100-card singleton primer

  1. Introduction

Hello, my name is LordPerth from Team Not-Tavrod (TNT). We are organizing a series of community tournaments this year, culminating in an invitational, called the TNT Throwdown to Worlds. Our next tournament will be held on the 12th of August in the 100-card singleton format, you can find the link to register at the end. I usually write a short text about what the meta of the format looks like and then present some decklists and talk about them, but this would be a ton of work here. Instead I decided to go for a shorter primer in which I briefly lay down what makes this format special and then present two decks that showcase those particularities best. But first, as always, the rules:

This differs from the two hero formats, the in-client events and our TNT tournaments, because you can play a normal market and you don’t have to choose a designated hero that impacts the factions of your deck. But on the flip side you don’t have an easy way to get a strong unit, your hero, like you have in the in-client hero events.

  1. Specifics of the format

With 100 cards and no duplicates, decks will be way less consistent. Instead of having 4/75 copies of your best cards, you only have 1/100, which drastically reduces the chance to see them in any given game. But there are some ways to partly make up for that:

The first way is to use different cards that fulfill similar roles. We already do that in normal constructed decks (playing four copies of two different removal spells to have more removal spells), but it’s a lot more important here because you need to play way more different cards with the same role to see them consistently. If we keep the “four copies of two different removal spells” example, we have 8/75 removal spells. If you want the same ratio in your singleton deck, you need 11 different removal spells. For some effects that’s pretty doable, depending on your factions. Shadow has quite a lot of efficient and generic removal spells for example. But other, more specific effects, like maindeckable relic removal (cards that remove relics, but are good enough against decks without relics, like Banish or Prideleader), are harder to come by, especially for decks that don’t include time.

That makes the second way to make up for the inherent inconsistency even more important: markets. By playing specific, but important cards like relic removal in the market and by playing as many ways to access the market as possible, you can guarantee finding them when necessary (similar to how we use markets in throne, but even more important). Additionally you can play strong win conditions in your market to draw them more consistently. In a 2-faction deck with a 2-faction win-condition, for example Curiox or Korovyat Palace, you can play up to nine ways to get it from the market, although double Etchings will usually be unrealistic and some of the Grafters are very lackluster, so you usually only play around six. That is still way more consistent than only having one copy and markets are even better because each market access can not only draw that one card, but four other options instead if they are better at a specific moment. You can play even more factions to get more ways to access the market, which works especially well with 3+ faction cards like Triumphant Stranger or any of the 3XYZ displays.

Even with those adjustments, decks will be less consistent, but some decks suffer more than others. The decks that still work well are good stuff piles, decks that just play a lot of cards that are good on their own and aren’t reliant on other cards to make them work. On the other hand, decks like Hooru Kira or Xenan Katra suffer more because they are reliant on very specific cards, like Kira and Katra, and on cards that work well with them. But the number of good spells for Kira and good ways to fill your void is limited. With a way lower chance to draw your pay-offs, they are a lot weaker as well, so the decks aren’t worth building in this format.

Katra and Kira and other pay-offs for having a lot of influence in one faction are also weaker because there are way more good cards with low influence costs, which means it’s better to go for more factions to include as many of them as possible. This makes going deep on influence in one faction worse.

The powerbase also supports going for 3+ factions very well as long as you aren’t too greedy with your influence requirements because we have an abundance of effects that search specific power, like Seek Power, Petition or the Chants; flexible power cards like Diplomatic Seal, Xultan Conclave, Greater Plans and House Alliance; and a lot of dual influence power. You do need to play at least 34 power, nine more than in your usual deck, but you can easily fill those additional slots in 3+ faction decks by just playing more duals. 2-faction decks can fill the spots with some utility single faction powers like standards or waystones.

  1. Singleton pay-off cards

We don’t have explicit singleton pay-offs like Reno Jackson in Hearthstone, but we do have three cards that reward you for playing as many unique cards as possible, all of which I want to talk about here.

