Deck Attack

Do you ever feel that you use the same cards too much in your deck-building? When I build hundreds and hundreds of decks for these articles, I sometimes worry about using the same cards too much. Well, not today!

Today, I want to build some decks but without the normal cards I rely on. That means no Wall of Blossoms, no Harmonize, no Swords to Plowshares, no Tidings, no Murder, and so forth. It’s just going to be new cards for the decks (this does not include nonbasic lands included solely for mana—I don’t want to hose my mana base)

Deck 1 –

Palisade Giant
This deck began to irritate me when I could not add Indomitable Ancients and Commander Eesha, which are some of my usual suspects for this sort of deck. Similarly, no copies of Stuffy Doll, Darksteel Sentinel, Cho-Manno, Revolutionary, Dawn Elemental, or Beloved Chaplain appear. I can’t even use Spirit Mirror, Maze of Ith, or Kor Haven. Therefore, I included Pentagram of the Ages. I really had to dig deep on this one!

I began this deck with Palisade Giant and then went into odd directions. I wound up with a deck that tries to prevent all damage via the Giant, the Guards, and equipping them with ways to prevent the damage. Examples include Magebane Armor, General's Kabuto, and Unquestioned Authority.

Once I’ve stalled the game with these creatures and Auras/Equipment, the next place I went was to find ways to win from a stalemated board. The first place that struck me was to attack by shadow. I included a set of Soltari Crusaders to swing on that flank. This is a flank that is usually exposed to others, so you can hammer it hard. Feel free to pump your usually-unblockable Crusader to death-dealing heights. The other kill card is Whispersilk Cloak. You can give one of your creatures shroud to protect it from targeted removal and then swing unblockably for serious damage. Both are highly useful choices for smashing face.

Razor Hippogriff
After that, I looked at ways of helping the team. I knew the major weakness of this deck was to mass removal that was not damage-based. The Giant would prevent things like Earthquake from taking the team out. But a simple Damnation or Phyrexian Rebirth would end the cheering of the stadium here. I tossed in a pair of Resurrections to recur key creatures. I knew that a clever foe could kill a Palisade Giant or Guard by redirecting the damage and—while that is on the stack—Naturalizing the Equipment to kill my dude. This fights that as well. Plus, Emeria, the Sky Ruin is here to bring back dead creatures over time as well as to contest any mass removal that is flung about. I even included Razor Hippogriff to recur not creatures, but useful artifacts. We have three major pieces of Equipment that want to be returned.

With the Hippogriff in the deck, I pulled my Solemn Offerings for Dispeller's Capsules. Now I can return a Disenchant if it’s needed. I had space for a handful of cards. In addition to the Pentagram of the Ages for a bit of Abe-protection, I also decided that Ghosts of the Innocent would fit nicely. They give me a great option for a Whispersilk Cloak, and they help to keep my team alive if the Equipment is destroyed. Finally, I rounded out my deck with Tormod's Crypt. There are a lot of tricks that harness the graveyard in Casual Land, and they can give you a way to fight that. Even this deck would not like to be Crypted.

The result of this deck was to begin with a random card from Return to Ravnica, which sparked something, letting us wind up with an odd, but interesting deck for your next Magic night.

Deck 2 –

Soul of the Harvest
Some of the final cards removed from the deck included Harrowing Journey, Mulch, Army of the Damned, and Grave Betrayal.

At first, I just wanted to build a Standard-legal Golgari control deck that didn’t use cards such as Seek the Horizon or Murder. By the end, I had morphed the idea of my deck a bit to include a strong graveyard theme. Both Innistrad and the Golgari guild have powerful graveyard themes, and it was hard to ignore that when making this deck!

I began with some good creatures, such as Harvester of Souls and Soul of the Harvest. Both have nice bodies for later and powerful card-drawing potential for you. Joining them was Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, who similarly has a strong board presence. These were key powerhouses in the deck to build around.

