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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Mar 04 2016 1:00pm
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 Immortal Servitude

Now this is a card that lit up Johnnies' eyes everywhere. So goofy! So versatile! Such synergistic potential!

So what can we do with it in casual Magic? (Neither this nor anything I write is relevant for competitive Magic.) I'm going to break it down one CMC at a time. Because to really get maximum use out of this thing, you want to get multiple creatures at once. And to do that, you want to concentrate on a single CMC per deck. Can't be spreading the curve out.


CMC = 0

Second Sunrise    

It seems like any deck that would want to do this is just some win-at-once combo deck. Something like Glimpse of Nature into Goblin Bombardment into Immortal Servitude and repeat. But here's the thing: in the Just for Fun room, nobody wants to watch you do that. (The other thing is that Second Sunrise is more splashable than Servitude, but either way, just don't.)


CMC = 1

This is another CMC I would urge you away from. Most creatures at this level aren't accomplishing enough to be worth reanimating. We're still (probably) in combo-only territory, in case you'd rather get the ball rolling with Llanowar Elves or Hapless Researcher than Phyrexian Walker. But in case you skimmed the previous section, I want to urge you not to make this deck for the Just for Fun room.

If you've already got some deck together than focuses on cmc=1, like a Ranger of Eos deck, then maybe you could toss in a Servitude. But Proclamation of Rebirth seems better in most cases. On the other hand, Proclamation of Rebirth is $3.68 apiece; a playset costs more than a typical entire decklist of mine.


CMC = 2


Here's where things start getting interesting. At 2 mana, creatures can be of significant sizes, and they can get some synergies going.

Just remember that casting an Immortal Servitude will cost 5 mana total, so don't make a deck that stops playing lands after the second one. My advice: since we're already hitting the 2 mana part of our curve so heavily, your non-creature utility spells should be ones costing 3 or 4 mana. (Solemn Offering instead of Disenchant, that sort of thing.)


CMC = 3

Carven Caryatid    

You can't use Return to the Ranks anymore, but you can use Rally the Ancestors. Of course then, you need creatures with haste. But cmc=3 has a lot of those. Fifty of them as of this article! (The Timmy in me wants to recommend casting and resurrecting a Ball Lightning... but the decks that run Ball Lightning don't want to be casting a six-mana spell with three black/white in it.

Utility spells are even stronger at 3. Instead of sacrificing our Torch Fiend, we can keep our Manic Vandal. If we want a cantripping wall, instead of a 0/4, we can run the 2/5 Carven Caryatid and actually take down attackers. Instead of the 1/1 Ravenous Rats, we can have the 2/1 flying Liliana's Specter!

There are way more tribal lords at 3 than there are at 2. You could use the Servitude to drop an Elvish Archdruid, Ezuri, Renegade Leader, and Imperious Perfect at the same time. Or a Goblin Chieftain, Goblin Warchief, and Goblin Rabblemaster.

So what did my deck end up doing? Actually, none of those except Liliana's Specter. Here's the list (commentary at the end):



So, sixteen creatures all at cmc=3. They all have EtB triggers, duplicable by the Immortal Servitudes (and singleton Ghostway). They also all die fairly easily, which I negate with either Citadel Siege or Death Pits of Rath. A more mature deckbuilder would probably just pick one or the other, but I insist on jamming together everything I like. It's a peanut butter and ham sandwich.

Also notice the mana curve of the non-creature spells. Since we aren't doing anything with creatures until turn three, I concentrated the non-creature side at cmc=2. That way we can still be productive while we're setting up. Get out a Darksteel Pendant, Brave the Sands, or even a Cursed Totem. Kill something with Go for the Throat or Divine Offering. (Why the Offering and not Disenchant? Because we already got a Hedge-Mage to destroy enchantments.)

And now for my favorite CMC for Immortal Servitude:


CMC = 4

Yeah! It's tough to assemble, but you can do some cool things here. Remember that the Servitude itself will cost 7, which combined with all the 4-mana creatures means your deck will be very mana intensive. It will therefore will probably need to be slow and grindy.

