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Brewer's Kitchen: The Murder Engine

Well, hello there! Brewer’s Kitchen here, just in time for Halloween, with a spooky brew called “The Murder Engine.”

Is it spooky because of creepy creatures like a Eyetwitch, Shambling Ghast or Lolth, Spider Queen? Yeah… kinda… but art like this is pretty common in the world of magic. The scary thing about this deck is: We are playing Standard, right after the World Champion XXVII turned the arena meta into a race in who can Alrund's Epiphany the most times in a row. It’s probably a good time to mention, that this deck was built about two weeks ago. By now, the meta has adapted to more aggression and coming prepared for Epiphany.

But I wasn’t going to let the meta bother me; I came here to murder and get value!

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The Gameplan

As the name suggests, this deck is a value engine fueled by murder. Like any engine, it’s made of various moving parts. Step one is to get disposable creatures on the board.

Eyetwitch and Shambling Ghast both create some form of value when they die. Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia will create a fresh new Zombie on every end step. Supposing the previous one died… which it will…

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We have countless ways to sacrifice creatures for value. They range from card draw in Village Rites, Deadly Dispute, and Plumb the Forbidden to removal like Eaten Alive and Rite of Oblivion. We also got Hostile Hostel, which has underperformed even more then I expected… But it transforms to Creeping Inn, what am I supposed to do, not play it in the Halloween episode?

The last and flashiest way to sacrifice our creatures for value is Awaken the Blood Avatar. It gets very cheap very quickly and can end games out of nowhere.

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The next step is to generate value from casting all these spells. Whenever we trigger Magecraft, Sedgemoor Witch creates more tokens to sacrifice and Extus, Oriq Overlord lets us return a non-legendary creature from our graveyard to our hand.

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With all these creatures dying, we might as well get some more value out of it: Morbid Opportunist will draw a card whenever a creature dies the first time each turn. Making it an insane turn three follow-up to Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia, which will create another Zombie token to decay and draw a card every turn. Lolth, Spider Queen will grow her loyalty with every one of our creatures dying, allowing us to create Spiders with her -3 ability almost every turn.

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Once this engine gets rolling, we are murdering our opponent's (and our own) creatures repeatedly and overwhelming them in card advantage. But sometimes it doesn’t go according to plan. We also play Agadeem's Awakening to rebuild our board in the late game if our key creatures get dealt with and a one-off Infernal Grasp to have some instant speed interaction that isn’t reliant on having a creature to sacrifice.

The Side/Lesson Board

Since Eyetwitch learns when it dies, we also have a lesson board that fits the gameplan.
Pest Summoning, Inkling Summoning and Mascot Exhibition are spells that trigger Magecraft and provide board presence. Environmental Sciences helps us find lands and gain a bit of life. Necrotic Fumes is almost like the rest of our removal spells. Since it exiles the creature instead of sacrificing it, we really have to make sure to use a token for it if we have the option.
Confront the Past can be a sneaky answer to an opponent’s planeswalkers but is most often used for returning our Lolth, Spider Queen if the game goes long.

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I usually don’t mention the sideboard in my videos and articles since I play best-of-one for my content. And especially in Standard, I’m not really an authority in evaluating the meta game. But if you are planning on playing this deck in best of three, you might want to include some number of additional Rite of Oblivion for all-purpose removal and Morbid Opportunist for grindy games with less opposing removal. Another Lolth, Spider Queen to fight control can’t hurt either.  

Tips and Tricks

Extus, Oriq Overlord / Awaken the Blood Avatar are both fantastic cards in this deck. We have to assess the gamestate and matchup to know if we want to rush our opponent with an early Blood Avatar or if we want to play the value game and try to untap with Extus to get the engine going.

Since our sacrifice payoff spells all sacrifice the creatures as the casting cost, they are already in our graveyard when Extus’ Magecraft trigger goes on the stack. This way we can return the same creature we sacrificed to a Village Rites, for example. Once we untap with Extus, Oriq Overlord we can generate absurd amounts of value.

Since Magecraft triggers from copying spells as well, we can get insane value with Plumb the Forbidden. We usually hold on to it until we can use it to respond to a board wipe by sacrificing our board. But sometimes it’s just great to make one or two copies with disposable creatures just to trigger Extus or Sedgemoor Witch multiple times.

Yasharn, Implacable Earth is hilariously brutal against this deck. It prevents players from sacrificing nonland permanents to pay costs, which is basically our whole gameplan. Besides paying full costs on Eaten Alive we do only have Infernal Grasp to deal with it. If Yasharn wasn’t such a huge problem for the deck I’d switch the Grasp for Vanishing Verse.

Too bad, Jadar is a legend?

You may have noticed that Extus, Oriq Overlord doesn’t work with Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia. Since we can only get nonlegendary creatures back from our graveyard (to prevent Extus looping with its backside) Jadar can not be brought back. This seems like a small detail but feels pretty frustrating if Jadar is the only creature in our graveyard while triggering Extus. But Jadar is such a powerful card in our gameplan that it’s well worth playing.

The good part of it being legendary is that it makes a fantastic commander in Historic Brawl. I’ve been brewing with it for quite a while now and thought I’d share my list while I’m at it:

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Wrap Up

I have to admit: Standard is more fun than expected. Especially in the unranked queue I ran into some refreshing new deck ideas and I’m excited to see what Crimson Vow will add to the format. “The Murder Engine” is not a top-tier deck in the current meta. But the way it generates value makes for very fun and sometimes ridiculous matches. If you have the wildcards to spare, I’d suggest giving it a try.
If you have questions or ideas for this or any other deck, you can reach me on Twitter @Brewers_Kitchen or at

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