Ever since Lord of the Unreal and Phantasmal Image got spoiled in M12 spoiler season, people dreamt about building this fantastic new tribe of Illusions. People kinda always do that – whenever some new and funky tribe emerges they want to build a deck around it. But this time it was different. They gave us Lord of the Unreal, and why would they do that if they’re not serious about it? There are some strange creature types like horses or salamanders in existence, but you don’t see a Salamander Lord casually swimming around. Were they just playing a practical joke on us, or does the Illusions have some true potential?
First, I was a non believer. I mean, they seemed too fragile to me. Blame it on my dominant MtG limited experience where you can often see a Phantasmal Dragon, true 5/5 flying monstrosity, slaughtered down with something pathetic like Act of Treason or Titanic Growth or even Lifelink from the sideboard. Often you would find yourself in a situation holding your Phantasmal creatures in hand unable to cast them because there is Gideon’s Lawkeeper or Alluring Siren on the other side of the table.
But Standard is a different type of animal. There aren’t many activated abilities that can continuously target creatures, and removals they’re playing would kill your Illusions nevertheless, so no loss there. And if you happen to have an Illusion Lord in play, they can’t target them anyways.
In any case, few days ago a player named Thomas Carter placed 9th in SCG Richmond Open Series, just 1 place shy of a top8 performance. To make things more interesting, he was featured last round playing against non other than Caw-Blade deck, destroying it brutally! As viewers said: he was beating Caw-Blade in its own game. Playing early creatures and covering them with timely counterspells. Only difference was that Illusions are much bigger than anything Caw-Blade has to offer. They even compared Illusions deck with Merfolks in legacy, comparison made on a number of lords both decks have to offer and a number of small creatures they support.
But let’s finally see a deck list Thomas Carter played:
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Scalding Tarn
2 Tectonic Edge
4 Phyrexian Metamorph
2 Wurmcoil Engine
4 Grand Architect
4 Lord of the Unreal
4 Phantasmal Bear
4 Phantasmal Image
2 Spreading Seas
3 Mana Leak
3 Spell Pierce
3 Gitaxian Probe
As you can see, this is a mono blue Illusions deck. There is only one “obvious” lord, but there are actually 3 of them, full 12 copies of “pump all other creatures”. Lord of the Unreal is the obvious one, Grand Architect pumps all your blue creatures which is practically every single one in here and Phyrexian Metamorph provides you with 4 additional copies of Lord/Architect. But that’s not all, both Metamorph and Architect work overtime in this deck. Grand Architect speeds up your Wurmcoil Engines and Metamorphs for at least 2 turns, and Metamorph itself can become anything you need at any given moment. Maybe another Wurmcoil, or untargetable Phantasmal Bear, or even an opponents creature/artifact of your choice.
After you played your threats there are only 2 things left to do: counter everything they do with your choice of Mana Leak or Spell Pierce and attack, attack and attack some more.
To sum it up, this deck is blisteringly fast and it’s no wonder it can match (and beat!) currently the best deck in the format. I suggest you try it out!
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