Standard Witherbloom Magecraft Combo Deck Guide
Greetings planeswalkers! Since I talked about Lorehold in my last article and video, I want to cover the other end of the spectrum with Witherbloom! I have tried a couple different builds for this Strixhaven house. I have decided, that in my opinion, the Magecraft build is my personal favorite (no surprise to my long-time readers) and will be the one I choose to discuss in this article.
When Strixhaven was first spoiled I instantly fell in love with Witherbloom Apprentice.
It is a burn card in disguise as a green and black card. Almost instantly after being spoiled, people were discussing how powerful Witherbloom Apprentice would be in Legacy and other eternal formats. But as soon as I seen Plumb the Forbidden and Witherbloom’s Pest mechanic I truly fell in love with how well thought out the design and of the Witherbloom cards were and it was clear that the Wizards set design team had high hopes for the new Golgari.
This is my current build: Simple and elegant, with no wasted space. You may instantly draw a connection with a Mardu Sacrifice deck, but the playstyles are significantly different. While the Mardu deck wants to gain advantage and apply a beatdown strategy with Kroxa and the Avatar (from Extus, Oriq Overlord) token, this deck wants to gain advantage and look for a combo kill.
The reason I like this deck more, is in the consistent mana and being hard to sideboard for since it is not as weak to graveyard hate. This allows the deck to enact its game plan regardless of what the opponent is doing. It just does well across the board. The best way to interact with it is the exile sweepers such as Extinction Event, but those are easily taken care of out of the sideboard with some hand disruption on the turns before we look to go off.
Playing the Deck
What is awesome about this deck is that it can do a combo, to find the real combo and not lose any steam. This is because of the unexploited power of Sedgemoor Witch. Basically, you can build your board, then if you do not have a Bastion or an Apprentice to kill, or just not enough of a board, cast Plumb the Forbidden draw a ton of new cards, while Witch builds back up whatever we sacrifice with her Magecraft, hopefully finding another Plumb the Forbidden and the missing peace to enact our kill or just overwhelm the opponent. This is also supported with Village Rites, sacrifcing a token to get two new cards while replacing the token, or draining with Apprentice, so we do not lose any momentum when trying to find the missing piece.
Even if we do not assemble the combo kill, we have a solid token beatdown/card advantage plan that can overwhelm a ton of decks in the meta. This makes the deck far less one dimensional and gives the deck a ton of play, making it dangerous and hard to prepare for.
This is at its core, a combo deck. 7 card slots were not dedicated to Lesson cards to be cute for best-of-one. They are truly needed for the deck to go off as consistently as possible. But I did not want to go above 7 to make sure I had game in other matchups.
Pest Summoning really is the heart and soul of this deck. I can see going down to three, but after you play this deck in a few grindy games, you will see why I am hesitant to come off the full four.
Necrotic Fumes is a card I can see wanting a second copy of in place of 1 Pest Summoning. Exiling a threat is fantastic, but one has been more than enough outside of best-of-one games.
Containment Breach is a fantastic card since it is removal for troublesome artifacts like Embercleave and The Great Henge that we can have access to game one through the Learn mechanic. Giving us a Pest token to aid in our combo makes it a no-brainer. If you don’t want to run 4 Pest Summoning and don’t want a second Necrotic Fumes, then I would definitely play a second copy of Breach.
Teachings of the Archaics may raise a few eyebrows, but it is not hard to cast off a Jaspera Sentinel and can turn grindy games on its head. I never go without 1 when I can. It is a card I would rather have and not need, than to need and not have.
Cards Not in the Deck
I like this card a lot. But six mana is asking a lot. While it can act as another Apprentice, there were just too many times in testing I could not afford to take the time off building to play her, and she was outclassed by other cards.
This dude is just bad on his own. He needs other cards to be effective and when doing a combo, he always just felt like a “win more” card. Drawing multiples is worse than drawing more of any other combo piece.
Everything I said about Vito applies here. Just no.
Tips and Tricks
- Generally, you will find that you have a huge number of 1/1’s. When you attack in, you can use Village Rites and Plumb the Forbidden to sacrifice whatever is blocked to draw more cards and get more value out of a dying creature.
- Don’t be afraid to go aggro if you can’t sacrifice the blocked creatures. Whittling down the opponents life just means that you need less creatures to combo.
- You can cast Village Rites and Plumb the Forbidden on a creature that is targeted by a Bonecrusher Giant’s Stomp or other Adventure creature, and the creature will not be exiled, and they lose the ability to recast it later.
- Do not be afraid to go for the Plumb the Forbidden combo if you control a Witch. Witch will rebuild your board and generally find another Plumb, Village Rites to increase the chances of drawing into another Plumb, and more combo cards like Apprentice and Bastion to put together a kill.
Matchups and Sideboard Guide
The good news is this deck is super easy to sideboard with. This is basically because you never want to take too much away from the deck, or you hurt the consistency. Only board in what you need. No flashiness here.
Sultai / Dimir Control
|+2 Duress||-4 Lovestruck Beast|
|+2 Agonizing Remorse|
They have so much removal and a plethora of sweepers that can lead to a bad day for this deck. Game 2 I cut Lovestruck Beast since they do not really care about a 5/5 beat stick and bring in interaction to cut off their removal and counters.
Mono Red / Mono White Aggro / Adventures / Winota
|+2 Eliminate||-4 Eyetwitch|
|+2 Heartless Act|
Pretty straight forward, we cut Eyetwitch since it is a poor blocker, and we still have Hunt for Specimens to find out lessons. Bringing in removal takes care of any problematic cards. Against Mono Red, It is smart to find Necrotic Fumes early to take care of Anax, and this matchup is really the only one where I consider adding a second Fumes.
Temur / Dimir Rogues
|+2 Duress||-4 Lovestruck Beast|
|+2 Agonizing Remorse||-4 Eyetwitch|
|+2 Heartless Act|
These matchups require the most interaction to be successful. Neither cares about Lovestruck Beast as they can just go over it far to easily or just remove it and Eyetwitch is just a bad creature in these matchups. I bring in everything I can to interact to give me the best fighting chance.
I think this deck is sweet and do not think a lot of players will be ready for the combo kills and will genuinely be caught off guard. If you are a combo player that is looking for a new deck to take on the standard meta game, or a fan of the “life drain” playstyle, then I cannot recommend this deck enough. It is just so sweet.
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