    Solemn Simulacrum

Fortunately, four mana creatures excel at being grindy. There are a lot of reasonable 2-for-1s, including Magic's first ever EtB killer, Nekrataal. So our game plan here is to slowly win the war of attrition, with cards like Flametongue Kavu and Solemn Simulacrum. Then, when our opponent's resources are finally depleted, POW!, we dump a pile of oafs back onto the battlefield FTW.

I made a deck that does just that and I would like to share it with you all. Its other gimmick is repeatedly wiping the board. This doesn't really affect our creatures, who can come back, but it certainly affects our opponent's creatures. Plus it sets up a doubly-sweet Servitude, as there won't be much defense against the army we pull out. Black and green are aces at global destruction, with cards like Plague Boiler and Gaze of Granite. (I almost ran Forced March until I found that card! What an upgrade.)

Since our curve is so heavy, we do need a lot of acceleration. We need accel that costs two, so we can get to four mana on turn three. And we also need it to be things that don't get destroyed by Nevinyrral's Disk-types. This gives us basically one option—and fortunately were already in green for it—land tutoring! Rampant Growth, we welcome you.

So here's the gameplan.

  • Turn one: Twiddle our thumbs, think about life.
  • Turn two: Tutor up a land. (With seven ways to do this, it happens reliably.) As a backup, stall with Elvish Visionary.
  • Turn three: Drop any of our four-mana threats.
  • Turns four through whatever: Slowly eke out an advantage with our many 2-for-1s.
  • When convenient: Use one of our 8 disk effects. Kaboooom! Repeat this and the previous two steps as needed.
  • Thusly: Tap seven mana for a gigantic Immortal Servitude. Wreck house.

Pretty fun!



When land tutoring in this deck, always (always always) get a Swamp. You only ever need one Forest out at a time. The reason I have so many Forests is to make sure I get one by turn two. But after that, the more Swamps the merrier. 

CMC = 5

It seems that this deck would just have the same strategy as the cmc=4 one, but a turn slower. I don't see the point. Unless you have some two-card auto-win combo that relies on animating both creatures at once. But isn't there a better way to do that than with the 8 mana Servitude would require?

If you do want to try it, the "187" creatures costing 5 mana are obviously a little stronger than the ones costing 4, and we have access to indestructible accel in Darksteel Ingot, but this really sounds too cumbersome for my tastes. Let me know in the comments section if you can get this to work, I guess.


CMC = 6+

With creatures this expensive, it seems like you should win the game by just reanimating one of them. Maybe ditch the 9-mana Servitude for the 3-mana Necromancy. Or the two-mana Exhume, or the one-mana Reanimate. (Although by now we're likely getting back into "not for the Fun room" territory.)

Or maybe you do need to reanimate a whole bunch of 8-mana creatures at once! To that I say, try the five-mana Living Death instead. Really, I don't see Immortal Servitude ever being the best card for this premise. Unless they bring back the Vanguard format and you have one of those Orcish Squatter decks that makes 15 mana every turn. 

You know what, let's take my X=4 deck on the road and see how it does. 


Game 1: UG something

I get to see an Ancient Tomb, UG dual, Brainstorm, and Kiora's Follower. They see a Rampant Growth into a turn-three Nekrataal targeting the Follower, and then concedes before the trigger resolves. Then they message me saying "mbc."

Hmmm!  The Just for Fun room is full of mysteries.

Ancient Tomb  Kiora's Follower  Nekrataal


Game 2: Cloudpost.dec

    Venser's Journal     Well of Lost Dreams

It's a slow, grindy war of attrition—exactly what this deck wants! They start gaining ground with a Venser's Journal into Well of Lost Dreams engine, but I nuke the board after its first use (taking along an Amulet of Vigor and Altar of the Brood with them). The Altar had put a few fatties in my grave, and I was getting ready for the Immortal Servitude bombshell, but then they use a Tormod's Crypt whaaaaat?? Who runs that maindeck!! Is that not a dead card for them 99% of the time? And I don't think they were trying to set up a Living Death or anything. I really think it was just to be proactive against reanimators.

