Brewer’s Kitchen: All Glory to the Hypnotoad
Hello there! This is Brewer’s Kitchen with another deep dive into my latest brew.
A few weeks ago, Historic Anthology III came out and with it, a bunch of new and exciting cards, but, more importantly, I felt that people were finally coming around to the format. As a lover of jank and spice, I’ve played Historic since the day of its release. I came to Arena as a Modern player, so I really enjoyed the bigger card pool (as compared to Standard) and got really hyped when WotC announced official support for the format. By introducing older cards, Historic quickly became a unique and fresh new brewing space for jank, along with the regular high-powered decks. In the beginning, it felt like a slightly more powerful standard, but as time went on and more cards were introduced, it has diverged further and further from that.
As the old saying goes: ”Maior autem est forma ab pertoccavi jank”. The bigger the format, the spicier the jank.
Despite the presence of insanely powerful cards like Field of the Dead, Historic has been dominated by highly aggressive strategies like Gruul Aggro and Mono White Lifegain. To compete with those, a deck has to be able to handle aggression, but you also have to close out the game fast enough to not lose to a Teferi Ultimate or Nexus of Fate’s infinite turns. Today’s deck is built to compete with the best; by combining heavy aggression with resiliency and an instant win combo, we are equipped to fight all the top metagame decks.
Let’s first start with the Combo. Our main combo piece is The Gitrog Monster.
That’s right! The Gitrog Monster is Historic legal; it got introduced to the format via a Brawl event. And with it, a pretty spicy interaction with Underrealm Lich – if you have both of them in play and draw a card, a replacement effect will occur. Instead of drawing cards, we get to look at the top three cards of our library, put one into our hand, and the rest in ourgraveyard. If we mill a land this way, we draw a card with The Gitrog Monster, triggering the replacement effect again and again – if we get lucky, we mill our entire deck! Since Underrealm Lich’s ability replaces our draw, we don’t lose the game by drawing a card on an empty library. So, now we just need a way to win the game – one copy of Thassa’s Oracle will do the job.
Now, this combo is nothing new, but the big change is that this deck is an absolute beast even without it! An instant win combo is cool, but if we get pressured by aggro or have to fight our way through counterspells, we’re unlikely to actually pull it off. That’s why the rest of our deck doesn’t just support the combo but also provides a solid gameplan on its own.
The deck can be split up in 4 categories:
The combo consists of three cards but we only need two of them on the battlefield to win. Once we mill our entire deck, we either drew our Thassa’s Oracle or can reanimate it in several different ways.
Cards that mill us:
Our graveyard is our key source of value! Not only do we have a lot of reanimation and cards we can cast from it, but we also draw cards with The Gitrog Monster whenever a land is put into it from anywhere. These three cards either mill us upon entering the battlefield or trigger repeatedly in the case of Skull Prophet.
Value from the graveyard:
In this deck, filling the graveyard feels like drawing cards. Woe Strider, Uro, Polukranos, and Brokkos can be cast directly from the yard, while Necropanther, Boneyard Lurker, and Nethroi can reanimate the other creatures.
The one that does it all:
Then we have Fiend Artisan. I would have placed it into the “cards that mill you” section but, even though it sure does grow huge from filling your yard, it deserves its own category. Fiend Artisan serves as the glue that ties the combo and the rest of the deck together; it’s our main win condition if we don’t assemble the combo in time and it helps us put the pieces together.
Since our deck consists of only creatures, every nonland card we mill grows the Artisan. It’s not unusual for the Fiend Artisan to attack as a 5/5 on turn three or a 12/12 on turn five. It’s like a Tarmogoyf that fell into a tub of protein shake as a kid and bench pressed 250 before entering elementary school! Sure, it gets chumpblocked for days, but we can mutate Brokkos onto it for trample and a size increase.
Interaction and Companion:
This is the category that doesn’t really fit the deck but provides enough upside. First, we have one copy of Ravenous Chupacabra to tutor out as removal with the Fiend Artisan. Secondly, we play Umori as our companion since our deck consists of only creatures anyway. Sure, the Companion rule has been changed, but there is zero downside in putting him in your sideboard.
I didn’t classify these two cards into the the four categories since Umori is just a zero opportunity cost extra card in every game, and Ravenous Chupacabra is just a necessity as it gets you out of sticky situations as a clean two for one against creature-based decks.
I highly urge you to read the full article before playing this deck in ranked but, if you first want to see the deck in action to get a feel for how the combo works, take a look at my gameplay video. If you want to know about all the intricacies of all the cards and interactions, just scroll past it.
Be sure to check out the video afterwards since the deck is a thing of beauty once the ball gets rolling. If you already read up to this part of the article, you can skip the video to 4:36 since you already got the rough deck tech, unless you’d like to see little jokes and animations since I try to make my deck techs as entertaining as possible.
