Rogue Decks For Regionals: Dark Heart

Though I’m known as a Constructed specialist, my biggest Magic weakness stems directly from Constructed – you see, I like new weird decks way too much. When the rest of Team YMG has long since chosen their decks for the Pro Tour, I’ll still be working on some new, rogue deck idea. So I’m going to indulge my passion. I’m not going to give you the umpteenth article about Tog, U/G Madness, or Slide – no, it’s going to be a month of off-the-beaten-path decks.

For the next few weeks, my articles are going to focus on Standard as a lead-up to Regionals – but not in the way you might think. Though I’m known as a Constructed specialist, my biggest Magic weakness stems directly from Constructed – you see, I like new weird decks way too much. When the rest of Team YMG has long since chosen their decks for the Pro Tour, I’ll still be working on some new, rogue deck idea.

The great thing about playing rogue decks is your opponent has no idea what to do against them. While you will have tested the big matchups many times, and know exactly what to sideboard in and out, they will still be trying to figure out how your deck works, and exactly what cards you might have. Many a time I’ve watched my opponent sweat as they desperately try to figure out how to sideboard against me, shuffle, and present – all in three minutes.

The bad news with my fascination with rogue decks is that I spend time I could be refining my skills with an established deck working on the new and the weird decks. Sadly, more often then not these new deck ideas don’t go anywhere. The established decks are set a very high bar for any rogue deck to clear… But when that bar is cleared, the result provides such an edge that it makes it all worthwhile.

So I’m going to indulge my passion. I’m not going to give you the umpteenth article about Tog, U/G Madness, or Slide – no, it’s going to be a month of off-the-beaten-path decks. Let me remind any who will consider running one of my decks for Regionals: While one of these decks may be the key to your Qualifying for Nats, rogue decks often suck. If you’re going to pick one of these things up and run with it, make sure you test thoroughly against all the big matchups first.

Enough said. On to this week’s deck!

“Dark Heart”

Green/Black Reanimator

4 Birds of Paradise

1 Druid Lyrist

4 Entomb

4 Wild Mongrel

1 Withered Wretch

4 Buried Alive

4 Doomed Necromancer

4 Zombify

1 Roar of the Wurm

2 Phantom Centaur

1 Anger

1 Genesis

1 Phantom Nishoba

1 Gigapede

1 Visara the Dreadful

1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath

9 Forest

9 Swamp

1 Mountain

2 Bloodstained Mire

4 Wooded Foothills


3 Duress

1 Cabal Therapy

1 Elvish Scrapper

1 Ray of Revelation

1 Coffin Purge

2 Phantom Centaur

1 Silklash Spider

3 Compost

2 Chainer’s Edict

Okay, I admit it – I’m a sucker for reanimation decks. There’s nothing quite as fun as getting a finishing creature on the table while the opponent’s deck is just getting started.

How It Works:

On its most basic level, Dark Heart plays like Benzo from Extended; get the creature your opponent’s deck can’t handle into play fast. One nice feature of this deck is that it has a lot more going on then that primary plan.

It can put out quick pressure (or quick defense) with Birds, Mongrels, Phantom Centaurs, and Roar of the Wurm. It can also work through permission or removal with the relentless power of Genesis.

Card Breakdown:

4 Birds of Paradise:

Color smoothing and speed. They’re nice because they allow you to straight-up cast Phantom Nishoba and Ray of Revelation.

4 Entomb:

Entomb has fantastic flexibility in this deck. Its obvious role, of course, is to get a fatty like Visara or Phantom Nishoba in the grave for easy reanimation – but it also serves a Demonic Tutor-like role. You can Entomb for Anger to give your team permanent haste. An Entomb for the Roar gives you access to a quick 6/6. It also works very well with sideboard cards like Cabal Therapy, Ray of Revelation, and Coffin Purge.

The most common Entomb target, however, is Genesis. Sneaking Genesis into your graveyard before Tog can counter (or while they are tapped out), gives you a great way around their Chainer’s Edicts and counters.

4 Buried Alive:

With other Reanimator decks, permission-based decks could chose to ignore your Buried Alive and counter your Reanimation spells. The Genesis in Dark Heart makes that plan backfire in a big way. Another neat interaction between Buried Alive and Genesis is that you don’t even need to have reanimation spells in your hand. You can Buried for the fatty you want to win with, Genesis, and a Doomed Necromancer. It’s slow, but it works!

When casting Buried Alive, you should get one threat card and two utility cards; the most common utility cards would be Anger and Genesis.

4 Wild Mongrel:

In addition to being quick beatdown or defense, the Mongrel represents Dark Heart’s third primary way to stock its graveyard. Compared to Entomb and Buried Alive, Wild Mongrel obviously has his limitations: You can only discard what you happen to have in your hand, as opposed to searching your deck for the perfect creature to suit your attack plan, but it works out surprisingly often.

4 Zombify:

Put a fatty into play; plain and simple.

4 Doomed Necromancer:

A 2/2 Zombify on a stick that you can get back with Genesis. He obviously works better with Anger in the grave for haste. Keep in mind if you have a Doomed in the grave and an active one in play, you can block all day long.

