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Led Astray and Back


In this experiment, we bury alive stray souls and then employ our skeletal champion to send them back and forth across the threshold of life and death.

Turn One

We play one of our lands. Any land that will generate Jund-aligned mana will do, though our deck should include enough sources of black, red, and green that we can reliably cast all of our spells with varied and intensive mana requirements.

We may also play our one Yavimaya Hollow—just to show off our special legendary land.

One good turn: Play a Swamp.

Turn Two

This turn is pretty important for us, as we have several options in our deck. Millikin can accelerate us while helping build up our stray-soul count. Satyr Wayfinder, a new Mulch-like creature addition from Born of the Gods, can ensure follow-up land drops—also while collecting stray souls. And Mogg War Marshal can come on out and generate a Goblin ally. He’ll then stick around or go astray, leaving us with another Goblin.

The War Marshal will bring us many more Goblins later on.

Too good turn: Play an untapped Woodland Cemetery and cast Satyr Wayfinder. Put a Dragonskull Summit into our hand and Priest of Gix, Darigaaz's Attendant, and Mogg War Marshal into our graveyard.

Satyr Wayfinder
Mogg War Marshal

Turn Three

Our third turn is where things really diverge, based on our hand and what our turn-two play was. Priest of Gix can jump out onto the battlefield and then let us cast a Millikin or a Buried Alive. Or we can just cast a Buried Alive outright. We want to make sure we’re collecting as many souls as we can.

Awakening Zone is another option here. It will slowly grant us spawn of the Blind Eternities we can feed to our champion as he rallies the strays. Oh, and the spawn are quite useful in accelerating, in lieu of or in conjunction with our Odyssey-born, graveyard-filling, Manakin-like Construct.

But if we already cast a Millikin on the second turn, we can skip turn three, jumping to turn four.

Triple-good turn: Play an untapped Dragonskull Summit and then cast Priest of Gix and Millikin.

Buried Alive
Priest of Gix
Awakening Zone

Turn Four

We may already be ready for our Ogre Battledriver, setting us up for a potentially-aggressive game. He may go astray, but our champion will later lead him home. Then again, it may instead be time for a dose of Lethal Vapors. Though our deck primarily consists of creatures, it’s okay if some head to the graveyard for a while. We may need time to find our champion and employ his superpowers, and the time the Vapors grants us—in more way than one—will be quite useful. And if it comes to pass that we require the Vapors gone, much as those who Meditate know, paying the cost will not be a detriment to our success.

With a Millikin, we can skip to turn five.

Good turn four us: Play a Forest. Cast Mogg War Marshal—generating a Goblin token—and Buried Alive, milling Forest with Millikin and fetching Corpse Connoisseur, Darigaaz's Attendant, and Zealous Conscripts into our graveyard.

Ogre Battledriver
Lethal Vapors

Turn Five

In the realm of 5-drops, our deck is less consistent as it was at the 2-drop spot. Siege-Gang Commander is like an expensive Mogg War Marshal, but it gives us the second Goblin upfront, plus an extra Goblin, and it doesn’t ask us to pay any echo costs. Zealous Conscripts is a powerful Avacyn Restored gal who can steal an opposing permanent and let us borrow it for the turn. Tangentially, and most likely totally unrelated to this article, she can even untap one of our own permanents, even granting it haste, as much as that may be necessary.

Darigaaz's Attendant is a friendly Golem who can help us with the mana we need, especially when he is repeatedly led astray and back. But we’ll get to that.

Finally, Corpse Connoisseur is like an expensive Buried Alive that only fetches one creature card to our graveyard. But he’s also a creature, so he can attack and block, and he is more easily reusable—especially by our champion.

With a Millikin, we can skip to turn six.

Good going to five turns: Don’t pay echo for Mogg War Marshal; make a second Goblin. Play an untapped Rootbound Crag and cast Champion of Stray Souls. Mill Zealous Conscripts with Millikin.

Champion of Stray Souls

Turn Six

Darigaaz's Attendant
On turn six, we have Champion of Stray Souls, who is the heart of this deck, gathering up all the stray souls we’ve collected in our graveyard and herding them back onto the battlefield. Of course, he does charge a hefty fee. Fortunately, our Priest of Gix and our Darigaaz's Attendant can pay for his cost. Let’s just hope Gix and Darigaaz, the Igniter approve of their new Champion.

Sixcessful turn: Tap five lands and Champion of Stray Souls and sacrifice Priest of Gix, Satyr Wayfinder, and the two Goblin tokens to activate the Champion’s first ability. Return Priest of Gix, Darigaaz's Attendant, Zealous Conscripts, and Mogg War Marshal to the battlefield.

Target the Champion with Zealous Conscripts, and untap the Champion. Make a Goblin token. Spend b from Priest of Gix to activate Darigaaz's Attendant, ending up with bbbrg. Spend the mana, tap the Champion, and sacrifice the War Marshal, its token, the Conscripts, and Priest of Gix to return the other Priest of Gix, the other Darigaaz's Attendant, the other Zealous Conscripts, and the other Mogg War Marshal.

Zealous Conscripts
Make a token from the War Marshal dying and another from the new War Marshal entering. Untap the Champion with the Conscripts. Repeat the mana process with the Priest and the Attendant. We now have the same set of creatures, but we have two Goblin tokens instead of one, meaning we can return an additional creature next time.

Alternating which additional creature we return between iterations, we can trigger different abilities each time. Corpse Connoisseur can fetch our third Zealous Conscripts, which will allow us to gain control of every (nonshroud, nonhexproof, nonprotection) opposing permanent. Satyr Wayfinder can put our whole deck into our graveyard, and with Champion of Stray Souls in this combination, we can put every creature from there onto the battlefield. Ogre Battledriver can pump all those creatures with a dreaded +2/+0 and give them haste, and that means we can end up with as many 3/1 Goblin tokens as we want to attack with—in addition to the fact that we already gained control of all our opponents’ permanents, of course.

If anything terrible does happen, paying 5bb puts a redundant Champion from our graveyard back on top of our library so we don’t die from being unable to draw a card.

Of course, I did cheat a bit in setting up a pretty good game for the deck, and of course it was gold-fished—no pesky opponents tried to interfere with our plans. The deck does have measures to stall a game out a bit, and I didn’t include those cards in the example turns. Awakening Zone gives the Champion a lot of initial fodder for after we’ve built up a sweet graveyard, and we don’t need an immediate board presence, so Lethal Vapors isn’t too much a hindrance. When we are ready to go off, we can use Yavimaya Hollow to safely resolve our Champion of Stray Souls. Next turn, we can skip our “next turn,” but then go off and win the game all at once.

There are many routes to victory and different pieces that could allow a deck like this to work. Village Bell-Ringer with mana-generating creatures would be an interesting option. This list might not mind having some combination of Lithatog, Thaumatog, and/or Squandered Resources for sacrificing opponents’ permanents after gaining control of them. And, of course, dredge cards, such as Golgari Grave-Troll—which is even on the Skeleton theme—always fill up graveyards nicely. And if we were going with a tribal theme, perhaps Faces of the Past with a bunch of Skeletons and/or Warriors would fit the bill.

Just don’t try this deck on Magic Online.

Andrew Wilson


fissionessence at hotmail dot com

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