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Peasant Magic Decks - 2013

House of Pain - B. Siems

House of Pain


For today’s Peasant Magic article, I’m going to build around Citadel of Pain.


Citadel of Pain 2R (uncommon)


At the beginning of each player's end step, Citadel of Pain deals X damage to that player, where X is the number of untapped lands he or she controls.


Before I present the decklist, a little history lesson for the young ‘uns. Back before Wizards changed the rules way back in the summer of ‘09, there was this little thing called mana burn, which had a player taking a point of damage for each unused mana left in his mana pool at the end of his turn. Having a Citadel in play made the concept of a player leaving some of his lands untapped in order to respond to his opponent’s plays on the opponent’s turn (as most of us do) a real “damned if you do” proposition for an unprepared opponent, as regardless of what he did, he would still take damage each turn.


Since mana burn is no longer an issue nowadays and a player can tap out at the end of each turn without fear, this makes Citadel of Pain a worthless pile of cardboard, right? Not necessarily. Your opponent no longer has to worry about being mana burned to death, true, but if he plans on casting instants or activating mana-intensive creature abilities on your turn, (y’know, things like Counterspells, Doom Blades or burn) then he is still going to have to leave lands untapped each turn. And if he has to leave lands untapped, he will have to take damage from the Citadel, unless he decides to tap out to avoid the Citadel damage, in which case he’ll sit there all defenseless while you stomp him silly on your turn.


The trick to using Citadel of Pain is to have a deck that pressures your opponent into making the wrong choice every turn without the Citadel killing you as well. Since the Citadel is a red enchantment, I think we can do that.



(Peasant Magic format. Uncommons marked with an asterisk.)



4 Branded Brawlers

4 Glitterfang

2 Karplusan Wolverine

2 Keldon Berserker

4 Keldon Marauders

4 Plated Geopede

4 Spur Grappler



4 Citadel of Pain*

2 Downhill Charge

2 Fireblast

2 Shard Volley

4 Thunderclap



4 Forgotten Cave

14 Mountain

4 Teetering Peaks



4 Crash

4 Inflame

4 Raze

1 Pyroclasm*

2 Shard Volley


This Sligh-styled deck is built to prove that just because you’re tapped out, you’re never really tapped out. In general, our game plan for this deck is pretty classic for a red deck, which is to 1) attack early and often with a variety of “junk” creatures that conveniently interact quite nicely with Citadel of Pain. 2) Cast a Citadel of Pain as soon as possible. 3) Tap out on each and every turn, and  4) Sacrifice mountains to cast our spells when playing defense.


Let’s break down the deck, starting with the creatures. First up is Branded Brawlers, a 2/2 for R that can’t attack if the defending player controls an untapped land and can’t block if you control an untapped land. These guys are shock troops for the early game and, in this deck, will always be able to play defense (although we don’t want to block anymore than we have to) and more often than not will be a major nuisance on offense throughout the mid-game.


The Spur Grappler (a 2/1 for 2R that gets +2/+1 as long as you control no untapped lands) and Keldon Berserker (a 2/3 for 3R that gets +3/+0 until the end of the turn whenever he attacks and you control no untapped lands) may look a bit unwieldy, but casting 4 and 5 power critters for 3 and 4 mana ain’t nothing to sneeze at!


The Glitterfangs and Karplusan Wolverines are also included as cheap 1/1, one drop shock troops. Glitterfang requires its’ owner to bounce it back to his hand every turn, but the fact that it has haste (and gives us an excuse to tap a land) makes up for that drawback, while the Wolverine pings a creature or player for 1 whenever it’s blocked.


Plated Geopede is a first striking 1/1 for 1R, but landfall gives him +2/+2 until the end of the turn. Sure, you’ll be tapped out most of the time with this deck, but you’ll still need to play land in the first place, so why not make it worthwhile. The Keldon Marauders are more shock troops, ones that we don’t expect to last long, but we don’t care. They provide a little aggression and speed to supplement our “tapped out” critters


On the spell front, I think we’re all familiar with Fireblast, (but if not, it’s a 4RR instant that deals 4 to a target creature or player, buy you can sacrifice two mountains instead of paying it’s casting cost.) A similar card is Thunderclap, a 2R instant that can only Bolt a creature for 3 damage, but you only need to sac one mountain to cast it. Both of these cards are included in this deck, providing us with defensive capabilities on our opponent’s turn without worrying about being pinged to death by the Citadel.


Also included is Downhill Charge is a creature pumping version of Thunderclap (i.e. sac a mountain to cast it), useful for getting that last bit of game-finishing damage in for the win. Shard Volley is another Lightning Bolt variant that requires the sacing of a land when it’s cast. It’s not pitchable like the ‘Blast or the ‘Clap, but it does help us make sure that we don’t have to worry about having untapped lands in play.


I’ve even included some lands that support our theme. Forgotten Cave (which has cycling) and Teetering Peaks (+2/+0 for a target creature until end of turn) both come into play tapped, always helpful for powering up our Brawlers, Grapplers and Berserkers.


The sideboard is also built to take advantage of our tapped out state of mind. Crash and Raze are here to deal with artifacts and lands, of course, but they work frighteningly good to surpress blue decks when working with the Citadel. Inflame is  give us some extra offensive punch against decks that are faster than us, while the Pyroclasm is included as a board sweeper and an extra pair of Shard Volleys are here to provide back-up firepower.


One last random thought before wrapping it up: How appropriate is it that the Citadel (a card first printed in Prophecy) has retroactively become a rhystic spell? :)


Until next time, I remain…

B. Siems






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