Hello everyone, my name is Zachary Elrod and like many of you I enjoy Magic. Part of the enjoyment I get is from brewing my own decks and that’s what this article and hopefully many more will be about. With the release of M13 we got a decent amount of cards to work with. In this article I will be focusing on Battle of Wits. I have been playing it since the release of M13 and have been doing surprisingly well with it. I have split in the finals of an FNM and Top 8ed a six man Standard event with this deck.
Now that we have the beginning out of the way, let’s get started. Right now is probably the best time for a Battle of Wits deck to do well. We have what is probably the best selection of removal, compared to any other time in Standard. We also have a nice selection of mass removal and card draw. While the card draw could be a little better it is sufficient enough to run the deck without a problem.
I began to create a rough draft of the deck once they spoiled Battle of Wits and then once the full spoiler came out I came up with the first iteration of the deck. Which, you can see below.4x Battle of Wits 4x Oblivion ring 4x Curse of Death’s Hold 4x Vessel of Endless Rest 4x Pristine Talisman 4x Sphere of the Suns 4x Gilded Lotus 4x Elixir of Immortality 4x Mortarpod 2x Ratchet Bomb 2x Gideon Jura 4x Rune-Scarred Demon 4x Solemn Simulacrum 4x Augur of Bolas 3x Trinket Mage 2x Consecrated Sphinx 4x Think Twice 4x Forbidden Alchemy 4x Thought Scour 4x Mana Leak 4x Dissipate 4x Go for the Throat 4x Doom Blade 4x Tragic Slip 4x Tribute to Hunger 3x Temporal Mastery 4x Sever the Bloodline 4x Devastation Tide 4x Distant Memories 4x Ponder 4x Gitaxian Probe 4x Amass the Components 4x Lingering Souls 4x Day of Judgement 4x Terminus 4x Black Sun’s Zenith 4x Increasing Ambition 4x Diabolic Revelation 4x Barter in Blood 4x Diabolic Tutor 4x Duress 16x Plains 22x Swamp 32x Island 1x Shimmering Grotto 4x Evolving Wilds 2x Ghost Quarter 4x Glacial Fortress 4x Seachrome Coast 4x Isolated Chapel 4x Drowned Catacombs 2x Darkslick Shores
So as you may see, this list is not exactly fine-tuned. I recently played this version at my local game shop’s free 100 dollar Standard tournament . I won’t bore you with a report, however I did do fairly well. There were 6 rounds with a cut to top 8. I got to draw in the last round to make top 8. I was paired against this deck’s worst matchup, mono green Dungrove. I lost in 3 close games. It turns out that being on the play versus those types of decks is somewhat crucial, as I was a turn away from stabilizing in both games 1 and 3.
I want to take a minute to talk about some of the card choices in this deck that may not be in other Battle decks that you find online.
Diabolic Revelation is a card that I see a lot of list online neglecting. I understand that they don’t want to play it since it is a 6+ mana spell that doesn’t impact the board immediately. However I love this card because it lets you get cards to set up a turn that you can play Battle of Wits and protect it. Also you can play the long game versus almost any deck and this card lets you just run away with those games once you cast it for 2 or more. Needless to say a decent amount of my games have been won after I cast this card. Most of the times I am getting Battle of Wits and something like Dissipate to back it up. Sometimes you just have to use it to get a removal spell or wrath effect.
Distant Memories, Now this card is on more lists than Diabolic Revelation but I still don’t think it gets the love it actually deserves. You will probably never actually cast this card to get Battle of Wits since you will deffinently never get to keep it. In most cases you will use it to just draw 3 cards. And last time I checked 4 mana for 3 cards is good. Concentrate would be above the curve if it was in standard today and almost any control deck would play it so I see no reason not to play this in any Battle of Wits deck.
The last card that I want to talk about is Temporal Mastery. You have no idea how many games this will win you till you actually play the deck with them in it. I would say almost 90% of my games end with Temporal Master + Battle of Wits. Any blue deck would play blue Explore if it was a card. And that is what this is at its worst. It is not hard to get to where you have enough mana to hard cast this and Battle of Wits on the same turn. Also as a side note I am not always playing it for its miracle cost. I hard cast this more often than not.
I recently took a more refined list to FNM and ended up going 4-0 and Splitting first with another writer for this site, John Person. I had to play against Tempered Steel, Mono White Humans, W/B/R reanimator, and a Birthing Pod Battle of Wits deck. My only game loss in the event was to the Mono White Humans deck. Also before the tournament I had made a few changes to the deck which you can see below.
-2x Gideon Jura -2x Elixir of Immortality -1x Sever the Bloodline -2x Curse of Death’s Hold -4x Duress -3x Trinket Mage -4x Mortorpod -2x Devastation Tide +2x Ratchet Bomb +4x Shrine of Piercing Visions +4x Divination +2x Tamiyo, the Moon Sage +2x Grave Titan +2x Darkslick Shores +3x Shimmering grotto
I added the extra Ratchet Bombs so that I can see the more often, since a lot of the local meta-game is aggro deck variants. The Shrines and Divinations were added so that you have more chances to draw cards that help you dig for answers or Battle of Wits. I took out Gideon and added Tamiyo because I liked the abilities for the deck more so than Gideon. Her ability to draw cards has helped out tons. Plus you have tons of removal which make Gideon not as good of a card as he would be otherwise. The Grave Titans were added because I wanted some more creatures. That way I can actually end games without relying on Battle of Wits every game. And the lands were added so that the mana base could be a little better. I really like the changes that I have made and I am continuing to play the deck so that I can refine it more and more.
Playing this deck is probably the most fun I have had in a while playing Magic. I would recommend that you pick up this deck at least once while it is in standard. I wouldn’t recommend taking this to a bigger tournament unless you are good at shuffling and able to think quickly to identify what you need in certain situations. This deck is however is perfect for FNM.
So is there a card that you are interested in seeing a deck built around? If so leave it in the comments and I will choose one of them and try and come up with a deck that you can take to FNM and have a good shot at winning.
Well thanks for reading and I hope this article makes you want to go and try and play Battle of Wits. Until next time keep Brewing.