Eventually, I decided to run the graveyard-oriented creatures. First, we have Deadbridge Goliath, a nicely sized 5/5 that comes down before all of the expensive creatures and swings for a lot. Its vanilla nature means it might stumble into some Walls or Saproling tokens for a while before finding the end zone, but it has a strong board presence. Then, add the useful Splinterfright, who not only mills the deck, but also rises in power as creatures turn into graveyard food. Breaking that is a full slate of Kessig Cagebreakers. When they attack, they will spit out a ton of 2/2 dorks for free. It won’t take long to overwhelm a defense that way. Finally, Jarad himself joins the club, happy to give his various abilities to the cause.

Jarad's Orders
Since I have this engine here, I added Spider Spawning to take advantage and churn out even more dudes. To fill up the graveyard, I included many options. First of all, Jarad's Orders will tutor a creature for my hand and another for my graveyard. That’s a nice touch. Second, I included a full slate of Grisly Salvage. Early, you can use it to find lands to ensure land drops. Later, you can find creatures to smash. In both cases, more fodder enters the ’yard.

With all of this graveyard love, I felt that both Rise from the Grave and Creeping Renaissance fit the bill perfectly. Both allow me to recur dead and gone cards of various sorts for another go. In fact, I fear that this deck might blow through the library too quickly in some cases, so be careful. Remember that you can scavenge the Goliath for a giant boost to a guy in play if needed. I added Grim Backwoods to add another card-drawing method to the deck, since few were in here. Finally, Vraska the Unseen supplanted my removal since she can take out anything, and she became another supplement to the controlling nature of this thing. The result is a deck that harnesses the graveyard for a lot of power.

Deck 3 –

Voice of the Woods
This deck was inspired when I saw Voice of the Woods while analyzing Eyes in the Skies for last week’s article, and I realized it would be really nifty in a world of populating Elves. Cards from Lorwyn block came to mind, and this little number was the result. I don’t build Elf decks very often in my column, so all of these cards were up for bids. As long as I stayed clear of Harmonize, Hunter's Insight, and similar cards, this deck would be fine.

With Voice of the Woods in here to make giant Elementals to populate, I need a lot of Elves. Elf decks have a lot of options, but I wanted to focus on making Elf tokens. By looking at making Elf tokens, I could feed into populate more in case I didn’t have an Elemental out when I populated. Imperious Perfect was great because not only did it give me a lord, but it also allowed me to make an Elf token each turn for just a mana and a tap. Don’t forget Elvish Promenade, which is a perfect fit for this deck.

After that, in went Elf enablers. Immaculate Magistrate, Wellwisher, and Priest of Titania are the obvious choices. All Elf decks need these guys in some number. You can tap for a ton of life, to permanently amp a creature, and to produce a bunch of mana. I also added the required four-set of Wirewood Lodge to untap these guys.

Grove of the Guardian
Birchlore Rangers seemed like a nice fit. They give me a 1-drop, they add to my Elf density for all of the above cards, and they tap my many Elves for mana. Plus, they can make white mana in case I dice on any of those populate or token-making cards.

Rhys the Redeemed basically gives this deck a backup plan in case the populating Elementals stagnate. Just duplicate all of your tokens over and again, overwhelming any defense. This would be a good deck for Doubling Season, but I do use it a lot already, so I am steering clear of it here for more Elf-centric cards.

Grove of the Guardian entered the picture to make a dude. Use a Birchlore Rangers to make the white mana for the sacrifice. I also included some land to assist in this manner.

For populating, I am running both Sundering Growth and Growing Ranks. One suits quite nicely as a Naturalize effect that also keeps the tokens coming. The other gives a populate every turn for no extra mana. These enabled me to stay away from cards that use white, such as Trostani, Selesnya's Voice and Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage.


I hadn’t intended to do two guild-themed decks for today’s article, but they just happened. Sometimes, you just go where the cards are. As with all of my deck projects, feel encouraged to modify these decks for your collection, metagame, and preferences.

See you next week,
Abe Sargent