I know I said no more pact articles for a while, but after the Pro Tour and getting a shout out from Daniel Fornier's deck tech, and having a friend Top 8 an event with the list, I really wanted to do one last one. (Don't worry though, I've also got a sweet UW Control Mill deck for you guys to check out as well.)

Daniel and his team were playing a Sultai version which I'm not the biggest fan off. I dunno, I just didn't really like Sultai Demonic Pact deck in my testing. However over the weekend a four color version placed really well and I wanted to interview him and his iteration of the Demonic Pact deck. I know it's no Pro Tour but that doesn't mean we should just shrug it off. In fact most Pro Tours don't define a format for too long since most players play an aggressive deck. Be it because they are new to the Tour, because they believe it to be the best deck (usually unlikely), or to just be as linear as possible and punish anyone trying something "new" since the aggressive decks don't really change much when a new set comes out. I honestly don't like aggressive decks and hardly ever play them, so I decided to cover this deck instead.

Without further ado, four color pact!

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Demonic Pact, planeswalkers, and a four color deck?! What more could my mana hungry heart desire? This deck is just doing it all it seems like and I get get behind that! The only thing that I don't particularly like is the three Mana Confluence. I'd just rather not take damage from my lands if at all possible, but Confluence might be a necessary evil. Not to mention with all the Urborgs floating around, maybe it's not as painful as I make it out to be, but I'd really like to try and cut down to two Mana Confluences. All that being said I'm really liking the way looks of this list; it's just doing so many powerful things. You have Siege Rhino, Jace, Nissa, Elspeth, Ugin, Dromoka's Command, and Demonic Pact. It just feels like once the game gets going, it will be hard for your opponents to combat you. The deck also isn't running any Disperse which can do nothing sometimes. All your answers to Demonic Pact also do very good things on their own. You're attacking from many different angles and attacking them with very powerful cards. I decided to sit down with Darryl and ask him a few questions about the deck so we all might better understand it and hopefully Crush whatever tournament we decided to run it in!

Ali Aintrazi: How'd you come with the deck?

Darryl Donaldson: I love to brew and I thought Demonic Pact was good from the first time I saw it spoiled. I was just unaware what shell it would fit best in. I figured Abzan because of Dromoka's Command, but then I saw the UB Demonic Pact list you piloted to a Top 8 finish and that gave me some more ideas to toy with. Going four color gave me access to Sultai Charm, Jace, and Silumgar's Command. And I built the deck from there.

AA: I understand the love to brew with a good card or a card you like, so I can easily get behind that philosophy. And I take a lot of deck ideas and theories of cards when I brew a deck, I feel like many, if not all brewers can understand this.

What event did you place with playing this deck?

DD: I made Top 8 of the Washington, DC Regionals. I felt like almost every deck I played against I was pretty favored. I was crushing and enjoying myself.

AA: Crushing and having fun? SOLD!

What are some interesting interactions that can come up that some players might not notice first picking up the deck?

DD: One of the main interactions with the deck that most people might not notice is the interaction between Den Protector and Silumgar's Command. The combination of the two is very good against the slow grindy matchups. It can just be so back breaking for your opponents. For example, I had a game in the Top 8 against Robert Vaughn piloting Sultai control where the interaction came up. It was game two and we both had a bunch of lands in play. I had a morphed Den Protector and a Silumgar's Command in the graveyard. I don't remember the spell he went to cast but it was one that was going to put him in control. I unmorphed my Den Protector targeting Silumgar's Command. I countered his spell and bounced my Protector. And I was able to soft lock my opponent this way. It was pretty great!

AA: So not only do you have the grindy and inevitable card advantage from just playing a playset of Den Protectors, you also have the interaction of Den Protector and Silumgar's Command to put them in a sort of prison lock which is not something to scoff at. Not to mention playing four colors will give you a plethora of options to return with Den Protector.

What are the deck's good matchups?

DD: The good matches felt like every deck I played against that day except UR Thopters. I played against UB, UR Thopters, Sultai Control, GR Devotion, Jund Dragons, Abzan Rally, UW Heroic, and Abzan Control. So I feel like any control or midrange deck this deck will prey on.

AA: I can see all that. Against the control matchups you have plenty of time to build up your manabase and get your card draw going before deploying threat after threat or two threats at a time. Even if they manage to deal with all your threats they still have to deal with you recurring them with Den Protector. I've also won many a game with just attacking with a 3/2 that is very hard to block.

