I have not had all that much opportunity to cube much this last year due to a variety of social restrictions. As such I have built and played less decks and done far less testing on newer cards. All of this is resulting in far less for me to talk about and thus far less in the way of inspiration. We have managed to do a few online events (played on cockatrice) which typically suits rotisserie. These have been great but they go at a slow pace. I invariably draft blue in these things and promised myself I wouldn't in this most recent event of ours. Technically I managed but in practice I built the bluest non-blue deck you will ever see. I have done a lot of articles on this kind of deck but they are really fun and this one was properly designed to compete rather than just being a fun or showcase style of deck.
It is a storm style deck with no actual storm cards. More of an Underword Breach and Bonus Round deck if anything. It has a variety of different ways to win and is surprisingly interactive and robust for a deck that is aiming to combo kill. While I have done this kind of deck before a selection of new cards have really pushed the envelope on this archetype and taken it from a fun and playable deck to a powerful and dangerous one. There are not really any other decks like this in magic which gives you a nice play advantage too. The closest thing would be a Birgi EDH deck but 100 cards, multiplayer, and having a commander are all such huge changes things pan out rather differently. Being 40 cards my burst mana is wildly better than EDH decks even with their Sol Rings (we had a fairly extensive banlist with pretty much legacy bans plus a round of 2 cards banned per player, mostly blue cards and fast mana got hit with those). This makes this list able to win a game rapidly and with decent consistency. Being able to play Birgi as a commander would be a significant upgrade to my 40 however!
The list has some cards in brackets which are things I would like to have played or should have played instead of the card next to it. The draft was 9 people so we did a round robin. There are more than enough cards now to rotisserie with more people. I am keen to try a 16 person one at some point. There was one other red aggro player but we had basically no overlap at all. As such I got every single card I wanted bar one, perhaps two. Here is the final list I played.
Lion's Eye Diamond
Rite of Flame
Thrill of Possibility
Birgi, God of Storytelling / Harnfel, Horn of Bounty
Wheel of Fortune
Seize the Spoils
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Karn, the Great Creator
Past in Flames
Shatterskull, the Hammer Pass
Dragon's Claw (Ensnaring Bridge)
There are a lot of different working parts to this list. Obviously there is the burst mana, to include the things that reduce cost or trigger mana gains upon casts. This lets you do big things quickly or more relevantly, lots and lots in one turn. Then there is all the red style looting effects. These are great for finding your key cards and filling up the bin with fuel for your Breach and Past in Flames. The real joy with these cards is that when you are Forking them they turn into incredibly efficient card advantage spells. More often than not my Tormenting Voice costs me one or less mana net and is a 2 for 4, effectively Ancestral Recall. Pirates Pillage often generates mana while offering the same card advantage! Bonus Round means when you start to go off you really really go off. Pyromancer's Goggles also let you Fork but limited to once a turn it is mostly a way to kickstart things with a pile of cards or mana as you require. It is also comfortably the most cuttable card in the list. I was playing it to be cute and as it is so cool and fun rather than because it was optimal. It isn't bad but probably a one mana cantrip would be better, loot effect, or even some other lesser ritual.
With the ability to turn all your graveyard into a resource and the ability to generate massive value with Forking and draw seven effects this list cares very little for card advantage and disadvantage. You can happily blow a load of resources getting something relevant out earlier and expect to recover from that with no trouble. I was scared of countermagic and over compensated as a result. I figured with so much in the way of mana producers and little in the way of action cards, combined with several cards that directly two for one you due to discards as an additional cost, I was concerned that a couple of well placed counters could simply shut me down. The reality was quite different and blue counter based decks were among my best results. I was more than happy to eat a two for one to a counter on my Tormenting Voice as I could recover easily and their counter was gone and unable to hit something bigger down the line. I had enough threats and enough capacity to push out multiple things in a turn that trying to keep me contained with blue permission wasn't at all easy. I absolutely should have cut one anti-permission card (Pyroblast, REB, Defence Grid) from my sideboard and replaced it with a creature control card such as Anger the Gods or Ensnaring Bridge. Bridge I drafted with the intent of playing as a Wish target but for some reason I decided to run the Dragon's Claw instead and still lost to the red burn deck... The meta consisted of a Doomsday Deck, a Splinter Twin deck, a Scepter Chant deck, the red aggro burn deck I mentioned, a Golgari Birthing Pod deck, a Mardu aristocrats list, a Fires of Invention deck, and a Show and Tell / Paradox Engine combo soup type affair.
So how does this deck actually win? It has a couple of lines it can take. One is simply some kind of rapid Karn lock thanks to the fast mana. Then there are the Wheel of Fortune wins where you simply cast it enough times to mill out your opponent. This is mostly going to draw games as it is hard to have it with your opponent having less in the deck such that a Wheel kills them and not you. There is also the most storm like kill where you get the Sentinel Tower out and cast enough spells to shoot people down with it. The most common route to victory however is simply using the two maindeck burn spells. With Forks and flashback/escape it is very easy to find 20+ damage. With people doing themselves some with land and you having a few dorks and walkers than can chip in a bit too this gets even easier. You can even win the good old fashioned way with some dorks, walkers, and unenhanced burn spells. A manland would have gone a decent way to improving this line although I would be reticent to add more colourless or EtB tapped lands to the list. It could probably support one more of each but it wouldn't be a free and painless addition. Mishra's Factory, Valakut Awakening, Spikefield Cave, Rishadan Port, and Blast Zone are the top contenders for those slots.
