I’ve been playing a variation of this standard deck on Arena for, what feels like, years. It’s been a while—since before rotation, and I am confident that this deck is worthy of being played. Over that time, I have finely tuned this deck to be competitive on Arena, with a successful win rate standing at approximately 58%. That might seem low, but for a budget deck that comes in under $50 in paper, fighting against highly tuned decks? It’s impressive to me. DHDL has taken on and beaten decks like Yorion Enchantments, Kroxa and Rankle Discard, Rogues, Mono-Green Food, Mono-Red Aggro, Zenith Cycling, Mono-White Clerics, and more decks at prices well above our budget. It even took me well into gold rank from bronze. Without further ado, let’s get on the dance floor.
Dance of the Manse: Return up to X target artifact and/or non-Aura enchantment cards each with converted mana cost X or less from your graveyard to the battlefield. If X is 6 or more, those permanents are 4/4 creatures in addition to their other types.
This deck is primarily a blue/white (“Azorius“) control deck, that draws the game out for an extended period of time in order to amass enough lands. You need at least 8 lands to go off, so that you can revive at least 6 enchantments or artifacts from the graveyard as 4/4s to beat down your opponent in the next turn. While you only need 8 to go off, as long as you’re in a good control position, you should stick it out until you’ve got at least 10-16 lands on the battlefield so that you can protect your board. These games are grindy, so be sure that you’re comfortable with long-lasting drawn out games before trying this deck.
Alseid of Life’s Bounty: Lifelink. 1 Colorless Mana + Sacrifice Alseid of Life’s Bounty: Target creature or enchantment you control gains protection from the color of your choice until end of turn.
Solemn Simulacrum: When Solemn Simulacrum enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a basic land card, put that card onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library. When Solemn Simulacrum dies, you may draw a card.
Golden Egg: When Golden Egg enters the battlefield, draw a card. 1 Colorless Mana + Tap Golden Egg + Sacrifice Golden Egg: Add one mana of any color. 2 Colorless Mana + Tap Golden Egg + Sacrifice Golden Egg: You gain 3 life.
Omen of the Sea: Flash. When Omen of the Sea enters the battlefield, scry 2, then draw a card. 2 Colorless Mana + 1 Blue Mana + Sacrifice Omen of the Sea: Scry 2.
The Birth of Meletis: (As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after 3.) 1 — Search your library for a basic Plains card, reveal it, put it into your hand, then shuffle your library. 2 — Create a 0/4 colorless Wall artifact creature token with defender. 3 — You gain 2 life.
Omen of the Sun: Flash. When Omen of the Sun enters the battlefield, create two 1/1 white Human Soldier creature tokens and you gain 2 life. 2 Colorless Mana + 1 White Mana + Sacrifice Omen of the Sun: Scry 2.
Elspeth Conquers Death: (As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after 3.) 1 — Exile target permanent an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or greater. 2 — Noncreature spells your opponents cast cost 2 Colorless Mana more to cast until your next turn. 3 — Return target creature or planeswalker card from your graveyard to the battlefield. Put a +1/+1 counter or a loyalty counter on it.
Time to crack some eggs. Every enchantment and artifact in this section is designed to accomplish two things. The first is, of course, to provide some sort of utility that sets us further from our opponent with value, and the second is to hit the graveyard as quickly as possible. Alseid of Life’s Bounty can either protect something else, or it can chump-block something big, like Bonecrusher Giant, or Lovestruck Beast. Solemn Simulacrum, like The Birth of Meletis, provides us ramp, which we desperately need, but it can also chump-block into card draw, which is perfect for this deck. Golden Egg can help us mana fix, especially given our limitations in regard to budget lands. Omen of the Sea, and Omen of the Sun provide instant speed value, and scry on sacrifice. Finally, Elspeth Conquers Death is one of the best pieces of late-game removal because it exiles, rather than destroys. Sometimes it can bring something back, too.
Early interaction is key
Glass Casket: When Glass Casket enters the battlefield, exile target creature an opponent controls with converted mana cost 3 or less until Glass Casket leaves the battlefield.
Banishing Light: When Banishing Light enters the battlefield, exile target nonland permanent an opponent controls until Banishing Light leaves the battlefield.
Heliod’s Intervention: Choose one — Destroy X target artifacts and/or enchantments or Target player gains twice X life.
