SCG Daily – A Deck a Day: Culling the Past

In today’s installment of “A Deck a Day,” Abe concentrates on Guildpact’s Orzhovian Wrath of God – Culling Sun.

Hello and welcome back to our Tuesday installment of A Deck a Day, the article where points only matter if you win and I determine the decks to feature. Today I wanted to build a deck around one of the more powerful cards from Guildpact.

The problem with Culling Sun in Orzhov decks is that so many good Orzhov creatures die to this card. That makes the card a lot less Orzhov and a lot more neutral. I want a deck where my creatures don’t get in the way of my best spell.

The problem with this strategy is that I’m going to need some way to keep early creatures from beating up on me. The solution? Let’s take a look.

Incidentally, today’s deck will be completely available to play on Magic: The Electronic, for all of the fans out there to whom such a deck would be desirable.

This deck combines several cards from several blocks to create a solid Black/White control deck. Ravnica block gives us Mortify and Culling Sun. Invasion block adds Death Grasp, Hobble, and Caves of Koilos. Kamigawa block adds Ghostly Prison. Odyssey block gives us Teroh’s Faithful and Eternal Dragon. Lastly, Onslaught block delivers Zombie Cutthroat, Bane of the Living, and Windborn Muse.

Out of all of these sets and blocks comes a pretty decent control deck. Let’s take a look at the elements:

Early Defense – We don’t have anything until the third turn, barring plainscycling, but then we have numerous options. Drop a morphed creature; Mortify or Hobble an attacker; or drop a Ghostly Prison to slow opponents down. On the fourth turn, you can regain some life and provide a blocker with Teroh’s Faithful, or drop a flyer that will slow down an opponent: Windborn Muse.

Between all of these options, you’ll be plenty prepared if you are attacked early and often. Ghostly Prison followed by a Windborn Muse will slow down attacks to a crawl.

Removal – I can’t play a deck that doesn’t have removal. Here we have Mortify, Hobble, Bane of the Living, and Culling Sun to pop things. If you fear artifacts or lands, feel free to substitute the slower but more versatile Vindicate for Mortifies. Feel encouraged to drop a Bane morphed on the third turn, then flip on the fourth and take out all x/2s and less. You can usually swing for two damage that turn as well. Don’t use the Culling Sun until you have too.

Where possible, save Mortify and Hobble for the big stuff, and let Culling Sun and Bane of the Living take out the small stuff.

Winning Conditions – This deck has a pair of Eternal Dragons for both early mana development as well as late game recursion. It will often be your winning route of choice.

You also have a pair of Death Grasp. Don’t be afraid to use these early in order to clear out any creatures. Later, they’ll kill someone if you’ve been hitting them.

Zombie Cutthroats are a bit of tech in casual circles these days. No one expects them anymore. Morphed creatures are expected to either be big stompers or utility guys (like Bane of the Living or Willbender), and usually the latter. As such, you can really catch an opponent unprepared by playing a Zombie Cutthroat morphed on the third turn, then laughing as a 3/3 or 2/3 or what not attacks into your morph with no mana. You block, pay the life, and flip over your Cutthroat. You can also use this trick when a Shock or Lightning Bolt comes its way.

Don’t be afraid to pay the life for a Cutthroat. You have six cards that will gain you that life back, and well as enough defense to keep your opponent away for a long time.

Cutthroats also confuse opponents who may think that they are Bane of the Livings (or, if they saw the Cutthroat first, they may play around a morphed Bane thinking that it’s the Zombie that we all know and love).

Other Cards – I mentioned Teroh’s Faithful before, but I wanted to reiterate its purpose. Normally, it regains you life you lost in early attacks and serves as a speed bump on the ground. With Ghostly Prison and Windborn Muse keeping creatures from attacking, they’ll likely be untapped and useful for blocking.

When this situation occurs, you always want to have a few blockers in case they destroy a Ghostly Prison or your Muse and then try to attack. The Faithful serves perfectly at such a role.

Hobble is a fine card as an adjunct to other strategies. It doesn’t prevent non-Black creatures from blocking, but it does prevent them all from attacking, which is what you need. It also replaces itself, which is nice, especially in the early game when you may be searching for answers. Never be afraid to play with Hobble, just never rely on it solely. Remember, it is adjunct removal, not primary removal.

If you wanted to change this deck, I’d start with what it does. Maybe you need more enchantment removal and flyers, so an Aven Cloudchaser would be handy. Maybe you need to deal more damage to your opponent because they play cards that stifle your attacks. Blind Hunter might be good there. Maybe Regenerators are ruining your day, so Keening Banshee is in the cards. Maybe you’d prefer Kokusho to the Eternal Dragon. Whatever your desire, this is a very malleable deck, and you can easily bend it to your needs and card collection.

I seriously considered Glory for this deck… it fits in nicely, but without a guaranteed discard or sacrifice outlet I thought it would just be an expensive flyer. Still, you might want to see what kind of distance you can get with Glory.

By the way, this is a perfect example of a deck that would be made better through the use of the new duals. You could use Eternal Dragon’s plainscycling ability to get Godless Shrine and fix your Black mana as well as your White.

I hope you found today’s deck mentally stimulating, and that you’ll join us again tomorrow as we take another look into the deck closet.

Until Later,
Abe Sargent