Exploring Alternative Decklists

Today’s article isn’t particularly an article with an ending. Rather, it is a series of beginnings. I’ve been exploring a bunch of alternatives to traditional D&T, most of which have fallen under the umbrella category of the Hateful 8 or various mono-white prison strategies. I’ve played a handful of games with each of the variants below, so I just want to walk you through what I’ve been testing since my last article. Testing new ideas, well, can be frustrating to say the least. It’s rare that your brew is actually legitimately groundbreaking in any way. It’s much more common that you create a deck that could wreck a specific metagame, but has gaping weaknesses of some nature. Here’s a look at about three week’s worth of failures:

Sean Brown's Brew

Creature: (26) (28)
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Phyrexian Revoker
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Magus of the Moon
Simian Spirit Guide
Sanctum Prelate
Scab-Clan Berserker
Palace Jailer
Pia and Kiran Nalaar

Non-Creature Spells: (10) (10)
Chalice of the Void
Chrome Mox
Dismember
Umezawa’s Jitte

Lands: (22) (22)
Ancient Tomb
Cavern of Souls
Wasteland
Karakas
Flooded Strand
Plateau
Plains
Sideboard: (15) (15)
Rest in Peace
Containment Priest
Stoneforge Mystic
Mindbreak Trap
Sudden Demise
Disenchant
Ajani Vengeant
Batterskull

This was my first starting point after my last article. I got this list from Sean Brown, who has been walking a very similar path to my own over the past few months. I didn’t like his inclusion of the double red cards, but the additional of extra mana acceleration and Magus of the Moon were both promising. That brought me to try the next list:

Hateful 8 v4

Lands (23)
Plains
Plateau
Flooded Strand
Wasteland
Ghost Quarter
Karakas

Creatures (25)
Palace Jailer
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Stoneforge Mystic
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Phyrexian Revoker
Magus of the Moon
Flickerwisp
Aven Mindcensor

Spells (12)
Swords to Plowshares
Chrome Mox
Sword of Feast and Famine
Sword of Fire and Ice
Crucible of Worlds
Sideboard (15)
Path to Exile
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist
Council’s Judgment
Rest in Peace
Surgical Extraction
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Stoneforge Mystic
Umezawa’s Jitte

I was interested to see how well an extremely light splash would go, and the answer was, in fact, quite well. Magus gave the deck a very strong tutor target against the three color midrange decks of the format, Eldrazi, and Lands. The Magus was a bit of a nonbo with Ghost Quarter and Path to Exile though. The mana denial portion of this deck was pushed pretty hard, resulting in it being extremely strong when on the play or with Chrome Mox in the opener. Hands without Chrome Mox and being on the draw made the deck loose some oomph though. Keeping that I mind, I tried the following:

Hateful 8 v5

Lands (23)
13 Plains
Wasteland
Ghost Quarter
Karakas

Creatures (26)
Palace Jailer
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Stoneforge Mystic
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Phyrexian Revoker
Flickerwisp
Aven Mindcensor
Spirit of the Labyrinth

Spells (11)
Swords to Plowshares
Chrome Mox
Sword of Feast and Faminine
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa’s Jitte
Sideboard (15)
Path to Exile
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist
Council’s Judgment
Rest in Peace
Surgical Extraction
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Crucible of Worlds

I thought that putting a few Spirits in the deck might smooth and the draws a bit, giving me another viable two drop that still contributed to the prison plan. This version didn’t feel quite right, so I explored things with another two drop…

Hateful 8 v6

Lands (23)
13 Plains
Wasteland
Ghost Quarter
Karakas

Creatures (24)
Palace Jailer
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Leonin Arbiter
Sanctum Prelate
Phyrexian Revoker
Aven Mindcensor
Spirit of the Labyrinth

Spells (13)
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Chrome Mox
Sword of Fire and Ice
Umezawa’s Jitte
Crucible of Worlds
Sideboard (16)
Path to Exile
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist
Council’s Judgment
Rest in Peace
Stoneforge Mystic
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Sword of War and Peace
Batterskull

This deck denied mana extremely efficiently, but it absolutely could not deal with opposing threats. A Goyf that slipped through gave this deck fits. It also suffered from the problem of being significantly better on the play than on the draw. I wondered it I should try another approach on acceleration, resulting in this terrible deck.

