The 7-Point Highlander Championship at Grand Prix Melbourne is set to go off, and first place gets a possible 2000 prize tix, glory, and bragging rights. 7-Point Highlander is a format with the card pool of Vintage, but a more manageable power level. It’s got the variety of Commander or Canadian Highlander, with less variance thanks to 60-card decks (with 15-card sideboards).
It’s a format where aggro decks, control decks, combo decks, and prison decks can all thrive.
If you like competitive events, winning big prizes, brewing decks, Canadian Highlander, Commander, Brawl, Legacy, Vintage, or Magic: The Gathering, you’ll love this format.
- Vintage banned list
- Singleton (one of each card, excluding basic lands)
- Max 7 points worth of pointed cards (further details below)
- 60-card decks, 15 card sideboards (no commander)
- Matches are best of 3 with a competitive focus.
The Points List
In order to balance out the power of decks and diversify deck construction, we use a points list. Your deck can contain a maximum of 7 points worth of cards within your 75.
Ancestral Recall, Black Lotus, Time Vault.
Demonic Tutor, Imperial Seal, Mox Emerald, Mox Jet, Mox Pearl, Mox Ruby, Mox Sapphire, Sol Ring, Time Walk, Tinker, Vampiric Tutor, Yawgmoth’s Will.
Channel, Dig Through Time, Library of Alexandria, Mana Crypt, Mind Twist, Mystical Tutor, Protean Hulk, Strip Mine, Tolarian Academy, Treasure Cruise.
Back to Basics, Balance, Birthing Pod, Crop Rotation, Dark Petition, Enlightened Tutor, Fastbond, Force of Will, Gifts Ungiven, Green Sun’s Zenith, Hermit Druid, Intuition, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Karakas, Lim-Dul’s Vault, Mana Drain, Mana Vault, Memory Jar, Merchant Scroll, Mishra’s Workshop, Natural Order, Oath of Druids, Personal Tutor, Sensei’s Divining Top, Skullclamp, Snapcaster Mage, Stoneforge Mystic, Survival of the Fittest, Tainted Pact, Time Spiral, Timetwister, True-Name Nemesis, Umezawa’s Jitte, Wasteland, Yawgmoth’s Bargain.
The points list is governed by a committee of five people, with a mix of competitive players and tournament organizers. The committee is focused on balancing the format for competitive play and making it as fun as possible.
If you’re interested in seeing how points have changed over the years, we track the changes and update the list here.
This is a competitive format in that prizes are top-heavy, and often at competitive rules enforcement. In my time as a player and as a tournament organizer I’ve seen Highlander events with first prize being power from Timetwister all the way up to Black Lotus. The Championship at GP Melbourne is no different. You can register here:
7-Point Highlander is played predominantly in Australia, but there are also significant playgroups in Singapore and Canada. I’ll go through some of the format all-stars from events in Australia, but please note that this format is very, very far from being “solved,” which gives you an excellent opportunity to break it and show us how it’s done.
I’ll talk briefly about some of the archetypes and then put some of my favorite recent lists below.
Blue-Red Back to Basics/Blood Moon: Designed to counter anything broken, have card advantage with Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, or maybe Ancestral Recall, and punish greedy mana bases with Blood Moon/Magus of the Moon and Back to Basics. Any deck in the format has to be aware of this boogeyman because you don’t want to be trapped under a Moon or a Back to Basics. Fetch your basics early if you put your opponent on this.
Grixis Control: Adding black to control gives you discard, non-damage based removal, Kess, Dissident Mage, and more/better sideboard options.
Kurgan (It’s the name of the bad guy in the first Highlander movie with Christopher Lambert)… or Sultai Control: You might notice that any combination of blue creates a pretty good control deck in 7-Point Highlander. Like other Eternal formats, you get access to good card draw and great counters like Counterspell, Mana Drain, Cryptic Command, etc. Adding green gets you Tarmogoyf, Thragtusk, Sylvan Library, and heaps of sideboard options.
Zoo: Good creatures, good burn, good mana base—what’s not to love?
4-Color Pod: This deck has many different iterations—some without white and some without red, but all of them lean heavily on mana dorks for acceleration, Birthing Pod for value, Skullclamp, and/or Dig Through Time for card draw, and a greedy mana base to play all the best cards in those colors. Abrade and Kolaghan’s Command have become more popular recently, which has made Clamp worse, but this is still my go-to deck, as it’s got game against everything if you build your sideboard right.
Storm: Yep, it exists in the format, and eats up between 1-5 sideboard slots in most other decks. There are some sweet singletons in this deck, and some pretty complicated Doomsday piles to construct. I played this in a tournament once and vowed never to again purely because of how complicated it was, but if you’re up for a challenge and love Storm, get on it.
Elves: Probably somewhere between combo and midrange, this deck beats up on 4-color Pod decks while being very resilient to control. It is a little slower than other combo decks and leans on its sideboard for those matchups.
These are some of the mainstays of the format in Australia, but most tournaments have 80%+ unique decks, so there are heaps and heaps of others, and so many more unknown decks yet to be brewed. Here is a link to the site where we post a lot of tournament winning lists. There are also some forums on there with people talking about lists. There is a podcast aimed at introducing people to the format, and delving into different decks/archetypes, and a Facebook group full of supportive people looking to brew deck lists, answer any questions, and welcome you to the format. And there is this awesome tool that Simon “Fry” Freiberg made to print deck lists that also checks to see if your points are correct (select 7-point Highlander as your format).
I’m interested to get your thoughts on the format and deck list ideas. I’ll endeavor to respond, and if I don’t, I’m sure that Sarven will!
Wan Chin Lee
Blue-Red Blood to Basics