I want to squeeze this deck tech quickly while I got the time so this won’t be long. I downloaded Arena recently and stumbled upon an opponent who was playing a deck revolving around the surveil mechanic. Though we were using cards we recently got from quest (both me and my opponent were in bronze tier), the interactions in his deck impressed me very much.
The interaction between surveil enablers and ‘enablees’ are super smooth and very cheap and easy to assemble. A turn 1 Thoughtbound Phantasm can easily grow into a 5/5 and if we combine it with instant speed surveil enablers, we can grow the spirit for some neat combat trick. Cards like Dimir Spybug if left unanswered will take over the skies in no time. For 2 mana with 2 abilities that both provide evasion, plus an ability to grow is a super uncommon in my books!
Speaking of instant surveil enablers, we have a lot of options. Tempo cards, removal, or threats, you name it! There’s so many angles we can trigger surveil and our opponents will keep guessing what’s coming.
Utility cards can also trigger surveil. Disinformation Campaign is a solid sideboard card against midrange decks because it allows you to grind them out with card advantage and tax their hand and force them to play their spells or lose them giving you perfect information (very Dimir). Blood Operative is another recurring threat which triggers off of survey. The ETB ability is a great way to permanently kill Arclight Phoenix which is nice, but the second line of text is what makes this card awesome. The 3 life is nothing if you can connect with it at least once and eventually you will have your own version of Arclight Phoenix for $2 each.
Lastly, Sinister Sabotage is not the sexiest counter spell but because it has surveil , it fits really well and comes in against control decks.
If your pockets are deep, surveil-based decks have money cards that really raise the power level of this archetype through the roof. Dream Eater has flash which makes it an instant surveil enabler too, and a 4/3 body that fixes your draws 4 cards deep. Doom Whisperer is technically a surveil factory so if you have Spybugs and Phantasms left in play, this card can make your entire army very large if you got the life to spare.
So how would I build this deck? Take a look!
4 Thoughtbound Phantasm
4 Dimir Spybug
2 Lazav, the Multifarious
4 Nightveil Sprite
4 Blood Operative
3 Whisper Agent
4 Doom Whisperer
3 Cast Down
2 Mission Briefing
3 Unexplained Disappearance
4 Creeping Chill
4 Drowned Catacomb
2 Field of Ruin
2 Memorial to Folly
4 Watery Grave
2 Disinformation Campaign
3 Sinister Sabotage
2 Ritual of Soot
2 Gruesome Menagerie
I haven’t tested this out but I tried my best to make the curve, mana base, play sequence smooth. A lot of action sits on turn 2 all the way to turn 3. I didn’t see the entire deck of my opponent in Arena but I tweaked the list that I saw with the following cards:
With surveil, we can utilize this as a reach spell. With 4 of them in the deck and 20 surveil cards we can guarantee milling this more than once per game. We technically don’t cast this unless it’s game winning so I’m not counting this on the curve. Pray you don’t draw multiple of these in your opening hand. If you do, ship it back.
We need efficient removal to get to our plan. Though I consider our deck to be aggressive, we cannot out race a green stompy deck that drew a very fast hand. We need ways to hold back, get the advantage and win.
I want to test drive Lazav in this deck mainly for 2 reasons. One, it’s a solid 1/3 body for 2 mana that triggers surveil. And two, he can copy a dead Phantasm or Spybug and get the counters from surveil triggers, then copy something else like an Operative and swing with a high-powered lifelinker.
For the sideboard, I have some tricks for control, midrange and aggressive decks.
Against control we have Duress to strip our opponent’s hand and a bunch of counter spells to make sure your threats get through or ensure our opponent’s threats don’t.
I really like this card against slower decks that try to out value us. With the constant draw and discard effects, we should win the attrition and resource battle.
A little synergy kit I have against aggressive decks that try to out damage us is a combination of Ritual of Soot and Gruesome Menagerie. Since most of our creatures die to Ritual, it’s a price we pay to clear the board off of those pesky mentor creatures, goblins, elves, soldiers, tokens, steel leaf champions, pelt collectors, dinosaurs, the list goes on. But coupled with Gruesome Menagerie, we can get back a Phantasm, Spybug or Sprite and a Whisper Agent. With Agent’s ETB surveil trigger, we give both Spybug and Phantasm a +1/+1 counter and subsequently get back Blood Operative by paying 3 life. We can immediately redeploy our threats and out-aggro our opponent.
I like the deck on paper and I’m keen on building something like this in Arena soon. Let me know what you think by hitting me up on the comments below!