Overselling The Wake: Tweaking Two Decks

Budde said something that got my wheels turning when he said that the deck could create”infinite” elephant tokens. Well, when I think”infinite,” I jump straight to the phrase”game over” – so I asked myself if there was anyway to guarantee a one-turn kill. Turns out the answer is yes. Also, my Oversold Cemetery tech seems to be slugging it out at about 50/50 with U/G – better than most!

This is an article based on intervening circumstances – that is, while I had thought that I would perhaps start to take a look at doing the big metagame clock article for November Extended, I actually got caught up in building a deck that was somewhat based on the theories that I talked about in my last article….

Namely, a Standard deck based around Oversold Cemetery.

Then I somewhat stumbled onto an interesting tweak to a deck that has gained some notoriety in the recent past – namely, the Mirari’s Wake deck. Let me get to my thoughts on the latter idea first where I think I’ll show you how you can knock off your opponent with one of the most unlikely cards you could imagine.

Kai Budde recently wrote of his preference for a Wake Deck build that was used by Jens Thorens in the Invitational. This was a Cunning Wish build that had this main deck assortment of cards.

Budde then went on to build this sideboard:

1 Elephant Ambush

1 Moment’s Peace

1 Ray of Distortion

1 Ray of Revelation

1 Opportunity

1 Circular Logic

1 Flash of Insight

1 Krosan Reclamation

1 Seedtime

2 Circle of Protection: Green

1 Compulsion

3 Compost

This deck does what all of the Wake decks do. It has a bit of disruption and board control for the early game try to set up to the point where it makes a lot of mana with which it tries and usually succeeds to win the game. In this case this deck sets up a little circle of interaction whereby you Mirari copies of Cunning Wish to get back Wishes that you’ve previously cast along with Elephant Ambush. In this, it makes a couple of Elephant tokens a turn and eventually takes over the game. It can also put Moment’s Peace into this loop, almost completely locking your opponent out of their chance at winning by using the attack phase.

Budde said something that got my wheels turning, however, when he said that the deck could create”infinite” elephant tokens. Well, when I think”infinite” I jump straight to the phrase”game over.”

I mean, when I’m sitting behind a set up like these decks present I’d prefer to have the game pretty much end right there…So I went about trying to break this deck off even more and wondering what the heck I was doing thinking that I could put what I thought my be a better tweak on a Budde design.

The first thing that I thought about was adding Early Harvest to the Sideboard. You could use Cunning Wish for Harvest and make lots of mana! I was giddy at this idea – although I was quite aware that it was a simple rip off from the older Rice Snack Domain decks. Of course, the problem cropped up that for this loop to go”infinite,” I was going to have to get the Harvest removed from the graveyard after it was cast.


And this was one of those time where I was hit by one of those dumb moments when the right card, an obscure common used by almost no one, just jumped to the fore of my imagination from who knows where. From out of nowhere,”Funeral Pyre” lit up in my mind like a billboard outside of a cheap motel.

Yes kids, that’s right. You can kill your opponent with Funeral Pyre… And just in time for Halloween.

So here’s a rundown of the necessities and what happens.

You need twelve mana, which should most often be provided by Mirari’s Wake and six lands, to begin this process and you need lands, three of which produce Blue, Green, and White mana respectively. You need a Mirari in play and you need a Cunning Wish in your hand. Also to end the game this turn you will need either a Time Stretch in hand or in your deck.

You begin by tapping the lands for twelve mana and Wish for Early Harvest and another Wish using Mirari. This leaves you at six mana, which you use to cast the Early Harvest using Mirari to copy it. In response to the second one, you tap all your lands for mana giving you 24 mana in your pool and putting you at a position where the relevant cards are.


Cunning Wish.


Early Harvest.


Two Funeral Pyre.

Removed from Game

Cunning Wish.

In your hand or deck

Time Stretch.


You then proceed to Wish up the Pyres and swap cards from these game areas at your leisure. Pyre the Harvest to the removed from game pile, then Pyre the first Pyre out of the game, then Wish for Wish, Harvest, and Pyre. And hey, kid – you’ve still got thirteen mana in your pool. You then do some careful manipulations so that you don’t end the turn with a ton of mana, but still make a ton of 1/1 flying Spirit tokens.

The only other situation that you need to end the game are either a Time Stretch in hand or in your deck. This is, of course, if you haven’t pulled off your combo at the end of your opponent’s turn. Yes, these are all instant happenings!

If you are in your main phase and the Time Stretch remains in your deck, there are a couple of ways of getting to it… But Wishing and copying Opportunity is a start, or having a Compulsion on the board would also let you flip through your entire deck so that you can cast Time Stretch and fly over for the win on the next turn.

So the deck looks something like this:

3 Circular Logic

3 Compulsion

4 Cunning Wish

3 Deep Analysis

4 Memory Lapse

2 Mirari

4 Mirari’s Wake

3 Moment’s Peace

4 Wrath of God

1 Time Stretch

2 Adarkar Wastes

3 Forest

9 Island

4 Krosan Verge

4 Lonely Sandbar

3 Plains

4 Windswept Heath

And has a Sideboard that looks something like this:

2 Funeral Pyre

1 Early Harvest

1 Moment’s Peace

1 Ray of Revelation

1 Opportunity

1 Circular Logic

1 Flash of Insight

1 Krosan Reclamation

1 Seedtime

2 Circle of Protection: Green

1 Compulsion

2 Compost

Basically, I’ve tried not to fool with either Budde’s deck or sideboard too much – although this version of this deck may be better off configured somewhat differently. I wonder in part if the deck needs access to Mana Short, but that may be left for a later debate. You, of course, can tweak it to taste. Last but not least, it should be noted that this version could also repeatedly cast Opportunity at an opponent for the win.

