Peasant Magic Revisited: A New Horizon Awaits

Ever since I joined the Peasant Magic council, I’ve been doing a lot of playtesting to see the effects of potential bannings on the Pez metagame. So I figured, why not toss out some of my playtesting decks? The beauty of a Pez deck is that you can build somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty decks to try around – since they all use mostly commons. Here are my bigger hits.

One of the interesting things about being a Magic writer is that you begin to realize that you don’t know as much as you thought that you did… At least, you do if you have half a brain. If you were to ask me what my favorite articles of mine are, I could list three that I like better than any other.

But the articles that have generated the most mail? They’re completely different. You just can never tell.

Way back on January 14 of this year, I wrote an article about Peasant Magic. I’ve written better articles, been more passionate about other issues, and thought of this as merely half of the article I had been originally intending, comparing Benzonian with Pez… And yet, despite all of the reasons for my own hesitation concerning that article, it is the one that has resulted in the most e-mail being sent my way.

Since that article a lot has changed. I’d say it’s about time to discuss these changes. So, let’s talk a little about the format, and then some deck!

Me and Pez

I haven’t written as much about Peasant Magic as I have about, say, Five-Color. Peasant Magic already has a dedicated weekly writer for another site who knows more than I ever could about the format – Jason Chapman. If you like Peasant Magic, then I am sure that you know the name.

In the ensuing discussion that took place in the Peasant Magic community, Jason Chapman took charge. Out of the controversy and confusion emerged a brand-new Peasant Magic Ruling Council. Which is similar to the Five-Color Council. And Jason offered me a seat on the Ruling Council of Peasant Magic, which I gladly accepted.

In the weeks since the creation of the Pez Council, we have been discussing and voting on the basic format of our decisions and setting up rules – and now we are looking at issues like price caps and changing the rarity on cards.

It’s neat because I get to see a ruling council at a different time in its development. The Five-Color Ruling Council that I’m on needed some people to help clean up the environment: After a swath of bannings, restrictions, and unrestrictions, the Five-Color council has been quiet for a while as the format is in equilibrium.

In Pez, though, the inaugural lessons of a new council are becoming all too clear. It is great that we have Jason Chapman, though, to play the lead for us. He is just like John Carter on the Five-Color Council – and John is the Five-Color guy out there who I think would be the best writer, so John Carter, write something!

In other words, we have all of these potential major changes on the horizon for Pez Magic. So I need to practice.

Different council members, whatever council you are on, have different styles. Me, I’m the kind of guy who likes to playtest proposed changes so that I can see what happens. For example, I have about five Five-Color playtest decks that I use when trying to figure out cards and their interaction. Pez is no different.

And there are issues in Peasant Magic that are more difficult than in Five-Color: Take Strip Mine. Most people feel that a common Strip Mine is simply bad for the environment. However, some ask if Strip Mine’s presence doesn’t keep the environment from becoming worse by staving off problem non-basics like Library of Alexandria and Cabal Coffers. It’s an interesting debate. And after some playtesting, I have come to the conclusion that Strip Mines should be in the environment, so I am pushing for them to be uncommon.

Anyways, with all of these Pez issues, I’ve been doing a lot of playtesting. So I figured, why not toss out some of my playtesting decks? The beauty of a Pez deck is that you can build somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty decks to try around – since they all use mostly commons. Here are my bigger hits.

Sligh Beats

4 Lightning Bolt

4 Incinerate

4 Fireblast

3 Mogg Fanatic

1 Browbeat

4 Raging Goblin

4 Mogg Flunkies

4 Goblin Patrol

4 Fireslinger

4 Phyrexian War Beast

4 Ball Lightning*

4 Strip Mine*

16 Mountains

Let’s start right up front with the basics, eh? And there’s nothing more basic than red and burn.

Here, you have my flavor of Sligh. The uncommon cards are pure gold in Sligh; you can choose from Browbeat, Jackal Pup, Spellshock, and so forth. I like pure power here, and go with Ball Lightning. I use Browbeat as my fifth card.

Phyrexian War Beast has been a staple in my Extended decks off and on for years, and it’s my high-end creature. Right now, I am playing Fireslinger as removal. Sparksmith is better in some cases, but I’ve found that in this highly aggressive environment, Sparksmith just deals too much to you. Sometimes all you need is a pistol, not a bazooka.

Based on what the Council decides to do with Strip Mine and Ball Lightning, if anything, this deck will change… Which is why I think it is an excellent candidate for playtesting.

MBC, Take One

2 Cabal Coffers

1 Skeletal Scrying

2 Demonic Tutor

4 Drain Life

4 Corrupt

4 Order of the Ebon Hand

4 Hymn to Tourach

4 Crypt Rats

2 Brush with Death

4 Diabolic Edict

4 Innocent Blood

25 Swamps

One of the more highly-touted decks currently is the Peasant Magic version of Mono-Black Control. It’s funny; everybody keeps flaunting various builds of MBC, but my own testing hasn’t shown it to be the most successful deck. Maybe I haven’t hit upon the magic combination of cards yet, or maybe I can’t play it well. Still, the above decklist gives some insight into the deck.

