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By: Rob Rogers, Rob Rogers
Oct 17 2007 8:03am
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Endless Whispers
I thought I would try a slightly different approach this time. First of all--no Nacatl War-Pride like in my first two articles! Second of all, instead of presenting a completed deck, I'm going to present a work in progress and get your help (I hope) in refining it.

The key card for this deck is Endless Whispers from Fifth Dawn, which currently is selling for a mere ninty cents a copy. I wasn't playing Magic when Fifth Dawn came out, so this card is a pretty recent discovery for me. It's quirky and has a strong effect on the game environment. The first time I read the card, I got an itch to build a deck around it. Below, I'm going to kind of think my way through building a deck, then test it out a bit. As an explanation, the repeated "Pssst! Pssst" in this story title refers to the Eternal Whispers. Yeah, a real knee-slapper.

Beating the symmetry
In a nutshell, Endless Whispers makes creatures come back to life on the opponent's side. In this sense, it's symmetrical. Your dead creatures will go to your opponent and vice versa. For that reason, this isn't the kind of card you just want to drop into any deck. It's just as likely to hurt you as help you. Yes, if you kill your opponent's Shivan Dragon, you get to attack him with it next turn. That's fun. But the reverse is true, also. Your opponent gets your dead creatures.

This is where the trickiness comes in. Your opponent's creatures are gravy. If you can get control of them, you definitely want to use them. But what are your options for building a deck where your opponent doesn't get as much out of Endless Whispers as you do? How can you beat the symmetry?

Going creatureless
Going creatureless is one option, of course. You can either choose not to play any creatures in your deck at all or else to play some small creatures that you ensure are gone before
Endless Whispers becomes active. There are a number of ways you could build this deck, and I'd be interested in seeing them. But I'm not the type to build creatureless decks. I just have too much fun playing creatures. Such a deck wouldn't be much fun for me, I think. So that's not the route I'm going to take.

Midnight RitualUsing tokens
Here's one aspect of the deck worth thinking about: When a token goes to the graveyard, it's removed from the game entirely.
Endless Whispers won't return it to play. So if you play token creatures in this deck, your opponent won't gain control of them. Better yet, if you trade creatures (let's say you attach with a 2/2 Zombie token from casting Midnight Ritual and your opponent blocks with his Civic Wayfinder and both die), then you gain card advantage because Endless Whispers will return the Civic Wayfinder to play under your control. (You'll even get to take advantage of that creature's come into play effect.) As you'll see, I try out some token effects below.

Keeping your graveyard empty
Writing about
Midnight Ritual gave me another thought. If you remove your creature from the game after it dies (for example by casting Midnight Ritual), your opponent won't gain control of it either. That might be a handy trick. It might also entail extra work removing creatures from your own graveyard just to deny them from your opponent, but it could be a strategy worth exploring. Maybe Delve effects like from Tombstalker or Death Rattle would be handy.

NightmareGiving your opponent useless creatures
Here's an interesting approach. You can stock your deck with creatures that are useless to your opponent, or nearly so. The trick is to make sure that they're useful to you. The easiest way to pull this off is if your opponent isn't playing black. If you're playing
Endless Whispers, you're going to need a strong investment in black because the spell costs two black mana to cast. So you're likely either to be playing mono-black or to take a two-color approach, with a lot of black available. So how about playing some cards that will be useful to a black player, but not someone focused on other colors? Nightmare is a terrific example that I thought of while typing this. Its power and toughness are based on the number of Swamps you have in play. So if you're heavily invested in black, it will work well for you. If your opponent doesn't have any swamps, then that Nightmare will die as soon as it enters play on his or her side. That's beating the symmetry all right! I didn't include Nightmare in my original build (I just now thought of the idea, plus I don't own any yet), but it's a strong contender when I retune the deck. It's expensive in terms of mana (but it's pretty cheap in terms of money right now), but could work very nicely here. Other similar examples include Korlash, Heir to Blackblade, Looming Shade and its brethren (it's a mere 1/1 creature unless you have black mana to pump it up), or something like Benalish Commander, whose power and toughness are dependent on the number of Soldiers you have in play. Of course, this strategy can backfire on you if your opponent ends up playing a black deck or Soldier deck against you, but that's the kind of risk you take sometimes, and part of what makes Magic interesting. Plus, I think I've got a strategy below that will really help to offset the disadvantage you'll get if your opponent plays black.