They have a few good threats left in hand, but my Liliana's Reaver and Disciple of Phenax get rid of most. The best they can muster is a Caltrops, which does nothing to deter my army. I beat face for a few turns while slowly building up mana, readying a gigantic Gaze of Granite in case of some high-end threat of his. Unfortunately, their threat ends up being even a little higher-end than I can afford: a ten-mana Kozilek, Butcher of Truth. Fumph. They win at 2 life.

I'm not really a fan of Cloudpost decks, the way they get +10 free life and +16 free mana, but it's basically the most popular card in the Just for Fun room, so railing against it seems moot. 

Game 3: That deck that dominated the Modern PT two weeks ago.dec

He plays a turn one Eye of Ugin and two (free) Eldrazi Mimics. On turn two, he casts a 4-point Endless One and swings for 8. I remind him that this is the Just for Fun room and concede.

I wonder what becomes of these people? Are they filled with remorse? Do they stare at their hands while saying "What have I done?" Do they sell their collections, quit their jobs, and live a life of charity? If you have ever taken a Tier 1 tournament deck into the Just for Fun room, write to me in the comments section, describe the guilt-ridden insomnia you've been plagued with ever since, etc.

Eye of Ugin    


Game 4: GWU legends

Now this is my kind of deck! They drop cards like Lu Xun, Scholar General and Rubinia Soulsinger, which are as endearing as they've ever been. (I kill them both, but with a heavy heart.) I get nervous about their Heliod, God of the Sun, whose indestructibility can withstand my Nevinyrral's Disk, Plague Boiler, AND Gaze of Granite (all three of which I have in my hand, strangely), but they do not have the devotion to turn it on, and they don't have any blockers, so they die to my attackers before much of anything really happens. My opponet was stalling on the land drops and couldn't get much going. Too bad. I wanted to see more of that deck.

Lu Xun, Scholar General  Rubinia Soulsinger  Heliod, God of the Sun


Game 5: Yo!!!! He's playing my Recoup deck from two weeks ago!!!


Haha I love when this happens. It's a little disorienting to see my creation with different art and card frames of course, but it could not be more flattering.

This is an interesting matchup, because I'm so focused on destroying permanents, and he barely runs any. In the early turns, my opponet burns out a few of my creatures, and I make them discard a couple of their spells. One of them was Recoup, of course, which they later flashes back as if they  never lost it in the first place.  #@%&!  Why did I have to design that deck so cunningly?

I drop a Nevinyrral's Disk that just sort of sits there lamely for a couple of turns before resignedly removing nothing but a single Qal Sisma Behemoth and my own Disciple of Phenax. Yeah, it was card disadvantage, but I didn't have any other way of dealing with the 5/5, and I'm planning on reanimating my guy anyway.

They point some burn directly at me. Their Scent of Cinders are pretty small, thanks to my discard, but it's still adding up. Enough to make me not want to cast that Infernal Contract in my hand, anyway. I'm down to 7, they are down to 9, and I use my turn to cast an Immortal Servitude. That's game for me next turn unless my opponent does something remarkable. Can they even? I try to recall the rest of the decklist and can't think of any outs. My opponent doesn't have the mana to cast and use a Pyromancer's Goggles all in one turn, nor do they even have enough to burn me out with one of the XR's.

They untap and casts the one card I couldn't remember: Burning Wish. Oh yeah! And I already know what they are getting: Acidic Soil. The game ends with him at 3 and me at -1. Arrrrrr!!!!

"I am justly killed with mine own Treachery."
—Hamlet, V.ii


Closing thoughts:

This deck is great and you should buy two copies of it immediately (one for yourself and one for your best friend's birthday).



I suspect they just shrug and by Paul Leicht at Tue, 03/08/2016 - 23:15
Paul Leicht's picture

I suspect they just shrug and think "loser! doesn't know how to play mtg." or some such. People who bring decks like that into JuFF already lack in-depth introspective skills imho. Or maybe they just don't care. A lot of players do not care as long as they can "win" a game.