I know you. You're the type of player who can only seem to get one of any "good" card when you open packs. Your friend bragged how he's pulled 5 Magus of the Disk while you're stuck with one. You don't want to throw that one-of into a deck and your friends won't let you play proxies, calling you, "Cheater" and "Cheap" and "You have bad foot odor; put your shoes back on!" which is really not your fault per se but a genetic thing that you got from your father.
Or, you have a good collection of cards which is more then what you need, and when it comes tourney time, people ask you to borrow cards. Of course you have your checklist of who borrowed what and the condition they were in and if they come back bent or nicked or weren't played in the proper sleeves; oh they'll be hell to pay if any of those cards come back "played."
Or, you got so tired of playing the same decks over and over again, especially in Extended tournaments where for the millionth time today you have three Goblin Piledrivers coming over on turn four with a Goblin Warchief, which makes you reach over and strangle your opponent causing not only a match loss, but getting kicked out of the tournament.
Or, you have a huge collection of cards back from your Dark or even Alpha days, but a lot of cards that you have wanted to put into decks but nothing seems to fit just right.
What do all of these people have in common? Easy. They should all play this "new" format: 150 Highlander. Based in Seattle, it's sweeping the nation much in the way the “Paris Hilton Abstinence Tour” isn't. But, you want to hear about 150 Highlander, not about some woman.
What? No I don't think I'm compensating for something
What? No I don't think I'm compensating for something
1. Decks must be at least 150 cards. This is where the 150 comes in.
2. No two cards must have the same name, except for basic lands. Yes, foreign cards according to the DCI are the same cards. This is where the Highlander part comes in (like the movie: There can be only one! (Some of you might be thinking there's a way out of this one-of malarkey that I just threw at you: Relentless Rats. Nice try. Even the almighty rats can't save you from this. Seriously.)
3. Um, that's it. Well, you play Magic with the cards, so I'm hoping you know how to play that at least.
There's the format. Except for a few banned cards, you're on your way to Magic bliss…
See, this is where some writers would "hear" you asking for more rules, the banned cards and some suggestions for what to play. I'm not that kind of writer (I just don't have those super powers to hear your imaginary thoughts). I can just "feel" that you want more information; well that and clearly I have not reached a word count as of yet.
Mulligans are explained on the "Official" 150 Highlander website:
Mulligans: 150 uses a 3-strike "big deck" mulligan rule. If your initial hand contains 0 or 1 lands, or 0 or 1 non-lands, you can show it to your opponent, shuffle it in, and draw the same number of cards. You can do this up to three times per game. You may also take a Hyra (Paris) mulligan as many times as you like, in which you mulligan to one less card. For example, in one game you could mulligan a no-land hand, drawing 7 new cards, then if that hand is bad but does have lands, you could mulligan to 6 cards without showing your opponent. If you still had no lands, you could again reveal and mulligan to six cards again.
I can't say it better then that, and I'm not going to plagiarize (yeah, okay, bad pun. I know that some people would be mad if I didn't do it. At least my High School English teacher is happy that I still don't plagiarize).
What would any other format be if there weren't banned cards? If you want the list of restricted cards, ask your partner next to you when we break for small group discussion. The banned cards for this format are:
- Survival of the Fittest
- Wild Research
- Thawing Glaciers
- Crumbling Sanctuary
- Insidious Dreams
Survival, Research and Glaciers are banned in this format because of something they have in common: shuffling. Shuffling seems to be the bane of this format (if you run with enough tutors and sac-lands) because it slows things down a bit. It can be a nice change of pace every once in a while, but if you're doing it multiple times a turn every turn, it gets annoying. Plus, these cards are horribly broken in a one-of format (Look at what Survival can do in Legacy, and that's only 60 cards). Crumbling Sanctuary is broken when you can prevent over 100 damage, hence its banning. And Insidious Dreams is wrong when you search up Balance and any other card for the next turn to help you win the game, so it was banned due to its power.
Eagle eyes will notice that some card that aren't banned:
- Arc Slogger (Have fun with that library)
- Battle of Wits (Yes, it can be a powerful card in such a format)
- Artificer's Intuition (Not enough low-cost artifacts to make this a concern yet)
There's huge design area that you use to build your deck, especially if you use those cards. Speaking of deck design:
Cards You Shouldn't Use:
So, while technically you can play with every other card in Magic, you might want to avoid these for good reason:
A 4-mana discard spell? Awesome!
