3 dreadful brews

Today I’ve got 3 decks I’ve been tuning and itching to share. They’re all totally different decks and they play totally different cards in totally different ways, so I hope you find something you enjoy. I’ve also included gameplay videos if you’re curious to see the decks in action (excuse my mumbling I’m new to recording.)

The first deck is a g/w 8post variant I’ve dubbed turbo colossus, because who doesn’t like swinging with an indestructible 20/20 trampler on turn 6?

Turbo Colossus

Creatures (10)
Kuldotha Forgemaster
Colossus of Akros

Spells (24)
Floodwater Dam
Cursed Scroll
Talisman of Unity
Sylvan Scrying
Everflowing Chalice
Tamiyo’s Journal
Dreamstone Hedron
Voltaic Key

Lands (22)
Dread Statuary
Urza’s Factory
Mystifying Maze
Mirrodin’s Core
Tranquil Garden
Sideboard (15)
Sacred Ground
Ground Seal
Uba Mask
Scrabbling Claws
Floodwater Dam

Since both glimmerpost and cloudpost are now legal in penny dreadful, people have tried all sorts of ways to abuse the ramp they provide. This list is fairly straight forward. Play out lots of land and artifact ramp (preferably with a voltaic key to untap and ramp even more) and then either play the Colossus of Akros, or if your opponent doesn’t know what you’re up to, you can be sneaky and wait until their end step to activate Kuldotha Forgemaster to put your colossus into play and then make it monstrous on your turn and swing. One point worth mentioning there is an interesting transformational sideboard with Uba Mask and Floodwater Dam, which is usually the plan for cutting off card advantage and mana against control. You’ll need to board out Masticore (since you’ll get empty handed) to make best use of the mask. I originally had a more lock-oriented list which also included null brooch, but then I realized I just liked beating people down with a 20/20 so I made that of the focus of the deck instead.

Here is a video of the deck in action:

The next deck can feel even more unfair, since you’ll be leaving your opponent with no permanents in play pretty regularly.

Balancing Act

Creatures (12)
Duskrider Peregrine
Errant Ephemeron
Deep-Sea Kraken
Ith, High Arcanist

Spells (26)
Balancing Act
Barbed Sextant
Peer Through Depths
Frantic Search

Lands (22)
Abandoned Outpost
Dwarven Ruins
Ruins of Trokair
Seafloor Debris
Svyelunite Temple
Ravaged Highlands
Sideboard (15)
Seal of Cleansing
Renewed Faith
Arc Blade
Scrabbling Claws
Riftmarked Knight

This entire deck revolves around finding and resolving a balancing act after suspending some creatures and sacrificing all your lands. Therefore, I had to go deep on the sac lands and play Dwarven Ruins with no red spells maindeck. It’s also obviously very easy for the entire plan to get blown out by a single counterspell, hence the maindeck negates. One interesting point worth mentioning is that cards like snapback and frantic search which cause you card disadvantage are actually counter-intuitively good if you can chain them into a balancing act since your opponent will have to discard also. An initial build had riftwing cloudskate, but it simply did not provide a fast enough clock, died very easily and the bounce was actually a drawback if it came off suspend with no other permanents in play. Duskrider Peregrine is a faster clock and dodges shriekmaw.

The final deck today is a 5 color deck built around a very strange card from coldsnap called Tamanoa.

5 Color Tamanoa

Creatures (19)
Jaddi Offshoot
Utopia Tree
Rattleclaw Mystic
Realm Razer
Numot, the Devastator

Spells (19)
Ankh of Mishra
Mana Breach
Searing Meditation
Cursed Scroll
Supply // Demand
Savage Twister
Utter End

Lands (22)
Evolving Wilds
Frontier Bivouac
Mystic Monastery
Vivid Meadow
Grand Coliseum
Sideboard (15)
Ground Seal
Searing Meditation
Utter End
Seal of Cleansing

The basic synergy here is Tamanoa with Ankh of Mishra. Lifegain triggers set off searing meditation. Mana Breach is the true MVP of the deck, and the main reason blue is in the deck. Any opponents who wants to chain together spells will have a difficult time with this card. It allows for Jaddi Offshoot‘s landfall triggers can be repeatedly activated as well. Damage based sweepers like Savage Twister and Slagstorm out the sideboard will ruin an aggro players day, esp if you have Tamanoa in play.  The deck does have a weakness to a large resolved threat, so the one-of utter end does serve a purpose other than allowing it to be called “5 color” Tamanoa.

The match below is actually two matches, and they’re not super representative of the deck, but my opponents deck was really sweet–albeit not super interactive– as well so I decided to use it anyway.

Hope you enjoyed the decks and videos, and may be you’ll pick one of them up to play or tune them for yourself. I know I’ve run into my own vampire deck a couple times already so that’s exciting, even though I predictably got stomped.  Probably didn’t hurt that it was also featured on Starcitygames.


Last time around I stumbled upon werewolves as a very powerful tribe in this format, but with the new rotation it seems like vampires got a real boost as well. More generally mono black (or x/black) got a real boost, with none other than the infamous Hymn to Tourach entering the format. In addition we gained gatekeeper of malakir, a solid value creature for mono black that just happens to have vampire in the typeline. Another vampire that became legal is limited all-star vampire nighthawk.

So in searching for a good monoblack shell naturally gravitated towards vampires. Last rotation, I was often trying to also find a good shell for Dark Tutelage, which I found was used best in a some aggro or aggro control deck that had a low curve and some incidental lifegain (I used it in B/W Clerics then). Here is the vampire list I have settled on thus far:

PD S2-Mono Black Vampires

Creatures (24)
Guul Draz Assassin
Vampire Lacerator
Indulgent Aristocrat
Gatekeeper of Malakir
Vampire Nighthawk
Pain Seer

Spells (15)
Devour Flesh
Hymn to Tourach
Call the Bloodline
Dark Tutelage

Lands (21)
21 Swamp
Sideboard (15)
Scrabbling Claws
Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
Mind Shatter
Coffin Purge
Malakir Bloodwitch

The deck is very aggressive and can dump its hand quickly due to the low mana curve, but with Pain Seer and Dark Tutelage, which do alright impressions of Dark Confidant here, it can also very easily bury the opponent in card advantage.  It has multiple creatures with lifelink to offset any losses, and in theory you could even devour flesh one of your own creatures, although I’ve never had to do that. Call the bloodline is very good in grindy matchups, and if you have dark tutelage and just 1 land in play (which has happened to me against an opponent playing wildfire) you don’t even care what you’re drawing, you can just keep pumping out 1/1 lifelinkers every turn.

I haven’t test the deck extensively, but it feels very powerful thus far. Obviously if your opponent manages to animate dead a worldgorger dragon in turn 3 you might be in trouble, so 6 sideboard slots are dedicated preventing that. (Depending on how they’re planning to kill you, if you can get sangromancer online, it will stop some of their kill options since you will get 3 life every loop.) Also memoricide because that card is good against a lot of different combos and decks which are low on wincons.

That being said, if you want to ditch the vampire tribe, there are some other good options in mono or x/ black which are now allowed. Draw spells like sign in blood and read the bones, a beater like nantuko shade, aggressive creatures like carnophage and sarcomancy, terror-on-a-stick in Shriekmaw, and a slew of other options. And I haven’t even touched on recurring nightmare, but that card probably deserves a post of its own. As always, let me know what you think in the comments.