I don’t know that this is a”better” deck than what has come before it. Probably it is simply a case of”win more now” – but as usual, I think a lot of folks are enamored of that and I thought the tweak worth talking about.

The next deck is based on Oversold Cemetery, and my attempts to get this sort of deck to beat U/G Madness.

First I have to confess that once again I have been somewhat smitten by an”investment” card: That card being Oversold Cemetery. What loyal readers I might have will remember my infatuation with the similar Holistic Wisdom, and I still run Jayemdae Tome in control black. It might just be a part of my game playing personality that I like risking a little momentum on a card that I think will break a game open later. After all, when you cast something like one of these permanents, you get no immediate return. Tome can draw you a lot of cards over the course of a game – but at a rather steep price in mana – and Oversold Cemetery does nothing till you have four creatures in your graveyard.

Still, I took the Cemetery deck idea and ran with it.

Now I have seen builds of the Cemetery deck… But all of the ones that I have seen have been mono black. (Well, if you’d used our Deck Database, will, you’d see that a lot of them aren’tThe Ferrett) This, of course, fits in part with the ideas put forth in my last article: If U/G is the deck to beat by its power multiplied by the numbers, it will be played -and then I think black is the place to start.

I felt, however, that if some of my good friends were working on the mono black version, I might as well put my time into something else. The most logical choice here is to pair the Cemetery with the color that has the best creatures: Green. Green also holds the creature-oriented wish spell, Living Wish, and thus we hope to warp its use towards a powerful”toolbox” effect, calling up the right creature at the right time from our sideboard.

When I made the initial build of the deck I realized that this somewhat reactive stance and the nature of Oversold Cemetery as really being a mid game type of card that I was actually not building the black beatdown deck of theory but a mid-game oriented creature control deck. This deck looks like it should behave somewhat as a weaker cousin of old Survival of the Fittest decks.

Mistakes that I made in the initial build were including too many non creature spells so that much too often a played Oversold Cemetery would sit over a graveyard of a Duress or two, plus a Smother or Chainer’s Edict, plus one or two creatures. I had also impulsively included Wretched Anurid, which is just terribly wrong for this sort of deck. I then rebuilt the deck with more creatures and replaced the Wretched Anurid with Nantuko Husk – which, as you will see, has some interesting interaction with other cards in the deck.

I finally came up with somewhat of a finalized decklist, which I tested mostly against the U/G matchup – but we also piloted the deck against some other decks, including Wake, both black beatdown and control, plus versions of U/B Upheaval control. I think there has been enough done to believe that it is at worst a decent deck… Even if I must warn you that it’s rather hard to play. In just working on the U/G matchup repeatedly, I found the decision branching extremely broad, which lends itself to making more difficult decisions… And thus more mistakes.

Anyway, here is the decklist:


3 Faceless Butcher

4 Mesmeric Fiend

3 Krosan Tusker

3 Nantuko Husk

3 Crypt Creeper

4 Wild Mongrel

Other Spells:

2 Mutilate

4 Smother

4 Chainer’s Edict

4 Oversold Cemetery

4 Living Wish


7 Forest

11 Swamp

4 Tainted Forest



Phantom Nantuko

Phantom Centaur

Elvish Lyrist

Sylvan Safekeeper

Silklash Spider

Ravenous Baloth

Spellbane Centaur


Crypt Creeper

Rotlung Reanimator

Faceless Butcher

Braids, Cabal Minion

Visara the Dreadful

Laquatus’s Champion

I have become rather confident in the main deck, although I might try to drop down to only six forests- this came because he had times in playtesting where we would have liked to have Mutilated for six, yet lacked the same number of swamps on the board.

One would note that one of the main interactions of the deck beside the obvious tutor and graveyard manipulation is the one that occurs between the comes into play creatures and Nantuko Husk. Just remember that you have to use the sacrificial interaction of the Husk before you use the abilities of either the Mesmeric Fiend or Faceless Butcher. Also, one would note that Smother can be used on your own Fiend in a like fashion – but it is rather tricky to know when to use such an interaction, just to remove a yet-to-be-seen card from an opponents hand and then the game. That being said, generally the Husk interaction is favorable as long as you have a Cemetery in play.

The sideboard is another question entirely. Some of the cards I’m quite confident in – like the phantom creatures, Lyrist, Rotlung Reanimator, and the MVP Silklash Spider. Some of the other cards we haven’t had to call on, but they have a lot of power – like Visara. A few other cards should get mentioned as possible candidates as well.

Taunting Elf

We understand this guy can just end the game by making all of your opponents creatures block it.

Elvish Scrapper

This one is, of course, for when some artifact is gumming up the works. From Mirari to Ensnaring Bridge, this guy could be your answer. In fact in our short look at the Wake matchup we’ve thought this guy might be better than Lyrist for the fact that the Wake deck holds more Wakes than Miraris.

Stronghold Assassin

Some of the StarCity crew are swearing by this guy in this sort of deck. I think they might be right.

Eastern Paladin

Much like Stronghold Assassin, this guy could own the UG matchup. His cousin Western Paladin could find a spot as well.

And there are probably more that one could think of with more time and more intimate knowledge about one’s local metagame.

As it is, I will leave you with these two fun (if rather difficult to play) decks that I think could be interesting choices for the current States era. The Wake deck is rather well known, but it might be a surprise to your opponent when, rather than the slow win, you end the game promptly after getting all the pieces on hand… And a highly flexible midgame B/g Oversold Cemetery deck that, in my neck of the woods, is hanging roughly 50/50 in the UG Madness matchup.

Good Luck!

– Will