Your Number's Up

Posted in From the Lab on October 7, 2013

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.

Greetings, laboratorians! Several weeks ago, I challenged you all to come up with decks built around cards with the same collector number. This was by far the toughest contest I've done, but Johnnies are nothing if not creative, and I still received a plethora of entries. Cutting it down to just a few decks to highlight was difficult, but in the end, it was these six that truly piqued my interest.

Truly Titanic

Our first deck comes from Silas Waltzer, who chose the numbers 72 and 146 for his entry. He uses Mad Prophet and Rummaging Goblin to discard large creatures like Sundering Titan; Inferno Titan; and Keiga, the Tide Star, then reanimates them with Recurring Nightmare and Stitch Together. Additionally, each of these creatures has an ability that triggers either when it enters the battlefield or when it dies, making it even more profitable to repeatedly sacrifice and bring back creatures with Recurring Nightmare.

Mad Prophet
Recurring Nightmare

Necrotic Ooze can function as a Mad Prophet or Rummaging Goblin if one dies, and Blast from the Past and Feast or Famine can be used either as removal or to create a token to sacrifice. Wild Research can be used to search up either one of the dual-purpose removal spells or Recurring Nightmare.

Finally, Reap the Seagraf can make a token for you to sacrifice even after being discarded, and Last Rites can disrupt your opponent while allowing you to discard your reanimation targets.

Necrotic Ooze
Reap the Seagraf

Gotta Draw Cards

Jens Mueller decided to use just one number, building a mono-blue deck around the number 42. His list is built around activating Archmage Ascension thanks to a bevy of card-drawing opportunities. Kami of the Crescent Moon will guarantee a quest counter on each of your turns, and with Inspiration you can get one on your opponent's turn as well.

Archmage Ascension
Kami of the Crescent Moon

Alchemist's Apprentice and Runed Servitor can block to preserve your life total and draw you a card at the same time. Combine two copies in any combination to put a counter on the Ascension.

Pact of Negation and Erratic Mutation can be used to get rid of problem cards, and Knacksaw Clique can attack, use its ability to give you another card to play, and then be available to block with on your opponent's turn.

Runed Servitor
Knacksaw Clique

The deck rounds off with a number of singleton win conditions which can be searched up once Archmage Ascension is online.

Getting Aggressive

Brian Froehlich sent in a straightforward but surprisingly solid white weenie deck using the numbers 23 and 26. This deck caught my eye due to the fact that's it's a list I wouldn't be surprised to see at a local FNM if the cards were all legal in Standard.

A number of solid two-drops, including Knight of the Holy Nimbus, Order of the White Shield, and Longbow Archer, are backed up by token makers Icatian Crier and Spectral Procession. Both groups are made more effective by the addition of Honor of the Pure; Path of Bravery; and Mikaeus, the Lunarch, giving the deck the ability to make its tokens much larger than 1/1. A few Oblivion Rings round out the deck, giving it some versatile removal.

Knight of the Holy Nimbus
Mikaeus, the Lunarch

140 Tokens

The next list I'll be looking at comes from Kendal Reed. He used the number 140 to create a token-centric deck that uses Mycoloth to create an absurd number of Saproling each turn.

Utopia Mycon slowly creates Saprolings and also allows you to sacrifice Saprolings for mana, making it much easier to cast some of the more expensive spells in the deck. Huntmaster of the Fells also creates a token for Mycoloth to devour and is a powerful card in its own right.


Wolf-Skull Shaman will give you an extra Wolf token every once in a while, and Timberwatch Elf and Wurmskin Forger will help trigger it. In addition, Wurmskin Forger can put more +1/+1 counters on Mycoloth, making it produce even more creatures each upkeep.

Thopter Assembly and Worldspine Wurm are more expensive creatures that also create tokens, and Gruul Cluestone can help you cast them more quickly. If Mycoloth is killed, Wildwood Rebirth can return it, allowing you to start flooding the board with Saprolings again.

Wurmskin Forger
Worldspine Wurm

Bouncing Jellies

Cameron Stewart sent in a creative deck built around abusing enters-the-battlefield effects with Sunken Hope, using the numbers 37 and 41. When combined with Man-o'-War or Æther Adept, Sunken Hope can present your opponent with a nearly unstoppable wall of bounce effects. Most decks can't manage playing more than two creatures in one turn, and even if your opponent can do that, you're not only tying up two of his or her creatures but a significant amount of mana as well.

Sunken Hope
Æther Adept

Inner-Flame Acolyte gives you a bit of extra aggression if you need it, giving itself or one of your other creatures +2/+0 and haste each time you cast it. Archaeomancer plays much the opposite role, increasing your grip on the game through card advantage.

Inspired Sprite helps make sure you have the cards you need, and it can be untapped by your repeated casting of Æther Adept or Archaeomancer. Minamo Sightbender also triggers the untap ability and can be used to make a small creature unblockable before Inner-Flame Acolyte boosts its power.

Inspired Sprite

Careful Consideration and Mind Spring make sure your hand is always full of cards, and Convolute can stop your opponent from destroying Sunken Hope or otherwise disrupting your plans. Fireball and Unsummon can help you maintain control of the board, and each works quite well with Archaeomancer, the latter effectively giving you another, albeit more expensive, Æther Adept.

Don't Tread on Me

Our final deck, and my personal favorite, comes from Reggie Sauls, who used 31 and 117 to create a combo deck based on Ink-Treader Nephilim. Ink-Treader is one of my favorite cards, and has a crazy amount of combo potential. In Reggie's deck, one of the main angles of abuse is Dominate. With it, you can easily gain control of every creature on the board at once.

Ink-Treader Nephilim

The other avenue to victory is even more creative. With Donate, you can give Ink-Treader Nephilim to your opponent. Since Donate targets your opponent as well as the Nephilim, the creature's ability won't trigger and force you to give away all your stuff. Once your opponent has Ink-Treader under his or her control, you can target it with Char. The Nephilim will make a copy for every other creature and player, and your opponent will take 2 damage for each of those copies. So long as there are at least six other creatures on the board, your opponent will be taking 20 damage or more.


Cerulean Wisps can be used to draw a huge number of cards for just one mana, and Vanish into Memory can potentially let you sculpt your ideal hand from almost your entire deck, depending on how much power is on the board.

Silkwing Scout can attack for damage, fix your mana, or a little bit of both, making it much easier to cast the four-color Nephilim. Myr Turbine can put more creatures on the board for the Char win, Arcane Denial can stop your opponent from messing with your combo. Finally, Comet Storm can kill a few troublesome creatures or finish off your opponent if the Char combo doesn't quite get there. It can also be used as a board wipe in a pinch by targeting Ink-Treader.

Vanish into Memory
Silkwing Scout

Reggie Sauls's Ink-Treader

Counting Down

I hope all of you enjoyed this contest as much as I did, even if your entry didn't appear here. I was amazed to see the number of people who were eager to create a deck with these restrictions, despite the difficulty involved. Make sure to join me next week when I take a look at my favorite way to play Magic, and until then, may you continue to rise to the challenges placed before you. See ya!

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