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BMoor's Magic The Gathering Deck Garage
Sarah's Catapulting Wither Deck
January 25, 2010

With the rumor season for Worldwake running hot as a Battlefield Forge, I figured it was a good time to cool the fervor by fixing a deck from a few blocks ago. Namely, a Shadowmoor-based deck focusing on-- you guessed it, wither.


Hi Bmoor, big fan of your articles! I came up with a deck concept a long time ago centered around Leech Bonder and redirecting counters created by unstable mutation. It didn't play out anywhere near as well as I hoped, but it did give me a new idea for a wither deck. In my old deck, I used viridian longbow to tap my leech bonder so i could pay the 1 to untap it. But what I realized is that its more useful to play the longbow on something that actually has wither because then it can create -1-1 counters instead of just redirecting ones on the field. So, I set about creating a deck to do just that.
Viridian Longbow x4

Fire Whip x4
Necroskitter x4
Kulrath Knight x4
Dash Hopes x4
Oona's Gatewarden x4
Skuzzback Scrapper x4
Arcane Teachings x4
Everlasting Torment x4
Akoum Refuge x4
Blood Crypt x4
9 Swamps
7 Mountains
So, the concept is pretty simple, use firewhip or longbow on any of my cards with wither, (or combine fireslinger and everlasting torment to get the same effect) and then throw down a kulrath knight or a necroskitter to either steal creatures or suddenly render all my oppenents cards useless. And of course I always have the option of directing red damage. Its a slower then normal rush deck, but its fairly effective. Dash hopes is in there as essentially a stall card
So, what are the problems? Well, for one, while viridian longbow's one mana cost make it effective and the fact that it has an equip cost makes it difficult to remove, a three mana equip cost really gives me problems in a game where I need to be faster then my opponent. Fire whip is a good answer, its actually a perfect answer for me because its cheap. Arcane Teachings, at three mana, does create more problems then it solves in a rush deck, but the +2+2 in wither is damned useful. The only other option ive found is hypervolt grasp, but this was ignored for obvious reasons, its the same thing as arcane teaching except minus a useful ability and plus a useless one.

You might be wondering why Everlasting torment is in there since all my creatures start with wither. truth be told, i'm beginning to wonder myself. It's good if I'm facing life gain (which I have no problem beating regardless, though really the only life gain I've faced is lifelink). But other then that, the only person it helps out is my opponent. Most of the time it doesn't make sense to play it. I used it for a while in conjunction with Blood Cultist, but in the end it was difficult to get in both on the field together with no card draw and no tutor.
I thought of redoing this whole deck from the reverse concept, building around cards like cultist and gelectrode and using everlasting torment and blight sickle to give them wither, but there are obvious problems with that and since I haven't built that deck I'm not worrying about them (though I do want to try and build a standard deck around cultist so I may submit that in the future).
I guess what this deck really needs is some speed to really get its basic mechanic running. Cheap wither creatures I have plenty of, but if they can only put counters on once then they're not nearly as useful as I'd hope.
Thanks so much for any help you are willing to provide.


Wither was a very fun mechanic. I'm kind of sorry it's not becoming one we get to use every block, but that just makes it more special, and lo how the masses shall squeal with delight when Magic finally does print another block of creatures with wither.

In the meantime, let's see how we can help you. I have to say, as much fun as your deck looks, your strategy does lack stopping power. You see, unlike the Pokemon TCG, you don't win the game when all your opponent's creatures are dead. You still have to attack them down to zero or mill them or whatnot. And your deck is all about putting -1/-1 counters on creatures. Not only does that not technically win, it might not even kill the creature. But we can work around that.

A bigger problem is that you're using expensive Equipment
and Auras to allow creatures with wither to deal damage directly to other creatures. I hate to say it, but it would usually be easier to simply put -1/-1 counters on creatures, with cards like Scar, Puncture Blast, or Incremental Blight.

You already stated that Everlasting Torment wasn't working for you, and I agree. Replace it with Puncture Blast-- the best of the aforementioned three because it can hit players.

Now, you've also told me that Arcane Teachings is expensive but very useful because it gives +2/+2. I think I see why. Of the four different creatures you're running, two have power 1 (Necroskitter and Skuzzback Scrapper), one has power 2 (Oona's Gatewarden, and it can't attack) and one has power 3 (Kulrath Knight). What you need to do is find a way to power up your creatures for cheaply. Trusty Machete is my new favorite card at this task, giving any of your creatures +2/+1 and upgrading even Skuzzback to a viable threat (though I'm gonna cut him later in the article). You could also try Riot Spikes, though it won't work on the Gatewarden. Or, if you want surprise value, Brute Force. Whichever one you choose, use it to replace Arcane Teachings. You won't need it much longer.

I know, taking out a card you use to ping with seems dodgy, but that's only because I've got a card for you that will solve both your problems. Not only is it a large creature with wither, it also comes with its own ping ability-- that's right, I'm talking about Hateflayer.

Hateflayer needs to be in this deck. Can you imagine a Hateflayer with a Fire Whip? Tap to deal one point of damage, then pay 2R and untap to
deal five more! Repeat until you're out of mana, then swing for five. Your opponent won't have any blockers left. And if you have a Trusty Machete or Riot Spikes on it?

I think Dash Hopes should come out for Hateflayer. Dash Hopes just isn't a good card. It wants you to leave two black mana up waiting for your opponent to play something. That's fine in a control deck, but you're more aggressive than that. And if your opponent is willing to pay the 5 life, chances are he just played something awesome and you're in a bad spot, and his being down by 5 isn't helping you. You need some things that will help speed you up.

And finally, out comes Skuzzback Scrapper. For what? Well, now that you have some meat in this deck, you may want to look at Soul's Fire-- useful even if all you've got is a Gatewarden. Or perhaps Rustrazor Butcher, who has the distinct advantage of first strike, so the -1/-1 counter shrinks blockers' damage before it's dealt. But what I'd really like to see you put in this deck, to give yourself that extra speed and be able to handle Viridian Longbow's Equip cost, is... Rakdos Signet.

I'm serious! Those things were useful as heck.

Good luck!








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Magic the Gathering Deck Fixes