Tarmotog's picture
By: Tarmotog, Naoto Watabe
Apr 17 2008 11:24pm
Login to post comments


The upcoming set, Shadowmoor, is going to have a big impact on deck designing in Singleton because of how different this set from the previous set. Without MTGO to test cards, we can take this break to think about how we want to change our decks in anticipation of the big changes from Shadowmoor.

Here I discuss the main mechanics of Shadowmoor and their likely impacts on the format.

1) Hybrid mana

The most obvious and rampant Shadowmoor mechanic has to be the hybrid cards. Hybrid cards can be played for either this mana or that mana. This means that the card would probably see more play because it is available to two colors without having the need to play both. Also, this means that there will be many different decks using the same cards while not requiring similar mana bases. Of course, the lighter the mana requirements (more colorless mana in the cost and less colored hybrid mana), the more possibility of the card being played. Some hybrid cards encourage 2c decks while some are available for anyone.

-Friendly Hybrid Cards


Instant Common
Put target attacking or blocking creature on top of its owner's library.
Conspire (As you play this spell, you may tap two untapped creatures you control that share a color with it. When you do, copy it and you may choose a new target for the copy.)
Illus. Warren Mahy #136/301

Not only is this card blue or white, I only need one of either. Because of that, I can play this card in any deck that may want this effect if I am already splashing blue or white in the deck. (Of course, I might not be able to Conspire this particular card because of the way I describe putting it into any deck but that is not my point.)

Nothing more I can say. Want it in your deck? Splash for it.

-Unfriendly Hybrid Cards (3-5 hybrid mana)

Have you seen this card?

Boggart Ram-Gang

Creature - Goblin Warrior Uncommon
Wither (This deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters)
"We're going to need a bigger gate"
-Bowen, Barrenton Guardcaptain
Illus. Dave Allsop #203/301 3/3

It's definitely either going to cost RRR , GGG, RRG or GGR.
This is three colored mana so if you are looking forward to casting this monster on turn 3, you'd better not be playing mana that do not spit out either R or G. This may sound easy but in reality, it isn't so.

Unlike Standard where you will get to play with four of the  Graven Cairns cycle of hybrid filter lands, this is the Singleton world. We never get more than one of anything. In fact, new cards exist to be put into old decks or to be formed around. If I played Boreal Druid  previously in a RG deck, its power drops when I try to include the  Boggart Ram-Gang because the colorless mana it produces is useless for it.

I will have to start to change the structure of my deck at my mana base level if I am serious about casting the heavy hybrid cards (those will many hybrid symbols). Land cards like Mutavault or Temple of the False God do not produce colored mana but have incentive of being played as they are powerful. How many of such cards you can utilize depend on how many mana heavy cards you intend to play because you cannot have the best of both worlds.

-In the middle with 2

There is a bulk of hybrid cards with two hybrid mana in the casting cost. These cards are going to be difficult to splash because they require two their respective either/or mana. In multicolored decks, it is best to treat these as XY instead of X/Y X/Y because it is much easier to get two different colors of mana than 2 of the same type in most decks as most people will make effort into getting all the different mana out as soon as possible.

Double hybrid mana cards are very playable but lose out slightly at the consistency level. It is also not very easy to plan how many mana sources you want to dedicate for these cards so I advise players to take note of how they are allocating lands which I feel will tend to be overlooked.

Sidetalk: Definitely, Shadowmooor is pushing you into two color or mono-colored decks. I don't like that but I guess it is something I'll have to get used to.

-The Mono-Colored Hybrids

These cards cost 3x of a single colored mana, 2x the colored mana and two colorless or six colorless. These cards are very open in application and should be played in decks that are close to mono-colored because some effects are not worth 6 colorless mana when totally splashed. While the black one in the cycle has the most potential, the rest can also be played in any deck.

Something to note is that the cards are still rather strong at the casting cost of 2x colored and 2x colorless. The total cost only rises by one which is still acceptable.

For starters, you can use the colorless Urzatron mana or the Cabal Coffers mana  to supply this amount of mana (together with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth of course).

 -The Not-so-Obvious Drawbacks to Hybrid cards

Hybrid cards are the colors in their casting costs. They are essentially gold cards in nature. Cards with protection from a certain color now gain value because they can disrupt the usage of some cards in those colors. The next winners are color hosers which will be able to catch more cards even if unintentionally.

Sidetalk: I am now working on a "Machine Head" deck from the Invasion era because I want to figure out what made that deck tick. I have a feeling that the Singleton format is now at the power level of the standard format of around that period of time from the Masquerade block to Oddessey block. Maybe because of the fact that I started playing from that time but I have a hunch that it is possible to make a revive a successful deck from that age and convert it into a powerful Singleton deck. The most exciting card I want to use is Crypt Angel which has protection from white to respond to the likely favor of white removals such as Oblivion Ring and Swords to Plowshares.

(For those who are unfamiliar with the name, "Machine Head" is a BR deck that gets its name because it playys cards like Void and Urza's Rage which feature the "made-by-Urza" titan engines. The deck also uses Dark Ritual to power out turn one Plague Spitters to kill Llanowar Elves and Birds of Paradise or accelerate into a turn two Blazing Specter)

2) Conspire

Conspire (As you play this spell, you may tap two untapped creatures you control that share a color with it. When you do, copy it and you may choose a new target for the copy.) is obviously a mechanic that encourages the playing of creatures.

While there are just a handful of such cards, it becomes a big push to up your creature count just to be able to cast the card conspired. If you manage to conspire a card, it makes another copy of the card and that definitely is card advantage in an undebatable form. This additional copy has to be countered again and can also get past a Counterbalance trigger.

