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By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Nov 28 2013 12:02pm
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"Pardon me," say the tournament players who are reading this right now, "I clicked on the wrong article."  They all hit the Back button.  OK let's get to the content.

Deck 1 Sphinx of the Chimes

Sphinx of the Chimes

What a cool sphinx!  I'm a little upset that he obsoletes such a classic card as Mahamoti Djinn, but he has such a wild ability that I can't stay angry at him.

He could work profitably in nearly any deck crammed with 4-ofs, but I like to capitalize on a theme.  This guy can draw four cards for zero mana.  Let's build around that!  How?  With cards that get better from drawing:

Lorescale Coatl  Psychosis Crawler

Diviner's Wand and Hoofprints of the Stag are a little mana-intensive. Jace's Erasure and Horizon Chimera are a little too do-nothing. And Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind is cool but how many 6-drops can one deck support?  Let's go with the above cards only.

    Trade Secrets

Sifting is a great place to look next, as it not only helps us find our combo pieces, but makes them stronger once they're out.  Blue has (literally) dozens of options to pick from, and you can certainly swap out my choices depending on your budget and play style.  Trade Secrets is my favorite.  And we'd be foolish to pass on Brainstorm, a well-established combo with Psychosis Crawler.

Is it guaranteed that the Sphinx will always fire, no, but it does happen about 80% of the time he's cast.  Especially with the sixteen different sift spells I'm running.  Does it sound excessive?  It may be.  I'm not a spike.  I never claimed to be.  The deck has worked pretty well for me but I'm not to say it's beyond improvement.

Lignify has always been my favorite casual green removal spell.  And although an opposing 0/4 is an impediment to a lot of decks, it does barely anything to us here, with all of our threats either gigantic or flying.

With everything in the deck being a 4-of (a demand of the Sphinx), the only card left I haven't mentioned is Worn Powerstone.  It allows for a fourth-turn sphinx.  Imagine following that up with a fifth turn Crawler (or Coatl), then casting a sift spell, and then activating the sphinx!  If you haven't ever played with Sphinx of the Chimes, let me just tell you something:

There is almost nothing more satisfying in a game of Magic than activating a Sphinx of the Chimes.

(Except activating him twice in one turn, which is not all that uncommon!  What a cool card!  To think that some people actually pay 3UR for a one-shot Thoughtflare!  I'd rather just pay 0 and then buy it back for free.)

23 lands... 9 four-ofs... one deck slot remaining... I threw in a Confound because it makes me feel clever.


Chimes of the Coatl Crawler
Now with sixteen sift spells
4 Looter il-Kor
4 Lorescale Coatl
4 Psychosis Crawler
4 Sphinx of the Chimes
16 cards

Other Spells
4 Brainstorm
4 Lignify
1 Confound
4 See Beyond
4 Trade Secrets
4 Worn Powerstone
21 cards
12 Forest
10 Island
1 Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
23 cards
See Beyond

As for the Oboro, every once in a blue moon you have extra mana lying around and it makes sense to return it to your hand for the purposes of discarding to a sift spell.


Deck 2 Sphinx's Revelation

Sphinx's Revelation

It's unexpected, but I was testing with this strange card, and I found it to be pretty good, so I...

No I'm joking of course.  This is a casual article.  No Sphinx's Revelations.  Here's the real Deck 2.


Deck 2 Vexing Sphinx

Vexing Sphinx

Do you realize how hard it is to make casual sphinx decks? There are 30 in print, and nearly all of them are just random beefy fliers!  Johnnies don't want to cast Sphinx of Uthuun or Enigma Sphinx.  Nothing to combo them with!  Vexing Sphinx can make some cool plays though.

One nice thing about Vexing Sphinx is that, unlike cards such as Wormfang Manta, you don't have to worry about whether or not his leaves-play bonus is going to trigger.  His upkeep is optional.  Unless you lose the game right after casting him, you can make him trigger when you want to, and without bringing in some second card as a combo.

