15-card highlander

Discussion in 'Casual Decks/Variants/Etc' started by Sammy Dead-O, May 3, 2001.

  1. Sammy Dead-O wasting away again

    This may have been discussed here at some point, but I've seen it come up on a few other boards, and it seems fun. Has anyone tried the 15-card highlander format? It's exactly as it sounds...decks of exactly 15 cards, only one of anything besides basic land, you can't lose by decking. If played competitively, use 3-card sideboards.

    Whadday'all think? If anyone's tried it, what cards did you find to be especially abusive?

    Hmm...and a deck...Three Deuce...

    Elvish Lyrist
    Skyshroud Elite
    Mogg Fanatic
    Dwarven Miner
    River Boa

    Cursed Scroll
    Swords to Plowshares
    Land Grant

    Treetop Village
    Mountain Valley

    Actually, stuff that reduces the size of your library might be bad in this format. Seems fun to try, anyway...
  2. Mundungu grumpier than ever

    We talked a lot about it a few month back when Gizmo planned on participating to a tournament where, if my mermory doesnt fail me, the prize was a Black lotus.

    I'm just too lazy to find it our for you :)
  3. Gizmo Composite: 1860

    I competed, and came second in, the 15-card tournament although it was standard-format.
    I wrote several articles about it...

    This is where I first outlined the format, and gave some initial deck ideas:

    This was written after the tournament, and lists the best decks from that day:

    And after about a half hour using the search engine (you'd better appreciate this) this is the thread on the CPA:

    There ya go. It was all standard, not extended or T1, but it`s all good advice...
  4. Gizmo Composite: 1860

    Oh, and in my experience it is crucial to get a good list of banned cards - turn 1 kills are very possible if you let people pick from anything as the combos can only be a few cards into your library.
  5. Sammy Dead-O wasting away again

    ...I do appreciate it, quite a bit.

    I've been thinking about the format quite a bit today, and I had a lot of really positive thoughts about it. And then, Gizmo, I see that you summed up those wrinkles in my brain quite nicely with this paragraph:

    This is, finally, the constructed format that is bridging the gap between my enjoyment of tweaking and my exhaustion at dealing with the little details. My over-messy, under-massive collection is no longer such a liability. I only have one Lord of Atlantis, for crying out loud! Now I can build a fish deck without proxies.

    If anyone's interested, two decks my friend and I tried out tonight were:

    Fifteen Tons (of junk)
    Thornscape Familiar
    Crimson Acolyte
    Voice of All
    Llanowar Knight
    Parallax Wave
    Armadillo Cloak
    Elfhame Palace
    2x Forest
    2x Plains


    Revolution 15
    Ramosian Sergeant
    Steadfast Guard
    Fresh Volunteers
    Longbow Archer
    Voice of All
    Chimeric Idol
    4x Plains

    The first deck was definitely better in the matchup. I'm gonna try and tweak the T2 WW theme, though (I realize Crusade and Armageddon are no longer T2...).

    Also, I agree with Captain Caveman (in the CPA thread linked above) that Rootwater Thief might be good in the format. I think Hanna would also provide for a stable midgame (which is what really matters much of the time, since the late game seems to never come). A U/W deck might be a good bet.
  6. Dune Echo CPA Founder, Idea Man

    I saw a resurgence of that idea recently on Star City by another author besides Gizmo. I liked idea that he presented that 15 Card Highlander could be extended to include all cards and formats (Type I, etc.) My question becomes, what cards are essential to being banned in this type of environment for this variant?

    If you think about it, Yawgmoth's Agenda and Yawgmoth's will essentially break the design constrictions of this variant, so are they too powerful? Same with Timetwister and Windfall. But does Avenging Angel and Ivory Gargoyle? Also, what first turn combos (other than the Mountain, Black Lotus, Channel, and random burn spell with X in the casting cost) are possible? I know that I experimented with a Gaea's Blessing in a Red/Green burn/recursion deck with Recycle that could be fairly broken in this type of format.

    However, in 15, card drawing doesn't matter versus card advantage, so Ancestral Recall isn't nearly as broken (it may still be in this format depending on the amount of recursion left once a proper Banned list is thought up). And I would love to see someone try using Diminishing Returns against me!

