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Top Ten Decks I Made


Rosheen Meanderer
I don’t know about you, but the holidays make me nostalgic. And sleepy. Not necessarily in that order either. Anyways, with the Holiday spirit putting me into a nostalgia-fueled state of mind, I was thinking back to many of the decks I have written as a writer in my 14.5 years (yes, my first article was published back in May of 2002) of writing more than a thousand Magic articles for a bunch of different places! Which, by the way, a lot of articles. I’m always conscious of trying to keep things fresh, so I rarely hit on the same topic more than once. For example, my first article ever was on “Jedi Mind Tricks” at tournaments used to help you win. It was referred to by other writers a few times, won that week’s award for submission prizes. If you’ve read some of my stuff, you note that I have never really written on that topic again. I finished it. I gave everything I had there. All of my tips, strategies, and ways to out-think my opponents. I don’t have anything new to say on the psychology of winning a competitive match that I didn’t put in that piece, right?

So I always try to pen something fresh. Commander is great for that, because I tend to have a real loyalty to the mechanics of the Commander, and thus can have very different decks. And it’s one of the main reasons I’ve written articles with decks around random bulk rares, random Commanders, random tribes, random cards from Gatherer and more. It’s a fresh way to push myself. I love projects too, so I’ve built 5 or so Cubes as well — my Crap Cube, my Commander Cube, my Mono-Black Cube, my pulp Cube and my Icons of Magic Cube. I have thrown myself at various projects like the 100 Combo Decks in 20 Weeks for here, or my update for Anthony Alongi’s Multiplayer Hall of Fame for Wizards or even my own version with the Underused Hall of Fame looking at underused cards we like. I threw myself at this new stuff constantly. Hey look, if I write the same article each year on the same central concept, something boring, it’s going to read boringly to you because it’s boring to me as a writer.

But, given the look backward at my career, I thought it would be really cool as we wrap up 2016 for me to give you ten, 60 card decks, I have built for various websites that are among my personal favorites. These are clever, interesting, fun decks I made for a bunch of projects and places. I have created thousands of decks for you all to enjoy, to use a springboards for your own ideas, to edit and massage, and more. To inspire. And I relish it when people tell me about some deck that they are using inspired by my Rosheen Meanderer Budget Commander build or my Vhati Il-Dal one. I love that.

Well, let’s get to it. You’ll find most of these decks come from either my random card or Bad Rare series built around randomly selected cards pulled from a junk rare box, or from the 100 Combo Decks in 20 Weeks project. Let’s kick it off!

Honorable MentionTombstone Stairwell

Tombstone Stairwell

In my 100 Combo Decks challenge, I had the community vote on their favorite deck each week, and then set the winners against each other. This is your favorite deck from the challenge. Built right after Innistrad came out, it uses a bunch of in-set milling themes to make the Stairwell sing.

It includes tech for the Stairwell including the Mesmeric Orb to mass mill everyone, the Zombie loving, and more. Sacrifice the 2/2 tokens to make a giant Nantuko Husk. Get a big healthy set of life losing triggers with the Vengeful Dead. Swing with the Zombie horde. Exile your foe’s graveyard to prevent them from doing likewise, and more. It’s a spicy meatball!

10. Random Pulses

Pulse of the Tangle

I once had a random Bad Rare challenge around Pulse of the Tangle. What do you do with that junky card? How about making it the key lynchpin in a four turn combo win?

Entangling Relationships ? Casual| Abe Sargent

Here’s how it works. Play a Forest each turn. turn two-drop Earthcraft. turn three play Overgrowth on a Forest. turn four tap that land for Blasting Station. Play Pulse of the Tangle with the other 3 mana to make a 3/3 Beast. By now at least some player at the table is likely to have 2 or more creatures. (If not, wait until then, or run Forbidden Orchard instead of 4 Forests in the deck). The Pulse returns to your hand. Tap the token to untap the Forest with Overgrowth on it. Tap the Station to sacrifice the creature for one damage. Use your 3 mana on the untapped land for Pulse, it untaps the Station on arrival. Repeat until everyone dies. Pulse for the win!

9. Keldon Battlewagon Breaks

Keldon Battlewagon

I like to challenge myself to get out of my funk by choosing cards randomly to build around. One time I rolled Keldon Battlewagon. Challenge on! I decided to emphasize the card and make the biggest possible Battlewagon. The key here is to amp up the Battlewagon as quickly as possible, and then tap it to double its own power again and again and again. This is going to be nasty fast-y.

