Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr Art by Manuel Castañón

Standard Mardu Haunting Deck Guide: Turning the Meme into a Contender

Hello Planeswalkers, I am The MTG Hero and recently I came across a sweet deck with a lot of potential, which is Haunted Mardu! This is a deck as far as I can tell was originally created by fellow YouTuber LegenVD.

It was originally a best-of-one meme deck, so it hasn’t really been explored to be optimized. I took it upon myself to do so, and those of you that follow me know, I recently took the deck to a 5-1 finish in a Traditional Standard Event – I think I have optimized the deck and will cover my changes in this article!


The Original Deck

Hallowed Haunting Runes by LegenVD
by MTG Arena Zone
Standard
best of 1
8 mythic
32 rare
16 uncommon
4 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (4)
Lands (24)
3
Plains
$0.75
1
Swamp
$0.25
2
Sundown Pass
$17.98
2
Haunted Ridge
$31.98
60 Cards
$563.24

This deck is fine if you just want to meme and cheese some games out, but I think it can be improved to be a real contender with some changes.


The Deck

This is my updated list:

Mardu Haunting
by The MTG Hero
Standard
Combo
best of 3
7 mythic
27 rare
23 uncommon
3 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (6)
Lands (23)
2
Plains
$0.50
1
Swamp
$0.25
2
Sundown Pass
$17.98
2
Haunted Ridge
$31.98
60 Cards
$490.94
Sideboard
4
Candletrap
$1.00
3
Paladin Class
$2.37
2
Borrowed Time
$0.50
15 Cards
$6.33

Changes I Made

Originally, the deck ran Curse of Silence. I really disliked the card as it just didn’t do anything notable. Sure, sometimes I could predict something and slow my opponent down, but it wasn’t a card that caught me up when I was behind which meant drawing it in a losing scenario was just the nail in the coffin for this deck. You could call one of your own cards and then pay extra to cast it and draw an extra card, but we have other cards to do cantrip much quicker and I want to advance my board as fast as possible.

In its place I added Lithoform Blight which is basically another rune that also fixes our mana and draws us a new card. Being a three-color deck, sometimes the mana can be rough, so I welcome any mana smoothing effect, but since it also draws a card in its place it is the perfect replacement for Curse of Silence. It can draw us into another enchantment and we can keep going advancing our board, especially since it isn’t just a dead card when we are going off.

I also cut Runeforge Champion. While this card is great when we can curve into him on turn three and Hallowed Haunting on turn four with a hand full of Runes, when we are behind or don’t have Hallowed Haunting, it just doesn’t do anything of value other than can trip us a bit faster.

However, Moon-Blessed Cleric tutors up Hallowed Haunting, The Meathook Massacre or a removal enchantment if we need it. I would much rather have the guarantee of finding the key component of our deck so we can progress our game plan.

I also made room for Katilda, Dawnhart Martyr. This is the best plan B we have access to. We can cast it and it serves as a “super spirit” that scales off other spirits like our tokens, but also scales off the enchantments we played already and other enchantments we will play to dig through our deck. Having lifelink means our life total is rarely under pressure while it is in play, and we enact our game plan. When it dies, or we discard an extra copy, the aura makes a Moon-Blessed Cleric or spirit token into a much larger threat.


Playing the Deck

Moon-Blessed Cleric Art by Marta Nael
Moon-Blessed Cleric Art by Marta Nael

Early game we want to use all our Runes and Lithoform Blight enchanting our lands to dig through our deck to find Hallowed Haunting, Katilda or Moon-Blessed Cleric. From there we want to advance our board by spamming enchantments to make tokens with Hallowed Haunting or power up Katilda. It is worth noting that if you play Moon-Blessed Cleric without having the fourth land, you can brick yourself off that land. So be careful when you play it and be sure to have a cantrip to dig. However, this rarely hurts you since you normally just play Hallowed Haunting and pass anyway.

Finding The Meathook Massacre is obviously important against aggro. We don’t have a lot of room in the main deck. Meathook also plays a great role in taking on some of the control/midrange decks since you can basically drain them to death while they try to fight through your army of spirit tokens.

From there you have some flexibility now. We can play Runes to improve our spirit tokens by giving them haste, deathtouch and lifelink with the corresponding runes. Remember that when you cast the Rune you need a target as you cast it so you can’t cast a Rune on an empty board and enchant it with the desired Rune.

If you start to run low, there is no better tool than Showdown of the Skalds. It is fantastic at refueling us so we can keep slamming enchantments and growing our board. Playing Runes off Showdown draws us a real card, so it is basically drawing us 6-8 cards depending on our hits. Just remember to be as efficient as possible when you play it. For example, playing your land drop until after it resolved so you can play exiled lands off Showdown.

I will say this deck is weak to creature lands since we can’t interact at instant speed, but often enough our board grows so fast that we can brick wall them if they don’t have a sweeper. The hardest creatures for us to beat is Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Reidane, God of the Worthy. They can make life hard for us so the exiling enchantments are paramount at keeping them off the board and why we don’t play a card like Candletrap in the main deck.


Sideboard Guide

Candletrap Art by Manuel Castañón
Candletrap Art by Manuel Castañón

This deck wasn’t designed for best-of-three, but I think I constructed a good sideboard plan for it which makes it a real playable deck and less of a meme. This is my plan verses the general meta:

Mono White / Mono Green/ Creature-Based Midrange Decks

InOut
+2 Circle of Confinement-4 Lithoform Blight
+2 Borrowed Time-4 Rune of Speed
+4 Candletrap

Blue Control / Midrange Decks

InOut
+3 Paladin Class-3 The Meathook Massacre
+4 Valakut Exploration-4 Rune of Sustenance

Izzet Dragons

InOut
+3 Paladin Class-3 The Meathook Massacre
+4 Valakut Exploration-4 Rune of Speed
+2 Borrowed Time-2 Circle of Confinement

Tips and Tricks

  • When you cast The Meathook Massacre, remember that your spirit tokens will get +1/+1 since another spirit will enter before Meathook so your stuff can survive, this comes up A LOT.
  • Use your Runes effectively, giving a big spirit haste can end games.
  • Be aware of where you put your Runes. If you put it on a creature and it gets removed, you don’t draw a card. Same is true if you go to enchant a land and it gets hit by Field of Ruin.

Conclusion

This deck is fun to play and probably the best “combo” deck I have seen in a while. It is pretty consistent and attacks on a angle that no one is really prepped for since it uses enchantments. At most some green decks will have one or two Outland Liberators which is definitely not enough in most board positions. Until next time Planeswalkers, Hero out!

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The MTG Hero

My name is The MTG Hero. I have played Magic for over 15 years. I am a consistent high Mythic ranked player. Follow me on Twitch and subscribe on YouTube!

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