The Dark Slide

 

3 Teroh's Faithful

2 Faceless Butcher

2 Ravenous Rats

3 Mesmeric Fiend

2 Crypt Rats

1 Highway Robber

3 Radiant's Judgement

2 Swat

2 Unearth

4 Renewed Faith

4 Expunge

3 Astral Slide - Uncommon

2 Demonic Tutor - Uncommon

3 Plains

8 Swamp

4 Secluded Steppe

4 Drifting Meadow

4 Polluted Mire

4 Barren Moor

 

As with all Astral Slide decks, this deck requires skillful play choices and rewards players who think ahead and make the right moves. If you donít practice with it you should expect to lose. It is equally strong against both creature and creatureless decks and has some neat tricks. As with many Astral Slide decks, if you hard cast too much of your hand you will have no way to refill (This deck doesnít use the Auramancer or Gravedigger combos) even though you can move through your deck with alacrity. Keep this in mind but donít let it worry you so that you become paralyzed and let the game get out of control. Your goal in the early game is to get out the Slide as soon as possible with the right land in play, cast the Crypt Rats and the Fiend/Ravenous Rats, donít be too stingy with the rest of the removal either, to avoid an early loss but be more careful with the Faceless Butcher before you have Astral Slide, 6 mana (except against Green since it doesnít run removal), and a cycle card in hand.††††††††††††††††††††††††††

 

The Terohís Faithful, as in the regular build, are there for a nice life gain when needed. I would have preferred using the Peasantís choice of Temple Acolyte which is superior but only allows for the life gain when played from your hand. Pulling a mid-game Faithful or Renewed Faith is frequently critical as you begin to stabilize from an early game that favors your opponent.

 

Faceless Butcher is a great removal card for many decks but especially potent in this build. In early testing he almost got dumped from the deck since his drawback of returning his victim to play when he is removed from play comes into conflict with the Slide. Stop me if you know the answer. As Johnny Lai, a writer for Card Shark, pointed out to me, however, there is no drawback just an added bonus. When you cast the Butcher, he comes into play and his affect - remove target from game, return it if the Butcher is removed - goes on the stack. If you target him with Astral Slide while his ability is still on the stack he is then removed from the game himself. His ability then resolves removing his target from the game and setting up the triggered ability that watches for the Butcher to leave play. The trigger, however, is too late and, since it canít look back in time, the creature will never return to play again (Rule 406.2b). Oh yeah, the Butcher then comes back into play at the end of turn when you can Slide him again with the same results!††

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†Ravenous Rats and Mesmeric Fiend are the two cards that defeat non-creature decks and extras should be included in the sideboard. The Mesmeric Fiend is preferable to the Rats since the same trick that works with the Butcher works on this guy and you get to pick the card. In this deck it is like having a reusable Duress.

 

Crypt Rats are another standard card for Black Peasant decks and as one of the only mass removal cards in the format it lives up to its expectations in all of those decks. The downside to these Rats is that when they explode they kill themselves along with both friends and foes. With the Astral Slide, however, they need never kill themselves or their friends and there is nothing worse than having a board clearing effect that returns over and over to threaten your opponent.

 

Highway Robber is additional life gain and a nice way to sidestep CoPís. Since his is a Comes Into Play ability bouncing him with the Slide is always good for a 4 point swing.

 

Radiantís Judgement, Swat, and Expunge are all targeted removal cards that cycle. Expunge is the most powerful but both of the others serve important roles as well. In PEZ, you are more likely to use Swat but the Judgement has more slots in the deck because it has a single color casting cost and when you need it you need it a lot more than Swat.

 

Unearthed is a nice Cycling card in this deck although it doesnít fetch a lot of the best creatures. It will fetch a Crypt Rat if you had to blow one early or a Mesmeric Fiend/Ravenous Rat since they come out early and tend to die.

 

As with all Astral Slide decks there are 4 Renewed Faith in this build. It is consistently a good card for this deck allowing extra survival when stabilizing, an emergency life gain, and a Cycling card all in one.

 

This deck gets a lot of hard work out of the Demonic Tutor and it is this card which lends a degree of flexibility to this deck which puts it above and beyond other Astral Slide decks. I almost went with 3 but that would drop the Slide count to 2. Having multiple Slides is just good since each one resolves separately when you cycle a card, it is also extra insurance against Disenchant.

 

Last but not least is the Slide itself. Black is probably the only color that should attempt the 3 Slide build, unless you go Red with Lightning Rift. At this point, I really donít know what I can say about the Slide that hasnít been said. It is good, use it.

 

Jason Chapman - chaps_man@hotmail.com