A Player’s Guide to Type 1

Posted in Feature on August 9, 2004

By Stephen Menendian

Take a moment to congratulate yourself. You have taken the first step toward playing in the Type 1 Championship at Gen Con Indy. Whether you are a Pro player, a Friday Night Magic regular, a money drafter, or a casual player, you play Magic because you like it. Playing Magic without taking a dip in Vintage waters is like going to Disney World without riding Space Mountain. Sure, it's old - but it's worth it. You aren't getting the full experience unless you've tried it.

Whether you're looking to prepare yourself for this wild and strange format or you're just curious, I'm here to cover the basics of Type 1 in a way that is simple and understandable. Before you finish this article, you'll feel comfortable playing in a format you may have always wondered about and chances are you'll be ready to compete for a unique, incredible prize, revealed here (later) for the first time!

So what's the deal with Type 1?

A dramatic rise in the quality of prizes awarded at Type 1 tournaments has drawn regular crowds of 200 in the Northeastern United States and Europe. Starcitygames has begun organizing regular tournaments where the top eight is awarded power cards, each valued over $300 each. Last year at Gen Con, Carl Winter won unique Black Lotus artwork by Christopher Rush. For a fraction of the effort that it takes to win a PTQ, you can win Grand Prix level prizes year 'round!

Won't it cost me my spleen to play Type 1?

For the first time in its history, the format of the most disgusting combo decks and spirit-crushing control decks is bowing down to Null Rod and Spiketail Hatchling. It is the ultimate irony of Type 1 that the closest thing to a dominant deck at the moment is a deck with a single Mox, no combo parts, and no creature with bigger than a 2 power:

U/R Fish

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The last major Type 1 tournament was the Starcitygames Power Nine tournament.
It drew 167 people and will set the metagame for Gen Con. The other placing decks at the Inaugural Starcitygames Power Nine Tournament were:

4 Color Control

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The Man Show

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4th Place was another Fish deck.

Coming out of that tournament, the Tier 1 looks like this:

And the Tier 2:

Mana Drain Based:

Tendrils Based

Null Rod Based

  • U/G Madness

Mishra's Workshop Based

  • Workshop Slavery
  • Tools N Tubbies

Any one of these decks could win the Vintage Championship. You should expect to play at least four of these archetypes in an eight round tournament. As you can see, Type 1 is basically divided into decks that are defined by a few key cards: Mana Drain, Null Rod, Tendrils of Agony (mostly a proxy for broken Combo decks), and Mishra's Workshop.

Let's get to the archetypes.


This deck doesn't really run merfolk anymore, instead opting for Grim Lavamancer, Voidmage Prodigy, Mishra's Factory, Spiketail Hatchling, and Curiosity. Between cheap creatures and cheaper countermagic (Force of Will), Fish can put people on a quick clock.

Fish is currently the most successful deck in the Type 1 American metagame. In addition to being the most popular deck played in the Starcitygames tournament, it placed three players in the top 6, far more than any other archetype. Around Round 6, about every two of three matches at the top table included Fish. The three largest tournaments since the Spring were the Grand Prix DC Type 1 side event with 70 players, the Central Coast Championship in North Carolina with 45, and the Starcitygames Power Nine tournament with 167. Marc Perez playing Fish won the first two tournaments and got third place in the last. The numbers of Fish have been increasing with each new tournament.

The question any sane person would ask is why the heck Fish is doing so well. Seriously, half the cards in Fish never saw play in Type Two. Fish is the Aikido of Type 1 decks. Most Type 1 decks will try to put you under immediately. They'll barrel you out with the most broken cards in magic. Fish sidesteps the blow with free countermagic and then pins the opponent into an unwinnable position with the same momentum that the broken deck threw at it.

In other words, Fish is the perfect antidote to broken Type 1 decks. They Force, Daze, Stifle or Misdirection the key broken spell, then Null Rod you before you get a chance to do anything else. Then they keep the lock with Wastelands, Spiketail Hatchling, Standstill, and Curiosity. Fish punishes efficiency with cards like Daze and Spiketail Hatchling as much as it punishes speed with Null Rod. Null Rod is also one of the most distorting cards in Type 1. Affinity would be a monster if only Null Rod weren't so prevalent. For those of you who are skeptical about Type 1 in general, just remember that broken Combo has an extremely difficult time beating this deck.

Fish's only true weakness is decks that don't play into that stereotypical Type 1 stratagem. Look at Eric Miller's "The Man Show", listed above. Eric played the perfect metagame deck. The Man Show isn't trying to win quickly, but once it grabs your neck, there is no escape. It's like Andre the Giant chasing Jackie Chan in a small room. Jackie Chan can stall, but there is nowhere to go.

