Crap Rare Decks Part 3: Sphinx Bone Wand Counterburn (MtG):

This third installment of my “Crap Rare Deck” series features a deck with not one, but two of the ominous, so called Crap Rares no Pro Tour player would even lay an eye on, let alone a hand:

Have a look at Sphinx Bone Wand…

…and Djinn Illuminatus:

Both cards are horribly expensive Mana-wise, each of them having a converted Mana cost of 7, and at the same time, both are dirt cheap, with Djnn Illuminatus going for 50 cents and Wand for even less. So, at least when it comes to the monetary aspect, those two can without any doubt be considered “Crap Rares” and thus qualify for my “Crap Rares Decks” feature.

While both cards cost a lot of Mana, both cards have tremendous, more or less hidden potential which I want to try to unleash and max out the no doubt great effects of both Wand and Djinn in a low-budget Rogue-style deck. The deck I have in mind to be a good home for both of these cards could be called a “Counterburn” deck in general, and adopts a control style of play to survive long enough to get your 7 Mana ace cards to the table, and to make them stay once they are there. Furthermore, I found what seems like the perfect solution for speeding up the deck considerbly in Seething Song and Geosurge, the latter enabling you to summon Illuminatus or Wand easily on turn 4 at the latest. But before I go into further elaborations on the strategy involved in the deck I have in mind for Sphinx Bone Wand and Djinn Illuminatus, let us take a look at the deck list I have constructed (in my mind – I don’t own all the cards needed for the deck…yet). One last note before we will get to the card list: This deck is intended to be a fun/casual build sticking to the Modern Format rules.

Sphinxbone Counterburn (Modern Format):

Creatures…3

3 x Djinn Illuminatus (5R/U,R/U)

Instants…16

4 x Vapor Snag (U)

4 x Lightning Bolt (R)

4 x Mana Leak (1U)

4 x Rewind (2UU)

Sorceries…11

4 x Lava Spike (R)

4 x Seething Song (2R)

3 x Geosurge (RRRR)

Artifacts…8

4 x Talisman of Dominace (2)

4 x Sphinx Bone Wand (7)

Lands…22

4 x Izzet Guildgate

9 x Island

9 x Mountain

The Strategy:

The basic plan is to control with Vapor Snag, Mana Leak and Lightning Bolt (you’d rather want to spend those on keeping your opponent’s smaller Creatures in check – you got Lava Spike for your opponent anyways) for the first few turns, trying to get Sphinx Bone Wand or Djinn Illuminatus, or, even better, both, into play as soon as possible, With Seething Song and Geosurge (which conveniently provides exactly 7 Mana for either Creatures – Djinn – or Artifacts – Wand) you should be able to bring Wand or Djinn into play by turn 4 more or less consistently. Once you got either one of your key cards into play, things are going to get ugly for your opponent. While it is great to play your key cards asap, you have to be careful as they are your main win condition so you’d better be careful, take it easy and play them a turn later with enough Mana left after you played them to protect them with the Mana Leak in your hand.

Now let us see how this deck wins: As I said your primary win conditions are Sphinx Bone Wand or Djinn Illuminatus, or, if you are lucky, both at the same time as they have an amazing synergy. So what do these two cards do for you and how does that win games?

Well, whenever you play an Instant or Sorcery, you get to put a charge counter on the Sphinx Bone Wand and deal a number of damage equal to the  number of counters on it to target Creature or Player. Now when you play the next Instant or Sorcery, you put another charge counter on it, so that it will deal more and more damage each time you play another Instant or Sorcery. Combined with cheap Instants and Sorceries, which are powerful on their own anyways, for example Lightning Bolt, Lava Spike and Vapor Sang, Sphinx Bone Wand can get pretty much out of hand rather fast. A word of caution: Wand should be protected with your Counters Mana Leak and Rewind at all costs, as it gets better the longer it stays in play and once it is destroyed, all the counters on it will be lost.

Now Djinn Illuminatus gives all of your Instants and Sorceries Replicate, meaning you can copy each and every one of them ANY NUMBER OF TIMES by paying multiples of their original casting cost. Now this effect on its own can surely win you the game. Just imagine using this with Lightning Bolt or Lava Spike. It will be the equivalent of a tripple Fireball, as you will be paying 1 red Mana for every 3 damage you want to deal. If you have 7 red Mana, you will be able to deal a (probably lethal) amount of 21 damage. If you use Vapor Snag on the other hand, you can clear the field of opponent Creatures efficiently, by paying 1 blue Mana for every Creature you want to return. Plus, the opponent will lose 1 life for each copy of Vapor Snag cast.

If we combine these two cards, and I am not having any illusions about getting two 7 Mana cards into play at the same time being an easy thing to accomplish, but it is definitely a possibility, things are getting pretty crazy: Imagine you managed to get both Wand and Djinn into play and play a Lightning Bolt for 1 red Mana, dealing 3 damage to your opponent. Wand will trigger getting a counter and dealing 1 damage to your opponent if this was the first counter placed on it. Then you replicate the Lightning Bolt through Djinn’s ability at the cost of 1 more red Mana, deal 3 damage to your opponent and Wand deals 2 damage to your opponent. Rinse and repeat until you run out of red Mana or your opponent runs out of Life – whatever occurs first! Of course Sphinx Bone Wand will not only go off and be increased in power if you cast your red burn instants. Your Vapor Snags, Mana Leaks, and whatever Instants or Sorceries you will be playing will trigger Wand’s amazing ability. Again, this can get out of hand rather fast and, again, just make sure you got some countermagic up your sleeve and some untapped mana sources handy to protect especially your Sphinx Bone Wand.

On a closing note, I wanted to mention the role Talisman of Indulgence is playing in this deck: I am running four since it allows me to pull off a Geosurge on turn 3, which will allow me to play either Sphinx Bone Wand or Djinn Illuminatus early, too early for an unprepared opponent!

Overall I think I will have fun with this deck as I like counterburn strategies in general, think that this deck has some cheap, quality cards and is cheap to build money-wise as well and furthermore features a great combo. Seems to be just the type of Crap Rare Deck I would enjoy playing!

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