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By: Rob Rogers, Rob Rogers
Nov 03 2007 2:35pm
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Endless Whispers
Not too long ago, I wrote about my weak Endless Whispers deck and asked for your feedback. Thanks very much to everyone who made suggestions! Now I'd like to take a look at some of them, show you how I tweaked the deck, and take it for a test drive.

Suggestions
Here are some of the suggestions you made:

  • Tendrils of Corruptionkhirareq suggested that I try out Gleancrawler, Vampiric Link, Sengir Autocrat, Dimir House Guard, and Tendrils of Corruption. I decided against Gleancrawler because of the mana cost, because it might be too advantageous to my opponent, and because often, I don't want to get my dead creature back. I want to give it to my opponent to deal with. Vampiric Link is a handy way of dealing with a Liege of the Pit on the other side, but I couldn't play it until after my opponent had gotten in one attack with the creature; I'm generally better off going with Circle of Protection: Black. So I'm going to stick that on the back burner in case I end up going mono black. The Sengir Autocrat is another example of a card that might be too advantageous to my opponent.  Dimir House Guard is a stellar idea, though, Its Transmute ability lets me get Endless Whispers or Grave Pact, and its sacrifice ability can be handy. If it dies, I might end up having it attack me, but that wouldn't be a huge problem. Tendrils of Corruption is a good removal card. The current version of the deck doesn't have enough Swamps to justify its use, but I'm going to be addressing that and it's likely to make it more useful. In addition, it's another potential target for the Dimir House Guard's Transmute ability. I don't think I'll use four copies (I like some of my other removal spells pretty well), but I'll drop in at least one or two. 
  • JXClaytor suggested Skeletal Vampire. It's a very nice card and not entirely symmetrical since the opponent can only play the activated ability to create more Bat tokens if he is playing plenty of black. But I think it would be too helpful for the opponent. In particular, it would give him three opportunities to sacrifice creatures to the Liege of the Pit.
     
  • Phage the Untouchableelrogos suggests including Phage the Untouchable and calls Grave Pact "useless." Well, Phage is certainly a heck of a good card for this deck, a combo I was unaware of and didn't consider. It works like this: If I have Phage and Endless Whispers in play and Phage dies, then she goes back into play on my opponent's side. Since my opponent didn't cast her from his hand, it's an automatic game loss. Nasty. I picked up a copy of Phage and will playtest her. My feeling is that I don't want 4 copies of her because this isn't the way I want to win the game all the time (it's kind of unfun, especially for the opponent), but it would be nice to use once in a while. As for Grave Pact, well, I don't find it useless. I've seen it be absolutely devastating, especially in multiples. And since I'm increasing the black mana of this deck, it will be easier to cast. It can be a handy trade-off, too. When Liege of the Pit has me sacrifice a creature (ideally, something like Bronze Bombshell, then my opponent ends up sacrificing a creature, too--a creature I'll get control of at end of turn. I'm going to keep it in here for a while, but I'll keep his comment in mind and try to decide, when I draw it, if something else might have been better. 
  • Accursed CentaurIsotope suggested three strategies: the off-color creatures (such as Patagia Viper or Court Hussar) from Dissension, using Accursed Centaur, and trying out some of the Lorwyn Champion creatures such as (Bogart Mob). I like these ideas, but only ended up trying one of them. The Dissension critters didn't match the colors I'm using and also might be too symmetrical--giving nice advantages to my opponents. The Lorwyn Champions would require me to have enough of the Champion creatures in the deck (Goblins, for example) to be useful, and that would be too big of a change for the deck. But I like the idea of using Accursed Centaur. True, the opponent can just sacrifice the centaur to itself in response to its ability, but that's not such a bad thing. If I keep trading it back and forth (each of us sacrificing it each time it comes into play), but I have a Grave Pact out (sorry, elrogos), then that's pretty sweet--a Cruel Edict each turn. Wheee!  
  • Some anonymous person suggested Rakdos Riteknife and possibly Desolation Giant or Desolation Angel. These are interesting ideas, but either are off-mana for this build or else take this deck in a different direction than I'd intended (the land destruction). I'm not going to go that route this time. Incidentally, I have a Desolation Giant deck that's kind of fun to play. It needs some tweaking, though. Maybe I'll post it here one of these days. 
  • Tel-Jilad StylusFelorin suggests Spawning Pit as a replacement for Claws of Gix. The downside here is that the Claws of Gix allows me to sacrifice Endless Whispers if Endless Whispers is working against me somehow.  To be honest, if Endless Whispers is working against me in a deck built around it, I'm probably in over my head anyway. I like the way he thinks. In it goes. He also suggests the excellent Tel-Jilad Stylus, which lets me put any cards that are working against me (including creatures or tokens that I own that my opponent has gained control of) on the bottom of my library. This seems like a good choice, too, although I'm getting to the point where I'll need to cut some choices to make way for others. It occurs to me that Hunted Horror might be good to include, as it works well with the Stylus (I can use the Stylus to put the opposing tokens into my library, effectively removing them from the game), plus if my opponent ends up with it, I get two decent token creatures and can then either find a way to eliminate it or else, again, use the Stylus to get it out of play. On the other hand, its effectiveness is largely dependent on me having the Stylus in play, committing me to playing several copies. It's a head-scratcher. Finally, he suggests Genesis Chamber, which is an interesting choice, but too symmetrical for my tastes for this deck, even with the Stylus out. 
  • Another anonymous person suggests Sleeper Agent, wondering if, when you kill it, it ends up going to you and then returning to your opponent? As best I can read it, it does work that way. With Endless Whispers in play, if I play Sleeper Agent, my opponent ends up in control of it. If it then dies, it comes back into play under my control, then instantly gets transferred back to my opponent. It's an interesting interaction, and also combines well with the Circle of Protection: Black. My initial thought was that I didn't like it, but the idea is kind of growing on me. On the downside, though, it only deals two damage a turn to my opponent, as opposed to the 7 damage that Liege of the Pit or Bronze Bombshell can potentially deal. I'm not sure that it will make the cut here. 
  • PezzantWizzerd suggests No Rest for the Wicked. It would be a very good choice (throwing off the symmetry) if I actually wanted my creatures. But for the most part, I'd rather give my creatures to my opponent like hot potatoes. So it doesn't combine well with this deck. 
  • Finally (finally! whew!), Harker suggests Rust Elemental. This seems like a nice combination--something I'd want to give to my opponent. On the downside, I have a feeling that it would end up biting me. If I didn't have a sacrifice outlet, I'd end up having to sacrifice other artifacts to it during my upkeep (I couldn't just choose to take the damage if I had them available to sacrifice).

