Orzhov Armageddon

Deck Rarity Breakdown

4 Rare Lands
2 Common Non-Basic Lands
18 Basic Lands
3 Common Non-Lands
5 Uncommon Non-Lands
21 Rare Non-Lands (Ouch)
7 Mythic Non-Lands

Introduction

The very first time I saw this card during a Dominaria draft I knew I would build a deck that used it, but I just didn’t quite know how. The effect of this rare saga is positively devastating if you can find a way to abuse it. I tried many versions of many decks attempting to use this card to its potential before settling on this list. I’m talking, of course, about Fall of the Thran.

Card images courtesy of Gatherer

The Concept

The effect of Fall of the Thran reads like a neutered Balance and seems like a big fat waste of 6 mana. It feels like only the decks that care about having less than 4 mana on the field would want to use this. I tried a lot of builds, from Mono-White with enchantment destruction to 5-color with artifact mana before I finally settled on an Orzhov build that used the too-perfect wombo-combo of Fall of the Thran and Phyrexian Scriptures.

For those not already in the know, if you play Phyrexian Scriptures then next turn play Fall of the Thran, you’re dropping Thran on a board cleared of creatures. Then the very next turn you stack the triggers so that Scriptures’ third chapter resolves before Thran’s second chapter, effectively giving you back two lands and your opponent none. Though not impossible, this setup makes it pretty hard for your opponent to come back without some seriously lucky draws.

The Win Conditions

So we’ve got our combo. Let’s talk about how we win after the lands are blown up. The deck contains three win conditions, all of which claimed games during the test run of this deck:

1) The opponent gets mad and scoops.
2) Karn, Scion of Urza
3) Dawn of Hope

The first win condition is the quickest and the most common. Once your opponent has gone one or two turns with 0 lands on the board, they usually find that it’s more fun just to scoop and move on to the next game, but for those stubborn opponents that are going to make us prove that we have it we have included 3 copies of Karn, Scion of Urza and 2 copies of Dawn of Hope.

Karn is fantastic because he helps us find more lands after we’ve blown most of them up and also puts a pretty quick clock on the opponent. He’s a must-answer card that they can’t answer because they have no mana.

Dawn of Hope is another perfect fit because after blowing up everything we get 4 lands back, which is just enough to start pumping out tokens. It also provides us with much-needed card draw to make sure we stay far, far ahead of our opponent.

The Control

This deck is, and always was going to be, a Best-of-1 deck. Piles of cards that rely on gimmicks like this one never do well post-sideboard so this deck was tailored to thrive in the Bo1 metagame. This means it has to beat a ton of aggro decks. As a result I included a huge suite of sweepers and removal to keep us alive while we get to 6 mana and find our combo. We have:

4 Cast Down for efficient removal of drakes, chainwhirlers and the like,

3 Moment of Craving, mostly for Adanto Vanguard,

3 Ritual of Soot for hosing tokens and other big value plays,

4 Vraska’s Contempt for taking out Arclight Phoenixes and Planeswalkers,

and finally 4 Cleansing Nova for general board-wiping and taking care of other non-creature permanents.

The Rest of the Deck

The remaining 5 slots in the deck belong to a couple of utility cards that help us find the pieces that we’re looking for. We have 4 copies of Treasure Map and one copy of Sentinel Totem

Treasure Map is a pretty obvious choice because it kind of does it all. It filters the deck to find our combo, it ramps us and gives us mana that we can use when we have no lands, and it provides card draw when we need an answer.

Sentinel Totem serves as one more source of scry, but also has the secondary effect of exiling graveyards. This functions as an emergency exile when we just need to slow down an opposing deck. Though using Sentinel Totem also deprives our deck of the mana, this play can still be effective against ramp decks that take a lot of lands out of their deck early and have a high density of expensive cards that they won’t be able to cast in comparison to our 4-mana win conditions. Finally, it serves as a tech card for the Golgari Midrange and Izzet Phoenix matchups.

The Decklist

So that’s the deck. Here’s the final decklist:

You can also find it by clicking this link.

The Results

So the deck is certainly something else, but how does it play? Before we can talk about how the deck did we have to talk about the kinds of decks it was facing.

The deck saw a mix of Tier 1/1.5 decks and upgraded starter decks. On average I would say it faced budget versions of tournament-ready decks. Though it ran into a smattering of actual tier decks, it most commonly saw slightly downgraded versions of them. There was quite the showing of Dimir control, a little bit of ramp, a bunch of tokens and a showing or two of Mono-R aggro. With that said, here’s the data dump:

The field was pretty diverse, and the deck performed admirably against it! I managed to score 12 wins out of 20 games with the deck, far exceeding my expectations! The worst matchup by a longshot was Mono-R aggro. I thought that the huge selection of control cards with lifegain sprinkled in would be enough but that deck is just too fast and consistent and both matches felt completely unwinnable.

The very best matchup that this deck had was against token decks. These decks tend to empty their hands quickly, run a little slower than the Mono-R aggro build, and don’t pack any burn. This meant that the deck could deal with the biggest threats one at a time, then one board wipe would buy enough time to blow up the lands. The only two losses against token-centric decks really felt like they could have been wins if not for the luck of the draw.

The control matchup was an interesting beast here, since a single counterspell dismantles the entire plan. Even worse is Thought Erasure, which has you fishing for starting hands that actually don’t contain the combo pieces in the hopes that they’re drawn just before they can be used. Dimir Control was the most consistently spotted opponent on the ladder, making 4 appearances with the deck going 2-2 against it.

How janky is it?

Very. The deck is very janky and I don’t think I’ll ever bother making a version of it for best of three matchups. If I did, it would have to be some sort of crazy transformational sideboard. That said, it was the kind of jank that’s just powerful enough to steal games and it was an absolute treat to play. The wildcard cost is super high (though many of the rare cards see play in T1 decks), but if you already have the cards and want to play something super fun and different I definitely recommend this one!

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