12 months, 12 decks (VI) BRw War Drums


Hi again, Oldschoolers!
We started with the first deck tech of the year. The deck that we bring today shares many cards with the archetype known as Spice Rack, although they born of different concepts. Jared Doucette explains the evolution of this archetype very well on Svante Landgraf’s blog, End of the turn, draw a card . This time we’re going to give this type of deck a twist and launch a horde of creatures at the opponent to the rhythm of our war drums. The card that gives the deck its name is Goblin War Drums and to which I already dedicated the first issue of this challenge and to which I can’t stop seeing possibilities. This is an aggro deck based on small creatures that «trigger» an ability when attacking or damaging the opponent and that improve once the red enchantment is on the battlefield, with 3 lands we can cast everything and where speed and efficiency are combined of the best possible way.

BRw War Drums


  • The number of creatures that must be played is a factor to consider, in my opinion, for it to work it has to run at least 18-20 creatures. At most, you would have to run 2 copies of the red enchantment, since if you draw the second one it will be a dead card in hand and we don’t have cards like Jalum Tome or Recall to be able to discard it and exchange it for another card, our draw engine is limited and any slot counts.
  • We have 3 Dark Rituals because by placing the curve so low (maximum 3) they are not so necessary, and they are only effective when you have Hymn to Tourach, Hypnotic Specter or Mind Twist in hand, then at the top is a card that you never want to see, it’s even better to draw a land.
  • At first my idea was to design the deck with strong cards like Juggernaut, Su-Chi or Sengir Vampire, but without power nine it was difficult to play them in this combination. Then I thought about putting together a series of creatures that would do something in the combat phase or when dealing combat damage to the opponent to better take advantage of the effect of Goblin War Drums. In old school there is not much variety in this regard, but within black we have some creatures that fulfill this function. The best creature in the deck, of course, is Hypnotic Specter, which is the second best «lightning rod» in the game (the first is Juggernaut), and is good on its own, it does not need any other cards, but it’s true that at late game, if there is Serendib Efreet or Serra Angel it is worse, but with Goblin War Drums on the battlefield that changes and the opponent will be aware of being able to defend himself so as not to discard a card. Order of the Ebon Hand is a toothache for players who love white or for The Deck that will have no way to take it off except with evils like The Abyss, Fireball or Balance, and that also do something when attacking as they swell taking advantage of the mana that we have left. Mindstab Thrull seems a priori quite innocent because he’s killed by Lightning Bolt and can be easily blocked because he has no evasion, but with the red enchantment he becomes a greater threat and a dangerous source of card advantage, and they will be forced to throw the Lightning Bolt or the Swords to Plowshares at him instead the specter. Erg Raiders does nothing in the combat phase and also it has a great handicap but I chose it because it improves the mana curve and because among the black two-cmc creatures it’s one of the best in terms of cost / strength / resistance, and on top of that they don’t demand double black (we are talking about a 4 strip mines environment) so we can cast an Erg Raiders and a Mishra’s Factory on turn 2, and on turn 3 we will be attacking with 2 creatures. The Mishra’s Factory are essential and hence I choose the Erg Raiders over the Black Knight since we are going to play 8 colorless lands and we cannot lose a turn, so with the factories, when counting as creatures and lands, we will be developing our game while adding creatures to continue scratching points of life to the opponent. It seems like a selection of cards a little random to each other but if something these creatures have in common is that they all improve once Goblin War Drums is on the table.
  • Balance is a great addiction and a very common card in decks like Spice Rack, this card will save us from many situations, and it is a great discarder, basically it is a Mind Twist for only 2 mana.
  • Another card that Spice Rack style decks run is Storm World that here will function as the fifth The Rack and that has 2 characteristics that differentiate it from this one, the first being a enchant world with what can be a chance to take out annoying enchantments such as The Abyss or Nether Void, it also does one point of damage before The Rack, if the opponent has 3 cards in hand it will do damage, another advantage is that it’s an enchantment and not an artifact, so there will be fewer cards than eliminate it, its great handicap is that it also hurts us, that’s why we only run just one copy.
