Blast from the Past: Revisiting 100%’s Junk Drawer (Sideboards in 100CS)

(Editor’s Note: Travis – so many trolls to most – wrote the original 100%: Junk Drawer way back in July 2009! It was after sideboards had been allowed in 100 Card Singleton for only a bit, and the average sideboard looked like a blind handful from a paper’s play box of cardboard goodies- the abominations looked nothing like what you’d expect from a tuned competitive deck’s 15 benched bruisers! Unearthing this article has relevance to me and many of my 100 Card cohorts; our sideboards still look a fright! I hope that this classic update will prove to be a valuable resource to anyone interested in what I consider to be one of Magic‘s finer formats! Cheers, ChrisKool)

Everybody has that one drawer at home and/or work reserved entirely for stockpiling seemingly nonessentials. A giant blue crazy straw, some AA batteries, VHS tapes that contain God-only-knows what (if anything at all)… We never know when the opportunity to use this bric-a-brac will present itself, but we steadfastly justify its preservation with this simple philosophy: “just in case.”

Those of you that read my prior article must be thinking, what a clever analogy. Those of you that haven’t… Well let’s talk about sideboarding in 100 Card Singleton.

Oh what a privilege it is to finally have these additional fifteen cards in our beloved format. (This change marked a great success for the format on a whole- finally it felt like competitive Magic! – Chris) Those worst-case scenario silver bullets that once were a main deck necessary evil of deck get holstered. That vital deck space that was reserved specifically for contingency plans can now be put to more general use. So, what, might you ask, does this change?

Everything.

HATE

The immediate obvious advantage of sideboarding is external access to hosers. Before we were granted this amenity, playing something as specific and narrow as Perish main deck would have been an absolute crapshoot. Maybe round one you get paired against Elves and make fast confetti of their would-be army. Maybe the following round you draw it in your opening hand only discover you’re opponent is playing blue-white control. Welcome to Mulligansville, population: you.

Reaching into the Ether between games to modify your deck with opponent-specific cards can easily turn a game one loss back to your advantage. But remember, this is a two-way street.

An early game Chill severely impedes a mono-red player’s hopes of an explosive start. And yet Pyroblast gives that same mono-red deck the ability to force through a critical spell that would otherwise be countered, or nuke any obstacle with a blue mana symbol in its casting cost… including Chill.

But how good is Chill against Naya?

Mass-effect hosers like Choke, Boil, Compost, Perish, and Anarchy don’t always deliver the maximum consequences. Whereas Flashfires is a one-sided Armageddon against White Weenie, it may only destroy a single land, if even that, against a deck consisting of two or more colors.

With the popularity of multicolored decks and non-basic land options out there, such focused hate may be marginally effective. Bearing that in mind, I am more apt to endorse targeted hate rather than sweepers. Celestial Purge, Filigree Fracture, Pyro- and Hydroblast, Ignite Disorder, Slay, Deathmark… any of these can be boarded in over a less efficient spell in the appropriate match up. This class of card often comes with one of two bonuses: they are either HIGHLY cost effective or offer an attractive side-effect (think cantrips, life-gain or a modest amount of damage).

But hate extends beyond mere color (all social implications withstanding). Strategy hosers are the next viable option of discussion. Though finding justification for fleshing out your sideboard with such inordinately specific cards may seem at first ridiculous, it is still worth consideration. The primary factor for including cards this narrow is, of course, metagame.

For example, if Goblins quite suddenly had a significant presence in Queues and/or Premier Events (and it has,thanks E. Hustle! – Chris), Tivadars Crusade becomes an entirely sound boarding option. Same with Tivadar of Thorn himself, who is equally effective against mono-red. Or if countermagic-based control decks are prevalent, you can look past the stalwarts of Pyroblast and Guttural Response (and even Boil and Choke) to complete shut-downs like City of Solitude and Dosan the Falling Leaf.

I will refrain from digressing into subatomic minutia on the possibilities and applications of strategy hosing. Instead, I offer you a list of a wide variety of potential hate options to consider.

A Large List of Hate

White (50)
Blue (25)
Black (33)
Red (29)
Green (33)
Multi-colored and Artifact (20)
Buy this Deck

….UP THE SLEEVE

Next I’d like to discuss how to garner the maximum utility out of your sideboard: not only how to make it an accessible extension of your deck, but how to get as much mileage as possible out of those fifteen cards.

With sideboards freshly legal in the format, Wishes (the penultimate of sideboard utility) are once again a viable tool in deck construction. Burning Wish, Living Wish and family all allow for incredibly narrow and situational cards to be accessible (and during Game 1 to boot!) without the downside of having to draw such a card when it is not needed.

However, using Wishes as opposed to more traditional sideboarding carries a few inherit drawbacks.

