Saturday, February 13, 2016

Death's Shadow Lunge

Starting out as a Standard format deck for the Zendikar and Scars of Mirrodin blocks, Death's Shadow Lunge leverages the life payments from Phyrexian mana to grow Death's Shadow large enough to end the game in a single strike.

Death's Shadow Lunge is naturally strong against one and two color aggressive decks, using the damage taken to gain momentum and bypassing blockers with Apostle's Blessing. It has an advantage against decks utilizing discard, due to it's low mana curve and Postmortem Lunge. Noxious Revival and Surgical Extraction give it defensive options against decks using the graveyard.

4x Death's Shadow 4x Kiln Fiend 4x Surgical Extraction 4x Apostle's Blessing 4x Tainted Strike 4x Mutagenic Growth 4x Noxious Revival 4x Assault Strobe 4x Gitaxian Probe 4x Postmortem Lunge 4x Duress 6x Swamp 6x Mountain 4x Quicksand

Gameplay Notes

An ideal starting hand would comprise of two lands, and either a Death's Shadow or Kiln Fiend. Past that, Gitaxian ProbeTainted Strike, and Assault Strobe are your most valuable cards to have in hand. Against control decks, DuressPostmortem Lunge, and Surgical Extraction become more important. Quicksand and Apostle's Blessing work better against creature-heavy decks.

It's also important to note that as a deck derived from the suicide black playstyle, defense is a low priority for this deck.The only life point that matters is the last one.

Card Breakdown

  • Death's Shadow - Death's Shadow acts as the main offensive threat in this deck. With Tainted Strike and Assault Strobe, it only needs a very reachable 10 power to kill an opponent with one shot.
    Against decks that have little or no graveyard removal, Death's Shadow can be cast early to set up in the graveyard for Postmortem Lunge.

  • Kiln Fiend - Kiln Fiend is the other win condition with this deck. With the low mana curve of this deck, turn three kills aren't too uncommon.

  • Surgical Extraction - Surgical Extraction removes threats from the opponent's graveyard, hand, and library. It also makes for a very effective scouting tool and synergizes well with Duress and Gitaxian Probe.

  • Apostle's Blessing - Apostle's Blessing serves as protection against removal while also clearing a path for either of the win conditions.

  • Tainted Strike - In this deck, Tainted Strike effectively halves the power threshold needed for lethal damage at instant speed for one mana.

  • Mutagenic Growth - Mutagenic Growth does exactly what it's designed to do in the deck, but also manages to pull double duty. Casting a Mutagenic Growth with a Death's Shadow on the field will effectively give it a permanent +2/+2, as well as +2/+2 until the end of the turn. With Kiln Fiend, the total bonus ends up being +5/+2 for a 0-mana investment.

  • Noxious Revival -  When played in response to Noxious Revival, it can tutor up any card in the graveyard while helping to fix your life total for Death's Shadow. Even without its synergy, it provides a delayed tutor and life cost, as well as the potential for both giving and protecting from graveyard hate.

  • Assault Strobe - Assault Strobe effectively halves the power threshold needed for lethal damage by giving a creature double strike until end of turn. Usually, this or Tainted Strike will be the last spell played in a game.

  • Postmortem Lunge - This card helps to ensure Death's Shadow has a way around counters and removal. Bringing back a huge Death's Shadow with haste will usually make for an effective last ditch attack.

  • Duress - Combined with Surgical Extraction, this makes for the strongest defensive option this deck offers.A first turn Duress into Surgical Extraction often ensures that your threat goes unchallenged.

  • Quicksand - Quicksand acts as both a mana source and an early source of removal against early rushes. It can be taken out for other lands, but I prefer it due to the low life total that the deck works with.

  • Vendetta - Vendetta can be slotted in instead of Duress if you play in an aggro-heavy meta. Against metas with lot of control decks or variety, Duress makes a safer option.

  • Street Wraith - Street Wraith can be used instead of Noxious Revival, trading graveyard recursion for card draw. The body will rarely come into play; due to the low mana curve of the deck.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Blink Brigade

Praise the Sun!

Blink Brigade is a white and blue mid-range deck that relies on having an abundance of Oblivion Ring-like effects to both take advantage of comes into play triggers and clear threats off of the field. Sun Titan acts as a finisher and cornerstone to this deck, with the majority of the deck acting as a toolbox for Sun Titan.

4x Sun Titan 4x Fiend Hunter 4x Leonin Relic-warder 4x Phyrexian Metamorph 4x Phantasmal Image 4x Flickerwisp 4x Suture Priest 4x Oblivion Ring 4x Pacifism 12x Plains 4x Island 4x Evolving Wilds 2x Ghost Quarter 2x Quicksand

Gameplay Notes

Leonin Relic-warderPhyrexian Metamorph, and Suture Priest combo together to give you infinite life.
Here's how it works
  1. Cast Phyrexian Metamorph targeting Leonin Relic-Warder with both it and Suture Priest on the field.
  2. Gain 1 life from Suture Priest
  3. Have Phyrexian Metamorph remove itself with it's shiny new enters the battlerfield ability as Leonin-Relic-warder
  4. Return Phyrexian Metamorph from exile as Leonin Relic-warder, using it's leaves play trigger, effectively returning to step two. Repeat as many times as deemed necessary or until interrupted.

