Creatureless Discard FAQ by Rakso
Type I Maintainer, www.bdominia.com
(Note: This is an old fun deck that used certain permanents from the Tempest block. It’s a very different kind of lock, similar to Prison in philosophy but not in style. When Tempest came out, people including myself tried to mix the components with Pox, then realized that the Pox was not necessary. Other people in my area eventually tried Anvil of Bogardan and Megrim, but this just allowed people to filter into their Disenchants. I figured this version is more brutal... I recommended the style in the Original Mill and wanted to share my thoughts.
“Moat on a budget” by Rakso
The Lock (9)
4 Ensnaring Bridge (replaceable by Moat and/or Abyss)
3 Bottomless Pit
2 Null Brooch
Damage Sources (12)
4 The Rack
4 Cursed Scroll
4 Bottle Gnomes
Other utility (15)
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Swords to Plowshares
3 Aura of Silence/Disenchant/Nemesis Seal
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
Mana Sources (24)
4 Dark Ritual
1 Sol Ring
1 Mishra’s Workshop (replaceable by Swamp)
4 Salt Flats
7 Swamp (some replaceable by Spawning Pool, other multilands)
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Strip Mine
1. The Lock
Anyone who played in RBC (Rath Block Constructed) knows what a deck based around Ensnaring Bridge is supposed to do. Get the Bridge out, lose all your cards in hand, and you have a Type II Moat. Note that you were also in a position to abuse Cursed Scroll, as they soon found out. Ensnaring Bridge is the mascot of the deck, and have your fun in this mindset. (Of course, replacing one with an Abyss certainly doesn’t hurt. Moat requires a little more thought because of the double-white, and because Bridge stops flyers, too.)
Playing with Ensnaring Bridge requires a little thought. You have to think about how to empty your hand… fast. This may not be too hard in the early game, but there are a few tricks in the mid-game such as casting Dark Ritual to activate Cursed Scroll and allowing the Scroll to fizzle. Edicts can also be cast just to empty the hand.
There will be times when you should be careful not to empty the hand right away. When you have a Bottle Gnome out, remember to attack before you get rid of the card. When you have a Cursed Scroll, deal damage before casting the card.
Bottomless Pit is here to back up the Hymns, to thoroughly disrupt the opponent much like a free Disrupting Scepter, and to help you set up Ensnaring Bridge and Cursed Scroll. Note how this changes the environment. With Bottomless Pit and Null Brooch, it becomes impossible for your deck to hold back cards, so take note of your extreme vulnerability to Shatterstorm, Armageddon, Nevinyrral’s Disk and other potent mass kill spells.
In general, Bottomless Pit will be cast last, after all key permanents already in hand have gone out (Mishra’s Factory and Rituals help speed this up). The exception is against a blue player. In this case, Ritual out a Bottomless Pit as fast as you can, as it will hurt him more than it will hurt you, and because Ensnaring Bridge is not much of a threat to a blue player. Beware, however, of cards like Time Elemental, Temporal Adept and Tradewind Rider. They can bounce a permanent in response to the Bottomless Pit effect in your upkeep, forcing you to discard that permanent.
Finally, Null Brooch reliably protects the lock and disrupts many slower strategies. You won’t have cards in hand, anyway and short of Uktabi Orangutan and Scavenger Folk, the only way the Brooch can be removed is by an opponent’s casting of Disenchant on the end of your turn and then being lucky enough to draw another in his turn. Even then, you will have too many Disenchant targets for your opponent.
Null Brooch will usually be played last, with only Bottomless Pit coming after it. Unless the opponent has only one card in hand after being locked down by a Bottomless Pit, refrain from activating the Brooch unless really needed. For all you know, an opponent may be trying to tap your Brooch so he can cast the important spell. Play like a blue wizard holding his last counter, but remember that Null Brooch’s ability cannot be countered (like Ertai) in case a blue mage tries to bluff you.
One possible card I can see working its way into the deck is Temporal Aperture, due to the large number of permanents in the deck. However, excess mana is usually pumped into Cursed Scroll, anyway.
