Boneyard Wurm and its big brother Splinterfright are two rather promising creatures. Both of them have the potential to be very large for very little mana, provided that you can get a few creatures in your graveyard. Once you accomplish that, Kessig Cagebreakers will be happy to join in and give you several Wolf tokens. Together, these three provide a powerful strategy, but it needs a little help from Blue to get off the ground. Here’s the deck I put together:
4 Ambush Viper
4 Armored Skaab
4 Boneyard Wurm
4 Deranged Assistant
4 Kessig Cagebreakers
4 Merfolk Looter
4 Forbidden Alchemy
4 Mana Leak
4 Hinterland Harbor
Splinterfright is one of the centerpiece cards of the deck. It can get very large very quickly with a bit of help, and it will even make itself bigger over time. The Trample is especially useful later in the game when it may be 10/10 or larger.
Kessig Cagebreakers is basically a giant Hero of Bladehold in this deck. Although it costs 1 more mana for the same power and toughness, you’ll usually be getting four or five 2/2’s in a single attack.
Merfolk Looter helps both fix your draws and get creatures in the graveyard. It may seem risky to discard perfectly good creatures just to power up your guys, but it almost always pays off in the end.
Deranged Assistant can either accelerate you into an early Kessig Cagebreakers or help you leave up mana for Mana Leak and Ambush Viper. It will also help mill you a bit, thus getting more creatures into your graveyard.
Armored Skaab helps defend against faster decks, and it will usually put one or two creatures into your graveyard as well. Its 4 toughness is enough to stop most early creatures and also survive common removal spells like Incinerate or Shock.
Ambush Viper serves as this deck’s removal. With your game plan so reliant on having creatures in the graveyard, you can’t afford to put too many noncreature spells in the deck. This guy will trade with almost any attacking creature, thus putting itself right into the graveyard to fuel your threats. It also gives you something else to represent with 2 open mana, so your opponent won’t be sure whether to play around a counterspell or a removal spell.
Forbidden Alchemy digs for any card that you might need, and it dumps one or two more creatures into your graveyard. Although 3 mana might seem a bit steep, the double value you get out of this card is more than worth it.
Mana Leak is still the best counterspell in the format, and it helps us compete against decks that get off the ground more quickly or have more dangerous threats.
For this week’s play-testing, I used a speculative list of what a Hero-Blade deck might look like after the rotation. With the environment still so difficult to define, no sideboards were used.
I won the roll and took a mulligan, then kept a hand of Forest, Island, Merfolk Looter, Deranged Assistant, Forbidden Alchemy, and Splinterfright. I played an Island and passed the turn, and my opponent played a Glacial Fortress before passing back. I drew an Armored Skaab, played my Forest, and cast Deranged Assistant before ending my turn. My opponent played an Inkmoth Nexus and passed the turn. I drew an Island, played it, and cast Armored Skaab, tapping the Deranged Assistant for mana. I milled four lands and another Deranged Assistant. I passed the turn. My opponent played a land, cast Blade Splicer, and passed the turn. I drew a Forest, played it, and cast Merfolk Looter, milling an Ambush Viper with the Assistant. I then cast Splinterfright as a 2/2 and passed the turn. My opponent played a land, cast Invisible Stalker, and passed the turn. Splinterfright milled two lands during my upkeep, and I drew a third.
I tapped Merfolk Looter, drawing a Mana Leak and discarding the land, and then cast Forbidden Alchemy, milling a land with Deranged Assistant. I put a Mana Leak into my hand, and two more lands hit the graveyard along with a second Ambush Viper. I passed the turn. My opponent played a land and cast Gideon Jura, which I Mana Leaked. He ended his turn. Splinterfright milled a Kessig Cagebreakers and a land during my upkeep, and I drew an Island. I tapped Merfolk Looter, drawing and discarding another land, and then tapped Deranged Assistant to mill an Armored Skaab. I passed the turn. My opponent played a land, attacked with Inkmoth Nexus, and passed the turn. Splinterfright milled Boneyard Wurm and Deranged Assistant, and I drew Forbidden Alchemy. I tapped Merfolk Looter, drawing and discarding an Ambush Viper, and attacked with my 8/8 Splinterfright. My opponent elected not to block, and I passed the turn. My opponent played a land and cast Sword of War and Peace. I cast Mana Leak on it, and he paid the 3 mana and ended his turn.
During his end step, I cast Forbidden Alchemy, milling a Forest with Deranged Assistant, and putting Kessig Cagebreakers into my hand. Three more creatures hit the graveyard, bringing Splinterfright to an 11/11. It milled a land and another Splinterfright during my upkeep, and I drew Forbidden Alchemy. I tapped Merfolk Looter, drawing a Splinterfright and discarding a land. I attacked with my 12/12 Splinterfright, and my opponent blocked with Blade Splicer and its token, dropping to 4. I cast the second Splinterfright, milling a land with Deranged Assistant. My opponent drew his card and conceded.
