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Welcome to Abusive Surveillance, Volume One

If you're anything like me then you likely saw during prerelease exactly how stupidly large you can make creatures (9/9 Dimir Spybug...swing for fatal) and how quick you can chew through the top of your deck to get the cards you need out. It was impressive enough to me that I decided to build a Standard deck, purely in GRN Dimir to take advantage of the mechanic and get as much out of it as I can so I set to work. This is more or less the first Standard deck I've built in a set that's come out since I've been back into the game, I was technically back in for Core Set 19 but I didn't really get into that as much as I did this one.

With that out of the way, lets get started!

One: Surveillance and its Uses

With the new mechanic, there also came a ton of synergistic creatures and other spells to help boost your Surveilling so it's not just a simple top-deck manipulation mechanic. The most obvious of these is the Dimir Spybug and Thoughtbound Phantasm with Nightveil Sprite's attack trigger. Drop a counter on these cards whenever the Sprite attacks? Ok, I'll take that one straight to the bank! Want it in an angrier version? Chop the Nightveil Predators out of the deck and replace them one-for-one with Doom Whisperer. Sure you lose a hexproof flyer with deathtouch, but you can super pump those Spybugs and Phantasms and really make someone else's game really short. Downside, unless you're lucky enough to pull three or you can afford to drop $60 immediately, Doom Whisperer really isn't a viable option which is why it's not here.

Now I can hear the masses question's through the aether of the internet, "But what about the other player's kill spells?". Well, not surprisingly, I have an answer for that one too! Surveilling counterspells...yes, I just said that. This is most simply accomplished by running Sinister Sabotage and Unexplained Disappearance, one bounces creatures, forcing an opponent to cast them twice while feeding you a Surveil trigger and the other counters all those pesky Izzet shock spells that do just enough damage so smoke Spybugs and Phantasms while they're still small. The other counters just about anything they can think of to slow your roll. The downside is that they are a little on the expensive side mana-wise so you have to leave a bit more open mana once you're starting to get going but this is offset with the surveil triggers.

Two: How the Deck Works

Well, I'll be honest, it's fairly straightforward and simple. Ideally, turn one is spent casting an Island and turning out Thoughtbound Phantasm immediately. It's a swinging blocker with a Surveil receiver, deal. Turn two, another Island or combo-mana source like Watery Grave and turn out Nightveil Sprite, tapped out and pass. Turn three, another land ideally and then Dimir Spybug, swing with Nightveil Sprite and get a counter on the Bug and the Phantasm. Turn four, another land, maybe another Sprite and swing again with Sprite and Bug for more counters. By now, you've likely done at least 5 damage to your opponent and the writing is on the wall. By this turn under ideal conditions, Spybug is a 3/3 flyer with Menace (assuming ONLY you've only used Sprite's attack triggers) and Phantasm is a 4/4 defender that's about to be able to attack as though it didn't have defender. Turn five, you add ten damage to that previous five and they're on the ropes. And all this is assuming you've had NO OTHER Surveil triggers from any other spells. Throw a few Notion Rains or Thought Erasures in there? Now you not only have a boardstate advantage, you also have a card advantage because you've drained their hand and buffed up your own.

Alternatively, or more accurately, in addition to your Surveil trigger abuse, you can also self-mill yourself to your advantage. Self-mill? In Standard? Are you nuts? Well...slightly but that's a story for another day. In this deck sit four cards, pushing it to a 64-card deck. What are they and why did I add them? Well, they're the set of Creeping Chills and they're there to get mill-exiled straight out of my library and soft-cast that way. Does the same thing it normally does for four mana on a surveil for as little as two mana? Yeah, I'll take that.

Three: Things in the Sideboard and Why

  1. Unmoored Ego. Got a player that's running a Ral-Thousand Year Storm deck? How about no. Exile Ral and exile the Thousand Year Storms and see what else he can do, or at least force him back to Plan C. Otherwise, it can be great to torch a player that's extremely dependent on their mana and start exiling lands. Land advantage is resource advantage after all.
  2. Devious Cover-Up. Exiles whatever I counter so those pesky Jump Start players can't reuse it? Yeah, that'd be useful to have in a pinch. This, combined with Unmoored Ego can pretty effectively shut down those Izzet decks. Also works well against Golgari decks that abuse the Undergrowth mechanic based on cards in their yard.
  3. Disdainful Stroke. Oh, you convoked your way into something stupidly large using all your creatures and mana? ...aaaaaaaaaaaand it's gone. Really effective answer to Selesnya's mechanic.
  4. Enhanced Surveillance. to shuffle my yard back into my deck? Otherwise I get to surveil two more cards at a time? Yeah, I'll take that.
  5. Disinformation Campaign. Pretty much just an infinite draw-surveil-bounce loop for me if I do it right.

Post-Description Note: Deck is currently highly based on Star City Games' Turbo Surveil deck but with some serious function changes as well as a major budget change. While it does make the deck different in build, I felt it was pertinent and similar enough to mention this.

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Went 1-2 at Showdown, first game loss going against a "Massive Undergrowth" kind of deck running Lotleth Giants, Izonis and Assassin's Trophys. The second loss (third match) being a Golgari Zombie tribal that got stupid big stupid fast. The win (second match) came against a slow-to-develop Izzet deck that couldn't effectively answer my plays. Did start to hit Blood Operatives today and they were not as useful, so those are likely to be replaced.

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