    So, obviously recursion and milling are extremely unbalancing to this format, but where is the line drawn? Is a card like Restock or Ill Gotten Gains too powerful because they remove themselves from the game?

    Any ideas people?
  7. Landkiller CPA Menace

    "15" Wildfire

    Mountain x 5
    City of Traitors
    Ghitu Encampment
    Heart of Ramos
    Thran Dynamo
    Covetous Dragon
    Wake of Destruction
    Shivan Hellkite
    Powder Keg
  8. Gizmo Composite: 1860

    Ill Gotten Gains is ok because both players pick up cards.

    Doomsday proved a problem card, however.

    Anything that recrus effectively is broken - um, Soldevi Digger? Gaea`s Blessing?
    Anything that won`t die is very strong - we had Nether Spirit on watch list but chose not to ban it (I`m not sure why, I think it was too strong personally).
    Anything that mills is very strong - Vision Charm is a wrecker.
    Anything that discards hard cards is strong - Hymn!! Ouch.
  9. Sammy Dead-O wasting away again

    ...I'd like to work on this banned/restricted question, too. Gizmo: Did you play your NetherStack deck to the finals? Was it another Nether deck that won? On a post over at the MTGnews boards, MrFranswa posted the following as a banned/restricted list for current T2 15:

    Curent Banned Rules/Cards........

    CANNOT reshuffle your graveyard into your library
    CANNOT remove cards from opponents library
    CANNOT have more than 1 LD card in your deck, (ld rules the enviroment if more are used)

    Crumbeling Sanctuary

    Current Restriction, (can pnly play one of any of these cards in a deck)

    Clear the Land
    Nether Spirit
    Seizemic Mage
    Squee Goblin Naboobies
    Lin Sivvy

    What do y'all say about these?

    It seems to me that the 1.5 banned list is a good place to start when discussing bannings for larger formats. Anything on there that becomes weaker in 15, thus allowing for unbanning?

    Also, I tried out a couple more themed 15s today:

    Merfolk of the Pearl Trident
    Darting Merfolk
    Coral Merfolk
    Arctic Merfolk
    Lord of Atlantis
    Power Sink (thought it was in 7th...)
    Wash Out
    5x Island


    Mogg Sentry
    Raging Goblin
    Goblin Digging Team
    Goblin Raider
    Mogg Jailer
    Goblin King
    Giant Strength
    Volcanic Hammer
    Rhystic Lightning
    Flame Rift
    5x Mountain

    This format absodanglutely rocks.
  10. superguy Helpful CPA Member MAGICBOY

    How about highlander in type 2?

    I made this:

    4 Swamps
    1 Peat Bog
    1 Island

    1 Dark Ritual
    1 Duress
    1 Bod Down
    1 Rain of Tears
    1 Befoul
    1 Recoil
    1 Yawgmoth's Agenda
    1 Ravenous Rats
    1 Chimeric Idol

    Yeah, I guess Agenda would be too powerful though... I put the island for recoil, because I don't like the possibility of second turn Scuta, which I can't really deal with otherwise. Addle might be better, but if opponent topdecks it, and you're not destroying his land like crazy, he might just win.


    1 Cremate (Pyre Zombie)
    and some combination of following:
    Crypt Rats
  11. Dune Echo CPA Founder, Idea Man

    So recursion is bad, I can prove that with my Gaea's Blessing deck. But what kind of recursion? Any kind of recursion includes Ivory Gargoyle and Avenging Angel. Also, what about cards like Regrowth, Reclaim, Revive, and Restock? Is the recursion with those cards too powerful? Or is recurion okay as long as both players benefit, such as Ill-Gotten Gains? I can see Avenging Angel and Shivan Phoenix and Weatherseed Treefolk in a Sneak Attack Deck.

    Gizmo says that Gaea's Blessing and Soldevi Digger are too strong, which I agree it can be. But let me tell ya, it is very hard to make an effective engine with Gaea's Blessing that can't be disrupted by a single counterspell or Rapid Decay or Tormod's Crypt, which my deck can't handle at all. Also, there are multiple cards that remove a spell/creature from the game that may be neccessary to have in such a limited format (deck size-wise) depending on whether or not certain recursion is allowed or not. Without recursion, they may be not strong enough, but with it, they may be too strong. I know with my Gaea's Blessing recursion deck, I can use a Swords to Plowshares or Diabolic Edict multiple times.