  • Lightning Bolt will be another alternative to kill the opponent’s Factories, and specially they will be very useful against the terror of the Mono black decks: Whirling Dervish.
  • I’ve been playing Sedge Troll for a while but it’s really a turn 4 creature because you’re never going to cast it if you can’t protect it, and in the end I had to remove it to keep the mana curve at max 3. Underworld Dreams is a card that It helps you against those decks that draw a lot of cards but in the end did not give it a place in the deck, the triple black cost clashes with the 8 colorless lands, although the deck is well supplied with black sources (16). Necrite and Murk Dwellers are cards that do something when they attack but one is too circumstantial and the other cost 4 that dies with a spark.
  • The worst pairing for our deck are RUG zoo because its curve is better than ours and its better and more forceful creatures or decks with The Rack that will do us a lot of damage since we soon run out of cards and unless we sideboard we don’t have enough hatred against artifacts.
  • Prison-style decks also beat us since they draw many cards and cancel our factories, our only option in that case is Disenchant. Goblins are bad pairing because they play more creatures than us and have a lot of direct damage, and bombs like Goblin Grenade that will leave us shivering every time they play them. Blood Moon is dangerous because we only have 3 basic Swamps, and we need double black in all games for the deck to work, so be careful if there is a lot of moon in your meta because you should consider including more swamps. Pink Weenie doesn’t seem like a good pairing either since its combination of Disenchant, sparks and creatures with protection against black can neutralize us.
  • Although it seems strange, The Deck is not a bad pairing and we can beat it since we have many cards that it hates, such as Order of the Ebon Hand or Hymn to Tourach. Hypnotic Specter or Mindstab Thrull are also annoying and you will have to remove them quickly or they will take over your hand in no time. It’s clear that if The Deck begins well and manages to control the battlefield we will not have many options to recovering because The Abyss is a card that beats us, although at the base we have a very interesting option to remove the damn black enchantment: Storm World. Erhnamgeddom also seems like a bad pairing but far from it, if we get out fast we can hurt them and it will turn into a race in which they have more to lose because we have more direct damage, the Ebon Hand are a nightmare for them, and with the sideboard we improve, since our Terror and Paralyze will terrorize their enormous creatures; Goblin War Drums will shine against this pairing. Disco Troll is also a good pairing since they have very few creatures and they trust all their power in them and our Strip Mine and War Drums will do a good job, it’s true that a disk will stop us, but once we sideboard Disenchant and Terror and discard the counterspells out of your hands, it will cost him a lot to control the game. Atog is really a 50/50 since each game becomes a race to see who does more damage, I’m not saying it is easy, but they can be beaten, their Serendib Efreet will become our perfect allies for that point of damage extra that they do every turn and The Rack will dust them because they run out of cards very quickly, once we sideboard Terror we will get rid of the annoying Atog.
  • Basically, the function of the Strip Mine in this deck is to get rid of the omnipresent Mishra’s Factory and remove the double blue to avoid Counterspell. Combined with Hymn to Tourach we can get the opponent stuck for a few turns in which our pesky little creatures will do their job.
  • From the sideboard Terror will be our great asset against midrange, especially against Erhnangeddom or against QuickSilver-style aggro decks. Disrupting Scepter could even fit as a base in a deck like this, but playing unpowered it’s very slow, and I only include it as a sideboard versus control decks, where it’s really good. The 4 Disenchant will save us many games, and it’s our Swiss army knife in multiple situations. Paralyze will work well against midrange and especially against Juzam Djinn and Serendib Efreet.
The horde


If you want to play an aggro unpowered deck that works I think this is a good option. The decklist that I present today is almost identical to the one I played on the last day of the Liga madrileña old school, with which I finished in seventh place, you can see it here .
If you have any ideas or suggestions I will be happy to hear from you, you can tell me your impressions through the blog comments or on my Instagram account: @retroplayermtg

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

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