Episode #7 of the Planeswalker Deck Project, and this one is a doozy. First things first, though. If you're just joining in now, I suggest you take a look at my intro article, along with the Planeswalkers I've covered already!

Ashiok is kind of a jerk honestly; the main interests this character cultivates are agony and nightmares. Yeesh. However, Nightmares as a creature type have undergone a renaissance as of late, and as the Nightmare Muse, this Planeswalker specifically offers a great chance to explore that space.

For a long time, Nightmare creatures were not well represented, beyond a few cards from Magic's early days. However, the Torment set brought a new spin on the tribe with Nightmare Horrors—creatures that entered the battlefield and generated a powerful effect that would get reversed when they were dealt with. Flavorfully it makes sense; the monster jumps out and does its scary thing, and in defeating it, you regain something in yourself. Mechanically, they are a bit of a gamble but they're powerful and interactive.

Recently, Nightmares lack the cohesive identity of the Torment monsters, but there's no doubt that the creatures are indeed terrifying nightmares (both mechanically or aesthetically), and are worthy bearers of the name. I hope they continue to be a supported creature type; sometimes creatures just end up as horror shows. If we can have knights and wizards and professions that fight the nightmares, might as well give them something to fight!

Welcome to your opponent's worst nightmare:

Magic: The Gathering TCG Deck - Ashiok, Nightmare Muse by Andy Hurst

'Ashiok, Nightmare Muse' - constructed deck list and prices for the Magic: The Gathering Trading Card Game from TCGplayer Infinite!

Created By: Andy Hurst

Event:

Rank:

Freeform (Casual)

Market Price: $22.50

Cards

Yarok's Fenlurker

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.23

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/192529_200w.jpg

When Yarok's Fenlurker enters the battlefield, each opponent exiles a card from their hand.
{2}{B}: Yarok's Fenlurker gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

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Tainted Isle

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.64

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/248796_200w.jpg

{T}: Add {C}.
{T}: Add {U} or {B}. Activate only if you control a Swamp.

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Nightmare

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/131391_200w.jpg

Flying (This creature can't be blocked except by creatures with flying or reach.)
Nightmare's power and toughness are each equal to the number of Swamps you control.

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Annihilate

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/118748_200w.jpg

Destroy target nonblack creature. It can't be regenerated.
Draw a card.

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Bad River

Market Price: $2.68

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/4974_200w.jpg

Bad River enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}, Sacrifice Bad River: Search your library for an Island or Swamp card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle.

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Agonizing Syphon

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/216036_200w.jpg

Agonizing Syphon deals 3 damage to any target and you gain 3 life.

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Grimdancer

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212032_200w.jpg

Grimdancer enters the battlefield with your choice of two different counters on it from among menace, deathtouch, and lifelink.

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Plague Mare

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/169085_200w.jpg

Plague Mare can't be blocked by white creatures.
When Plague Mare enters the battlefield, creatures your opponents control get -1/-1 until end of turn.

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Psychic Symbiont

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.06

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/169086_200w.jpg

Flying
When Psychic Symbiont enters the battlefield, target opponent discards a card and you draw a card.

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Devourer of Memory

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206665_200w.jpg

Whenever one or more cards are put into your graveyard from your library, Devourer of Memory gets +1/+1 until end of turn and can't be blocked this turn.
{1}{U}{B}: Mill a card.

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Drown in the Loch

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $1.75

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/199207_200w.jpg

Choose one —
• Counter target spell with mana value less than or equal to the number of cards in its controller's graveyard.
• Destroy target creature with mana value less than or equal to the number of cards in its controller's graveyard.

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Ashiok, Nightmare Muse

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $3.51

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206007_200w.jpg

+1: Create a 2/3 blue and black Nightmare creature token with "Whenever this creature attacks or blocks, each opponent exiles the top two cards of their library."
−3: Return target nonland permanent to its owner's hand, then that player exiles a card from their hand.
−7: You may cast up to three spells from among face-up cards your opponents own from exile without paying their mana costs.

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Probe

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.14

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/7599_200w.jpg

Kicker {1}{B} (You may pay an additional {1}{B} as you cast this spell.)
Draw three cards, then discard two cards. If this spell was kicked, target player discards two cards.

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Artful Takedown

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/176402_200w.jpg

Choose one or both —
• Tap target creature.
• Target creature gets -2/-4 until end of turn.

