/ Arena

Scrubbing the Deck: Pandemonium Constructed

I am not a world-class deckbuilder. I love janky cards and four card combos way too much to ever get past being a scrub. And that's okay; not everyone gets to be Patrick Chapin. I'm also a format junkie because I enjoy thinking about the impact of tinkering with the game rules. So I've really appreciated the special weekend events on Magic Arena, and feel like this is an opportunity to write a little bit about my janky brews.

The most recent event was Pandemonium Constructed. In this format, whenever a creature you control enters the battlefield, an emblem deals damage equal to that creature's power to target creature an opponent controls.

PanCon

I've been playing one of the Rakdos Punisher lists in ranked, so I started my deck with many cards from there that I thought would work well in Pandemonium. Viashino Pyromancer now clears a 2-toughness creature in addition to the Shock to the opponent's face, and also activates Wizard's Lightning. Risk Factor fills up the hand or doles out more direct damage. Twice.

Next I started thinking about the enrage mechanic, because so much damage was going to be flying around. I was a little uncertain about my first pick, but Raptor Hatchling delivered over and over again all weekend. For whatever reason, people consistently failed to recognize that the 3/3 Dinosaur token would deal 3 damage to their creatures when it entered. So I saw this frequently:

Only once did I run into someone else who ran out Raptor Hatchling, and all that did was double the fun:

Frilled Deathspitter bolts a creature when it enters, and when it's dealt damage it sends out one more Shock the the opponent's face. While it lacks enrage, Charging Monstrosaur makes the list for the big hit and the haste, although mainly because I only had two copies of Demanding Dragon and no rare wildcards.

Looking past the dinosaurs, I wanted to make sure my burn plan was on point. Pyromantic Pilgrim helps enable Wizard's Lightning and again has haste, which often is the only way to connect on combat in the early game. I also happily stumbled upon Reckless Rage (which I had never seen played before) and threw it in. I figured that because my creatures would be dying all the time from my opponents casting their creatures, I could often get them on the crackback by targeting my same creature. I can't say it was always the card I wanted to have in hand, but the plan materialized often, and I made good use of the opportunities presented with this card.

So with loads of burn covering the opponent and their creatures, I felt confident I could keep pinging away at them while maintaining a board stall. So I just needed a finisher or two.

I played an almost-mirror Saturday morning, and my opponent wrecked me with Legion Warboss. Slow and steady go-wide helps provide some decent board advantage, but it's kind of win-more because you have to have more serious threats already online to make sure opponents don't target the warboss.

But the all-star of my weekend was Rekindling Phoenix. This easily won me more games than any other card, and I kept some terrible hands just because one of these babies was in my grip. Almost every game I got one out, I won. By late Sunday night I feel like people had found some good solutions, running more exile effects or making sure they could kill the token before making a move on the phoenix, but by then I was shutting down Arena to get some sleep.

Here's the list, in case Pandemonium ever comes back around.

Pandemonium Jr.

4 Reckless Rage
4 Raptor Hatchling
4 Viashino Pyromancer
4 Frilled Deathspitter
4 Ghitu Journeymage
2 Legion Warboss
2 Pyromantic Pilgrim
4 Risk Factor
4 Wizard's Lightning
3 Rekindling Phoenix
2 Charging Monstrosaur
2 Demanding Dragon
21 Mountain

I also tried a Saprolings deck with Tendershoot Dryad nonsense that I already had built. It ran okay, but people recognized the list and made sensible decisions playing against me. What fun is that?

We Johnnies and Jennies know the true way. I'll take the hit to my win percentage if it means I leave even one opponent shaking their head, asking themselves: "Did I just lose to Raptor Hatchling and Reckless Rage?"

See you next time to scrub up another deck.

/ted

Ted Rodney

Ted Rodney

Cardsphere Founder. Opened first booster of Revised in '94 and returned to the game during Scars block. Pauper, EDH, Modern, Standard Limited. Always happy to talk to the community.

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