I know what you're thinking: another BUG list.

Actually, maybe you're not thinking that. Maybe you're thinking, "oh sweet! Another BUG list that I can try instead of Monoblack Devotion or Azorius Control!" And if that is what you're thinking, you sir (or ma'am) are in luck!

A week or so back I was entering decklists (as I often do) and I came across this spicy little number...

DECKID=1188851

Yeah, take a good look at it.

That's right. Reap Intellect in the maindeck.

That's right. Four Kiora, the Crashing Wave in the maindeck.

That's right. Sepulchral Primordial...in the maindeck.

I bet some of you don't even know what two of those cards do! Go ahead and hover over them. I'll wait.

...

...

We good? Yeah, upon first seeing it I thought this deck was nothing like anything in Standard currently, but I had no idea how the deck actually worked. Then Melissa and I ran into it in a two man queue. We thought we were in winning position, then wham, our opponent chose to return all our permanents with an overloaded Cyclonic Rift at the end of our turn. But that's not all! With all of our permanents now in our hand, he cast Reap Intellect with X being four. What happened next was that my opponent chose one Burning-Tree Emissary, one Polukranos, World Eater, one Garruk, Caller of Beasts, and one Arbor Colossus. He was then able to pluck all additional copies of those cards out of my hand, graveyard, and library. I'll leave it to you to imagine what happened next.

While Reap Intellect doesn't seem very impressive on the surface, it can be an absolutely gamebreaking card with the right accoutrements.

Let's see if I can show you what I mean.

BUG Control vs. Boros Burn

BUG Control vs. Monoblack Devotion

BUG Control vs. Boros Burn, Match 2

BUG Control vs. Naya Midrange

3-1 for the deck is perfectly fine by me, especially against four pretty popular and powerful archetypes. Despite the deck having an extremely weird configuration for certain cards, it seems to be very effective at what it's trying to do.

While there were plenty of times I wanted a third Dissolve or a second (or third) Hero's Downfall, somehow the deck always managed to draw enough answers or the right answers to the problems it was facing. Except for the Naya match I suppose. I would attribute this to the sheer number of scry and drawing effects in the deck. There are about 19 cards in the deck that either let you draw cards or scry cards, and that's a pretty decent amount. About one third of the deck actually.

I'm still not quite sold on Festering Newt in the sideboard and I don't know if those would actually just be better as a couple more Hero's Downfall and another Abrupt Decay and a Dissolve or some Ultimate Prices, but it's hard to complain with the way the deck seemed to come together.

Reap Intellect is really the all-star of the deck. Not because it pulls the most weight really, but simply because it's so obscure. I had to read what it did the first time it was cast against me. It's a surprisingly innocuous little card that can essentially win games on its own when you cast it for three or more, let alone when you're able to Overload a Cyclonic Rift beforehand.

I also found another version of the deck that managed to Top 8 a more recent Magic Online Premier Event.

DECKID=1190016

This deck's skeleton is almost identical, only this version has more creatures, a few alternate numbers on some cards, and fewer Reap Intellect; and by "fewer" I mean "none." I personally loved the Reap Intellect as a win condition that basically rips the opponent's game out of their hand, but I can definitely see how some people might think it was too clunky or cute. I think the deck in either form has plenty of ways to buy time, dig for cards, and fill the opponent's hand with their own threats in order to cast a successful Reap Intellect, but again, I can see why someone might want another creature in that slot too. It pretty much comes down to preference I feel, but it would seem that the core of this BUG list has been having some success so it might be worth taking a deeper look at.

This second list has also removed the Festering Newts. They chose to go with Doom Blade it looks like, but I think I would err on the side of Ultimate Price personally, as the only thing it doesn't hit are things like Ghor-Clan Rampager and Nightveil Specter, while it does end up hitting Pack Rat and Desecration Demon. Again though, as with the rest of the choices, this comes down to preference. It is worth noting that there are not two copies of Ultimate Price in the maindeck that have replaced the two Bile Blights. While Bile Blight was great when it worked, the mana cost is rather prohibitive and against the Naya deck I would have given up my kingdom of Festering Newts and Bile Blights for a single Ultimate Price for their Polukranos, World Eater.

As far as card advantage goes, they also traded one Read the Bones and the singleton Inspiration for an Urban Evolution and four Courser of Kruphix (presuming you can "draw" some lands off of this guy).

While I still find it incredibly strange that the deck doesn't choose to play any Jace, Architect of Thought, the fact that neither deck chose to play any does seem to say something.

Magic Online user Azren seemed to agree with me, as the second version of the deck contained all four copies of Dissolve: a card I was always digging for and never unhappy to draw.

All in all the "updated" version of the deck contains a lot of changes that I was already considering making while still being true to the original spirit of the deck! More so than I would have expected, and while I'm afraid that adding Courser of Kruphix to the deck turns on some of their otherwise dead removal in the early game, I do love that card. I think I would personally find a way to include a Reap Intellect or two simply because that's my kind of card. But then again, it can be a terrible topdeck. Thus is my struggle: do I play obscure cards I love that can be backbreaking in a specific context, or do I eschew them for cards that are good at all points? Perhaps one day I will find the answer. Thanks for reading and I'll catch you guys on Monday.

Frank Lepore
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