Magic 2013 Decks

Decks are the lifeblood of our hobby. Sure, we can have articles about playing the game, buying cards, or various formats, but it all comes down to deckage. Whenever a new set comes out, I join the rest of Magicdom in salivating. It’s time to build some decks!

All of these decks are inspired by new cards from Magic 2013.

I saw the double Soul Warden ability of Healer of the Pride, and I thought about how good that would be with Avacyn Restored’s flicker theme for white. So I decided to combine them. We have the key cards from AR for that theme combined with some good Magic 2013 cards and then rounded the deck out by a few older cards to spice this soufflé up.

Cathars' Crusade
The most important card in the deck is the only card that is neither a creature nor a land: Cathars' Crusade. Whenever a creature enters the battlefield (ETBs) under your control, the entire team grows permanently. Note that this works with flickering and even token creatures—everything triggers it. With this many creatures and token-makers in the deck, the Crusade is going to rule the school.

We have eight flicker and bounce creatures. Restoration Angel is great because she has flash and a cheap cost and she’s just a flicker. Therefore, you don’t tie down any mana to replay a creature. Then we have Whitemane Lion, a 2-drop from Planar Chaos. It also has flash and a cheap cost. When it arrives at the battlefield, you can bounce any of your creatures. Bounce something with a nice trigger or you can even bounce the Lion and play it again and again, triggering things such as Healer of the Pride and Cathars' Crusade. Finally, we have Emancipation Angel. I wanted a bit more flying, and the replay of certain creatures is enough to warrant serious power in this deck.

Goldnight Commander is another good engine that will trigger when a creature joins your team. Sure, it only pumps temporarily, but it can still give your squad some gas prior to combat. Just dropping a simple Attended Knight prior to combat will give all of your creatures+2/+2 from one Commander.

Then I wanted some creatures with ETB abilities that suited the deck. Attended Knight is a new card from Magic 2013, and it’s a powerful common. For an investment of 3 mana, you produce a 2/2 with first strike and a 1/1 Soldier token. All of the trigger engines in this deck work on token creatures as well, so you net two triggers from this 3-drop.

Cloudgoat Ranger
Another token-maker to make the cut is Cloudgoat Ranger, who brings three 1/1 friends with him when he joins the table. You can see how powerful a four set of triggers is with just Healer of the Pride out—you gain 8 life. Then add in a Crusade, and all of your creatures add four +1/+1 counters. One final token-maker is Springjack Shepherd. There are only two of them in the deck, and they might make just 0/1 Goats, but the potential to make five or seven Goats can push your deck over the edge. Imagine a Crusade trigger with a Shepherd and a full board.

Wall of Omens spoke to me as a good adjunct to the deck. This isn’t the sort of the deck that wants a 0/4 defender on the second turn to protect itself. But this is a deck that wants to draw cards, and bouncing or flicking the Wall can push you over the edge. War Priest of Thune is good on the mana curve as a nice aggressive creature, and it blows up nasty enchantments. It’s a may ability, so you won’t accidentally blow up a Crusade of your own. You can reuse it if needed.

The final touch was a pair of Reveillarks. Note that they trigger when they leave play and not when they die. If you bounce or flicker one, it still triggers. You can recur a Commander, Knight, War Priest, Wall, Shepherd, Lion, or Healer. Recurring two from that list is quite powerful.

This deck uses fun cards to push self-bounce and self-flickering to a fun place. Most of the cards are new, and those that aren’t can be replaced with others. Feel free to match this deck to your own collection.


This deck is built around Krenko, Mob Boss, one of the new powerful legendary creatures from Magic 2013. I wanted to pump out Goblins at a prodigious rate and then swing with a horde!

Dragon Fodder
In order to make Goblins prior to using Krenko, I added twelve copies of three different 2-drops that make Goblin tokens. Magic 2013’s Krenko's Command joins Dragon Fodder and Mogg War Marshal. Ideally, I see this deck dropping one of those on turn two, a Goblin Chieftain on turn three, and Krenko on turn four to tap with haste and make four Goblins immediately . . . who have haste and swing for 8 along with the other guys. That’s a lot of quick damage potential.

