One day, I was thinking about all of Red’s splashy spells that blow up the world:
Blue has a couple more that behave somewhat similarly:
Winning in the End Times
These cards can wipe out the board, but how does one turn that into a win? Somehow we need to end up with a win condition on the board after everything else goes away. Fortunately, we have lots of ways to do that.
1) Suspend a creature like Greater Gargadon before you cast your board sweeper. Then you just win with that creature, who will be wondering where everyone else went when it arrives in an empty world.
2) Have a planeswalker on the battlefield when you cast your kill spell. This deck only runs Chandra Nalaar, but Tezzeret the Seeker and Jace, the Mind Sculptor would also be fine additions. I left Jace out purely because he costs 60 tickets, but Tezzeret is a decent win condition for 6 or 7 tickets. A few of your destruction spells don’t play nicely with planeswalkers (Apocalypse, Upheaval, Sway of the Stars). That’s okay, because Chandra plays some solid defense even if she doesn’t ultimately end up being your win condition.
3) Hard cast any big creature, then exile it with Wormfang Drake. Next cast one of your big destruction spells, and your fatty will come back to a now empty plane. Initially, I also included Changeling Berserker, but these guys are hard to setup. I’ve only pulled off this trick once. Plus, you really don’t want to draw both of those guys in the same game. I left Wormfang Drake in because he still gives the deck another cool way to win.
4) Break a Rukh Egg with Wildfire, Burning of Xinye, Obliterate, or Jokulhaups. Win with 4/4 flier. I cut the similar Summoners Egg, because you only really want it if you have Obliterate or Jokulhaups. That’s because with a Wildfire, you spend two cards to do the Summoners Egg + dragon trick when you could just as easily use the dragon by itself.
5) Summon one of the deck’s phasing creatures: Sandbar Crocodile and Taniwha. Blow up the world while it’s phased out. Taniwha has that funny clause that phases out all of your lands; that is annoying, but it won’t prevent you from having mana available for a nice big spell during the turns when Taniwha is phased out, which is when you will want to destroy everything.
6) Cast Jhoira of the Ghitu, then have her suspend a creature and a Jokulhaups type spell. At that point, your opponent had better either use some counter magic or kill you in the next three turns, or it’s game over. Conveniently, Jhoira can suspend any new threats you draw in the turns leading up to The End. If you want to be sneakier about it and you have a lot of mana, then only suspend your threat(s) and hard cast the battlefield clearing spell when the time is right.
7) Cast Turn to Mist to temporarily exile a dragon at the end of your opponent’s turn. Your critter won’t come back until the start of your end step, so you can destroy the world during your main phase and start attacking on an empty board the following turn. Voyager Staff can do that, too, but I only included Turn to Mist.
8) Build up a ton of mana, then float enough to cast a board sweeper and a creature on the same turn. That won’t work with Apocalypse, and it’s a crap shoot with Sway of the Stars. It’s no problem with the rest if you manage to generate enough mana.
Here is the deck list:
(To load a .txt deck into Magic: Online’s Deck Editor, click “Load”, select “Local Text Deck”, find the location of the downloaded deck file and double-click the deck.)
This deck is worth about 105 tickets. Of that amount, about 65 tickets are tied up in the lands. That gets you all of the good dual lands for Blue-Red, which is one of the least expensive two color combinations. If you use cheap lands and take out a few multi-ticket spells (Mana Drain, Mystical Tutor, Propaganda, Chandra Nalaar), you can make a decent version of this deck for a little over 20 tickets.
â€¢ I really like Pardic Dragon in this deck. Usually it’s just a creature that never makes it onto the battlefield, but in this case the opponent will usually keep it conveniently suspended until you blow up his lands. Then it drops onto the scene just when it’s needed.
â€¢ Deep-Sea Kraken, a great finisher for this deck, arrives faster instead of slower when your opponent casts spells. Therefore, if you have a sweeper spell ready, you have to be a little careful to make sure that your Kraken doesn’t enter the battlefield before you want it to.
â€¢ Greater Gargadon has obvious synergy with board sweeping effects. Just make sure you don’t make any dumb moves, like tapping out and sacrificing everything before realizing it’s still your upkeep (I did that once) or sacrificing too many permanents and getting him onto the battlefield before you cast your sweeper spell (I did that once, too).
â€¢ Errant Ephemeron is solid. His 4/4 body is about the smallest size I want to use as my finisher. Smaller guys are too easy to burn to death, and they don’t put the opponent on a short enough clock. That’s why I left out Keldon Halberdier and Infiltrator il-Kor and a few others — I don’t want all of my hopes and dreams riding on a one toughness creature.
