Makings of a Standard (A Guide to MYOS) - Part One

Written by Eldariel on July 20, 2008

Makings of a Standard Part One - Introduction

Welcome fleshlings. Glad you could join me! You’re in for a quick’n’dirty look at the world of a wonderful, unknown Magic format – so unknown that in fact Magic-League is pretty much the only place in the world with a relevant number of tournaments! As the smartest among you may have already guessed, the format in question is Make Your Own Standard or MYOS for short (sometimes called BYOS – Build YOS/Bring YOS or CYOS – Choose YOS).

This article series is going to be 3 parts as forced by ML article editor that does not allow for long articles (and with all the decklists I intend on including, this is quite long). The parts are in order:
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Metagame
Part 3 – Decks to try
Part 4 – Resources for deck construction

Before I get to the point, I’d also like to point you towards the introductionary article Stephen Menendian wrote: (it’s premium, but more than 6 months old so everyone can read it – just scroll down). It’s quite informative so you may want to take a look. Some of it may be obsolete, but true to form, Smennen is a fine author so it's worth reading already just because – it also helps that we ARE talking about the best piece written on the format thus far. I'm naturally hoping to usurp that throne!

MYOS Rules

Quick introduction to the rules of MYOS, you basically build your own Standard environment (two blocks and one core set) and build a deck out of the cards in those sets. It’s important to realize that you do not need to choose two consecutive blocks – any two blocks along with any core set from 5th Edition onwards are a fair game. As I already mentioned, core sets are limited to 5th Edition and forward due to the fact that the original duals are a bit too good for MYOS. This means you get to combine Ice Age and Lorwyn with 7th Edition, or Onslaught, Ravnica and 5th.

Of course, the format contains some unfair cards so bannings are in effect – everything that’s banned either in Legacy or in a Block is banned in MYOS (you’ll find the B&R lists here: In other words, Cursed Scroll, artifact lands, Lin Sivvi et co. are banned because they are banned in their respective blocks, while Necropotence, Demonic Consultation, Mind’s Desire et co. are banned because they’re banned in Legacy. Comprehensive lists will be featured in the end of the third Part.

Why Play MYOS?

So why would John Doe want to play MYOS? You may utter something along the lines of “There’s a world of tournament formats out there, and MYOS isn’t different enough to be interesting…” Naturally the perception is flawed, but what exactly makes MYOS worth playing? Let’s try one of those old school lists:
-    MYOS is a constructed format. That means it should appeal to everyone who likes having a control over the exact composition of their deck; unlike in limited, the card pool itself isn’t going to limit you.
-    MYOS also happens to have some qualities of Limited formats, specifically draft! You get to affect your own card pool – just pick the blocks and core sets you want! – and in the game, the decks that face aren’t usually built out of the same card pool, making for more variance in what cards are good enough to use.
-    MYOS has the best features of the eternal formats: should you want to, you get to use almost all the cards ever printed! The card pool is vast and so are the interactions, so there’s a ton of room for innovation and millions of decks that just couldn’t exist in a smaller format!
-    MYOS has the best features of Standard: the power level is quite low. In effect, a larger number of decks can see play, while not intentionally crippling themselves. The combination of a huge card pool and relatively restricted power level means that MYOS is literally THE most open constructed format ever to have existed in Magic: the Gathering!

Synopsis: MYOS caters to all types of players and has a huge number of unexplored possibilities and combinations. It has the card pool of an eternal format with low enough power level to enable Standard-level cards to see play! In other words, it has the largest number of realistically playable cards ever to exist in one format!

You can compete with your own creations and you can make any number of those. There just really isn’t a more enjoyable way to play Magic. And for those who just want to play, there’re always the Invitationals-decks to draw upon, not to mention Magic-League’s archives of MYOS Trials and minis. Basically, whoever you are and regardless of why you like Magic, you’ll like MYOS. It caters to every-damn-body!

Oh yeah, when talking about the Invitationals-formats, Rosewater did say something about how they want to showcase more formats for the public than they presently are, so it’s actually not an impossible prospect for MYOS to become a veritable constructed format at some point. Just…you have been warned. Then again, it may be yet another dose of Rosewater bullcrap too, who knows.

The Short History of MYOS

I’ll have to point out that the format is actually quite recent. The first time it was showcased to the public was over the 2007 Magic Invitationals, where one of the formats was indeed MYOS (the decklists are available here:

Since then WoTC hasn’t used the format anywhere to my knowledge, but our very own Magic-League has had two MYOS Trials and countless MYOS minis over the 9 months. That’s basically all there is to it – the format is about 9 months old and hopefully gets more spotlight with time, but so far it seems to be mostly Magic-League only phenomenon.