Things to remember when you play against fish

  • Don't wait to break Standstills. The only correct time to break Standstill is immediately. Fish is a great deck with terrible cards. If you wait to break the Standstill they will make the most of their turns to deal more damage and it will be too late to win later on. It will most likely draw Faerie Conclave, Mishra's Factory, and a Curiosity.
  • Don't let the fear get you. That's how Fish capitalizes against you. It has a number of one-ofs that you might be concerned about, but you can't play around that stuff when you need to play an important spell. If they can't answer a key threat, Fish will have trouble winning. In other words, play into those Spiketails. If you don't play your three casting cost threat on turn two because of a Spiketail, then on turn three they will play Wasteland and Null Rod. Then you'll be way behind.
  • Playing with Tsabo's Web is a good idea if you can fit it in your sideboard. There aren't many cards that are good at hating Fish. Slice and Dice, Fire/Ice, Plague Spitter, and large men come to mind. Few beat Web.

Matchups (including decks I'll be covering later in the article)

  • Tog's worst matchup is Fish. If you are playing Fish, expect that the Tog player will board in at least a few Tsabo's Web's. It's very hard for decks to find silver bullets for Fish. Tog can't afford to bring in more than 5 cards against you – and that is when the Tog player truly focuses on beating Fish. Even then, it requires a significant amount of preparation and testing for Tog to have a shot at winning. Good Tog players will hope to beat weaker Fish players and draw against the best knowing that it is a difficult matchup.
  • 4CC could be a walk in the park or very difficult. If the 4CC player is good and has metagamed well, they will be packing lots of answers like Rack and Ruins and multiple Fire/Ices. Even then, the matchup will be intense and close. Otherwise, Fish has another favorable matchup.
  • Fish can still end up getting hosed by Mishra's Workshop based decks. Workshop Prison elements are probably the most difficult for Fish to deal with in the top tier. Trinisphere and Sundering Titan are extremely brutal against Fish. Mindslaver is weaker because Fish packs Null Rod, but Workshop decks generally have excess mana to play around a lot of the permission elements like Spiketail Hatchling or Daze with ease. Workshop decks can also include Tsabo's Web as an easy addition.
  • Null Rod, Wastelands, and the great countermagic is generally enough to deal with most combo. Stifle is particularly brutal against Worldgorger Dragon combo and Null Rod completely turns of Goblin Charbelcher and Draw7's acceleration.
  • Straight-Aggro is generally the only pure nightmare match for Fish and if the player is thoughtful they can find answers. Most Fish players use Maze of Ith to that end.

Just remember, Fish is deceptively powerful and is very good at coming from behind.

Four Color Control (4CC)

Think heavy control like "Keeper" but with better draw and win conditions. Four Color Control has seen new life in the last few months because metagame shifts have made much of the deck more powerful than what it was last year. 4CC is well designed to deal with the metagame right now.


  • Fish is a difficult matchup if the Fish player is adept and plays well. Loading up on hate like Fire/Ice and Rack and Ruin is a good idea. If you manage to get an Angel unmorphed and swinging, Fish is going to have a nearly impossible time winning.
  • Psychatog is definitely this deck's most difficult matchup. Loading up on Red Elemental Blasts is not a bad plan. Tog has a more powerful burst of draw that it will try to carry to the end of the game. Bombs like Mind Twist and Library determine games in this matchup.
  • This deck has many of the resource denial elements and permission that Fish has to defeat Workshop based decks, but it attacks the mana base in a different way with Gorilla Shaman. Fire/Ice is a nice additional way to deal with Welders and Rack and Ruin and other artifact destruction helps deal with threatening permanents.
  • The resource denial combined with permission is generally just enough needed to stave off Combo's mean beats.

Mishra's Workshop Based Aggro-Prison

The two strongest Mishra's Workshop-based cards ever printed were released this year: Trinisphere and Sundering Titan. Keep in mind that Type 1 is filled with special dual lands which count as two land types, making Titan a one-sided Armageddon. Sundering Titan is Ernham-Geddon all wrapped up in one card, and it also combos with Goblin Welder. Alternative to playing with Titan, you can run any number of other lock components like Smokestack or Chains of Mephistopholes as Eric Miller did.

Here is an example of a list that just missed Top 8 at the Power Nine tournament:

7/10 Split (named for Sundering Titan)

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Psychatog is widely regarded as the best creature ever printed and the deck was considered the premier control deck. Unfortunately for people who like this deck, it has been good for too long and is finally paying the price for that success. The winner of last year's event was Carl Winter with Psychatog. The popularity of Tog dipped a bit with the introduction of Mirrodin and Darksteel, but it resurged and (because of that) is now in a decline again.

For the last year, Tog was respected as the deck most likely to get a good player into the Top 8 of any tournament. Psychatog will be a popular deck, but it can't beat Fish. I played Tog at the Starcitygames Power Nine tournament as did two of my teammates including JP Meyer and we discovered that the increase in Fish has knocked this deck out of the tier one.

Hulk Smash

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The Type 1 Tog variant is far more aggressive than what you have seen in other formats. This deck is very quick and lethal. It will play Mana Drain just to steal mana, and draw a significant amount of cards very quickly with Accumulated Knowledges. Having drawn so many cards by turn 4-5, it will play a lethal Yawgmoth's Will or simply Cunning Wish to find Berserk and attack with a 20+ power trampling Psychatog.