â€¢ Epochrasite is useful as a chump blocker that can come back to be your win condition later. His presence is one factor that makes Tezzeret the Seeker a viable win condition, should you opt to add him. After he brings out Epochrasite, Tezzeret doesn’t do much on defense, though. Add Seat of the Synod and Great Furnace if you use Tezzeret, obviously.
â€¢ Detritivore seems good in theory — it suspends, and there should be some nonbasic lands in the opponent’s graveyard after a Jokulhaups. Still, I have yet to win with this guy. The six mana you have to spend to suspend him is an issue. It’s six, not five, because you need two time counters, otherwise you can’t cast a sorcery the turn before he arrives on the battlefield.
â€¢ I left out Aeon Chronicler since I’m usually low on cards in hand when I cast an Obliterate effect, and especially when I cast Apocalypse. But I guess he’d be good with Upheaval or Sway of the Stars. And drawing cards is certainly good in this deck. He’s a creature to keep in mind.
â€¢ Spellbound Dragon is a 5 casting cost dragon that can survive Wildfire. If he becomes your post-apocalyptic champion, he can also help you dig for land while you trade your expensive spells for extra combat damage. The deck has many spells that cost 6-10 mana, so this guy can bring the pain.
â€¢ Fledgling Dragon works well with Wildfire and Burning of Xinye, because they destroy lands before dealing damage to creatures. Therefore, your dragon should be able to achieve threshold and survive the 4 damage. At four mana, Fledgling Dragon is also a good creature to have if you want to float mana and summon a critter after Jokulhaups or Upheaval.
â€¢ All told, the deck has nine big fliers that have no intrinsic ability to cheat onto the battlefield after a sweeper spell. They can still fill that role if you have the right cards to go with them (Turn to Mist, etc). But when all else fails, sometimes this deck can just drop a few big creatures in a row and catch the opponent with a shortage of removal. I chose a bunch of 6 casting cost creatures, but personal preferences can dictate which ones go into the deck.
â€¢ I omitted Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, as cool as he is. Seriously, it gives me a pang of regret to leave him out of a casual Red-Blue list that features a bunch of dragons. But I want all of my non-suspend creatures to have a fat enough butt to survive Wildfire.
You don’t want to wait around forever to cast Sway of the Stars, and nobody minds casting dragons a little early. That’s why the deck uses plenty of artifact mana and Time Spiral storage lands like Calciform Pools to help you build up. It also has some lands that you can sacrifice for two mana, like Dwarven Ruins and Ancient Spring. I’ve been very happy with those sacrifice lands, so much so that I’d consider adding Crystal Vein and/or Sulfur Vent.
Lotus Blossom is a pretty fun card for this deck. It makes it surprisingly easy to get to your magic number of mana, whatever that happens to be at the time. For this deck, that’s anywhere between 6 and 16, depending on what cards you have in hand to win with.
Card Draw / Selection
The deck includes some of your standard digging cards: Senseis Divining Top, Brainstorm, Impulse, Ponder, Fact or Fiction, Compulsive Research, and Thirst for Knowledge. Those are always welcome draws. Maybe Ancestral Visions would be smart to include as well. Drift of Phantasms is in the deck to find Jhoira of the Ghitu, but it can go for Thirst for Knowledge or Compulsive Research if you have nothing to suspend.
Mystical Tutor was an obvious inclusion, but I also considered a few other tutors that are not in the final list. Gamble would be decent, but I left it out because in many situations I’d have two different cards (win condition + sweeper spell) that I’d have to dodge when I randomly discard. Personal Tutor would be okay, but I hate the way it completely kills the surprise value of anything you search for. Long Term Plans, on the other hand, doesn’t make you reveal the card, so it might be pretty decent in this deck. I also thought about running Ethereal Usher, which gives you a choice between Jokulhaups, Wildfire, Upheaval, or a dragon.
I originally dismissed Mystical Teachings because it couldn’t find much other than [Mystical Tutor[/card] and I didn’t have Black sources. After looking at it this question again, I realize that I was wrong on both counts. Even without Badlands or Underground Sea, this deck already has eleven cards that can produce Black mana, and it gets nine more if you add the two dual lands. Teachings can search for Mystical Tutor (which would find a sweeper), counter-magic, or card draw. Those are decent options, especially when you get to do it twice. I haven’t playtested Mystical Teachings at all, but based on its obvious merits, I decided to add it to my deck list at the last minute anyway. I didn’t go so far as to add Bogardan Hellkite as a creature target, because you won’t typically need to pick a creature, and I usually prefer to draw a six mana dragon over an eight mana dragon.
