The Kitchen Table #260 – The Compendium of Alternate Formats, Entry Three C: New York Format Expanded

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Thursday, November 20th – Back in 2003, I brought the New York Format out of obscurity and into my Compendium as a legitimate alternative to the normal formats out there. However, after a bunch of intervening years adding significantly more cards to the format, I realized that I needed to edit the format for today’s audiences…

Good Thursday to you! I hope that all is well with casual world this week, and thanks for tuning in. Today is the second part of a two-part series of articles that modernizes the New York Format.

Back in 2003, I brought the New York Format out of obscurity and into my Compendium as a legitimate alternative to the normal formats out there. However, after a bunch of intervening years adding significantly more cards to the format, I realized that I needed to edit the format for today’s audiences.

Last week, I spliced the New York Format onto the Five Color format, since both were of a similar size. This allowed me to use Five Color’s experience with big deck games to help out the now large New York Format. This week I am writing about a different alternative.

Highlander New York Format

As conceived, New York Format required four cards from every expansion set including Alpha/Beta/Unlimited but excluding Portal, Chronicles, core sets, and Un- sets. That means, today, you’d have to include 192 cards in any deck.

However, if we simply modify the requirements, we can significantly alter the nature of the format, and thus bring the size back down to manageable levels.

With the new format, the rules are modified. Instead of requiring four cards from every expansion set, we simply require one card. That brings the required number of cards back down to a manageable 48.

Since we are requiring just one card from each set, we can use another common variant for this New York Format. In this variant, instead of combining New York with Five Color, we combine it with Highlander.

The rules for this format are similar to those for the two previous entries. Highlander NYF cannot count basic lands towards the expansion sets. You can have more than one card from a set; it is simply a minimum of one, not a maximum.

An individual copy of a card need not be from that set in order to count as that set’s requirement. I can count a Timeshifted Avatar of Woe as my Prophecy card, for example.

Highlander means that you cannot include more than one of any card in your deck, except for basic lands. You couldn’t include two Stone Rains, even though you might count one as Mirage and another as your Ice Age card. No duplicates allowed.

Here are the official rules, in a nice neat easy to understand list:

Minimum of 60 cards
Minimum of 1 card from each expansion set and ABU
No more than one copy of each card allowed except for basic lands
Basics do not meet NYF requirement
Un- sets banned
Portal allowed but does not meet NYF requirement

There is another variant of this variant that some readers might want to try out:

Singleton New York Format

This format translates well into the online world. If you’d like to try it out, note that not all expansion sets are available to you online as they are in real life. Therefore, there are fewer cards needed to meet the New York Format requirement of one card per expansion set. Here are the specifics.

The number drops to 32 sets online, so you only need to include 32 cards, one from each set. The sets are Mirage Block, every set from Invasion on, and the two Masters Edition sets.

Once you have met your requirements, you must then meet the other rules, including those for Singleton.

I want to point out that this format does work well online, before I head back to the regular Highlander NYF article already in progress.

Decks and Stuff

So with that, let’s take a look at a few decks.

We’ll start with an easy idea.

UW Control

1 Wrath of God
1 Moat
1 Maze of Ith
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Serrated Arrows
1 Force of Will
1 Afterlife
1 Rainbow Efreet
1 Aura of Silence
1 Dismiss
1 Mana Leak
1 Forbid
1 Morphling
1 Opportunity
1 Treachery
1 Wave of Reckoning
1 Blinding Angel
1 Rhystic Study
1 Dismantling Blow
1 Voice of All
1 Gerrard Capashen
1 Deep Analysis
1 Cunning Wish
1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
1 Eternal Dragon
1 Solemn Simulacrum
1 Condescend
1 Yosei, the Morning Star
1 Final Judgment
1 Overwhelming Intellect
1 Blazing Archon
1 Train of Thought
1 Teferi’s Moat
1 Pongify
1 Crib Swap
1 Mind Spring
1 Hallowed Burial
1 Cancel
1 City of Brass
1 Mishra’s Factory
1 Svyelunite Temple
1 Skycloud Expanse
1 Flooded Strand
1 Mirrodin’s Core
1 Azorius Chancery
1 Boreal Shelf
1 Nimbus Maze
1 Mystic Gate
7 Plains
7 Island

Yes, this deck is 62 cards instead of the normal 60. Sorry. It’s still a bit mana light, and I’d like to work on that. I could pull Wrath of God for Tundra and Dismantling Blow for Coastal Tower, but those pull essential cards from the deck. There are only two Disenchant effects in the deck, the Dismantling Blow and the Aura of Silence.

The deck rocks ten creatures, plus a Factory, but the Solemn is meant to get land, not swing above a Moat or win you the game. There are a variety of large creatures here, from Morphling to Rainbow Efreet to Akroma and Blazing Archon.

I tried to slide in a Wrath effect when I could, including an actual Wrath of God, Hallowed Burial, Final Judgment and Wave of Reckoning. Your Efreet can dodge all of these, and your Morphling can survive the Wave along with Gerrard, Blinding Angel, and the Archon.

Gerrard was included because, frankly, the options in Apocalypse were very limited, and he seemed the best of the bunch.

