[Old School] Star Format Mono Color Deck Ideas

So, many people here on TMD remember the heady days of the early 90's, where Magic was Magic, Ancestral Recall was just an interesting blue card you got and Contract From Below saved you from losing your SWEET Lord of the Pit.

Nostalgia (mawkishness?) has bred Old School, which seems to be bringing back these pre-Internet era feelings to some degree. BUT. It has also had me itching for a reboot of one of my favorite casual formats: Star.

If you aren't familiar, Star is a multiplayer variant for 5 players, where players next to you are allies and players across from you are enemies. You can only attack enemies, but can target ally permanents with spells and effects. Spells or effects that target opponents cannot target allies. Also, often times players use a variant where allies can intercede or block during combat between two (adjacent) enemies, allowing them to keep one alive and strategically prevent one or the other from winning.

In a very popular extension of this format, the 5 players used mono-color decks, each based on one of the 5 colors. Whether artifacts are allowed or not was usually up to house rules, but generally they were okay as long as they didn't make up the bulk of the deck.

In any case. I want to revive this format with friends, a couple of which are novice players, but in a nod to Vintage and the growing Old School community, would like to build some decks that give players a taste of the fun and elegance, and okay, sometimes sheer winsome clunkiness, of early MtG.

That said, I would love to get some ideas from all you folks on what you would consider your favorite "Old School" mono-colored lists, maybe with the following considerations:

  1. No cards printed after...let's say Fallen Empires...take that, AUTUMN WILLOW!
  2. Using the current restricted list insofar as it applies, but probably excluding the P9 unless you think Timetwister is just too much fun for words or whathaveyou.
  3. Current rules (i.e. no mana burn, vault works like today, use the stack, etc)
  4. Decks should be the factory showroom floor for that color in the olden days. Which is to say, there are fun combos, but the deck shouldn't revolve around a particular combo to win.

Anyway, I look forward to pulling together some of these decks and can't wait to hear what everyone thinks, if anyone thinks this is a worthwhile pursuit at all!

last edited by BandsWithOthers

we talked about this in my group. and we have tossed around the idea of a 'brown' player than can only use colorless cards. (workshop and urza decks)
Id love to throw down some lifeforce.

I guess Lifeforce brings out the question: Should such a format pull out the color hosers. Like should White be able to run Conversion and CoP? I feel like the answer would be no somehow. Like white should be doing things like Kismet, Jihad, Moat, Heavens Gate / Martyrs Cry. Y'know, Awesome things.

last edited by BandsWithOthers

I used to play that format back in the days, and we definitively did not allow the color hosers (they unbalance the games too much and some colors have exactly no answer to them). We allowed allies to block in combat because this allowed very fun diplomaty/tactical.
Here are some hints, IMHO :

  • Black deck should be either the classic control black or a more suicide one. Both are quite iconic and Old school deck lists can be a good start. I would add a few random slots such as royal assassin and/or sorceress queen for the flavour (actually you could do the same for each color).
  • White could go wheeny obviously.
  • Green could ramp into Fatties (force of nature, craw giant, ...). A friend of mine used to play that and he could have a force of nature attack at turn 3 quite easily, maybe a less all-in version could be designed. Green weakness was the lack of flying creature.
  • Red could go into Goblin deck as it was the first tribal deck that really succeed in tornaments but i am not sure it would be strong enough in such a format (blood moon is not good here). Blasts spells are a must but it would be more fun to have blast be only a tool to help a main strategy.
  • Blue should have a lot of control spells (counter, control magic, ...) and a few good flying creatures.
last edited by albarkhane

Okay! So I actually started building and brewing. This is kind of a fun experiment because you are essentially creating a limited format, with deck ideas in mind that are more or less tuned to each other. It has however created some unexpected challenges and so I want to share these very silly lists here with The Great Minds of Vintage.

So first warning: these are Johnny-ish Timmy Decks.

As I started moving through the sets, the lists that I first generated (and could still share here if anyone would like to see them) were very much a highlander list of all the fun, vaguely synergistic, flashy cards from the early days, built on a longer mana curve to support a fairly slow game where you could expect to see some 6 drops. I was also trying to maintain some cards from each set, just for the gallery walk factor.

The function of this idea after all is to expose people to cards and a style of play that would now seem pretty alien. Meaning that you'd play cards and combos that were perhaps far from ideal but that gave you the "Oh wow yeah! That thing!"

While my inner Vorthos loved these decks, I worried that there wasn't enough cohesion, or that they would just get tooooo clunky. So I started trying to think of ways to tune them up into better versions of themselves, to show players the kinds of strategies that would have been available to mono color lists of the time, along with a few fun fatties and one-off combos/display pieces.

In other words, I tried to think of what 12 year old me might have brought to an FNM in the early nineties: "Okay, I'm going to pull together a (color) deck!" That said, some of these choices are completely snap judgements that could totally be changed (like 4x Crusade). Some of the decks might just be too aggressively tuned and need some nerfing. The object of this set of decks is to give people a leisurely play experience and the opportunity to see old stuff happen.

So all that said, in advance thanks for any and all suggestions for tuning and substitution to give people the best play experience of each color with Fallen Empires as the ceiling! These were all made with a slightly clunky 20 land manabase in mind, which might just be stupid, but which was done to give an even 20/20/20 that would lead to slower game play overall.

