A Singleton (and Standard) Breaking Point

It’s been a while since I’ve felt that I’ve have had anything to say (or at least enough to fill a whole article worth of text). Things have been bustling enough that I haven’t been in the 100CS pit, and I can’t seem to find a Standard deck that I like enough to bring to the DEs. Legacy is in the process of being obtained, but Dailies seem to be in hibernation anyway. My typical MTGO log in results in a draft, lots of typing, some perusing of classifieds, minor trolling of the fine folks in “/join auction” and maybe a failed attempt at deck building for one of many formats. Lots of time sunk for little result, yay!

This lull in my mass Magic binging usually happens at least a few times a year: when Standard is new and hasn’t been completely figured out, when Weekend Challenges are overshadowed by menial labor and when Limited has firmly clutched me in its grasp of negative expected value. It becomes awkward when I am in one of these lackadaisical periods, but my spending refuses to slow down- what to do with all of these cards?!?!

It gets worse when I notice a lot of what have purchased is useless in the competitive areas of Magic Online. For example, I just finished my playset of Grim Monoliths at the cost of 15 tickets a piece. (I really wanted to relive my Urza Block days and give Voltaic Key a purpose again… beyond Lux Cannon.) I haven’t even used the first Monolith in a 100CS deck yet, but now that I’ve obtained four, I am submitting unfortunate Classic Casual players to obscene amounts of artifact mana plus Tezzeret the Seeker and Upheaval. Of course, very rarely does my deck interact with my opponents’ decks to any meaningful amount.

How do I use my collection (primarily a collection of one-ofs) without playing PEs/DEs? Well, there are a few outlets that have been looking to recently.

Draft! (A Quick Aside)

I know, I know… Drafts aren’t using actually giving me any value from purchases, but I sure do sell my overstock or play Standard 2-mans to win packs! Mostly though, I want to take a bit to discuss a recent draft (that was going to be a video, but turned into raging at myself). Here was my deck:

Round 1 was easy, but Round 2 was a slaughter- I played myself into a loss, twice. Unfortunately, my opponent was rhoaen, a surly Canadian from Pro Tour past (as far as I know). His deck wasn’t spectacular (red-white with Soliton accompanying Sunspear Shikari and numerous equipment).

The first game, I was beating with Glint Hawk Idol (with Rusted Relic and Panic Spellbomb hanging around), but his Turn 1 Darksteel Axe into Shikari was giving me fits. On Turn 4, he plays a Contagion Clasp- so of course I mash F4! Immediately, I facepalm and cringe as I realize the mistake! I should have sacrificed my Panic Bomb to force him to minimize his own man. He eventually overwhelmed me because I couldn’t stop a 4 powered first striker.

Game 2 was poor judgment when blocking. I sided in Tel-Jilad Defiance and caught one Sunspear earlier in the match. He played his Soliton and followed it up with Flameborn Hellion, swinging with both (and a second Shikari) into my Myrsmith-powered Myr army. I traded three Myrs for the Soliton instead of trading four for the Hellion. In hindsight, I should have killed the Hellion since I had no removal for colored creatures… his Accorders Shield lifted the creature out of combat trading, and it eventually ate away at my thought-to-be never ending stream of 1/1s.

Sigh… then I immediately drafted again, ended up with the typical tilt deck (struggling for playables, not real strategy), and made the finals. I did play a bit smarter, but the experience reinforced my ill-founded belief that I cannot win with good cards if I am going to continue to play!

After eeking out my investment in the second Draft, I knew that I need to work on some sweet ideas that allow me to unwind and have some fun after some unfortunate events (usually of my own doing).

Elder Dragon Highlander

My go-to in the past has mostly been EDH (aka Commander). Like the trolls that came before, Commander gives me a sweet release when I just want to cast cute cards; however, I do not like to grief a whole table and mimic a game of Archenemy. Here’s the only deck that I bother updating as new cards come out:

EDH Rosheen Click the arrow to download the above deck in .txt format

(To load a .txt deck into Magic: Online’s Deck Editor, click “Load”, select “Local Text Deck”, find the location of the downloaded deck file and double-click the deck.)

Rosheen Meanderer is the perfect combination of theme general and power; you get to amass mana but have to restrict yourself in how you use it. Thanks to R&D in the new millennium, there are a ton of great X spells in Magic (and in green and red).

I play only a few damage dealing X spells, and only one actually is direct damage. In an effort to make games more enjoyable for my opponents, the majority of X costed affairs don’t just dumbly blast an opponent in the face. I personally like the X spells that end in a creature (with Gelatinous Genesis being the most fun).

To go along with my X spells, there is plenty of mana ramp and doubling spells. Generating mana is fun. So long as you don’t put all of your eggs in one basket (and get wiped by mass removal), the deck can win versus most non-blue combo. (It should be noted that serious combo players will almost always beat you, but that shouldn’t matter too much unless you’re in a tournament of some sort.) The best games of EDH are with people you know (and with people that build to a similar power level). Singleton players, let me know if you’d ever be up for a game or two!

