And To All A Good Light

Matt Higgs is hanging up the Christmas lights and brewing decks with Bring to Light! We’ve seen the spell make some crazy five-color decks possible, now let’s see what else it can do!

If you grew up or lived in the 90s, you probably saw your share of light-hearted, kid-centered Christmas movies. Some of us who grew up with them look back on them cynically, citing the materialistic message and the inevitable contrivances of the plot. If you can put that judgment aside though and just remember them how you did as a child, didn’t they get you excited? When Macauley Culkin walks into the huge toy store in the second Home Alone movie, didn’t it make your little eyes kind of boggle? Jingle All the Way had the same vibe for me, making me really want that Turboman doll they sold. People aren’t really immune to that kind of desire, but it changes over the years.

During this holiday season, we get to experience the excitement of opening presents when we play Magic. Who’s the Santa bringing us our gifts?

Bring to Light is an unusual spell in our current Standard. In recent iterations of Magic’s most current format, spells that tutor average about five mana, and they tend to be black (see Dark Petition; Sidisi, Undead Vizier; Liliana Vess). More conditional tutors are considerably cheaper, but a blanket tutor really comes below this cost. Bring to Light tutors for and casts its mark. Except for a couple solid Standard planeswalkers and enchantments, this can find and cast a large portion of the best cards of the format.

This isn’t news; Bring to Light has seen significant success, even most recently in the Star City Games Invitational in Las Vegas, where this list helped Joe Lossett make that event’s Top 8. It continues to be a favorite among brewers, pros, and pro brewers, with lots of folks taking a crack at the powerful spell.

Most Bring to Light decks in the past several months have been consolidated five-color value decks that often just use Bring to Light as a way to reduce the variance related to drawing and casting Siege Rhino. When I approach this card, though, I want to recapture the wonder of wandering into FAO Schwartz Duncan’s Toy Chest and gazing at all the beautiful gadgets, each of which could be mine if I just believe enough.

As I look into the gifts that Bring to Light has to offer, the choices are staggering. While I’m limited by card type, very few cards escape its grasp. Before I fully read the card, I liked the idea of doing a planeswalker deck with lots of singleton copies where I could search out the best ‘walker for the moment. With that plan foiled, I tried to seek out other ways to make this deck interesting and unique.

Bring to Light seemed like the best card in a Bring to Light deck, so having more than four copies seemed important. How can you do that, you might ask?

Although you cast the spell Bring to Light finds as part of the resolution of Bring to Light, either of these five-drop creatures can return another Bring to Light to your hand. Cast Bring to Light, get Possessed Skaab, and recover another Bring to Light. Kind of feels like asking the genie for more wishes, doesn’t it? While expensive, this allows you to basically spend five mana for 3/2 every turn, which against grindy decks and control, will provide a considerable angle of attack. Moreover, in a deck of one-offs, if I get one out with Bring to Light and it dies, I may want to recover it.

Okay, so we’re after a stack of singletons and some haymakers. Let’s wrap it!

So let’s break this pile of presents down.


Siege Rhino is like the underwear your least favorite aunt gives you; you’re not excited when you see that’s what you’ve got, but it does perform its function well when the time comes. Siege Rhino is a gap-filler for this deck. Being heavy on five-mana spells, I’ve decided that anything below five mana should just be there to get me to five mana. If you’re able to undo some of the punishment you’ve received in the first few turns, that’s all I can ask. I’m not happy about using Siege Rhino, but it fills the slot nicely.

A playset of Possessed Skaab might seem excessive, considering its stats aren’t great, but the ability to chain them together is not very common in this format. With the exception of Mastery of the Unseen, perhaps, very few things can continuously create creatures, and none can break that loop to get out something really powerful at will.

Tormenting Voice and Radiant Flames are also there to get you to turn 5. Tormenting Voice lets you stash an extra Bring to Light or, if you don’t need it, a Radiant Flames for a shot at two lands to hit your curve. Putting a playset of Radiant Flames in the maindeck, of all places, might seem insane, but any hyper-fast aggro deck has more potential to kill me than any other due to the lack of early action. I need it when I need it.


