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By: magma728, Jake Beardsley
May 20 2020 12:00pm

For those of you unfamiliar, Penny Dreadful is a player run format in which all legal cards cost 0.02 or less on Magic Online, with price checks and rotation occurring with every new set. Shane Garvey wrote a fantastic article on as an introduction to the format, so I’ll include that link at the end of the article, as well as the vibrant Penny Dreadful community’s website, so go look at those if you are new to the format. With that said, I’m gonna try to start an article series giving reports on what’s new and cool in the format. There are lots of brews around cards that currently see play, used to see play, and some successful players have even managed to get wins with cards no one really even dreamed of playing competitively. I’ll also try to include what I’ve been liking as far as what is both fun and reasonably competitive, especially if there’s some innovation to be discussed.

Let’s dive in!

Our first deck for the day is going to be a deck many players are familiar with, especially those who mainly focus on Standard, except with a fun Penny Dreadful twist. The printing of powerful uncommons Flourishing Fox and Zenith Flare in conjunction with lots of cards with the cycling ability for only 1 generic mana has built a powerful aggressive engine in Standard as well as some older formats. So without further ado, here’s _sunga_’s Boros Cycling deck.

_sunga_ has found lots of success with this list, achieving 3 top 8’s in Gatherling events as well as currently holding the number 2 slot on the May League Leaderboard. The transition from Standard to Penny Dreadful gives the deck access to former Standard all-star Lightning Rift, allowing the deck to pivot to a slower game plan focused more on keeping the board clear with the Rift and finishing the game with a couple Zenith Flares pointed straight at the opposing life total. This ability to pivot gives a seemingly one-dimensional aggro deck needed flexibility to go along with the insane consistency the cycling engine provides. This engine also allows for more one-of’s in the sideboard, as digging through your deck becomes quite easy when sixty percent of your cards can be traded in for new ones while also impacting the board.

Our next deck is a cool blend of old and new, combining powerful mass land destruction like Jokulhaups and Burning of Xinye, Wizards of the Coast has decided isn’t fun anymore with mass land recursion from more recent sets, specifically The Mending of Dominaria and World Shaper, the latter of which conveniently dies to both of the Wildfire-type spells the deck employs. Here’s gladiusintelis’s Gruul Jokulhaups:

gladiusintelis takes a larger-scale approach to mana disruption than we typically see from Modern’s Ponza decks, which incidentally makes aggro a pretty solid matchup. In terms of the way actual games play out, the deck aims to get World Shaper, The Mending of Dominaria, or a planeswalker like Garruk Wildspeaker or Chandra, Pyromaster into play and then fire off Jokulhaups or Burning of Xinye, once the world is nuked, one of your set up pieces can put you way ahead of the opposition, giving you the ability to actually win the game at your leisure with scraps you have lying around, or even with lands like Ghitu Encampment. As far as the sideboard goes, Vexing Shusher is arguably your most important card, as trying to resolve 6 mana board wipes can be tricky against opponents with countermagic. 

While I’m not nearly as smart as most of the people in this awesome community, I’ve definitely spent some time in the lab trying to make some fun stuff work. I started playing competitively in Lorwyn, so this deck is quite near to my heart, given that the Standard version of this next deck was what I played in my first major event. Here’s my take on Magic’s very own Hobbit-esque tribe, Penny Dreadful Kithkin:

The deck is on its face relatively simple, as many aggro decks are. Play some Kithkin, play some more Kithkin, pump your Kithkin, beat them to a pulp. The really important thing to be asking, however, is what makes this better than other aggro decks, white or otherwise. The answer lies in the tribal payoffs. Goldmeadow Stalwart gives the deck a critical mass of larger than average 1 drops when paired with Figure of Destiny. Cenn's Heir gives the deck a must kill threat, as it can quickly grow to be massive, especially in conjunction with Militia's Pride. Thoughtweft Trio gives this deck a boost that many aggro decks struggle with: a huge blocker. The combination of a big body, first strike, and vigilance makes the Trio a nightmare for opposing aggro decks to deal with, especially since it can block any number of creatures. Finally, Kinsbaile Borderguard sets the deck apart most effectively. It’s frequently going to be large the same way Cenn's Heir is, but the real benefit the Borderguard provides is from its second ability. Most aggro decks struggle against board wipes, which between Fumigate, Wildfire, and Death Cloud Penny Dreadful is full of, but Kinsbaile Borderguard covers them quite nicely. It gives this white tribal deck it’s own version of Mono Red Aggro’s Anax, Hardened in the Forge, except the tokens both have relevant creature types and can also block, making it superior against other aggro decks. The combination of Borderguard and Trio make Kithkin a superior aggro deck against other aggressive strategies, which are extremely prevalent in Penny Dreadful. My initial run with the deck didn’t go well, as I failed to realize just how mana intensive cards like Militia's Pride and Figure of Destiny were. After a few key changes like upping the land count and adding some better interaction to both the maindeck and sideboard, I was rewarded with a 5-0.

Thanks for taking a look at this awesome format with me, and I hope to see you all next time. Be sure to check out Penny Dreadful, and let me know if you have specific decks you’d like me to highlight in the future.