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Laying Siege to the Palace

Written by James Heslip on . Posted in Casual Magic

Laying Siege to the Palace

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!

Palace Siege Control

With combo and aggro decks under our belts, I figured this week we could focus on something a little more controlling. Casting powerful spells is the reason we play this game, so  why not try to build a deck that lets us cast our best cards over and over again? With its creature recursion ability, Palace Siege lets us do just that. Plus, at just over $8, it’s our cheapest deck yet!


The Core

The strategy here is fairly simple. Find and play Palace Siege, name Khans, and recur creatures with Enters the Battlefield (ETB) triggers every turn for various rewards. Four copies of our namesake is a must. Even if we find ourselves in a situation where we don’t need multiple recursion effects, we can still use it to close out the game with its life drain ability. Multiples in play will almost never be a bad thing.

As for what we want to recur, we need creatures that we can guarantee end up in the graveyard after they’ve done their part. This way, Siege can grab them every turn. Fleshbag Marauder and his brother Merciless Executioner fit the bill. We can use them as a higher cost Edict effect and just choose them for our end of the deal. They end up in the yard, and we rinse-repeat until our opponent has no more creatures to put in our way.

Evoke and Echo creatures work in a similar fashion. We can choose not to pay Bone Shredder’s echo cost, and then revive him for infinite targeted removal. Mournwhelk helps against non-creature decks. While it is more costly to play each turn, a Palace Siege in play and a Mournwhelk in the graveyard means we can keep our opponent in top-deck mode for the entire game.

The Backup

Mono black control decks have their all-stars. Duress for targeted discard, and Innocent Blood and Victim of Night for additional removal. These are cards that have been seen time and time again. We even have a card slightly better than Mind Rot: Unburden (this is mostly because four copies of Hymn to Tourach puts us over budget).

There are other cards here that you don’t see as often. Drown in Sorrow is a much-needed sweeper, as the vast majority of our removal will only kill one creature at a time. Minister of Pain fills a similar role. Because she can exploit herself, we can use her as a recurring Festergloom. Without Drown or Minister, swarm decks would likely eat us alive. Crux of Fate is another sweeper. While it is mostly just a poor man’s Damnation, there is a plus side to its higher casting cost: Brainspoil. Spoil is a lackluster removal spell on its own (though not completely worthless), but its Transmute ability is why we play it. With Spoil in the list we can search for Crux of Fate if we need to wipe the board clean. We can also find Palace Siege with much more consistency.

To wrap this up we have Phyrexian Totem; a mana rock that allows us to get our engine online faster. Totem  also plays the part of finisher. Once our Marauders and Mournwhelks have emptied our opponent of everything they have, we can animate the Totem and put them out of their of their misery. With so much discard and removal, the threat of totem actually taking damage is very low.

The Final List

Playing the Deck

  Palace Siege Control is one of the grindiest decks I have ever played. You won’t be able to attack your opponent with your walking kill spells, so actually winning doesn’t come until the very late game. But, this is what you sign up for when you build a deck like this.


Without Siege, we have a respectable mono black control shell that can hold its own in most match ups. Play the game like any other mono black control list and don’t worry too much about finding the right combination of cards. Use your Marauders like you would anyways. Keep your opponent in check. The Siege will come to you eventually. Once it does, just keep doing your thing (Siege will make sure of it). Kill everything they play. Destroy their hand. Once the coast is clear, use Phyrexian Totem to finish things up. In a pinch, you can also slowly whittle their life away with extra Palace Sieges in dragon mode, or attack with Bone Shredders whose echo costs have been paid.

There are more than a few directions our initial list can be taken. Mortuary Mire and Volrath’s Stronghold seem right at home in a deck that focuses on recurring creatures. Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors help bring Palace into play quicker, and Cabal Pit acts as additional removal if we ever need it. All of these are fine options as long as your wallet is okay with them.

Bontu is an alternative win condition whose attack restriction is easy to get around thanks to our marauders killing themselves every turn. If swarming is more your thing, Rackshasa Gravecaller exploiting itself gives us two 2/2 creatures every turn. With a mana cost of five he is costly, but it works. You would also be able to search for him with Brainspoil, which is a plus.

Fume Spitter seems right at home here. His big brother Shriekmaw was absent in today’s list because his $1 price tag meant a full playset was out of the question for our budget. If you already own some, though, he should definitely replace Bone Shredder and some number of Marauders or Executioners.


What do you think of this week’s long and grindy control deck? Let me know in the comments, or on my facebook page. Do you have an idea for an inexpensive and fun deck you want me to see? Send me an email at Spooky386@gmail.com.

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