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Spreading Cheese – Black Sun and Red Moon

Hi all. This week I want to talk about a deck I’ve been brewing for a while, and this time it’s something that’s actually good, I believe. I’ll tell you the story behind the deck, and then get straight to construction. Unfortunately, I don’t include the namesake Black Sun’s Zenith in the decks I mention, because I cut it at the last minute. However, I wanted to keep the title, because it sounded cool. Deal. Also, another last minute edit: I don’t know when you’ll be reading this article, but I developed this list 3 weeks ago. I’m aware that Brian Kibler has been brewing something very similar to this recently, but I have nothing to do with his list, and I didn’t talk to him other than saying I also have an UB Infect list and saying it was awesome.

I was playing a modified version of Patrick Chapin’s Grixis Tezzeret list, since I was able to get a playset of Tezzerets for cheap, and he is my favorite planeswalker in the story, and we all know how big of a flavor nerd I am. Anyway, I was playtesting against BigHeadJoe’s roommate Travis, who was running UW Caw-Blade. I just felt like I didn’t have the threat density to match his deck, I kept falling short on answers. But I realized that Tumble Magnets were really good, an assertion that I had already made in my previous articles. I also felt like the red splash, while very useful, wasn’t worth the drop in consistency. I decided to add Inquisitions, since I’ve been raving about how good that card is as well. I also don’t really like Wurmcoil Engine, because even if you have artifact acceleration, it feels like 6 mana is so much for a single creature. Yes, it gives you 2 creatures if it dies, and the lifelink is immense, but with so much artifact hate around, relying on one big artifact creature feels weak to me. Yes, it probably was a good meta call for Worlds, but not anymore. So I was left without threats in my deck. Except for the Inkmoth Nexus.

Then I glanced at my sets of Phyrexian Crusaders and Vatmothers lying around. You do realize that a Vatmother kills in three hits at most, right? Two, if you’ve ever connected with a Crusader or twice with a Nexus, which are both hard to block. I mean, the “best” deck in the meta only runs white creatures. Crusader is INSANE. I was trying to justify playing Infect anyway, so I just stuck them in. Also, I didn’t like the mana ramp spells in the Grixis list, I don’t like the Opal because it is legendary and I don’t like the Sphere because I just don’t like it. I don’t need colored mana that badly anyway. So I stuck in Plague Myr. It’s the same thing as a Sphere, but it can actually swing in for a few hits if necessary, and it doesn’t expire. Of course, Contagion Clasp is really good, both in killing those early birds/Mystics, and also helping you get there with that last few points of poison. Also, Tezzeret helps you get Myrs/Clasps quickly, so having artifacts is good anyway. So right now I have:

4x Phyrexian Crusader
2x Necropede
2x Plague Myr
4x Phyrexian Vatmother
1x Skithiryx, The Blight Dragon (need some air game)

4x Contagion Clasp
4x Tumble Magnet

4x Inquisition of Kozilek
4x Preordain

1x Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

4x Mana Leak
1x Go for the Throat

4x Inkmoth Nexus
4x Darkslick Shores
4x Drowned Catacomb
4x Creeping Tar Pit
5x Swamp
4x Island

Sideboard:
2x Corrupted Conscience (stealing stuff feels so good)
4x Duress
4x Spell Pierce
3x Go for the Throat
1x Contagion Engine (why not?)
1x Doom Blade

So, this is a rough draft of a list, but it’s what I’ve been playing, and it works really well. You shut down Caw decks with Tumble Magnet, and bring in the control cards in game 2, taking out the Vatmothers/Dragon because Sword of Feast and Famine blocks them all day long. Black Sun’s Zenith is just ridiculous, you clear the board and then make a dude with Tezzeret and swing. And don’t be afraid to go in for a damage kill; yes, most would say it’s suboptimal but it’s actually not that bad. Creeping Tar Pit is there mostly to nuke planeswalkers, but you can get in with that as well. Contagion Engine is ridiculous if it hits, not only can you wipe them to oblivion, you can also get to the poison kill really fast. Remember that Crusader can battle with a 4-power creature and survive, because he has first strike. You also chump block Boros all day long with him, same with Kuldotha red. The only matchup I’m not sure of is Valakut, but I guess you can race them. Also, you can steal their Titans with the Conscience post-board; Engine deals with Avenger; and you can tap down their Titan with Magnets, so it’s not that bad.

