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Singleton, Singleton, Singleton


Holy cow, have I got an addiction, and the only cure is Singleton on Magic Arena!

This format is totally sweet for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons? Varied play. What Constructed decks (or, rather, very competitive Constructed decks) do is the same thing as many times as it can. With Singleton you join the ranks of 36 or so individual cards, and the way they interact will likely surprise you. Also ripping that miser's at the last second feels sooo good.

If you wanna stick a Commander on these, you can also see this as Brawl content. Killing two casual formats with one stone? Don't mind if I do!

Let's look at some lists. Unfortunately, while I don't have anything pre-wipe (that sounds... odd), I have built up quite a collection since. Let's talk about Level 0, or RDW, or "Counting to 20", aka:

This is generally "Level 0" because usually the easiest thing to do in any format is just build the Red deck and see what sticks.

To no one's surprise, you play creatures, you swing 'em sideways, and you generally always go for the face. If they're messing with you with a Planeswalker, that's cute, but we gotta rock and roll here. Attack directly, assume your best option is always right on top.

This deck could probably go even lower and use Experimental Frenzy if you wanted to try it, but this is just a good 'ole pile of scorching spells and fast attacks. However, your top end is a little stacked. The last thing they need is to get stuck with Dinosaurs and bolts in hand while waiting for the small-yet-crucial creatures to show up and help get the needle moving.

And Red is, like, mono man. We gotta go with the Guild flow, you know what I'm sayin? It's Boros time!

Now we're talkin'. This list basically takes all the good Boros cards and the best cards from Red and White, and sees what happens. The curve is nice and clean, and stuff like Charging Monstrosaur will come out of nowhere to kill your opponent. Rekindling Phoenix is just too strong to not play in any deck that features Mountains. That card is silly good.

Unfortunately this list isn't super fast because of the Singleton restriction. There just aren't enough cheap creatures to make it worth sacrificing the power of the high-cost cards. This means you can sometimes get the 'slow half' of the Boros deck and feel like you're struggling to gain momentum, and in other draws you curve right out and feel like a badass when you spike the ball on turn five and crush 'em.

So with the speed thing on my mind, I just started feeling... greedy. I wanted to play with the most powerful things in the entire format! We have shocks and gates and check lands... we can do this! We have the technology!

(Warning: We don't)

God, what a ridiculous amount of individual cards. Gotta include that classic 1-of each basic for 'ole Skittering Surveyor to fetch as well.

As with most 5-Color experiments - particularly in a Singleton format - sometimes it just goes a little awry. The mana here needs a lot of work, and I just found myself with a bunch of cards that weren't doing very much together. Sadly GoodCards.dek wasn't going to cut it.

So right around this time started playing with Surveil; and, as we all know, it's a damn fine mechanic. It was time to go deep.

Now *this* was a fun little romp. Once you get the Surveil engines going, you hum right along and surprise them with cards like Hostage Taker and Etrata, the Silencer. Big endgames with Doom Whisperer and Demonlord Belzenlok close 'em out, backed up with hard to kill creatures like Blood Operative. This may be a bit removal-light, and could probably use a Moment of Craving or Cast Down. But make no mistake - Thief of Sanity is not a fair Magic card.

Speaking of... it's time for a Bonus Decklist!

This is as far as my tinkering went into Standard Surveil. I've tried desperately to get Disinformation Campaign going strong as quickly as possible, because once you have the Surveil engine humming it's really difficult to stop. It's always the 1-, 2-, and 3-drops your opponent brings that will give you the most headaches. That's where the Dead Weights and Cast Downs come into play.

While I started with four, I think that's too many Disinformation Campaigns. With three you will likely only see one early and rarely if ever draw two in your opener, which I think is perfect. Yes it's fun to live in the Magical Christmasland of using multiple Disinformation Campaigns (which, by the way, is as fun as you think it is), but it is a rare thing and you would've won those games anyway.

Oh right, Singleton. We ain't done, folks! Next up is...Wizards!

