The Kitchen Table #386 – Bad Rares XVI

Abe Sargent continues his series of building a fun, casual deck around a bad rare that he pulls randomly out of a box. Which bad rares will he build decks around this time?

Everybody has bad rares they don’t want and can’t seem to trade. There’s a box of what we will euphemistically call "low value" rares in many collections. This is where those rares from the boosters and Draft and Sealed all collect that you never wanted. But what if those bad rares weren’t so bad?

Today is the next entry in my series of articles that grabs a random card from a box of bad rares and forces me to build a deck around it. I’ll do several decks built around some of the stinkers of all time. You’ll find that many of these decks are cheap and fun, in different ways. Maybe you’ll find inspiration to build around some of the bad rares you have in your own collection!

To begin, I grab my long box of bad rares. It’s a 600-count box, but it’s only about half full. My hand snakes in, with the lid closed, and pulls out a card. Now I turn the card over and see what majesty I have to build around.

Reborn Hero

Reborn Hero is a cute card that does a few things. In order to make our Hero work, I need threshold, so any deck that includes him needs to have cards that enable a quick and reliable threshold. Secondly, he needs double white mana to work. The obvious way to abuse him is to use him several times, so combining my deck with another color doesn’t seem ideal. Therefore, a mono-white deck that easily achieves threshold is the goal. Let’s see what I can do.

This deck uses the double white ability on Reborn Hero to bring it back after it is sacrificed to Blasting Station or Altar of Dementia. You sacrifice it for no mana down and then pay two to bring it back. This is not an infinite combo deck, just a deck built around a resilient creature.

Because we want lots of white mana, I included a twelve-set of mana accelerants into white. Kor Cartographer will fetch you a Plains and drop it into play. The Marble Diamond taps for your white mana, as does Gold Myr. The result is a deck that can reliably use the Reborn Hero several times a turn out of the gate.

In order to enable threshold, we have several options. The easiest is the first turn Shriekhorn. Tap it three times to mill six cards and just one other card gives you the threshold you want. A Bell taps to mill all players, which chugs your graveyard and jumpstarts milling into the Altar of Dementia, and finally, don’t be afraid to toss something into the Altar to finish your threshold. The eight Kor use ETB triggers and are fine being sacrificed on the Altar if needed.

Speaking of which, Kor Sanctifiers and Swords to Plowshares act as emergency releases for the deck. If you are facing an enchantment, artifact, or creature that fazes you, then you can pull the release and let go of your problem. Kor Sanctifiers are here to save you and help you. Finally, with all of the emphasis on Plains and white mana, I thought a pair of Emeria would help to bring back creatures that have died or animate something that was milled that you may want to bring out. It’s also an extra mana free trigger during your upkeep off an Altar or Station.

Reborn Hero is here to stay!

What’s next in the queue? Magic hands find…..


This is a janky rare from Mercadian Masques. I have to spend two mana to drop this mighty 1/1, and then tap three mana and it plus discard a card all to force an entire team to attack. That’s a big entry cost, and in whatever deck I use it, it has to be worth it. Let’s see what I can do…

This deck is built around Caltrops and Death Pits of Rath. The Death Pits destroy, without the chance of regeneration, any creature that is damaged (including your own). The Caltrops deal one damage to any creature who attacks (including your own).With those two cards out, attacks will drop to a minimum. That’s where Instigator comes in. You can activate it to force an opposing army to swing, and when they do, they die.

Assisting the Instigator is a backup plan with Nettling Imp. It may only force one creature to attack, but that’s still powerful territory. One important way someone can dodge being instigated to attack is to tap for an ability. After all, if they are tapped, then they cannot attack, right? Well, that’s where the six Assassins come in. With a simple tap a Royal Assassin can finish off any creature which is tired, and the Rathi Assassin can do it for three mana and if they are non-black. This also works if you don’t have your combo set up or someone destroys a Caltrops or Death Pits. You can force an attack right into your Assassins.

The indestructible creatures play two very important roles in this deck. The first is that they form a powerful defense against someone who attacks and blows up a combo piece. You can block away and when joined by the aforementioned Assassins, thus manufacturing value from Instigator without the combo established. You can block and slay with impunity. The other use from the creatures is to give you something to attack with when your combo is up. Otherwise, you can’t attack and win, so these creatures are you main win condition.

I added two Consume Spirit as an alternative way of winning, and they can smash a creature for damage. Along with Sorin’s Thirst, you can slay any creature with a Death Pits on the battlefield. I originally had Murder in the deck instead because of how useful it is, but I think Sorin’s Thirst is more flavorful for it. Finally, the deck has a full set of Ambition’s Cost to draw you cards. With such great defense, I doubt you’ll take much damage from the red zone, so with life to spare, why not draw some cards? You can also gain life from the Thirsts and Spirits to counteract it.

And that’s the deck. I think we have a cool little combo-rific deck built around a lot of fun cards!

Now it’s time to see what the next random card selected will be—what bad rare is the next challenge?

Thought Gorger

It’s time for another black card. This is a four-drop that’s just 2/2, but when it enters play, you discard your hand to give it a +1/+1 counter for each card that goes. Then when it leaves the battlefield, you draw cards equal to the number of counters on it.

