Woo Brews – Black Tide Combo

Why do you play Magic?

We all have our reasons. From the start, I have gotten some kind of value out of it—something you could call “fun”. If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t be doing it. After all, it is a game. It is a game that allows me to keep close with other humans while feeling like I am contributing to a greater good. This is “fun!”

Perhaps the most important reason I play this game lies in my lifetime pursuit of mental and physical fitness. I make it a daily goal to work to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. This might mean swimming until my form breaks down. It might mean playing Magic until I miss triggers left and right.

Simply put, Magic is great exercise.

For me, that is all I need to play. I don’t always want to play the best deck. I want to play a deck that will stretch my thinking to the point of mental exhaustion.

That is why I love crazy rogue decks. I like decks that have complex interactions. I like decks that have interactions of which I have never worked with before! Not always because I want to win. Not always because I want to have fun. Not always because I want to connect with people. But because crazy rogue decks make my head hurt and that is something I want.


Alright, how the hell did this happen? Those are numbers and abilities you would normally never see on a [card]Crypt Ghast[/card]. Those are numbers you would never normally see in a game of Magic. Something is going on here. Something is not right! Not easy to figure out, is it? Hurt’s the head just thinking about it, right?


Well, imagine the effort it took to actually make this happen. It wasn’t easy. And yes, doing it made the head hurt. That’s good because it’s something fun we can replicate. But it’s great because it opens and stretches our minds in new ways—THAT is the beauty of creating something we would normally never see in a game of Magic.

Black Tide Combo

Black Tide Combo

[deck]Main Deck
4 Drowned Catacombs
4 Watery Grave
1 Island
14 Swamp
2 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Think Twice
4 Heartless Summoning
4 Chromatic Lantern
4 Forbidden Alchemy
2 Mutilate
4 Rewind
3 Clone
4 Crypt Ghast
4 Evil Twin
2 Griselbrand
2 Cavern of Souls
3 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Cyclonic Rift
2 Witchbane Orb
2 Mutilate
1 Curse of Death’s Hold
2 Griselbrand[/deck]

The game plan starts with Swamps. We play a [card]Heartless Summoning[/card]. We play a [card]Crypt Ghast[/card]. We [card]Clone[/card] it. We [card]Evil Twin[/card] it. We [card]Clone[/card] it. We [card]Evil Twin[/card] it. We pass the turn. Our opponent plays something.


We tap our Swamps for a ton of mana.


“Extort extort extort extort extort.”

We untap our lands.

“I have 19 mana floating.”

[draft]Think twice[/draft]

“Extort extort extort extort extort.”

[draft]Forbidden Alchemy[/draft]

“Extort extort extort.”

[draft]Think Twice[/draft]



Yes, this actually works. No, it’s not the MOST competitive. But it’s fairly competitive. It is a bit slow. But it’s consistent and it’s resilient. Most importantly, it’s an absurd mathematical headache to play.

Card Breakdowns

[draft]Crypt Ghast
Evil Twin

This is the heart of the deck. We have access to 12 [card]Crypt Ghast[/card]s. Crypt Ghasts get better and better in multiples because they generate more and more mana and more and more extort. They are both the [card]Cabal Coffers[/card] AND the [card]Drain Life[/card]. They are the mana AND the kill.

[draft]Heartless Summoning[/draft]

Heartless Summoning is an absurd accelerator in this deck. We play a lot of 4-drop creatures, and this card allows us to play them off of 1-2 lands, which allows us to keep our Swamps untapped, which allows us to really maximize the mana off of our Crypt Ghasts.


Griselbrand is just absurd. He’s not that hard to cast between [card]Heartless Summoning[/card] and [card]Crypt Ghast[/card]s. He is a nice beefy attacker/blocker, but the draw-7 ability is a cheat code in this deck. We have all this mana and all this life thanks to Crypt Ghasts, so let’s turn that life into cards to turn into more life and more mana and more cards. Sound fair?

[draft]Think Twice
Forbidden Alchemy[/draft]

These cards let us churn through our deck at warp speed once our mana engine gets going, and provide unending extort triggers to sink our mana into. They are also great early game plans for allowing us to hit crucial land drops and the early game cards we need.