When you think MBC, you usually think of Odyssey Block and its splashy rares – like Mutilate. However, many of the ideas are very translatable: With a lot of Strip Mines, I run two Coffers to tutor for, one spare in case a Mine takes out the first. I have ten life-gain methods with the Drain Lifes, Corrupts, and Brushes – the Brushes, as far as I know, are complete Jason tech. I prefer Crypt Rats as my sweeper because they can swing, unlike Pestilence. The Order is an early drop that can pump with a lot of mana and swing, but also plays varsity defense with its first strike ability.

Man, I really wish that Pox was an uncommon!

MBC, Take Two

4 Hymn to Tourach

4 Duress

4 Sinkhole*

4 Paralyze

4 Dark Ritual

4 Oubliette

4 The Rack

4 Funeral Charm

4 Rancid Earth

1 Bottomless Pit

4 Strip Mine*

3 Mishra’s Factory*

16 Swamps

This is my own flavor of Black Control. It is not as mana-hungry as the first, and as such it doesn’t have the obvious holes. However, it is a response to the evolution of Pez Magic. As people keep playing control decks to counter creature rushes, I think a deck needs to keep the control player honest – and here is a deck that does that by attacking the precious resources of a control player.

Please note that the council could take action on the Factory, Mine, or Sinkhole. By the way, Oubliette is the best black creature removal spell in Pez, bar none: I would play them in the first MBC deck if I had more than a simple player’s set. Three mana and boom! Your creature’s gone, never to return unless they can take out the Oubliette – and enchantments are probably the least-played permanent in the environment, thus making enchantment removal a low priority for most players.

The Bottomless Pit is definitely a surprise for most people. In this deck, only the Oubliette and Paralyze need targets, and if you can’t cast them because your opponent doesn’t have any creatures… Well, that is usually a good thing. The Funeral Charm can always kill a creature or force a discard. It is also instant discard, so you can make somebody discard a card on their turn.

The goal, of course, is to slow down your opponent until The Racks kick in and you win from there. The deck is actually pretty good about doing that, and you might be surprised.

White Weenie

4 Order of Leitbur

4 Soul Warden

4 Benevolent Bodyguard

4 Deftblade Elite

4 Soltari Trooper

4 Soltari Monk

1 Soltari Priest

4 Empyreal Armor

4 Phyrexian War Beast

4 Prismatic Strands

1 Soltari Visionary

4 Strip Mine

18 Plains

Like many decks, your uncommons dictate your play style. Mother of Runes, Soltari Monks, Swords to Plowshares, and Charm School are all regular selections for the uncommon slot. My first WW build is more aggressive hardcore WW, so we’ll use some shadow creatures as my uncommons.

Remember to keep extra lands in your hand for the Empyreal Armor. Even a +2/+2 armor isn’t bad, and at +3/+3 it begins to dominate. For those who remember their days of yore, Empyrial Armor + Shadow = Good Times.

I like newcomer Deftblade Elite a lot. He can hold the ground while Shadow guys run past or take out a key blocker. He can even assassinate a lot of creatures that tap; if you can slap him down on turn 1, he’ll keep Mother of Runes, Sparksmith, and a host of other teeny utility guys off the board. All told, there are ten shadow guys, which still gives you enough creatures to block and have a normal ground war.

Control Blue

4 Ophidian

4 Yotian Soldier

1 Wayward Soul

4 Force Spike

4 Counterspell

4 Prohibit

4 Portent

4 Undo

3 Fact or Fiction

2 Wash Out

2 Fade Away

24 Islands

Somebody always wants to see a classic control deck. The simple problem, however, is that it’s no good, but this is the best that I can do. With several sources of card advantage, defense, bounce, and fast countermagic, this is the best I can build – it doesn’t get better. I’ve tried. Although I could use Library of Alexandria and Maze of Ith if I really needed to…

Fade Away is basically the only way you can kill stuff in this deck. Using bounce like Wash Out and Undo to get a hit in with the Ophidian and then when they tap out their mana to replay creatures you can hit them with a Fade Away. The first time you use it, it’s like a Blue Wrath of God. From then on, they expect it and play around it, so there are only two in the deck.

Prohibit is not as bad as you might believe in Pez, where a majority of cards can simply be countered without any kicker. If you don’t feel safe with it, however, you might want to look at Power Sink to go with your Fade Away.

So these are just some of the many decks that I have in the playtesting pool for the Pez council. There is, in fact, an aggro and control deck for every color in the pool. Plus, there are combo decks, big aggro decks (think green beef with really fast ways of getting mana), Type One power decks (Pez Tubbies), and so forth.

Peasant Magic may very well support more winning decks that any other format that I’ve played. So get to it and build a deck!

What are you waiting for?

Until later,

Abe Sargent