What next?
Well, I evaluated the suggestions pretty thoroughly above. Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions, even the ones I haven't taken yet! So now it's time to change out the deck and see how it runs.

Changes: mana
One of the biggest problems this deck seems to have is mana. Lots of spells cost at least four mana to get out, several of the token generators cost additional mana, and lots of the lands come into play tapped, slowing me down further. Also, the signets and such that I have are nice, but after a certain point, they're dead draws to me. So I'm going to tweak the mana base for the deck:

Out:
2
Secluded Steppe
2 Barren Moor
1 New Benalia
2 Orzhov Signet

In:
6
Swamp

This changes my number of lands from twenty two to twenty three. That's a subtle difference, but this seems to have an impact. The fact that the Swamps can be tapped immediately speeds things up. The increased focus on black mana also helps me to power out Grave Pact and Endless Whispers more quickly and will make Tendrils of Corruption more useful when I cast it.

Changes: additions
Based on the suggestions above, I'd like to try to add
Tendrils of Corruption, Dimir House Guard, Phage the Untouchable, Accursed Centaur, and Spawning Pit. I'd like to play around with the Tel-Jilad Stylus, but the more I think about it, the more I think it loses the "hot potato" focus of this deck--I don't want to keep my opponent from getting my creatures. I want to give him the creatures (at least the Liege of the Pit, Bronze Bombshell, and Phage the Untouchable) and curse me for it.

In:
3
Tendrils of Corruption
2 Accursed Centaur
2 Dimir House Guard
1 Phage the Untouchable
2 Spawning Pit

Changes: paring it down
Now I need to cut out some of the cards that aren't working for me so well.

Most of the token generators aren't doing so well for me. While it's helpful that my opponent can't gain control of them as a result of Endless Whispers (and Sacred Mesa's requirement to sacrifice a token each turn seems like a great combo with Grave Pact), in practice, they end up being huge mana hogs. The only one I consistently was happy to have was Even the Odds, so I've left a single copy of that in--it works nicely as a surprise.

Out:
1
Benalish Commander
1 Sacred Mesa
1 Mobilization

Some of the creatures weren't so hot, either. I already cut Benalish Commander. Looming Shade was often useless and another mana hog, and Lost Auramancers never succeeded in getting me an enchantment.

Out:
1
Looming Shade
1 Lost Auramancers

I have a variety of removal in this deck. Mortify is always a great draw, and some of the others worked well for me, but with Tendrils of Corruption coming in, I need to make some room. Focusing on that card will give me a little more consistency, too.

