Explorations #53 DarkVore
Today I'm going to talk about a deck built around one of my personal favorite cards: Magnivore. Magnivore was released as part of a five-card cycle in Odyssey along with Mortivore, Terravore, Cantivore, and Cognivore. Later on in Time Spiral block, Detritivore hit the scene.
Not sure how Cognivore ending up costing eight mana, but there you go. Each of these creatures grow in power depending on how much stuff happens to be in your graveyard, which was a pretty new concept way back then. For the newer players reading this article, Odyssey was the first set of a new block that revolved around utilization of the graveyard as a resource. The utility of your graveyard is almost a given in modern day Magic - but back before Odyssey the graveyard was largely just a place where spells and creatures went after being used up. Sure there were some exceptions to this rule (such as Yawgmoth's Will and Nether Shadow) - but for the most part Odyssey block ushered graveyard action into Magic.
So the Graveyard Actually Does Something?
The three best examples of graveyard-as-resource coming out of Odyssey block are threshold, flashback, and Psychatog.
Threshold is a static ability that powers up cards once you manage to accumulate seven cards in your graveyard - you're probably familiar with Werebear, Nimble Mongoose, and Mystic Enforcer. Threshold made for a strong tournament deck back in the day. Here's a list that Mike Flores played during Odyssey block:
Odyssey block Threshold packs plenty of ways to draw/filter cards while simultaneously working to fill up the graveyard for threshold. Variations on this strategy remain competitive in eternal formats like Legacy or Classic through to this day. Nowadays people pair their Nimble Mongeese with Tarmogoyf, but the overall strategy is similar.
Flashback is one of the more straightforward ways to provide added utility to cards after they've hit the graveyard: just let the player cast the spell again! Probably the most popular card to utilize this mechanic is Call of the Herd, which is how we got our multiple 3/3 tokens back before Garruk Wildspeaker hit the scene. Two 3/3s for six mana and one card used to be a really good deal! Times sure have changed. One of the most powerful flashback cards is Deep Analysis - which provided fantastic card advantage and was often played alongside this guy:
Way back when, Morphling was considered the best creature of all time. Sure he costs five mana, and sure the M10 rules update makes him pretty lame, but in the olden days Morphling could do it all - offense, defense, even both. As time went on, the 'best creature of all time' torch passed from Morphling to Psychatog. Psychatog was much cheaper, and in the right strategy easily capable of ending the game in a single attack phase.
Here's an deck designed to utilize Psychatog, which won Pro Tour Los Angeles for Antoine Ruel:
The goal here is to play powerful control elements (Circular Logic, Counterspell, Force Spike, Smother, Duress, Boomerang) and then win with a Psychatog finishing blow. Psychatog strategies have been utilized in Block, Standard, Extended, Legacy, Vintage, and Classic. That little 1/2 covered pretty much the entire spectrum of competitive Magic, and remained the best creature ever printed until Future Sight brought Tarmogoyf.
Back to Vore
So that wasn't exactly a planned diversion, but I think its pretty interesting - so I'm going to leave it in the article. Back to the topic at hand!
At one point in history, Magnivore was the win condition in a tier-1 Standard deck. Around the time Ravnica was about to rotate from Standard, it wasn't uncommon to shuffle up against a list that looked something like this:
The basic idea here is to deny your opponent land early with cards like Stone Rain and Cryoclasm while Pyroclasm, Boomerang, and Mana Leak control everything else on the board. If Wildfire hits the scene, then it does double duty - setting back mana and clearing out creatures at the same time. During all of this action, you're putting a huge number of sorceries into your graveyard. Once Magnivore hits the table, it should only take a few attack phases to bring your opponent down.
I spent a while looking around decklists and there are very few lists that utilize Magnivore alongside anything other than land destruction. This seems like a great opportunity for a new deck idea. There are plenty of cool sorceries out there, why not explore a different set of spells to compliment Magnivore? The only bummer is that Magnivore is now a Classic-only card, but that's not really so bad.
Time For a Change
One real reason to ditch the land destruction aspect is that the whole "blow up your lands" strategy does not exactly fly in the casual room. There are a lot of things that casual players hate, and land destruction is at the top of the list. It's pretty much taboo to run anything more than complimentary land destruction in the casual room. If you're running Mwonvuli Acid-Moss or Avalanche Riders than that's probably ok - but if your list starts off with 4 Stone Rain, 4 Molten Rain, and 4 Demolish then you're probably going to get a lot of irritated opponents.
|Brings these into the casual room, see how it goes. Maybe Demolish is ok.
