Building a new Canlander deck

Okay. So last week I had an entire evening to myself. The kids were asleep at about 7-o-clock and my better half was out doing her thing somewhere. It was time to put something on the blog.

But even though I had all the time in the world (that is around three hours in my life currently), I only managed to put together a short mailday post. And even though I did make some half-assed Leprechaun jokes, it is not exactly an impressive feat.

So okay. What went wrong? Well. It was a Saturday evening, I’d had a drink and I’d been alone with my kids the entire day – running around on a museum and in a toy store. Right. I was tired, is the short answer. Really tired!

But what about now then? Well. It is Friday evening. Not exactly a whole lot better in terms of freshness, but we can’t have that, because I have been wanting to write something for some time now.

And it is not quite what I usually write about on these pages – oh no! – today we will delve a bit into another format, because Robin is in town, babies! And Papi…


Diverting some focus

Yep, excuse my strange presentation of one of my closest and oldest friends, Robin. He says “si, papi, si!” often. Don’t ask me why. And I will admit, it is not center stage of the reason, why I have introduced him, no-no, it is because he has, after around two years living in Scotland, finally moved back to Denmark. And even better: He has moved to a village not too far from where I live! Greatness! Tunes of joy! Laughter! Frivolous use of alcohol!

In short: I like his decision.

He has even brought his entire, fantastic family which consist of another one of my oldest, best friends and their two kids who my kids love to play with. Again: Tunes of joy all around!

But, why is this relevant to you, you may ask. It probably isn’t. Why relevant to this blog, then? (You may ask). Well, because Robin is an avid and great Canadian Highlander (Canlander) brewer and player. So now, of course, I have to divert some of my Magic focus towards that great format. Not a problem.

As I have mentioned here and there, I have already ventured slightly into the Canlander format. I have a very hard time prioritizing my funny-money towards Canlander cards instead of Old School cards, but maybe it will be easier, now that Robin is in (a neighboring) town.

Okay, just a very short introduction to the Canlander format: it is a 100 card, 10 point, competitive singleton format, with a very short banned list.

When you build your deck, the only rules – in terms of card choices – are not to exceed 10 points on this list. So yes, you can play your moxes and other power cards here, but it will cost you…

Other than that, you are free to roam around the entirety of Magics backlog of cards. This makes it a very complex format, but – of course – also a very broad format that still has a lot of brewing space, and that is by no means solved.

Building a new deck

So I have had this crazy Paradox Academy deck built for some time. I tried to play it back in December, but it wasn’t really to my liking. Don’t get me wrong, when the deck goes off, it is lots of fun to witness exactly how stupidly retarded some cards in Magic are – especially when combined. But even though Canlander is a competitive format, the deck didn’t do much for joy of playing. Either I lost very hard – crumbling to my own greed – or I won, sometimes out of the blue, after having sequenced maybe 20 spells, without being entirely sure of victory. This was tedious for my opponent, and the deck is – even though very strong – just not something you should bring against an opponent, you have to settle for some gold fish smashing. But I cannot recommend killing fishies with this deck enough.

Right, so the problem with the deck, was that when it won, it did so in a boring fashion. Why? Because it was not an A-B combo deck. It was a deck consisting of a lot of broken cards, draw spells and a lot of tutors and you basically had to play through your entire deck to finish your opponent with some storm spell or playing Lightning Bolt 10 times or something like that…

I still wanted to build a combo deck, but decided to try a more direct approach. A deck where you know when you have won, because it will often be by combining two to three cards. I also really wanted to play an artifacts matter deck. You know me…


So I just started to find all the two- or three-card artifact combos I knew, and shoved them into a pile. There are a lot, it seems. And some of them are just not good enough.

But this is:

See, Time Vault is on the points list. Right up there with some of the strongest cards of the game’s history. It may seem strange, if you only really know the Old School card pool, and remember this is a singleton format, but just look at the cards around the vault on the picture. This is ridiculously strong. Especially the Tezzeret Planeswalker who is simply a one-card combo as long as you have the Time Vault in you deck. Time Vault has its own top-tier deck in the format – often a primarily Blue Black or Blue Black White control deck, with a very strong disruption package and an eerily stable game plan of finding and executing the combo.

