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DUEL - Disciple of Deceit Deck Tech

Updated: May 25


Introduction


“Infinite ideas flow through the Multiverse, waiting for an open mind”

– The Biblioplex: An Introduction


Your opponents in Magic, and in Duel PDH, try to present you with an unsolvable board state. But what if you always had the answer?


This commander does.





Today we will go over how I built my first, and favorite, Duel PDH deck. Disciple of Deceit is a blue-black control deck, but it isn’t just a run-of-the-mill draw-go deck. It is built like a toolbox.


This is because the commander has a special Inspired ability, more specifically, whenever he becomes untapped you may discard a nonland card to search your library for a card of the same converted mana cost. So, this means that, if we build our deck right, we should be able to go grab whatever the situation calls for during our upkeep…. that is, if we can get Disciple tapped.

Tapping and Tutoring

“When defeat is near and guidance is scarce, all eyes look in one direction”

– Source unknown


You could, of course, attack with the commander to get her tapped. And, often times you can if you keep the path clear with removal spells. But sometimes attacking would be a bad proposition, so what is the backup plan?


First off, there are two lands that can tap the commander for colored mana, Survivors' Encampment and Holdout Settlement. These lands are great since they come into play untapped and can often make colored mana and they help out with our tapping issue.


Secondly, there is Springleaf Drum. This one mana artifact taps a creature to generate a colored mana. And, it can be tutored for by Trinket Mage…. but we are getting ahead of ourselves. Sometimes, if you don’t think you are going to have another good attack with Disciple of Deceit, you may actually want to use your first tutor to go get Springleaf Drum so that you can continue tutoring on later turns.


Finally, if you are in a pinch, you can use Viridian Longbow to tap the commander. This is not the only reason the equipment is in the deck (more on that later) but it can work if you really need it to.


When the commander untaps she discards a card. This can allow us to play synergistic cards which might benefit from this such as Madness cards and others. In the end, I have cut every Madness card that was in the deck. The test I used to determine if a Madness card was worth including was whether I would be ok playing it for its full cost. There is no guarantee that the commander will be on the board and those Madness cards might just be dead draws when you are already in a tight spot.


But other cards synergize with the commander as well. These include; things with Flashback or Jumpstart like Mystical Teachings, Chainer’s Edict, Dihada’s Ploy and Forbidden Alchemy, as well as cards with Delve like Logic Knot. Another card that works well with the commander is Brainstorm. Brainstorm is often a trap in most decks since there are not that many shuffle effects in PDH to get rid of the chaff that you put back on top, but with the commander’s tutor ability, a well-timed Brainstorm will let you see three more cards before you discard as well as put two unwanted cards back into your library (and not on top because of the shuffle from the tutoring).


Besides the commander, there are several other tutors in the deck. We have already discussed Mystical Teachings and Trinket Mage, and the deck also includes Muddle the Mixture and Shred Memory which can get a 2-drop for the cost of three mana and Merchant Scroll which can search for a blue instant card. Remember the Merchant Scroll and Mystical Teachings can both get Gush, this will be important later.





Whenever Trinket Mage is included in a deck, there needs to be an accompanying Trinket Mage Package. These are the 0-1 cost artifacts that the Wizard can search for. Ideally these cards cover a variety of scenarios. The cards that I have chosen are the following:


1. Executioner’s Capsule – Kill a non-black creature

2. Springleaf Drum – Tap the commander

3. Viridian Longbow – Synergize with deathtouch creatures or tap the commander

4. Seat of the Synod – Blue mana

5. Vault of Whispers – Black mana

6. Mistvault Bridge – Blue of black mana but tapped


The Plan

“Always give your foes a choice when they have none.”

– Ob Nixilis

So, we have figured out how to tap our commander. Now what? What is this deck supposed to be doing?


I have built the list to be a creature-based-ETB-combo-control-toolbox deck. So, in simple terms, this means that we are a control deck that plays a lot of creatures and wins with a combo eventually. Since our combo is an ETB based combo (see below for details) we are going to play primarily ETB creatures to maximize on the usefulness of the combo pieces. ETB creatures are those that do something when they Enter the Battlefield. Things like Chittering Rats and Fleshbag Marauder are ETB creatures.