Now, it’s important to note that this is not a death trigger. It works if you Flicker it, bounce it, or shuffle it into your library. Barring a Stifle, you are drawing those cards back. Another note is that this is a beater with trample, so it can be both a win condition and card drawing at the same time. Finally, it draws cards for the counters on it, so if you find a way to add +1/+1 counters to it, you can procure some real value out of the Gorger.

The obvious way to give the Thought Gorger more counters is proliferate. In went Spread the Sickness as my creature kill and Contagion Engine as my creature kill/double proliferate. Both can inflate my Gorger and increase the potential payday when it dies.

One surprise way of growing is with another bad rare: Spoils of War. Often bad rares work together, and this is no exception. It can be used to make a Thought Gorger very big in one spell. The spell yields massive card advantage when the Gorger dies or a giant trampling beater with both good results.

Since I was proliferating anyway, I went with a few cards that work well with it. Proliferate’s best buddy is Everflowing Chalice, so I tossed it in. Quag Vampires with multikicker is already a nice card, but when you add the growth off proliferate, things heat up. Dark Impostor can get the party started with the slaying of creature and counters, which add up to a large Assassin. Today is apparently Assassin day on this episode of Bad Rares.

With all of the discarding to the Gorger, I wanted a bit of Reanimation to bring back either a dead creature of value or one discarded. Therefore, Rise from the Grave came in, and since it gives a +1/+1 counter to the recently Reanimated, there’s even more value for the proliferate cards.

I felt we needed a bit more beating, and Sewer Nemesis looked tasty. You can use it on yourself to make a nice beast to blast someone. Or, if another person has a juicy graveyard, you can just hit them with the creature and force them to keep it coming. Spoils of War likes it when you target someone else, and Rise from the Grave likes the new choices when you target anyone, so you can go either way. Also, Cutthroat il-Dal will have shadow a lot with its hellbent ability, and a 4/1 shadow beater is crazy.

Finally, not only did I add the four-set of Ambition’s Cost and double Tutors to this deck as well, but I also wanted a bit of protection and haste. Swiftfoot Boots joins the team and will protect the Nemesis and allow a trampling monster such as the Gorger to smash face sooner.

That’s the Thought Gorger deck for you, with a fun way to swing and draw simultaneously. I would expect the first Gorger to be pumped and sacrificed to something like Miren or attack someone in a suicidal rage to draw a bunch of cards. Then you can play the major permanents and repeat with an ever-bigger beater.

What will the next bad rare be?

Clockwork Avian

Well, that’s odd. The turn after I produce one creature with +1/+1 counters and proliferate, I randomly pull another. Do I have two proliferate decks back to back? That seems a bit boring. I could do a fun theme deck around clocks and clockwork, but that’s not what I’m thinking. It’s time to do something I don’t believe I have ever done in the Bad Rare series. I am going to combine all of the random cards I got into one 60-card deck that works and makes sense. Are you ready? Let’s go!

Let’s look at some of the synergies of our main four cards. The Reborn Hero no longer needs self-milling to reach threshold because the Thought Gorger will provide it. With the Caltrops + Death Pits in this deck, it serves the role of defense or coming back after being taken down by a Shock or something. As the deck grows, some cards change roles and others move out.

For example, rather than use indestructible creatures for defense, we want to swing with Thought Gorger, Clockwork Avian, and such. The answer is Fylgja. This enchants a land with three counters, and you can remove one to prevent that damage from the Caltrops. You can refill the counters with mana or proliferate.  

In this deck, the Avian is fulfilling the role the Nemesis had in the previous one. It serves as an extra win condition in the air. Along with Fylgja, it swings above an army decimated by Caltrops and Death Pits, and it can be proliferated up to a large power. Other proliferate targets include the aforementioned Fylgja, Thought Gorger, Engine’s -1/-1 counter, and the Chalice. With two Engines and four Spreads, that’s a well-rounded section of proliferate targets.

The Gorger is nice in this deck because it can swing at someone and die if you want to draw cards, so Mirens aren’t as necessary. I also retained the Altars from the first deck, so we have two sacrifice outlets for a Gorger if needed. Slay a Gorger to draw, drop some cards you need, smack down a Gorger you likely drew, and keep going. It’s like Windfall on a Stick. And if you really need to, you can just drop it, discard, and then sacrifice to an Altar for a big mill and then draw again—and it actually is a Flux or something.

I would have liked to have fit Sewer Nemesis, Rise from the Grave, Blasting Station, and Royal Assassin into the deck, but I didn’t have the space. The Altar would be really nice in adjunct with a Nemesis on someone. Then add the Rise to the deck to grab any creature from the growing graveyards. The Assassin and Station support the current plans, but with Spreads, Engines, and the key combo of Instigator/Caltrops/Death Pits, creatures are dying already. A Royal Assassin or a Dark Imposter is a sideshow and not the main attraction.

I tossed in a Vault of the Archangel because it seems like a nice choice for the deck. Three Tutors can fetch key cards and Ambition’s Cost is still in the deck for fun, although space squeezed it down to two copies. The rest of the cards are obvious inclusions for the deck in the mana department.

This final deck is a lot of fun to see come together, with the themes of the previous decks poking through. I hope that you saw something you liked from today’s article, and remember that even bad rares can make good decks!

Until later,
Abe Sargent