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Top Ten Decks Ever
Hi Dave and fellow Dojo worshipers,
Having already voiced my opinion on most of the important issues being discussed, I decided to have some fun and maybe incite some controversy and conversation. A good way to do this has always been to rank anything in a "top whatever" list. I used the following criteria to rank the decks: Success at the top level of play, lasting effect on the game (bannings, etc. resulting because of the deck), and minor things like endurance and adaptability. This is my opinion, but I don't mind people sending me flames or suggestions on decks I should have included (I may have missed some that should be on the list). If you don't see a deck you expect to be there right away, read through the articles and the deck you are looking for may be grouped with another (Jank, for example, is grouped under the more general label of White Weenie).So without further ado:
The reason this deck doesn't crack the top 10 is because the deck will not have existed long enough for it to register all that many high finishes in any large tournaments, and for that same reason will likely pass away into Magic history. However, the undeniable power of this deck is impossible to argue with and based solely on its ability to win so early in the game, deserves a place in this article.
Effect on Magic: The scary thought of first turn kills almost once a match drove the DCI to ban this card within mere weeks of the decks' ceation. The power of cards such as Yawgmoth's Will and fast mana sources is demonstrated most effectively by this deck.
Non-Necro discard decks have been popular since the days when Mind Twist was still unbanned, and although it took a break during the Black Summer, its resurgence makes it a true survivor and a worthy candidate for the list. Alexander Blumke rode a mono-black discard deck to glory at the World Championships, and recently Pox based discard decks have become the hot new deck to defeat the awsome power of High Tide.
Effect: Discard decks caused the banning/restircting of Mind Twist and to an extent, Balance. They have also been crucial in keeping the one deck they are made to defeat, High Tide, in check and at the same time off the Extended hit list.
Speaking of Balance, it was this deck, along with several others using card disadvantage as a card advantage mechanic, that turned the ultimate equaliser into a broken game shifting power card. By using cheap spells, hand draining cards, and few land, this deck turned Balance into a Wrath of God, Mind Twist, and Armageddon super hybrid. This deck enjoyed its glory before the Pro Tour took off, but it is safe to say that more than one player enjoyed a tournament victory playing the Balance deck.
Effect: Aside from the resticting of Balance, this deck provided the insiration to those who seek to use card disadvantage advantageously through Cursed Scroll and its brethren. This deck is perhaps the first example of how a well meaning card can be broken and turned into something it wasn't meant to be.
The first truly successful combo deck as we know them today, ProsBloom taught players that even in Standard (Type 2) and Mirage Block, one could do nothing for a few turns and then win in one huge splash. Before ProsBloom, a combo was usually something built into a deck without only the combo in mind, rather than the central point of a deck where each card in the deck goes toward completing the combo. This deck dominated PT Paris, and perfromed well at U.S. Nationals and Worlds during 1998.
Effect: Prosbloom introduced the idea of a cluster deck combo machine to professional Magic, and its key component, Squandered Resources, was banned in Mirage block tournaments, a testament to this deck's power.
And now...the Top 10 Decks of All Time:
A deck using the hated Stasis lock won the very first World Championships, and since then, the deck has enjoyed success in many different versions. Originally, Stasis was mainly a fun strategy used by players who wanted to lock down their opponents, but the combo was very fragile and required many cards. Then came TurboStasis, the anti-Necro deck that made a huge impact at 1996 U.S. Nationals, and carried 2 players into the top 4. Since then, many Stasis decks have been played successfully, particularly by Tommi Hovi, who gained a reputation as the world's foremost expert on the deck.
Effect: Stasis became a serious contender during the Black Summer, where it became apparent that it was an excellent anti-Necro choice. The splash Long, Place and Co. made at Nationals, with the help of the Finns, is also one of the first good examples of deck developpment over the internet and between a group of players, all of which played the same deck.
One of the decks that has proven to be the most adaptable and flexible decks in Magic history, the Erhanamgeddon strategy took the inaugral PT New York by storm. Since then, it had essentially evolved into Marogeddon, 5Cg, and Tradwindgeddon. All of these decks take the strategy of Erhnamgeddon: use fast mana and Armageddon to obtain control, then beast the other player down with large creatures or lock him down so that he can't do anything. This deck was a favorite in the pre-Alliances era because of its ability to eliminate many different types of threats while playing its own at the same time.
