Hello there! This is my first article for MTG Arena Zone so let me introduce myself:
I’m Brewer’s Kitchen: long time Magic player and jank enthusiast. When the world got hit by the pandemic, I decided to make use of my newfound spare time and started making MTG content, and now here we are two months later. Every format is getting dominated by Companions and the best deck in Standard is whatever deck can cheat out Agent of Treachery the fastest. But my goal is not to build the best decks; it‘s to build fun and unique decks.
If you’re looking for those, you’ve come to the right place, because today’s deck certainly is fun and unique!
The Inception of the Mutation Station
The first thing I thought about when I saw the Mutate mechanic was: “Looks sweet if you like getting two-for-oned”, and judging by results Mutate didn’t take the cake for “best mechanic in the set” (Mostly because Companion made off with the entire cake factory).
But, with a mechanic that’s so complicated, there’s often some way to make it work. After some digging and brewing, I found that Dreadhorde Invasion helps to mitigate the card disadvantage that comes with mutating. Once you mutate on an Army, it‘s not a Zombie anymore, so it gets replaced next upkeep when you amass again, and the mutated creature keeps the +1/+1 counter.
Dreadhorde Invasion is a constant engine for creatures to mutate onto… you might even call it a “Mutation Station”.
After trying out all kinds of strategies revolving around mutating onto zombie tokens, with various results, I finally struck gold: What if the mutated creature just came back if it died? With Luminous Broodmoth on the board every creature without flying returns to the battlefield with a flying counter on it when it dies. If a pile of mutated creatures die, they all come back separated and with flying counters. Now that I found a solution for the two-for-one problem, it was time to find the best shell for this gameplan.
Since Dreadhorde Invasion taxes your life total every turn, we have plenty of lifegain in the deck to offset that. Playing black/white allows us access to Cubwarden, Snapdax, and Nethroi, and all of them offset a large portion of the life loss in one mutation or attack.
During playtesting, I often found myself in the position where I don‘t have a mutate creature, but still got a zombie to spare every turn, so I figured it was time to find other synergies with the Invasion. And while we’re at it, why don‘t we just try to make them synergize with the Luminous Broodmoth as well? Both the Broodmoth and the Invasion have a thing in common and that‘s counters. If we only had a way to get value off these; maybe remove them to draw cards or something – and then I remembered War of the Spark. Between all the Planeswalkers, there was one unassuming rare with a weird textbox: Soul Diviner.
The Diviner allows us to make use of the continuous flow of counters from the Invasion to effectively draw two cards per turn. Once we got the Broodmoth, the Diviner lets us remove the flying counters from our creatures so if they die, they‘ll come back again and again. But since the Soul Diviner is only relevant in certain situations, we cannot play a whole playset; instead, we only play two. But how can we ensure we get them when we need them?
That‘s where another payoff for the Invasion joined the decklist: Fiend Artisan. Not only could we now tutor up our combo pieces but it also synergizes incredibly well with the recurring Army tokens. We can just sacrifice a token every turn to get whatever creature we need out of our deck without worrying about countermagic, and we can also use it as a sacrifice outlet to get value once the Moth’s in play.
A more reliable sacrifice outlet is Woe Strider, since we can use it at instant speed without having to pay mana. The Goat token functions as a disposable mutate target if we don‘t have an Invasion.
Nowadays, a deck is either incredibly aggressive or has an unbeatable endgame. Up to this point (and up to the third game in my video), the deck was strong when it got the combo going, but it wasn‘t “I’ll go ahead and draw my deck” strong. Let‘s change that: since we’re playing Luminous Broodmoth, Woe Strider, and Soul Diviner anyway, we can just add one copy of Corridor Monitor to go infinite.
Once you have all these cards on the battlefield, you can create a loop:
- Sacrifice Corridor Monitor with the Woe Strider
- It will come back with a flying counter
- Corridor Monitor ability triggers, untap Soul Diviner
- Tap the Soul Diviner to remove the counter
- Draw a card
With this combo, we get to draw our entire deck. You could easily play a Thassas Oracle or something that triggers when a creature enters or leaves the battlefield to win the game. Sadly that‘s very unpractical on Arena.
One loop takes 8 clicks and a scry. You will most likely time out before you can draw your deck (there are also very punishing misclicks if you sacrifice the wrong creature).
If you play this deck in paper, you can demonstrate the loop and just shortcut your way until you can play an Oracle, but on Arena, we just play one Corridor Monitor to get an insane amount of value.
For everyone who can‘t wait to see this gameplan in action, check out my video on the deck. All of this is easier to understand once you see it in motion; if you want a full decklist breakdown, it‘s right below the video:
Full Decklist Breakdown
Note: For the ones I’ve already explained, I’ll just provide a quick summary/tl;dr.
Dreadhorde Invasion: The main engine the deck is built around; provides constant sacrifice and mutate fodder. Against some control decks, a great threat by itself, especially when they don’t have Teferi; over the course of the game, they’ll often have to spend several removal spells to keep the Army in check.