This deck is sweet. The sheer fun of getting Fanatical Firebrand into Nightveil Sprite into a Storm Fleet Sprinter is terrific. You're firing off super cool spells, you're getting in early and hard with See Red and Run Amok, while reaping maximum benefits off your Wizard's Lightning and Wizard's Retort (the Counter-Bolts from another mother).

Lots of unblockable creatures gives you plenty of ways of scraping out those last few points of life. There is certainly a version of this deck that leans more toward Ral, Izzet Viceroy and Niv-Mizzet, Parun, but this one is as low to the ground as possible, and tries to end the game in as few turns as you can.

But alas! The tempo bug struck again, much like with Boros (albeit less frequently). Sometimes you'd draw spells and enchantments with no creatures to put them on, or all creatures and no payoff goodies. Gah!

So this was a fun little romp I had while playing around with "can I take maximum advantage of the 8-bolt situation" i.e. Goblin Electromancer provides you with 8 Lightning Bolts - Wizard's Lightning and Lightning Strike are now just a sexy, sexy Red mana, and it feels pretty good to be a gangster when you're dropping bombs like those.

But, tempo. When it's good *cough*Delver*cough*, it's amazing. But when it's still struggling, maybe we'll get something later to push it over the edge.

But, old habits die hard. There just is something magical About being able to play all the good stuff. All the stops on the Magical Christmasland route just waiting to be enjoyed.

Oh yes... it's 5-color time once more!

This one was much more focused on having early Red and Black removal while closing the game out with something like Muldrotha, the Gravetide.

Unfortunately, the mana is still a hot mess and I just don't have the patience to burn through the right makeup of basics, fixers, gates, and the mess in-between. However, when it works, it is nuts. Just bomb after bomb dropping. Whatever your opponent is doing gets trounced because, yeah, I'm playing Nicol Bolas, the Ravager AND Lyra Dawnbringer. These Wildcards don't just mighty-morph themselves, now do they?

Still, it's a damn fine list that could probably use a bit more focus. But... isn't that the point? All the flavors into the bowl! One big melting pot that some would describe as a hot mess... did you ever know the kid who, when field day rolled around and they had the soda dispensers rocking, would ask for a "Suicide" (aka all of the sodas in one cup)? Yeeeeah. It me.

While suffering yet another manaflood from the Five-Color deck, I played against a really cool Jeskai build and tried to emulate it:

Now, when I played against my opponent, they used Sleep and trounced me. But when I was drawing it, it felt like the wrong spell for a deck like this which is, generally, controlling and closing things out with huge fliers like Dream Eater and Niv-Mizzet, Parun.

While fun, it just felt... loose. It probably needs more card draw, and it needs something better to do in the midgame other than hope you have something to kill or maybe counter. Overall, however, I do feel like this is a solid choice for Singleton if you enjoy casting Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and friends.

But I saved my best for last. The Golgari are awesome right now, and no Singleton deck I've built has performed as well as this one. Let's look at...

While not perfect, and still a work in progress, it sure is a blast to play. It's basically just value.dek and anyone who enjoys getting two-for-ones constantly will love it. Sometimes you just drop a Nullhide Ferox and smash your opponent to death with it.

Being a deck that has a bunch of mana and time, Helm of the Host shines bright as I've copied many a Doom Whisperer in my day. The cards I'm looking at the most are Pelakka Wurm (it's tough to get to 7) and Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar which strangely doesn't feel like it 'does' enough. It's hard to describe, but for what should be a killer closer it often just dies and you didn't get any value out of it. Oh, Seal Away. Oh, Settle the Wreckage. Oh, Conclave Tribunal. Ixalan's Binding. Etc.

But that's just a small look at my Singleton (and some of my Standard) lists. I love to build decks, and brew, and this Singleton (let alone this Standard) format has some of the best deck-building opportunities in a long time.

It's a little bittersweet, though. The fact is, Wizards will not allow Singleton to be an ever-present format on Magic Arena and that makes me sad. That's like saying you can only play Commander / Brawl on every other Saturday because... reasons. My hope is that they restore Singleton to play very soon, and you'll have this article to bookmark when it's back online. Viva la Singleton!

Until next time, this is Evan Erwin. Tapping the cards... so you don't have to.