The Kitchen Table #252 – Peasant Magic Decks

Read Abe Sargent every week... at StarCityGames.com!
Thursday, September 25th – Hello my friends, and welcome back to the column dedicated to the casual. My name is Abe and I am your DJ, spinning you decks from around the Casualverse. Today I want to hit up one of my favorite formats, Peasant Magic. Lorwyn and Shadowmoor blocks gave us a lot of fun cards for our decks, and in Peasant Magic, they gave us some great tools…

Hello my friends, and welcome back to the column dedicated to the casual. My name is Abe and I am your DJ, spinning you decks from around the Casualverse. Today I want to hit up one of my favorite formats, Peasant Magic. Lorwyn and Shadowmoor blocks gave us a lot of fun cards for our decks, and in Peasant Magic, they gave us some great tools.

Peasant Magic is a format in which one can play with any legal Vintage set, as well as silver bordered sets. In the format, you can play any common, up to the normal four copies per card, and you can play up to five uncommons total.

The card has the lowest commonality of any printing. For example, Rukh Egg was a common in Arabian Nights and a rare in the base set. You could use the rare copy in Peasant as a common. There is one exception to this rule. Strip Mine is treated as an uncommon, because it was too prevalent in decks as a common.

All ante cards are banned. Additionally, the following cards are banned: Ali from Cairo, Library of Alexandria, Brain Freeze, Candelabra of Tawnos, Berserk, Diamond Valley, Mana Drain, and Mishra’s Workshop.

Note that all cards from Arabian Nights, Antiquities, The Dark, Fallen Empires, and Homelands are either common or uncommon, despite what some sites might say to the contrary, so all are legal.

The five uncommon cards counts for both the deck and sideboard, for tournament purposes.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some Peasant Decks! Some will have Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block cards in them. Maybe some won’t.

Who Likes Kithkin?

4 Ballynock Cohort
4 Ballyrush Banneret
4 Burrenton Bombardier
4 Wizened Cenn
4 Goldmeadow Harrier
4 Order of the Golden Cricket
4 Somnomancer
4 Surge of Thoughtweft
4 Unmake
2 Bonesplitter
22 Plains

This deck is rocking 28 creatures and obviously wants to drop Kithkin and swing. It has a ton of aggressive options in the deck. As a 2/1 for two mana, the Ballyrush Bannerets are going to deal some nice aggro damage while also reducing the cost of your Kithkin and Soldiers by a colorless.

The Ballynock Cohort is a strong card because, with first strike and a 2/2 body, it will usually be a 3/3 with another White creature under your control. With 28 creatures in the deck, that’s a good chance. A 3/3 first striker for three mana is a solid investment. The Bombardier gives you a flying option or allows you to reinforce one of your creatures and keep them alive during combat. It’s also a Kithkin Soldier and plays well with others in the deck.

Wizened Cenn is a two-drop and uncommon that makes the deck. They are essential, pumping other Kithkin and adding to your power. One uncommon slot is left unused, and you might find room for a powerful uncommon in the sideboard.

The Harriers are a perfect one-drop. They can give you early aggro, tap to remove a blocker or tap to remove an attacker later in the game. The Order of the Golden Cricket is a strong bear, with the ability to go aerial if needed.

They are subtle, but I like the Somnomancer a lot. Play it, tap a blocker, and then swing. As a 2/1 for two mana, they are also perfectly aggressive without being overly so.

Since you are playing so many Kithkin, there is no reason not to play Surge of Thoughtweft, to get you a small Overrun ability and draw you a card to boot. Use them whenever you have need, since they’ll basically cycle.

This deck uses Unmake to fill a needed role as creature kill. Use these only as a last resort, because you don’t have much removal. The Surge of Thoughtweft and reinforce Bombardiers can save a creature and act as removal, but only your Unmakes are true removal.

The pair of Bonesplitters can add to your attack by making a key Kithkin more powerful. Equip on a pseudo-flyer like the Order of the Golden Cricket, or the Bombardiers for four in the air, or just power through the defense with your newly axe-equipped Kithkin.

Other cards I considered included Prismatic Strands, Coordinated Barrage, and other Kithkin like Amrou Seekers.

