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A Thoughtseizing Brew

Waste Not.dec

Maindeck (36)
Drainpipe Vermin
Rakdos's Return
Slate Street Ruffian
Mind Rot
Waste Not
Liliana's Reaver
Ordeal of Erebos
Whispering Madness
Liliana Vess
Underworld Connections
Lands (24)
Temple of Deceit
Temple of Malice
Temple of Epiphany
Watery Grave
Blood Crypt
Steam Vents
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Sideboard (15)
Hero's Downfall
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Pack Rat
Underworld Connections
Soul Ransom
Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Waste Not, the card designed by the Magic community. It has a bit of a ring to it, wouldn’t you say? To say that Waste Not has been a source of speculation and controversy among the Magic community is quite the understatement. In the deck above we see the card aligned with some of the most powerful discard spells in Standard. There’s just some sort of sweet feeling that can be had from making your opponent unable to do most anything. And getting ahead while doing it? Well, that’s just icing on the cake.

It’s fairly clear that Waste Not is the engine that makes this deck go round. It will be targeted by enchantment hate, it will be sighed at, and it will be raged upon. The most powerful part of Waste Not is that it’s able to do something regardless of what your opponent has discarded. You can play Waste Not, then the very next turn cast Mind Rot. No matter what your opponent discards, they’re getting behind. You could get more mana to cast another discard spell. You could get a creature. You could draw, hey, look, another discard spell!

And, as if that weren’t evil enough, it triggers off of each card your opponent discards. Suddenly, Mind Rot – under perfect circumstances – becomes a four for one. They discard two cards. You get any two: a creature, free mana, or another card. Off of one spell. And yes, this does require having Waste Not, but Mind Rot has never been a bad card by itself. Even Thoughtseize and Duress become so much better alongside Waste Not.

At its core, the Waste Not deck looks to create a ton of advantage while swinging in with an army of Zombies. Waste Not and Liliana’s Reaver both generate Zombies, while cards such as Drainpipe Vermin and Slate Street Ruffian are extra threats that enable Waste Not as a handy bonus. It’s even possible, if your opponent wants to protect their hand as much as possible, that these cards will end up applying enough pressure to put your opponent in the awkward position of having to choose between their dwindling life total and their precious hand. That’s a choice that’s favorable for you regardless of what your opponent chooses.

Another obvious inclusion for this deck is Rakdos’s Return. The synergy and power level of the “reverse Sphinx’s Revelation” in a deck like this makes it a solid four-of that I’m happy to have in that slot. The greatest part about Rakdos’s Return is that it can be both an early and late play. Of course the more mana you have to sink into it the more value you get out of it, but even early paying four mana to have an opponent discard two cards and take two damage is… somehow familiar. Blightning, anyone? Yes, Rakdos’s Return is strictly worse when you pay four mana for two cards and two damage, but Rakdos’s Return does have the advantage to also be four cards and four damage. Or six cards and six damage. Or, if your opponent is low enough on life, a straight-up “Win the game” spell. Nevermind what begins to happen when you have Waste Not on the field at the same time as casting a Rakdos’s Return.

There are several cards in the deck that could be argued to “not fit”. Ordeal of Erebos, Whispering Madness, Underworld Connections, and Liliana Vess are among them. Ordeal of Erebos could be argued as being too slow for the deck, but, here’s the kicker, either your opponent kills whatever you go to put Ordeal onto – most likely a Drainpipe Vermin, which lets you make them discard anyway – or you get to pump your guy while your opponent searches for an answer. If Ordeal ever pops, not only will you likely either have a 4/4 or a 5/5, your opponent will be down two more cards, and the delay between Ordeal dropping and then being sacrificed gives you time to play more disruption and answers, to the point where you very well could have a Waste Not on the field after you’ve played Ordeal.

Another oddball for the deck is Whispering Madness. The card is a one of, just because I believe that getting any more than one in any given situation is overkill. The best and worst part of the card is that both players have to discard their hand. And then, depending on the situation, you both get to refill your hand. The card is designed to pull you out of a nosedive, when your opponent has drawn several cards and you haven’t had the disruption spells to answer them. As far as Cipher goes for Whispering Madness, I’ll say what’s been said before. Cipher is an underwhelming mechanic and only very good when you know for a fact that you’ll be able to connect. That being said, if you Cipher Whispering Madness even once, the game is very likely going to end in your favor.

Underworld Connections is strong. It’s been proven time and time again by the black devotion decks that have been running around. The card provides serious advantage and drawing an extra card every turn will make the game swing significantly in your favor. There’s a third Underworld Connections in the sideboard just in case your matchup is against a slow, grinding deck. You need to be able to keep up with cards like Sphinx’s Revelation.

Liliana Vess is definitely not the strongest planeswalker ever printed, but she fits perfectly into a deck like this. The deck is, after all, a discard deck. Being able to tutor for an answer or a specific spell just makes her that much better. Even if Liliana only gets one card for you, she will be a threat that your opponent is basically required to answer and could buy you time to get back into a position where you’re controlling the game, not your opponent.

Let’s briefly look at the sideboard, and where I expect each card to come into play. Hero’s Downfall comes in against any creature heavy strategy alongside Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. Pack Rat and Underworld Connections come in against similar decks that you need to have an aggressive and powerful answer to that is hard to answer unless it’s answered the turn it’s played. Gray Merchant of Asphodel should need no introduction, and at its core this deck is playing enough black permanents to make him worth it. Skullcrack is an answer to Sphinx’s Revelation decks. Soul Ransom generally comes in against Monsters decks, where it forces your opponent to sacrifice some of their hand to get their biggest threat back, all while providing you with more value from Waste Not.

To say that I’m excited for this deck is a bit of an understatement. I look forward to building it once Magic 2015 is officially released.

Thanks for reading!

Nathan M.