Hateful 8 Maverick Hybrid v7

Creatures (28)
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Birds of Paradise
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Sanctum Prelate
Stoneforge Mystic
Knight of the Reliquary
Noble Hierarch
Aven Mindcensor
Tireless Tracker

Spells (9)
Umezawa’s Jitte
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sylvan Library
Swords to Plowshares
Life from the Loam

Lands (23)
Horizon Canopy
Windswept Heath
Ghost Quarter
Forest
Plains
Gaea’s Cradle
Wasteland
Karakas
Savannah
Verdant Catacombs
Marsh Flats
Sideboard (14)
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Qasali Pridemage
Garruk Relentless
Ethersworn Canonist
Gaddock Teeg
Choke
Surgical Extraction
Reclamation Sage

I figured it would be wonderful to consistently accelerate out cards like Sanctum Prelate and Aven Mindecensor, and I wasn’t wrong. However, I sacrificed the toolbox option of Green Sun’s Zenith, which was perhaps one of the best reasons to play Maverick in the first place. Some of this deck’s draws felt unbeatable, while others really fell flat. I abandoned that one pretty quickly.

Hateful 8 v7

Lands (23)
Plains
Plateau
Flooded Strand
Wasteland
Cavern of Souls
Karakas

Creatures (27)
Palace Jailer
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
Stoneforge Mystic
Angel of Invention
Sanctum Prelate
Recruiter of the Guard
Magus of the Moon
Simian Spirit Guide

Spells (10)
Swords to Plowshares
Chrome Mox
Umezawa’s Jitte
Sword of Fire and Ice
Sideboard (15)
Path to Exile
Containment Priest
Ethersworn Canonist
Council’s Judgment
Rest in Peace
Stoneforge Mystic
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Batterskull
Sword of War and Peace

I then returned to a list closer to first iteration. I cut the double red cards of Shawn’s build that I wasn’t fond of previously, and tried out a few new things. Angel of Invention was a nod to the fact that I really needed a tutorable finisher to balance out all of the prison pieces. It underperformed, unfortunately. It traded with a flipped Delver or a Baleful Strix, which was really disappointing. As an anthem effect, it was quite good; pumping a board of prison pieces and swinging for a surprise lethal attack stole me a few games. It did some silly things with Flickerwisp, but it rarely actually ran away with the game like I imagined it might.

Jailer Control

Lands (23)
13 Plains
Wasteland
Cavern of Souls
Karakas

Creatures (24)
Mother of Runes
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Stoneforge Mystic
Recruiter of the Guard
Sanctum Prelate
Phyrexian Revoker
Palace Jailer
Flickerwisp
Eldrazi Displacer
Gisela, the Broken Blade or Restoration Angel

Spells (14)
Swords to Plowshares
AEther Vial
Umezawa’s Jitte
Sword of Fire and Ice
Path to Exile
Sideboard (15)
Surgical Extraction
Sanctum Prelate
Spirit of the Labyrinth
Ethersworn Canonist
Sword of War and Peace
Council’s Judgment
Rest in Peace
Pithing Needle
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Throughout this testing process, I realized that I *really* liked Palace Jailer. It was taking over games and providing a one-sided Howling Mine in many matchups. My opponents were regularly misplaying against it, assuming it was like Banisher Priest, and it turned every Recruiter into a potential cantripping removal spell. I tried pushing that idea a little further; I wanted to make a Place Jailer deck rather than a deck with Palace Jailer in it, and this list was the result.

Repeatedly blinking Palace Jailer is pretty much unbeatable for the fair decks of the format. To make it to that point, the deck placed a full playset of Path to Exile in addition to the normal removal. Palace Jailer allowed the deck to refuel after using removal early on. The deck struggled a little bit with Shardless, as Baleful Strix and Shardless Agent kept the threats flowing and could overwhelm my removal. I abandoned this idea, but I could see Palace Jailer finding a home in a similar shell. It might fit better as a central card in some sort of Angel Stompy deck with a Moat to hide behind.

Alrighty, that’s all I’ve got for today. I’m currently working on learning the MTGO client so that I can start producing D&T content. So excuse me while I go and jam some drafts while I learn how to hold priority and all that jazz…

About the Author

Phil Gallagher

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