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Against the Odds: The Saltiest Deck Possible (Historic Brawl)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 378 of Against the Odds. People most often play Historic Brawl just to have fun—it's essentially the closest thing you can get to Commander on Magic Arena, after all. But what if, instead of building a deck to have fun, you tried to build the saltiest deck possible by overloading it with hard locks, stax, and taxes? Will anyone even play against you, or will they just scoop once they realize what your deck is up to? How many games will end with a salty rope as the opponent's clock slowly runs down? Let's try to build the saltiest Historic Brawl deck ever and find out on this week's Against the Odds!

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Against the Odds: Mono-White Salt

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The Deck

So, I might be a little bit addicted to hard-locking people with Gideons and Deification. In some ways, today's deck was influenced by the Modern Gideon Deification deck we played for Against the Odds a week ago. The biggest change is that we can play Gideon of the Trials as our commander so we'll always have access to one of our two lock pieces. Of course, playing Gideon as our commander means we need to be mono-white, but that's fine. Thanks to its theme of staxes and taxes, white is probably the saltiest color in Magic. While I'm not even going to even try to talk about all 100 of our cards, here's a quick rundown of some of our deck's saltiest aspects.

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First and foremost, we have the Gideon of the Trials Deification lock, which is easier to assemble than ever since we have Gideon in the command zone. If you haven't seen the lock yet, the idea is that you play Deification naming Gideon, then play Gideon of the Trials, and use its zero ability to make an emblem, so that as long as we have a Gideon on the battlefield, we can't lose the game, and our opponent can't win the game. Assuming we can keep a creature on the battlefield, Deification makes it so Gideon has hexproof and can't die to damage, while Gideon makes it so we can't die. This means as long as we can keep our lock pieces on the battlefield, we'll eventually win the game.

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Speaking of hard locks that keep us alive forever, backing up Gideon and Deification is The Book of Exalted Deeds with Mutavault or Faceless Haven. The idea here is that The Book of Exalted Deeds can be sacrificed to turn an Angel into a Platinum Angel, making it so we can't lose the game and our opponent can't win the game. The problem with Platinum Angel is that as a creature, pretty much every deck will have removal or wraths to kill it, making it more of a soft lock than a true hard lock. However, most decks really struggle to kill lands, so our goal is to turn Mutavault or Faceless Haven into a creature of all types (including Angel) and use The Book of Exalted Deeds to put the enlightened counter on it, giving us a land version of Platinum Angel. Then, for the rest of the game, we simply choose to never turn the land into a creature, keeping it in land form and making it super hard for many decks to kill. Much like the Gideon Deification lock, once we can't lose the game and our opponent can't win the game, we should be able to figure out a way to win the game eventually. At worst, our opponent will eventually draw their entire deck and lose to milling out.

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While not quite as strong as "You can't lose the game and your opponents can't win the game," the combo of Nine Lives and Solemnity can lock our opponent out of killing us with damage. Solemnity keeps Nine Lives from getting counters, and Nine Lives prevents all the damage that would be dealt to us! Plus, if we run into a deck built around +1/+1 counters or poison, Solemnity can make the opponent pretty salty all by itself, by keeping their deck from working.

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Nothing makes Magic players saltier than having all their lands blown up. While there aren't many mass-land-destruction options on Magic Arena, we do have one in Fall of the Thran. By itself, Fall of the Thran puts each player down to four lands, blowing them all up and then letting players return two lands from their graveyard from the battlefield for the next two turns. But if we have Soul-Guide Lantern, we can use it to exile our opponent's graveyard and turn Fall of the Thran into a real and mostly one-sided Armageddon!

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Overwhelming Splendor is a hilariously salty card by itself as a one-sided Humility, turning all of our opponent's creatures into 1/1s with no abilities. If that's not enough, we can add Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite to the mix to give all of our opponent's creatures –2/–2, which will just lock our opponent out of playing creatures altogether. If they do, the creatures will be 1/1s with no abilities that get –2/–2 and will die as soon as they hit the battlefield.

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Another thing that brings out the salt in Magic players is counterspells. While we don't have many as a mono-white deck, we do have Mana Tithe, which is especially salty because no one expects it; you can easily play around it if you did expect it, but no one ever does.

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We've also got a ton of taxing effects. Curse of Silence and Anointed Peacekeeper can name the opponent's commander to make it cost two more to cast, making it hard for the opponent to execute their game plan. God-Pharaoh's Statue is brutal, making all of our opponent's cards cost two more to cast. If our opponent tries to tutor or fetch a land, we can get them with Aven Mindcensor. Elite Spellbinder and Invasion of Gobakhan annoy our opponent by making cards in their hand cost more. Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines locks out our opponent's enters-the-battlefield triggers. Reidane, God of the Worthy slows down expensive spells. Basically, if a card can annoy our opponent, it's in our deck.

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Also, there are a bunch of sweepers to make creature decks sad, including Settle the Wreckage to catch our opponent by surprise. 

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The last piece of the puzzle is being able to keep our salty cards on the battlefield. For this, we turn to Avacyn, Angel of Hope to make all of our permanents indestructible, Teferi's Protection to phase ourselves out for a turn, and Surge of Salvation to give our stuff hexproof and fizzle targeted removal. 


Record-wise, we had a winning record with the deck, although that's not especially important. Our deck's goal isn't to win—it's to crush our opponent's soul and will to play Magic. In general, the deck worked well on this level too: we had some salty ropes and early scoops, although perhaps the most memorable match we played with the deck was one where our opponent refused to scoop. The game against Yarok was one of the most absurd I've ever played, not just in Historic Brawl but in any format. Somehow, we ended up with a game that would never end. Our opponent couldn't win because of a Platinum Angel Mutavault, but we also couldn't win because they were going off with Yarok, the Desecrated and eventually stuck an Oracle of the Alpha to shuffle something like 10 sets of the Power Nine into their deck. Oddly, the worst member of the Power Nine—Timetwister—was what made the match never-ending since our opponent could use it to keep shuffling their graveyard into their library so they wouldn't mill out. Basically, the game devolved into a test of wills. Neither player could actually win by playing Magic, so all that really mattered was who would give up and scoop first. Sadly, Bear had a vet appointment, so after about an hour, I ended up doing the responsible thing and scooping to take Bear to the vet. If I hadn't, we might still be playing.

All in all, I loved playing the deck. There's nothing like making opponents not play Magic, and our deck today did a great job of making that happen. If you want to lose some friends and maybe even win some games, I would recommend giving the saltiest deck possible a try. It's brutal and hilarious.


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

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