The Gauntlet of History: Part 1

Two weeks ago, I introduced you to my recent project—a gauntlet featuring a ton of old successful Standard decks that I miss deeply. That project has completely occupied my mind, and this 1-month Christmas holiday before the next Grand Prix is the perfect occasion to dedicate time to it.

I found the process of choosing the decks and the 75 cards I would use fascinating.

Choosing the Decks

In the previous article about the Gauntlet of History, I presented a list of decks that were big during their run in Standard. I categorized them by format, and while my initial goal was to have one per format, there were some eras where I couldn’t keep myself from choosing more than one. Especially Odyssey—I didn’t play back then, and through my early years, friends that had played before me would refer to decks from that period constantly, and looking at the deck lists I felt like I missed an awesome format.

I want full Standard formats. That means that the last set of the second block has to be legal. Some of the decks I mentioned were good when, for example, Time Spiral came out. Once Future Sight was out, that deck never saw play again. I’ll try to ignore those decks.

There’s also ambiguity about which core sets were legal, like Dragonstorm. It won Worlds when Time Spiral came out, then until the next big wave of relevant tournaments (Nationals). The next 3 sets came out, including Tenth Edition, which kicked out Ninth Edition and Seething Song, effectively making Dragonstorm unplayable. But some Nationals were held before Tenth Edition was legal and Dragonstorm was still making appearances.

I try to avoid having decks that are too similar, like two different Mono-Red Aggro decks or 2 U/B Control decks like U/B Psychatog and U/B Dralnu du Louvre. That doesn’t mean that I’ll never have both, but I want to start with maximum diversity.


Finding the Necropotence list I wanted was no easy task. First of all, the coverage, deck lists, and even researching which sets were legal was a nightmare, but I figured it out.

This website was a huge help. I settled on the following list:


It was played by Paul McCabe at Pro Tour Dallas 1996, following the restriction of Hymn to Tourach and Strip Mine, proving that the deck was still great. My understanding was that 4th Edition, Fallen Empire, Homelands, Ice Age, Alliances, and Mirage were legal in that Standard Format.

I chose this list in order to follow my rule of having the oldest possible version of the deck during its era. I start with the post-ban versions—if it’s not good enough, I go back and use the pre-ban versions.

The sideboard is very likely to be adjusted to fit my gauntlet, but I have no idea how this will play out, so I’m going to give it a spin first.

The next Standard format would be Fifth Edition, Ice Age, Alliances, Mirage, Visions, and Weatherlight. Unfortunately, I could only find four decks of data and it was simply the Top 4 of the 1997 World Championship. None of those decks excited me, but if you want to build one of them, here’s a link.


This was actually a Mirage Block Constructed deck, but I didn’t want to skip the Mirage era. There wasn’t a better time to cheat on my rule considering the pilot and designer of this deck was later known as one of the most savage cheaters of all time—Mike Long. We’ll get to see if this deck can actually win without any “lap tutors.”

The sideboard is pretty straightforward—I will likely not change anything.


I don’t quite get what the difference was between Red Deck Wins and Sligh yet—apparently this is the latter. Can Ben Rubin enlighten us? He played the following to a 2nd place finish at Worlds in 1998:

My gauntlet absolutely needed a red aggressive strategy and this one has most of the sweet components we think of when we talk about red. The closest other red deck I wanted to add was mono-red during Time Spiral and Lorwyn, design by Tomoharu Saito. It had Blood Knights, Flame Javelin, Demigod of Revenge, and every other card that had lots of red mana symbols—a remarkably clean looking deck.

As far as the list goes, I’m sure those Goblin Vandals won’t last very long in the main deck. Dwarven Thaumaturgist… can’t wait to find out what that’s for.

Stay tuned—I’ll see you next week as I go over a portion of the remaining decks in my Gauntlet of History!


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