Desecrated Graves

Hello Alchemists,

I got a very spicy idea for a deck that came to me when I was sorting the draft chaffs, prize packs, and binder left-overs I had over the weekend. WotC purposely prints build-around cards for brewers to exploit and I think I found two of my favorites. Desecrated Tomb and Open the Graves.

Open the GravesDesecrated Tomb

These two cards generally reward you when your creatures die, or when they come out of the graveyard. A 2/2 zombie token comes out when a creature dies and a 1/1 bat token comes out when a creature leaves the graveyard (either via exile, to hand, or to play). So I immediately fired the Gatherer and looked at all the possible creatures that can reanimate themselves or dig themselves out of the yard.

Reassembling Skeleton

In the same set we have Reassembling Skeleton which triggers both the Tomb and the Graves without much assistance. You can chump block with this dude all day and get a 2/2 zombie if it dies. Then at end of someone’s turn you bring him back and get a free 1/1 bat for a total of 4 power spread across 3 bodies.

Oathsworn Vampire

Traveling to Ixalan we find Reassembling Skeleton’s half-brother, Oathsworn Vampire which technically does the same thing, has one extra power and toughness but needs you to gain some life to be able to replay him from the graveyard. This time you have 5 power spread across 3 bodies.

Rekindling Phoenix

Then you also have the more expensive Rekindling Pheonix which automatically does the trick without any help. It’s a strong offensive creature, a resilient blocker, and naturally comes back for more action if isn’t killed twice. With Tomb and Grave in play, this bird can keep calling zombies and bats which will gum up the board quickly if left unchecked.

Fountain of Renewal

Our engine needs several cogs to work so we need to buy some time while we assemble the pieces. Fountain of Renewal is the perfect one-drop that gives us incremental value the earlier you’re able to play it. Playing the Fountain on turn 1 can gain you anywhere from 5-20 life the longer the game goes. With two of them in play, you can reverse the damage you’ve already taken. Together with Oathsworn Vampire, we now have the means to recur him every turn.

Makeshift Munitions

To avoid exile effects like Lava Coil and Vraska’s Contempt, we need a way to kill our creatures at will… sort of a self-destruct button to ditch them to the graveyard for their inevitable return. Makeshift Munitions does this and does it well by converting our real creatures and tokens into bullets to take down small and medium sized threats. If our skeletons, vampires and phoenixes are able to hold the big dudes from dealing damage to us, we can use the tokens they generate to shoot at the opponent and reduce their life totals without going to the red zone. With very low enchantment and artifact hate these days outside Thrashing Brontodon and Conclave Tribunal, I think the combo pieces will survive a bit longer compared to the days where Cast Out, Abrade and Ixalan’s Binding were popular.

We need to draw cards and we got quite a few good options however I wanted those that allow us to discard some cards that we want to be in the graveyard.

Tormenting VoiceDark Bargain

Tormenting Voice and Dark Bargain are cheap draw spells that dig for our combo pieces early through mid game. We don’t really mind the discard or binning the other cards because we can pitch the Skeleton or the Vampire and get them back later.

Dual ShotCast DownLava Coil

We also need removal for creatures we can’t chump block profitably. I preferred 1 Dual Shot over Shock because they kill the same one-drop which is Llanowar Elves. However in certain situation, it can kill two birds like Llanowar Elves and a Merfolk Branchwalker with the explore trigger on the stack. It can also snipe unsuspecting Fanatical Firebrand and a turn 2 Runaway Steam-Kin. We can also use it to kill our Skeleton when needed to escape getting exiled. Cast Down and Lava Coil are the best and cheapest removal that can deal with almost anything from turns 1-5 outside Nullhide Ferox and legendary creatures.

Vraska's ContemptThe Immortal Sun

Against Planeswalkers and legendary creatures we have Vraska’s Contempt. The Immortal Sun is in the main because it does the same thing against Walkers but it makes Oathsworn Vampire cost B instead of 1B.  Together with Makeshift Munitions, 1B coverts into 1 damage to any target, 1 bat token and 1 zombie token. Not bad for a 2 mana investment.

So here’s my first rendition of the deck. I still need to farm a lot of wildcards in MTGA to get to test it but I might just roll this in on the next FNM so I’m very excited to build this as my fun deck!

Desecrated Graves

Ritual of Soot

The main board is well poised to go toe to toe with creature based decks and can win the attrition war the longer the game goes, but we still need ways to de-clutter the board if the opponent draws a fast hand and goes off guns blazing. Ritual of Soot helps give us that pause, settle back down, gain some life, and start the drill.

DuressRaiders' Wake

Against control, we need to snipe their counter spells and Planeswalkers and we can leave their removal behind since they have almost no effect towards our game plan. Raider’s Wake is a sneaky one-off that can really mound the pressure if it gets through. Each of our creature tokens become half a Mind Rot forcing the opponent to play out all their spells or risk losing them eventually plus take two damage in the exchange.

Angrath, the Flame-Chained

Angrath becomes the perfect Planeswalker coming in from the side because all his abilities are quite relevant in the current meta. Against control, the discard ability makes it difficult to be on the reactive side. The negative ability takes care of large Wildgrowth Walkers and Enigma Drakes. Though we don’t get the zombie trigger because the creature doesn’t go to our graveyards, that’s totally fine if we can get rid of a 4/6 Walker or a 10/4 Drake. The ultimate is not something we will win games from but it just might be the reach you need against control decks.

The other side board pieces are supplementary cards that boost our game plan against control with The Eldest Reborn and Arguel’s Blood Fast. Then an additional copy of Rekindling Pheonix comes in if we want to get more frisky and make sure we get the triggers more often.

Player Notes:

  1. Open The Graves makes X number of 2/2 zombies if X nontoken creature go to the graveyard.
  2. Desecrated Tomb makes 1 bat token regardless if 1 or 20 creatures leave the graveyard in 1 instance.
    • If 3 of your creatures get exiled together with Sentinel Totem, you get 1 bat.
    • If you reanimate Reassembling Skeleton, then cast Oathsworn Vampire from the yard, you get 1 bat token each because their instances of leaving the yard are taken separately.

That’s it for now, thanks for reading!


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