About six months ago, I was exploring a deck idea that tried to abuse Notion Thief in Standard before it rotated out. The deck was a lot of fun to play, but ultimately, the metagame did not really allow such a list to be successful. In essence, the deck was a bunch of two card combos and synergies that you would line up over the course of a game to bury your opponent in advantages of various kinds. For reference, here is a list I was working on:
Whispering Madness was the big combo to pull off for what usually amounted in a game win, but most everything else in the deck did not outright win the game and instead built toward a position where you could not lose. For example, sticking a Dictate of Kruphix followed by a Notion Thief amounts to three cards for you every turn rotation and only 1 for your opponent. Or perhaps you were able to cast a Whispering Madness while you had a Chasm Skulker out. That results in a pretty big creature that eventually will turn into many small ones.
Beyond the draw synergies though, I wanted another sort of engine to allow the deck to function without an active Notion Thief, as a 3/1 creature is not exactly invulnerable. Waste Not made the most sense to me. While Whispering Madness made both players draw a bunch of cards, it also made them discard a bunch of cards. Theoretically, you could generate enough mana off of a Waste Not to set up a bit of a chain and make a lot of 2/2s.
There were not a ton of cards in the list that were there to directly interact with Waste Not, as it was the Backup Plan more than anything, but it was interesting nonetheless. Over time, without dedicated support for the enchantment, I found it to be lacking and cut it from the list altogether. With two new sets since then however, I figured it was about time to revisit the newest player-created card.Discard That Please!
With Notion Thief out of the way, the pendulum swings here to a place where we now want to emphasize discard as our plan A and draw synergies as our plan B. This is making a little bit of an assumption that we can replace the effect that Whispering Madness provided us with, but fortunately, a sweet new card in Dark Deal does just that, but we will look at that shortly. First, we want to scan the format for any viable discard spells available.
After a quick search, here are some of the cards that stand out:
Dark DealDespiseLiliana VessTasigur's CrueltyThoughtseizeTormented ThoughtsOrdeal of ErebosRakshasa's Secret
We are lacking the heavy hitter of a Persecute or the versatility of a Liliana of the Veil here, but surprisingly, these cards do a pretty good job of getting cards out of your opponent's hand, at least in the context that we desire. Theoretically, we want to be playing our discard spells after we have Waste Not in play which changes the possibilities of our discard.
Consider the following scenario:
You play a turn two Waste Not and then play a turn three Dark Deal on the play after the opponent played a Sylvan Caryatid or something. They will be discarding six cards and drawing five new ones. Meanwhile, you will be discarding four cards and drawing three.
Now we need to factor in the Waste Not. Let's be completely balanced here and say that the opponent is discarding two lands, two creatures, and two nonland/noncreatures. This means you will actually be drawing five cards total, gaining access to BBBB, and putting a couple of zombies into play.
But now we have access to four mana and have five new cards at our disposal, so we should probably not be content just yet. If we followed this up with a simple Mind Rot, we would probably end up with a couple of more mana and another card to replace itself. If we use our fourth original mana to cast the likes of a Thoughtseize or Despise, you can see how we might very quickly end up in a situation where we have an overwhelming board and hand advantage.
As a result of this, we want to have discard that is good at starting a potential chain, but also that able to be cast in the middle of our chain when we might be tight on mana. This particular desire is where Tasigur's Cruelty gets to be pretty exciting. Because we are dumping out hand to Dark Deal and also just casting a lot of spells like Thoughtseize and removal, we will usually be able to delve for a big portion of the cost of Cruelty. If we manage to find room for Rakshaha's Secret that is even further milling to help the cause!
If you scan the list above, some of those same draw synergy cards are still around for us to utilize. Chasm Skulker remains one of my favorite cards that really has not seen any serious play. A single Dark Deal following up Skulker will result in you having a pretty big threat that is also able to dodge around most removal thanks to its token creation clause.Stacking Synergy
We do want to be careful not to rely on Waste Not though. While the card might enable our best draws, it is still just a four-of amongst our 60 cards and we have no tutor available for it. So we need to think about how a discard strategy plays out under normal circumstances. If you have played with The Rack before, or perhaps Smallpox, you have likely run into the scenario where your hand is three discard spells while your opponent is empty handed. Your discard spells do not actually do anything here so despite you being up cards on your opponent, unless they draw some cards they cannot cast, you might as well have three dead cards in your hand.
In the list from above, we were able to mitigate this problem by either locking our opponent out of the game via Notion Thief, or by giving them cards that we could later take away. If we have an active Dictate of Kruphix in play, our opponent is going to be that much more hardpressed to get rid of all of their cards every turn. Dictate has the issue of giving them cards on their own turn though. If we were able to gift them cards on our turn, in theory we can strip them away before they have a chance to use them.
Enter Master of the Feast.
Master of the Feast makes for an excellent companion to Chasm Skulker as another way to end a game quickly once you have rid your opponent of most of their resources. If I am prefacing Master with a pair of Thoughtseize, it is very likely going to stick for a few turns and five damage adds up quickly.
And because we are giving our opponent their extra card during our turn, we can use any of our spare discard stuff to take it away immediately. This can be important to protect our Master, but it also provides food for Waste Not, making the enchantment continue to do things going into the late game. Here is a list incorporating those ideas:
We have a few copies of Jace in here to synergize with discard as well. Forcing an opponent to pick up a creature or Walker and then stripping it from said hand is one additional way to make or Waste Not relevant as the game drags on.
We can pretty easily go an even heavier delve route as Antonio DeRosa apparently did this past weekend in side events. The idea there would be to fuel up on even more graveyard enablers and then to supplement our Tasigur with Gurmag Angler and the like. I think this direction allows for more explosive openers, but suffers a little more in the mid to late game if it cannot find enablers to work with its threats. Still, here is an example of what that deck might look like:
This list is much more black heavy than the previous list as only Treasure Cruise and activations from Tasigur require blue mana here. We really want to turn that first Dark Deal plus Waste Not into a huge threat with this list and seven delve creatures helps make that a reality. If you find even a single copy of either Tasigur or Gurmag Angler, there is a good chance you can cast it along with some form of protection via discard.
Our plan of attack here is relatively one dimensional, which we can address with the sideboard in any match up where that matters, but by doing this, we hope to more consistently produce our "nut-draw" while also increasing the number of draws that don't work, but hopefully to less of a degree.Wrap Up
Waste Not is very much a card that relies on the other cards in the format before it can make an appearance in any sort of competitive sense. It feels like we finally have enough viable discard spells in the format that we can begin piecing together some shells that use the enchantment profitably.
While I would be surprised if any of the above lists were to take the format by storm, they are viable and under the right conditions, can be an excellent choice to spoil a tournament with. Feel free to give these lists your own tweaks and throw them down in the comments section below! We build the card so now let's break it! Until next time, thanks for reading!