If I included more tutors and less actual board sweeper spells, that could have some benefits. Let’s say I run Wildfire, Burning of Xinye, Jokulhaups, and Obliterate plus four or five tutors to find them. All of those send creatures to the graveyard, so I could run Summoners Egg and Cauldron of Souls and know that they would always work properly with my board sweeper spell. Fledgling Dragon would almost always achieve threshold. I could also run a couple more planeswalkers and be sure that my sweepers would never remove them.
Since this deck is slow out of the gate, I included a bit of defense for the early game:
Mana Drain is perfect for a deck that wants to slow down the opponent while generating enough mana to cast 6-10 mana spells. This is a 10+ ticket card that I thought about cutting out to keep the costs lower, but it’s just ridiculously good in this deck. It’s also only half as expensive as it was before the emergence of online Legacy.
Force of Will was in my initial list, but I cut it. At the time, my reasoning was that I didn’t have enough Blue cards to exile. Some things, like the suspend creatures or Upheaval, are basically off limits. That was before I added Mystical Teachings,a couple more of the cheap card sorting spells, and a couple of extra counter-magic spells, so maybe it should go back in now. Force of Will does have some obvious utility in being able to protect your creature after the board is swept clean, or in helping you to force a sweeper through opposing counter-magic. I just don’t think it’s essential, and I hope people don’t feel too irritated when they build a Blue deck that doesn’t include this one card. Remember that it doesn’t automatically go into every deck that includes Blue.
If I was primarily concerned with winning the most games possible with this deck, I’d add more counter-magic and burn spells. This deck could definitely be made more ruthless and spike-oriented. If I did that, maybe I’d make this more of a Wildfire deck than an Obliterate deck. Alas, having a high winning percentage is not my only objective, because I had a specific game plan in mind when I built the deck.
Like any deck, this one could have gone in some different directions. Here’s another set of possibilities:
My original version of this deck included White, because that color has a few cards that fit this deck really well. Baneslayer Angel, Elspeth, Knight Errant, and Gideon Jura are some powerful win conditions (only 125 tickets!). Ith, High Arcanist is a decent suspend creature. Eternal Dragon is another nice win condition that fetches land when necessary. For early game defense, you get Ghostly Prison, Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, Oust, and Condemn. Otherworldly Journey and Ghostway serve the same function as Turn to Mist. Journey to Nowhere and Oblivion Ring act mainly as removal, but they can also target your creatures to combo with Upheaval, Sway of the Stars, or Apocalypse.
Of course, White also has some board sweeping spells. Soulscour will interest anyone who thinks the deck still doesn’t have enough 10 casting cost spells to round out its mana curve. Catastrophe is a versatile card that might be worth consideration. For the ruthless sorts out there, Armageddon and Ravages of War are scary cards that this deck can make good use of. But the best, most fitting card that White can offer to this deck is Cataclysm. It’s a fun card to cast, and it’s basically better than all of the red sweepers I’m running. You can also make a flavor argument for including Cataclysm, Armageddon, and Apocalypse in the same deck.
Certainly, White has some good tools to offer. Nevertheless, I cut the deck down to two colors for the following reasons:
1) The deck doesn’t need White. The Red-Blue list can do all of the same tricks as a Red-Blue-White version.
2) Taking out White made the deck a lot cheaper, which I think made it a better deck for my article. (Am I correct about that? Do comment below.)
3) The White cards, or at least the ones that really matter, are just a bunch of tournament staples. When I’m playing casual Magic, I don’t get maximum enjoyment if all I do is beat on people with the same old power cards that everyone else uses. Those power cards made some of my wins seem cheesy. Example: drop Baneslayer Angel, cast Cataclysm the next turn and win. I don’t have a problem with people playing that type of thing in casual as long as they’re not running verbatim tournament lists. I just didn’t feel that this was what I had aimed to do with this deck. Similar logic applies to Force of Will, by the way — it’s broadly useful, but it doesn’t necessarily give me as much of a thrill in casual as, say, Spelljack or Wild Ricochet.
Anyway, feel free to try out your own Red-Blue-White version. It’s a fun take on this deck.