Lands: Part 3

Welcome back! Time to finish off my list of lands with the “doesn’t-produce-colour-usually” lands! I need to think of better names.

Blight Cycle

Blighted Cataract
Blighted Fen
Blighted Gorge
Blighted Steppe
Blighted Woodland

Late-game powerhouses. The C-only part is super damning, though since you need to tap out to use the ability, and you lose the land. All of these will probably break a board stall, but at a less-than-impressive cost.

Ravnica Guildhomes

Duskmantle House of Shadow
Nivix, Aerie of the Firemind
Svogthos, the Restless Tomb
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
Prahv, Spires of Order
Skarrg, the Rage Pits
Orzhova, the Church of Deals
Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
Novijen, Heart of Progress

These all have their positives and negatives. For some generic and two different-coloured mana, you get an ability that can possibly change the outcome of the game drastically. Orzhova’s Home won’t break any backs, but is a decent move when you have nothing else to do. Skarrg might get a bit of damage through. Nivix’s will let you cast a Burst Lightning, if you’re lucky.

On the other hand, Sunhome could be disastrous. Doublestrike on-command for your strongest unblocked creature is incredibly powerful. Novijen’s could be incredibly strong in a tokens deck, and could be as good as an anthem.

Dark Ascension Utility Lands

Moorland Haunt
Nephalia Drownyard
Stensia Bloodhall
Grim Backwoods
Alchemist’s Refuge
Gavony Township
Kessig Wolf Run
Vault of the Archangel
Desolate Lighthouse
Slayers’ Stronghold

I have a weird opinion with these. Nearly all of them could be useful in the right shell. Alchemist’s Refuge is probably my favourite since you can drop a bomb on your opponent’s EOT, completely evading sorcery speed removal. Nephalia Drownyard is a nice mill bonus if you’re almost victorious, but are out of gas and need to run on fumes. Moorland Haunt feels pretty okay, with the only restriction (exiling a creature in your graveyard) being a massive crippling blow. That condition makes it balanced, but we don’t want “balanced” when building a deck. We want to break the format.

Panorama Lands

Bant Panorama
Esper Panorama
Grixis Panorama
Jund Panorama
Naya Panorama

These are odd. They can provide specific fixing if you need it or can stay colourless if you need an untapped land this turn. I want to compare these to the Vivid Lands. You won’t always use the second ability, maybe maybe you won’t ever. But the fact that it’s there is very helpful. Especially if you have a bit of mana open EOT and want to go fetch a land. Very good manabase. every deck in one of the triple-colours available here should run a few Panoramas.

Tribal Utility Lands

Daru Encampment
Goblin Burrows
Seaside Haven
Starlit Sanctum
Grove of the Guardian
Riptide Laboratory
Unholy Grotto
Wirewood Lodge
Contested Cliffs

Goblin Aggro, Cleric Drain Control, Soldier Midrange. If you aren’t doing one of these, these lands aren’t for you.

C-Or-Any Lands

Unknown Shores/Shimmering Grotto
Holdout Settlement
Crumbling Vestige
Grand Coliseum
Honorable Mention: Unstable Frontier

All of these have ways to get a mana of any colour. Grand Coliseum is probably the best of the bunch, a staple in 4C goodstuff where you might not mind getting pinged.

Other C Functional Lands

Encroaching Wastes
Gargoyle Castle
Mystifying Maze
Reliquary Tower
Gods’ Eye, Gate to Reikai
Phyrexia’s Core
Ghost Town
Maze of Shadows
Stalking Stones
Seraph Santuary
Dread Statuary
Urza’s Factory
Zoetic Cavern
Mouth of Ronom
Rogue’s Passage
Blinkmoth Well

You need to make your own opinions about these. They fit in decks that need them, but shouldn’t be forced into any other deck except “those that want these lands badly”. The exception to this rule would probably be Rogue’s Passage, a decent card for any kind of Bogles Strategy.


Hellion Crucible
Ice Floe
Keldon Necropolis
Nantuko Monastery
Safe Haven
Sorrow’s Path

Okay, hear me out in a bit. I’m going t explain when you want to play Sorrow’s Path. Turst me, it’s not that bad.

First of all; Ice Floe is passable in a control deck to shut down your opponent’s bomb. Not having a Pathrazer of Ulamog swing in every turn can buy you some time and for the price of a land drop, Ice Floe could save your ass. Just don’t play a playset unless you want your opponent to hate you.

Now, Sorrow’s Path. Here’s the keyword when playing this card: Trample.

Swing in with a reasonably-sized threat (maybe a 3/2) and a large, trampling threat (9/6 with trample). They block your 3/2 with a 2/2 and your 9/6 with a 6/6. If you swap the blockers, you’re getting in a bunch of extra damage that you wouldn’t otherwise. It also can royally fuck over your opponent, especially if you mix First Strike into the mix to wreck their best creatures.


Evolving Wilds
Mountain Valley
Rocky Tar Pit
Flood Plain
Bad River

These cards can be relevant. Fetching for non-basics is pretty big. Unfortunately, we don’t really have many non-basic lands with basic land types. Playable for deck consistency and thinning, but only if you need the graveyard fodder and you’ve already run all the tri-lands.
Evolving Wilds is just decent if you want graveyard stuff in more-that-three, but otherwise, prioritize the focus fetches first.

Okay, that’s all the lands. Thanks for reading, sorry for me missing last week!

I’ll continue this series next week. Be excited!

Dreadful Combo

Since time immemorial (or the release of Alpha in 1993) Magic decks could be categorized as falling into the categories of aggro, control or combo. Decks do not necessarily fall neatly into just one of these categories, but often have elements of multiple. This is true in every format[1], and it’s true in Penny dreadful as well.

Although there are some interesting card interactions in penny dreadful, combo decks inherently suffer because combo decks need to be fast enough to race aggro and resilient enough to beat control. Since there is very little fast mana in the format (outside of the exquisite and obviously broken dark ritual), decks need to be able to protect their combo, have some back up plan, or have the combo be an incidental finisher to some other game plan. There are different approaches to this. One example is pseudodude’s monoblack deck, which remains the only 5-0 deck in the league thus far. His deck has an infinite mana combo of composite golem and nim deathmantle in it. The deck really relies more on the brokenness of using the aforementioned dark ritual to power out fast threats, but has an incidental combo finish.

Another deck with an incidental combo finish I’ve seen discussed is some form of abzan aristocrats. The reason it is appealing is because the deck can grind out value in other creature matchups without ever comboing off, but can also randomly win with the infinite combo of sigil captain + murderous redcap and a sac outlet such as bloodthrone vampire or vampire aristocrat. There isn’t really a consensus on what the best way to build the deck is, but the version I’ve settled on with some success is more of a toolbox build and less all-in on the combo:

Abzan Congregation

Creatures (31)
Bloodthrone Vampire
Murderous Redcap
Grim Haruspex
Mother of Runes
Elvish Visionary
Yisan, the Wanderer Bard
Magister of Worth
Sigil Captain
Fleecemane Lion
Acidic Slime
Restless Apparition
Puppeteer Clique
Vampire Aristocrat
Elvish Mystic

Spells (6)
Congregation at Dawn
Abzan Ascendancy

Lands (23)
Sandsteppe Citadel
Vivid Marsh
Vivid Grove
Evolving Wilds
Sideboard (15)
Utter End
Consume the Meek
Acidic Slime
Magister of Worth
Marsh Casualties
Death’s-Head Buzzard
Spectral Lynx

This variant intends to use either Yisan, the Wanderer Bard or Congregation at Dawn to find whatever it wants. Mother of Runes is there for protection, and incidentally a sweet target for Yisan if you only get to activate him once. Magister of Worth can also be an insanely powerful card, and Abzan Ascendancy and Grim Haruspex, as well as any of the persist creatures break the symmetry of the sweeper quite nicely. You can also use him to reanimate your combo. I’ve actually forced an opponent to have to vote for wrathing their own board (which had creatures on it) because my graveyard had the combo in it. The persist creatures and Abzan Ascendancy combine nicely to grind opponents out as well. The deck really shines in creature-based match ups, and isn’t bad against control either. It generally struggles against other, faster combo decks since our own combo takes a lot of time and (different colors of) mana to assemble. That’s also why I prefer a version of the deck that isn’t all-in on the combo, since even best-case you’re probably not assembling it before turn 6 or 7. One other problem is Sigil Captain does not immediately impact the board the turn he hits, however he does combo nicely with Abzan Ascendancy, pumping out 3/3 flyers.