    I really like the idea listed above that says that no card that recurs the entire graveyard should be allowed, which allows for power cards like Gaea's Blessing and Avenging Angel and Lin Sivvi.

    Also, speed in a much larger card pool could be a problem, as I can prove with my Gaea's Blessing deck. There is one card I think shouldn't be banned that's fast and that's Mana Crypt. It is a speed demon, yes, but it will eventually end any stalemate if a person uses it, which can be part of an interesting Donate deck.
  12. Dune Echo CPA Founder, Idea Man

    I spoke with Gizmo briefly via email about this, and he pointed out some cards right off the bat that are dangerous and powerful and thirdly, those that need to be watched. I have a Word Document with the list partially made up, but I hope to complete it some time in the near future.

    I also have a list of decks and their sources. Anyone that wants to help me develop this particular format, please do! I will be happy to answer all emails. If you want the full document so far, email me, and I'll put you on a list for updates.
  13. Istanbul Sucker MCs call me sire.

    Here's an interesting little idea for you:

    6x Island
    Thought Lash
    Dream Cache
    Arcane Denial
    Force Spike
    Helm of Obedience

    Donate the Thought Lash to your opponent, and watch his library disappear at the speed of light. :) Soothsaying is basically a Vampiric Tutor in this deck, as is Dream Cache. Helm of Obedience equals milling fun combined with creature defense, and low-mana countermagic offers protection.

    Incidentally, wouldn't Altar of Dementia belong on either the watch list or the banned list?
  14. Dune Echo CPA Founder, Idea Man

    I'm going to go ahead and start sending out updates to anyone that has expressed interest in this format.

    So far, that's only Christopher Hearns (from Star City), Gizmo, Sammy Dead-O, and Istanbul. Also, I have a Word document with everything so far, if anyone wants it, ask to be added to my list.

    Istanbul and anyone else: I need your email addy to add to my list. Email me ASAP, please.

    Basically, I'm pulling out any card that does MASSIVE recursion to the deck. Gizmo pointed out the following:
    (Gizmo: If you are offended by me quoting you, please let me know, and I'll edit these comments out immediately)
    Here's the latest I've come up with. If anyone can help me out or sees something I have definitely missed, let me know (kk200018@ncr.com). Remember, I'm still working on it, but I would appreciate help for anything post-Weatherlight.

    Banned List:
    Black Lotus
    Crumbling Sanctuary
    Enduring Renewal
    Feldon’s Cane
    Hymn to Tourach
    Hypnotic Specter
    Mana Vault
    Mox Emerald
    Mox Jet
    Mox Pearl
    Mox Sapphire
    Mox Ruby
    Paradigm Shift
    Serra Avatar
    Soldevi Digger
    Thran Foundry
    Time Spiral
    Vision Charm
    Wand of Denial

    Strong Cards (because they bend the limits of deck building in 15CH, or the disadvantage is nullified):
    All Hallow’s Eve
    Argivian Find
    Avenging Angel
    Balduvian Dead
    Booby Trap
    Bogardan Phoenix
    Coffin Queen
    Corpse Dance
    Cursed Scroll
    Disturbed Burial
    Forbidden Crypt
    Funeral Charm
    Hammer of Bogardan
    Ill-Gotten Gains
    Krovikan Horror
    Living Death
    Lodestone Bauble
    Night Soil
    Phyrexian Grimoire
    Scalding Tongs
    Soldevi Sentry
    Tolarian Serpent

    Watch List:
    Altar of Dementia
    Ashnod’s Cylix
    Bösium Strip
    Drafna’s Restoration
    Field of Souls
    Gaea’s Blessing
    Guiding Spirit
    Helm of Obedience
    Ivory Gargoyle
    Jester’s Cap
    The Rack
    Yawgmoth’s Agenda
    Yawgmoth's Will