I kept a hand of two Islands, two Forests, Deranged Assistant, Armored Skaab, and Kessig Cagebreakers. My opponent opened with a Glacial Fortress, and I drew a Forest, played it, and passed the turn. My opponent played an Inkmoth Nexus and passed back. I drew an Ambush Viper, played an Island, and cast Deranged Assistant. I ended my turn. My opponent played a land and cast Blade Splicer before passing the turn. I drew a land, played it, and cast Armored Skaab. Deranged Assistant milled Forbidden Alchemy, and the Skaab milled two Mana Leaks, another Forbidden Alchemy, and a Boneyard Wurm. I passed the turn. My opponent cast Sword of War and Peace, and then ended his turn. I drew a Boneyard Wurm and cast Kessig Cagebreakers, milling a Merfolk Looter with the Assistant. I passed the turn.
My opponent equipped the Sword to the Golem token and attacked. I blocked with Armored Skaab. He paid 4 life to Dismember my Kessig Cagebreakers and passed the turn. I drew Splinterfright, then played a land and cast it along with Boneyard Wurm. I passed the turn. My opponent played a tapped Seachrome Coast and attacked with the Golem token. I blocked with Deranged Assistant, tapping it to mill a Merfolk Looter before damage. My opponent cast Snapcaster Mage and paid another 4 life to flashback Dismember, killing my Splinterfright before the dying Assistant made it too large. He ended his turn. I drew another Ambush Viper, played a land, and passed the turn.
My opponent cast Oblivion Ring on my Boneyard Wurm and attacked with everything. I flashed in an Ambush Viper to block Blade Splicer, and I took a total of 8 damage. My opponent gained 4 life, then played a land and passed the turn. I drew a Merfolk Looter, cast it, and passed the turn. My opponent attacked with Snapcaster Mage and the Golem token, and I flashed in another Ambush Viper. My opponent paid 4 life for a Dismember before I could declare blockers, so I chumped the Golem with my Looter, taking 2. My opponent cast Hero of Bladehold and passed the turn. I drew a Boneyard Wurm and cast it as a 10/10. I ended my turn. My opponent equipped the Sword to Snapcaster Mage, and I took lethal damage from his other creatures.
My opponent took a mulligan, and I kept a hand of Island, Hinterland Harbor, Boneyard Wurm, Ambush Viper, Armored Skaab, Forbidden Alchemy, and Kessig Cagebreakers. I opened with the Island, and my opponent played a Glacial Fortress and passed the turn. I drew a Merfolk Looter, played Hinterland Harbor, and cast the Looter. I ended my turn. My opponent played Seachrome Coast and passed the turn. I drew Hinterland Harbor, played it, and tapped the Merfolk Looter. I drew a Mana Leak and discarded Ambush Viper. I cast Armored Skaab, milling another Skaab and three lands. I passed the turn. My opponent played Moorland Haunt, cast Mirran Crusader, and then passed the turn. I drew Kessig Cagebreakers and tapped Merfolk Looter, drawing a Mana Leak and discarding the Cagebreakers. I passed the turn. My opponent played a land and attacked with Mirran Crusader. I blocked with Armored Skaab, and he cast Hero of Bladehold. I countered it with Mana Leak, and he ended his turn.
I drew an Island, played it, and tapped Merfolk Looter, drawing and discarding another Kessig Cagebreakers. I cast a 5/5 Boneyard Wurm and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and cast Sword of Feast and Famine. I cast Mana Leak on it, and he cast a Mana Leak of his own. He attacked for 4 and passed the turn. I drew Splinterfright and attacked with my Boneyard Wurm. My opponent took the damage, and I cast Splinterfright before I passed the turn. My opponent played a land and cast Timely Reinforcements, going up to 21 and making three tokens. He equipped Sword of Feast and Famine to Mirran Crusader and attacked. I blocked with Merfolk Looter, and then I tapped it to draw Hinterland Harbor and discard Forbidden Alchemy. My opponent passed the turn.
Splinterfright milled a Merfolk Looter and a Deranged Assistant, and I drew a Forest. I played it and attacked with my 8/8 Splinterfright and Boneyard Wurm, dropping my opponent to 13 and killing a token. I then cast Kessig Cagebreakers and passed the turn. My opponent cast Sword of War and Peace, equipped it to Mirran Crusader, and attacked. I dropped to 4, and my opponent gained 1 life and untapped his lands. He cast Gideon Jura and activated his +2 ability before passing the turn. Splinterfright milled a Mana Leak and an Island, and I drew Deranged Assistant. All my creatures attacked Gideon, and I put eight 2/2 Wolf tokens onto the battlefield tapped and attacking my opponent. The two remaining tokens each blocked a Wolf, Gideon died, and my opponent dropped to 2. I cast Deranged Assistant and passed the turn. My opponent drew his card and conceded.
This deck definitely takes some setup before you can really get going, but once you do, you’ll often win the game within just a few turns. Due to the investment you have to put into the three main creatures in the deck, it’s a bit vulnerable to large amounts of removal spells, but that shouldn’t be too large of a problem, especially since limited removal such as Incinerate and Dismember will often be ineffective. Perhaps my favorite thing about the deck is the fact that killing your creatures will only make the next ones stronger. That kind of inevitability is very powerful, and will be hard for many decks to deal with. If you’re looking for a fun creature deck to try out after rotation, I’d encourage you to give this one a try. It’s a blast to play, and attacking with just one or two creatures for massive amounts of damage never gets old.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on the forums under Twinblaze, on Twitter under @Twinblaze2, or simply leave a comment below.