Pay the Reaper

I know I should probably be finishing up my “Bang for your Buck” article with multicolor, but it’s much easier to do a quick update with some good news: one of my brews got an honorable mention on Gavin Verhey’s ReConstructed column on Wizard’s of the Coast’s website! It’s the 5th deck from the bottom if you want to see it. I haven’t even posted it on my own website yet, so I decide to do it today and to give a quick run down of the idea behind it.

Pontiff of Blight

Pay The Reaper
75 cards, 15 sideboard
7 Swamp
7 Plains
2 Vault of the Archangel
4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel


24 lands

4 Crypt Ghast
2 Pontiff of Blight


6 creatures

2 Army of the Damned
4 Orzhov Charm
4 Tragic Slip
4 Intangible Virtue
2 Debt to the Deathless
2 Increasing Devotion
4 Lingering Souls
4 Gather the Townsfolk
4 Sign in Blood


30 other spells

Sideboard
3 Killing Wave
3 Devour Flesh
3 Blind Obedience
3 Rootborn Defenses
3 Rest in Peace


15 sideboard cards

This was originally brewed as a fun deck. I wanted to use Pontiff of Blight’s ability in the most ridiculous way possible. What does Pontiff of Blight do again?? Well, as long as he’s in play, all creatures you control get extort. The first step to designing this deck was to find a way to give extort to A LOT of creatures. The best way to this would be with tokens. With any token deck, Lingering Souls and Intangible Virtue are a given. From there on out, you have to take into consideration a number of things. For starters, aggro is bigger than it’s ever been before. You’re going to need removal. I decided on Tragic Slip since it’s easy to cast on the first round against an opponent, and it’s morbid ability to give a creature -13/-13 is definitely going to happen in a token deck. Orzhov Charm was my second choice, but it can just as soon be Victim of Night or Murder if you feel like changing the mana around to compensate for the double black.

Now that I had a decent removal package and solid cards, it was time to start picking out token makers in black and white. I started out with Gather the Townsfolk because it puts two creatures out on the table and also has an alternate mode that puts 5 down. These guys will be blockers for the most part, but later on in the game when you’re down in life you’ll suddenly be able to rebound with a lot of creatures. This next part is where it gets a little trickier. Do I want to use Midnight Hauntings for more flyers, or do I want to focus on pumping out as many tokens as possible? The later ended up being my focus as I went with a 2/2 split between Increasing Devotion and Army of the Damned. Between the both of them, they have the ability to put around 57 creature tokens into play. It’s absolutely unreal. The problem is, getting them out early enough to matter.

The solution? Crypt Ghast.

Our Ghast friend acts as a mana creature of sorts, greatly speeding up your deck if you draw him, as well as supplying another extort trigger. This won’t effect the first casting of Increasing Devotion too much, but if you have 3 swamps and 2 plains in play on turn 5, you suddenly have 8 mana and can put an Army of the Damned in play instead for 13 2/2 Zombie tokens. While this deck has the ability to put down some blockers early with Lingering Souls and Gather the Townsfolk, it needs the finishing power of 13 zombies or 10 Humans (from a flashbacked Increasing Devotion) to end the game. This deck is built to overwhelm an opponent into submission. After you put all these creatures in, you can play a Pontiff of Blight to add insult to injury. Suddenly your 20+ tokens all have extort, and even the tiniest spell such as a tragic slip will be able to extort an opponent for at least 6+ life after turn 6 (more if Cyrpt Ghast is in play).

I originally thought Sorin, Lord of Innistrad would be good in this deck, and he probably would. However, for this build I decided to go with Debt to the Deathless for my finisher. Multiple Crypt Ghasts + Debt to the Deathless can end the game a lot faster than Sorin can, though I think he does deserve a spot in the sideboard. Speaking of the sideboard, the current set up is just a rough draft. There are probably better spells to put in the sideboard instead of Killing Wave and Blind Obedience, but I couldn’t come up with any other spells to use on the spot. 

Weaknesses

The biggest weaknesses of this deck would be cards like Cyclonic Rift and Terminus that remove tokens from the battlefield. Sever the Bloodline isn’t exactly your friend either, but the biggest problem in the current metagame for this deck is Gaze of Granite. They can cast it for 3 mana and destroy all tokens on the battlefield. With Ratchet Bomb coming back in M14, you’ll have another threat to worry about, but with cards like Rootborn Defenses to help you survive those types of effects, you should be fine. 

I don’t think that this deck would be incredibly strong against super fast aggro decks, but I do think this is a great deck to play against control and midrange decks since you can put a lot of threats on the battlefield without. Try it out, make some changes, and give me some feedback on how it performs (especially a new sideboard). Aside from the shocklands and Innistrad lands, it’s also an incredibly cheap deck to build. Put it together and try it out! I think you’ll have fun playing it. 

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