The Hall of Illuminating Magic Decks

Discussion in 'Casual Decks/Variants/Etc' started by Psarketos, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. Psarketos Member

    Oversoul and I chatted earlier about making a collection point for decks that illustrate some particular point of interest or oddity regarding the game of Magic. I am starting with three of my own decks and a particular format for posting them, however there are a lot of interesting decks, such as one my friend has played focusing on the untap mechanic, that I would like to see here eventually despite not personally having the deck list now. If a future post revises or provides what looks to be a better format for listing the decks, I will likely edit these initial offerings to match.
    Oversoul likes this.
  2. Psarketos Member

    Deck Name: MetaEsper
    Magic Format: Modern
    Insight: A functional control deck that contains no permanents or mana sources, in contravention of rule 106.1 of the Comprehensive Rules - "Mana is the primary resource of the game. Players spend mana to pay costs, usually when casting spells and activating abilities." Comprised entirely of instants and sorceries, it provides a demonstrative foundation for the premise, "Cards are the primary resource of the game," while also demonstrating in the mirror match and variations thereon that a functional game of Magic can contain zero interactions with the battlefield zone.

    Deck List (01/12/2018)

    Exile cost paying cards:

    4 Brilliant Ultimatum
    4 Dream Salvage
    4 Esper Charm
    4 Merciless Eviction
    4 Punish Ignorance
    4 Worldpurge

    Spells cast without mana cost:

    4 Commandeer
    4 Disrupting Shoal
    4 Noxious Revival
    4 Patricians Scorn
    4 Ravenous Trap
    4 Shining Shoal
    4 Snapback
    4 Soul Spike
    4 Sunscour
  3. Psarketos Member

    Deck Name: Eternal Sway
    Magic Format: Modern
    Insight: A combo focused control deck with the ability to recursively extend a single game of Magic indefinitely, accruing advantage toward doing so by exiling opponent threats between iteratively casting Sway of the Stars without paying a mana cost.

    Deck List (01/12/2018)


    4 Grasping Dunes
    20 Mountains


    4 Galvanoth
    4 Generator Servant
    4 Wildfire Eternal


    4 Abrade
    4 Anger of the Gods
    4 Lightning Bolt
    4 Magma Spray
    4 Structural Distortion
    4 Sway of the Stars
  4. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Deck Name: The Pitch
    Magic Format: Legacy (allegedly made tournament appearances circa 2012, but has never been a true competitive archetype)
    Insight: A completely manaless deck that aims to win by casting spells that do not require mana, exiling other cards from the hand to pay for them. Colloquially, such spells are known as "pitch" spells.

    Deck List (01/12/2018):

    4 Blazing Shoal
    4 Coalition Victory
    4 Conflux
    4 Fury of the Horde
    4 Misdirection
    4 Serum Powder
    4 Shining Shoal
    4 Soul Spike
    4 Unmask
    4 Chancellor of the Dross
    4 Chancellor of the Forge
    4 Crookshank Kobolds
    4 Ornithopter
    4 Progenitus
    4 Reaper King
    Psarketos likes this.
  5. Psarketos Member

    Deck Name: Balefire
    Magic Format: Modern
    Insight: A second turn at fastest combo deck that exiles all cards in all decks from the game at instant speed, allowing all decks to be browsed by any player as per rule 406.3 of the Comprehensive Rules - "Exiled cards are, by default, kept face up and may be examined by any player at any time." Win or loss status for each player in the game is determined by the timing chosen by the player of this deck on when to initiate the combo and respond to a Sentinel Totem ability on the stack with Worldfire at instant speed, though the presence of Grand Abolisher makes a win for the owning player less risk involved than attempting a timing that creates a different player victory utilizing the phase structure of the game.