Liege of the PitGiving your opponent creatures he or she really doesn't want
This is the approach that tickles my fancy the most. What about using creatures that will make your opponent wince in dismay when he or she sees them show up? What kinds of creatures will really hurt your opponent? Well, you could go with something wacky like the
Jokulmorder, but that's going to hurt you just as much. How about something else?

Lord of the Pit or Kuro, Pitlord would be quite nice. I'd encourage you to try those out. But both of these have high casting costs and are difficult to get into play. What about something a little cheaper to get on the table? My favorite pick here is Time Spiral's Liege of the Pit. It's a morph, so you can get it into play very cheaply. You're playing black, so you can afford to unmorph it if you like, but Endless Whispers offers you an additional advantage here. If a face-down Liege of the Pit goes to the graveyard and Endless Whispers brings it back into play, it will return to play unmorphed. Your opponent will get a huge creature that will force him to sacrifice one of his or her own creatures (which will later return to play on your side) or else deal seven points of damage. Ouch!

Of course, the downside here is that you don't particularly want your opponent attacking you with a 7/7 trampling flier. So I recommend planning ahead and packing four copies of Circle of Protection: Black. That way, if your opponent ends up with your Liege of the Pit (or your Nightmare or Korlash, Heir to Blackblade, for that matter), you will have ample protection. And the Liege of the Pit will just sit there on your opponent's side causing damage or forcing sacrifices every turn. Sweet.

Another nasty trick you can play on your opponent is to use Bronze Bombshell. If and when it ends up on your opponent's side, it will immediately die and deal seven points of damage to your opponent. Sweet! And if your opponent chooses not to kill it? Well, then you can either use it as a nasty, dangerous wall or else keep attacking with it. As a 4/1 creature, it's hard to ignore and hard for your opponent to deal with.

Other strategies
These tricks are fun, but they can be a bit difficult to pull of successfully. You need to find ways to keep alive until you can get
Endless Whispers and your key creatures into play. By deciding to play Circle of Protection: Black, I've pushed this deck into Black/White. It might be nice to play some decent removal based around these colors. Of course, Vindicate would be very handy in such a deck, but it's a little rich for my blood. Other good suggestions included Mortify, Last Gasp, and Judge Unworthy. Why these three? Well, they're flexible. And in a pinch, you can use any of them to kill your own Bronze Bombshell or face-down Liege of the Pit, something that Terror can't do for you. Judge Unworthy can also help you drill down to your copies of Endless Whispers.

I'm a fan of Grave Pact, too, and my initial build include four copies. It can help you make an additional advantage out of any creatures you need to sacrifice to Liege of the Pit. It's possible it could backfire on you (if your creature dies, then your opponent could respond to the Grave Pact by sacrificing Liege of the Pit). But if the worst-case scenario here is that you end up with a 7/7 trampling flier, that might not be too bad of a thing. Another advantage is that Grave Pact and Endless Whispers have the same total casting cost. If you stock a Dimir House Guard or two, you can always Transmute for one or the other.

Tricky playing
One of the challenging aspects of this deck is knowing when to let creatures die and when to let them live. In one game, I ended up against a player using that Extended staple
Sakura-Tribe Elder. That's a great card for getting additional land. Its interaction with Endless Whispers was powerful. You could sacrifice it to get a basic land into play, but then your opponent got the elder. After a few turns, both my opponent and I had plenty of land to play with and had thinned out our decks considerably, so we were drawing more spells and fewer lands. There was a question, though: Should I have just kept the Sakura-Tribe Elder on my side, not sacrificing it, to deny my opponent the opportunity of using it?  I don't know for sure. It was a judgment call.  I can't even recall for sure if I won that game or not. But it's something worth thinking about with cards like this. Another example was when my opponent was playing Stingscourger. The first time he died and came over to me, I had no choice but to let him die again on my next upkeep.  I had no way of paying the red mana in his Echo cost. When he came back on my opponent's side, my opponent got to bounce a Bronze Bombshell back to my hand, slowing my progress. But the next time he came around, I had a Prismatic Lens in play and was able to pay his Echo cost. It was expensive, but I paid it, then let the Stingscourger sit on my side of the table for the rest of the game, neither attacking nor blocking with him. That ended up being the right call. My opponent ran out of options and conceded the game.