For one, they require a heavy card type commitment: creatures for Living Wish, sorceries for Burning Wish, instants for Cunning Wish, multicolored for Glittering Wish, and so on. Though, the card type requirement is rarely an issue, as nearly every game effect comes in every available form and fashion – Indrik Stomphowler, Gleeful Sabotage, Disenchant, and Harmonic Sliver all destroy an artifact or enchantment.

Sadly, drawing a Wish early often feels like a mulligan. If there’s no pressing obstacle in your way, usage of a Wish wastes its utility. This can lead to a dilemma about when and under what circumstances the card is best cast (do I play it while I have spare mana or wait to directly answer my opponent’s play?), which is exactly why I ended up cutting Glittering Wish from the five-color deck I shared last week. I found that drawing/Cascading into it often opened a door that I didn’t really need and/or want.

Lastly, building your board around a Wish limits the scope and variety of your sideboard. Not all fifteen of the cards need be reserved for Wish targets, but the fewer cards it can access, the less efficient it becomes. Which poses the question, what do I board out and what do I board in? Ideally, you want to exchange the card type appropriate to the Wish requirement: a creature for a creature, a sorcery for a sorcery, etc. But if a card is particularly useful in a match, shuffling into your main deck means its unavailable as a Wish target… and this creates yet another dilemma.

Beyond wishes, there is (luckily) another nice trick to add utility out of your sideboard: Charms, Commands, Split and/or Flashback cards, or any card that does more than one thing, essentially stretches your sideboard beyond fifteen cards. Even seemingly straightforward cards like Pyro-/Hydroblast are modal and give many options in-game.

The more options the better… an important mantra to (internally) chant while considering…

THE BIG THREE

I think that most players would agree there are three basic deck archetypes: beatdown, control, and combo. When building a deck, you must consider how it will perform against general archetypes and then the specific match-ups. The sideboard is just an extension of the main deck that allows for a minor tweaking in between games (or during games if you have a Wish).

Perhaps the “big three” is too broad of a categorical definition to properly consider for 100c, but the logic is the same for how the sideboard should be approached. First, we must consider the expected decks in an event. For 100c, some decks to consider are: green-based Elves (often paired with white and/or black), Red Deck Wins (and Goblins), green-white midrange, Grixis (or Crosis if you have any perception of the past) control, Naya (Rith!) midrange, blue-white or blue-black control, and even the occasional greedy deck, such as my own. When building a deck, it should have an advantage against what is to be expected as opposition but not completely forsake any unknown opponents.

What does this have to do with sideboarding? (Wait for it…)

Everything.

The entire purpose of a sideboard is essentially a part of deck construction- how would you want your deck to look if you knew what your opponent’s deck looked like? Your sideboard offers a magical pocketknife with all sorts of gizmos and gadgets to tune your deck against different match-ups. After proper sideboarding, a deck should function more smoothly than it did before. This is a major reason why narrow hate cards like Boil or Chill lose their value – drawing a Chill against a Naya deck that gets a heavy white-green draw is like a mulligan (or drawing an Boil against a blue-based control deck that draws one Island) is in many cases less impacting on the game state than the card that was removed to sideboard in the hate card.

When choosing cards for your sideboard, think about how you want a deck to look and play in expected match-ups. Also, think about how your opponent’s deck could play out. With these mental musings fresh, you should be able to develop a strategy and add the necessary cards to your board.

The real finesse skill comes when you are able to find cards that tune your deck in multiple match-ups and thus give you the greatest amount of utility (as discussed above).

For one example, let us consider a midrange red-green deck that sideboards Vexing Shusher. Against a deck with counter magic, the Shusher is an obvious inclusion. But it’s really a posterchild of the Swiss army knife mentality. Against a quick Red Deck Wins, the Shusher can be brought in the stead of a large, clunkier body that might cost 4 to 5 mana to give the midrange deck a stronger ability to trade creatures or absorb burn in the early game. Against a combo strategy, Vexing Shusher can be brought in to increase early pressure for a deck that would normally spend the first few turns killing creatures or accelerating mana.

You can also see the application of sideboarding multifunctional cards in the deck upon which my last article was written. (By last article, trolls is referring to an article was actually written July 2, 2009. The “greed” deck is still fun and competitive; you can view a modernized list from my 6th place finish in February 2010. It should be noted that my sideboard is embarrassing! – Chris)

THE UTILITY BELT

At long last, we tackle the deck in question.

5 Color Greed

Creatures (28)
Other Spells (33)
Lands (39)
Sideboard (15)
Buy this Deck

Given that I had access to every color, my options were wide open. I felt strongly that my deck had an overall level of power that would be hard to rival. Even though I was able to win most of my games by turn seven, or less on a few occasions, I needed my sideboard to do two things:

1.) Stymie hyper-aggressive decks with cheap mass removal.

