What are you so afraid of?

We’re all scared of something. For some of us, it’s spiders, giant legendary spiders. For others it’s the dark, or in my case, that they stop making ramp cards. In Shadows Over Innistrad, we learned that we should be scared of something far worse. It made us look very closely at our life totals, lest we fall victim to the dreaded curse of the number 13.

Triskaidekaphobia has been one of my favourite flavour cards, ever since it was previewed by the guys at Loading Ready Run. Not only is the card filled with easter eggs, but it has given Johnny players worldwide the chance to flex their mental muscles, in the hope of stealing games from right under their opponents’ noses. There was only one issue, getting your opponent to exactly to 13 life was pretty difficult.

Most of the decks I saw used Skulking creatures, such as Farbog Revenant, to poke away at their opponent’s life total, all the while digging to find a copy of Triskaidekaphobia. Although this could work, all it would take is your opponent to tap a pain land, and there goes your whole plan. However, those cheeky devils at Wizards of the Coast always have a plan, and in Eldritch Moon, we received another card that may have made this fan favourite far more viable.

So, with a copy ofTree of Perdition"> Tree of Perdition in my hand, I embarked on the task of putting the fear of 13 into my enemies. What follows are a few decklists that should have people hiding behind the sofa.

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Mono Black is Back
First of all, since both pieces of our combo are black cards, let’s have a look and see if we can
viably run just mono black. Since one of black’s most distinguishable features is to Murder its
opponent’s creatures, let’s see what a Mono Black Control shell could offer us.

Lands (30)
19 Swamps
Blighted Fen
Geier Reach Sanitarium
 Tree of Perdition
 Hangarback Walker
 Emrakul, The Promised End

Instants (7)
 Grasp of Darkness
 Ultimate Price
 Murder

 

Sorcery (14)
 To the Slaughter
 Collective Brutality
 Duress
 Languish
 Read the Bones
 Dark Petition

Other (9)
 Triskaidekaphobia
 Dead Weight
 Ob Nixilis Reignited
 Liliana, the Last Hope
Sideboard (15)
 Languish
 Self-Inflicted Wound
 Behold the Beyond
 Whispers of Emrakul
Pick the Brain
 Virulent Plague
 Read the Bones
 Ruinous Path

 

 

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This deck is all about two things, hand attack and creature destruction. Duress and Collective Brutality should be used to discard any removal your opponent may be holding onto so that you can protect the Tree of Perdition. The rest of the deck is all about killing creatures. Grasp of Darkness is great early removal, and To the Slaughter has the added benefit of getting rid of pesky Planeswalkers. All we have to do now is use Read the Bones to find the two pieces of our win condition, and not even Archangel Avacyn can save your opponent. If all that is not good enough, the scariest 13 of the set makes for a brilliant finisher, Emrakul, The Promised End. You may have noticed a Delirium side-theme to the deck, and we’re actually playing all 7 Standard-usable card types in the mainboard. Emrakul could be played for only 6 mana under the right circumstances with this deck, and there are a few more Delirium pay-off cards in the sideboard in Whispers of Emrakul ">Whispers of Emrakul and Pick the Brain. Don’t forget that even if your opponent can answer Triskaidekaphobia, one activation from the Tree of Perdition puts them in range for a lethal attack from Emrakul.

The main issue with this deck is that it can only win the game from turn six onwards. Since I’ve played against human decks that can win by turn 4, and Token or Bant lists that can outpace your removal, we may need to stabilize the board and speed up our plans. Maybe if we look for some support in another colour, we could fix these issues. How about Green?

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A Rotten Tree Bears Poison Fruit

Green gives us some interesting options to help us achieve our combo. Firstly, we can play arguably the best creature in Standard, Sylvan Advocate. This elf is one heck of a powerhouse for the low, low investment of only two mana. 2/3 with Vigilance is already above the curve, but once you have six lands, it and all land creatures receive a buff. I’ve seen these guys hold off waves of creatures, from Humans and Tokens, even other Advocates. So this creature is already playable, but what if the little Elf Druid Ally (because it wasn’t yet good enough without having three creature types added to it) could help us find one of our key pieces a turn earlier. Well say hello to Eldritch Evolution.

Some of you out there may remember a cheeky little card called Birthing Pod. This artifact was so powerful, it got itself banned in Modern. Now Eldritch Evolution is not as broken as the Pod, but it does come close. In this deck, it allows us to sacrifice a two drop and then use that creature to find a copy of Tree of Perdition on turn three. Being able to achieve the combo a turn early may not seem like a lot, but it can make all the difference. So let’s see what we can put together.

Lands (24)
 Hissing Quagmire
 Llanowar Wastes
Geier Reach Sanitarium
 Evolving Wilds
 Forest
 Swamp

Creatures (12)
 Sylvan Advocate
 Elvish Visionary
 Tree of Perdition
 Grim Flayer

Instant (5)
 Grasp of Darkness
 Ultimate Price
 Murder
Sorcery (12)
 Duress
 Collective Brutality
 Ruinous Path
 Languish
 Dark Petition
 Eldritch Evolution

Other (7)
 Dead Weight
 Triskaidekaphobia
 Liliana, the Last Hope

 

 

 

 

Sideboard (15)
 Virulent Plague
 Ruinous Path
 Languish
 Ultimate Price
 Transgress the Mind
 Ultimate Price
 Pulse of Murasa
 Naturalize
 Clip Wings
 

 

 

 

This deck runs a similar strategy to the first, but has the added benefit of being able to stabilise the board with some great cheap creatures. Grim Flayer, Elvish Visionary and Sylvan Advocate all work great as targets for Eldritch Evolution as well as bringing extra value if we draw them later on in the game. Grim Flayer and Geier Reach Sanitarium">Geier Reach Sanitarium have the ability to find our combo pieces, either by filtering our top deck, or drawing cards. Additionally, Hissing Quagmire not only works to fit our mana base, but also has greater value because of our Advocates.

I can tell you for sure, winning a game because of Triskaidekaphobia really is great! So there you have it, two takes on making a cool combo deck for standard. Do you think they will do well in your local meta? Why not try your own Triskaidekaphobia deck at your local store at FNM.

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