Destructive Tendencies

Posted in From the Lab on August 11, 2014

By Mike Cannon

Mike Cannon started writing From the Lab at the end of 2012 after two years with GatheringMagic. He is an ardent casual player and loves finding uses for bad cards.

Welcome, everyone! To your DOOM!

I'm kicking off Annihilation Week, and to help me out with this week's article I asked you all to send in your most destructive decks. Today, I'll be looking at just a few of the magnificent manifestations of mayhem you came up with.

Unbearable

Surprisingly, that heading is not a bear pun. Nope, this time we're talking about Bearer of the Heavens. To help power out the massive creature, Andrew W. decided to take advantage of what might be my favorite card in Magic 2015. Generator Servant produces two mana all by itself, cutting the Bearer's cost to a more reasonable six mana. It also gives the creature haste, allowing you to attack for 10 damage right off the bat.

Blow it All Up

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I'll let Andrew give you the rundown.

Now before Bearer of the Heavens can flatten the world, he's gotta die. Fling is an entertaining way to kill off our Giant friend and smash 10 points of damage right to your opponent's face, making the forthcoming world-wipe literally adding insult to injury.

The ingots and citadels of Darksteel will hang around past your Giant's demise, giving you a leg up on rebuilding your mana base. For extra fun, the Colossus of Akros will also survive, giving you a huge friend to oversee the empty battlefield. Try to use the mana acceleration to monstrify him before tossing the Bearer, and you'll have things sewn up. Lion's Eye Diamond is terrific for this use, since once you have an indestructible 20/20 beatstick, you won't be worried about having an empty hand.

In keeping with our "Wipe them out. All of them." theme, the combination of Polymorphist's Jest and Pyroclasm can turn your opponent's board to crispy Frog legs in a pinch. Just be careful with the Pyroclasms, as your own Generator Servants won't survive them either.

I like the variety of cards included that attack the theme from different angles. Andrew is an old-school casual player, building decks from whatever he has on hand. Although it can reduce the power level of a deck, that's not always a bad thing, and it ensures that every game plays out differently.

A Modern Solution

On the other end of the spectrum, we have a list sent in by Mike of the podcast The Mana Pool. The deck is a different take on the Tron archetype in Modern, featuring absurd levels of mana production thanks to the Urza's lands, which produce a total of seven mana if you have all three on the battlefield.

None of the Urza's lands are legendary, however, meaning that seven mana is only the beginning. Every copy of the lands you get beyond that will add another two or three mana to your total, and the deck is very good at searching for them.

So what's the endgame here? Traditional Tron decks use powerful threats like Wurmcoil Engine, lockdown engines such as Mindslaver and Academy Ruins, and often control elements like Karn Liberated and Oblivion Stone. Mike's deck includes some of that as well, but the kicker here is Death Cloud.

When cast for a dozen or so mana, Death Cloud can completely wipe out your opponent's hand and battlefield. Under normal circumstances it would do this to you as well, but Mike has taken advantage of a couple areas the Cloud doesn't hit. For one thing, Planeswalkers like Karn Liberated and Garruk Wildspeaker are completely safe from Death Cloud's effect. Karn Liberated can completely shut down your opponent's ability to rebuild after Death Cloud goes off, and Garruk can start making Beast tokens with which to end the game.

Speaking of tokens, Wurmcoil Engine will leave behind a pair when you sacrifice it. Since Death Cloud compromises life totals as well as board positions, your opponent will be in no position to survive a hit or two from the pair of Wurms.

Death Cloud Tron

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What Doesn't Kill You

Another reader decided to take a different approach. Rather than destroying everything, Reginald decided to wipe out the opponent's creature's while making his own even more powerful than they were before.

The key pieces here are Ashling the Pilgrim and Vigor. When Ashling's ability is activated for the third time in a turn, all the counters are removed and she deals that much damage to each creature and player. With Vigor on the battlefield, the damage to your creatures is turned into +1/+1 counters instead, while the opponent's battlefield is still burned to a crisp.

In addition, the combination means Ashling never really loses any counters. If three counters are removed, Ashling will deal 3 damage to herself, and Vigor will turn that into another three counters. On the following turn, three more activations will flip the switch and cause Ashling to deal 6 damage to everything, putting six counters back on herself.

Vigor Burn

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Flamekin Harbinger can find either piece of the combo. After you get going, the 1/1 will also provide another creature to get pumped up by Vigor every time Ashling goes off. Bifurcate is an easy way to get a second copy of Vigor, so the two protect each other from Ashling's ability. Otherwise, the fun would be over as soon as Ashling hits Vigor for 6.

Mycoloth seems like a particularly fun addition. It will get counters from the combo, then start producing tokens, which will get counters themselves. It's a giant army in a can that will keep growing every turn.

Rounding out the deck are a few ways to produce some extra mana. Devoted Druid in particular can give you all the mana you could want once you start putting +1/+1 counters on it.

The Big Cheese

Finally, I couldn't let Annihilation Week pass by without making a deck that uses Decree of Annihilation, and I already had the perfect combo in mind. Decree of Annihilation does something pretty unique. In addition to exiling just about every permanent on the battlefield, it exiles hands and graveyards as well, basically resetting the game from scratch. I say almost every permanent because there is one major hole in the Decree's destructive capabilities: Enchantments.

Red has a hard time dealing with enchantments, as they aren't physical things. Red is good at breaking objects, but not magic. Decree of Annihilation reflects this weakness. However, this weakness can easily be turned into a strength with a little help from white.

The Cheese Stands Alone is my favorite card from Unglued. It may be the name catering to my never-ending love of cheese, the wacky superhero-pose picture, or the unique and flavorful mechanic. More likely, it's a combination of all of them. The most appealing feature is that the card present a puzzle to solve. How do I get rid of all my permanents except this, and my hand as well? Decree of Annihilation provides a one-step solution.

The Decree does have one glaring problem, and that's the fact that it costs approximately a ton of mana. Fortunately we have ways around that. The first one that came to mind is Spellshift. Spellshift is essentially a Polymorph for instants and sorceries, which can be an easy way to cast an expensive spell for free. The only problem is that you can't really choose what you hit with it unless there are no other instants and sorceries in the deck.

Or can you? Spellshift casts the first instant or sorcery it sees, so if you can ensure that the revealed card is Decree of Annihilation, you can get what you want every time. Mystical Tutor and Personal Tutor can make this happen fairly easily, putting the card right on top of your deck where you want it. If you've drawn the Decree, Brainstorm can put it back where it belongs, and extra copies can also be used to grab a few extra cards when you need them most.

Galvanoth performs a similar function to Spellshift, although it needs to survive until your upkeep to get you a free spell. On the other hand, it will also keep triggering turn after turn, allowing you to cast it and worry about setting up the Decree later.

I've also included the black-bordered version of The Cheese Stands Alone with Barren Glory. Having eight copies of the card should make it easy to find one, despite the Tutors' inability to grab enchantments.

Finally, Condescend and Swords to Plowshares give you a bit of defense against whatever your opponent might be doing. Condescend tacks on a bit extra with scry 2 smoothing your draws. Meanwhile, the drawback on Swords to Plowshares means nothing when you have cards that say "You win the game" on them.

Time to Rebuild

It was great to see the different ideas you all came up with for this theme. As a reminder, there's no need to wait for the next contest to shoot me your favorite Johnny decks. My door is always open at mtgcannon@gmail.com, and if the deck you send in fits with the theme I'm working with or just happens to strike my fancy, you might see it featured in a future article. See ya!

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