Out:
2
Last Gasp
1 Judge Unworthy

Finally, Claws of Gix is probably worse for this deck than Spawning Pit. Out it goes.

Out:
1
Claws of Gix

Where are we now?
Here's the revised build based on these changes.

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

4 Liege of the Pit 
4
Bronze Bombshell
4
Endless Whispers
4 Circle of Protection: Black 
4
Grave Pact
3 Tendrils of Corruption
2 Accursed Centaur
2 Dimir House Guard
2 Spawning Pit
2 Orzhov Signet
2
Prismatic Lens
2
Mortify
1
Phage the Untouchable
1 Even the Odds

2 Barren Moor
2
Secluded Steppe
4
Terramorphic Expanse
12
Swamp
3 Plains 

Test drive
I've tweaked the deck now. Let's see how she runs!

Aven FisherGame 1 (vs. mono blue)
Holy mackerel! I'm not sure how much of this was luck, but it was more or less a complete route. We both built up land, with him playing
Islands and me playing a Barren Moor, a Terramorphic Expanse that became a Swamp, etc. I cast a Circle of Protection: Black that I never used, he cast Wall of Air, and while he was tapped out, I dropped a Plains and cast Endless Whispers. He got in a couple of attacks on me with Aven Fisher while I laid more land and a Grave Pact. I cast Even the Odds and he got rid of one token via Unsummon. Then the tide really turned. I attacked him with a Soldier token and he blocked with his wall, killing the token. Grave Pact made him sacrifice and he picked the Aven Fisher. I cast Bronze Bombshell, then immediately cast Accursed Centaur, sacrificing the Bronze Bombshell. At that point, he gave me a much-enjoyed pat on the back by typing "lol" and then "great deck." By the end of the turn, he'd taken seven points of damage from the Bronze Bombshell and I had a soldier token, the Accursed Centaur and both of his creatures. The game went on for another turn or so, but he didn't draw anything that helped him much. I finished him by casting Tendrils of Corruption on my own Bronze Bombshell. Score: 1-0

Curse of the CabalGame 2 (some kind of sacrifice deck)
My opponent played several land-drawing cards like
Kodama's Reach and suspended a Curse of the Cabal. For whatever reason, I really hate that card. By the time it hit, though (accelerated through Clockspinning), I had out an Endless Whispers, a face-down Liege of the Pit, and a Spawning Pit. I ended up sacrificing a land, the Liege, and the artifact to the cabal. He was at 18 life from an attack from the unmorphed Liege of the Pit, then took another 7 when he had nothing to sacrifice to it. I brought out a Bronze Bombshell and attacked. He blocked with the Liege of the Pit and then conceded, seeing that he was set to take 14 points of damage in short order (7 from the Bronze Bombshell once it went over to his side, plus another 7 from the Liege of the Pit). No "gg" from him, though. He just left. Oh, well. Serves him right for playing Curse of the Cabal! Score: 2-0

Game 3 (five-color big bucks)
This opponent dropped a ton of Ravnica shock lands and couple copies of
Grand Coliseum (which actually seems pretty affordable given how useful it is). I Transmuted a Dimir House Guard for an Endless Whispers and he responded by casting Glittering Wish for a Hull Breach before I cast my enchantment. I tried to give him some other targets for the Hull Breach so that I could get the Endless Whispers out, casting two copies of Grave Pact and a Circle of Protection: Black. Drawing another Endless Whispers, I cast it, figuring I might as well draw out the Hull Breach and then cast my second one. Instead, he cast another Glittering Wish for Crime/Punishment and then used the Punishment side for 4, getting both Grave Pacts and the Endless Whispers. I cast my other Endless Whispers the next turn, but it was pretty much over. He started bashing me with a Lightning Angel and then Garza Zol, Plague Queen, and in the midst of it, I forgot I had the Circle of Protection: Black out. He beat me down and left the game before I could type "gg." I kind of shrug at this game. On the one hand, I don't feel very casual when other players drop a ton of expensive lands in the casual room. On the other hand, I played pretty badly, so I guess I deserved to lose this one. Score: 2-1

Game 4 (wizards and soldiers)
This was kind of a fun game, but to make a long story short, I was overwhelmed by the number of creatures my opponent put into play. I made a dumb mistake (I was getting tired) by forgetting that he'd countered my
Grave Pact and blocked heavily during one exchange, figuring we'd end up trading more creatures out than we actually did. I think he still would have won, but it would have been a closer game if I hadn't blanked out. Score: 2-2