Karn and Chandra round out the deck really well. They both assist the combo elements of the deck in a variety of ways while giving you access to high powered cards that can really benefit from being accelerated into play. Multiple games were effectively won through flopping out a quick four drop walker. They would buy me the time or resources to win. Karn into blowing up lands with Liquimetal Coasting was pretty common. I even made a turn two Chandra and shot a Birds of Paradise with her! You don't want to over do it with walkers but you could probably fit another in if you wanted. I certainly found I was never unhappy drawing either. Original Forking Chandra even had some appeal!
So what are these new cards that have pushed this list from a cool and cute deck to a competitive one? Namely Birgi herself, Underworld Breach, Seize the Spoils, Thrill of Possibility, and Jeska's Will. The extra redundancy and quality in looting effects is huge. I have played Wild Guess in previous iterations so being able to replace that with a 1R card is lovely. Seize the Spoils looks worse than most other cards like it in the list but in practice it is one of the very best. Forking the ones that return treasure is just a delight and even if you are just setting up with them the extra treasure makes going off far quicker and easier. Birgi is amazing. I cast both sides loads. She did blocking, attacking, adding mana, and drawing cards. I even animated the Horn in one match and beat down for five with it! Every aspect of the card fits the list perfectly. Even down to little synergies like the horn filling up the bin or letting you play things from exile using mana from Lion's Eye Diamond. Jeska's Will also fits this bill being mana or cards as you require. The mana side is a little unpredictable but pairs wonderfully well with Wheel of Fortune. I frequently added 7 or 14 mana for just a couple invested. While we have had plenty of good nee looting cards to add redundancy to this list we have not had much in the way of Rituals making Will a most welcome addition. Lastly we have Underworld Breach, the real powerhouse of the deck. It is pretty hard to lose if you resolve it with any semblance of cards in the bin and access to mana. Like turn four or five dropping it down with a couple of mana left open and 7-12 cards in the bin is probably just a win. If you get the god draw of LED, Will, Wheel and Breach you can do everything! On turn one if you find the appropriate rituals to power it out. The only real downside of the card is that it is gone once it is gone, you have no sensible way to get it back. You can absolutely win without it but it is much harder. This makes hand disruption, discard choices, and the playing of Wheel of Fortune and LED all that much more awkward. I considered things like Hall of Heliod's Generosity and Conjuror's Bauble as solutions to this but felt that Past in Flames was generally the best direction to go and just accept the extra work when the Breach is taken out of the equation. Past in Flames is nice as you are very happy to throw it away to any of your Tormenting Voice effects. It does what Past in Flames does but it needs a bit more to get you started and is a little bit fiddlier to sequence.
My original builds had access to a second draw seven effect but I found these to be clunky and unnecessary. I was just getting to see enough cards with my looting effects that I could streamline the deck. Ultimately the Pyromancer's Goggles took the slot that would have gone to a Memory Jar or Reforge the Soul. I elected not to run Simian Spirit Guide as I figured I was going to need a very full graveyard to power out the Underworld Breach. Being neither an instant/sorcery nor a card that goes to the bin it just felt like the weakest of the burst mana cards. In practice this was overly cautious and the Guide would likely have been an overall perk. Lightning Bolt was a card taken by the burn player which was expected. I am not even sure it would have been better than the Galvanic Blast I replaced it with. It is very easy to have Blast deal four when you are going off and that makes it wildly more efficient. When being used to answer problem early cards like Deathrite Shaman and Thalia the extra damage wasn't missed either. The biggest and most significant loss was Manamorphose. Not grabbing it sooner was a drafting error. The card would have been a pretty huge addition to the list. Often acting as a free ritual is lovely as is being a cheap cantrip. I often found myself in a position where I was casting things from the bin or from exile with an empty hand. You can't cast your Tormenting Voice style cards without things to discard and so you need to have access to cantrips so that you can kickstart these effects. That was the main reason for running Overmaster, I had little intent using it to force things through with it.
The deck is resilient, diverse, fast, and powerful. It can kill out of nowhere too making it very hard to play around. I still highly recommend playing it if you can. It is one of those decks than is fun to just goldfish too. The event was won by the aristocrats list which came as a surprise to us all. It was consistent, quick, and very able to go long and push through. It also happened to be fairly good at derailing plans with some elegant hoser cards. Tocatli Honour Guard put in some good work in other matchups, Thalia is what ruined me! I have yet to play the Twin deck and I suspect it will be one of my most fun and close matchups. Winning will take me to 5-3 and losing still leaves me even. While my result was little better than average I found the performance promising. A small amount of refining and picking Manamorphose sooner would have lead to significantly better results. I didn't play optimally either. Turns out it being an unfamiliar deck isn't just one way on the perks. I think this deck is a viable high tier deck for rotisserie style events. It is fairly uncontested and it should scale well with power allowing it to perform well in most environments. More importantly it is different and fun! It is even surprisingly adaptable.
Here are some of the options I was looking at;
Anger the Gods
Simian Spirit Guide
Reforge the Soul
Krark, the Thumbless
Helm of Awakening
Vessel of Volatility
(I would have been looking at the likes of Mox too if they had not been banned out)
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