The War Report: Death Rattle

Shortly after the arrival of Ravnica: Allegiance, I spoke about some of the new legendary creatures I was really excited for. Two of them were from color pairings that I’ve made multiple decks around, so I instead focused on the new Rakdos general Judith, along with the Gruul warleader. Admittedly, those look like fun decks to pilot and I am excited to build them — they definitely fall somewhere outside of my normal wheelhouse, and I love that about this game. Recently I was finally able to purchase some packs of the newest Magic: The Gathering set, and managed to get my hands on a copy of the new Teysa, and I rather enjoy her design.

She’s a 2/4 for 4, which isn’t a bad body alone for the cost, allowing you to avoid smaller burn spells. Teysa has two lines of rules text, and though they are both going to be relevant in my particular build, there is one portion that I want to focus more of our energy on. Teysa is the Panharmonicon of death triggers, much like Naban was the Panharmonicon for Wizards. She’ll double triggered abilities from creatures dying, and this can be a powerful effect however you should probably run a fairly creature-heavy build. I have done so, and first up I’d like to talk about some of our best death triggers:

Death Triggers:

It makes sense to add not only creatures who do something when they die, but also to include some creatures that do damage when other creatures die. Let’s look at our commander’s second line of text: Creature tokens you control have vigilance and lifelink. May I remind you that Orzhov as a guild loves to create spirit creature tokens, which are typically 1/1’s with flying. Now they’ll have vigilance and lifelink, and if they die, creatures like Blood Artist or Zulaport Cutthroat will do not one, but two points of damage and will heal you for more beyond the lifelink. I think this has the potential to be potent given enough tokens, so I’ve included several creatures who create tokens when they die. Elenda is probably the most note-worthy. I’ve also included ways to create more ramp in the form of Pitiless Plunderer, Pawn of Ulamog and Sifter of Skulls. They’ll create mana rocks/dorks for us when creatures die. All of these creatures have some great triggers that our commander can double, so I’d recommend you take a closer look.

Supporting Cast:

Not all of our creatures have death triggers, but they still serve our overall purpose. Here we have a selection of creatures that can remove other problems, give us some recursion for our sac outlets, and can even tutor for other creatures. There’s some card draw with Mentor of the Meek, and a Reassembling Skeleton can be used over and over to create a loop if you have one of those above mana producers and a Zulaport Cutthroat along with a sac outlet. I’m also really digging the idea of Elesh Norn buffing my creatures and destroying opponent’s token strategies, but it will also stack with another new card that I’ll talk about later.

Removal Package:

I’ve included a pretty standard Orzhov removal package, with some single target and board wipes in a variety of flavors. We want to be able to blow up permanents of all types, be it by destroying or exiling. Check the cards for more specifics.

Everything Else:

Some additional ramp and card draw was included with Land Tax, Black Market and Smothering Tithe. They are all sort of dependent on the board state but they will help to keep you from falling too far behind. As I mentioned earlier, I’m also running Ethereal Absolution to combo with Elesh Norn for a nice -3/-3 to opponents’ creatures and +3/+3 to my own, and it has a mana sink for your Black Market built in, allowing you to exile problematic cards from graveyards while creating more spirit tokens. Lastly, I’ve included two alternate win conditions, both of which are pretty situational and probably won’t work. Still, with all of the lifelink and ways to gain life I figure Approach of the Second Sun is a potential win con for stalled out games. Revel in Riches can potentially go off too, if I can get a loop going with the appropriate cards out, or just happen to luck into that many treasures. I think it could happen, but it’s one of those random things that won’t happen too often.

You can see the full decklist here.

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