With later token-makers such as Siege-Gang Commander and Goblin Warrens tied to Krenko and the earlier dudes, this is a deck designed to make and send out a ton of tokens.

I wanted these Goblins to have size as well as numbers. Much like the previous deck uses Cathars' Crusade to pump the whole team to a huge level, I’m using eight lords and In the Web of War. You’ll die when you make eight tokens with Krenko that are 4/2 with haste because of one lord and Web in play. You don’t even need the Web, just one of each lord turns these Goblin tokens into 3/3 mountainwalking hasters. Your foes had better hope they aren’t playing red!

Goblin War Strike
I wanted some protection for Krenko and a tiny bit more haste in the deck, so I managed to find space for a pair of Lightning Greaves. Just like a Kevlar vest, this will help to protect our mob boss. Then, I finished my deck with a powerful spell. When this deck can spit out ten or twenty tokens after building up, Goblin War Strike is downright unfair.

This deck can recover well after a Damnation or Day of Judgment. A simple Krenko and Command, Fodder, or Marshal will give you six Goblins in one turn—assuming you have at least 6 mana available and haste from something—or an extra three Goblins next turn.

With the damage potential of this deck at a high level, you can threaten many players at the casual table. I’m sure you can find your own flavor of Krenko deck—in fact, why not build a different sort of Krenko deck entirely!


How does this combo work? You need Krenko and another Goblin, either Umbral Mantle or Staff of Domination, Mana Echoes, and Rolling Thunder, the Staff, or nothing else at all. With Mana Echoes, a creature that joins your team makes {1} for each creature it sees of that type. If you have just Krenko, you’ll make 2 mana. If you have just two Goblins, you tap for 8 mana (each one makes 4).

Mana Echoes
Once you have that mana, you can untap Krenko with either the Mantle or the Staff and keep going. In a few minutes of repeating this, you should have hundreds of Goblins out. That alone is a combo—make an infinite number of creatures. However, there are other combos here, too.

Each time you untap Krenko with the Mantle, you pump him for the turn. Therefore, Krenko can be a 100,003/100,003 creature that swings for game immediately. Another combo is the Staff of Domination. If you have it and are untapping Krenko with it, you can fuel mana into it to gain 100,000 life. You can also draw your deck until you find Rolling Thunder and then blast each opponent for 100,000 damage.

Lightning Greaves is here to protect Krenko and to allow him to go off one turn sooner. The Staff will not untap Krenko if he has shroud from the Greaves, so if you are going off on a turn when Krenko cannot use his ability without the haste from the Greaves, you will need to repeatedly equip them onto another Goblin and then reequip them for each iteration.

How do we ensure that we have an extra Goblin in play to go off with Krenko? Mogg War Marshal, Krenko's Command, Mutavault, and Krenko. The first makes a 1/1 and a token, and when the 1//1 dies, another token jumps into play, so even if someone slays it, you have a token left. The Command makes two dudes immediately. You can make Mutavault a Goblin until the end of the turn to jumpstart you, or you can tap Krenko for a Goblin one turn and go off on the next turn. All of those will work.

The rest of the deck is support for our theme. We have white because I want Enlightened Tutor for combo pieces. If your group does not like a deck with four Enlightened Tutors, play black for one Demonic Tutor, one Vampiric Tutor, and two Diabolic Tutors. I added Orim's Thunder as a way to blow out creatures and artifacts or enchantments as circumstances dictate. Last, Chalice performs needed mana acceleration.

(Other ideas for this sort of deck include cards such as Pandemonium, Kyren Negotiations, and Earthcraft.)

I think the beauty of this deck is that you can do all four routes to victory at the same time—have a million Goblins, a million-sized creature, and a million life, and deal a million damage to each player. I hear they give our merit badges for that sort of thing!


When you are building a deck around a certain card type, what you want is to find cards of that type that do other things. Take my first deck as an example. It was built around playing and bouncing and flickering creatures. In order to emphasize that theme, I crammed the deck full with as many creatures as possible. I tried to find creatures that would destroy enchantments, draw cards, and other things.