That deck had a three card incidental combo, but what about a 1-card combo? That describes Hermit Druid, if your deck is built a certain way. Since the inception of the format people have been trying to break this banned-in-legacy badass. Some people have used him to some success in “fair” self-mill decks to fill up their yard with 3-5 cards at a time until they hit a basic. However, for an outright combo, instead of synergy, we can simply mill our entire deck in one shot if our deck contains just 1 or no basics at all. How we win from there usually involves flashing back Memory’s Journey for whatever card we want to draw. There are different options, Soul Exchange being a promising one.  However, I eventually settled on this version:

Retether Druid

Creatures (20)
Hermit Druid
Mother of Runes
Elvish Mystic
Cephalid Illusionist
Nomads en-Kor

Spells (20)
Mythic Proportions
Celestial Mantle
Memory’s Journey
Frantic Search
Battle Mastery
Arcanum Wings
Robe of Mirrors
Spirit Away
Control Magic
Careful Consideration

Lands (20)
Centaur Garden
Vivid Grove
Thalakos Lowlands
Crumbling Vestige
Seaside Citadel
Vivid Creek
Tranquil Garden
Sideboard (15)
Ground Seal
Control Magic
Blossoming Wreath
Invisible Stalker

The deck usually shuffles back Retether, and creates a shrouded, flying, trampling 20/20 doublestriker while stealing your opponent’s board. Once it goes off it’s very difficult to stop. The deck also contains the second combo of Nomads en-Kor and Cephalid Illusionist. This is a two card combo, however it has the advantage that it can go off the second it hits, so instant speed removal does not work. You can also go for the slow-mill plan with Mother of Runes and the Illusionist. If you can’t find your combo, you can also dump some enchantments in the grave with Frantic Search and Careful Consideration (Tracker’s Instinct is another consideration for this slot.)

Control Magic can simply be cast, and even if you don’t combo off control magic into retethering it once they’ve dealt with the creature you stole can also set you up for a 4-for-2. I usually board in more copies in creature match ups, although those are not particularly problematic to begin with. The Arcanum Wings used to be an Aqueous Form, but I think the potential upside of Aura Swapping is higher.

The mana base contains no basics at all, and relies on some interesting lands such as crumbling vestige, thalakos lowlands and centaur garden to mitigate the effects of all your lands coming out tapped. Elvish Mystic is also useful for accelerating here, and since you only need to make 4 mana once, the “lazy lands” do not hurt as much here as in some other decks. However, there may be some room for tuning it to be more optimal.

The deck is soft to graveyard hate, however, since you do not need to actually target anything in your graveyard for retether, you can successfully play ground seal out the sideboard.

One cool aspect of combo decks is that you get to play cards that you wouldn’t normally play in ways people do not expect. When Wizards of Coast printed a bunch of mana-fixing cantrip artifacts in Odyssey, I doubt they foresaw people throwing a whole bunch of them in one deck. Eggs has been a fringe playable combo in various formats throughout the years.

Dreadful Eggs

Creatures (10)
Etherium Sculptor
Herald of Kozilek
Nettle Drone

Spells (30)
Pyrite Spellbomb
Æther Spellbomb
Frantic Search
Dark Ritual
Frantic Salvage
Molten Nursery
Future Sight
Darkwater Egg
Shadowblood Egg
Skycloud Egg

Lands (20)
Evolving Wilds
Grand Coliseum
Vivid Creek
Crumbling Necropolis

For this version I decided to eschew the use of a storm finisher like brain freeze, which I had in initial drafts, and go for death by a thousand pings with molten nursery and nettle drone. The advantage of the pinging strategy is you can get value out of your eggs even if you can’t storm off.

The engine of the deck is Etherium Sculptor or Herald of Kozilek and your eggs. Because you have on the order of 20 cantrips (if you count frantic search) assembling your pieces is very easy, and once you have one of your discount creatures in play, you’ll probably be drawing 3-5 cards a turn for free. On top of that, although difficult to set up, if you can untap with a future sight and one of the discount creatures in play, you will very likely win right there. There is one copy of frantic salvage in order to reset if you cycled through your deck and your opponent managed to eliminate your kill conditions. If you frantic salvage with future sight in play you’ll get to play all those cards directly off the top of your deck which is pretty nice. This is a whacky deck and it is vulnerable to disruption, and also not insanely fast, but very funny when it works. [2]

There are many more possibilities in the format. Let me know your thoughts and favorite dreadful combos in the comments.

[1]who hasn’t tried to force storm in cube, after all?

[2] one added bonus of playing whacky combos is your opponent’s reaction when you actually pull them off.

Lands: Part 2

God, sorting lands takes forever.

Hey! Today we’re going to go through another category of lands. Essentially, we’re doing lands that still provide coloured mana, but also have some kind of bonus attached to them.

We have a nice list today.


I failed to mention last week that there are some legal Snow-Duals (which may be relevant to some people). here are the currently-legal ones;

Snow Tap-Duals

Arctic Flats
Frost Marsh
Tresserhorn Sinks
Highland Weald
Boreal Shelf

This gives you a bit more flexibility in your dual-land search.

Now, onto the article on mono-coloured Utility Lands!

BFZ Utility Tap-Lands

Fertile Thicket
Looming Spires
Mortuary Mire
Sandstone Bridge
Skyline Cascade
Spawning Bed

Okay, Spawning Bed doesn’t technically fit in this article, but it fills out the cycle, so I’m including it.

These cards provide very specific uses, so it’s probably better to go through all of them individually.

Fertile Thicket is just a good card for any non-ramp deck, giving you essentially a free land in your hand when you have less than 24 is pretty good.

Looming Spires seems to suffer from what I like to call The Curse. It’s good because X, but it’s bad because X as well. It’s good for aggro plans to get more damage in. it’s bad for aggro because it comes in tapped and that extra mana is *very* important on Turn 3 or 4 in Aggro decks.

Mortuary Mire is a good card if you’re playing some kind of Aristocrats deck like Blood Pet.

Sandstone Bridge has the opposite problem as the Spires. It’s a great card if you have a creature that wants to attack and block on the field. You ideally get this card on the field after your game-winning threat is already on the field.

As much as I want to love Skyline Cascade, it’s just *such* a shitty card. If it tapped down a creature, it would be a passable card – good, even! But it doesn’t. And for that reason, it sucks.

Spawning Bed is good in Aristocrat-style ramp. Wouldn’t say this card is bad, wouldn’t say it’s good. it needs a very specific build to work.