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Dismal Backwater

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222604_200w.jpg

Dismal Backwater enters the battlefield tapped.
When Dismal Backwater enters the battlefield, you gain 1 life.
{T}: Add {U} or {B}.

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Waking Nightmare

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/98804_200w.jpg

Target player discards two cards.

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Chainer, Dementia Master

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $9.24

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/9626_200w.jpg

Nightmare creatures get +1/+1.
{B}{B}{B}, Pay 3 life: Put target creature card from a graveyard onto the battlefield under your control. That creature is black and is a Nightmare in addition to its other creature types.
When Chainer, Dementia Master leaves the battlefield, exile all Nightmares.

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Void Beckoner

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.08

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/212021_200w.jpg

Deathtouch
Cycling {2}{B} ({2}{B}, Discard this card: Draw a card.)
When you cycle Void Beckoner, put a deathtouch counter on target creature you control.

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Call of the Nightwing

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/67345_200w.jpg

Create a 1/1 blue and black Horror creature token with flying.
Cipher (Then you may exile this spell card encoded on a creature you control. Whenever that creature deals combat damage to a player, its controller may cast a copy of the encoded card without paying its mana cost.)

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Ashiok's Skulker

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/188628_200w.jpg

{3}{U}: Ashiok's Skulker can't be blocked this turn.

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Silumgar's Command

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222565_200w.jpg

Choose two —
• Counter target noncreature spell.
• Return target permanent to its owner's hand.
• Target creature gets -3/-3 until end of turn.
• Destroy target planeswalker.

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Ingenious Skaab

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/120007_200w.jpg

Prowess (Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, this creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)
{U}: Ingenious Skaab gets +1/-1 until end of turn.

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Elspeth's Nightmare

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/207053_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Destroy target creature an opponent controls with power 2 or less.
II — Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a noncreature, nonland card from it. That player discards that card.
III — Exile target opponent's graveyard.

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Swimmer in Nightmares

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/206995_200w.jpg

Swimmer in Nightmares gets +3/+0 as long as there are ten or more cards in a single graveyard.
Swimmer in Nightmares can't be blocked as long as you control an Ashiok planeswalker.

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Paralyzing Grasp

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.01

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/66593_200w.jpg

Enchant creature
Enchanted creature doesn't untap during its controller's untap step.

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Chainer's Torment

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/162149_200w.jpg

(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I, II — Chainer's Torment deals 2 damage to each opponent and you gain 2 life.
III — Create an X/X black Nightmare Horror creature token, where X is half your life total, rounded up. It deals X damage to you.

Buy This Card! https://www.tcgplayer.com/product/162149/magic-dominaria-chainers-torment

Faceless Butcher

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.29

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/14589_200w.jpg

When Faceless Butcher enters the battlefield, exile target creature other than Faceless Butcher.
When Faceless Butcher leaves the battlefield, return the exiled card to the battlefield under its owner's control.

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Agonizing Remorse

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.03

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/207044_200w.jpg

Target opponent reveals their hand. You choose a nonland card from it or a card from their graveyard. Exile that card. You lose 1 life.

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Notion Rain

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/176445_200w.jpg

Surveil 2, then draw two cards. Notion Rain deals 2 damage to you. (To surveil 2, look at the top two cards of your library, then put any number of them into your graveyard and the rest on top of your library in any order.)

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Stallion of Ashmouth

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/116464_200w.jpg

Delirium — {1}{B}: Stallion of Ashmouth gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Activate only if there are four or more card types among cards in your graveyard.

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Skittering Monstrosity

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.02

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/234347_200w.jpg

When you cast a creature spell, sacrifice Skittering Monstrosity.

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Dinrova Horror

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.10

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215944_200w.jpg

When Dinrova Horror enters the battlefield, return target permanent to its owner's hand, then that player discards a card.

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Laquatus's Champion

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.17

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161532_200w.jpg

When Laquatus's Champion enters the battlefield, target player loses 6 life.
When Laquatus's Champion leaves the battlefield, that player gains 6 life.
{B}: Regenerate Laquatus's Champion.

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Swamp

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.07

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215721_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {B}.)

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Submerged Boneyard

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.09

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/222629_200w.jpg

Submerged Boneyard enters the battlefield tapped.
{T}: Add {U} or {B}.

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Nightmarish End

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.04

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/82363_200w.jpg

Target creature gets -X/-X until end of turn, where X is the number of cards in your hand.