I chose to be a creature-based control deck since the format is so creature heavy. Almost every deck wants to win by attacking with creatures. Since the format has so few sweepers, save for things like Pestilence and Crypt Rats , blockers can be important. (note that there area a few other wraths in black that deal one or two to everything that we don’t play as well as a few in red that deal 2 or 5 to everything)


In an ideal game, the first few turns are spent killing their first creatures and playing our commander. Cards like Fungal Infection and Disfigure are great at this. Then a few useful creatures hit the board as we hold up counter magic like Deprive and Mana Leak. Perhaps we clear the board with a Pestilence or Crypt Rats. Later in the game, once the opponent has been run out of resources, we start tutoring for combo pieces to finish them off.


The combo will be covered in a section below. Besides the combo, the deck can win by just attacking with random 2/2’s or by abusing a non-infinite flicker such as Ghostly Flicker with Gray Merchant of Asphodel + Mnemonic Wall or Chittering Rats + Salvager of Secrets as targets.


The Control Shell

“The fatal flaw in every plan is the assumption that you know more than your enemy”

– Source Unknown





As a control deck, we must play a decent number of counter spells and removal. Blue + Black is the best color combination for this, especially in Duel PDH. This is where we get into the meat of the deck list.


For counter spells, generic two-cost counters were prioritized. By generic I mean that the counter will catch most spells. I avoided things that only countered instants or only countered spells that targeted a creature where possible. These are the spells that were chosen:


1. Counterspell

2. Deprive – Don’t forget about bouncing Mystic Sanctuary and Bojuka Bog!

3. Logic Knot

4. Mana Leak

5. Muddle the Mixture – Doubles as a tutor or counter

6. Negate

7. Essence Scatter

8. Soul Manipulation – Doubles as a counter AND a recursion spell


For non-creature-based removal spells, the deck prioritizes low-cost, instant-speed options that did not have restrictive conditions attached. (This is why it does not include Doom Blade or Murder) These are the spells that were chosen:


1. Chainer’s Edict

2. Curfew – A one-cost option to deal with Voltron that also gives you value

3. Disfigure

4. Fungal Infection –The token often matters

5. Lash of Malice – Don’t forget that this can be used to give one of your creatures +2 Attack

6. Viridian Longbow – Can tap the commander and synergizes with deathtouch creatures

7. Agony Warp –This can be used on one or two different creatures

8. Cast Down

9. Moment of Craving

10. Grasp of Darkness – Don’t forget that this can kill indestructible creatures

11. Into the Roil – If you have infinite mana, this can be used to draw your deck (you will need an Archaeomancer type creature). Also, this gives our deck a way to deal with enchantments and artifacts.

12. Victim of Night

13. Executioner’s Capsule

14. Fall from Favor – This can also be placed on your own creatures if necessary

15. Oubliette – When a commander phases out it does not go to the command zone

16. Pestilence


The Creatures

“Bottom Feeders Sometimes Rise to the Top”

– Source Unknown


As was said above, this is a creature-based control deck. The deck leans on its creatures for card advantage, synergy with flicker effects, and for blockers. The list below includes each creature and a brief summary of why it is in the deck:


1. Tidehollow Strix – A simple deathtouch flying blocker can be very useful. Synergizes with Viridian Longbow.

2. Bone Picker – This often costs one and has deathtouch synergy as discussed above.

3. Cadaver Imp – Can return from graveyard to hand other ETB creatures and combo pieces when needed.

4. Chittering Rats – Can be used as a generic discard spell or as a game ending lock later, (Flicker Chittering Rats and an Archaeomancer effect every draw step to lock the opponent out of ever seeing a new card again)

