Spread the Sickness – UB Persecutor by Grant Hislop

UB Mystical Teachings – A Pauper Video Article by Grant Hislop


So I’ve written a few times here before. Welcome to the first of my regularly scheduled articles. Planning on writing a couple of times a month, about a mixed bag of topics. I flit around in terms of what I play a lot, so this article series should reflect that. It’s probably going to focus on the current PTQ format more than anything else.

My girlfriend and I draft cube a lot, inbetween MODO trolling Marco Orsini-Jones (ps, she’s not pregnant ;-)), so I might write a bit about Winchester drafting and/or Cube design.

No objections to doing some Deck-Doctors as well, so if you want me to improve your Standard decks, please post in forums. I promise to not just add blue cards….

I play EDH a bit, and while it’s not my favourite format in the world, I’ve no objections to writing about some decks I’ve built. These are generally on the Spikier end of the spectrum, though I’ve got a more casual Dakkon Blackblade deck that I’ve been pwning noobs with in our monthly EDH league with.

Played a bit of Standard recently. Seems pretty fun. I like that there’s no consensus ‘best deck‘, and you can pretty much play what you like. There’s reasonable Aggro, Control and Combo options.

Obviously I’ve been playing Control… Obviously it’s Blue/Black….

I got this deck from a Frenchman on MagicLeague. This would generally be enough to put me off a deck, as I hate the French, and the people on MagicLeague are largely morons. To be fair to this Baguette-Eating Surrender-Monkey, I actually agreed with most of his card choices. The sideboard seemed weak, so I changed a few cards around to get something I was happier with. It’s possible that there’s a reason for some of the odd numbers there originally, but I couldn’t be bothered working out what was happening, so I just assumed he was wrong, and changed things. Like a boss.

I’ve really enjoyed playing with it. It does some really powerful things, and seems pretty well positioned at the moment. The only deck I’m soft to is [Card]Tempered Steel[/Card], which seems, in my experience, to be on the down-swing. We’re also well positioned to take advantage of the other decks being more prepared to combat it, ie. more maindeck [Card]Doom Blade[/Card] etc.



4 [Card]Creeping Tar Pit[/Card]
4 [Card]Drowned Catacomb[/Card]
4 [Card]Darkslick Shores[/Card]
4 [Card]Tectonic Edge[/Card]
5 [Card]Island[/Card]
5 [Card]Swamp[/Card]

3 [Card]Abyssal Persecutor[/Card]
2 [Card]Grave Titan[/Card]

2 [Card]Spreading Seas[/Card]
3 [Card]Jace Beleren[/Card]
2 [Card]Liliana Vess[/Card]
4 [Card]Preordain[/Card]
3 [Card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/Card]
2 [Card]Despise[/Card]
1 [Card]Black Suns Zenith[/Card]
2 [Card]Ratchet Bomb[/Card]

4 [Card]Mana Leak[/Card]
1 [Card]Stoic Rebuttal[/Card]
4 [Card]Go For The Throat[/Card]
1 [Card]Into the Roil[/Card]


4 [Card]Vampire Nighthawk[/Card]
2 [Card]Duress[/Card]
2 [Card]Memoricide[/Card]
3 [Card]Disfigure[/Card]
1 [Card]Doom Blade[/Card]
2 [Card]Flashfreeze[/Card]
1 [Card]Ratchet Bomb[/Card]

The good thing about a deck like this is the sheer volume of redundancy we are faced with when building. We have 3 potential 1-mana hand disruption spells to choose from. We have multiple options at each point in the curve. I’ll talk a little about why I’m playing each choice.

Discard Suite.

3 [Card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/Card]
2 [Card]Despise[/Card]

I like having 5 MD Hand Attack spells. 3 [Card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/Card] seems pretty standard at this point. The only question being whether you want the 4th, or whether to diversify into either [Card]Despise[/Card] or [Card]Duress[/Card]. Each card has its pros and cons, but in this case I’ve opted for Despise. It takes Titans, which [Card]Duress[/Card] can’t, not to mention stuff like [Card]Hero of Bladehold[/Card] and the like, which Inquisition and [Card]Duress[/Card] can’t.

