"Dear God, I love brewing more than life itself." – Mark Herberholz
Core sets are a particularly volatile time in Standard's life cycle. They introduce cards that only combine with another subset of cards (the previous block and core set) for three months. WotC has taken this as a license to print cards that form riskier combos.
Additionally, the new core set cards start their life when Standard is at its largest (making the bar very high), but in just three months Standard will be at its smallest (making the bar very low). This makes core sets breeding grounds for "sleepers" that are quite strong cards we should be able to figure out but often are a little blind to on account of being so fixated on the current format.
Finally, in recent years, core sets have been very loudly setting up the fall's standalone expansion. Cards that help artifacts just before Scars of Mirrodin. Graveyard cards before Innistrad. Cards that care about specific basic land types just before Return to Ravnica brings back the shocklands.
The M14 spoiler strongly suggested an enchantment theme in Theros that was just confirmed this past weekend at Comic-Con. While this is the loudest predictive theme coming out of M14, there are others. For instance, I couldn't help but notice there are multiple Hydras in the same set. That is a little odd. You know where else Hydras make sense? In a world based on Greek mythology . . .
Stranger things have happened.
There also seems to be a little bit of a push away from gold and back into the world of one- and two-color decks. Burning Earth is the bluntest signal, but there are also a fair number of monocolor rewards cards and, more importantly, no dual lands in the new set. In fact, there are two awesome colorless lands instead that are powerful incentives to stay one or two colors. In fact, Encroaching Wastes even helps make mana tougher for many-color decks.
If you're like me, some of the most enjoyable Magic is building decks with a new set. M14 has a slightly higher percentage of its cards aimed backwards (to modify existing decks) instead of forward (to create new ones), but there is still a lot to work with. For discussion on how M14 impacts existing strategies, check out:
- U/W/R Flash
- Esper Control
- Bant Hexproof
- Junk Reanimator
- The Aristocrats
- Junk Aristocrats
- W/G Humans
- Grixis Control
- U/R Tempo
- Naya Midrange
- Naya Ramp
- G/R Aggro
- Jund Hydras
- Jund Aggro
- BUG Evolve
- Jund Midrange
- Mono-Red Aggro
Today, I'd like to take a look at new strategies made possible by M14. What better place to start than Battle of Wits?
It's not that Battle of Wits gains anything specific. Rather, it's just that Battle of Wits is a strategy that is at its best when the format has the most possible cards available. Often, new sets offer new versions of cards that are similar enough to an old card that only one of the two ends up being used. Battle of Wits needs many copies of each type of effect and can happily use both.
There is certainly no clear indicator that it is time for Battle of Wits. In fact, when it was reprinted in M13, Standard was almost as large as it is now. It saw a little play but didn't crack the Top 8 of any SCG Opens or Grand Prix. Of course, that was a very different format (featuring Primeval Titan and Sword of War and Peace). It's possible the world we now live in is more conducive to such a strategy. Here's my first take:
- 4 Dimir Cluestone
- 4 Dimir Keyrune
- 1 Elixir of Immortality
- 4 Prophetic Prism
- 4 Ratchet Bomb
- 4 Battle of Wits
- 1 Curse of Death's Hold
- 4 Dead Weight
- 1 Cancel
- 4 Cremate
- 4 Devour Flesh
- 4 Dissipate
- 4 Doom Blade
- 4 Essence Scatter
- 4 Far
- 4 Forbidden Alchemy
- 2 Opportunity
- 4 Psychic Strike
- 4 Syncopate
- 4 Think Twice
- 4 Thought Scour
- 4 Tragic Slip
- 4 Tribute to Hunger
- 4 Warped Physique
- 2 Amass the Components
- 4 Barter in Blood
- 4 Diabolic Revelation
- 4 Diabolic Tutor
- 4 Divination
- 4 Increasing Ambition
- 4 Pilfered Plans
- 1 Sever the Bloodline
The way I see it, the primary restraint on Battle of Wits in current Standard is mana. There are lots and lots of cards that kill creatures, counter spells, or draw cards. What there isn't a lot of are good mana fixers. Oh there's plenty for a 60-card deck, no question, but trying to build a mana base that can support three or more colors that feature triple digits' worth of mana is tricky business. You end up starting to rely pretty heavily on stuff like Chromatic Lantern unless you make your third color green. The problem with green is that it basically needs to be your primary color but it doesn't add a ton beyond ways to fix your mana. It could still be right to play, giving you acceleration, Thragtusk, Abrupt Decay, and a variety of other quality cards.
