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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Aug 25 2015 12:00pm
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Important announcement: Cotton Threads, it's time that I gave back to the community. Four years ago I won a giveaway contest for 4 foil Drelnochs, and, well, now that I'm in a position to host a giveaway contest of my own, I am doing exactly that. If you use the article comment section below to post a casual decklist using 4 Cairn Wanderers... you will be entered... into a running... for a fabulous prize... of 4 foil Cairn Wanderers!!! The prize goes to my favorite submission. (And now onto your regularly scheduled article, which has nothing to do with Cairn Wanderer.)


Deck 1 The Abyss

The Abyss

I've written about The Abyss before. Multiple times! None of those decks have a single card in common with todays though, besides lands and The Abyss itself.

There are lots of ways to use The Abyss. The most common one is in a creatureless deck—unlike modern variants such as Call to the Grave, Woebringer Demon, and Magus of the Abyss, the original has no way of killing itself. Another way is a replenishable supply of cheap tokens. Breeding Pit back in the day, maybe Puppet Conjurer or Awakening Zone today. A third way is with shroud creatures: they're immune to The Abyss, which works on targeting, not sacrificing!

    Arcbound Crusher

The fourth way, and the way I'll be using it today, is with artifact creatures. If all of your creatures are artifacts, The Abyss does nothing to you, but it keeps picking off your opponent's creatures. (Wizards really made a weird card with this one.)

So what artifact creatures are worth using? There are the ones that go well with other artifacts, like Arcbound Crusher and Rusted Relic. Maybe try to avoid tournament bombs like Arcbound Ravager if you're playing in the casual room.

There are also ones that are just plain efficient on their own. Phyrexian Revoker is a versatile hoser. Darklit Gargoyle and Porcelain Legionnaire are efficient beaters if we expand the manabase to include white. And we do want white in our deck, because white has a certain card that works very well in a deck full of artifact creatures: Tempered Steel. Pow! (Can you believe that back in the day, people would pay 2BB and sacrifice all of their creatures to get this powerful an effect? I don't think a lot of people did, but the card I'm referring to is Death Pit Offering and I certainly tried to make it work a few times. My eventual conclusion: don't try to make it work.)

There are so many other on-theme cards that the deck starts building itself at this point, and the real challenge is just whittling down the scores of viable contenders. Dispatch is a strong choice. O-Naginata works on most of the deck's creatures (or, after a Tempered Steel is out, all of them). Again, I want to caution you against making the deck too bomby. Top 8s were full of Tempered Steels not too long ago, so try to avoid some of the spikier inclusions of that deck. Memnite, Mox Opal, things like that. And please, please, no Cranial Platings (people will hate you).

Striking the balance between not-too-strong and not-too-weak is tough at times, but that's what the Just For Fun room is all about. Here's what I came up with. Feel free to tinker as to your own liking!



The Engineered Plagues seem off-theme at first—but they're to combat token decks, which are one of the few decks that can pose a threat to The Abyss.


Deck 2 Ant Queen

Ant Queen

This card is underrated. I mean as far as tournaments go, it was rated quite accurately, but in the community sense, it was underappreciated. Let me explain.

I was playing Magic back when Sliver Queen first came out. People lost their minds over how cool that card was. There was a buzz about it.  Sliver Queen, Sliver Queen.  Part of the appeal was that it was the first ever WUBRG card to exist. But part of it was that it could just crank out 1/1 tokens at will! Before that, our best option was The Hive. Blech! I should have put option in quotes.

Sliver Queen

Years later comes Ant Queen, which is basically the same thing but WAY easier to cast, and nobody really seems to care. OK, draft players cared. But I've never seen anybody cast one in constructed besides myself! To that I say—fmph! Is its lack of tribal relevance really that big a deal?

Today's deck, as you have possibly surmised, is all about Ant Queen, and capitalizing on her as much as possible.

Step 1: Lots of Mana. We want to crank out as many insect tokens as we can. Otherwise, what's the point? Fortunately, green specializes in mana:

Vernal Bloom  Keeper of Progenitus  Heartbeat of Spring

Step 2: More outlets. If we're generating this much mana, what else can we do with it? We can repeatedly activate Level Up abilities, Kazandu Tuskcaller being my favorite. We can pay expensive flashback costs, such as that on Increasing Savagery. Or we can drop plain ol' huge creatures, like Gigantomancer, Pelakka Wurm, or the Eldrazi of your choice. There are also huge creatures with benefits earlier on, like Walker of the Grove or Chancellor of the Tangle.

Kazandu Tuskcaller  Gigantomancer  Chancellor of the Tangle

There also exist huge creatures that double down on Ant Queen's insect tokens, like Living Hive and Symbiotic Wurm. Speaking of which,

Step 3: Tribal Relevance. I'll be honest: if I were to make a comprehensive list of every card buffing insect creatures, it would be exactly one card long. But there are always those build-a-tribe cards, like Coat of Arms, Konda's Banner, Shared Triumph, and Cover of Darkness. Or cards that pump green creatures, like Baru, Fist of Krosa, any of the green lieges, or, uhm, Kaysa... Jacques le Vert... Juniper Order Advocate... maybe not those last three.

Step 4: Avoid Fate. To protect our Ant Queens!!!




Deck 3 Rime Transfusion

Rime Transfusion

Nobody told me about this card when Coldsnap came out. But come on, it's a good deal! What other card gives you evasion and that big a pump for that little mana? Trick question; none do!

As soon as I saw this card, I knew what I had to do: jam it in a deck of creatures that trigger off dealing damage to the opponent. This will be sort of the counterpoint to my 8x Curiosity deck. Whereas that one was about casting creatures with evasion and then enchanting them with combat bonuses, this one is about casting creatures with combat bonuses and then enchanting them with evasion. So first up: what black creatures have combat bonuses? (This could easily be any combination of colors, but I'll keep in mono-black because it already gives us more than enough options without needing to branch out.)

Headhunter  Slith Bloodletter  Ebonblade Reaper

Nightveil Specter  Ashling, the Extinguisher  Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni

And there are so many more (most of them involving discard). Next inquiry, how else do we give our creatures evasion? Again, there are too many options to list. And although none are as good as Rime Transfusion, I recommend to you Dragon Shadow, Grisly Transformation, Vow of Malice, Sleeper's Guile, and/or Gruesome Deformity. How many to put in? After some playtesting, the ratio I settled on was 16 enchantable creatures to 8 enchantments. Experiment around though!

Now if you know my articles you know I usually like to add some synergies into my decks before closing them out. There are some neat ones here:



Now get those contest entries in, folks. Don't make this like the Drelnoch contest, which only had one (serious) entry.