Enjoy that! You can easily get more than two million power on the Battlewagon without an infinite combo getting you there!

8. Amulet of Quoz

Amulet of Quoz

On a similar note, I once had a random contest for a deck and I flipped . . . Amulet of Quoz! Yes, that’s right, an ante card. What do you do with that? I don’t know. But I decided to run a Turbo Quoz deck that seeks to play and replay over and over again the Amulet and use it, until you force your foe to concede or you added your foe’s deck to the ante, and then win by decking. Either way works. How do you get this to work? Artifact loving and reanimation effects, and Platinum Angel to keep yourself from dying if the Amulet’s coin flip works against you.

This deck was built 10 years ago. Today I’d add in Academy Ruins, Daretti, Scrap Savant, maybe a mana rock like Mind Stone, and an artifact token maker to help make three or four 1/1 token creatures to smooth stuff out.

7. Frozen Again!

Mind Whip
Errant Minion

This is the first of four entries on my countdown that came from my 100 Combo Decks in 20 Weeks project. It was deck #22 on my countdown, but #4 in my heart! This deck uses some seriously old school auras that lock a creature down, and then require the ongoing pay of mana to keep them alive. The first is Mind Whip, which requires the owner to invest 3 mana each upkeep or the creature is tapped and they take 2 damage. The second is Errant Minion, a simple 2 damage in their upkeep unless they spend 1 or 2 mana to reduce that damage by one per mana spent. Now toss in Paralyze! Winter Orb! Rhystic Study! Propaganda! Withdraw! Fade Away! And Rishadan Brigand. Not even a ramp deck can keep up!

Frozen Mana ? Casual| Abe Sargent

6. The Firebird of Magmatic Death

Ensnaring Bridge
Null Brooch
Molten Firebird

And this is the 2nd deck of those 100 Combo Decks section. I really enjoyed this deck because it had several different avenues of winning and smashing your face. Mass removal and leave behind some creatures? Darksteel Reactor? The synergies of Ensnaring Bridge with the Null Brooch and Molten Firebird keeping you safe, sacrifice the Firebird over and over to deck your foes? There’s just a lot here to unpack. Enjoy it!

The Firebird of Death, Magma, and Stalling ? Casual| Abe Sargent

That is a sexy deck!

5. The Manta Kills at Midnight

Wormfang Manta

In another Bad Rare challenge I randomly grabbed Wormfang Manta. Yep. Wormfang Manta. How do you do anything around that? Let’s drill down into the card some. “When Wormfang Manta comes into play, you skip your next turn.” “When Wormfang Manta leaves play, you take an extra turn after this one.” Do you see it? I simply have to ensure that the Manta comes into play under my opponent’s control, and not mine. Take a close look at Endless Whispers. I can kill my Manta, and then give it to a target opponent at the end of the turn from my graveyard. Then I just need to bring back the Manta under my control, sacrifice it to some effect and the result is that I get another turn, and they lose their next turn too – so it’s a two for one swap of turnage. On my extra turn I just set up the next person in line in multiplayer, or keep hitting them to take as many turns as I want. If the sacrifice is something like Goblin Bombardment then I can kill you. And a card like Brooding Saurian will work at the beginning of the end step to send it back to me. We also have Brand. Note the Sneak Attack as a way to drop a powerful creature, and then trigger it’s death to someone else with the Whispers permanently, and thus to you via that same machine.

This deck was built before Homeward Path was a thing, but I think you can see a good home for it here.

4. Ashes of the Fallen and Return of the Nightstalkers

Ashes of the Fallen
Return of the Nightstalkers

I genuinely hope I was the first player in Magic to ever call “Nightstalker” when I played an Ashes of the Fallen! I built this deck from my 100 Combo Decks in 20 weeks project here for GatheringMagic — So there is this junk-ish rare from Portal 2 called Return of the Nightstalkers. You play it, and you get to bring back a whole heaping helping of Nightstalkers from your graveyard right onto the battlefield, which is great! But you have to lose all of your Swamps to do so — so sad! So I played a B/G deck, that had no Swamps in the deck, with creatures that went to the graveyard, and named Ashes. I think the first time I played this deck, and dropped Ashes of the Fallen, naming “Nightstalker” my opponent just figured I was going to follow with Patriarch's Bidding, so I was just naming stuff that would be unlikely to get returned on their end. But then I played the Return and is was magical. And Magic-al as well I suppose.

