The Kitchen Table #132: Bad Rares Redux

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Abe revisists his infamous “Bad Rares Box,” and plucks out some tasty Magic nuggets with which to concoct delicious decks. Looking for an edge at your Kitchen Table? As always, Abe is here to help.

I love bad rares low value rares. I keep them in a box and leave them there for later. Very rarely do I actually go into the bad rare box in order to see what’s there.

Instead, I usually use the box for a series of articles I started a long time ago. The premise is simple enough. I grab a rare from the box at random, and then I am forced to build a deck around it. I have to take whatever I get, there are no throw backs.

Over time, I have pulled out a lot of interesting cards. However, it’s been a while since I last wrote one of these articles, and I’m feeling in the mood to write some more. Let’s tear into this game, shall we? Why get bothered with the details?

Edit: This is Abe, after I wrote the article, chiming in. There are some interesting results this time, lower in the article. I hope that you like them!

Stalking Bloodsucker

The first card I flip over, which you can tell from the title of this section, is Stalking Bloodsucker. Normally, when I do this, I like to build a variety of decks for a variety of players. Should this be my uber-casual deck? How about a spin on a normal control deck? Is this my silly combo deck card? How about a solid looking deck from start to finish?

At best, Stalking Bloodsucker could be part of a vampire theme deck or maybe an adjunct to a control strategy. The Bloodsucker pumps itself and causes you to discard cards, so let’s see if we can’t find a way to use that.

This deck starts as a removal deck. Between Flametongue Kavu, Arsonists, and Befouls, you can take out a lot of creatures. Pillage is your source of artifact removal, so use them well.

In case you see an opportunity, Befoul and Pillage can also take out lands, and you can get some tempo from their use early in the game. Probably the best use of them is to deny a color to your opponent.

There are several discard elements here, specifically the Pyromancy and the Bloodsucker. After loading up a graveyard, feel free to recur a creature. Ideally, you’ll want to Zombify or Necromancer up a Bladewing the Risen, which, in turn, brings up a Dragon Tyrant (remember to pay the upkeep). If you don’t have the upkeep for a Tyrant, there’s still a good ol’ Shivan Dragon there.

Everything in the deck is a good reanimation target. Recurring a Pardic Arsonist in order to bolt someone or something is a fine choice. Bringing back an FTK is also solid. A Bloodsucker is a 4/4 flying beater, so that’s not bad either. Dragons are obviously ideal. You can even Zombify back a Necromancer.

Why would you want to Zombify back a Necromancer? If you have a Pyromancy on the table, you can blow your hand, and still have a Necromancer in play to recur the biggest thing you discarded. If your hand looks like this:

Dragon Tyrant

… Then feel free to Zombify back a Necromancer and throw your hand away to a Pyromancy (dealing 13 damage in this case) and reanimating either the Dragon, or something else if your prefer.

The reason the Necromancer is in this deck instead of another method of recursion is specifically because it can be a Seal of Zombify. The 2/2 Seal of Zombify not only can swing for damage, but also can be used as a follow-up to the Pyromancy.

A well-timed Pyromancy can kill an unsuspecting opponent. Make sure you take full advantage of that.

Between the removal, creatures, and recursion, there should be enough in here for a lot of players. Another idea might be to find space for Void, which could fit in this deck quite easily.

Our first attempt wasn’t too hard. I wonder what I’ll flip next?


I’m tired of getting the ante cards. First Amulet of Quoz, and now, this. Ick. I’m making a new rule. Ante cards can get tossed back.


Gemini Engine

Now see? This is a much better choice. The problem is that Gemini Engine doesn’t immediately scream anything to me. There’s no obvious choice to use here. I’ll have to dig deeply.

It makes a copy just for combat. I could sacrifice the copy to a Goblin Bombard…. nope. I use Goblin Bombardment far too much. I need something different. What else? Well, the copy has the exact power and toughness of the original. Hmmm…

I have, in my head, the following ideal turn:

Have out a Gemini Engine and a Bloodshot Cyclops. Blood Lust the Engine (now a 7/1). Attack with Engine. Make a twin. Two 7/1’s attacking. Assume your opponent blocks both. Put damage on the stack. Tap a Cyclops to deal seven damage to your opponent. Cast Fling and deal seven more. If one of the two parts was unblocked, your opponent is now dead. Otherwise you can deal four more with the Cyclops next turn… and with painlands, earlier removal, and such, you can kill your opponent.

