Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #44: PING!

You can have a lot of fun with Arcane Teachings on some of those old cards that say”whenever ~this~ deals damage to a player,” do something interesting. And do you want to know how to deal infinite damage in a casual deck with a ping combo?

I have been noticing Arcane Teachings a lot recently. Several of my recent drafts have revolved around Arcane Teachings. I got two, as splashes in a U/W deck, and they won two matches. In another draft, I lost to a Soul Scourge that learned Arcane things. The strangest draft was a three-on-three that had four Teachings and next to no bounce or removal. It was… Different.

I’m not going to write about Arcane Teachings in draft: For one thing, everyone already knows that it is pretty good. More importantly, the next set will appear shortly, so we won’t be drafting Od/To/Ju for much longer.

I’m not going to talk about Teachings in OBC, either. Red is not strong in OBC, and it isn’t worth splashing red in other decks just for Teachings. Mono-black doesn’t want to cut the number of swamps to fit red lands, and U/G already has occasional color screw problems. U/G does occasionally want a pinger in order to kill off Spurnmage Advocates, but Psionic Gift handles that without messing up the mana.

Type 2 is pretty heavily dominated by bounce (Repulse, Burst), instant speed burn and Flametongue, so creature enchantments are not going to get played very often. At best, you could probably play it in FNM, in some form of R/W or R/G deck, but there are better options.

For constructed, Arcane Teachings works best in multiplayer or casual games. You can have a lot of fun with Arcane Teachings on some of those old cards that say”whenever ~this~ deals damage to a player” do something interesting. Newer cards generally limit that to combat damage, but many older creatures don’t include that restriction.

Here’s an example:

Abyssal Specter

Creature – Specter




Whenever ~this~ deals damage to a player, that player discards a card from his or her hand.

Now, if you have Arcane Teachings on an Abyssal Specter, not only is that a 4/5 black flier, but it can force a player to discard a card. It can even do that at instant speed, so you can do it at the end of the player’s draw step – after they draw their card.

Actually, that could almost work in Type 2: The Specter is legal. Going R/B also gives you Terminate, Duress, Flametongue, and so on. The only real downside – and it is a big downside – is that discard and Madness spells are not a combo.

3 Abyssal Specter

4 Blazing Specter

4 Flametongue Kavu

3 Ravenous Rats

4 Nightscape Familiar

1 Balthor, the Defiled

4 Terminate

3 Arcane Teachings

3 Duress

2 Cabal Therapy

3 Burning Wish

2 Recoup

25 land

Sideboard/Burning Wish targets

Pyroclasm (Squirrels, Rootwallas, Birds, Elves, etc.)


Chainer’s Edict

Nausea (kills regenerators, including your Nightscape Familiar)

Pillage (Squirrel Nest, Ensnaring Bridge, etc.)


Haunting Echoes



Ghitu Fire

Shower of Coals?

Agonizing Memories

I don’t think it will beat Tog without a bunch of tuning, but it looks like fun. This is a FNM-type deck – it should do okay against most creature-based decks, but may have problems with the fast U/G Madness builds if they get good draws and you don’t, and will definitely have problems with Upheaval if you cannot nail it with Duress. On the other hand, with Burning Wish and Recoup, you can cast a lot of Duresses. Burning Wish give you lots of options, and Recoup plus another Burning Wish means you can cast each option several times, assuming you survive the initial beatdown. It could be fun.

In multiplayer, Arcane Teachings can be even better: You can play it on a blocker, have a fine defender, and still have the ability to do some damage at the end of your last opponent’s turn. Simple creatures, like Wall of Blossoms, get a little better with Teachings. Good, survivable (meaning opponents cannot easily kill them) blockers are pretty amazing with Arcane Teachings. Autumn Willow is a good choice: A 6/6, pinging, untargetable creature is a pretty good wall. Other untargetable creatures could get Arcane Teachings via Crown of Ages. A Zephid with Teachings becomes a kind of super-Mawcor. Sure, that’s not amazing, (did I really say”super Mawcor”?) but it is a solid creature that won’t get anyone too annoyed at you.

If you want a super creature, put Arcane Teachings on a Morphling. Now Morphling is a flying, 9/1, untargetable creature that can also tap to ping, then untap and ping again for U, and so on. Hermit Crab with Arcane Teachings is bad enough; Morphling with Arcane Teachings is overkill.

Okay, let’s look at some other interesting options for Arcane Teachings in casual and multiplayer. First up: An old classic that can provide a really nice answer to Incarnations and Living Death decks. I’m talking about Eater of the Dead, a rare from The Dark. Eater of the Dead is a 3/4 for 4B. More importantly, it has this ability: {0}: If ~this~ is tapped, untap it and remove target creature card in a graveyard from the game.