Now we get into another fun cycle – the Future Lands!

Future Lands

Keldon Megaliths
Llanowar Reborn
New Benalia
Dakmor Salvage
Tolaria West

These cards are all… pretty good. They come in tapped, which sucks, but none of them are awful. Graft, Scry, Pings, these are all valuable effects that could fit in many decks.

Also, Tolaria West is a bit expensive. 😛

Karoo Lands

Dormant Volcano
Jungle Basin
Coral Atoll

Ah, yes. The strictly-worse-in-every-way Bounce Duals. The “Untapped” caveat is really painful to even look at. Otherwise, these could be passably playable ramp cards! Too bad they’re not, really.

Threshold Painlands

Nomad Stadium
Centaur Garden
Cephalid Coliseum
Cabal Pit
Barbarian Ring

Eh. Centaur Garden is okay, I guess. But not really. I’d pass on these entirely.


Ruins of Trokair
Svyelunite Temple
Ebon Stronghold
Dwarven Ruins
Havenwood Battleground
Crystal Vein

Juicy value. Turn 4 hardcasting a 7-drop feels good. Having it countered and being left with 1 land does not. If Splendid Reclamation somehow drops in price, these cards will make a massive splash.

Sucks Vein isn’t legal.

Mono-Colour Manlands

Forbidding Watchtower
Spawning Pool
Ghitu Encampment
Faerie Conclave
Treetop Village

Again, meh. These cards are above-average given the cards we’ve had so far, but they’re by no means excellent.

Spawning Pool is a 3-mana blocker every turn. Forbidding Watchtower defends like no other. Ghitu Encampment can shut down many aggro strategies. But on the whole, these cards are a 5/10 at best in my mind. Good sideboard tech for many decks, okay mainboard tech for specific decks.

Zendikar ETB-Lands

Piranha Marsh
Soaring Seacliff
Turntimber Grove
Kabira Crossroads
Teetering Peaks

Fairly decent. Passable effects. Definitely playable.

Worldwake ETB-Lands

Smoldering Spires
Sejiri Steppe
Halimar Depths
Bojuka Bog
Khalni Garden

“Can’t block” vs “Can’t be blocked” makes a lot of aggro players sad. Could be playable, I’d put a 2-of in my sideboard vs a bogles-style deck. Might be able to squeeze me in another two damage.
Zendikar Rare Utility Taplands

Magosi, the Waterveil
Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Crypt of Agadeem
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood

Magosi is legal. Woo! Party, right?

No, because this is a bad card that should never see the light of day. You lose more than you gain.

Shadowmoor Basic Utility Taplands

Moonring Island
Madblind Mountain
Sapseep Forest
Mistveil Plains
Leechridden Swamp

FETCHABLE. We’ll get to the fetches next time, but these are fetchable. These could have a significant impact on the game if we start abandonning dual lands for fetches.

Replacement Lands

Lake of the Dead
Kjeldoran Outpost
Soldevi Excavations
Balduvian Trading Post
Heart of Yavimaya

Funny card, I like it. Could make some fun Blood Pet shenanigans. Also comes in untapped, which is pretty great. Keeps you moderately on curve.

Legends Legendaries


Aw, Karakas isn’t legal? Nor is Pendelhaven? Shucks. Thought they’d be shoo-ins.

Too bad these cards are good against Merfolk, Goblins (maybe), and pretty much nothing else. 1 or 2 in the sideboard *at best*.

Champions Legendary Lands

Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
Eiganjo Castle
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers

Shizo is a decent card, but only if you’re playing valuable Legendary creatures at a low mana curve facing a nonblack deck.

So, eh.

Also, Rustic Clachan is legal, but doesn’t really have a full cycle. Even if it always came out untapped, it’d still be a meh step above a basic. It’s a shame it doesn’t, so it’s nearly unplayable except in Kithkin or Changeling tribal.

And that’s all, I believe. Next week we’ll talk a bit about the Tap-For-C-But Lands. Like Rogue’s Passage, per se. There’s a *lot* of these.

But for now, have fun. Don’t suck, and continue brewing.

Lands: Part 1

Welcome to “The Types”, where I run through everything important in Penny Dreadful, sorted by what type they are. For September, we’re talking Lands.

Part 1 of 4.


Let’s talk about lands.

Lands are a crucial part of building a deck, no matter the format. In Modern, complex mana bases are crafted with many aspects in mind – mana fixing, flood, drought, fetchlands for options and thinning, risk/reward of taking penalites for lands, curve, etc. Commander has those same questions, but usually to a slightly lesser degree due to the nature of the format being much slower and more cantrip-heavy.

Penny Dreadful, on the other hand, has a lot of interesting fixing that tailors to your deck’s preferred method of mana-handling, as opposed to the meta’s. For the most part, we can divide lands into three categories;

1. Basics
2. Fixing
3. Utility

The Basics are all (permanently) legal except Wastes, but due to the plethora of ways to generate colourless, they tend to go unused.

Today, we’re just going to talk about mana fixing, in the form of multi-colour-generating land. We have a lot of different ways to get lands that generates more than one type of mana. Some of these cycles are complete, others are not, so be careful when selecting which ones to use. For example, many people believed Vivid Meadow was legal for a while and used it, illegally. Watch out! Let’s begin.


We have every one of the ten possible dual combinations open.

Forsaken Sanctuary
Foul Orchard
Highland Lake
Stone Quarry
Woodland Stream
Cinder Barrens
Meandering River
Submerged Boneyard
Tranquil Expanse
Shivan Oasis

All ten of these cards are legal. However, if you want a bit more than a playset, you’ll be a bit hard-pressed for the average tap-duals. There’s one more cycle, but it’s incomplete.

Urborg Volcano
Coastal Tower
Elfhame Palace
Salt Marsh
Timber Gorge

This leaves us with our BR, UW and GW if we want ETB Tapped Duals 4-8. But we have more options than that. These lands can be used, but are generally left in the dust compared to other options we have. Options that may let us dip into more than just two colours.


Tarkir brought us some Wedgelands. All of them are legal.

Frontier Bivouac
Mystic Monastery
Nomad Outpost
Opulent Palace
Sandsteppe Citadel

Alara brought us the Shards! Arcane Sanctum feels left out.

Crumbling Necropolis
Jungle Shrine
Savage Lands
Seaside Citadel
Arcane Sanctum

The staples of Tri-fixing. Why run any duals when you can just run triples eand have all the fixing you like on one card? The strictly-better Tap-Duals. Use these if you’re going into a shard or wedge’s colours. You may want to get them even in two-coloured decks just for the mindgames. T1 Frontier Bivouac doesn’t reveal much about the deck you’re playing, but T1 Highland Lake tends to say a lot more.

Vivid Lands

Vivid Crag
Vivid Creek
Vivid Grove
Vivid Marsh
Vivid Meadow

Are you in three-colour, almost done your landbase, but want to dip into a fourth for some reason? Vivid lands are for you. If you’re running four-colour decks, you’re going to want lands that can give you any colour if you need it. These provide you that fixing, temporarily. Often seen in four-colour or five-colour builds, the Vivid lands are a personal favourite and provide a lot of manabase flexibility. It’s a shame the Meadow isn’t legal yet. My 5C Slivers deck is weeping.

Dual Bouncelands

It’s a shame, really. These lands could make for some really spicy manabases. They combo with the Vivids and could make for some fun deckbuilding. Alas, only two are legal.

