Well, it’s not completely different, as I guess that Bant Hexproof is on the aggro end of the world, but normally I don’t play much aggro, I’m more for the midrange or control decks, but I dip into the aggro pool for a while. When I do, though, it’s usually something at least a little off the beaten path. This one is definitely off the beaten path. I saw a couple lists kind of like this in the States lists, and came up with my own version. Here’s the list:
I think half my desire to play this deck was just because I wanted to play with Duskmantle Seer. I know other builds with this deck play Zameck Guildmage, but Varolz just seems so much better. Also, most lists I’ve seen didn’t run Lotleth Troll, which seems zany to me; that is a pretty sweet 2-drop. I’ve also been on something of a hot streak at my local FLGS, having finished in the money with great regularity lately. So I thought I’d push that pretty hard. I have to say, my initial thought is that this deck looks like a pile of crap—but it plays a lot better than it looks. The night before my son insisted that I actually build it and test against him playing RWU control. Much to my surprise, I won probably 75% of those games.
So, off to my FLGS Sunday Standard. Only 15 people showed up, so just 4 rounds cutting to top 4.
Round 1: Zach, playing BR Vampires
OK, so not exactly a tier 1 deck on the opposing side, but it’s actually not that bad: Vampire Nighthawk, Falkenrath Aristocrat, Stromkirk Captain, Bloodline Keepers, Olivias, various black removal spells for 1 and 2 mana, a couple Vampire Nocturnus, and a full slate of Blood Artists and a couple Killing Waves. I’ve played worse (and played against worse). To be honest, I don’t really remember game 1 all that well. I know I had some early plays, used Decay to kill a Nighthawk, countered something with a Rupture, and got there. I sided in the Appetites, the Far // Aways, and the Sever. I didn’t have a fast enough early draw, got a little flooded, and he got a Bloodline Keeper going and it was over when he dropped Olivia. Game 3 he came out with two early Blood Artists, which meant this game took a while because he kept gaining life. I eventually got everything off his board except the Artists and fused a Far // Away, which slowed down his life gain, and got Varolz out and was scavenging onto it, which got me there.
1-0 matches, 2-1 games
Round 2: Tony, playing Junk Midrange
This was a pretty terrible round. Tony mulled to five both games, apparently all on 1-landers. At least in game 1, he immediately topdecked a land and was able to cast Farseek, so he was OK on mana. Unfortunately, I came out blazing: Experiment One followed by Strangelroot Geists on the next two turns put him on his back foot, and I Hybridized a Giest to evolve my human ooze to put way too much on the board for him to deal with. I read him as playing Reanimator so I sided in the Deathrites, the Sever, and the Evil Twin. Game 2 he again mulled to five on one land, but he drew out of it in, but even with a Centaur Healer and a Smiter he could not keep up with another relatively fast start from me. The Smiter got Decayed and Rancor let me swing through the Healer and keep the pressure on, and he scooped to me casting Duskmantle Seer with him at 5.
2-0 matches, 4-1 games
Round 3: Zachariah, playing Junk Rites
Zach was 8-8 at Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze, which was his first PT; so this was a real test for this deck. Game 1 he had a slowish start whereas I went Experiment One into Strangleroot, so I quickly had him at 12. He came back with a Thragtusk, but I came back with a Lotleth Troll and eventually a Rancor, so eventually he had to chump with the Thragusk. Then I came back with a Duskmantle Seer. That was kind of interesting, as having him draw cards wasn’t likely to actually be good for me unless he drew something monstrous to take a big hit of damage, which he never did. He also never drew an Unburial Rites, which was good for me because he had Salvaged an Angel of Serenity fairly early. However, he made a tech play after that, and cast Fiend Hunter then cast Restoration Angel with the trigger on the stack, meaning he took out both the Troll and the Seer. Fortunately for me, I had another Seer. My next turn, he was at 7, took 4 from the Resto he drew off the Seer trigger, but he thought he was OK because he had Resto back to block. However, I had not one, but two Rancors for the Seer, so the trample damage killed him. I sided in the same anti-reanimator package I put in round 2. Game 2 he got an early Rhox Faithmender, followed by a Thragtusk (bringing him to 31) and I had a Seer and a couple other dudes with me at 10 and him at 15 when he did pull off the Angel of Serenity, wiping my board. I just scooped to that. I sided in two Appetites for Game 3, and that was definitely the right call, because when I did it I discovered he had no land in hand and was relying on two mana dorks, plus I managed to get the Faithmender in his hand. I also had a Deathrite Shaman out so I wasn’t too worried about reanimation shenanaigans. Next turn I Slipped one of his mana dorks, leaving him with only two mana sources. From there I pretty much ran him over, though at one point I did lose a Dreg Mangler to Renounce the Guilds. I knew he had it from the Appetite, but I wanted to get it out of his hand and I thought I’d rather lose that than the LolTroll on the board. When I played a Seer, he just scooped.
3-0 matches, 6-2 games
Round 4: Daniel, playing Jund
We were the only two undefeateds, so we ID’d into the top 4.
3-0-1 matches, 6-2 games
Semifinals: Zachariah, playing Junk Rites
The top 4 ended up being me, Zachariah, Daniel, and another Junk Rites deck. Most of them wanted to leave to go eat so I agreed to a top 4 split.
3-0-2 matches, 6-2 games
Now, 3 rounds isn’t exactly a stringent test, so I played a few other matches afterward. One of them I played against the BUG Walkers deck that just top 8’d an SCG Open. I rolled that game 1 with turn 1 Young Wolf, turn 2 double Rancor; lost a sideboarded game 2 off a hand I should have mulliganed, and easily won game 3 with the Experiment One, Strangleroot, Rapid Hybridization EOT turn 3 to just come in with a huge attack the following turn. I also played against a RUG Control deck and beat that 2-0 without too much difficulty, particularly fun was the double-Seer game where he drew Turn // Burn to take 5, then Ral Zarek to take 4. Oops.
So, while the deck kind of looks like a pile, it’s actually surprisingly good. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a great deck, but it catches people by surprise and is definitely not an easy out.
Varolz is a great addition to this deck, as being able to scavenge everything in the graveyard is really excellent, especially onto Experiment One, giving that regeneration. The really fast draws with this deck are almost as fast as the Gruul Aggro decks, but this deck is a little more resilient in the long run because of all the undying and regeneration. As I said earlier, half the reason I wanted to play it was to see how Duskmantle Seer really plays out. Since other than the Seer, everything in the deck costs 3 or less, he’s actually pretty decent. Given the number of decks running big expensive spells, Seer is actually a real threat, since the opponent is often under 10 life by turn 5 or so, which is when he usually comes down. He’s not a general-purpose card, but in the right deck (like this one), he’s not bad at all.
So, if you’re looking for something different that’s fun to play and a little off the wall while still being good, give this a whirl.