Rhystic Syphon used to be one of my favorite cards. As long as my opponent didn’t have 3 mana available, I could both hit for twenty-five percent of his life and gain that much life. In reality, Lava Axe isn’t even a particularly strong card, and that deals its 5 damage every time. The upside of gaining 5 life isn’t terrible, but it’s not worth the rhystic drawback tacked on. We don’t win the game for gaining the most life, but rather for reducing our opponent to 0. (And in the case that we do win for having enough life, such as with Test of Endurance, the 5-point life-loss becomes the useless half.)
Now, having some extra life can be useful—for example, we may be buying time to cast our follow-up Rhystic Syphons. But what can really help buy time are creatures. And those same creatures can do the work of reducing our opponent’s life total, which is why cards like Rhystic Syphon just aren’t that good.
Blood-Chin Fanatic provides a Rhystic Syphon–like effect, but it cuts off the rhystic, and instead of being a sorcery for , it’s a 3/3 for . Oh, but its syphon doesn’t come up front. Siege Rhino is also an efficient creature with a syphon effect, and it occurs immediately. The differences here are that the Fanatic’s effect is repeatable and that it’s scalable: We can choose the size of the Warrior we sacrifice. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Boldwyr Heavyweights — This is an 8/8 Warrior for 4 mana. Based just on the vanilla test from Limited Resources, I’m almost willing to just shove it in the deck alongside Blood-Chin Fanatic—I’m expecting a drawback, but as long as it’s not Leveler status, I just don’t care. After reading the drawback, I can see the downside for sure. You have to gauge what you expect your opponents to play and whether they’ll have the likes of Progenitus or Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, but if the worst someone might drop is a Thundermaw Hellkite or Force of Nature, I might just go for it.
Vengeful Firebrand — This has only 5 power for 4 mana, which is less impressive. Still, 5 accounts for twenty-five percent of our opponent’s life total, and the Firebrand has upside instead of downside. Firebreathing can enhance our syphon, and we may even be able to sneak in with haste before the sacrifice. With Blood-Chin Fanatic, we shouldn’t have any trouble putting Warriors into our graveyard.
Scuzzback Marauders — This is a Warrior, has 5 power, and has persist, meaning we can syphon with it twice. It costs 5 mana, and its with-persist power adds up to 9, so it doesn’t stack up great against the Heavyweights just in terms of numbers, but the downside is a factor, so maybe the Marauders aren’t that bad. And even if our opponent is playing creatureless, we can still only run four Heavyweights, so we have to find some more Warriors somewhere.
Nova Chaser — Woah, this one has 10 power! What more could we ask for? The downside here is that we have to sacrifice it if we don’t exile an Elemental, but for , we can just cast Nova Chaser and immediately sacrifice it for a 10-point syphon (a 20-point life swing!) without worrying about championing anything. Then again, maybe it’s worth playing a few more Elementals in case we want to work with a trampling 10-power creature on the battlefield.
Ashenmoor Gouger — Here’s another Warrior with a downside. Its cost-to-power ratio isn’t as good as Boldwyr Heavyweights’s, but its downside isn’t as bad either. For only 3 mana, we have a 4/4 that can’t block but that can become a 4-point drain later. Oh, and this is an Elemental, so we can exile it to stick a Nova Chaser, and remember that championed creatures aren’t gone for good—when the Nova Chaser leaves the battlefield, we’ll gain our other Elemental back.
Brighthearth Banneret — And this one’s very low-impact. I wanted another low-cost Elemental for Nova Chaser, and incidentally, this also makes most of our other creatures cheaper. With this, we can curve into a turn-three Nova Chaser, which doesn’t seem terrible. Sacrificing this with Blood-Chin Fanatic to drain 1 life for doesn’t seem worthwhile, but you never know.
Needs More Damage
Blood-Chin Fanatic, we’ll want to drain our opponent for the win—perhaps without even attacking.
Will we draw enough Warriors throughout a game to syphon 20 life or will we be stuck with just one Nova Chaser, one Fanatic, and just a bunch of Bannerets? To help with that, here are a few spells we can use to make up the difference.
Morgue Burst — This one’s the expensive one, but it’s also the most potent. We can regain any creature card from our graveyard and hit for 5, 8, or 10 while doing so. This works as creature removal in case we need to take away the Boldwyr Heavyweights–granted gift—perhaps in preparation for gifting another such trigger.
Foul Renewal — This is a new card from Dragons of Tarkir, and it works as instant-speed removal while also being a Disentomb. The obvious downside is that it counts toughness rather than power, and toughness isn’t exactly the strong suit of several of our creatures. It works fine with the Heavyweights, Gouger, or even Fanatic, however, and sometimes even -0/-2 or -0/-1 can be enough.
Dead Reckoning — For a bit more removal, we’ll try out Dead Reckoning. It doesn’t grant the same kind of card advantage Morgue Burst or Foul Renewal can, but it costs less mana as well. It’s also a sorcery, however, and like Foul Renewal, it only hits creatures, so we can’t end our opponent with it—unless we’re doing so by setting up a high-powered Warrior for our next draw.
Soul's Fire — Finally, let’s give Soul's Fire a slot. The new Tail Slash only hits creatures, but Shards of Alara’s red entry into the Naya-cycle of Soul’s spells can turn a Nova Chaser on the battlefield into a doubled Lava Axe for only .
Skeletal Scrying — What are we going to do with all this life? This has nothing to do with the previous listed cards, but there remains the question of what we’re going to do with all the life we’re gaining. Obviously, our goal is to reduce our opponent’s life total to 0. If Blood-Chin Fanatic didn’t gain us life, this deck wouldn’t look much different. But it does gain us life, so let’s make use of it. It may be useful so we can let our opponent try to race us while we sit back on our 10/2s, but we’ll probably still be able to afford to spend some of it to draw cards at instant speed. We may not want to exile our sole Warrior from our graveyard—in case we draw a Morgue Burst or the like—but this old, black, card-draw effect from Odyssey should help find us what we need.
Blood-Chin Nova ? Casual | Andrew Wilson
- Creatures (23)
- 2 Nova Chaser
- 2 Scuzzback Marauders
- 3 Brighthearth Banneret
- 4 Ashenmoor Gouger
- 4 Blood-Chin Fanatic
- 4 Boldwyr Heavyweights
- 4 Vengeful Firebrand
And that’s the plan. If you can appreciate a Rhystic Syphon in creature form, if you want to have enough life that casting a big Skeletal Scrying doesn’t feel risky, or if you just want to tempt fate with some Giant Warriors, give this deck a try.
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