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When Sentinel Totem enters the battlefield, scry 1.
Exile Sentinel Totem: Exile all cards from all graveyards.
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Sentinel Totem Discussion
1 week ago
The first thing I'll say is that with 21 lands, you probably can't expect to get the mana to launch Army of the Damned or a really powerful Mind Grind or Torment of Hailfire. Well, at least without Organ Harvest, of which you're only sporting one copy. (If you don't play with teammates, or if you don't play with silver-bordered cards, you might replace it with Culling the Weak.) For reference, the math on Army of the Damned is that about 1/3 of your cards are lands = 8/24, meaning you need to survive to turn 17-18 (have seen a total of 24 cards between your opening hand and your draws each turn) to hit that 8th land. That’s a long time in a Magic game.
Second, Mind Grind, while fun, is questionable here, since none of your other cards will mill your opponent. Many people play with 4 copies of many of their cards, so milling them might not cut them off from their game plan unless you mill them so much they might die. And for that, you would need more support for the mill plan or a LOT more mana. (This is possible, but a big change. Look for cards like Glimpse the Unthinkable and Mind Funeral. Otherwise, I'd cut it for cards that affect board-state or life-totals.)
Third, your overall game plan appears to be to stall in the early game for more powerful plays late, since your low cost cards are generally defensive. This means you'll want more lands in your deck so that you don't stumble on your way to those big plays. I'd remove Coral Atoll and put in four Dimir Aqueducts. It's not the ideal play, but it's cheap and there's a lot of upside if your opponent doesn't Ghost Quarter it or something. Anyways, that will take you up to 24 lands AND increase your average mana output a little more, letting you rely on 4CMC, 5CMC, and 6CMC plays to dominate the game.
Finally, on to individual cards:
Kraken Hatchling, Mausoleum Wanderer, Pharika's Chosen, and Will-o'-the-Wisp are all fine defensive one-drops, but they all do something a little different. Thornbow Archer is a little more aggressive than the rest of your deck wants, so maybe drop it and pick your favorite of those first four and add a second.
Fogwalker is okay on defense, though it's not the best two-drop out there. I'm not a fan of Olivia's Dragon, especially outside of madness/reanimator decks. Rancid Rats just doesn't offer enough oomph for the mana (skulk is not typically a very useful ability). Graf Rats is bad unless you have Midnight Scavengers, so it's really about how much you personally want to meld them. Ultimately, I'd rather replace them with better blockers like Wall of Tears, Wall of Souls, Contraband Kingpin, Dragon's Eye Savants, Gifted Aetherborn, or the absolute top-tier Baleful Strix. Other value options include Omenspeaker, Sigiled Starfish, and Augur of Bolas. Other fun options here are Surge Mare, Riptide Mangler, Lazav, the Multifarious, Fathom Feeder, and Ludevic's Test Subject Flip. Choose your favorites. Alternately, spot-removal like Doom Blade, Victim of Night, Cast Down, Go for the Throat, and sometimes Dimir Charm are pretty effective.
Wharf Infiltrator can be good sometimes. You can leave it in for fun or replace it.
Eternal Scourge has its uses, but I don't think this deck is optimized for it. Ideally you'd want a few things that can exile it from graveyard or hand, such as Gurmag Angler, Soulflayer, Tombstalker, Scavenging Ooze, Grim Lavamancer), Azor's Gateway Flip (from hand), or the most hilarious option, Serum Powder. As it stands, it's just difficult to kill outside of combat, like a bad shroud or hexproof. Honestly, I don't think you need a 3/3 to be immune to removal. Replace with a finisher, which I'll discuss in a bit. Alternately, one of my favorite defensive 3CMC creatures is Graveblade Marauder, since its offensive capabilities can rapidly increase.
Markov Crusader isn't actually very good even in the rare case when you do have another vampire, and you only have one other one. Compare to 4CMC utility wunderkind Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, 5CMC finishers (like Archfiend of Depravity, Glyph Keeper, Ob Nixilis, the Fallen, Vengeful Pharaoh, and maybe even Serra Sphinx), and 6CMC game-winners (like Noxious Gearhulk, Dread, Kokusho, the Evening Star, Wurmcoil Engine, Grave Titan, or even Vengeant Vampire, though that last one is much worse than the others). Sure, none do exactly what Markov Crusader does, but some are close and they all have incredible upsides. Even something like Shriekmaw might ultimately gain you more life by just killing something outright, plus it's super-flexible. Heck, Soul Ransom and Mind Control are strong cards too, at least against creature decks. Anyways, Markov Crusader is a card to replace.
