It all started with Ashiok. When Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver was first spoiled, I wasn’t too excited about the card, but over time it started growing on me and I found myself attempting to brew decks with the card. Ranging from including it with a BUG Duskmantle Seer build, to creating a Dimir Control deck, Ashiok came in and out of my testing from time to time. I eventually moved back to winning decks such as UWx control and Monsters, but couldn’t get away from Ashiok. It’s still safe to say that Ashiok doesn’t have a home just yet, but I started getting hopeful recently.
The list that brought me back to Ashiok came from an SCG Open in which a Jund Walkers deck made 2nd. The list itself is exciting enough to play, with only 4 creatures, the deck wins with planeswalkers and tons of removal. I liked the list a lot, but I also like playing with blue cards, so I thought to myself “What if I get rid of red and add blue?” Green and Black are the best core for the deck, and although I would be losing Xenagos and Chandra, I’d get to add Jace, Kiora, and, my personal favorite, Ashiok. So with this mentality I went about brewing a BUG Walkers list that can compete with real decks. After some testing and tweaking, I present you this wonderful list:
This list is similar to the Jund Walkers list with a few exceptions I will go over. The idea is to kill everything the opponent has and drop planeswalkers that can finish up the game. Sylvan Caryatid provides ramp and a blocker for aggro while Courser of Kruphix provides pseudo card advantage, lifegain, and another blocker. The only other creature is a singleton Soul of Ravnica (another card I can’t seem to pull myself away from playing). The Soul provides another threat that I felt the deck was lacking. Being a 6/6 flyer that can draw cards isn’t that bad as people give it credit for, but I will admit, it’s nothing great. This is an iffy addition and may be taken out down the line, but I still want to test it out.
Next is the core of the set, the planeswalkers. We get a good amount of representation in our colors. Let’s break them down.
Ashiok, while unassuming, can provide a hassle and is sometimes just a distraction while they attack it or waste a removal spell on it. It can runaway with the game, and I’ve had the fun of taking an opponent’s Pack Rat and dropping rat tokens to victory. The three drop is easy to cast early on if there are no threats, and if left unchecked, can ruin a control player’s day. Yes, there negatives with Ashiok, but I’m holding out and keeping it in for better or worse.
Jace, Architect of Thought is our next planeswalker. After its long time in Standard, the advantages of Jace are well known. He provides card draw when needed, and answers to attackers against aggro. There is a reason he is a staple in the format for control decks. The card draw is especially helpful since I am not running any card draw specific spells like Sign in Blood or Divination.
Kiora, The Crashing Wave provides us a replacement of Xenagos. Losing Xenagos means we lose early creatures and pressure that the Jund version enjoys. Kiora gives us more control by putting a permanent in a “bubble” for a turn. This is good against cards such as Mutavault and Keranos (which can be a problem), while allowing the deck to get closer to one of it’s win conditions. Ulitmating Kiora is a plan and 9/9 Krakens can be difficult to deal with. The Explore option of Kiora is also nice, giving the deck a bit more card draw and ramp to hit our higher cost spells.
Vraska the Unseen helps us with removing pesky nonland permanents, and if left unchecked, can be a win condition. I’ll admit, I’ve only made assassin tokens once and my opponent followed up with a Jace to negate my assassins, but it was a fun play. In reality, Vraska will be destroying one thing before your opponent removes it.
Garruk, Apex Predator is my other finisher. Getting to 7 mana is not a problem for this deck, and making beasts each turn helps put pressure on. Being able to remove a planeswalker and gaining life from removing a creature helps in a bind as well.
Finally we focus on the removal suite, which is very similar to the Jund Walkers list. I won’t go into the details as you can see what most everything is used for; and remember Golgari Charm can get rid of enchantment creatures so don’t forget to use it on a pesky Courser if needed. The main addition is a one of Silence the Believers. I added silence to give me a little late game edge on removing two things as well as dealing with active gods. The exile is relevant in dealing with a Voice or Scuttling Doom engine, while getting rid of the enchantment helps with bestowed creatures. While these are major issues that you will come across, it does help and I think having one copy is fine. The next addition is 2 Aehterspouts which are great against attacking armies and especially great against Mutavaults. I just recently went up to two to see if that would make a difference.
The sideboard is still a work in progress but we are including 4 Thoughtseize, 3 Desecration Demon, and more spot removal. The Demons are a great card to side in, because they change your tempo and allow you to be more aggressive, especially if your opponent sides out a lot of their removal after game one. The deck is fun to play and give you a lot of options to make during matches. Game one strategy is to remove every threat while dropping planeswalker after planeswalker. Ashiok will still haunt me and while I’m not sure if the card belongs in this deck, I will still play it until common sense kicks in and tells me to add something else.