Duel Decks: Witches vs. Witch Hunters

Lauri’s request, so blame him.

… and in case you are wondering: No, this is not a real product (at least not of this writing).

My first response to this idea was instinctively that since the hunters are going to be much stronger, if they have abilities that work specifically against the witches, but I guess we can find some weird way to balance this out. I don’t have to adhere to strict number of rares, for example, so we can try to avoid the most brutal answers to witches here.

Part of me wants to use the approach of “Satanism and Witchcraft”, a non-fiction book from 1862 by Jules Michelet, which depicted witches as resistance against the hierarchies of medieval Europe, but I don’t think that would work in the context of the cards available. Especially, as there aren’t going to be many red witches, the color into which such a resistance movement would most easily fall.

I’m taking a very non-politically correct line here. Witches are women (or hags, in some cases) who cast curses. So, that deck will be mostly comprised of those. Not necessarily only curses, specifically, but other enchantments, especially auras, do qualify. The witch deck will be mostly black, but maybe with a green splash in hybrid cards if nothing else. The creatures here won’t be very useful on the battlefield, especially in combat. They are more about value.

The witch hunters will be mostly in white. They will be much more significant threats in combat and strike harder and faster. I doubt the actual card [card]Witch Hunter[/card] will make it into the deck, but these will probably mostly be human clerics, soldiers and knights. Since they are depicted often as reliant on various devices, I will give them at least some equipment, which also gives me more options when choosing the creatures for this deck. Not much equipment and I don’t want too much consistency with them, so I’ll probably have like eight preferably different equipment cards.

I think the theme will be that the witches will try to grind the witch hunters out and the hunters need equipment to be able to attack through the higher toughness opponents. Maybe a few combat tricks as well.

I won’t be testing this in any way, so I can’t guarantee any sort of balance.

Deck 1 – Witches

First, some witches. There is a limited number of hags in the game. A total of nine to be exact. Of these, I would like to play the following:

[draft]Desecrator Hag
Fate Unraveler
Hag Hedge-Mage[/draft]

The last one’s second ability won’t probably be too relevant, but I’ll put in some forests, so that I can play some green cards. Just a splash.

If I search for the term “witch” I find the following actual witches that would work here.

[draft]Accursed Witch
Bitterheart Witch
Bogbrew Witch
Cuombajj Witches
Kindly Stranger
Witch’s Familiar[/draft]

The last one isn’t really good, but it’ll get into the deck as a one-of for the obvious reason.

I don’t think this deck should play [card]Cuombajj Witches[/card], so we’ll take that out. Triggering [card]Kindly Stranger[/card] might prove difficult, but should definitely be in the deck in some form. I guess that just means a set of [card]Evolving Wilds[/card]. We just have to choose the art that best fits this particular situation.

Since many of these are shamans, we’ll go through those to find more suitable cards. Like these:

[draft]Deadbridge Shaman
Fauna Shaman
Korozda Guildmage
Lambholt Pacifist
Sangromancer
Wakedancer[/draft]

Of course, the [card]Bogbrew Witch[/card] needs a little help from [card]Festering Newt[/card] and [card]Bubbling Cauldron[/card], but I don’t see myself putting a full set of each into the deck. Maybe 2 and 1.

We’ll need some curses and other enchantments.

[draft]Shrieking Affliction
Ancestral Vengeance
Artificer’s Hex
Cast into Darkness
Caustic Tar
Clinging Darkness
Crippling Blight
Curse of Death’s Hold
Curse of Disturbance
Curse of Predation
Curse of Shallow Graves
Curse of Thirst
Dead Weight
Death’s Approach
Quag Sickness
Torment of Scarabs
Torture
Trespasser’s Curse
Unhallowed Pact
Viper’s Kiss[/draft]

We’ll make further decisions on these when we decide upon what we want to do with the Hunters and how much early interaction we need with the creatures we have.

Finally, a few instant speed removal spells to make the opponent think about using their tricks.

[draft]Doom Blade
Grasp of Darkness[/draft]

Of these, I think I prefer the latter, so let’s put a few copies into the deck. I’ll also put in at least one [card]Read the Bones[/card] just for the flavor.

Witch Hunters

Moving on to the hunters. What are we looking for? I started with search for Inquisitors.