Full Decklist Breakdown
Before we get into some tips and tricks about the deck, let’s talk about every card first:
Stitcher’s Supplier: The nut draw always starts with this on t1. For only one mana, it mills you for three and another three once it dies, alongside giving you some free sacrifice fodder. Curving a Supplier into a Fiend Artisan can end the game very quickly – since every nonland permanent in the deck is a creature, you are 20.9% to mill three creatures on turn one making the Artisan a 4/4 on turn two. That’s the magic number against burn spells since most of them deal 3 or less in Historic.
With that curve, you’re pretty well set-up to prevent early aggression, but the Supplier is great whenever, not just in the early game. Since milling yourself can be compared to drawing cards in this deck, besides some tricks you can pull off to keep your combo going (Tips and Tricks section), you can often mill enough cards to escape a creature after casting it later in the game.
Mire Triton: Another early drop that prevents aggression and fill your graveyard at the same time. Historic has a lot of heavy hitters. Having deathtouch makes this card essential against large Ajani’s Pridemates, Runaway Steamkins or Pyrexian Obliterators (at lest you only have to sacrifice two permanents).
Skull Prophet: This card serves two roles in this deck. You have to decide if you play this or Fiend Artisan on turn two. If you didn’t play a Stitcher’s Supplier on turn one its mostly better to play the Prophet . Besides ramping you this can help you combo off later in the game (Tips and Tricks section). Being a repeatable source of milling you can use this as an engine for your escape threats.
Fiend Artisan: As mentioned earlier Fiend Artisan could be considered the most powerful card in the deck. It gets absurdly large really quick and stops creature based decks from attacking profitably. Its tutor ability allows you to get your combo pieces in the battlefield without worrying about countermagic. The best creatures to sacrifice are Stitchers Suppliers and Goat tokens from Woe Strider. Don’t be shy to sacrifice a Stitcher’s Supplier to get another Supplier out of your deck. You mill six cards in the process and grow the Artisan into a big threat.
Thassa’s Oracle: This is only a one-of, but since we draw our whole deck while comboing off, we are sure to have it in hand or graveyard when we need it. If you are expecting graveyard hate, be sure to keep it out of there by returning it to your hand with a Boneyard Lurker. You can also sacrifice and reanimate it to pull off the combo.
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath: Even though we are very likely to have the cards in the graveyard to escape this on turn four, the manabase doesn’t enable reliably escaping it early, but, either way, it’s a great play on turn three that can ramp us into a Gitrog Monster a turn sooner. Sacrificing itself grows the Fiend Artisan, and if you have Woe Strider, you can squeeze out a free scry too. Later in the game, we can escape it over and over again to stay ahead on cards.
Woe Strider: This card fits the deck better than you might think on the first glance. The Goat token is disposable sacrifice fodder for the Fiend Artisan or mutate target and, if we mill the Strider, we can just escape it later in the game. It also helps us to start our combo by sacrificing Stitcher’s Suppliers.
Polukranos, Unchained: Another recursive threat to escape out of the graveyard, it also provides a great aggressive or defensive creature early in the game. Note that this counts as a 0/0 in the graveyard so be sure to grab it when you mutate a Nethroi. The fact that this gets its power via +1+1 counters makes it a great mutate target, since the result will be a gigantic threat.
Ravenous Chupacabra: This and Polukranos are our only forms of removal so use them wisely. Since our deck is vulnerable to fliers, prioritise them. If we really need this, we can tutor it out with a Fiend Artisan, but it is also just a clean two-for-one to keep the board under control on turn four.
Boneyard Lurker: Only a one-of to make sure we don’t lose our key cards when we mill them. Most of the time, we grab small creatures to cast in the same turn, but sometimes we get a Nethroi to set up a win next turn.
Nethroi, Apex of Death: This our I-win-the game button once we’ve milled enough combo pieces. We do not have the manasources to cast this on turn five, but, if we have a mutate creature in hand, it is wise to tutor this out with a Fiend Artisan to mutate onto it the next turn. Despite the fact that we usually win the game if we mutate this in the right moment, it is also insane if we mutate on a Fiend Artisan or Polukranos. The result is an absurdly large creature with lifelink that swings every race in our favor.
Brokkos, Apex of Forever: Now, usually I would say that Brokkos is the worst of the Apexes, but in this deck it can provide a great deal of pressure against fair creature decks. The days where a 6/6 Trample for five mana was a great rate are long gone, but when your 20/20 Fiend Artisan would otherwise be chump blocked, the trample and stats boost from this will close out the game in one swing. It is still a one-of, since we already got enough to do with our mana every turn. If the game goes longer than expected you can repeatedly escape Polukranos and mutate Brokkos onto it for a 12/12 trample for your opponent to deal with; it also helps to repeatedly trigger mutate creatures from the graveyard.
The Gitrog Monster: All glory to the Hypno Toad! This was my favorite card besides Tireless Tracker in the last Innistrad Block. It is our combo engine but also provides crazy value on its own. Be careful which land you sacrifice on your upkeep so that you’re still able to cast Thassa’s Oracle when the time comes. Don’t forget that this grants you an extra land drop each turn, so maybe tap your Skull Prophet right away to mill yourself to draw that second land.
