Deck Tech: Heartless Summoning with Ali Aintrazi
It's no surprise to see our National Champion brewing with Dark Ascension, as Ali Aintrazi has always loved to cook for Constructed. For some time now, Ali has been looking at Heartless Summoning—the touted Innistrad enchantment that cheapens your fatties and makes Myr Superion completely free. For Ali, one Dark Ascension card has changed the game: Havengul Lich. “That guy’s good!” Ali exclaimed. “Against control, after they kill all your guys, that card alone can bring them all back.”
It’s not restricted to resurrecting your own army, of course—the Lich can steal from opposing graveyards as well, targeting value creatures like Snapcaster Mage and Phantasmal Image. “It’s good against the Titan decks, too,” Ali noted, as killing and stealing any of those big men is game-breaking.
One engine Ali isn’t running is the Grand Architect and Myr Superion setup. “I felt like that was just too ‘all-in’ I guess,” Ali explained. “I wanted the Rune-Scarred Demon and the Sphinxes because usually, if you play Heartless Summoning and one guy, they can deal with it.” Demon and Sphinx create an avalanche of advantage that keeps a stream of creatures flowing—attention shifts from the creature to the enchantment itself, but Ali can eventually find another one or just cast a big man. “Against this version, they have to kill all your creatures and Heartless Summoning—they can’t just deal with one of them,” he said.
Phantasmal Image and Phyrexian Metamorph are key players in any Heartless Summoning deck, and Ali’s packing both. He wanted at least a playset, just to handle all the Geist of Saint Trafts and Sun Titans in the field. “This week, I knew everyone would be playing reanimation or Geist of Saint Traft,” he explained. To that end, Ali structured his deck to be able to go control, using Black Sun’s Zenith and his healthy cast of creatures to create a stern defense that could quickly shift gears.
The shift from Illusions to Delver-Blade has benefited Ali’s deck choice greatly. “Thankfully, Illusions isn’t running Images anymore—that was why this deck was always awful,” he said. A cheap Clone from a tempo opponent could spell doom on one of your fatties, but without an efficient answer, many of these decks roll over to just two creatures!
Sideboarding has been interesting for Ali, who quickly realized he had more cards than he needed against the aggressive strategies in the room. “Spellskite I really haven’t used that much,” he admitted. “Mainly it’s there for Mono Red and Revoke Existence—decks that have a lot of removal. The only time I bring in the full amount is against Mono Red.” Mental Misstep has been very subpar, but Ali’s not sure what to replace them with—he very much fears super-aggressive decks, so Massacre Wurm or Carnifex Demon could be effective. “The Mimic Vats are just for control decks,” Ali added, and noted they’ve performed well. “If your creatures die and go under Vat, you just win. It’s also good against the Sun Titan decks, since you can take their Images and Sun Titans.”