I see people make the argument all the time that restrictions keep pushing us closer to a singleton format, and that maybe we should just go ahead and restrict everything. I'm having a slow Friday at work, so I was curious: are singletons actually trending upwards?

It's not perfect, but I decided an easy way to check would be to tally up the number of singletons in North American Vintage Champs Top 8s. Here's what I found:

0_1574448930841_Screen Shot 2019-11-22 at 12.51.17 PM.png

Some notes:

  • EDIT: I should note that this is only maindecks. I excluded sideboards because I figured by nature they include a lot of 1-ofs.
  • I excluded Dredge, because their lists were huge outliers (e.g. 3 singleton cards/list).
  • 2019 is 8 decklists. I don't know why I left that field blank.
  • For some reason, I couldn't find the 2010 decklists.
  • Anecdotally, the years with more singletons tended to feature higher numbers of PO, Oath, and Storm. In years with fewer singletons, we saw decks like Delver as dominant strategies.
  • My quick summary is I'm not sure what to conclude. It looks to me as though 2011 - 2018 was fairly stable. 2019 saw a big jump in singletons.

I'm not posting this to make a strong argument for/against restrictions, or anything like that. I just thought some people might find it interesting.

last edited by Stuart

I'd love to see some numbers from the Brainstorm era. I kind of feel that Scroll and Brainstorm allowed you to get away with more broken things in a homogeneous deck. A deck like U/W Fish could have 4 Scroll 4 Brainstorm and be a functional deck.

Also a lot of the stuff from that time is restricted now (Scroll, Brainstorm, Ponder etc.)

Your post tells me that over the past decade both homogeneous and broken strategies have been viable and right now broken is better. I would assume in the near future a "fair" strategy will emerge and put up low numbers again.

last edited by John Cox

@john-cox said in The Singleton Argument:

Your post tells me that over the past decade both homogeneous and broken strategies have been viable and right now broken is better. I would assume in the near future a "fair" strategy will emerge and put up low numbers again.

This is my takeaway, too. 2014 is the low point for singletons, and the Top 8 included 4 Delver and 2 Shops. I'm guessing that if 2019 Champs had happened a few months earlier, during the period UWR Xerox was dominating on MTGO, the number of singletons would have been a good deal lower. Surely that could happen in the future (unless, as the argument goes, we've reached a critical mass of powerful restricted/singleton cards, and there isn't a good reason to not max out on those cards).

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