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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Nov 04 2015 12:00pm
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It's that time again. Time for three casual decks.


Deck 1 Purgatory


Last week I suggested combining Purgatory with Spark Trooper, extolling the massive drain life engine it would assemble. Cotton Threads, you don't even need that combo to turn your Purgatory into an engine. In fact, you don't even need to dip into a third color.

    Aven Riftwatcher

Let's start by finding other life gain creatures, since Purgatory does cost two life every turn (and after a certain point in the game, we do want to use it every turn). We're already in white so there are many to choose from. It doesn't even matter whether they gain life on the way in (like Lone Missionary) or the way out (like Centaur Safeguard), because they will be doing plenty of both. We can also use friend of the Pauper community Sylvok Lifestaff to increase the life gain even further. Instead of the 2 Disenchant I'd usually recommend, we should go with 2 Solemn Offering.

We should be doing more with the lifegain than JUST keeping afloat, so let's put that lifegain to use. Let's enlist Ajani's Pridemate and Sanguine Bond! I have seen games in which the Pridemate grew to 16/16.

This is all well and good fun, but how do we ensure a steady flow of dead creatures, which we will need to keep our Purgatory stocked? We can't rely on our opponent to always do that for us, so we'll throw in some sacrifice outlets. We're already in black, so again, there are many to choose from. My favorites are ones that also further the deck's plan in some way. So instead of just Nantuko Husk, how about Disciple of Bolas! Not very good on his own, but great when combined with an engine. To a lesser extent, Ghost Council of Orzhova also puts sacrifices to use, and he even helps with the beatdown half of the deck.

You can run Enlightened Tutor if you have them (or lots of cash), but the card draw in here is usually enough to find a Purgatory. Once a Purgatory is out, it can operate with nearly any set of cards in the deck.

Here's the list! If you're new to my column, these are all meant to be casual and customizable. Make it your own.



Deck 2 Loxodon Peacekeeper

Loxodon Peacekeeper

The best advice I can give about Loxodon Peacekeeper is this: don't use him. In 99% of decks he is terrible. Possibly 99.9%.

But if you build your deck around him...

If you keep your own life total so low that he can't help but stay on your side...

Why, it's risky, it's chaotic, it's fun, it allows you to use some other highly janky cards... this is my kind of card! Why did it even take me this long to use him?

    Flesh Reaver     Orcish Cannonade

The first thing to figure out is how we can keep our life total low. Black and red are the masters of this, so let's make a tri-color deck. Flesh Reaver not only accomplishes that, but is (coincidentally) another 4/4 for 2. Orcish Cannonade is a little less drawbacky than normal. Snuff Out gives us the option of losing life (there are times when we've already lost enough). And then there are cards that let us decide how much life to lose. Volcano Hellion and Fire Covenant are the kings here, letting us pay 8 life if we want to when only 3 is needed. Or more still! There have been games that called for it.

So, why else do we want to lose all of this life? Loxodon Peacekeeper itself isn't enough to warrant this risky a plan. The truth is there are a lot of cards who work better when you're at low life. Death's Shadow is a famous example. There are also older hits like Pulse of the Forge and Keeper of the Flame. (And there's Keeper of the Light and Pulse of the Fields, but we don't want to buy what they're selling.)

Side note: compare the original wording on Keeper of the Flame and Keeper of the Light. They both have the same condition—that your life is lower than the other player's—but they're worded differently. Weird, right?