Instead, I have opted for a U/B control deck that happens to feature four Battle of Wits and a dozen hard tutors for it. Aetherling is a fine "backup" plan, and with this much card draw and removal, we are reasonably set up to just take control and win at our leisure. Still, the free wins from playing Battle of Wits on turns 4-7 are the reason to play the deck.
Of course, you may have noticed that for a 231-card deck this list doesn't actually have that many new cards from M14. This is an indication that there is a lower probability that the deck is good, but there is always the possibility that very few have actually tried to make Battle work lately. It is the sort of deck that very few actually attempt given its unwieldy and ambitious nature.
If you want a Battle of Wits deck that features a lot of M14 cards, may I suggest the following?
130 Shadowborn Apostle
1 Reaper from the Abyss
4 Diabolic Tutor
4 Increasing Ambition
4 Battle of Wits
4 Prophetic Prism
4 Dimir Cluestone
2 Dimir Keyrune
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Watery Graves
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Dimir Guildgate
Let's be clear that this is most certainly not a tier 1 deck. It has a lack of meaningful interaction and is quite vulnerable to aggressive decks that can kill by turn 5. In fact, its primary defense is its somewhat reliable ability to produce a Griselbrand or triggered Reaper from the Abyss on turn 4 or 5. Opponents with Tragic Slip are going to be somewhat frustrating to face. Against removal, you are really going to have to just crutch on the Battle of Wits plan, which is actually probably the stronger of the two plans.
How often do you see decks over 200 cards? Not often, so when you see two in the same format, the natural thought is to wonder if you can combine them (since you are already "paying the price" of playing 200+, it stands to reason that you might be able to "get paid" twice).
For those not familiar, here is the all-in Shadowborn Apostle deck:
This build has a 78.4% chance of hitting six Apostles by turn 4 and a 79.7% chance of hitting two land by turn 2. Upon further thought, it's probably better to play slightly more lands, as missing your second land on turn 2 is more devastating than missing your sixth Apostle by turn 4. How much more? I'm not at all sure, but if you are the person that actually gets this many Apostles on Magic Online (good luck shuffling this IRL), I guess you get to decide.
When I first posted this list here, a number of people asked about the upper limit. Can you make a 10,000-card version that is even more consistent, relying on the Magic Online shuffler (and a very well stocked account) to make it possible?
This list has a 79.4% chance of hitting six Apostles by turn 4 and a 79.9% chance of hitting two lands by turn 2. Progress! Again, I might play several dozen more Swamps, but let's be serious. There's not a chance even Magic Online can shuffle this beast.
Where's the ceiling? How big of a Demon deck would God play?
This list has a 79.5% chance of hitting six Apostles by turn 4 and a 79.9% chance of hitting two lands by turn 2. We still haven't hit the ceiling!
I'd love to be able to go even higher, but I couldn't find any hypergeometric calculators that could handle population sizes over 100K without getting some fancy commercial program.
If you are actually going to be the person that manages to amass hundreds of Shadowborn Apostles, the optimal deck size for the all-in version is surely bound only by Magic Online's shuffler, which I believe currently caps out at 1400 (and you have to not use a sideboard).
