Deadeye Decks

Posted in From the Lab on May 17, 2012

By Noel deCordova

Hello and welcome back to the Lab. At the end of last week's article, I posed a single-card challenge of sorts, in the spine-tingling form of Deadeye Navigator, a new card that caught my eye as a Johnny card to watch. After sifting through a thudding amount of emails, I've tried to scrape the coolest ideas out of the bunch. Thanks to all who submitted! (Ideally, this prompt only whetted your appetite for emailing me about cool deck ideas.)

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The general consensus was that Deadeye Navigator had insane interactions with "enters the battlefield" creatures. So many of these creatures exist, and likewise, so many of these effects can be abused with the Navigator. Many of you smelled infinity, and it's true that Deadeye Navigator is proficient at tipping 8s over. We'll build up to those, though, and begin with some more fluid, synergistic (and Standard legal) builds.

Deadeye Navigator | Art by Tomasz Jedruszek

Here's Andrew Anderson's flicker-heavy build. He wrote:

Almost every creature in here enjoys being flickered, or enjoys their friends being flickered. Add Tamiyo for some extra control, and end-of-turn Rites, and you've got an engine to blink everything you have as much as you want. On a side note, I've discovered that you need to make sure to have enough mana to blink Deadeye at least once after you cast him. Otherwise, he's the opponent's target, so you have to protect him. And Craterhoof Behemoth just loves him!

Deadeye Navigator
Craterhoof Behemoth

Flicker Fun

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Flicker-heavy decks were quite popular. Robbi Ramirez sent in a powerful-looking one. Robbi wrote:

The plan here is obvious: ramp into Deadeye and Massacre Wurm until you can use the combo to take down your opponent's board, then your opponent.

Primeval Titan provides both ramp and an ETB ability. The other Titans provide more of the latter in a pinch. Blood Artist supplements Massacre Wurm's ability and also triggers when your Viridian Emissarys pop. Sword of Feast and Famine is a good backup plan with the smaller creatures, especially Birds, and also untaps your land to supplement the expensive Plan A.

Primeval Titan
Massacre Wurm

Deadeye Massacre

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Reader Mahdi Fozi realized that, when paired with creatures like Glimmerpoint Stag or Flickerwisp, he could amp up the flickering even more. Then he brought the silly trinket that is Sundial of the Infinite into the equation. He wrote:

Basic idea is to pair the Navigator with the Flickerwisp or Glimmerpoint Stag, activate the newly gained ability as many times as possible before ending the turn with Sundial of the Infinite, leaving all creatures waiting to return in exile... forever.

Sundial of the Infinite

Deadeye Dial

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AzureShade sent me a fun deck that takes an infinite turn, using Dire Undercurrents, of all cards, as the win condition. Azure wrote:

The plan is to get Deadeye out and paired up with Cloud of Faeries as soon as you have Dire Undercurrents in play. Until then you can team him up with Coiling Oracle or Mystic Snake to help get you cards and get an uncounterable counterspell for ! Silence and Mana Short are there to make your opponents rather helpless as you make them draw up their whole decks. Simic Growth Chamber is in the deck because it's fun to pair Cloud of Faeries with lands that tap for more than one mana.

Dire Cloud

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Will Cooper sent in a wonderfully zany decklist that showcases the infinite potential with Morselhoarder. As he wrote:

The first thing I thought of was to pair Deadeye Navigator with Morselhoarder—remove the two counters from the Morselhoarder to pay the cost of the flicker ability, then when it comes back you can re-pair it with the Navigator and repeat ad nauseam. Smokebraider can do the same thing, if you have a way to give it haste every time it comes back; I ended up choosing Urabrask the Hidden, Ashling's Prerogative (since most of my important creatures ended up having even-numbered converted mana cost), and Yet Another Æther Vortex. Unfortunately, creatures that appear on top of your library with the Vortex don't trigger enters-the-battlefield abilities (see the Unhinged FAQTIWDAWCC) but they can still pair with things that enter the battlefield in the normal way.

Champion of Lambholt | Art by Christopher Moeller

So what to do with all this flickering? Ceaseless Searblades and Champion of Lambholt will get pumped up to ridiculous sizes (the latter becoming unblockable in the process), or you can just kill things with Warstorm Surge.

Champion of Lambholt

How to find what we want?

Flamekin Harbinger is good with all the Elementals in the deck.

Wild Pair is surprisingly versatile here: Deadeye Navigator will find Morselhoarder; while Morselhoarder can find Navigator, Searblades, or Urabrask (remove an appropriate number of -1/-1 counters in response to the Wild Pair trigger); and Champion of Lambholt, Flamekin Harbinger, and Smokebraider can all find each other.

"Ach! Hans, Run!" is a fun way to get whatever we need—and Deadeye Navigator lets us keep it past the end of the turn.

We have a whole lot of cards with converted mana cost 6, so Ethereal Usher seems good, and it can also help us connect with Ceaseless Searblades if necessary.

Cream of the Crop is useful once we start getting our more expensive creatures, especially if we also have Yet Another Æther Vortex in play.

I think the deck wants a little more mana acceleration; Arbor Elf is cheap, we can use it to find a few things via Wild Pair, and it can produce various colors of mana if we pair it with the Ravnica dual lands.

Ethereal Usher
Arbor Elf


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Finally, Michael Jeffry ends our day with a lovely red and blue combo deck, featuring Priest of Urabrask as the key piece. He wrote:

The required card was Deadeye Navigator with it's delicious blinking ability, so the key was to find a way to make by blinking a creature. Priest of Urabrask, a modern version of Priest of Gix, makes upon entering the battlefield, but we need a way to make to go infinite. Gemstone Array can easily fix the color issues for us while allowing us to save up for our pricey Deadeye Navigator.

Priest of Urabrask
Gemstone Array

So how the combo works: We have Deadeye Navigator on the field then cast Priest of Urabrask to add to the mana pool and pair it with the Navigator. Spend to put one counter on Gemstone Array, remove the counter to add one and spend the to blink the Priest of Urabrask, and, viola! We're back with to do it all over again.

Then all we have to do is combine this engine with some enter-the-battlefield trigger and go for infinite damage. Pandemonium is an old classic but I think the new Vigilante Justice would be more fun, with Kruin Striker as a backup win condition. Emrakul's Hatcher can stand in for Priest of Urabrask if you have Pandemonium or Kruin Striker, as well generating a ton of blocking bodies to stall until you get the combo

Draining Whelk is a good Plan B, allowing you to counter any spell your opponent plays for . Mist Raven, Man-o'-War, and Æther Adept can all bounce creatures for as well as serve as blockers, but I think Æther Adept would go best with Vigilante Justice around. Ghitu Slinger is a flickerable burn creature and fits well with the Human theme we got going on. Ghostly Flicker is a shoo-in with all the enter-the-battlefield triggers we have. Elgaud Shieldmate is a fun singleton that can help protect your Deadeye Navigator until Priest of Urabrask shows up or just throw a monkey wrench into the plans of a deck with lots of spot removal. Ponder and Preordain do a good job of greasing the wheels of any combo deck and allows us to cheat on our mana.

Mist Raven
Ghostly Flicker

Well that's a wrap! Until next time!

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