Plunge into Shadows

Posted in Feature on August 20, 2013

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

There's a lot going on in this deck, so let's just plunge right in. This deck has a number of combos, all of which revolve on your life total (or lack thereof). Life total is normally thought of as a resource, but rarely to this degree. Here, the combination of spells that let you pay life and creatures that reward you for being at a low life total lets you cheat on casting costs and even set up a few instant wins.

Death's Shadow

Plunge into Darkness and Spoils of the Vault are the main fuel for the engine, because both of them not only look at a bunch of cards, they have the distinct "advantage" of letting you kill yourself very rapidly. With Plunge, you can name your price, and with Spoils, you can name your card. Either way, your life total goes down drastically, which works very well with the next group of cards.

One payoff for being at a low life total is that you get to cast Avatar of Hope for two mana, but the real reward is playing a monstrous Death's Shadow. Not only does Death's Shadow often come out as a 10/10 for one mana, it can actually be a 20/20, under the right circumstances. If you've cast an Angel's Grace, you are free to go to negative life totals, which actually pumps the Death's Shadow! You aren't allowed to pay life you don't have, but casting Spoils of the Vault naming Civilized Scholar (or any other card not in your deck) causes you to lose 1 life per card in your deck, making your Shadow incredibly huge. You then get to attack for a ton of damage, or even better, cast Rite of Consumption and win on the spot. Angel's Grace also lets you pay your life total to Plunge into Darkness, giving you a good shot of finding whatever piece of the combo you are missing.

The rest of the deck helps protect you and your combo. Faith's Shield, Spellskite (which is also another way to pay life), Leyline of Sanctity, Thoughtseize, and Inquisition of Kozilek all disrupt the opponent's plan, with Path to Exile and Slaughter Pact offering a bit of creature removal. Faith's Shield is a particularly cool option here, as turning on the fateful hour is not going to be very difficult, and you often are going to want to protect yourself from dying to a random burn spell. Even the lands give you the option of losing life, with the one Watery Grave there to activate Spellskite.

This deck looks really neat, and definitely tricky to play. Managing your life total is surely the hardest and most important part about playing the deck, as you need to be low for your cards to work, but that clearly puts you in the danger zone. Knowing when to go for it with the Angel's Grace/Rite of Consumption combo is also a big one, although Inquisition of Kozilek, Thoughtseize, and Faith's Shield all offer a good amount of protection there.

Kahleya's BW Life Loss

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