Who needs creatures to win in Standard?
MOCS competitor Tulio_Jaudy certainly didn’t think it was necessary. With so many decks running cards like Fiery Impulse, Wild Slash, Ultimate Price, Murderous Cut, Silkwrap, etc., this UB Demonic Pact deck did its best to make those cards as dead as possible. Demonic Pact is easily one of the most interesting cards printed in recent years.
Many have tried to make it work, but few have had any real success. On the surface, Pact represents a 5-for-1, drawing 2 cards, making your opponent discard 2 cards, and likely killing a creature. In some matchups, the 4 life gained can potentially represent a 6th card. There is a relevant downside in “you lose the game,” however, so removing it from play is imperative.
There are ways to remove Pact from play in Standard and many have used effects to kill it before it kills them. Bouncing the Pact for maximum value is certainly the preferred option. But cards like Disperse, given how weak they are when not combined with Pact, are a tough sell.
Silumgar’s Command is excellent because it is a real card in games where you don’t have any permanents of your own you want to bounce. In situations where you do want to remove your own Pact, you can counter a spell or kill a creature to make sure your cards continue to do something to press your advantage in the midgame. Cards like Pact and Command cost 4 and 5 mana respectively, so having them do more than a simple 1-for-1 is important in games you start to fall behind.
If you aren’t playing creatures, that means lots of room for disruption. Duress and Transgress the Mind are both excellent cards in Standard right now, and playing 4 copies of each means that you can really mess up opposing game plans. Because they’re so cheap, they help to enable one of the best ways to bounce a Pact and take over a game: Crush of Tentacles. Opponents are going to be discarding removal spells to Pacts early in the game because there are no creatures, and that’s a perfect time for a Duress to clear the way for bouncing every permanent and leaving behind a giant Octopus token!
Playing a deck with so much reaction makes for excess removal or discard spells, especially versus an empty hand. This makes a card like Oath of Jace appealing, trading bad cards for good cards. Oath also helps to turn on your delve spells, which include Dig Through Time, Treasure Cruise, and even a potential game-winning Empty the Pits!