"I have an exciting new card to reveal for you! Golgari players are going to be so excit..."
"...ted to see it. The enchantment costs..."
"...six mana but with..."
Okay, okay, cut out your chanting and I'll give you Deadbridge Chant!>> Click to Show
All right, so you've seen the card. Yes! Imagine the possibilities! You could stack some part of your library to ensure you get cards that you really want! You can sacrifice a creature and get it back every turn! You can get off-color creatures easily into play! If someone destroys the Deadbridge Chant, get it back in your hand with a second Deadbridge Chant! Think about how insane it would be to have two Deadbridge Chants out at the same time! Adding two cards every upkeep?
Let that initial wave of excitement pass over you, and step away from the Magical Christmasland. Let's look at how best to use it.
Option One: Do Nothing
By do nothing, I mean you are just going to add it to your black and green deck and see what happens. You could just let it ride. Toss your ten cards in the graveyard on top of the others that are already there and just play the random game. Sometimes you randomly choose a land, sometimes you luck out and get Kokusho, the Evening Star.
This is a better option than you might initially think. Consider the threat density in your graveyard. Let's assume you don't have anything in your graveyard when you first cast Deadbridge Chant. The ten cards you end up putting into the grumper are, for example: three lands, two ramp cards, a recursion spell, a mana creature, and three vicious creatures. There is a thirty percent chance you'll hit a creature no one else wants you to get. Over the next five turns, Deadbridge Chant lets you randomly pick two lands, a ramp card, the mana creature, and one of the vicious creatures you wanted. In the meantime, your opponents have killed two other vicious creatures, leaving you with one land, one ramp card, a recursion spell, and four vicious creatures in the graveyard. The odds of you drawing a vicious creature went from thirty percent to fifty-seven percent! As the game progresses, you will continue to randomly get some lame cards you don't want, but the odds will continue to decrease, since those cards will not be the ones your opponents are trying to kill. Over the long game, this card will simply get worse and worse for your opponents, as the odds of getting nasty creatures your opponents will hate gets better and better.
Of course, you could instead opt to play a Primordial or Titan and see immediate dividends. That is certainly alluring, but if you are already set up to take advantage of the long game, Deadbridge Chant can give you that Primordial again and again.
Or you could also be setting things up for...
This will be the most common use for the card. Deadbridge Chant both puts cards in your graveyard and gets them either into your hand or directly to the battlefield. Most recursion decks require two cards to do this, so Deadbridge Chant offers a nice little package.
Don't let the mana cost give you pause. While you are not going to get to play this on the first or second turn (unless your group uses some truly degenerate cards), you are running two colors that will give you plenty of fast mana. Between a variety of rituals and land-searching effects, I'm confident you'll get to six mana far faster than any of your opponents want you to.
Recursion decks will also get around the randomness of the second half of the card. You can use Unburial Rites or Animate Dead to get the creature you really want now, and treat the randomly chosen card as a wonderful bonus.
An ideal option for recursion decks running Deadbridge Chant would be Living Death. Drop the Chant, adding ten more cards to your graveyard. A Living Death soon after puts all of the creatures the Chant dumped in your graveyard onto the battlefield. After that, Deadbridge Chant will give you one of the cards you had in play beforehand every turn! As I described above, the longer you wait, the greater the threat density in your graveyard. This will make Living Death even more nasty.
Limit Your Graveyard
While I like randomness in my Magic games (there is a reason I like Planechase games and the wild random swings in those games), eliminating the randomness in Deadbridge Chant would make the card so much better.
One way to do that is to construct your deck so you only get cards you really want in your graveyard. The difficult part of doing this is that at different times in the game, you'll want different spells in your graveyard. Early on in the game, you'll want ways to cast the expensive spells in your hand. There are times when you'll want removal spells, mass removal, counters, creatures, etc. Building your deck to only get the cards you want in your graveyard almost involves stacking your deck! Another option is to use cards that limit what ends up in your graveyard. Enduring Renewal can keep creatures out of your graveyard if you are hoping to create a regular loop with a noncreature spell.
A second way is to exile the cards in your graveyard that you don't want back on the battlefield or in your hand. Graveyard Shovel does the job, and nets you 2 life, while Relic of Progenitus will do it for the low, low cost of simply tapping the artifact. However, why not stay in Golgari colors and use Deathrite Shaman? The Shaman speeds up your mana and removes the cards you don't want, all while punishing your opponents! The nice part of exiling cards is that you don't really need to get down to just one card in your graveyard. Being forced to randomly choose between a Sylvan Primordial, Primeval Titan, or Griselbrand doesn't feel so "random."
How To Fight It
So you have a variety of ways to use Deadbridge Chant, but how do you stop it? You just know someone is going to set up a loop where a creature is going to be entering the battlefield on every one of his or her upkeeps, making your life miserable. What to do?
So many players are running Bojuka Bog in their decks, since so many decks are using some kind of graveyard recursion. When your opponent plays Deadbridge Chant, do you react by using your Bog or other graveyard-emptying card? It seems like a solid plan. All of those answers and threats in your opponent's graveyard that were ready to come into play are now gone. Your opponent's upkeep will come up, and Deadbridge Chant will do nothing!
If someone played Deadbridge Chant, he or she is probably running some sort of graveyard recursion. Do you really think that graveyard is going to stay empty? Isn't it more likely that you just took the randomness of Deadbridge Chant and removed it? At the end of your turn the Deadbridge Chant's controller destroys his or her own Sylvan Primordial, or Entombs a Sylvan Primordial from his or her library. On that player's upkeep it comes right into play, destroying a swath of cards with it, and another pile of land.
Perhaps a better option would be to not remove the graveyard, but fill it with chaff. While cards like a Primordial could still get picked at random, most decks are between thirty and forty percent land. The likelihood of another land or an expensive artifact or enchantment going to the player's hand is increased, reducing the effectiveness of the Chant. This is hardly an ideal plan, but probably a better solution than the short-term solution of exiling everything.
Other solutions will be based on what you are playing. White and green players are likely looking at packing enchantment removal. While it isn't exciting or innovative, Acidic Slime is a spectacular utility creature and this is another card that can be Slimed. The problem is that this doesn't stop the graveyard from filling. You are going to have to hope that the Golgari player doesn't happen to have a way to recur the cards he or she is looking for to keep things moving.
Blue players will have counters to stuff Deadbridge Chant, but I would be tempted to bounce it instead. Make the Golgari player cast the card a second time. Not only will Deadbridge Chant end up costing him or her twelve mana, and two turns, but it will also involve dumping twenty cards into the graveyard. That may not seem like much to Commander players, but for those of us playing sixty-card decks, dumping twenty cards really puts you in the danger zone for library size. I like the idea of making the Golgari player worry about a possible milling deck or other dangers.
Deadbridge Chant | Art by Zoltan Boros
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Deadbridge Chant continues the Golgari reduce, reuse, recycle theme. Something seen in many successful multiplayer decks is the ability to reuse cards. As games go longer, the ability to get repeated uses from the same cards provides an incremental advantage. Deadbridge Chant may not bring an immediate massive change to the games it is involved in, but it does provide an incremental advantage in a difficult-to-remove permanent that will help you win the long game.