Moat can be really powerful, and since I was building around it anyway, I tossed in a Teferi’s Moat as a supplement. Gerrard and the Simulacrum can act as emergency blockers on the ground in case your Moats are destroyed or do not get drawn. Voice of All may be a decent attacker, but it really shines as a blocker, especially against a mono-colored opponent.

The deck does feature some solid card drawing. Mind Spring, Opportunity, Train of Thought, and Deep Analysis can give you some strong card advantage Solemn gets you two cards (usually). Eternal Dragon can be a source of advantage over time. Most Wrath effects yield you a serious advantage as well.

Note that Cunning Wish is in the deck, and it should not be able to make your deck illegal. Therefore, it is recommended that your group keeps the Highlander component intact, preventing you from Wishing for a card you already have in your deck.

Outside of the Wraths, we have some removal. Serrated Arrows was the best I could do from Homelands, although I considered Merchant Scroll as well. Other removal includes Afterlife, Crib Swap, Pongify and the ubiquitous Swords to Plowshares. Treachery can also act as removal by stealing a great creature.

Following that the deck sports a wide selection of counters. From Force of Will and Forbid to Cancel and Condescend, there are six counters in here.

I was seriously considering Jace Beleren when I decided to go with Crib Swap. I liked what he had to bring to the table, but I decided not to do so because Crib Swap was a needed adjunct to the light removal section of the deck. It’s the second best pinpoint removal spell in the deck after Swords.

From special lands to Planeswalkers, from card drawing to removal, from counters to bounce spells, there are a lot of directions that a deck like this can take. I chose one path, but there are many others if you are interested, so good luck.

RG Beats and Burn

Let’s take a look at another deck.

1 Erhnam Djinn
1 Chain Lightning
1 Gaea’s Touch
1 Orgg
1 Eron the Relentless
1 Pillage
1 Kaervek’s Torch
1 Uktabi Orangutan
1 Thunderbolt
1 Rolling Thunder
1 Fling
1 Ravenous Baboons
1 Avalanche Riders
1 Plow Under
1 Blastoderm
1 Rhystic Lightning
1 Shivan Wurm
1 Lay of the Land
1 Firebolt
1 Arrogant Wurm
1 Burning Wish
1 Elvish Soultiller
1 Torrent of Fire
1 Arc-Slogger
1 Skullclamp
1 Beacon of Destruction
1 Kodama’s Reach
1 Flames of the Blood Hand
1 Arashi, the Sky Asunder
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Demonfire
1 Stonewood Invocation
1 Harmonize
1 Chandra Nalaar
1 Chameleon Colossus
1 Wickerbough Elder
1 Sarkhan Vol
1 Taiga
1 Strip Mine
1 Karplusan Forest
1 Smoldering Crater
1 Rishadan Port
1 Shivan Oasis
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Gruul Turf
1 Highland Weald
1 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Fire-Lit Thicket
6 Forest
6 Mountains

This deck is capped at 60 cards, because it also has Birds of Paradise, Lay of the Land, and Kodama’s Reach to help out the manabase.

There are some expensive cards in here, like Taiga, Birds of Paradise, Chameleon Colossus, and Sarkhan Vol, and more, but they are all replaceable.

We have a large helping of burn in the deck. The deck sports a trio of X spells at the top end. It then has a lot of burn from lower range, burn like Firebolt all the way up to Beacon of Destruction. Even some other permanents support the theme, like Arc-Slogger, Arashi, and Chandra Nalaar.

Along with a lot of burn, the deck also features a large number of sizeable creatures. From Wickerbough Elder, to Eron, to Erhnam Djinn and Orgg, this deck has a lot of creatures, capping out at 15.

The Shivan Wurm requires you to bounce one of your creatures, and I included several options. You can bounce a Ravenous Baboons or Avalanche Riders to reuse them to hit another land. You can bounce a Blastoderm before it dies. Finally, you can bounce a Wickerbough Elder to reuse its ability. All of these give you some power.

As I mentioned, the deck does have a small tempo component. Strip Mine, Pillage, Avalanche Riders, and Ravenous Baboons can destroy a handful of lands, allowing you to get a bit of tempo over the other deck. Plow Under adds significantly to that. Slowing down your opponent for two turns and forcing them to draw two lands in the next two turns can give you the game when you are swinging with beefy creatures.

Except for Harmonize and Skullclamp, there is little raw card advantage here. Kodama’s Reach gets you two lands. Arashi can kill a bunch of flyers. Arc-Slogger can kill multiple creatures, as can Chandra Nalaar, Rolling Thunder, and Firebolt.

Sarkhan Vol acts as a permanent Fervor as you have need, allowing your creatures to swing the turn they come into play, which really accelerates your whole deck.

Stonewood Invocation is the only Giant Growth effect in the deck, and note how it is different than similar effects. It gives the creature a nice size at +5/+5. With split second, it cannot be countered or negated, and once it resolves, the creature cannot be further harmed by targeted removal because it gains shroud for the turn. This can be used to pump a creature or keep it safe from kill, as you have need.

Note that when your Soultiller dies, you can shuffle a creature or three back into your library from the ‘yard, allowing you to keep going.

This gives you an idea of what the format looks like. I hope that you enjoyed seeing another way to modernize the New York Format. Remember that this can be used online as well as off, in case your interests lean that way. Good luck in all of your deck building.

Until later…

Abe Sargent