Welcome back for more silly brews! Remember the phrase, “That which doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger?” Fortunately, it’s true of that which does kill you as well.
Of the five new uncommons, Xenan Cultist was definitely the other favorite for a wonky brew deck, and I was a little sad to cut him alongside Fevered Scout for the Mad Sacrifice list two weeks back. While Seek Power has benefited Big Combrei and Control, Waykeeper has invigorated Hooru Aegis and Throne Warden has brought back Armory in a big way, Cultist is more about inventing new archetypes then supplementing old ones. Admittedly, he slots decently into a Feln Scream deck, but that’s hardly the full extent of it. He’s a death guy. He likes it when your stuff dies.
That’s because he knows they’ll be back.
4 Copper Conduit (Set1 #66)
4 Sand Warrior (Set1 #64)
4 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
4 Direfang Spider (Set1 #256)
1 Infinite Hourglass (Set1 #67)
4 Predator’s Instinct (Set1 #75)
4 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
1 Devour (Set1 #261)
1 Ephemeral Wisp (Set1 #84)
4 Dawnwalker (Set1 #86)
4 Shadowlands Guide (Set1 #280)
4 Xenan Cultist (Set1 #516)
1 Marisen’s Disciple (Set1 #104)
4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
3 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)
3 Striking Snake Formation (Set1 #112)
5 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
5 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Amber Monument (Set1 #420)
3 Amethyst Monument (Set1 #426)
4 Seat of Mystery (Set0 #61)
4 Xenan Banner (Set0 #52)
We could probably describe this deck as “Xenan Killers” if the name weren’t already taken. It shares a few cards, including the namesake Predator’s Instinct and Dawnwalker; but the gameplan is somewhat different – and actually a lot more focused on Killer. It’s also a lot more focused on zombie units recurring from the void, which would make it… a Xenan Thriller!
The forerunner here is Xenan Cultist, although it’s important to note that he’s not absolutely key to our gameplan – just an exceptional supplement to push it over the top. Despite the relative difficulty of his strat, Cultist draws silence effects like a magnet in my personal experience – which is good, because we have a lot of units that demand silences more than Cultist does! When he’s not actively dealt with, he ensures that every unit that dies becomes a bigger and bigger threat, meaning that we can return them from the void for a big beatdown later on. Cultist also has a decent statline for a 3 cost unit, just below Feln Bloodcaster in holding aggro and slightly above Torch range, which makes him an enticing vanilla defender.
When it comes to getting stuff out of the void, cheap and quick is usually best. We opt for the easy ones – Dawnwalker’s low low price of free with purchase and a fun-of Ephemeral Wisp for blocking up the board and being really unpleasant to kill. Dark Return is the best dirt-cheap option for recasting a Conduit or another big unit, and Shadowlands Guide snatches units that cost 1 OR 0 from the void, meaning we can rehatch Scorpions, Spiders, and Sand Warriors, oh my!
Giving any of the units with high capacity to rise from the dead Killer provides renewable removal options, usually with Deadly or Overwhelm as a bonus. These constant recurring potshots help us keep the board clear of threats and defenders and pressure damage while maintaining consistent card advantage. As such, we stack high on Predator’s Instinct and Striking Snake Formation, trying to control as much of the board as possible.
Copper Conduit does its usual shtick here – you send it out fairly small, get it killed, Dark Return it, and cast it again to layer Powersurge on Powersurge until it is a towering 11/11 with Overwhelm. Since Conduit, Cultist, and all of the Deadly and Killer units demand silences to prevent recursion from getting value, the layered redundancy helps a lot against Combrei.
g at 4, the deck is fairly low to the ground on power. We need very little to get our initial plan going, and when we throw in Monuments, the overall density of threats gets very high. Amber Monument is the star as usual, pulling back Dawnwalkers and pushing damage when given Killer. Amethyst Monument is rarely as useful, but as a mild health-gain trick that doesn’t impact our deck negatively it’s worth it to run at least two. Combined with Cultist and Dark Return, rising up to the challenge of our tigers can net a nasty Infernal Tyrant-sized puma, sealing up games against those pesky aggro decks. Alternatively, you can file the monuments down, add a few power, and try to hit some higher cost threats like Vara, the Fate-Touched, which will bring back Dawnwalkers in addition to shadow units.
Wisp and Devour are long-game cards that ended up being relegated to one-of slots in this particular cut – Devour allows you to dodge silence effects and sacrifice recursion units on demand, and Wisp, if you can get it killed with a Cultist on board, can become an immortal juggernaut that never stops un-dying. I recommend tweaking both up if you take this deck in more of a control direction. Other cards that didn’t quite make a 4-slot, but are helpful: Marisen’s Disciple and Torrent of Spiders, for their capacity to generate 1 cost deadly units for Shadowlands guide and the general versatility of the card. As we capstone our deck with Xenan Obelisk, getting a decent amount of small tokens can be relevant in the right metas.
The deck is primarily weak against void hate archetypes – play cautiously against these decks and try to hold a recursive unit in reserve to restart the engine. Because of the way Cultist adds value to even vanilla units, Steward of the Past won’t totally wreck your day (although it’s not fun), but Statuary Maiden is a nightmare. If you’re seeing a lot of these, consider layering in Suffocates instead of Annihilate (we choose the latter since we are almost always able to eat small units with our Killers). Giving your opponent 4/4 cudgels is not ideal! On the flipside, Thriller excels against linear decks with few silence effects, making it yet another decent addition against Rakano rushes.
For a game of the deck in action, you can check out this oddball matchup with a Call the Ancients deck. That’s it for today! Enjoy yourselves, and may grizzly ghouls from every tomb close to seal your opponents doom.