Jwari Disruption: Counter target spell unless its controller pays 1 Colorless Mana.
Negate: Counter target noncreature spell.
Neutralize: Counter target spell. Cycling 2 Colorless Mana (2 Colorless Mana + Discard this card: Draw a card.)
Whirlwind Denial: For each spell and ability your opponents control, counter it unless its controller pays 4 Colorless Mana.
Sublime Epiphany: Choose one or more — Counter target spell, or, Counter target activated or triggered ability, or, Return target nonland permanent to its owner’s hand, or, Create a token that’s a copy of target creature you control, or, Target player draws a card.
Shatter the Sky: Each player who controls a creature with power 4 or greater draws a card. Then destroy all creatures.
Ondu Inversion: Destroy all nonland permanents.
Keeping the opponent off their game plan is the absolute nuts of this deck, and early game interaction is part of that. Either through creature removal, like Glass Casket on Soaring Thought-Thief, Brushfire Elemental, or Scavenging Ooze, or permanent removal, like Banishing Light on Mazemind Tome, Trail of Crumbs, or Valakut Exploration. Not to mention counterspells, which this deck has plenty of: Jwari Disruption, Negate, Neutralize, Whirlwind Denial, and Sublime Epiphany, which is the most powerful piece of interaction this deck uses. Heliod’s Interevention doubles its usefulness in this deck, because we can target our own enchantments and artifacts and expedite the process at instant speed. Sometimes this, and Ondu Inversion, pairs well with Shatter the Sky, which can give back early-exiled creatures just in time for them to be destroyed en masse.
Alternate win conditions
Dream Trawler: Flying, lifelink. Whenever you draw a card, Dream Trawler gets +1/+0 until end of turn. Whenever Dream Trawler attacks, draw a card. Discard a card: Dream Trawler gains hexproof until end of turn. Tap it.
Crawling Barrens: Tap Crawling Barrens: Add 1 Colorless Mana. 4 Colorless Mana: Put two +1/+1 counters on Crawling Barrens. Then you may have it become a 0/0 Elemental creature until end of turn. It’s still a land.
Alternate win conditions are absolutely necessary for this deck, and sometimes you just have to roll with it if you’re presented with the option. Dream Trawler is a tried and true method because it hits major elements of a win: draw, life gain, inherent protection, and evasive damage. Plus, with Sublime Epiphany, you can clone Dream Trawler, and at that point, it’s probably game over. Crawling Barrens is similar, but it’s effectively a manland that can be made into a monstrosity over time while you’re maintaining a lock on the opponent.
Help when things are looking grim
Labyrinth of Skophos: Tap Labyrinth of Skophos: Add 1 Colorless Mana. 4 Colorless Mana + Tap Labyrinth of Skophos: Remove target attacking or blocking creature from combat.
Fae of Wishes: Flying. 1 Colorless Mana + 1 Blue Mana + Discard two cards: Return Fae of Wishes to its owner’s hand. // Granted: You may reveal a noncreature card you own from outside the game and put it into your hand.
Like Count to Gyruda, both of these cards help deal with niche situations that would otherwise tank the game. With Labyrinth of Skophos, we can prevent some problematic creature, like Questing Beast, from getting the damage in. With Fae of Wishes, like Dream Trawler, we can dump enchantments and artifacts into the graveyard, and with Granted, we can peek into our sideboard for the perfect solution to the current problem.
Tormod’s Crypt: Tap Tormod’s Crypt, Sacrifice Tormod’s Crypt: Exile all cards from target player’s graveyard.
Midnight Clock: Tap Midnight Clock: Add 1 Blue Mana. 2 Colorless Mana + 1 Blue Mana: Put an hour counter on Midnight Clock. At the beginning of each upkeep, put an hour counter on Midnight Clock. When the twelfth hour counter is put on Midnight Clock, shuffle your hand and graveyard into your library, then draw seven cards. Exile Midnight Clock.
Revoke Existence: Exile target artifact or enchantment.
Ashiok’s Erasure: Flash. When Ashiok’s Erasure enters the battlefield, exile target spell. Your opponents can’t cast spells with the same name as the exiled card. When Ashiok’s Erasure leaves the battlefield, return the exiled card to its owner’s hand.