The deck has gone through some variations since last year, but it has returned pretty much to the list that Carl won with. The only main difference is that Mana Crypt has generally replaced Sol Ring, or is played in addition to Sol Ring. Doc. For those interested in doing some more research, Stanton has dissected the most successful Hulk lists from tournament data and created a composite list over at StarCity.

Psychatog is difficult to hate out, but it will likely be the target of hate nonetheless.


  • Fish: Game 1 is rough, and Game 2 is worse. Fish is probably the only non-combo deck that Tog has a very difficult time beating. The deck is uniformly underpowered so no silver bullet seems potent enough. Tsabo's Web is probably the strongest hoser, but if they know it's coming, they can play around it.
  • Workshop-Aggro-Prison: If Sundering Titan hits play you're done for. This means stopping Goblin Welders is very important.
  • 4cControl – this will basically come down to how good you are with the Tog deck, and how adept your opponent is with the 4cControl deck. You have a favorable matchup, but they could load up on hate.
  • Food Chain Goblins is one of those decks that you can easily learn to beat. Game 1 you just have to be able to counter a turn one Goblin Lackey or deal with what he'll produce in some way either by blocking with Psychatog, or by playing Cunning Wish for Firestorm. If you can Mana Drain their mid-size creatures to fuel your draw, you'll be in very good shape. The only disruption they have is Wasteland. After board, they could bring in loads of hate like Tormod's Crypt, Red Elemental Blast, and Blood Moon. If you have won Game 1, just make sure you sideboarded in some answers to a turn one Goblin Lackey, and that you mulligan into one as well, unless you think their hand is suboptimal.
  • Combo is generally beat by playing probabilities. Tog is the second most consistent deck in the format behind Fish and so Workshop and Combo decks will have to mulligan far more than you. They will have hands that simply are ineffective as a result. Otherwise, mulliganing into Force of Will can generally be enough to stop them.

Worldgorger Dragon Combo

Worldgorger Dragon Combo

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This was the breakout deck of Gen Con last year although it got hit by hate for Academy Rector.

Turn One:
Bazaar of Baghdad. Tap it to draw two cards discarding Worldgorger Dragon, Squee, Squee.

Turn Two:
Underground Sea. Mox Pearl. Animate Dead = Win.

The Animate targets Worldgorger, which comes into play and causes the Animate to leave play until the Dragon is gone. The Animate comes back and re-targets it. This causes a loop that generates infinite mana in the process and permits you to use Bazaar or Compulsion to put your deck into your graveyard until you find Ambassador Laquatus. You can then retarget the Animate to Ambassador and mill your opponent's deck so that they can't draw a card and lose.


  • 4CC has Swords to Plowshares for you and removing a Dragon while the comes into play trigger is on the stack can mean that you lose all your permanents. If you can get a Xantid Swarm active, you can go for the win. Wastelands are also irritating.
  • Tog is a favorable matchup for you because you can outdraw them and you have better inevitability than they do.
  • Against Workshop decks, Trinisphere + Wastelands can lock you down – particularly with Crucible of Worlds. However, you may be able to win before they can lock you down.
  • Fish is very difficult. Maindeck Stifle is similar to Swords to Plowshares but worse. Their Wastelands and Null Rods can put you out of the game fast.
  • Many decks bring in Tormod's Crypts, hating this deck out of the format.



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This deck is one of the few pure Control decks left in the format.


  • Fish: Bring in your Oath of Druids plan and ruin them with Colossus.
  • Tog: Red Elemental Blast helps tremendously, but it will be a tight match.
  • 4CC: this is a favorable matchup for you. Be the control player and you'll win.



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This deck is a remnant from a more powerful deck that got Gush restricted.


  • Fish: Resolve a Dryad and protect it long enough to get large and you win.
  • Workshop decks: Artifact Mutation is amazing technology.
  • Combo: Many of your tools are designed to deal with Control strategies. You don't have the steam to deal with a deck that can pose multiple threats over the course of three or four turns. If you fear combo, Duress will help a good deal.

Scott Limoges has been playing this deck for some time and that gets him a good way with the deck. Don't try this at home unless you got a hankering for Quirion Dryad.

Food Chain Goblins

Food Chain Goblins

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This combo deck is well documented in Extended and translates nicely into Type 1. The deck is designed to combo out quickly and draw massive amounts of Goblins with Goblin Ringleader. There is a great primer to this deck here. The primer goes through your stacking plan with Goblin Recruiter for each matchup.


  • Fish: This should be a favorable matchup for you. Fish can't deal with infinite goblins.
  • Workshop Prison: Trinisphere is devastating. Your sideboard loads up on Artifact hate.
  • Control: Bring in Red Elemental Blast and Blood Moon. Psychatog is very strong against this deck. If you can get Goblin Lackey to go active before they can do anything, that is your best shot at winning.



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