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Death Grasp & Phyrexian Arena
by Scott Gerhardt

Death Grasp
Death Grasp deals X damage to target creature or player. You gain X life

Phyrexian Arena
At the beginning of your upkeep, you draw a card and you lose 1 life.


     Who here remembers Necropotence?  Who here remembers why Necropotence was one of the most dominant decks in the environment for a very long time?  I do.  I have easily been playing that long.  For those who don't, allow to to explain:

     Necropotence would allow anyone to outdraw their opponent - that simple.  For one life, you draw a card, but had to skip your draw step.  No big deal, really, because it ran lots of cheap, efficient creatures and large "drain" spells to keep the loss of life under control.  It handled blue without too much issue because it could simply outdraw them.  Even against aggressive decks it could pair up creatures and use large drains to stay alive.  It was easily one of the most dominant decks ever in any era.

     It's back.

     Necropotence has been reprinted in a lesser, not quite as powerful, but in some aspects, just as useful form - Phyrexian Arena.  Each turn you get to trade 1 life for 1 card.  Outdrawing an opponent 2 to 1 will usually win you a game.  Consider the life loss, though.  It's a problem against anything burn based, or super aggressive.  Without recovery, you can easily lose.  That's where the other card comes in - Death Grasp.

     With Drain Life gone now, we regain an even more powerful card in Death Grasp.  It works functionally the same to Drain Life, only it requires a White for a kick-off and can use any mana to drain people with, not just black.    With this stated, allow be to describe the deck that I feel this combo goes well into:

4 Phyrexian Arena
4 Death Grasp
4 Duress
4 Vindicate
4 Pernicious Deed
4 Smoldering Tar
4 Blazing Specter
4 Abyssal Specter
4 Dark Ritual
1 Yawgmoth's Agenda

4 City of Brass
2 Darigaaz's Caldera
4 Swamps
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Brushland
1 Rith's Grove
4 Urborg Volcano
4 Caves of Koilos

     This is just a rough draft of a mostly-black control deck.  Bascially, you want to try to clear the board out for Blazing and Abyssal Specters and pick their hand dry.  From there, use a good Death Grasp or two to finish them off and keep your life total up.  They also work great for late Dark Ritual sinks.

     This is just a rough idea of what I might do with the cards.  I'm sure more of you out there can find other combos and I encourage you to think them up and post away.  When you do come up with them, mail them to me at and we'll get them on the site.  Thank guys!

Scott Gerhardt

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