So we're ditching land destruction. What could we replace it with? A while back, when Magnivore was still in Extended, I played around with a red-black deck that focused on creature/hand control and utilized Magnivore as a finisher. I thought it would be fun to update this deck to the modern day. If you're interested, then you can scroll down to the appendix at the end of the article to read some old school game reports from the original deck.
Now that we have our deck idea, it's time to brainstorm some card options. Remember that we're going to focus on destroying creatures and destroying hands with a black-red deck packed with sorceries.
If we're talking black-red, and we're talking discard, and we're talking sorcery - then Blightning is the new hotness. This card does everything we want our deck to do.
Duress / Thoughtseize / Distress
If we're interested in pinpoint discard, then Duress and Thoughtseize are the current gold standards. Distress is also solid, although not as good as the other two.
Hymn to Tourach
This is one nasty discard spell. Maybe the nastiest of all time.
Banefire / Demonfire
Demonfire turned out to be a solid option the last time I built this deck, doubling as both creature control and an alternate win condition.
Obviously this is good if we're trying to keep the board free of creatures.
Tremor / Pyroclasm / Nausea / Infest
Cheaper, weaker alternatives to Damnation.
One of my favorite removal spells of all time. In a deck without many creatures, Innocent Blood's ability is maximized. This card can take down Akroma for just a single black mana, under the right circumstances.
Cruel Edict / Diabolic Edict / Chainer's Edict
Three different ways for this deck to pay more for Innocent Blood, while getting a slightly stronger effect. Diabolic Edict and Chainer's Edict are the sorcery spells here, so we're going to be choosing between those two.
I've always loved this card, and it may just have a home in our deck. Smallpox destroys a little bit of everything.
Not as exciting as Lightning Bolt, but it is a sorcery after all.
Much better than Volcanic Hammer.
Hammer of Bogardan
Provides something to sink mana into if the game goes long.
Phyrexian Totem / Foriysian Totem
Gives us a way to have creatures in play without really having creatures in play for Innocent Blood/Damnation.
Mishra's Factory / Mutavault / Spawning Pool / Ghitu Encampment
More ways to have creature in play without really having creatures in play.
That gives us a solid list to draw from of removal, burn, and plenty of sorceries for Malfegor. Let's turn this brainstormed list into an actual deck:
This is a pretty clean decklist, made up almost completely of four-of playsets. I went with Blightning and Thoughtseize as the discard spells, Banefire, Rift Bolt, and Hammer of Bogardan as direct damage, Innocent Blood, Chainer's Edict, and Damnation as creature control, and then Magnivore and Malfegor as win conditions. I think Malfegor is an awesome creature, and this is the first deck that I've played where he belongs.
I'm aware that this is a pretty expensive deck, especially for the casual room. I'm going to test this one out, but only for a few games - I'm going to shift gears in a few to a budget version. The main reason I'm showing this version of the deck is to show the complete/ideal implementation of the strategy I'm interested in today.
Game 1 vs Zombies
Villain starts off with (Temple of the False Gods) into Golgari Rot Farm. I keep a hand with six lands and play out Mishra's Factory and Rift Bolt. Villain follows up with Shepherd of Rot and then double Vengeful Dead. I Rift Bolt away Vengeful Dead and cast Phyrexian Totem, but I end up taking big damage from the Shepherd of Rot. I cast Magnivore, but Terror takes the big guy out. Shepherd of Rot takes me down.
Analysis: I really underestimated the threat of my opponent's deck and also kept a hand filled with lands. I deserved to lose, and I did.
Game 2 vs UG Ramp
Villain plays Index and then Llanowar Elves. I suspend Rift Bolt and take out his Elves. I cast Blightning and villain discards double Rampant Growth and then casts a third copy of Rampant Growth. He plays out another Llanowar Elves followed by Wirewood Channeler. I cast Magnivore and attack a couple of times for the win.
Analysis: This is pretty much how the deck was designed to work. I wonder what my opponent was ramping into with all of that mana? I've never played against a green-blue ramp deck before, and unfortunately I didn't get a look at his hand to find out what I had coming my way.
Game 3 vs Goblins
I start off this game with double Mishra's Factory, and attack on turn three into my opponent's Mogg War Marshal tokens. He chump blocks and untaps into Goblin Chieftain. I use Damnation to clear the board. Villain plays out Goblin King, and I take the original goblin lord out with Innocent Blood.
