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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Jul 11 2018 12:00pm
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Casual players only! Here are three fun decks inspired by M19. First is a (generally) better Where Ancients Tread, it's—


Deck 1 Sarkhan's Unsealing


Usage Notes


Death's Shadow





I must stress, Sarkhan's Unsealing looks at what you cast, not what hits the battlefield. Consider:


Recommended Creatures

What low-costing creatures are there with 4+ power? Let's break it down by mana cost.

Zero mana: Everything here is a build-around, like Hollow One, Myr Enforcer, Tangle Golem, Delraich, Demon of Death's Gate, Hand of Emrakul, and Khalni Hydra. But we're already building around Sarkhan's Unsealing, so we can't accommodate those!

Hollow_One  Myr Enforcer  Demon of Death's Gate

One mana: Phyrexian Dreadnought, Vexing Devil, and Death's Shadow cannot be guaranteed to stay on the battlefield, but one mana to deal 4 damage is a fine deal if they don't. Especially since two of those creatures have 7+ power, making them not one-mana Lightning Blasts but one-mana Flame Waves! Ghoultree could be a nice late-game slam, although considering the late game arguably violates the whole spirit of sorting by casting cost.

Phyrexian Dreadnought  Vexing Devil  Death's Shadow

Two mana: This is the first category with a variety of sensible, stick-around options instead of the chaos listed above. Frost Walker, Wanted Scoundrels, Bloodrage Brawler, and Exemplar of Strength all fit well with the aggro route a typical Unsealing deck will want. Wall of Razors is decent in more defensive builds.

My favorite two-drop by far is Imaginary Pet. If the opponent doesn't kill it, you get to recast it and retrigger Unsealing every turn! There are more of these tricks at higher mana costs, but this is the only at two. Not to mention, he's a great place to unload some -1/-1 counters, like from Exemplar of Strength or some of the below cards.

Looking at the more combo-y options, there's Lupine Prototype and the old Avatar cycle—Avatar of Will in particular if you are running Lupine. In truly creature-heavy decks, Torgaar, Famine Incarnate and Ghalta, Primal Hunger both trigger the 7+ clause.

Imaginary Pet  Exemplar_of_Strength  Lupine_Prototype

Three mana: There are too many playable options to list. My favorites are Lava ZombieViashino SandstalkerVaultbreaker (the Dash ability says "cast"!), Dusk Urchins, Vexing Sphinx, and Rhonas the Indomitable. In a deck whose very premise is 4+ powered creatures, Rhonas' restriction will not come up often.

For aggressive builds, there's Ammit Eternal, Baleful Ammit, Arrogant Bloodlord, Arc Runner, Ball Lightning, Hell's Thunder, Lathnu Hellion, Shambling Remains, and Yasova Dragonclaw.

Defensive builds have an instant-speed trick with Plumeveil. Keldon Vandals is an overpriced Shatter, not something we typically pay echo to keep, but the 4-damage trigger is worth the extra mana.

Honorable mentions go to Nyxathid, Phyrexian Soulgorger, and Cosmic Larva, who, although probably not good, do trigger the 7+ ability quite cheaply.

Lava Zombie  Vaultbreaker  Rhonas_the_Indomitable

Four and more: Given how many high-quality three-drops are available, we shouldn't even look at these creatures unless they really do something special. A few that pop out are Archwing Dragon, Timbermare, Territorial Hellkite, Boneyard Scourge, Blitz Hellion, Thunderblust, Garruk's Packleader, and Angrath's Marauders. Beyond those, just consider what's synergistic with your deck. If you're running a Giant or Dragon tribal deck, you'll obviously want cards that others won't.

Also consider multifunction cards. If you were going to run two Naturalizes, it may be better to run the 4-powered Conclave Naturalists, curve allowing.

Archwing Dragon  Boneyard_Scourge  Indrik Stomphowler



Obviously the Ferocious mechanic works well in a deck already running so many 4+ power creatures. Most notable of the 19 in print are Crater's Claws, Savage Punch, and Whisperer of the Wilds.