[draft]Elite Inquisitor
Avacynian Missionaries
Militant Inquisitor[/draft]

That is a start, at least. There’s more, but I don’t want to use cards that are strictly worse in this deck. How about [card]Daring Sleuth[/card] for a different take? I would like that. And a [card]Thraben Inspector[/card]. Little awkward having a double white two-drop with a 1U two-drop in the same deck, but… sure. Can we find something outside of Innistrad here? Maybe thrown in a [card]Relic Seeker[/card]? Maybe they have to find something to battle the witches first? I probably wouldn’t like the interactions of this card against the witches, but maybe there should be like one of them in there. [card]Fiendslayer Paladin[/card], [card]Fiend Binder[/card], [card]Fiend Hunter[/card]… Fiend seems to be a good search term here.

[draft]Daring Sleuth
Thraben Inspector
Relic Seeker
Fiendslayer Paladin
Fiend Binder
Fiend Hunter[/draft]

Not much blue here, but I do like the different take the Sleuth gives this deck. Everyone else seems to be just a fanatic out to kill anything different looking, but this guy has a clue (hah). It’s just hard to find any other meaningful blue cards for the deck. There’s not even nice combat tricks. Sigh. I guess I have to lose the blue.

So, what about the equpiment?

[draft]Bladed Bracers
Blight Sickle
Butcher’s Cleaver
Inquisitor’s Flail
Runechanter’s Pike
Silver-Inlaid Dagger
Slayer’s Plate
True-Faith Censer
Veteran’s Armaments[/draft]

This was actually tougher than I expected. There’s well over 200 pieces of equipment in the game, but most of them don’t fit the theme that well.

Onto the tricks. So, since we don’t have the blue, I feel these shouldn’t present the hunters as too clever, but on the other hand, that’s exactly what I would like to go for. We’ll see..

[draft]Alley Evasion
Defiant Strike
Faith’s Shield
Mortal’s Ardor
Strength of Arms
Veteran’s Reflexes
Act of Heroism
Battlewise Valor
Feat of Resistance
Pressure Point
To Arms![/draft]

I like having all different tricks, so that the witches never know what the expect. I shouldn’t, however, play all of these. Maybe 18 creatures, 18 equipment and tricks and 24 lands. We do need all the lands, because equipping costs so much mana.

The Decks

[deck title=Witches]
[creatures]
2 Festering Newt
1 Fauna Shaman
1 Korozda Guildmage
2 Wakedancer
1 Hag Hedge-Mage
1 Kindly Stranger
1 Witch’s Familiar
1 Desecrator Hag
1 Fate Unraveler
2 Accursed Witch
2 Bogbrew Witch
2 Bitterheart Witch
[/creatures]
[spells]
4 Grasp of Darkness
1 Read the Bones
2 Bubbling Cauldron
1 Shrieking Affliction
1 Artificer’s Hex
1 Cast into Darkness
2 Clinging Darkness
1 Curse of Disturbance
2 Curse of Predation
1 Curse of Shallow Graves
3 Curse of Thirst
[/spells]
[lands]
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Foul Orchard
2 Hissing Quagmire
2 Tainted Wood
2 Forest
10 Swamp
[/lands]
[/deck]

[deck title=Witch Hunters]
[creatures]
4 Thraben Inspector
2 Relic Seeker
2 Elite Inquisitor
2 Militant Inquisitor
2 Fiendslayer Paladin
2 Fiend Hunter
2 Avacynian Missionaries
2 Fiend Binder
[/creatures]
[spells]
1 Defiant Strike
1 Faith’s Shield
1 Mortal’s Ardor
1 Strength of Arms
1 Veteran’s Reflexes
1 Act of Heroism
1 Battlewise Valor
1 Feat of Resistance
1 Pressure Point
1 To Arms!
1 Bladed Bracers
1 Blight Sickle
1 Butcher’s Cleaver
1 Inquisitor’s Flail
1 Silver-Inlaid Dagger
1 Slayer’s Plate
1 True-Faith Censer
1 Veteran’s Armaments
[/spells]
[lands]
24 Plains
[/lands]
[/deck]

Again, these haven’t been tested in any way, so they might require some work to function as a set of duel decks.

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