Bringing the Vengeance

Hopefully for the last time ever, MTGO has caught up with the paper world with M13 release events firing every few minutes. I personally joined one for 25 tickets, played one round of double mana screw, and dropped. Limited play for Core sets is so boring. Even if I had ever drawn a fourth land in either game I played, it wouldn’t have been that exciting, and not having to play M13 is about as fun as playing it anyway. After selling some of my rares at the highest price they will ever be(ex. sold Cavern of Souls during release event for 24ish tickets. Now I get them passed to me in draft), I turned to updating the R/W ‘Storm’ deck originally featured here:

When I first read this article, I quickly dismissed it as poor because there were no notes on actual performance, or even a primer on how to play the deck correctly. Normally a primer isn’t needed because a deck’s function will be obvious, but with so much card selection, it is vital to know what you are looking for. Tough decisions are more often the case now that there are eight looting effects, so don’t just try to blow through your deck without a plan in mind. But before some general advice, the new list:

  • 4 Faithless Looting
  • 4 Infernal Plunge
  • 4 Kuldotha Rebirth
  • 2 Panic Spellbomb
  • 1 Noxious Revival
  • 4 Wild Guess
  • 4 Krenko’s Command
  • 4 Ichor Wellspring
  • 2 Mycosynth Wellspring
  • 4 Battle Hymn
  • 2 Increasing Vengeance
  • 2 Past in Flames
  • 2 Burn at the Stake
  • 2 Reforge the Soul
  • 1 Devil’s Play
  • 18 Mountain


  • 4 Smelt
  • 2 Gitaxian Probe
  • 1 Noxious Revival
  • 2 Reforge the Soul
  • 2 Burning Vengeance
  • 4 Whipflare

There are three big changes of note: Krenko’s Command, Wild Guess, and Increasing Vengeance. One of the major issues the deck had previously was an inability to refill or add to your token army in the middle of the critical turn because Gather the Townsfolk required White mana, and in most cases all your mana was Red once you started going nuts. You lose the ability to go to five or less and then go off out of nowhere, but the consistency gained in both the mana base and having more paths to win seems well worth it. Wild Guess is an additional selection spell, and means we don’t have to play quite as many Reforge the Souls. It is quite rare that I even cast one during a win. With all the Lootings/Guesses/Wellsprings, it’s not hard to craft a hand and graveyard that can win without seven new cards. Still, I left two so the option is open in case a key piece is missing. Increasing Vengeance is probably the most interesting addition, for two reasons. One, it was available at the time the original article was written, so why wasn’t it included? Also, it is just incredible at bridging the gap between an engine that never really does much and killing the enemy easily. When you flash back the Vengeance for RR using Past in Flames, you still get the extra copy of the spell; it is literally double Fork. When copying Burn at the Stake, it also remembers how many creatures were tapped for the first one. I played against some weird life gain brew last night, and easily, EASILY Burned him for NINETY using the Vengeance. Yes, I needed all three copies for thirty to kill him.

This deck takes a bit of mashing before becoming proficient at taking care of witches medieval style. It took me several games to realize that you should probably not loot away a Rebirth or Artifact just about ever. One mana for three guys is your most efficient way of making a Ramen Instant Army. Krenko’s Command is a backup plan at best, and is generally used to test an opponent for a sweeper by throwing out two goblins, or to refill during the Burn turn. Deciding when to use your Vengeance is usually just a matter of math, but don’t lose sight of the goal of just having enough to kill your enemy. I have caught myself several times having to rethink a line of play because I was opening myself up to disruption for a gain that was much bigger than what was required to win the game. Lastly, many openers with this deck will look clunky or useless. It’s a combo deck, so that’s perfectly natural. Most hands that have either a Ichor Wellspring, Faithless Looting, or Wild Guess are keeps with the ability to cast said spell and not much else. The idea is to get a graveyard going most of the time, and these spells get the ball rolling.

Before I leave you to play with this hilariously fun deck, a few quick notes on the sideboard. Smelt is a catch for Grafdigger’s Cage, and I would never bring in more than two blindly(though of course I would have to suspect it before I blindly board anyway). Any deck that still plays Cranial Extraction somewhere brings in the Revival, as it’s not bad just sitting in the deck letting you redraw a Rebirth, or setting up a Reforge the Soul. Burning Vengeance is an alternate win condition, but mostly it’s there because I can’t think of what else to jam against a deck that wants to go long.

There are also a number of other directions this deck could go. Becoming even more graveyard-centric is an option. A RUG deck that plays Rebirth, the Artifacts, Rituals, and far more ways to fill the bin like Mulch or Thought Scour could be better options. Creatures like Augur of Bolas would find a home in a deck like this quickly as well. I leave it to you, reader. Go forth, and brew!

Nigel H.

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