotog encouraging you to play one ofs today (or when you can play again).
Any questions can be sent to tarmotog@hotmail.com


by MirrorMage at Fri, 04/11/2008 - 14:34
MirrorMage's picture

Interesting article! Well written too. Was an enjoyable read on a format I had no idea existed. You sir, deserve a churro.