Since Axis of Mortality was spoiled, a lot of brewers online and offline have tried to make it work as a fringe win condition. The problem with Axis of Mortality is that you can’t win the turn you play it. Therefore it gives your opponent a turn sequence that will disrupt your plans, or kill you off even before you get to switch life totals. That’s another problem if you play Axis because you need to put yourself in a precarious situation where you’re almost dead or barely alive, and hope to untap with Axis and switch life totals.
Dwindling at 5 life or less is very dangerous in a format where Lightning Strike, Shock, and haste creatures like Ahn-Crop Crasher and Glorybringer can suddenly come down and knock you out.
I’ve looked at many decks and watched random players pilot an Axis deck online and all of them had very small success because of several things I observed:
- Axis of Mortality costs 6, and easy to counter
- The format is too aggressive for you to sit on a very low life total for several turns without actually dying
- The cards you play give off clues on what you plan to do which changes how your opponent would play their deck and not allow you to win with Axis.
Playing Adanto Vanguard and Glorifier of Dusk exposes our game plan and an experienced player who grinds often will know what you’re up to. My take is not to use any of these cards and instead put Axis of Mortality in a BW control shell.
The key is to hide the “self-destruction theme” by keeping it subtle and make it appear as if it’s part of a different plan. The interaction between Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Gonti’s Machinations is a perfect example of using self-inflicted damage for something good.
I’m throwing in Dynavolt Tower because it’s a great way to utilize the free energy given by Gonti’s Machination. We’re also running quite a number of spells so Dynavolt Tower will deal a good amount of damage, and close out the game once we get to swap life totals.
Gonti’s Machination is actually a sleeper card that allows us to deal 3 damage and gain 3 life after swap to really distant ourselves from our opponent, or just kill them straight for zero mana. With Siphoner out, we can potentially draw a card off of Siphoner every turn.
Apart from Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, another way for us to lose life and trigger Gonti’s Machination are the deserts from Hour of Devastation. We can purposely tap them for colored mana to take 1 damage and get the trigger going. Sweet!
To support our energy theme, we will also play Live Fast and Die Young. They give us energy for Dynavolt, draws us cards, can kill Gods with the -1/-1, and ticks down our life for the swap. Amazing!
Last card worth mentioning is Gideon of the Trials. His emblem is actually really good with our deck to make sure we don’t die while our life draws closer to zero. He’s also good at negating creatures which is a bonus.
So here’s my BW Axis Control deck:
4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
1 Arguel’s Blood Fast
3 Axis of Mortality
3 Gonti’s Machination
4 Dynavolt Tower
3 Gideon of the Trials
4 Fatal Push
4 Die Young
3 Live Fast
2 Settle the Wreckage
4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Shefet Dunes
4 Ifnir Deadlands
1 Scavenger Ground
2 Vraska’s Contempt
1 Never // Return
4 Torment of Scarabs
4 Lay Bare the Heart
As mentioned earlier, this strategy of self-inflicted damage can be dangerous in a highly aggressive format so a couple of sweepers are needed. We’re not playing Yaheeni’s Expertise because Settle the Wreckage is much better especially when the opponent has low cards in hand and will have some challenges building up again.
The sideboard focused against midrange and control decks that don’t mind going the long game, and have several answers in their deck for enchantment, planeswalkers and artifacts.
Duress still remains an all-star against midrange and control decks by taking out their Attune with Aether, Negates, Abrade, Chandra, God-Pharaoh’s Gift and many more on turn 1. Lay Bare supports Duress by taking out creatures and other non-legendary stuff. Then with so much hand disruption, Torment of Scarabs replaces Axis of Mortality as a more direct way of taking down the opponent and taxing their board presence or their hand each turn.
We don’t have ways to deal with resolves planeswalkers apart from shooting them with Dynavolt Tower so I’m packing Vraska’s Contempt and a copy of Never just for this reason. Especially against UW Approach decks that run Gideon, we want cards that can take him out.
I think this deck is really fun to play and have so many ways to win the game with very dynamic synergies. It has control elements, damage components, card advantage, and a versatile sideboard — all the makings of a really solid deck.
I hope you like today’s brew, let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment!