The Kitchen Table #374 – Decks Inspired By Dark Ascension

Abe Sargent messes around with the new cards from Dark Ascension and finds unique synergies with the latest cards. What kind of decks does he come up with?

I hope your day has been dreamy and fun! The time around a new set’s release is always an era of fantastic frolicking. New cards! New decks! New ideas! It’s all new, new, new!

Speaking of new, Dark Ascension is the latest crack from WotC, designed to sustain our Magic addition for just long enough until we start having withdrawal symptoms, and then another set is released. The drugs keep us going, and they make me a little happy too. I welcome our injection of Magic every few months. Not only do I find new cards for existing decks, but there are also a score of new decks that appear in my mind.

That’s what today’s article is all about. I like taking some of the new cards out for a spin to see what they have under the hood. We can see combo, control, tempo, or aggro all over the place. This is my first opportunity to dust off my love for all things deckbuilding and try to make five decks for you. I hope that you can find some inspiration for your own deckbuilding. Maybe you’ll take a card here and use it in another way, or perhaps you’ll like a deck and build it and tune it to be even better. You might just enjoy the project of building new decks in the aether of the internet without the need to actually build them in real life. As long as you get something out of this article, that’s all that matters.

Today we are looking at five new decks, and I’m excited, so let’s start!

A few people have commented in articles that Midnight Guard and Presence of Gond is a combo that makes infinite tokens. That’s true. The problem is that they don’t swing until the following turn. That’s not good. What I did was add red and slide into another direction. Elemental Mastery makes two dorks which can swing immediately. That also gives the Midnight Guard two triggers to untap. Use one to tap it to a Kyren Negotiations to deal a damage to someone and the other to make two more dudes. You not only can tap to deal damage to people but also to make a ton o’ tokens that can attack immediately. That way, you can dance past a simple Teferi’s Moat or Caltrops. Both have more immediate uses than a simple ol’ Presence of Gond.

Once I knew the theme of the deck, I included a lot of ways to make token creatures. All of these guys can tap to Kyren Negotiations and speed up a foe’s death. The first option was the classic Spectral Procession. Three bodies with flying for three mana is still a great deal. The next choice was up and comer Gather the Townsfolk. It’s two dudes for two mana early, and if you’ve been smacked around later in the game, you can make five dorks instead. Finally, we finished the token part of the deck up with the Goblin Offensive. For when you want to make a lot of Goblins!

With these enchantments being key cards in the deck, I added some support for them. The first was Idyllic Tutor. If I need the right enchantment to go off, this will be the tutor for it. The second was a pair of Fountain Watch, to help protect the enchantments from targeted removal. They make it just a bit harder to end your combo happiness. Since I had these enchantment enablers in the deck, I added Seal of Cleansing as a removal spell, so I can search it up in a pinch.

Once my combo and support were established, I had a few cards left for Lightning Bolts and Swords to Plowshares. This deck is slower at setting up, so removal of threats is key. We need something to enable you to survive until turn four or five, and these guys will do it.

I hope that you found something keen-nifty-cool from this deck. Let’s look at the next one:

When I first saw the undying mechanic, I knew it would be useful with Birthing Pod. Then I spied Vorapede in the visual spoiler, and I had my deck idea. I would use Vengevine to Pod into Vorapede to Pod into Primeval Titan. That’s the goal of this deck.

If you want, you can even go one step further. After these extra lands come your way, feel free to Pod into Avenger of Zendikar. Ouch! I included creatures of every cost from two to seven so you could Pod at any casting cost. For example, your two-drops are Wall of Blossoms and Strangleroot Geist. The Wall nets you a card when it comes into play (and it’s a Plant for the Avenger’s pumping). Feel free to sacrifice it since you already made out. You can go into Civic Wayfinder for land, Viridian Shaman to blow up an opposing artifact, or Eternal Witness to recur a key card. You can also sacrifice that Geist, and it will come right on back for more action, only better.

Then you can sacrifice the Wayfinder, since it already retrieved a land, (or Viridian Shaman, since it already destroyed an artifact, or Witness, since it already got you a Regrowth) for a powerful Vengevine. Sacrifice it for a Vorapede. The Vengevine can come back later, with no problems. Now you have an even more powerful Vorapede. Pod it for a Titan, and not only do you acquire two lands but the Vorapede comes right back. Now you have made a ton of card advantage from the Pod through enter the battlefield (ETB) triggers and creatures that came back from the dead. Once you have your Titan, you can stop, or you can push further with an Avenger. Bang! The result is a nasty deck that grows very quickly into a powerful and consistent board position.

Every deck like this needs resilience in case your key combo card is offed. This deck has a pair of Eternal Witnesses. It also has eight two-drops and eight three-drops to play before the big stuff comes online. During this time you are drawing cards, killing stuff, and tutoring for lands. You can easily hard cast a Primeval Titan or Avenger of Zendikar later on. The deck sports some key versatility to fight against different opponents and various decks. It should be a lot of fun to play!

I saw Drogskol Captain from Dark Ascension, and that reminded me of the good Spirits from Innistrad. I recalled wanting to build a new Spirit deck with the good stuff from Kamigawa Block and the new hotness from Innistrad Block. This is that deck. It includes several powerful cards and interactions.

I built the deck around the spiritcraft trigger cards. These are the ones that have a triggered ability when you play a Spirit or arcane spell. I loaded the deck with Spirits—every single non-land is a Spirit, with no spells at all—which is very unusual, but I think works here. The cards with spiritcraft triggers are Teller of Tales tapping something, untap Innocence Kami, draw a card from Sire of the Storm, and make a 3/3 dude with Oyobi. All of those are quite powerful. I knew Lantern Spirit fit in amazingly here, because you can self-bounce it and replay it for another round of triggers.

With Drogskol Captain already in the deck, I added a pair each of the uncommon Innistrad lords to further help the pumping action. I made sure to include some guys you really want to pump. The Azorius Herald is unblockable and Guardian of the Guildpact is virtually so. We have a lot of flyers to swing over hordes, and the double striking Drogskol Reaver really wants the pumping the lords provide.

I decided against the soulshift creatures, since those in white and blue tend to really suck. They are way too expensive for really bad creatures. However, I did include some recursion in Karmic Guide. I also tossed in Tradewind Rider. In a deck with 34 creatures, its ability is not hard to activate, and meanwhile, you can bounce an opposing creature or bounce one of yours for no mana and replay it for more spiritcraft triggers. You can also replay Karmic Guide for major abuse.

I wanted a few late game creatures, like the aforementioned Drogskol Reaver. Joining it is a single copy each of Keiga and Yosei. Both of these dragons add some later power and can bring the hurt if you kill them. With the tapping from Innocence Kami and Teller of Tales, Yosei is downright nasty if it dies.

I’ve always been a fan of Spirits as a tribe, even before Kamigawa Block put them on the map. This is just another excuse to exercise that inner fan!

This deck wants to drop an Elbrus, equip it on one of the many creatures we have, and then swing and make a 13/13 trampler of love and demons. Since it already has a core of equipment loving, I added one each of four more pieces of equipment to the deck to round it out. Here is how the deck works, ideally:

1—Play any of the 14 one-drop creatures in the deck.

2—Play Stoneforge Mystic, tutor for Elbrus

3—Tap to play Elbrus, spend one to equip on one drop, swing to turn Elbrus into a 13/13.

That’s a 13/13 on the third turn, and likely the end of the game. Now, it does involve a card that a lot of people aren’t fans of right now—Stoneforge Mystic. I built a lot of redundancy into the deck. There are eight ways to cheat out an Elbrus—The Mystic is four of them. Later in the game, you can drop a Stonehewer Giant and use its ability. Also, you can play a first turn Quest for the Holy Relic if you are devoid of a Mystic, and drop a lot of creatures. Each of those ways helps you win.