Something as simple as which other Discard spell you use has cascades of further implications into how you build, and play your deck, so be warned. If you switch up the Discard, the deck will play extremely differently.

That said, I like the effect [Card]Duress[/Card] provides, though I enjoy it more in the board. I side it in a lot, but just because a card is valuable in G2 and 3 doesn’t mean you need to maindeck it. Conversely, just because you side a card OUT a lot, it doesn’t mean it needs benched.


3 [Card]Abyssal Persecutor[/Card]
2 [Card]Grave Titan[/Card]

So, here is probably the most unconventional area. We’ve eschewed the other 6-drops, like [Card]Consecrated Sphinx[/Card], and [Card]Wurmcoil Engine[/Card] for Big Daddy Graves and [Card]Abyssal Persecutor[/Card]. None of our creatures dies to [Card]Dismember[/Card] or [Card]Doom Blade[/Card]. This is quite a meta call. Most other Black decks have had to adopt [Card]Doom Blade[/Card] over [Card]Go for the Throat[/Card], or at least a split, favouring the former, due to how prevalent the [Card]Tempered Steel[/Card] became recently.

The other potential 4-drop in consideration for many UB decks has been [Card]Solemn Simulacrum[/Card]. I’m a pretty big fan of Jens, and I wish I could be using him here. I loves me a value creature like this, but he just doesn’t pull his weight enough for me to be fully on board. He can’t block fliers, and isn’t enough of a threat for my liking. Tapping out on Turn 4 seems increasingly bad in the current format. Sure, [Card]Grave Titan[/Card] is better on Turn 5 than Turn 6, but when decks like Valakut and [Card]Splinter Twin[/Card] can effectively kill you from Turn 4 onwards, Jens looks under-powered.

If we’re playing conservatively, we can play a pseudo-Titan on T6, and continue to represent [Card]Mana Leak[/Card]. He blocks Titans, and presents a much bigger threat than Jens, so Percy gets the nod from me.

Percy presents a must-answer threat. Where your opponent can ignore Jens, Percy kills too quickly to be ignored. If your opponent [Card]Oblivion Ring[/Card]’s him, it’s one card less that can deal with [Card]Liliana Vess[/Card]. If he pulls the trigger on a [Card]Day of Judgment[/Card], it’s one card less that can deal with [Card]Grave Titan[/Card]. With the counters in the format being mainly [Card]Spell Pierce[/Card] and [Card]Mana Leak[/Card], your opponents aren’t in a position to get into fights over your removal spells. If they can’t deal with your 6/6 trampler, you’re probably winning.

We’re not looking to play a whole bunch of guys that jab away at out opponent while gaining a little bit of value. We’d much rather be landing giant haymakers, and that is what Percy represents here. Doing cool things is fun, but winning is better.


3 [Card]Jace Beleren[/Card]
2 [Card]Liliana Vess[/Card]

We like the Jace, we like the Jace, we like the buttery biscuit Jace.

Stolen Paul McLachlan puns aside, we want to use Jace as our draw engine. We COULD use Divination, but that’s only a common, and Jace is Mythic. Given that Magic has turned into a battle of who can play the most Mythic rares in their deck, Jace takes centre stage here.

This entire deck is about trading 1-for-1, until we can stabilise behind a [Card]Grave Titan[/Card] or a Persecutor. I see Jace filling a similar role to [Card]Timely Reinforcements[/Card] in Caw-blade, and the likes. It gains some life, buys you a turn, and in this case, acts as a cantrip. If it lives another turn, we’re gaining more value.

As an aside, +2ing [Card]Jace Beleren[/Card] seems insanely bad in this format. Given the choice, I’d almost always rather cash Jace out at 3 cards, rather than giving my opponent the extra card. Because our cards are almost all 1-for-1’s, we really don’t want to be giving our opponents more cards that we have to deal with. Options are good, but not being a moron is better. Use Jace properly, die less. Piece of piss.

