Feature

A look at Singleton and Extended, with some preliminary notes on incorporating Future Sight.

Singleton and Extended

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The letter T!he online Future Sight release events are over, and Constructed Premier Events have resumed, so you can expect me to cover the first Standard results next week. I personally did not play in any release event, because I'm practicing for the Two-Headed Giant Pro Tour these days, and participating in an individual Limited tournament would cause my card valuations to go nuts. If you put me in an individual draft right now, I would easily first-pick Urborg Syphon-Mage and Empty the Warrens over better cards and look very confused when my neighbor tells me that I can only pick one card out of the booster. Two-Headed Giant Draft and individual Draft are indeed two different animals, and if I switch between these two, I need some time to adjust and that feels somewhat strange.

Today, I will feature two formats that aren't heavily influenced by Future Sight (so that any pre-Future Sight format information will still be useful). I will take a look at Singleton and Extended.

Singleton

Singleton is a format with one special rule: your deck can only contain a maximum of one copy of any card except basic land. The card pool of online Singleton encompasses all available online card sets and the usual rule of minimum 60 cards also applies of course. Singleton is also known as Highlander. There is a Premier Event every weekend.

The best part of Singleton appears to be the variation in decks and games. If four-of decks square off, the games are often the same. In a game of Singleton, each game will be different and unpredictable. You run into way more different cards. Singleton also poses an extra-hard deck building challenge, as you have to balance out a good mix of spells with similar functions, although search effects like Vampiric Tutor suddenly become much better. Furthermore, Singleton seems to have a low barrier of entry, as there is no pressure to try and assemble four copies of every best card.

Even though decks are always different, ranging from five-color domain to blue-red-white control to Red Deck Wins and many others, my Premier Event Top 8 track records showed that there are two distinct archetypes that always put up good finishes: green-red aggro and blue-black(-white) control. If you want to give Singleton a spin, I suggest you start with either of these two archetypes, as they appear to be the most popular and most successful global strategies. For both of these archetypes, I sought one player who finished in a Singleton Premier Event Top 8 and asked for a short interview, in order to get the thoughts and deck ideas from experienced players. I spoke with "prolepsis9," who hails from NYC and has been playing Magic Online since Ravnica, and with "Island Go," Steve Terry in real life, who lives in Boston and he has been playing Magic since shortly after Revised Edition was released.

OnlineTech: Hi! How much Singleton have you played? Do you like the format?

prolepsis9: Singleton is definitely my favorite format. There are a lot of powerful cards in the Classic pool, but you're forced to branch out to lots of sets and cards. The games are always different.

Island Go: Singleton is fun because of the variety of game play; you see a lot of wacky
archetypes and cards that aren't normally good enough for Constructed. I've played it quite a bit both in Premier Events and casually.

OnlineTech: What is, in your opinion, the key to the format, and are there any best decks?

prolepsis9: I'm not sure there is a best deck. There's only one Premier Event a week, but the metagame is very open. I think red-green aggro, four-color green control, blue-red-white control, and blue-black control are best, though there are many more variations. The key is knowing the matchups and how to attack each deck.

Island Go: Well, control decks of all flavors are very popular, so you have to have a plan to beat counterspells. But there are storm combo decks and aggro decks too. I feel like you can play pretty much any deck you want with such a large card pool, and the Singleton limit prevents anything from getting too degenerate.

OnlineTech: Could you share a sample decklist of the deck you played most lately?

prolepsis9: Winning off of Desertion or Mind Harness is great every time. Desertion is wonderful in the green control matchup. The Riptide Pilferer/Cabal Interrogator helps win the mirror, but they are bad vs UWr control, where Brain Freeze is usually the better trump.

Island Go: Red-green is the list I've spent the most time refining, so it's what I'm most comfortable playing.

OnlineTech: Do you see any cards in Future Sight shaking up the format?

prolepsis9: I don't know about shaking up the format, since it's a deep pool, but there are some nice cards for any deck, like Delay (I have one in my deck), the duals, and Magus of the Moon.

Island Go: I haven't yet updated the red-green list for Future Sight yet. I suppose at least a Keldon Megaliths could go in there; nothing else springs to mind.

OnlineTech: Thanks for the interview, I appreciate your time.

That wraps up my brief look at Singleton. The one-card limit inspires more variety and prevents decks from turning into degenerate machines, thereby making the format a lot of fun.

Extended

I haven't covered any Extended in the last month prior to the Release event stop, so today I will go over the Top 8 metagame results. Better late than never. I was surprised to find only 8 Extended events over 4 weeks. Perhaps I missed a couple, but then again, most of the events I saw barely ran with the minimum 24 players, so it is possible that not all scheduled events found enough players to fire. It appears that interest in Extended is waning since the Extended Pro Tour Qualifier season came to an end.

