Enchanting Worlds

Posted in From the Lab on December 1, 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, laboratorians! It's time for Worlds Week, and I cooked up a pair of sweet decks to share with you. Although, to be honest, this theme week seems a bit weird to me. After all, the "world" supertype hasn't been used since Visions in 1997. In fact, only 26 world enchantments have ever been printed. However, I'm not one to be daunted by such restrictions, so I dug through the pile and came up with some interesting options.

The Dead Lands

The first world enchantment that caught my eye was Living Plane. This card turns every land on the battlefield into a 1/1 creature. Of course, this has its pros and its cons. Lands can now attack and block, but they can also be killed far more easily. Living Plane also has a slightly more recent successor in Nature's Revolt, which makes the lands 2/2 creatures instead.

There are a few ways to take advantage of your lands being creatures, but it seemed far easier to punish your opponent instead for the same. I came up with a few different solutions, but my favorite by far is Massacre Wurm. It wipes out all your opponent's lands and takes away a big chunk of his or her life in the process. Once that's done, you're left with a 6/5 and an army of land creatures. That should be more than enough to end the game.

If you don't draw a Massacre Wurm, Marsh Casualties will get the job done. You don't get a 6/5 or a piece of your opponent's life, but it still kills the creature lands while leaving yours alone. It can also be cast for just two mana if you're using Living Plane rather than Nature's Revolt. I've also included Read the Bones to help you find both a way to animate the lands and a way to kill them.

Rampant Growth and Farseek let you cast your four- and five-mana spells sooner. Unlike other options, such as Fertile Ground, they also give you an extra land creature afterward. If you need more time, Hero's Downfall and Go for the Throat can help eliminate the biggest threat your opponent casts. They can also help clean up after you've wiped out your opponent's smaller creatures with Massacre Wurm. Bramblecrush can be used to deal with any noncreature permanents that might mess with your plan.

Dead Plane

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Fill My Eyes with That Tunnel Vision

Tombstone Stairwell is a card I've used before, but I don't think I've ever made a deck primarily built around the card. That changes today. Every upkeep, it gives each player an army of hasty Zombie tokens that die at end of turn. While the effect is ostensibly symmetrical, it's not difficult to break that symmetry by stuffing your graveyard full of creature cards.

There are plenty of ways to get your entire library into your graveyard in Magic. I should know, I've used quite a few of them in this column. One card I haven't really taken advantage of is Tunnel Vision. This card is part library-searcher and part graveyard-filler, and this deck uses both. The most obvious use is to name Tombstone Stairwell. Since I've only included two copies in the deck, you should ideally be able to put quite a few creatures in your graveyard before putting the Stairwell on top of your library.

However, we can go even further. Instead, you can search for Tombstone Stairwell with another card. Diabolic Tutor, Demonic Collusion, and Increasing Ambition are all good options. That frees up Tunnel Vision to go all-out on milling creatures.

Here's the plan. Using a card like Augury Owl, Cryptic Annelid, Omenspeaker, Sigiled Starfish, or Unblinking Bleb, you put a creature card on the bottom of your library. Then you cast Tunnel Vision naming that card. I've only included one copy of each creature in the deck, so you'll dump your entire library into the graveyard before putting that card on top. That will give you nearly 20 creatures in the graveyard, twice as many as you'd need to present lethal damage with Tombstone Stairwell.

Just in case you need more than one turn to end the game, Darksteel Colossus, Blightsteel Colossus, and Progenitus will shuffle themselves back into your library to give you more time before you draw from an empty library and lose. Since all three use replacement effects instead of triggered abilities to shuffle themselves back in, you'll do so in the middle of resolving Tunnel Vision, before you put the card on top of your library. This prevents them from interfering if you're using Tunnel Vision to get Tombstone Stairwell.

With Tunnel Vision at six mana, this deck isn't exactly fast. Therefore, I chose a wide array of controlling creatures to slow your opponent down while you get things set up. Any blue control deck should have a few counterspells, but in this deck they all have to be creatures. Fortunately, Magic's long history gives us a few options.

Daring Apprentice is the simplest card of the bunch. It's the same cost as Cancel for the same effect, but you pay it in advance instead of leaving your mana unused. This gives your opponent time to interfere but, if it doesn't die right off the bat, it's sure to counter something.

Spiketail Drakeling isn't a hard counter like Daring Apprentice, but it can be activated as soon as it hits the battlefield. Your opponent can't kill it without at least paying an extra two mana for the spell. Wizard Replica is similar, although it does require one blue mana to activate.

Voidmage Apprentice and Voidmage Prodigy both have morph, and both can counter spells. They'll usually do so just once, but Voidmage Prodigy can sacrifice any other Wizard you control, including the Apprentice, to get an extra counterspell before it sacrifices itself.

Ertai, Wizard Adept doesn't have the surprise factor of Voidmage Apprentice or the mana efficiency of Daring Apprentice, but what it does have is the ability to counter a spell every turn as long as it survives. Meanwhile, Draining Whelk comes in at the top-end as an instant-speed creature counterspell that leaves you with a big, flying threat.

Of course, blue isn't the only color in the deck. Black makes a prominent appearance as well, and that usually means removal. Black has a long history of creatures that kill other creatures, so there were plenty to choose from when building this deck.

Shriekmaw was an obvious choice. It can be cast for its evoke cost to kill a creature for just two mana. Afterward it goes to the graveyard, which is where you wanted it anyway. Bone Shredder is similar, giving you the option to sacrifice it on your next upkeep rather than pay the echo cost. Nekrataal is a classic choice. Although it does cost a bit more mana, it also leaves you with a small creature to block with, buying you even more time.

Unfortunately, none of these cards can destroy black or artifact creatures, so I've included two other options to take care of those. Big Game Hunter can deal with anything that presents a serious enough threat to your life total, while Shadowborn Demon's only restriction is that it doesn't kill other Demons.

Cards that force your opponent to sacrifice a creature can be used to get rid of hexproof or indestructible threats, or simply reduce the amount of damage on the battlefield. Fleshbag Marauder and Slum Reaper are the simplest, forcing each player to sacrifice something. They can sacrifice themselves, or any other creature you don't need anymore.

Abyssal Gatekeeper has a similar effect, but only when it dies. You can easily trigger it by blocking or by sacrificing it to the ability of one of the other creatures. Anowon, the Ruin Sage is a great option, forcing your opponent to sacrifice a creature on each of your upkeeps. Anowon can't sacrifice himself, and you don't have many creatures you really need to keep around. That means Anowon will do little to hurt you while making life very difficult for any creature-based deck you face.

Tombstone Tunnel

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I Can Almost Taste It

Over the last two weeks I've asked you all to send in decks built around your favorite movie or TV show. It's been a while since I did a flavor challenge, and it's been really cool to see your interpretations of characters I know, as well as those I had never heard of before. Next week I'll be sharing a few of my favorites with you all, so tune in then to check out what your fellow readers came up with. See ya!

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