Underrealm Lich: Remember this mythic from Guilds of Ravnica? It was never playable and wouldn’t be in this deck if not for its interaction with The Gitrog Monster. As explained, this allows you to mill your whole library in one swoop if you hit a land every three cards. With 24 lands in the deck, you have a 79.1% chance to hit a land every 3 cards, which is good but not good enough. In the next part of this article, I’m going over all the ways you can restart the combo once you fizzle, just in case.
Tips and Tricks
It is finally time to talk about the tips and tricks with this deck; it is very powerful but sometimes winning or losing hinges on something mundane like leaving a Fabled Passage uncracked until you combo off. To pilot this deck to its maximum potential, you have to always be aware on what is the best strategy to win the game in any given situation. Do you just goldfish your way into the combo or do you try to win the life race? Sometimes, the answer to this question can be easy, but sometimes you have to re-evaluate the gamestate and adjust your decisions accordingly.
The deck can put up some serious aggression if you mill some creatures and just turn Fiend Artisans sideways, but it’s a full-on aggro deck. Sometimes your opponent turns the corner and suddenly you are the one getting pressured; try to notice this as soon as possible. Sometimes it is tempting to swing with a 10/10 Fiend Artisan while it would be correct to use it for its tutoring ability instead.
Lets say we are matched up against the mono white lifegain deck. We curve a Stitcher’s Supplier into an Fiend Artisan or two and put our opponent down to a low life total, then they play a Ranger of Eos; get two Soul Wardens, chumpblock for a few turns, and get their life total back up to 20. Now, we are back to square one and just waiting for an Ajani ultimate to wipe our board. If we anticipated them turning the corner on us earlier, we could have used the Artisans to assemble our combo instead.
One crucial aspect here is that having The Gitrog Monster and Underrealm Lich doesn’t win us the game on the spot. Sure, we could wait one turn cycle to naturally draw a card (two cards counting the Gitrog Monsters ability); we do win a lot of games that way too but, in some matchups, we don’t have the luxury to just let our opponent untap with our precious combo on the battlefield.
We have a lot of ways to get the combo started (or keep it going) right away. Once we got the combo assembled we need to draw a card to start the chain reaction. These are all the ways to do this.
Regular Card draw:
- Draw for turn
- Uro’s etb/attack trigger
Milling a land to trigger The Gitrog Monster (Chance to hit a land):
- Casting or reanimating Mire Triton (64,4%) or Stitcher’s Supplier (79,1%).
- Sacrificing a Stitcher‘s Supplier (79,1%). If you have a Woe Strider it is important to leave your Suppliers on the board to start or restart the chain reaction if you fizzled. I some cases where it is correct to spend one mana to sacrifice the Supplier with a Fiend Artisan for x=0.
- Milling with Skull Prophet (64,4%)
- Cracking a Fabled Passage (100%)
- Cycling a Zagoth Triome (200%)
- We trigger The Gitrog Monster by putting a land into the graveyard and the Underrealm Lich by drawing a card.
As we are getting to the end of this article, I want to highlight the most common ways to win the game with this deck. Sure we can just play your combo pieces from your hand or tutor them out with a fiend artisan, but in most games your opponent is not just going to let you do that over a couple of turns.
Most of the games are actually won by mutating Nethroi, where we try to mill ourselves until we have both the Gitrog Monster and the Lich in your graveyard or on the battlefield. If we then mutate a Nethroi (reanimate missing combo pieces and creatures that mill on etb), we should have enough triggers to mill our deck. To actually win the game, we have to make sure to either have two (blue sources) of mana left to cast the Oracle, reanimate it and place the Oracle Trigger last on the stack, or have three mana left to mutate a Necropanther to reanimate that Oracle. The extra land drop The Gitrog Monster grants us is important in getting all this extra mana.
Another common way to win the game is by milling yourself until you have a giant Fiend Artisan and have the one copy of Brokkos in your graveyard. If you mutate onto the Artisan, it keeps its ability so the stats boost and trample from Brokkos close out the game really fast and out of nowhere.
Lastly, the deck can just grind out value by escaping Uros and other threats. Sometimes we don’t need to combo and just keep casting threats until our opponent has had enough.
This deck attacks on many different angles; the only thing really missing is interaction. Watch out for decks with a lot of fliers – especially Mono Blue tempo is a bad matchup since they back up their little critters with countermagic. The aggro matchup is fantastic though; most creature decks can’t handle an oversized Fiend Artisan. Control decks often can’t deal with all the recursive threats and card advantage.
But most of all: This deck is incredibly fun to play! You have so many options and decisions to make it can be overwhelming sometimes. You are going to make misplays, but just take it as a chance to improve your plays for the next game. It’s reasonable to play some unranked matches before playing ranked to get a feel for the deck.
Until next time, keep on brewing!