Golgari Rot Farm
Gruul Turf
Boros Garrison
Izzet Boilerworks
Orzhov Basilica
Simic Growth Chamber
Azorius Chancery
Dimir Aqueduct
Rakdos Carnarium
Selesnya Sanctuary

GB and RG are happy. Unfortunately green already has the best fixing in every format, ever.

Play these lands if you play for tempo and don’t like topdecking lands. 22-land decks with these are theoretically viable.

Lazy Lands

For mana fixing fast, we have the Lazy Lands. Good for quick fixing, terrible for literally anything else.

We have two full cycles of legal cards. Here they are;

Cinder Marsh/Lantern-Lit Graveyard
Mogg Hollows/Pinecrest Ridge
Rootwater Depths/Waterveil Cavern
Thalakos Lowlands/Cloudcrest Lake
Vec Townships/Tranquil Garden

These cards are duals that come in untapped! Unfortunately they’re absolutely awful fixing since you lose the fixing benefit for half the game. Wouldn’t reccomend.

Pain Taplands

Salt Flats
Caldera Lake
Pine Barrens
Skyshroud Forest

Just play dual lands. This cycle is legal for a reason.

Sac Lands

Abandoned Outpost
Seafloor Debris
Bog Wreckage
Ravaged Highlands
Timberland Ruins
Archaeological Dig

The “good one” isn’t even legal. Use Vivids.

Gain Lands

Bloodfell Caves
Rugged Highlands
Thornwood Falls
Tranquil Cove
Dismal Backwater
Blossoming Sands
Scoured Barrens
Swiftwater Cliffs
Jungle Hollow
Wind-Scarred Crag

Strictly-better Tap-Duals. Play them instead of the normal duals, these are just straight upside.

Storage Duals

Calciform Pools
Dreadship Reef
Fungal Reaches
Saltcrusted Steppe
Molten Slagheap

Four of them are legal. These are super interesting because they can go a long way in a ramp deck. However, they’re just not practical. Even in an ideal situation, sixteen mana on Turn 8 is, for one, pretty much impossible unless you make your mana base only these lands and, for two, impractical since you’re pumping all of your mana *every turn* into your lands. Fine cards if you might want to keep tempo early and go long lategame, but it’s a crapshoot. Too much variance to make these worthwhile.


Those are all of the Dual/Triple/Etc Fixing Lands. We have a few more lands to run through, but they either fit more into Utility than Fixing or were not part of a cycle. We can go through those later. For now we’re talking strictly about reliable, constant mana fixing that don’t need any other conditions to function. The only other land I might’ve missed is Grand Coliseum, which is a legal Tap-Pain-Land of any colour. Might have some relevance in some decks, but I personally wouldn’t use it.

We still have to cover the non-multi-colour fixing before we can talk about the Utility lands or full-out manabases, so we’ll cover those in Part 2 of “Lands”.


One-Colour: Basic Lands
Two-Colour: Basic Lands, Gainlands, Taplands, Shard/Wedges, Dual Bouncelands
Three-Colour: Basic Lands, Vivid Lands, Shard/Wedges
Four-Colour/Five-Colour: Vivid Lands, Shard/Wedges (For the most prominent colours), maybe Grand Coliseum.

Dreadful Tribes

Do you love playing tribal decks….or do you love playing tribal decks? The correct answer is that since you love turning creatures sideways, of course you love playing tribal decks. If you’re looking to play a format where you can viably[1] turn something other than elves or goblins sideways, then look no further than penny dreadful.

Sure, Elves and Goblins can still be pretty good (and may be Slivers, or Allies, or Eldrazi, I wouldn’t know those all sound pretty boring to me.) But did you really start playing an entirely new format to play slightly powered down versions of tribes you already knew would still be good? Of course you didn’t. You came to run people over with something more obscure.

Let me begin by introducing, Myr Tribal aka Myr Grid:

Myr Grid

Creatures (27)
Lodestone Myr
Thopter Engineer
Chief of the Foundry
Myr Retriever
Myr Sire
Myr Galvanizer

Spells (11)
Shrapnel Blast
Ghirapur Aether Grid

Lands (22)
Vivid Crag
Jungle Shrine
Keldon Necropolis
Sideboard (15)
Dispense Justice
Master’s Call
Gold Myr
Iron Myr
Chief of the Foundry
Ghirapur Aether Grid
Darksteel Myr

The deck basically intends to use Myrsmith to generate a bunch of tokens, then pump them using one of our 7 maindeck lord effects (incidentally having several of Chief of the Foundry + Myr Galvanizer in play can also add up very quickly) . The deck can also create a huge, Lodestone Myr, that can even be given haste by Thopter Engineer, or we can mow down opposing blockers with Ghirapur Aether Grid. Dispatch is very strong removal, and Shrapnel Blast can give us insane reach.

The manabase is pretty straightforward. I added a couple copies of Keldon Necropolis just now, but I haven’t actually tested it. Given most of our spells being colorless, it seems like basically a free addition.

The sideboard currently consists of stuff I cut from the maindeck. Against decks that are light in creatures we can take out dispatch and bring in Master’s Call to simply create more bodies. Gold Myr and Iron Myr are there because it felt wrong to have a myr deck without any weird off-color mana dorks.

I actually could see a mono red or mono white versions of this deck having merit, although the combination of maindeck dispatch + shrapnel blast seemed too strong to pass up. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.

Ok, so that deck was pretty cool, and had some neat synergies but it only had 8 (7 maindeck) ways to pump up our team of dorks. You say you wanna go really over the top? You say you wanna swing for 40 trampling damage in one turn[2]? I’ve got just what you’re looking for friend:


Creatures (22)
Instigator Gang
Lambholt Pacifist
Wolfbitten Captive
Reckless Waif
Hanweir Watchkeep

Spells (16)
Full Moon’s Rise
Howlpack Resurgence
Burst Lightning
Moonlight Hunt

Lands (22)
Savage Lands
10 Forest
Sideboard (15)
Gatstaf Shepherd
Daybreak Ranger
Sulfuric Vortex
Slice and Dice

(Note I have included both sides of flip cards in the description here since it is a pet-peeve of mine to only ever see one side of the card on mouse-over).

Immerwolf, Full Moon’s Rise, and Howlpack Resurgence combine for a total of 12 permanent pump effects for your entire team. If that still isn’t enough, flipping Instigator Gang//Wildblood Pack can break through ground stalls and allow you to win games you had no business winning. The rest of the creatures are fairly efficient beaters on their own, especially when they flip. Having good blockers like Lambholt Pacifist // Lambholt Butcher and Hanweir Watchkeep // Bane of Hanweir to clog up the ground is pretty key because basically your deck is trying to set up a massive swing, and those creatures are more efficient blockers than most any other attacking creatures your opponents will be able to muster. Reckless Waif // Merciless Predator and Wolfbitten Captive//Krallenhorde Killer are probably some of the best one drops in the format.

This deck will make combat math extremely difficult for your opponent, especially since it’s surprisingly simple to just flip your team at will. The original draft of the deck did not contain Burst Lightning , but I really like having at least 8 removal spells. Moonlight Hunt usually varies from very good, to insane blowout.

The mana base is straightforward. The sideboard is just thrown together. I’m not sure if Daybreak Ranger//Nightfall Predator is any good, but it seems like it could be in some matchups. Gatstaf Shepherd//Gatstaf Howler is not terrible, but basically just worse than Lambholt Pacifist. Overall this deck is deceptively powerful, although you must remember to howl like a madman when you play it.