    Deck List (01/12/2018)


    20 Forest
    4 Sunpetal Grove


    1 Chancellor of the Tangle
    4 Devoted Druid
    1 Eternal Witness
    4 Genesis Hydra
    1 Grand Abolisher
    1 Riftsweeper
    1 Rune-Scarred Demon
    1 Soul of the Harvest
    4 Sylvan Caryatid
    1 Verdant Eidolon
    4 Vizier of Remedies


    1 Altar of the Brood
    1 Cloudstone Curio
    1 Leyline of Anticipation
    1 Sentinel Totem
    4 Tooth and Nail
    4 Unbridled Growth
    1 Worldfire
    Oversoul likes this.
  6. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Deck Name: Valakut Hunt
    Magic Format: Modern
    Insight: New players are generally told that approximately 40% of a Magic deck should be lands. As they gain experience, they learn lots of exceptions for which a lower ratio of lands to spells is appropriate. Less common are decks with much higher ratios of lands to spells. I enjoy such decks and I'll find some other examples that operate on different principles. Loam decks routinely go over 30 lands and some of them have been so potent that they've been among the strongest competitive Legacy decks. Historically, some Legacy Loam decks went as high as 44 lands. But it's possible to push the envelope even further. The very highest land/spell ratios I've seen have been decks based around things like Seismic Assault and Molten Vortex. For this list, 54 out of 60 cards are lands. That's 90% of the deck, which is, I think, the highest ratio I've ever seen.

    Deck List (01/12/2018):

    1 Splendid Reclamation
    1 Seismic Assault
    4 Treasure Hunt
    3 Reliquary Tower
    4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
    4 Cinder Glad
    5 Forest
    13 Island
    25 Mountain
    Psarketos likes this.
  7. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Deck Name: 44 Lands
    Magic Format: Legacy (circa 2009)
    Insight: Most decks rely on lands only for mana production and minor utility. This deck consists mostly of lands and uses them to take over the board. The combination of Life from the Loam and Manabond, especially with Tranquil Thicket and Forgotten Cave to dredge up Life from the Loam multiple times in one turn, vomits lands onto the battlefield in ways the put Fastbond to shame. Historically, some early versions of this concept were being built with 40 lands. The current mainstream Legacy version, which is quite good, tends to run about 35 lands. 44 was the highest number I ever saw for a Loam deck, and seems to represent the peak. This concept fell by the wayside with the sheer power of the Dark Depths + Thespian's Stage combo making it obsolete for tournaments. But I love this version and it's a great illustration of what lands can be capable of with only a few enablers. Sadly, very few players own a single copy of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, let alone two copies.

    Deck List (01/12/2018):

    4 Wasteland
    4 Maze of Ith
    4 Rishadan Port
    2 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
    1 Riftstone Portal
    3 Wooded Foothills
    2 Windswept Heath
    3 Tranquil Thicket
    2 Forgotten Cave
    3 Savannah
    3 Taiga
    3 Treetop Village
    3 Nantuko Monastery
    4 Mishra's Factory
    1 Forest
    2 Barbarian Ring
    4 Exploration
    4 Manabond
    4 Gamble
    4 Life from the Loam
  8. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Deck Name: The Fluctuator
    Magic Format: Extended (circa 1999)
    Insight: When a lot of cards in a deck have Cycling 2, then under Fluctuator it becomes possible cycle through an entire deck. Other than Fluctuator itself and the lone copies of Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, and Haunting Misery, every card in this deck has Cycling 2. This deck is easily capable of achieving a second-turn kill. Haunting Misery was the one card missing that kept this from being Standard-legal, as everything but it and Lotus Petal come from Urza's Block. Because Fluctuator itself was never reprinted and its price has gone up in recent years, the deck isn't what I think of as a true budget build, although everything in it besides Fluctuator itself is dirt-cheap. For casual multiplayer, you could swap out Dark Ritual and Haunting Misery for Songs of the Damned and Exsanguinate, if you're into that sort of thing.

    Deck List (01/12/2018):

    4 Fluctuator
    1 Lotus Petal
    1 Haunting Misery
    1 Dark Ritual
    4 Drifting Meadow
    4 Remote Isle
    4 Polluted Mire
    4 Smoldering Crater
    4 Slippery Karst
    4 Blasted Landscape
    3 Bloated Toad
    3 Cloud of Faeries
    3 Darkwatch Elves
    3 Disciple of Grace
    3 Disciple of Law
    3 Pendrell Drake
    3 Sandbar Merfolk
    3 Sandbar Serpent
    2 Shimmering Barrier
    3 Wild Dogs
  9. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Deck Name: Oops, All Spells!
    Magic Format: Legacy (semi-competitive)
    Insight: Lands? Who needs 'em? We can make mana with lots of cards that aren't lands. This enables Balustrade Spy and Undercity Informer to flip our entire library into our graveyard, and this deck is designed to be able to win once that happens. The complete lack of lands is an interesting gimmick, but this deck is also incredibly fast, achieving first-turn kills more easily than almost any deck I've ever seen.

