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League Season 4
Status: ended
Play Testing
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Advanced Deckbuilder
Note: I originally wrote this article in 2010 to help out players in the Common Sense clan league prepare for Pauper Standard Singleton (aka 60 card standard singleton). During play testing some people experienced difficulties dealing with an unofficial format, notably deck legality and card selection. Here is a link to what MTGO help has to tell you about this. I would like to pass on my own tips and tricks that tell you what Wizards don't.


When you come to start a match you select a format, in this case you can select either pauper or standard singleton.

After you have built your deck you need to check that it is legal for the format. In pauper standard singleton the deck has to be legal in both pauper and standard singleton deck filters. You can check in two ways. For a simple visual check, view your deck in table mode and scan down the rarity column for anything not common. Sometimes you will be using proxies with different rarities (e.g. Demolish) and will need a better way to decide the question. This is where the deck statistics function comes in. If you never noticed the stats option before, it is on the top right of the deck builder, and opens a pop-up window with 3 functions. The first function is an analysis of the composition of your deck by color, card type and casting cost; useful if you want to know your mana curve or how much land of each color you need. The next stats function is the format legality page! Here you get to see all of the formats and which ones your deck is legal in, simply scroll down and find pauper and standard singleton and look for legality. Even better the page displays all reasons why a deck is illegal, making it easy to correct. In addition the page lists exactly what sets are legal in each format and what cards are banned or restricted (if any). The final stats page is a card draw probability tester which I don't need to discuss.

Finding Cards

Making a singleton deck is not like normal deck building. You can't simply take 4 of every good card and throw in land. You need to find around 40 unique cards that might not ordinarily see maindeck play and might be unfamiliar to you. The deck builder gives you some obvious ways to narrow down your search that are very helpful, and there are some hidden features that I want to share with you here.

First the simple stuff. There are filters to restrict which cards are displayed that you own (and optionally don't own). You can set the Set/Block filter to pauper or standard singleton. Mana color filter for any combination of white, blue, black, red, green, colorless. Card type filters for any combination of land, artifact, enchantment, instant, sorcery or creature. These last 2 respond to mouse buttons differently, left mouse to toggle a color or type, right mouse to toggle all other colors or types. Mana cost filter for any combination of cost with greater, equal to or less than comparison.

The most useful filter (for me) is the search field filter. You can type just about anything into this field and hit the search button (or enter), e.g. you might search for 'mulldrifter' and it will find it in the card name. You are not limited to card name however, you can search for anything written on the entire card (including flavor text), e.g. 'exile target'.

A tip on card templating: you might need to try a number of different searches where slightly different card templating has been used, e.g. 'exile' or 'remove from game'.

That is the end of the basic card searching section. There are more things you can do which are not publicised very well by WotC.

Multiple Searches

How do you search for more than one attribute, such as every goblin that has the sacrifice ability? You use the nifty ampersand symbol (&), e.g. 'goblin&sacrifice'. You can build this up to any number of terms, e.g. 'flying&faerie&wither' for all flying withering faeries.

You can do the same to find one thing or the other with the bar symbol (|), e.g. for warriors or goblins use 'warrior|goblin'.

Lastly there's the exclude symbol (~) that is suposed to exclude all matching cards, e.g. '~defender' excludes all defenders.

You can combine the different search symbols, with some often unpredictable results.

Symbol Searches

Not everything on a card is text, like the tap symbol. Every card symbol has a text equivalent that you can use in searches! If you want to find :tap: you first press the ctrl and q keys together then press the t button. There a second way to find :tap:, you can enter this text '[sT]'. Either method combines with multiple searches. Here are all the symbols you can search for:

White mana [sW]w
Blue mana [sU]u
Black mana [sB]b
Red mana [sR]r
Green mana [sG]g
Snow mana [sP]p
0 generic mana [s0]0
1 generic mana [s1]1
2 generic mana [s2]2
3 generic mana [s3]3
4 generic mana [s4]4
5 generic mana [s5]5
6 generic mana [s6]6
7 generic mana [s7]7
8 generic mana [s8]8
9 generic mana [s9]9
10 generic mana [sa]a
11 generic mana [sb]b
12 generic mana [sc]c
13 generic mana [sd]d
14 generic mana [se]e
15 generic mana [sf]f
16 generic mana [sg]g
hybrid white black mana shift+1[s;]
hybrid red white mana shift+2[s~]
hybrid blue red mana shift+3[s`]
hybrid blue black mana shift+4[s$]
hybrid black green mana shift+5[s_]
hybrid green white mana shift+6[s-]
hybrid green blue mana shift+7[s&]
hybrid white blue mana shift+8[s+]
hybrid red green mana shift+9[s']
hybrid black red mana shift+0[s=]
hybrid 2 generic 1 white mana [s!]
hybrid 2 generic 1 blue mana [s@]
hybrid 2 generic 1 black mana [s%]
hybrid 2 generic 1 red mana [s<]
hybrid 2 generic 1 green mana [s>]
X x[sX]
flashback [sGY]
untap [sQ]
Spell types (timeshifted)
land [sSpellL]
artifact [sSpellA]
creature [sSpellC]
sorcery [sSpellS]
instant [sSpellI]
enchantment [sSpellE]
planeswalker [sPlaneswalker]
Set symbols for rarity
e.g. Zendikar mythic [sSET ZEN M]
e.g. 9th ed rare [sSET 9E R]
e.g. Alara uncommon [sSET ALA U]
e.g. Ravnica common [sSET RAV C]

I hope you have enjoyed this little guide and are now instilled with the urge to build standard singleton decks and to join us in the league. While I still have your attention, why not write an article for this forum on a subject you think the clan will find interesting and useful.


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