Effect: Because of the success of Standard (Type 2) Erhnamgeddon, Land Tax, Balance, and Zuran Orb were all restricted/banned, and cards such as Swords to Plowshares and Erhnam Djinn wre rotated out. This deck typyfies the idea of a "mid-range" strategy, one that is of medium speed and not too narrowly focused.
A popular deck in old style, 4 Balance Type 1, Prison decks really burst onto the scene at 1996 U.S. Nationals, where Baxters' anti-Necro Orb Song deck took second place. Since then it has posted excelent results in all Extended competions, including PT Chicago 1 and PT LA 2 qualifiers. It's top moment in standard was at PT Dallas, where the top 2 finishers in the junior division and a finalist in the pro division were all playing the deck, which was one of the most popular at the tournament. This deck, although no longer a powerhouse in Extended, is still a strong choice for players who like its long, slow, controllish games.
Effect: Prison decks were among the first to work on the principal of mana deprivation that does not involve traditional land destruction. They also rank as one of the fist successful lock decks to grace the Pro Tour.
7. Blue/White Control:
Originating from Brian Weissman's control lock powerhouse "The Deck", counter/board control decks have always been a force, with the exception of a period of hibernation that may end on April 1st, when the combo winter is officially over. Among the assorted decks that have been successful and that fall into the counter/control archtype are Counterpost, Turbo Abeyance, Borg decks, Humility/Prayer decks, and the winning deck from the original PT New York, Millstone decks. Whatever their form, Blue/White has always been one of the consitent performers, and has the pro win to show for it's trouble.
Effect: "The Deck" and its descendants taught the Magic world the power of card advantage, and showed that being in control is better than not. Cards that have been banned/restricted based on the performance of control decks, particularly in Classic (Type 1), are numerous.
6. Reccuring Nightmare:
A deck that evolved from strategies such as Godzilla and 5CKastle, Recurring Nightmare based decks dominated the last World Championships, and have since evolved from their humble 187 creature/Fat begginings into infinite mana decks that provided a good portion of the snow during the combo winter. Either mixed with Survival of the Fittest for maximum flexibility or combined with the now illegal Great Whale for infinite mana, Recurring Nightmare is a card that is so good it has formed the base of multiple decks, and can win even its worst matchups. Currently, Recurring Nightmare decks sans infinity are still leading contenders in Standard and Extended, and will be in the latter for some time.
Previously a reasonably balanced mechanic, graveyard recursion became #1 on the DCI hit list, and both Recurring Nightmare and the infinite combo were banned (in the Nightmare's case, only in Standard). WotC will be more careful when designing graveyard manipulation cards from now on.
5. White Weenie:
Another old school deck that has evolved periodically to fit the times, White Weenie ranks as one of the most consistent strategies in Magic history. It rose to prominence during the Black Summer as a Necro-killer, and indeed won a Necro infested World Championships that year. Since then, 3 particularly good versions of White Weenie have emerged. The first is the Empyrial Armor/Cataclysmic WW deck of 1998 Nationals and Worlds, which won the former and had 2 top 8 finishes in the latter. In Extended the first version to emerge was the powerful strategy Alatar.dec while the second is the still succesful deck archtype PT Jank. Both of these decks have excelled on the PTQ circuit, and Jank made 2 top 8s at PT Rome.
Effect: By hosing Necro yet being only subpar against many of the other decks, White Weenie invented the Rock-Paper-Scissors scenario. Also, the success of Altar's Tax/Rack combo led to the banning of Land Tax in extended, while PT Janks' success contributed to the growth in popularity of Cursed Scroll.
4. Red/Green Speed Burn:
The source of the original turn 1 kill, red/green burn has not been popular since regionals 2 years ago, before Deadguy Red caused the Mono-Red explosion that saw green fade out of the quick creature, burn deck. A relic form Magic's past, this deck saw its real glory in two forms: The Type 1 Kird Ape Channel/Fireball deck complete with the Big Blue and the Jewellery, and the Standard (Type 2) deck Vise Age, which was essentially the same deck with less efficent cards doing the jobs of others. Vise Age type decks are particularly noteworthy, as they can lay claim to a U.S. Nationals championship (1995), and a top 4 at Worlds during that same year. Red/Green burn remained a solid stretegy for several years, a testament to its adaptability and flexibility. As an afterthought, Olle Rade's winning PT Colombus deck, while not in the traditional mold of the deck, was red/green.
Effect: Channel and Zuran Orb were both banned/restricted in order to control the power of red/green. Most important of all, though, is the removal of Black Vise from Type 2, which was caused by the Vise Age deck. Without Black Vise to fear, Blue/White control made a comeback, and two powerhouses, Erhnamgeddon and Necropotence, were given the green light to develop and take control.