But if you would rather caw instead:


Creatures (23)
Aven Brigadier
Mist Raven
Keeper of the Nine Gales
Aven Squire
Warden of Evos Isle

Spells (15)
Soulcatchers’ Aerie
Immolating Glare
Airborne Aid

Lands (22)
Coastal Tower
Azorius Guildgate
Seaside Haven
Sideboard (15)
Skymark Roc
Thieving Magpie
Suntail Hawk
Windbrisk Raptor
Aven Sunstriker

This deck is a little slower, so it plays a bit more like aggro control. Still dropping an Aven Brigadier to pump your squad, all of which fly, can be very powerful. Also Soulcatcher’s Aerie provides some insurance that if you can stick a threat, it will probably be big. Keeper of the Nine Gales is a pretty interesting card, that’s a bit slow, but can be very powerful in some cases. We also get a flying Man-o’-War, in the form of Mist Raven. Warden of Evos Isle lets us drop our threats more easily.

Honestly I’m not sure if Dissolve is where we wanna be at for disruption, but it’s probably one of the best counters in the format, and Immolating glare is fine removal. Airborne Aid can be a very serviceable draw spell after we dump our hand on the table. Turns out Birds are the only tribe that gets to play Distant Melody in PD.

The manabase is pretty standard, although Seaside Haven is pretty neat with the soulcatcher effects. The sideboard is literally just cards I cut from the maindeck.

Finally, remember when I said up top that I was gonna do something other than Goblins? Well, this is not strictly speaking a pure goblin tribal deck, although it does use goblin synergies and it’s still cool so I wanted to showcase it

Mardu Auntie

Creatures (30)
Wort, Boggart Auntie
Goblin Arsonist
Festering Goblin
Knucklebone Witch
Goblin Legionnaire
Butcher of the Horde
Grim Haruspex
Weirding Shaman

Spells (8)
Bone Splinters
Crib Swap

Lands (22)
Vivid Crag
Nomad Outpost
Vivid Marsh
Sideboard (15)
Goblin Trenches
Wort, Boggart Auntie
Butcher of the Horde
Murderous Redcap
Ember Hauler

This deck, although it can conceivably be considered a goblin deck, is really more of a Mardu aristocrats deck, that goes heavy on the “goblin dies” triggers. Therefore it runs the full set of Festering Goblin + Goblin Arsonist.[3] Knucklebone Witch grows bigger every time one of your plebs dies, and Grim Haruspex draws you a card. Weirding Shaman can be a slow sac outlet, but in grindy matchups can be very good. Butcher of the Horde is a very good finisher and another sac outlet. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine which is a better option between Ember Hauler and Goblin Legionnaire.

Wort, Boggart Auntie is the namesake of the deck. If you manage to stick her for more than a turn she will start generating serious card advantage. Besides getting back one of your goblins, the most twisted thing you can do against the various midrange strategies is recur your Crib Swap every turn. Crib Swap is also extra good in here since we have an excessive number of ways to pick off 1/1’s . Besides that we have Bone Splinters[4], the additional cost actually being a bonus here in many situations. You could also play Tarfire or Nameless inversion to recur with the Auntie, but I find I often have enough targets for her.

The Mana base is 3 colors so it’s a bit wonky. I used to have a Vivid Meadow in there until my reality was shattered by the revelation it wasn’t legal. So I grudgingly replaced it with a plains. The sideboard consists, again, of things I cut from the maindeck. I randomly had two copies of Goblin Trenches in my collection, so I threw them in there, and turns out its pretty good tech against control strategies that generally have a more difficult time dealing with a resolved enchantment (esp. if they didn’t board in enchantment hate after game 1, which would be resonable since we have no enchantments maindeck.)

Overall the deck is unique among today’s, since it actually tends to grind out wins  with card advantage rather than go aggro or tempo, which is especially odd since it’s a goblin deck. That being said, Goblin Warchief and Goblin Ringleader are both legal in this format, so if you wanna be more boring aggro goblins, then you should probably look into playing those.

That’s all I’ve got for today, although there are definitely numerous options I did not cover. Perhaps some kind of tribal faceoff is in order to determine which tribe is most dreadful of them all?


[1] “Viably” is used with trepidation here. Winds of Rath is still a card.

[2] preferably after spending one turn biding your time doing nothing…ok if you scrolled down to read this footnote you probably know where this is going. You probably also scrolled past the deck and definitely know where this is going.

[3] Festering Goblin actually should be the strictly better Shambling Goblin, although I actually thought they were the same card when I made the deck, and that the Dragons of Tarkir card was a reprint of the Onslaught card…until somebody pointed it out to me, and I just never made the change out of my nostalgic love for uncle fester.

[4] I really like 8 removal spells in my tribal decks it seems.

My Two Cents – Bant and Abzan Aggro

My Two Cents is a weekly article in which I share two decks that I’ve been playing, working on, or thinking about. Some will by own creations, some will not.

Bant Aggro

I spent the first week building the obvious decks centered around the obviously overpowered cards, but I’ve spent the second building three color good-stuff aggro decks built around Fleecemane Lion and Mother of Runes. After lamenting that linear aggro decks like UW Heroic and Elves were pushing out multi-color zoo decks, I decided to actually play some multi-color zoo decks. They are very good. The linear aggro decks need to accumulate a critical mass of effects. Heroic needs to pump their small guys enough and Elves needs enough elves. Individually, the card quality in each deck is not that high. One of the best ways to beat them is to force them to chump block Fleecemane Lion and his friends with their 1/1s.

Fleecemane Lion is so great in Penny Dreadful partly because a Watchwolf is already pretty good. In Penny Dreadful, it’s very difficult to kill a 3/3 for less than two mana, and Fleecemane lines up very well against the large amount of 1 and 2 damage red removal in the format. It always trades at mana parity, if not an advantage. The four damage removal that you get with kicked Burst Lightning, Flametongue Kavu, and Prophetic Bolt will still kill Fleecemane, but at least it doesn’t do it at a mana advantage. And Fleecemane always has a chance of going monstrous before it happens. Monstrous Fleecemanes are a huge problem for a lot of decks that would otherwise be reasonable against a thirty creature zoo deck.

Bant can afford to play close to thirty creatures because so many of the creatures have spell-like effects. Man-o’-War, Bounding Krasis, Mother of Runes, and Void Grafter allow you to play a very threat dense deck. They protect your threats while advancing your board, and they bounce and tap down blockers and enemy threats. Rhox War Monk helps you race, and Emancipation Angel sometimes lets you reuse the ETB affects on Man-o’-War or Krasis. Other times, she resets a Vivid land, or can even generate a land drop by bouncing a tapped basic and replaying it. With the exception of Mother, your creatures all hit for meaningful chunks of damage.

Rounding out the curve are Skyrider Elf and Woodland Wanderer. Skyrider helps you maximize your mana. With Vivid lands you can play Skyrider anywhere from a 2/2 to a 5/5 depending on your hand. Woodland Wanderer also gets buffed by Vivids, and you often cast it as a 6/6.

In the sideboard, you have access to powerful hosers for other strategies. Absolute Law and Absolute Grace do wonders against red and black removal decks, while Naturalize and Negate attack combo.

