mmm... delicious dreams.
Those uncultured zombies prefer brains, just eating the entire peach whole. For such mindless creatures, they have the right idea. But we civilized beings in the know are fine shedding the pulpy exterior and getting at the delicious center: the sweet dreams of our enemy.
Today, we steal our opponent's thoughts and dreams for ourselves. Ready? Read on!
Dictate of Kruphix | Art by Daarken
One of the most fun things to do in Magic is to find ways to break symmetry. So many cards claim to be "symmetrical," offering a fair reward to each player. But the savvy deck builder can take those alleged "fair" symmetries and turn them into an advantage.
A Day of Judgment when you have no creatures is far better for you than your opponent. The same is true for Armageddon when you have a full board of creatures and your opponent is still ramping his or her mana base.
And cards like Dictate of Kruphix and Master of the Feast? Well, they certainly look nice next to a Notion Thief:
DoomDuck's Notion Feast
The Battle Plan
At its core, this is a blue-black midrange deck.
You can just win games pretty easily by beating down and using some removal spells efficiently. Pack Rat and Desecration Demon are two cornerstones of the format, and they're joined by the ultra-large Master of the Feast.
But while you're also attacking from that axis, there's another thing going on: Notion Thief.
Master of the Feast and Dictate of Kruphix are fine, but they have the drawback of providing your opponent cards. Dictate because it's symmetrical, and Master to offset the 5/5 body.
Notion Thief changes all that.
This odd 3/1 turns all of those cards you're forced to give your opponent into cards for you! When you're drawing two cards a turn, the game can quickly move out of reach for your opponent. Imagine the following draw:
On turn one or two, you Thoughtseize and take his or her key removal spell. On your opponent's turn three you end-step Dictate of Kruphix, then untap, draw, and cast Notion Thief during your main phase. Now you're set up to draw two cards a turn and start burying your opponent in card advantage.
And, of course, this deck also just has a two-card combo that will lead to free wins in the form of Whispering Madness.
Turn-four end-step Thief into Whispering Madness on your turn means your opponent discards his or her entire hand and you draw that many, not only giving you a fistful of cards but also ensuring your opponent doesn't have a single card left over. Talk about brutal!
The keys to tweaking this deck is to make sure that the strong cards and synergies are maximized, and that otherwise the right support cards are included. Ready to get started? Let's go!
Which cards can stay, and which ones should we dictate to leave? It's time to run through the deck card by card and see what works!
Notion Thief is the backbone to this deck's combinations, and part of the reason why you would want to add blue in the first place. You want to draw one as often as possible so it can combine with your other forced card drawing, and with only 1 toughness you'll want to have extras in case it dies. Plus, it can even beat down reasonably in a pinch with that 3 power. I definitely want to keep all four of these.
A three mana 5/5 is far above the curve—and one with flying, significantly so! Of course, it's not without a price... but in this deck, you can negate its disadvantage. Even if you can't, though, a 5/5 flier for three will still put the pressure on. Your opponent may be drawing a bunch of cards and gaining card advantage, but if he or she doesn't find any removal then you'll soon have the only advantage that really matters: game advantage.
The Mystic is a unique little card from Journey into Nyx. This weirdo Merfolk Looter variant provides you cards when your opponent doesn't have much on the top of his or her deck, and sends your opponent's card to the graveyard if it's good. And, of course, in this deck, you can often get to do both!
However, that mana you have to invest every turn is a fairly big deal in a deck that wants to curve out, and this deck has plenty of ways to utilize its mana at every step, between all of the cards it draws and cards like Pack Rat. Additionally, while the Mystic is good if you have Notion Thief running, this deck is already full of cards like that. At least Master is a 5/5 at the same time, and Dictate doesn't require the continual payment. While I do like Dakra Mystic a lot as a card, I'd rather have other cards in this deck.
An omnipresent force in Standard ever since Theros rotated in, this one-rat army can completely take over a game. This card really represents the opposite side of this deck's dichotomy well: some games you'll do a bunch of fancy stuff and steal draws with Notion Thief... and others, you'll play a single Pack Rat and ride it to victory.
Occasionally, though, the two will synergize. All of the extra cards you draw in this deck make your late-game Pack Rats just as potent as your early ones. Between the strength of it early and the fact it's still strong late, I'm happy playing all four.
This fella packs a punch. As a four-mana 6/6, this guy has the potential to be an excellent part of your more aggressive draws.
However, there's a major problem with his drawback in a deck like this. When you're causing each player to draw a bunch of cards, he's significantly easier to feed things to. While he's still a reasonable card, there's also another four-drop I really want to play—and one that is particularly maximized in this deck: Fate Unraveler.
If you're going to be generous enough as to give your opponent a bunch of extra cards, the Unraveler is your... enchantment hag, I suppose. It's especially brutal with Whispering Madness! It's not too hard to imagine a turn where you kill your opponent out of nowhere with a hard-cast Whispering Madness, giving him or her a ton of cards, then attacking and ciphering it again! I want to play four of these, making it a straight swap.