I’m a huge fan of [Card]Liliana Vess[/Card]. She’s a repeatable discard engine, in addition to her [Card]Vampiric Tutor[/Card] ability helping us find/kill [Card]Abyssal Persecutor[/Card]. I’ve played this deck a fair amount, and I don’t think I’ve used her ultimate yet. It seems insane, but obviously you need to have a huge amount of board control to be in a position to use it, by which time you should have found a way to win anyway… Again, remember it’s there, but don’t be a moron, and give your opponent extra turns to find his outs. As much fun as it might be to steal all your opponent’s creatures and beat him with them, winning the game is more fun. Use Liliana properly, die less. Piece of piss.

Stuff that kills other stuff.

4 [Card]Go for the Throat[/Card]
1 [Card]Black Suns Zenith[/Card]
2 [Card]Ratchet Bomb[/Card]
1 [Card]Into the Roil[/Card]

I’ve found that 8 ways to remove Percy is enough. [Card]Black Suns Zenith[/Card] is a repeatable one. Try and not get it countered…

We need to run [Card]Go for the Throat[/Card], which is slightly sub-optimal, due to [Card]Tempered Steel[/Card], but is not dead vs Vampires, when [Card]Doom Blade[/Card] is. I don’t like running [Card]Dismember[/Card] in UB at all, due to it costing life. Especially when we’re not running Wurmcoils, we just can’t afford the potential life loss.

I like a misers [Card]Into the Roil[/Card] in this type of deck. One of my favourite plays vs other control decks is to cast [Card]Liliana Vess[/Card], tutor for this, and bounce whatever they played while I was tapped out, drawing a card in the process, and countering it on the way back down.

I like Ratchet Bomb currently. You buy a turn vs [Card]Splinter Twin[/Card], you kill [Card]Squadron Hawk[/Card]s, you really hurt [Card]Tempered Steel[/Card]. It’s a card that has huge upside, for quite a small cost, and at a reasonable point in the curve. If only it drew a card….

Sideboard is pretty self-explanatory, with a little bit for everything. We’re fortunate in that our deck doesn’t really have any horrible matches, so we can play a bunch of cards that are abstractly useful, and we can adjust our deck easily, based on what we’re playing.

4 [Card]Vampire Nighthawk[/Card]
2 [Card]Duress[/Card]
2 [Card]Memoricide[/Card]
3 [Card]Disfigure[/Card]
1 [Card]Doom Blade[/Card]
2 [Card]Flashfreeze[/Card]
1 [Card]Ratchet Bomb[/Card]

I’ve opted for [Card]Vampire Nighthawk[/Card] as my anti-aggro creature. I don’t like [Card]Calcite Snapper[/Card] too much, and I feel like the Nighthawk affords the most upside if it lives. Sure, it might eat a [Card]Lightning Bolt[/Card] that [Card]Calcite Snapper[/Card] wouldn’t have, but that’s one bolt less to the face, and Nighthawk will actually kill a creature on the way out, where [Card]Calcite Snapper[/Card] wouldn’t have. Again, it’s a small choice, but it impacts the way you have to play your games, so don’t think you can just change them around without a Butterfly Effect worth of changes to how your deck plays out.

There’s some cheap removal spells as well. [Card]Disfigure[/Card] is still a powerful card, as is [Card]Doom Blade[/Card] It should be relatively apparent where these cards are useful.

I wanted another Wrath effect MD, and I find that the 2nd [Card]Ratchet Bomb[/Card] is more useful than a 3rd [Card]Black Suns Zenith[/Card]. It’s better vs the random decks, while still having game vs the tiered decks of the format.

[Card]Memoricide[/Card] is super-good vs the combo decks, unsurprisingly. I’d like to have a 3rd, but I don’t see where it fits.

