Testing: One, Two, Three (A 100 Card Singleton Experience)

Happy Holidays! (Or is “Season’s Greetings” more appropriate? … Good, you don’t care!)

Another month, another series of decks- let’s see what fun frolicking occurred!

Hundreds of Presents! (or a Similarly Massive Amount)

Let me start by saying: I hope you all enjoyed the Academy’s first FULL month of operations. We’ve added a few nifty features (my favorite replacing the earth tone deck lists with something fancy) and a whole slew of new faces (writers and denizens)! I’m looking forward to what the next year brings.

This month of Testing went much smoother than last. I actually made all of my videos and deadlines (despite missing the majority of the PEs). In addition, the decks offered some interesting situations and games to keep me entertained. And (!!!) Exodus added a bunch of interesting cards to the 100 Card repertoire: Survival of the Fittest, Recurring Nightmare, Price of Progress, and Oath of Druids spearheading the assault.

Here’s this month’s Testing content (in one, easy-to-navigate location):

December Intro Article

Video: Blue-White-Black Combo Control

Video: Green-White-Black Elves

Video: Green-Black-White Rec-Sur

Wait- what was that from earlier? I had fun (with all three decks)! Whether I was casting Armageddon (and giggling in pure sadism), killing my opponent with some of the sickest 2 card interactions in Magic, cheating Progenitus into play, actually getting to use Zur in a deck that vomits card advantage without him, laughing maniacally as I ditched mana creatures for the worst possible scenario for my opponent or just getting to say, “NO,” over and over again, each of these decks tickled my fancy. Let’s see what I learned:

UWB Combo Control

Creatures (3)
Other Spells (26)
Other Spells (cont.) (32)
Lands (39)
Sideboard (15)
Buy this Deck

UWB Combo Control 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.)

Oh dear, how I barely recognize my own child! This deck might not have transformed into a beautiful butterfly, but it has morphed far from the canker that it once was. With a name like “Belcher,” one shouldn’t expect an immaculate design, but I still firmly believe that Mana Severance/Goblin Charbelcher is the best combo victory in 100 Card. It’s a tad slow at nine mana (even though you can cast Severance the turn before you spit fire and brimstone to reduce the requirement to a mere seven mana), but it cannot be stopped sans discard, Pithing Needle, or counter-magic.

In a deck with few-to-no creatures (this deck sports a whopping three), the Belcher/Severance combination laughs in the faces of Swords to Plowshares, Flametongue Kavu, and their cronies. No longer do you need to conserve your precious counter-magic to protect some cumbersome win-con!

In testing, I found the initial version of the deck to be narrow- too many situational one-for-ones, too many dead draws. (This should probably read “too many losses.”) The first version of the deck just sucked. But things change, and luckily, this deck is a wee bit better now.

Okay, now we take a glance at the differences of design!

Tainted Pact, where art thou? THOU ART NO WHERE. Yep, I cut a tutor… in the name of basic lands! There is no good reason that this deck should automatically lose to non-basic hate. The current incarnation of Combo-Control can weather the storm of miners and moons that Red conjures, dealing with any nonbasic nuisance when it pleases.

Along with the basics, a host of brown accelerants joined the two mana slot (and my lovechild Coalition Relic snuck in, too). Control decks are almost always hungry for resources, mana included. An Azorius Signet or Talisman of Progress can speed up your time table to victory or facilitate a Wrath of God effect to send a swarm packing one turn earlier.

Future Sight found a home in spite of the fact that this deck pairs its Islands with Plains. Quite frankly, Future Sight‘s card advantage potential is rude. Try it and enjoy!

The replacement finder-killers: Fabricate and Reshape were added to the eight other tutors in an effort to remove the effort required to assemble a combo. With the introduction of another artifact (about to be mentioned), both of these cards become quite more versatile.

Lastly, welcome back… Vedalken Shackles! This card is so obnoxious that it is a sin to forget it with Counterspell and Force of Will. Many times it is enough to win the game by itself, and finding the combo takes a back seat when these frequent opportunities present themselves.