Not only is this one of the foundational building blocks of current Standard, but in a deck like this it's crucial. Taking a removal spell to ensure your Pack Rat or Notion Thief survives is a big deal. While you are going to potentially be giving your opponent extra cards, which dampens the strength of Thoughtseize a bit, it's still powerful enough on the whole that I don't want to play any less than four in this deck.
Although the new cards in this deck are Dictate and Master, you will win a lot of free games from just playing Notion Thief into Whispering Madness. That one-two punch is enough to knock a ton of decks out of the running. If your control opponent is foolhardy enough to, say, tap out for a Jace, Architect of Thought on the fourth turn, this combo will likely just end the game on the spot.
I want to increase the number of Whispering Madness to four, so you'll be able to pull it off more often. Plus, even if you don't have Notion Thief, it will still often net cards for you since you're giving your opponent excess cards and/or discarding to Pack Rat.
Dictate of Kruphix plus Notion Thief is one of the reasons to play this deck in the first place. Additionally, unlike a turn-three Master of the Feast, you can set it up so your opponent never gets a draw out of it with end-step Dictate into Notion Thief on your turn.
Even if you don't have a Thief when you cast it, though, this card helps dig you deeper to try and find one. And even if you have to let it sit there for a turn or two, once you hit a Notion Thief and start doubling your opponent on cards, you should be able to overcome what your opponent has in no time. I'd like to play four of these.
The removal you want to play in this deck is going to be a bit dependent on which decks you are expecting most. In some metagames, it will be crucial to kill a turn-two Pack Rat, in others you're going to really want to kill off Planeswalkers more often.
Two cards I want to work into the removal mix are Far & Away and Cyclonic Rift. Far & Away is a really strong piece of blue-black removal for the later game but that can also be effectual early if necessary.
As for Cyclonic Rift, while not a true removal spell, in this deck the difference between having zero and having one Rift is tremendous. If the board state gets jammed and you're both, say, Pack Ratting back and forth, it can be a game breaker. Similarly, it can combo with Whispering Madness and Notion Thief to effectively remove all of an opponent's nonland permanents. Just make sure you don't deck!
Working those into the picture, that brings the decklist to:
Gavin Verhey's Sweet Dreams
Boom! A new-with-Journey into Nyx Notion Thief deck.
While I wouldn't expect this to supplant Mono-Black Control or anything, this deck is assuredly a lot of fun to play. There's little more satisfying that breaking the symmetry on a card your opponent is expecting to work a little more fairly... especially when it's making your opponent discard his or her hand and drawing that many cards!
For metagame tweaks, definitely look at the removal spells. Additionally, if control decks are prevalent, you can consider sideboarding those Dakra Mystics as an additional way to ensure you can draw plenty of cards and combo with the Thief in the long game.
Which decks narrowly had the top honor stolen from them by Notion Thief? Take a look at some of the many great decks submitted this week:
Derek Rafols's Mono-black Rack Attack
Nekomata-sensei's Biovisionary Rush
Tyler Vaughan's Junk Control
Angelica's Bane of Heroes
Tyler Peacock's Horns and Hooves
Marcus's Esper Fleet
Zachary Thorp's Boros Heroes
James Milan's Cult of Athreos
POSValkir1's Master of the Flame
Hayden Stockwell's Infinite Inspiration
Itou Kazunari's Goodbye Ravnica, Goodbye Rakdos!
Marschal Prue's Mono-White Devotion
Nafthali Weiss's The Almost People
lemidget42's Deceitful Servitude
Yori Tesaguri's Mono-Blue Turbo Fog
It's a Conspiracy
...but not the one you were expecting!
In two weeks, it will be time for Conspiracy preview week here on DailyMTG. But this time around, I actually don't have a preview card. There are only so many to go around, and considering they're not inherently legal in Modern or Standard, there wouldn't be as much to say.
So instead, let's go for something that's on theme and a little crazy:
Restrictions: You must use/build around the Time Spiral card Conspiracy
Deadline: May 12, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.
Submit all decklists by clicking on "respond via email" below. Please submit decklists using the following template. (The specific numbers below are arbitrary, so please don't feel a need to use them—it's just an example of how a decklist should look when laid out.)
4 Other Spell
4 Other Spell
I have no clue what to expect in my inbox this week. I can't wait to see what you come up with! Can we turn a deck with Conspiracy into a passable Modern deck? It'll be fun to find out!
In the meantime, if you have any feedback on this article, please let me know. You're welcome to submit any feedback you have by either posting on the forums, on Twitter, or on my Tumblr.
Have any other deck-building or strategy questions? Feel free to tweet or tumble me those as well!
I'll be back next week with some Vintage Masters preview cards for you. Talk with you then!
When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he wanted a job making Magic cards. Ten years later, his dream was realized as his combined success as a professional player, deck builder, and writer brought him into Wizards R&D during 2011. He's been writing Magic articles since 2005 and has no plans to stop.