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Pestilence on a Stick
By Adam Kolleth
Well Apocalypse is finally here and it is definitely proving to be a very strong set for us casual players as well as for the tournament scene. Not in a long, long time has the concept of enemy color combinations been so prominent, and actually playable. At the forefront of these new decks is the amazing color combination of black/white. This combo is one of my all time favorites. With Apocalypse it gains many new bombs, including Death Grasp, Soul Link, Spectral Lynx, and the mother of all targeted destruction spells, Vindicate.

As soon as I saw some of these new cards at the pre-release I knew I had to break this color combination. Since I am such a huge fan of big multi-player games I decided to go with a casual b/w color theme geared specifically for the big games (3-6 players). The theme I decided on is "Pestilence on a Stick" The deck uses many of blacks creatures that can produce a pestilence like effect (Thrashing Wumpas, Crypt Rat, Plague Spitter). White is added to gain some much needed control elements (STP, Vindicate) and to add a few neat combo-like tricks. This deck has some serious potential in a multi-player game. In a recent game I gained 75 life in one turn with just 5 black mana! How, you ask? A Soul Linked Crypt Rat.
Here's the deck list:

Pestilence on a Stick version 2.0

4 Vindicate
3 Swords to Plowshares
4 Soul Link
4 Lashknife Barrier
4 Dark Ritual
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Living Death
1 Sol Ring
4 Plague Spitter
3 Thrashing Wumpus
3 Crypt Rat
2 Sengir Vampire
1 Ascendant Envicar

4 Caves of Kolios
2 Gemstone Mine
1 City of Brass
4 Dromars Caverns
12 Swamp
2 Plains

And here's a complete breakdown of the cards.

4 Vindicate:
It kills everything. Enough said.

3 Swords to Plowshares:
One of the all time best creature elimination spells ever, if not the best. Deals with pesky pro-black critters and regenerators which are a big threat to this deck.

4 Soul Link:
It is just sick how well this combos with the pestilence-on-a-stick critters in a multiplayer game. Soul Link has the potential for amazing life swings. Take a quick example here. You are playing against 4 other players, and all of you have 3 creatures out on the table. One of yours just happens to be a Thrashing Wumpas with a Soul Link on it. That makes a total of 20 targets that get hit by the Thrashing Wumpas ability (the 5 players, and the 15 total creatures) With an application of just 5 black mana you would gain a potential 95 life! (100 life gained minus the 5 damage taken by yourself) How would you like to have an additional 95 life for just 5 black mana... thought so.

4 Lashknife Barrier:
Another combo-like element to this deck. It is generally good in helping your creatures survive longer against creature matchups and against burn, but it really shines in this deck. It reduces the amount of damage taken by your creatures by one every time they take damage. Every time you activate Thrashing Wumpas, Crypt Rat, or Plague Spitter it does one damage to each player and creature, then the Lashknife Barrier reduces that one damage to your creatures to nothing. So... this allows you to use as many applications of the pestilence-on-a-stick critters as you want, and your creatures never take a single point of damage. This can very easily turn into a one-sided Wrath of God effect against your opponents, all their creatures dead, and yours untouched. Oh yeah, it's also a cantrip. A definite 4-of in this deck.

4 Dark Ritual:
With the many high mana cost spells, these come in real handy. Also useful for powering up huge applications of Thrashing Wumpus or Crypt Rat.

1 Demonic tutor, 1 Vampiric Tutor:
Search is never bad. These help look for the various combo- like elements, or one of the many control elements.

1 Living Death: Great in the late game to bring back your army which you then use to wipe out any threats they may have gotten back .

1 Sol Ring: Accelerated mana supply.

4 Plague Spitter: One of the 3 base pestilence on a stick type creatures in the deck. A great little 3 casting cost killer. With a Lashknife Barrier in play it is only affects your opponent. Even without a barrier in play this is just a strong beat creature.

3 Thrashing Wumpas: The second of the pestilence on a stick creatures, this 3/3 has a little beef behind it.

3 Crypt Rat: Another piece of the core of this deck. Cheaper than Thrashing Wumpas, but with 2 points less toughness and power. The Crypt rat is a little different than the others, it can be used in one big application (6 damage to all creatures and players) or the prefered method of 6 individual applications of 1 damage to each player and creature. If you stay with the individual applications you can remain under the Lashknife Barrier and the rat won't die.

2 Sengir Vampire: I am an old school player, and love to throw in some old school favorites of days gone by in my decks. He is a big beefy flyer, and adds some beatdown to the deck.


1 Ascendant Envicar:
All of your creatures are black, he can only help you and potentially wreck your opponent. Also another decent sized flyer to help with beats.

Land:
The land mix is geared heavily towards producing black mana. There are 13 sources of white mana, which is ample as all the white spells only have 1 white in their casting cost. The extra black is useful to power up the pestilence effects from the creatures.

The optimal way to play this deck is with a slow buildup approach. You should get an early threat out, in fact it is almost crucial that you do. Nothing is more intimidating than facing a Thrashing Wumpus where its controller has 5 or 6 black mana available. Make sure your opponents know what exactly your creatures can do, they will steer way clear of attacking you with that kind of threat available. It is very similar to having a Nev. Disk untapped on your side, no one attacks the person with the disk in play.

It is only to your benefit to wait to start serving with the pestilence effects. Think of how much better shape you are in with a Lashknife Barrier in play also, or a Soul Link. Waiting for your opponents to lay another 2 or 3 creatures can mean a monumental gain in life (with the Soul Link) and 2 or 3 less creatures that you will have to worry about from your opponents' decks. Once you do start going off with the pestilence effects, just keep applying them every turn and serving with your beefy creatures to end the game in relatively short order.

Well I hope you enjoy this deck as much as I am right now. Apocalypse is rearing its head everywhere from casual to tournament levels. Take advantage of the power it brings to the field. Don't be afraid to go with enemy color combinations, they can potentially be a wrecking ball. Also, if you have any comments, please feel free to email me. (*ahem*...or post a reply here - CT)

Adam Kolleth
akolleth@raex.com

Read More Articles by Adam Kolleth!

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