Three Fiend Hunter and a Suture Priest can combo together to give you infinite life.
Here's how it works
  1. Cast Fiend Hunter1, targeting anything.
  2. Cast Fiend Hunter2, targeting Fiend Hunter1. Keep in mind this will also bring whatever Fiend Hunter1exiled back to the battlefield.
  3. Make sure to have a Suture Priest on the field.
  4. Cast Fiend Hunter3, then target Fiend Hunter2 with it's enter the battlefield ability.This will return Fiend Hunterto the battlefield. Gain 2 life from Suture Priest.
  5. Use Fiend Hunter1's enter the battlefield trigger to exile Fiend Hunter3. This will return Fiend Hunter2 to the battlefield. Gain 1 life from Suture Priest.
  6. Use Fiend Hunter2's enter the battlefield trigger to exile Fiend Hunter1. This will return Fiend Hunter3 to the battlefield. Gain 1 life from Suture Priest.
  7. Use Fiend Hunter3's enter the battlefield trigger to exile Fiend Hunter2. This will return Fiend Hunter1 to the battlefield. Gain 1 life from Suture Priest. Return to step 5 as needed or until interupted by an opponent.
Flickerwisp can chain with another Flickerwisp or Phyrexian Metamorph to have a Flickerwisp coming into play every turn.
This works even better with a Flickerwisp and a Phyrexian Metamorph. Bonuses include being a bouncing threat to any legendary creature and having the ability to swing with the opponent's big guy before he can.
Here's how it works.
  1. Cast Flickerwisp, flickering anything.
  2. Cast Phyrexian Metamorph, copying Flickerwisp. Flicker Flickerwisp.
  3. End of turn, Flickerwisp returns. use it's enter the battlefield trigger to flicker Phyrexian Metamorph.
  4. End of next turn, Phyrexian Metamorph returns. Enter as Flickerwisp if you want to continue the chain, otherwise copy another creature.
Sun Titan can call up a chain of one or more Phantasmal Image in the graveyard upon entering the battlefield.
This adds a lot of reach in the late game, and can be anywhere from a +6 to a +24 difference in power per casting of Sun Titan.

Pacifism only targets when cast. Only Protection can keep it off a creature if it was otherwise brought in.
This is especially useful against creatures with shroud and hexproof.

Card Breakdown

  • Sun Titan - Centerpiece and main offensive threat for the deck. At 6 converted mana cost, he tops out our curve and bulk with a 6/6 body. Either by himself or coupled with Phantasmal Image, he makes an excellent cleaner late game. His comes into play effect is especially useful for pulling up targeted removal or combo pieces.

  • Fiend Hunter - Fiend Hunter offers a nice defensive 1/3 bulk and situational removal for a well priced 3 converted mana cost. With three of these and a Suture Priest, it's possible to create an infinite life scenario.

  • Leonin Relic-warder - Leonin Relic-warder's biggest draw is being able to make an artifact or enchantment go away while sticking a body on the field. Makes for a decent early attacker or defender due to his bear-like physique. He really shines when on the field with a Phyrexian Metamorph.

  • Phyrexian Metamorph - One of two shapeshifters in this deck. It's biggest use in the deck is it's role in a combo with Leonin Relic-warder and Suture Priest for infinite life. Phyrexian Metamorph has great synergy with Flickerwisp as well, allowing you to bring a creature into play every turn, and the potential to copy and swing with your opponent's fatty before he can.

  • Phantasmal Image - The other of the two shapeshifters. Makes for great early game defense against whatever your opponent may throw at you creature-wise. The best part about it is the low cost of two converted mana cost, which allows Sun Titan to raise it as a copy of itself.

  • Flickerwisp - As a 3/1 flyer for three converted mana cost, Flickerwisp has great offensive body for the early to mid game. It has some pretty nice tricks, especially when used with Phyrexian Metamorph. It can also be brought back by a Sun Titan as a way to double it's enter the battlefield effect.

  • Suture Priest - A 1/1 body for two converted mana cost isn't very impressive, but Suture Priest's two abilities more than make up for it. The Soul's Attendant style life gain is nice, and has a large impact on early game survival. The lifeloss inflicted on opponents is just as nice, adding injury upon insult as the opponent's creatures are brought back in from exile. Suture Priest's lifegain capabilities can be taken to infinite levels though use of a combo of it and Leonin Relic-warder and Phyrexian Metamorph, or it and three Fiend Hunter.
    Soul's Attendant and Soul Warden make good replacements for Suture Priest based on personal preference or availability.

  • Oblivion Ring - Being a staple in the game since Lorwyn came out, Oblivion Ring makes itself useful in almost every situation that comes up. Even better, it works well with Sun Titan.

  • Pacifism - Pacifism makes for good psuedo-removal throughout the game, and gains extra utility through Sun Titan and Leonin Relic-warder in being able to attach itself to creatures with shroud and hexproof upon returning from either the graveyard or exile.

  • Ghost Quarter - Ghost Quarter excels at being efficient land removal or filtering, while keeping a distance from the less budget and casual-friendly Wasteland and Strip Mine. It can also be brought back with Sun Titan.

  • Quicksand - Quicksand makes for a great early game roadblock against more aggressive decks. If you end up needing more mana or extra situational removal, Sun Titan can return it from the graveyard.