Beyond the five playsets (including Bring to Light), the deck features nine single creatures and five spells. The creatures are really designed to pull the weight of the deck while the spells are various sweeper effects, depending on the boardstate.

The creatures are really the interesting part. Surrak, the Hunt Caller is a great first target for Bring to Light, especially if a Siege Rhino or other high-power creature sits in your hand. Surrak is efficient, easy to cast, and is a great support creature. Pia and Kiran Nalaar, who have ebbed and flowed in popularity over the course of their short tenure in Standard, are another nice target when you need to go wide. The ability to make three blockers for four-mana or as a tutor target provides lots of flexibility at any point in the game. Pia and Kiran can even deal the last few points of damage if they’re low enough. Warden of the Eye is Possessed Skaab #5; I prefer the Skaab because it is easier to cast and it has the ability to recover any nonland card in my graveyard. Still, one extra means to return Bring to Light seems reasonable.

Zurgo Helmsmasher is a great tutor target if their shields are down. Seven damage, no nonsense! Clever Impersonator is a way to hit any number of exciting targets, either on your side or your opponent’s. Copy a Siege Rhino, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, or another singleton whose effect you need just one more time. Sidisi, Undead Vizier is another way to find Bring to Light or, if needed, its body is one of the best in the format, as it can stop anything on the ground while surviving toughness-based removal and with considerable power. Gilt-Leaf Winnower is great for the midrange match where you need to two-for-one them efficiently, killing a Siege Rhino; Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy; or Dragonlord Dromoka. Speaking of which, Dragonlord Ojutai is a hard-to-kill answer that can close the game in a hustle once you’ve stabilized. Conclave Naturalists is a less-embarrassing Reclamation Sage, providing a reasonable body while unraveling a nuisance artifact or enchantment.

Unlike some of my decks in the past, I was able to test this one extensively and make tangible, impactful adjustments before testing it again. In a friendly three-round swiss with friends, I was able to hammer down all but a B/W Warrior deck, which got one turn ahead of me after a missed red source kept me off Radiant Flames too long. In the end, the best cards were Siege Rhino, unsurprisingly, Gilt-Leaf Winnower, and Dragonlord Ojutai. All of them did a lot of work to wear down my opponent, trading up in most every case or providing enough of a threat that my opponent had to play defense.

The deck was a lot of fun to play, but it took longer to get ready than Santa’s chocolate chip cookies out of the oven take to cool. The deck needed some kinks worked out, mostly in the manabase and in the fact that I was way softer than I thought to a lot of decks by not having early action. I needed to find some Bring to Light targets that also didn’t cost much. Possessed Skaab was probably the biggest hindrance, so I decided to slash that away significantly.

This was a little sleaker and slimmer, and I was able to test it against another five-color deck and a See the Unwritten deck. While it struggled against both, it was a good match both times, with some critical, fun plays both from the maindeck and sideboard. Even after adding a land, I still had trouble getting the right combination of on-curve spells and mana sources.

As much as I enjoyed this deck, it wasn’t quite as unique as I like, so I returned to deckbuilding for something a bit spicier.

Hero’s Blade provides a ton of power, and efficiently, too, especially if placed on a hasty creature. With some solid targets in this format, maybe a Bring to Light deck that tutors legendary creatures might be interesting?

God bless us, everyone!

This seems more my speed. Missing Siege Rhino? Yeah. Hero’s Blade as a reasonable replacement? Maybe not. Rebuy with Alesha, Who Smiles at Death? You already got me.

Bring to Light is for more than just finding the format’s already-broken spells. Have you crafted a toolbox-style Bring to Light deck of your own? What’s a great technical tutor target that you’ve found most useful?

On an unrelated sidenote, I know most everyone’s got the Star Wars: The Force Awakens on their mind, and I’m among them. If you haven’t seen it yet, Reddit user WhinyTortoise has created a full-size, balanced set of Star Wars Magic: the Gathering cards. You can find the visual spoiler here . As an avid Cuber, I’ve crafted a 720-card Cube using every card in the gallery. I’ll be playing it this coming Wednesday, the 16th, at my local shop, Through the Decades, and I’ll let you know how it goes!