My build
Well, here's the version of the deck I tried most recently.  I intentionally left it a bit unbalanced (using some cards with just one or two copies) as a way of testing out which cards work well and which don't.  I'll let you know right now that it's won a couple of games, but that it loses more often than not. It's just too slow.  I'm hoping that, working together, we can tweak it and make a more competitive version of the deck that still retains some of the fun combos. 

Endless Whispers of the Pit (Extended), Submitted by Rob Rogers

1 Looming Shade 
4
Liege of the Pit 
4
Bronze Bombshell
1
Benalish Commander 
1
Lost Auramancers 
4
Endless Whispers
4 Circle of Protection: Black 
4
Grave Pact 
4
Orzhov Signet
2
Prismatic Lens
2
Mortify
2
Last Gasp
1
Even the Odds
1
Judge Unworthy
1
Sacred Mesa
1
Mobilization
1
Claws of Gix

4 Barren Moor
4
Secluded Steppe
1
New Benalia
4 Terramorphic Expanse
6
Swamp
3 Plains 

What works?
Parts of this deck work fairly well. Once
Endless Whispers hits the table, if I can get a little bit of creature parity working, this deck really cooks.  Liege of the Pit generally works nicely and more than once I've had opponents kill him while he was face-down, then express surprise when he ended up switching sides and wreaking havoc for them.  The Circle of Protection: Black works out fairly nicely if my ducks are in a row (you can use it to protect against the Liege of the Pit when your opponent has it and to protect against the damage it deals its controller if you have it), but extra copies can sometimes end up as dead cards.  Even the Odds has been pretty fun. It gives me three token creatures that my opponent won't get, and can be a nice trick, to boot. But the tokens are fairly fragile.  I'm never too disappointed to see the Orzhov Signet or Prismatic Lens early in the game, since this is a mana-hungry deck. And the removal spells work nicely; I'd strongly consider increasing them.What doesn't work?
Land:
Like I said above, this is a mana-hungry deck.  I used
Barren Moor and Secluded Steppe because I could cycle them and drill down to the key cards.  However, they are painfully slow and I hardly ever end up sacrificing them.  I usually only play 22 or 23 land, and I felt that with the four signets and two lenses, I probably had enough mana, but I'm beginning to think I need more lands and to replace some of the current lands with swamps and plains.

Tokens: I think that the idea behind using creature tokens is sound.  You get to use them; your opponent doesn't.  This upsets the symmetry.  Plus, you get easy sacrifice outlets for the Liege of the Pit should you need them. But several of the token generators I picked are too mana-intensive.  I'm looking at Sacred Mesa, Mobilization, and Benalish Commander.  What other suggestions do you have?  More Even the Odds?  Something else? These just aren't working out right now.

Claws of Gix: I tossed in a single copy of this as a sacrifice outlet should I need one.  In certain circumstances, I might want to get rid of an opponent's creature, Liege of the Pit, Bronze Bombshell, or even Endless Whispers itself.  But so far that single copy hasn't done much for me.

Grave Pact: In theory, this card should work pretty well.  It can be a negative if your opponent uses it as an opportunity to get out from under Liege of the Pit, but it should serve both as removal and a way to get a steady flow of creatures from your opponent.  But in practice, it's been difficult to cast and hasn't accomplished much for me so far.  I'm not sure I want to drop it right away, but I at least need to be better able to cast it.

What should I play next?  
I need to decide what to add to and remove from this deck. I'm thinking right now that I'll increase the number of basic lands, particularly swamps in the deck. The main card that I need white mana for is
Circle of Protection: Black. I can accomplish that with a lower white mana base than I currently have. I tossed in a single copy of Lost Auramancers as a way to get out Endless Whispers or a Grave Pact, but since it requires two white mana, I think that I should probably drop it and focus on other cards instead.

Based on some thoughts I had writing this article, I think that Nightmare might be fun to try.  And if I ran more creatures, I'd be tempted to try out Midnight Ritual, but I'm not sure I'd get much use out of it.

So help me out here.  What obvious cards am I missing?  What tricks am I overlooking that can make this deck faster, better, and more dependable? Let me know and I'll post a followup.

Have fun playing.  If you know of a clan where casual players like me who like to play odd decks would fit in, please let me know that, too. Thanks. 