And 2.) Answer counter magic and disruption (particularly bounce spells) that could seriously impede my ability to get a threat on the table and keep it there.

TOOLS FOR EVERY JOB

To combat decks that threw inexpensive threats at me, I chose Firespout and Pyroclasm. Both cards were easy on my mana, dealt damage often less than the toughness of my own creatures, and were able to get rid of Magus of the Moon.

Stoic Angel is another nice countermeasure for slowing down heavy creature strategies. It’s particularly good against Elves, with its high volume of creatures with tap-activated abilities.

Fiery Justice is one of my personal favorites. It’s great for wiping the board of multiple small targets or for handling a single, more burdensome threat. My opponent gaining life is of little to no consequence to me whatsoever, especially if I am clearing their side of the board.

Duplicant‘s ability to remove a big threat and then become one was something I wanted to have against midrange decks.

Faiths Fetters was another great answer to midrange threats. The life gain and ability to shut down activated abilities is useful against a wide breadth of decks and strategies.

With Red Deck Wins and Elves placing 1st and 2nd the week before, I ran Teferis Moat, just in case there was a resurgence of mono-colored aggression.

Hydroblast seemed good against the field as well: Crosis, Red Deck Wins, Naya…

Pyroblast, Guttural Response, and Vexing Shusher are an obvious anti-control package.

Krosan Grip, Ancient Grudge, and Hide/Seek helped me against the heavy artifact decks, especially Goblin Belcher and Painters Servant/Grindstone.

Lastly, I’d like to quickly explain why I moved All Suns Dawn to the sideboard, replacing it with Lash Out in the main deck. Though All Suns’ is an incredible weapon against midrange and control decks, I didn’t want to risk drawing it early against an aggressive deck. I chose Lash Out over it main because I wanted more cheap removal, primarily to deal with Magus of the Moon. Additionally, Lash Out allowed me to bottom a card if I was in need of land or a more specific answer, and, with the number of four-or-more cost spells in the deck, the extra damage was a nice bonus.)

Last but not least, a special and most gracious thank you is extended to my dear and wonderful friend ChrisKool who remembers what I forget and helps me trim the fat with all my decks. Be sure to check out his video contributions about the format, or, as I call them, his “Arti-Kools.”

 
  1. Nice statement Travis(like always),i think i would like to rescue my old 5 colors,and other decks for the format,but all we know the decks are based on a fine mana draw/fix,and for that usually have a bunch of fixers,like Sakura-tribe elder,rampant growth,or farseek.

    But i must admitt,5 colors all solutions decks are the more funny decks to play,is like a multideck,and have the essence of 100 singleton inside,draw the best answer/threat.

    Good job,see you here because i will take a break on modo i think. ;-)

  2. I recently created a wish deck after finding that the complete set of judgment goes for practically nothing on ebay (I bought few and suddenly had some wishes to deal with). I make an eldrazi based deck with some dragon brood mothers to make use of the spawn tokens should I not get enough for the big boys (or the wish to pull them). Of course dragon brood mother would often clean up without the appearance of eldrazi and I was often eating the tokens with the dragons.

    Basically I decided the best of both worlds, three brood mothers in the deck and one on the sideboard. That way if a blood braid elf cast the wish early, I’d grab the brood mother and almost always have her in turn four a five (usually the time when I could cast her with the aide of spawn tokens)

    Thought I’d share my wish experience.

  3. The hate list is a nice summary worth referring to, but I strongly disagree with the sideboarding strategy suggested.

    Cards like deathmark, slay, celestial purge etc see no play in our format, nor should they. We already have access to some of the most efficient removal ever printed, and minor value cards like this are usually a waste of a slot. The blasts are an exception simply because of the gross efficiency and flexibility of their effect; compare vs. flash flood, which is largely a non-factor.

    The sideboard cards that are successful and are worth running in 100 card are generally game-changers that radically affect or invalidate a certain strategy, not pure value cards.

    Examples would be Decree of Justice against counter-based control; Gaddock Teeg against greedy high-cost control; Kor Firewalker, Tivadar of Thorn and Sphere of Law against mono-red; Primal Command against Survival; Consuming Vapors against Naya; Ruination against 4-5 colour decks.

    These aren’t small value cards, they radically reshape the games in which they are played, and unless answered immediately make those games very difficult for their targeted decks to win. That’s how sideboarding works in legacy/vintage, and that’s how it works in our mini-vintage sister format.

  4. Do remember, this article is old; like more than a year. Not only are more cards available for consideration, my exp. has improved as well. Just letting ya know, if ya missed out on that.

  5. That’s an entirely fair point, just making sure a range of perspectives is on the page for whoever stumbles upon it :)

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