When a new set comes around, you know that it’s deck-building time. We read hundreds of card evaluations by authors and friends in order to do one thing: build and modify decks. All of these great new cards are good only when played.
So, let’s build some decks!
Today, I built four decks using cards from Theros. All four of these decks are inspired by a card or mechanic from our new Greek overlords.
- Spells (20)
- 2 Hands of Binding
- 2 Hidden Strings
- 2 Stolen Identity
- 4 Last Thoughts
- 1 Sword of fire and Ice
- 1 Sword of Light and Shadow
- 2 Lightning Greaves
- 2 Loxodon Warhammer
- 4 Thran Weaponry
This is a very fun deck built around the interaction between Daxos of Meletis and Thran Weaponry. Daxos is a fun little 3-drop, and if he hits someone, you can exile the top card of his or her library, perhaps gain some life, and perhaps play that card. That’s a lot of value for a cheap creature, and he can’t be blocked by anything with a power of 3 or more. Unfortunately, there are a lot of creatures out there that can block Daxos.
But Thran Weaponry changes the math. When tapped, it gives a +2/+2 bonus to every creature on the board, including opposing creatures. So, a creature with at least 1 power is suddenly so big that Daxos can slip on by (while dealing 2 more damage than he otherwise would!). Therefore, only a creature with no power at all will still be small enough to block Daxos after you tap a Thran Weaponry.
Amrou Kithkin and Sneaky Homunculus to the deck. Sure, Invisible Stalker is clearly the better card, but playing Sneaky Homunculus in a deck legitimately is really cool. I wanted one more set of unblockables, so I added Azorius Herald to gain me life (but the Stalker would be fine, too).
After that, the next section was to add in cipher tricks. I wanted to tap and lock down stuff with my Hidden Strings and Hands of Binding, draw cards with Last Thoughts, and make Clone tokens with Stolen Identity. Feel free to play one, enjoy the effect, cipher an unblockable dork, and then swing to produce the cipher trigger. Amrou Kithkin with a Last Thoughts and a tapped Thran Weaponry is just funny. Note that you can use Hidden Strings to untap the Weaponry, so creatures won’t be +2/+2 if they attack you back (the cipher occurs after damage is dealt in combat).
I also wanted Equipment, so in went Lightning Greaves, to protect and haste up my folks, as well as a pair of Swords and Warhammers. Really, any Sword of X and Y will do for this deck, so add in whatever you own.
Between the Equipment and ciphers, there are a lot of effects that are triggering and smashing—so you can easily add in what you own. You can change the number of cipher cards or add some new ones as needed. Perhaps you want to increase your creature count, so a living weapon Equipment such as Batterskull is included. Maybe you want to change up the Equipment to have more tricks but less damage. You might toss in Elbrus, the Binding Blade. Other possibilities include Mask of Memory, Specter's Shroud, Hammer of Ruin, and Quietus Spike.
So, there are a lot of directions to spin the deck. But Daxos of Meletis will lead you to victory no matter what.
Since I just built a deck that pumps my opponents’ creatures, let’s build another that gives them creatures.
"Horses for Peoples"
- Creatures (17)
- 2 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
- 3 Nekrataal
- 4 Sleeper Agent
- 4 Wall of Souls
- 4 Akroan Horse
- Spells (18)
- 2 Profane Command
- 3 Read the Bones
- 2 Intimidation
- 3 Exquisite Blood
- 4 Ensnaring Bridge
- 4 Strionic Resonator
This deck was initially built around Akroan Horse. When I saw the card previewed, I immediately thought of Sleeper Agent, reprinted in Tenth Edition but originally from Urza’s Saga. I thought it would be fun to build a deck around both of them. Luckily, Theros has a lot of great utility cards for a mono-black deck in order to flesh out the deck’s concept.
Ensnaring Bridge. I love it for this deck. You can always attack with a creature with 1 power (just draw, and attack before you play the card). Plus, it has a way to keep you from taking a lot of damage just by playing stuff. Playing stuff is cool, and this deck has a lot of permanents to drop—and few sorceries.
After the Bridge, I loved the Wall of Souls. It has a big enough hide that it can block a Sleeper Agent that swings your way; plus, the attacker will lose 3 life when you block. So, no one is swinging with an Agent at you (especially if you have an untapped Resonator with some mana left over). It’s another card to help on defense as well.
Because my creatures are small, I tossed in Intimidation. All of my creatures gain fear. That should help me slip my 1/1 Soldiers past any annoying defenses. Only black creatures and artifacts dorks are threats to me (note that this does include the Agent and Horse, so use with care. That’s why there are only two here instead of four).
I decided to add a subtheme of duplicating my triggers. I tossed in some good, cheap bodies: Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Nekrataal. Both have great triggers that will love the Resonator. They also provide removal and life-loss/gain at your opponent’s face. Plus, the devotion on something like Intimidation or Nekrataal can really add to the pain of the Merchant.
After that, I had some space for Exquisite Blood to gain life as people lose theirs. It works with the Gray Merchant, the Sleeper Agent, the Wall of Souls, and the Intimidation that is slipping folks right on by a defense. My final cards were a pair of Profane Command (for removal, reanimation, or life-loss or for fearing your team) and Read the Bones. In particular, I enjoy the Reads over the typical 2-mana pay-2-life-to-draw-two-cards spells like Sign in Blood.
This is the Akroan Horse deck, all gussied up and ready to gallop into a Grecian battlefield near you!
