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Blood & Brains

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One of the cards from Dragon's Maze that I'm eager to try out is Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Although the last ability doesn't seem extremely relevant, the other abilities are plenty strong enough without it. White and black also have some other tools that seem to fit quite well in a midrange strategy, so I've put together a list that can be built without breaking the bank.

The Creatures

Gloom Surgeon
Gloom Surgeon has received a disproportionate amount of hatred since its release. Despite the fact that most players maligned it as the worst rare in the set, it did see some tournament play during the brief rise of mono-black decks. Gloom Surgeon very effectively dispatches anything with 2 or less toughness, and it blocks anything larger almost indefinitely. It often forces your opponent to use his removal on your 2-drop, leaving you free to start casting your more powerful creatures.

Sin Collector was perhaps the most highly-anticipated card from Dragon's Maze due to its ability to put a threat on the board while also getting rid of Sphinx's Revelation. Aside from the Revelation, Sin Collector can get rid of Supreme Verdict, almost any removal spell, any counterspell, and a number of other cards that could cause problems for you. With 2 power, it will almost always trade with another creature, giving you a solid two-for-one.

Vampire Nighthawk has a plethora of powerful abilities that combine to make it an extremely versatile creature. Flying lets you push damage past opposing blockers, and lifelink makes it difficult for your opponent to race you. Deathtouch lets the Nighthawk trade with almost any creature in Standard. Even giant creatures such as Wolfir Silverheart fall to the small Vampire, and you gain 2 life for your trouble.

Lingering Souls
Lingering Souls annoys aggressive decks to death, often buying you two or more free turns thanks to the army of chump-blocking Spirits. It also serves as a relentless source of damage against control decks, since one-for-one removal such as Azorius Charm is ineffective against the four tokens. If you can resolve it, only a board wipe provides an effective way of dealing with the threat.

Desecration Demon is absurdly very solid against control. With these decks often playing few to no creatures, the Demon's drawback is almost completely irrelevant. That leaves you free to swing in for 6 damage every turn, probably ending the game in short order if your opponent doesn't have a removal spell. Against aggro decks, the Demon is somewhat less effective, but it still forces your opponent to sacrifice a creature each turn, limiting the amount of damage he can deal each turn. Combined with the large number of removal spells in this deck, Desecration Demon can be the final straw, stopping your opponent from being able to deal you any significant amount of damage.

Blood Baron of Vizkopa is immune to just about every removal spell in the format, with only Mizzium Mortars providing an effective way to kill it. It also has protection from some of the biggest threats in the format, such as Sire of Insanity and Angel of Serenity. With 4 power and lifelink, it gives you a relentless source of life that can effectively shut down any threats your opponent has left at this stage of the game. Obzedat, Ghost Council is another contender for this slot. While the Blood Baron is more effective against aggressive decks and spot removal, Obzedat is more effective against control decks and sweepers. Since neither is particularly ineffective against the other type of deck, you can substitute based on the makeup of your local environment or the availability of the cards.

The Spells

Tragic Slip
Appetite for Brains is an extremely effective way of dealing with Thragtusk, and it can also exile a number of other threats, such as Restoration Angel, Thundermaw Hellkite, and Huntmaster of the Fells. Since it exiles the card rather than force your opponent to discard it, it can also get rid of Unburial Rites effectively. Supreme Verdict and Terminus are also great targets, making sure your opponent can't deal with your threats so easily.

Tragic Slip's effectiveness is greatly increased by the presence of Lingering Souls in the deck, making it easy and relatively painless to turn on morbid whenever there's a creature you need to kill. You also have Sin Collector as another creature you don't mind trading off, and Desecration Demon will make your opponent turn on morbid on his own.

Dead Weight can be more effective than Tragic Slip if the creatures is in that 2-toughness sweet spot—or if permanently shrinking your target is more effective than trying to activate morbid. It also gives you an additional way to deal with creatures such as Champion of the Parish that could become dangerous if not killed immediately.

Oblivion Ring can exile planeswalkers, enchantments, or just about anything else that might make it difficult for you to win the game. Although it's a bit pricey at 3 mana, its versatility is unmatched.

The Sideboard

Scion of Vitu-Ghazi
Erase and Devour Flesh help you fight Bant Hexproof more effectively. Erase lets you exile enchantments at instant speed, so you can wait until your opponent attacks and kill the creature with a blocker after getting rid of its extra power and toughness. Devour Flesh can do even better, killing the creature and any Auras enchanting it all at once, but it only works if your opponent has no other creatures, so it might take a bit of effort to set up.

Purify the Grave is one of the most effective ways of stopping Unburial Rites from going to town, letting you sit back and wait while your opponent puts effort into filling his graveyard and then jump in with a mean surprise when he tries to reanimate something.

Scion of Vitu-Ghazi gives you another hard-to-kill threat against control decks. Azorius Charm isn't particularly effective, leaving 2 power on the board and letting you make another pair of tokens. Other removal spells such as Detention Sphere will also only get rid of one half of the card, leaving the other half to continue the beatdown.

