Path of Vizkopa

Posted in Feature on July 5, 2013

By Sam Black

Sam Black is a Platinum Pro Player and longtime writer for He is a respected deck builder and took over Daily Decks for the first half of 2013.

Editor's Note: I would like to thank Sam Black for writing Daily Decks for these past six months. Unfortunately, our contract is up and this will be his last Daily Deck. I've really enjoyed having his insights into decks and deckbuilding. We're bringing a new face from the Pro Tour to Daily Decks next week and it is someone who I think you all might be familiar with. You'll have to come back on Tuesday to find out who, Monday’s Daily Deck will be the winning decklist from this weekend's Grand Prix Kansas City.—Trick

Black/White decks based around lifelink are something I try to build as each new set comes out. With Magic 2014, I think there’s a chance I might finally have the cards to do it, thanks to Archangel of Thune, Fiendslayer Paladin, and Path of Bravery.

What I really want to do is use Vizkopa Guildmage with Rhox Faithmender to turn lifelink into a huge damage source that ignores blockers. One problem I always run into is that Vizkopa Guildmage isn’t that powerful of a card on its own, but there might finally be enough support to justify playing it in context.

Another challenge is finding the best one mana plays, since most creatures don’t really fit with the theme. I’m curious as to whether there’s enough support to make Trained Caracal playable—It’s dangerous to play too many cards that are individually underpowered, like Trained Caracal and Vizkopa Guildmage, but Path of Bravery and Archangel of Thune potentially do a lot to make the card relevant.

I’d prefer a Soul Warden type card, of course, but that’s not an option in Standard right now. I could play Soulmender if I’m worried that Trained Caracal will get trumped by larger creatures and have to sit on the sidelines, but Trained Caracal plays much better with Path of Bravery, so I’d rather start there.

Soul Warden
Vampire Nighthawk

As for support cards, I think Brave the Elements is extremely important, since we’re trying to build a critical mass of creatures while attacking every turn to keep Path of Bravery going. In this deck it protects everything but Vampire Nighthawk, but Vampire Nighthawk can usually survive an attack without help.

There’s a problematic glut at 5 mana between Archangel of Thune, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, and Obzedat, Ghoust Council, but I think Archangel of Thune is the best in the maindeck because it’s so explosive with Path of Bravery—when you attack with other creatures the turn you play it, everything gets +1/+1 for each of them, then they all get bigger again after lifelink happens when the deal damage. Against B/W decks, Blood Baron of Vizkopa is borderline unbeatable, and Obzedat, Ghost Council is the best card against control decks, so I think it’s worth having access to all of them, so that you can choose the proper top end of the curve, since each is quite different.

Blood Baron of Vizkopa
Obzedat, Ghost Council

The sideboard is mostly aimed toward beating control decks, since I’m hoping the life gain will be good enough against aggressive decks. There’s a real concern that where you’re weakest is against big creatures that attack for enough that it doesn’t matter how much life you have, like Thragtusk and Angel of Serenity, but that’s where Magic 2014’s Lifebane Zombie shines, and I expect that card to be absolutely crucial in the format at large for keeping decks like Junk Rites in check moving forward.

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