Skirk Prospector hits the table alongside Skullclamp, and Villain starts drawing cards - but I'm getting damage in consistently with Mishra's Factories. I suspend double Rift Bolt and Villain taps out for Siege-Gang Commander. Those Rift Bolt hit for six and I finish Villain off with a six point Banefire.
Analysis: Another game that pretty much worked out as planned. Damnation prevented my opponent from assembling any sort of Goblin critical mass, Innocent Blood took down Goblin King for just one mana, and Banefire finished the game. The only card that didn't show up was Magnivore, which is a bummer since it would have been excellent to have.
Living on a Budget
I know that the above deck is super-expensive, so let's break it down a bit. The manabase is the most expensive part, but is actually really easy to cheapen up - we'll take care of that last.
Out: 4 Thoughtseize
Thoughtseize is a lot cheaper than it was a few months ago, but a playset will still run you around 10 tickets. As discussed a bit above, there are cheaper alternatives: Duress, Distress, Blackmail, Ostracize. I'm going to go with Distress.
In: 4 Distress
Out: 4 Banefire
Banefire is an amazing card, and I'd recommend picking up a playset for just under 10 tickets if that seems like your kind of card. If not then you can try out Demonfire for around 2 tickets per playset or Fireball/Blaze for even cheaper.
In: 4 Demonfire
Out: 4 Innocent Blood, 4 Chainer's Edict
Our "player sacrifices creature" effects are a bit pricey. Innocent Blood is a 1.5 ticket common, and Chainer's Edict costs about the same at uncommon. Cruel Edict is the most obvious replacement here, but there's no slam dunk replacement for the other playset. I like the idea of trying out Wretched Banquet, so let's see if that one is any good.
In: 4 Cruel Edict, 4 Wretched Banquet
Out: 4 Damnation
Damnation is the toughest card to replace in our list, there's a reason that card is sitting around 8 tickets. Mutilate is around two tickets, and the closest replacement, but Infest is very cheap even though it's not quite as powerful.
I'm not going to use either of these options, however, and go for a weird card from the latest Master's Edition instead: Rolling Earthquake. This card may seem goofy, but it's extremely powerful - essentially XR for X damage to all creatures. Sounds like a great match for our deck, and you can get a playset for around 1 ticket. This card sells for well over $100 per copy in paper! Major bummer if we run into a horsemanship deck though.
In: 4 Rolling Earthquake
Out: 4 Bloodstained Mire, 4 Badlands
The manabase for this deck is actually pretty easy to fix up. I'm going to leave in Graven Cairns, since it's currently going for well under 1 ticket per copy along with format staple Mishra's Factory. If you're planning on playing any Classic at all, then I'd recommend picking up a playset of Factories.
Bloodstained Mire and Badlands are also format "staples", but very pricey. This deck doesn't kill it on the mana, and can easily make due without these lands. I'm going to replace them with a few good ol' basics and a set of Akoum Refuge.
In: 3 Mountain, 1 Swamp, 4 Akoum Refuge
This brings us to the following list:
I feel that this version of the deck does a decent job of implementing our strategy while cutting down on the budget considerably. Let's see how it does in a few test games!
Game 4 vs RWB Something
I start off with double Akoum Refuge while Villain plays out Dispeller's Capsule, Angel's Feather, and Demon's Horn. I make my first play on turn three with Blightning, which hits a Mountain and a Plains. Villain casts out Avian Changeling and I take it out with Hammer of Bogardan.
There's not much going on at this point. I've got a hand full of creature destruction, and my opponent is just playing out land after land. I start recurring Hammer of Bogardan and utilize a huge Magnivore for the win.
Analysis: Villain's deck didn't bring much to battle this game. It seemed like he drew pretty much every land in his deck. I had double Malfegor in hand towards the end of the game, and didn't cast either of them due to my opponent's anemic board position.
Game 5 vs Blue Mill
Villain starts off with Hedron Crab and Terramorphic Expanse in order to mill me for six. I use Wretched Banquet to take down the Crab while playing out a couple of Akoum Refuges. Villain hits me with Tome Scour and then double Dampen Thought.
I play double Blightning to clean out villain's hand, and then cast double Rolling Earthquake and Demonfire for the win.
Analysis: I had a whole ton of dead-weight creature kill in my hand, which was totally useless in this matchup. I was really hoping that I would draw a Magnivore, since the milling had filled my graveyard with sorceries. No such luck though, and I had to improvise for the win. Rolling Earthquake comes through!
Game 6 vs Clerics
Villain plays out Starlit Sanctum and then Rotlung Reanimator. I use Cruel Edict to take out the Reanimator, but get stuck on two lands. Villain attacks with his 2/2 token and casts Glowrider, which is a huge potential nightmare. Thankfully I have Wretched Banquet to take Glowrider down.
