CUT #12 - Are You CUT Out for These Streets?

Travis Stanley • May 13, 2022

Speakeasy Server | Illustrated by Scott Murphy

Soft jazz fills the streets as the hustle and bustle below creates an opposing noiseless static. Through the doors of the old Herald building and up two flights of stairs, the third door down on the left sits closed. Three faded gold letters barely cling onto frosted glass. They once shone as bright as halo, itself, but time walks wherever it damn well pleases. The door handle turns, not all the way, though; you gotta jiggle it a bit to let yourself in. Peering through the once sealed entryway stood three figures. I knew these faces all too well: Magic players. “You’re here for the challenge, I take it?” Standing up, I don my coat that was lazily hung over my chair. “Alright," I say. "Let’s get started”.


You guessed it, this CUT article is themed around Streets of New Capenna. We have three steadfast deckbuilders, all with their decks loyal to various organisations.

Before we get to that though, let's find out who won the last Finals:

 

 

Congratulations, Merlin, your deck lit up the votes and sealed your victory in CUT history. Not only did you win this round, but you won the round before, what a sweep! Thank you to Charles for your entries and I hope to see both of them in the future!


Now back to the topic at hand.

The challenges our deckbuilders had to work with were as follows:

- Commander must be from Streets of New Capenna

- Cards in the 99 must be Modern-legal

- 10 cards must share a watermark


First up we have Nick Wolf! Nick can be found here on Commander’s Herald. After you check out Nick’s decklist and write-up, go on over and check him out!


 

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Listen, I bleed Jund. If you cut me, it's red, green, and black that oozes forth from the wound. Physicians are concerned.

But enough about that: I present to you today an Obscura deck, a term I’ll use about as frequently as Dega or Raka.

But that’s the reason we agree to submit ourselves to arbitrary deckbuilding restrictions concocted by a madman: to get out of our comfort zone. The truth is, the Jund commanders available in Streets of New Capenna didn’t really excite me much (though the options in New Capenna Commander are a different story). For now, we’re going to throw our lot in with Queza, Augur of Agonies.

Queza is pretty straightforward. Draw cards, drain life. Simple enough. For the rest of the deck, however, things get a bit more complicated. There are 174 cards that have a white, blue, or black color identity, are legal in both Commander and Modern, have a watermark, and say the word “draw” somewhere in the rules text.

However, a wise sage once said, “If you don’t love it, CUT it.

One important caveat to note about the deckbuilding requirements is that ten watermarks have to match. To satisfy that requirement, I’m going with the FNM promo watermark, used on select promo versions of cards between 2003 and 2011. The Friday Night Magic Promotional Card Program was in operation for nearly two decades (2000-2017), and through it Wizards released a new promo card each month. We’re limited to the years I listed above, since the first few years of the program saw promos with the shooting star watermark, and halfway through 2011, they returned to the shooting star. In fact, the final card with the FNM promo watermark was Wall of Omens, which fits into our deck pretty well.

Is the FNM watermark technically allowed? As far as I know it is, and if you’re reading this then it’s safe to assume the decklist made it through CUT standards and practices. Does it violate the spirit of the restriction? Well, I can’t speak to that, but it does feel very Obscura to be too clever for one’s own good.

That focus on the FNM watermark led me to what I thought was a brilliant idea: what if we build a Cycling deck with Astral Slide? We’ll be drawing cards, flickering Mulldrifters, and playing the kind of game where we don’t even need to pay attention to opponents. Unfortunately, Astral Slide runs us afoul of the other restriction, namely that all cards must be Modern-legal.

It’s a shame, but that doesn’t mean we have to abandon the idea of Astral Slide. It can still be a part of what we’re doing here, living on in our hearts. So what are we doing here, you ask? Not qualifying for the Staring Contest World Tour, that’s what (because we’re blinking, that’s the joke).

Anyway, let’s talk about the deck. When I sat down to really drill down on the agonies promised by Queza, my mind went in a singular direction, which was blinking creatures that draw us cards, but one cool thing that Queza brings to the table is turning spells like Damnable Pact and the brand-new Cut of the Profits into Braingeysers with a dash of Underworld Dreams, but, you know, for the bad guys.

What does blinking stuff get us? Well, for starters, it's really fun! I love playing decks that are proactive and tricky while maximizing the value of cheap creatures. So we’re going to use a bunch of good blink targets and a bunch of good blink spells while we set up a haymaker with Queza, and conveniently, our blink spells can save her life in a pinch. They can also just turn into Utter Ends with the use of Oblivion Ring and Detention Sphere, should the mood strike.

