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Disciple of Phenax
Creature — Human Cleric
When Disciple of Phenax enters the battlefield, target player reveals a number of cards from his or her hand equal to your devotion to black. You choose one of them. That player discards that card.
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Disciple of Phenax Discussion
2 months ago
APPLE01DOJ - I don't know. Yesterday, I could have written you an essay; today, I'm facing down Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I know nothing until further testing. I have rushed to bring back two copies of Liliana of the Veil to the list since the unbans, a card I had eschewed very quickly in my original construction of the deck, since it hardly favours the player drawing an extra card a turn; however, with the advent of Bloodbraid Elf and Jace TMS, opponents are now likely to be able to keep up with the CA of Phyrexian Arena, and as such, Liliana of the Veil is likely to be good again (even if the format is being overrun by lots of Bloodghast, Hollow One, and Faithless Looting).
However, I can offer a breakdown of how the creatures function in non-blue matchups:
a. Pack Rat:
The deck started with the set of Pack Rat. But that all in-strategy was soon found to be suboptimal - drawing multiple Pack Rats was unnecessary and rarely served any purpose; not to mention the speed of Modern means turn 2 Pack Rat is often too slow. As sweepers, Detention Sphere, and Maelstrom Pulse became common, and as Hollow One and Death's Shadow and Tasigur, the Golden Fang started to surface, Pack Rat lost some of its luster.
The natural question, then, if Pack Rat is slow and vulnerable, why play him at all? The answer: Pack Rat is ten cards in one card. Backed up with any kind of disruption and removal, he takes over the board and ends the game, quickly and unstoppably. Two activations are more than enough to put away games, and trading spot removal for Rats is a losing proposition. So in this list, he's gone from being a windmill early slam, to a lategame engine that turns dead land drops and discard spells into an army of creatures. Barring Path to Exile before a single activation is possible, Liliana, the Last Hope can always buy him back - one copy of the Rat, therefore, is ample.
I've covered the virtues of this card in a post above - essentially, he's my Tarmogoyf, but he flies. Whether he functions as The Abyss or as a 6/6 unblockable, he ends games very quickly, and many a game against combo/Tron has been put away by disruption into disruption into Demon. Of the quick clocks available to black, he's one of the better ones. I believe the added utility to be well worth the extra two mana over Goyf (besides, far be it from me to argue against 6 6 fliers for four - speaking of which, Demon is almost always a strictly superior option to Abyssal Persecutor, since Persecutor requiring us to find an additional kill spell for our own demon while Phyrexian Arena ticks down/the burn opponent is topdecking is not a good feeling).
I cannot praise this card enough in any mono black midrange list. He exiles creatures, he gains life consistently, and he makes every removal spell in our deck a 2 for 1. Traditionally, efficient mono black removal has been weak to graveyard recursion such as Flamewake Phoenix, Bloodghast, Geralf's Messenger, Kitchen Finks, and so forth, since all these cards must be killed more than once, at no additional expense to the opponent. Thoughtseize and Phyrexian Arena is a painful combination, especially in a world of Lightning Bolt and Kolaghan's Command. Kalitas solves all of these issues beautifully, and with any removal spell stalls the board incredibly easily and well.
Okay, have you seen the art? If Drana were real, she'd totally be my Valentine.
Jokes aside, one of the issues I was frequently running into with the deck was the amount of time it took me to close out once I had stabilised. While all of my creature threats (Gray Merchant of Asphodel is basically a Corrupt, he doesn't count) end the game quite quickly, I just wasn't drawing them fast enough - my opponent would get the opportunity to find that Cryptic Command or Sphinx's Revelation, or get those last 2 Boros Charm. There is a delicate balance between disruption and pressure that must be maintained in all decks that are not pure control, and maintaining that balance required me to find another fast game-ending threat.
I considered running the fourth Desecration Demon, but the idea of another big dumb beater was not appealing. I wanted a powerful threat with intrinsic value attached to its kit, that could help deal with the board even when I was not drawing multiple cards a turn, and hopefully one that was either resilient, or dodged some of the common removal in the format (Lightning Bolt, Abrupt Decay, Fatal Push - although I was open to playing four drops, since consistently having revolt to deal with a whole myriad of four drop threats is difficult). While black has plenty of value three drops, none of them offered this game ending power, or were too easily killed - Nightveil Specter and Lifebane Zombie, for instance, offer great card advantage in specific situations, but don't really pack the same punch as something like a Desecration Demon or Pack Rat army.
