When all the Theros cards were being spoiled, I remember seeing a few that really caught my attention. One of them was Prophet of Kruphix, as those of you who read my previous article already know. There were some other aggressive cards that I also looked forward to playing with, like Tormented Hero and Boon Satyr.

Then there was Tymaret, The Murder King.

For only two mana, you get a 2/2 body with a couple potentially strong, efficient costing abilities. One problem with aggressive strategies that I encounter when I play them is that they lose steam very quickly once the opponent puts up a wall like Loxodon Smiter or Desecration Demon. Red-based aggro decks, however, have the advantage of burn to help them close out a game. Utilizing Tymaret once a midrange deck puts out their blockers could potentially allow the aggro deck to burn them out for game, getting more usage out of their early game board advantage. The one problem with this strategy, I thought, was the problem of sacrificing away all your dudes. Dealing damage is great, but at the cost of board presence? Not so hot.

But then I remembered that Xathrid Necromancer was a card. Right before rotation I brewed a pretty-janky, but really fun FNM Deck that featured Xathrid Necromancer called “Golgari Humans.” The deck, which featured Hamlet Captain, Mayor of Avabruck, Champion of Lambholt, Burning Tree Emissary, and Xathrid Necromancer was relatively successful at my local game store (even against more competitive decks). I was surprised, genuinely, that the deck was even playable, let alone able to win an FNM against then-recognized decks like Azorious Control and Big Red. The one card I thought that was able to push this deck from jank to semi-competitive was Xathrid Necromancer. Having him not only allowed me to get more aggressive with my swings, it also gave me some back up against Supreme Verdict and the ability to block well.

I decided that Xathrid Necromancer and Tymaret should become friends, and came up with the following deck list:


Creatures: (30)
Tormented Hero
Burning Tree Emissary
Gore-House Chainwalker
Firefist Striker
Ash Zealot
Tymaret, The Murder King
Xathrid Necromancer
Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch

Instant/Sorcery: (8)
Magma Jet
Lightning Strike
Lands: (22)
Blood Crypt
Rakdos Guildgate
10 Mountain

Sideboard: (15)
Thrill-Kill Assasin
Act of Treason
Doom Blade
Ratchet Bomb

It is important, I feel, to first note that this deck does not rely on the Xathrid/Tyramet combo. Of course, it is nice to have both out, but the deck can always play the aggro game. Turn one Tormented Hero, into Burning Tree Emissary and a friend, into turn three another guy followed by burn spells or Exava is always a good bet. However, the interactions get a little bonkers once either Xathrid or Tymaret come online; that’s why I’m running full playsets of each card. The ability to sacrifice for damage, or just sacrificing in damage, is very versatile. Although it costs mana every time, this gives our aggro deck something do with its extra lands in the midgame. This, combined with the potential to get 2/2 zombies every time I do it, is why I built the deck.

Admittedly, this deck is mainly in the ‘theory crafting’ stage, because I have yet to do very much testing with it. That being said, I have tested it against an Orzhov Midrange style deck, and the Mono Green list that placed well at the most recent Star City Games Open, and have been satisfied with how it played out. The amount of reach into the midgame given by Tymaret and Xathrid synergy is what draws me to a deck like this. My favorite sort of decks have always been aggressive decks with fun interactions that let them get tricky against the decks that go bigger than them. For an example of this look to any deck that featured Blood Artist: zombie strategies, The Aristocrats, those kind of decks. This deck would love to have the good ‘ol artist around, but sadly he’s gone to Standard forever. One thing I feel the deck could use is another device to generate advantage off of things dying. I’ve considered Dark Prophecy, but the triple black seems greedy when we also want to play full sets of Burning Tree Emissary and Ash Zealot. We’ll see what the next set has to offer on this front.

Let’s move to the Sideboard, which I’ve tweaked for the meta that I’ve seen personally, as well as the top placing decks from the most recent SCG Opens. Although we’ve got a way to deal with boardwipes in Xathrid Necromancer, control decks gaining a bunch of life with Sphinx’s Revelation is always a problem. For control, I’m packing three Duress and a couple Thoughtseizes. These cards can also go in against removal decks, like the BWR list that I’ve seen played. Ideally, you’d like to rip the Anger of the Gods from their hand, but more likely you’ll just have to play around it and make sure not to dump your hand. For decks like BWR that rely on Desecration Demon and other big fatties, as well as bigger green decks, we’ve got three Act of Treason. This card can be a total blow out, especially if we’ve got enough mana to sacrifice their creature to the Murder King. If not, that’s okay, because we’ll probably be able to close out the game by simply swinging with their biggest blocker. Against Green decks, I’m packing a couple Doom Blades as extra removal. I’m not a fan of getting eaten alive by Advent of the Wurm and Voice of Resurgence tokens, so I’m packing a Ratchet Bomb against the popular G/W Aggro build. Against more aggressive decks, thinking specifically of Mono Red here, we take out our Firefist Strikers for Thrill-Kill Assassins when we’re on the draw.
Playing this deck, especially when Tymaret gets involved, can be a little complicated, but very satisfying when it works the way it wants to. Sacrificing dudes to get in for damage, generate tokens, or prevent life link are all options. Also declaring a chump block and then sacrificing your weenie to return Tymaret to the hand, or get in for more damage are also options. The deck is not as straightforward as other aggro strategies, which may turn some people off, but to other Johnnies out there this will pique their interest. I’d like to get some more testing in with this deck to see if it’s ready for competitive play, but on paper it looks like a really fun deck that can pull of some insane tricks.
Got any suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

Adrian Barnello.