Rise Of Aintrazi – How Could You Be So Heartless? *6th*

Ali made 6th place at Richmond with Heartless Summoning! If he were to run the deck again in Cincinnati this weekend, what changes would he make?

So some of you might have heard: I had no heart in Richmond. I was like the Tin Man. Well rest assured: I have found a heart just in time for Hawaii!

Speaking of Hawaii, I’m not sure what I will be playing. I would love to play some sort of control deck, but all the good control decks are just midrange decks. I’m sure I’ll figure something out; at worst I just audible to Delver, right? That would be so sad. D:

I had planned to play Four-Color Control in Richmond, but I spent some time testing Birthing Pod. Gerard Fabiano (one of the coolest people if not the coolest to hang out with) called me, and I told him I was testing Birthing Pod and that I might build Heartless Summoning and test that for a bit. He invited me to come up to his room and test. It took me about 45 minutes to find all the cards for Heartless Summoning and build it. However I ended up not going up and testing with Gerard—probably the worst mistake of my life. Next time, Gerard, I promise!

Anyway here is the list I ran for the Standard Open in Richmond.

I’d tested this deck with friends before Richmond, but I kept telling myself that it was probably not good enough. However it kept winning. So I thought, “What the hell? What’s the worst that happens? I scrub out? It’s happened before with a brew. But what if I win? I could potentially change the metagame.” And that’s why I played this deck in Richmond.

I knew about the Grixis combo with Priest of Urabrask, Heartless Summoning, and Havengul Lich, but it took too many slots, and you’d durdle sometimes by not having anything in the graveyard. Not to mention you had to run three colors, and I was fine with just two. I stuck to my guns and ran straight U/B.

I had some extremely close games where I stabilized at five or less life and was able to come back and take the game over. I even had one game against Humans where I had no creatures on the battlefield and was at one life. He had two Mirran Crusaders and was sitting at a healthy twenty. On my turn, I chained Sphinx of Uthuun and quickly snatched away the game that seemed so far out of reach! This deck can just set up some insane turns that no other deck can dream to match—not to mention it’s a blast to play.

I had another really close and good game against Calosso Fuentes playing Five-Color Control. He wiped my board two or three times and then exiled my graveyard three or four times all in one game. I was finally able to get Havengul Lich online, and as I tried to cast Phantasmal Images from his graveyard, he attempted to exile them with Nihil Spellbomb. I then killed all his Phantasmal Images that were in play, ending his Sun Titan shenanigans. I also managed to mise an Elesh Norn with a Desperate Ravings when he had seven cards in hand.


Moar about the deck!

All right enough stories; more about the deck! I’m sure you are aware of the Perilous Myr combo with Havengul Lich and Heartless Summoning; this turns all your lands into improved, sorcery-speed versions of the Koth of the Hammer emblem lands. In testing, I had one Perilous Myr in the deck as a tutor target for Rune-Scarred Demon, but I found myself not needing it. When I cast Rune-Scarred Demon, I almost always just grabbed a Phantasmal Image or Phyrexian Metamorph so I could chain the Demons. I would usually end the chain on another Rune-Scarred Demon—or a Havengul Lich if I feared a wrath effect or had a big graveyard with Demons and/or Sphinx of Uthuun. So I moved the Myr to the board; I just never wanted it when I was chaining big fatties.

I didn’t run any countermagic in my deck; it just plain sucks right now. What do you plan to counter when your opponent casts multiple one- and two-drops? If you are on the draw, you never want to see a Mana Leak because you will be too far behind for it to be useful, especially against Delver, Humans, or Tempered Steel. Don’t let me get started on Dissipate. You already beat control decks, since you have so many threats, and a resolved Mimic Vat post-board is almost always game over. So I just stuck to more maindeck removal, and that worked out pretty well. Tragic Slip is one of the best cards in this boring, tempo-filled format. It kills almost everything without morbid, and with morbid, nothing lives.