Finally, I settled on Drana. There are a lot of powerful five drops in black with value built in (Bloodgift Demon, for instance), but Drana does something none of the others do - she kills things, turn after turn, while being able to attack in the air for huge chunks. In a meta with Lingering Souls, Dark Confidant and Young Pyromancer, Drana seemed like an elegant solution, and so far, she has far exceeded my expectations. I do not think I should consider running multiples of her, since she is quite expensive and can be killed for no value the turn she comes into play, but untapping with her can feel a bit like untapping after a Supreme Verdict to an empty board.
No Geralf's Messenger, no Phyrexian Obliterator; only 2 Gray Merchant. I do not believe the all in devotion plan is likely to ever become Modern competitive, for sheer want of interactive capability and card advantage - if you are playing a midrange list in Modern, you need lots of early interaction in the form of hand disruption and removal, a proactive plan to end the game with efficient threats, and ways to pull ahead on cards after both players have been stripped down to limited resources. Gray Merchant is an extremely powerful card, as good as or better than Siege Rhino if it drains for upwards of five; it swings races, it ends games, it doesn't care about board stalls, and for all intents and purposes is basically a Modern legal Tendrils of Corruption (not my quote - blame LSV. Then again, that man also calls Disciple of Phenax Mind Twist, so take these statements with several grains of salt).
But despite his inherent power level, Gray Merchant of Asphodel is a very high variance card, and can sometimes be Highway Robber. Removal in Modern is aplenty, and curving out into enough devotion for Gray Merchant to be good is not a reliable plan. Even when the traditional mono black lists do manage to implement their plan - Geralf's Messenger into Gray Merchant, for instance, after having gotten two or more of their creatures removed, despite being an overall drain for seven to nine, just lacks the power/speed to push through opposing Tarmogoyf, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, Grim Flayer, Death's Shadow - not to mention blue decks with their Cryptic Command and board sweepers and Sphinx's Revelation.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel in my list is therefore a card I'll often be discarding to the various discard outlets in the early game; using either the second copy or Liliana, the Last Hope's minus two to drain the opponent out if necessary later on. His being a zombie means he can be sacrificed to Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet either to simply grow the great vampire, or to be recursed with Liliana, as the situation calls.
I do not think running more than two of the card is likely to be feasible for Modern given the uncertainty of whether Merchant will be Corrupt or Highway Robber, and also given Merchant's relatively high mana cost; while it is possible that one is the correct number (and indeed, often in post board games, I do go down to one or no Merchant) at least in game 1, the proactive plan of discard, kill, kill, flier, smack, Merchant win is a very strong one. Having access to the second copy in case the first gets exiled and therefore cannot be returned with a future Liliana is also quite relevant against decks with Path to Exile and Pyxis of Pandemonium.
Despite Merchant's variance, I believe his power level and his ability to end the game on the spot through cards like Ensnaring Bridge and Witchbane Orb is not to be undervalued. In a deck with Phyrexian Arena and Ob Nixilis Reignited, every life point represents an extra card; while Highway Robber may be terrible, a five mana 2 4 that draws 4 cards on etb and drains the opponent for four is an absolutely phenomenal Magic card.
I would also like to point out the maindeck inclusion of incidental lifegain like Collective Brutality and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in conjunction with Gary makes most burn and aggro matchups extremely favourable.
While the creature suite has been carefully picked, and is constantly being chosen and rechosen and tweaked, the engine that enables this deck is Phyrexian Arena. Any interactive deck with reactive spells always runs the risk of its reactive measures not lining up well against the threats being deployed on the other side; Arena churning through the deck presents the critical mass of answers and threats to overwhelm the opponent, ensures land drops are made, and essentially in every regard dots the deck's i's and crosses its t's. With discard outlets like Collective Brutality and Liliana of the Veil to trade potentially dead cards for relevant spells early on, irksome draws with too many high cmc cards can still function smoothly and well.