4 Savannah Lions
4 Tundra Wolves
4 Thunder Spirit
2 Preacher
2 Abu Jafar
4 Serra Angel
4 Disenchant
4 Crusade
4 Swords to Ploughshares
Blaze of Glory
Wrath of God

4 Stone Throwing Devils
4 Hypnotic Spectre
4 Khabal Ghoul
2 Royal Assassin
2 Sorceress Queen
4 Juzam Djinn
4 Dark Ritual
4 Hymn to Tourach
The Abyss
Nether Void
Mirror Universe
Mind Twist
Demonic Tutor
Underworld Dreams
2 Terror
Howling Mine

Red (Went Goblins. Very tempted to go Kobolds instead)
4 Mons's Goblin Raiders
4 Goblin Balloon Brigade
4 Goblin King
4 Ball Lightning
2 Rukh Egg
Shivan Dragon
Goblin Wizard
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Chain Lightning
4 Goblin Grenade
2 Fireball
Gravity Sphere
Raging River
Wheel of Fortune
Gauntlet of Might
Sword of the Ages

4 Ernham Djinn
2 Killer Bees
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Elvish Archers
Craw Giant
Force of Nature
Ifh-Biff Efreet
Birds of Paradise
Avoid Fate
4 Giant Growth
4 Ice Storm
2 Sylvan Library
2 Storm Seeker
Concordant Crossroads
Drop of Honey
Nevinyrral's Disc
Dessert Twister

4 Flying Men
4 Prodigal Sorcerer
4 Serendib Efreet
4 Clone
2 Vesuvan Doppleganger
2 Mahamoti Djinn
4 Mana Drain
2 Power Sink
2 Control Magic
4 Psionic Blast
Drain Power
Copy Artifact
Icy Manipulator
Mana Short

Alright folks. Hack away.

last edited by BandsWithOthers

I believe that Nevs Disk and Howling Mine should be in every list. Also, earthquake, hurricane, and tranquility should be used. How you gonna have Armeggedon and Wrath of God, but no Tranquility, Earthquake, or Hurricane? Smh. Also Desert Twister is like an auto include in green.

@Serracollector whoa! Earthquake was actually in the list as was tranquility but didn't make the literal cut and paste operation! Thanks for the catch though. I shall rectify immediately!

Hurricane I debated as I have Ifh-Biff, but maybe just not the same flavorwise?

I only wanted One mine and One disc in any one game but maybe blue should get a disc as well?

last edited by BandsWithOthers

Why no BoP? Because of Efreet or did you forget to include them?

last edited by Teluin

We used to play that kind of format in the past, we called it PentaColor in italy, 5 mages with one different color each and no more than 2 o 3 artifacts (appropriate mox and sol ring usually)...

after some months it turned out it was better to play it without a defined ally/enemy policy but everyone against everyone, and it was nice because for the first half of the game it looked more like a role play where people were trying to find allies and turn other mages against the most feared opponent.

Games were quite long, a single pentacolor game was lasting usually more than one hour i remember...
it was more than 20 years ago...

@Teluin Was pondering. Could always just cut Efreet? It's just so flavorful to me to have the green Djinn AND the green Efreet. Maybe 2xBoP and 2x Llanowar elves? Or would you cut something else like Archers for more acceleration?

@BandsWithOthers I agree Djinn and Efreet are awesome. I think it depends what the deck wants to do - Mono G's strength is in ramp, right? I think BoP being in the air is relevant. Since it's vs. other mono coloured decks, how and when Efreet is used is determined by its owner, so you can ensure it is used to your advantage. I'd probably cut Druid and add Birds and Avoid Fate. With the mana you could consider a Tome as well to give some non-Sylvan card advantage. Btw Regrowth and Archers rock 🙂

@Teluin Regrowth is a pretty sweet effect but I wasn't sure how much this deck would need recursion. In some ways it's hard shutting off the regular vintage brain! I Can dig cutting Druid, Having trouble deciding. Let's see what happens cutting a fog.

last edited by BandsWithOthers

This looks like a ton of fun.

@Topical_Island thoughts on the decks? Tuning for fun and flare!

Demonic hordes is needed in black. Could just win games and is a beefy finisher! Jet, swamp, ritual, juzam turn 1...pass...swamp, lotus, demonic hordes turn 2. GG

@Thewhitedragon69 In this format winning requires killing both opponents, assuming your "allies" don't interfere to keep you from winning. I Enjoy Hordes, and I was also considering Lord of the Pit, but this deck doesn't put up enough creatures. I figured Juzam would be plenty of beef without making the deck too hyper agressive in this closed format. Also, the only P9 in these lists is Timetwister, just because it's a fun blue bomb in a multiplayer.

So red should totally have Mana Flare. Also Inferno is clutch fun too. Just trying to think of cards that were amazing in multiplayer back in highschool. Gaeas Leige plus instill energy was game ending many times. Also Oubilett (spelling?) and Paralyze are both great cards for black.

last edited by Serracollector

If I was going to go with this format, maybe limiting the number of artifacts each deck got would be useful, as this type of format could be easily won by a white deck with island sanctuary/moat, sweepers, millstones and howling mines and swords. since only green has tranquility to remove the enchantments and blue to bounce, that means red and black are on the fast train to hosetown.

Not true. Red and Black both still have fireball/disinegrate/drain life as outs to Moat efx. Not to mention Hippy, Sengir, Dragon Whelp, Shivan, Inferno, and Pestilence.

last edited by Serracollector

If you’re doing red with goblins or kobolds, throwing in a Keldon Warlord or two can make the deck a lot more interesting (timmy wise).

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