Trying to ignite your creative spark and looking for some inspiration? Here’s two funky decks I’ve been working on. Leaning on the approach discussed in the guide, we’ll walk through what makes these decks a blast to play.
1. Operation Death Strike – Queen Marchesa
Looking at Marchesa, you may assume this deck follows the standard build of generating card advantage and attacking people, but you may be pleasantly surprised by checking out this tech.
2. Abzan Humans – Reyhan, Last of The Abzan and Tymna, the Weaver
Stemming from my love of Hardened Scales (and the general dislike of Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice at casual tables) I built a deck around it. To spice it up I added a Human tribal theme, and came up with a really versatile deck.
Operation Death Strike – Queen Marchesa (Decklist)
Operation Death Strike – Bryan Smith
This deck aims to get out a bunch of creatures with First Strike and Deathtouch, and control the board with attacks and blocks. Featuring a strong ramp package (yes in Mardu) and great creature removal, it’s easy to get ahead on card advantage and maintain the Monarch. Opponents having the Monarch is something we want, as Marchesa will generate a Deathtouch Assassin, and we just need to give them First Strike. With our opponents generating card advantage we can sneakily control the extra creatures they’re playing and then finish the game with a Rise of the Dark Realms or Revel in Riches.
First strike + Deathtouch [14 + 2 Lands]
Since Marchesa and her tokens have Deathtouch already, our largest priority is granting First Strike, Odrich Lunarc Marshall helps with this which allows us to run an additional small suite of Deathtouch creatures just incase Marchesa isn’t in play. Advance Scout, Archetype of Courage, Valor and Knighthood grant our creatures First Strike, and Archetype of Finality grants them Deathtouch. Thalia Guardian of Thraben and Thalia, Heretic Cathar slow our opponents down just enough to win us some extra tempo. For some extra threats we have Gonti, Lord of Luxury, Master of Cruelties and Virtus the Veiled.
Creature Buffs 
Our creatures can go a bit further when we’re able give them some extra keywords. Why not add in Double Strike, Haste, Flying, Vigilance, and Indestructible? Gisela, Blade of Goldnight doubles damage (quadrupling Double Strike) and has Flying and First Strike — fantastic if Odric’s on-board. True Conviction, Anger, Gryff’s Boon, Eldrazi Monument, Quietus Spike, Elbrus, the Binding Blade, Fire Whip and Power of Fire makes removal easy while also adding pressure.
Draw/Tutors/Recursion [12 + 4 Land]
Strong draw spells in black like Read the Bones and Syphon Mind help keep our hand healthy, but we get an interesting refresh in Mardu with Heartwarming Redemption. Buried Alive can put Valor and Anger in the graveyard, which is great even if you only hit one (careful not to get juked by Bojuka Bog). Plea for Guidance is a house with 17 targets across our themes, ramp, removal and card advantage via Anointed Procession. Sun Titan, Rise of the Dark Realms and Victimize make up our very small recursion package.
Ramp [12 + 3 Lands]
Leveraging signets and a Treasure-heavy ramp package, having tonnes of mana available to recast Marchesa is a piece of cake. Smothering Tithe is busted, and Revel in Riches, Curse of Opulence (technically Gold) and Brass’s Bounty provide a steady stream of wealth. Oath of Lieges and Trove of Temptation are two enchantments that help us get more mana, putting basics into play for all players and baiting attacks into our Deathtouch wall.
Removal [11 + 2 Creature Buffs]
Balduvian Warlord, Jeska, Warrior Adept and Brutal Hordechief give us some control over the battlefield with creatures on board, and Sorin, Solemn Visitor helps us stick around for the longer games. With four single target removal spells (Profane Procession, Swords to Plowshares, Oblation, Declaration In Stone) and only three wraths (Rout, Merciless Eviction and Dusk // Dawn) we’re a little soft on targets.
Land (Budget) 
Based on the formula presented in my guide, for an avg converted-mana-cost (CMC) of 3.62, we should need 38 lands. 38 is quite high, so I would recommend using your judgement — I’ve dropped the count down to 35 keeping in mind we have the extra support from treasures. Our distribution of card costs (devotion) and mana producers is below. We should have one white source by turn two in 91 per cent of games, and red/black by roughly turn four (~94 per cent).
Since treasures provide a lot of fixing and Oath of Lieges is best with a bunch of basics, the mana base for this list is quite cheap. This list runs four lands that produce three colours, three Boros, four Orzhov, five Rakdos dual coloured lands, 15 basics and four utility lands. We use the full suite of Bounce lands and Scry lands, along with Hall of Heliod’s Generosity, and Vault of the Archangel to get us some extra distance.
Featured Line of Play
After a while opponents won’t attack into the wall of death, so finding a work around is key. Giving Jeska, Warrior Adept Deathtouch or enchanting Marchesa with Power of Fire gives us repeatable targeted removal that we can use at instant speed. Machine gun time.