3. Mono-Red Beatdown:
Mono-Red, often called Sligh or Deadguy Red, has been one of the most consistent performers in Magic history since it debuted as a Necro hoser. Red has performed well in Standard for many years, and has also been one of the best decks in Extended since the release of Tempest. It has many high finishes in pro events, including a PT LA 2 win and a finals appearance at Worlds. It has often been praised for its consistency and ability to win even its toughest matchups. Red Beatdown is a deck that will probably never disappear, and is always an important metagame consideration for other decks. The speed and efficiency offered by this deck make it a lethal and successful piece of the tournament pie.
Effect: People learned the power of the mana curve, of card disadvantage (with Cursed Scroll), of control through offensive pressure, and of using the most efficient mana to damage cards, all from watching this deck. It helped to get Cursed Scroll banned in Rath Cycle, and is arguably the most important piece of the Pro Tour puzzle.
Between the release of Urza's Saga and the creation of the Memory Jar deck, the eyes of the Magic Community and the DCI have been aimed squarely at the two decks that combined all the broken cards from Urza's Saga to form a consistent speed kill unlike any seen in Standard or Extended before then. The two decks, of course, are the Acadamy deck and its less broken twin, the High Tide deck. After dominating U.S. State Cmapionships and PT Rome, the Acadamy deck was broken up in every environment, yet in Classic (Type 1) still remained powerful, as its heavy use at the Duelist Invitational proved. With the Academy deck absent, High Tide was given the chance to dominate Extended, and while a glance at the Qualifier top 8s may not reflect upon this, it is a top choice of most pros, and has a Grand Prix victory to call its own.
Effect: Between the 5 tournament enviroments were various versions of these decks can be played, there are over 15 cards that have been banned/ resticted because of this deck archtype. Taking card advantage to a new height, these decks have proven to be the top combo decks ever for their mix of speed, protection, efficientcy, and overall power. More than anything, the success of these decks pushed people to voice their opinions on the way WotC R&D design cards, and what they should do to avoid creating such broken combos of overpowered cards. Of the two seasonal names known to Magic players, one of the two, the Combo Winter, was caused mainly by the success and power of this deck. The deck that caused the other seasonal name, the Black Summer, is the deck that I rank as the top deck of all time.
1. The Necrodeck:
For a long period of time, opening a pack containing the Ice Age rare Necropotence meant having wasted a few dollars. Then came PT New York, and with it, the emergence of the deck archtype which has dominated Magic ever since. Applying card advantages lessons already laerned in Classic (Type 1) through decks such as "The Deck", top players realized that combining Necropotence with board control and Drain Life could form a lethal deck. The deck took a top 4 and a junior division win at PT New York, and following the ban of Land Tax, the Magic World was plunged into the Black Summer. The decks list of top finishes is lengthly: 1996 U.S. Nationals and U.S. Open victories, a finals and top 4 placing at worlds, PT Colombus high placings, 3 of the top 4 at PT Dallas, including the win, a win at PT Chicago, and a top 8 at PT Rome. Since the creation of the original Black Summer Necrodeck, many other versions have emerged: Hackerpotence, Lauerpotence, McCabe's defensive Necrodeck, Bentley's Necro-Bolt-No Drain/Disk deck, Pikula's Necro-burn deck, and countless versions for the current Extended environment. At its peak, the deck was almost invincible, and only great anti-Necro decks such as WW and Stasis stood a chance at defeating it. Necro ranks as the only deck to have ever won 2 Pro Tours, and continues to flourish to this very day.
Effect: Cards that have been banned/restricted at one time or another because of this deck include Zuran Orb, Strip Mine, Hymn to Tourach, and Hypnotic Specter. Necro taught players the ultimate lesson in card advantage, and its continued succcess means that similar to red beatdown, it is always an issue to consider when contructing a deck. Perhaps the biggest impact of Necro was the expansion of Magic on the internet, which this deck helped cause as players networked to find the newest version of the deck and to discuss was to defeat it. The Pro Tour Metagame developped quickly because of Necro, and its influence is apparent as players today still refer to the Black Summer of 1996. For these reasons, as well as the fact that Necro ranks as one of the most powerful decks ever made, I have chosen it as the best deck of all time.
I hope everyone who read this enjoyed it, and keep in mind that this is only the opinion of a PT Qualifier rookie, so don't take it too seriously. If you have any comments, negative or positive, please e-mail me here.
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