Conditions Allow - Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence

Ben Doolittle • December 13, 2022

(Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence | Art by Tatiana Kirgetova)

The Devil On Your Shoulder

Hello, and welcome back to another Conditions Allow. In this series I take a legendary creature with a drawback and try to turn it into a strength. Jumpstart 2022 crept up on us seemingly from nowhere, leaving a bunch of interesting new legendary creatures in its wake. One of them, however, stood out from the crowd, despite her diminutive stature. Reminiscent of Ashling the Pilgrim, but with a unique, slightly painful twist, it's Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence.

Much like Ashling the Pilgrim, Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence wants to accumulate +1/+1 counters as fuel to deal big damage later on. Unlike Ashling, however, Auntie Blyte needs a little more than just time and mana. True to her name, Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence accumulates power as you make risky and dangerous decisions, betting your life points for a chance at victory. Magic has many payoffs for reducing your own life total, but it's a particularly precarious strategy in a multiplayer format. To offset this risk, we're going to need a couple ways to gain life, as well as a few copy effects to get as much damage out of our life total as possible.

Here For A Good Time

Most importantly, however, we need plenty of ways to deal damage to ourselves. Red has plenty of instants and sorceries that deal damage to all players, but I've opted to focus on permanent sources, so that if Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence does get removed, it's easy to start building up her power right away.

Each of these enchantments punishes every player for tapping lands and casting artifacts. This builds up your commander's power while also lowering the amount of damage she needs to deal to start taking players out. These are also some of the most dangerous cards in the deck if your plans are interrupted. Manabarbs in particular can quickly make it all but impossible to win, as every land you tap brings your life total closer and closer to zero. Burning Earth poses less of a threat, since nearly all of your lands are basic Mountains, and while we will include a fair number of artifacts, Ancient Runes will be far more dangerous to artifact-focused decks.

Ancient Runes combines particularly well with Descent into Avernus, since you can use all your Treasures before your next turn. Your opponents, meanwhile, will need to decide if they want to hang onto them into their main phase. Spellshock also asks lots of difficult questions. Your opponents need to cast spells to stop you from winning, but doing so will only make it easier for you to win as long as this enchantment is in play. For a more controllable source of damage, I'm of course including Pyrohemia. Even though Pyrohemia deals damage to your creatures, it can't kill Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence, because she also gets a +1/+1 counter with each activation.

Finally, you do occasionally need one big source of damage. Acidic Soil lowers life totals and gives your commander a huge power boost, making it perfect for ending the game in a pinch. Volcano Hellion can do the same, dealing an arbitrary amount of damage to yourself to make Auntie Blyte as big as you need her to be. You can do the same with Wheel of Misfortune as well, although you'll have to be careful of letting your opponents draw removal.

And A Long Time

With all of this damage flying around, every player's life total will hopefully be dropping quickly. Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence natively has flying, making her a threat even without removing counters to deal damage directly. It also makes it much easier to recoup your lost life with Equipment that grant lifelink.

Just like any good mono-black deck, Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence leverages your life total as a resource, and Shadowspear and Witch's Clinic both give you more of that resource just for attacking. If your commander stays in play for a couple of turns, she'll easily have more power than Manabarbs or Spellshock can deal you damage, resulting in a net gain of life points. Even with Goldnight Castigator in play, you can easily stay ahead of your opponents.

Gaining life isn't our only tool for surviving our own Citadel of Pain, however. Both Fortune Thief and Platinum Emperion prevent damage from killing you without changing how much damage is actually dealt. Instead, they just change how much your life total changes as a result of that damage, so even though Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence will still gain +1/+1 counters equal to the full amount of damage, you just won't die as a result. Of course, Fortune Thief still leaves you at one life, but one is infinitely greater than zero.

Out With A Bang

While lifelink helps you stay relevant if the game goes long, this deck wants games to end quickly. Thanks to all our symmetrical damage sources, Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence will quickly gain power, helping to further lower your opponents' life totals. You won't ever need a full 40 +1/+1 on your commander to take a player out. Usually, it'll be closer to fifteen or twenty. Even if life totals stay high, however, Illusionist's Bracers and other copy effects make sure you can deal enough damage to take someone out, and if life totals are low enough, you can potentially even eliminate two players at once.

I'm also including Sword of Hours as a way to get some extra +1/+1 counters. You won't roll a twelve all that often, but you've got a reasonable chance of doubling your counters early on. I also considered Blade of the Bloodchief, but I didn't want to distract too much from what Auntie Blyte actually wants you to do. I also felt it would be important to include some robust creatures to help play defense. This deck immediately challenges your opponents to a race from forty to zero, and they'll do everything they can to make sure you win. Brash Taunter, Combustible Gearhulk, and Atsushi, the Blazing Sky are all excellent blockers that also advance your main gameplan. Combine that with a standard suite of removal and card advantage, and we have ourselves a deck.

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This deck feels a lot like a mono-black or Orzhov deck built around Axis of Mortality and Repay in Kind. Your life total will drop dangerously low, but you can easily gain it all back and more. It also feels distinctly red, though. I really like the flavor of constantly having to bounce back from your own rash decisions. You could also interpret Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence as being a bad influence on you directly, which may or may not pay off. Win or lose, though, it'll be fun to watch the chaos play out.

How do you feel about Auntie Blyte, Bad Influence? Are there any cards or synergies I overlooked? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Ben was introduced to Magic during Seventh Edition and has played on and off ever since. A Simic mage at heart, he loves being given a problem to solve. When not shuffling cards, Ben can be found lost in a book or skiing in the mountains of Vermont.