A 4-mana discard spell? Awesome!
Burst Spells/Accumulated Knowledge
Basically any card that says "Play more than one of me" should be avoided, since really you can't. But, if the cards actually say that, it might be time to get some sleep. Cards shouldn't talk, unless you count Wizard's next mechanic in the new block: cards that say stuff...
Heidar, Rimewind Master/Scrying Sheets
Looking at Gatherer there are only 46 different cards with the snow supertype. Sure, you can count the snow-covered basic lands more than once (remember, they're basic), but reaching across only five colors, it doesn't look like you can put together a 150 deck with everything being snow and be effective. If the deck was less than 100, you might be able to get it to work, but not 150 cards. If you're talking about a theme deck though, well, I'll get to that in a minute.
Leyline of Singularity
Everything is already kind of a Legend. But the real deal is that there's not enough cards to make that legendary clause useful (like the Legendary Lands from Kamigawa).
Jester's Scepter, Lobotomy
If you're playing another person with a 150 Highlander, they're going to play by the same rules (hopefully, if they're not cheating jerks).
Glimpse of the Unthinkable – Unless you're trying to put cards into your graveyard, or you've got some way to abuse it, putting only 10 of someone's 150 Highlander deck into their graveyard doesn't work that well.
Cards You Should Use:
You want to know what to put in your deck? Fine. Here are my choices, one for every color. If you're playing that color, there is no reason why you shouldn't have one in your deck (unless, you don't have the card, that's a valid reason). Not only do these cards work for 150 Highlander, but any highlander format as well.
Black – Tainted Pact
This is one of the best cards in highlander. Read the card:
Remove the top card of your library from the game. You may put that card into your hand unless it has the same name as another card removed this way. Repeat this process until you put a card into your hand or you remove two cards with the same name, whichever comes first.
So, if you don't have any basic land repeats, you remove cards in your library from the game until you get to the card you want. Put that card into your hand. Basically: Almost an "I win" card. If you play this, make sure you mix in some snow-covered basic lands with your normal ones as they have different names. AND basically you can find this for like a dollar (American). If you have access to Black in your deck, there is NO reason you shouldn't have it.
Blue – Gifts Ungiven
You can almost hear the card call out to you, "Hey, I wasn't a hybrid of Fact or Fiction and Intuition, but I was made for Highlander. Play me!" If you do hear cards talk to you though, please go seek help, now. While this is almost like Tainted Pact, Gifts puts card into your graveyard to do things like, Reanimate, or dredge, or add haste (or you can read the article for other ideas). I don't know, seems pretty good.
Green – Eternal Witness
In a format where you can only have one of each card, being able to use it again is important. So, with the best creature that allows you to do that, you can abuse that Armageddon over again. And with tricks like Crystal Shard and Stampeding Serow, you will generate serious card advantage. Genesis almost was the top card, but it only returns creatures to your hand. Of course, mixing the two of these together…
Red – Wheel of Fortune
While we know that there is a variation of this card in Time Spiral, nothing beats the original. Red isn't know for its card drawing, so taking a broken "Draw 7" card and being able to use it in a format where there is no consistency is amazing. It does madness, it does graveyard, it does drawing tricks. If you're playing Red, you're playing this card.
White – Balance
Both Balance and Wheel are restricted in Vintage and banned in Legacy. Why? They're that good. Here's a sample play: You're getting your face kicked in by Troll Ascetic, Wild Mongrel, and Spiritmonger. You have no creatures, and are down to three life. What do you do? Cast Tainted Pact, and search for your Balance. Wow, right? Freaking nuts. It can help you recover from a random format.
Of course, there are many more good cards to play in this format; I just pointed out ones that will have to find their way in your deck. Of course, some other things to consider include:
- Variants of staple cards can be very good. We've been pounded into our heads that repetition is better, which is why most of the time we play 4 of a card in 60 card decks. The game has been around for such a long time now, that there are numerous cards that can do the same thing. You can have enough destroy artifact cards: Shatter, Bash to Bits, Crash, Detonate, Echoing Ruin (While this card is not as effective, it still destroys an artifact for , Hearth Kami, Keldon Vandals, Overload... The list goes on and on. All of these variations can be used.
