This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series The Power of the Dark Side

By Phil, AKA BeltFedWeapon

Part IX: Deck Hate

What’s that you say?  You are unfamiliar with this concept?  Well, for but a sliver of your soul, I will share the eldritch corners of my favorite color with you.  This is not the first time I have said this, but for the right cost, Black can do just about anything in Magic – to include this one thing that no other color really does.  (Well, Blue has one really good card in Supreme Inquisitor, but I digress.)

 

Deck hate cards are just that: they hate on the cards in your opponents’ decks and remove them preemptively from the game before they even have a chance to draw/tutor for them.  It’s a prophylactic approach that’s not as popular as it should be since such spells don’t have an immediate effect on the board.

 

As such, the effect is hard to quantify because the stock and trade of these types of cards are plays that are NOT made by your opponents because you exiled that card before they got to them.  Just because they are hard to analyze though does not mean you should eschew them. They’re great in certain configurations depending upon how you play Black. Further, all of the below cards are affordable, with Bitter Ordeal being the most expensive at about $8 as of this writing.

 

The players:

 

Sadistic Sacrament  – ‘SS’ for short; it’s the best hands-down choice if you want this effect.  Flexible in the early game, it’s also devastating and demoralizing in the late game when kicked.  This is a cheap answer to scary cards you don’t want to see across the board from you.

 

 

Praetor’s Grasp  – It’s a tutor that can also be deck hate when needs be.  Snag that Laboratory Maniac and keep it face down forever.

 

 

Bitter Ordeal  – Even more scary than Sadistic Sacrament with the right setup in the right deck.  Think aristocrats-style decks that use creature death for value. It can even be a wincon. For the splashably low cost of 2B, Bitter Ordeal can be far more useful in the right multi-colored deck than SS.

 

 

Nightmare Incursion  – Mono-Black loves swamps, and this card cares about them.  One of the weaker of the Black cards, but still powerful targeted preemptive removal.

 

 

Dimir Machinations – The weakest of these cards and only included here for completeness.  It’s a weaker Praetor’s Grasp in most aspects. This card NOT worth it (but I’m still trying it out to make sure).

 

 

Jester’s Cap  – Sadistic Sacrament in colorless artifact form at twice the cost.  That feels about right.

 

 

Gonti, Lord of Luxury  – While it is only four deep, Gonti can be your commander, there is no color restriction on casting the card you pick, and he is far more recurrable than the above cards.  I have a Gonti deck and this whole suite of cards fits right in.

 

 

Lord of the Void  – A 7/7 evasive beater for 7 CMC that poops out your opponent’s creatures every turn is good while also hating on your opponents other 6 cards.

 

 

Earwig Squad – I almost forgot one of my favorite Goblins!  This motley crew is SS on a stick! You just need the right setup. Highly recurrable as a creature, you just need to hit with a rogue to get to strip three and get a 5/3 for 2B.   This card is a perfect include in a Gonti deck. He’s a lowly rogue that they don’t want to block because of his deathtouch. Opponents assume that you WANT Gonti to die because the 2 commander damage on him is so low-threat and takes forever to stack up; they let him through.  Then BAM!, the Earwig Squad shows up! Hilarity!

 

 

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger – A 10/10 indestructible beater for 10?  Sounds on curve to me. It exiles ANY two permanents on cast in a color that needs it?  I would be thrilled if Wizards had stopped there, but this beast also guts 20 cards off of the top of your victim’s deck?  Sign me up! You’re going to exile something worthy when you dig 20 cards deep. This is the definition of premium top-end spells that go in a mono-Black deck (or any deck for that matter).    

 

 

To be sure, this is a small subset of cards that for the most part mono-Black uses best as the requirements are a hard Black mana base that features a lot of swamps (preferably with gobs of mana to boot).  Regardless, you need enough of them to make the effect turn up reliably in your draws without using tutors if you can. Ideally, you should only search for these when you absolutely need to and instead draw them naturally and pepper them in throughout the game to better control future board states.

 

The caveat is that most of these cards (Ulamog stands on his own) can be worth the card slots in your deck, but it has to be the right deck in the right meta.  The best case is when you have a combo player or two in your playgroup or LGS that always win in the same boring-ass way and don’t want you to interact with them.  Those are the ideal targets. 

 

This is when you tutor one of these up early to essentially take them out of the game full stop since the tuned combo/control decks only seem to have 2 or 3 wincons total and are ABSOLUTELY NEVER prepared for you to strip these cards away, especially early.  N-E-V-E-R.

 

Let me repeat that.  Do you want to defeat combo decks worth thousands of dollars with a handful of card worth, at worst, a few dollars each?  Yes? Then deck hate is for you.

 

You just need to find the window to deploy them; I’ve found that they’re best in the early game.  My biggest problem is the space these cards take up.  They don’t do anything about the current board state and you have to set aside precious space in your deck for them.  I don’t know about you, but that’s a hard call in my tuned decks.As a compromise, I generally only run one, but I have tutors to find it if I need it.  Whatever your preference, no one sees a Yawgmoth’s Will  or flipped Conqueror’s Galleon (Conqueror’s Foothold ) letting you recast SS – and this time fully kicked. 

 

As an example, I was in a game once with my Geth, Lord of the Vault deck that runs a lot of recursion, and it was down to just me and this Esper pillowfort guy.  He thought he had solved his problems by boardwiping Geth and all of his creatures I had already stolen and then Bojuka Bogging away his own graveyard (“achievement unlocked,” btw; I love when that happens). 

 

I had already used the SS earlier on the game on someone else, so I answered by recurring SS with a Conqueror’s Foothold and kicking it.  I then did it again by using Deserted Temple  on the Foothold and then getting the SS back again and recasting it again kicked.  It was 33 mana, but that’s nothing for a late game mono-Black deck.  He had maybe 15 cards left in his deck (all lands), after two turns of this line of play and he looked rather shell shocked when he scooped.  It was essentially over after the first casting since I had already pulled all his answers out the first time SS was kicked. 

 

Over the years, I have used a late game and unexpectedly recurred Sadistic Sacrament to force a scoop probably a dozen or so times – almost always because of the perception that I just pulled all their answers out of their deck.  They were utterly demoralized the first time I did and then it was like I lit their decks on fire when I did it again. They technically still had cards to play with, but their chances were small and they knew it; the potency of their decks were neutered at that point on top of being demoralized.

 

The real answer, though, despite the analysis and the story is simple:  is it fun for you to watch people wail, moan, and gnash their teeth (regardless of the crackback consequences) when you kick SS or storm off with Bitter Ordeal?  If so, you should find the slot for SS. It’s a pet card of mine for this exact reason and I don’t feel bad about favoring it.  Do you have a Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed or Gonti Deck?  This strategy of deck hate works perfectly in both. Regardless of your flavor of mono-Black, however, even if you just use Praetor’s Grasp as a tutor, you have it in you back pocket as deck hate if you need it. That’s fantastic flexibility.  They’re a great way to get rid of problematic artifacts and enchantments (read: Theros gods) you can’t otherwise easily deal with in Black. Remember, you are dealing with cards before they become a problem.

 

So, if you’re tired of people comboing out, if you want to definitively answer that one really annoying spell your buddy tutors for every game, or if you just want to wash down your opponents’  crushed dreams with the sweet taste of their tears; these are the cards for you. You will thank me later.

 

–BeltFedWeapon

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