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High Alert

Written by James Heslip on . Posted in Casual Magic

High Alert

James Heslip

James is a budget Magic connoisseur who values silly strategies and rogue decks. He has been playing Magic since 1998, and competing in Legacy events since 2010. When he is not teaching high school English, he can be found brewing Casual and Legacy decks to play with his students and peers. Always appreciative of feedback, he loves it when people send suggestions and share crazy decks with him!


Doran, the Siege Tower’s printing all the way back in Lorwn introduced players to a then unique ability. As long as he was in play, all creatures dealt damage with their toughness. Many players designed decks around this ability, but at three colors, it was very difficult to build anything effective on a budget. Since then, however, we have had a number of releases that apply a similar effect to your creatures. Most recently, High Alert and Huatli, the Sun’s Heart. Both share a color, and are uncommons. This means we can finally build a cheap and consistent version of the Doran decks from years before.
The Core

Our core strategy is to play low mana cost creatures with high toughness and use them in combination with our namesake card. This puts our opponent under powerful early aggression. Without High Alert or Huatli in play, though, our creatures do little more than block for us. So, we will keep both in high numbers to assure that we draw into them.

Huatli allows for some decent life gain as well. This cushions some of the blows we may take while trying to piece together a threatening board state. Life gain has become a sort of side strategy of the deck, as you will see with some of our backup cards.


The Backup

Creatures which made the cut are those that had the highest toughness-to-cost ratio I could find in blue and white. There is some utility included, but for the most part, it’s all about playing that two-mana 6/6 as soon as possible.

Elite Arrester and God-Pharaoh’s Faithful are our one-drops. The former interacts with opposing creatures in ways other than blocking, and the ladder grants some life gain. Nyx-Fleece Ram does much the same. The ram is more consistent, but Faithful has the potential to gain more than one life a turn. Combined with Huatli, and you will have plenty of hit points to play around with.

You will likely never find a reason to morph Dragon’s Eye Savants, but you will not find a cheaper CMC card with such high toughness. Surge Mare’s double blue casting cost will sometimes be an issue, but he is likely our most useful beatstick. He has a pseudo unblockable ability built in, and can dig through our draws to find additional threats.

Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive is what makes the deck shine. With her in play, all of our creatures can swing right past our opponent’s blockers. With such high damage output, this will likely end the game with one swing. Bar the Door will all but guarantee this thanks to the nearly better Overrun affect it has in this deck.

Shimmer of Possibility digs for a toughness enabler, or anything else we may need. Condemn kills threats that we can’t block or otherwise deal with. The list could play counter magic or other protection cards, but I chose to go all-in with the toughness theme.

Cost: $11 at the time of publication
Playing the Deck
A beautiful thing about this deck is how simple it is to play. Cast your high-defense creatures to keep you alive until you can play High Alert or Huatli. From here, beat face.

If you already have one of the enablers in play, then Shimmer of Possibility should be digging for Tetsuko. You don’t have a lot of answers to common and powerful late-game threats, so use the legendary ninja to end the game fast.

Bar the Door does not need Tetsuko to be useful. Get that extra four damage in here and there. Playing the card as originally intended and keeping your creatures alive is also an option.

While I stayed clear of creatures with defender in my list, I wanted to at least show those with the highest potential here. Playing them makes you must more reliant on High Alert (as opposed to Huatli) but it also allows for some awesome synergy. Perimeter Captain, Stalwart Shield-Bearers, Sunscape Familiar, and Wall of Denial are all all-stars here.

Parapet and friends can pull off a decent Glorious Anthem impression, but the buff is probably too little compared to what we can already get away with.

Benthic Infiltrator and Tide Drifter work well together, and could potentially go in a list with Suspicious Bookcase and Steel Wall. This level of evasion is just worse than what Umezawa already gives us, though. The same can be said for Minamo Sightbender and Crafty Pathmage.

Meekstone and Marble Titan both deserve a mention for their amusing interactions with the deck. Both will make your opponent think twice before attacking or using any abilities that require them to tap their creatures. You, on the other hand, couldn’t care less! They are both fairly expensive to buy, but if you have any lying around, give them a try!


What did you think of today’s list? Tell me about it on my facebook page. You can also send me an email at Spooky386@gmail.com. Wondering how my decks have changed since I last wrote about them? Check out all of my updated deck lists here!

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