Feature: Who Wants to Live Forever?

Posted in NEWS on October 19, 2012

By Tim Willoughby

From the dawn of time we came; moving silently down through the centuries, living many secret lives, struggling to reach the time of the Gathering; when the few who remain will battle to the last. No one has ever known we were among you... until now.

There can be only one Frank Karsten. The Hall of Fame member has a mischievous streak, and a wicked skill when it comes to deck-building. In the past, he's built the best versions of decks through a complicated aggregation of the different well performing versions, and number crunched his way to the 'best deck'. This time, there was a different method to Karsten's madness. Frank has set himself a new goal, one that was tipped off by a late night tweet as follows:

It turns out that there was a very simple explanation: Frank wanted to play the most diverse 75 he could, and be the first player to make Top 8 at a Pro Tour with a "Highlander" deck (a deck using the rule that there can be only one of any card that isn't a basic land). Initially Frank was inclined to try to build something with Mystical Teachings and Gifts Ungiven, but soon he discovered that playing a deck such as this left his opponents with too much time, in which the overall quality divide between his deck and those of opponents would become too apparent. Frank had decided that he needed to do something a little faster, and this was his answer.

Frank Karstan's Mono-Red Highlander

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Frank built his mono-red aggro deck according to a carefully figured out pattern. While it might look like a big pile of different cards, he has in fact positioned it to be collections of cards that fulfil particular roles (like "aggressive one cost creature, or burn spell) and kept both the ratio of those cards, and the mana curve for them, completely in line with traditionally accepted patterns of red deck building.

Playing with so many singletons actually gives Frank a lot of facility to run singleton "answer" cards to various different forces within the format. A lot of the time, Tunnel Ignus is just a 2/1 creature for two mana, but sometimes it will make a Valakut deck very sad. Ash Zealot is often "just" an efficient two mana beater, but occasionally it will make graveyard-based decks feel some extra hurt.

At 3-2 with the deck, Frank has already shown that he has the chops to compete at the highest level on his own terms. If he can squeak out a good draft record, then he could very much keep what might be the craziest of Pro Tour dreams alive.