5. Crypt Rats – One of the only wraths in the format

6. Fleshbag Marauder – A three drop edict that can also block well or attack decent damage

7. Liliana’s Specter – Another discard spell that is also a flying blocker/attacker

8. Man-o’-War – A generic bounce spell when things need to slow down

9. Vampire Spawn – Can be an alternate win-con without infinite mana

10. Sea Gate Oracle – Selective card draw (Can also be flickered with an Archaeomancer effect to draw repeatedly)

11. Trinket Mage – Discussed above

12. Archaeomancer – A key combo piece and important synergy piece to the whole deck

13. Thorn of the Black Rose – Deathtouch (see Longbow) and card advantage

14. Gray Merchant of Asphodel – Can be an alternate win-con without infinite mana

15. Mnemonic Wall – Additional Archaeomancer effect

16. Mulldrifter – Fairly costed card draw that can also be a creature in the late game

17. Peregrine Drake – Key combo piece (see below for details)

18. Salvager of Secrets – Additional Archaeomancer effect



The Graveyard is Your Friend and Other Good-Stuff

“Birth and death are both reversible”

– Nicol Bolas


Between all of the control pieces and ETB creatures is the “good stuff”. These are the nearly-auto-includes that most UB control decks will want to play. We have our powerful cantrips in Ponder and Preordain, draw spells like Sign in Blood, Forbidden Alchemy, Dihada’s Ploy and Night’s Whisper, and the absolutely devastating discard spell; Hymn to Tourach.


Additionally, since we are discarding cards into our graveyard, we want to take advantage of this resource and not let it go to waste. Cards like Mystic Sanctuary, Cadaver Imp, Unearth and Omen of the Dead give us access to the creatures that make it to the bin, and Archaeomancer, Salvager of Secrets and Mnemonic Wall can pick up spells.


There are a few other great cards that don’t fit anywhere else. Tidehollow Strix is a solid blocker that can trip up decks like Slippery Bogle on turn two, and Thorn of the Black Rose can be a recurring draw spell and a frustrating wall. Both of these cards also have deathtouch which synergizes well with Viridian Longbow.



A Combo

“Sometimes it is useful to take a break from existence”

– Source Unknown






By this point, you have seen all of the combo pieces but let’s review. The deck sometimes wins via the standard Peregrine Drake combo. The combo goes like this:


1. Have a Archaeomancer / Salvager of Secrets / Mnemonic Wall in play (if you play it the turn of the combo you will need a total of 7 mana available if you play it a turn early you will need just 5)

2. Play Peregrine Drake and untap 5 lands.

3. Play Ghostly Flicker or Displace (These can be in the bin at the start of the turn and picked up by Archaeomancer the turn of the combo, so don’t be afraid to discard them or use them early in the game).

4. The flicker targets the Archaeomancer and the Drake. When the Archaeomancer returns it targets the Ghostly Flicker and when the Drake returns you untap 5 lands.

5. Float 5 mana and repeat.

Now you have infinite mana, but what to do with it? Well, there are a few routes you can take from here. Remember, the cards you need for the mana outlet may be in the graveyard, but you can pick them up with the Archaeomancer by using the last flicker to target a finisher piece instead of the Ghostly Flicker.


a) Use Into the Roil with kicker to bounce and replay the Archaeomancer to draw your deck. (Find Grey Merchant of Asphodel or Vampire Spawn to win)

b) Flicker the Archaeomancer and Grey Merchant of Asphodel or Vampire Spawn to drain the opponent.

c) Flicker the Archaeomancer and Mulldrifter / Sea Gate Oracle to draw your deck. (Find Grey Merchant of Asphodel to win)

d) Use Archaeomancer plus Salvager of Secrets and Fungal Infection to create infinite tokens (target the Archaeomancer each time)

e) Use Archaeomancer plus Mnemonic Wall and Moment of Craving to gain infinite life (target the Mnemonic Wall each time)



So now we know how the combo works, but how to we find the pieces when we are in a pinch? One of the biggest weaknesses of the combo is that the key pieces cost 3, 4, and 5. The commander can tutor for them, but only if we have the same CMC card in our hand. But we don’t want to play a lot of 5 drops to bog down the deck. So, what do we do?


This is where tutors and alternate costs come into play. Remember I said that I would talk about Gush later? Gush is a very important card in the deck. It has a CMC of 5 but it often is cast of 0. This keeps it from bogging us down. And, more importantly, it can be tutored for by both Merchant Scroll and Mystical Teachings. This gives us a few more ways to find a 5 drop when we need one. If you are working up to the combo, a few turns out you can even use Muddle the Mixture or Shred Memory or the commander’s ability to get Merchant Scroll.