A few things:

  • Worship is a nice safety valve, but hardly an essential part of our gameplan, so I only put in one.
  • Don't forget about instant-speed tricks. If your opponent blocks your 4/4 Death's Shadow with a 7/7, you can cast Fire Covenant for four, thus lowering your life and growing your Shadow.
  • If you get the sense that your opponent is playing a defensive deck, and they are going to wait until Turn Ten before they try to deal you any damage, don't be afraid to use Volcano Hellion for like sixteen. That way you can afford his upkeep.  This also helps you to avoid spending the whole game staring at a Death's Shadow stuck in your hand.
  • Steam Blast is better than Pyroclasm in this sort of deck.
  • The Hide/Seek is mostly for the Hide's sake, preferring it to a regular Disenchant. But Seek could come up every now and then!
The Peacekeeper is Not Behaving Peacefully
4 Death's Shadow
3 Loxodon Peacekeeper
2 Flesh Reaver
3 Orcish Librarian
2 Keeper of the Flame
1 Crypt Champion
3 Volcano Hellion
18 cards

Other Spells
3 Magma Jet
1 Lightning Greaves
2 Rakdos Signet
1 Steam Blast
2 Orcish Cannonade
2 Pulse of the Forge
2 Fire Covenant
1 Worship
1 Snuff Out
1 Sulfurous Blast
2 Hide/Seek
1 Earthquake
19 cards
23 assorted duals etc., according to your budget
23 cards
Volcano Hellion



Deck 3 Horobi, Death's Wail

Horobi, Death's Wail

After Horobi came out, the same thing kept happening on every Magic site's forum. Every week or so, somebody new would make the same post. "Can you help me brainstorm cards that repeatedly target creatures for free or cheap? Things like Prodigal Sorcerer, but even better would be if they're not creatures themselves, or if they don't tap. Uh, no reason, I'm just curious." And the first reply would be "It's okay, you can just say that you're trying to build a Horobi deck."

    Squee's Toy

So let's start with that same question. How do we repeatedly target creatures?

There are a LOT of options these days. But the truth is, we can ignore almost all of them, because Squee's Toy and Oasis set the bar very, very high. Yes, Cauldron of Souls can repeatedly target the opponent's entire army for free, but do you really need to? It costs five mana. Look back at Squee's Toy again. Only in some very crazy board states would Cauldron ever be worth it!

There are a few other cheap options worth considering. Hammerheim and Urborg are nice, but they're legendary, so we can't run too many. Desert can work, but only during combat. Really the only post-1990s card to even look at is Retribution of the Ancients, which is repeatable for a small increase in mana. We'll run all of those because we have to, but Squee's Toy is really as good as it gets.

Horobi's biggest weakness is that he makes himself vulnerable. The only way around it is to give him shroud, and the only way to do THAT is with global effects like Steely Resolve. (If you try to enchant him with Robe of Mirrors or equip him with Lightning Greaves, it will kill him before the shroud is even granted.) This particular deck doesn't bother, although I'm not against the approach. What it does instead is just go for redundancy, with Cowardice.

Being in blue helps greatly in another way. It gives us some high quality shroud creatures! Shroud is great because it makes them Horobi- and Cowardice-proof. Maybe your opponent does have an Unnatural Selection that they're about to turn against you and machine-gun down your army. Well they can't!  In playtesting, 8 big shroud creatures seemed to be enough, since the deck is able to play defensively for a while. So I ran playsets each of Lone Revenant and Sphinx of Jwar Isle. I sort of wanted to include Lazav, Dimir Mastermind, who is strong, but come on now, I can't be recommending $6 cards in a casual column.

Some notes!

  • Chromatic Lantern is the accel of choice because it has the added benefit of "turning on" the Oasis.
  • Attunement and Monastery Siege (Khans half) are the draw spells of choice because this deck's hands can easily get glommed up with multiple copies of cards that don't need multiples. And creatures like Merfolk Looter are a bit too fragile here.
  • The cards in this deck whose sole purpose is to target the opposing creatures do technically have other uses. You won't OFTEN have to remove landwalk, remove first strike, or prevent damage... but just remember that you can.


Perhaps Squee's Toy should have a choking hazard printed on it.


I enjoyed this immensely and by Paul Leicht at Sat, 11/07/2015 - 07:21
Paul Leicht's picture

I enjoyed this immensely and wish I'd read it when it came out instead almost 2 days later. That first deck looks like a ton of fun, and your remarks about targeting with Horobi reminded me of a similar quest I had to make willbender slightly playable.