One of the best things about this Sideboard configuration is the ability to change from a reactive deck into a tap-out style of deck post board. We’ve got plays right up the curve, and can force our opponent to misstep with our cheap disruption.


T1 [Card]Inquisition[/Card]
T2 [Card]Spreading Seas[/Card]
T3 [Card]Vampire Nighthawk[/Card]
T4 [Card]Abyssal Persecutor[/Card]
T5 [Card]Liliana Vess[/Card]
T6 [Card]Grave Titan[/Card]

Boom! goes the dynamite.

So, I’ve talked about why most of the cards are here. Let’s talk a bit about how it plays vs some of the most popular decks.

VS Caw-Blade.

The biggie. This is pretty much the test all new decks need to pass. If you’ve got a stinking Caw matchup, you really can’t expect to be winning your PTQ. Given that there’s plenty of different variations of Caw at the moment, the way this match plays out is hugely different. I like our chances vs the more controlling versions, and the [Card]Hero of Bladehold[/Card] versions seem fine as well. The scariest thing they can do is [Card]Squadron Hawk[/Card] holding a [Card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/Card]. Again, we’re a 1-for-1 deck, and so are they, but Sword breaks the mana-parity, as well as stealing our answers. Our Liliana’s fill a similar role, but for a single card. Given the unreliability of Caw-blades draw engine, I’d rather have [Card]Liliana Vess[/Card] than the much cheaper [Card]Squadron Hawk[/Card].

Remember, while Sword gives Protection from Black, Percy can still trample over and equipped Hawk for 3, hopefully making our clock faster. Also, he doesn’t die to [Card]Ratchet Bomb[/Card], [Card]Black Suns Zenith[/Card] as easily as the Hawks do.

[Card]Hero of Bladehold[/Card] is a dick. Kill on sight.

I’m currently siding.

+3 [Card]Vampire Nighthawk[/Card], +1 [Card]Duress[/Card]
-1 [Card]Abyssal Persecutor[/Card], -2 [Card]Spreading Seas[/Card], -1 [Card]Jace Beleren[/Card]

I don’t like Seas post-board. We don’t really need other ways to deal with [Card]Celestial Colonnade[/Card]. I like upping to 6 Hand Attack cards post-board. This is a tempo based match, so we want to ensure we’re winning the war.

This plan obviously varies depending on what style they’re running. As we’re cutting a Percy, it’s possible we could cut a removal spell for an additional [Card]Vampire Nighthawk[/Card].

I don’t like Jace against decks with [Card]Squadron Hawk[/Card]. He’ll die a lot, but it’s still needed, I think.

VS Valakut.

Another biggie. You need to have a plan vs this.

This is mine

+2 Memoricide, + 2 Flashfreeze, +2 Duress
-1 Ratchet Bomb, -1 Black Suns Zenith, -2 Mana Leak, -2 Inquisition of Kozilek

Be careful with Memoricide. It’s usually Primeval Titan, but they know this, so board in some combination of [Card]Koth of the Hammer[/Card], [Card]Thrun, the Last Troll[/Card] and [Card]Gaea’s Revenge[/Card]. These cards suck for us, in descending order that I’ve listed them. Revenge gets blocked by Percy, Thrun’s quite the clock, but Percy stops him pretty easily. Koth will probably kill us if it resolves. Logic dictates then that we stop it resolving.

VS [Card]Splinter Twin[/Card]

This is where the SB shines. This is also where I’d rather have [Card]Calcite Snapper[/Card] than [Card]Vampire Nighthawk[/Card]. We’re going to be siding out our high cost spells, and play a more aggro game. We can’t tap out, for fear of dying, so we’re better off using our cheaper guys to clock our opponent, backed up with cheap disruption. Nighthawk’s still a reasonable threat, but Snapper’s twice as fast….

