Hello and welcome to my own temporary daily series outlining a casual deck of some sort or another. Adam Gryphondorf has done an excellent job these past few weeks with his article series, and now I have the torch. My series will feature casual decks, not decks that I recommend taking to the next PTQ or anything. Although some casual decks have a solid history at local store tourneys and Friday Night Magic, the majority of these decks are designed for the kitchen table.
For each deck, I’ll outline a basic deck idea, give you the decklist, go over some card choices, explain how it plays, and finish with some alternative suggestions. I know that a lot of casual Magic players are bereft of major funding, so many of my decks will be wallet-friendly. However, when a deck idea leads me to expensive cards, I’ll have to honor that.
Without further ado, allow me to present today’s deck!
One of my all time favorite cards is Living Death. I’ve often thought of Living Death as a combination of Wrath of God and Armageddon. How so? Well, one plays a Wrath of God when one is losing, and re-establishes board equilibrium – a major game swing. One plays Armageddon when one is winning a bit and swings the game very strongly in your favor – a major game swing. Living Death, however, is one of the few cards in Magic that can take an unfavorable board position, and turn it into a winning board position – a mightier swing then either Wrath of God or Armageddon can do on their own.
Living Death is so iconic that Wizards used it in their multiplayer gift set. Now, before we get all crazy and toss in a bajillion expensive cards like four Birds of Paradise, Survival of the Fittest, and Kokusho the Broken, let’s slow down and take a look at my decklist.
4 Living Death
4 Spike Feeder
2 Spike Weaver
4 Spike Soldier
2 Mindless Automaton
2 Arcbound Fiend
4 Wall of Blossoms
3 Eternal Witness
3 Bone Shredder
2 Hunting Moa
2 Jugan, the Rising Star
2 Recurring Nightmare
1 Volrath’s Stronghold
This deck is not your normal Living Death deck with a ton of beef. Neither is it some G/B toolbox deck that will have an answer to every possible scenario, instead this deck eschews pure power and pure control for synergy. When you play this deck, you’ll need some counters. You’ll need a lot of counters.
The core of this deck is its spiky center. Ten creatures in this deck have the ability to hop counters wherever you need them. You have a variety of effects to use counters on, from gaining life to drawing cards and more, so there are a lot of options here. Jugan is often your winning condition, but it will die regularly, so your deck benefits significantly from its passing.
At first, Arcbound Fiend may seem out of place. However, he can modular his counters to Triskelion and Mindless Automaton, each of which is strong. I really like him for his fear ability. If Jugan dies, the Fiend is your next best killing device, so load him up with Jugan’s counters and away he goes. If someone kills him, hop the counters to a Triskelion and you have more synergy.
Unless there is a reason to let them stick around, send echo creatures to your graveyard to await their use again. Eternal Witness, Living Death, Recurring Nightmare and the Stronghold all ensure that creatures will have multiple lives. [I feel like I should make a Shirley McLaine joke here, but nobody would get it. – Knut, feeling oooold]
If you want to modify the deck and add additional cards, recognize that this deck could benefit from an infusion of cash – Birds of Paradise and Survival of the Fittest could both find a home. You could shore up your deck by adding a few tutors, like Demonic, Vampiric or Diabolic. Tossing in a few Naturalizes would also liven your deck.
Alternatively, you could explore other creatures that enhance the theme of the deck. Maybe you like Mindwarper, a solid Stronghold rare that will strip cards with +1/+1 counters. Maybe you want to go with Pentavus to give you another flying win condition (or, alternatively, you could use Thopter Squadron).
A third color could really help, especially Red. Red opens up Flametongue Kavu, Keldon Champion, Ghitu Slinger, Ancient Hydra, Avalanche Riders, Keldon Vandals, Magmasaur, and more. You could also play cards like Thunderscape Battlemage and Granger Guildmage. There are a lot of ways that you can go with this deck. Enjoy it!
I can tell that this is going to be an interesting series already. I hope that you enjoy it!