Midnight Scavengers is okay, especially if you have a lot of disposable deathtouchers to bring back, but it still doesn't compare favorably to the above finishers unless you really want to meld it with Graf Rats. Remember, doing things you want to do is an important part of MTG. But if you don't care to meld, I'd look to replace it.
Ob Nixilis, Unshackled is fine. In most cases it doesn't compare favorably to the 6CMC critters above, but it has its uses. If you've got a lot of little deathtouchers (Pharika's Chosen, Typhoid Rats, Dire Fleet Poisoner, it can grow really out of hand. Also, Field of Ruin forces a library search.
Elder Deep Fiend is fine. Usually you play it in a deck that has plenty of creatures you don't mind (or are better off) sacrificing (for example, Priest of the Blood Rite, Relentless Dead, Doomed Dissenter, Stormbound Geist/Geralf's Messenger), then you emerge it early and tap down lands. That's not really your plan here, so it's probably not the best choice. Some good choices for replacements are above, but within the category of emerge creatures, I think Distended Mindbender fits your deck better.
Organ Harvest is a powerful card, but has some drawbacks. Most importantly, a lot of people don't play with or against silver-bordered cards. They're not legal in any official tournaments. Tournament legal variations are Dark Ritual, Culling the Weak, and Ashnod's Altar. Other than that, it's a card that is useless in many situations and completely changes what you're able to do when you actually can make use of it, and that can be awkward from a strategy perspective. If you don't have creatures, you can't cast it. If you don't have a big spell in your hand, you don't need to cast it and you'd rather have almost any other card. So it wants your deck to be full of disposable creatures and big spells, like an emerge deck or a zombie deck really making use of Army of the Damned and From Under the Floorboards. But for the most part that is not this deck, so unless you want to build around the card, I'd remove it, either replacing it with Dark Ritual which is always useful when drawn early, or something else that's cheap and effective: Dead Weight, Apathy, Doom Blade, Pharika's Chosen, or whatever.
Sorcerous Sight is worse than Peek and Gitaxian Probe, but I don't think any of those are particularly good in your deck. If you want to know what's in your opponent's hand, play Telepathy. Otherwise, there's better card draw: Preordain and Ponder are the best cheap spells, but it might be worth spending more mana for more effect with Sign in Blood or Chart a Course.
Cemetery Recruitment isn't particularly good with so few zombies. You can add more zombies, or switch to Ghoulcaller's Chant/Find / Finality/Recover/Disturbed Burial/Death Denied to simulate the effect, or just do card advantage the old-fashioned way, with stuff like Sign in Blood/Consult the Necrosages/Read the Bones/Notion Rain/Secrets of the Golden City. Alternately, shred your opponent's hand (and lose friends) with Hymn to Tourach or punch your opponent for cards with Shadowmage Infiltrator. If you're committed to bringing creatures back from the dead, look to Zombify, Extract from Darkness, or Isareth the Awakener, which can randomly run away with the game if your opponent doesn't have an answer. The most efficient reanimation spell is Unburial Rites, but you'd need to splash white for it to be better than the above options.
Contingency Plan doesn't actually net you any cards in hand; you just control what you are going to draw later. Since you're not very graveyard-focused, there's little benefit. The more flexible version is Dimir Charm, and the more powerful version is Lim-Dul's Vault. If you want to stack the top of your deck for 2CMC without wasting a card to do it, there's Diabolic Vision, but the 1CMC Preordain and Ponder are worthy as well. Alternately, raw card advantage is an option. Any of the options I've already listed are fine, but here are some more: Chemister's Insight, Foresee, Deep Analysis.
Mind Grind attacks on an irrelevant axis. Recommend replacing it with a finisher unless you add more mill. If you want a non-creature finisher, Ob Nixilis Reignited is pretty cool. If you just want something that can't get Murdered, there's Sphinx of Jwar Isle.
Torment of Hailfire is possibly workable if you go to 24 lands with Dimir Aqueducts. X=3 is pretty much the bare minimum, and if they have cards in hand even that might not be enough. This is a possible swap for a finisher, as above.
Army of the Damned is hard to cast at 8CMC. Recommend replacing it with a cheaper finisher unless you're all about Organ Harvest.
Apathy is pretty decent at 1CMC. Probably not as good as just casting Doom Blade/Go for the Throat to kill the thing, but definitely more interesting and fun. It can stay in, though swapping it for something more reliable is technically the correct decision.
Strange Augmentation is bad in your deck. While +3/+3 for 1CMC is fine in a very aggressive deck, that doesn't seem like your game plan. Ideally, your finishers are big enough to win without the extra P/T. If they're not, these could be replaced with kill spells to make sure they are.