I decide to run Pyroclasm to keep the little creatures at bay. There’s no sense having an obvious weakness when you are already playing a color that shores that weakness up. In fact, this is a deck that could probably benefit from playing Earthquake, in order to soften your opponent. Therefore, I threw in couple of those as well.

As backup removal, I tossed in a quartet of Terminate. They’ll take care of anything big enough (or “flying enough”) to survive your Pyroclasm and Earthquake. They can also remove a blocker at a critical time.

In order to get a hit in with a 7/1 Gemini Engine, I’ve included both Dauthi Embrace and Word of Binding. Dauthi Embrace will frighten most opponents silly. I doubt it will stay on the board for long. If it does, here is how the critical turn changes:

In play, Gemini Engine, Bloodshot Cyclops.
Blood Lust the Engine.
Attack with Engine. Make a Twin.
Give the card Shadow. If you have enough mana, also give the token Shadow.
Throw the token at the opponent.

If both get Shadow, you just dealt 21 damage. If you use a Fling instead of a Cyclops, you still deal 21. If you have neither a Cyclops nor a Fling, you can still deal 14 if you give both Shadow, and then on the following turn you’ll deal the remaining six damage from a shadowed Engine and its shadowed twin.

As I said, however, I expect that any deck that can will do everything possible to off an Embrace. As a result, there is a backup way to force a creature through – Word of Binding. Using this, you can tap all potential blockers before serving. Bloodlust, Word everything, attack for fourteen, tap the Cyclops to deal another seven, and you’ve just killed an opponent.

Although the Cyclops is great to have, you really need the Engine. As such, I included a full set of Netherborn Phalanxes in order to find an Engine. If you don’t need an Engine, get a Cyclops. Remember that you could use multiple Engines in case the first one gets removed. Ideally, you could just replace these with, say, normal, regular tutors.

If you expect a lot of removal, play some sort of protection. Guardian Beast would work nicely if it protected creatures, but it doesn’t. You could remove the Black from the deck altogether and go White. Grab Leonin Abunas or Hanna’s Custody. You can still have tutor effects with Enlightened Tutor and such instead of transmute. You’d probably run Lightning Helix instead of Terminate. Instead of Dauthi Embrace and Word of Binding you could use the variety of White tapping effects at your disposal.

Remember that you can Bloodlust any creature with a six defense or less and then kill it with a Pyroclasm. Don’t sit with a Blood Lust in your hand with a Pyroclasm, wondering how you’ll kill your opponent’s Archangel.

Actually, I like this deck more than the previous one. I think the first deck will win more games. I think this deck will win more games spectacularly.

Let’s see what comes next.

Circle of Solace

This is not going to be an easy card to find a use for. The first thing that came to my mind was to use the Circle of Solace with Unnatural Selection to prevent the damage from any creature for 1WU. While that’s not a bad idea, I think I can do better for all of the Johnnies out there.

This deck does a lot of things, but unfortunately, it has a problematic manabase. As a result, I am running the expensive Mox Diamond as a way to fix the mana problems. If you run this deck and you don’t have them, you absolutely want to up the number of non-basic lands.

Ultimately, this deck wants to do one thing. Play a Conspiracy, name Camarids, and then Donate it.

With your opponent controlling a Camarid Conspiracy, your deck now does several things.

1) With a Circle of Solace naming Camarids, you can prevent damage from any opposing creature.

2) With a Homarid Spawning Bed, you can have Camarids too, which is funny.

3) With a bunch of Camarid tokens, you play Peer Pressure and take all of your opponent’s Camarids. That should be all of his creatures.

You can use Unnatural Selection if you’ve already played a Circle of Solace but no Conspiracy or Donate is in sight. It will still do the whole 1UW protection thing, in an emergency. The Unnatural Selection will also work as an adjunct to Peer Pressure.