Rainbow Stairwell

Moving forward, I hope to play more rainbow stairwell. I was playing this format on the program that shall not be named back on IRC servers more than 10 years ago. The way I learned was Type 1 with two of each traditional dual land (MTGOers call them MED duals) as the mana base (ending with a 56 card deck). I have seen other versions played (and have played some of the basic land-based), but I will always prefer the old way. The basic rules? One of each card from converted mana costs 1 to 6, for each color and for artifacts. No X spells and no multi-colored (including hybrid) cards.

This format really excites me because Masters Edition IV is about here. Many of the soon-to-come MEIV cards, along with oldies like The Abyss or Wheel of Fortune, don’t see much love, but in fringe formats like RS, you can make fun theme decks using cards from Magic‘s past. The downside is that it’s hard to find a random opponent- you need to find likeminded players or convince friends to build decks to compete!

Here’s one of my current RS creations (aimed at taking advantage of some fast mana and then just casting threats):

I love the highlander (singleton) feel of RS, and its quirky building makes for some fun interactions. The above deck is just a typical good stuff ramp deck, but as I delve into building, I will look for more synergy (metalcraft and graveyard recursion, I’m looking at you)! Hopefully, I can convince some of my buddies to build decks and waste away in the casual room every now and then. Sadly, this format isn’t singleton friendly (despite the fact that it is essentially a singleton format)- two of each dual can really put a damper on your wallet! (Maybe RAV duals could substitute?)

High Five

The last non-competitive format that I have my eye on is high five, or Prismatic Singleton as it’s called on Magic Online. In Indiana (and much of the Midwest), circa 2000, 5-color was the defacto semi-casual, semi-competitive format of choice. Many hours were cherished in assorted all-hours dining establishments, coffee tables and the occasional card shop. In a cursory google search, it appears that the format has even been revitalized!

Highlander 5-color always led to highly entertaining games- you have to play a lot of weird cards to fill out a 250 card deck (or now 300 card deck) in any way that resembles an archetype. “Mono” Blue Control, Elves, Goblins and White Weenie look hilarious in this format! Sadly, you really have to have all the duals and many randomly expensive cards to build a full deck. But if you have the lands, a simple good stuff deck often will do the trick. Time to warp back to the past and battle random monstrosities!

Sadly, I haven’t brewed anything up to share yet, but I will get on a list shortly (although I am sure a 300 card singleton deck would look atrocious in the deck tool). Might as well use the 5-color rules (since they barely have anything banned)… minus ante, of course!

So hopefully after the Grand Prix this coming weekend, I can find time to relax and play a few of the finer formats that Magic has to offer. If you’d be interested, feel free to let me know. To all of my grinding friends- don’t be afraid to sit back and have some fun every now and then!


  1. I like the idea of dabbling in other singleton formats. It gives one a way to get additional value out of a singleton collection. My hope is that MTGO grows enough to support more and more oddball formats as time passes.

  2. It’s been years since I actively played Prismatic Singleton, but I remember many entertaining games especially 2HG Prismatic Singleton.

  3. man, rainbow stairwell, that takes me back. I love me some singleton. Thanks for the stroll doown memory lane.

  4. I used to play a lot of rainbow stairwell. My personal preference on lands is also the 2 of each dual, but I then add 4 of any land of your choice to the mix. 20 lands is just not enough in a deck with that high of a curve and it sucks when games just come down to who didn’t get mana screwed.

    You know what is better than Rainbow Stairwell? Prismatic Rainbow Stairwell or Big Deck Rainbow Stairwell. It is the same basic concept as Rainbow Stairwell except you multiply each card slot by 5. So you have 5 red one drops, 5 red 2 drops, etc. Then I think the easiest and best way to do the lands is to just say you have to have 120 lands and the lands must all be part of a cycle that was released together (this keeps out large cycles like Shivan Gorge, Academy Ruins, Volraths Stronghold and whatever the white and green lands of this cycle are). This lets players just play whatever lands they have to help with their mana without requiring them to go buy extras.

    The fun part of this is that it is more random than regular prismatic singleton and it keeps out the combo decks which are pretty easy to build in regular Rainbow Stairwell.

  5. Super hard to find games! I was also told by an ORC that the land should be 4 of each basic land and then 4 of whatever I want (Singleton of course)

  6. @jonp: RS has changed over the years. Originally, it was only 56 card decks! I think that Zimbardo and I are going to try one of each MED dual land, one of each RAV dual land and one of each basic land (to total 61 cards). You’re welcome to build one also and send me a message when online. :)

    @platipus10: I will build one of these decks that you speak of. I will assume nothing is banned.

    @walkerdog: Self-deprecation can transcend emo realms… ‘SUP NOW?! (I am awesome, and my deck is too!!!)

    Thanks for the comments, pals!