If you put Arcane Teachings on an Eater of the Dead, you can tap it to ping something, then remove some creature to untap it and ping again, until all graveyards are empty of creatures. With just Arcane Teachings, Eater becomes a self-cocking elf shooter. If you add Venomous Fangs (whenever enchanted creature deals damage to a creature, destroy that creature), then it can ping a creature, kill it, and remove it from the graveyard to ping again. The end result – all targetable creatures controlled by opponents get removed from the game. That can be pretty good.

Another old rare – and one that’s pretty inexpensive (just a buck at the StarCity online store) – is Shocker. When Shocker deals damage to a player, that player discards his or her hand, then draws that many cards. It can be pretty unpleasant with Megrim in play, but I have had the best results with Sunder – the old Saga card that was an Upheaval for lands only. Midgame, I would have a Shocker with Fire Whip (on older, less useful creature enchantment that just gave the ability to ping) in play, and I would cast Sunder. Everyone would pick up their lands. I would chose whomever looked like the biggest threat and ping that player. He or she would then discard all that land. True – the person would draw a dozen cards or so, but have, at best, one land to cast those cards.

The combo was not immensely powerful, but the mix of card drawing and mana denial made for some very interesting politics and group dynamics. Of course, if you want some more practical kill ideas, add Blood Oath and Seismic Assault. If your goal is to use bad cards creatively, then include Jandor’s Saddlebags to untap the Shocker. Since this deck wants to survive with all its land in its hands, artifact mana is important, and Voltaic Key fits in pretty well, so you can occasionally have enough mana to Sunder and activate Saddlebags twice and the Key once – meaning that you strip all the land from three players’ hands, or deck one player.

Here’s another multiplayer possibility – an R/G pingers deck. Start with Walls of Blossoms, Vine Trellis and Walls of Roots for mana, card drawing and defense. A Wall of Blossoms is not amazing at 0/4, but when it turns into a 2/6 wall that can kill three toughness creatures, it looks a little better. Add a few other pingers (Stinging Barrier, Prodigal Sorcerer, and Quicksilver Dagger, if you can afford to run three colors; otherwise Chainflinger and maybe Firewhip.) A few Spiders (to stop fliers) are also a possibility. Then, when you look extremely secure but completely non-threatening, drop Awakening.




At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, all players untap all creatures and lands they control.

Now at the end of every player’s turn, you can do damage with every pinger, then have them untap at the start of the next player’s turn. Kyren Negotiations can be a nice addition here – it turns anything not yet equipped with Arcane Teachings into a pinger as well. The pinger/Awakening decks work very well in Emperor, by the way.

Arcane Teachings and pingers also combines pretty well with Angel’s Trumpet and some way of preventing creatures from attacking:

Angel’s Trumpet




Attacking does not cause creatures to tap. At the end of each player’s turn, tap all untapped creatures he or she controls that did not attack this turn. Angel’s Trumpet deals 1 damage to that player for each creature tapped this way.

With Angel’s Trumpet, you can tap your pingers to damage someone or some thing – and since they are tapped, they don’t hurt you. This can be useful if you have something like Peacekeeper, Moat, Dueling Grounds, Peacetalks, or Ensnaring Bridge in play. Actually, a Peacekeeper wearing Arcane Teachings is pretty cool. I also like to run some tappers, like Nomad Decoy, in decks like this: If nothing else, they can tap to tap themselves, or a non-pinger you control, to avoid end of turn damage, as well as being a good defensive creature. Other useful creatures include Atalya, Samite Master for you lifegain fans and Archivist if you can get the blue. Since many of these creatures are low toughness, some Shelters or Coalition Honor Guards can be helpful in diverting removal spells. (Well, if you’re using Teachings, you probably don’t also want to use Shelter to protect the same creature from Bolts, but in other cases…) Mogg Infestation can also be an interesting way of dealing with problem creatures, as well as being a strong answer in the unlikely event of a mirror match.

Finally, if I am going to write about Pingers, I have to mention an old favorite: Stupid Pings. This was originally an extended deck, but it works pretty well in multiplayer. The basic premise is to get one or more Saber Ants in play. (Saber Ants – for each damage done to it, put a 1/1 Saproling into play.) Next, get one or two pingers in play: Putting Arcane Teachings on the Saber Ants is perfect. Then play Bravado (enchanted creature gets +1/+1 for each other creature in play) on the Ants, and play Intruder Alarm. With that combo, you tap to ping the Saber Ants, a Saproling comes into play, the Ants get one bigger, and everything untaps. With one pinger, you get infinite Saprolings. With two pingers, you get to do infinite damage. (Ping opponent with pinger #1, ping Ants with #2 to untap them both.) Game one, you should take everyone by surprise. Game two they will be gunning for the pieces, but you can add Genesis to keep getting the Ants back and Replenish or Argivian Find to recover the enchantments, and you can probably still win. If nothing else, Saber Ants makes a great blocker.

That’s enough Arcane Teachings for now. Hope you learned your lessons.


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