All in all, Bant has a lot of tools. Because it has so many ways to 2-for-1 your opponent on mana, it can snowball games against other creature decks. You get to be threat dense against control without compromising your matchup against decks like Heroic. Fleecemane’s early clock multiplies the power of Bounding Krasis and Man-o’-War. Turning honest creatures sideways is always a viable strategy if they are efficient enough, and I’m glad fair creature decks can compete in this format.

Bant Aggro

Creatures (29)
Bounding Krasis
Emancipation Angel
Fleecemane Lion
Mother of Runes
Void Grafter
Woodland Wanderer
Skyrider Elf
Rhox War Monk

Spells (6)
Devouring Light

Lands (25)
Seaside Citadel
Vivid Creek
Vivid Grove
Sideboard (15)
Absolute Law
Celestial Flare
Dismal Failure
Plated Crusher

Abzan Aggro

While Abzan Aggro is also built around Mother of Runes and Fleecemane Lion, it differs significantly in style. What Abzan lacks in the blue tempo creatures of Bant, it makes up for in better removal and a very powerful modal spell, Abzan Charm.

My first builds of Abzan were bigger midrange decks. I was playing things like Gerrard’s Verdict and more removal. I still think Abzan Midrange has a lot of potential. Angel of Flight Alabaster, Crib Swap, and Nameless Inversion together form a powerful engine for grinding out midgames against other creature decks. The big fliers are very powerful as well. Bloodline Keeper, Desecration Demon, and Bloodgift Demon are all powerful finishers. In Penny Dreadful, however, once you start building your deck to be good on turns 4 onwards, you both have to be controlling in the early game against decks like Heroic and Elves, and need to be aggressive in the late game against control and combo. Doing both can be challenging.

This build of Abzan is trying to get ahead early and use our card quality to punch through clunkier decks. Mother of Runes is joined by another one-drop, Herald of Anafenza. Herald is a relatively unimpressive 1/2, but the outlast ability is better than it looks. Outlasting lets us optimize our mana curve and get the most out of a given draw. Having to Outlast at sorcery speed is an obnoxious limitation of an already very fair mechanic. The 1/1 tokens aren’t fantastic, but they are serviceable chump blockers when we need them to be, and they let us go wide and get through for lethal when our opponent is beginning to stabilize. We value extra bodies a bit more when we have ways of pumping them in Boon Satyr and Abzan Charm. Herald can chip in damage early, but then pump to stay relevant late. Not many one-drops are capable of that.

Both these decks are Mother and Fleecemane decks, and it’s not an accident. Fleecemane Lion is joined in Abzan by Rakshasha Deathdealer. The base stats on Rakshasha aren’t amazing, but again, having a way to spend mana profitably is appreciated. Against similarly sized creatures, you get through for free damage since you just pump if they ever choose to block. This deck is all about getting the most out of our mana, and using every part of the buffalo.

At the three, we have Boon Satyr, Emancipation Angel, and Abzan Charm. Emancipation Angel gets in over Serra Avenger because we can actually play it turn three. Furthermore, because Vivid Meadow is not legal in the format, playing double white cards usually requires depleting a Vivid land. Emancipation Angel lets us reset Vivids preserving our mana base. Abzan Charm is just great. Like Abzan Charm, Boon Satyr has many modes. Sometimes it is an ambush blocker and functions as a removal spell. Sometimes it’s a Giant Growth by flashing it in bestowed. Sometimes you EOT flash Satyr in and untap with four more power on the board. The combination of Boon Satyr and Abzan Charm gives the deck a lot of versatility on turn three and makes you hard to play against.

Turn four we don’t quite have Siege Rhino, but Woodland Wanderer is pretty close. With Vivids, you are often casting a 6/6 vigilant trampler for four mana. Not only is it too big to be killed by Flametongue Kavu, it can kill all the 5 toughness creatures other people are playing to dodge Flametongue. And it has vigilance! Complimenting Wanderer are a couple copies of Bloodline Keeper. In board stalls or games that go long, Keeper is better than Desecration Demon because it goes wide instead of tall. Demon gives the opponent too many options, and if you reach a board stall, it’s likely that the opponent has a lot of material to sacrifice to Demon. Furthermore, if you are behind, a stream of 2/2 tokens is a lot better than a creature the opponent can tap at will.

Abzan has a lot of play. While less flashy than Bant, good removal goes a long way. The configuration of these decks will evolve with the format, but I believe low-to-ground aggro to be viable going forward.


Abzan Aggro

Creatures (28)
Bloodline Keeper
Boon Satyr
Emancipation Angel
Fleecemane Lion
Herald of Anafenza
Mother of Runes
Rakshasa Deathdealer
Woodland Wanderer

Spells (7)
Abzan Charm
Murderous Cut

Lands (25)
Sandsteppe Citadel
Vivid Grove
Vivid Marsh
Sideboard (15)
Absolute Law
Marsh Casualties
Plated Crusher

My Two Cents – UR Cruise Control & Elves

My Two Cents is a weekly article in which I share two decks that I’ve been playing, working on, or thinking about. Some will by own creations, some will not.

UR Cruise Control

Treasure Cruise is legal in Penny Dreadful as of this writing, and my first deckbuilding goal was to play four. This is the only format in which you can play four Ancestral Recalls, and I thought I would only be cheating myself not to try it.

I put together versions of UW Cruise, UB Cruise, and UR Cruise. Black offers the best removal in the format, White offers the best wraths, whether that be Scourglass or Phyrexian Rebirth. Red offers good cheap removal, decent sweepers, and because our burn goes to the face, we don’t have to dedicate any slots to win conditions.

The biggest two cards drawing me to play red were Electrolyze and Prophetic Bolt. Once the deck enters the Prophetic Bolt phase of the game, it is very difficult to beat. It just keeps chaining Bolts and Cruises and Anticipates.

Anticipate got the nod over many plausible alternatives. Strategic Planning fuels Cruise with an additional card but offers less selection and at sorcery speed. Frantic Search cannot be played until turn 3, sees fewer cards, and is card disadvantageous. Telling Time is just worse.

The rest of the deck is just critter removal and counterspells. Finding the right counter mix is an ongoing project. Dissolve is the best we have available, and it’s very good in the format. Very few decks present a threat underneath Dissolve that you can’t answer with Electrolyze or Burst Lightning, and the scry is valuable because the deck just takes off when it resolves its first Cruise.

Repeal is a great catchall and stopgap. It’s decent against big creatures that slip under your counters in game one. Hammer of Bogardan is the nominal finisher, but really it’s just an overpriced Lightning Strike that gives the deck its inevitability.

The mana base is mostly basics. Evolving Wilds gets in over dual lands because it generates a mana for Cruise. I play a single Thawing Glacier. You don’t want it early, but in any type of long game it will ensure you keep hitting land drops and draw three or four cards for you.

In an unknown meta, it’s not always wise to play a hard control deck. They key to playing this deck is knowing what to counter, when to trade a suboptimal removal spell for the opponent’s creatures when you could wait for a better one, and when to stop saving your burn for their creatures and start throwing it at their face. Counterspells, however, are great against a lot of the bigger mana decks in the format. The burn isn’t fantastic, but it’s serviceable. The counters aren’t fantastic, but they get the job done. And Treasure Cruise is Treasure Cruise!