0 Comments

by Harker (Unregistered) 81.111.94.69 (not verified) at Sun, 10/21/2007 - 22:59
Harker (Unregistered) 81.111.94.69's picture

Have a similar deck and have found rust elemental to be a fun thing to give to my foes...

No Rest for the Wicked. by PezzantWizzerd at Sun, 10/21/2007 - 05:26
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How about No Rest for the Wicked?  It may be an obvious combo for your opponent to figure out, but, if you pop a mass removal (or they do!), sacrifice NRFTW, and then let the reset resolve, the creatures that they would normally get go back to your hand and you get theirs.  Theoretically...

a sugestion by Anonymous (Unregistered) 58.69.83.223 (not verified) at Fri, 10/19/2007 - 16:34
Anonymous (Unregistered) 58.69.83.223's picture

how bout puting a few sleeper agents in so wenever you kill it it just ends up going to you and returning to him? would it work like that?

Three card suggestions by Felorin at Thu, 10/18/2007 - 23:25
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A few more suggestions for the deck.

 

Spawning Pit.  It replaces Claws of Gix with a sacrific outlet that doesn't cost mana, and gives you a more useful effect.  It makes tokens cheaper than most other alternatives.  And its "downside" of sacrificing creatures is something your deck likes to do anyway!  What's not to love?   If you have Grave Pact out, you can even take the tokens it makes and sacrifice them right back into the pit, getting you one of the opponent's creatures & halfway to your next spawn.

 

Even more evil in your deck would be Tel-Jilad Stylus.  With this out, anytime they get something of yours you don't want them to keep, you make it go away for free.  Four of these would broaden the range of creatures you might be able to get away with using.

 

Genesis Chamber is another very cheap token maker.  It gives them tokens too - but with Tel-Jilad Stylus, you can make theirs go away, and keep yours around.  The tokens it makes are "controlled by them, owned by you" so the Stylus will kill them with a single tap.

by Felorin (Unregistered) 70.122.21.186 (not verified) at Thu, 10/18/2007 - 23:22
Felorin (Unregistered) 70.122.21.186's picture

A few more suggestions for the deck.

 

Spawning Pit.  It replaces Claws of Gix with a sacrific outlet that doesn't cost mana, and gives you a more useful effect.  It makes tokens cheaper than most other alternatives.  And its "downside" of sacrificing creatures is something your deck likes to do anyway!  What's not to love?   If you have Grave Pact out, you can even take the tokens it makes and sacrifice them right back into the pit, getting you one of the opponent's creatures & halfway to your next spawn.

 

Even more evil in your deck would be Tel-Jilad Stylus.  With this out, anytime they get something of yours you don't want them to keep, you make it go away for free.  Four of these would broaden the range of creatures you might be able to get away with using.

 

Genesis Chamber is another very cheap token maker.  It gives them tokens too - but with Tel-Jilad Stylus, you can make theirs go away, and keep yours around.  The tokens it makes are "controlled by them, owned by you" so the Stylus will kill them with a single tap.

by elrogos at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 12:41
elrogos's picture

Yeah that was the sense of my comment, i just didn't explain it cause it is a well known combo and then i thought everyone knew about it :-)

Claws of gix by Anonymous (Unregistered) 213.52.212.129 (not verified) at Thu, 10/18/2007 - 08:59
Anonymous (Unregistered) 213.52.212.129's picture

Might I suggest as an alternative rakdos riteknife

 

It takes you in a slightly different conection with the red instead of whit but might also offer fun option with desolation giant (obviously you alreay have desolation angel as an option)

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Rob Rogers at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 16:31
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I'd stay away from the Dissension off-color creatures simply because, as you point out, the effect would be symmetrical. But I like the idea of the Lorwyn Champions and might try that out when Lorwyn is released online. Accursed Centaur seems like an interesting choice, too. I think I might try it out to see how it works. Of course, the opponent could just choose to sacrifice the centaur to itself, but I think it could end up working pretty well at times as you suggested--a way to sacrifice cards like the Bronze Bombshell and face-down Liege of the Pit.

Gleancrawler?!? by Isotope (Unregistered) 74.39.232.97 (not verified) at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 15:58
Isotope (Unregistered) 74.39.232.97's picture

Gleancrawler triggers at the end of your turn.  It would not interact favorably with Endless Whispers at all.