- Creatures (32)
- 2 Goblin Marshal
- 4 Beetleback Chief
- 4 Goblin Chieftain
- 4 Goblin Lackey
- 4 Goblin Piledriver
- 4 Siege-Gang Commander
- 4 Warren Instigator
- 2 Krenko, Mob Boss
- 4 Purphoros, God of the Forge
- Lands (24)
- 24 Mountain
Purphoros, God of the Forge. When I saw that it would Shock opponents when a creature entered the battlefield under my control, I immediately thought of Beetleback Chief and Siege-Gang Commander. So, I decided to run a Goblin deck built around Purphoros and Goblins!
Let’s not forget our good God’s activated ability. He can pump the team in the front when we have extra mana, and that will also help smash face with the Goblin horde. From there, it was a simple matter to add in Goblins that make tokens (Goblin Marshal, Krenko, Mob Boss), spit them out from damage (Goblin Lackey, Warren Instigator), or give people haste if needed (Goblin Chieftain) and enchantments that can make Goblins later (Rise of the Hobgoblins, Goblin Assault). After all of those cards, I just had enough space for Goblin Piledriver, and that was a deck!
This deck is on the expensive side—I admit that. Purphoros is currently going for a lot of money as a valuable mythic from Theros, and just Goblin Piledriver alone can clock in the $20s. But there are a lot of cheaper options that will fill in this deck rather nicely. Check out Goblin King, Goblin Matron, and such.
And enjoy your Goblin God.
"Monsters and Hydras"
- Creatures (30)
- 2 Apocalypse Hydra
- 2 Arbor Colossus
- 2 Primordial Hydra
- 2 Savageborn Hydra
- 2 Stormbreath Dragon
- 4 Farhaven Elf
- 4 Kalonian Hydra
- 4 Polis Crusher
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 2 Polukranos, World Eater
- 2 Ulasht, the Hate Seed
- Spells (4)
- 4 Cultivate
This deck was actually built around Kalonian Hydra, not Theros as such. Don’t tell anyone. When I saw the monstrosity ability on creatures, I thought of the K Hydra. When it attacks, double counters on your stuff. If one of your guys has gone all monstrous, it’s are about to acquire a double-dose of awesome. Kalonian Hydra is also arguably the first lord for Hydras. So, I decided to make my deck exclusively Hydras and creatures with monstrous (save for mana).
Gruul Turf as well as twelve cards to speed up mana. I included Cultivate for two lands, Farhaven Elf to be an early chump-blocker and accelerator, and Sylvan Caryatid to be both an early blocker and a mana-maker.
Then, I added in my Hydras and monsters. I didn’t even run card-draw or Naturalize effects—nope. This is just beef and biscuits. After tossing in the Kalonian Hydra, I began to look and see what other Hydras called for me. As both a monstrous body and a Hydra, Polukranos, World Eater obvious qualified for the deck. I threw in two bodies. In fact, I decided to just add in two of every monster and Hydra save for one: Polis Crusher. I enjoy the 4/4 for 4 mana cost as well as the good, solid, midrange monstrosity ability. Many monstrosity creatures had really high costs or really low number of counters. But this was a good midrange ability, so I thought it was a good choice for the deck.
After that, I looked for other good monstrosities to roll. Stormbreath Dragon is my only flying dork, so it was really important to include. The monstrosity trigger really isn’t much, but you do see a flying hasted body with a pertinent protection ability. Then, include the ability to monster this thing up and accelerate counterage with a certain Kalonian Hydra. I also tossed in Arbor Colossus as another way to fight in the sky—sort of. It has a huge reach, literally, and it can shoot a flyer when I go all monstrous and stuff. I guess it throws a tree at that Angel/Dragon/Sphinx or something.
Hydras were the next cards added. Ulasht, the Hate Seed is a cheap Hydra, which helps. Too many Hydras cost X mana and need some serious mana put into them before they become really nasty. So, the Hate Seed, Polukranos, and Kalonian Hydra are good because they all cost 4 or 5 mana. Plus, the Hate Seed can grow quite big quite quickly (and it is pumped by a Farhaven Elf or Sylvan Caryatid hanging around). It can make Saproling dorks if we want to go that direction (probably not) and shoot creatures. That gives the deck some removal.
Apocalypse Hydra, which can pull counters off to shoot a player or critter. Plus, if you invest 7 mana total (at least) in your A Hydra, you are rewarded with a 10/10 Hydra of beats. It won’t be long before that creature kills. The same is true of Mr. Doubles His Counters Primordial Hydra. Double your counters, swing with the Kalonian Hydra, double again, and you could have a 16/16 or 24/24 trampling beater one turn after you cast it. I think you might win that game.
I didn’t even add in flavor cards such as Doubling Season. This is about beaters helping beaters. It’s about Gruul picking up the table and smashing you in the face with it. Good luck, beaters.
Those’re four decks for your next Magic night! We had a fun Spikey Goblin deck, a fun Timmy-style Hydra/monster deck, and a pair of wacky Johnnyish decks. My favorite is the Daxos deck, with Thran Weaponry and friends. But I have to admit I have a certain fondness for smashing face either Goblin or Hydra–monster style.
I hope that some deck concepts or ideas here resonated with you. The goal of these deck articles is not to share a completed deck that you have to copy card for card, but instead to inspire your own decks. Maybe you liked my Purphoros deck idea but want to combine it with something other than Goblins—such as Saprolings or Soldiers or something. Perhaps you enjoyed my Sleeper Agent/Horse deck but you want to pull out a bunch of engines and cards for others. Maybe you were inspired to do a wholly different sort of Daxos deck. As long as you got something from it, it was worth the investment of time I spent writing it.
So, let me know if you enjoyed the decks and what sort of things you might take from it.
See you next week,