Introduction to German Highlander.

German Highlander, what on earth is that? Well this was a request from one of you, my dear readers and followers. So time to deliver and delve into whole another world my friends!

Highlander can mean few things, here in Europe we mainly play German (or just Ger) Highlander, while in U.S/Canada people tend to go with Canadian Highlander. While we will focus on Ger Highlander, let’s look at the differences and the core-idea first.

Highlander is a 100 card singleton format. Meaning that you can only have 1 copy of every card in your deck (excluding basic lands). So it does resemble Commander, however you don’t have any Commander in your deck so that doesn’t restrict what colors you can play, also you start with 20 life like in any constructed format unlike the 40 which is in Commander. You do use the “London” Mulligan and you don’t have a sideboard.

Canadian Highlander

The difference between Canadian and German comes with the points list. What that means that in Canadian Highlander you have certain cards that use up points, you have 10 points to spare. This is their way of managing the format and keeping the most powerful things under control. Here is the current points list:

Ancestral Recall – 7
Balance – 1
Birthing Pod – 2
Black Lotus – 7
Crop Rotation – 1
Demonic Tutor – 4
Dig Through Time – 1
Enlightened Tutor – 1
Flash – 6
Gifts Ungiven – 2
Imperial Seal – 1
Intuition – 1
Library of Alexandria – 1
Mana Crypt – 4
Mana Drain – 1
Mana Vault – 1
Merchant Scroll – 1
Mind Twist – 1
Mox Emerald – 3
Mox Jet – 3
Mox Pearl – 3
Mox Ruby – 3
Mox Sapphire – 3
Mystical Tutor – 2
Natural Order – 4
Protean Hulk – 3
Sol Ring – 4
Spellseeker – 1
Stoneforge Mystic – 1
Strip Mine – 2
Summoner’s Pact – 2
Survival of the Fittest – 2
Time Vault – 6
Time Walk – 6
Tinker – 4
Tolarian Academy – 1
Transmute Artifact – 1
Treasure Cruise – 1
True-Name Nemesis – 1
Umezawa’s Jitte – 2
Vampiric Tutor – 2

So basically the most powerful cards have the points so you can’t just jam all of them into your deck, if you want to add Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor for added consistency, well that already runs you up 6 points. So you have to mix and match the right cards for your specific strategy and that is tough yet exciting!

Also there are few banned cards:

• Ante Cards
• Dexterity Cards
• Conspiracies
• Silver-bordered Cards

So the card pool is extremely diverse, if you want to play Canadian Highlander, I don’t blame you, the ever growing card-pool makes the possibilities rich and endless! It is extremely popular in Canada where it was invented and the U.S too.

German Highlander

What we will focus on is my personal favorite, German Highlander. First signs of this format dates back to 2004, unfortunately I picked up Highlander like a year ago so my data from the beginning is very nonexistent. But it is played a lot in Finland and well Germany where this format originates from. Now you already got the basic idea of the format, what sets us apart is that we don’t have a points system. We just have a ban-list which at the moment is:

So while Canadian Highlander allows Power 9, we don’t. Only Timetwister passes that test, but in all honesty that card is fine. I think keeping the Power 9 away is a good thing, it makes format more accessible and not about who can afford the most expensive cards in Magic. But trust me, you get to play some of the most powerful/expensive cards too if you so wish.

Decks in Highlander

Generally speaking Highlander has plenty of room to brew and try different strategies and cards for that matter. Well what would you expect with Magics entire card pool minus few bans! At least in Finland people tend to like Aggro decks, fair midrange decks of which the 4C Blood (no Blue) is the most common and different flavors of UR Control builds which utilize the devastating power of Blood Moon and Back to Basics to shut your opponent out of mana. I would say Combo is the least represented archetype, but there are viable Combos as well, we will look into the archetypes in another post.

Now don’t worry, even though people run Dual lands and other expensive stuff, they are not necessary by any means, especially at the beginning. You can replace them with let’s say, Shock lands or even with some comes into play tap Duals. It doesn’t really set you back that much, so the format is fairly budget friendly and you can upgrade your deck slowly.

For example here is a Burn list that is cheap to build and fairly easy to pilot!


I hope that this covers the bases for this amazing format. I highly recommend it, Highlander offers unique games and your deck feels kind of different every time since you won’t draw the same cards every game. So give this underrated format a go, brew your deck and start playing!

For the next time we will dig into the archetypes of Highlander. Firstly we will take a look at Midrange and 4C Blood more closely. One of my friends have agreed to share his list and his thoughts about the deck! Stay tuned and cast some spells!

– Juuso

3 thoughts on “Introduction to German Highlander.

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