This isn’t the whole sideboard list, because many of the cards we’ve already seen are one-offs in the sideboard for Granted, but these four cards help deal with specific matchups that are harder for this deck to deal with. Tormod’s Crypt can help deal with Kroxa, or Zenith Flare. Midnight Clock is perfect against mill. Revoke Existence takes care of any of the gods. Finally, Ashiok’s Erasure can deal with recurring problems like Skyclave Shade.
Situations and matchups
I found that against green-based landfall and food decks, mono-white and lifegain decks, and other similarly slow decks, the matchups are fairly even. I fully chock it up to the fact that this deck isn’t being answered directly since it isn’t part of the meta. Even still, in my experience, you can easily beat these decks if you can keep the pressure on and upset their game plans early on. I find that these decks follow a fairly rigid step-by-step game, and losing a step can set them back considerably. Like many controls decks, as long as you can maintain control, and counter the right spell, or remove the right creature at the right time, you’ll win. Easy, right? Well, maybe not.
Mill and rogues, Embercleave-based mono-red aggro, and Kroxa or Rankle discard are probably the hardest decks to beat. These decks tend to put pressure on you from the start, and if you aren’t playing first, you’re already behind.
You would think that mill, and to a lesser degree, rogues, would be beneficial since they’re filling the graveyard with artifacts and enchantments. In reality, lands, interaction, and Dance of the Manse are often, by Murphy’s Law, first to go, and once there, they’re gone. I find that the best way to deal with these decks is to return pressure for pressure, and ignore the graveyard. If you can Tormod’s Crypt yourself, or get Midnight Clock out early, the game definitely changes.
Aggro decks are only difficult because of the consistency and speed. The actual creatures and spells are easily dealt with, but the constant onslaught is hard to keep up with. Control decks tend to take a little while to get going, so it’s best to pick your battles early on. With a grip of Glass Caskets, Negates, and momentum, it’s easy to outlast aggro, but it’s rare to get a perfect draw. Going first helps.
When you have the ability, always take out early creatures, such as Thieves’ Guild Enforcer, Lotus Cobra, or Bonecrusher Giant.
Speaking of Bonecrusher Giant, against Stomp, it is imperative that it be countered. Usually you wouldn’t counter a low damage burn spell, but countering the adventure stops them from being able to cast the giant, which can seriously put the advantage on your side.
Forced discard sucks. Card advantage is the fuel needed to maintain control, and to eventually dance, so any type of forced discard becomes antithetical to this approach. Nevertheless, keeping Kroxa and Rankle down, taking hits from the other smaller creatures, and discarding enchantments and artifacts is the best way to keep the pressure on. Tormod’s Crypt helps again, but more importantly, countering Kroxa after it has attempted an escape is the best time to strike. While they’re clearing out their graveyard, you can make plans to take advantage of the following turn. Never expect that the cards in your hand are cards you’ll keep.
For practically every deck, on turn three or four, if you have a Whirlwind Denial in your hand, and your opponent cracks a Fabled Passage, counter the ability. It will significantly upset their mindset, even if it doesn’t stop their plan.
If you come across cycling decks, don’t waste time on trying to stop them from cycling, instead, work the graveyard. Tormod’s Crypt and countering Zenith Flare are the keys to successful games. I wouldn’t worry about this match up at all. Budget vs budget, I believe that DHDL wins more consistently.
Planeswalkers are very tough to beat, but there’s plenty of permanent removal and counterspells to stop them. Always leave yourself an option, if you can. I haven’t had too many planeswalkers to deal with since they’re all pretty bland in this meta.
Don’t worry about boardwipes against other white decks, even if you lose Dream Trawler. If you’re forcing them to board wipe, that’s a wasted turn on their end that will get you one step closer to dance.
You don’t care about anything other than losing your graveyard. If you come across an enemy Tormod’s Crypt, keep a Whirlwind Denial close by.
Finally, if you’re coming across a control deck mirror match, it’s all about the war of attrition. Sometimes a well placed Elspeth Conquer’s Death can either run them out of counterspells, or drain them of the mana they need to counter you.
I won’t be providing a deck list for this specific deck, because I’m going to try and sell it as a premium hand-picked product! You can request a quote from me through the form here, and I’m also putting Count to Gyruda, and general deck building on sale as well! Thank you for your support!