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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
May 31 2016 12:00pm
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Deck 1 Demonic Pact

Demonic Pact

This card has been on my radar for a while as being highly abusable without being broken—exactly my type of card.

The Pact has already been scrutinized by this Channel Fireball article, and my article is going to start as a reaction to that one. Da Rosa breaks Pact strategies into seven categories, and I agree with about half of what he says. (Of course, my goal is more casual than his, so don't take this as anything more than a difference of styles. And, um, obviously I cannot touch his record of nine Pro Tour top 8's, so it's pretty clear who the better player is.)

(My record is zero, if you were wondering.)

1. Give them Demonic Pact. This is the strongest thing you can do with a Pact, as it results in an automatic win. I've personally never liked insta-win combos, so there will be no Donate-types for my own article.

2. Play a "You Can't Lose the Game" Effect. Da Rosa dismisses this, saying if you're going to use Angel's Grace, you might as well just pair it with Ad Nauseam. I agree, but for a different reason—Angel's Grace accomplishes nothing that destroying or sacrificing the Pact wouldn't. And cards that sacrifice or destroy enchantments come with bonuses that are lacking on Grace (more on this later).

3. Win the Game Before It Kills You. Da Rosa doesn't like this route, saying that a Demonic Pact deck is more likely to grind out a slow win, but I've found a way to get there. (More on this later, too.)

4. Counter the Ability. Da Rosa correctly assesses that the only two existing ways to counter triggered abilities—Trickbind and Voidslime—are "likely not good." I 100% agree. Perhaps one day we'll get a permanent that can tap to counter a triggered ability, and then this strategy will be worth reexamining, but not until then.

5. End the Turn. Da Rosa's only suggestion for this is Quicken plus Day's Undoing, which he admits is poor. He neglects to mention Sundial of the Infinite!! Now, this combo by itself is a bit underwhelming, as you do skip your whole post-upkeep turn, so I wouldn't shoehorn it into any old deck. But if your deck is already crafted around the Sundial, like these ones for instance, throwing in a Pact or four is probably a good idea.

Sundial of the Infinite

6. Bounce It/ Blink It. Yeah!!! I am right on board with da Rosa's celebration of this strategy. If you use three of the Pact's abilities and then cast Flickerwisp, the card "forgets" what it's done and you can start all over again. Where we differ is what cards to do this with.

His favorite two are Kiora's Dismissal (how many times would you really want to Duplicate it?) and Disperse (seems a little narrow, not to mention overpriced—I mean at LEAST upgrade it to Æther Tradewinds, sheesh). His Kor Skyfisher is OK but do you really want to wait until Turn 7 to drop your 2/3 flier?

Flickerwisp    Synod Sanctum

Nah, I think we can do better than that. How about Cleansing Meditation! Not only do you flicker the Pact itself, you also destroy all of your opponent's enchantments, AND you flicker your other enchantments, perhaps duplicating some EtB effects along the way. That's an entire deck premise right there.

In colorless, Cloudstone Curio is a repeatable solution. Reduce to Dreams is a dramatic option. Reweave is getting a little impractical, unless you have a really weird deck (which I certainly encourage).

Cleansing Meditation  Cloudstone Curio  Reweave

7. Destroy It. Da Rosa calls this "the coward's way" but psshhh whatever. We can find some productive ways to destroy it, and a lot better ones than the Claws of Gix (weak), Esper Charm (underwhelming), and Perilous Research (superfluous) he recommends. What about Angelic Purge? What about Crack the Earth, Æther Barrier, Magmaw, World Queller, Simplify, Fracturing Gust?? (I do like his Starfield of Nyx idea though.)

  Crack the Earth  Magmaw

And then there's something he completely overlooks—it's understandable, since he's thinking about winning tournaments, not merely being witty—but what about an eighth category that I'll add:

8. Duplicate the Effects! All of Demonic Pact's abilities are triggered, so you can run it next to Strionic Resonator! Instead of drawing two cards, draw four! Instead of a four-point drain, go for eight!!

Strionic Resonator

Yeah!!! Some cards Spikes don't even think about. Only us Johnnies.


We can combine my favorites of the above into a synergistic deck. By far my favorites are Cleansing Meditation and (obviously) Strionic Resonator, and it just so happens that the two pair with each other, since they both like triggered abilities, so let's make that our focus. Let's run...

Since we are running Cleansing Meditation, we might as well also take out a few opposing creatures along the way—Soul Sculptor can make that happen. And by now I've said every card in the deck except Shriekhorn, which I use partially to enable threshold, and partially for more Angelic Purge fodder.

We end up with eight ways to flicker the Demonic Pact, and another three to ditch it entirely. With all of the card draw, it's often possible to chain together Pacts over the course of so many turns that we win* long before we're in danger of facing its fourth trigger.

* or lose




Deck 2 Bloodshot Trainee

Bloodshot Trainee

Here's a card that isn't quite as bad as he seems. If your only combos are Giant Strength-types, then yes, he's exceedingly bad, but we can do a lot better than that. Look for:

Phew! And as for the rest of the deck, where should we look? To cards that also benefit from all the pump we have. For instance, the Ferocious mechanic. Heir of the Wilds, Lambholt Pacifist, and Crater's Claws are my favorites, and obviously tons more are out there. I also like a Hammerfist Giant wearing any pump spell. And although nearly all of our creatures get to power>=4, almost none of them have it natively, so Alesha, Who Smiles at Death can resurrect nearly anyone.

  Hammerfist Giant  

My favorite route of the above is the tribal one (go warriors!), mostly for the haste afforded by Obsidian Battle-Axe. This also opens up the avenue for warrior lord Herald of Dromoka and (why not) fellow warrior Brion Stoutarm.

Since we're in a three-color deck, we can upgrade some spells. Destructive Revelry and Duergar Hedge-Mage instead of Naturalize, Lightning Helix instead of a monocolored bolt, et cetera. And since so much of our deck is creature based, let's give Congregation at Dawn a try. Here is the result:


Deck 3 Paradox Haze

Paradox Haze

I've written about Paradox Haze before—this year, last year, six years ago—but I just keep finding new things to do with it! Today's deck has got a bunch, some old, some new.

Enchanting yourself, you can double the rate at which...

Glistening Oil  Monastery Siege  Torture Chamber

Festering Evil  Reality Strobe  Curse of the Cabal 

We want to have as many upkeeps as possible, so let's go with a slower, more controlling deck. Really let Curse of the Cabal and Reality Strobe do their thing, while Palace Siege and our hard-to-block creatures finish them off.

And... that's about it! The gameplan is just drop everything you can as soon as you can. It's better to suspend Reality Strobe for 2U than to hardcast it three turns later, because we'll ideally be dropping a Paradox Haze in the interim. See Beyond is the filter of choice, because there are cards we don't want right now, but in a typical game there is very little we would be against drawing at some point. Most of these cards are good in multiples.

Blue-Black Haze All In My Brain
4 Epochrasite
2 Necroplasm
2 Nihilith
4 Deep-Sea Kraken
12 cards

Other Spells
2 See Beyond
1 Glistening Oil
3 Powder Keg
2 Monastery Siege
4 Paradox Haze
2 Torture Chamber
1 Festering Evil
3 Palace Siege
3 Reality Strobe
4 Curse of the Cabal
25 cards
12 Swamp
11 Island
23 cards
Palace Siege


Have fun, and see you next time!