Magic: The Gathering Arena Countering Rat Colony In Singleton Guide
Magic: The Gathering Arena Countering Rat Colony In Singleton Guide by Slatefield
Who would win:
A well tuned, well balanced Singleton deck
~36 mousey bois
Turns out for many people it’s Rat Colony, the one card in Standard that you can run multiples of in the Arena Singleton game mode thanks to its rule overwriting clause (“A deck can have any number of cards named Rat Colony.”) While innocuous on the surface (1 toughness means anything stronger than a sneeze can kill one), the deck is literally the most consistent in the game mode, as the deck cannot possibly fail to find multiples of them. This means you’ll eventually start staring down three 4/1s, then four 5/1s, then five 6/1s, then six 7/1s, etc., which means if you can’t outpace them creature wise, you’ll fall to an eventual onslaught of gigantic rats that can three- or even two-shot you.
Luckily for you (since obviously you’re a man or woman of culture that does not run eighty-seven thousand Rat Colonies), there are plenty of reasonable answers in Standard, to specifically handle not just one, but multiple Rat Colonies, if not an entire board full of them. Caveats abound, however: sticking these cards in your deck does not a guaranteed victory make; actual Rat Colony decks with any amount of effort put into them will have cards like Doom Whisperer and other threats in black or even sometimes other colors, especially anthem effects or clone effects (Quasiduplicate, anyone?), so your deck needs to be able to handle normal threats alongside twenty million 1 toughness dorks; and your deck needs to balance out having these answers and having answers for when the next game loads and you’re facing, I dunno, a spells-matters list and you’re sitting there with a pile of nigh-useless board wipes.
These cards below will be sorted by color, then rarity, since most players that will have the most trouble with Rat Colony will be more interested in lower rarity answers to spare them the expenditure for what should be a fun game mode, 500 GP/100 gem cost aside. There will be cards missing – Wakening Sun’s Avatar certainly works, but at 5WWW, it’s an egregious cost to pay for something like this.
Instead of having the card bot list them out, I’ll provide a general synopsis of the card next to its entry. So, to wit:
Ixalan’s Binding (Ixalan Uncommon, 3W Enchantment, Exile target creature until ~ leaves the battlefield, creature’s controller can’t cast cards with the same name while it’s exiled)
Cleansing Nova (M19 Rare, 3WW Sorcery, Destroy all creatures)
Settle the Wreckage (Ixalan Rare, 2WW Instant, Exile all attacking creatures target player controls, that player fetches equal number of basic lands from library tapped)
Slaughter the Strong (Rivals Rare, 1WW Sorcery, Each player chooses any number of creatures on their board that have a total power of 4 or less, then sacrifices all other creatures they control)
Deeproot Waters (Ixalan Uncommon, 2U Enchantment, Each Merfolk you cast creates a 1/1 Hexproof Merfolk token)
Sleep (M19 Uncommon, 2UU Sorcery, Tap opponent’s board, those creatures don’t untap during next untap step)
Mephitic Vapors (Guilds Common, 2B Sorcery, all creatures get -1/-1 UEOT, surveil 2)
Golden Demise (Rivals Uncommon, 1BB Sorcery, all creatures get -2/-2 UEOT, city’s blessing makes it ignore your board)
Plague Mare (M19 Uncommon, 1BB Creature, 2/2 Nightmare Horse, ETB: all opponent’s creatures get -1/-1 UEOT)
Ritual of Soot (Rivals Rare, 2BB Sorcery, destroy all creatures with CMC 3 or less)
Phyrexian Scriptures (Dominaria Mythic, 2BB Enchantment Saga, I: one creature gets +1/+1 counter and becomes an artifact creature, II: destroy all nonartifact creatures, III: exile opponent’s graveyard)
Cosmotronic Wave (Guilds Common, 3R Sorcery, deal 1 damage to opponent’s board, those creatures can’t block this turn)
Dual Shot (Ixalan Common, R Instant, deal 1 damage to up to two creatures)
Radiating Lightning (M19/Dominaria Common, 3R Sorcery, deal 3 damage to target player and 1 damage to their board)
Fiery Cannonade (Ixalan Uncommon, 2R Instant, deal 2 damage to all non-Pirates)
Forerunner of the Empire (Rivals Uncommon, 3R Creature, 1/3 Human Soldier, deal 1 damage to all creatures when one of your Dinosaurs ETBs)
Shake the Foundations (Rivals Uncommon, 2R Instant cantrip, deal 1 damage to each creature without flying)
Goblin Chainwhirler (Dominaria Rare, RRR Creature, 3/3 Goblin Warrior, First Strike, deals 1 damage to opponent’s board on ETB)
The First Eruption (Dominaria Rare, 2R Enchantment Saga, I: deal 1 damage to each creature without flying, II: Add RR, III: sacrifice a mountain and deal 3 damage to all creatures)
Pause for Reflection (Guilds Common, 2G Instant, Convoke, prevent all damage this turn)
Root Snare (M19 Common, 1G Instant, prevent all damage this turn)
Declare Dominance (M19 Uncommon, 3GG Sorcery, UEOT your creature gets +3/+3 and if a creature can block it when it attacks this turn, it must)
Tendershoot Dryad (Rivals Rare, 4G Creature, 2/2 Dryad, create a 1/1 saproling token each upkeep, city’s blessing buffs your saprolings by +2/+2)
WHITE / RED
Deafening Clarion (Guilds Rare, 1WR Sorcery, first mode deals 3 damage to all creatures)
Path of Mettle (Rivals Rare, WR Legendary Enchantment, ETB deal 1 damage to each creature that lacks first strike/double strike/vigilance/haste)
WHITE / GREEN
March of the Multitudes (Guilds Mythic, XGWW Instant, Convoke, Create X 1/1 Soldier tokens with lifelink)
BLACK / GREEN
Ochran Assassin (Guilds Uncommon, 1BG Creature, 1/1 Elf Assassin, Deathtouch, if a creature can block it when it attacks, it must)
Find // Finality (Guilds Rare, (BG)(BG) Sorcery // 4BG Sorcery, Finality adds two +1/+1 counters to a creature then all creatures get -4/-4 UEOT)
RED / GREEN
Raging Swordtooth (Ixalan Uncommon, 3RG Creature, 5/5 Dinosaur, Trample, deal 1 damage to each creature on attack)
So… that should be basically all of them. If I missed something, or if one of these cards would be infeasible in your opinion, let me know. Again, there were some cards I avoided (Angrath and Wakening Sun’s Avatar in particular; the former is too niche outside of maybe a Pirates list, the latter is too expensive), and these choices are not weighed evenly (Ochran Assassin needs setup, especially power boosting and definitely first strike on top, a lot of 5- and 6-mana cards listed here are approaching the realm of unplayability). You aren’t meant to include this entire list, or even half or even a third of it, in your list; pick and choose from them depending on what your deck wants to play.
Something else to point out: First Strike is your best friend. You can’t lose in a fight between an x/1 creature and a creature with First or Double Strike, unless either the other creature also has first/double strike, or your creature has 0 power – none of which should, hopefully, come to pass against the Ratpocalypse. Also, as Duscha_Gaming points out, token producers, like Tendershoot Dryad but also many other cards besides, are very helpful, especially those that can either create multiple tokens over the course of a game or create large populations of them at once (a la March of the Multitudes).
Welp… that was a fun use of an hour in the middle of the night. Hopefully it’s worth something to someone. Have fun in pseudo-Commander this Friday, and destroy every Rat Colony you find. It’s for a good cause.