A deck built around Talrand needs to do something similar. Whenever you play a spell, you make a free 2/2 flying dork, so we want to find spells that do things besides counter, draw, and bounce. That way, we can emphasize spells in the deck without neglecting other aspects of the game.

This deck is reduced to just eight creatures: four Talrands and four Archaeomancers to reuse those spells. Playing Talrand's Invocation is easy—4 power worth of flying in two 2/2 flyers for an investment of just 4 mana is already a good deal. With Talrand out, it’s crazy.

I decided to have more spells that made me creatures. Bribery is great—it finds the best creature from your opponent’s deck and puts it into play on your side, and you make a 2/2 flying drake with Talrand. There’s no question about its value. Another token-maker is Call the Skybreaker. It produces a 5/5 flyer for your arsenal, and again, it doubles with Talrand. The beautiful part is the retrace ability on the card. You can play it again and again just by discarding a land and spit out both a 5/5 and a 2/2 flyer with Talrand.

It may not be in the same vein as above, but Govern the Guildless is a nice way of stealing a creature with a spell and not an enchantment such as Mind Control. Feel free to steal a lot of goodies, and don’t forget that you can forecast it in unusual situations. From stealing a Darksteel Colossus to turning your Bribery-retrieved creature green in order to avoid an opposing Akroma’s protection, there are enough uses that you don’t want to forget about it. Finally, Summoner's Bane makes a 2/2 Illusion, plus, it counters.

I then added both Fact or Fiction and Tidings to the deck. The graveyard fodder from Fact or Fiction is able to be retrieved with Archaeomancer. The card-drawing was necessary, and triggers of Talrand make me happy. I finished with counters and called it a deck.


I think Mwonvuli Beast Tracker has to be among the most flavorful cards from this set. This deck is built around the Tracker and a smorgasbord of tutorable awesomeness for the deck.

Call of the Wild
We can tutor up any creature with reach, trample, deathtouch, or hexproof with a Tracker. Once we do, it goes to the top of the library. Then, you use Call of the Wild to reveal the top card of your library. Is it a creature? It goes right into play. That’s a potent combo! But you can only do it four times, which is sad. So, I tossed in Erratic Portal. Bounce the Beast Tracker back to your hand, and keep going!

Since my deck was two colors, Birds of Paradise and Cultivate will help make sure we have enough of black to play my beaters in that color. They also act as acceleration to arrive at the good stuff even earlier!

Now that we have our engine in place, let’s look at the creatures we can tutor for. Acidic Slime is the only four-of in the deck among my tutor targets. It’s ideal since you can grab one when you need to blow up a land, artifact, or enchantment. Another creature that can blow up something is Stingerfling Spider. When it enters the battlefield, it can take out a flyer. If there is a creature you need to off badly, the Spider may be your answer, and fetching it with a Beast Tracker makes me happy.

The obvious beaters in the deck are the Steel Brothers: Dark and Blight. You can put them right on top of your library with a Beast Tracker and then drop them with a payment of 4 mana from a Call. You may not always have a Call, so I didn’t push this combo too much in deck design—only these two creatures are probably over the curve. Then, we have on-curve Pelakka Wurm to gain life while smashing through villages. After that, all of the other creatures cap at 6 mana.

Hornet Queen
Some of those creatures include Grave Titan, Primeval Titan, and Wurmcoil Engine. They are creatures that dominate a table once they arrive and have powerful Magic pedigrees. Adding them into this deck was a joy.

There’s a copy of Hornet Queen in case you want to swing into the sky, make tokens, or create a large defense immediately. Since I don’t think you’ll want her that often, I just went with one copy. The other 6-drops are twins Harvester of Souls and Soul of the Harvest. They both allow you to draw cards in the right circumstances, and they can help draw you cards over time.

This is a fun deck built around a simple uncommon from Magic 2013. Sometimes, you find deck inspiration from cards that are neither rare nor mythic. The first deck was also inspired by an uncommon, so we have uncommons flanking the article today, which seems like a nice symmetrical note on which to end today’s deck-a-thon.

I hope that you came away with a few cards or a deck that you want to try out. Enjoy the new cards, and find your own decks!

See you next week,
Abe Sargent