Evoking Despair in Explorer

Hello everyone! Welcome back to The Magic Hole. This time around we are sticking with the Explorer format and seeing how one of my favorite cards out of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty translates over from standard. 

You might remember a mono-black Standard list that we played a few weeks ago that basically focused on killing all of our opponents stuff and burning them out with Invoke Despair, and this deck is similar, except this time we get to add red for some extra Rakdos shenanigans.

Invoke Despair

The main theme of the deck is still intact, we kill stuff. We have the usual suspects to enable this part of our gameplan in Fatal Push, Bloodchief’s Thirst, and of course The Meathook Massacre. All of which help us stay alive into the late game to Invoke copious amounts of despair on our opponent. But we also have the added bonus of hand disruption with this build. Thoughtseize is the obvious choice for discard, but being in Rakdos allows us to also play Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, an early game discard spell and a great late-game threat. These two along with our fun-of Go Blank make for a pretty robust discard package. Not to mention Go Blank exiles the graveyard when we’re against those pesky Greasefang matchups.

Another card we gain access to now that we are in Rakdos colors is Ob Nixilis, the Adversary. He does have a lot of synergy with our discard package, but doesn’t necessarily force discard. He also does a great job of getting our life total up in the mid to late game, allowing us to stabilize. Red also brings another fantastic Kamigawa card in Fable of the Mirror-Breaker. This card is a multi-format powerhouse that allows us to create a body that we can sacrifice to Ob, or to ramp us with treasure, and then fix our hand to find more threats, and then make copies of said threats to close out the game! This card is ridiculous, as I’m sure you know. So I had to include it here.

As far as creatures go, we have a variety of early game enablers and mid game threats. To start, we have the omnipresent Shambling Ghast. A great early game blocker or fodder for Deadly Dispute, The ghast has the potential to ramp us into a turn four Invoke Despair, or kill an early threat from our opponent. We also have Tenacious Underdog, a great recursive threat that is perfect for sacrificing to Ob if we want. And lastly, there is Shakedown Heavy, a card I wasn’t too high on from the last deck, but I really wanted to give it another try. Shakedown Heavy is great for sacrificing to Ob, and making copies of it with the Reflection of Kiki-Jiki can amount to an insane amount of card draw, or an insane amount of damage depending on what our opponent chooses.

The mana base is demanding, being in two colors with Invoke Despair means that we need to consistently have four black mana by turn five, so we have an insane amount of dual lands. We even have four of Xander’s Lounge, the Grixis tri-land out of Streets of New Capenna. As well as helping to fix our mana, we can cycle it to find more threats.

 Overall the deck plays really well. We went 6-2 in the video which is linked above, and I have an overall 71% win percentage, which is pretty good across 28 games played. There are a lot of interesting decisions to be made, namely trying to decide when to cast your Ob, and what to sacrifice, if anything. I think this does have potential, all it would take is someone much smarter than we working out the kinks and making it a truly competitive deck. 

Zander's Lounge

Thanks again for hanging out in The Magic Hole! I hope you enjoyed it, and if you did, feel free to leave a comment and subscribe to the YouTube channel. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and TikTok!

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