Inspired Disciple

Disciple of Deceit has been doing some good dirty work for Bennie Smith! Check out the Standard list he piloted to a Top 4 Game Day finish and get some inspiration of your own ahead of #SCGINDY!

Journey into Nyx has been hugely inspiring to me as a deckbuilder. So many ideas, so little time to try them all out! However I was able to give one
particular idea a couple of runs recently, one at Friday Night Magic and one at Magic Game Day.

It all started when I was perusing the spoiler and ran across this card:

Disciple of Deceit is just amazingly cool. I love how it doesn’t actually say “transmute,” the Dimir mechanic from the original Ravnica block, but it
doesn’t need to talk the talk. It walks the walk — it lets you transmute every time you untap it, for no mana!

On the surface it feels a little odd that I would feel such affinity for a blue/black card, but it makes sense when I think about what sort of Magic player
I am — truly, what sort of gamer I am. I always like to have options when I game and when I play Magic; for me, nothing is worse than feeling helpless or
trapped with no way out. It’s why I tend to hate playing traditional-style combo decks — if your deck gives you a bad draw, if your opponent is able to
neutralize one particular card, if they play a particular hate card, or if you make a tiny mistake, then you’re done. Game over. Similarly I dislike
playing weenie aggro or burn decks — typically you either win fast or you lose. It’s why I’ve always gravitated towards mid-range decks and the many
options they tend to give you. You can shift gears and be aggressive when you need to, or you can play defense when you need to. There’s nearly always room
to wiggle out of even the worst situations if you draw the right card, make the right choices, or have a little luck go your way.

Wall of Roots Uktabi Orangutan Survival of the Fittest Spike Feeder Erhnam Djinn

I remember when Survival of the Fittest was printed. I immediately traded for a playset and started brewing decks. The idea that I could pitch a creature
that wasn’t really optimal right now and go get one that was the solution to whatever problem I was facing was liberating! I wasn’t even thinking about the
combo potential with graveyard reanimation — I just loved being able to go get a Wall of Roots if I needed a blocker or mana, or an Uktabi Orangutan if I
needed to blow up a Cursed Scroll, a Spike Feeder for a life buffer, or an Erhnam Djinn for beatdown. Years later I was thrilled when Fauna Shaman popped
up to give me that ol’ Survival vibe, and then the totally insane Birthing Pod took it to eleven. Disciple of Deceit gives me that same sort of vibe.

Of course, if you really want to take advantage of Disciple of Deceit, it requires you build your deck in a certain way. First, you want to be able to tap
the card so that you can untap it. Being a 1/3 for two mana means that often you’ll be able to do this early on without too much worry, but you want to be
able to continue doing it as time goes on. Springleaf Drum was obviously reprinted to help facilitate Inspired, so it made sense to include a few copies. I
also figured when building my deck I’d lean heavily towards removal spells, since attacking is every creature’s built-in way to tap. Considering that
resolving two Disciple of Deceit triggers wouldn’t really serve much purpose, I knew I’d likely want a large number of two mana spells to go fetch in place
of redundant copies of Disciple. Luckily, there are quite a few removal spells that cost two mana, such as Doom Blade and Ultimate Price. Occasionally
those removal spells don’t really help (such as against multi-color black creatures), so it would be good to be able to exchange them for something else.

Having a lot of removal spells to clear the way reminded me of another card with Inspired: Pain Seer. I remember pondering Pain Seer, and figuring the best
way to take advantage of the card would be to have a lot of really cheap removal spells so you can just continue to beat down with Pain Seer and not take
too much damage from each Inspired trigger. Considering that I would likely want a Disciple of Deceit deck to have a lot of cards with the same casting
cost anyway, it seemed like putting them together would be a good fit.

The first incarnation of the deck started with the core of Disciple and Pain Seer and then had a bunch of other two-drops to fill out the deck, including
one copy of Pack Rat. It didn’t take long playing my first FNM with the deck to realize that I was fetching up that Pack Rat and winning with it quite
often. Which makes sense, actually — sometimes Pack Rat is just silly good. I made a mental note to play more copies the next time, and quickly added the
last two copies I had. Once I get a fourth copy I’ll play four. Pack Rat is perfect in this deck; it’s on point with its mana cost, is a must-answer
threat, and it plays with the theme of having a bunch of situational bullets that you can otherwise pitch for another effect.