Unlike similarly constructed decks, like Nekusar, the Mindrazer, we’re not in the game of giving anyone else extra draw. That’s just for us, so I haven’t included anything like Howling Mine, Windfall, or Jace’s Archivist. Our opponents don’t deserve our generosity. We are, however, playing Triskaidekaphile, because it’s awesome.

I admit, I might have been saving the best for last. You may have noticed in the above decklist one card in particular that is often more trouble than it’s worth: Lich’s Mastery. It turns out that if you draw just one card with both Lich’s Mastery and Queza on the field, you just draw your entire library. If that doesn’t end the game on the spot with life loss triggers, no worries. It says right on the card that you can’t lose the game, so you can continue to enjoy Commander with your entire library in your hand. Just don’t try to blink Lich’s Mastery.

While it’s thematically very different, in the sense that instead of a lich it’s a couple grabby hands, Drogskol Reaver also kicks off that sequence, but Drogskol Reaver can and will kill you, since nowhere on either Queza or the Reaver does it say the word “may.” Use it with caution.

To part, I have one last thing to add. There are undoubtedly many ways to build this deck at many different power levels. That’s what attracted me to Queza in the first place: it’s simple, yet open-ended. We could have jammed a Mana Drain, a Cyclonic Rift, and a Force of Will (Modern restriction notwithstanding) in here, or we could have thrown in Sanguine Bond/Exquisite Blood. If you want to do that, go for it, I’m not here to tell you what to do.

My name’s Nick Wolf, by the way. You can read the words I write for Commander’s Herald here.


Thanks Nick! Hopefully this deck agonises your opponents enough to get you to the finals! Make sure you vote, and then go and check Nick’s articles out!


Next in the line up is the copy editor for Commander’s Herald and EDHREC, Jack!


 

Kros CUT

Commander (1)
Artifacts (12)
Instants (14)
Sorceries (14)
Planeswalkers (4)
Creatures (15)
Enchantments (5)
Lands (35)

 

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Good day to you! My name is Jack, and I’m the copy editor for both Commander’s Herald and EDHREC. I was super pumped to participate in this round of CUT: Streets of New Capenna has turned out to be super interesting in terms of flavor and worldbuilding, not to mention the glut of great cards that have resulted.

Out of all of the legendary creatures donning flapper dresses or pinstriped suits, however, one immediately grabbed my attention and has thus far refused to let go: Kros, Defense Contractor.

When it comes to Bant commanders, I have an Arcades, the Strategist deck, but it hasn’t really tickled my Johnny/Jenny itch when I’ve played it. Kros, though… it’s got all the wheels turning in my head.

Oddly enough, another of this CUT’s criteria really spoke to me: I technically started playing Magic: the Gathering back when I was in high school (2003-2007), but I didn’t really know what I was doing and I didn’t get to play nearly as often as I would like, so I stopped playing not long after. I returned to Magic for reals around the period between Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash, so that block has always held a soft spot in my heart. I briefly had a Simic deck that liked to play with +1/+1 counters, and with one thing or another, I felt that the Simic Combine was the best faction to support Kros in his machinations.

The strategy is fairly straightforward: have lots of ways to, at will, put counters on opponents’ creatures, directing them every which way away from yourself, and profit, although there are a few cards that I’d like to highlight:

  • Experiment Kraj gets all the activated abilities of all creatures with at least one +1/+1 counter on them, so in addition to being able to Goad opponents’ creatures at instant speed, you can pick up some sweet abilities to further your own plans
  • Bioshift is an excellent rattlesnake/combat trick. Sure, you can use it to Goad a creature, but you can also use it to neuter an opponent’s beefed-up Voltron creature that’s swinging in, either toward you or one of your opponents
  • This isn’t a specific card, but Proliferate also triggers Kros’ ability, allowing you to Goad multiple creatures at once
  • Okay, this doesn’t have anything to do with the counters shenanigans, but it’s something that I want to put out into the world so that someone can live the dream: Progenitor Mimic says that you may have it enter the battlefield as a copy of any creature on the battlefield except it gains “At the beginning of your upkeep, if this creature isn’t a token, create a token that’s a copy of this creature.” The thing is, the token copies still have that line of text, although it doesn’t do anything… normally. However, if you can bounce the Mimic back to your hand, you can play it and have it enter as a copy of the token creature, but the “new” Mimic now has two instances of the “create a token” line, and even though it’s a copy of a token, it, itself, is not a copy, so it now pops out two copies per upkeep. Lemme know if you can pull off the highly improbable!