This is a simple deck that can be played easily enough and is a good first deck for those experimenting with the format.

Blue Says No

4 Faerie Trickery
4 Counterspell
4 Cancel
4 Pestermite
4 Ponder
2 Capsize
4 Deep Analysis
4 Control Magic
4 Errant Ephemeron
1 Faerie Conclave
25 Island

This is your normal control deck featuring counters, card drawing, bounce, creatures, controlling and lots of lands.

We begin with a suite of three different counters, giving the deck the ability to say no twelve times. Faerie Trickery, from Lorwyn, makes an appearance.

We then have Ponder and Deep Analysis involved in card drawing. Ponder is from Lorwyn as well, and has proven itself in many formats in the past year. This gives you a smattering of card drawing to suit the deck.

Just a pair of Capsize can supplement your deck, giving you bounce options later in the game. I find that too many Capsizes can clutter a deck and prevent it from getting to the late game where it wants to be.

The deck has four Pestermites. You can cast these early during an opponent’s upkeep and tap a land to prevent your opponent from using it that turn. This gives you some tempo while they set up. You can flash it out to tap a creature that might otherwise have attacked. You can cast it at the end of an opponent’s turn if they are playing counters too, in order to tap that precious land they saved for counters on your turn. You will lose no sleep trading a Pestermite for one of their creatures, and it gives you a bit of early defense.

Four Control Magics are included as uncommons. There are not many good stealing effects in common, so why not play a classic? Here we have a four mana answer to any targetable creature. Not only can you take out an opposing creature, but you entice it to your side, allowing it to attack or block as you have need.

For later beats, your deck sports a foursome of 4/4 flyers with Errant Ephemeron. You can suspend this early, and then have all of your mana untapped when it hits the stack, allowing you to counter any counters that your opponent might want to fire your way. It is also a flying beater of unsurpassed proportions. Your deck loves it.

Finally, I decided to use the last uncommon as a Faerie Conclave, just to give you another creature without hurting your manabase too much. If you count the Control Magics and this as creatures, then you have thirteen, which is a respectable number for a control deck like this.

I would have put in Maze of Ith, but I doubt many players have a bunch sitting around. It’s common though, so play as many as you have. Other cards I considered were Fact or Fiction in the uncommon slot, more countermagic, Steel Wall, and Mind Games.

Black and Red Control

4 Lightning Bolt
4 Incinerate
4 Dreamspoiler Witches
4 Nameless Inversion
3 Avalanche Riders
2 Flametongue Kavu
3 Ghitu Slinger
4 Terminate
4 Lava Zombie
4 Mogg Fanatic
2 Rakdos Carnarium
11 Mountain
11 Swamp

This deck is designed to give you a lot of removal options, and then some creatures to back them up. Creatures are very popular in Peasant, although you might occasionally come across a deck with very few. Even the control deck above has 13 creatures or creature-ish cards. Only 10 cards are dedicated creature removal (FTK, Nameless Inversion, Terminate), while the rest are burn that can go to the head.

For uncommons, I decided to run three Avalanche Riders and two Flametongue Kavu. This gives you some powerful creatures with some abuse. Lava Zombie can bounce one of those back to your hand, or a Ghitu Slinger, for reuse. Then you have a three mana 4/3 inflatable beater on the table.

Mogg Fanatic is a great early drop, putting early pressure on an opponent or taking out a key creature. It’s cheap, and is a good choice to bounce back to your hand when you draw a Lava Zombie and are devoid of your 187 creatures.

In any deck like this, you want a way to kill multiple creatures with one card when possible. Enter Dreamspoiler Witches. You can play these and start swinging in the air. Occasionally you can launch an instant removal spell and also kill an X/1 creature with the Witches out. You can also play with combat math. Your creatures can kill an opposing creature or survive combats with Witches out, but you cannot use them aggressively on your turn, only defensively on your opponent’s, which does not always fit your strategy.

Goblin Storm

The following deck was not created by myself, but by a group of players, including Frédéric Meurin.

