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Written by James Heslip on . Posted in Casual Magic


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!

Pandemonium has had decks built around it since it was first printed in Exodus. Pandaburst was one of the most popular, a two or three color deck that combined Pandemonium with Saproling Burst for an instant kill. Due to recent printings, we can avoid the combo kills for a more interactive mono-red strategy. Fewer colors means lower prices, so let’s see if we can hit that $10 sweet spot!

The Core

The heart of our strategy is the titular Pandemonium,  so we will start with a playset of them. While not as powerful, his little brother Impact Tremors can fit the role of backup in case we can’t find our namesake. Besides, running into multiples is not a bad thing, as their abilities all stack. And if multiplayer matches are your thing, Tremors also gives you a little bit more power there.

Abusing the enters-the-battlefield (ETB) effects of these enhancements is where Warbringer and friends come in. With Pandemonium in play, any creature with the Dash ability becomes an infinitely re-castable burns spell. Just play them for their dash cost, burn your opponent (or one of his creatures) and then swing away. The beautiful synergy here is that even though your opponent gets the benefits of Pandemonium as well, they will never be able to use it to get rid of your dashers, as they will always be safe in your hand on your opponent’s turn. The same can’t be said for your opponent’s fighters, which will likely die to living burn on each of your turns. Eventually, they will run out of creatures, but you won’t!

“War, huh, yeah

What is it good for

Absolutely nothing…”

Lightning Berserker is our smallest dasher, and in many situations we will simply play her on our first turn to block early aggression. She is our only creature that has a natural dash cost of one, so she works better with Tremors than her brothers.

Vaultbreaker is your draw power, and helps you find Pandemonium over time. In the later game, he can get rid of extra lands or copies of Pandemonium that you don’t want to cast, and turn them all into more creatures to throw at enemies.

Heelcutter makes sure your hasted creatures can actually get through for damage. This is especially nice when your opponent has creatures in play that are too large to burn away. Finally, Warbringer is your main bomb. Each dash creature we have discussed so far will have their Dash cost reduced to one mana if just a single Warbringer sticks. Thanks to his cost reduction ability, when he hits play, Pandemonium becomes less of a name, and more of a reality.

The Backup

Viashino Sandscout is the original dash creature, and while we can’t bring his converted mana cost (CMC) down to one with Warbringer, he is still cheap and useful enough to warrant inclusion. You can think of him as Mardu Scout lite.

Foundry Street Denizen is our go-to first turn play that synergizes beautifully with our game plan. Casting and recasting our creatures every turn makes him a powerful and inexpensive beater. Kruin Striker is included for the same reasons, but comes with the bonus Trample ability. This comes in handy against swarm decks.

The Final List

It’s possible that the list needs additional lands, as it is a very mana hungry strategy. There are multiple core cards that we want to cast at four mana, which may become a problem from time to time at just twenty two mountains. I could easily see the list cutting two Sandscouts to bring our land count up to twenty four. With Berserker’s firebreathing ability and the cost intensive nature of the decks’ strategy in general, I can’t see mana flooding being too much of an issue.

Playing the Deck

Denizen and Striker should always come down before anything else, as they are most effective in the early game, and playing anything before them is a waste of potential. Even without Pandemonium in play your Dash creatures should be effective beaters when combined with these two.

Because Dash gives haste, more often than not you want to use Pandemonium to burn away your opponent’s blockers. Let your attacks whittle down the enemy player’s life points. Then, when they are in burn range, you can point everything at his face for a final volley of fire.

Don’t be afraid to cast your dashers for their intended mana cost, either. Sometimes you need to stick a creature to use as a blocker or to conserve mana for the next turn. This is especially true for Vaultbreaker, who you might need to use to find Pandemonium. If you can stick him down and keep your mana open, you can attack with him and play anything relevant that he finds in the same turn.

Ball Lightning and the other elementals included in the list are among the most commonly played creatures in this archetype. It’s difficult to say no to six damage (plus attacks) for only three mana, and I would not fault anyone who made use of them. The inevitability of Dash creatures is too powerful for me to ignore, though, so Lightning was excluded from the list.

Speaking of elementals, Nova Chaser doesn’t even need to champion something to be good here. Though many have chosen to add Pandemonium in their elemental tribal lists, ten damage for four mana is respectable even without the ability to keep him around for later. Dreadnought and Soulgorger follow in the same vein. You won’t get to keep them around, but they’ll leave a body or a bruise. Grinning Ignus and Viashino Sandstalker are just more Dash lite creatures that you could play if don’t have enough of the others. Their power-to-cost ratio is just lower than anything else already included in the deck.

Vexing Devil is interesting if only for the fact that with a Panda in play his choice aspect is made moot. He, Prototype, and the walls are all mentioned simply because they are able to play the role of undercosted burn spells in the right situation. Not terribly powerful (Phyrexians pack a bigger punch, and our Evoke creatures come with secondary effects beyond their burn), but we are all about availability here.

Nothing too novel about this week’s list, but chaos is fun, and this deck certainly brings chaos. As always, hit me up on facebook, or send me an email at Spooky386@gmail.com.


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