Pulling from Eternity
In the barracks of the Boros Legion, soldiers are trained in the arts of swords and law-enforcing sorcery. In the darkest and hiddenest crevices, Dimir agents are taught daggerwork and subterfuge. Members of each guild across Ravnica learn skills and spells that match their guilds’ strengths and that serve to further their agendas.
However, in the center of the city plane is a school that teaches all types of Magic. Here, citizens learn to juggle spells, manipulate mana, and makeshift creatures in order to have fun and entertain without all of the baggage that comes with signing up with the Cult of Rakdos and riding on—or sitting under—a carnival guillotine.
For our first trick, we’ll partake in Selesnyan mana as we juggle creatures and bounce them across a couple zones by sending their spirits to eternity with a Séance and then pulling them back.
To get us started, let’s have a look at the deck exactly as it appears in its deck box. After we go over the cards and explain what’s going on, we can open up the card pool to everything on Gatherer instead of just what’s in my collection.
Now, this isn’t a competitive deck, but the sideboard is there for the copies of Living Wish. Technically, the last five cards in that sideboard don’t sit with the rest, but since I have access to all my decks when I Wish, they end up being some prime choices. I’m sure you see some questionable card choices here—and so do I—but let’s figure out what’s going on first.
Start by gaining some life. You could even win the game before delving into later steps by throwing out a couple Life Bursts and a Chalice of Life. If you’re fast enough, you’ll have a Chalice of Death and an opponent who’s on a four-turn clock. With a little more life-gain backup, that could be all it takes. However, this is usually a multiplayer deck, and the life-gain is more of a defensive mechanism for the main game plan. You might end up winning with that Chalice of Death anyway, but it’ll probably be a while.
You’re gonna need a Séance. Draw one naturally, Living Wish for an Academy Rector to sacrifice to find one, or just do it the easy way and search one up with a Sterling Grove. The creatures in the deck generate value, and the Séance will let you use that value again while also creating blockers to keep you alive further into the game. Having a lot of lands is good, and having a lot of life is better.
You got a Séance? Good. Now you need a Parallel Lives, too—and a Pull from Eternity or two. Hey, look at all this life-gain I gave you! You should have been able to stay alive long enough to collect all these pieces. I don’t want to hear you complaining! Block more! Lemme see them Life Bursts!
Ahem. Anyway, now it’s time for the action. Séance an Izzet Chronarch. The Selesnya Conclave sometimes needs to outsource. Actually, that’s just not true, but it does improve inter-guild relations. If you’re not into outsourcing from other guilds, you’ll need to outsource from other decks (or just build a different list)—Living Wish an Eternal Witness then Séance it. If you’re going Izzet, blue and red mana make Selesnyans think they’re sick. You’ll encounter a little Hypochondria before the Séance.
In any case, your Parallel Lives will make two tokens of your exiled creature instead of one, which means you can bring back two cards. Make one a Pull from Eternity. Make another a Life Burst. Feel free to mix that up a little. If you have two Parallel Lives, you’ll be bringing four cards back to your hand. See the point of all this mana? Now you’re looping cards from your graveyard to exile and from your graveyard to your hand to the stack in each player’s upkeep. You’re probably gaining more life than opponents can dish out at this point, which turns Chalice of Life and Celestial Convergence into real win conditions.
Twisting the Knobs
- The type of craziness many players tend to avoid;
- Underpowered cards because that’s what I happen to own;
- Underpowered cards because it’s more of a challenge; and . . .
- Perfectly serviceable and/or powerful cards because: Hey, haven’t I made things hard enough on myself already?
However, this may not all come together as an acceptable entrée for everyone. For those of you who want to slightly tune or massively overhaul this list into something more streamlined, let’s have a look at some questionable cards that can go and at some new cards to slot in nicely.
Yavimaya Elder – When we’re in Phase 1, both digging deeper for cards and playing lands regularly are pretty important. This guy does both those jobs quite nicely. While he doesn’t Rampant Growth a land like an Ondu Giant or draw a card as efficiently as a Carven Caryatid, the fact that he can do both is quite nice. Let’s add a copy over a Wall of Mulch, which only has the benefit of blocking slightly better. Let’s add another over Carven Caryatid, and we can swap out the more expensive Ondu Giant and the more expensive-to-activate Dawntreader Elk for more copies of Sakura-Tribe Elder.
Eternal Witness – Speaking of our favorite Regrowth Shaman, let’s put her in over the Izzet Chronarch. He was in there for funsies and because I don’t have enough Witnesses to go around between all my decks. The Hypochondria, while somewhat useful in a pinch, is included because I have a foil copy and because the Chronarch needs to be discarded. So, let’s make that slot a little more Eternal.
Felidar Sovereign – While waiting seven turns for your Celestial Convergence to omen itself out can be as epically fun as playing through a Freyalise's Winds, there are a couple other good options. Felidar Sovereign is a great sideboard choice for Living Wishing in a locked-up game. Also, both it and Test of Endurance can be great main-decked inclusions as well. However, I’m going to sit on the copies of Chalice of Life as win conditions, though I won’t be shy to Wish for some juicy targets as alternate choices. I still want to cut the Celestial Convergence if I’m playing a less-bad-card list, though, so let’s try out the new Growing Ranks from Return to Ravnica. If we stack the triggers right, we can Séance something during our upkeep and then populate our new token. Any Parallel Lives make thinks a little crazy.
Chromatic Lantern – I’m going to go ahead and keep the Chalices as the main-decked win conditions, but cutting those two for Return to Ravnica’s Chromatic Lanterns could make for a pretty spicy endgame. The plan then becomes locking up the game before casting Living Wishes repeatedly for any win-condition creatures your heart desires. The Lanterns will let you cast anything you want to find, from a Maelstrom Wanderer, which will let you attack with all your Séanced tokens, to Geth, Lord of the Vault, which will let you steal all your opponents’ goodies from the graveyards that have grown large over the course of the long game. Remember that you can cast as many copies of Living Wish as you want, given enough time, as a single Séance with a couple Parallel Lives and a couple Pull from Eternity buys you back a Living Wish (and a couple graveyard cards) every one of your turns. With a Hypersonic Dragon and enough mana, you could run the loop during opponents’ upkeeps as well.
Joiner Adept – You know what? Fine. Let’s find a sideboard spot for a Joiner Adept as well just in case we want to default into the Chromatic Lantern plan later on. We can replace the Skyshroud Elf since it was basically just there to do that job for only red mana. The Izzet Chronarch is redundant in the sideboard now, so let’s make that a Selesnya Sanctuary in case we need mana early on.
With the above changes and a few land optimizations, we end up with something like this:
"Parallel Lives for Eternity"
I hope you enjoyed today’s look at this life-gaining, token-making, crazy, Selesnya, combo deck. For now and for some indeterminate time further into the future, I’m Andrew saying, “Remember to stack your triggers in the right order. It can be pretty important.”
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