When building the original deck, I also realized it was probably silly not to go ahead and play four copies of Hero’s Downfall, the best removal card in
Standard. Once I pushed into three mana I thought it a good idea to go ahead and look for some interesting situational cards at three mana: Dissolve,
Herald of Torment, Lifebane Zombie, Nighthowler, Nightveil Specter, Underworld Connections, Gift of Orzhova.

In my first run with the deck I won two matches and lost two matches. I learned that Pack Rat was awesome (duh), and I also learned that Disciple of Deceit
was indeed the bee’s knees. If left to untap a few times I generally won the game… unless I ran out of steam. I realized that, outside of Pack Rat or an
overloaded Cyclonic Rift, my little bunch of two- and three-mana spells could get overwhelmed by the more expensive and powerful spells my opponent was
free to run. I needed something with some oomph… and I also needed some life gain. Pain Seer was quite painful and I didn’t really have a way to reliably
gain life outside of Gift of Orzhova, and playing that on a creature ran the risk of getting two-for-one’d by an opponent’s removal spell.

I thought maybe I should branch out into another color… and when I remembered that Sphinx’s Revelation was technically a three-mana spell I could easy go
fetch, I was hooked into Esper. Splashing white gave me access to Banishing Light, Detention Sphere, even Nyx-Fleece Ram! This is the deck I took to a Top
4 finish on Game Day:

One spicy addition to the sideboard was Daring Thief. When I had the deck laid out in front of me before heading out to Game Day, I noticed that every
piece of real removal was either black or white…which meant I was totally cold to Blood Baron of Vizkopa, a card that some Black/White decks run maindeck
but would certainly have copies in the sideboard. Since I was already doing some Inspired shenanigans, he seemed a perfect fit for three mana — I’d gladly
trade an extra Pain Seer for a Blood Baron! Turns out that this exact scenario popped up in my Top 8 match, a fellow was beating me down with Blood Baron
and had activated Mutavault to attack as well, which left him less than five mana untapped, so I cast Cyclonic Rift to bounce the Blood Baron and buy me an
extra couple of turns. Luckily, on my turn I ripped Daring Thief and played it, with a Pain Seer and Springleaf Drum on the board. He couldn’t even replay
Blood Baron without me stealing it, and so I had time to breathe and sculpt a hand to keep the game locked in my favor, and ended up moving on to the Top

The Sphinx’s Revelation was nice, and I cast it a couple of times during the tournament to reload my hand and it certainly was a huge help; however,
there’s some negative tension between that card and Pack Rat, which wants you to pitch extra lands to make more Rats. Banishing Light and Detention Sphere
were decent enough, but people are packing maindeck enchantment removal, so those spells aren’t super-reliable.

If I play this particular color combination again, I think I’ll move a Daring Thief to the maindeck and also some number of Xathrid Necromancers,
considering all the Inspired folks are humans. Also, I somehow overlooked Drown in Sorrow, and considering I got run over by a White Weenie deck on Game
Day, I think I’d want some number of those.

The next time I play this deck I think I’ll give green a try instead of white:

I know it make look a little weird to “splash” Courser of Kruphix, but I think the mana works to pull it off. Courser can generate a ton of life over the
course of the game, especially in multiples, which is pretty easy to pull off with Disciple. I booted Pain Seer for a fourth Pack Rat (arrived today from
Pucatrade!) and some Abrupt Decays. I also like putting a Pharika, God of Affliction here to take advantage of creatures getting pitched to Pack Rat and
Disciple of Deceit, and makes a good way to recover from a board wipe (assuming you don’t save the team with Golgari Charm, hoo-ha!). I made a little bit
of room to squeeze in Agent of Fates and Hidden Strings, which seems awesome if you get them together, but if not you can always pitch the errant piece to
get something else.

So what do you think of Disciple of Deceit? I know one thing: the card is extremely powerful, and I don’t think anyone has explored how good it really is.
Maybe green is the right third color, or maybe I need to try red. I will certainly be keeping my eyes peeled for cards with converted mana cost of two and
three in Magic 2015 to see if there’s something that can kick the deck up a notch.

New to Commander?

If you’re just curious about the format, building your first deck, or trying to take your Commander deck up a notch, here are some handy links:

My current Commander decks
(and links to decklists):

Previous Commander decks currently on hiatus