Bone Picker should be mentioned here as well. Even though the card is very good on its own. It also is a 4 drop that is often cast for 1. This lets us find Archaeomancer with our commander’s ability when we need to. Mulldrifter too has an alternate casting cost. It is 5 CMC but can be cast for its Evoke cost at 3 as a Divination. The flying fish can be discarded to go find Peregrine Drake or even a Salvager of Secrets later on.


I want to mention here that Ghostly Flicker and Displace are the two best cards in the deck because they synergize with almost every creature we have. But, don’t be afraid to use them for random value or to save a creature from removal. You can always get them back later with Archaeomancer creatures.





The Toolbox

“The finest minions know what I need without me ever saying a thing”

– Liliana Vess


Briefly, I want to talk about how to build a tutoring toolbox for Disciple of Deceit. The key to the smooth function of the deck is having access to the effect you want at multiple CMC values. I have included some examples below:


1. Targeted Removal: 1 CMC = Disfigure, 2 CMC = Cast Down, 3 CMC Oubliette

2. Edicts: 1 CMC = Curfew, 2 CMC = Chainer’s Edict, 3 CMC = Fleshbag Marauder

3. Bounce: 1 CMC = Curfew, 2 CMC = Into the Roil, 3 CMC = Man-O-War

4. Counterspell: 2 CMC = Counterspell, 3 CMC = Soul Manipulation

5. Draw Spell: 1 CMC = Preordain, 2 CMC = Sign in Blood, 3 CMC = Forbidden Alchemy, 4 CMC = Thorn of the Black Rose, 5 CMC = Mulldrifter

6. Recursion: 1 CMC = Unearth, 3 CMC = Cadaver Imp, 4 CMC = Archaeomancer, 5 CMC = Salvager of Secrets

7. Wrath: 2 CMC = Nausea, 3 CMC = Crypt Rats, 4 CMC = Pestilence

8. Discard: 2 CMC = Hymn to Tourach, 3 CMC = Chittering Rats

9. Life gain: 2 CMC = Moment of Craving, 3 CMC = Vampire Spawn, 5 CMC = Gray Merchant of Asphodel






Another toolbox that you may want to think about is Merchant Scroll. Scroll can only get a blue instant. This sounds restrictive but it actually allows you to access a lot of effects. For example, looking at the above list:

1. Targeted Removal: Agony Warp

2. Edicts: Curfew

3. Bounce: Into the Roil

4. Counterspell: Deprive

5. Draw Spell: Gush

6. Recursion: Soul Manipulation

7. Wrath: None

8. Discard: None

9. Life gain: Dihada’s Ploy



The Lands and Some Closing Thoughts

“Long after the land has given up the last of its secrets, there will still be mysteries in the depths of the sea”

- Kiora

The deck plays 39 lands. I know this may come as a shock to the multiplayer people, but when you don’t have any mana rocks, you need to play more lands. Honestly, 39 might be low. Think about it this way. In standard, a control deck plays about 25-27 lands. This would equate to 41 to 45 lands in a 99-card deck. Now, we have a lower curve then some standard decks, but 39 is the lowest I would go for two-color control.

There are 26 untapped color sources and 10 tapped lands that can produce or tutor both colors. I have chosen to include a few utility lands. These are Quicksand, Desert, Mystic Sanctuary and Bojuka Bog. These are sometimes controversial, but they can be very useful in the right situation. Feel free to go without if you don’t want them. (Remember that Gush and Deprive can bounce a Mystic Sanctuary back to hand and Ghostly Flicker can trigger it as well)

It is likely that only the devoted have made it this far in the article, so thank you for reading! The link to the decklist is: https://www.moxfield.com/decks/woVDZkcoykWy69MaMIiuZQ or just search for the user naptown_hustle on Moxfield. Feel free to copy it card for card or change whatever you like.

The deck is fun. It is challenging. When you are playing it, you are forced to think several turns ahead so that you know what to tutor for. I make a lot of mistakes piloting it but I enjoy it more than any of my other decks. If that isn’t an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Hopefully you enjoyed this in-depth look at Disciple of Deceit. If you have any questions, you can find me on Discord!


-Naptown Hustle

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