[card]Rewind[/card] is an extremely flexible combo piece here. In the mid-game it’s extremely passable to counter their play and play [card]Forbidden Alchemy[/card] in the same turn. In the late game, Rewind is the game-ending mana engine.

Rewind is also really nice at protecting our Crypt Ghasts as we try to copy them.


Mutilate is a concession to blitz decks. We can’t beat certain aggro decks without these, so we might as well play them. At the same time, I don’t want to play more than a couple because this deck can do absolutely nothing with them if they’re not good and we have no way to turn it into a new card.

In an ideal world, this card would be [card]Temporal Mastery[/card], but I like to at least have a chance against the blitz decks.

[draft]Chromatic Lantern[/draft]

Chromatic Lantern is an essential mana fixer and ramper. We play a lot of blue cards, but we need to play primarily Swamps for our mana engine to work. Chromatic Lantern is awesome here because it lets all of our Swamps become Watery Graves.

14 [card]Swamp[/card], 4 [card]Watery Grave[/card]

Here are the Swamps we need for our combo to work. I’ve found 18 to be plenty. Not EVERY land has to be a Swamp, but it’s really important that we have at least 4 by the time we start to combo off.

4 [card]Drowned Catacombs[/card], 1 [card]Island[/card]

Here are our extra early game blue sources that are not Swamps. Awkward, but essential.

[draft]Kessig Wolf Run[/draft]

Kessig Wolf Run is a training wheels kill in combination with Chromatic Lantern and Crypt Ghast. It can generate a ton of damage out of nowhere, which is essential in certain situations. I’ve found it to be very rarely necessary—it’s usually only a kill when we are in a position to win off of extort anyways, so it’s possible this should be more Swamps or Islands.

Notable Omissions

[draft]Mind Grind[/draft]

The times when [card]Mind Grind[/card] would be a kill are times when [card]Crypt Ghast[/card] is a kill. Every card should CONTRIBUTE to the point that Crypt Ghast just kills them. This card is dead until the opponent is dead. Make sense?

[draft]Temporal Mastery[/draft]

Man, I would LOVE to have this card in the deck! It seems to fit so perfectly—but I just don’t think there’s room for it. It’s basically just worse than Rewind, but if the deck needs extra Rewinds this is for sure the way to go.

Black Tide Sideboard

The deck is an engine, which means every card we take out makes the engine that much weaker and more likely to stall. So for this deck, I recommend not sideboarding very much at all—only to solve really specific problems or to cut the Mutilates if they aren’t necessary.

[draft]Cavern of Souls

Against control decks, our game plan is based around forcing a Griselbrand through with a Cavern. That’s not too hard to set up with all of our drawing and searching. Usually Mutilate and some basics come out for these.

[draft]Tormod’s Crypt[/draft]

If we get paired against one of those crazy graveyard combo decks, we want a nice cheap answer to slow them down. [card]Tormod’s Crypt[/card] is the best one-sided option in blue and black.

[draft]Cyclonic Rift[/draft]

[card]Cyclonic Rift[/card] is really for [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card]. There may be a better answer splashed off of [card]Chromatic Lantern[/card], but this is the best one in our primary colors.

[card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card] is basically a game winner against us if we played a [card]Heartless Summoning[/card]. If you smell a Curse of Death’s Hold coming, we could always board out the Heartless Summonings, but they are so powerful I am reluctant.

[draft]Witchbane Orb[/draft]

[card]Witchbane Orb[/card] is a nice catch-all against cards like [card]Slaughter Games[/card] and [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card]. Slaughter Games in particular is a huge problem if it sticks. Alternatively, we could play a couple nice clone targets in the sideboard, but I would prefer not to.

Curse of Death’s Hold[/draft]

These cards give us extra game against the super fast decks, which we’re generally pretty weak against. With 4 Mutilates and the search at our disposal, we will have a good chance of hitting one and finding one before we die.

Black Tide Tips and Tricks

I could walk you through some of the more complex lines of the deck, but that would deny you the reward of finding out for yourself. =P

On the real, nothing teaches like experience so if you are super interested, I say put the deck together. It is a blast and an absurd mental workout. If you can’t get the cards, there will be videos for you to watch! They are coming soon.

Have fun!


Questions! Comments! Think there’s something I forgot?!


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