GWB Elves!

Creatures (36)
Creatures (cont.) (11)
Other Spells (19)
Lands (34)
Sideboard (15)
Buy this Deck
GWB Elves 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.)

Forgive me if I skip this deck? (Just kidding- I would never give to opportunity to bestow my thoughts upon others.) I didn’t play this deck as much as the others, but my matches did reveal some glaring weaknesses. Elves has a very limited reach, does not mulligan well, receives run off from the Goblin hate (Engineered Plague- I choose you), and surprisingly has mana issues.

I wasn’t impressed with a few of the cards during the testing process: Birchlore Rangers, Progenitus, Rhys the Redeemed, Gempalm Strider, Chrome Mox, Gilt-Leaf Ambush, Nameless Inversion, Sword of Fire and Ice, and Reflecting Pool.

To help the mana problem and improve mulliganing, I swapped the Pool for Golgari Rot Farm. Also, the Chrome Mox became Llanowar Wastes and Progenitus cut moved out for two weaker, but castable threats (Woodfall Primus and Teneb, the Harvester). (I’m unsure if losing a hard-to-kill Natural Order target is the right call, but after losing games with Progenitus napping in my hand, I would like to explore my options. I also cut the Sword of Fire and Ice to facilitate the double “dragon” fatties.)

Creakwood Liege and Oblivion Ring aren’t as Elf-centric as Gilt-Leaf Ambush and Nameless Inversion, but they both offer something that the Elf cards don’t have (power). The main problem with the Elf deck has been this same issue; some cards just are pathetically weak.

Birchlore Rangers, Gempalm Strider, and Rhys the Redeemed all felt subpar, too. Birchlore is a combo Elves card; one game with it in play and it’s easy to see it doesn’t belong in 100 Card Singleton. Gempalm doesn’t end the game nor does it increase the count of Elves on the battlefield. And Rhys proceeds below tortoise pace in changing the game state. Skyshroud Elite, Selesnya Guildmage, and Seedcradle Witch offer some power in their stead.

Alas, with all of these changes, I still don’t feel 100 percent about the archetype. If anyone is interested in evolving the deck, look at the clock it presents. For Elves to be a consistent, top performer, it needs to end the game quickly and swiftly. See the next deck unfold on page two!.

  1. Looking forward to the RecSur tech Video,hopefully with a companion article for references.Keep it going guys.I am a fan.

  2. If you’re referring to my Rec-Sur video posting on Thursday, don’t you fret. No supplementary materials will be needed, as it is a loooooooong decktech that goes into quite obscenely thorough detail.

    If you’re referring to Mr. Kool, you need only click “page 2″ for his list (which is close to mine), and watch the video he posted on Friday,

  3. The problem with that GWB elves list is theirs too much faffing around. Elves biggest single strength is its speed and consistancy.

    The real problem is that people try to play elves like they play other beatdownish decks. Its actually an aggro combo deck, doesn’t matter if that combo is just throwing out a turn 3 geddon, forestwalking in past blockers on turn 5 or generating unbeatable amounts of life or tokens.

    Against 90% of creature decks you will have long game superiority (unless their all running mass sweepers nowadays) the synergies of elves overall are stronger than the individually powerful options other decks run (and that your diluting the deck with).

    Less cuteness, less bending over backwards to include “more powerful” cards (because obviously that’s objective and dependent on deck/game state etc), more tribal synergies, speed and face beating please.

    I like a couple of the black additions (mind twist and confidant mainly) but I am still not convinced that the added “power” is worth the cost to the rest of the deck.

    In summary, Elves shouldn’t (in my opinion) be played as a rock deck, if you try to do so you will find the little guys lacking.
    I agree that SOFI is lackluster in my experience with little green men, SOLS is awesome though =)

  4. Heya Kharlis! Which Elves should be included (that I am missing)? I have to be honest: I gave Elves the least amount of love this month! :(

  5. nb none of this is set in stone, just ideas as i haven’t played sing 100 for a few months (yay rl commitments).

