Break the cycle

The card selected for this week’s entry seems pretty innocuous. Maybe even… bad. Sure, it returns a creature or a land from graveyard to your hand for a colourless and a black. It’s even a sorcery. Kind of “Mweh”. Why bother playing this card?

But wait? It doesn’t say “Choose one”, but “Choose one or both”! Almost missed that! That makes Grim Discovery from “Mweh” to “Okay”. That is, if you can fully use this card, so having both a creature and a land in your graveyard to return to your hand. How to do this? The answer is simple and elegant: cycling. Allow me to explain.

I think the cycling mechanic is very refined. It gives you the opportunity to replace a card for a new card by paying a certain cost and discarding it. If you don’t need it, replace it! Ready to be returned to your hand with Grisly Salvage. That is the synergy I am looking for, this is the direction my cycling deck is going to take!

Cycling to the grave

Inspired by a deck of former wizards.com writer Anthony Alongi (you can find it here: https://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/serious-fun/seriously-fun-school-magic-2003-04-08, but he mentions the deck in several of his articles) I built a black and red cycling deck able to control a multiplayer game. So without further ado:

RB Gravecycling
CreaturesSpellsLands
4 Drannith Stinger
4 Monstrous Carabid
2 Twisted Abomination
1 Drakuseth, Maw of Flames
1 Kaervek the Merciless


4 Grim Discovery 1B
4 Shadow of the Grave
2 Terminate
3 Sweltering Suns
2 Slagstorm
2 Faith of the Devoted
3 Chain Reaction
1 Fires of Invention
4 Barren Moor
4 Forgotten Cave
4 Temple of Malice
3 Canyon Slough
2 Blood Crypt
1 Bloodstained Mire
5 Swamp
4 Mountain

Discovery Channel

With all the cycling cards in the deck, Grim Discovery can be used in its full potential. Shadow of the Grave serves a similar purpose as the Discovery and can even return other cards you’ve cycled to your hand. Only problem is that you need to play the Shadow directly after you’ve cycled. Cycling is already pretty mana intensive (that’s why there are quite a lot of lands in the deck).

Monstrous Carabid and Twisted Abomination are basically just cycling fodder, just as Forgotten Cave and Barren Moor. The Carabid, Moor and Cave all cycle for just one mana and the Abomination can cycle for another land. All the cycling in the deck uses a lot of mana, so the lower the cycling cost, the better. As a bonus these cards are all easily retrieved with the Discovery or Shadow so you can cycle them again.

I already mentioned Barren Moor and Forgotten Cave, but there’s also Canyon Slough. Of course can Canyon Slough tap for both red and black mana and be found with Twisted Abomination or Bloodstained Mire, it is mainly in the deck to be cycled.

The only exception to this rule is Drannith Stinger. The ability to ping all your opponents every time you cycle a card is key in the deck. The fact that it can cycle itself for one mana is icing on the cake, but in most cases you want to have this one out on the battlefield.

This is a grindy deck that tries to slowly whittle away your opponents life totals. Drannith Stinger pings each time you cycle a card and Faith of the Devoted can drain two life from all your opponents if you cycle a card and pay one colourless mana.

Slagstorm, Chain Reaction and Sweltering Suns can sweep the board if it gets a little crowded. If necessary, Sweltering Suns can also cycle itself, but the sweep it provides is usually more important. In multiplayer games it can happen that there is one pesky creature you just have to get rid off. In those cases Terminate is your best friend.

Cycling your way to victory

It is nice to have a deck that can win games and to that end, you need finishers. That’s why there’s one Drakuseth, Maw of Flames in the deck. It is a nice finisher and can deal extra damage when it attacks. Kaervek the Merciless damages opponents when they play spells, but also attracts a lot of attention.

There is one card that needs some extra explanation. Fires of Invention might be the engine for a lot of broken decks, since it lets you play cards without paying their mana costs if their converted mana cost is lower that the amount of lands you control. The only restriction is that you can only play spells during your turn with a maximum of two. But this deck doesn’t mind that. It wants to cycle cards, preferably in you opponents turn and the Fires still lets you do that. The spells you need to play can still be played, only during your turn, but you don’t have to pay mana. Cycling is pretty mana hungry, so it’s good the Fires leaves your mana open to cycle.

Sit back and not relax

The deck plays 24 cards with cycling, giving the opportunity to go through the deck with lightning speed. You’ll always (well, almost always) have what you need or at least ways to find what you need. Because of this you don’t have to do a lot during your turn. Pay close attention to what your opponents do and if they start looking your way, sweep the board. Do nothing if the situation doesn’t ask for it.

The deck is modern legal and not very expensive. Because of the cycling it is really consistent and you see a lot of the deck. It is really fun to play and you don’t really need all the rares. The sweepers can be replaced with Infest and/or Pyroclasm and the rare lands can be easily replaced with basic lands. If you want more cycling you can play Smoldering Crater and/or Polluted Mire. And always remember: let your opponents do all the hard work and reset when necessary.

Let me know if you like this deck or if you know of a card that should be in this deck. See you at the next sixty!

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