When Sneak Attack Works
Five color fun
I’ll start off by saying that this deck would not have gone undefeated had it not had eight pieces of fixing in it. While I was thankful to have the fixing I had, the mana base in this deck was awful. Not running a single basic plains or forest was pretty necessary as I needed to run all the mountains, swamps, and Islands as I could. Five lands could potentially get me white mana and that was usually enough since the white mana symbols in this deck only come from venser, detention sphere, and the flashback on unburial rites. For green mana sources, we have seven lands that can get us there. It really helps having those fetches, and hitting two splashes in one with a marsh flats into savannah is awesome. I would’ve liked to have gotten more fixing in black. [mtg_card]Badlands[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Blood Crypt[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Polluted Delta[/mtg_card], you get the point…
Nevertheless, it held up with its bad fixing and went 2-0 in our three man Winston draft.
Deathrite shaman is a seriously active team player. At one mana, in either green or black, this guy is actually pretty easy in this deck. Capitalizing off of the fetch lands that are bound to be in graveyards during cube matchups, he provides the opportunity of both ramp and fixing ([mtg_card]birds of paradise[/mtg_card] would be alright here, too), while also having two other really sweet abilities. With this all star sitting in play, your opponents can forget all about using their graveyard. This little jerk plus the, always stellar, team of solem simulacrum and give this deck a chance to fix the mana and ramp a little, too. I was trying to get some artifact mana e.g. signets, or mind stone but Sam was all over those. Signets or a gilded lotus would have been really good with the huge creatures, five colors, and upheaval. Alas, I drafted these cards..
Wheel of Fortune was the card that won me the most games. This deck was built for the wheel. Playing huge creatures without a lot of ramp can often times leave your deck doing nothing but dropping land and holding creatures that are just out of casting range. Fortunately, with unburial rites, you don’t have to hard cast a myr battlesphere. Just tap two and a red, pitch your huge creatures into the graveyard, then cast unburial rites. Who knows, maybe you tossed the wurmcoil in there and you’re feeling like going for a flashback! But reanimation doesn’t even scratch the surface of how this card helps the deck. Yeah, it sucks that we can only get creatures back out of the graveyard but at least if we have to pitch call of the herd, we can still get a 3/3 out of it. Combine the wheel with scroll rack, and you’ve just pulled through the top 14-15 cards of your 40 card deck. Maybe in your dig, you stumbled across sneak attack. Great! Sneak attack loves a hand full of monsters with sweet enter-the-battlefield effects. Plop it down and start sneaking out a victory.
Speaking of scroll rack, lets take a look at this bad-mamma-jamma. Now, sometimes this card can be a bit of a dud. Top decking this late game, usually, will mean that you won’t be racking for much and if that’s the case, what’s the point? Thankfully, wheel of fortune is helping us out again! Wheel in the late game with your rack in play, and your digging through ’em again. Now, what if you rack a hand full of lands onto the top of your library? You aren’t going to want to draw land after land after land, right? No, your going to crack one of those fetch lands you’ve, wisely, been saving. Or, maybe, you’ll ponder. Either way, a quick shuffle effect, and you’ll be free from the never ending stream of lands.
Consuming vapors is far from being my favorite piece of removal. It allows your opponent to, first, sac off their weakest creature in play, then give them another turn to come up with yet another weakling. I’ve had this thing blow up in my face A LOT. But not this time. For the price of six mana, you can time walk and consuming vapors in one turn. This takes away that turn from your opponent so the ball is back in your court. Consuming vapors without a time walk puts your opponent under the gun. Vapors with a time walk pulls the trigger without questions.
Detention sphere is a sweet card in any format. Powerful removal is powerful removal. The UW in the mana cost wasn’t ideal, but oh well. I particularly liked using this card against threats like increasing devotion. It’s great against any sort of token generator. Even against [mtg_card]bitterblossom[/mtg_card], you have a couple of ways to go. If you grab it early, you can just exile the blossom itself. Or, once your opponent is getting to the point of being able to over run you with tokens, you can take them all away in one fell swoop. In this deck, my favorite use for the sphere was to get it onto one of my permanents to set up the next turn upheaval. This sends a really obvious signal though, so watch out for counter magic.