Lastly, because games gotta end, I’ve included a couple infinite combos that’ll win you the game if nothing else does: they each involve Karmic Guide and Reveillark, but one wins with Blasting Station, the other wins with Altar of Dementia.

Lemme know what y’all think of the deck I brewed, I hope you like it!


That was great Jack! Hope you can count on the readers to vote for your deck!


Last, but not least we have Christian!


 

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Hello, all! When Travis gave me the prompt for today’s CUT!, I was ecstatic because I actually already had a deck that could easily be modified into the criteria. Back before Throne of Eldraine came out, I was really wanting to find a place for Shadowborn Apostles to thrive that wasn’t in Orzhov colors. When Korvold, Fae-Cursed King came out, I found the perfect commander! Sacrifice a bunch of creatures, draw a bunch of cards, make him huge, AND get a free Demon? Seemed like the perfect commander to me! I even had my Korvold altered by Jonas Wideen alters to be a balrog!

But alas, as we all know, Korvold was a bit too perfect and just overwhelmed the field with raw value. I haven’t had many opportunities to play it because of this, but when Streets of New Capenna came out, I found the perfect replacement that would both allow me to play this deck more often due to being more fun for the rest of the table, still support the strategy the deck ran, AND was a Demon to boot: Ziatora, the Incinerator! So, I got to work and modified my Korvold deck into one more built around this new Demon Dragon!

The strategy of the deck is simple: play as many Shadowborn Apostles as possible, play a lot of cards that interact and have benefits with Shadowborn Apostles, and get some heavy hitting Demons out to overwhelm your opponents! To that end, there are actually quite a few cards in this deck that do not work in Commander normally, that specifically do work well in decks with Shadowborn Apostles: Secret Salvage, Thrumming Stone, Echoing Return, and Bloodbond March (In my paper copy of this deck I would also include Nantuko Shrine, which is AMAZING and hilarious in only this deck, but it is not Modern-legal!). These all allow you to get access to multiple Shadowborn Apostles at the same time to play consecutively, or help put multiple of them at once onto the field!

This deck also thrives on sacrifice effects and gaining advantage through sacrificing. You don’t even need to have six Shadowborn Apostles to get the most out of them! There are two primary ways getting ahead through the sacrifice effects: getting additional creatures from the triggers, or gaining card advantage. Cards like Xathrid Necromancer or Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper can help get additional creatures from the death triggers (Rotlung Reanimator is another great one that isn’t Modern-legal), while cards like Harvester of Souls and Grim Haruspex allow you to draw cards! There are also a few effects that help chip away at your opponents' life, like Impact Tremors and Bastion of Remembrance. Lastly, there are a couple of pseudo-secret commanders in the deck. Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker effectively makes sure that your Shadowborn Apostles are never permanently gone, continuously returning to the battlefield, and Taborax, Hope’s Demise capitalizes on the Apostles being Clerics, allowing you to draw tons of cards and make him huge in exchange for sacrificing them!

There are lots of ways to refine this deck outside of the constraints of this challenge. I mentioned a few cards above, but diving more heavily into the benefits from the sacrifice triggers would make this deck much more streamlined! I have a habit of trying to make jank decks that sometimes try to do too many things, but I find that this deck still performs really well due to how quickly you can churn through the deck with 30 tiny one-mana creatures! I’m bummed that my alter is of Korvold, but who knows! Maybe I’ll use it for special occasions!


Unlike the Balrog, I hope this decks passes you to the next round! Thanks for submitting!


Another week, another set of freshly made decks served up for your viewing pleasure. As they leave and the door swings closed, I am left with the remnants of their stay and the spoils of their progress. The wind blew them in as fast as it blew them away and…. wait... that’s just the door…. I really gotta get that handle fixed.


Thank you all for your wonderful submissions, and thank you reader for bearing with my word theatre. You know what to do now, just vote below for your favorite deck and who you want to see in the Finals of this CUT challenge! Remember if you dont love it, CUT it!

If you or a friend would like to participate in a future CUT article, feel free to email the.only.travis.stanley@gmail.com or @ me on twitter @chipman007!

Poll Closes May 19th