What are the deck's bad matchups?

DD: I felt like UR Thopters is a rough matchup, but not unwinnable. Monored could be an uphill battle too, but I haven't played much against it recently.

Like most decks that try to go big or grind, any deck that can go under you can be hard to keep up with. You are playing Siege Rhinos too, which help a lot against the aggressive decks. Another thing to keep in mind though, if monored gets bigger because of its recent win at the Pro Tour I'd find room for a couple of Drown in Sorrows in the board.

AA: Any changes or advice to people that decide to play the deck?

DD: My advice would be to jam some games before taking the deck to a big event so you can see and learn all the little interactions the deck has in it. Also make sure you're having fun, since that is the most important thing of all. If this is not your style of deck or one you'd begrudgingly play then don't put yourself through that.

AA: Playing some games with a new deck before a tournament is always a good idea. It's actually kinda surprising how many people just build a deck then go instantly to play it without playing many games with the deck at all. I can also attest to playing a deck you enjoy and have fun playing. Enjoying the deck you play I believe positively correlates to how well you do with said deck.

I also decided to ask Darryl how he sideboarded in his Regional tournament to help you guys and gals sideboard if you decide to take this deck anywhere.

Sideboarding guide

UB Control
-3 Languish
-3 Demonic Pact
-2 Dromoka's Command

+3 Thoughtseize
+2 Display of Dominance
+1 Dragonlord Dromoka
+1 Gaea's Revenge
+1 Perilous Vault

Abzan Control
-3 Demonic Pact
-2 Dromoka's Command
-2 Languish
-1 Sultai Charm

+3 Thoughtseize
+2 Perilous Vault
+2 Display of Dominance
+1 Garruk, Apex Predator
(Keep in mind you could also bring in Dragonlords depending on the build of Abzan)

GR Devotion
-3 Demonic Pact
-1 Languish
-1 Silumgar's Command
-1 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

+2 Perilous Vault
+1 Dragonlord Dromoka
+3 Thoughtseize

UW or UB Thopters
-3 Demonic Pact
-2 Languish

+3 Thoughtseize
+1 Virulent Plague
+1 Dragonlord Dromoka

The plan seems to be to just board out Demonic Pact if your opponent might have some way to deal with it. That way you give your opponent dead cards in their hand while you're still an extremely powerful and efficient value deck and you can severely punish them for essentially mulliganing every time they draw a way to deal with a Demonic Pact that is not in your deck.

Another deck I'd like to briefly talk about is the deck Frank and I brewed on our Podcast. While we decided to go with a Bant style Fog deck (you can see the deck list on the podcast page), we later decided to make the deck basically just UW Control with a mill win condition.

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The deck plays like a traditional control deck but instead of winning with big mana cost threats like Elspeth and Pearl Lake Ancient, you just kill them with a cheap three mana enchantment that happens to be very efficient at what it does. It's also hard for a control deck to deal with a resolved Tutelage. It's basically like an Ashiok that's harder to kill and easier to cast that can filter your cards in the late game and they also stack.

Since the deck runs no planeswalkers we can take full advantage of Fated Retribution. That card deals with so many problems that normal control decks can run into.

Your opponent has a Xenagos? No problem. How about a Whisperwood? Well just Wipe Away their board during their turn. Instead of dying to an army of 2/2s from Whisperwood Elemental you can just main phase the End Hostilities or just cast another Fated Retribution on their turn. What about Nissa, Worldwaker and her steady stream of 4/4 Tramplers, not even Perilous Vault can fully deal with that! Welp...Fated Retribution won't let you down. It will deal with Nissa and the mess she leaves in her wake.

I'm still messing with the deck and it is still in its infancy stage, but I really like it so far and I really believe it has potential. It reminds me of how control decks used to be since it wants to try and counter everything you're doing and just mill you out. Some of the numbers might be a little off and we may want to try and fit some number of Banishing Light in the deck, but so far I've been okay without any. I'll be jamming this deck for awhile to come and I'll report back with results. I might be in DC this weekend for the Legacy event. If so, be sure to say hi if you are in attendance!

Make sure to follow me @Alieldrazi and check out my podcast, Freshly Brewed, with Frank Lepore. It's the best one out there if I do say so myself!

As always thanks for reading, until next time!

Ali