Arena Standard - The Expendables

21 7 28 3 10
2 24 13 21
TCGPlayer $261.93
Cardmarket €215.22
Main 60 cards (23 distinct)
Creature (2)
Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (24)
Land (21)
Planeswalker (13)
Side 15 cards (7 distinct)

Simulating MTG Arena Best of 1 starting hand
(Simplified, true algorithm in MTGA not revealed by Wizards yet)

Our plan is to use [[The Elderspell]] to destroy two of our own planeswalkers in order to add 4 loyalty counters to [[Domri, Chaos Bringer]] and get his emblem immediately. Then we use [[Brought Back]] or [[Kaya's Ghostform]] to get our other planeswalkers back, and get extra activations from them. If we have a [[Tamiyo, Collector of Tales]] with at least 4 loyalty, this sequence gives us two cards back from our graveyard. These can be Elderspell and Brought Back, allowing us to start the process over next turn. Add in activations of [[Vraska, Golgari Queen]] or [[Teferi, Time Raveler]] and the value becomes pretty hard to compete with.

Of course, getting to this point requires that you stick three Planeswalkers on the board, and that's pretty hard to do most of the time. Fortunately, Brought Back and Kaya's Ghostform also help protect and get value from your walkers before you're ready to use [[The Elderspell]] to get Domri's emblem. With 4 Tamiyo in the deck, you don't have to worry about using them early. You'll be able to retrieve them when you need them.


The Mana Base

Because [[Brought Back]] is double white, while [[The Elderspell]] is double black, we need a strong commitment to Orzhov mana, but those colors by themselves just don't give us the planeswalkers we need to make this strategy work. Fortunately, we have [[Interplanar Beacon]]. Between that and our 4 [[Guild Globe]] and 4 [[Golden Egg]] we can play planeswalkers in all 5 colors.

We do stick to Orzhov colors for everything else though, since this reduces the strain on our one-use-mana-fixing artifacts. Every land in the deck besides Interplanar Beacon taps for either Black or White mana. Thus, if we have Interplanar Beacon then we have the colors for our planeswalkers, and we can use our artifacts to cast cards like [[Kaya's Wrath]], that the beacon makes difficult. And if we don't have the Beacon, then we should only need our artifacts for our walkers.

We're also running a relatively low number of lands at only 21 in the deck. We get away with this through a combination of early draw effects and a reasonably low curve (topping out at four in the mainboard and five if you side in [[Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God]]).



If you have a [[Golden Egg]] out, and are about to use [[Brought Back]] for a single walker, you can sacrifice the egg first, and bring it back as well for an extra card draw. This also works with [[Guild Globe]] if you've got a spare mana to make up for the fact that guild globe can't make the double white you need to cast brought back.

If you have a brought back ready to cast, you can use [[Vraska, Golgari Queen]] to sacrifice one of your walkers, then bring them back for extra activations.

If you can spare a turn to use [[Domri, Chaos Bringer]]'s +1, and then keep him from being damaged, he'll be at 6 loyalty coming back into your turn. This way, you'll only need to destroy one other planeswalker with [[The Elderspell]] in order to get his emblem. Since this puts him at exactly 8 loyalty, he'll die, and [[Brought Back]] can return both him and the planeswalker you destroyed.

If your opponent steals your stuff with [[Mass Manipulation]] or [[Agent of Treachery]], you can use [[Brought Back]] to steal it back if and when it dies.

[[Domri, Chaos Bringer]]'s -3 is almost worthless in this deck, and you should avoid using it 90% of the time. That last 10% of the time, you can use it to fish for a [[Bascilica Bell Haunt]] to save your life against aggro.

If you've successfully got yourself a Domri emblem, and the game is still stalled (Mostly happens against [[Field of the Dead]] decks), [[Vraska, Golgari Queen]]'s emblem will typically win you the game faster than stacking additional Domri emblems.



Aggro matchups are probably are probably our biggest issue, given that we typically don't do much until turn 3. The extra [[Bascilica Bell Haunt]] and [[Mortify]] should help us in these kinds of matchups.

[[Mortify]] also doubles as our only form of enchantment removal, at least for enchantments with Converted Mana Cost above 3 like [[Experimental Frenzy]] or [[Doom Foretold]].

[[The Wanderer]] is a surprisingly efficient tool for keeping ourselves alive against any deck running burn spells or large creatures. She also helps us with our elderspell shenanigans.

[[Noxious Grasp]] is a solid card against any green or white deck, but we esspecially want it if the opponent is running [[Nissa, Who Shakes the World]] or [[Teferi, Time Raveler]]. If you're wondering why Teferi is of particular concern here, it's because he stops us from playing [[Brought Back]] on our opponent's turn, which is surprisingly crippling.

[[Duress]] helps in any slower control matchup, but it's also really nice against Simic Flash, or other counter heavy decks.

The extra [[Teferi, Time Raveler]] is mostly for Simic Flash, but can come in against any deck that's trying to play spells on your turn.

[[Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God]] helps power out card advantage in slower matchups. It also gives us a backup win condition against decks that might use [[Unmoored Ego]] to cut Domri out of our deck. Unmoored ego is still pretty scary because it can take [[The Elderspell]], but in slower matchups you can still win without that just by protecting your planeswalkers and grinding out value. At least, so long as you still have a win condition in the deck.

Against faster decks you can typically trim a [[Tamiyo, Collector of Tales]] and/or a [[Domri, Chaos Bringer]]. This will mean it takes longer to assemble your combo and get the emblem train rolling, but both of these planeswalkers are low tempo plays, and you don't need them clogging up your hand early game.

Against any deck that's running instant speed planeswalker removal, [[Kaya's Ghostform]] is a liability, since they can destroy your walker in response to you trying to give it ghostform, and pick up an easy two for one. Teferi helps mitigate this, but be wary if you aren't running all 4 of them, or your oppenent has ways of dealing with him early.


Known Issues

Graveyard hate is really effective against this deck. [[Ashiok, Dream Render]] is the exception to this rule due to the fact that he provides fuel for [[The Elderspell]], and can't stop [[Brought Back]], but things like [[Leyline of the Void]] can completely shut us down.

The deck really struggles against heavy aggro. Our mana base is very painful, and typically we won't have a strong play until turn 3-4. That's not to say we can't win. Having 4 [[Bascilica Bell Haunt]] post sideboard alongside [[Kaya's Wrath]] and [[Cry of the Carnarium]] give us a fighting chance, but game one in particular is an uphill battle.


Final Thoughts

This is a goofy deck that's way more consistant and powerful than it has any right to be. It's going to be a bit too slow and grindy for some, but if you like a deck with complex moving parts, sequencing puzzles, and huge late game potential, then give this a shot.


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Great writeup! Featuring this deck on the frontpage.
Last Updated: 30 Sep 2019
Created: 30 Sep 2019
3360 57 1

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4 8 1 2 0
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