Rolling the Dice

Posted in From the Lab on April 13, 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.

Hi, folks! It's time for another edition of From the Lab, and this week I'm doing something special. You see, it's Choose Two Week here at Daily MTG, in honor of the new cycle of Commands in Dragons of Tarkir. However, I've been given free reign to pretty much do whatever I want with this theme, which means I'll be taking it in a very different direction. Back in 2013, I wrote an article where I used the random button on the Gatherer to select cards, then built a deck around each one. After the article was published I received quite a few requests to do another article with that idea, but I never quite got around to it. Well today, that changes.

Of course, picking a card at random doesn't really fit in with this week's theme, so this time I'm doubling down on the chaos and letting the Gatherer choose two cards at random. Once my tools have been chosen, I'll have to build a deck that uses both of them to win the game.

Chance Encounter | Art by Mark Brill

Death and Life and Death

Alright, time to make that random number generator generate a random number. And the winner is…

Huh. Not exactly what I was hoping for. A nine-mana sorcery that in no way kills your opponent is not exactly an auspicious start to a Johnny deck. Well, I'm sure I'll figure out something. Maybe the other card will help. Time to roll the dice again.

This card is certainly a far better Johnny tool that the previous one. The only problem is that I have to use both of them together. The most obvious route is finding a way to turn destroying creatures into mana and life. Fortunately the latter isn't very difficult. Blood Artist was the first solution I thought of, and a quick Gatherer search led me to Deathgreeter. With one of them on the battlefield, every creature that dies to In Garruk's Wake will trigger Searing Meditation. If your opponent has ten creatures at the time, you could potentially win the game with those triggers alone. Blood Artist can make it work with just seven.

The only problem is getting enough mana to pay for that damage. Each trigger requires two colorless mana, which adds up to a grand total of twenty if you want to kill your opponent outright. So, you'll need something that produces two mana each time a creature dies. That card doesn't exist of course, but you can assemble an equivalent yourself. The first piece is Thornbite Staff, which will untap the creature it's attached to every time a creature bites the dust. Then you just need any creature that can tap for two mana. Since the deck isn't playing green, Palladium Myr seems like a good choice.

The deck had a lot of pieces to put together, but Demonic Collusion can help with that. By getting rid of extra copies of combo pieces or cards you don't need, you can use buyback to search your library a second time. Another problem is that In Garruk's Wake costs a whopping nine mana. Palladium Myr can help with that, but I added in a play set of Worn Powerstone as well.

Since you can't always rely on your opponent to fill the battlefield with creatures, I added a special surprise to the deck's mana base. Forbidden Orchard can give away a free creature every turn, and this is one offer your opponent can't refuse. That should make it easy to get enough Blood Artist triggers to win the game. In the meantime, Darkness can help you survive an extra turn if your opponent really starts going on the offensive. It doesn't buy a ton of time, but it might be enough to get you to the finish line.

Searing Wake

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Cards and Discards

Whew. There's one deck out of the way, but this article's not done yet. It's time to dive back in a second time and see what the random button digs up.

Well, this should be interesting. Neither of these are particularly stellar combo pieces, although Drain Life does make for a good win condition if you produce a ton of black mana. Let's start there.

There are a couple different ways I could go here. I could use Thought Courier to fill the graveyard, then turn that into black mana with something like Crypt of Agadeem. However, that route doesn't lend itself particularly well to untapping Thought Courier, which means you'd probably have to spend several turns tapping and untapping it with Freed from the Real.

The other way would be to focus on the drawing part of Thought Courier. Now, this may seem like a dead end at first—because Thought Courier doesn't actually draw cards, at least not in the filling-your-hand sort of way. However, the pieces seemed to come together quite readily when I started exploring in this direction.

Thought Courier normally doesn't leave you with any more cards in your hand than you started with, but there's an easy way to fix that. Thought Reflection turns every one card drawn into two. With it on the battlefield, activating the Courier lets you draw two cards and discard one. With two copies of Thought Reflection on the battlefield, you can draw four cards each time you use Thought Courier's ability.

Why do you need to draw four cards? Well, using Thought Courier just once each turn isn't quite good enough. With Mind Over Matter on the battlefield, you can draw the four cards, discard one, then discard a second to untap the Courier and do it all over again, netting two cards each time. You can draw your entire deck immediately.

Turning all those cards into an infinitely large Drain Life was the easy part. For that, all I had to do was bring back Drain Life's old partner in crime: Cadaverous Bloom. With most of your deck in your hand, you can produce all the black mana you'll ever need.

This combo is incredibly difficult to put together, requiring several different cards and loads of mana. So…I cheated. I turned to a truly broken old card in order to turn this monstrosity into some semblance of a deck.

When it comes to producing mana, it doesn't get much better than Tolarian Academy. All you need is a decent-sized pile of artifacts to work with, and you can have enough mana to do almost anything. It gets even better with Mind Over Matter, which allows you to turn any card in your hand into a fresh boost of mana from the Academy.

For the artifacts, I started with an array of Signets to further the deck's mana production. I wanted most of the lands in the deck to be blue, so the artifacts get the job of casting Cadaverous Bloom when the time comes. Full play sets of Dimir Signet, Golgari Signet, and Simic Signet make sure you'll have the colors you need, while also providing a quick and easy way to get Tolarian Academy running. I also added Seat of the Synod and Darksteel Citadel to up the artifact count.

With all that mana, Mystic Speculation makes it easy to dig through your library for the cards you need. Once you find them, activating Tower of Fortunes puts them all right into your hand. It also gives you a sweet card-drawing combo when combined with Tolarian Academy and Mind Over Matter. Since the Academy is so crucial to making the deck operational, I also threw in Tolaria West to search for it.

Life Courier

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Snake Eyes

Well, this chaotic adventure has finally reached its end. However, this is not the end for me, as I'll be back next week with a plan to sacrifice creatures for fun and profit. If you liked this article, hated it, want to see more or never want to see it again, let me know via email at, or contact me on Twitter through @MTGCannon. See ya!

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