I use Rift Bolt to take down the 2/2 token and then bring Foriysian Totem into play. Villain casts out Soul Warden and I take that down with another Rift Bolt and get through with Magnivore. Villain is stuck on three lands and cycles two copies of Scion of Darkness, I'm guessing he's looking for land. He doesn't find anything and dies to the Magnivore.
Analysis: Wretched Banquet has been awesome every time that I've drawn it, so that card definitely has potential. Since I was stuck on two lands, it's the only creature kill in the deck that would have saved me from Glowrider.
Game 7 vs White Weenie
Villain plays out Akrasan Squire and I take it out with Cruel Edict. I think this was a poor mulligan decision, my hand is absolutely loaded with lands. Villain plays out Bonesplitter, I play out Mishra's Factory and then Foriysian Totem. My Mishra's Factory and Foriysian Totem both go down hard to Path to Exile.
Ranger of Eos comes down and searches up Kor Duelist and Soul Warden. The Ranger grabs Bonesplitter and suddenly I'm taking five per turn while staring at a hand full of land. Villain extends bigtime, and I know I can get back in this one if I draw Rolling Earthquake... but it doesn't happen.
Analysis: This was definitely a terrible mulligan decision. I'm not sure if this type of matchup is favorable or not, but this deck is much more well-equipped to battle the white weenie strategy that I displayed in this game. A hand full of Graven Cairns does not battle white weenie effectively!
Game 8 vs Staff of Domination Ramp
Villain starts off with Quirion Elves and I take them down with Wretched Banquet. He brings Vexing Shusher into play and then casts out Kodama's Reach. I use Cruel Edict to take down the Shusher, and then Villain uses Fabricate into Staff of Domination.
I get Phyrexian Totem and cast Blightning, while Villain casts Kodama's Reach. I cast Magnivore on back to back turns and have the win on the board, when Villain plays Circle of Protection: Red - which is a huge pain in the ass. I use Mishra's Factory to piece some damage through, but I'm having a super tough time. I've got double Demonfire in my hand, and the game would be over if I had Banefire instead. Eventually my opponent gets Mirari's Wake and starts doing a milling things with Staff of Domination each turn. Legacy Weapon makes an appearance and it's all over.
Analysis: CoP: Red is one huge weakness of this deck, no doubt about it.
Game 9 vs Vampires
I start off with Akoum Refuge, and Villain plays Vampire Lacerator into DOUBLE Vampire Lacerator and Vampire Hexmage. I take a bunch of damage, but get a sweet four-for-one with Rolling Earthquake. Villain plays another Vampire Hexmage and this time I have Wretched Banquet. Blightning hits Malakir Bloodwitch and Skeletal Vampire - Akoum Refuge gives me a little more life to work with.
I start attacking with Magnivore and things start to turn around. Krovikan Vampire hits the table, but I have Cruel Edict. Magnivore eventually goes all the way.
Analysis: Cool to see my opponent playing a Vampire deck with some unique choices. I don't think I've seen Krovikan Vampire since 1996! Villain revealed his hand at the end of this one and he was holding two copies of Feast of Blood. Here's to preventing two Vampires from hitting the table at once.
Let's wrap this one up.
The End of Our Vore Adventure
So that wraps it up for today's Magnivore deck. If you're a fan of Magnivore, then I think today's deck is one that you should have fun with. You can also run it in the casual room without everyone wanting to murder you for playing land destruction. Hopefully you guys found something interesting in today's article, and I'll talk with you next time!
Thanks for reading!
th1ckasabr1ck on Magic Online
Appendix: Old School Game Reports
As mentioned above, I first played with this deck sometime just after the release of Lorwyn. Here's the list I was messing with back then:
Time for some old school game reports. I know that these are terribly out of date, but they are still a decent indication of how the deck functions - so I decided to include them. Material like this can also give you an idea of how things used to be in the Extended casual room.
Game 1 vs Five Colors
My opponent plays Leyline of Singularity on turn zero, and Kird Ape on turn one. I blast it with Innocent Blood and then hit a Dark Confidant with Cruel Edict. I take Lightning Helix and counter with a 3/3 Magnivore.
My Magnivore swings and then gets taken care of with Oblivion Ring. I cast a second Magnivore and bring my opponent down to eleven. I Duress away a Profane Command and get in for lethal.