Mire Triton: Mire Triton does do a lot of things and every ability serves a purpose in this deck: it‘s an early blocker with deathtouch, the lifegain helps offset the life loss from Invasion, and the milling helps grow our Fiend Artisan and fuel our reanimation. As a deathtouch creature, it’ll often trade up with a better creature alongside all that, or at least eat a Shock effect.
Fiend Artisan: Tutors up our combo pieces; works great with Moth. Note that the Artisan keeps the first ability when mutated, so you can often hit them hard out of nowhere by mutating onto it.
Soul Diviner: Even though this is an essential part of our combo and our main card advantage engine, we only play two of them; tutor them out with a Fiend Artisan if the boardstate is right. Besides +1/+1 counters and flying counters, this can also remove ability counters from Crystalline Giant.
Corridor Monitor: This is only a one-off. Tutor it out when you have the rest of the combo assembled. If you draw it naturally it‘s still a 1/4 blocker that can untap a Fiend Artisan or Soul Diviner for extra value.
Crystalline Giant: Due to the random nature of this card, it‘s not very reliable, but sometimes it gets all the right abilities to make it a huge threat, and we can remove useless counters with the Soul Diviner for extra value. If this gets hexproof, its a fantastic mutate target.
Farfinder: This is our filler 3-drop. It doesn‘t really fuel the gameplan, but you will not win the game without your fourth land. Once it‘s done its job, you can just use it as a mutate target for Vigilance or sacrifice it with a Moth in play for another land.
Woe Strider: Provides a free goat token for Mutate/Fiend Artisan alongside another powerful sacrifice outlet for the Broodmoth combo. Don‘t just sacrifice the Goat token for a scry unless you really need to draw something specific, since this deck can make great use of it later on.
Luminous Broodmoth: Besides being a combo piece, this one is an absolute house in some matchups, since aggressive decks need to answer it before they can make profitable attacks into Mire Tritons and Mutate piles. If a mutate pile dies, they all come back separately with flying counters. Be careful not to mutate a Dirge Bat into the mix, since it has flying and so prevents the Broodmoth return to play trigger.
Cubwarden: If you play a Dreadhorde invasion on turn 2 and mutate a Cubwarden onto it on turn 4, you‘ve got a 5/7 lifelink and two 1/1 lifelink token, which is insane against aggro. It also helps to mitigate the life loss of Deadhorde Invasion.
Dirge Bat: This is a nombo with Luminous Broodmoth, but you just can‘t play a mutate deck without at least some Dirge Bats as hard repeatable removal.
Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt: Sanpdax costs five mana to mutate but it‘s worth it! The four damage is often enough to kill a creature or planeswalker, and granting doublestrike is no joke either. Note that its ability is affected by deathtouch and lifelink: if you have deathtouch (Mire Triton, Nethroi), the trigger kills any creature and, iff you have lifelink (Cubwarden, Nethroi), you gain four additional four life. Keep your Crystalline Giant in mind since it can get all those abilities.
Nethroi, Apex of Death: Seven mana is quite a lot but it‘s worth it. Besides granting a 5/5 deathtouch, lifelink body to your mutation, it reanimates pretty much every creature in your graveyard when it mutates. Note that Fiend Artisan counts as a 1/1 in the graveyard even though it might be huge on the battlefield. Always be aware of your board state before mutating a Nethroi: if you don‘t already have 10 power of creatures in the graveyard, sacrifice Mire Tritons and Farfinders for extra value, since you get them back with the trigger anyway. In my gameplay video, I myself often forgot to sacrifice extra creatures before the mutation!
Boneyard Lurker / Necropanther: Both of these creatures are one-of silver bullets to tutor up with Fiend Artisan, for additional recursion if the game goes long.
The Lands: The deck is primarily Orzhov colors with a light blue splash for Soul Diviner and Corridor Monitor; you can use the Farfinders and Fabled Passages to find your Island. We also play some Triomes to be able to cast Snapdax or Nethroi without mutating. If you’re playing this deck in paper, you should add a Thassa’s Oracle and go a bit deeper on the blue splash.
This deck can be amazing but is trying to do several things at once, and needs time to set them up. Due to its resilience, it has a decent control matchup, especially if you resolve a Dreadhorde Invasion. It’s very vulnerable to flying creatures before you get the Luminous Broodmoth going. Overall, the biggest factor in winning or losing is the pilot. When I recorded the gameplay I’d just built the deck and was a bit overwhelmed by all the decisions. Keep in mind what creatures you need and which you want to sacrifice to sacrifice; know in what matchups you need to go for the combo and when it‘s best to smash face with a huge mutation. My win rate has drastically increased with it now, after playing with it for a few weeks; while I still wouldn’t take this list to a high stakes tournament, it‘s perfect for an FNM.
I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into my deckbuilding process, and maybe got some laughs out of my video.
Until next time, keep on brewing!