    I am heavily leaning towards banning Yawgmoth's Agenda and Yawgmoth's Will. Both provide significant possible advantages in deck size over your opponent despite being disruptable which is essentially what Gizmo has pointed out is dangerous to the environment. Yawgmoth's Will is certainly comparable to Restock.
  15. Gizmo Composite: 1860

    I`d say you want to ban any card that becomes a 'must play' in that you either play that card or something specifically to kill that card. In the end it`s going to be a huge helping of trial and error, we didn`t ban Millstone until after the tournament...
  16. Dune Echo CPA Founder, Idea Man

    I can see why this card got banned, it can make some serious card advantage in this type of format if you can get it out quickly. Did you end up banning all Millstone-type cards? Istanbul's Helm deck could be quite dangerous.

    Also, I've seen quite a few people using/suggesting Nether Spirit, which seems to fit your definition for a card that needs to be banned. Also, I think it was Istanbul asked if it should be banned.
  17. Istanbul Sucker MCs call me sire.

    Would Rishadan Pawnshop be another one to watch for? Consider it as a way to conceivably avoid decking forever.

    Stroke of Genius, Braingeyser, and Ancestral Recall should be watched for as well. Forcing another player to draw X cards, well...that's pretty obvious. And Ancestral Recall suddenly becomes better than any Bolt could ever be.

    Forbidden Crypt could be very strong in this format. Basically enlarges your library size by who-knows-how-much.

    Here's a thought for ya:

    6x Swamp
    Bad Moon
    Unholy Strength
    Sinister Strength
    Order of the Ebon Hand
    Black Knight
    Vampire Bats
    Fallen Askari

    20 comes pretty fast with this bad boy...
  18. Dune Echo CPA Founder, Idea Man

    Istanbul: I don't know if you're taking into account that you don't lose if you can't draw a card in this format. However, if there is a way to make your opponent draw all of her/his deck on your first turn, you've just milled her/him for at least 7 at the end of her/his next turn.

    P.S. Please get me your email address, Istanbul.

    Rishadan Pawnshop is conceivably quite good actually. Take a look at some of the deck ideas that Gizmo posted on his website.

    Forbidden Crypt is deffinitely on the Watch List along with Yawgmoth's Agenda. I agree with Gizmo that anything that can potentially increase the size of your deck beyond the 15 is good, Restock needs to be the limit for that I think. I don't know for sure yet.
  19. Dune Echo CPA Founder, Idea Man

    Anyway to shore this up for more reliability? It's extremely succeptible to creature kill, but it could work.

    Colors: Green
    Created by: Kirsin Koch
    Description/Theme: Get a lot of high power but cheap creatures into play quickly, then cast Phyrexian Dreadnought and recycle your graveyard

    1 Argothian Wurm
    1 Blastoderm
    1 Citanul Centaurs
    1 Eladamri’s Vineyard
    1 Geaa’s Blessing
    1 Hunted Wumpus
    1 Reclaim

    1 Phyrexian Dreadnought
    1 Phyrexian Processor

    4 Forest
    1 Tropical Island
    1 Yavimaya Coast

    1 Blossoming Wreath
    1 Defense Grid
    1 Reins of Power

    The other idea I had was Aluren with cards like Cradle Guard, Fallow Wurm, and Megatherium, and then cast the Phyrexian Dreadnought. If you don't have Gaea's Blessing or we decide to ban it, Haunted Crossroads can fill that spot.

    Colors: Black/Green
    Created by: Kirsin Koch
    Description/Theme: Cast Aluren, put all your 3-cc creatures into play, and then play Phyrexian Dreadnought then recycle your creatures

    1 Haunted Crossroads
    1 Phyrexian Negator

    1 Aluren
    1 Cradle Guard
    1 Megatherium

    1 Ebony Treefolk
    1 Llanowar Dead

    1 Phyrexian Dreadnought
    1 Phyrexian Processor

    1 Bayou
    3 Forest
    1 Llanowar Wastes
    1 Swamp

    1 ?
    1 ?
    1 ?
  20. Gizmo Composite: 1860

    Why is Phyrexian Dreadnought good? Isn`t it just a way of turning thre of your cards into a single that they can Disenchant? I always thought Dreadnought was terrible because you`d rather have 6 2/2s than 1 12/12.

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