Tormod's Crypt is useless unless you frequently play against graveyard-based decks. Even then, with only one in the deck, you're in bad shape. I'd swap it for Relic of Progenitus or Sentinel Totem if you really need graveyard hate. If a creature is reliable against those graveyard decks, Deadeye Tracker, Nezumi Graverobber, or Withered Wretch can do some work. Agent of Erebos is another option. If the only things you need to exile are creatures, then Cemetery Reaper, Dimir Doppelganger, and the powerful Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet are options. Otherwise, cheap kill spells, counterspells, or even more expensive exiling removal (e.g. Sever the Bloodline, Silence the Believers) are options. Phyrexian Scriptures is another card I'll mention, just 'cause it does lots of stuff.
Nevinyrral's Disk is pretty good. Go ahead and keep that in there.
Gridlock is okay, but it's basically a Darkness you can use aggressively. I think Sleep is generally better at that. Alternately, if you want a mass-defense spell, Yahenni's Expertise, Languish, and Damnation are the go-to sweepers.
Outwit is way too narrow; most decks don't target players. (The primary exceptions are burn and mill, so if you play against them a lot, it might be fine.) If you want a dollar-cost-effective counterspell in that slot, play Counterspell or MAYBE Dimir Charm for flexibility.
Murder is fine. (Card-wise, not morally!) Technically Hero's Downfall is better if you can get one.
Liliana Vess is fine, but she's a little slow. I'm not sure whether she's better or worse in this deck than Jace, Unraveler of Secrets, Ob Nixilis Reignited, Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath, or even Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. My inclination is that those are stronger as you increase the median quality of the cards in your deck (making Vess's -2 less important).
Here's one inexpensive, somewhat-boring take:
2x Glyph Keeper
1x Liliana Vess
2x Dimir Charm
2x Doom Blade
2x Agony Warp
3x Notion Rain
That's just one take on the general strategy. Ultimately, (I think) you're playing Dimir Midrange, and so you're looking for about 40% (24) lands, 30% (18) things that keep you alive until you have 4-6 mana, 20% (12) things that kill your opponent and are themselves hard to kill, and 10% (6) things that put you ahead on cards just in case you're not drawing the right part of your deck.
1 month ago
Diligent Excavator and Jhoira's Familiar don't really do much for you here. The only Historic cards you have are the Howling Golems, Powerstone Shards, Sentinel Totems, and the Familiar itself.
I think Patient Rebuilding is too slow. Drowned Secrets with Psychic Corrosion should be more than enough, and then you fill out the rest of your deck with card draw and counter magic. Radical Idea would be better than Opt because you can cast it twice and it draws you two cards.
By the time you can attack with Fleet Swallower, you're probably only milling a small amount of cards because their library is dwindling. You can mill 10 at a time with only a Drowned Secrets, a Psychic Corrosion, a Radical Idea, and your draw for the turn.
I also don't know what Powerstone Shard and Howling Golem are doing for you. Also cards like Disperse and Blink of an Eye are good.
1 month ago
I just made this deck exactly how you have it, minus the sideboard. I'm super excited to play it in the next couple days, I love really fast decks and this looks like it's gonna be my cup of tea. In case you're interested, here's what I put in my sideboard.
I put so many Sentinel Totem's in my side, simply because a TON of people in my area play Golgari, and it's a super easy, and cheap, counter to their deck; plus it allows you to scry, which is always nice. I chose Inescapable Blaze over Banefire because it's an instant, that can't be countered, versus a sorcery; it's always nice to do that kind of thing on your opponents end step. Warlord's Fury and Crash Through both for their combat advantage abilities, plus you get to draw a card. Cosmotronic Wave helps with 1/1 tokens, and makes it so everything else can't block. Fight with Fire could be a game ender, or board wipe. Experimental Frenzy could be insane with all the low costs in this deck.
So that's what I put in mine, and why. Will report back on my games in a few days, thanks for the deck build!
1 month ago
Hey there !
Guttersnipe won't have a lot of value, there is too little instant/sorcery imo. ( and not a lot of cheap one )
1 month ago
randomguyguy You beat Teferi with a single copy of Unmoored Ego or Vraska's Contempt. I don't think this discard is weak against control, not with Duress in the sideboard. I can tell you that in some ways Grixis is weaker than a Jeskai deck until you go to the board, but not all. At which point you board in your threat management. Blood Operative is bad. Again, you'll just Unmoored Ego the Experimental Frenzy or out right counter it, or force it to be discarded with Duress in a sideboard. You have to know the meta to handle it. I look at the combo with Fight with Fire and Expansion / Explosion as icing, not the real deal closer. Boarding that combo out is entirely possible if playing into counters. As far as graveyard hate, I do agree its a bit light in that regard, and maybe a Sentinel Totem in the board is handy. I am open to Mnemonic Betrayal as well. I think that could be right on the money, but so many will argue its a horrible card. I don't think it is...but at the same time the right match up could make this amazing. How to be resolved Experimental Frenzy is Dream Eater or River's Rebuke into Duress / Unmoored Ego / Sinister Sabotage / Disinformation Campaign. Costly in all regards. Thank you for the input though. I'm gonna take your suggestions up though.