1 Withered Wretch:

Utility in the form of graveyard control. In some matchups, you will want to buried for this guy and Genesis. Another possibility for this spot is Crypt Creeper. While the Wretch has advantages, the fact that the Crypt Creeper doesn’t require mana to use may give it the nod over the Wretch.

1 Roar of the Wurm:

Four Entombs and four Mongrels give you unbelievable access to that one Roar if you want it. Often you have bigger fish to fry, but the option of the quick 6/6 is nice. Sometimes you get the Bird, Mongrel, Anger, Roar hand and things end very quickly.

2 Phantom Centaur (+ 2 in the sideboard):

In addition to being great against Tog, these big Pro Black monsters give Dark Heart a nice second dimension as a green monster deck. This can be a nice fallback position after sideboarding if you fear your opponent has lots of graveyard hate that would make the reanimation game plan look bad.

1 Anger:

Fun with haste! Anger is particularly useful to making the Genesis/Lyrist combo good against Slide.

1 Genesis:

Good for all the reasons already discussed, Genesis is the main thing that separates Dark Heart from the Black/Red Reanimator decks.

1 Phantom Nishoba:

Your saving grace against Goblins, the Nishoba gives Dark Heart access to considerable life gain.

1 Gigapede:

The untargetability and recursion are nice, but the thing I most often use the Gigapede for is to get a fatty out of my hand and into the grave. If you have a Zombify and Entomb, but the creature you want in play is in your hand, just Entomb for the Gigapede and make the swap.

1 Visara the Dreadful:

Invaluable creature kill, and very castable.

1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath:

What can I say? Sometimes a 6/6 flying, first-striking, trampling, hasted, protection from black, protection from red angel solves all of your problems.

1 Druid Lyrist:

With the four Entombs, four Burieds, and a Genesis, this one card makes it feel like you’re packing a lot of enchantment removal.

Sideboard Card Breakdown:

3 Duress:

Possibly the best black card ever printed, the Duresses are clutch against Tog, Slide, and B/R Reanimator.

1 Cabal Therapy

It’s in the place of the fourth Duress because of its synergy with Entomb.

1 Elvish Scrapper

Works like Lyrist in combo with Genesis to result in excessive artifact control out of one card. You must side this in against R/G, as well as any other deck that will try to Ensnaring Bridge you out.

1 Ray of Revelation

This went in over Naturalize mainly because it can be Entombed.

1 Coffin Purge:

Combine with Entomb to control Wonder, Glory, and opposing reanimation spells.

2 Phantom Centaur

Great to hold off the beatdown decks, these guys also come in any time you think your opponent may have good”hate” cards for the reanimation strategy.

1 Silklash Spider:

U/G can be one of the tougher matchups, and the Spider’s ability to turn Wonder into a liability is quite good against them.

3 Compost

I find it hard to play a green deck without Compost. Amazing versus any Mono-black build and solid against Tog.

2 Chainer’s Edict

These come in versus Reanimator and any aggressive creature deck.

The Missing Card

I would really like to add a Symbiotic Wurm to the deck as the card you put out against decks packing Edict. Unfortunately I haven’t found room for it yet. Right now I’m making do with Genesis as the weapon against Edict. That works pretty well, but at times it can be too slow.

Sideboarding Strategies:

Vs. Goblin and Red/Green

In these matchups, it’s all about Phantom Nishoba. The other reanimation targets just aren’t necessary.

Take out: 1 Lyrist, 1Wretch, 1 Visara, 1 Akroma, 1 Birds of Paradise

Bring in: 2 Edict, 2 Centaur, 1 Elvish Scrapper

Vs. Tog

In this matchup, I often take out much of my reanimation theme. This is for two reasons: First, they are likely to have sideboard cards that attack that strategy, and second, you just have so much good stuff to bring in, you have to make room somehow.

Take out: 4 Zombify, 1 Akroma, 4 Buried Alive

Bring In: 3 Duress, 1 Cabal Therapy, 2 Phantom Centaur, 3 Compost

Vs. Blue Green Madness

They’re fast, and they often have bounce or Krosan Reclamations, both of which make Zombify look bad.

Take out: 4 Zombify, -2 Entomb

Bring In: 2 Edict, 2 Phantom Centaur, 1 Silklash Spider, 1 Coffin Purge

Vs. Slide

Lightning Rift and Wrath of God make Birds an easy mark. If they have Morningtide, bring the extra Centaurs in.

Take out: 4 Birds, 1Withered Wretch, 1 Roar of the Wurm

Bring In: 3 Duress, 1 Cabal Therapy, 1 Ray of Revelation, Silklash Spider

Vs. the rest:

Zombify is an easy card to sideboard against. If you feel they may have answers, take them out and make room for your Centaurs and other good sideboard cards.

Final Note

Keep in mind, this deck (as are all the decks I will feature this month) is a little rough around the edges. You will need to tune and tweak it before considering it for your Regionals deck.