1 Goblin Warchief
1 Goblin Recruiter
1 Goblin Sledder
1 Mogg Raider
3 Wild Cantor
4 Goblin Matron
4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Mogg War Marshal
4 Skirk Prospector
4 Chromatic Star
4 Lotus Petal
3 Skullclamp
1 Brightstone Ritual
1 Desperate Ritual
4 Empty the Warrens
4 Rite of Flame
16 Mountain

Another version of this deck was made with Fecundity instead of Skullclamps, with four Forests replacing four Mountains, and Tragic Poets in the sideboard instead of Reconstructions.

This deck wants to drop so many goblins, that an opponent is destroyed with hasted 1/1 goblin tokens off a huge storm count and Empty the Warrens.

Storm decks have been a staple of the Peasant format for years, and Brain Freeze was so powerful we had to ban it, leaving Tendrils of Despair and Empty the Warrens around as alternatives.

Some of my previous decks were meant to have fun, but this deck shows what a tournament winning Peasant Magic deck might look like. There are other options out there, from IsoBurn to Mono Black Control to Affinity, Stompy, White Weenie, and SuiBlack.

I won’t bother you with all of the details of the above deck. Obviously the Goblin Warchief is your winning condition, and I’d prefer the deck ran two, but I understand the other uncommon slots are needed. Without a Warchief, the deck needs another turn to wait and then kill, and that brings all sorts of problems, like vulnerability to sweeping removal. It also can slow the deck as goblins cost their normal amount if he dies.

The deck obviously wants to use Skullclamp to draw a bunch of cards, playing creatures, equipping them, drawing cards, playing temporary mana accelerants, play more creatures, equip and kill them, and so forth until you Empty the Warrens for a bunch of goblins. I’m a bit surprised to see no Simian Spirit Guides in the deck, but then again, I have not playtested it myself, so who knows.

Let’s take a look at another deck, not created by me, but allowing you an opportunity to see how other designers approach the format.

Tortured Existence

The following decklist was suggested by Christophe Deslandes. I’ve included his Peasant Magic decks in my column before, and here is a deck built around one of my favorite cards, Tortured Existence.

4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Krosan Tusker
4 Stinkweed Imp
4 Golgari Brownscale
4 Crypt Rats
4 Spore Frog
1 Battlefield Scrounger
1 Eternal Witness
1 Shambling Shell
4 Tortured Existence
3 Sylvan Library
1 Demonic Tutor
4 Moment’s Peace
12 Swamp
11 Forest

This Peasant Magic deck is built around one of my all time favorite cards in Tortured Existence. I have to respect that!

The deck wants to gain control of the board by using things like Dredge; Fogs and Frogs; land search; and big creatures. Then it wins with a large Crypt Rats and/or big creatures. It can cycle Krosan Tusker for lands and cards over and over again, and get extra cards.

The Battlefield Scrounger can keep your dredge engine going by putting cards from your graveyard back into your deck. If you get control of the board, you can kill in one turn with a giant Scrounger.

Note that dredging guarantees you draw a creature each turn, then you can swap that creature for any creature in your graveyard for the low, low price of a single Black mana with a Tortured Existence out.

Also note that dredge is a replacement effect, so with a Sylvan Library out, you can dredge three cards during your draw step, filling up your graveyard massively and you do not have to return anything to your library because you never technically drew the cards.

This can allow you to return one Spore Frog to your hand each turn, for a Black mana, and play it for a Green mana. Then you can literally Fog each and every turn of the game. This gives you time to set up your synergetic elements while you continue to recur and sac your Fog Frog. It order to set up, you can do something like this: Dredge to draw a creature in your draw step. Swap critter with Krosan Tusker. Cycle Tusker, and then dredge a creature for the draw. You have a land and a creature. Swap the creature for the Fog Frog, and play it. Play the land. You can change the details as you need, but it’s simple once you understand the deck.

This deck is another great example of how flexible the format is. Sure, you can build a deck around 28 creatures and a few spells, or you can create combos both powerful and subtle.

Peasant Magic is a great format, and I love it. That’s why I accepted a position on their ruling council for the past few years. Build some Peasant decks and throw down with each other. Good luck!

Until later…

Abe Sargent