Nevermind by Isotope (Unregistered) 74.39.232.97 (not verified) at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 16:05
Isotope (Unregistered) 74.39.232.97's picture

Heh.  I thought you were saying Gleancrawler would trigger when the creature dies.  I guess it would trigger at the same time (both at end of turn).

Champions by Isotope (Unregistered) 74.39.232.97 (not verified) at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 16:08
Isotope (Unregistered) 74.39.232.97's picture

Another way to break the synergy would be with the Lorwyn Champions.  If your opponent doesn't have the right creature type, you'll get it right back at the end of their turn).

The Dissension off-color-mana creatures would be amusing too, although they would be symmetric.  You could bounce Patagia Vipers and Court Hussars back and forth every turn.

Another whacky idea would be Accursed Centaur.  You could use it to donate select creatures to your opponents (like Bombshell), and they would have to give stuff back to you when it comes into play.

by Rob Rogers at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 12:40
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Skeletal Vampire seems like an interesting way to go. If your opponent doesn't have black mana, then he couldn't get the advantage of extra bat tokens. On the flip side, it has the same issue as the Sengir Autocrat in that if you're controlling it and it dies, it will end up helping your opponent quite a bit. I think I'm looking more for cards that will either hurt your opponennt on the other side or else be useless or next to useless.

by Rob Rogers at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 12:29
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Oh, you mean Phage? Yes, I didn't even think about that. It's a little cruel, but that's a really good idea. I'll pick up a couple of copies and give that a try.

by Rob Rogers at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 12:38
Rob Rogers's picture

I really like the Vampiric Link idea. The downside is that I wouldn't have a chance to cast it before my opponent had one opportunity to attack me with the Liege of the Pit, but once I did, it would be handy.

Gleancrawler makes me nervous because A) It's relatively expensive (I'm getting hammered just trying to get out my 4 casting cost cards) and B) It could backfire if it died at the wrong time--giving my opponent a way to work around the Endless Whispers and shifting that symmetry back the other way. But if you try it out and it works well for you, please let me know.

I agree about the Dimir House Guards (worse case scenario, if you're afraid of your opponent getting it, is just to sacrifice it to itself right before casting Endless Whispers). And its Transmute ability is very helpful.

The Sengir Autocrat is helpful for tokens, but it's another card that can backfire on you--when it goes to your opponent, he gets the tokens, too.

Tendrils of Corruption seems like a solid removal choice. The life gain is helpful and it's another potential Transmute target for the Dimir House Guard. It would obviously be most useful if you went mono black, but it would be pretty helpful even in a black/white build.

I don't have any Scrying Sheets right now and adding a lot of snow land, too, (to make the Scrying Sheets more useful) would increase the financial cost of what's essentially a budget deck. If money was no object, I'd definitely try that out.

by JXClaytor at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 11:22
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and if you are going to go the token route, Skeltal Vampire could be considered as well right?

by Rasparthe at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 12:02
Rasparthe's picture

I think what elrogos was saying was how about Phage the Untouchable, a little expensive at 4BBBB but if it hits the table it should be a win whether you swing for the victory or your opponent kills it and then it recurs onto their side causing the loss condition to trigger.

Just a thought

by khirareq at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 08:25
khirareq's picture

One card you could try is Gleancrawler.  If your creatures die during your turn, the Gleancrawler will trigger at the same time as the Whispers, so you can make sure the Gleancrawler trigger resolves first.  Of course if it dies during your opponent's turn, you've got a problem.  If you wanted to move away from white, Vampiric Link on the Liege is pretty cool, and Sengir Autocrat makes tokens the old school way.  If I went that way, I would go mono black, throw in some House Guards and some Tendrils of Corruption to keep me alive until I got going.  And some scrying sheets and coldsteel hearts.

by elrogos at Wed, 10/17/2007 - 10:20
elrogos's picture

Maybe i am boring (cause i know, that's a boring and "see so many times" thing) but why not sticking 1 or 2 Page in the deck? Just in case, uh, you need a fast victory...

However the deck is nice, the WB list too, and the idea of vampiric link on the liege can be useful.

One thing that is useless, as it was in the nacatl deck, is grave pact, too mana intensive, it's not that great, without it you have not to plunge in claws of gix etc.

I would fill those 4 slots with more removal or life draining/gaining.

Last thing: against decks with few creatures? that's not a great deal if you play this without old Phage.