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Agony Warp

Color Identity:B,U

Market Price: $0.12

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/128832_200w.jpg

Target creature gets -3/-0 until end of turn.
Target creature gets -0/-3 until end of turn.

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Nightmare Void

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.11

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/66372_200w.jpg

Target player reveals their hand. You choose a card from it. That player discards that card.
Dredge 2 (If you would draw a card, you may mill two cards instead. If you do, return this card from your graveyard to your hand.)

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Island

Color Identity:U

Market Price: $0.05

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/215718_200w.jpg

({T}: Add {U}.)

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Mesmeric Fiend

Color Identity:B

Market Price: $0.18

ImageURL: https://tcgplayer-cdn.tcgplayer.com/product/161798_200w.jpg

When Mesmeric Fiend enters the battlefield, target opponent reveals their hand and you choose a nonland card from it. Exile that card.
When Mesmeric Fiend leaves the battlefield, return the exiled card to its owner's hand.

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The Game Plan

Turns out, the combo of Nightmares and Agony are excellent at winnowing away an opponent's resources, so the main goal is to deny your opponent stuff in general, and beat down before they're able to recover. There's a plethora of hand disruption: Mesmeric Fiends, Yarok's Fenlurker, Agonizing Remorse, and Nightmare Void let you pick and choose, while Waking Nightmare and Probe just want quantity.

Once the opponent's hand is shredded, it's time to hit hard with midrange creatures. Grimdancer is the real problem here, picking two of three troublesome abilities to suit your opponent's current weaknesses. Grimdancer is always worth one card (and often two), so even if it's dealt with, it furthers the plan of keeping the opponent off of resources. Use Faceless Butchers to keep the other side clear, so some of your fat like Skittering Monstrosity can come in and wreck shop. The high end of the deck offers even more value with Dinrova Horror and Psychic Symbiont—yet more two-for-ones. And Void Beckoner is just really big while offering some flexibility with the cycling option.

The removal here is robust. We have only a few ways to gain life, but Agonizing Syphon can take a big bite out of something and provide a welcome boost. Agony Warp can be particularly brutal, as can Artful Takedown—especially if either is involved in combat. Annihilate and Elsepth's Nightmare are heavy hitters, even if both have limitations; the diversity of the removal should make up for those shortcomings.

The Rares

The Nightmare Lord—and a potent one at that! Chainer can keep your best troops coming back for more, especially Grimdancer, who can swiftly make up for the life its presence cost you. Just keep in mind that if Chainer dies, ALL nightmares go with him, not just the ones he brought back from the grave, so hedge accordingly.

Draining for 6 without even needing to attack is a tremendous beating. Sure, if your opponent can deal with it and gain 6 life, that is also a tremendous beating, but make sure you keep up regeneration mana and it'll be an uphill battle for a beleaguered foe. The art on this guy is great. Extremely scary (for opponents).

The OG! Can't have a Nightmare deck without including Nightmare, even if its effectiveness will be diluted due to the second color. We're playing enough Swamps here that it'll hopefully be at least 3/3 or bigger. My one regret in this project is that I'm trying extremely hard to not include any non-English cards and am unable to spring for a beta Nightmare, so we're stuck with newer art on paper. No offense to Carl Critchlow (I love his work generally), but Melissa Benson is missed here. Oh well. Even if it's not my favorite art, it's a small price to pay for a piece of the game's iconic history being represented.

If we're in the market for denying the opponent resources, might as well take away two of their things with one spell at instant speed. The Command here is powerful and flexible, and although it does cost a decent chunk of mana, you'll find it's well worth it when your opponent's permanents start disappearing.

Unsung Hero

I know it might seem like a flavor faux pas to include a card with Elspeth's name in the title, but fear not! Ashiok is definitely the one creating the nightmare, and it is a recurring one—not to be confused with Recurring Nightmare, which is too powerful and expensive for these decks )but I'll bet Ashiok is behind that, too!).

Anyway, I love Sagas. It must be incredibly hard to design something flavorfully evocative that also plays well, but this particular nightmare really does it all. When it shows up on turn 3, it can nuke an early play, disrupt the opponent's hand, and shred their graveyard...all for just one card!

I'd talk about versatility here, but since you don't actually have to choose between any of those options, it's really a discussion of efficiency. It will be rare that your opponent doesn't have a cheap creature sitting around or cards in their hand, and if they don't, that falls firmly under the column of "good problems." Elspeth's Nightmare doesn't cost much and delivers a big bang for your buck.