Speaking of UW cards, look everyone, it’s Venser, the sojourner. This guy is on fire lately and in the sneak attack deck he’s an absolute MACHINE! Turn 3 or 4 drop down a sneak attack. Then, turn 4 or 5 drop your venser. Sneak in one of your creatures, attack with it, bounce with venser, and keep the Grave Titan for one red mana. Also, after you hit those tokens with your detention sphere, you can bounce it with Venser. When it comes back into play, choose whatever you want as a target but if you have that upheaval in hand, then why not sphere one of your own creatures, or Venser, for that matter… It’s gimmicky but it’s fun and it happens.
So, we put it all together and we see that we have huge creatures that are all really good with both Venser and [mtg_card]sneak attack[/mtg_card]. With both, this deck is pretty good. We have ways to pull through our deck very quickly so that we can get our bombs, find our sneak attack, or setup [mtg_card]unburial rites[/mtg_card]. We’re bouncing [mtg_card]duplicant[/mtg_card] to exile away their creatures, [mtg_card]riftwing cloudskate[/mtg_card] to send permanents back to their hand, [mtg_card]grave titan[/mtg_card] for some more 2/2’s, and [mtg_card]myr battlesphere[/mtg_card] for four more myr tokens, while sneaking in a [mtg_card]Keiga, the tide star[/mtg_card] that we’ll have to sacrifice at the end of turn; thus getting our choice of their creatures.
Cards this deck wanted…
The list, although it did some things really well, could have been much better. Here are some more cards that could have been played here:
Ideally, I wouldn’t want to be running [mtg_card]call of the herd[/mtg_card] – as it takes us further from red, and in its place, the list would happily run [mtg_card]timetwister[/mtg_card].[mtg_card]Wall of Roots[/mtg_card] is another one that just doesn’t need to be in this deck. While it stops aggro and ramps a bit, [mtg_card]spellskite[/mtg_card] could put a hurtin’ on aggro while protecting the [mtg_card]sneak attack[/mtg_card] without putting a strain on the mana base. [mtg_card]Glen Elendra Archmage[/mtg_card] would be fine in this spot since it helps protect the sneak attack, even though its not really doing anything to stop aggro. [mtg_card]Upheaval[/mtg_card] served as a board wipe with a little upside for this deck, but that was pretty depressing. Without decent ramp or ways to cheat it out, Upheaval is significantly “less good” and could have been replaced just about anything. [mtg_card]damnation[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]toxic deluge[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]living death[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]anger of the god[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]slagstorm[/mtg_card], and even [mtg_card]pyroclasm[/mtg_card], probably would have been better for the deck.
Finally, [mtg_card]Consuming vapors[/mtg_card] wasn’t necessary and could have been a lot of things. Strong removal like [mtg_card]Oblivion Ring[/mtg_card] would have been fine, [mtg_card]Demonic Tutor[/mtg_card] and family would have been sick, [mtg_card]Show and Tell[/mtg_card] would have been fun, another chubby friend like [mtg_card]Inferno Titan[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Bogardan Hellkite[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Aetherling[/mtg_card] (so sick with sneak attack), [mtg_card]Elesh Norn[/mtg_card], or [mtg_card]Yosei, the Morning Star[/mtg_card] would have been fine and a value machine like, [mtg_card]Reveillark[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]mulldrifter[/mtg_card], or [mtg_card]Venser, Shaper Savant[/mtg_card] are always welcome.
Obviously, at this point the deck would need all new lands, but I think this is starting to turn into a pretty sweet archetype, here.
Overall, this deck had the kind of synergy I try to accomplish in all of my drafts – new interesting interactions that come about while trying to learn the format that emerges when you play a singleton format based on power level – but it was janky. Nevertheless, I hope I can bring you guys another deck list that was as fun to play as this one was.
Hope you liked the article.
Happy Cube Drafting!