    Cards you probably want

    Chameleon Colossus
    Bathe in Light (the best combat trick you can ask for!)
    Viridian Shaman
    Essence Warden (pretty much a must kill target for red decks)
    Scryb Ranger (evasion is regularly relevent especially suited up, also acts as a fake mana elf whilst helping abusing tap effects)
    Constant Mists (sb, sooo good at buying a turn or two against opposing aggro decks allowing you to set up a stupid elvish synergy)
    Steely Resolve (sb)
    Seal of Primordium (sb, tutorable via enlightened tutor so makes the cut over some of the other options)
    Elightened Tutor (maindeck)
    Elvish Skysweeper (really good against reanimator, also kills baneslayer and its ilk)
    Summoning Pact
    Birchlore Rangers (really complaining about mana issues and cutting one of the fixers seems silly, it also allows stupid starts)
    Eldrazi Monument
    Mark of Asylum
    Gempalm Strider (Uncounterable instant overrun..whats not to like).
    Glare of Subdual (maindeck)
    Survivial of the Fittest (turn whatever small dude you drew into the best dude for the current situation).


    Weird Harvest
    Masked Admirer
    Aven Mindcensor (sb)
    Retribution of the Meek (sb)
    Earthcraft (though the manabase is so basic lite i don’t know if the explosiveness it provides is worth the slot now)
    Leaf Glider
    Gigapede (sb vs blue, also with the land returning effects seems pretty strong against midrange strategies)
    Ankh of Mishra (sb)
    Worldly Tutor
    Vines of the Vastwood
    Root Maze (sb, depending how many fetches everyone runs now)
    Nether Void (faux geddon)
    Brairhorn (better than it looks)
    Skeletal Scrying
    Slaughter Pact
    Engineered Plague (sb)

    cards i think are sketchy.

    Nameless Inversion
    Luminarch Ascension (lots of white to activate)
    Dauntless Escort
    Behmoth Sledge
    Baneslayer Angel (double white? i think i’d rather have elspeth or ajani if i was going for a double white costing card)
    Creakwood Liege (slow card advantage isn’t what your after generally)
    Natural Order
    Tainted Pact
    Viridian Zealot
    Selesnya Guildmage
    Safehold Elite
    Seeker of Skybreak
    All of these could be fine, though they generally hurt your consistancy (double or more off colours), are costly to cast/use or are superflouous to what the decks trying to do.

    Cards i hate (in elves)
    Oath of Ghouls (isn’t this jsut a worse oversold cemetary?)
    Teneb the Harvester
    Vigor (6 mana might as well be a million outside god/crappy flooded draws)
    Selesnya Sanctuary
    Golgori Rot Farm
    Wirewood Herald (your hoping they kill your dude?)
    Skyshroud Elf
    Sensei’s Divining Top

  6. The other consideration is that elves might just not be a good choice now, when i was playing it most other decks were pretty horrible and it took huge advantage of those flaws.

  7. Vigor is insane against RDW, or any deck with burn. They can snipe your duders and severely cripple the optimal elf synergy one can garner. Highly underrated card.

  8. re: Vigor – Yes, it would be great vs burn decks that snipe your dudes away.. If you can resolve it (bearing in mind your ramp is probably being sniped away your looking @ roughly turn 11 to naturally draw 6 mana sources with a 34 land deck)in time.
    Steely Resolve, Mark of Asylum, Sylvan Safekeeper, Dense Foliage,Seedcradle Witch etc do practically the same job just alot faster.Vigor does nothing that matters that any of these cards also do in a more relevant time scale. I can see it being moderately decent against GW aggro decks that lack removal, but even then I think i would rather have Eldrazi Monument, Mycoloth, Constant Mists, Ranger of Eos, Wellwisher, Glare of Subdual, Bathe in Light, Eladmri or Elvish Champion (all of which are incredibly hard for them to beat without a timely removal spell).