3. AEther Pits

Aether Flash
Death Pits of Rath

This is my favorite deck from the 100 Combo Decks challenge alluded to above. In fact, it’s one of the most influential 60 cards I’ve built, because I’ve had such fun playing it that it’s still together, and it has informed many other decks I’ve built since. The basic core of this B/R deck is the interaction between Aether Flash and Death Pits of Rath. Whenever a creature enters the battlefield, it takes two damage, and then if it’s alive, the Death Pits will finish it off. I also added cards to do damage to stuff and kill them in case they came down prior to the Flash coming out, or if the Flash is killed or countered or unable to be found. Fireball, Forked Bolt, Circle of Flame, and more. And then as player kill, I ran only cards that turned into creatures, like Lavaclaw Reaches and Guardian Idol.

2. Thran Weaponry and Retribution of the Meek

Thran Weaponry
Retribution of the Meek

This deck was made when I randomly pulled Thran Weaponry out of a box of junk rares as part of my Bad Rare Challenge where I took random bad cards and forced myself to build around it. Thran Weaponry sucks, right? It works on everyone. So how can I turn that to my advantage? Build a quick aggro deck that taps after preventing blockings via a falter effect? Using various cards to untap it after I tapped it, like Clock of Omens? Nope! Let’s dig down a lot more into the potential of this card. Well, what if I ran a deck where all of my creatures had 1 power? Then they get pumped to 3 power, and will still be missed by a Retribution of the Meek. And thus the idea for this deck was born:

Thran of the Meek ? Casual| Abe Sargent

And there you all. Elusive stuff, double strike stuff, and note the power of Crackdown in this build as well.

1. Equinaut


After writing an update to this deck up once, I went to the Magic: The Electronic Client and went to grab cards to build my own deck. I ran into four other players doing the same, and posting in the trade thread for Equilibriums and Fleetfoot Panthers. Man I knew I had something special then. This has always been my favorite 60 card deck I made. It was different, fun, and I still have both the modified 60 card deck and my Commander version of this made. It is, arguably, my most iconic deck, at least in my articles. The deck works around a self-bounce theme that bounces your stuff over and over again. You abuse a handful of triggers — cast triggers off Equilibrium, enters-the-battlefield ones like Aura Shards, and bouncing ones like Azorius Aethermage. It began as a Standard deck during the era of Invasion Block, and did pretty well in local tournaments, around the engine of Fleetfoot Panther and Equilibrium. Ideally, you bounced the Panther over and over again, with an Equilibrium trigger, to spend 4 mana to bounce creatures, like a cheaper Capsize with buyback. Here’s the original deck I posted back in my daily-project series, A Deck a Day, back in February 2, 2005. As later entries arrives and new cards hit, this deck would undergo some seriously major changes, but the core was always there!

My 60-card deck today is much more beater-focused, with fewer counters, faster beats like Whitemane Lion, and better synergies, like the aforementioned Aura Shards and Azorius Aethermage as useful synergies for the causal table. This was a tournament deck above, and I needed the counters and Meddling Mage to survive. They were keys to keeping major stuff from hitting my deck. (Name a card they didn’t have? Flash out Fleetfoot Panther, or use Equilibrium trigger, and bounce them back and name something else instead!)

My current deck list for those that are interested! We can use the Drift to tutor for all of the key combo pieces — Equilibrium, Fleetfoot Panther, Aura Shards, Azorius Aethermage, as well as Dauntless Escort, Reflector Mage, Reclamation Sage and Wood Elves. Meanwhile I have Eladamri's Call where a flash fueled Mystic Snake, Whitemane Lion or Panther tend to be the targets for responses or starting the good stuff.

I’ve written a Primer on playing Equinaut: I tend to write an annual article on what has been released and looks good for Equinaut. It’s muh thang.

And there you are! I hope you liked it! I’ve had so many decks it was really, really hard to choose these ten. But I hope that you liked it. Obviously, the vast majority of you readers have not been following me all of this time, so I thought it would be cool to show you ten fun decks I made, and the combos with it. I regularly did this. Pull a bad rare like Nefashu? How about add in Horobi, Death's Wail, so when you attack you can kill up to 5 creatures just by targeting them? Hoverguard Sweepers? How about Sneak Attack to bounce one creature for each Red mana we invest into it? Natural Affinity to make everyone’s lands creatures, Gaea's Anthem to pump yours, and Pyroclasm to deal 2 damage to all creatures and lands. Congregate and False Cure to kill someone. Moggcatcher to fetch out Goblin Assassin, which will kill some stuff, followed by Goblin Marshal to kill basically everything at the table save a few Goblins on your side to begins the beats.

I adore those interactions in the game; I hope you do too!

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