This list has a 77.1% chance of six Apostles by turn 4 and a 81.4% chance of playing a second land by turn 2. It's an interesting question. Should you optimize for maximum chances of going off turn 4 (which makes you want both percentages to be as close to each other as you can get them) or do you want it slightly weighted towards land so that you can go off turn 4 slightly less and go off turn 5 more often rather than failing?
Weighing the exact balance between these probabilities is an exercise I leave to the reader.
The Battle of Wits deck above is hardly the only new (bad) control deck made possibly with M14.
The Draw-Go concept is a powerful and influential deck idea first pioneered by Andrew Cuneo. These days we rarely see Draw-Go in a pure-form, instead seeing elements of it in various control decks. Could M14 see a return of pure Draw-Go?
Ratchet Bomb combined with amazing colorless lands and the existence of Aetherling is why this deck is even worth considering. Here, we use tons of permission to buy ourselves time, eventually dropping an Aetherling and winning. Ratchet Bomb gives us a much-needed way to deal with permanents that resolve, but mostly we are just hanging out until we can stick an Aetherling (which might have us wanting a couple Cavern of Souls instead of some of the colorless lands).
How optimistic am I of this approach? Well, it is going to do some pretty great things against midrange decks. Even Cavern of Souls is less of an issue when you have four Encroaching Wastes. The problem? Well, a lot of things can go wrong.
What if they stick Domri Rade or any other planeswalker?
What if you are on the draw and they are fast aggro?
Breaking News: Sphinx's Revelation is a great way to draw enough cards to take over a game while gaining enough life to survive long enough to use them! In related news, Aetherling's a great kill condition, U/W gold cards are the most efficient ways to defend yourself, and blue two-drops interact well with a deck full of spells!
Is U/W Control the future of control in Standard? I dunno man, Pillar of Flame and Far // Away are pretty hard to get away from. Giving up a third color gives you slightly better mana and Mutavault, which is pretty sweet, but is that really enough to forego a third color? Then again, it is kind of rad to not care about Burning Earth.
The theory is that when you "imprint" Silence on an Elite Arcanist you can completely lock players out of a game. Of course, this neglects to mention that you also have to have the board stabilized and the combo can still be broken up by instants (and lands).
If you stabilized the board, how about just drop an Aetherling and get it over with?
Scepter-Chant was a different kind of combo than Scepter-Silence, as Orim's Chant also removed their attack phase, meaning you didn't actually have to take over the board to use it.
If you are hellbound and determined to use Elite Arcanist, I would consider putting it in some kind of a Turbo Fog shell. There is no shortage of Fogs for people into that kind of thing. Imprint one on an Elite Arcanist and now you can lock out opponents that can't remove creatures.
It's pretty janky, but you may even want Elgaud Shieldmate (which is conveniently close to Elite Arcanist alphabetically so that we can stumble upon the synergy). Add some extra Fogs and Supreme Verdicts to buy time to set your combo up and a couple Dissipates to deal with your opponent's only outs and you might actually have a deck on your hands. Yeah, you can probably stick a couple Silences in there if that's your thing, but I wouldn't count on keeping people silent as your A game.
Sphinx's Revelation combines quite well with Fogs (since we don't have anything like Howling Mine). As for kill conditions, Aetherling is the first that comes to mind, of course, but we should also consider Maze's End. Every Fog has added utility when you are quickly approaching the Maze's End.
Actually, that doesn't sound that bad.
I'm certainly not hating on anyone that wants to solve the Elite Arcanist puzzle. It is a novel effect, and there is potential for abuse. My guess is that it makes exactly zero Top 8s of SCG Opens and GPs, but I'd love to be proven wrong.
An interesting feature of Elite Arcanist is how powerful of a tap ability it is, making Ral Zarek's untap ability that much more powerful. Seriously, though, if you are tapping Elite Arcanist successfully and have a planeswalker on the table, an awful lot is already going well.