Counter based decks are hit in a totally different way. People would play more annoying spells with more annoying drops. It gets more and more difficult even before looking at the "you-cannot-counter-my-spells" goblin and another Pyroblast friend.

3) Q (The Untap Sign)

This mechanic shouldn't impact the Singleton World much. Being able to untap as a cost is not something we cannot live with especially since it too is affected by "summoning sickness" (an obsolete term which means you cannot attack or tap/untap for abilities unless the creature was around from the beginning of your upkeep).

I would view this as just a more complicated tap sign for now until more and more powerful Q cards are made.

This mechanic is not very common and they function similarly to tap activated abilities. Even if there is a creature card that can Q without any additional mana cost attached, I doubt I would be able to make an Opposition deck solely based on it. because of the multiple vulnerabilities in the strategy.

4) Persist

(When this creature is put into a graveyard from play, if it had no -1/-1 counters on it, return it to play under its owner's control with a -1/-1 counter on it)

Killing creatures was never so troublesome. Persist allows the same guy to come back, even though slightly smaller plus some of these guys have annoying come-into-play triggered abilities.

This mechanic might encourage players to go away from simple "destroy" cards and move towards the  "remove from game" class of cards which will be able to hit some decks where it hurts. White would tend to be favored over black as the blue accompanying support color of choice because of the tools available to it put it in a more favorable position as compared to black.

It doesn't matter how many Wrath of God variants there are if cards become more and more resistant against them. If this trend goes on, there might come a time where people will start to run (Final Judgement) again. I like the persist cards but somehow I find that the control mages really have to change their strategies at the base level to be able to adapt to even more wrath hate. Maybe Control Magic will gain much more value now.

Sidetalk: As more and more new sets are made, one can see the gradual shift of strategies to the more creature based strategies. More new sets mean that Singleton will move into a more "fair" state where you try to overpower your opponent with powerful cards. On the other hand, the older sets give us more undercosted and powerful cards. Online Singleton originally had the same card pool as "online extended" with a couple extra promotional cards. Slowly as we get more of the older cards, the power level will greatly increase. There will come a day where Singleton will become a "mini-Vintage" in terms of power and will have consistency far more superior to standard formats because of the number of good mana fixing non-basic lands available in the future. Even with just the old dual lands predicted to appear in MED II, not necessarily all ten, we will be able to make absurd mana bases. It's really difficult to predict how Singleton will change.

Equation of the day: Persist + Momentary Blink = just forget about trying to kill that creature.

5) Wither

(This deals damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters.)

Wither is really very tough to adapt. Already we have to start getting ready to block creatures and now they tell us it gets more difficult to block. Take the Boggart Ram-Gang discussed above and think about it. Once upon a time, I could block with a Horned Turtle-sized creature every turn and now I don't have such luxury?

This Wither mechanic is more than just "permanent damage". It actually brings down the power of the creature too!. So Tarmogoyfs out there are going to start shrinking into a non-combat fit state once they start to engage creatures with wither.

Wither is deathtouch v2.0 that now kills small regenerators while trading away the ability to be able to fell giant treefolks in one swipe. Gone are the days where you thought you could block a creature forever with a regenerator. (Like with Troll Ascetic or River Boa)

Sidenote: Wither prevents Persist.

Even if you just play 1 or 2 cards with Wither, it is definitely going to affect your games significantly because they play by a different set of rules. People will need time to adapt to this change.

Prediction of the Post Shadowmoor Singleton Scene

It is very obvious that there will be an even greater push towards creature based games. With tougher times for the counter mage, control decks would probably move away from relying on counter magic and towards more powerful cards and creatures. Anti-creature strategies would get gain the most value followed by aggressive strategies. Non-creature based combo decks might sneak more wins by playing out of the main areas of concern - creature battles.

I am guessing that reanimation strategies might pick up with the loosening of counter decks because big powerful creatures are good against small powerful creatures.

While the future is uncertain, we definitely have a rough idea of how things might shape up from the areas where people might capitalize.


Until next time, this is Tarmotog bringing the Singleton world closer to you.

Questions can be sent to tarmotog@hotmail.com.


by Neoshinji at Mon, 05/05/2008 - 12:03
Neoshinji's picture


Nice post on the Shadowmoor cards. 

Been playing the singleton format for about a month now and have found your past articles very helpful.  Wondering if you can help me fine tune my G/B/w deck.  So far I has some trouble with counter and burn decks.  Its not a hopeless match-up but whatever you can suggest would be helpful.  

Moldy Brococli & Cauliflower Singleton Deck

Phyrexian Furnace
Sensei's Divining Top
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sword of Light and Shadow

Birds of Paradise
Dark Confidant
Doran, the Siege Tower
Eternal Witness
Hypnotic Specter
Llanowar Elves
Loxodon Hierarch
Ohran Viper
Ravenous Baloth
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Troll Ascetic

Animate Dead
Pernicious Deed
Phyrexian Arena
Sylvan Library

Evolution Charm
Vampiric Tutor

Chainer's Edict
Gerrard's Verdict
Hymn to Tourach
Living Wish
Profane Command

Garruk Wildspeaker
Liliana Vess

Bloodstained Mire
Horizon Canopy
Llanowar Wastes
Godless Shrine
Mouth of Ronom
Murmuring Bosk
Overgrown Tomb
Snow-Covered Forest Qty 4
Snow-Covered Plains Qty 1
Snow-Covered Swamp Qty 4
Temple Garden
Terramorphic Expanse
Treetop Village
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Windswept Heath

Avatar of Woe
Aven Riftwatcher
Chameleon Colossus
Deadwood Treefolk
Ghost Quarter
Harmonic Sliver
Mirri, Cat Warrior
Nath of the Gilt-Leaf
Necrotic Sliver
Viridian Shaman
Earwig Squad
Withered Wretch