So I decided, that I wanted to play Time Vault – not one of the established lists, but I wanted the combo to be central to the deck. That ate most of my points – the rest I used for Tolarian Academy, Crop Rotation to find the Academy (or some of the other crazy strong lands, I play) and Mana Vault, because it is a cool, old card that fits the decks theme.

With that out of the way, I shoved these combos into the mix:

This makes me a lot of life and a lot of fliers…

Besides being one of my all-time favorites, Future Sight is also a rather crazy card in a deck like this. Along with Sensei’s Divining Top and something that makes artifacts cost less mana, you have yourself quite a thing going!

I love the little working dude – along with the staff and five artifacts in hand, you don’t have to do too many shenanigans to convince your opponent that it is over.

You don’t have to, when you combine Mindslaver with one of the other cards on this picture, either.

And finally, I did pull one of the defining features from the Paradox Academy deck with me into this deck. The Bolas’ Citadel Aetherflux Reservoir combo. And also the Paradox Engine itself, which is just such an extremely efficient – well, sorry – engine in a deck like this. It would be crazy not to incorporate it.

These are the main combos – the main things I want to get going. But the deck is so littered with extremely powerful effects that there are several other combos around. Luckily most of them, combos that leave no one in the dark, as to who has won when…

As every good combodeck should have, this deck also has some protection. A few counters some destroy spells, and just a pinch of stax elements because I can. Yes! A Combo-Staz deck finally! This is exactly what the world needed in 2022!

It is quite the surprise, I still have any friends left…

This is not a final deck pic (because I still lack a couple of cards, and some of the cards in the picture should not be there…), but I want to show it to you, just to give you a hint of the agony that is building 100-card singleton decks in a format with more than 20.000 cards!

You can find the decklist here:

Playing the deck!

I actually had a chance to play my newly assembled pile against aforementioned newly back moved Robin.

And it went a lot better, than I had expected.

I don’t think I have introduced Robin to you before, but he has played Magic for about six years or something like that, and for the last – maybe – 5½ of them, he has been better than me at both playing and brewing. Canlander being a format I am really not particularly familiar with, and having assembled a deck, where I still needed some central cards, I was sure I would get my idiotic Combo-Stax ass handed to me.

Well, not exactly.

I cannot remember how many games, we played or exactly how many of them I won, but it was actually quite even, and I did win against some of Robins very tuned, very well-built decks. That was great. For me at least. But even though Canlander is a competitive format, and even though I had built my deck to finish the game, when having assembled a combo, it was still not the best playing experience, I’ve had. Okay, that may also be a tall order, but I just felt like a jerk every time I comboed more or less out of the blue. In one game I played Tezzeret turn three and searched up the Vault. Robin did not have an answer. In one game I was really on my heels and the drew more or less the only card that could save me, and then the other that could…

Maybe I am growing up? Maybe I shouldn’t play combo against friends? I don’t know. The deck is cool and can hold its own. It needs some tweaking and a lot of finer finishes, but it will probably not be my go to have-a-great-night-out-with-old-friends-deck. It just leads to too many non-games that are not that particularly great to be part of.

So for my next trick, I will build something primarily green. That can’t go completely crazy, right?

Anyway, the important thing is that Robin is no longer living in Scotland, and I will be playing more Canlander in the future. Maybe even write a bit more about it? Nah, probably not. Because you can – after all – never have more than three pieces of power in you deck, and who wants to read about such silliness?!

3 thoughts on “Building a new Canlander deck

  1. Homeboy really made “infinite combos and busted artifacts nobody likes seeing: the deck” for his first games with a friend he hadn’t seen in years.

    Bruh ik it’s not a big deal but u don’t need literally any foresight to see how that brew would play…..

    1. Hi Tyler
      Thanks for reading. I was not surprised about how the deck played, I was surprised about the very raw power it showed, and the quite staggering consistency – even in the face of a very finely tuned deck playing blue.
      And then there was just something about the deck, that made it unfun to play. I normally like playing combo, but this was almost too easy, in a way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *