If any of you reading this recognize me it is most likely from Singleton (old 60CS or the new 100CS) , Prismatic, or perhaps even from various forums. I have been playing Singleton online since the original beta and it is by far my favorite format. It so happens that the site currently has plenty of people writing about 100 Card Singleton so I have been encouraged to tackle a slightly different topic.
What Iâ€™ve decided to do is to share my method for breaking down a new format and it so happens that there are some relatively new formats to use as examples. Both Core Set Constructed and Standard Singleton are the most recent additions to the PE scene. With my love for 100 Card Singleton, I obviously opted to delve into its Standard variant. I hope that my prior experience as well as the greater depth I see in the format gives it an edge as my contribution guinea pig.
Before I get too far in I want to mention that Standard Singleton looks to be a fantastic format for those Limited aficionados looking to make the jump into Constructed. You only need one of any single card and it only uses the most current card sets, meaning that if you are a hardcore Limited player, you most likely have all or most of the cards necessary.
My original intent was to write this article about the inception of Standard Singleton to give insight into how to approach it as a new format. Due to a number of circumstances it obviously didn’t happen. Since the start of the format I have only played in the first 2 PEs and with only moderate results, but I felt my decks were on track and headed in the right direction. Since my original plan failed to materialize, I have decided to take a slightly altered route. Since it happens that I have been unable to play in further PEs and since I have not looked at T8 results since that time, I am going to give my analysis and method for exploring a new format. Once finished writing my breakdown I am going to open the results of the most recent PE and see how well my thought process works. This is going to require a level of trust on your part that I actually have not been secretly looking a Top 8 results to craft the perfect guess.
I see many people take an intuitive yet somewhat poorly conceived approach regarding entering new formats. Iâ€™m going to call it the â€œMad-Libsâ€ approach; you know those crazy stories where you fill in nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Mad-Libs for Magic is where people take a deck from one format and take pieces out and then fill in the blanks with what they hope are equal substitutes. For Standard Singleton this would be akin to taking a Standard Jund deck, pulling out all the multiples, and then trying to match up cards removed with similar cards in the Standard pool. This can be okay if you donâ€™t have to remove too many cards or the formats are extremely similar, but what is so wrong with this approach? It completely ignores everything that is important to the format for which you are trying to build. You are actually creating a bad version of a Standard deck and not a good version of a Standard Singleton deck.
Another major problem is that you may pick a deck with too few cards to substitute. A Standard deck is only going to give you about 1/3 of a Standard Singleton deck so if the other 2/3 of cards that you might possibly fill the blanks with are bad then you are never going to get anywhere. However, if you realize this going into the process, looking at Standard decks will give you an idea of what the powerful cards in a format are and what color or colors those cards may be concentrated in. Just pay attention to the pitfalls of the approach if you are going to take this method and look for the forest in the trees.
One of the most important and valuable methods when building decks for a brand new format is to try and figure out what exactly the constraints for that format are. There are many types of constraints and they take on many flavors: card draw, counters, lock components, removal, land destruction, threats, etc. To give some quick examples here are some of the main constraints in 100 Card Singleton:
- Armageddon and its partner in crime Ravages of War
- Magus of the Moon, Blood Moon, and their new friend Price of Progress
- Racing some common 2-card combos, i.e. Painters Servant/Grindstone and Charbelcher/Severence
- Small Red men backed by burn that can kill turn 4-5 easily if not disrupted
- Counter-magic that is predominantly 2-mana
There are certainly many more things I could list and they are all things to consider when building a deck for 100 Card Singleton, but we arenâ€™t here to talk about 100 Card Singleton, so letâ€™s cut the bull and dive in. Since Standard Singleton is one of the newest formats on MTGO, itâ€™s a perfect example for this method of constructing decks and establishing the constraints of a new or relatively unknown format.
Iâ€™m going to present some major card categories in Standard Singleton. I will follow each chart with a brief analysis, with a wrap up at the end and then my T8 breakdown. Apologies if I missed a major card in one of the categories.
It could be that I am spoiled by the plethora of excellent card drawing spells available in the Classic card pool, but from this list it is pretty clear that the pickings are slim. This is going to make it difficult to build any sort of dedicated Control deck that plans to gain card advantage purely from draw spells. Discard may be a good option to supplement card draw since it is somewhat similar. Some options here might be Mind Shatter and Mind Rot with the temptress herself, Liliana, making a strong showing as well. Until it rotates out, cascade will be another means of pseudo card draw.
Unfortunately for Control decks counter-magic is in the same short supply as card draw. Not only are the pickings slim but nearly all of them are conditional. From this list it is painfully clear that there isnâ€™t going to be a deck that answers every threat with counter-magic. Rather, any Permission deck is going to have to ration their counters, and pray they have the correct one for the situation. Not an ideal scenario for Control, whatsoever.
Yet another knock to Control decks, not only are the mass removal options limited, but most either only take out small creatures or have rather high or limiting casting costs. From this list, unless you have a Red bearing opponent, it is fairly safe to run out those creatures; chances are they donâ€™t have their sole Day of Judgment.