March 27, 2017

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Partners Without a Partner - Ravos, Soultender

Welcome back to my article series in which I brew up a half-deck around each partner!

This week we tackle one of the Orzhov Partners. As we move into the enemy colour-pairs, for the first time ever, we face a choice over which partner to brew around to represent the two colours. In the end, we're going with Ravos, Soultender.

Why are we picking Ravos over Tymna the Weaver? Tymna wants to do combat damage to multiple people, which would pair nicely with a few of the previous halves, but what we gain is a little extra card draw. With Ravos, we can dip into our graveyard each turn, and get extra value out of our creatures, which is more reliable independent of his other partner, and probably provides more value long term.

Now that we've settled on our Orzhov partner, what's our game plan? Since we'll be getting back one creature per upkeep from our yard, we're going to leverage creatures that enter the battlefield to provide some benefit, plus we're going to sacrifice them and cast them all over again!

Let's start with a few of the key creatures that we'll be looking to make multiple appearances! The High Priest of Penance is an Orzhov-only card that provides a fantastic deterrent to any ground attackers while we build up our board presence. I don't expect to bring him back too many times because I don't expect our opponents to come at him very often. Does an opponent have more lands than you? Let's keep casting, sacking and returning Knight of the White Orchid. Granted, it only gets us plains, but we're happy to have them! Heck, each 50-card deck gets a Solemn Simulacrum and that's a fine target too! And once we've gotten things in a comfortable spot, let's see the Gray Merchant of Asphodel crash the party over and over. That's a decent way to close up any game!

Getting cards in our graveyard is a plus, and the newest set gives us a great outlet with Yahenni, Undying Partisan. Not only can he put a creature in our graveyard for free, he's very resilient while doing so. Opponents will think twice before destroying all creatures with a potentially indestructible Yahenni on your side. Another way we can get more cards in our graveyard is with the Dredge mechanic on Stinkweed Imp. If anyone is foolish enough to trade a good attacker for the Imp, we'll dredge it back for more while getting juicy targets in the grave for Ravos. It's possible we're fishing out more cards than we can cast, which is a good problem to have! If we're not ready to cast our repeat creatures just yet, we're happy to discard them with Devout Witness to destroy a pesky utility card!

White and Black sometimes have trouble drawing cards and ramping out mana, so we've got to build in a way to handle it. I don't bring this up for most colour pairs, but we have to get a little creative here! Disciple of Bolas is a creature that draws us cards by sacrificing a creature, which is all in line with our plan. We're happy to see him show up more than once! Harvester of Souls is a great demon that turns our own sacrifices into card draw, but also catches our opponents trying to sacrifice their own cards too. And in the way of ramp, we're going to capitalize on Black Market. This enchantment will have our mana pool filled to the brim in no time.

There are a few cards in this half-deck that really go the extra mile. Reveillark can do some real work bringing almost any two of Ravos' team from the graveyard straight to the battlefield. Whether we Evoke it or we sacrifice it, Ravos will turn it into a powerful engine indeed! And while all of this is going on, we're going to put Athreos, God of Passage down to give our opponents the option to pay life to merely delay our re-casting of everything. I also want to mention Sun Titan with Ravos. I like to have a little redundancy in a deck, and Sun Titan can get back many things that Ravos couldn't, not to mention all of the things Ravos' mystery partner brings with them. We'd love a Sun Titan in every White deck, but we can't have any repeats (except for our staple artifacts in each deck, discussed here) and Ravos gets this particular staple giant.

The first enemy colour-pair complete! Take a look at the decklist below and let me know if you'd change anything!