Dismiss Into Dream is a very powerful (but expensive) build-around-me card. The basic idea is pretty simple: drop this seven-mana enchantment and lock out creature-based strategies. All you need is a repeatable way to target creatures and your opponent usually can't win with creatures anymore.
Modern has no shortage of artifacts and lands that would let you target opposing creatures at will (like Cauldron of Souls), but it is a format with far too many people that win without creature combat for such a combo to be appealing (to say nothing of how slow it is relative to the format).
In Standard, we don't have anything that reliable, but we do have plenty of reasonable options:
Izzet Staticaster; Ral Zarek; Chandra, Pyromaster; Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, and Staff of Nin can all target opposing creatures every turn while still providing useful game functionality when you don't have Dismiss Into Dreams on the table. We could go even further and use Rogue's Passage, but I have a feeling that games where we untap with Dismiss Into Dream are not the games where we need help.
Rogue's Passage is pretty awful in a deck of Izzet Staticasters, Aetherling, and planeswalkers, no question. We could also splash Slayers' Stronghold or Kessig Wolf Run, but is it worth making the mana worse? It's kind of awesome that the U/R version gets to sideboard Burning Earth (and could even replace some of its other lands with Evolving Wilds if it wanted to).
Given that Dismiss Into Dreams is a seven-cost enchantment, this list is built to be able to function without it. Against aggressive decks, we use removal and stacking of pinging effects to try to slow quick assaults. Against midrange and control decks, we play a sort of "planeswalker deck" game.
This list actually has a lot in common with the Grixis decks I have been liking lately. Can they be combined?
Speaking of Grixis, a number of people have asked about Doom Blade. Shouldn't we be using it?
I have used Doom Blade in a lot of Grixis decks over the years, and it wouldn't surprise me at all for the format to rotate back to a place where that is the move. However, at the moment, it just seems like a bad Warped Physique, and I am not even using Warped Physique.
Far // Away is better because of how versatile it is, its ability to net effective card advantage, and its ability to hit black and hexproof creatures.
Mizzium Mortars is certainly not clearly better, but it kills slightly more creatures people actually play and the ability to overload it can be game winning.
Dreadbore is where we start to have a meaningful debate, but I still prefer Dreadbore. The ability to kill black creatures is probably roughly worth the loss of instant speed at the moment, but killing planeswalkers is a really important feature.
When will Doom Blade come back into fashion for Grixis? When people play less black creatures (which are quite popular right now) and when we really need a cheap instant speed answer to cards like Restoration Angel and Thundermaw Hellkite. That is not a crazy parlay, so I would keep an eye on Doom Blade.
This is going to shock you, but this isn't the only Grixis deck I have been thinking about recently.
Veilborn Ghoul has been around for a year but hasn't ever really found a good home. It's been used sporadically in Grixis, combining with ways to discard cards as a card draw engine of sorts. Is it possible that these decks were just missing a good kill card (Aetherling) and a good way to deal with noncreature permanents (Ratchet Bomb)?
The mana base is a little bizarre, but Veilborn Ghoul requires that we play a boatload of Swamps to fuel it. This does have the practical upside of making Mutilate a fine card, not to mention making us not particularly vulnerable to Burning Earth. Hell, we could even add a couple Rakdos Keyrunes and consider playing the card in our sideboard!
There isn't that much new in here either, but one thing that should be clear is just how influential of a card Ratchet Bomb is. It completely changes the rules of the format.
Ratchet Bomb isn't the only two-cost artifact worth discussing in M14 however.
Brief Aside on Illusionist's Bracers
In the month leading up to Pro Tour Gatecrash in Montreal, Team SCG had a mailing list where we discussed the new cards as they were spoiled. At one point, Reid Duke asked everyone what decks he should build to bring to the playtest before the PT.
Without missing a beat, Andrew Cuneo replied:
"Reid, please build an Illusionist Bracers combo deck."
