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Tainted Cutters


In this experiment, we replace a false cure with a tainted remedy.

Continuing with Magic Origins previews, let’s take a look at a card that essentially replaces a pet card of old.

False Cure

False Cure was a cute idea, but you really had to go all in on a single turn. Since the spell only lasted until end of turn, you had to have your entire suite of enemy-life-gain cards ready. Four Skyshroud Cutters on deck meant an instant win as early as turn two—but only with a precise seven cards. Now, doubling up on False Cures was great, as the delayed triggers would be amplified—the opponent would gain life once but then lose it three times, so a single Skyshroud Cutter could bring an opponent from 20 to 5. But a play like that cost bbbb, so free spells like the Cutter were great, but finishing out the kill could be tricky with little mana left over.

Tainted Remedy lets us play with similar concepts in a different way. Notably, having a second Remedy is useless since its ability creates a replacement effect. However, it’s permanent, and that’s a big deal. This lets us drop the enchantment early with no pressure to win immediately and then just play a long game.

The Short Game

Skyshroud Cutter
Despite our ability to play the long game with our black enchantment, there’s still the potential for an early combo kill. For example, we can win on turn three after dropping the Remedy and then casting four Skyshroud Cutters. As with the previous iteration of the deck, that’s highly unlikely and requires a lot of specific cards in our hand early in the game.

But we can also win on turn four if we just have a single Cutter and a copy of Pack Hunt. On turn four, after previously casting Tainted Remedy, just cast Skyshroud Cutter for 0 mana, giving our opponent 5 life (but making him or her lose 5 life instead). Then, cast Pack Hunt on the Cutter to search for three more, and cast them for their alternate casting costs, thus winning the game.

There’s one other card lets us give our opponent life instead of paying mana for it, and that’s Reverent Silence. Unfortunately, its effect is to destroy all enchantments. And since it’s a sorcery, we can’t cast one in response to another in order to stack them with a single Tainted Remedy—we’d either need a way to cast them at instant speed or an additional copy of the Remedy for each additional copy of the Silence. But I’m not going to build around that today; instead, I’ll just keep a single copy of Reverent Silence for a final blow or for when we don’t mind blowing up one of our Remedies. And who knows? Maybe it’ll even come in handy for destroying an opponent’s enchantment.

Refreshing Rain is somewhat similar to these other cards in that it has an alternate casting cost, can give our opponent life, and is from Nemesis. What’s different is that its free mode requires both us and our opponent to have particular lands and that the effect is gaining life, giving the card little utility outside of comboing with Tainted Remedy. (Then again, maybe 2/2s and spells that blow up our own stuff don’t offer a ton of utility either.) To help with the land situation, we have a couple copies of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to ensure our opponent has a Swamp.

The Long Game

Sure, False Cure could combo with Swords to Plowshares, but that’s a lot of work to put in for removing a single creature and making the opponent lose life. But with Tainted Remedy, we can just sit on the enchantment and use spells like Swords to Plowshares and Devour Flesh to fully dissuade our opponent from playing big creatures. It’s nice to have cheap instants with the approximate upside of Phthisis.

Sylvan Bounty is expensive, but it can hit our opponent for 8. And in the early game, we can use it just to find the lands we need for our three-color deck.

Swords to Plowshares
Sylvan Bounty
Life Burst

Life Burst offers a reasonable amount of life-gain. The first one certainly isn’t impressive, and investing cards in pure life-gain isn’t normally very good. Here, we’ll hope it lets us stave off an early death while also serving as an endgame finisher. If we cast the first three on ourselves to gain a total of 24 life, the fourth can hit our opponent for 16, which is probably overkill.

To help ensure we can find a Tainted Remedy, we have a couple copies of Idyllic Tutor, and in case we have excess Remedies and Tutors, there’s a copy of Armistice to fetch. Armistice is just rude. It’s somewhat close to Jayemdae Tome in terms of power level—though probably just worse—but with the Remedy, we end up with a very potent activated ability to pull us through lulls in the late game.

Grove of the Burnwillows creates a slow burn with Tainted Remedy, giving a new meaning to the term pain land. Speaking of pain lands, though, we have some copies of Horizon Canopy. Cards may very well become more important than lands in the late game—we shouldn’t need more than 5 or 6 man for Armistice activations and hard-cast Sylvan Bounties.

Grove of the Burnwillows
Devour Flesh

I’d love to see a few more creatures in this deck, especially some that work well in multiples for cross-purpose synergy with Pack Hunt. But I couldn’t resist the Life Bursts and Nemesis cards, and I really don’t even know what kind of creatures I’d want. Obvious power cards such as Eternal Witness and Courser of Kruphix are reasonable choices, but I’m more on the lookout for synergy.

If you need a good reason to dust off your Skyshroud Cutters, if you have an unhealthy love for Life Burst, or if you just like the idea of pain lands being painful for your opponent, give this deck a try.

Andrew Wilson


fissionessence at hotmail dot com

P.S. I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign for a solitaire card game I designed called Quest: Awakening of Melior, so if sweet cards and quick play is your thing take a look now!

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