7 months ago
Cool deck, although in need of tuning. Disciple of Phenax doesn't do a whole lot for the mana that it costs except for giving you 2 devotion. Instead, if you want to continue on the rat theme, I would maybe add Pack Rat or Marrow-Gnawer as a finisher.
Rancid Rats is not really a great card, since its skulk + deathtouch combo is working against eachother, since you wont really want to attack with it, because you want to leave it up as a blocker. So the extra mana for the skulk is just wasted. Instead, I would consider adding either Drainpipe Vermin or Swarm of Rats.
Radiant Fountain, this card doesn't really have a place in the deck, since gaining you 2 life is not really worth it, if you are in need of black mana, since this only produces a colorless.
Murder is a good card, but there are better ones for the same cost, or less. Such as Hero's Downfall or Go for the Throat or Doom Blade.
I like the inclusion of Supernatural Stamina it's a pretty cool card that you don't see in play very often. Please keep it.
overall, I like this deck, since it includes rats.. And I like rats
11 months ago
Looks good so far...Here are some quick ideas for you...Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder makes 5 tokens just from casting your commander, if you feel like you run out of dorks too fast. Some more 1 power guys with cool ETB/death effects: Disciple of Phenax, Golgari Thug, Weaponcraft Enthusiast, Pilgrim's Eye, & Thorn of the Black Rose. Living Death & Victimize to recover from removal. Some more permanents that will synergize: Gate to the Afterlife, Genesis Chamber, Dark Prophecy, Skullclamp. I'm not sure about a lot of the discard angle the more I think about it, discard can be very hard to make work in multiplayer. You may really have to go all in on that strategy to make it work well. Soldevi Adnate is a lesser known sac outlet that should be awesome. Nether Traitor keeps coming back for more fun. Hope this was helpful, happy gathering!!
1 year ago
1 year ago
Hey thanks --
The winning combos are reanimation loops + a drain:
Bloodghast is inconsistent -- will cut.
Bloodthrone Vampire gives an instant speed, repeatable sac outlet that can sac itself to its own ability, so its main purpose is death triggers -- but, it's on the chopping block
Deathgreeter -- will cut
Disciple of Phenax -- targetted discard on every turn? on the chopping block
Falkenrath Noble -- will cut
Hell's Caretaker -- extremely valuable, but on the chopping block.. it is grindy
Infernal Darkness -- will re-add
Vampiric Rites -- m8, this card is bad. but i'll add it to maybe
Mindslicer -- will re-add
Mesmeric Orb -- I might consider this as a way to set up a living death loop
Ad Nauseam -- eh, sure, why not, it's a great card.
Wasteland I could probably find room for, always need to destroy pesky lands.
Inventors' Fair is a good idea for this deck. I always need one of the altars.
Toxic Deluge -- will re-add
1 year ago
Cut -- Abyssal Gatekeeper (unlike Fleshbag and Co, this can hurt more than it helps since it isn't around to feed itself) Bloodghast (no real advantage with Shirei, and is inconsistent as redundancy), Bloodthrone Vampire (doesn't offer you anything for feeding it), Coffin Queen (better with high cost ETBs), Crypt Rats (doesn't function with your commander), Deathgreeter (life gain is pointless), Disciple of Phenax, Falkenrath Noble, Hell's Caretaker (too grindy).
Also consider, Dance of the Dead, Mindslicer (you only need to sac this once with a draw engine and you've basically won), Toxic Deluge, Mesmeric Orb (most efficient yard filler ever), and Ad Nauseam.
You could also safely cut some of the 0 mana creatures since they don't really do anything, Liliana, Heretical Healer Flip, and Dark Prophecy (you already have a lot of draw, and this can actually kill you if you have a slow or unclear path to victory).
Some additional lands to consider: Inventors' Fair, you have enough artifacts to satisfy it, and it tutors some of your most needed cards; Westvale Abbey Flip can get you out of a jam if you pay too much life; and Wasteland/Tectonic Edge/Dust Bowl help you play a little more into Crucible of Worlds.
