Hey everyone! It's been a little while since I've posted a deck, but I'm back! I've been busy with college and giving the metagame a little bit of time to settle down, but while I was at class one day, I remembered a deck I had been working on a while back: Tortured Existence.
Now, my initial builds of the deck weren't very good. It died to Grapeshot and Empty the Warrens, along with Infect, as they were fast, and this was a deck that is dedicated to grinding out card advantage over the long game. However, with the bannings, the default "fast" decks of choice have defaulted to Stompy, Goblins, and the occasional appearance of Auras. Once I realized that they all attack your life total instead of Infect counters, I realized that I may have a way to overcome the aggro match-ups. So, before I tell you what card has saved my bacon multiple times and led my opponents to give up on attacking, I present to you the decklist.
Now, most of you looked at Stinkweed Imp and nodded your heads, thinking, "Makes sense." But there was something bugging you, namely, the card sitting right next to it. Gnaw to the Bone. That card can't be good, right? I mean, it's strictly lifegain! It doesn't do anything else! Well, before you go too much further, remember that the point of a Tortured Existence deck is to fill your graveyard with creatures. It's not uncommon to have 8-15 guys in your graveyard after a couple turns. Now, before you ask, "What does this have to do with cycling?", let me show you a picture.
Wait. What's going on here? My life total is 155?! That CAN'T be right. Let's look at another example, shall we?
You're kidding right? My life total is 74? How did that happen?
Gnaw to the Bone happened. My opponents simply couldn't kill me. They'd attack into a Stinkweed Imp, I'd Dredge it back, and oops! Gnaw for 28. Most decks simply can't race it. However, getting that many creatures into your graveyard isn't normally that easy. This is where cycling comes in.
We have access to a full 16 creatures that cycle here. What's more than that, Dragger Unearths, Abomination helps you hit land drops, and Tusker actually fetches both a basic AND draws you a card. And remember, cycling is uncounterable. The upside is that for each of these guys (with the exception of Architects) can be cast, and it's usually very hard for an opponent to beat them. We can easily hit every land drop we need all the way up to seven (or more) mana, all while fueling a giant Gnaw to the Bone. Is the picture starting to make sense?
Now, Mulch is the quiet all-star in here. It fuels your graveyard and helps you hit land drops. The other three, while they may seem expensive, form your toolbox with Tortured Existence. Heartstabber kills creatures. Shambler blows up Cloudpost, Oblivion Ring, Journey to Nowhere, and plenty of other things. Macabre shuts down opposing graveyard shenanigans. Being able to recur each one of these creatures can completely destroy your opponent.
For the sideboard, we have a couple extra copies of Shambler or Faerie, for those specific match-ups where they really shine. Peace is the hedge against highly aggressive decks, and the oddball Infect deck that pops up once in a while. Duress and Augur are really here to fight the hardest match-up this deck has: Temporal Fissure. The majority of Fissure decks right now are using Ghostly Flicker as the enable to both make mana and up the storm count. What you need to do is to strip the opponent's hand bare, and use Faerie to exile the problem cards without your opponent being able to counter it. Once the opponent is on a low number of cards, you'll really be able to either apply pressure or start recurring Augurs and Faeries. Most of your opponents won't be able to do anything at that point.
Now that you have an idea of why everything is in the deck, let's talk strategy.
First off, you want to get cards in your graveyard, and quickly. Cycle creatures, Mulch, Dredge Stinkweed Imp, these are all ways to stack your graveyard. If you can resolve a Tortured Existence early, through countermagic or whatever the opponent is playing, do so. Having an Existence out makes the deck a lot more resilient by giving you lots of options. When your life total starts to drop, and you feel that you could go to zero in the next couple turns, it's time to Gnaw. Use the time that gives you to continue hitting land drops and filling your graveyard until around 20-30 cards are in there. At that point, each Gnaw you cast will gain you 20+ life, and your Existence can fetch the answer to any situation. Save the Unearth on Viscera Dragger until you're close to killing your opponent, and make sure to use Stinkweed Imp to block early. You can kill nearly any creature that way and fill your graveyard at the same time. It takes some time to get used to playing the deck, but once you get it down, it's nigh unto impossible to kill you.
vs. Fissure Storm
+4 Augur of Skulls, +4 Duress, +2 Faerie Macabre, -3 Heartstabber Mosquito, -2 Gnaw to the Bone, -2 Mold Shambler, -2 Mulch
Here what you want to do is make them discard, and discard a LOT. Once they either cast a Ghostly Flicker or attempt to Mnemonic Wall it back, Faerie Macabre will completely shut them down.
+2 Mold Shambler, +2 Faerie Macabre, +3 Augur of Skulls, +2 Duress, -4 Architects of Will, -1 Gnaw to the Bone, -4 Mulch
Here, the extra Mold Shamblers come in to shut down Cloudpost, with the discard plan and Faerie Macabre to stop any Flicker shenanigans.
+3 Moment's Peace, -1 Mold Shambler, -2 Faerie Macabre
You're just bringing in a couple Fog effects here to stem bleeding until you Gnaw the game out of reach.
+4 Duress, -2 Faerie Macabre, -2 Mold Shambler
Here, you just want to get rid of countermagic and slow them down until your graveyard takes over the game completely.
+2 Augur of Skulls, -2 Mold Shambler
Here, you just want to counter their discard with a little of your own, and if you really need to, just discard a Stinkweed Imp and watch your opponent try not to be disappointed.
Unfortunately, this week I won't be able to bring you video content, as my computer is acting up, but I'll be back soon with another deck! E-mail me at email@example.com or find me on MTGO!
Andrew Anderson (foxhull)