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The best demonic card ever?

Demonic Central

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The letter D!uring my angel week article, I reviewed “seven heavenly cards” that don't see as much casual play as they probably should. In coming up with material for this week, I discovered I couldn't realistically take the same tack with demons – because there are only about ten demon cards out there; and if I take seven of them, Adrian Sullivan won't have spit to talk about tomorrow. (Maybe he could do something with Infernal Spawn of Evil.)

So instead, I decided to get to the center of what can make a demonic deck tick – the root of all evil, if you will. (And no, I'm not going to end up in a Root Greevil pun. You all deserve better than that.)

To get there, we're going to examine several demon cards. You may see a few of these in other articles this week – the pool is pretty small for all these swimmers – but I'll be brief in my treatment of each.

Six demons lead us up to this week's “focus card”. In alphabetical order:

1. Demonic Hordes. Known primarily as a finisher in black land destruction decks, the Hordes are a classic card from the Alpha-Beta-Unlimited days. (What – you newer players say you didn't realize black does land destruction? Follow these card links: Rain of Tears. Pox. Befoul. Rancid Earth. Despoil. Blight. Icequake. Choking Sands. Mana Leech and Mole Worms. Desolation. And above all, Sinkhole.) The fat 5/5 body for six mana doesn't need trample or flying – it can just plow through whatever meager offerings a mana-starved opponent can provide.

2. Grinning Demon. The modern update to Juzam Djinn, Grinning Demon was black's morphing answer to Exalted Angel. I wish Wizards had made more morphs that resulted in demons; the flavor of “possession” just seemed right. Anyway, this card is recent enough that I don't think I need to spend much time discussing it.

3. Lord of the Pit. One of the anchors of a veteran black mage's collection, this demon lasted all the way through Fifth Edition and inspired Odyssey's Wayward Angel. My favorite ruling on this card is that you can sacrifice one Lord of the Pit to another Lord of the Pit – thereby creating quite the show for your opponents if the only two creatures you have are Lord of the Pit! A fine card with Greater Good, since it gives you an escape clause when you need it.

4. and 5. Minion of Leshrac and Minion of Tevesh Szat. I don't know much about the Ice Age storyline (refreshers are welcome, but on the message boards, please!); but it seems to me that Leshrac and Tevesh Szat probably would have been nicer, more well-adjusted people if their parents had put a bit more thought into their babies' names. I'll grant that oft-used names like “Michael” and “Heather” can be a little boring and cause your child to suffer a bit of identity crisis; but let's not go overboard, people. Tevesh Szat probably got the stuffing knocked out of him twice a day during sixth grade. I'm not condoning that sort of behavior – I'm just saying, some kids may want to take the initiative here and go with “Skip”. Saves you trouble later on in life – those hungry minions are worse money pits than racing horses.

6. Yawgmoth Demon. Well, now, here's a cute little number to bring up in the autumn days of Mirrodin block, eh? Sacrifice an artifact. Cute.

So, the question arises – why are these six demons in this article today, and what do they have to do with the best demonic card ever?

Who Is Keyser Soze?

If you were a detective, you might try to get at the bottom of this evil network much as the police officer in The Usual Suspects did – browbeating and interrogation. That had mixed results. We could still do a line-up.

Keyser Soze (and by the way, you should really rent The Usual Suspects, if you haven't seen it…I'm avoiding spoiler information here, so you're safe) arranged for certain criminals to get together because they all had something in common – they all owed Mr. Soze a certain debt.

Maybe there's a certain debt associated with all those demons up there, as well. Why don't you take a close look.

What, you noticed they all cost a lot, right? Why, yes they do. None of them come in at less than 4 ManaBlack ManaBlack Mana (though instead of 3 Mana + 2 ManaBlack ManaBlack Mana for morphing Grinning Demon, you can just hard-cast it at 2 ManaBlack ManaBlack Mana). Demons exact a heavy price, to be sure. So it'd be great to have a co-conspirator that showed up before turn six. But that's not exactly my point. Look again – closer.

Ah, now we see it. Upkeep costs.

Well, why on earth should we have to pay those? If you haven't yet found a use for this Fifth Dawn card, the time has come:

Now, I'll admit: Adrian Sullivan stole a bit of my thunder about a month ago by doing a fine Single Card Strategies on Eon Hub. But there's still plenty to explore with this card, and demons are perhaps the prime creature type to do it.

Whether or not you're familiar with Adrian's article (or this card), it should make sense to you that with no upkeep, there are no upkeep costs. A mono-black deck capable of taking advantage of this can reap both early-game speed and late-game synergy…



The Xenic Poltergeist is there for humor value – after all, if the center of the evil universe is going to be an inanimate object, the least it can do is get up off its ass every once in a while and attack. Note the Eon Hub keeps itself from ending the Poltergeist's ability. Depending on how funny you find this, you may want to have more than one copy in your deck.

Overly observant readers will note I have broken my traditional rule of 24 lands in a 60 card deck. What can I say – I'm possessed.


You may write to Anthony at using the link below. Unfortunately, the voices in his head will not let him provide deck help.

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