Deck Construction

I’m sure every online Magic-player has built at least one deck for one format (even if that format is ‘what I own’) and had some success with the pile they’ve grown so attached to. MYOS differs from other constructed formats in one important way: you have to make your card pool yourself. MYOS-decks basically are built in three steps instead of two:

1.    You come up with an idea for a deck.
2.    You optimize a card pool to make that idea happen.
3.    You choose the specific cards from the pool you’ve created.

In other constructed formats, you are limited to steps one and three. That’s one of the things, which makes MYOS so interesting in the first place – there’s more advantage to be gained by being a good deck builder and by having a good knowledge of the relevant cards in each block and set (although Gatherer alleviates the latter quite a bit). To illustrate the point, let’s look at a creation of a deck of mine for example:

White Weenie (Tempest/Kamigawa/5th)
Main Deck Sideboard
19 Plains
1 Eiganjo Castle
2 Ancient Tomb
2 Hand of Honor
1 Soltari Foot Soldier
2 Soltari Monk
4 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
4 Samurai of the Pale Curtain
4 Soltari Priest
4 Lantern Kami
3 Shining Shoal
4 Pacifism
4 Armageddon
2 Disenchant
4 Umezawa's Jitte

1 Soltari Monk
2 Hand of Honor
1 Shining Shoal
2 Disenchant
2 Cataclysm
4 Paladin en-Vec
3 Pithing Needle

As should be rather obvious, the deck is White Weenie built to get board superiority and seal the game with Armageddon. The concept is a classic and it was the way White Weenie was built all the way up until 7th Edition when Wizards decided that giving WW good cards isn’t cool and took Armageddon out of core. Bitterness to the powers that be aside, the deck came to be as I realized that Armageddon is legal and that White Weenie could kick Goblins’ (then best-deck-of-MYOS) ass. So my idea is Armageddon WW, and here’s the deck construction process:
-    The core set is easy to decide on: I want a core set with Armageddon, which leaves me with either 6th or 5th. Deciding between those two wasn’t hard: 5th offers everything 6th does plus White Knight, Winter Orb and Order of the White Shield, all cards I could consider playing in WW. 5th Edition was a lock. Note that if I wanted to build the deck with an Enlightened Tutor-toolbox, I’d want 6th to get the namesake tutor. Since I can’t have Winter Orb AND Enlightened Tutor without giving up a lot though, I’m steering clear of that plan.
-    The  first block was approximately as hard as it is for Yugi to beat Kaiba minus the emo-strategy; Kamigawa has a 2/2 for W without disadvantages – something I need since 5th and 6th lack Savannah Lions – another playable 1-drop in Lantern Kami (solid 1-drops are hard to come by), the best aggro-card printed in Magic in Umezawa’s Jitte plus a crapton of powerful tricks – including the only really playable free white spell in the game, Shining Shoal (if some of you have been living under the rock for the last 10 years, card-wise even trades, where opponent has invested mana and you haven’t, are really good in tempo-minded decks) – and solid weenies.
-    The last block was, by contrast, tough. We can only pick one and there’re tons of options and cards we’d want: Ice Age has Swords to Plowshares and Coldsnap-stuff, Mercadian Masques has all the rebels, Onslaught has Silver Knight and Exalted Angel, Time Spiral has a bunch of solid weenies and Flagstones to go with ‘Geddon while Lorwyn has the Kithkin-crap. Ultimately though, I started to think what the deck needs. The usual WW recipe is “Efficient weenies, evasion, pump, removal and a finisher”. The deck has efficient weenies, removal and a finisher, but as it stands has crap for evasion (Lantern Kami), and Tempest is filled to the brim with Shadows, the best evasive mechanic in Magic. I’m also lacking pro-red critters (much harder to come by than pro-black in white) and Tempest has both, Soltari Priest and Paladin en-Vec. I also get a backup Armageddon in Cataclysm. Finally, utility lands are rare in this format and increase a deck’s power compromising nothing and Tempest has Ancient Tomb, City of Traitors and Wasteland.

With my card pool set, all that remained was putting the deck together. I made quick guidelines for myself – I want 12 evasive beaters, 10 1-drops, 4 Jittes, Isamarus, Crusades (cut after testing), Samurais of the Pale Curtain and Armageddons, 23 lands, 20 white sources, 22+ creatures, 4 pro-reds, 4 pro-blacks and some number of MD Disenchants. Basically, I want enough white sources to always cast WW-spells, enough lands to cast Armageddon in a due timeframe, enough evasion to be able to get through and enough pro-cards to give grey hair to the appropriate colours. Ancient Tomb allows me to cull a land while still casting Armageddon in due schedule with a relatively high consistency. The rest of the deck really built itself. I was forced to stick to 9 1-drops since adding one would cut on my 2-drops, and only had room for 11 evasive creatures since I wanted to maintain the ability to race with evaders while holding the fort with Bushido. Samurai over Knights was an easy choice since the Samurai can fight Watchwolves et co. on even ground, while Knights are really reliant on Jitte to be good.