A few notes. The legendary rule depends on the name of the card in play. That means you can play your second Elbrus if the first has already flipped into Withengar Unbound. That gives you a backup in case the first one dies. I also included two copies in case you start with one in your hand; you can still tutor up the second one into play with your Quest or Giant.

The other four equipment pieces are your typical ones—two of the Swords, Batterskull, and Argentum Armor. Each packs a mammoth amount of power. We need to dodge a creature with Elbrus through, so if your foe has a lot of creatures, one of the Swords can be added to give protection from the right color and you can get your hit in. Alternatively, you can just slap it on either Mirran Crusader or Paladin en-Vec and slip through. Again, the key word here is redundancy.

That’s why I have an incredible fourteen one-drop creatures in the deck. If you have a Mystic and the lands, you will have the one-drop. If you aggressively mulligan for a Mystic, you should still have the one-drop. It also gives you a lot of cheap drops for Quest triggers. You can play the Quest on the first turn and grab two triggers on turn two, and at least two on turn three. I like having at least one deck in each of these articles be a Spike deck and one being a Timmy deck. This is the Spike deck, so go rar! A lot of the decks today have really big creatures, like Avenger of Zendikar, Primeval Titan, a 13/13 Withengar Unbound, Yosei, the Morning Star, and more. There’s stuff in here for everyone!

I saw Warden of the Wall, and it intrigued me. It’s such a different card than something we’ve seen before, and I’m drawn to new and different. I’m attracted to women who are a little quirky, I’m fond of films that play with the format, and I like friends who are a bit off the beaten path. Warden of the Wall screamed that it wanted a home.

For three mana, you have an expensive mana accelerant that becomes a creature on other turns. That means it can be destroyed by any sorcery removal my foes have, such as Sever Soul. It also means that Warden of the Wall can never swing for damage because it’s never a creature on my turn. I think that’s cool. I built around it by putting it in a deck with a ton of mass creature removal effects. Since it’s not a creature on my turn, I can play Wrath of God, sweep the board, and the Warden is fine. Then it becomes a creature to block threats on my enemies’ turns.

Since the theme was already around this interaction between the Warden and the Wrath, I just enhanced it. Opal Acrolith becomes a creature when someone else plays one. Whenever I want, I can bop it back to an enchantment to hide from mass removal. Then I can reactivate it later when another creature is played by a foe. It suits the deck very nicely. I didn’t want this to turn into an indestructible theme deck, but I felt a pair of Kondas would slide in very nicely. They won’t be caught up in most mass removal.

In addition to those choices, I also went with several cards that are not creatures but can become them. By far, the best is Gideon Jura. Having a planeswalker becoming a 6/6 beater for a turn with no loyalty loss is nice. You can use his other abilities when you have the need, or you can just swing into an open defense. Since his activation is mana free, you can easily swing right after playing Day of Judgment. The other activations are Mishra’s Factory and Guardian Idol. Both turn into 2/2 creatures when you need a bit more juice. Because they tap for mana and require mana, they can’t always swing the turn you play a Wrath effect, but they are always ready to nip in for a couple of damage.

Once I had the core of my deck, I rounded it off with some cycling lands to see more of my deck, a pair of the old school Jayemdae Tomes to draw, and Venser’s Journal to gain life. I wanted to keep the artifact creatures and Opal Acrolith safe from artifact/enchantment removal, so I included some serious artifact threats to draw out Naturalizes. That way your Guardian Idol can be safe from it.

Very few of the cards in this deck are essential. You could easily build this deck with other mass removal cards. There are a lot of great choices for animating things into creatures, and things like Forbidden Watchtower and Darksteel Brute fit in nicely if you don’t have the other cards. Since the deck works with many different cards, you should be able to find a build that works with your card collection.

Building decks is always fun, so I hope that you enjoyed today’s article!

Until later,

Abe Sargent