    Tracker's Instincts

So what deck can we build around him? We'll need something that doesn't mind discarding.  Madness comes to mind, but that seems boring to me.  Or how about a deck that wants cards in its graveyard?  With Tracker's Instincts having recently come out (a decent upgrade to my beloved Wood Sage), we should have no problems filling the graveyard or finding our Sphinx. There are also plenty of creatures who want the grave full, like Tarmogoyf Boneyard Wurm, Nemesis of Mortals, and Ghoultree.  Then there are cards like Splinterfright and Golgari Grave-Troll who do both at once.  Options!!!

Wanting creatures in our graveyard means we should look to creature-based utility spells, like Scavenger Folk instead of Naturalize and Sakura-Tribe Elder instead of Llanowar Elves (who don't kill themselves).

Dragon Wings is free on a Ghoultree or Nemesis of Mortals, and quite appreciated on a vanilla 10/10.  It can also be hardcast on a Golgari Grave-Troll or Splinterfright, which is not such a bad play in some games.

Speaking of enchantments, we can buttress the Tracker's Instincts with Commune with the Gods.  It can even get those Lignifys I can't live without....

The last thing to mention is the lands.  With so many creatures capable of getting so big, let's dust off the old Mosswort Bridges!

Fun deck.


Vexing Ghoulfright Tracker's Troll
Isn't it nice to actually hardcast a Golgari Grave-Troll?
2 Scavenger Folk
2 Elvish Lyrist
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Splinterfright
4 Vexing Sphinx
2 Nemesis of Mortals
4 Golgari Grave-Troll
2 Ghoultree
24 cards

Other Spells
Commune with the Gods
4 Tracker's Instincts
2 Dragon Wings
4 Lignify
13 cards
9 Island
11 Forest
3 Mosswort Bridge
23 cards
Mosswort Bridge


Deck 3 Sharding Sphinx

Sharding Sphinx

Of course, a Sharding Sphinx deck wants a bunch of artifact creatures.  What other kind of deck wants a lot of those?  Is it...

  1. an affinity deck?
  2. a metalcraft deck?
  3. a Tempered Steel deck?
  4. a robots deck?
  5. a Cloudpost deck?

You're all wrong! I was referring to a The Abyss deck.  Our opponent will be forced to sacrifice a creature every turn, while we blissfully ignore the trigger on our own turn.


    The Abyss

A weakness of The Abyss is that it's foiled by token swarms, so let's throw in some Infest for good measure.  And in case our opponent casts two large creatures on one turn... we'll take one of them out with a Doom Blade. They never see it coming!  Doom Blade in particular is nice since it can also kill those abyss-proof artifact creatures.  Another funny way to deal with opposing artifact creatures: Steal Artifact.  (Talk about a card they never see coming.)

Strionic Resonator is a nice add-on to The Abyss.  It can also get an extra token out of Sharding Sphinx.  Unfortunately, there aren't many other cards to combo it with here, so I limited it to a single copy.

What creatures can we run besides Sharding Sphinx?  Tidehollow Strix is abyss-proof and has a decent body for its mana.  Of course it would be better to run Baleful Strix, but... $11.45 each, yeesh!!!  I'd rather just pay 2 cents, tyvm.

Another creature who's immune to The Abyss... it's actually not an artifact creature... it's another sphinx!  Sphinx of Jwar Isle!  Alright!  Since The Abyss (for some reason) targets, it can't kill someone with shroud!  Now we are really having fun with sphinges.

The rest of the deck is just random defensive spells and mana fixing.  There's a heavy enough artifact theme that Thirst for Knowledge was warranted (as well as the artifact lands to boost it, despite having no other purpose in here).  I also dropped in a Cursed Totem when I realized that all of my creatures were immune to it.



In closing, what has four legs in the morning, two legs in the day, and three legs in the evening?

The answer is Skaab Goliath.