That just left the sideboard where I knew I wanted the rest of the Disenchants, some other enchantment-hate (settled on Needle chiefly due to Recurring Nightmare), additional Geddon-effects, some removal and more Pro-X creatures for appropriate match-ups. You could disagree with the numbers, but the general composition of the SB is quite correct. Of course, it’s ultimately a metagame matter; you could toss in more enchantment-hate or artifact-hate instead of Hand of Honors, but the options aren’t very strong; perhaps Divine Offering and Terashi’s Grasp or Kami of Ancient Law to handle Dragonstorm’s Lotus Blooms and UW Fish’s Counterbalances respectively but the said decks aren’t really popular enough to warrant specific hate. Dust to Dust and Winter Orb would also be ‘nice to have’-cards, but mostly Disenchant does Dust’s work and Cataclysm and ‘Geddon work better than WOrb. Additional removal is the one thing lacking, but unfortunately there’s little in terms of good white removal in my sets. That’s the one thing I’m really sad to lose when I don’t pick Ice Age (other being Jotun Grunt).

Of course, decks are never built in a vacuum – you always have a metagame you want to build against, be it whatever your friends play or the competitive Extended-scape. I did my share of metagaming in the construction of the deck, choosing cards like Samurai of the Pale Curtain, maindeck Disenchants and Pithing Needle over potentially more efficient cards in the vacuum, and indeed in choosing the very blocks I want to play based on the ability to get evasion and solution cards. So yes, MYOS has its own metagame (especially here on Magic-League where the format actually exists) and when building decks, you’ll have to keep it in mind, and exploring those decks will be the meat of the second article.

I’ll leave you with this for now. Part II should be up in about a week, provided that I get back by then. May as well leave me feedback as you bothered to read this.


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by curly on 2008-07-20 23:42 CET

seems lieka solid artical. i want more minis though!

by Weedmonkey on 2008-07-21 00:24 CET

Huzazh for MYOS!

Anti-Huzzah for the evil Articles Editor! :P

Good article though.

by Zerotlr on 2008-07-21 01:08 CET

Nice article, especially the WW walkthrough, (about the 3rd set : soltari priest --> gg)

Hope this draws more players into the format and more importantly drives more judge into MYOS-mini making.

As im a fan of the format myself, maybe i would become a judge someday and ran minis to my heart's content.

by Rodry on 2008-07-21 02:25 CET

haha your a PORK!

by Eldariel on 2008-07-21 02:31 CET

Rodry, eat me.

by jazzbat on 2008-07-21 02:58 CET

Thanks for the article, I found it really enlightening and I am interested in trying this format for myself.

by Tidus- on 2008-07-21 07:58 CET

BYOT2/BYOS is a very different format

But yea MYOS is awesome

by Balthazar88 on 2008-07-21 08:51 CET

This format is awesome. More minis/trials in this format plz!

by Eldariel on 2008-07-21 12:24 CET

Tidus-: For some reason, BYOS seems to refer to MYOS while BYOT2 is what it says it is; at least that's how I've seen people using the abbreviations.

by Zerotlr on 2008-07-21 14:50 CET

On a note, the deck needs editing, as the Sideboard is in the main deck.

by Cosmo on 2008-07-21 17:36 CET

nice article! i cant wait for the second part

by ykpon on 2008-07-21 19:52 CET

gj Eldariel, nice article
tell me if u need some help with decks i played here - no-stick and life-survival combo.

by Zerotlr on 2008-07-21 21:33 CET

I would like to know who designed the Angelfire INV + RAV list that has been played in m-l.

by Ronnan on 2008-07-22 11:50 CET

nice article!

by ManaLeak on 2008-07-23 18:47 CET

meh. you have to be a good deck builder to play this format.

by Zerotlr on 2008-07-23 20:00 CET

That's precisely the fun of it, also, there's always netdecking for the slackers.

by Black_Dog on 2008-07-26 20:07 CET

MYOS rules.

POX and STASIS ftw

by ChiDoRiE on 2008-07-27 10:56 CET

do u get to know ur opp's sets before playing?

by Eldariel on 2008-07-27 12:54 CET

No, we haven't imposed such a rule. It would make figuring opponent's deck out too easy. Chances are you'll figure it out a bit into the game anyways, and if there're deck legality issues, judges will handle them.

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