Sacred Tableau: This relic plays the top card of your deck each turn in singleton format (except for specific effects that shuffle multiple copies of a card in your deck), which is a pretty strong effect for five power. It can get punished by efficient relic removal because you don’t get any value until the start of your next turn. If it doesn’t get removed it can win games on its own. You can even protect it against most relic removal by playing some dinosaurs.

Archmagister’s Portal: This is similar to Tableau in that it’s a relic that doesn’t get you any immediate value, so it’s vulnerable to relic removal. If it doesn’t get removed it can win games. It doesn’t get you card advantage, instead it makes all your units a lot more threatening. There is a bit of a disconnect between a 3-power relic that doesn’t get you any immediate board presence and an effect that only makes your board presence better, but the rate on Portal is so good that it’s still worth playing, even in aggressive decks where taking of turn three to not impact the board is especially awkward.

Djang-Li, the Misfit: Djang-li isn’t a relic but still offers permanent value similar to Portal. The effect is definitely weaker though and even slower because you still need to draw into the buffed cards, but he does add stats to the board immediately, even if 3/4 for four power isn’t great. His influence makes him less of an all-star than the other two pay-offs. Tableau fits into every deck and one time influence is easily splashed as well, but double fire needs a bit more commitment. I could see playing him in the market of aggressive decks to draw him more consistently in slower matchups and to just not get him in matchups where the effect is too slow to matter. 

  1. Decklists

Both of these lists are theorycrafts that I only tested in Gauntlet, where they worked very well. I highly encourage everyone to experiment with changing cards around and to not worry too much about missing some cards. Most cards in either of the decks are easily replaceable because a 1/100 change won’t matter too much. Edit: AlexFiero sent me a few more decks they wanted to share, so I added them in from 4.3 onward.

4.1 FT Aggro

The first decklist (link above) I chose to exemplify the specifics of the format is FT aggro. It doesn’t rely on explicit synergies, and most of the cards in it are just good on their own. The deck clearly has an aggressive game plan, and most of the cards work well with that. It includes two of the three singleton pay-offs, and you could even add Tableau if you want. I personally think that it’s too slow for this deck, but it’s still strong enough to consider it.

The deck only plays three ways to access the market because some of the options are a bit slow (although Rust Grafter and Caravan Delivery could be worth a try) and because it is fire only, but it follows the principles I talked about earlier. Bore and Edict of Shavka are strong cards that are too specific to play them in the maindeck. They do offer answers to some of the most problematic cards in the format though (Bore kills Tableau, Portal and Creation Project, Edict kills Triumphant Stranger and Keelo), while Djang-li and Inferno Den are win-conditions that you want to see consistently in most games. You don’t want to see them every game though because they can be a bit slow, which makes them perfect for the market. Heavy Artillery is the flex spot that can remove some threats and/or put on pressure and finish games.

The nine additional slots for power cards are easily filled with Granite Waystone and Shugo Standards. The deck plays more expensive cards than the usual throne aggro deck, but I think having some strong finishers like Inferno Phoenix and Deheen Blitz is better than playing more mediocre cheap units.

4.2 FTJPS Midrange

This list utilizes the strengths of playing as many factions as possible: It plays fifteen ways to access the market and could play even more. Fifteen is enough to see the first consistently though, and I had to make cuts at some point. Triumphant Stranger is the key card that you grab unless you really need one of the other four options, which makes him one of the few cards in the deck that is hard to replace. If you don’t have the campaign with him, you could try to play The Great Rift in the market instead of the maindeck. It’s slower, but it fulfills the same role of being a win-condition that can be drawn with every market access. Trials and Tribulation is important to beat aggro and Vikrum’s Bomb is a very flexible removal spell. The two Displays can also act as removal, but they also offer value: Display of Knowledge can draw a powerful relic of your choice, and Display of Ambition can finish games or draw two units from void, which is especially good if your Triumphant Stranger got killed.

The rest of the deck consists of the most efficient cards that you can play with a wide powerbase like this, meaning all of them need two influence at most. They are all good on their own, but some get even better in tandem. The deck has flexible removal spells, ways to kill relics, cheap ways to get card advantage, and a lot of tempo-efficient cards. All of that together makes the deck very consistent and flexible.

