Exploiting Exploit

Posted in From the Lab on April 20, 2015

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 Exploit Week, and that means it's time to take a look at the ruthless tactics of Silumgar's brood. Sacrificing helpless creatures just for a bit of value may seem cruel, but nothing is off the table when blue and black are involved. Besides it not my job to judge, I just have to find a way to crank the mechanic up to 11. To exploit exploit, if you will.

Silumgar's Command | Art by Nils Hamm

Oh, Say Can you Sidisi

The headliner of the exploit crew is Sidisi, Undead Vizier. For the low cost of a single creature you can search for any card in your library. This seemed like a good place to start. My first idea was to use something like Cloudshift. When you exploit a creature with Sidisi, you can search your library for Cloudshift. That lets you flicker Sidisi, exploit another creature, and search for another copy of Cloudshift.

I liked the idea of flickering exploit creatures, but searching up copy after copy of Cloudshift doesn't actually get you anywhere. So, what if we searched for something else? Isochron Scepter seems like a good choice. Imprint Cloudshift, and you can flicker Sidisi every turn, searching your library each time.

Of course, to make this all work, you'll need a creature to sacrifice each time. Fortunately, we have some great solutions to that problem. Genesis Chamber is the best of them, giving you a free creature to sacrifice every time one of your exploit creatures enters the battlefield. Add in the fact that it only costs two mana to cast, and it seems like an ideal card for any exploit deck.

After that, I pulled up the Gatherer for a bit of research, looking for other cards to help me take advantage of exploit. One in particular that stood out was Dual Nature. It gives you a copy of your exploit creature when it enters the battlefield. That copy then triggers its own ability and can exploit itself. With Genesis Chamber to fuel the original, you can get two triggers every time you flicker a creature.

Now that the exploit part is taken care of, the deck needs a way to actually win the game. Sticking with the theme, I turned to Rakshasa Gravecaller. Getting Zombie tokens in pairs can build you an army pretty quickly, and turning every Cloudshift into 4 power seems pretty good. I also added in a third exploit creature, Silumgar Butcher. It allows you to deal with any problematic creatures your opponent might have, and this deck makes it easy to double up on the -3/-3 ability, letting you take down larger threats.

Finally, I wanted plenty of backup for Cloudshift. Momentary Blink has the advantage of flashback, allowing you a second use of the effect if you have a source of blue mana. Otherworldly Journey gives the creature a +1/+1 counter, at least until you flicker it again. Finally, Turn to Mist is just a basic, no-frills version of the effect to fill out the last couple slots.

Momentary Sacrifice

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Blue Guy Crew

Since the last deck was built around black's exploit offerings, I decided to take a look at what blue has to offer. The rare here is Profaner of the Dead. While its effect is certainly powerful in the right circumstances, it's rather difficult to make unfair, since it relies on sacrificing a high-toughness creature.

For what I'm trying to do, the other blue exploit cards seemed more promising. At first, I thought about putting together some sort of infinite combo with Sidisi's Faithful…but then I had another idea. Sidisi's Faithful, Silumgar Sorcerer, and Gurmag Drowner have a few things in common. Other than the obvious exploit connection, they all sport effects that would be desirable in a control deck. Well, the Unsummon might be a stretch, but bear with me.

Returning a creature to your opponent's hand is only a temporary stopgap, one you're not likely to see in many control decks. But what if you could do it every turn? Put Sidisi's Faithful on a Mimic Vat and suddenly it's less of an Unsummon and more of a Temporal Adept, with the additional upside of being immune to most removal spells.

In fact, Mimic Vat works quite well with any of the exploit creatures. Profaner of the Dead will keep anything with 3 toughness or less off the battlefield, Silumgar Sorcerer will make it difficult for your opponent to resolve new creatures, and Gurmag Drowner allows you to dig through your library at an alarming rate.

Coiling Oracle works with both halves of the plan. It's an easy creature to sacrifice to exploit, and it can also do good work when put on a Mimic Vat. Mystic Snake is even more impressive, allowing you to counter a spell every turn. In fact, that effect is so powerful I'll include Draining Whelk as well. Not only does it counter a spell, it gives you a big creature with flying to help you kill your opponent. If it dies, you can just put it on Mimic Vat and counter nearly everything your opponent casts.

Just in case your pile of counterspells and Unsummon effects isn't quite getting the job done, I'll also throw in a single copy of Phyrexian Ingester. It costs quite a bit of mana, but it permanently exiles any creature, giving you an even larger threat of your own in the process. Put this on Mimic Vat and your opponent might be forced to live with an empty battlefield from now on.

I didn't want to rely on just Mimic Vat to get extra value out of these creature, so I decided to add in a second option. Cloudstone Curio allows you to use creatures you cast or create with Mimic Vat to return other creatures to your hand. Since every creature in the deck has an effect when it enters the battlefield, the Curio effectively gives you free cards by allowing you to use those abilities over and over again.

In order to make sure your Exploit creatures have something to sacrifice if necessary, I tossed in a play set of Genesis Chamber once again. I also included Khalni Garden to provide you with a Plant token at no charge. Genesis Chamber shouldn't be too hard to find with Gurmag Drowner on your side, and if you're going the Mimic Vat route, you don't even need it. The exploit creatures can sacrifice themselves, since they'll be exiled at the end of the turn anyway. If you have something else on Mimic Vat, such as Coiling Oracle, you can sacrifice the token to any exploit cards you have in your hand.

Exploitation Vat

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Will UB Back?

I'm afraid that's the end of today's lesson in necessary sacrifices, but I'll be back next week with another amazing article. In fact, next week's theme is something I'm not sure I've ever written about before in this column. I'm not sure where this road will end up taking me, but it's sure to be an adventure for both of us. See ya!

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