Looking Ahead in Standard Singleton

There’s only one Tier 1 Standard Singleton deck that mostly survives the upcoming rotation. Who can name it?

Maybe this will help – here is the Top 8 breakdown going back to the Rise of the Eldrazi prerelease events in May:

Grixis 29%
Bant 20%
Naya 21%
UG 11%
UW 5%
Jund 4%
Esper 3%
GW 2%
Mono-Black 2%
5 color 1%
Mono-Red 1%
UB 1%

*Most decks have variants that include an additional color. For simplicity, I’ve lumped them together.

I’m sure that some of you know what deck I’m talking about already, but let’s make it clear to everybody. Here are the cards that the Top Four decks lose when Shards of Alara block and Magic 2010 rotate out of Standard.

You have to look beyond the numbers and check out the quality of the cards that are going away. Bant and Naya will be scarcely recognizable after the rotation, and Grixis loses a bunch of its signature card advantage generators.

Look at the stuff that UG loses, and tell me which one of those cards is super critical to the deck. Yep… that’s our surviving deck. Let’s have a peek at some deck lists.

StdSing UG 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.)

This is a list that karakusk took to a 6-0 record in the 08/14/2010 event that oddly had no Top 8. The original designer of the deck is Kmaster. For months, this thing has been doing just fine at searching up lands, drawing cards, abusing landfall, and casting huge threats. Then we got Primeval Titan and Cultivate in Magic 2011! You couldn’t ask for better additions to the deck.

Ideally, the deck wants to win in a blowout with one of these cards:

Avenger of Zendikar
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
Rampaging Baloths
Rite of Replication

It’s surprising how often that happens, too. It’s a slow format, so you can afford to spend a couple of your early turns ramping up your land count. Once you have the lands, go to town! Either cast some gas or use one of your 6-8 draw spells to find it.

Before I get too deep into any card-by-card analysis, I want to step past the current lists that are about to change due to rotation. And before I can do that, I am compelled to give a quick, self-indulgent showing of the UG+w list that I took to the Top 4 of the 08/08/2010 Premier Event.

StdSing UGw Click the arrow to download the above deck in .txt format

An earlier version of this deck was designed by platipus10, and ChrisKool modified it to include new Magic 2011 cards. I didn’t design any of it — I just took the list and played it.

Several features distinguish this build from the typical UG list:

White Cards

• The super-good White removal spells are included, obviously. This is the big reason to splash White. You also get White mass removal in the sideboard, which can really help. Martial Coup is an amazing card in this deck, and it has won me games when the opponent seemed to be blowing me out.


• Rite of Replication is absent, having been edited out in favor of card draw. But it should be in the deck, so I added it back in the following week.

• Sphinx of Magosi is in the main deck instead of the sideboard. I agree with ChrisKool 100% on this one. Sure, it sucks if the opponent counters/removes this guy for 1-2 mana, but this seems like exactly the kind of big-mana ultra-threat that this deck wants to drop in every game. I never side him out.

• We’re running Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre in the main deck instead of Kozilek. And as odd as that may seem, I really like this arrangement. Ulamog just has a bigger immediate impact on the board. Kozilek is still in the sideboard for you when you want to draw cards against Grixis, but even then, you still like to have Ulamog as well.


• Growth Spasm, which nobody seems to play, is in the deck. It provides a two mana boost – that’s good.

• You get to run Stirring Wildwood and Celestial Colonnade instead of Dread Statuary. Celestial Colonnade in particular is SUPER good. I nearly always fetch this card when I get Primeval Titan. Despite the fact that White’s good removal rotates, I’ll be looking for excuses to keep the Colonnade in my build.

• I don’t like, and platipus10 doesn’t like, Halimar Depths. We already have the additional enters-tapped manlands, and it’s bad to have too many lands like that.

Card Draw

• No Ponder or Preordain. I have nothing against these cards, however — one could easily, for example, move a counter-magic spell to the sideboard to accommodate one of these cheap draw spells.