The numbers here are still under testing. The sideboard is likely suboptimal, and I never play Ratchet Bombs, but probably should. I’m also not sure of the amounts of the Planeswalkers, but I had to make some room for the other cards to breathe. So take everything in here with a grain of salt. Also yes, Luminarch Ascension completely destroys you, so you need the counters/discard really bad in game 2. At least the Crusader can swing past the angels, and Engine can help you a little bit (but not too much). Thankfully that card is under the radar right now.

Now, let’s talk some Legacy. Of course, I’m into combo decks as usual. I’ve recently gotten on the Painter’s Servant kind of decks, and here’s the list that placed 9th at the latest SCG Legacy open in Memphis. The UR version is pretty good, but I want to take a more Back to Basics approach, literally. I propose going Mono Red. What does that get you? You get to play Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon. Also, I’ve realized that Humility decks are quite popular, and—as Drew Levin pointed out when I asked him through Twitter—both Magus of the Moon and Painter’s Servant still work through Humility, due to some weird layering clause. Hey, I’m fine with that. You also get to play Koth, who is really powerful if your combo plan is disrupted, and he can also give you mana if you need. Anyway, this deck plays like a really aggressive deck until you get to drop the combo. Even if you never hit the combo, it’s still puts so much fast pressure on your opponent that it’s ridiculous. Here’s my take on the traditional list (modified from Caleb Durward’s List):

Key Cards
4 Imperial Recruiter
4 Grindstone
4 Painters Servant

Disruption
4 Magus of the Moon
4 Red Elemental Blast
4 Pyroblast
3 Blood Moon
2 Umezawas Jitte

Accel
4 Simian Spirit Guide
3 Chrome Mox
1 Koth of the Hammer

Toolbox
1 Figure of Destiny
1 Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
1 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Vexing Shusher

Lands
4 City of Traitors
4 Ancient Tomb
11 Mountain

Sideboard
1 Goblin Welder
1 Viashino Heretic
1 Faerie Macabre
2 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Trinisphere
1 Goblin Pyromancer
3 Pyrokinesis
3 Boil

This is a really fun deck to play, you have a big toolbox of answers against many decks that you can fetch with a recruiter, and Painter’s servant + REB/Pyroblast is ridiculously good, and Grindstone just ends the game.
Trinisphere + Boil in the board really hurts High Tide, which is big right now. Also, you can destroy their Candelabras with the Heretic. Against other decks, you just put on pressure until they crack. Team America can be an annoying matchup with all their disruption, but at least Stifle isn’t great against this deck and the Moon effects hurt their manabase quite a bit. Turn 1 Moon effect should really put a dent in their plan as you beat them up, because they literally have no basic lands. You just have to push until you stick a moon effect, then basically win the game. This applies to almost any 3-color deck. Recruiter helps you get the Magus if you don’t have it. Afterwards, you can stick a painter and counter everything they play with a Blast, and you can destroy their basics too. Again, at that point you basically win, so you really want a Moon effect. Against Goblins you just try to outclass them with quality over quantity, or just stick your combo since they have no answers. Game 2 when they board in their hate, you just board in the Goblin Pyromancer and laugh like a maniac. Against Merfolk, all your Blast spells work right off the bat anyway, you can use that to your advantage to slow them down/stick combo pieces, and game 2 you just bring in the Boils and the artifact hate. Against artifact decks, realize that you can use your own welder to grief them by switching out their cards that are useful with ones that are less useful. Against Emrakul, you bring in Faerie Macabre and remove it in response to the Emrakul trigger, then Grindstone again. There’s also Tormod’s crypt. Thankfully you don’t completely depend on the mill plan like the multicolored painter decks.

This is a really powerful and aggressive deck, and it can either explode turn 1 or disrupt your opponent into oblivion. I understand that Recruiters might be the entry barrier here, but here’s a tip: Try to get Chinese Recruiters. They’re much cheaper. And also realize that there are literally no other expensive cards in the deck (well, cheaper than having many duals and fetches, some lands are expensive and so is the stone, but they’re also better than goyfs, jaces, FoWs).

That’s all I got this week. Hope you enjoyed this stuff, and here’s my thematic advice of the week: Sometimes you need to go back to simpler cards and strategies. Complicated decks are very powerful but usually have fundamental weaknesses, like their manabase or lacking answers for protection against their color. Just try to attack from those angles.

P.S. For questions, comments, feedback, send an e-mail to me at Spreading.Cheese [at] gmail [dot] com or follow me on twitter @nayon7
P.P.S: Weekly metal plug: Benighted – Sl*t (NSFW song title, beware)
Want more metal? Check out http://www.heavyblogisheavy.com, where I write about metal under the username nayon.

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