    Deck List (01/12/2018):

    4 Balustrade Spy
    4 Elvish Spirit Guide
    1 Laboratory Maniac
    4 Narcomoeba
    4 Simian Spirit Guide
    4 Street Wraith
    1 Tinder Wall
    4 Undercity Informer
    1 Underworld Cerberus
    1 Wild Cantor
    4 Cabal Ritual
    4 Dark Ritual
    4 Manamorphose
    3 Summoner's Pact
    3 Cabal Therapy
    1 Dread Return
    4 Gitaxian Probe
    1 Bridge from Below
    4 Chrome Mox
    4 Lotus Petal
    Psarketos likes this.
  10. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Deck Name: Manaless Ichorid
    Magic Format: Legacy (semi-competitive, circa 2011)
    Insight: Arguably one of the strangest archetypes to find a home in the zeitgeist as a serious tournament deck. Lands? Don't need them. Mana? Don't need it. Casting spells from your hand? Not worth it. Casting spells at all? Eh, take it or leave it. Play or draw? Draw please, except actually, I won't be drawing a single card after my first turn of the game. Opponent has creatures? Better not kill them! There's a perception that Dredge decks in general operate in a kind of upside-down world, and Manaless variants even moreso. So much could be said about the weirdness of this sort of deck. Perhaps most notably, yes, you can potentially win a game without ever casting a single spell, although the Flashback mechanic does allow this deck to cast Cabal Therapy and Dread Return from the graveyard. The idea is to be on the draw and discard down to 7, getting a Dredge card into your graveyard so that you can keep dumping your library into your graveyard, replacing every card draw with Dredge triggers. Street Wraith in the opening hand can allow for extra Dredge triggers. Phantasmagorian can put dredgers back into your graveyard. Through the course of the game, Gigapede, Narcomoeba, Nether Shadow, and, most importantly, Ichorid can all wind up on the battlefield through their own abilities, and when they die, Bridge from Below makes zombies. Although this build needs to use Cabal Therapy and Dread Return to really get enough zombies to be explosive enough to be competitive, in principle it is possible to win against some opponents without casting any spells at all.

    Tournament usage note: Psarketos pointed out that it is of interest that this deck took down a large tournament (Star City Games Open in Cincinnati in July of 2011). Technically, the deck took 2nd place because the pilot conceded in order to boost the other finalist's standing for future tournaments, but it essentially won the whole thing. Pretty cool. The Legacy metagame at the time was in a strange spot, as this was near the end of the infamous "Mental Misstep era." Some players correctly read the environment as being soft to graveyard-based decks and ported the Manaless Ichorid deck from the MTGO Classic format to Legacy. This kind of deck basically folds to graveyard hate, but is robust against nearly all other types of sideboard countermeasures. Counterspells don't help much, because Cabal Therapy can pick them off and even if Dread Return does get countered, it is still probably making several zombies due to Bridge triggers.

    Deck List (01/13/2018):

    4 Street Wraith
    4 Cabal Therapy
    4 Phantasmagorian
    3 Gigapede
    4 Golgari Grave-Troll
    4 Stinkweed Imp
    4 Golgari Thug
    4 Shambling Shell
    3 Dakmor Salvage
    4 Narcomoeba
    4 Bloodghast
    4 Ichorid
    4 Nether Shadow
    4 Bridge from Below
    4 Dread Return
    1 Woodfall Primus
    1 Iona, Shield of Emeria
    Psarketos likes this.
  11. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Deck Name: Manaless Affinity
    Magic Format: Legacy
    Insight: Another approach to a manaless deck. The Affinity for artifacts mechanic from Mirrodin Block can be used to flood the board, often using very little mana. This deck is a demonstration that mana could be cut out entirely.

    Deck List (01/14/2018):

    3 Arcbound Ravager
    1 Darksteel Colossus
    2 Darksteel Juggernaut
    4 Frogmite
    4 Memnite
    4 Mycosynth Golem
    4 Myr Enforcer
    4 Ornithopter
    4 Phyrexian Walker
    4 Shield Sphere
    4 Dark Sphere
    4 Mishra's Bauble
    2 Tormod's Crypt
    4 Urza's Bauble
    4 Welding Jar
    4 Street Wraith
    4 Gitaxian Probe

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