Game 2 vs GW Thallids
I get the super control draw - casting basically every sorcery in my deck before finally drawing Magnivore, who hits the table as a 15/15. It's a good thing he's so gigantic since my opponent resolved TWO Hero's Remembered. Just when it looks inevitable, my opponent casts Akroma's Memorial and Selesnya Guildmage - protection from black and red is not easy for this deck to get around. Thankfully I have enough Cruel Edicts to clear the way for the Magnivore.
This deck has a problem: There are only really four threats, and if one of them gets taken care of then it could be a long time before I get another one. The direct damage currently in the list doesn't have enough oomph to burn out an opponent and when the guy on the other side of the table has cards in hand (even with an empty board), you can't really cast Magnivore unless you also have Duress. This really limits how often you can really pressure your opponent.
Step one towards solving the problem: Demonfire. Demonfire is one of the best topdecks ever, especially in a deck that can build up mana over a long game. I swapped out four Wildfires for four Demonfires, we'll see how this works out. Here's the new list:
Out: 4x Wildfire
In: 4x Demonfire
I think Liliana Vess might have a place in this deck. The discard is relevant, Vampiric Tutor is fantastic with the range of available solutions, and the super ability is an alternate win conditions. Protecting her loyalty shouldn't be too difficult with all the removal. I'm not going to add her yet, but possibly in a later evolution.
Game 3 vs Dimir
my opponent starts off with Dimir Signet into Circu, Dimir Lobotomist. I Duress away Recoil and see two more Dimir Lobotomists. I take care of all three with Innocent Blood and Cruel Edict, and this game falls into a topdeck war. My opponent plays out a threat and I find a solution for it. I play a Magnivore and it gets bounced and then discarded away with Consult the Necrosages.
I Rift Bolt away two Shadowmage Infiltrators and then topdeck an eleven point Demonfire. Our hands fill back up until I have Duress, Distress, and Magnivore. Magnivore swings in as a 25/25.
Game 4 vs GW Spirits
I Firebolt away Elder Pine of Jukai and then get rid of Celestial Crusader and Seedborn Muse with Innocent Blood and Cruel Edict. I bring Magnivore into play and get my opponent down to seven.
My opponent casts Privileged Position and Primal Commands into Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens. He has a crazy turn that puts five 3/3 flying Spirits into play for him. I cast Damnation and we go into topdeck mode. Eventually I draw Demonfire for the win.
Game 5 vs WB Control
My opponent and I play out lands for a few turns. I Duress and see nothing of interest, casting Magnivore followed up by a second Magnivore a turn later. My opponent topdecks a Damnation and clears the board. I've got my opponent down to eleven - I Demonfire for six and flashback Firebolt, bringing my opponent to three. I need Demonfire, Rift Bolt, or Firebolt. Magnivore might also do the job.
I draw nothing for a few turns as my opponent casts Bane of the Living and Eternal Dragon. I don't manage to draw a solution and take lethal. Of course I make the cardinal mistake of peeking at the top of my deck: Demonfire.
Game 6 vs W Control
My opponent has to mulligan and gets off to a slow start. We end up playing draw-go for a while as I try to draw some threats. I take care of my opponents creatures and wait for the correct time to lay down Magnivore. I draw Duress and get rid of Neck Snap, bringing the Magnivore into play.
I suspend Rift Bolt and my opponent uses Sensei's Divining Top to dig up Dawn Elemental. My opponent starts his turn at sixteen life, and I manage to kill him. Rift Bolt comes into play making my Magnivore a 6/6. Cruel Edict clears Dawn Elemental out of the way and makes Magnivore 7/7. I tap out for a six point Demonfire and swing with a 7/7 Magnivore for exactly lethal.
Game 7 vs Mono Green
I get stuck without black mana early and my opponent spends the first few turns casting Edge of Autumn, Eternal Witness, and then Mwonvuli Acid-Moss. I get Distress and Duress, getting rid of Stampeding Wildebeests and another Eternal Witness. My opponent plays a morph and I get rid of it with Innocent Blood.
Birds and Tarmogoyf come into play - I clear the board with Damnation and cast a 7/7 Magnivore. The Magnivore swings twice and I Demonfire for the win.
Game 8 vs Grozoth Reanimator
My opponent is playing a pretty cool reanimator deck that uses a reanimated Grozoth to grab and then discard a whole bunch of huge creatures: Blazing Archon, Bringer of the X Dawn, and Karu, Pitlord. I Innocent Blood and Cruel Edict away a whole bunch of big guys and then eventually win with Firebolt, double Rift Bolt, and a big Demonfire.
That's the end of the old-school game reports. Hope you guys enjoyed it!