"What's the combo?" – Zvi Mowshowitz
This new artifact has an extremely resonate flavor (I know this effect is exactly what you'd imagine when you top-down Strionic devices, particularly Resonators). The bigger question is how to abuse it?
Fortunately, the reminder text gives us a clue as to what words to search for!
A thorough pass of every triggered ability in Standard and I am left with the conclusion that the most obvious way to abuse Strionic Resonator is to combine it with lots of comes-into-play abilities:
- 4 Acidic Slime
- 4 Borderland Ranger
- 4 Elvish Visionary
- 4 Huntmaster of the Fells
- 3 Restoration Angel
- 3 Thragtusk
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
The idea is to play a passable Naya Midrange game, and then once we get Strionic Resonator in play, we go nuts copying something every turn. Elvish Visionary, Abundant Growth, and Borderland Ranger are all draw twos, Huntmaster and Thragtusk makes lots of dudes and gain lots of life, Acidic Slime and Encroaching Wastes can actually do serious damage to a mana base, and Oblivion Ring does twice its usual work. Even Voice of Resurgence's death trigger can be copied.
Of course, this is just scratching the surface, as there are a lot of triggered abilities in Standard. For instance, Angel of Serenity is worth considering, and Detention Sphere and Sin Collector are available if we decide to capitalize on the five-color fixing enabled by Abundant Growth, Borderland Ranger, and Evolving Wilds.
We don't need to be this all-in however. Lots of Naya decks already use tons of triggers. Just look at how many of the above cards appear in most Naya Midrange decks. Instead, we could just add a Strionic Resonator or two to an existing Naya Midrange deck (or its sideboard) in case we want to go bigger. The question at that point is whether it is really better than more planeswalkers like Domri Rade or various Garruks.
Speaking of Naya with Domri Rade and Garruk . . .
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 4 Avacyn's Pilgrim
- 3 Craterhoof Behemoth
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Huntmaster of the Fells
- 4 Loxodon Smiter
- 3 Thundermaw Hellkite
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
The deck is full of acceleration and powerful threats.
Turn 1: Elf
Turn 2: Voice + Elf
Turn 3: Huntmaster
Turn 4: Garruk + Craterhoof, attack for 37(!)
Magical Christmasland? Maybe not. Just assemble Garruk + Craterhoof and you are probably winning, and if you don't have the Behemoth yet, Garruk helps you quickly find it.
It's very possible that we want to build this to be more token based or perhaps even more combo centric. We might also want to hybridize this with a Reanimator deck. Either way, the ability to cheat Craterhoof Behemoth is an extremely powerful game plan, and this deck is full of good cards as a backup plan.
Garruk, Caller of Beasts is a pretty sweet new card discussed at length here. One interesting thing it does is make me not want to play with other six-mana options green has to offer like Primeval Bounty. It is just so hard to justify building around Primeval Bounty when we could be exploiting Garruk. If I was going to abuse the Bounty, I would probably want to be able to bounce my creatures over and over (ala Shrieking Drake). There are a few creatures in Standard that bounce other creatures you control, so you could loop two of them, but that is a lot of work.
There is one six-mana green card that can actually compete with Garruk for my attention . . .
Slivers want you to play lots and lots of creatures, Domri Rade and Garruk, Caller of Beasts reward you for doing just that. As a fun bonus, using Garruk to power out Megantic Sliver is actually a very powerful option. It's not just that you can play both in the same turn. Instead, you can drop Garruk, drop some cards, and then next turn cast a couple creatures (including a Blur Sliver) and use Garruk to cheat Megantic Sliver into play to put your opponent out of their misery. Manaweft Sliver in particular is a fantastic way to get Garruk (or Megantic Sliver) into play on turn 4 (or turn 3 in Magical Christmasland thanks to two Striker Slivers).