If you're tempted to also use the Formidable mechanic, there are 12 to pick from, but none seem viable in this sort of deck.

Non-keyworded cards that work well are Mosswort Bridge, Sevala, Heart of the Wilds, Temur Ascendancy, Elemental Bond, and O-Naginata. And don't forget M19's own Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma!

Whisperer of the Wilds  Temur Ascendancy  



The easy build is to just take all of the above cards I labeled for aggro and stay either mono-red or red-black.. But that doesn't interest me! Let's build something flashier.

Temur Ascendancy is my favorite, because everything that goes with Unsealing also goes with this. Remember Imaginary Pet earlier? He's even better now! Not only is he dealing four damage every turn, not only is he drawing a card every turn, he can even attack with haste!

Ascendancy also provides more justification for running green's enchantment tutors like Commune with the Gods. (Those poor mono-red decks don't have many ways of finding the Sarkhan's Unsealing. Just Vaultbreaker and off-theme cards like Tormenting Voice.)

Everything else in this list is covered somewhere above. Give it a try, and adjust it to your liking! 



4 Imaginary Pet 
Whisperer of the Wilds 
4 Exemplar of Strength
2 Rhonas the Indomitable
3 Garruk's Packleader
2 Indrik Stomphowler
23 cards

Other Spells
3 Commune with the Gods
2 Savage Punch
4 Temur Ascendancy
4 Sarkhan's Unsealing
13 cards

2 Mosswort Bridge
22 GUR duals etc.
24 cards


In the end, 19 of our creatures have power 4 or greater. Eight of them, with no outside assistance, can recast themselves every turn.

Our next card is part Infernal Contract, part Biovisionary, a vivid bit of lore, and evidence that card design is art, it's—


Deck 2 Liliana's Contract


The first clause gets you the demons you need for the second clause! Can't possibly fail!

      Congregation at Dawn   Survival of the Fittest

One option is to run the bare minimum four demons in your whole deck, and use things like Congregation At Dawn and Survival of the Fittest to assemble them. Seems a little too disruptable (as funny as it would be to make Contract plus four demons your Doomsday pile).

Much safer is to just have a bunch of singleton demons in your deck and grind out the win with gradual advantages. The good news is that there are a lot of demons to pick from, a full hundred as of M19's release. The bad news is that most of them, i.e. literally more than half, cost 6 or more mana, and there's a definite cap to how many of those cards a deck can run. Back to good news is that less than half of 100 is still a lot, and the few expensive ones we do run are sure to have powerful, game-warping effects.

Remember to look outside creatures with "Creature—Demon" printed on them. For instance:

  • Currently nine different cards make Demon tokens., any one of which will count towards Liliana's Four. Notice that two Demon tokens from two different cards only count as one of the four needed names. (The exception is Boris Devilboon, whose tokens are named "Minor Demon," but you can probably do better than Boris Devilboon!)
  • Any of the twenty Changelings will trigger Liliana's Contract (although, in my opinion at least, none are powerful enough to bother).
  • Sakashima the Impostor is, I think, the only clone to copy everything about a creature except for its name. That means it and whatever it copied count separately towards the Contract!

So what are our picks?

At two-three mana, there are only a few worth considering: Rakshasa Deathdealer, Skirsdag High Priest, Herald of Torment, Baleful Ammit, and Ammit Eternal.

At four mana, Desecration Demon may be the only good one in mono black. Other colors offer Kaalia of the Vast, Butcher of the Horde, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, and Sakashima the Impostor. (There are also a lot of bad ones in mono black, mostly from Kamigawa block.)

Rakshasa Deathdealer  Kaalia of the Vast  Sakashima the Impostor

At higher mana costs, I see way more playables than are worth listing, so really just pick your favorites. Or copy my below decklist verbatim.

Next let's look at Demon tribal cards. All of them are from Kamigawa block, and all of them are bad, such as Bloodthirsty Ogre and Villainous Ogre, so let's actually stop looking at them.

What we should look at are the "choose your own tribal" cards. Several of these actually are good with demons. Herald's Horn and Urza's Incubator help us with a top-heavy tribe, Steely Resolve helps them stick around for Liliana, and Cover of Darkness provides an alternate wincon (if attacking with 6/6 fliers wasn't already enough of one).

