Now Open: The Butcher Shop

Posted in Reconstructed on September 9, 2014

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

Whenever we get to a multicolored world, there's certainly one thing you can expect: a bunch of cards that are pushed as far as possible with raw power.

Sure, there's plenty of synergy to be found as well—and with a mechanic for each clan of Tarkir, a lot of that will be brought out. The Sultai like to put cards into graveyards. The Abzan like loading up on +1/+1 counters. The Temur have some cheap ways to deploy 4-power creatures. But, while synergy will no doubt be prominent, at the end of the day the easiest way to die is to just fall prey to your opponent's curve of Call of the Conclave into Loxodon Smiter into Advent of the Wurm, because you weren't prepared for 12 power on turn four.

But those cards are gone from Standard. It's time for some new cards with crazy stats to take center stage.

Art by Karl Kopinski

The Mardu just like to kill things. Preferably your opponent. Fast. Today's card helps you get there.

When you see its mana cost and stats, you're going to look straight to the text box expecting a drawback. Well, I've got some good news: that rules text is all upside.

Let's take a look, shall we?

This card is a total game changer. It hits your opponent over the head and won't easily let go. Who needs subtlety when your opponent is dead?

Let's take a look at two different decks you might use the Butcher in.

Butchering Your Opponent's Life Total

Who needs frills when you can have kills? The Demon certainly fits well at the top of the curve of an aggressive deck, being the piece that strikes in and finishes off your opponent. Let's take a glance at what that might look like:

Gavin Verhey's Demon's Run

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This red-black deck splashing white deck is quick, brutal, and doesn't mess around: its goal is to kill your opponent, and quickly.

Curving a one-drop into a War-Name Aspirant or Mardu Skullhunter quickly gets the damage underway. Even if your opponent has a Courser of Kruphix, you have some ways around that: Frenzied Goblin helps punch right through, and Mardu Charm can pick it right off.

Oh, and, of course, Butcher of the Horde.

Get in some points of damage for the first few turns but then run afoul of a blocker? Well, Butcher forces your opponent to have an answer—and quickly. A 5-damage clock in the air each turn is difficult to defend against!

You'll notice some of the token makers here, like Goblin Rabblemaster and Mardu Charm. In addition to being fine cards on their own, the tokens they can make work great alongside the Butcher. Casting a turn-three Rabblemaster into a turn-four Butcher makes for a pretty nice board state, as you create a steady stream of tokens you can throw into the maw of the Butcher. If I was heavier white, I would certainly have a card like Brimaz, King of Oreskos to help push up the token generation even further.

And speaking of Brimaz, this is what a Butcher looks like when it's pushed to be as aggressive as it can—but it's far from the only interpretation. Let's take a look at another way you can slice this card to your advantage.

Butchering the Midgame

With both Sarkhan and Stormbreath Dragon in Standard, you have some pretty solid evasive five-drops that crunch into the red zone—and Butcher compliments those nicely by coming down the turn before all of that kicks off.

While going pure aggressive is certainly one way to build this strategy, there's a more midrange take on Butcher that's definitely worth looking at:

Gavin Verhey's Eager Cleaver

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This deck is all about powerful individual threats supported by disruption. There are so many different kinds of angles this deck can attack from!

Want to curve Butcher of the Horde into Sarkhan and start slamming for 9 points of damage in the air? Go ahead.

Have a draw that uses Anger of the Gods to clear away creatures while you knock through with Brimaz and get some card advantage off of Chandra? That's totally fine too.

You can even disrupt your opponent's hand with Thoughtseize and Mardu Charm to help ensure you'll have the last threat standing.

No matter which route you take, your slew of individually strong cards will force your opponent to deal with huge threat after huge threat. And if you're the last one standing with action, well, your opponent is probably going to be in a rough spot.

Cutting Myself Off

Despite what the card does being fairly straightforward, there are plenty of different ways to try out the Butcher. While I used tokens as a subtheme in my decks, there are heavier tokens decks you could try and make work as well. Experiment around—there's plenty to try in this new Standard format.

No matter what angle you take, I can assure you this: your opponent is not going to be happy to see Butcher of the Horde from across the table. It's going to be a card that ends plenty of games this season. May you be on the casting end much more often than the receiving end.

Now that I've shown that off, it's time to look ahead to two weeks from now and the new Standard format! Any cards from Khans have you itching to build with them? Let's see what you have!

Format: Khans of Tarkir Standard
Restrictions: None!
Deadline: September 16, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time

Submit all decklists by emailing me at

Decklists should be submitted with YOURNAME's DECKNAME at the top. Underneath should be one card per line, with just a leading number. For example:

12 Mountain
4 Firedrinker Satyr
3 Ash Zealot
4 Lightning Bolt

...and so on. Please don't use anything but a space to separate the card numbers and names—don't write "4x Lightning Bolt," for example. Well-formatted decklists have a much better chance of being read and making it into the column. Poorly formatted decklists are more likely to be ignored. (If I can't read your decklist, I certainly can't talk about it!)

Also, take note that, for this week, please send your decks to There is currently a bug that is causing difficulty with me seeing your decklists sent to my Wizards address.

Feel free to wait until next week when the entire Card Image Gallery is up as well—the deadline isn't for a week, so you have some time to wait and see the entire picture. Of course, if you already have something exciting you've put together, feel free to send it right in!

If you have any thoughts or questions on this article (or the preview card!) I'd love to hear them. Feel free to send me a tweet or ask me a question on my Tumblr and I'll be sure to read it! It's always great to know what you think.

Starting next week, ReConstructed Khans of Tarkir deck building will officially begin! I'm excited to dive into this world and talk about which new decks you should be ready for at a tournament near you. But until then, enjoy the rest of preview season.

Talk with you again next week!




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