Last week, at the whim of a friend, I explored Lupine Prototype. The card asks for a specific zone to hit a specific number, but it does allow flexibility in one area: the player who is reached that number in that zone. For the list last week, we primarily focused on getting rid of our own hand in order to turn our 5/5 into a real card.
In essence, this meant combining a lot of cards with madness, a lot of cards that allowed us to discard those, and then some cards that checked to see if you were hellbent. Three such cards, all constructed-worthy, are what prompted me explore that half of the equation, but after some lackluster results, I arrived at a decision point: Scrap any and all evidence that we ever tried Lupine Prototype, or finish kicking the tires on Robowolf and experiment with its other half's potential.
As a brewer and a lover of unique cards, it wasn't quite time to retire the howling artifact just yet (and no, not the Mine!). No, before that, one card I have always loved needed to be given its fair shake with the Prototype.
Some astute viewers/readers may have noticed a complete lack of mention of Tormented Thoughts last week, which isn't like me. Naturally, I was saving it for this week, but now that the cat is out of the bag, let's talk shop!
Tormented Thoughts offers a huge payoff but asks a few things out of us as deck builders first. We need to play cheap creatures. In addition, these creatures need to have some substantial amount of power, otherwise Tormented Thoughts is not worth the effort. I set the line as a minimum of three power to be worth considering, but four, five, or six-power creatures are ideal.
Luckily, there happens to be a two-cost creature with no casting restrictions and five power in Standard. Lupine Prototype is not only the biggest beneficiary after Tormented Thoughts resolves, but it is also the best fodder to get it off the ground in the first place. That is too much value to pass up and thus, the basis for the deck is created.
Our last brew had a few cards that make perfect sense still in a world where we are looking to strip our opponent's hand. Asylum Visitor, for example, looks to both players' grips to see if it should trigger or not and it happens to have three power on a two-drop body, putting it above our minimum threshold for Tormented Thoughts. Into the list it goes. Also, Collective Brutality still does work taking cards from our opponent's hand and giving us a chance at emptying our own, which still works fine for Robowolf and Asylum Visitor (who also has Madness).
We are still short at least one more creature for Tormented Thoughts fodder though; Asylum Visitor is a backup plan and far from ideal. Looking through all of Standard, it is relatively slim pickings in terms of one or two-drops that can get above three power without a mana investment. Noose Constrictor does it at the investment of many cards and kind of takes the value away. Furyblade Vampire might be reasonable though, as you still gain a favorable trade in three cards for four and the threat of a two mana 4/2 trample is not exactly light. If nothing else, I would like to give it a shot because of the real lack of other options.
Now comes an interesting point in the deck-building process. I have a solid base set up and some of the utility spells will be obvious (such as more hand disruption, removal etc), but what do I do with the 10-12 slots remaining? I know I need to put these slots toward some number of win conditions, as I can't really rely on 12 two-drop creatures, including some number of which I want to sacrifice, to win a game for me. Even if they sometimes do, that doesn't seem like something I want to hang my hat on.
I could add some medium to large fatties like last week. Bloodhall Priest was reasonable but even something like Goldnight Castigator is strong against an empty-handed opponent. While I think that direction is alright, I want to pivot to a strategy that has been popular recently: Demonic Pact plus Harmless Offering.
Normally, that kind of spike in play would be bad for a deck, as we can expect some splash hate from Dromoka's Commands and other enchantment hate, but because we are playing a deck that rids our opponent of a hand, we don't need to worry about that to anywhere near the same level. Additionally, Demonic Pact gives us more maindeckable discard, some appreciated card advantage, and life, which can be crucial in beating aggro. Having this combo as the primary win-condition felt strong and that is where i began.
Utility spells such as Duress and Kolaghan's Command are a natural fit here. Kolaghan's Command even rebuys Robowolf, which comes in handy.
Two copies of Dark Petition act as a swing combo piece that can find either Demonic Pact or Harmless Offering, increasing our effective numbers there. Because Tormented Thoughts costs three, you can conveniently grab that and cast it should the situation arise. Single copies of Goblin Dark-Dwellers and Chandra, Flamecaller make for powerful tutor targets but also just play out well when drawn. Goblin Dark-Dwellers can be a self-contained Tormented Thoughts for four cards out of nowhere, which is neat.
The sideboard is a work in progress, but the big takeaway is to show how easily the deck can become a pure control deck that relies on the Demonic Pact / Harmless Offering combo to win games. We have more removal, more hand hate, crucial copies of Languish, and then some powerful bullets that really allow us to assume the role of control in most matchups.
These videos, much like last week's, were quite fun, so I hope you enjoy. An error in one game led to some bonus 4th match material. I think you will all be pleasantly surprised with the results!
I will be at PAX this weekend at the Dire Wolf Digital booth promoting our game Eternal, so stop by and say hi if you will be there! And if you will be at home and have access to Magic Online, I highly suggest you take this one for a spin. Until next week, thanks for watching!