Suppose that you’ve played Conspiracy naming Camarid, and you are just waiting for a Donate. Turn a few opposing creatures into Camarids with Unnatural Selection and then play Peer Pressure in order to get the best creatures. Even if all you get is two creatures, ganking your opponent’s Kokusho or Meloku is worth it.

Suppose you don’t even have a Conspiracy out. Use the Unnatural Selection to turn two of your creatures into another creature type that you opponent has, and Peer Pressure to get a great creature. Again, Kokusho is worth playing Peer Pressure for all by himself. You can also use a Mistform Wall to supplement this strategy.

If your opponent has more creatures that you, after you have Donated a Camarid Conspiracy, you can make a few non-Camarids so that you can take the rest.

Drift of Phantasms doubles as both a nice wall as a way to tutor for either a Donate or a Spawning Bed. You can also Mystical Tutor for Donate or Peer Pressure when you need them.

After that, we have some walls. You can play them, and then sac them to a Spawning Bed as needed. I also included the Most Powerful Creature of All Time from a purely power/toughness advantage to casting cost comparison if you ignore the whole defender thing. What creature am I speaking about? Illusionary Wall, the 7/4 flying first striking Wall of Doom. Just sac it to get five Camarid tokens when the upkeep gets too high.

Mirror Wall can even attack, so you’ve got a bit of surprise there. Mistform Wall will help play with creature types. This should give you enough fuel for the Spawning Bed.

With all of the mad Peer Pressure/Conspiracy/Donate/Circle of Solace/Homarid Spawning Bed fun about, I hope that you enjoy this deck.

Will the next card brining similar joy?

Armageddon Clock

Have you ever had that feeling that you may have already built a deck similar. Have I already built an Armageddon Clock deck? I’ve obviously written too many articles if I can’t remember if I ever built a deck before. Sigh. I’ll skip the Clock, but I have a really great idea for it, so I guess we all lose here.

I reach in and hopefully pull out something that I know I’ve never built around….

Overlaid Terrain

That’s certainly a low value rare alright. Still, I feel like I can do some Abesque deck with it. You know, similar to many of my decks with funky mana and weird enchantments and lots of fun. Let’s see what I can do with this one.

There are two important factors to Overlaid Terrain. Firstly, you can make any mana with the enchantment. Secondly, you sacrifice all of your lands. Hmm.

This deck, by the way, screams for Mox Diamond, but I already used them once this article and I guess I feel like I’ve used my quota. If you have them, absolutely replace a pair of Signets and Talismans for them. Maybe swap Wall of Blossoms for Wall of Roots in that case.

This deck does a lot of funky things, so let’s go through this very slowly.

Firstly, this deck ideally wants to play Overlaid Terrain in order to accelerate its mana, and then play Planar Birth in order to get all of those lands back. Once that happens, all of the deck’s tricks come out to play.

If it doesn’t happen quickly, there are no worries. We have a lot of ways of stalling until the tricks come online. We can be playing artifact mana, which will help us play planar Birth after dropping an Overlaid Terrain. We can play Wall of Blossoms, which will not only create a blocker but also help find what we need. We can drop a Scroll Rack and start searching for the cards we need. We can drop a Selesnya Guildmage to block, and eventually make tokens. Sunstone can stall opponents for a while. If we get artifact mana, we can even play Enlightened Tutor to search up something important or drop Sterling Grove to either search or protect the Overlaid Terrain. If the game stalls for a while before taking off, we can even drop a Copper-Leaf Angel.

In other words, although this deck wants to get an Overlaid Terrain out and play Planar Birth, it doesn’t need to for a good, long while.

Once that happens, the entire deck is opened up. There are several ways included to put pressure on opponents and kill. The best kill mechanism in the deck is the pair of Undercity Shades. Every Forest will tap for a pair of Black mana once an Overlaid Terrain is in play. Attack with your feared Shade and then pump it six or eight times to deal seven or nine damage unblocked. That’s a nasty surprise.