There are tons of Slivers in M14, so this is hardly the only way to build a Sliver deck. Going the other way in terms of greed, here is a four-color build that utilizes the absolutely phenomenal Galerider Sliver:
- 4 Blur Sliver
- 4 Bonescythe Sliver
- 4 Galerider Sliver
- 4 Manaweft Sliver
- 4 Megantic Sliver
- 4 Predatory Sliver
- 4 Striking Sliver
- 3 Thorncaster Sliver
Wing Sliver was a big game and was twice as expensive for a worse card!
This list is very much all about filling the board with as many Slivers as possible and just rolling over opponents short on removal on account of having a massive army of Slivers that are just much bigger and better at fighting than opposing creatures.
This list is very crude and early in development, but I believe that Slivers are highly likely to materialize as a tournament-viable option.
Once you add a fourth color, the mana starts to rely heavily on Cavern of Souls, making it hard to play non-Sliver cards of many colors. Manaweft Sliver helps, but one of the biggest pitfalls we could fall into is being too greedy. Stumbling even a single turn is often going to be fatal for a deck like this.
There are a ton of Sliver decks possible. For instance, we could combine both of the above approaches:
- 4 Blur Sliver
- 4 Bonescythe Sliver
- 4 Galerider Sliver
- 4 Manaweft Sliver
- 4 Megantic Sliver
- 4 Predatory Sliver
- 4 Striking Sliver
While I believe Slivers are the clear tribe to beat in M14, there is a new Goblin and with it slightly renewed interest in building a Goblin deck:
These sorts of decks are all about the dream of Hellraiser Goblin + Krenko, Mob Boss. They weren't good before, and their only big new card is Mutavault (which everyone gains). Their only other new Goblin is Goblin Diplomats, which I don't even think is that good. If you are into this sort of thing, I'd focus on Slivers.
Xathrid Necromancer gives yet another tribe a powerful new weapon: Humans. My guess is that the Necromancer's primary functionality will be in Aristocrat-type decks, but it could end up in some kind of Reanimator deck, particularly if we see a return of Human Reanimator.
More interesting for the Reanimator decks is Shadowborn Demon, which plays straight into the value-centric builds using Thragtusk, Acidic Slime, Restoration Angel, and the like. Meeting its upkeep condition is not that hard, and worst case scenario it is a five-mana removal spell (since you can just sacrifice itself if you really want). It does make Lingering Souls better since that is a great source of sacrificial bodies. Voice of Resurgence is perhaps the most exciting creature to sacrifice, actually often improving your board.
Yep, it's that time of the season when we talk about the return of Mono-Black Control!
Now, to be fair, after M13 hit Mono-Black Control actually did put up a few good finishes, but I am skeptical that M14 really gives us enough of what we need to make true Mono-Black Control viable. We do gain Ratchet Bomb, which is a major win and makes it worth at least having the conversation, but what we really needed was a good win condition.
Yeah, yeah, Corrupt is legal, which is a great way to gain life. Sign in Blood, Underworld Connections, Liliana of the Dark Realms, and Staff of Nin give us a surprising amount of card draw. Mutilate and Ratchet Bomb give us a pretty good sweeper package (with Curse of Death's Hold and Sever the Bloodline in the sideboard).
You know, maybe Mono-Black Control isn't so bad . . .
Ok, I'll admit it, this list looks kind of fun. What we are short on is good kill cards though. We could use more Griselbrands. We could use Bloodline Keeper. Hell, we could just suck it up and grind with Mutavaults, Staffs, and Corrupts.
What if we use a combo kill?
Exquisite Blood + Sanguine Bond will only be legal in Standard for three months, but the combo is actually pretty hot. Get both enchantments in play and you need only find a way to deal any damage or gain any life to set off a chain reaction that kills your opponent from any life total.
We might need some discard maindeck to force through the combo, like more Duresses or Wit's End. It is nice that black has so many great sideboard options.
Another possible road to go with this combo is to incorporate Vizkopa Guildmage as a backup Sanguine Bond. Going that route is sure to produce a deck full of janky and weird cards, but that is how decks like Project X occasionally get made.