    RE: Confidant/Mind Twist – i know they are in the list, i mentioned them because there the only two black cards that really excite me there.

    As before, disclaimer that i haven’t played this deck in a few months and things might have shifted enough for any suggestions i make to be totally incorrect.

  9. The meta has shifted away from Naya-style decks. I think you had your success then?

    I thought Oath of Ghouls would be better than Oversold Cemetery because you start getting your guys back almost immediately.

    Senseis Divining Top- remember that enemy triads can play nine (!) fetch lands.

    Birchlore Rangers- the fact that he needed a pal meant I was losing out on a nice attacker or he was standing around, wishing he had a friend to cook me a rainbow mana pie.

    If I were to rebuild Elves!, I would look into GW with a lot of basics. The power of Black made the deck act very clunky.

  10. The format was basically
    (in order of importance)
    GW Aggro (sometimes splashing red)
    5 colour greed
    UG tempo
    U based control (RBU, UW and mono blue)
    some reanimator and other random stuff.

    when i was playing alot. Not drastically different to today, but obviously their are some changes (like the RDW decks leaning more towards “repeatable” burn (creatures) now). The biggest difference is the comparitive paucity of forests in your average opponents list now, forestwalking was borderline broken at the time.

    Remeber suggestions were only that, i put a ton of work into my later lists (first one was pretty bad) digging out random tech (bathe in light and elvish skysweeper are my favorites, but there were many others) to gain % points here and there.

    The deck definately rewarded familiarity back then more so than any other deck i have ever played, theres alot of non obvious intereactions that should be considered when devising your gameplans on a turn by turn basis, this makes it a hard deck to just pick up and pilot and is also probably why most people complain that the decks massively inconsistant/weak etc.
    If your just trying to throw out dudes fast as you can and beat face then your missing alot of the power that the elf synergies bring to the table.

  11. I dislike the fragility of the current mana base, one of the things i originally aimed to be was nearly immune to blood moon and miners. I think its important enough that i wouldn’t even consider a deck that had massive vunerability to these effects.

    If i was to build elves today i would aim heavily at the red decks, if you can’t find a way to have a hugely positive matchup there scrap it and find something that does. No point playing a deck that just top 8′s your likely to face red at least in the top8 so prepare for it (or play it with something to wreck the mirror match).

  12. To say that Vigor would be realistically coming down turn 11, based on mana and the presumption that the burn player would be sniping mana-men (the least consequential in contrast to the Lords and more synergystic duders in the deck) seems a might bit pessimistic. I was more implying that it works nice with Natty Order, as well as the decks ability to just fart out tons of mana (which usually it just stops being able to abuse by virtue of emptying its hand).

    Long story short, I don’t think Elves is a contender for a Tier One in 100CS, period. It’s like Goobos, but in reverse. Where Gobbos has explosive synergy, it simply doesn;t need it. Elves most definitely THRIVES upon this synergy. Topdecking burn and cannon fodder men is different than mana producers and the like. I have long said GW is just more solid, albeit less in the synergy department.

    What makes decks great in this format is cards that have an overall deck synergy, but can also stand alone. while a deck can’t be made entirely of cards like this, you can come pretty darn close. Elves works the opposite on this philosophy, making it prone to horrifically random draws, blank top decks, and fragile combo disrupted byt the one thing all decks pack: creature removal.

    So if you play Elves, win fast!!!

  13. Quick aside: For Rec-Sur, esp with Oath of Ghouls, Faerie Macabre just seems unbelievably powerful and a total oversight on my sad behalf. I failed you again, Little Man!!!

  14. Pretty much agree on your assessment of elves in the current meta, but then not playing gobbo’s or a deck that stomps the little red folk is probably a mistake also.

  15. Maybe I’m just lucky, but normally RDW and Gobbos is a marginal hurdle at best for me. Admittedly, I have been burnt asunder on a few public occasions, but on the whole I think it simply comes down to knowing how to play the match (duh…).