Deck name Popularity Change since last week
1. Aggro Loam ■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■ (14%) -2%
2. Gifts Rock ■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■ (13%) +11% (!!!)
3. Boros Deck Wins ■■■■■ ■■■■■ (10%) +7% (!!!)
4. Affinity ■■■■■ ■■■■ (9%) +5%
5. TEPS Desire ■■■■■ ■■ (7%) -2%
6. Flow Rock ■■■■■ ■ (6%) +5%
7. Goblins ■■■■ (4%) -5%
8. U/W GiftsTron ■■■■ (4%) -3%
9. Enduring Ideal ■■■■ (4%) -2%
10. U/G Opposition ■■■ (3%) +3%
11. U/W/R Trinket Angel ■■■ (3%) -1%
12. Aggro Flow Rock ■■■ (3%) +1%
13. ScepterChant ■■■ (3%) +3%
14. U/W Tron ■■■ (3%) +3%
15. U/R GiftsTron ■■ (2%) +2%
16. Domain Zoo ■■ (2%) +1%
17. Mono Green Aggro ■ (1%) -1%
18. White Weenie ■ (1%) +1%
19. U/G Counterbalance Aggro ■ (1%) -3%
20. R/G Aggro ■ (1%) +1%

Aggro Loam is still on top; that much is clear. And we can see that instead of the many GiftsTron and Psychatog variations, Gifts Rock has become the defining control deck in the format. Gifts Rock has always been sailing somewhere in the metagame table in the last year, but it has been quite a while since it was number 2. Perhaps this is because Gifts Rock is a deck that is always targeted at a specific metagame. Change a couple one-ofs and you can completely turn matchups around. Now that there are no influences from Pro Tour Qualifiers that caused heavy metagame fluctuations, Gifts Rock players can safely target a more stable array of decks and get an advantage. In other news, the metagame appears to shift towards slightly more aggro, as Boros Deck Wins and Affinity are gaining in popularity.

The above table is a metagame overview prior to Future Sight. Now, let's go over the Future Sight cards that may play a role in Extended, see if they can have an impact on the format.

First, I can imagine that Ichorid decks want to include elements from the new NarcoBridge deck in Standard (Bridge from Below, Narcomoeba, Dread Return, and Flame-Kin Zealot). It is certainly something to try out, and perhaps a hybrid of the two strategies is possible. However, you might as well play Sutured Ghoul, Dragon Breath, and 2 Krosan Cloudscrapers for a similar "I win if I dredge my deck" combo that takes fewer slots. And replacing good cards that get you closer to fast dredging with cards that only do something if you dredge them makes the deck less resilient and consistent. So all in all I am unsure about this idea, and my initial thought is that Ichorid is better off without the extra nonsense.

Furthermore, I can think of the inclusion of Bitter Ordeal in Affinity, as a sideboard card versus combo that can be better than Cranial Extraction. You sacrifice some lands to Arcbound Ravager and remove all of their win conditions. It is a very specific application though, since it is only good if a "small" Bitter Ordeal (for about four copies) wrecks the opposing deck and they don't hold a win condition in their hand.

You can also consider Tarmogoyf. It seems like an interesting possibility for Aggro Loam, easily becoming a 4/5 for 2 mana. Then I realized that this is very similar to Werebear, and current Aggro Loam versions don't play that either. However, even though Tarmogoyf would probably not fit in the current Aggro Loam versions, you might want to rethink the deck completely and focus more on speedy beatdown with Werebear and Tarmogoyf.

Lastly, any zero-cost cards are always potentially broken in Extended. Future Sight holds a couple of those. First, the Pact cycle. The finest two are in my opinion Pact of Negation and Summoner's Pact, and they work best in combo decks that win the game in a certain turn and never have to pay the upkeep. Looking at the metagame table now, TEPS Desire is clearly the best combo deck around. Pact of Negation actually seems worse than Orim's Chant in the sideboard of that deck if you just want to prevent any countermagic in the turn you go off, although Pact is certainly cheaper to acquire than Chant, making it attractive for players low on tickets. Summoner's Pact is also a card with powerful combo applications, but I don't see a deck for it now. No prime combo deck in Extended relies on creatures (maybe a Goblin storm combo deck, but that's a long shot).

Next in the group of zero-cost cards is Tolaria West, which I believe can earn a spot- probably just as a one-of-in GiftsTron, as it can be nicely included in Gifts piles, and it can search Urza pieces as well as Engineered Explosives. Future Sight offers a bunch of new "dual" lands, but none of those-except for potentially Horizon Canopy, just because it can draw cards-seem to be better than Ravnica Block duals or Invasion Block fetchlands. Lastly, Street Wraith can cycle for no mana cost, effectively making 56 card decks possible, but it gives you less information for mulligan decisions and that's why I don't like it.

Concluding, it seems that Future Sight will not shake up the Extended format, although there are a couple cards that might slightly improve existing decks.

Next week…

I will go over the first online Standard results, and I want to show a game walkthrough again. With a top tier Standard deck, I will describe how an interesting game plays out turn-by-turn, along with an explanation of the thought process behind each decision. This can increase your understanding of a certain deck. But which deck should I choose? What would you like me to play with? You can share your opinion. I give you the option between three aggro decks, three combo decks, and three control decks (sorry if your favorite is not there, but I have to draw a line somewhere-a fifty-deck poll would be crazy), and I will write next week about the most popular choice. Happy voting!

This Week's Poll:

 Which deck should I write a game walkthrough about next week?  
Aggro: Gruul
Aggro: Zoo
Aggro: Satanic Sligh
Combo: Dragonstorm
Combo: Perilous Storm
Combo: NarcoBridge
Control: Dralnu du Louvre
Control: Solar Flare
Control: Angelfire
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