2. Damage sources
Anyone who was around before there was even a Type II knows how much fun playing The Rack can be. With Bottomless Pit, this deck simply asks for it. Along with Cursed Scroll, this deck has 8 cheap artifact sources, and these can quickly finish off an opponent who has to choose whether to Disenchant the finishers or the lock cards. Play the cheap artifacts as fast as possible, especially against blue, because you have to empty your hand anyway.
One note: Do not use Megrim as the finisher. Outside of Wheel of Fortune/Memory Jar attempts, Megrim is completely useless. You will want to cast your discard spells before Megrim, and even paired with Bottomless Pit, the opponent can simply cast the spell he draws to avoid Megrim damage. Rack does not suffer from this, deals more damage under the Pit, and can be played first turn so as not to interfere with Hymns and Bridges.
Cursed Scroll is a handy backup for The Rack. Should you wish to replace it, do not do so with Pauper’s Cage and Scalding Tongs. The Scroll is also here for creature control as much as direct damage.
The Bottle Gnomes are here because only 0- and 1-power creatures are usable under the Bridge. Other obscure defensive creatures are equally at home such as Yotian Soldier and Abyssal Gatekeeper, but the Gnomes become a reusable source of life with Volrath’s Stronghold in case it is needed. (Note: Before Sixth Ed Rules, Strongholding Gnomes defeated Grindstone, but not anymore.) Note that Gatekeepers can also be recycled with Stronghold, and they can be quite hilarious in this deck. Under Sixth, don’t forget to allow the Gnomes to deal damage before sacrificing them when they are used as chump blockers.
3. Other cards
Hymn to Tourach is the backbone of the early strategy. Cast it at first opportunity, then cast other key permanents, and drop Ensnaring Bridge. Despite having only 4 Hymns and 3 Pits, this is a very potent discard deck.
Swords to Plowshares and Balance provide crucial early pinpoint creature control before Ensnaring Bridge comes into play.
Disenchants are important because this deck cannot play Nevinyrral’s Disk and has no way of removing non-creature permanents already on the board. You cannot hold it in hand, however, due to Bottomless Pit and Aura of Silence has a double-white in the casting cost, so the new Nemesis Seal is actually ideal.
The tutors are, of course, self-explanatory. Use them to complete the lock or in case of emergencies. Often, you will be tutoring for a second- or third-turn Balance.
Finally, Yawgmoth’s Will is very playable in this deck, especially with to 4 Dark Rituals. The deck has a lot of permanents so with the mana, everything comes out of your graveyard and stays. Just remember that when Willing Bottle Gnomes, you have to wait until the next turn to sac the Gnomes so that they don’t get removed from the game.
4. Mana sources
Dark Ritual is here because speed is essential and because it powers Yawgmoth’s Will. Ritual aggressively as they will end up clogging your hand once Bridge or Pit is down. Don’t be afraid to take mana burn to cast two Racks in the first turn, especially if the rest of your hand is a Hymn, a Bridge, a Brooch and a Pit already. (Of course, when holding two Hymns and a Ritual, do wait for the second turn…)
Mishra’s Workshop and Sol Ring are also there to accelerate the deck. Do not be afraid to take Mishra’s Workshop burn, too. Only one was used because drawing multiples leaves you with mana that cannot be used for other spells, though an early Workshop is potent.
Volrath’s Stronghold has been explained and the rest of the deck looks obvious enough. However, there are choices that must be made about the mana. First, lands that come into play tapped are not very useful because the permanents do follow a rough mana curve (Turn 1 Rack/Scroll, Turn 2 Hymn, Turn 3 Bridge, etc.). Second, both white and black mana are crucial early, which is why Salt Flats was used despite #1. You need to have mana to reliably cast Swords, Hymn and Balance in all your second turns. City of Brass looks like overkill, Undiscovered Paradise and Thawing Glaciers are useless with Bottomless Pit, and Mirage fetch lands work similar to the Salt Flats, anyway. Reflecting Pool does not produce white mana unless a Scrubland is already in play, and if there was one, you would not need the extra multiland.
There is only one Strip Mine and one Wasteland because the only land that you will have to hit is Glacial Chasm from Ica Age. Other than this, only Library of Alexandria can be a threat, and then only if Wheel of Fortune or Timetwister is cast.
As a final note, a couple of Spawning Pools can replace swamps, if the player desires, as these can also get under the Bridge.