Abzan Humans – Reyhan, Last of the Abzan and Tymna, the Weaver
Abzan Humans – Bryan Smith
This deck wants to play Humans and make them huge with +1/+1 counters. There are a lot of neat interactions between cards in this list and there’s a lot of re-buildability with the variety of archetypes that exist within the Human tribe. Reyhan, Last of the Abzan is one of the key pieces, keeping counters in play after our creatures die. I’ve run variations of this list that are more control heavy or more combo heavy, leaning in on sacrificing creatures with +1/+1s on them to a Cartel Aristocrat when a Doubling Season effect is in play for a protection from all colours — but the current list is go wide and tall, with the recursion suite supporting against standard removal and consistent wraths.
Dropping +1/+1s [13 + 2 Lands + 1 Draw/Removal + 1 Wincon]
We want to drop lots of +1/+1 counters, and there are quite a few humans who help with this agenda: Juniper Order Ranger, Metallic Mimic, Anafenza, the Foremost, Thalia’s Lieutenant, Mikaeus, the Lunarch, Deranged Outcast, Obsessive Skinner and another incarnation of Reyhan in Dragonscale General (the Game Day promo has a striking similarity).
Extra Counters 
Here we use the standard scales package (Hardened Scales, Winding Constrictor, Corpsejack Menace and Doubling Season). Looking at humans specifically, we have two great additions in Pir, Imaginative Rascal and Teysa Karlov (who acts as a Doubling Season for Reyhan triggers). These are some of the interactions that made me want to take the deck in the direction of Humans.
Recursion & Protection 
In terms of resurrecting the dead, we have some protection in the form of Dauntless Bodyguard, Saffi Eriksdotter, Together Forever and Athreos, God of Passage by bringing creatures back to play or returning to our hand (which works well with low CMC humans). Pulsemage Advocate, Meren of Clan Nel Toth, Eternal Witness, Karmic Guide and Rally the Ancestors bring them back into play from the graveyard.
Win Condition 
Our primary strategy is to assemble an Overrun type of effect with a board of small Humans that have been scaled. Tuskguard Captain, Abzan Falconer, Champion of Lambholt, Elite Scaleguard and Dragon Throne of Tarkir can ensure we get in for damage. Zulaport Cutthroat and Cartel Aristocrat can pull out some surprise wins if they remain on the board unanswered.
Draw/Tutors [12 + 4 Lands + 1 Wincon + 1 Removal]
We have a lot of spells to help us dig towards our synergies, but don’t underestimate the throughput on Tymna, the Weaver — drawing an additional one or two cards a turn adds up. Mentor of the Meek, Grim Haruspex and Tireless Tracker are great on-theme draw engines as well. Guardian Project, Herald’s Horn, Harmonize and Inspiring Call fill out our draw with some added bonuses. Recruiter of the Guard, Eladamri’s Call, Enlightened Tutor and Demonic Tutor act as wildcards, letting us search for what we need in the moment. Some key tutor targets would be the aforementioned card advantage creatures, or additional ramp creatures to help with our mana in the early game.
Ramp [5 + 3 Lands + 1 Draw]
This deck is very light on ramp, with only five sources from spells that aren’t multi-category. Based on the guide we should be on 15 sources, so why so few ramp spells? The biggest reason is that the ramp spells we do have are repeatable and we often draw into plenty of lands with Tymna, the Weaver. With all of the low CMC Humans, we have a very efficient ramp engine in Karametra, God of Harvests.
With five single target removal spells and three wraths, we should have sufficient answers to threats at key moments. Abzan Charm is an excellent fit for the deck, placing counters, drawing cards or exiling a big creature. Abrupt Decay, Despark, Anguished Unmaking and Utter End can disassemble win-cons all at instant speed. Duneblast, Austere Command and Winds of Abandon round out our wraths, lending some flexibility and opening the board up for a win from our humans. The fact is these are just some of the best colours for removal. So, even though we’re a creature deck, we have no problem dealing with sticky threats.
Land (Non-Budget) 
With an average CMC of 4.86, based on our formula, we’ll want 42 lands, but that’s way too many. Since ~36 gives us a stable base well want to be closer to that, but we should have some extra to accommodate Knight of the Reliquary changing our Forests and Plains into whatever we need.
This list has great coverage across our three colours, hitting some high consistencies. We should have green or white by turn one 91 per cent of the time, and black by turn two ~91 per cent of the time. Even though our devotion is skewed more towards white, the Mana base is heavier in green to accommodate early ramp plays or an early Hardened Scales. We have nine lands that create three colors, four Orzhov, six Selesnya, and six Golgari dual coloured lands. Since this is a non-budget list, we have four fetches, three shocks, three scry lands and three bounce lands. For utility, we have Karn’s Bastion and Gavony Township to spread the counter love.
Featured Line of Play
One of my favourite lines of play with this deck is removing an opponent from the game with an unassuming board state. As long as we have a few creatures with +1/+1s, a sac outlet, an extra counter effect and Reyhan in play we can swing with the crew and sac the blocked creatures to move our counters to the creatures that get through.
There we have it, two unique decks. Hopefully you’ve found some new tech you want to try out or some motivation to build. What’s the craziest deck idea you can come up with? Post it in the comments below!