1 year ago
illumfolly, needs Infernal Darkness, and I'd prefer if you had a gameplan beyond "make things come back from the yard a lot." Can you think of any combos that fit? Mike&Trike might work, especially since Triskelion can function with Shirei to clear out your opponent's boards in between turns, but the deck would need more of a reanimator subtheme to support it. You can definitely cut a lot of the 3 and 4 mana stuff, like Disciple of Phenax and Falkenrath Noble.
enpc that is exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned making alternate lists. You did a great job of streamlining and not being attached to cards or lines of play, which can be really difficult when evaluating your own deck, so good job, really nice work.
I think the cards you cut are also really great examples of how paper lists often look different than in-theory, competitive, "optimized" lists. There are certain cards that are super fun and interactive to play with in real life, like Titania or Gift of Immortality from your list, that you don't want to cut from you deck because of advantages they afford you, the player, like fun or meta advantages, but become slightly outclassed when you move into a vacuum with no budget, where all you're trying to do is just win as quickly as you can. That doesn't mean it wrong or non-competitive for players to play those cards, just like players aren't non-competitive if their decks don't look exactly like the lists posted here. It just just means that the cards they're playing are affording them different advantages than what is generally considered optimal.
Anyway, discourse over, you should totally port your primer over to the new list, or link back to your other decklist, or both. (Also, I love your Wrath of God alter, definitely keep that included.)
Lastly, and this may just be me, but I totally think you could keep Crucible of Worlds in the streamlined version, especially if you freed up some u-land slots for Wasteland, Tectonic Edge and maybe Dust Bowl. Do you really need Mikokoro, Center of the Sea and Miren, the Moaning Well? The life isn't really worthwhile, and the Altar of Dementia combo kills people just as easily when you pass the turn. Also, neither Mikokoro or Selvala are really card advantage like you say in your primer, they're card parity. Card advantage, at least in my book, is only when you get more cards than your opponents.
1 year ago
Hey legendofa. Black white control is an awesome combination, it has that essence of Orzhov without even trying. So, here are my ideas of where the deck could go.
Firstly I think the deck needs a little focus. What do you want from the deck, what do you want it to do. Cards such as Nip Gwyllion, ask what does it add to the deck. You have a discard theme running through it, so let us stick with that. However, keep in mind that you must also stay alive.
So I'd run a full four Tidehollow Sculler, make sure I get to play it turn two. If I hit the hand, I like to hit it hard. So from the Sculler go into Sin Collector at three, then at four go to Disciple of Phenax, then at five Vizkopa Confessor. This way you have plenty of blockers, and life gain with the confessor, but you're still hitting their hand. This sort of deck does work well with Shrieking Affliction (basically a cheaper version of The Rack), but don't feel that is the route you have to go down.
For removal, you need to be quicker off the mark. If you want to go the enchantment route that's fine, but I would run some one mana enchantments in there to slow them down straight away so aggro decks don't run through you. Oppressive Rays is a favourite of mine, in the mid-late game it is less effective, but with the hand destruction, your opponent doesn't have much of a mid-late game. The rays slow your opponent down from the first turn. You can also run Guard Duty, as your creatures aren't really running in. The other one you can run is Cowed by Wisdom, but it doesn't have the same power if not running much draw power. For two mana I'd go the the classic Pacifism, there is no messing about, it gets rid of the creature. Darksteel Mutation still allows them to attack if they boost it etc, but does get rid of the abilities, so whichever is more fitting for the players you're against. You then have Pillory of the Sleepless for three mana, and if you wanted you could run One Thousand Lashes, same as the pillory but stops abilities as well. Running these cards is a win condition in itself, especially if run alongside the confessor. Not the fastest, but it's cruel. I used to run a deck where its win condition was just Blind Obedience extort triggers, and it did feel good! A little expensive for this deck, but you get it from the confessor, and he discards.
Anyway, so how about some draw power? Really I think you have to main options, if you want it instant speed then Succumb to Temptation, but if you're running a load of creatures and enchantments, instant speed for draw isn't very important, so I'd go with Read the Bones.
So there are a few ideas for you if you want to go down the enchantment and discard route. Of course, if you run even more enchantments you can always go down the Sphere of Safety route which is a deck I absolutely love! If you decide to go down a different route from discard and enchantment though, just let me know and I'll throw some more ideas your way.