Invoke Despair in Standard
Hello everyone! Welcome back to The Magic Hole.
This week, we get to discuss me nearly losing my mind due to the Arena shuffler doing Arena shuffler things. You’ll have to watch the video to get the whole picture, but let’s just say it has something to do with three Deadly Disputes in a row and six lands on top of my library. Okay I know I didn’t leave much for the imagination there, but I’m still too salty to come up with anything clever to say.
But let’s not harp too much on the Arena shuffler, what are we playing this week? Since the release of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, I have absolutely loved the idea of playing Invoke Despair. Excellent in wiping out some important pieces of your opponents board, closing out the game when they have nothing to sacrifice, and drawing you cards makes this card a control player’s dream. Now I’m by no means a control player, but this card is just too sweet to pass up. So we built a mono-black, kill-all-your-stuff, Invoke Despair standard deck and attempted to climb the ladder.
With this deck, your opening hand will ideally have one of either Shambling Ghast or Eyetwitch. These are mainly just fodder for Deadly Dispute or chump blockers, but can chip in for some damage. They also add some extra value in their death triggers, allowing us to search for a lesson with Eyetwitch (Environmental Sciences can be an all-star with this deck), and Shambling Ghast can kill a one toughness creature, or ramp us into one of our payoffs.
We also have some removal. Like, a lot of removal. We need to make it to the late game desperately. We have no chance of closing out the game with our Shambling Ghasts and Eyetwiches, so to make it there we run a relatively robust spot-removal package including three Bloodchief’s Thirst and two Infernal Grasps. These will ideally keep us afloat until we can roll out a huge The Meathook Massacre, or fire off a Blood in the Snow.
Closing out the game will come a few ways, one is Shakedown Heavy, which proved to be underwhelming in the gameplay, but in unrecorded matches was an absolute unit. Oftentimes, it’s bad to give your opponents choice in Magic, and that’s still true. But when the choice is between taking six damage and letting us draw cards, it’s easier to stomach. And for the most part our opponents opted to let us draw cards, allowing us to draw more answers to their threats, or find threats of our own. As unimpressive as Shakedown Heavy was, I wouldn’t count him out. All of these games were pretty rough.
So while Shakedown Heavy is allowing us to draw cards and doing zero damage, how else can we get the win? Well, Lolth, the Spider Queen and Sorin the Mirthless are fantastic at closing out games. Creating evasive creatures that can chip in for damage, and in some cases gain us some life back, we really lean into this game plan when our Shakedown Heavy is held at bay by our opponent. We also have our namesake card, Invoke Despair itself can get us over the finish line after our opponents have dealt with the menagerie created by Lolth and Sorin. Remember all of those cards they let us draw?
Oh yea, they turned into three Invoke Despairs straight to the face. Well, that’s how I would imagine it would work, instead we probably just have six lands on the top of our deck. But that’s just silly, no one could ever top deck 6 lands in a row, right? …right???
My Invoke Despair concoction didn’t perform as well as I would’ve hoped. We had some horrendous draws versus some great draws from our opponents, mixed with my own questionable gameplay, it added up to a bad time. I thought it would be good though to show the variance that we can see in Magic, and for you all to roast me in the comments for my misplays (please help me get gud). No matter our record, at the end of the day I love playing the game, even though sometimes, I really suck at it.
Thank you everyone for taking the time to hang out in The Magic Hole for another fun filled week. If you have any deck suggestions or just want to watch some more Magic related content check out my YouTube channel. Also make sure you’re following me on Instagram and TikTok!