I played a whole bunch of games with this deck, enjoying the wins and mostly forgetting about the losses. I have no idea what my record was, but I think it was somewhere close to even. Following is a selection of the deck’s wins:
Win Log (Blue-Red)
â€¢ I put out Sandbar Crocodile and a bunch of mana generation, then cast Sway of the Stars once I get to 10 mana. My opponent takes one hit from the crocodile to go down to 1 life, but then he manages to kill it. Next I cast Sphinx of Jwar Isle out with the help of a Lotus Blossom and forced the concession. This wasn’t the only time I cast Sway of the Stars, by the way. It’s a really neat card, and I got to cast it a bunch of times, despite its hefty mana cost.
â€¢ Turn 2: suspend Pardic Dragon. Turn 6: cast Apocalypse. Opponent concedes. He had just tapped out to cast Mindslaver, so he was probably not expecting to concede at that particular time.
â€¢ I put Hellkite Charger, Quicksilver Dragon, and Shivan Dragon onto the battlefield. In a wrath fest, my opponent uses Rout, Kirtars Wrath, and Magus of the Disk to kill each of my dragons successively. Then he drops an Oversoul of Dusk, putting me on a 3-4 turn clock. For good measure, he also casts Oblivion Stone. I suspend Deep-Sea Kraken and build up storage counters and drop lands for a couple of turns. When I have eight mana, I cast Obliterate. Never bring a Wrath to an Obliterate fight. My opponent actually floats four mana for an instant speed Celestial Crusader, and that would have done me in except that I had snuck Propaganda onto the battlefield a couple of turns earlier. We wait a few turns for my Kraken to be released, and it goes the distance.
â€¢ Playing against a multicolor Rock style Control deck, I put out a couple of threats (Spellbound Dragon, Deep-Sea Kraken), and my opponent kills them both. Eventually I build up enough mana to suspend Pardic Dragon and then cast Sway of the Stars the following turn for the win. You know, one nice thing about this deck is that the opponent isn’t typically forced to endure a long series of turns during which he knows the game is lost. Instead, it’s an interesting game until the very end, when I pull the rug out from under you. Not that it’s delightful to lose that way, but I’d take that fate over an agonizingly slow and certain loss to dedicated Permission deck.
â€¢ I stall a bit early on with Memory Lapse, Mana Leak, and Epochrasite. Then I suspend Deep-Sea Kraken and Greater Gargadon. I wait for six mana, then use Mystical Tutor to find Jokulhaups for the win.
â€¢ I try casting Jokulhaups with Deep-Sea Kraken suspended, but the opponent counters it. I eventually get Shivan Dragon and Hellkite Charger onto the battlefield while my opponent is busy drawing cards and making other mischief (Future Sight, Back to Basics, Jace Beleren). My opponent gets Meloku the Clouded Mirror out with two lands untapped, but I force the concession when I buy a second attack phase with Hellkite Charger. He could have chump blocked with everything and gone down to 1 life, but he must have had a limited ability to deal with two dragons with his mostly Blue deck.
â€¢ Against a mono-Green deck, I drew Jhoira of the Ghitu + Keiga, the Tide Star + Apocalypse. On Turn 5, I cast Jhoira and suspend Keiga. Then I wait around for a couple of turns in hopes of another threat to suspend, but the opponent is attacking with Manaplasm, which stings, and he soon puts Loxodon Warhammer onto the battlefield. I’m drawing blanks, so I just cast my Apocalypse and the opponent concedes. It’s important to wait as long as you can with Apocalypse, because you want your opponent to use up as many lands and threats as possible before you are forced to discard your hand.
â€¢ My opponent casts Searing Meditation and Sakura-Tribe Elder early on, then puts out Behemoth Sledge. I cast Chandra Nalaar and kill the elder, hoping to get my first planeswalker win. Then the opponent he uses Lightning Bolt and Banefire to kill Chandra, so it’s onto Plan B: I suspend Errant Ephemeron and cast Taniwha. The following turn, I Obliterate everything (except [card]Searing Meditation[card]) with help from an Invasion block sac-land. Next turn, I have two sizable creatures to his lone enchantment, and my opponent concedes.
I found this to be a satisfying product of my efforts to build neat casual 100 Card Singleton decks. It uses a unique strategy, it’s reasonably cheap to build, it can be adapted to one’s personal preferences in a variety of interesting ways, and it feels at home in the casual room. I think it’s a deck that’s fun to play with and against, despite its use of mass land destruction, which doesn’t become relevant until the end game anyway.
I hope you enjoyed the deck! I always enjoy hearing your thoughts or suggestions.