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Deep Tracks: Leviathan

Welcome to another edition of Deep Tracks! I hope you’ve come prepared… with a life vest! We’re heading to the depths of the sea in search of one of the most frightening creatures from Magic’s past! In order to find such a monstrosity, we’ll need to voyage back to The Dark!

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Leviathan, it’s the kind of Magic card that could entice Timmy to lay down the Elderscale Wurms and become a Blue Mage! I mean, look at this thing… it’s a mammoth 10/10 sea monster with trample. And check out the sweet artwork too. Every time The Dark comes up in conversation with friends, someone always drops the Leviathan bomb, and my eyes light up with wonderment. It’s just one of those cards that’s easy to get excited about. However, Leviathan isn’t simply a big beater you can just slam on the table and start attacking with. If you read over Leviathan’s text closely, you’ll notice some fairly large hoops to jump through. And, on top of that, nine Mana is a hefty casting cost. I suppose in a Mono Blue Control deck, sacrificing Islands in the late game isn’t necessarily backbreaking. Still, I can’t help but think there are ways to either workaround or manipulate Leviathan’s conditions.

Before we dive any further into our exploration of Leviathan, I want to give Wizards yet another shoutout for the fine work they’ve put into creating Dominaria! While opening packs of the new set, I pulled this beauty:

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Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep! Okay, a vanilla 8/8 for eight Mana isn’t insane, but it’s also not terrible. What I really find interesting is the Kicker. I’d like to think there’s an “easy” way to take advantage of a kicked Slinn Voda, and I've mapped out a plan for Modern!

We'll touch on Slinn Voda in a bit. For now, let’s sail back over to OG Leviathan...

While working on some deck concepts, I spent a little time scouring old Magic archives hoping to find some inspiration. And although I didn’t stumble upon many “spicy” ideas, there was one Decklist in particular that grabbed my attention:

If nothing else, the Astral Visionary deck confirmed my hunch that Leviathan could be a realistic finisher (in some shape or form). But even beyond that, I think the deck just looks cool. I mean, c’mon:

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Love it!

After some contemplation, I came up with my own take on the Stasis / Leviathan deck:

Initially, I started with a straight Mono Blue Control deck that seemed relatively viable, and it was budget friendly too (just under $1,000… a decent price-point for a Legacy deck)! However, I couldn’t stop thinking about Astral Visionary, and ultimately ended up with a similar strategy. As a big fan of Old School Magic flavor, I couldn’t resist taking a swing at the Stasis lock.

Although it was a pleasure working on U/W Stasis, it wasn't actually my first attempt to brew around Leviathan for Legacy...

For those of you just getting to know me... I’m an avid Legacy Reanimator player. I like to feel as though I have a grasp on Legacy as a whole, but Reanimator, well, I consider it my specialty. That being said, I simply had to grab the reigns and construct a Leviathan based Reanimator deck:

I stewed over this one rather intensely, and although I really did try to go “Mono” Leviathans, I felt like Griselbrand had to be involved in order for the deck to be a serious contender. But, other than Grisel-Daddy, I’m all-in on Leviathans for this one! Leviathan Reanimator does have the de facto suite of reanimation spells and enablers that allow us to quickly “cheat” creatures in from our graveyard. And we have the luxury of Force of Will protection since nearly a third of our deck consists of blue cards.

There is one creature (other than Griselbrand) in Leviathan Reanimator that does occasionally make the cut in Top-Tier Reanimator decks:

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Beyond Griselbrand, Inkwell Leviathan is our go-to target in most games because it presents a fast clock, has soft evasion, and does a good job of protecting itself with its shroud ability.  I’ve also included some alternate reanimation targets in Stormtide Leviathan, Kederekt Leviathan, and I even worked in OG Leviathan as well.

Taking a step back, you may have noticed in the Stasis deck(s) that Twiddle was used as a way to bypass Leviathan’s “sacrifice two Islands to untap” stipulation. I really like the strategy involved, however, I came up with my own workaround:

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… Let’s not even worry about untapping or attacking with Leviathan and just “Fling” it at the opponent! We’ll gain a decent amount of life in the process thanks to Rite of Consumption, and the creature will just go to our graveyard so we can Reanimate it again. And considering that all the creatures in our deck make for decent Rite of Consumption targets, I like it as a backdoor, win-out-of-nowhere finisher.

Earlier, I eluded to a possible attempt at brewing with Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep. Well, I started sketching out some thoughts for a Modern deck. I considered U/W and U/G as possible color combinations, and I had passing thoughts about porting U/B Reanimator. Alas, after several tries, here’s what I eventually landed on:

I’m not going to beat around the bush with this one… it’s counterspell, counterspell, counterspell, and then eventually win the game with one of our Leviathan creatures. We also have Jace, the Mind Sculptor as an alternate win condition. And, we may occasionally beat our opponent down with a large 8/8 Octopus:

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When I really started to place Slinn Voda on the brewing pedestal, for some reason I just wanted to build a Crush of Tentacles deck, and I think Crush is a good fit here. It's a very “swingy” card, especially if we can cast it for its surge cost and get the Octopus token to start closing out the game with. Also, Crush of Tentacles gives us a pretty solid sweeper which is crucial in this type of control deck.

As our journey comes to a close, I can say that I enjoyed the challenge of finding a home for these sweet Leviathan creatures from Magic’s past. We were able to include Crush of Tentacles and Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep in a Modern brew, and, we even found an opportunity to have some fun with Reanimator and mess around with Stasis! Good times :)

Well, that concludes our voyage.  Let me know what you think!  Are there other ways we can put the Leviathan Creature type to use? How about The Dark? Yes… The Dark bestowed upon us more than just Blood Moon! Do you have any classic stories? As always, all comments are welcome, thank you so much for reading, and have a great one!

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Source Material:

Astral Visionary

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