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Dance Hall Days Love

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.

Sacrificial lambs

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!


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The Witching Hour

Word on the street is that in a certain city, in a certain region, in the hour between 12:00 AM and 1:00 AM, during the so-called Witching Hour (not the occult 3:00 AM variation,) they would play Summer Madness by Kool & The Gang on the local radio station. This doesn’t have anything to do with Magic, but I thought I would share the tale and cement it into Internet history (hopefully I got it right!) Anyway…

Happy Halloween

The Witching Hour is my featured deck for this Halloween week release. Originally built sometime in 2014, this deck is a wonderful multiplayer experience that works by draining each opponent and converting that into life gain. I believe the original purchase price for this deck was under $20, and it’s remained a budget build despite being heavily modified over the past six years. Nevertheless, the core of this deck has stayed the same, and always will.

The creepy core

Festering Newt: When Festering Newt dies, target creature an opponent controls gets -1/-1 until end of turn. That creature gets -4/-4 instead if you control a creature named Bogbrew Witch.

Bogbrew Witch: 2 Colorless Mana + Tap Bogbrew Witch: Search your library for a card named Festering Newt or Bubbling Cauldron, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.

Bubbling Cauldron: 1 Colorless Mana + Tap Bubbling Cauldron + Sacrifice a creature: You gain 4 life. 1 Colorless Mana + Tap Bubbling Cauldron + Sacrifice a creature named Festering Newt: Each opponent loses 4 life. You gain life equal to the life lost this way.

Although each of these cards can perform on their own, together they shine. This is the core gameplay, and everything else in this deck is designed to expedite getting these pieces, keeping them in play, and capitalizing on their effects.

Bogbrew Witch allows you to tutor for either Bubbling Cauldron or Festering Newt. Usually you always choose to grab the Cauldron first, if you don’t have it, because it’s better to have that on the battlefield to prevent enemy removal from taking out your Newt. Once the Witch, Cauldron, and Newt are all on the battlefield, saccing Festering Newt (at instant speed,) lets you trigger 4 life loss on each player and that total loss is converted into life gain (so if you have three opponents, you gain 12 life.) This significantly pushes you ahead while draining your opponents. WOTC doesn’t really do that kind of effect anymore, because that kind of advantage is just too powerful. That is especially true in this deck. Plus, Festering Newt is four times as strong, as a removal spell, when it dies with the Witch present.

Effectively this means that, off of one trigger, you can hit everyone, gain a bunch of life, and can usually take out most problematic creature, even if they’re indestructible. The one downside though, is that you can’t repeat this combo without extra help. In fact, you’ll need to trigger this at least five times if everyone is still at 20 life, and there’s only four Newts in the deck. What ever will we do?

Newts zombified


Order of Midnight: Flying. Order of Midnight can’t block. // Alter Fate: Return target creature card from your graveyard to your hand. (Then exile this card. You may cast the creature later from exile.)

Unearth: Return target creature card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield. Cycling 2 Colorless Mana (2 Colorless Mana + Discard this card: Draw a card.)

Immortal Servitude: Return each creature card with converted mana cost X from your graveyard to the battlefield.

Witch’s Cottage: Witch’s Cottage enters the battlefield tapped unless you control three or more other Swamps. When Witch’s Cottage enters the battlefield untapped, you may put target creature card from your graveyard on top of your library.

Okay, so we need to get that Newt back into play, and the best way to do that is to bring it back from the dead. Let’s see what we have in this deck to do just that.

Let me just take a second to say that the alternate art of Order of Midnight // Alter Fate is thematically beautiful, especially for this particular deck. Gameplay wise, though, Alter Fate allows us to return the Newt or the Witch, and Order of Midnight can act as the last bit of damage to push through if we don’t have any other options. If we’re low on life, we can always sac it to the Cauldron (or sac it because we want it in the graveyard.)

Unearth is perfect for this deck, because for one black mana, you can grab the Newt and put it directly onto the battlefield. It’s like casting it straight from the graveyard, which is exactly what we’re looking for. The cycling is an added bonus, but it would only really be useful if you didn’t have any Newts in the graveyard, or if you hadn’t set the Witch or the Cauldron up yet.

Immortal Servitude is also incredibly useful for this deck, because for four mana, you can return all of the Newts from your graveyard directly to the battlefield. Dropping this late game and saccing one Newt might be game over, but getting all four, short of a board wipe, would be really difficult for any opponent to survive.

Finally, thematically on point, Witch’s Cottage lets you grab the Newt, the Witch, or Order of Midnight, and put it on top of your library. It should be simple to hit the three swamp requirement, given that the rest of the land in this deck is made of swamps.

Now that we can establish the combo and we can keep it running, it’s time to dive into all of the utility we’ve packed to maintain our momentum.

Breathe your last breath

Tragic Slip: Target creature gets -1/-1 until end of turn. Morbid — That creature gets -13/-13 until end of turn instead if a creature died this turn.

Pharika’s Libation: Choose one — Target opponent sacrifices a creature or Target opponent sacrifices an enchantment.

Feed the Swarm: Destroy target creature or enchantment an opponent controls. You lose life equal to that permanent’s converted mana cost.

Golden Demise: Ascend (If you control ten or more permanents, you get the city’s blessing for the rest of the game.) All creatures get -2/-2 until end of turn. If you have the city’s blessing, instead only creatures your opponents control get -2/-2 until end of turn.

Never: Destroy target creature or planeswalker. // Return: Aftermath (Cast this spell only from your graveyard. Then exile it.) Exile target card from a graveyard. Create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token.

We can’t hit artifacts with this deck, but we have numerous ways to stop our opponents from maintaining any worthwhile board presence. Tragic Slip is brilliant, because we’re always sacrificing the Newt or removing an opponent’s creature, enchantment, or planeswalker, so triggering Morbid is the norm. That also means potentially up to -17/-17 for anything really big when stacking these effects. Both Pharika’s Libation and Feed the Swarm let us hit enchantments, and the potential life loss is irrelevant after saccing the Newt once. Golden Demise is our only board wipe, but it has the option to protect our Newts late game, if we even make it that far. Finally, Never // Return is a double-edged sword, letting us target planeswalkers, or hitting any card in our opponent’s graveyards with Aftermath. Something that eliminates an each opponent’s graveyard might be better, but I really like the duality of this card for this deck.

Making a deal with the devil

Sign in Blood: Target player draws two cards and loses 2 life.

Diabolic Tutor: Search your library for a card and put that card into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

The only real card draw in this deck comes from Sign in Blood, but given that it has two purposes, it seems apt for this deck. You can either draw two cards (and the 2 life loss doesn’t matter at all,) or you can target an opponent, and finish them off. I honestly haven’t really needed much card draw, since the core gameplay of this deck is low variance. To keep it that way, we’re employing a powerful budget staple, Diabolic Tutor. It’s a straight forward effect, and it will almost exclusively be used as additional Witch’s, since grabbing a recurring tutor is the most efficient way to start the drain.

Stay safe! Wear a mask!

That’s it for this deck! Isn’t the art and overall theme perfect for this time of the year? As for gameplay, it’s very simple, and the deck runs like clockwork, so it’s great for any beginner or veteran. Since my version of this deck changes quickly, I’m keeping a running deck list over at Scryfall, so click here to access that. It might have already changed by the time you read this article!

I want to take a second to stress that if we’re going to make this 2020 Halloween a safe one, everyone needs to work together, wear masks, keep alert, stay distanced, and maintain our hygiene and sanitization practices. Stay home if you can, and save a life. Have a safe, and Happy Halloween!