- Creatures with "come into play" abilities are very useful. You almost get two spells in one card (a creature and a spell-like ability), which is why these creatures are played so often. I said Eternal Witness was good, and so is Flametongue Kavu, Bone Shredder, Man-o'-War, Ancestor's Chosen, and so on. Think about that when that Living Death resolves...
- Have enough mana sources. While this may seem like something that would be expected it's going to be different from a 60 card deck. Suddenly, playing with Sky Diamond might not seem that bad in your deck. It's something to think about when you're putting it together.
Why You Should Play This Format:
Before I leave you (or you leave me I guess) to your deck building, I just want to try and convince the rest of you who are still on the fence whether to play this format or not. By doing this, I'll use the Spike/Timmy/Johnny/Vorthos player types.
Spike – Sure, it make seem janky and "noobish" to run a deck full of one-ofs (isn't that what Vintage is anyway), but there still are amazing things that you can do with this format. One of my favorite plays in my 5-color control deck is to play Gifts Ungiven, and go get Eternal Witness, Life from the Loam, Volrath's Stronghold, and something else, most likely a cycling land. Or, buy showing all the cool FMN cards I've won to intimidate my opponent, I slap my FNM Rancor on my Spanish Troll Ascetic and swing. It's my "pimped out" deck full of foils, and singed cards and foreign language cards. It always feels better to draw a card with my signed Koren Wall of Blossoms than my English ones I have in my other decks. If you work on it, a 150 Highlander can still be a force to be reckoned with.
Next on MTV: Pimp My Deck!
Next on MTV: Pimp My Deck!
Timmy – This is your chance to play with all of the cards you want. You can construct your deck so that each time, you game style will be completely different. Like I said above with my 5 color control, I may see my Spritmonger once in 10 games. Sure, I'll technically see it when I'm searching through my library, but I won't draw it. You can also put all of your biggest, best creatures/spells in this deck, and have all the fun in the world. By getting your friends to all build these decks, you can have fun all night, pounding each other with Force of Nature and the like. I mean, who doesn't want to have a big deck full of Elves, Dragons and Zombies? You only have one Ball Lightning? Throw it in here. Make it fun.
Johnny - One of my friends built a Goblin 150 Highlander. You might think would be dumb and too "Timmy or Spike like", and I thought I was going to run it over. Until he played the following cards: Goblin Recruiter putting 20+ goblins on top, then playing Goblin Charbelcher for the win. I'll let that sink in for a moment. Or, build an all cycling deck with Fluctuator and Astral Slide and Lightning Rift. Use Mortality Shift to put your library into your graveyard and play Living Death. My Johnny 150 deck is based around Niv-Mizzit and Psychic Possession, Memory Jar, Mind Over Matter, Curiosity and many more draw cards.
Vorthos – Thanks to Matt Cavotta's insisting (the bottom of the page), there are you guys (welcome to the player types). Let me pose you this question: how can a 150 Highlander deck be less flavorful? You know there is only going to be one legend in the deck, and you're only going to be able to cast your spell only once (most of the time). You wanted to build that deck with only cards from art with Kev Walker? Now you can. Make it a Weatherlight Saga deck, showing all of the important characters, locations and events from the adventures.
But quite possibly the best thing about this format is that once you build a 150 Highlander, you don't have to change it all that often... really only when a new set comes out (unless you're doing a Type II variant). I look at the new cards from a set and decide if I want them in. Sure, I have Ravnica block and now some Time Spiral in my deck, but there are certain cards that aren't leaving. There are so many card choices that you have to have all new cards to mess around with (though it is fin from time to time). If you're on a budget, there is no reason why you shouldn't have one of these decks.
That ends this article for today. Go forth and build to your heart's content. Tell your friends in your play group to build 150 Highlander decks. Take one to the card shop for games between FMN rounds. Most importantly, just have fun; isn't that what playing Magic with your friends is supposed to be (besides kicking their face in every once in a while)? Come back next time when I'll try and be funnier, even try to throw a joke in there.
Maybe two if you're lucky.