Playtesting

Jund – Game 1

Sin Collector
I lost the roll and took a mulligan, keeping a hand of Swamp, Plains, Sin Collector, Desecration Demon, Tragic Slip, and Oblivion Ring. My opponent also took a mulligan and started things off with a Stomping Ground. I drew Appetite for Brains, played my Swamp, and passed the turn.

My opponent played an Overgrown Tomb and passed back. I drew a Swamp, played it, and cast Appetite for Brains, grabbing Garruk, Primal Hunter.

My opponent played a Blood Crypt and passed the turn, and I drew a Plains, played it, and cast Sin Collector. I stole a Dreadbore and ended my turn.

My opponent played Woodland Cemetery and passed the turn. I drew another Appetite for Brains and attacked for 2 with Sin Collector. I cast Desecration Demon and passed the turn.

My opponent played a land and cast Garruk, Primal Hunter. He made a Beast token and passed the turn. I drew Lingering Souls and cast Oblivion Ring on Garruk. My opponent sacrificed a creature to tap the Demon and then killed it with Tragic Slip. I attacked for 2 with Sin Collector and ended my turn.

My opponent cast Rakdos Keyrune and passed. I drew a Swamp, played it, and attacked with Sin Collector. My opponent activated the Keyrune, but I killed it with Tragic Slip. He took 2, and I cast Lingering Souls and passed the turn.

My opponent cast Bonfire of the Damned for 1 to kill my creatures and then played a Blood Crypt and passed the turn. I drew Blood Baron of Vizkopa, cast it, and passed the turn.

My opponent passed back with no play, and I drew Dead Weight and attacked for 4. I ended my turn.

My opponent played a land, cast Rakdos's Return for 5, and passed the turn. I drew Lingering Souls and dropped my opponent to 6 with the Blood Baron. I flashed back the Lingering Souls in my graveyard and ended my turn.

My opponent drew his card and conceded.

Game 2

Tragic Slip
I kept a hand of Plains, Swamp, Orzhov Guildgate, Gloom Surgeon, Sin Collector, and two Blood Baron of Vizkopa. My opponent played a Stomping Ground and passed the turn. I drew Lingering Souls, played my Guildgate, and ended my turn.

He played Woodland Cemetery and passed back. I drew a Swamp, played it, and cast Gloom Surgeon. I ended my turn, and my opponent cast Tragic Slip during my end step to kill it.

He played Rootbound Crag and passed the turn. I drew Sin Collector, played my Plains, and cast it. I exiled Putrefy and passed the turn.

My opponent played Kessig Wolf Run and passed back. I drew a Swamp, played it, and cast another Sin Collector, exiling Bonfire of the Damned. I attacked for 2, and my opponent killed my creature with Tragic Slip. I ended my turn.

My opponent paid 2 life for Blood Crypt and then cast Thragtusk, going up to 23. He passed the turn. I drew Vampire Nighthawk, played a land, and cast Blood Baron of Vizkopa. I ended my turn.

My opponent cast Rakdos's Return for 3, forcing me to discard my hand. He then passed the turn. I drew Tragic Slip and attacked with Sin Collector. My opponent took the 2 damage, and I passed the turn.

He played Rakdos Keyrune and ended his turn. I drew a Plains, played it, and attacked with Sin Collector again. My opponent activated Rakdos Keyrune and blocked. Sin Collector died, and I killed Thragtusk with Tragic Slip. I flashed back Lingering Souls and passed the turn.

Sire of Insanity
My opponent played a land, cast Sire of Insanity, and passed back. I drew Vampire Nighthawk and attacked for 6. My opponent took the damage, and I cast the Vampire before ending my turn.

My opponent played a land and attacked with his Beast token. I chose not to block, and he activated Kessig Wolf Run to drop me to 12. He passed the turn, and I drew a Plains. I played it and attacked with the Blood Baron and Spirit tokens. My opponent dropped to 19, and I played the land and ended my turn.

My opponent attacked with the Beast again, and I took another 8 after he pumped it with Kessig Wolf Run. He played a Stomping Ground and ended his turn. I drew Lingering Souls and attacked with the Blood Baron and Spirit tokens. My opponent dropped to 3, and I cast and flashed back Lingering Souls for four more tokens before passing the turn.

My opponent paid 2 life to put a Stomping Ground into play untapped and attacked with everything. I blocked the Beast token with two Spirits and Sire of Insanity with the other two Spirits as well as Vampire Nighthawk. My opponent conceded.

Wrap-Up

I really love the discard package in this deck. The combination of Sin Collector and Appetite for Brains can make it difficult for your opponent to hang on to his best cards. Blood Baron of Vizkopa performed well, swinging right past Sire of Insanity and outracing Kessig Wolf Run thanks to lifelink. If you like playing a deck that lets your rip your opponent's game plan to shreds, try this one out at your local Friday Night Magic.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on the forums under Twinblaze, on Twitter under @MTGCannon, or simply leave a comment below.

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