The powerbase does play a big part in that by consistently getting you one of each influence until turn 3-5, but it can sometimes be a bit slow in the early game. If you are afraid of aggro, you could play a few more 1-power removal spells like Defiance, Suffocate or Call the Hit and/or cheap board wipes like Eremot’s Designs, Lightning Storm or Cirso’s Choice to make up for the slow powerbase, but the deck already has a fair amount of cards that are good against aggro, especially the market Trials and Tribulations.  

4.3 TJ Midrange

The first list from AlexFiero is similar to 4.2 in that it also makes use of as many good standalone cards as possible with different strengths (relic removal, board wipes, void hate, strong midrange units, card draw…), but instead of going for wide influence it uses the deep influence cards in Combrei, like Diana, Worldbearer Behemoth or Touvon. Additionally it can use ramp effects a lot better than 3+ faction decks can because it usually has the influence cost of expensive cards ahead of their maximum power cost (TTT influence before you have the 5 power for Worldbearer), which means accelerating the maximum power is worth it.

It also goes for a slightly different market approach: Pit of Lenekta and Sword of Unity are just your usual strong proactive cards that work well on their own and Dissociate is a flexible temporary answer to problematic spells and relics. The new approach is to play a determinative 2-card combo in Genetrix + Rewind in the last two market slots, which should give you an edge against other slow decks, especially because Rewind can still win those games even if Genetrix gets killed.

4.4 FS Aggro

This is similar to 4.1 and uses a lot of the same fire cards, but the shadow 4-drops are arguably better at finishing games. The curve is a little bit lower than in my Praxis Aggro list and it doesn’t have any market access, but with those powerful 4-drops you don’t need as much late game.

4.5 FJP Combo Pile

This kind of goes against what I said earlier because it tries to make determinative combos work, which always means that you have cards that don’t do much on their own and need other cards to work, but it does so in a way that seems achievable even in singleton format: it plays a lot of different determinative combos, some of which have overlapping cards, and as many ways to tutor out different parts to get one of them consistently because one combo is enough to win the game. The deck also has ways to play around interruption on your combo, like counterspells, but with all those different combos you can also just go for another combo if one gets stopped by the opponent.

Some of the combos I spotted: Iceberg Scattershot/Everburning Beacon + West-Wind Herald + any way to copy Herald in the void. Executioner + Conclave Siege. Kindo + Tome of Horrors + Repel Darkness. 3 copies of Bren + Solfire/Krinkle Boys. In addition to those you can also win some games by just playing a control style with Tomb of the Azure Mage as finisher.

4.6 FTJSP Control

This makes use of the best cards from all five factions, similar to 4.2, but it tries to win games in the classic control way: it has answers to anything the opponent can do (relics, wide boards, single big units, burn damage, dangerous cards in hand or void…), ways to out-grind the opponent (repeatable card draw and draw two effects) and some ways to finish games, like Subversion of Nature or Silverblade Menace in the market. The rest of the market can answer dangerous cards in hand (Shattered Hopes can discard cards like Triumphant Stranger, Sacred Tableau or Creation Project), any unit with Dangerous Gambit or any board with Nothing Remains.

4.7 JPS Keelo

This is built around Keelo, so it plays a lot of market access and Keelo in the market to see here more consistently. With Keelo you can tutor out whatever unit you need at any specific moment (as long as you have the right thing to sacrifice of course), which reduces the natural inconsistency of a singleton deck by a lot. It also plays Triumphant Stranger and the Executioner combo in the market, which makes subsequent market access very strong and grants you more ways to win games in case your Keelo gets removed.

  1. The end

Thanks for reading and thanks to our team captain marvin_the_imp for proofreading and AlexFiero for the decklists in 4.3 to 4.7. I encourage everyone to give the format a try and to enter our tournament this Saturday, August 12th. You can find the link to register and a link to our teams discord, where all the tournaments are organized, below.

Register here: TNT Throwdown to Worlds #5: 100-Card Singleton by Team Not-Tavrod (battlefy.com)

TNT-discord: https://discord.gg/wk6WYxq