One final possibility is to use Ring of Three Wishes in a more traditional deck (whether U/B/x control or Mono-Black). You can play a single copy of each enchantment, use the Ring to find both halves, and then find a way to deal damage or gain life (or just find a Duress to force it through). Ring of Three Wishes is unreal slow, but if the rest of your deck slows things way down, it is not impossible to imagine.
It does sound worse than Aetherling though.
I am not sure if it ties into the Blood Bond space, but Voracious Wurm is another new "life gain matters" card that can combine with Gnaw to the Bone to produce a 30/30 pretty easily. Maybe that is good, and maybe Essence Harvest completes the combo?
All this life gain stuff points me to Bubbling Cauldron and by extension Bogbrew Witch and Festering Newt. That particular lineage isn't exactly calling out to me, but it is just barely worth considering. I don't think you want to go all the way to Dark Prophecy, but if anyone knows it's Sam Black.
We don't actually need to stay mono-black if we don't want to though. For instance, we could add Angelic Accord and leap squarely out of tier 2.5 and into "fixer-upper" space.
Still, I can't help but notice how cleanly Bubbling Cauldron satisfies Angelic Accord's need for four life to trigger. Maybe there is something there? It's even the same colors as Vizkopa Guildmage if we want all the combos.
Of course, going the other way, we could try fitting Dark Prophecy into a Junk Aristocrats deck:
- 4 Blood Artist
- 4 Cartel Aristocrat
- 4 Doomed Traveler
- 4 Gravecrawler
- 4 Skirsdag High Priest
- 4 Voice of Resurgence
- 4 Xathrid Necromancer
- 3 Varolz, the Scar-Striped
Gravecrawler isn't in traditional Junk Aristocrats lists since it doesn't block. However, if you want to really push the sacrifice/get paid for it theme, it's the perfect sacrificial lamb. Dark Prophecy gives us a new reason to want to do this and Xathrid Necromancer (along with Varolz) give us a reasonable number of Zombies to trigger him. You can also just use Young Wolf if Gravecrawler isn't your taste.
One final Dark Prophecy concept I want to sketch out is B/R:
- 4 Blood Artist
- 4 Diregraf Ghoul
- 4 Falkenrath Aristocrat
- 4 Geralf's Messenger
- 2 Gnawing Zombie
- 4 Gravecrawler
- 2 Lifebane Zombie
- 4 Rakdos Cackler
Maybe this needs to just be set up more like a traditional Rakdos aggro deck, but I am not convinced that Barrage of Expendables is actually unplayable.
Ok, I really need to call it a day, but let me leave you with one last concept that's kind of fun:
Sphere of Safety is absolutely bananas, here basically completely shutting down aggressive decks singlehandedly. We have a fair bit of defense for the games we don't draw it, and to gain an advantage we can eventually drop an Ajani's Chosen and overrun the board with 2/2s. Sphere of Safety often means they can attack with just one creature, and Ajani's Chosen ensures plenty of blockers. We can even combine it with Agoraphobia or Mana Bloom to go big.
Blind Obedience helps make sure that our creature lock isn't foiled by a big Bonfire, not to mention serving as a victory condition with the same looping enchantments.
Ground Seal is worth considering as another cantrip enchantment if you expect a lot of graveyard cards.
Sphinx's Revelation isn't at its best here, but a couple might be nice.
Jace, Architect of Thought is worth considering as additional anti-creature plan that also serves as a threat against control.
What did I miss? There are a lot of M14 cards to work with. What are people still sleeping on? Which (if any) of the above concepts is most likely to actually make the big time? I don't think a lot of people would have picked the Invisible Stalker / Runechanter's Pike deck discussed in the Innistrad set review at the time, but one or two of these wacky new decks always seems to pan out. Which one(s) will it be this time?
See you next week!