Magic: The Gathering is supposed to be fun, right? We play the game because we enjoy it, we derive pleasure from some aspect of it. Some of us like to win, some like to assemble absurd combos, some just want to put huge creatures into play. No matter what though, we all like being able to play our spells. Some of us would even prefer to beat an opponent who is an active participant than one who is mana screwed or being kept from casting their spells. It’s the reason Thoughtseize is the card you love to hate, the reason you feel bad when your opponent keeps a two-lander and loses with those two lands in play.
Normally that’s me. I’m only human though, and every now and then I see a deck idea that is so far on the opposite end of the spectrum that it is specifically designed to make people hate their lives…and I cannot resist the temptation. I just…have to.
Rack ‘Em Up
I remember looking at Eight-Rack when it first became a thing, and wondering how it beat GW Little Kid decks with Smiter and Wilt-Leaf Liege, but also how it ever beat a top deck. When a huge chunk of your deck becomes dead after turn 3 or 4 or you’re weak to Birthing Pod in a format where Birthing Pod is the key to two of the top 3 decks…yeah, I am not playing that deck.
What if we could make the deck in such a way that we could not only BEAT the top of the deck, but also make sure that nothing there was a concern? What if we got to play a bunch of horrible cards designed to do nothing but make your opponent long for the game to be over, and yet feel like they cannot possibly concede to the assemblage of unfiltered jank on your side of the board? If that appeals to you, then boy are you in the right place.
Our deck takes inspiration from Eight-Rack in that we have as many as 8 discard spells. The reason for that will become clear shortly. Since we plan to be keeping our hand empty, we’re also going to run Ensnaring Bridge to keep creatures off our backs. The similarities with Eight-Rack end there, however.
Getting Some Insight
We need to beat the top of the deck, which can be challenging. What if we can not only see what’s there but also control what the opponent is able to draw? This is where the assemblage of unfiltered jank comes into it: we’re going to play not only Lantern of Insight, but also Ghoulcaller’s Bell, Pyxis of Pandemonium, Codex Shredder and Altar of the Brood. In addition to controlling what our opponent is allowed to draw, these cards also serve as a win condition for us. Yes, we plan to win by selectively milling our opponent. One. Card. At. A. Time. And during that time, we will be making sure our hapless victim is allowed to do absolutely nothing of consequence. Ever.
Here’s a potential list:
A couple of versions of the deck will eschew other win conditions, but I really like having both flavours of Tezzeret to not only win the game but also help us find our pieces and toolbox artifacts to shut the opponent down. Gaea’s Blessing is some Lansdell tech, a throwback to when I first started playing. I would not be surprised if Andrew Cuneo played the control decks that were around that ran only 2 Gaea’s Blessing as a win condition. It might be unnecessary here, more testing is required on that front. Ensnaring Bridge is the real powerhouse in the deck, but I accept that we might want more lands with a 5-drop in the deck in order to maximise the Bridge. Infernal Tutors are very important to the build, allowing us to go get a Bridge or Lantern of Insight as required. Lantern is the other key card, perhaps the biggest key to the deck, and if I were to add anything it would be Trinket Mage to make sure we could find it. Artificer’s Intuition is another possibility.
Altar of the Brood is the most recent addition to the deck and the one that made me finally want to try it. We can keep up fetchlands to mill at instant speed fairly easily, and with all the low drops we can really plow through their library. Be careful against Tron of course, that can undo all your hard work in a real hurry.
A friend of mine played this deck recently and when I spoke with him about it, he mentioned we are a little weak to burn, hence the Leylines and Sun Droplets in the board. Whirlpool Whelm is something I am trying out, being able to control the top of the opponent’s deck works well with clash and being able to put a creature on top so we can mill it also seems powerful.
This is strictly an FNM deck, if for no other reason than it’s way too slow and durdly to take to a real tournament. It also requires a fairly high degree of setup, but the reward for that setup is very high. Be warned: you will get frustrated playing this, and your opponents will spend their turns fashioning crude effigies of you and using their pens to try and poke out your eyes using said effigy. But you’re getting the last laugh. Why?
Well, they just lost to Codex Shredder.