+4 [Card]Vampire Nighthawk[Card], +2 [Card]Duress[/Card], + 2 [Card]Memoricide[/Card], +1 [Card]Flashfreeze[/Card]
-2 [Card]Grave Titan[/Card], -2 [Card]Liliana Vess[/Card], – 2 [Card]Despise[/Card], -2 [Card]Black Suns Zenith[/Card], -1 [Card]Jace Beleren[/Card]

VS [Card]Tempered Steel[/Card]

We lose G1. Unless their hand is garbage. Or they mull to 3. Other than that, we’ll probably lose. Game 2+3 are more reasonable. I think this is the worst match for this deck, and we’ll still lose around 60% of our game 2 and 3’s. Every deck has a stinker, and this is ours

Our countermagic is beyond terrible here. Cut it all. Use your discard to disrupt their curve. Fight to get their [Card]Tempered Steel[/Card] out of their hand. [Card]Vampire Nighthawk[/Card] is great here. He’ll eat a Dispatch at worst, and at best, kill a couple of their guys, and gain a bunch of life. Gogo Batman.

+3 [Card]Disfigure[/Card], +1 [Card]Doom Blade[/Card], +4 [Card]Vampire Nighthawk[/Card], +1 [Card]Ratchet Bomb[/Card], +2 [Card]Duress[/Card]
-1 [Card]Jace Beleren[/Card], -4 [Card]Mana Leak[/Card], -2 [Card]Go for the Throat[/Card], -1 [Card]Grave Titan[/Card], -1 [Card]Stoic Rebuttal[/Card], -2 [Card]Liliana Vess[/Card]

An 11 card SB, and we still can’t win reliably. Balls.

VS Mono Red

Another deck with no consensus ‘Best Build’. This is my generic SB plan. Tailor to suit the version you’re playing against.

+3 [Card]Disfigure[/Card], +4 [Card]Vampire Nighthawk[/Card], +1 [Card]Doom Blade[/Card], +2 [Card]Flashfreeze[/Card]
-2 [Card]Spreading Seas[/Card], -1 [Card]Stoic Rebuttal[/Card], -3 [Card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/Card], -2 [Card]Liliana Vess[/Card], – 2 [Card]Mana Leak[/Card]

I don’t really like our Counters here, but discard is terrible against them, and we don’t have enough to bring in. At least we get to upgrade a couple of Leaks into [Card]Flash Freeze[/Card]. They’re just dumping their hands, and we need to answer it once it’s on the table, rather that stripping it out of their hands. They play off the top reasonably well, and I don’t like discard vs decks that play off the top so well. I’d maybe consider leaving Liliana in on the draw, and cutting the last 2 Leaks, but again, it depends on the build.

Prevent the damage wherever you can. Throw your Nighthawks away if you get the chance to block. The lifegain, plus killing a creature is worth at least a card and a half, and again, we’re just trying to live till our fatties can take control of the game.

We’ve only really got [Card]Mana Leak[/Card] to answer [Card]Act of Aggression[/Card], so be aware of it. It’s common, it will happen, you will get blown out. C’est la vie. Try and minimize the amount it happens, as difficult as it may be. You need to mulligan to some business pretty aggressively, as this is not a deck that will give you much room to breathe.

That covers most of the big decks. If there’s anything I’ve missed, let me know here by commenting and I’ll try and reply.

I’m going to try to record some video’s of this deck this week. I’ve got this recording software down pretty good, I think, but it takes an age to render the videos. While it’s not a particularly time-consuming task to actually record the videos (about 15mins a pop), the rendering, publishing etc of them takes me about an hour apiece. Stupid Scottish Internet….

Once again, if there’s anything else you’d like to see me play, or play against, or write about, let me know. We live to please.

Grant Hislop
Vaughnswift on MODO

Did you enjoy this article? I will get a free Booster Pack for every 20 Facebook Likes this article receives. If you enjoyed what you’ve read then please remember to hit the “Like” button at below. Thank you kindly in advance.

Please let us know what you think below...

Visit our Manaleak online store for the latest Magic: the Gathering singles, spoilers, exclusive reader offers, sales, freebies and more!

Magic The Gatherig Freebies Giveaways