1 month ago
All in all, I like the 'package' you've built here.
I don't feel like cards that only have a single keyword add a significant value to the deck. That means Adorned Pouncer, Brimaz, King of Oreskos, Silverblade Paladin, Loyal Unicorn, Odric, Master Tactician, Soltari Champion and Deftblade Elite. Out of those, the most value would come from the two 2-drops for an aggressive curve early game. I would probably add Mirran Crusader and Burnished Hart as well, and Soltari Visionary is also worth some consideration.
Collective Effort and Phyrexian Rebirth are both... pretty mediocre, in my opinion. Maybe swap those for Rout and Planar Cleansing (or maybe Unexpectedly Absent) instead? I also don't think the deck really NEEDS Tithe and could maybe play something along the lines of Mind's Eye or Surveyor's Scope if you really need the early ramp. Oblation should maybe be Crush Contraband, since you're pretty good as far as creature removal goes. I would also highly recommend running Swiftfoot Boots, since Odric radiates both Haste and Hexproof and the former is especially valuable to you, imo.
In your mana base, there's really no excuse NOT to play all of Strip Mine, Tectonic Edge and Ghost Quarter so you can handle something like Gaea's Cradle or Volrath's Stronghold. You might also want to run Scavenger Grounds so you can do something against graveyards. Maybe add Sentinel Totem or Relic of Progenitus to that list for some consistency. You could also possibly run the cycling lands for white for some extra carddraw (at least the cycling desert seems worth it so you can exile graveyards twice?), but at some point you'll hurt your chances of activating Emeria.
IN: Soltari Visionary, Mirran Crusader, Burnished Hart, Rout, Planar Cleansing, Unexpectedly Absent, Mind's Eye, Crush Contraband, Swiftfoot Boots, Sentinel Totem, Strip Mine, Tectonic Edge, Ghost Quarter
OUT: Loyal Unicorn, Soltari Champion, Deftblade Elite, Collective Effort, Phyrexian Rebirth, Tithe, Oblation, Brimaz, King of Oreskos (the tokens don't get the bonuses, so they are kind of not great), Silverblade Paladin, Oblivion Ring (outclassed by other removal in your decklist), 4x Plains
1 month ago
If you're looking for cuts I'd suggest Mavren Fein, Dusk Apostle and Revitalize. Mavren is gonna do nothing when you don't have profitable attacks and even at his best a 1/1s a turn ain't that big of a deal a lot of the time. As for Revitalize I don't think the lifegain triggers matter enough that you'd want this (4cmc draw 2 with Dawn of Hope and 2cmc +1/+1 and card with Ajani's Pridemate). After that maybe Ajani's Welcome and Bishop's Soldier but from there the rest of the deck starts looking essential.
20 lands seems a little low tbh. Speaking of lands, a couple Zhalfirin Void is a freeroll with your color requirements.
Against burn Shield Mare is backbreaking and I also quite like Healing Grace as it can counter Risk Factor quite effectively and can also protect your must answer creatures from removal while also gaining life.
I have a crazy theory that Tocatli Honor Guard is better than Sentinel Totem against the graveyard deck. Would you rather shut down their entire game plan (branchwalker, jadelight, chups, findbroker, izoni, wildgrowth, glowspore, supplier and even bugler and autumn in white builds) or fizzle Find / Finality one time? Obviously it dies to more stuff and Ajani's Welcome might have to be boarded out but personally I think it's worth it. The other consideration is it won't work against anything Arclight Phoenix related but that's a lot less common I think. Ok, rant over ;).
Anyway good luck. Hopefully with the rotation this combo gets more viable in constructed.
1 month ago
I hate that I love whatever this is so much that I want to try it out for myself.
It might be super weird and clunky, but a Helm of the Host may be okay in this deck?
Since you're artifact heavy to begin with, Damping Sphere would probably be a good sideboard card, along with some more flexible counter magic such as Negate, Essence Scatter, and Sinister Sabotage. Against aggro, Diamond Mare seems pretty solid. Silent Gravestone and Sentinel Totem for graveyard hate. Sorcerous Spyglass and/or The Immortal Sun vs Planeswalkers.