Hokori, Dust DrinkerGame 5 (white/blue control)This was a very interesting game. He pinged me with two copies of Sage of Epityr and locked down my mana pretty well with Hokori, Dust Drinker. I was fortunate to have a Prismatic Lens and Orzhov Signet out by this time, but he had out a Chrome Mox and Azorius Chancery, so he was doing fine for mana. I tried to cast Tendrils of Corruption on Hokori, but he used Memory Lapse on it. I eventually got it with Tendrils, then got Endless Whispers down, but with no creatures. He accelerated his unblocked sages into a Ninja of the Deep Hours and got down a Soltari Priest, as well. I had cast Circle of Protection: Black and Spawning Pit, but had no blockers. Things were looking grim for me, but then I drew Even the Odds. Things got interesting then. I double-blocked his Ninja and blocked one of the Sages. With the damage on the stack (and all three of my tokens and both his Ninja and the blocked Sage about to head to the graveyard), I sacrificed all three tokens to the Spawning Pit. He followed up by casting another Hokori. Ouch. The nicest thing about getting the Sage was that it let me set up my next move. I set up another Tendrils of Corruption and another Swamp as my next draws. On my turn, I untapped one Swamp, then attacked with the Ninja of the Deep Hours. He either had to block it with Hokori (killing both) or let it through and let me draw my card, and he let the Ninja through, giving me another land and the Tendrils in my hand. I was able to drop the land and kill Hokori with the Tendrils. Of course, with Endless Whispers out, that meant that Hokori was coming back on my side of the table. I waited until his upkeep (after Hokori kept him from untapping most of his lands), then sacrificed Hokori to the Spawning Pit. Once I drew Grave Pact, I was able to start moving things along well. I could sacrifice creatures to the Spawning Pit and force him to sacrifice his blockers and give them to me. I eventually gave him a Liege of the Pit and then developed a nice army to take him out. He was a pretty good sport about it and played it through. Good game! Score: 3-2

The verdict?
In the end, this build was a lot stronger. Suggestions from readers gave me some really fun plays and helped make the deck run more smoothly. It's not tournament-worthy, but it can stand its own in the casual room and that was what I was looking for. Thanks for the help!

0 Comments

by Rob Rogers at Tue, 11/06/2007 - 01:20
Rob Rogers's picture

Ooh, sweet idea. I'm struggling with what to cut, though.

Next Deck by Adam_Adamant (Unregistered) 213.52.212.129 (not verified) at Tue, 11/06/2007 - 13:09
Adam_Adamant (Unregistered) 213.52.212.129's picture

If you're taking votes I always liked Homorid Spawning Pit or even the Desolation Giant deck mentioned

by Rob Rogers at Sun, 11/04/2007 - 15:33
Rob Rogers's picture

Hey, thanks!

Yes, I see your point about Vampiric Link. More often than not, though, I never flip the Liege myself. He dies face-down and goes to my opponent (usually before I would have enough mana to flip him), and my opponent ends up stuck with him for the rest of the game. The situation Endless Whispers creates is so volatile that auras don't tend to stick around long.

That said, I'm not against giving it another try. What would you suggest I cut to make room for Vampiric Link?

As for my next deck, I have an article in the queue where I look at some cards that I think will be more valuable/interesting with Lorwyn around (mostly cards from Coldsnap, the Time Spiral Block and 10th Edition). I'm going on vacation for a bit, but will probably tackle another deck or two when I return.

What might be interesting? My Homarid Spawning Pit deck? Another look at Lovisa Coldeyes and a red Warrior deck? An attempt to make my Mishra deck viable in Standard with the loss of the signets? Let me know what you think. 

Spirit Loop? by PezzantWizzerd at Mon, 11/05/2007 - 05:28
PezzantWizzerd's picture

Continuing along the same vein about Vampiric Link, what about (Spirit Loop)?   With your concern about losing Auras, this wouldn't be so bad, continuing on the same idea, and you are already running white.  I'm not sure what it could replace, but it may be something to consider.

Great Read! by khirareq at Sun, 11/04/2007 - 11:54
khirareq's picture

I think you missed half the point of vampiric link, though.  It's not just good for preventing damage from your opponent's Liege, it allows you to beat down with your own Liege, since it essentially negates his drawback.  So he either has to kill the 7/7 black flying trampling lifelinked monster (at which point he has to figure out how to deal with its drawback), or get beatdown by it.  And if all else fails, it pacifies your opponents creatures while you search up the combo.

So which deck's up next?