After being a little burned out on Magic Arena for a while, I got back in with Theros Beyond Death. First thing I made was enchantments, using Paradise Druid with auras that give vigilane, and Barkhide Troll with Hydra’s Growth to get some hard to remove threats, and eventually get something really big. The deck was fun, if a little inconsistant, requiring drawing a good mix of creatures, aura’s and land to work.
Eventually, that became boring as well, so I made an Esper () deck using Folio of Fancies, Smothering Tithe backed up with Underworld Dreams and Ob Nixilis, the Hate-Twisted to turn all the card draw into damage. This worked pretty okay, but I found I could do without the black in the deck. Often, Folio was enough to mill someone out, and slightly better mana made stabilizing early on a lot easier.
So, I threw something together, and it works well, even it’s not the final list:
~ Azorius Folio Control ~
3 Dimir Informant
3 Dream Trawler
2 Elite Guardmage
4 Overwhelmed Apprentice
2 Thassa, Deep-Dwelling
3 Folio of Fancies
4 Banishing Light
1 The Birth of Meletis
2 Smothering Tithe
2 Azorius Guildgate
2 Castle Vantress
1 Castle Ardenvale
1 Hallowed Fountain
2 Temple of Enlightenment
4 Didn’t Say Please
1 Shatter the Sky
2 Sinister Sabotage
1 Time Wipe
1 Warrant // Warden
I really love Overwhelmed Apprentice. Being a 1/2 for one mana already stops most other one-drops in red, or at least bait a shock, slowing red down a little. It also mills a little, which helps the Folio win a little, but the most important bit is the scry 2, setting up later draws.
Dimir Informant is a similar speedbump, and the 4 toughness is significant, requiring additional removal spells to get rid of it, most of the time. The surveil further helps setting up the draws. Both these creatures have power 1, making running into them a little problematic for aggresive decks. They tend to be more of a deterent than the 0/4 walls I’ve concidered.
Elite Guardmage is 3 life and a card, and can block flyers. is on the expensive side, but I’ve gotten a lot of value out of them while I had Thassa, Deep-Dwelling. Thassa repeats the scry/surveil/draw on my creatures. It also untaps them by blinking, which helps getting more value out of Dream Trawler, so I can attack with it and still have a lifelinking blocker afterwards. Thassa can tap down something in a pinch, although I haven’t used the option much, if at all. It’s nice to have in an emergency though.
Dream Trawler itself is a nice, hard to remove card draw engine, a source of life, and with Folio of Fancies out, something that can end the game quickly. It’s such a fun card, and some decks simply can’t deal with it, especially if they have to race it after a board wipe.
Speaking of board wipes, I currently run two total, but the idea is to get more. Time Wipe is one, Shatter the Sky is the other. I prefer the latter, because it’s slightly easier on the mana, and sometimes the card draw generates me some extra mana with Smothering Tithe. I plan on getting one or two more Shatter the skies in the deck. Fortunately with all the card draw and scry effects, I get to my wipes often already.
The main part of the strategy is to draw lots of cards using the Folio, and use tempo to invalidate anything the opponent does. Banishing Light is a catchall removal spell, and I run several counter spells. Both Sinister Sabotage and Didn’t Say Please have their merits. Extra mill is good, but setting up draws is nice as well. I had several times where I knew I had a counter on top, and just got it with Folio. Counter-wise I’m concidering Absorb as well, for a little bit more of a life buffer. In want of extra early removal, I run Warrant // Warden. I can Warrant something, then mill it, or counter it later.
The other counter is Quench, which loses some value later on. It helps stabilizing early though.
Finally, there is the “combo” part. Smothering Tithe is there to generate lots of extra mana using Folio of Fancies, potentially chaining Folios into each other to win the game. I think I want an extra Tithe, even though the means I’ll often go shields down when casting it. It is where the fun is for the deck, though, and it’ll often end games within a couple of turns after it.
Other potential inclusions are:
– Teferi, Time Raveler. It might replace Warrant as the bounce spell of choice. It also stops opposing counter decks, and sometimes allows me to insta-wrath or hold up a counter, and still have the opportunity to play sorceries risk-free.
– Apostle of Purifying Light. Might be a good sideboard card against Cauldron Familiar / Witch’s Oven decks, as well as aggresive mono-black decks.
…and ofcourse the mana needs to be better.
Conclusion: It’s a fun deck to play, and sometimes wins by surprise. Games tend to go a little long though, so it’s not a deck to quickly get multiple wins.