UR Cruise Control

Spells (35)
Treasure Cruise
Disdainful Stroke
Prophetic Bolt
Lightning Strike
Burst Lightning
Slice and Dice
Hammer of Bogardan

Lands (25)
12 Island
Evolving Wilds
Thawing Glaciers
Highland Lake
Sideboard (15)
Horribly Awry
Slice and Dice
Essence Scatter
Dual Shot


I think both UW and UB could be very strong. I’m particularly interested in UW because it can abuse the combination of Halimar Tidecaller, Whelming Wave, Familiar’s Ruse and Roil Sprout to force an opponent to continue to draw the same do-nothing creature every turn. Eventually you can kill them with an awakened Island, or something. White is somewhat lacking good spot removal, and Electrolyze and Prophetic Bolt let UR move through the deck in a way unavailable to both UB and UW.

GB Elves

Among the other cards with a power level much greater than the rest of the format is Priest of Titania. Early skeptics pointed out that Priest was also legal in Pauper and didn’t do much of anything there. Fortunately, we have access to a lot of great support cards.

Elves in the format should be built, I believe, as a hybrid midrange beatdown-combo deck. The combo finisher is Shaman of the Pack, the midrange threat is Wren’s Run Packmaster. Usually you win with a combination of both. Wren’s Run Packmaster is just a great card. A 5/5 for four mana, Packmaster can come down turn 3 in this deck, but often you save it until turn 4 as to not inhibit your development and to ensure you can immediately make a wolf token. Having five toughness is huge against the plethora of four damage sweepers in the format, most relevantly Slice and Dice and Wildfire. Shaman of the Pack lets you win games outside the attack step. Sometimes you chip in some damage early, Pack the opponent for 9 or 10 damage, and then get the final points with your 1/1s. I believe the combination of these two finishers gives the deck a great plan against the field.

The rest of the deck is mana and facilitators. I play 12 one mana dorks between Elvish Mystic, Gnarlroot Trapper, and Elves of Deep Shadow. This combination means your Swamps can cast dorks to make green mana and your Forests can cast dorks that make black mana. It allows the deck to get away with only basic lands, which is a huge tempo gain against most of the format.

The two drops are just Priest of Titania and Elvish Visionary. To bridge the gap between the mana dorks and the win conditions, the deck has access to Elvish Harbinger, which tutors for any piece you need and makes mana thereafter. Sylvan Messenger is fantastic and almost always hits at least two elves. Tower Defense is a bit of protection against damage-based sweepers. When you are so strong against so many things, it’s worth dedicating cards to what’s actually good against you. It also lets you profitably double or triple block against aggressive decks.

The sideboard is mostly speculative, and I can’t defend it at present. You’re already great against most creature decks, and most dedicated combo decks in the format just aren’t fast enough to race you if you are goldfishing.

Elves has a lot of options as a tribe because the power level of the key cards is so high. Wren’s Run Packmaster and Shaman of the Pack are such great and complementary threats that I don’t think the deck needs threats besides them.


Creatures (38)
Priest of Titania
Sylvan Messenger
Elvish Visionary
Elvish Harbinger
Shaman of the Pack
Wren’s Run Packmaster
Elves of Deep Shadow
Elvish Mystic
Gnarlroot Trapper
Primordial Sage

Spells (2)
Tower Defense

Mana (20)
15 Forest
Sideboard (15)
Viridian Shaman
Eyeblight Massacre
Illness in the Ranks
Tower Defense


Taken together, Priest of Titania and Treasure Cruise are two of the most powerful cards in the format. Trying to build around them is great place to start. In both cases, enough supporting cards are there to make real decks. Time well tell if these cards are truly problematic, or if the format can regulate itself against them.

Naya Slide

One thing I love about Penny Dreadful is (re)discovering strategies that were once powerful in their heyday, but now no longer have a home. This is usually because some key cards are not legal in slower formats, and are not powerful enough for the eternal formats where they are legal. Naya slide definitely falls into this category, hearkening back to a different age in Magic’s history. In some alternate standard universe, where this particular combination of cards is legal, I believe this particular PD deck could be or could have been a very viable and powerful control deck (I’ve found PD is about on par with Standard in power level, but a lot deeper in terms of viable strategies, though I could be wrong in that assessment).

Indeed, R/W slide was a popular deck in the days of Onslaught Standard, and this deck borrows heavily from the deck of that era, while substituting some new tech for cards that are not penny dreadful legal.

Naya Slide

Creatures (13)
Flametongue Kavu
Acidic Slime
Valley Rannet
Cloudgoat Ranger

Spells (25)
Astral Slide
Decree of Justice
Slice and Dice
Edge of Autumn
Renewed Faith
Lightning Rift

Land (22)
Vivid Meadow
Jungle Shrine
Vivid Crag
Sideboard (15)
Renewed Faith
Wall of Resurgence
Deadshot Minotaur
Azorius Arrester
Carven Caryatid

The deck basically intends to abuse its namesake card Astral Slide as well as Lightning Rift by triggering those enchantments as many times as possible. Even though the deck suffers a little bit from none of the cycling lands being legal, it actually gets a very good arsenal of cycling spells. Edge of Autumn is a rampant growth that allows us to trigger our enchantments for no mana, which can be huge. In addition, due to the way the deck plays by….well…cycling…it tends to have no difficulties finding lands as the game goes on, making sacrificing a land well worth it to trigger your enchantments in the late game. Edge of Autumn also shores up early game weaknesses, by ramping us making the green splash worth it almost alone.

This deck probably has the best sweeper suite of any deck I have played thus far in the format. Slice and Dice and Starstorm are both extremely versatile. Decree of Justice is probably one of the most underplayed cards in the format, being an extremely powerful finisher, and also providing utility in the midgame. Think of it as an uncounterable Secure the Wastes that cantrips, and you’ll quickly realize how good it is in general, but especially in control mirrors. Renewed Faith is a way to make sure we do not get totally blown out by decks that deal a lot of damage quickly. It is also a very cheap cycler, which is always nice.

Our creature base is intended to abuse Astral Slide triggers. Flametongue Kavu, or simply “FTK”, was known as one of the most format warping cards when it was in standard, and now it’s legal in penny dreadful. If you can get in a situation where you’re sliding this guy in an out, you’ll cause absolute headaches against any sort of creature based deck. Of course he’s usually just value when you play him on his own. Some old school Standard slide decks went g/w to (ab)use eternal witness. While we don’t get anything quite that powerful, acidic slime is very versatile and an answer to things the rest of the deck cannot answer. Usually we side him out against decks that run burn, since he is a 2/2 body for 5, but deathtouch allows him to trade pretty favorably as well, if your opponent does not have a good answer handy. Just another solid value creature that can get absurd very quickly with astral slide.

Valley Rannet, while lacking the raw power of Eternal Dragon, ensures we hit lands, and basically makes the green splash “free”. Cloudgoat Ranger is a finisher and can also generate a lot of tokens with an active slide.

The sideboard is still subject to tuning. Azorius Arrester is a card I’ve liked quite a lot against some decks that rely on attacking with big threats. I even used to maindeck some copies of him, since he brings the mana curve down, although I found that early, you either want to be casting your enchantments or ramping or cycling for lands, so I shaved him to the sideboard. Wall of Resurgence can come in against creature based decks that do not play a lot of spot removal. With Astral Slide it can become a pretty quick clock as well. More copies of Starstorm are warranted against decks like Elves.

The deck might struggle against really fast aggro if it cannot hit its sweepers, and if a deck runs a lot of maindeck or sideboard enchantment hate it might cause us problems as well . Nonetheless, in testing so far, I’ve racked up quite a bit more wins than losses, and I definitely think the deck is powerful enough to compete.

If you enjoy this deck (or do not enjoy it), and have any more ideas let me know in the comments.