My sideboard was a disaster. I had too many cards against the tempo decks and just not enough to take out. I would keep the Mimic Vats and Ratchet Bombs. Everything else can go or be changed. Mimic Vat is the best card against any slow control deck. Ratchet Bomb and Whipflare are both really good against the tempo decks, but we don’t have access to Whipflare, so I’ll just stick with Ratchet Bombs. I would also probably play another Black Sun’s Zenith or Curse of Death’s Hold in the board.

Potential Changes

As I was playing the deck all weekend, I was pretty amazed how much better Rune-Scarred Demon was than Sphinx of Uthuun. I thought they would be close, but the only time I favored the Sphinx was when my opponent had a Sword of Feast and Famine on his side of the table. Every other time, the Demon was miles better.

Wurmcoil Engine was never amazing, but it did its job.

Solemn Simulacrum isn’t too great, but I feel it’s needed in case you don’t get Heartless Summoning or your opponent deals with the enchantment.

Frost Titan was surprisingly quite good, locking up annoying or potentially deadly permanents. He also passed the Vapor Snag test by doing something immediately upon entering play and by making Vapor Snag cost three mana, stemming the bleeding. If my opponents had only three lands, I would lock them up to make Frost Titan harder to deal with.

I’ve also wanted to lower the curve of the deck to make it not rely so heavily on Heartless Summoning. I would do this by cutting the all the Sphinxes and probably a Rune-Scarred Demon for more Frost Titans and maybe Bloodgift Demons.

Let’s draw up a list real quick.

All right so the mana curve isn’t quite as intensive as it used to be. We still have two seven-drops, but that’s a lot fewer than five. I also fixed the problem of not having a turn-two play when playing around Mana Leak. Being able to cast Distress on turn two is a pretty big advantage, and it’s a much better card than Mana Leak in this deck.

Here’s a common scenario: Let’s say your opponent is playing U/X deck and casts a two-drop on turn four, leaving two mana up for Mana Leak. You now can Distress them, and if they counter it, you can still jam Heartless Summoning without fear.

We can also now chain Frost Titans. If our opponents thought multiple Rune-Scarred Demons were scary, they are in for a world of hurt when we tap down all their threats or lands. A turn-four Frost Titan followed by a turn-five Frost Titan and Phantasmal Image is just game breaking. We no longer have Sphinx of Uthuun, but its Phyrexian brother does a reasonable, if not better, impersonation. While the deck still relies on Heartless Summoning, now it’s not as much.

I’d also like to quickly update you on the Pox deck I’ve been running for Legacy. Here is what I ran on Sunday.

I didn’t do too well that day, going 1-2 drop. The games were very close, and I felt like got pretty unlucky to lose the games I did. Against Reanimator, I had a turn-two Karakas thanks to Life from the Loam and Entomb. He reanimated Angel of Despair turn four, and five turns later, I was dead. I never drew a second black source to cast the Smallpox or Liliana of the Veil in my hand.

I also lost a match where I Inquisitioned my opponent to see he didn’t have much action, but he proceeded to draw Ancient Tomb, then Lotus Petal, which allowed him to Sneak Attack an Emrakul. I knew he had only three lands in hand, so I thought I could come back, but he drew the second Emrakul the following turn. It’s part of what makes Magic awesome, especially the Legacy format where games can swing so quickly. Don’t let my record dissuade you from playing the deck.

A change you might have noticed was the addition of Bloodghasts. This was a concession to annoying planeswalkers like Jace and Elspeth. Nether Spirit just wasn’t cutting it against them, and the Bloodghasts also put on a much faster clock once you crippled your opponent. Also the times I cast Worm Harvests out of the board were amazing. That card should always be somewhere in the 75; it’s just that good.

This deck folds to Mono Red, so sadly it may not be the correct choice for the Opens right now. If you do want to play it, I would suggest Zuran Orb, Heroes’ Reunion (splashing a Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrubland[/author] in the maindeck), or Adam Prosak tech! Firemane Angels alongside some Buried Alive.

Hopefully I can come back with an awesome Pro Tour Hawaii report.

As always, thanks for reading,

Ali the Greathearted

You can follow me @AliEldrazi on Twitter.