Heralds_Horn  Steely Resolve  Cover of Darkness

Although all five colors have multiple things to offer, I settled on green-black. Here's my list! Featuring:

  • Fifteen different demons!
  • A somehow-sensible mana curve!
  • Commune with the Gods, to find either half of the game-winning combo!
  • Tons of other card draw, thanks to Herald's Horn, Liliana's Contract, and some of the demons with drawing abilities!


The Differently-Named Demons
2 Rakshasa Deathdealer
1 Herald of Torment
1 Ammit Eternal
1 Baleful Ammit
Soulcage Fiend 
1 Desecration Demon
1 Bloodgift Demon
1 Indulgent Tormentor
1 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
1 Ravenous Demon
1 Carnifex Demon 
Archfiend of Depravity 
1 Demonlord Belzenlok
Reaper from the Abyss 
1 Rune-Scarred Demon
16 cards

Other Spells
3 Go for the Throat
4 Commune with the Gods
2 Naturalize
1 Cover of Darkness
1 Steely Resolve 
Herald's Horn
4 Liliana's Contract
2 Yahenni's Expertise
21 cards
23 BG lands
23 cards



Our final card has a creative bit of templating and would have been perfect for my sound-effect-laden Halloween article, it's—


Deck 3 Desecrated Tomb


It doesn't care how your creatures leave the graveyard, as long as they leave. Any other zone works! It's not yet possible to move a card from a graveyard to the command zone or ante zone, but you can still move it to your hand, the battlefield, exile, or your library. Click here to learn more about zones.

Another usage note is that it's not a token per creature moved, it's a token per time creatures are moved. So in case you were thinking of Hermit Druiding your entire library with a Gaea's Blessing in it—you can, but you only get a single 1/1 for your troubles, no matter how many creatures just entered and left your graveyard.

Within those frameworks, what are the best strategies?

This gives us many options for a deck, but the one I found most appealing was the bottom of the library thing, as I've never done it before. (When someone who's written over 170 articles, most of which have 3 casual decks each, finds something they've never done before, they get excited.)

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden    

Rule #1, for the sake of our centerpiece, is to run as many creatures as we can fit. So like deck #1, we'll want a creature-based Naturalize instead of Naturalize itself. We don't need four power anymore though, so the cheaper Reclamation Sage is preferable to Conclave Naturalists. And instead of Go for the Throat, we can run the creature that is Ravenous Chupacabra.

Many of this deck's creatures are mentioned above, such as Millikin and Hell's Caretaker. I haven't yet mentioned Satyr Wayfinder, who once more is a creature version of a spell effect we want, in this case Mulch (more to fill our graveyard than to get lands, although the lands are nice too).

The most important part of the deck I haven't yet mentioned is its primary finisher, Voldaren Pariah. With all of these bat tokens, it won't be too hard to flip it, and its flip effect is so powerful that it's worth the risk. We can even trigger its madness with our Tortured Existence!

What I like about this deck is it can function perfectly well without its centerpiece. If we don't get (or stick) a Desecrated Tomb, we still have many synergies going with Grenzo and Tortured Existence, and can grind out value pretty well. No creature in the deck has a power greater than three, so Grenzo can always be cast for as little as 1BR without losing any value. He's the only red card in the deck, but absolutely worth splashing for.


Billy Batson
4 Satyr Wayfinder
4 Millikin
4 Anurid Scavenger
2 Nyx Weaver 
Reclamation Sage 
2 Hell's Caretaker
4 Grenzo, Dungeon Warden 
4 Ravenous Chupacabra
Voldaren Pariah
1 Epitaph Golem
31 cards

Other Spells
2 Tortured Existence
4 Desecrated Tomb
6 cards
1 Volrath's Stronghold
22 BGR duals etc.
23 cards


See you next time, and have fun with M19!


Excellent as always! by Paul Leicht at Wed, 07/11/2018 - 18:11
Paul Leicht's picture

Excellent as always!