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Against the Odds: Remorseless Punishment

Hello everyone and welcome to episode twenty-two of Against the Odds. Last week's voting was intense. Inverter of Truth jumped off to a huge early lead, then Remorseless Punishment made a massive come back, eventually overtaking the devoid Mythic and winning by one percent of 7,300 votes cast! As such, we have a big challenge this week: figure out a way to make Remorseless Punishment, one of the worst Rares in Oath of the Gatewatch, work in Standard. Cards that give the opponent a choice are notoriously hard to break, and Remorseless Punishment is no different. More often than not, when we want to kill some creatures, it will make our opponent discard some useless lands. When we want it to deal damage, our opponent will sacrifice some Hordeling Outburst tokens. While I'm not saying it's impossible to build a playable Remorseless Punishment deck, we need to go pretty deep to make it work. 

We'll talk more about Remorseless Punishment in a minute. First let's get to the videos. A quick reminder. If you enjoy Against the Odds and other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Against the Odds: Remorseless Punishment Intro

Against the Odds: Remorseless Punishment Games


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As I mentioned before, the problem with Remorseless Punishment is that it gives our opponents a choice. To turn Remorseless Punishment into a real card, we have to figure out a way to minimize the amount of choices our opponents have. As a result, our deck is focused on getting our opponent empty handed (so they can't choose to discard cards) and without creatures on the battlefield (so they can't choose to sac creature). Once these conditions are met, Remorseless Punishment will be a five mana ten damage burn spell, whether our opponent likes it or not.

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Step one in taking away our opponent's choice is to get them empty handed. We play a ton of discard spells, ranging from targeted discard like Despise and Transgress the Mind to Mind Rot. While these cards are horrible draws once we get an opponent empty handed, they are a necessary evil in making Remorseless Punishment work. Without the discard, our opponent would just hold back useless lands to discard, and Remorseless Punishment would never deal any damage. 

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Step two in taking away our opponent's choice is making sure their board is clear of creatures and planeswalkers. Apart from discard, the rest of our deck is stuffed with removal spells. Silkwrap and Ultimate Price take care of creatures in the early game. Utter End and Quarantine Field can hit creatures or planeswalker. Wraths like Languish and Crux of Fate help protect us from our opponent going wide with tokens. Basically, our goal is to kill everything and anything, which combined with discard allows us to turn Remorseless Punishment into a ten damage burn spell. 

The Matchups

Because of how our deck is constructed, the matchups really depends on two things: how good is our removal and how good is our discard. For instance, Eldrazi Ramp and Four-Color Rally are really bad matchups. The Eldrazi deck doesn't really mind discarding World Breaker and plays threats that are difficult to deal with. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon makes our enchantment based removal questionable at best and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger survives pretty much everything except Utter End. Likewise, Rally doesn't mind discarding cards, since they actually want creatures in the graveyard so they can use Rally the Ancestors to get them back and win the game. 

On the other hand, we have a ton of answers against decks like UR Prowess, Atarka Red, and even Abzan, where we can one-for-one our way though most of the game and finish off the opponent with Remorseless Punishment. The same is true of control decks, even though we didn't play against one. 

The Odds

We ended up winning 5 out of the 14 games we played, good for a 35% game win percentage. With a little bit of luck we could have actually won a few matches. We ended up winning just one, against UB Eldrazi. Remorseless Punishment itself ended up being extremely high variance, as expected. While we were able to use it to kill our opponent on several occasions, we also had some situations where it did less than nothing. While I think the deck is pretty fun to play, like a Standard version of 8 Rack, and isn't all that expensive to throw together, I won't trust it outside of an FNM level event or on the kitchen table. There's just too much variance for Remorseless Punishment to consistently win games. 

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Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments. You can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive.

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