Another option to put pressure on is to use Death Grasp to smack someone for a lot of damage while also gaining life. Death Grasp is just as good as Consume Spirit, except that you can use the artifact mana as well to add to its mana, so I wanted to use it. I chose it over Red X spell options because you can gain life with it, which is great in multiplayer because it protects you. Of course, you might just want to run Torch in order to get it through, or even Urza’s Rage.

Copper-Leaf Angel is another way to put pressure on someone. Play it and then sac a bunch of lands to pump it. Make it huge. You can always Planar Birth your lands back into play, and meanwhile, you have a huge 7/7 or 8/8 flyer than can kill even Akroma.

I liked building on the Planar Birth theme, so there are a few other ways to work it. My favorite combo with Planar Birth is Excavation. Sac a land for a mana to draw a card, and repeat numerous times, then play Planar Birth and all the lands are back. Since you just drew a bunch of cards, the likelihood that you drew another Planar Birth is good, and you can repeat and draw tons of cards. You can always discard extra cards that you drew, and then Planar Birth. I really like the interaction between these two cards, and I’m filing this away for later use in more decks.

Sunstone serves admirably as a defense for all sorts of creatures until you get an Overlaid Terrain out, or until you find player kill. For the price of two mana, Sunstone allows you to sacrifice a snow-covered land in order to Fog for the turn. You can get the lands back later a la Planar Birth.

I also tossed in a Zuran Orb for an immediate life boost. You can follow this by playing the Planar Birth and there’s no net loss of lands, but you gained a lot of life.

If I felt the deck needed it, I would have tossed in Squandered Resources. That could be really useful here.

With all of the land sacrificing, I felt that Land Tax would be an ideal addition to the deck, but a lot of people find playing against a deck that runs more than one to be cheesy, so I just stayed at one. You have two tutors though, which can find the Land Tax, and one of those tutors, Sterling Grove, can protect it. You can even play a Land Tax, then drop a Talisman, then drop an Overlaid Terrain and Tax for more lands to tide you over until you get a Planar Birth.

With all of these cards mentioning how great they are with Planar Birth, at first I tried to find more ways to get Planar Birth. Then I realized that the best adjunct I could make to Planar Birth is to run a pair of Crucible of Worlds.

Crucible of Worlds + Sunstone = Fog every turn for the rest of the game.

Crucible of Worlds + Excavation = You draw an extra card every turn for the rest of the game

Crucible of Worlds + Zuran Orb = You gain two life every turn for the rest of the game.

The Crucible will also help post-Overlaid Terrain pre-Planar Birth. You can drop a Crucible, then an Overlaid Terrain the following turn and begin playing lands from your graveyard in order to catch up.

This deck did have Dimir Guildmagi in it before I replaced them with Crucibles. The Guildmagi can draw you a bunch of cards, as well as Mind Twist your opponent. Under an Overlaid Terrain, tapping two lands causes a discard or a draw, and that’s pretty cheap. However, I think the Crucibles are better.

The Selesnya Guildmagi is not only a fine early game creature pre-Overlaid Terrain to play defense, but post-Overlaid Terrain can become a monster by spitting out creatures and then pumping them for a massive attack.

This is a very complex deck, and I suspect that, upon playing it, there are many tweaks to make here and there. Maybe there needs to be more Excavations and one less Overlaid Terrain (since two are useless when used together and you can protect the first with a Grove). Maybe there are other cards that I haven’t thought of that make nice additions to the strategy (perhaps Supply / Demand?) Who knows, but I suspect that this will be a neat deck to try out.

It’s rare that I make a deck in one of these challenges that even I want to build. Now I just need some Sunstones. Add a few more Overlaid Terrains, because I apparently only have two. I don’t think I own a single Excavation either.

I’m excited! I hope you enjoyed this trek through the bad rare box! Who knows what decks you can find when you glance through your low value rare binder.

Until Later,
Abe Sargent

P.S. – Normally I do five decks for one of these articles, but in four decks I’ve done a lot of complex deck ideas and took a while to explain them. As such, I hope that you’ll find this article to be sufficient. Just in case you need further proof, this deck article is 3,533 words long and onto the tenth page of Word!