• Foresee is in the maindeck, but no Divination. This one is debatable; platipus10 comes down on the same side as all of the UG players who have been running Divination in their main decks, because the difference of one mana is pretty important. But I prefer Foresee, because it’s a much stronger topdeck if you’re sitting on a pile of land and desperately looking for a threat. In any case, Divination is gone after the rotation, unless the next set gives us a new 3 cost draw spell to replace it.

• Jaces Ingenuity started in my main deck, but I later moved it to the sideboard, like most of the UG players.

• No Time Warp in this build. Certainly, it’s not a bad card for the deck, but to me it seems less good than drawing cards or playing a creature. Disclaimer: I’ve never tried Time Warp — all I know is that it’s overpriced and rotating out soon, so I didn’t bother.

After my successful finish, I took a similar version of this deck to another PE the following week. I started off 2-0, but then I dropped three Game 3′s in a row to miss the Top 8. That sucked! The shuffler was awful to me in a few games that day, but I think I could have made it in had I played properly on a couple of critical plays. That is to say that it probably wasn’t the deck’s fault that I missed out. Anyway, the main change was that I thinned the White splash down to just the removal. Into the newly freed slots went Rite of Replication, Crystal Ball, and extra counter-magic.

Admittedly, some of this discussion of a White splash version is moot because of the rotation (Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring rotate soon). But most of the other card choices mentioned above figure into the post-rotation list that I’ll be leaving you with today.


If you were to jump into Standard Singleton right now, and you didn’t want to buy a new deck after the rotation, here’s one place to start. Obviously, one would initially run good, cheap cards like Rampant Growth and Mind Spring while they’re still legal, but the entirety of the list below will remain legal after the rotation.

StdSing UG Post Scars 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.)

The cost of that deck is roughly 220 tickets. One could omit Jace to save tickets, and the deck would not suffer terribly.

Here’s hoping for some good Blue and Green cards in Scars of Mirrodin! Sword of Mind and Body is a definite downer for this deck, to be sure. That aside, this deck already looks pretty solid despite the rotation attrition, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to expect a few new decent spells that draw cards, fetch basic lands, and counter spells. A really powerful new fatty wouldn’t hurt my feelings, either.

See you in Standard Singleton

Playing this deck has been my first real experience in Standard Singleton, but I already love the format. It is a nice contrast to 100CS — I am especially enjoying the complete absence of Goblin decks. Mainly, though, I’m having a lot of fun playing a format that’s a bit slower where I can routinely play big, powerful effects. I hope you’ll give the format a shot some time.

Thanks for reading!


  1. See I had no idea 100CS-Standard was an actual format people played. That’s why articles like this are awesome, because you find out about a whole new world of Magic you hadn’t thought about and immediately see/hear about some decks and what happens.

  2. If you pay attention, standard singleton is only 60 cards :)

    Personally i never gave much attention to this format, but seeing that i own most of the cards already i think i’ll give it a go! thanks, nice article.

  3. Owning most of the cards was a motivator for me, too, along with the chance to play in more Weekend Challenge events. Now that I’m tapped into two of the formats, I can play an event just about every weekend if I want to.

  4. If you like limited, then Standard Singleton is a fun format to get into. Games usually play out somewhere between two grossly powered Sealed decks slugging it out in the X-0 bracket and two Standard decks with very awkward draws (all 1-ofs will do that).

    You also have a good excuse to play cards that are usually not deemed Standard playable (like Sphinx of Magosi) to great effect. It makes deck building much more intimate (which is what any self-respecting Magic player wants… intimacy with digital cardboard)!

    If you’re interested, look at the Decks of the Week archives on dailymtg.com. They area great resource if you want to digest the current metagame (and see examples of the format’s standouts).

  5. When they announced Standard Singleton, I knew I would love it because I made all my PTQ decks one year completely singleton, even nearly top8′ing one!

  6. Yeah I think standard singleton only requires a 60 card maindeck. So how would you change the UG deck to accommodate for that?

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